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Down to the Dregs

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Jason isn’t there when it happens. At least, not the main brunt of it. He walks in at the end, drawn in by the sound of raised voices and words he can’t quite make out, just in time to have Dick storm out past him from Bruce’s study, moving with such speed and ferocity that he actually shoulder-checks Jason back against the nearby wall.

His face, what little glimpse Jason manages to catch of it, is open and furious. His normally golden skin bleached white by rage. His eyes, deep blue and usually brimming with easy-going mischief, now red-rimmed with repressed tears.

It’s a stunning sight. Enough that Jason’s reflexive snap back for being so forcefully shoved aside dies in his throat long before it can make it to his lips. Instead, he finds himself staring after the storm of Dick’s exit—the stomp of his feet upon the manor’s lacquered floors—before an uncomfortable clenching sets up home in his chest even as he hears the front door slamming, followed by the distant eruption of a bike’s engine that rapidly fades thereafter.

For an uneasy moment, Jason is reminded of being a boy again, still yet to grow into the size of the cape around his shoulders. The memory, clear and powerful, of Dick’s voice raised in the depths of the Batcave. Not at him. Never at him. But still vicious enough to make the parts of him that remembered being Willis Todd’s son ache for a dark corner to hide himself away in, anyway.

It takes him another second to move past it, shaking himself free of the recollection. Another still, to look into the room Dick just left, and find Bruce — and more surprisingly Barbara — within. Bruce’s face is dark and stoic, like a statue, while Barbara’s… there’s a spark of regret in her eyes for a moment, but resolve too.

Jason doesn’t know exactly what it is that’s happened, but seeing them feels like someone’s dropped a hot rock into his pocket. He knows that look on Bruce, if not Babs, and just like that, the actual reason he came here today is gone from his mind, leaving only suspicion and the threat of burgeoning anger behind.

“What the hell did you do?”

 


 

Jason finds Dick later in Bludhaven. On the rooftop of one of the warehouses overlooking the bay, and the empty, rusting wreck of what used to be the city’s whaling yard; water that once upon a time would have been frothing red now a melancholy blue.

He’s still not exactly sure about the wisdom in coming here, operating on instinct and impulse more than anything else. Still smarting, as well, from his own argument with Bruce. The reminder that though things are better between them now, they’re still not as they used to be. They may never be again. A possibility he should probably be used to, at this point, but given that this is their second (third?) go around on that path, it only stings all the deeper.

“Go away, Bruce.” Dick says, before he can get close, and Jason has to stop himself from freezing in place a little, because the edges of his voice are razor sharp with unspoken warning. Even if it is one that comes with a case of mistaken identity.

Jason’s definitely not one to quail before a heated tone anymore. Hell, he’s stood up to some of the worst the world’s had to offer both before and after he died. But it’s funny how people always talk about his temper, and never that of the man before him.

Dick doesn’t snap often, but when he does...

Swallowing, Jason clears his throat a little, trying for levity in it, “I really sound like the old man to you?”

There’s a moment, where he sees Dick’s shoulders jerk and his back straighten, and almost wants to laugh at seeing the famed Nightwing scramble to maintain his balance on the edge of a rooftop. Lucky for him though, he doesn’t, as Dick rights himself and turns his head so fast it would have given anyone else whiplash.

Jason?” he says, incredulously. “What are you doing here?”

It’s a little distressing how much he obviously hadn’t expected anyone else to come after him, but well, it’s not like Jason hasn’t given him precedent for that.

“Getting mistaken for a jackass in a cowl and a cape, apparently.” Keeping his tone light, Jason resumes walking towards him. Then, when he’s close enough, sits down beside Dick to sling his legs out over the drop as well. “Heard the end of that big bust up you had with him.”

Despite being momentarily thrown off-guard, Dick’s expression quickly shutters again. “Did you.”

It’s not really a question, but Jason answers it like one anyway. “Yep. Even caught the tail end of you storming out the house, if you remember. It was kind of impressive, I haven’t seen you let off like that in a long time.”

