|What It's Like
Author: Drindalis PM
When Red Hood and Red Robin are caught unaware by the Joker, it could spell the end for both of them. Will Batman get to the warehouse in time, or is Jason doomed to repeat his past with Tim by his side?Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Family - Jason T./Red Hood & Timothy D./Red Robin - Chapters: 2 - Words: 6,837 - Reviews: 31 - Favs: 102 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 03-17-12 - Published: 03-09-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7910306
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
DJG: So, I've recently become obsessed with Jason Todd, and so came this little oneshot thingie. I might write a sequel in the future, but for now, consider it complete.
Muse: Drindalis doesn't own any of the characters, just the plot.
DJG: Also, thanks to julia the anonymous reviewer for catching that mistake in there, I can't believe I missed it! XD It's okay, I'm an idiot...
"I am such an idiot…" Alleged mercenary Red Hood, AKA Jason Todd, thought to himself as he slowly regained consciousness. He noticed that even though he was awake and his eyes were open, he could see nothing except the black rag tied over his eyes. When the Replacement had interrupted a fight he was having with a few scum-sucking rapists, he had let down his guard just for a moment when the kid later mentioned he had left home after a fight with the B-Man.
God knows he could relate. But the familiar feeling of knockout gas causing his vision to slip away…that came too late for him to even shout a warning to the kid before he passed out.
And now they were both caught.
Jason could feel the chair he was bound to rubbing uncomfortably against his leather bodysuit. Hmph. So they had taken his jacket. Lucky for them they did, too, because he had quite a few gadgets in that thing that could have gotten the ropes around his waist off in record ti-
They weren't ropes, they couldn't be. He knew what ropes felt like, they were tighter and made a certain sound when you tugged against them. Even without his vision, he knew ropes weren't binding him in place.
Great. Tim was awake, and from the sound of his groan, he was close. Right behind Jason, to be exact. Judging on the way his voice echoed, they were in a large, open area inside of a building made out of some crappy metal that would rebound sound.
Yeah, Jason's thorough like that.
"Oh, look what we have here! Two little birdies out waaaay past their bedtime!" a chillingly familiar voice crowed, causing the second Robin's blood to run cold.
"Joker!" Tim accused, squirming. The movements could be felt by the other captive, proving that the younger boy was indeed bound behind him in another chair. In fact, they were likely bound with the same substance, if the vibrations of the unknown object were any indication.
Without warning, the blindfold was tugged off by the clown, who cackled madly as Jason flinched visibly. He wasn't afraid, make no mistake, he was more wary and…worried for their safety. Anyone would be in the presence of this madman.
As soon as both boys could see, Jason began assessing the situation. They were in a warehouse, strikingly similar to the one he had once died in. Hopefully he wouldn't have to relive that particular memory…
The room was mostly empty from what Jason could see. A good portion of it was cast in shadow, the skylight the only thing providing light, so he didn't know for sure just what was in there.
And, of course, the most frightening little detail…the 'ropes' weren't ropes, just as expected…it was something much more dangerous. A long trail of TNT snaked around his waist, behind the chair to Tim, and back again. The chain of wick was what bound them together, ending up at the TNT. Both of their wrists were handcuffed behind their backs, and they had been stripped of their weapons. Jason grew nervous as he realized his helmet was gone, but feeling his domino mask still in place, calmed down. It was also worrying, though. If the Joker hadn't kidnapped them to find out their identities and blackmail them, what did he-?
"Knock it off, Todd. You're assuming he's doing what a normal person would do. This guy is crazy, unpredictable, and wild! Don't assume anything!" he thought to himself.
So he gritted his teeth and sent his best glare at the clown, unable, for the moment, to do anything else.
"What's this all about?" Jason demanded, eyes calculating as they followed the Joker suspiciously.
The crazed man laughed aloud. "See, there's your problem, birdie. Always worrying about serious things…when it's better sometimes to just laugh!" He shook a gas can as he spoke, Jason frowning as he noticed the word 'Smilex' printed neatly in white paint on the side. Great. Death by laughter. Definitely not his first choice of how to die. It hovered below 'poisoned by Damian' and just above 'hugged to death by Nightwing'.
Tim made a face, but didn't back down. "Whatever you're planning, it won't work! Batman will come and stop you any minute now, just like he always does!"
