A huge Thank You to everyone who Reviewed, Favorited, and Followed my series!
Disclaimer: I am only borrowing the Bat family to practice my art.
This story will be my one-shots, short stories, missing scenes, and head canons from the Bringing My Brother Home Series. It will be updated sporadically when I am struck with inspiration and write one of the above. A third story is started for the series, but it will probably be some time before it is ready for publishing.
I will probably not be as picky about grammar for these stories so they may feel a little rawer than the long stories. Please fell free to PM me with ideas. I will not promise to use your idea, but I welcome them as a source of inspiration. I will not write explicit stories or slash. I will rarely write romance at all.
Thanks in advance for all your wonderful ideas!
Death is Easy
This story is set soon after the end of Bringing My Brother Home
It had been a bad night.
For two months there had been some deadly drugs sold in the inner city. Besides several adults, there were twenty-three dead teenagers. Tonight, the bats had finally tracked down the lab creating the drugs. They had ruined the drug lord's night and closed the lab. It was not until the police arrived and began questioning the people in the lab that they discovered that most of the drugs were not deadly taken in moderation, but one man's work station was completely deadly. He had openly admitted he had purposely designed his work to kill.
It had taken all of Phoenix's mental strength not to strangle the man at once.
Before they were home, Tim had uncovered the man's history. A car accident, caused by a teen overdosing while driving, had killed his twin daughters. Neither had been driving, but they had been using. The man had repeatedly avowed someone had forced them to take the drugs, and laid all the blame on the parents of the other three teens in the car. The father had been crazy enough to try to sue the family of the only survivor, also the only one in the car who had not tested positive for drugs, but when that failed, he had vanished.
His reappearance had left twenty-three other families in mourning.
Some who had had a glimmer of hope that their family member would get clean, some who did not even know their child had tried it. One had even tried to walk away, but his friends had laughed and held him down to give him a taste. All four friends and their victim died on a phone camera held by a sixth friend who had gotten the only 'safe' baggie. Jason wanted to throw up.
"If anyone deserves death, it's that guy," Jason spat into the tense silence of the cave. Neither Tim nor Bruce replied, still hunting for further explanation.
"Our state doesn't have the death penalty," Dick pointed out wearily as he began removing Nightwing's armor.
"That is not up to us."
"It could be," Jason muttered, "for people like him."
Bruce stiffened in his seat and slowly turned around. Under his anxious look, Jason wanted to squirm. Of course, Bruce was looking for evidence of the Lazarus Pit. Since the last time Tim and Bruce had adjusted his medication, Jason had not had a major episode. The Pit water had latched onto his body's anger hormones, and any time fury flooded him it gave them strength.
Jason had had to learn to curb his anger.
"It's not the Pit," he snarled at Bruce, aware it could become the Pit if he did not calm down. "It's different, B. I'm not out of control. I just don't understand why he'll be able to plead insanity. He knew what it felt like to lose a child to drugs, but he did it anyway. He deserves to die!"
"Yes, he does," Bruce agreed calmly. "But it is not our responsibility to be the executioner."
"Shouldn't it be? For those who truly deserve it."
"Where would you draw the line?" Batman demanded. "How would you judge someone who can't be stopped?"
"Those like this guy, without a cause, who just wanted to cause chaos because he was mad at the world," Jason retorted.
"But he had a cause," Tim interrupted. "He wanted to ruin the drug dealers' reputation and kill their consumers. He believed that would make drug users to afraid to risk it."
"His daughters were consumers. Besides, any addict takes a risk the moment they feed their addiction. He sentenced other families to share his pain, because he can't admit his daughters tried if for themselves!" Jason roared.
"Grief is illogical," Tim muttered, mostly to himself.
"Do you actually sympathize with him?" Jason asked aghast. "What about his victims? Some of them could have be rehabilitated."
"I don't sympathize, but I do pity him." Tim said softly. Jason shook his head, but turned away from his brother. Tim had grown up rich and sheltered. He could not understand.
"Bruce why?" Jason asked. "If he escapes, if he gets an insanity deal and gets out in 5 or 10 years, he'll just do it again. He can't be cured. You can see that! Explain how your Mission doesn't include the really terrible ones being removed."
Bruce was silent.
It was not the first Jason, or even his siblings, had asked, but Bruce had never answered, gaining this hardened look when asked, as if it hurt too much to explain. He grew angry when asked for an explanation. It felt wrong to Jason, as if he was guilty for not letting himself kill. It would have saved many lives if someone had executed the Joker after his first or second escape from Arkham. He always went on a killing spree, or made some convoluted plot. Hundreds would be alive. Jason would not have 'died'. And…
"If someone had killed Joe Chill after his first addiction related murder, instead of babying him, your parents would be alive," Jason snarled as his father figure.