Dick blinks, obviously searching back in his memory, then hisses softly under his breath. “Look, if you came here wanting an apology—”

Jason snorts, lifting his hand to wave the words off. “As if. I barely even felt it.” Not quite true, but true enough for this moment. “I just came to make sure you weren’t half-dead in an alleyway after taking out your frustrations on any fight you could pick.”

It takes a second, but then Dick huffs a bitter laugh. “Know something about that, do you?” he asks, flexing his fingers. For the first time, Jason notices the knuckles they’re attached to are bloodied and split, as well as far too pale considering the idiot is out here without gloves in the middle of winter.

Like Gotham, Bludhaven only seems to know sweltering heat or freezing cold when it comes to weather. Also like Gotham, it takes no mercy on anyone who doesn’t respect that fact.

Something in Jason itches with the urge to take off his heavy jacket and wrap it around Dick’s shoulders, suddenly.

“A bit.” he admits, flexing his own (properly attired) fingers.

“Did Bruce put you up to this?”

The sound that comes out of Jason’s mouth at the question is not a dignified one. “As if the old man would ever ask me to do anything that didn’t involve punching someone.”

“Barbara, then.”

This accusation Jason takes a little more seriously. “No. Believe it or not, I actually decided to come here on my own.”

Incredulity is a good look on Dick, if a little insulting given his motivations. “Why?”

Jason huffs softly. He always hates this part of any conversation. The part where he’s required to be honest about his motivations. Or worse, his feelings.

“I might have been… worriedaboutyou.”

“What?”

It takes Jason another second to realise he’d effectively mumbled the words. Inwardly cursing himself, he closes his eyes and forces himself to say them more slowly. “I was worried about you, jackass.”

Dick’s expression hasn’t changed. He still looks surprised. Still looks disbelieving, though now it’s taken on a harder edge. “I’m not in the mood for jokes, Jason.”

“I’m not joking.”

“Why would you be worried about me?”

That’s the question of the hour, it seems. Why.

Out of nowhere, years past quitting, Jason wishes for a cigarette. “I already mentioned the bust up with the old man, didn’t I?”

“We all have fights with Bruce, Jason.” Dick says, face turning back to the tumultuous waters of the bay again. “I’ve never known you to come running after any of us for them before.”

He’s not exactly wrong there. Jason closes his eyes. He had his reasons for never intervening before. Reasons that mostly boiled down to him going through his own bullshit at the time. But if he says them aloud, all they’ll be is excuses. “... it was different.”

“In what way?” And that sounds like an accusation, except not.

Jason picks over his words carefully, like pulling hairs. “It… reminded me of the arguments you and Bruce used to have when I was kid.”

Dick is silent for a good while, and when Jason opens his eyes again it’s to him gripping the icy edge of the roof like a lifeline. “From what I remember, you always used to come down on his side back then.”

“Yeah, well, what can I say. Thirteen was a stupid age for all of us.” Fourteen and fifteen, too, if he’s being honest.

Dick snorts, but it’s largely without humour as he hangs his head, before something releases within him with a sigh, “I never thought I could be as mad at him again as I was back then.”

It’s an admittance. Not a big one, but enough for Jason to grab on to. “You want to talk about it?”

“With you?”

“You see anyone else on this rooftop?” A unimpressed stare follows the gesture Jason makes, pushing him to rein himself back in. “Look, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Hell, tell me to piss off if you want, I’m not here to chew your ear. But at this point I figure I’m pretty much the patron saint of pissed off Robins, so if you want someone to vent at who’s definitely not going to defend Bruce in any way…”

He trails off, giving Dick a moment to mull it over, before adding, “Failing that, there’s always plan B.”

Dick raises his eyebrows, and Jason grins, reaching inside his jacket. From one of the larger reinforced pockets, he pulls out a familiar bottle.

