Tim tapped his fingers on the table, flipped his phone over to glance at the time and his lack of messages, before he flipped it back over, drumming his fingers again. He felt anxious, antsy in his chair- was fighting down the urge to squirm. He’d told himself this morning he wouldn’t do this- he’d be calm and collected and it was just coffee.
At least he hadn’t called Jason the morning after the expo to ask him to go out. He’d managed to wait a few days- if only because he’d gotten sucked into a case with Bruce and Damian that had taken up all his time and focus, and for a moment he’d forgotten about the strange butterflies he got when he remembered Jason’s smiles, that day. When he remembered anything about that ridiculous outing.
It had been a shot in the dark. For all he knew, Jason could’ve been half way across the world, or hell, lost in space with Kori or something- but Tim had told himself yesterday afternoon he had to do it. He had to see Jason again and remind himself that there wasn’t something going on.
He didn’t like Jason Todd- not like this, not like some school kid with a burning crush. He was just confused by the strange affection Jason had showed him, how easily it had happened- he’d seen Jason out of his element, was all. He’s get a sullen, jackass of a bastard today, and he’d remember that half the time he was three seconds from punching him square in the jaw and-
“Hey there babybird.” Tim glanced up, and god the first thing he caught was Jason’s easy smile. He felt his stomach drop- and this was the opposite reaction he meant to have. Truly. “Hope you didn’t have to wait long.”
Tim managed to shake his head- truthfully, he hadn’t been waiting long, every second just felt like it dragged for an hour. Jason kept up that smile, pulling a chair opposite Tim out at the small table and settling down. His eyes were hidden behind sunglasses, and Tim was almost thankful for it, thankful that at least Jason looked closer to normal in his black v-neck- but those jeans had still given Tim way too much of a glimpse of those muscular thighs and-
Woah, woah, those were not the thoughts he meant to be having.
“I wasn’t sure you’d still be in Gotham,” Tim admitted, and Jason leaned back in his chair, casually draping an arm over the back.
“Wasn’t actually, I was in Blüdhaven when you called me yesterday. Wonder boy had some intel I needed. I was gonna split, but I thought I’d hang out a day and see my favorite little brother.”
Something about the term little brother made Tim want to cringe- and oh god Jason was meant to be his brother, and whatever the hell was going on inside him needed to get sorted out and fast.
“Favorite might be pushing it,” Tim pointed out, and Jason grinned.
“Between you and the mini batbrat? C’mon kid. You’re less likely to gut me in my sleep.”
“Sure about that?” Jason pulled his sunglasses off then, studied Tim with those gorgeous grey eyes, and his smile turned to a grin.
“No,” he admitted, “I’m not.” And something about that had Tim’s stomach doing flips- the recognition and admission that Tim was just as deadly as the rest of them. And Jason's ease with it. But before he could say anything, could even process it, a waiter was stepping up to their table, offering them a sweet smile.
“Can I get you gentlemen anything?”
Tim licked his lips. “I’ll have a nonfat latte, double shot of espresso and vanilla, please.” The man jotted that down, while Tim looked across the table at Jason, who had quirked up a brow, looking at him like he’d spoken another language. “And he’ll have a coffee, cream but light on the sugar.” Another moment of the notes, and the waiter nodded, offered a coming right up before he hurried off.
“Ordering my coffee for me?” Jason asked, inclining his head slightly. “Thought our engagement charade was done.”
Tim swallowed thickly, folded his hands in his lap. “You looked like a lost puppy for a minute there. And I’ve been around you enough to know how you like your coffee.”
Jason studied him again for another moment. “Never realized you paid attention.”
