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[personal profile] munnin
Title: Things to be thankful for
Rating: PG
Characters: Jason, Alfred, Dick, Bruce and Tim.
Series: Home
Disclaimer: No ownership, no profit and no offence meant. Everyone is of the age of consent in their country and period of history
Author’s notes: Beta’d by the wonderful Kyr to whom I am eternally grateful.
Summary: Not the Thanksgiving any of them had planned.


Jason woke from the nightmare to the sweet and somewhat out of place smell of warm cranberry sauce.

“Master Jason.” Alfred called softly from the little nook that served as a kitchen. “Are you alright?”

“’m fine.”

Alfred knew it was a lie; he knew about the nightmares, about the memories, about all the things that woke Jason screaming in the night. But he never called Jason on the lie.

Jason pulled himself up and limped to the kitchen. The cut on his thigh was taking forever to heal and even now the injury wrenched if he moved wrong. “Why does it smell like Thanksgiving in here?”

Alfred had a chair waiting for him at the table, another more resent addition to his increasingly less slum-like crash pad. “Forgive me, Master Jason, I hope you don't mind that I've taken the liberty of beginning my preparations while I was here.”

“Even though I don’t have an oven worth roasting the turkey in." Jason muttered ruefully, sipping the always perfect coffee presented to him. "I'm almost healed, you know. You don't need to keep hanging around.”

Alfred came over with a tasting spoon of cranberry sauce, holding it out to Jason. “You may be getting stronger every day, my dear boy, but I do come here for reasons other than your health. It may have escaped your notice in your convalescence but I do rather enjoy your company. Taste.” He smiled warmly as his sauce garnered a hum of approval from Jason. "Also, here is the only place I can prepare without Master Bruce or Master Dick finding excuses to assist me.”

Jason grinned. “Still can’t keep his fingers out of the cookie jar while you’re cooking.”

“Neither of them can.” Alfred answered with a fond smile. “But then, I seem to remember, neither could you.”

Jason dropped his eyes. It seemed like a lifetime ago since he celebrated Thanksgiving in the manor and in some ways it was.

Alfred pursed his lips, taking a moment to find the right word. “I know we never speak of it but... I for one would be very grateful if you joined us for Thanksgiving dinner.”

“You know I can’t!” Jason nearly upset the mug in his haste to get to his feet. He paced the room a little unsteadily, and leaned on the window sill. “I can’t.”

Alfred followed him, resting a gently hand on his shoulder. “You know Master Dick and I would be there to support you and... He wants to see you, Master Jason. Regardless of what has happened, I know Master Bruce loves you as a son.”

“He tried to kill me, remember?” Jason spat, trying to ignore the knot in his stomach.

“No less than you tried with him, need I remind you?” Alfred answered, a little sharply but he patted Jason’s shoulder and turned back to the kitchen. “Forgive me, Master Jason. I won’t bring it up again.”

Jason sat down, staring into his coffee and feeling horribly like a scolded child who’d disappointed a beloved grandparent. “I’m sorry, Alfred. I just... I don’t think I’m ready. Not yet.”

Alfred started washing up and set the sauce to cool in jars, one of which he put aside for Jason. “I understand, lad. I feel certain the time will yet come. I live in hope anyway.” He pressed a soft kiss to Jason’s brow as he passed, his basket hanging from his arm. “Master Dick said he’d look in on you this evening.”

“Tell him not to bother, the last thing I need is him hanging around, cluttering up the place.”

Alfred only smiled and squeezed Jason’s shoulder as he left. After all, Jason said that about Dick every time.

***

It wasn’t till Alfred was gone that Jason realised how truly and deeply bored he was without Alfred there to talk to, or how much he enjoyed the old man’s company.

There was only so much training he could do given his condition (a fact that was really starting to worry him. How much mobility had he lost in that leg all because of a piece of flying shrapnel?) His weapons had gone unused for a month now and there were only so many times you could clean a gun before it became... well... euphemistic. And thanks Alfred’s regular visits, the place didn’t exactly need cleaning.

Alfred had brought him furniture and appliances, linen and food and the place was becoming... a home. Despite the random drafts and the clatter of frozen pipes every time you tried to turn on a tap.

But home was something Red Hood couldn’t risk. He was compromised here, Alfred and Dick and heavens knew who else could find him. It was only a matter of time before Bruce followed one of them, and he was far from ready for that fight just yet. He looked around at sad few things that were really his – his weapons, a few clothes, not much else really. And the clothes were mostly only wearable because Alfred had mended them. If he left, he left all of it.