“Is that—”

“Five hundred dollars worth of Bruce’s favourite overpriced bourbon? Hell yeah, it is.” Jason wriggles the bottle, sloshing the contents around. It had been easy to duck in and liberate it from Bruce’s liquor cabinet on his way out of the manor, and a petty joy, besides.

Briefly, something like admiration shines in the dark depths of Dick’s eyes. “So plan B is to get me drunk?”

“I never said it was a good plan B.” Jason defends, still wriggling the bottle. “Of course, there’s also plan C, which is that we talk and drink at the same time.”

A roll of his eyes later, Dick snags the bottle out of his hand. “Doubt he’ll even notice it’s gone.” he mutters, examining the label.

“Oh, I think he will. Now that…” Jason bites his lip, momentarily holding back the words about to come out of his mouth before saying them anyway. “Now that Alfred’s not there anymore to replace it for him.”

The air around them suddenly feels cold for a different reason.

How soon is too soon? Jason wonders. Probably forever, in Alfred’s case. It seems to hit something in Dick, especially. Twists. To the point that the next thing Jason knows, he’s popped the lid off the bottle and is taking a swig.

B or C it is, then.

“Ugh, that’s disgusting.”

“Overpriced booze usually is.” Jason agrees, reaching out to take his turn. The bourbon tastes the same as a thirty dollar bottle from a corner store would to him, but at least it’s warming as it goes down. “Though I figure you’re not one for whisky, anyway.”

“No.” Dick says, but still takes the bottle again when Jason passes it back to him.

They spend the next couple minutes like that, sharing the bottle between them. Minutes where Jason’s not sure if Dick is working up some liquid courage to execute plan C, or if it’s just plan B he’s going for, after all. Either way, it’s oddly nice, this moment between them. Messed up, but nice, making Jason think back to sitting around a firepit in the middle of a circus campground with Dick, Artemis and Bizarro.

That had been one of the few times in his life that he and Dick had gotten along before. Really, truly gotten along. Back before Bruce had beaten the ever living shit out of Jason again. Back before—

“You ever feel like your only value to some people is in what you can do for them?”

Jason jerks himself back out of the memory to look at Dick again. “What?”

“Ever since I got my memories back, things have felt different. Not a good kind of different, either.”

Jason sucks his teeth, trying to figure out how to respond to that. “It’s been a long year.” he finally says.

Dick snorts. “That’s one way to put it.” He takes another swig of the bottle, wincing after every mouthful, and even in the dim light available out here, Jason can see that his cheeks are flushed and red. “Half the time, I still don’t feel like I know who I am anymore. Things get screwed up inside my head, and I’m trying to take the time to figure it out. Only…”

“Only?” Jason prompts.

“Bruce and Babs can’t seem to understand that.”

Jason’s fingers twitch with thoughts of green, the sensation of memories rushing back, and so many empty gaps alongside them. Without thinking, he steals the bourbon back from Dick. “What did they do?”

“You didn’t try asking them yourself?”

“Oh, I did, but you know Bruce,” Jason scratches at the bottle label with his fingertip, “He clamped up tighter than a Kryptonian’s asshole. Told me it was none of my business, and if I had no other good reason for being there, to get out. Hence the petty theft.”

Dick’s mouth twitches. That almost smile there and gone again. The one that makes Jason wants to cavort harder, quip more. Do something, anything, to get the unfamiliar melancholy off his face. He’s never been well sorted to playing court jester, though, even if Dick were in the mood for it. “Hence the petty theft.”

Jason doesn’t respond, waiting for him again, as well as bouncing his heels back against the wall of the building. He used to fidget a lot like this, as a kid, not so much as an adult, but somehow Dick brings it back out in him.