Tim shrugged a shoulder, glanced down at the table, let his hair fall into his face. “I pay attention to everything,” he said- and honestly, he did- but somehow, he felt like maybe he’d been paying attention to Jason longer than he’d realized. Maybe this crush wasn’t as sudden as he thought it was and-
“Ever the detective.” Tim glanced up, and Jason was smiling, and god, Tim couldn’t believe he could smile like that. It made his heart thump painfully against his ribs, made him want to squirm. He was thankful when their coffee appeared before he had to say anything, thanked the waiter and let his hands wrap around his cup to steal the warmth. He watched Jason lift his mug, exhale over it before taking a very tentative sip. And then another one of those smiles. “Maybe I’ll let you order my coffee more often.”
“You’d have to go out with me more,” Tim pointed out, daring to take his own sip. The liquid was hot, burned over his tongue and down his throat- but almost pleasantly so, in such a small amount.
“I could handle that.” Tim gripped his cup tighter, told himself to take a damn deep breath and get himself together. This wasn’t going at all the way he had planned. He was supposed to be reminding himself that this was Jason and having a crush on Jason was ridiculous-
Not realizing his crush was completely founded and that, honestly- maybe it had been building for a while.
Tim let Jason lead the conversation, and found that he really did enjoy listening to him talk. About anything. But when Jason laughed, he really liked that.
When the universal moment seemed to arise, that it was time to leave, Tim grabbed the check on the table before Jason could, handing it and a few bills off to the waiter, telling him to keep the change.
“I could’ve bought my own coffee,” Jason reminded him, as they headed out of the little cafe, back onto the busy Gotham streets.
“I asked you out, only seemed fair.” Tim regretted the words the moment he said them, realized maybe they sounded like this was something it wasn’t- because it wasn’t a date, because this was Jason, and Jason wasn’t interested in Tim, and Tim couldn’t stay interested in Jason.
It was just two guys, getting coffee. Catching up, before life got to busy and they went weeks without contact all over again.
Jason gave him a final look, before he slipped his sunglasses on. “Well, thanks Replacement. Don’t remember you being this sweet on me years ago.”
Tim swallowed. Did Jason have to say it like that. “You were a little busy trying to kill me.”
“One of my failures I’m pretty happy about, to be honest.” Jason slung his arm up over Tim’s shoulders, giving him a squeeze- and Tim turned into the hug, let his arm slid around Jason’s waist and let his face press against his chest, for just a moment.
Probably just a moment was still too long- but Jason smelled like cologne and smoke and god he was warm, and Tim felt like his knees were going weak. He felt him chuckle, and the arm on his shoulders tighten.
“We doin’ the hug thing?” Jason asked, and Tim went to pull back, blushing lightly- but he was too slow. Jason pulled him into a full embrace, got both arms around him and squeezed. Tim made a surprised little squeak, and Jason kept laughing. “Relax Timbo, I won’t break ya.”
Oh, Tim was very, very sure Jason just might, without even meaning to.
Tim meant to leave Gotham, sometime over the next few days. But an incident on patrol with a few Arkham escapees left Damian with a messed up shoulder, and Bruce had asked him to stay a few extra nights, to compensate. He didn’t exactly mind, the team didn’t really need him at the tower, and he was afraid all the down time would just lead to him mulling over Jason more.
So he’d take insane nights back home if it meant he could ignore that, for a little while.
It was the middle of the afternoon, and he was stretched out in his bed, nursing some pretty sore ribs and thinking he might actually try to get some extra sleep, before going out that night, when his phone started buzzing on his nightstand. He reached for it blindly, thinking it would be Bruce, about that night- or even Damian, the kid was already suffering from Cabin Fever, and it had just been a few days.
“Hello?” he mumbled, not bothering to even look at the name on his phone.
“Hey babybird. Did I wake you up again?”
Tim tensed upon hearing Jason’s voice, let his cheek rest against his pillow as he forced out, “No. Not quite. I hadn’t fallen asleep yet.”
“You have a rough night?”
“Sort of,” Tim admitted, “couple of sore ribs. Nothing that won’t fix itself though.” He paused- Jason had to have a reason for calling. Wasn’t like he’d just call to check in, right? “Did you need something?”
