First off I took every goddamn storyline and slammed it together old 52, new 52, and even stuff that is marvel (civil war)... and so forth, so you won't find a hella lot canon stuff here per se. Had some debates with friends whether not Jason dies (game verse) by the Jokers hand, I say nay, others say yay - so I'm going with the version that I believe, just sayin.
No smut either. Also it's a pretty sad story - so read the warnings!
Also might want to mention that this story is finished, and has just been floating on my computer for ages. And it's NOT BETAED, couldn't find anyone to do it, so you gotta live with my terrible punctuation, and probably weird grammar - the joys of writing in another language than my native.
I'm gonna fight 'em off
A seven nation army couldn't hold me back
They're gonna rip it off
Taking their time right behind my back
And I'm talkin' to myself at night
Because I can't forget
Back and forth through my mind
Behind a cigarette
And the message comin' from my eyes says, "Leave it alone."
-The White Stripes
Jason was sitting on a rooftop, his legs dangling out over the edge of the building, and stared out over the ruins below him. He could see movement down in the streets, and it would have looked like any other day in Gotham was it not for the fact that all the people below him was dead, they weren't on their way to work or to the mall. They were staggering sluggishly, aimlessly around in the hunt for something living to rip apart. Jason had gotten used to them now, it was just how it was, it was how it had been for five years now. The world had ended and thinking back he remembered how they had tried to contain it, to fight back. They had believed it, they had all thought that they'd make a difference, that the world would be right again, just like it had been so many times before. Then Cass had died and Bruce had built a wall, both figuratively and literally. They had built a wall around the Wayne manor to keep out the world, and Bruce locked himself in the batcave leaving the rest of them to – Jason's train of thoughts was interrupted by a sudden eruption of movement on the street, all the walkers suddenly turned and walked very determined north. He looked up, scanning the buildings but didn't see anything.
He stood op, curious as to what would wake the walkers from their silent apathy. So he jumped the rooftops in the direction of the walkers. Finally he saw something he held up his hand to shield from the setting sun. It was a person scrambling to scale a wall.
Up a wall?
No ordinary survivor would chose do that! Besides most of them would be clever enough to stay clear of the streets. Curiosity got the better of him and he jumped the scaffolding and on to a ruined wall and made it to the building where the person had made it up the wall. The more he thought about it, he could feel goosebumps form, he knew those moves, he had only ever known one person who was agile enough to scale a wall without any aid. "Hello?" He called out on the rooftop as he cocked his gun. "I know you're here."
What Jason had not expected was the person came from behind, when he felt his feet swept from the ground and the roof rush towards his face, all he could think was 'stupid'. He rolled around before the person could hold him down, and what he saw felt like a punch to his stomach.
"Jason?" The person breathed out as he stepped back. "What the –"
"Who are you?" Jason growled, his surprise turned to anger, white glowing anger. He got to his feet a little less gracefully than he would have liked. "WHO ARE YOU?" He screamed, his hands shaking so much his gun rattled.
"Take off that mask!" Jason said calmer than before, and this time he aimed the gun at the imposter again, "Now!" The imposter took off the mask slowly, and Jason felt his knees get weak for a moment, as he stared directly into the face he knew so well, a face he had mapped out with his fingers, a face he would never forget, it haunted him wherever he went. It was Dick's face. "You got one minute to tell me who you are!" He said visibly shaken.
"Surely you know me," Dick said holding up his hands in a defensive pose. "I don't even know where to start."
"Try me." Jason growled, the gun still shaking in his hand.
"Alright, Bruce went through a portal to save Damian, I wanted to protect him so I went with him, together with Cass and Cyborg – but somehow I ended here, and… I know you Jason Todd, what I don't know is where or when I am, or what the hell happened here – what happened to the world."
Jason licked his lips, he wanted to believe that so bad. A world where both Dick and Cass was alive sounded like – "Are you here to kill me?"
"Kill you?" Dick laughed a little despite the intense situation. "No."
"Alright," Jason lowered his gun, "I don't believe you, and I don't trust you – but I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, and we gotta get off the street. Now." In reality Jason knew that deep inside it was because he could never leave someone, even if it was just wearing Dick's face to what was out here at night. "They" He gestured down at the street, "They change at night, and we don't want to be caught outside."
"Okay." Dick glanced down at the street with a worried expression.
Jason turned and began the trek back to his hideout, Dick right behind him. They made it to his door and he let them in before he slid a massive steel slider to barricade the door. "I have baked beans in a tin. You hungry?"
"Sure." Dick said. "Uhm, are we safe here?"