He saw the words punch Bruce in the gut, the way Batman hunched forward as if he could not breathe. The man's anger faded into plain hurt. Just for a moment, before he drew Batman around himself. Bruce turned away back to his computer without a word.
"Jason!" Dick yelled, echoed by Oracle over the speaker. Tim sat staring at Jason with a disapproving flinch.
"When was your last booster?" Dick demanded as Tim turned to his tablet, looking anxiously at Bruce.
"This isn't the Pit!" Jason shouted. "I took a booster yesterday. This is really me, really asking this question."
"Jason, how could you say that?" Dick pointed out.
"He can't understand anything else. He doesn't know what it's like to take that final step. Oh, come on Dick," Jason sneered. "You know I killed for Talia, when I thought she was training me to be better than Bruce. I have killed several men. It's not too hard."
Dick shuddered and turned away. He may not have struck the killing blow himself, but he had not stopped his 'partner' from killing one of his Bludhaven Drug Lords. From what Jason could tell, it had ended any desire Dick had to step across that line. Cass had killed, but hers was actual murder, so Jason could understand why she followed Bruce's law so carefully.
As for Tim, he had never asked to the best of Jason's knowledge. Jason did not even know if Tim had an opinion on the matter. In fact, he seemed to be ignoring the conversation now. If he did ever decide it was the right thing to do, Jason realized, they would not even know they needed to stop him.
"Bruce, here," Tim said, putting his tablet over Bruce's keyboard.
Bruce looked down at it. He stared longer than he should have needed too, which brought out Jason's guilt. It had been an ugly blow to bring out Bruce's parents. Every newspaper on the east coast had well-documented the way the system had failed Joe Chill, letting him walk after a few years in prison after he killed another addict, not getting him the help he needed to get over his cocaine addiction, losing track of him among all the other parolees.
"What is this?" Bruce asked suddenly as Jason tried to stymie the swirling in his gut. "How do you know what this is?"
"I didn't understand why you kept this record until I looked closer at the dates. Then it made sense," Tim answered softly. "It explains why you have not executed a final judgement."
"How long ago did you find this?" Bruce asked.
"Six months after I started training. You said I could go into the Network, so I did."
"You broke the encryption on this after six months?"
"I already knew how to hack, B. Why are you surprised?"
"I'm surprised you didn't run, or call me out on it," Bruce answered.
Tim looked surprised. "Why would I? It made sense."
"I killed them, Tim. You understand that?"
Jason froze. Had he heard right?
"B?" Dick asked, voice shaking. "What is it?"
Tim frowned. "It's why Batman doesn't kill."
Bruce closed his eyes and leaned his head into his hand.
"B?" Dick asked again.
"I have killed, Dick. It was in self-defense, when I was training myself in Tibet. I had been playing the white tourist, and made myself an easy target. I was testing to see if the same things drew muggers all over the world; it did, but I was raw back then. They realized I had intentionally lured them in and tried to kill me. I had been training in martial arts for over a decade by then, even if most of it was at a Gotham karate studio. They only had street training. They never had a chance."
Tim was unmoved by this, Dick looked shocked and a bit afraid, and Jason was both horrified to know this, but wondering what about it had made Bruce afraid to kill.
"I don't understand. There's always a moment of grief after taking a life, but usually they deserve it. It should be easy to live with!" Jason exclaimed.
"That," Bruce said slowly, "is why I don't kill. Death is easy to live with. I could be a demon of vengeance and clean up Gotham that way, but where would I stop? What happens if I kill murderers, and one day think rapists too? And drug dealers? And robbers? What about the starved drug runner trying to make a dollar so he can eat?
"Or what if I clean up Gotham and find I can't let go of that power? I have given myself plenty of power, and that line is what keeps me from becoming the next Lex Luthor. Many of his plots have a valid concern or even address a real issue. The problem is that it must be done his way, or you are part of the problem. I am already an arrogant, strict task master. If I killed everyone one who committed even a violent crime, then I become a dictator. Batman is not meant to be merciful, but he must have one mercy, or any good Bruce Wayne can do with his money becomes a bribe on top of a threat.
"I believe there is a time to kill, but if I ever have to make that choice again, there has to be no other option. I think I would have to lay down the cowl if I did."
"Death is easy," Tim interjected. "Hope is hard."
"If we do not kill at least the worst, what hope do we have?" Jason replied.
"Do you think our actions have not brought hope? Crime has decreased by fifty percent since Bruce took up the cowl. It is nearly to the level it was before the Waynes' murder. Crime will never be gone, but we have stopped some, rescued some, even redeemed some," Dick pointed out.
"Some isn't enough," Jason sighed, thinking of his step mother, who might never have tasted heroin if there was no drug dealer around her middle-class school.
"We will never finish this mission," Bruce answered. "Death is easy, but it is not the fix."