It may have come out a bit harsher than Tim meant, and he winced the moment he was done speaking. But Jason only chuckled. “You’re such a little grouch when you don’t get your sleep. Which is always.”
“You and your little friends take a beating last night?”
Tim frowned at that. “I’m still in Gotham, Jason.”
There was a moment of silence, and then, “Oh.” Tim furrowed his brow- if Jason hadn’t known that, then- “Well then, how about dinner?”
What? “Uh, what?”
“You know, that meal that comes in the evening. The one Alfred used to get angry if we were late for-”
“I know what dinner is you ass,” Tim said- but god, he was smiling, almost giggling. “You’re asking me out.”
Okay, he shouldn’t have put it like that. He really shouldn’t have put it like that.
“Only because you don’t want me mucking up your kitchen, I’m sure. Unless you’re at the Manor- because if I could sneak myself into Alfred’s little cooking haven-” Tim snorted, and he could tell Jason was grinning, from his voice.
“No, I’m at my apartment still.”
“Ah. Well, the offer still stands. You gotta eat before you go out and all.”
Tim rolled onto his back. “Tell me you’re at least taking me someplace nice.”
He heard Jason laugh. And it made him shiver. “Dress cute babygirl, I’ll come get you in two hours.” The line went dead, and Tim lifted his phone up, looking at it. Jason hadn’t corrected him- and that stupid pet name.
It wasn’t a date. No way it was a date.
Okay, maybe it was a little bit a date. But just a little.
Tim reasoned it was only a date in his head, but he guessed that made it a half date, as he primped in the bathroom mirror. He tussled his hair, running his fingers through it, wondering if he should pull it back or not, wondered if he should do something to it, when he heard Jason knocking at his door. Well, he heard knocking, but honestly, who else in the world but Jason would be coming to see him?
That thought was a little terrifying.
He flicked the bathroom light off and headed for the door, unlocking it and pulling it open. Jason offered him a smile, the sort of cocky one that made him look like some sort of devil, and Tim felt his belly going tight.
“Hey,” Tim said, and he felt more than saw Jason’s eyes sliding down him. And then that smile- it grew.
“Hey Replacement. You took the cute bit serious, I see.” Tim flushed a little, awkwardly pulling at the end of his pink button down. The top couple buttons were open, and it hugged him probably a fraction too tightly- but not nearly as tight as the floral printed pants he was wearing, tucked into his boots.
“Well, you said to,” Tim countered, folding his arms, trying not to take Jason in at all. Head to toe black and he looked better in it than Bruce could ever dream of. Tim told himself not to stare as Jason took a step back, held his arms out.
“I tried to clean up for you.”
Oh god how was Tim supposed to take that? He let himself go, for a moment, took in Jason’s black button down, the black pants, boots- even his leather jacket was black.
“You raid Bruce’s closet?” It was a cover for the fact that his heart was pounding in his head, his pulse beating into his temples. Jason snorted.
“He wishes he looked as good as I do.” Oh, Tim didn’t doubt that. “You ready? Because I’m starving.”
“Yeah,” Tim said, checking his pockets for his keys and then flipping the light off, tugging his door shut. He locked it. “So are we taking my car or-”
“Thought you might like to take a ride with me,” Jason offered, as they started down the apartment stairs. They stepped outside, and Jason headed over to his bike, pulling out his own helmet and a spare from under the seat. He tossed it to Tim- kept that cocky smile on his face, and Tim told himself his fingers weren’t shaking, as he pulled the helmet onto his head.
They absolutely were.
Tim was glad for the helmet, even as he pulled it off and knew his hair was probably going flat. Because it meant he couldn’t rest his cheek against Jason’s back, couldn’t smell him- couldn’t get himself into trouble. Having to hold onto his waist had been hard enough- he’d wanted to wrap his arms around him, to snuggle in close-
Woah, woah, snuggle? Maybe that was a bit much.
