Spoilers: set during '52' and 'World War Three'
Prompt/Fill: fills "ostracised from society" on my hc_bingo card
Warnings: these boys have filthy mouths
Word Count: 2551
Summary: Nobody wants Eddie, or so he thinks.
Word of the Day: vilipend, verb:
1. To regard or treat as of little value or account.
2. To vilify; depreciate.
Note: Part of the Revenir!verse
Time Will Reveal
"A kiss makes the heart young again and wipes out the years."
"Are you all right?" Nightwing asks, gentle under the put-on gruffness demanded by the mask.
Eddie keeps a hand pressed to his forehead for a moment, then looks up with a sigh, raking his fingers through his long hair. "Yeah."
Saved by a former Robin -- and he'd thought his night couldn't get any more depressing. Eddie hadn't even wanted to fight his attackers, and Nightwing had swooped in out of nowhere, beat everyone up, and carried him off to a rooftop. Nightwing is on the long, ever-growing list of people Eddie never wants to see, and just one of the reasons is because he stopped Eddie from getting beat up tonight.
'I deserve to be hurt,' Eddie thinks to himself, 'Everyone thinks I'm worthless and they're right. The Teen Titans don't want me, the Everyman Project doesn't want me... hell, Danny didn't want me. Not even my own parents...'
"You sure? You look pretty out of it, man."
Eddie focuses back on the man in front of him. "Why do you care?" he snaps.
Nightwing laughs, which is kind of weird and kind of familiar (even more weird for being familiar, since Eddie never hung out with the guy when doing the hero thing before). "Would I be running around in this getup if I didn't care about getting people out of trouble?" He holds out a hand to Eddie. "Seriously, though, you okay?"
"I'm... not sure," Eddie admits, reaching out to take Nightwing's hand. He lets the taller man pull him to his feet, grateful when he doesn't sway after Nightwing lets go. "I really wasn't expecting this turn of events, if I'm gonna be honest with you."
Nightwing shakes his head. "Didn't know you were ever anything but honest."
Those words stab into Eddie's heart, unexpected and hurting all the more for it. The only way that Nightwing would know anything about Eddie is if Robin -- his Robin, his friend Jason, not the new guy running around nowadays -- told him something. Because the way Nightwing is acting, he must have recognized Eddie -- and the only thing that makes sense to Eddie is that Nightwing must have intervened and saved him based on the fact that he used to be Robin's friend. He doesn't reply, can't really force words out of his tight throat, and just walks along the rooftop in silence as he follows the masked vigilante's lead.
And it's a while before Nightwing speaks again.
"So, you're a long way from home, Hollywood. Unless your parents finally decided to act like parents?"
'Wait. How does Nightwing know anything about my parents?' Eddie thinks, confused as hell by the hero's words. He takes a closer look, trying and failing to remember details from what he's seen of Nightwing from news reports and the like. He's got nothing else to go on. Jason wasn't exactly forthcoming -- or allowed to be forthcoming -- with information on his so-called 'big brother' back in the day, and--
Nightwing raises an eyebrow at Eddie's scrunity and smirks. Eddie is sure his heart stops for two whole seconds, because he knows that look, he knows who it is in front of him. It's not Nightwing, it's...
"Jay..." Eddie breathes -- and before Nightwing can protest his using that name, he's got his arms full of Eddie, and Eddie's mouth is hot and soft and desperate over his, they're kissing and he's not sure what else to do but kiss back. Eddie makes this soft sound -- maybe a groan, maybe a sob, Jason isn't sure what -- and clings to his shoulders before pulling back and hiding his face against Jason's neck.
Jason -- not Nightwing, it feels wrong to think of himself as Nightwing right now, so he lets that persona fall away -- jokes gently, after a moment of quiet, "...this is so against the hero rules, you know."
Eddie's laugh is muffled against Jason's neck.
"I mean it. It's like... unethical and shit for me to make out with you after saving your life." He runs a hand through Eddie's long red hair and says seriously, "Do note that's pretty much the only objection I have to this kissing thing."
"Okay." Eddie looks up at Jason, and reaches up a hand to tuck an errant curl of hair behind Jason's ear. He sighs and confesses, "I've wanted to do that since we were fourteen."
"Well, I was an idiot at fourteen, K.D."
"Eddie," he corrects, and looks away for a moment. "Just Eddie."
