Work is really super busy right now (three day long overnight camp for work followed immediately by getting transferred), so I might not be able to update at all for the next couple of weeks. I hope you have a super great week or two, and hopefully I’ll see you all soon!
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.
Sam is the first to tear up when they had a movie night early on in their relationship; they’d been watching My Fair Lady and he’d glanced away from the screen a lot, clearing his throat and looking suspiciously shiny-eyed.
“Is… does something bad happen in this movie?” Steve asked carefully. On Sam’s other side, Bucky frowned uncertainly; he’d seen Sam with tears streaming down his face before, but Sam had also just been blasted in the arm by a particularly nasty laser (Bucky tore the offending Hydra agent apart. Not literally, but the agent certainly regretted his life choices nontheless.)
“Nah, not really– unless you count Eliza ending up with a sexist dickhead– shit, sorry, spoilers.”
“Dammit, Wilson,” Bucky muttered, “I was rooting for her.” Then he added, “Something else?”
Sam took a long time to answer; when he did, it was so quiet that anyone without super hearing might have missed it. “This was ma’s favourite movie.”
Steve’s face crumpled into a look of pure heartbreak, and Bucky squeezed Sam’s shoulder reassuringly.
Darlene Wilson had been a vibrant, warm woman who had loved her children and community fiercely. She also had a sharp mind, a teasing smile just like Sam’s, and a penchant for taking up hobbies that … actually explained why Sam was the way he was (the latest had been rock climbing with a group of adventurous older ladies from her church.) She’d planned to go to college and major in Women’s Studies. She’d been key in organizing the new large community garden. She’d been known to have a cackle that could cut through a crowded room, a staredown that could quell the most furious person, and a hug that could ease almost any ill.
Sam missed her so much he couldn’t breathe sometimes. She had passed unexpectedly in her sleep a few months before, and Sam still found himself taking pictures of fat little birds to send to her email. The smell of fresh earth made him think “I should go help ma with her garden this Sunday” before he caught himself. My Fair Lady made him remember her voice, sweet but just a little bit offkey, singing along with “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.” If she’d had the energy and was in the mood, she’d take a few turns around the small living room with Sam and his sister, making them both grin with embarrassment as though they hadn’t loved dancing with her since they were able to walk.
“I’m sorry, Sam,” Steve said, forlorn. Sam blinked a few times, not trying to stop the few tears from slipping down his cheeks.
“This– this was one of her favourite songs,” Sam said, gesturing at the screen. Hepburn twirled and beamed, reminiscing about her night out– and Bucky straightened next to Sam.
“I know this one.”
“You do?” Sam asked, raising his eyebrows. Bucky hadn’t seemed like the type to enjoy musicals, but they were learning a lot about each other nowadays.
“Yeah. I… dunno how. But– yeah, I’ve never seen the movie but I know this song.” Bucky smiled a little as he watched the screen, and unconsciously hummed a few snatches of the tune. He caught Sam’s eye and blushed a little. “Your mother had, uhm… good taste. This is– I like this song.”
“Thanks, Bucky,” Sam said softly. His smile still felt a little wobbly, but he leaned forward and planted a kiss on Bucky’s cheek. It was the first time he’d done so, and Bucky couldn’t stop his own shy smile. Steve looked over the moon and squeezed Sam’s hand before murmuring, “Thank you for sharing this with us, Sam.” This moment, this film this life.
And if Sam cried a little more when Steve suddenly bounded to his feet and tried to convince them to take a few spins around the coffee table with him, it was with laughter, and imagining how happy his ma would be seeing how loved her son was now.