An hour ago, if somebody had told Jason that his night would get worse, he probably wouldn’t have believed them— it was bad enough already. He was back in Gotham (the second time since he’d crawled out of his own tomb), and he’d immediately run into one of the people he’d really, really been hoping to avoid.
“Oh,” the kid had said, “It’s you.”
That was all. He’d held his staff out warily too, which was reasonable, considering everything that had happened the last time the two of them had met. Honestly, Jason would have expected a stronger reaction. New kid was very calm.
Not so much anymore.
Fear toxin. Jason knew the feeling. He was fine, of course— safe underneath his helmet— but Drake didn’t have that kind of cover, and he’d gone down quickly. He was lying in the alleyway, twitching quietly, and Jason didn’t really know what to do about it.
It wasn’t his concern, was it? He didn’t ask Drake to show up. They weren’t working together— they’d met up completely by accident, chasing the same lead. This kind of thing happened sometimes; Lord knew Jason had been through enough of Crane’s fearscapes in his time.
Which was making it really hard to leave, even though that was absolutely what he should be doing. Running. Before Batman showed up.
“Dammit,” Jason muttered, bending over the other kid’s body. “Hey, listen— you gotta get back to the cave. I don’t have an antidote for this stuff. Can you walk?” Drake didn’t respond, so Jason reached out a hand, intending to shake him awake.
That did the trick— before Jason could make contact, the other kid pushed himself upright and dragged himself backwards, away from Jason and against the wall. He pulled his knees up to his chest.
“Don’t touch me.”
“Fine.” Jason could respect that. “Whatever. Go home. Can you make it by yourself?”
Drake’s eyes closed again— his hands, clasped around his legs, were shaking. Jason could hear him hyperventilating. He had about thirty seconds, Jason figured, before the hallucinations started, and that meant no, he couldn’t get home by himself. He wouldn’t be going anywhere.
“Alright,” he decided. “I’ve got a bike a few streets over. I can carry you to the—”
“I said no.” Drake was struggling to breathe now, shuddering with the effort of it. His eyes were wide behind his mask. He scooped up his staff from the asphalt and leveled it at Jason, forcing him a few steps back down the street.
“Get away from me.”
“I said get away!” He stared at Jason, past Jason, blankly. The nightmares had started— who knew what he was seeing now? It could be anything. In a hellpit like Gotham, there were infinite options.
But Jason needed to get him home, so he took a step forward and grabbed the end of the staff, trying to wrench it away. Drake didn’t take that well.
“No!” He yanked back his staff and then jabbed it at Jason’s chest. “I’m sorry, okay! I didn’t mean to— I didn’t—” He was still gasping for air. “I was just trying to help. You were dead! How was I supposed to know you would—?”
Oh, Jason though, he’s still talking to me. I’m in his fearscape. Great.
“I thought he needed—”
Jason pulled the staff away and threw it behind him, back towards the mouth of the alley. “Yeah yeah, you thought he needed you. I get it.”
“He needed you. Next best thing.” Drake threw his arms in front of his head, trying to shield his face. “Please don’t…”
Christ. “I’m not going to hurt you, okay? Just… stay there for a bit. I’m backing away now. See?” Jason retreated up the alley with his hands held out in front of him. Maybe that would make Drake feel better.
What was he supposed to do? He wouldn’t be able to take Drake home himself, not if he was going to fight like that the entire way. He didn’t have many options. He could leave— he probably should leave. The toxin would wear off eventually. With all of the confusion, the other kid might not even remember that Jason was actually there— he would be another hallucination.
Or. Jason pulled out his phone and stared at the empty screen. He could— Dammit. Dammit. Fine. He chose the lesser of two evils and dialed.
Or, some Pearletariat in revolt and resistance propaganda shaking the foundations of Homeworld society, with concepts based on a great big headcanon jam with projectormom (do check out the gem caste uprising tag) and jeejyboard.