Terry doesn’t believe the intruder for a second. He’s met Dick. He’s met Tim. He’s met Damian.
He may have never met the elusive second Robin, or know much about him at all since the others never really mention him, but he’s pretty sure Jason Todd is close to Tim’s age.
Even with the best genes in the world, there’s no way this teenager, standing in the secret underground cave of Batman looking younger than Terry, is Todd.
“I’m serious,” the kid smirks even though Terry has him lined up to catch a batarang to the face. The brat is standing there, arms raised in mock surrender, body language loose like Terry doesn’t pose a threat.
It makes Terry bristle a little. He’s Batman. A kid breaking into the cave should be at least a little frightened.
“Ask Bruce, if you don’t believe me. I pinged his handheld to tell him I was on my way. He should be here any minute.”
The kid moves slowly, purposely telegraphing his motions. Still, Terry tenses to throw.
The smirk turns into a grin.
“You can stand down. I’m sure you’re a real pro with that thing but it isn’t going to help you.”
He steps forward, daring Terry to engage.
The batarang sails through empty air. This intruder moves so fast, so gracefully, he must be a meta of some kind. Either a speedster or a mind reader or something.
Terry barely gets his hand on another projectile before the kid is in his space. In a few quick moves, he’s been completely disarmed. The kid knows where all the gadgets are hidden on his suit and relieved him of them while dancing easily out of the way of Terry’s defensive strikes.
Punk has the nerve to give him that lopsided grin again. Then falls into a fighting stance and beckons Terry with a “come at me” motion of his fingers.
Frustrated, Terry does. Takes up his own stance, before lunging.
It becomes clear immediately that neither of them are really trying to hurt the other. The kid is showing off by dodging most of Terry’s strikes and Terry isn’t going to beat up a kid he doesn’t know and whose motivations are unclear, even if he did break into the cave.
After several minutes of the intruder darting easily out of reach and Terry getting increasingly frustrated, the kid finally makes an offensive move.
Terry hardly sees it. But he sees that annoying smirk looking down at him where he lays sprawled on the cold cave floor.
“You’re pretty good,” the kid laughs, reaching out a hand to help him up. Terry doesn’t slap it away but he does ignore it in favor of crawling to his feet on his own power.
He glares at that arrogantly cheerful face.
“Don’t beat yourself up. We’re both in our prime, but I have a lot more experience.”
Terry opens his mouth to argue that such a statement is patently impossible since the kid is so obviously younger than him. But before a word can come out they’re interrupted.
“I see you boys are getting along,” the amused, graveled voice of Wayne chimes from the bottom of the stairs that lead up to the manor.
There is a strange expression on the old man’s face. Terry has seen his little, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it mischievous half smile before. There are shadows of that in the way Wayne's lips are upturned but this is different. More… fond.
“Hey, old man,” the kid says, striding past Terry like he owns the place, right up past the edges of Bruce’s substantial personal bubble. “You miss me?”
Wayne grunts a typical “hrrm” as the kid slots himself against the side opposite where the older man leans on his cane, threads his arm around Wayne’s waist, and gets up on his toes to press a kiss into the old man’s cheek.
The way Wayne’s own cheeks dust pink is so surreal, Terry wonders if he’s accidentally fallen into a different dimension.
“Did you have a nice spar?” Wayne grumbles in that self conscious, interested-but-pretending-not-to-be way he has. Terry’s eyes go wide when the cantankerous bastard actually leans down to drop a kiss into the tangle of black curls that reaches just above his shoulder.
“Sure,” the kid answers when Terry can’t get past the obvious easy familiarity between them. Could this brat actually be Jason Todd? Dick and even Tim are slightly greying, their faces lightly lined with middle age. And while this kid has a shock of white at his fringe, it looks more ‘edgy dye job’ than ‘mark of getting old.’ Not to mention, if Todd and Wayne were on this… friendly of terms, why does no one really talk about the missing member?
“The new kid is really good.”
