A/N: For prompt-a-thon over on Tumblr, as prompted by my darling Maggie.
"PROMPT OK: u know how cass ran away from her dad and wandered around a lot before she ended up in gotham so. lost days jay meets young cass while he's travelling around the world training :)))"
Jason could feel the Lazarus Pit sometimes, curling up in his stomach like a sleeping monster, sending violent waves through his body every time it rolled over. He stared at his hand pensively, trying to remember what it had looked like before, before the Pit had gotten into his mind and body and changed him.
Sometimes he felt burned and scraped everywhere, as if he was still in the aftermath of the explosion. At night, he dreamed of drowning in graveyard dirt and Lazarus Pits. He remembers, vaguely, crying out for Bruce, fingernails bleeding and broken and every inch of his body aching.
He felt it now, staring down the barrel of his gun to see a fiercely snarling kid, crouching over the beaten and battered bodies of multiple higher end fighters.
She couldn't be more than fourteen—and Jason would have been willing to bet that she was even younger than that. She was Chinese, he thought, or at least half. She had a few features that look more European, but Jason wasn't sure. Her hair was black and long, the ends uneven and the mass of it tangled. She was scarred from head to toe—bullet scars, knife scars, and a few scars from weapons that usually don't leave people alive long enough to scar. She was tiny, in both height and width, but she was fierce and determined, and everything about her screamed dangerous to Jason's keenly trained senses.
She glared at Jason like he's the devil himself, and Jason wondered what he did to piss her off so much.
"What's your problem, kid?" Jason snapped, trying to hide the fact that he was rattled by how quickly she'd torn through the men. He'd never seen anyone work that fast, and he'd met Shiva, Bruce and Cain.
She continued to glare at him, as if daring him to shoot. Jason sighed and holstered his gun. Dangerous fighting machine or not, he wasn't about to shoot a kid. Besides, she had technically helped him, taking out the mercenaries. Sure, she hadn't killed them, but he hadn't particularly cared about that part—he just needed to finish what he'd came her to do.
She scowled, and Jason was oddly reminded of Bruce at his most petulant. Jason shrugged at her and walked towards the shipping crates. They were large, thick metal, three of them, all intended to be packed onto a freighter and shipped back to the States. Jason picked the lock on the first one, and threw open the door.
Inside were a bunch of kids, of every age and race, small and dressed in too thin clothes, with bruises all over their bodies and thin faces that indicated that the nutritional situation hadn't been too good either.
"Who are you?" The first boy spoke German with an Austrian lilt, trying to hide a smaller girl behind him, even as he glared up at Jason.
"I am here to help," Jason told them, first in German, then in French, then in Spanish, then in English. "The bad men are gone. The police are coming. You're safe now."
The kids didn't believe him, but Jason quickly moved on to the next crate. The strange girl got up and walked to the first crate, touching the kids briefly, as if making sure they were all okay. The kids mobbed her, trusting the young teenager more than a large man with guns. They babbled at her in all of their languages, demanding answers, but she didn't say anything. She just kept patting each one on the head or shoulder, making sure they were okay.
Jason waited until he could hear the crunch of the police's tires on the gravel, and then he turned to leave. "You'll be safe now," he said in French, and then repeated in all the languages that he'd heard the kids speak. "You coming or not?" He tossed to the girl, who followed him with a strange expression. He then exited the building, lurking to make sure that the officials were legitimate.
Once the kids were all bundled away and driven off, Jason and the girl returned to their stare-off.
Jason tried to ask her questions in every language he knew. The girl just continued to stare at him, unperturbed and unsurprised. Finally, when Jason had finished trying to communicate in Esperanto, she reached out, and grabbed his hand. Jason froze, staring at her. Unblinking, she kept eye contact as she peeled his fingers out of a fist, forming them into an outstretched, fingers straight up and firmly together. She then positioned his hand with his palm facing her, and tentatively tapped it with her fist. Jason's eyebrows shot up. He knew that sign.
"Cain," he breathed. "You're his… fuck. You're his fucking kid."
