JayDickWeek2017 – Day 3 – MirrorVerse
A/N So I wanted to do this prompt justice, but I had a really good idea for a much longer fic. I couldn't think of a way to shorten it and still do it justice, so I decided to post this as a bit of a sneak peak/trailer for the full-length fic. If you'd like me to write the full fic, please let me know via comments! Otherwise, enjoy!
Dick was waiting for Bruce at the Cave when he returned from the battle.
Dick hadn't been there because he'd had his own thing going on – a burglary of some of the finest jewels in Gotham with no trace evidence, the perfect crime. But word traveled fast in a place like Gotham, and it hadn't taken him long after the fact to hear about what had gone down the last time Joker tried to stop yet another of the great Batman's evil schemes. The moment he heard about it he headed for the Cave, unsure of what to expect when he arrived.
He was perched on the armrest of a chair, picking at his fingernails when Bruce arrived. Bruce gave him a glare before grunting and stiffly sitting in his own char. "What do you want, Dick?" he ground out through clenched teeth. Dick was surprised he spoke at all.
"I heard about Jason."
Bruce sneered. "Well if a scatterbrained truant like you heard, I'm sure all of Gotham has."
Dick shrugged off the insult, having become accustomed to them in the many long years that he'd known the man. "Well, since I heard it from a hot dog vender on 9th, yeah, you could say all of Gotham knows about Jason."
Bruce rolled his eyes and stewed in silence, trying to act as if he was ignoring Dick, who knew that Bruce was really observing him, taking in every detail that might tell him how, and what, his eldest son was doing nowadays.
Tired of feeling like a piece of art displayed in the wrong museum, Dick cleared his throat. "What are you going to do about it," he asked.
Bruce shook his head. "There's nothing you can do about a dead man, Dick."
Dick's eyebrows furloughed and he swallowed. "Jason's not dead, Bruce."
"He's dead to me," Bruce spit out, looking entirely calm on the outside, which only made his obvious rage that much more terrifying. "He died the moment he betrayed his family – betrayed me!" Bruce slammed his fist down on the armrest of his chair, and Dick heard the plastic support crack under the brute force.
Dick sighed. He had known Bruce would probably react like this. He wasn't the most accepting of fathers to begin with, so it stood to reason that when the greatest crime boss in Gotham City had a weapons trade busted by his own son, it wouldn't turn out too well. Still, he had hoped that Bruce wouldn't quite react this bad.
Except it got worse.
Bruce stood from his chair and marched toward the stairs that led to the mansion above the Cave. As he neared the first step, he paused and looked back at Dick. "Get the word out," he said. "Orders concerning Jason Todd are to kill on sight. No exceptions." Then he ascended the stairs, looking every bit the King of Crime that he was.
Jason had left town, Dick knew. There was no real logical reason for him to stay, considering that every criminal in the city was prepared to kill him, for the reward money if not for loyalty's sake.
Still, a Gotham without Jason Todd was a really boring one.
The only qualm Bruce seemed to have with Jason's absence was that it would take longer for him to be killed. Indeed, in every area other than the reward he'd offered to anyone who could give him Jason's head, Bruce seemed hell-bent on pretending he had never existed. When the son of yet another Gotham elite was orphaned and witnessed his parents' brutal death, Bruce decided to take in yet another protégé to replace Jason. Tim was a quick learner, and it was almost as if he worshiped Bruce. If he continued on his current path, he was set to become a younger, potentially more lethal version of the Batman, and Dick could tell it gave Bruce a sadistic feeling of glee to see such a grand success to make up for the failure that had been Jason Todd.
Dick had known the criminal life was a hard one for Jason. For years he'd been trying to coax him into abandoning those ideals his heart had stubbornly been holding onto: mercy, compassion, sympathy – the very things that had turned Jason away from Batman and into the open arms of that dumbass 'hero', The Joker. If he'd only listened to Dick, if he'd only learned to be apathetic toward the killing and torture – Dick knew he could never have learned to enjoy it – then maybe there wouldn't be a million-dollar reward out for his head. Maybe Dick wouldn't have lost the one member of the family that Dick truly liked.