Jason nodded, "As safe as any of us can be out here." He went to get a can of baked beans, and some matches to light candles around the room. "The power went out a couple of years ago." He shrugged, "We manage."
"Oh." Dick said scratching his hair.
"I'm sure the Dome and Wayne manor has power." Jason said as he handed Dick a tin with baked beans and a fork in it.
"Can I ask why you are here then?" Dick said watching as Jason sat down opposite him.
"Sure." Jason said with a shrug, "I chose it."
Dick frowned but didn't say anything, he just started eating his cold baked beans.
"I can take you to Wayne manor tomorrow." Jason said.
"I gotta figure out a way to get home, and well maybe Bruce knows –"
Jason laughed bitterly, "Yeah maybe he does. Eat up, these things doesn't grow on trees."
"So you gonna tell me what happened?" Dick asked softly, sitting cross-legged on the floor studying Jason in the candlelight.
"The world died." Jason stated.
"I saw that." Dick said drily, "I mean – why did it die?"
"The Joker died, Harley went completely insane and doctored up this anti laughing gas, it made people crazy violent lunatics, but not only that – it also reanimated them when they were killed." Jason said stirring the last of his baked beans with his fork. "So there."
"That's…" Dick just sat there and stared at Jason, "She really did this to the world?"
"Yep." Jason said with a shrug, "That's love for you."
"That is terrible." Dick shook his head sadly.
"Is – Is Cass and Tim really alive in your uhm world?" Jason asked, he hated himself for asking because that was the same as validating this ludicrous portal story. But he just had to know.
Dick nodded with a little smile, and then a second later came to the terrible conclusion that they didn't exist here. "They're dead?"
"What about –"
"They're all dead, everyone you can think of is hiding or is dead." Jason said with a harsh tone in his voice. "Most were hunted down right after the whole anti laughing gas shit I just told you about. They died at the hands of angry mobs of frightened people, the same people they had vowed to protect. The mobs didn't care much which side you were on, or who your friends were or –" Jason stood up and went to get something in the other end of the room, "It reminds me, we should do something about your appearance, otherwise we won't make it to Wayne manor."
Jason sighed. "Your costume." He tossed some clothes in the lap of Dick, "Burn it."
"Because…" Jason paused "Just do it."
"So who… who is alive?" Dick said in a whisper, staring down at the clothes in his lap.
"Let's see… Like I'm gonna tell you that." Jason chuckled, a little bitter smile on his lips, "I am going to deliver you to Bruce and then he decides what you are."
"I don't understand." Dick mumbled looking up at Jason.
"Alright let's assume that you really don't know." Jason said staring into Dick's eerily familiar eyes. "There was a bill that some wanted to pass; a law that masked vigilantes was no longer allowed – some thought it was alright, and some fought against it, claiming that if we revealed our identities our families would be in danger. Long story short, the law became reality and all masked heroes and villains had to drop the mask." Jason sat down again, staring into the flames of the candles more than on Dick. "And there were some incidents and accidents with people being killed, fired, evicted and so forth."
"Why? I don't understand –"
Jason looked up, "They were afraid of metahumans, that was why."
"But we're not metahumans…" Dick whispered.
"They didn't care." Jason said softly, "One day you were defenders of humanity, next day you were all criminals. Those who could leave earth – did. The rest of us just had to stick it out." Jason looked up at Dick sadly, "There were those of us like me, Slade, Oliver Queen, John Constantine and Selina who got under the radar, people didn't know us without masks, and didn't know our names or faces, so we just dropped the costume, and started living normal lives."
"Watching your friends get hurt?" Dick asked in horror.
"Funny cause that's exactly what Dick, my Dick, said." Jason scuffed. "And look where it got him." He sighed and got to his feet. "Maybe we should get some sleep, it's gonna take a while to get to the Wayne manor."
"I only have one bed so you gotta bunk down with me." Jason said, realizing that it was pretty poorly thought through. "I still don't trust you, so one wrong move and you're dead."
"Fair enough." Dick said.
They laid down back to back on Jason's mattress.
["It's gonna be fine," Dick whispered, kissing his way up Jason's throat and jawline. "They'll soon enough realize they need us."
"I don't think so." Jason turned his head and looked into Dick's eyes, kissing his lips softly. "I need you more than they do." He smiled against Dick's soft lips.
Dick wrapped an arm around Jason's waist and pulled him closer, "I'd never leave you baby." He grinned, "I love you."
Jason flipped them around so he was on top of Dick, holding him down with his weight. "I love you too." He whispered.
Dick flipped them around once more so he was on top. He kissed Jason passionately, smiling as Jason purred like a big cat into their kiss. "I got to help Bruce, you know that… And what about Damian, or Tim? Even Alfred." He paused, "I wish you'd come with me."