Joker laughed wildly, shaking his head. "Do you really think I'm that stupid, birdie? 'We got in a fight, and I left.' He won't be coming for you, or you either, Hoodie. But then again, you're the bastard of the family anyway, he wouldn't come regardless, if it was just you."
Jason let out a snarl of rage, lunging in the Joker's general direction despite the bindings holding him in place. In fact, Tim's feet were lifted off the ground from the force exerted in Jason's attempted attack on their captor. Still, he didn't even come close to striking the source of his rage, the two bound chairs finally landing back in their starting position on the ground.
"Well, that was rude. Maybe I should teach you some manners!" Joker stated cheerfully, wagging the nozzle of the gas canister in a tsking motion.
If looks could kill, the Joker would be a smoldering pile of ash from the first class glare Jason shot his way.
Bruce Wayne looked up, thinking to himself. He had a peculiar tingle that was continuing to roll up and down his spine, and he didn't like it.
The only time he got this feeling was when something wasn't right with one of the boys.
Not only that, but it was stronger than usual.
He finally closed the window on his computer screen, standing and casting a glance over at the display in the corner of the Batcave that housed a familiar Robin suit. It had become a habit for him that hadn't gone away, even after his second son's mysterious revival.
He could hear Damian yelling faintly upstairs, and assumed Dick had done something to anger his youngest child. Typical Damian, if something annoyed him, he'd let you know in his average blunt demeanor, while wearing that expression of total disdain. Despite most people's assumptions, Bruce paid enough attention to his sons to notice the little details.
Bruce smirked lowly to himself, before beginning the trek up to the Manor. When he stepped into the hallway, he found Damian screaming violently at the Dick, who was continuing to follow the youngest son around and mess with him. Alfred was watching this all with a disapproving look on his aging face.
"Boys! Knock it off!" he said firmly, both of them screeching to a halt.
"He started it." Nightwing offered weakly.
"Really, Grayson? Your first instinct is to blame me? How immature." Damian scowled, casting a glare up to his older brother, who immediately ruffled his hair. That only set him off more.
Without warning, the news station that was broadcasting from the living room caught Bruce's attention.
"Arkham Asylum has just informed us that once again, the notorious villain known only by his alias, 'The Joker', has escaped from his cell, and was last seen heading for the west side of Gotham. We can only hope that no one is hurt by this crazed madman, and everyone living near the western boundaries of the city are advised to stay indoors until this evil clown can be brought to justice. Back to you, Adam."
Bruce frowned, the tingle returning with a vengeance.
"Dick, Damian, suit up. We're going out on patrol." he stated, tugging the cowl of the Batman suit up over his head and adjusting it to fit comfortably.
"What about Drake?" Damian demanded.
Bruce headed for the stairs leading up to his third youngest son's room. "Tim? Tim, we need to go now." He received no response. "Tim…? Can I come in?" He cautiously opened the door to Tim's room and found it completely empty, the open window letting the wind blow rain into the room and soak the floor.
"Dick! Call Jason, now! See if he knows where Tim is!" he demanded, bolting down the stairs. His eldest son nodded, pulling his phone from his pocket. Damian was absent, probably having gone back to his room to change into the Robin uniform.
"He's not picking up…it's just ringing…" Dick stated, handing the phone to his surrogate father. Bruce put it to his ear, listening carefully.
The sound of a phone ringing caused the Joker to pause, apparently not seeing the object as a weapon as it was still in Jason's pocket.
"Well, well, what have we here? A late night booty call for our resident angsty pretty boy?" the clown asked, plucking the phone from Jason's pocket and flipping it open. "Make it quick, whoever you are." He paused for a minute, before grinning. "Why, hello, Batty! It's been soooo long since you visited, but now I've got some incentive for you to show up. I've got two little birds here who-ohp! One of them's trying to fly away! How about this to trim your wings?" The Joker abruptly fired a single shot from one of Jason's pistols into the ceiling.
"What's wrong? Can't stand to hear your precious Red Robin die? What about the other one? The Hoodie?" The Joker fired another shot, backhanding Jason as he did so that Batman would hear the small cry of pain.
