JayDickWeek2017 – Day 7 – Father Todd
Priests were good at keeping secrets.
Whenever somebody does something wrong, whenever they confess it to a priest, the priest must keep it to themselves. People had told Father Todd all sorts of things, from little white lies to serial murder. Actually, in a place like Gotham, murder was one of the most common confessions he took, followed by rape, and then theft. The next most common one was homosexuality, but Father Todd was always quick to assure those confessors that they had nothing to confess.
Even when someone was confessing to something that was illegal, Father Todd had an obligation to tell no one, not even the police. So what was a guy to do, knowing of horrible crimes and who had committed them, but not having the ability to tell the authorities? Father Todd didn't know what most people would do in that situation, but he had his own method.
After all, if you want something done, sometimes you have to do it yourself.
That was how Jason Todd became a vigilante.
His outfit wasn't really any different than his priestly attire. He had the robes and the rosary, the sensible shoes and the sash around his waist. The only different was a domino mask and a red satin hood. The hood had become a bit of a symbol, and any witnesses who saw him (because his targets never lived to tell the tale) saw only a black robe and a red hood, and they described just that to the police. The media had been calling him, "The Red Hooded Priest," or simply Red Hood for short. It had become a persona, one he hadn't had any intention of creating when he had first begun doling out justice to those who were guilty but whom he could not turn over to the police. Murderers and rapists, traffickers and thieves, crime lords and mob bosses, anyone he learned of through or in confession would meet their Maker. Jason would see to it.
At first he had wondered if it was wrong, to do what he was doing. But crime in Gotham was going down, slowly but surely, as fear of the Red Hood spread across the city. 'The Red Hood gave no mercy', people would say. 'All meet the same feet, no matter what they've done.'
Of course they should, in Jason's opinion. "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God," (Romans 3: 23)*, and "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23)*. They deserved what they had coming. And while Jason, the finite, sinful, mortal man that he was, had no right to judge humanity for its sins, the omnipotent Creator did. Jason simply arranged the meeting.
No one knew. No one could ever know. People confess to priests all the time.
But who can a priest trust with his own secrets?
But Jason wondered just how long the secrecy would hold. Last week he had been almost certain that his husband, Dick, had discovered him. It made sense that he would eventually. Jason was at the church all day doing priest stuff, and at night he was serving Justice under a red hood. His husband was bound to start noticing that he was often gone from their bed at night, and if Dick didn't figure out about him being the Red Hood, he was sure to think Jason was doing something else, something he considered to be far worse.
Jason didn't think anything could be worse than his husband thinking he was cheating on him. Jason had a very firm stance on that subject, and he would never have thought to do something so awful to the man he loved. He did not want his husband to know of his nightly activities, but if Dick thought he was cheating he would tell him in a heartbeat. He would rather his husband condemn him for things he'd actually done that let his love think that that love had faded, or didn't mean as much to him as it had when they'd married.
It had been hard for them to marry, what with Jason being a priest, but his love for Dick had trumped any concern he'd had about his reputation or his position within the clergy. His love for Dick was only surpassed by his love for God, and he would do anything in the world for his husband.
That was what had truly gotten him started on this path.
Dick had been adopted at a young age by a very wealthy, very important man. A few years ago, that man had been murdered, quite brutally, and the police could find no clue or trace of who had done it. All they knew was that it was probably a crew of people with one central leader.
Jason had been at the church, taking confessions as usual, when he got a particularly interesting visitor. The poor man was wracked with the kind of guilt that Jason only found when he visited murderers and rapists in prison (at least, the ones who felt bad about what they did). When the man had started to confess, Jason discovered that his initial impression had been quite accurate.
The man confessed to him that he'd been a part of the crew that had killed Bruce Wayne, Dick's adopted father. He started spouting details, details about what the plan had been, other members of the crew, and even the man who had been in charged – the man who had planned the whole thing. The man hadn't known the leader's name or where he came from, but he knew what they called him.
Jason couldn't tell the police about what had been confessed to Father Todd. It was just how it worked. But something had to be done. The people who had taken his husband's beloved father had to be brought to justice, and the man responsible, this… Joker… he had to be stopped, so that no one else would ever be hurt by him again.