"Can we just not talk about this?" Jason whispered, lifting his head to kiss Dick's lips again.
"They killed Cass." Jason stated, "They straight up murdered her, and have you forgotten what they did to Kendra? I'm not gonna help those fucking savages, and I wish you wouldn't either." Jason cupped Dick's face in his hands, "Please stay with me."]
Jason blinked awake only to look straight into Dick's worried face, in pure reaction Jason yelped and scrambled off the mattress in chock to find those eyes outside his dream.
"You had a nightmare." Dick said lamely.
Jason rubbed his throat, he felt hoarse so maybe it was right. "Was I screaming?"
Dick nodded, "And you kept repeating 'don't go' to someone."
"Oh." Jason rubbed his face with his hands. They sat in silence for a while, and that pressure in Jason's chest didn't seem to subside, he had not felt like crying since – since Dick died. "The mobs," he whispered, "They killed Cass, and they killed you." Jason closed his eyes, "You insisted on doing the right thing, you insisted on talking to them, making them understand that they didn't have to be afraid. You had all the right intentions and the heart of an unsung hero." Jason's voice dropped to a whisper, "They didn't listen, and I was not strong enough to save you. They were just too many." He looked up at Dick with tears in his eyes, "You are dead Dick, DEAD! How are you sitting here?"
Dick said nothing he just took Jason's hand and squeezed it. "I'm real."
"Don't touch me." Jason hissed, and Dick took his hand back. "Get dressed, it's almost sunrise." He said trying to sound casual as he got to his feet.
The silence stretched, even as they were painfully slowly making their way across the ruins of Gotham. "What is that?" Dick yelled.
Jason turned around and watched where Dick was pointing. It was a huge dome in the horizon. "That is the Dome, whatever is left of humanity around here, lives there. There are other domes I'm told. But basically it's a self-sufficient eco system, allowing people to live normal lives again."
"They just walled themselves in?"
"Funny part is that Superman actually built them, and I know that Bruce sunk money into it." Jason looked up at Dick who just looked confused. "Superman was banished from earth and left shortly after, and Bruce.. well, you're gonna see that soon."
"That is crazy." Dick shook his head in disgust.
"It's survival." Jason stated, "We all do what we gotta do."
"So, if they came for everyone with a mask." Dick asked casually as they walked on, "Why didn't they come for Bruce?"
"Oh but they did." Jason replied, "But they didn't find him. They burned down Wayne manor though. And that was when Bruce lost all his faith in humanity, and then he built the concrete wall, too high for any human or walker to scale, and no other way in – there is no tunnel or gate." Jason stopped, "Look you can see the wall there in the horizon."
Dick squinted his eyes and then nodded, "That is massive!"
"Indeed." Jason nodded, "I'm not sure who it's designed to keep out, or in. But I should perhaps warn you." He stopped and turned to Dick, "Bruce lost his fucking mind, maybe you can reason with him, but I doubt it"
"Because they burned down the mansion?" Dick asked.
"Because they killed Cass." Jason stated. "She refused to be locked in behind that wall, and stayed out here and tried to capture as many freaks as she could." Jason laughed bitterly, "That's what we called them before we knew what they were, freaks." Jason turned and looked at Dick, "That was when everyone still believed we could find some sort of antidote or cure to the gas, so we rounded up those afflicted and took them to giant holding pens." He turned around and sighed, "Didn't work that way."
Jason ignored him and continued, "The gas slowly killed those afflicted, and when they died they became something far worse." He looked over his shoulder at Dick, "We should go."
"So the people afflicted with the gas came back from the dead and started to eat others, I get that. People were afraid, and scared people do stupid things, but…" Dick asked as he effortlessly followed Jason across the rooftops.
"They blamed us." Jason stated, "Humanity blamed all the superheroes and supervillains for what happened. And they were right." Jason landed on his feet and looked around for the easiest way to the next roof. "Had Bruce not killed the Joker, Harley wouldn't have gone off the rails, and… well none of this would have happened."
"Bruce killed the Joker?"
"Yes." Jason said, "He snapped or something, I don't know man. Joker had been trying to get inside Bruce's head for years, and maybe he finally succeeded."
"What's he like? Your Bruce?" Jason asked, inwardly berating himself for once more truly believing that stupid story.
"He is tormented." Dick said honestly. "First he lost you, and –"
"He lost me?" Jason asked, stopping dead in his step, turning to Dick, "What do you mean?"