Jason tries to catch Eddie's gaze again. He's confused, but the little inconsistencies of finding Eddie here -- in Metropolis, near the New Troy neighborhood, how he hadn't even tried to fight off the muggers who went for him -- start to come together with what he knows about the world in general. "Were you here to sign up for the Everyman Project?"
Eddie nods. "They turned me down." He can't stop the bitter little laugh from escaping as he says, "You're not surprised. No one would be."
Jason shakes his head, gently leading Eddie in the direction of where he hid his motorcycle. He figures this is a conversation that should be carried out in a safer place than some random Metropolis rooftop. "You were a hero without metahuman powers. You don't need them."
Eddie follows, implicitly trusting Jason. Maybe it's foolish, but he's been feeling foolish quite a bit -- feeling downright stupid, truth be told -- lately. "The world is different now, Jay. Ever since you--" he cuts himself off, blushing fiercely. How could he be so callous, to almost--
"Ever since I died." Jason finishes flatly. "You can say it. It's just true."
Eddie goes even more red-faced, and Jason feels remorse stab into him at that. "I... I don't like t' think about... any of that..."
'God, he... he really means it.' Jason realizes. 'It fucking hurts him to think about it and he's not lying...'
"It's all right," Jason says, a little thickly, because he has to speak past a lump in his throat. "I don't either." He releases the grapple hook of his right gauntlet, pulling out a length of de-cel cable and winding it around the guard-rail at the edge of the roof. He climbs onto the guard-rail and beckons to Eddie with his left hand. "Come on."
Eddie blinks. It takes him a second to realize that Jason isn't leaving him. He had expected it -- it happened often enough with other people when he stuck his foot in his mouth. He steps closer, and Jason grabs his hand.
Eddie scrambles up onto the top of the guard-rail and clings tightly to Jason, arms around his shoulders again. "Wish my trident weren't busted..."
"Aw, K.D." Jason murmurs in his ear, and Eddie swears he's using that old nickname on purpose (the bastard), "Don't you trust me?"
"Hell, n--" Eddie yelps as Jason tilts them backward, falling free of the side of the building. He shuts his eyes and hisses curses while Jason whoops gleefully as he rappels them down to street level.
Once they get back to the little apartment, Jason sits Eddie down on his couch. (It's a place being sublet to him for two weeks, while the actual renter is out of Metropolis on a business trip. He's been doing this sort of thing, moving around the East Coast, since he took on big brother's mantle.)
"I'm gonna go change. You want anything from the kitchen, feel free."
"Okay," Eddie says. But when Jason comes back after changing into sweatpants and a t-shirt, Eddie hasn't moved from the couch -- he's just sitting there with his head bowed over his hands, silent.
Jason worries his lower lip between his teeth. Of all people, he's probably the worst one to ask when it comes to dealing with depressed people. He's been starting to understand that his methods of dealing aren't... normal human methods of dealing with grief and anger. (Although given that he hasn't exactly had a normal human experience, what with the coming back from the dead and all, he's got an excuse.) And the very last thing he wants to do is fuck up Eddie.
It's just... he remembers Eddie. How he used to be. So eager to be a hero, so smart and brave... He remembers Eddie's smile in those days, bright and honest and open (everything Jason tried to be as Robin, but felt he could never pull off). Jason wishes that, of all the things that changed in the world, Eddie could have remained untouched.
But that's a silly, selfish, stupid wish. If Eddie has changed, if his bright spirit has dimmed, isn't that Jason's fault? For dying on him, for making Eddie lose his best friend. For not being there as Danny continued to ignore Eddie's efforts to make him proud, to be worthy of being his partner...
Jason shakes his head sharply, as if trying to dislodge those useless, recriminating thoughts. And he goes into the kitchen to make tea. Tea was always Alfred's answer for these situations -- although he'd give Jason disapproving looks for heating the water in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. 'Give me a break, Al,' Jason thinks at his mental picture of the beloved butler, with a soft smile. 'I'm in a bit of a rush here.'
A few minutes later, he goes into the living room with two steaming mugs of tea, one in each hand. "Here," he says to Eddie, holding out the one without the chip in the rim.
Eddie startles slightly, and he stares at the cup in Jason's hand for a moment as if confused by it. Then his brown eyes move up to Jason's face and he smiles softly before taking the mug in both hands.
"I, uh... put in some sugar. Two scoops?"
Eddie sips the warm liquid. "It's good. Thank you." It's not like they ever had tea before for Jason to remember how he takes it -- come on, they were preteen-just-turning-to-teen boys at the time, they practically ran on soda and chocolate -- but he appreciates the sweetness of the tea and the gesture itself.