“You killed my hair,” Tim said, handing the helmet off to Jason and finger combing his hair. Jason rolled his eyes, stashed the helmets, and then reached out, ruffling both his hands through Tim’s hair. Tim gave a shocked little squeak, before Jason began combing his fingers through it, taming it.
“There, all fixed. Now c’mon.” He took Tim’s hand, guiding him down the crowded street. Tim followed, into some building that was low lit, the humming beat of music greeting his ears. Jason gave a name to a woman, dressed in all black, who nodded him inside.
Tim tried to get his bearings. He thought he’d heard of this place, if the name on the building had been anything to go by. Some new up-and-coming hip restaurant. Actually, if he remembered, it was a real bitch to get a table without flashing a fancy name-
“How did you get this table?” Tim asked, after they’d ridden a damn elevator up a few floors and were seated by the large windows. He could see the city bustling about outside, as the sky was getting dark. He was all too aware of his phone in his pocket- and maybe he should have told Bruce he was going to be heading out later than usual-
“Pulled some strings,” Jason admitted. “What? Don’t give me that look. I couldn’t just take you to the corner burger joint, and I wasn’t about to force you to sit through the sort of stuffy dinner you’d suffer through with Bruce and all his business friends.” Jason leaned back a little, and the lighting outside was catching his hair, his eyes- and dammit he looked so good and he wasn’t even trying. “Wooing Tim Drake isn’t exactly easy, kiddo.”
Tim rolled his eyes, reaching up to cover his mouth and try to stifle a snort. But mostly, to hide the blush on his cheeks. Jason was joking, right? He had to be. No other explanation.
“Funny,” Tim offered, flipping open the menu and glossing through it. He was all too aware of Jason watching him, and after a moment, he glanced up. “What?”
Tim furrowed his brow. “Of course.” It came out easily, because honestly? Tim did trust Jason. A lot more than he’d let on. A lot more than he did a lot of people.
Jason offered him up a warm smile and reached across the small table, shutting Tim’s menu. “Let me order.” Tim quirked up a brow. “I know your tastes. And I know you don’t want anything heavy before patrol. And I know you’re going to want to try everything and end up getting flustered when you don’t know where to start.”
Tim opened his mouth, before he snapped it shut- because honestly, Jason was right. Too right. And that was a little scary.
“Okay,” he said, “But only because you trusted me with your coffee.” Jason chuckled, and Tim tried to not memorize the sound, to lock it away in his ribs for later.
His trust had definitely been well placed. He’d stolen another glance at the menu while Jason was ordering and yeah, he wanted to try everything and there was no way he could have made a timely decision. Nor would he have been smart and gotten something light, and he would have felt sluggish the whole evening.
The salads Jason had ordered both of them had more things on them than Tim could even name, but they were delicious, and different. Tim had had to bat Jason’s hand away when he stole a bite- before Jason was shoving his plate towards him, lifting his brows because he knew Tim wanted a taste.
Well, maybe he didn’t exactly know.
“I’m never doubting your taste,” Tim said, studying the thinly sliced almond on top of the chunks of salad on his fork. Jason grinned.
“You’d be shocked, it’s pretty good. I mean, I did bring you, after all.” Tim blushed a little, shoving his fork into his mouth and forcing himself to chew, swallow, not respond right away.
“Careful, words like that’ll lead you right back to my apartment.” It was a joke, Tim swore- really. But Jason smirked, that devil kind- handsome and making Tim’s thighs tremble.
“Yeah?” He leaned over the table slightly, and Tim felt like he couldn’t look away from those eyes. “Sounds like a good end to my night. Not sure daddy Bats would approve of you skipping out on family game night though.” Jason winked, and Tim swallowed thickly, was so damn tempted to push himself up and lean the rest of the way over the table- to lose his mind and kiss Jason like he’d been thinking about, since that one kiss Jason had given him-
He was saved by a set of vibrations in his pockets. He shifted, glancing down- and Jason looked away, looking out towards the city. Tim pulled his phone free, saw a text from Bruce- Where are you?- and sighed.