“It wasn’t just any one thing.” he starts, “It… After my memories came back, after beating Punchline, I needed a break. Needed time, like I said, to come to terms with everything and figure it all out. I wasn’t ready to just jump back into being Nightwing, and I tried explaining that to them, but they wouldn’t listen. It’s not like I was asking for months or weeks, either. Just a few days, but you know Bruce, all I got back was a lecture about how I was denying myself still. He even set up this whole thing to take me back to the wrestling cage where Joker made me fight Babs, with my suit hanging over it. Like it was just some battle I needed to win before I could put it on again.”

Jason hisses between his teeth, but doesn’t interrupt him.

“And Babs… She just…” Dick’s voice rubs raw in a different way. “I thought she’d understand better, believe me, when I told her how freeing it had been not to be Dick Grayson for a while. How I’d actually…” He grits his teeth, “This is going to sound terrible, but for a while there, I was happier than I ever think I’ve been. Free of all this shit and the memories of every bad thing that’s ever happened to me as a vigilante. Only she just turned round and told me she didn’t think that could be true, since I wasn’t really myself at the time. As if I still couldn’t feel and think and love whether I had all my memories or not.”

“Dick…”

“But of course I ended up giving into them. It was easier, just to put the suit on again than try to argue with them.” Dick swallows, “I didn’t want to fall out with my family again, not with everything else going on. All the things I didn’t know while I was gone, and all the stuff that didn’t register because I couldn’t remember how much those people meant to me.” His voice cracks a little, “Alfred’s gone. Roy too, and Damian… Well, at least Damian’s not dead, even if Bruce doesn’t seem to consider it a priority his own kid ran away from him.”

“None of that’s your fault.” Jason says, stomach turning with sympathy. He knows too well the feeling of giving in to Bruce’s demands because it was the easier course. Compromising not just his own feelings, but also his principles as well, because it was either that or sitting out in the cold for the rest of his life, knowing his father would never do the same for him. Something that was only made all the clearer when he tried to kill the Penguin, and is honestly also the reason why Damian’s not at home right now.

As for Alfred and Roy… that’s a wound that’s never going to stop hurting for him, and he’s at least had time to try and come to terms with their deaths. For Dick, however, it’s a brand new grief.

“You can try to tell me that, doesn’t mean it’s true.” Dick sniffs— whether from the cold or emotion, Jason’s not sure. “Barbara seems to have plenty of blame for me, at least.”

“She what?”

“Back when I lost my memories, when I was ‘Ric’, I wasn’t exactly…” Dick grimaces, picking at his nails in much the same way Jason is the bottle. “I was an asshole to her, at times. She kept trying to reach out to me and all I did was tell her to fuck off. And that’s not even mentioning what the Joker made me do.”

“And she blames you for that?” Jason stares at him incredulously. “Weren’t you brainwashed by that crystal thing to keep your distance from us? By the Court of Owls and then the Joker.”

Dick shrugs, eyes still focused only on the bay. “Yeah, but I was still… it was still me in there. I tried talking to her, tried explaining I never would have done any of those things if I’d been in my right mind, but she… She said she didn’t know me anymore. That if I want her back in my life, I’d have to earn her friendship again. Even insinuated I shouldn’t be talking to her because of Bea, which… I don’t know what she even meant by that. We haven’t gone out with each other in years.”

He hiccups slightly as he says it, wavering in the chill breeze, “I didn’t think anything could break our friendship, but I guess this was it. The only relationship she wants to have with me from now on is a ‘professional’ one.”

For an instant, Jason sees red. He always knew Babs could be a hardass. She has standards, high ones, and could be as quick to condemn as any of them in some respects, but like Dick, he’d always thought the bond the first two of Bruce’s disciples shared was an unbreakable one. He almost can’t believe what Dick is telling him. That Barbara would blame him so completely for something outside of Dick’s control...

“I’d understand if she needed some time to come to terms with it. I do.” Dick continues, unknowingly echoing Jason’s thoughts, “But to say I need to earn her friendship back like I actively chose to hurt her. To forget her...”