"Ohhhh, I see how it is. Still don't like Hoodie. Well, that's okay. You can have the bodies, by the way. There's no point in having a bird with broken wings. I'm in a warehouse, by the west side! You might find me before I blow it sky high. Ta ta, Batty!" Joker cackled manically before snapping the phone shut. He had made one critical error, however. Jason's phone wouldn't stop the call unless you pushed the 'end' button. Simply closing it left the Joker's plan open to fall apart. So, Jason took his chance. He had seen, for a split second, a pier number reflected through a window and onto the cover of his glossy black phone. He just had to hope it was the right one.
"Batman! We're at Pier 31!" he yelled, noticing the Joker's expression go stone cold as he crushed the phone in his grip. Tim made a noise of surprise as the clown stormed over to them, annoyance written all over his pale face.
"Looks like somebody can't take a joke! Doesn't make sense, really, as he pretty much just admitted he doesn't care about you…but…I think it's time someone taught you how to keep your mouth shut, Hoodie. Now, what did I do with that needle and thread…?"
Bruce gritted his teeth, handing Nightwing's phone back over to him after the Joker disconnected. "We have to go, now." he stated coldly, walking rapidly down the stairs to the Batcave.
Damian stumbled out into the hall, clad in his Robin outfit as he quickly followed his father and brother down the stairs. "Where exactly are we going?" he demanded, as he buckled himself into the Batmobile.
"Pier 31." Batman said firmly, peeling out. Nightwing watched the headlights disappear down the cave as the car headed for the road and sighed. What had Jason and Tim gotten into this time?
With that question in mind, he hopped on his motorcycle and followed them at speeds that were definitely not street legal.
"There! All nice and quiet!" the Joker grinned widely, looking upon his handiwork. It had only taken a gun to the younger bird's head to get Jason to stop struggling, eyes boring holes in the insane clown who had deliberately made twelve passes with a large needle through his lips, effectively sewing them shut.
Tim, thanks to his position, didn't see it actually happening, but still found himself feeling incredibly sick. If it wasn't for the Joker threatening him, he knew Jason wouldn't have let the Joker even conceive such an idea. Not only that, but he could have let the Joker kill Tim so he wouldn't have any more leverage over Jason, but…
Jason's eyes were more than capable of responding to the Joker's taunts, despite the silence. The clown could practically make out the exact curse words he was using.
"Oh, come now, Hoodie, I like you much better this way. Reminds me of a rag doll my sister used to have…I hated that thing. It freaked me out. I think it was the button eyes. So I killed her and her stupid little doll, too. Hmm…I think that's what this whole 'rag doll' look you've got needs, Hoodie…some button eyes." Joker mused.
Tim lost it.
"Stop messing with him, you freak! I thought you were bragging about having caught both of us? Why not mess with me, instead?" he demanded, causing Jason to shake his head wildly. Their hands, bound behind their backs, touched for a moment, Jason's index finger spelling out sign language that Bruce had taught them long ago in the other boy's palm.
"You make a good point, Red." Joker said, pulling something from his bag of tricks. Jason's helmet, with white paint all over it and a wide, red smile added on for effect. He shoved it on Jason's face, leaving the air filters open. "But you need to quit being so serious all the time or you'll get wrinkles! Lighten up a bit! Here, let me help!" Joker chuckled, spraying the younger boy with the can of Smilex. Jason squeezed his eyes shut and held his breath, avoiding being affected, but Tim received a direct hit. He immediately broke out into frantic giggles, the TNT still tying them together shaking as Tim laughed loudly.
"See? I learned long ago, life's more fun when you take the stick out of your ass and beat the world over the head with it!" Joker shrieked maniacally.
Jason suddenly saw a shadow flash by the skylight, resisting the urge to look up and give away their position.
"It's about time…"
Three figures burst through the skylight, landing behind the Joker, who merely sighed.
"Could you for once, use a door? Is that so hard?" the Joker asked, grinning widely as seven large men walked from the shadows. Pfft. That was nothing. They'd be fi-
Joker abruptly dragged a match across the front of Jason's helmet, letting it catch on the wick of the TNT in front of Tim. The flame began to slowly inch around, reminding Jason that they had about three minutes before the wick ran out. He began squirming, but the wicks were as hard to get free of as before, and Tim was in no shape to help out.
Batman and Robin charged at the men, fists swinging as they easily took down four of them. The other three had actual skills in fighting, one seeming to specialize in street style, one in karate, and one in a foreign type of fighting Jason had never seen before that seemed to rely entirely on nerve pinches and jabs.