“I barely touched you,” Terry responds without thinking. Maybe sounds a little more put off than he means to.
They both look up at him. Wayne back to his usual frown, the kid smiling pleasantly.
“You didn’t touch me. But you got closer than most. And like I said, I just have a lot more experience. Plus the benefit of not having to constantly change my fighting style to suit a changing body.”
Wayne's frown drops into a grimace.
It’s definitely a weird comment, but Terry doesn’t know why it would pain Wayne to hear it.
Maybe-Jason notices too.
“Don’t get gloomy on me, old man,” he says with a light jab of his elbow into the elder's side. “I just got back. I need you happy if you’re gonna give me a proper welcome.”
That was said with more than a little innuendo. The quick, cheeky wag of dark brows punctuating the intent.
Terry raises his own brows. “Maybe introductions first?”
Wayne rallies. “Right. You’ve never met. Terry this is Jason—”
“Robin number two, chronologically,” Jason interjects. “Number one in every other category.”
“Hmm. Including most irritating,” Wayne grumbles, but it’s more fond than just about anything Terry has ever heard from him before. “Jason, Terry is—”
Jason grins. “Batman number… what are we at now, B? You, Dickie, you again, Dickie again, Fox, Tim, you again… but who’s counting, right?”
Wayne closes his eyes and sighs.
Even his exasperation is borderline warm.
Terry is just going to say it.
“Shouldn’t you be like, 60 years old now?”
Todd squeezes Wayne to him tighter when the old man gives a little flinch.
“I’m 55, squirt. Respect your elders.”
“You don’t look it.”
“Yeah. I aged like a fucking anime character.”
Terry snorts. “You didn’t age at all. You look, like, 17? 18?”
The grip on Wayne firms even more. The older man looks deeply uncomfortable. But Todd just gives Terry a blinding grin, looking extremely pleased.
“Got it in one, new kid. I died once. Whatever brought me back also gave me the handy little gift of immortality.”
Terry flicks his gaze to Bruce before gawking at Jason. “You.... died? And came back?”
“Yep. It was all very tragic. B still doesn’t like to talk about it—”
“Then maybe you should stop talking about it,” Wayne scowls. “Now he knows. No need to continue this conversation.”
The smile Todd turns up at Wayne is softer and… indulgent. He rests his mop of curls on Bruce’s shoulder.
“Sure thing, old man. Besides, I’ve been gone awhile. You need to remind me why I shouldn’t do that again. Why don’t you give Bats the night off and I’ll make you dinner.”
Not for a single moment does Terry think that’s actually going to happen. Wayne is an obsessive workaholic of the highest order. He’s never willingly given Terry the night off. Crime doesn’t take vacations, McGinnis.
So when Bruce waves him away with a muttered “Good night, Terry”, it takes a moment for the words to sink in.
He turns back as he’s leaving. Sees Jason’s hands cupped around Bruce’s face. They gaze at each other for a startlingly soft moment, then Jason presses their lips together for the kind of intimate kiss that makes Terry feel guilty for having witnessed it.
Bruce watches Jason flit around the kitchen, pulling open all the cupboards and drawers to see what he has to work with. It isn’t much. Bruce usually has Terry order out for him.
The younger man chatters incessantly, telling Bruce about all the missions and adventures that have kept him away for the better part of three years.
He tries not to let the bitterness, that Jason has been gone for so long, overwhelm him. But that boundless, youthful energy and the familiar lilt of his voice only drives home how little time Bruce has left with him. Makes the fact that Jason will replace him many times over in the centuries following Bruce’s death turn his throat dry and his eyes wet.
Jason whips up pancakes from somewhere and joins Bruce at the table where he’s perched.
He makes it through the whole meal. Makes it all the way up the stairs. Makes it into his- their room. Sits on the edge of the bed and watches Jason start to take off his clothes.
“It’s not a gift,” Bruce says quietly.
The shirt is over Jason’s head but he pauses with his arms still caught in the sleeves.