“Bull,” Jason says, “It’s bullshit.” He pushes the bottle back to Dick, because otherwise he’s going to end up throwing it. “You tried to kill me, too, and you don’t see me going round blaming you for it.”

Dick’s lips twitch. “Well, no one ever gave you points for making healthy decisions, Jason.”

Jason snorts, “Maybe not, but I do know how to tell the difference between someone who truly hates my guts and wants me dead, and someone who’s just being forced to go through the motions.”

Dick hiccups again, and Jason finds himself tugging at his gloves uncomfortably. Seems it really is upset more than the cold, causing it. “I just… things never used to be this way, right? Bruce and Babs—all of us. We were better than this before. Weren’t we?”

Jason shifts uncomfortably. He has no idea what to say to that. The idea that their whole messy, dysfunctional family ever had some semblance of healthiness to it. “I’m really not the best person to ask about that.”

“Seems to me like you are.” Dick drinks from the bottle, before swiping his sleeve over his eyes. Jason thinks again about how the fabric of the jacket he’s wearing right now is far too thin for this weather. “Or at least, you’re the one who’s most likely to be honest.”

“I…” Jason presses his tongue up against his teeth. The idea that Dick thinks that of him as bleak as it is touching. “Look, it’s been a rough year. For all of us. I know I already said that, but Bane made a damn good attempt at destroying Bruce, as well as anyone else associated with him, followed by the Joker doing the same. And it’d be easy to shove all the blame for the way things are now onto what happened there, but...”

He pauses, takes a breath. “I can’t. I can’t, because Bruce at least has always been this way. I don’t know about Barbara, I’ve never known her as well as you. Shit’s been hard on all of us, and maybe there’s other stuff going on with her that we don’t know about — not that that’s any excuse for her saying what she did to you. But Bruce…” He can feel the weight of Dick’s gaze on him like a physical pressure. “Sometimes it’s worse, sometimes it’s better. He might love us—” Love Dick and the rest of them, at any rate— “but at the end of the day, we’ll always come second to the mission for him. If you’re on board with that and ready to help him, great, but if you’re not… Out of sight, out of mind, y’know?”

Dick inhales sharply, “That’s not—”

“How many times has it been you giving into him and not the other way around?” Jason cuts him off. “This now with putting on the Nightwing suit even though you’re not ready for it, then shit like Spyral before. Hell, you almost freaking died that time, and his only response was to make you play dead to everyone you cared about and go do what he needed you to do.”

Dick hisses softly, like Jason’s personally wounded him. But well, he asked for honesty and that’s what he’s getting.

“When I first got out of the hospital…”

Jason tilts his head, waiting.

“He tried to make me remember. Told me everything about us, being superheroes.” Dick expression hardens, his mouth becoming an unyielding line. “Then he showed me the footage of me getting shot in the head.”

Jason about chokes on air. If he saw red earlier with Barbara, his vision is phosphorescent white now. “He fucking what?”

“He thought he could trigger me back into remembering everything, except of course it didn’t work like that.” Dick downs more of the bourbon, his cheeks very red now. “It… fuck. It took me weeks to get that image of my head. I can still sit in my mind clear as day if I think about it.”

“No fucking wonder,” Jason says, still stunned by the admission. “What is it with B and thinking he can just trigger people into remembering shit?”

Dick gives him a confused look, to which Jason realises he can’t possibly know about Jason’s own personal experience with that horrific trait.

“I… uh, back when Damian died, he uh…Took me back out to Ethiopia, to the spot I died. Without telling me, of course. Wanted me to remember how I came back, so he could do the same with Damian.”

“Jesus, Jason. I’m—”

“Don’t,” Jason shakes his head. “Don’t. It’s not something you need to apologise for, and anyway, we’re here to talk about you, not me.”

“I never knew. I…”

“I never told anyone.” Jason shrugs. “And it’s not like Bruce would, either.”

Dick swears, rubbing a hand over his face, before passing the bottle back to him. “I guess you told him to fuck off just as much as I did.”