"Joker." Dick said, "He caught you and your mother, beat you and blew you both to bits, just to spite Batman." He sighed and looked past Jason over at the huge concrete wall in front of them. "You came back, but you were never you again. So filled with rage and hate, so broken."
Jason smiled bitterly, "Seems like he fails me and everyone else, no matter what reality we're in." He shook his head, "Come on." He started walking again.
"How are we going to get over that wall?" Dick asked as they finally stopped on the rooftop closest to the wall.
Jason smiled again as he picked up a rock from the rubble on the rooftop, he tossed it over the wall and the moment it passed into the inner sanctum, lamps blinked, and cameras placed on the top of the wall scanned the area. Jason waved with his arms at the camera. "Bruce!" He yelled. Moments later a hatch in the ground opened and a young man came out.
"Damian! Shoot the rappel over here!" Jason waved his arms.
The rappel hit the brick wall behind them. "After you." Jason grinned and Dick just shrugged and jumped on the rappel, dangling several floors over the thick carpet of undead below him.
They both made it over the wall and once down on the ground, Jason found his arms full of Damian, "Hey kiddo." Jason smiled, hugging him tight.
Damian looked over at Dick and frowned, "Who are you? And why are you wearing Dick's face?"
Jason smiled, "That is what we're here to figure out."
The trip down the elevator was silent until Damian suddenly said. "I haven't seen Bruce in days, I don't know how he's gonna react to you being here, and to that." He gestured at Dick.
"Don't worry kid." Jason smiled. "What's the worst that can happen?"
Damian just shot Jason a dirty glare but didn't answer.
The elevator stopped and the first thing Jason saw was Alfred, he looked haggard but still every bit Alfred. "Master Jason." Alfred lit up in a smile, "You haven't visited in a long time."
"Alfred." Jason said with a smile, "I need to talk to Bruce."
"And who is –" Alfred stopped dead and just stared at Dick.
Dick smiled at Alfred, not sure what he should do, hoping that Bruce had some way of validating him.
"Let me take you to Bruce." Alfred just said and walked off, Jason and Dick in tow. He knocked a heavy steel door, apparently to some sort of study. "Master Bruce, you have a visitor."
"You want to see this Master Bruce." Alfred said, "Believe me."
Slowly the door opened and Bruce looked out, "Jason." He just stated, "What do you want?"
Jason blinked bored, "I want you to listen to my new friend here." He nodded towards Dick, who just stood and wrung his hands next to him.
"Richard?" Bruce gasped, and then looked back at Jason, "How? What is.."
"Go on," Jason nudged Dick towards Bruce.
Jason went to the kitchen and sat down, it felt like a million years since he had been here last. "So what's it like outside the wall?" Damian asked, sliding into a chair next to Jason.
"Bad." Jason said, "The survivors outside the Dome get's less and less every day."
Damian sighed, "So you really think that was Dick?"
"I don't know." Jason answered truthfully, accepting the tea that Alfred handed him. "I mean it wouldn't be the craziest thing happening."
"Yeah." Damian admitted, before he looked up at Jason. "When are you coming home?"
Jason didn't answer, he just smiled.
["YOU KILLED HIM!" Jason cried, throwing a monitor at Bruce, "You and your fucking code of ethics, you sent him out there to talk people down – without a weapon!" ignoring the tears he could feel on his cheeks, Jason went for the next monitor in line.
"I didn't make him go out there!" Bruce argued.
"You didn't fucking stop him!" Jason screamed, "You should have stopped him!"
"Jason, please listen – it had nothing to do with me." Bruce said trying to calm down Jason.
"It had everything to do with you! You made him believe we could be normal, that we didn't have to hide or fight back!" Jason yelled knocking over a table in his wake. "He believed every word you said!"
"Yet he wanted to be normal for you." Bruce bit back.
"What?!" Jason just stood there and stared at Bruce for a long time, "Oh I should have killed you a long time ago, then maybe, just maybe Cass and Dick would still be alive!" He sneered.
Tim placed a hand on Jason's shoulder to calm him. "Don't fucking touch me!" Jason screamed, lunging out after Tim. "You!" He pointed at Bruce, "How many more have to die before you understand that the time for talking is over!" Jason roared with rage and sorrow.]
"Jason?" Bruce said softly, shaking Jason from his thoughts.
"Yeah?" Jason looked up at Bruce with a fake smile. "So did you figure something out?"
Bruce nodded, "He is without a doubt Richard Grayson."
Jason looked away, "I see."
"I don't exactly know what to do with it yet, if his story is true, and I see no reason why it shouldn't be. Then we need to figure out a way to get him home." Bruce wet his lips, "I just don't know how."