Streets feigned a punch at Batman, instead swinging a kick at Robin, catching him hard in the chest. Robin used his sudden position on the floor to his advantage, karate-chopping Jabs in the leg. He was rewarded with a snapping noise. Batman grabbed Karate by the throat and threw him into Streets, both crumpling weakly. They were soon up and ready for more, though.
While this was going on, Nightwing rushed at the Joker, flinging a batarang at him. No such luck. The demented clown ducked away from it, giggling madly as the first Robin grew more and more frustrated. Tim's uncontrollable laughter suddenly subsided for a moment, allowing him to get his brother's attention.
"The fuse! Get the fuse!" he cried as it circled around again. Two minutes left.
Nightwing ran towards them, but was knocked to the side by the Joker's powerful pistol whip to the side of the head, flooring him instantly. The Joker dropped the gun to the floor, unconcerned.
"You see, Batty? Guns don't kill people…people with guns kill people!" the Joker said, laughing.
Batman assessed the situation, turning to Robin. "You got these guys?" he asked. Robin shot him a look. "Okay, you've got them, then. Yeesh." He quickly leaped into action, snatching the gun from the ground by Nightwing's head before any of the goons got any ideas.
Jason looked around, the warmth of the flame telling him that the fuse would be coming around his chest for the last time any second now. Quickly, he communicated the only way he currently could-through Tim.
"T…E…L…L… H…I…M… T…O… S…H…O…O...T… M…E!"
Red Robin's eyes widened. "You're crazy! What will that-?"
"Batman! Red Hood wants you to shoot him!" Tim cried. His mentor shot him a look of confusion.
"What?" the Dark Knight demanded, swinging a fist at the Joker, who eluded him once again, still laughing wildly.
The fuse was now directly over his heart.
Batman suddenly realized his second son's crazy plan, quickly lining up the sights and firing the first firearm he'd ever used.
The bullet struck the fuse dead-on, slicing it in two and also continuing into the teenager's flesh. Blood from the injury quickly flooded the fuse, stopping the TNT from going off. Jason cried out in pain, two of the stitches breaking as he did so. Luckily, by the time the gun had been fired, the fuse had been above Jason's right shoulder, so no lasting damage had been done.
Tim broke out into insane laughter as the Smilex once again took effect, tears rolling down his face. Meanwhile, Damian had finished up with the other men in record time, leaving them broken in an unconscious heap on the floor. Nightwing weakly got to his feet, shaking shadows from his mind as he regained consciousness.
The Joker frowned as he realized he was beaten. "You sure know how to ruin a party, Batty…luckily, I invited a few extra guests!"
Without warning, a large Jeep crashed through the wall of the warehouse, Harley Quinn in the backseat and Poison Ivy at the wheel.
"C'mon, Mistah Jay! Let's get outta here!" Harley cried, the clown leaping into the vehicle and driving off, leaving only a cloud of dust in his wake.
Damian made a face. "Should we pursue him?"
Bruce shook his head. "No. We've got more important things to worry about." he said, undoing the remaining binds around his two sons, looking concerned as Jason slumped forward and would have fallen if Bruce hadn't caught him.
"Jason?" he asked weakly, pulling off the vandalized helmet. He trembled in fury as he saw the black stitching holding his son's mouth shut, accidentally leaving an indent of his clenched fingers in the Red Hood helmet.
Nightwing winced. "The Joker is one sick son of a-"
"No. This is my fault." Batman interrupted. "Here." he pulled a vial of the Smilex antidote out of the Joker's bag of tricks and tossed it to Dick. "Give this to your brother."
Damian looked confused. "Todd is a criminal, isn't he? Why are we helping him? Arkham has plenty of medical-"
"He is not going to Arkham. Never again." Batman stated, inspecting the gunshot wound. It didn't look too bad, but there was no exit wound, which led him to assume the bullet was still inside.
"This is why I hate guns." he thought to himself, lifting the unconscious teen into his arms as he stood. He and Jason may not get along that well, but he still thought of him as his son. Not only that, but it appeared to him that Jason had defended Tim to have received most of the abuse instead of the vulnerable Red Robin getting his lips sewn together. He'd have to get Alfred's help for that one.
"How're you feeling, Red Robin?" Batman asked. Tim's face was still wet with tears of pain, and it made sense that he used sign language to speak.