“That’s him,” Jason said without looking, and Tim nodded.
“Yeah. I… I probably need to get suited up and out there. I’m sorry Jay.” Jason glanced back at him, and Tim tried not to read into his eyes, the fact that they almost looked sad.
“Nah, don’t apologize. I knew we didn’t have long.” He turned, gave their waitress a little wave, pulling his wallet out as she walked over. Tim had just finished up a message to Bruce, Sorry, running late. Meet you at check point seven in thirty, when he glanced up, and then frowned as the waitress walked away.
“I could’ve paid for that,” Tim pointed out, “This place has got to be ungodly expensive.”
Jason waved him off. “Hush babybird. Keep that damn black card with Wayne printed all over it away from me. I don’t mind. Besides, I owe you for coffee.”
“This is like, thirty coffee dates,” Tim pointed out, as the waitress bought him his card back. He gave her a flashy smile, signing the receipt, before he tucked his card away.
“Well then, better clear your schedule for a while. Now c’mon, before B decides to come get you himself.” Jason stood up and Tim followed suit, watched the other man walk around the table and offer his arm. Tim glanced at it for a moment, before he took it, leaning against him gently, heading for the elevator. He tried to keep from leaning into Jason, but each inhale was a drift of his cologne and smoke, and suddenly the scent wasn’t a memory but right there, and Jason was warm, and Tim really just wanted to snuggle into his shoulder.
He was well beyond the point of being able to stop these thoughts, but he could at least keep himself in check and not act on them.
They reached the door and paused, noticing it had begun to rain. It wasn’t heavy, and Tim figured it didn’t matter, since he was just going to suit up the moment he was in his apartment- but he heard rustling and looked over, noticing that Jason was shedding his jacket. He opened his mouth to say something, but then Jason was moving in front of him, holding it in one hand and opening the door- holding it open for Tim. Tim stepped out, and the moment Jason let go he was holding his jacket up, fanning it over Tim in a make-shift umbrella.
“Jason what are you doing?” Tim asked, staring up at him, confused. Jason smiled, the rain misting into his hair.
“Being a gentleman,” he said, and Tim sucked his lip into his mouth- but reached up, helping to hold the jacket up, his heart beating a mile a minute. When they reached Jason’s bike, Tim held the jacket up himself, while Jason grabbed his helmet, and then settled it carefully over Tim’s hair. Tim sucked in a breath, swore this wasn’t happening- “Put it on before you get sick.”
Tim lowered the jacket, shrugging into it. It was too big on him, but the leather was warm and warn and strangely soft, and god, he knew it smelled exactly like Jason did. He watched Jason put his own helmet on and climb on, before climbing on behind him, grasping at his waist.
Jason turned, the bike not started yet. “Might wanna hold tighter,” he said, “You know, the roads are wet. Might be slippery.”
Tim didn’t need another reason. He leaned closer, pressed against Jason’s back, his arms locking around Jason’s waist, and Jason was turning back, starting his bike and pulling them into the roads.
It was still raining lightly when they got to Tim’s apartment. Jason killed the bike and Tim regrettably pulled his arms from around Jason, reaching up to pull his helmet off. He climbed off the bike and passed it to Jason, who hopped up long enough to stash it safely, before climbing back on. Tim went to take Jason’s jacket off, but the other man was shaking his head.
“You need it.”
Jason tugged his helmet off, his hair going to wild curls from the rain that had stuck to it before. Tim wanted to tangle his fingers in them. “Nah, keep it Timmers. I’ll get it some other time.” Tim let his fingers play along the edges of the sleeves, licked his lips.
“Thanks for, uh, dinner. It was nice.”
“Nice enough that you’ll do it again?”