"Maybe you should just enjoy your second chance." Jason said acidly.
"Don't be like that." Bruce said. "I loved him like a son, you know that."
"Well I loved him too!" Jason growled, standing up so fast his chair tipped over.
"I know." Bruce said in a near whisper.
"I watched him die Bruce, and for what?" Jason argued loudly. "I will never forgive you for any of it!"
"I know." Bruce said calmly.
"I'm going back out; I can't stay in this tomb, with you and with him." Jason shouldered Bruce hard as he walked past him, "At least I know what is trying to kill me out there." He muttered as he got on the elevator.
Dick stood in the door, listening in to Bruce and Jason's argument. "Wait!" Dick yelled before Jason could get on the elevator. And to his surprise Jason hesitated and turned around looking at him with an angry frown, but his eyes were the saddest he had ever seen. "I never thanked you for saving me, or for taking me here. You went above and beyond Todd."
"You're welcome." Jason said flatly. "I hope you find your way home."
"Me too." Dick said, "Be safe out there okay?"
"It's safer than in here." Jason just snarled, and pushed the button on the elevator.
"This was Dick's room." Damian said as he pushed the door open to a small square cell, "Or well he never got to live here, but it's his stuff, and in some roundabout way that makes it your stuff, right?"
"I don't know if…" Dick looked down at Damian.
"I know it's what Bruce would want." Damian said with a nod, gesturing for Dick to enter the room.
"You call him Bruce too, huh?" Dick said, "My Damian calls him father."
"Really?" Damian said, "Tell me about him. Please – I mean your Damian."
"What is there to tell? He's a headstrong kid." Dick said, not sure if he should tell the truth.
Damian nodded, "Are we the same age or?"
"Good question, you look older than he does, so I assume that you are." Dick just said.
Damian studied Dick with intelligent blue eyes, "Why are you avoiding my questions?"
Dick sighed, "Damian is dead, that is why I'm here to begin with." He smiled softly at Damian, "Damian died, and Bruce went to get him back. I wanted to follow, but.. yeah I'm here instead."
"What killed him?" Damian asked with eyes wide.
"The Heretic." Dick answered, "It was a clone of Damian which Talia made, your twin if you want – I can't really tell you why, revenge I suppose."
"Ah Master Damian and master Dick, I thought I could find you here." Alfred said, standing in the open door. "Master Damian, maybe it's time you let master Dick get some sleep." He smiled at the boys.
"Is it okay that I'm here?" Dick asked.
"In master Dick's room? Absolutely." Alfred said with a nod, "After all you are master Dick." He gestured for Damian, "Come along now young sir."
"Maaaan." Damian whined but left the room.
The door closed and Dick was alone with the other Dick's stuff. It was such a weird feeling. He started to look in some of the boxes, thinking that he could maybe find some clothes. Eventually he found a box with clothes, and in it he found a small metal box. He lifted it out, conflicted if he should open it.
Dick sat down on the bed with the box, and struggled with his curiosity, he wanted to know more about this world's Dick, and maybe it was in here. Finally he lifted the lid and looked down into the metal box, there was a ring, he picked it up and looked at it, it was engraved with 'Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam', Dick sat and read the phrase over and over, "Latin… He knew Latin, who would have thought?" He put the ring aside and went through some of the other stuff, it must have meant something to the other Dick, but to Dick it was completely rubbish the most of it. Then he saw the picture, it was Dick and Jason though the photo was slightly out of focus, they looked young and happy, a far cry from the Jason who had just left. He turned the photo around and with a childish handwriting it said 'I will find a way, love you – Jay'. Dick sat and stared at the photo, flipping it from the picture side to the text, and slowly it dawned on him; Jason and Dick had been lovers! Why hadn't he seen the signs before now? He picked up the ring again, if he could only read what it said. He tossed it all back into the box, and slid the box under the bed. Lovers… The thought sat badly with him, Jason was his brother! How? What had they been thinking? Did it really matter? Poor Jason. He could only imagine what it would be like to know that Barbara was dead, and then to see her standing there except it wasn't really her. And for the first time Dick felt like an imposter.
The next day Dick had gone to see Bruce, he was nose deep in old books, cross-referencing stuff on a piece of paper. "Good morning Dick." Bruce said with a smile, "I hope you slept well."
"I did." Dick said, "Thank you for letting me use uhm.. that room."
"Well it's yours." Bruce said casually, "It has just been waiting for you."
Dick studied Bruce, was he that out of touch with reality? Dick decided against reminding Bruce of who he was, and just nodded towards the books, "Are you getting somewhere?"
"No." Bruce sighed, "Not really."