"Face hurts. Bad. Ow. Yeah, I'm not talking for awhile. How's Jason?"
Everyone found it slightly ironic that the chosen sign for Jason's name had always been making a 'J' in the air with a middle finger instead of a pinkie. Jason had picked that particular sign himself when he first became Robin.
"It makes me look like a badass, right Bruce?" he had asked cheerfully.
"He'll be okay…let's go home now." Batman said tiredly, setting Jason down in the Batmobile, before leading Tim to the front seat and driving off.
Damian made a face of disgust. "What about me? How am I going to get home?"
Dick laughed, gesturing to his motorcycle. "Congrats, Damian, you get to ride bitch or walk home. Your choice."
The youngest son of Bruce Wayne grumbled curses to himself, already having counted the mileage and knowing he wouldn't be able to walk that far. He reluctantly climbed onto the back, Dick smirking at him wickedly as he started the bike.
"You can hang onto me, you know. It's really easy to fall off these things sometimes, especially since we'll be going really fast."
"Don't tempt me, Grayson."
Alfred was used to doing unusual things for Bruce Wayne. It came with the whole 'butler to Batman' thing. But seeing his employer enter the house with an unconscious teenager in his arms and another one carried piggy back style into the foyer…
"Master Wayne, may I inquire as to what exactly happened on patrol tonight?"
Bruce gingerly laid Jason down on the couch, using his cowl and cape to stop the blood from staining the furniture. Alfred despised cleaning out bloodstains. He then gestured for Alfred to follow him as he carried the sleeping Red Robin upstairs into his room, the floor still damp from the open window and the rain. He laid Tim down carefully, before taking the domino mask off as gently as he could.
"Joker kidnapped Jason and Tim and…well…do you think you can take string out of wounds in lips without making the holes bigger? I don't want him to have to remember tonight every time he looks in the mirror." Bruce said quietly, exiting Tim's room.
"You're referring to Master Jason, am I right, sir?" Alfred asked.
"Yes. Tim got the easiest of it. Only a dose of Smilex, but hopefully he'll feel up to talking tomorrow. Jason got smacked around a bit, his mouth sewn shut, and…I shot him."
To his defense, Alfred kept a straight face. "May I ask why you shot anyone, let alone your son?"
Bruce sighed heavily as Alfred began tending Jason's bullet wound. "The boys were tied together with wick and TNT…the fuse was going to detonate…Jason knew that, he told me to shoot the fuse while it was in front of him so it wouldn't hurt Tim or set off the dynamite."
Alfred nodded, cutting Jason's bloodstained shirt away. "Might I just say, that is very…noble of the young master. Most people wouldn't have done it."
Bruce gave a wry smile. "Jason isn't most people."
"Very true, sir."
When Jason awoke, he found himself in his old bedroom with a small bowl on the nightstand filled with small black threads, some dried blood, and a pair of steel tweezers on the nightstand. As he became more awake, he realized how bad being at the Manor was. Especially since he had no memory of what occurred after he passed out in the warehouse.
"Jaybird? You're awake!" Dick said in surprise as he passed by the second Robin's old room. Jason snarled at him, but instantly regretted it as his lips ached in response.
"Choose one, 'Jaybird' or your trachea, because you can't have both!" he grumbled, getting to his feet unsteadily. He noticed that his shirt had mysteriously vanished, leaving only the bottom half of his bodysuit still in place. Whatever, it was June. He wouldn't attract much attention outside, unless someone noticed the bandages from his gunshot wound.
Dick backtracked quickly. "C'mon, Jaybi- Jason! Sit down, stay awhile! Alfred's making pancakes, and-"
"What kind of pancakes will be in the kitchen?" Jason asked suspiciously, his tone suggesting he was asking another question entirely.
"Er…blueberry, boysenberry, raspberry, apple, and hopefully strawberry." Dick said quietly. Jason's favorite pancakes were strawberry.
"Are you positive he's making blueberry pancakes?"
"Um, yes…I hear the blueberry pancakes want a talk with you, and the raspberry ones do, too."
"And the other kinds?" Jason asked, eyes flashing as he dared Dick to lie.
"Boysenberry doesn't give a crap, and apple wants you two to make up. Strawberry seems to just want to sit here and argue with apple, though."