So Jason took justice into his own hands. His life had been difficult before he'd been taken in by the church. Life living on the streets and fending for himself had taught Jason many, many things about how to fight and how to do things in secret. He used this knowledge of his to take down the people who'd killed his husband's father, and then he moved on to his next target, The Joker.
The Joker proved to be far more elusive than his crew had been. No matter how hard Jason looked or who he… interrogated for information, he couldn't find his whereabouts. Whenever he got close, it was like the Joker had been expecting him. They'd fight, and they'd each get a few hits in, but then the Joker would escape and Jason would have to explain his bruises and wounds to his concerned husband.
He knew it would take a very long time to finally beat the Joker, but he refused to give up. In the meantime, though, he put other confessions to good use as well. People told him that they'd committed a crime, that someone they loved had committed a crime, or even that they were the victim of a crime but were too scared to tell anyone. Jason could not tell others what he'd been told, so he used the information to serve Justice as need be.
But the Joker would always be his primary concern.
Their latest encounter had turned out a bit worse than the previous ones. Jason had stumbled home covered in bruises and cuts, and he was quite certain he had a few fractured ribs. He'd collapsed on the couch at his home and managed to fall asleep despite the pain. He woke up the next morning prepared to cover up his wounds with makeup and spend the whole day pretending that every move he made and every breath he took didn't send a wave of agony through his body. But that wasn't what happened.
Instead, he woke up to find Dick staring down at him with his arms crossed, a mixture of worry and anger in his eyes. "What the actual hell, Jason?"
Jason sat up and looked down at his broken and battered body and knew there probably wasn't a way out of this one. He opened his mouth to explain, to say literally anything, but Dick spoke again before he had a chance.
"What are you doing, Jason?" Dick squatted down in front of the couch so they'd be closer to eye level. "What is this, self-flagellation? I know that some people do it, but I didn't think you were one of them, Jay. I get the religious themes behind some of it, but Jesus."
Jason shook his head emphatically. "No, no, Dick. This isn't- I didn't do this to myself. Well, actually I guess I sort of did, in a roundabout way, but- that's not what this is."
Dick sighed and closed his eyes. "Then what, Jay? Is this… Is this S & M? Do you- Do you need this? Because if you do, then you could have said something to me. I'm not a fan, but if this is something you need, then I can try, you don't need to get strangers to do it or something. I mean, I'm your husband, I can take care of you, that's my job, and-"
Jason's eyes were getting progressively bigger, and he leaped off the couch to pull Dick into a hug. "Dickie, no. No, a million times no. I'm not- that's not what this is. I promise you, I'm not aroused by pain, okay. After my childhood-" Jason pulled away a bit to look in his husband's eyes. "Just- No, okay? No. That's not- as warmed as I am that you'd be willing to try something like that for me, no."
Dick was almost crying. "Then what is it, Jason?" he yelled. "I can't take it anymore, you coming home every night with more bruises, and sometimes worse than that! What are you doing that gets you hurt like this every damn night?"
Jason closed his eyes and sat back on his heels. He took a deep breath and opened his eyes again, running his hands soothingly over Dick's shoulders and arms. "Dickie, I- promise you'll hear me out?"
Dick gave him an 'Are you fucking serious right now' look and scoffed. "As long as it isn't you paying strangers to hurt you because I'm not enough to please you sexually, I'm pretty sure it'll be fine, Todd."
Jason winced. "Okay, first of all, you are enough. You've always been enough, far more than that. I am more than satisfied by our sexual interaction, thank you very much." Dick looked a little more soothed than before, so he went on. "I'm the Red Hood."
Dick's eyebrows shot into his hairline. "You're what, now?"
"The Red Hood. You know, the priest vigilante dude?"
"You mean the one that's been killing criminals and painting crosses on their foreheads in their own blood?"
Jason winced again. "Yeah, that one."
Dick didn't seem to believe him. Not one bit. Jason got up and went to the wardrobe in the hallway that they used as a coat closet. He took out the false bottom and pulled out the hood and domino mask he'd stashed there before he passed out on the couch the night before. He went back over to his husband and took a deep breath before handing them over. "I'm the Red Hood, babe. I have been from the start."