Maybe Dick wouldn't be questioning everything about his life – his very existence – if Jason hadn't questioned his own first.
Nobody had heard from or about Jason for months. Dick wondered if Bruce had forgotten about him entirely, considering his unwavering focus on training Tim Drake to be the best Robin yet. Dick didn't mind being usurped. He liked being Nightwing better anyway.
He rarely saw any of the Bat Clan anymore. He was too busy stealing from the rich, seducing playboy after playboy, getting in their pants just long enough to get in their wallets before disappearing from their lives to move onto the next victim. He didn't like doing it, and he sometimes even managed to feel guilty, as strange as that was, but then he remembered that the only reason Bruce wasn't on his case about not being a psychotic, murderous super villain was because Bruce figured that Nightwing was doing enough damage without the carnage. He could be a bad guy without being the worst guy – his own version of a compromise that Jason apparently hadn't been able to make.
It was one of the rare occasions when Dick was at the Cave that it happened. He had been helping train Tim, giving him some inside tips on flexibility and whatnot, stuff he would always be better at than Bruce but wasn't necessarily needed to do the job. Dick was showing Tim how to break someone's neck with nothing but your thighs (the sexiest way to do it, let's just be honest) when some hired thug ran into the Cave, calling for Batman with an urgency that was really quite irritating. Nothing could be quite that important, after all.
"Jason's back!" the man yelled.
Okay, so maybe something was that important. Dick had been wrong before.
Bruce pulled himself away from his computers to fix the man with his deadliest Bat Glare. "Elaborate," he growled, and the man literally cowered away from him like an abused puppy.
"Yes, sir, uh – We were- there was a deal going down on fifth, you remember, a drug exchange, and he just- He dropped from the sky, sir, I'd never seen anything like it. It was like he just appeared out of thin air."
"From shadows, yeah," Bruce said, more than a little annoyed. Stealth was something that all members of the Bat Clan were proficient in, and just because some new guy hadn't experienced it before didn't make it a big deal.
"No, sir," the man said, more than a little intimidated by the idea of contradicting The Batman. "It was more like…"
When the man hesitated, Bruce lost his patience. "More like what, you idiot?"
"Light. It was like he just came from the streetlight. He wasn't there and then the light flickered and he was. I- sir, I've been working for you for three years, I know how you bats work, I saw Jason in action back then, before-" Bruce glared at him and he gulped. "Look, sir, this is nothing I've ever seen before. Jason is much stronger than he was before. He pulled some moves I didn't even know were physically possible."
Bruce stood in silence, his arms crossed. He seemed to be contemplating something for a moment before his entire body tensed even more than usual. "Leave," he said with a dismissive gesture. The man hightailed it out of there and didn't look back. Bruce didn't move, still thinking, and Dick and Tim left the mats to approach Bruce – wary, but too curious to let it stop them.
After a moment, Bruce seemed to come back to the present and noticed them for the first time since the man had arrived. "It seems," he started, looking as far from pleased as he'd ever been, "that Jason got some training while he was away. From the League."
"The Justice League?" Tim asked. Dick really hoped that Tim had guessed right, because the only other option would be a total nightmare.
"No, you idiot," Bruce said, his voice dripping with condescension. "The League of Lights."
"Shit," Dick whispered, turning away from the two of them and closing his eyes. This was not good.
The League of Lights were a specialized group of, basically, ninjas. They'd trained many a hero and many of the best villains had dropped out of the League and turned to evil instead of the good the League wished to do. Unlike some heroes like Lex Luthor, the League of Lights were committed to using whatever means necessary to stop evil in its tracks, including killing villains. Many members of the Justice League considered the League of Lights to be the epitome of hypocrisy, but that didn't stop them from taking out many of the greatest villains of all time.
They were efficient and lethal, and their only moral was, 'Protect the Innocent, at any cost.'
If Jason had been training with them, then the Bat Clan could form a pretty good idea of what Jason's intentions were now that he had supposedly returned. And it would not bode well for either side.