Jason shook his head. "I can't go down there if Bruce is going to question me, okay? Same with the Replacement. Just tell them I died in my sleep or something. Just don't get 'em too excited, or Alfred'll have a whole other mess to clean up…"
Dick scoffed. "Quit being such a…what was it? 'Resident angsty pretty boy', right?" At Jason's alarmed expression, he gave a sad smile. "Bruce decided to torture himself and watch the security footage with me and Damian…it wasn't fun. Looks like you two went through hell."
Jason grunted. "Pssh. I don't want your pity, and I bet the Replacement doesn't, either!"
Dick frowned. "It's not pity, it's concern! Joker's a freakshow-"
"Hmph. Tell me something I don't know."
"-and he pretty much mind-fucked you guys last night. What do you want me to do, ignore you?" Dick asked sarcastically.
"Yes. Yes, that is exactly what I want you to do. Now, where's my helmet?" Jason demanded, shrugging past the first Robin and out into the doorway.
"Erm…Alfred tried to clean it off for you, but the Joker used some high-quality paint, because it's sticking good. Also, Bruce accidentally added some new dents into it."
Jason let out a sigh. "Idiot. That doesn't answer my question. Where is it?"
"It's in the kitchen."
A new hole suddenly appeared in the drywall, Jason pulling his fist out of the wall and shaking the dust off. "Dammit! I don't want to see him!" he complained.
Dick shook his head. "It's just Bruce!" he said in disbelief. "Do you really hate him that much?"
Jason shot him a venomous glare. "Yes, Captain Fucking Oblivious! Not only did I die in that explosion, but he let the Joker live! And because he didn't kill him to avenge me, the Joker has killed countless innocent people! Also, did I mention that I somehow came back to life and had to claw my way out of my own grave? And once I did, I was an autistic killing machine with no rational thought, wandering around Gotham for three fucking years before Talia finally pushed my ass in a Lazarus Pit and made me be able to think for myself again! And once I wanted to come back and find him, I find out that six months, six months after I died, he replaced me! How do you think that makes me feel? Pretty damn unappreciated, if you want to know! So I decide to become the Red Hood and hunt down my murderer myself…and what does he do? What does he do? He tells me that my life and death are his greatest failure! He tells me that he regrets ever taking me in! After everything I went through! YES, I fucking hate him!"
Dick stood, stunned into complete silence.
"Yeah, that's what I thought." Jason muttered, storming down the hallway. He made a face as he tasted blood in his mouth, having re-opened some of the holes during his rant. He purposefully strode into the kitchen with as much dignity as a shirtless, injured teen could manage, reaching for the ruined Red Hood helmet sitting on the table between one plate of strawberry pancakes and one plate of blueberry pancakes.
A hand came down on top of his, stopping him from taking the object and leaving.
Unreadable blue eyes stared into angry green ones that finally relaxed.
"You have five minutes, and then I'm leaving." the second Robin stated coolly.
Bruce sighed, releasing Jason's hand. "Look, I'm not good at this and neither are you, so I'll make this brief. Jason, I never meant for you to die. If you would have waited for me before you went after your mother…but that was my mistake. You were an orphan reunited with your mother, I should have anticipated that you would disobey me and done something to prepare for it. Anyway…I didn't know you were alive, Jason, and it was purely chance that I never saw you during those three years…but would you have really wanted me to see you like that? Like…a monster?"
Jason scoffed. "That's what I am now, isn't it?"
Bruce narrowed his eyes. "A monster wouldn't have protected his little brother in the face of the madman who killed him."
Jason blew dark hair out of his face. "Look, okay? I know you all want to believe that I selflessly sacrificed myself, but the truth of it is that he's just a kid! I wasn't going to let the Joker fuck his life up the way he did mine, and that doesn't make me heroic. It just makes me someone who knows what it's like. So don't get any ideas."
Bruce looked up at his second oldest son sadly. "You're still a kid, too, Jason."
"Sorry to break it to you, but I'm nineteen now. I'm not a child anymore. To be honest, I don't think I ever was. Can I leave now?" Jason asked.