Including the jar of still warm cranberry sauce. And everything it represented.

He cleaned his guns again and did the one thing that always took up time – reading.

Since the accident, he found he tired more easily and even limping around the pad was enough to wear him out some days. Not wanting to sleep, he stretched out on his bed with one of his favourite detective novels (another gift, Dick this time) and lost himself for a while.

Sleep however won out eventually.

Not that it lasted.

Jason woke to the sound of someone fiddling with the latch of the skylight. A throwing knife was in his hand in a heartbeat and he threw it on instinct, aiming a little wide just in case Dick was really that stupid.

But the muttered cry of pain as the knife found flesh was too high and too young to be Dick. Jason used the cane to knock the skylight open and drag the boy into the room with a thump. The throwing knife had grazed his throat, not deep enough to kill but more than enough to bleed.

The boy looked up at him with pain in his eyes but not fear.

Not until Jason pulled another knife and threatened to open the cut deeper. “Give me a reason not to kill you, replacement!” All the rage that had welled up inside him for so long boiled under his skin. This kid was pathetic, how could Bruce ever think this brat was good enough to take his place. Blood welled and trickled over the edge of his blade, hot as the anger in his heart.

“Dick sent me.” The boy spluttered, his voice breaking slightly and Jason found himself wondering how young the kid was.

“And what did you do to piss him off?” He growled. “He knows I feel about you wearing my colours.” Not that he was wearing them now. Without Robin – Tim Drake was just a skinny prepubescent bleeding on Jason’s floor. It would be so damn easy to slit his throat and have the vengeance he wanted.

“Alfred’s hurt.”

Two words. Two small words and all the rage turned to ice in his gut. “What? How?”

“Explosion at the markets. The Joker. Batman and Nightwing are going after him but... Dick sent me to find you. Alfred needs you.”

“Where?”

“Mercy General.”

Jason was moving before the words had even left the boy’s mouth. He grabbed his jacket and boots, adrenalin and fear making him forget the pain in his leg. He was down the fire escape and throwing a leg over his bike before he realised the boy was at his side, a bike of his own parked close. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing!” He tossed a bandana at the boy. “Bind your neck and get your ass geared up. You’re no fucking use to them as a civilian. I’ll see to Alfred.” He kicked the bike to life, the back end fishtailing as he tore out onto the street, not looking back to see if the boy was fool enough to follow.

The emergency room of Mercy General looked more like a war zone than a hospital, gurneys and make-shift beds everywhere. Jason fought his way through the crowd, neck craned in hope of finding the old man in all the confusion, but he found Leslie first.

Dr Leslie Thompkins barely blinked at the sight of the young man she helped bury just over a year and a half ago; clearly Bruce still confided in her. She nodded to a corner where the less severely injured patients had been seated. “He’s over there.” She stated without preamble. “Concussion and a few cuts and scratches. He’s damn lucky, saved that little girl’s life. If you remember what to do then take him home. There are plenty hurt worse than him so he won’t get treatment here anytime soon.” She dismissed him without another word and went back to the patient she was tending.

Jason picked his way around the room and knelt at Alfred’s feet, touching his shoulder lightly. “Alfred?”

Alfred was staring down at bloodstained hands, his eyes unfocused and hazy. “She was so young.”

“You saved her.” Jason reassured softly, only guessing Alfred meant the little girl Leslie mentioned. “Leslie says she’s gunna be fine.” It might have been a lie but he didn’t care right now. “She said you could come home with me.” He wrapped an arm around Alfred’s shoulder and helped him to his feet.

Alfred went without protest, letting Jason guide him out to a taxi.

Jason dithered for a moment when the cabbie asked them ‘where to’. By rights he should take Alfred back to the manor but... Jason hadn’t set foot further than the kitchen since he died and there were memories and arguments there he just wasn’t ready to face so he gave his own address. He growled as the cabbie demanded the fare upfront for going into such a shady neighbourhood, throwing a twenty at the guy and ordering him to drive.

Alfred rested his head against Jason’s shoulder as they drove, still more than a little out of it. “You didn’t have to do this, my boy. Could have stayed...”

“Hush.” Jason whispered with surprising gentleness. “You looked after me, it’s only fair.” He helped Alfred up the stairs and settled him in the beaten up armchair. “Just take it easy and let me look after you, okay?” He fetched a basin of clean water and started cleaning Alfred’s cuts and grazes.