Jason sits down carefully, and for a while they just sit there, drinking tea in companionable silence. It almost seems silly, but Eddie doesn't mind. He didn't get beat up or worse tonight, and Jason is here and alive, and he didn't reject Eddie's advances. This night is probably the best thing that's happened to him in a while.
Besides, Jason has always had moments of quiet, when he will get lost in his own thoughts for a while. It's only ever when there's no other demands on his time, only ever when he feels safe and comfortable... so Eddie doesn't mind the silence. He finishes his tea and sets the mug aside. When Jason takes another sip from his mug, Eddie scoots closer across the couch cushions. He isn't sure what he's going to do, but then it doesn't matter because Jason reaches out with one arm and snags Eddie by the shoulder, dragging him closer.
Eddie sighs and leans against Jason's side. This is good. He's missed being close to someone (anyone at all, with Aunt Marla dead and his parents... being his disinterested parents), and Jason in particular. He puts a hand on Jason’s thigh and closes his eyes.
There's a faint click, ceramic against wood, as Jason sets down his mug. Then he moves to wrap both arms around Eddie.
"I missed you."
"I missed you," Eddie says back, and squirms a little in Jason's arms until his head is resting against Jason's chest, listening to the reassuring sound of his heartbeat. His voice is softer as he says, "...I kept writing you."
Jason tenses a little. "What?"
"Nobody told me you died. So I just kept writing you, even though I wasn't getting any letters back."
Jason isn't sure what to say to that. He lets one hand start petting up and down Eddie's back. Eddie murmurs a little pleased sound and leans just slightly into the touch.
"Eventually... it had to be a couple months later, I think, I got about a dozen of my letters back, all with 'Return to Sender' written on them. And your butler wrote me, saying that you'd died." Eddie shuddered. "I felt so stupid. I'd missed all the news; I wasn't paying attention--"
"It wasn't your fault, and you're not stupid. They should have fucking told you, and sooner than that. And not in a fucking letter!" Jason is getting angrier and angrier the more he thinks about it.
Eddie looks up at Jason, and recognizes how he's working himself up. "Hey. No. They were... they were mourning you, too. I was mad at myself for not realizing... for thinking you were ignoring me..."
"I know, I figured it out after... but I..."
Jason repeats seriously, "I'd never," as he slips his hand under Eddie's chin, tilting his head up, and continues "ever," as he leans down to kiss Eddie softly on the lips, "ever ignore you."
Eddie whimpers, a little brokenly, and moves to clutch at Jason's shoulders, crawling into Jason's lap and kissing him back frantically. He pulls away to pant for breath and whispers, "Jay... god... Jay... M'sorry..."
It takes Jason a while to rearrange them so that they're lying more comfortably on the couch, but once they are, he smiles up at Eddie. "You've got nothing to be sorry about. You're my best friend and I love you." Eddie makes another soft, broken sound, and Jason reaches up to touch his face, cupping his palm against Eddie's cheek. "Whatever you think you did wrong, I forgive you. And I'm sorry... for being stupid and not telling you what I was doing, and then dying on you..."
"You're here," Eddie says, and repeats it like he needs to convince himself, "You're here now."
"Yeah," Jason whispers back, a little strained. He’s not gonna cry. He pulls Eddie closer, hoping the contact will be condolatory enough.
Eddie's breathing goes rough, almost panicked, and he babbles, "You're here and you're alive and-- and I'm not dreaming..."
Jason moves his head and bites at Eddie's earlobe. Hard.
"Fuck!" Eddie startles again, but doesn't pull away. He sounds indignant, "What the fuck was that for?!"
Jason just chuckles and whispers in Eddie's ear, "Still think you're dreaming?"
"You asshole." Eddie shoves at Jason's chest, pushing him back against the couch cushions and away from Eddie's head. He can't keep the little smile off his lips, though, and Jason catches it.
He laughs again. "Sorry, where would you like me to bite?"
Eddie gives a little gasp and goes red. He shakes his head 'no', trying to say he doesn't want...
"Liar, liar," Jason singsongs, putting his hands firmly on Eddie's waist. "You're thinking of somewhere right now..."
"Oh..." Eddie pushes the fingers of both hands into Jason's hair, holding him still as he kisses him hard. "Go to hell," he grumbles, nipping at Jason's bottom lip afterward.
Jason laughs again. "I'd follow you anywhere, Kid Devil."