Tim laughed. “Yeah, if you keep cleaning up and spoiling me.”
Jason grinned. “Can do babygirl.” Tim felt color rising in his cheeks- and he just couldn’t be sure what this was- was it all a joke, was he reading into things, was he being dense- god, did Jason even know? “You better go before the big bad bat gets too impatient.”
“Yeah.” Tim fidgeted, and then forced himself to ask, his tone light, joking, “Not going to ask for a goodnight kiss?” Jason kept his grin, and Tim thought they might laugh, Jason might ruffle his hair, and he could move on with his night.
“Well, if you’re offering.” Tim felt his breath hitch, and Jason motioned him down, with a curl of his finger. And Tim- god, what was he doing, what was he thinking? He bent over, felt Jason reach up, sink a hand into his hair, slowly dampening with the rain, before he leaned up and closed the gap, pressed his mouth right against Tim’s. It was slow, different from the kiss Tim had gotten at the expo- Jason’s mouth was warm though, like he remembered. He tilted his head, following the slow, heavy movements of his lips, had one hand gripping at Jason’s shoulder before he even realized he had moved, reached out to him.
Tim felt his legs trembling, when Jason pulled back, minutes too early- hours, if Tim was honest. He would have sold his soul to have Jason kiss him like that all night. He let his eyes flutter open- god, when had he even closed them?- and Jason was looking at him with a lazy smile.
“Careful,” Jason whispered- and was his voice a little husky? Was Tim imagining things? “Those are the sort of kisses a guy gets addicted to.” Tim pulled his hand back from Jason’s shoulder, only because he knew his hands were shaking, and Jason reached out, like he meant to pat Tim’s cheek playfully. Instead he dragged his knuckles tenderly against the warm skin. “I’ll see you around, babygirl.”
Tim nodded. “Yeah. Th-thanks for tonight.” Silently, he cursed the stutter, the way his heart was hammering like he had run a marathon over all of Gotham’s rooftops. “I had a good time.”
“That makes two of us.” Jason lifted his helmet back onto his head, revving his bike back to life. “Stay safe Tim.” A nod, a quiet you too, and Tim watched Jason pull off, into the street. Watched until he rounded a corner and was gone.
For a moment, Tim stood in the rain, before he turned, hurried inside, up the stairs to his door. It took him three tries to get his key in the lock, his fingers shaking o bad- and once he was in, he leaned heavily against the door, scrubbing his hands up over his face.
That… was more confusing than anything Tim had ever gone through in his life. He had no idea what that had even been- was it a date? Was it two guys catching up and having a good time? Then why had Jason kissed him?
He wrapped his arms around himself, hugged tightly. Jason’s jacket felt so good around him, he didn’t want to shed it, didn’t want to suit up. He wanted to crawl into bed and smell Jason all around him, wanted to call him and tell him to come back, come inside. Tim would make coffee. They could talk all night. Patrol be damned- Gotham could fend for herself. Bruce could handle it alone for a night.
Maybe Jason would kiss him again. Maybe Tim would get the courage to kiss him first. Maybe he’d spend half the night wrapped up in Jason’s arms losing himself in the sweet heaven he had never known he wanted, in that mouth.
Tim sucked on his lip, forced himself away from the door, heading for his bedroom. He tossed Jason’s jacket on his bed, began to work of unbuttoning his shirt, so he could suit up. Knew he couldn’t put it off any longer.
But he figured he wouldn’t be much use. He’d spend the whole night swinging in Bruce’s shadow, wondering if maybe Jason felt a fraction of the burning crush that suddenly felt like it would consume Tim whole. He really couldn’t lie to himself now, after that- he liked Jason more than a little. He liked him a lot. A lot more than he was ready to process, but that wasn’t stopping it.
He just wished he could figure out where Jason stood- and if these were all his usual harmless jokes, his playful ways- or if maybe he really meant what he said.