And that’s where Batman found them when he appeared at the window a while later – Jay perched on the arm of the chair, carefully washing the girl’s blood off Alfred’s hands as the old man slept. “Step away from him.” He ordered in the deep throaty voice of Batman.

“Keep your fucking voice down.” Jason answered, his voice low and menacing.

“Alfred!” Dick pushed past Bruce, still in costume as he ran to Alfred’s side. “Jay, is he alright? Please tell me he’s going to be alright?”

“Few bumps and bruises but he’ll be fine.” Jason gave an indignant hiss as Dick hugged him with unnecessary enthusiasm. “Get off me.”

Bruce growled again, his eyes flashing angrily at Nightwing. “How long have you known his location? Harbouring a known criminal, I should bench you for that.”

This time it was Dick’s turn to growl. “Harbouring my injured brother, you mean? Your adopted son or have you forgotten that already?” He prowled towards Bruce, as graceful and dangerous as Jason ever remembered seeing him. “And you don’t own me Bruce, remember? I don’t work for you anymore. I’m a Titan now and I’m here by choice.”

“Red Hood is no son of mine.” Bruce’s jaw jutted stubbornly under the cowl. “No son of mine would kidnap Alfred from the hospital.”

“Bruce Thomas Wayne.” The startling fierce sound of Alfred’s voice made all the Bats freeze, even Tim who was doing a sterling job of trying not to be noticed. “You will not speak to Master Jason in that manner, and certainly not in his own home.” He got carefully to his feet, Jason and Dick in close attendance at his elbows to support him. “Master Jason has done nothing but help me today. He has shown the compassion and care of a dutiful son. Whatever differences you may have you will not use me as an excuse to further this petty feud. Master Jason brought me safely here from the hospital on Dr Thompkins behest and has seen to my every need. Master Richard, see that Master Timothy gets home safely and wish his father and Miss Winters a joyous Thanksgiving on my behalf. Master Bruce, you will return to the manor now and we will speak about this in the morning.” He leaned heavily on Jason, his eyes heavy with the weight of the day. “Do you mind if I lay down awhile, dear boy?”

“Not at all.” Jason answered softly, helping Alfred to the corner that served as a bedroom. When he returned, Bruce and Tim were gone but Dick lingered on the windowsill.

“Well that sucked.” Dick muttered, pushing his hair back from his face. “You know he doesn’t mean it, right? Bruce is just...”

“A completely emotional retard?”

Dick snorted a laugh and reached out to pull Jason into a hug which for once he didn’t resist. “Couldn’t have put it better myself.” He rested his head on Jason’s shoulder. “Thanks for looking after him, Jay.”

“Thanks for letting me know he was hurt. Although, you really shouldn’t have sent the replacement. I nearly killed the kid.”

Dick gave a frown and leaned back on his heels. “I know, it was dumb but... I panicked when I heard and I wasn’t sure how else to get word to you. He’s really not that bad, you know. And he worships you.”

“You what now?” Jason’s brow furrowed. “The little prick stole my name. I wasn’t six months dead and that punk’s wearing my colours.”

Our colours.” Dick chided lightly. “And he’s wearing them because he couldn’t talk me into taking them back. He made us, Jay. Tim’s known our real identities for years. And he’s been stalking us for years, taking the most incredible photos but he never told a soul because we were his heroes. He only came forward after you died because he couldn’t bear to see Bruce spinning out of control. He came to me in New York to beg me for help because he could see what we never could – how much Batman needs Robin.” He cupped his brother’s cheek. “B was lost without you. Tim brought him back from the edge.”

“Not far enough back.” Jason growled, pacing away a little.

“Give him time.” Dick pleaded, still hoping there was a chance. “Besides, Alfred effectively just sent him to bed without dinner, on Thanksgiving. You don’t think that’s going to have an effect?”

“Fuck.” Jason leaned against the wall and rubbed his face. “Hadn’t even thought of that.”

Dick rested a hand on Jason’s shoulder. “Happy Thanksgiving, little brother.” He pulled Jason into another hug. “I’m thankful to have you back in my life.”

“Get off me, you freak.” Jason muttered, teasing in his voice as he returned the hug. “You going back to the Tower tonight?”

Dick cocked his head, grinning mischievously. “I was but... now I’m thinking I’m gunna raid Alfred’s kitchen and bring some of that yummy stuff he made over here. What do you say? We’ll make a picnic of it.”

Jason shook his head and laughed. “It’s a good thing Alfred already made me some cranberry sauce.”



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