Bruce sighed. "Please, I won't keep you much longer, but…I…I've missed you…"
That admission alone floored Jason. This was Bruce Wayne, the motherfucking Batman, he didn't miss anyone! And there was so many meanings hidden in those three words. Things like "I care about you…don't go…please stay here…I'm so sorry…"
"Tim was never your replacement, Jason. Nobody could replace you, no matter what happened. When you died, I…I was a wreck. A total wreck. I started making stupid mistakes because I was so preoccupied with your death…I almost died myself. And when I found out you were alive…words can't describe. It was like my world had been flipped right side up after being upside down for a long time. Please, give me a chance to fix things…let me be a father, for once in your life…like I should have before."
Jason was absolutely stunned. This had to be the first time Bruce had ever talked about his second son's demise ever. And it was with him. Not only that, but he wanted him to come back to the Manor. To come back home.
Two little voices inside his head began fighting.
"H-he missed me! He cares about me! After all this time…!"
"He didn't care enough to kill my murderer, why should he care now?"
"But he apologized! He wants me to come home!"
"He'll ship me off to Arkham the first chance he gets!"
"He said nobody could replace me!"
"He also said that my revival didn't change anything. He said that I was his biggest failure!"
Jason found himself backing away. He couldn't deal with this. Not now. Maybe not ever.
"I…I gotta go." he mumbled lamely, quickly grabbing his defaced helmet and rushing out the door before Bruce had a chance to react. The billionaire sighed, closing his eyes as he rubbed the bridge of his nose.
"You scared him…just give him time to think about what you said. He'll make the choice that's right for him."
With that thought in mind, Bruce stood, grabbing his plate of blueberry pancakes and pouring syrup over them.
"Boys! Food's on the table!" he called tiredly.
Dick, Tim, and Damian bolted into the room as if they hadn't eaten in weeks.
"This looks awesome, Alfred!" Tim said cheerfully, his face apparently not as sore as the day before as he reached for the raspberry pancakes.
"Yeah, no kidding! Pass the syrup, will ya, Damian?" Dick asked, slapping a large stack of apple pancakes onto his plate.
"Hmph. I still don't understand why you insist on drowning your pancakes in that sugary garbage. Here." Damian grumbled, boysenberry his chosen flavor as he used butter as a syrup substitute.
Bruce noted Damian's attitude and looked confused. "What's wrong, Damian?"
The youngest son scoffed. "I was hoping that Todd would stick around for awhile so I could fight him…I wanted to see who would win, his street fighting or my martial arts?"
Dick chuckled lowly. "He's armed with more than just street fighting, kiddo. He's likely to pop a cap in your ass if he feels like he's gonna lose."
Damian made a face of disdain. "My name is not 'kiddo'."
Tim laughed, as Dick seemed to take that as a personal challenge.
"Oh, yeah? Then why does it say 'Kiddo' on your birth certificate?"
"It does not!"
"Oh, yes it does! You haven't even seen it, how would you know?"
"Father! Kindly tell this immature child to quit being so…immature!"
Tim jumped into the 'argument', laughing as he did so, before wincing and rubbing his cheeks.
While this went on, Bruce stared at the steaming pile of strawberry pancakes. If he looked just right, in his mind's eyes, he could see Jason smirking at his sibling's arguing, before making one silent quip that single-handedly made all three of the others target him. Judging by the wry smile Alfred was making, he could see it, too. Bruce turned to look out the window, seeing the beginnings of a new day.
"Yeah. He'll be back. It's just a matter of being more stubborn than him."
"Easier said than done, Master Wayne."
Outside the window, perched precariously on the edge of the roof, a familiar person listened in, a smile inching its way onto his face for the first time in a long time.
"Damn straight." Jason Todd stated proudly, before leaping off the roof and heading for a destination known only to him, his silhouette quickly lost in the brightness of the morning sunrise.
DJG: Well? Like it? Hate it? Let me know in a review, pretty please? I feel like it would take more than a conversation to get Jason living with the Bats again in canon, as so many other Jason Todd fan fictions portray…so yeah. Puh-leeze tell me if I got the characters personalities right. I'm pretty sure I nailed Jason, but I felt iffy on the Joker and the three other Robins.
Muse: Oh, stop your blubbering, sissy. It's unlikely anyone will review this crap anyways.
DJG: *SOB* Thanks so much, Muse…you're so supportive.
Muse: I'll tell you what I DO support. I support this story's official song, because it's actually GOOD. 'Worth Dying For', by Rise Against, if you were wondering. It makes the story so much better to read while listening to it. It's great, because this story needs all the help it can get.