“Tried to beat his ass into the dirt, as well, except I figured out pretty quick that was what he wanted.” Jason tips the bottle back, swallows. They’re really starting to get down it now. “So I just left instead, didn’t talk to him for a good while again, after that.”

Dick laughs, hoarsely. “I didn’t talk to him again at all. Not until Alfred died and we had that weird wake thing. Then it was the Joker war, and after I got my memories back, he tried to make out that he’d always been there, keeping an eye out on me when I was Ric, only I knew that couldn’t be true.”

Jason kicks his heels back against the wall again. “How so?”

“There was just so much… Even before the Court tried to finish their plan to turn me into a Talon, or the Joker got to me, so much shit that went down.” With a sudden burst of emotion, Dick is lying on his back on the roof, legs still dangling over the edge while he stares up at the sky. “You know who my assigned trauma counsellor was after I went back to Bludhaven?”

Jason has to twist a little bit now to keep looking at him. “No,” he swallows uneasily, having a feeling he won’t like the answer, “Who?”

“Jonathan Crane.”

He was right, he doesn’t like it. “Scarecrow?! How… how the fuck does that even...”

“I don’t know,” Dick says, “But it happened. And if Bruce really was keeping a close eye on me all this time, you think he would have noticed that, first of all.”

Jason wants to scream for a moment, his hands tightening around the bourbon bottle enough that he swears he hears the glass start to crack. “I’m going to kill him,” he says, “Fuck this shit, I am actually… He loses his memory, and we all have to tiptoe round him like he’s some delicate flower, but you lose yours—”

“Jason,” Dick’s hand finds his elbow.

Jason shakes his head, caught up in it now. If Dick’s anger is a slow built bomb, waiting only for a stray spark to set it off, then his own is a fire, always burning at embers but ready to be stirred up again as soon as any fresh fuel is added to the pyre. “I should have been there. I should have at least checked in. I just fucking… I was still so pissed at Bruce after what he did to me. I thought at least if Barbara was there they’d be handling it right. But I…”

“Jason, stop.” Dick’s fingers squeeze tighter, trying to stop his arm from shaking. His whole body, really. “You can’t tell me not to apologise to you, then apologise to me for something that’s equally not your fault, either. It’s not like I came running when Bruce hurt you. I just accepted it when he told me you’d started killing people again. Didn’t even think about the fact there must have been something more to it if Roy had gotten himself involved.”

Jason shudders a moment, then falls back as well, resting the butt of the bottle against his stomach. He swears he can feel icicles starting to form in his hair. “We are so fucked up, all of us. The entire fucking family. How the hell did we ever think any of us were okay?”

“Alfred,” Dick says, after a moment, his voice hoarse. “Alfred made us think that way.”

Jason licks his lips, sticky with the remnants of drink. “Alfred helped,” he agrees, “But not always.”

Both of them are silent for a moment, hovering around an even more uncomfortable truth neither of them want to acknowledge.

Finally, Dick rolls onto his side, white cold fingers tracing up the seam of Jason’s sleeve. “I don’t know what to do now. I told them how I feel, but I don’t know what to do next.”

“You don’t do anything,” Jason says, trying not to pay too much attention to that. “Not for them.”

He can feel the question in Dick’s gaze, even if he can’t see it.

“You said what you had to say. Next move is theirs, not yours.”

Up above them, sparse stars try to peek their way through the clouds, as well as the ever oppressive false light rising up from the city.

“I don’t just mean in regards to them,” Dick says, after a moment, his finger still doing that slow run up and down Jason’s arm. “I mean in regards to anything.”

“What do you want to do?”

Dick snorts, “If I knew that, I wouldn’t be having this issue.” He stops moving his hand, instead curling it in Jason’s sleeve. “The easiest thing would just be to pick up where I was before. Be Nightwing. But like I said…”

“You’re still not ready for that yet.”