She tilted her head, but didn't say anything—of course she didn't say anything. This was Cassandra Fucking Cain, the scion of Shiva and David Cain, the One Who Is All. The kid who could make the entire assassin underworld piss themselves by just having her name mentioned, the one whose mysterious disappearance had (reportedly) driven Ra's al Ghul into a complete rage.
And she was in the mountains of Hungary.
Jason hadn't studied with Cain for long—the man kept bringing up Bruce, trying to needle him. So he wasn't particularly good at Cain's pseudo-sign language. But he managed to communicate vaguely, that he could understand her. Somewhat.
Cassandra grinned at him slightly, although she was still wary. Jason pulled out his bag, and offered her a sandwich. "Food?" He offered her.
She tentatively took it, sniffing it carefully before taking a small nibble. Her eyes widened, pleased by the peanut butter and jelly goodness, and before Jason could blink it was gone,
Jason laughed. The kid was starving. He offered her another one. She repeated the process, grinning at him slightly.
Jason started a fire, and kept feeding Cassandra. Apples disappeared in the black hole that was her stomach, leaving nothing but a few seeds and the stem behind. A chocolate bar was carefully nibbled on, her eyes wide with delight.
"Do you want me to," Jason gestured vaguely. She looked at him curiously, mouth full of peanut butter. "Hair," he said, pointing at her long matted mess. "Fix."
She blinked at him.
"I'm not making much sense am I?" He sighed. He pulled out a pair of scissors out of his bag. He took a piece of his own hair, and cut it, and then pointed at her hair.
Her eyes widened slightly in understanding, and she turned, slightly, giving him better access. She turned around briefly, and gestured at her eyes, glaring at him.
"Yeah, yeah, you're watching me, jeeze kid, you're so gloom and doom. Have another fucking sandwich. It's Nutella, you'll love it."
He carefully cut her hair to a short bob, seeing as that was not only the easiest thing, it was a pretty practical length. Not that she let anyone actually get a hold of her hair, but it was the spirit of the thing. He threw the hair onto the fire—no need to make things easy for Cain, after all. He hated that bastard, and like hell the kid deserved to go back to him.
She grinned at him, and made a "come hither" gesture. "What, you want to spar?" Jason asked, raising an eyebrow. Cassandra mimed a punch, and grinned eagerly. "Sure, why the hell not?" He could always use a few more bruises.
Sure enough, she tossed him around like a fucking rag doll, grinning and bouncing and acting like a cheerful puppy the whole time. She pushed him into a snow pile, and smirked at him when he got it under his collar.
"Why you little," Jason growled, grabbing a handful of snow and throwing it at her. She blinked in confusion when it hit her face, and then understanding filled her eyes. She threw a snow chunk at him, proving once and for all that she had been trained with ranged weapons. She had good aim.
However, Jason wasn't about to go down without a fight. He threw snowballs as fast as he could make them, although he didn't have much luck hitting her—she wove between them, gracefully dodging, scooping up snow, dodging again, and throwing them in his face with a fluid speed that was almost inhuman.
In the end, Cassandra ended up sitting on his back, with his face planted firmly in the snow. Jason tried to figure out where the kid had gotten her sense of humor. It sure as hell wasn't Cain. Maybe there was more to Shiva than he had thought.
"I've got to go, kid," Jason said, after darkness fell. He'd delayed too long as it was—he was supposed to meet Talia in Budapest in forty-eight hours. "I guess this is where we go our separate ways." He held out his hand. Cautiously, she took it. Jason shook it once, and then let go. "Hope I don't see you again," Jason told her honestly. "I've got a feeling you're a bit too moral for my line of work."
She waved, and he walked away, bag a lot lighter than it was when he'd gone in.
In a few years, she would meet Bruce Wayne, and remember his similarities to the boy in the mountains. They fought similar. She thought, remembering how the boy had also fought like Cain, that they must have had the same teachers.
She would not meet Jason Todd again for a long time.
Jason would read a dossier on Batgirl, and remember her instantly. He grinned to himself, shaking his head, wondering how much Cain must hate it, how much Ra's would be hating it.
This, Jason thought, tipping his chair back, might be interesting. To watch. From a very safe distance.