The look Jason gives him is unbearably soft.
“I know.” He tosses the garment to the floor and stands between Bruce’s legs, arms wrapping around Bruce’s neck so his nimble fingers can play with the short strands of very grey hair at the nape. He looks at Bruce with such warmth Bruce wonders, again, what he could have possibly done to deserve this devotion. Especially when the green in Jason’s blue eyes never did fade and never ceases to remind Bruce of old failures.
“I wasn’t going to tell the new kid that on the first meeting,” Jason finishes before pressing a chaste kiss to his forehead. “We get enough pity from the others.”
Bruce winds his arms around Jason’s waist and rests his head against the younger man’s sternum. Relaxes under the gentle touch of Jason’s nails combing through his hair.
After a minute, Jason kisses the top of Bruce’s head and rests his chin there.
“I shouldn’t have left. I won’t this time,” he says, quietly.
“Hmm. Even if I say something stupid again?”
Jason chuckles. “As long as you don’t tell me to get out. You’re stuck with me, old man.”
Bruce wants nothing in this world more than he wants that. Even—
“Though, I do think you should have told me you had a kid. Other than Damian, that is.”
He freezes. Thinks about denying it, about telling Jason he’s imagining things.
“It… it’s not like that. Waller…”
“Ew. Ok, I don’t want to know any more.”
Jason pulls back just far enough to look down at him. Bruce is reluctant to let him even those few inches away. Even if Jason starts slowly undoing the buttons of Bruce’s shirt.
“I know it wasn’t your doing, B. I’m just yanking your chain.”
There’s a beat of silence as Jason finishes. Bruce’s shirt hangs open and the younger man’s warm palms dip under the fabric to smooth down his chest. Bruce shudders. Looks up into those enthralling eyes. Finds the green he wishes he could wipe away.
“He looks older than you. You shouldn’t—”
Jason’s lips cover his, soft and smooth and god, how he’s missed the affection in every one of those gentle touches.
“Don’t, Bruce. Don’t dwell on what should have been. Let’s just… focus on now.”
He lets Jason step away again. Watches his pants hit the floor. Goes easily when Jason nudges him back, over to the headboard so that Bruce can lean against it.
It’s easier said than done when everything they do together, everything they have together, reminds him of the harsh, hopeless reality.
Jason crawls into Bruce’s lap, eyes skimming over every inch of Bruce’s face like he’s trying to remember it for when… no. The now. He’s looking at Bruce like that because they haven’t seen each other in years. Not because Bruce will die soon and Jason never will so Jason wants to burn Bruce's face into his memory.
Jason kisses Bruce and this time there’s more fire to it, like he knows what Bruce is thinking and is trying to lead him away from those thoughts. And maybe Jason does know. No one has ever known Bruce better.
They stay locked together as Jason releases Bruce from the suddenly tight confines of his pants.
Bruce manages only a grunt of concern when Jason immediately starts to lower himself without a hint of preparation. But when he opens his eyes he finds Jason’s usual devilish smirk beaming down at him.
“Shh,” Jason says, putting a finger to Bruce’s lips as he starts to sink onto Bruce’s cock. He’s wet inside already. It makes heat blaze through Bruce and he sucks the digit into his mouth. Jason makes an approving noise. “I knew I was coming home tonight, remember?”
He loops one arm around Jason’s waist, and the other around Jason’s shoulder to cradle the back of the younger man’s head. Uses the leverage to pull Jason to him.
Their kisses are sloppier, less chaste, more heated. Desperate and needy. Making up for lost time.
Jason rocks up and down, grinds against him, moving slow and deliberate, letting them soak up the serenity of once again being in each other’s arms.
Bruce tries not to let it show. Tries to enjoy the fact that he has this, right now, and for the rest of his life.
But he can’t help but wonder how many more times they’ll be able to do this.
Can’t help but muse about how empty the afterlife will be, how miserable eternity seems with the knowledge that Jason will never join him there.
That one day, they'll be separated from each other forever.