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an apathy so dangerous

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Jason was tired. It was a bone-deep tired that seeped into his every cell and used him as a puppet. Freshly out of the pit and indoctrinated by Talia, the green had overpowered it for a while, but over time it had grown like a fungus. He could barely breathe without it pricking at his skin and murmuring in his head now. His first few months in Gotham, he’d fought past it. He was too angry to give in. Angry at Bruce, angry at the Replacement, angry at Dick. His wrath fuelled his plan, had him slaughtering people he deemed unworthy of life and establishing order in Crime Alley. His anger gave him life, but with each passing day it ebbed more and more, leaving him a shell of a person. He still followed his vengeful plan to the T but less because he was dedicated and more because he just… didn’t know what else to do.

Some of the working girls had commented on it, most of their wariness having dissolved after he demonstrated how his protection applied to them. They trusted him not to hurt them and not to let anyone who did hurt them get away with it.

“Y’er lookin’ a little lost ther’, Hood,” Maggie, one of the first to start talking to him, had remarked when he stopped by to ask about a new gang. He’d waved her off quickly, desperate not to show how much that was true. How lost, how adrift he felt in this world that knew of him in every form but that he didn’t know.

They knew Jason Todd as the kid who had been picked up off the street and adopted. They knew the second Robin as a dead boy, a warning. They knew Red Hood as an insane drug lord. They knew all about him, but waking up missing time meant that his knowledge had patches out of it. The world had moved on without him.

He thought of all of this as he leaned against the Replacement’s doorframe. Tim—Jason was pretty sure that’s what his name was—slept soundly, oblivious to the murderer just a few feet away. Jason reached up and unlatched his helmet, taking a few steps forward to rest it on Tim’s bedside table. The kid had a bruise spanning across his jaw. Jason absently reached out to stroke it. His hand was about the same size as the side of Tim’s face.

We could kill him, and he wouldn’t be able to defend himself. What a pathetic replacement. We would have woken up the second someone opened the door, the green hissed but it was subdued and weak. Jason yawned, surprising himself a little. When had he last got a good nights sleep? That, combined with his mental exhaustion, left him feeling like a used sponge.

Without really thinking about it, he grabbed Tim’s computer chair and set it by the bed. His feet went up on the frame of the bed and he leaned back. It was almost perfect if not for the way his guns poked at him uncomfortably and the armour left him stiff. Hands set the guns on the nightstand by his helmet and then he set the armour on the ground, leaving him in cargo pants and an undershirt. He spotted a familiar blue hoodie on the ground, one too big to be Tim’s and too worn to be Bruce’s. He slipped it on and was thrown back to sneaking into Dick’s room while he was away and stealing hoodies. It had been oversized the last time he wore it. Now it fit snug. Once more he settled on the chair, now much more comfortable.

It was almost unsettling, he thought, because he could form ideas but none of it was really getting through the fog that layered his mind. If these thoughts were computing, surely his body would stop getting comfortable. Surely, if he could get his head on right, he’d been attacking the Replacement like he’d come here to do. Unfortunately, his brain wasn’t all that interested in receiving information. He didn’t know what his body was doing until it was done. It was something he should be worried about but right now it just felt so nice to not have to think. Lately, he’d done so much thinking, so much planning, so much hating. To hate all the time was to dedicate oneself to misery. Jason had never understood that better than now.

His eyes drooped, just a little and he couldn’t force himself to open them again. All he knew was that he was warm and tired and safe. It had been such a long time since he’d felt safe. Dick’s scent enveloped him like an old friend, the smell of Alfred’s preferred detergent mixed in and even a bit of a hazelnut coffee smell there, likely belonging to Tim. Jason let, just for a moment, this warm feeling fill him up. It soothed the broken, screaming soundtrack that had followed him from the pit.

Sleep, his mind urged him, sounding suspiciously like the older brother he so desperately longed for now. Sleep now, Jaybird. You’re safe. You’re home.

So Jason slept.

 

(The next morning, Tim would wake up feeling a lot better than he’d felt going to sleep. His mind would push away the memory of Jack’s fist hitting his jaw. When he would go to stand though, he’d see feet on the frame of his bed. He’d followed them up to the sleeping face of one Jason Todd. He’d then notice the helmet and guns on his nightstand and the armour on his floor. Quietly, so as not to wake the potentially volatile man, Tim would call Dick and demand he come to the Tower. Dick, confused and worried, would show up and be greeted with the sight of his two little brothers, both dressed in his hoodies, though one fit much tighter than the other’s. Jason would wake up and see Dick. He’d feel a flash of white-hot fury and then he’d be hugged and it would fade. He’d find the real thing much better than an old hoodie. But that would all happen in the morning. For now, Jason slept, finally feeling his tiredness start to fade.)