“No. Which…” A note of frustration enters his voice, “I loved being Nightwing. Nightwing is me. It doesn’t feel like it should be this hard.”

“You still got a lot of stuff to piece back together, though, it’s okay to take some time over it. Doesn’t mean you won’t ever be ready to put the suit back on again. You obviously will. Like you said, you love being Nightwing.” Jason sighs, looking out of the corner of his eye to see Dick still watching him. “Look, I can’t tell you what to do. Wouldn’t even if I did know the definite answer. But if you want my advice, take a break. Go somewhere different, away from Bruce and all this. Maybe even take that girl you’ve been seeing along with you. It worked wonders for me.”

Something pained flickers across Dick’s gaze, there and gone again. “You and your Outlaws, huh?”

“Yeah. Though I’m running a little short on those, right now. So can’t really offer you a free vacation that way. Kory’s island should still be up for grabs, though.”

Dick’s lips twitch at the mention of his other ex-girlfriend’s name. “I’ll think about it.”

“Sure,” Jason says, trying not to doubt the validity of that statement too hard. “Or y’know, since you’re so worried about him, you could go find Damian. God knows he could probably use your company right now. The two of you always were good for each other.” Something he says with no small amount of jealousy hanging off it.

That one seems to get Dick’s attention a little more. Not just a vague ‘take a break’ statement, but a mission for someone he loves and cares about. Someone who’s currently just as lost as he is. “Bruce probably wouldn’t like that.”

“Because we’re both so concerned about what Bruce would like right now.” Jason says, and earns a lopsided grin for it. “Just, whatever you do, don’t give into Bruce first again, okay? We’ve all done too much of that at this point.”

“Mm.” The sound is an agreement, more or less, at least to Jason’s now very tipsy ears. “Hey, Jay?”

Jay. The nickname melts into his body like butter, soft and welcoming. “Yeah?”

“Thanks. For coming after me. For listening.”

“It’s nothing, Dick.”

It’s not. It’s everything. Everything Jason always wished people would do for him, but Dick doesn’t need to know that.

They lie there a couple more minutes, just watching the sky together. The puff of Jason’s breath in front of his face giving rise to the same fanciful thoughts he used to have as a kid while smoking, at least until Dick interrupts the moment by letting out a gargantuan sneeze.

Fuck, I’m freezing.”

Jason starts laughing, he can’t help it. He laughs hard enough that the remaining bourbon bounces up and down on his stomach. “You were the one who decided to come and sulk out here in the middle of winter.”

“I was not sulking.” Dick attempts to pout, only to ruin it by sneezing again. “Urgh, I’m so going to be sick tomorrow.”

“Here,” Jason sets the bottle aside, then strips off his gloves before dropping them on top of Dick’s face. “At least these’ll stop your fingers from dropping off before you get home.”

Dick sputters a moment, but then manages to sit up himself and pull them on. “Thanks.”

“You going to be all right making it there alone?”

“Are you?” Dick shoots back, “You’ve drunk at least as much as I have.”

“Eh,” Jason shrugs, “I’ve driven on worse.”

Dick gives him a look, and Jason groans as he recognises it as the responsible older brother one. “Dick…”

“I’m calling us an uber. You can sleep on my couch tonight.”

“Come on—”

“‘s’the least I can do. Make sure you don’t get yourself killed driving out of here.”

“‘Again’.”

Jason fully earns the hard shove to the shoulder Dick gives him as they both wobble their way back up onto their feet for that quip, unable to ever resist bringing up his own death at every opportunity as he is. And of course, he has to respond to it with one of his own, which — in a steadily escalating pattern — soon results in a playful scuffle between them. Thankfully after they’ve already moved away from the roof’s edge.

A momentary relief, perhaps, from the heaviness of the discussion they’d just had, but a welcome one, as the sound of their drunken laughter and cursing carries across the frozen air. Loud enough that they don’t even notice when the bourbon bottle — carelessly knocked by one of their feet — goes rolling to shatter down on the concrete below.