Dick ran his hands over the satin hood, examining both it and the mask for a full minute before he looked up at Jason with a considering look. "Still better than the sex thing, to be honest, but I'm going to need you to explain this a little better."**
Jason nodded and sat back down on the couch, pulling his husband to sit next to him. He then went about explaining it all, that he'd been told in confession about crimes that were being committed. He made sure not to give any information that was specifically from the confessions, like details about crimes or who committed them. "I'd been keeping my mouth shut because it was confession, but then this one guy… He told about the people who killed Bruce, Dick. I couldn't just… I couldn't just let them get away with that because I took a vow of secrecy or whatever. I had to do something."
He explained that he'd taken out every member of the crew that had killed Bruce except for the leader, that that was who he had been fighting the night before. "He's kind of become almost my arch enemy or something. I know that sounds really stupid or whatever, but he keeps getting away and I can't give up. Bruce was like a father to me too, if you remember."
Dick nodded, but he looked lost in thought. He just kept sitting there, staring into his lap. It was breaking his heart, not knowing what his husband was thinking, feeling this great distance coming between them. He wanted to close the gap, to hold his husband in his arms, but he didn't dare touch him without permission. Jason's life had taught him the importance of respecting people's boundaries and not crossing lines. He had to respect the distance between them until Dick told him otherwise.
But his new greatest fear was that Dick would never tell him otherwise.
After a few moments of Jason waiting, Dick sighed and got up from the couch. He kneeled in front of Jason and took the man's bloodied hands in his own. He kissed each knuckled before looking up into Jason's eyes. "You are my husband. I love you. I will always love you. Nothing can ever change that."
Jason thought he might cry. "Yeah?"
Dick smiled and nodded through his own tears. "Yeah." He kissed Jason's hands again before standing up and tugging Jason to his feet as well. "Come on. Let me clean you up." They started walking towards the stairs to the upstairs bedroom and the master bath. "Then we can have sex," Dick through over his shoulder, and Jason could hear the mischief in his voice.
Jason stopped on the staircase, a wary look on his face. "Normal, vanilla sex, right?"
Dick laughed. "If that's what you want, I suppose."
Jason couldn't help but laugh along with his husband. That had turned out a lot better than expected.
*Romans 3:23 is followed by verse 24: "We are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 6: 23 starts with, "For the wages of sin is death," but it continues with, "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." These two verses just go to show that you can't take any verse you want out of the Bible and use it to support whatever claim you want. You have to take the Bible as a whole. No Christian who understand the message of the Bible should agree with Jason's actions in this fic. They are immoral and not Biblical in the slightest. But this just goes to show that when you take bits and pieces of a whole message, you can use it to support whatever you want, and things like this can happen. This is how people use religious beliefs to support racism, bigotry, hatred, and many other incorrect views.
As a follower of Jesus (but not a Catholic), this was a hard story to write. It was made even harder by the fact that I had to write Dick supporting Jason's actions. But it follows the prompt and I think it made a good story. This is just another instance where the statement "Just because my character does something doesn't mean I do it, support it, or agree with it," is true.
**I am not using this to bash S&M or any variety of BDSM. I don't care if others do it as long as it is safe and consensual. These characters, however, are not attracted to the BDSM lifestyle, so it makes sense that Dick would be upset by thinking his spouse wants that experience (and is getting it from someone outside of their marriage, as it is not an open and/or polygamous relationship) and that Jason would be upset by Dick thinking that he wanted it. I wrote this with implied sexual abuse in Jason's past, so it makes sense that the idea of being further abused in a sexual situation would not be a pleasant idea for him. I'm not bashing or hating. I'm being true to my representation of the characters in this AU. In another AU or in the DC universe, these characters might actually be into that stuff. I have no problem with that; it just isn't true in this particular work. I'm not saying that being a murderous vigilante is better than BDSM either. I'm saying that in this scenario, Dick is simply relieved to find that is husband is not interested in it. Chill your bill, peeps. It's called fiction. Fanfiction.