Additional Tags:sequel to Furores, Alternate Universe – Zombies, Mental Illness, Coping with Grief
Summary:Dickie returns to the alternate reality where Jason lost his mind, Damian is just lost, Tim is found, Dickie is resurrected – and Constantine saves the day. SEQUEL TO FURORES (read that first or none of this makes sense)
Notes:Alright so I missed writing zombie AU. The title is loosely translated to "Let them hate, so long as they fear", this quote has always been attributed to Caligula, but he actually ripped it from someone else.
"And where do you live, Simon?"
"I live in the weak and the wounded, Doc,"
- Session 9
It was a desperate act when Damien sent out a scrambled message into the ether, he didn't know if the message would even reach the right place, but he had set his message to deliver at the exact same coordinates as they had sent 'the other' Dickie. Surely it would work, and he would find a way to come and set things straight.
It was a good thing that Bruce had been such a crazy dooms day prepper, Damien and Pennyworth had food enough to last them seven lifetimes, without ever leaving this place. The underground mansion and the batcave had been sealed shut since Jason had gone completely over the edge.
"Please come back, Jason lost his mind." Damien said to the microphone, "Dickie, I'm scared." He paused and then set the tape to loop, and hit broadcast. He sighed and turned off the lamp over the desk in the batcave. If the other Dickie found a way back here, how was he even going to explain all this, it sounded nuts even in his own head, and he had lived it.
Never had he missed Bruce more than he did right now.
Bruce and Dick waited as the giant machine in the batcave hummed, trying to clean up the mysterious message, it was all scrambled, but there was something about it that made Dick's hair stand, he couldn't tell what it was, but is sixth sense told him it was nothing good.
"Alright, let's try again." Bruce sighed.
"Please skkkkrt rrrrlt Jason lost skkkkkkrt" Dick looked at Bruce with a surprised expression. And then the last part came through whispered and echoed like from another world, but crystal clear, "Dickie, I'm scared." And then the message repeated.
"That sounds like –" Bruce said as he turned to Dick, surprised that the color had drained completely from the young mans face. He looked like he had seen a ghost.
"Damien." Dick finished Bruce's sentence. "It sounds like Damien." Dick got up from his chair and started to pace the room. "It has to be Damien from, you know that other place I visited when I got lost in the portal."
"Come now Dick, that sounds –"
"Absolutely plausible." Dick said, "But why?"
"It could be a trick? You told me that I... or well the other me, tried to keep you there, right?" Bruce said, "What if he is just trying to get to back there?"
"Could be." Dick shrugged, "But I don't think so. Listen to him Bruce, he sounds terrified."
Bruce nodded in acknowledgement.
"I got to go." Dick gestured at Bruce, "I have to find a way back there."
"I would talk to Steward if I were you" Bruce finally said with a sigh, "He knows a thing or two about dimensions."
"You're right." Dick said thoughtfully, slowing down his pacing. "Can we send a message back?"
"Suppose so," Bruce said, turning towards the batcomputer again, "We just need to triangulate the coordinates, and ping back the original source."
Damien had received the message weeks ago, he kept listening to it, it was garbled and had a lot of static, but he clearly heard "Damien" and was sure that Dickie had gotten his message. It had actually worked, even Alfred had been surprised that Damien's crazy plan had worked.
The motion sensors outside let out a shrill chime, and Damien turned on the camera, was that Dickie? The real Dickie? Not the mockery that Jason had conjured. Damien flipped a switch, "Yes?"
Dick turned around and looked for where the sound emerged, when he finally saw the camera and loudspeaker he smiled, "I came, as you asked."
"Green Lantern helped me get here? Are you alright?" Dick was confused, why the questions when Damien had asked him to come.
"Dickie!" Damien cheered and sprinted off, he forgot to shut off the microphone so Dick could hear his quick steps across the hard floor of the batcave, he heard the elevator ding, and moments later he saw the elevator open in shed on the bare yard. Damien sprinted out and buried Dickie in a hug. "You came! You heard me!"
"I did." Dick said holding Damien out in stretched arms and looked at him, he looked tired and his eyes were haunted. Like his soul had grown decades since Dick had seen him last. "Let's get inside, these walls gives me the creeps." He referred to the bare yard that was surrounded by tall concrete walls to keep the undead out.
Damien followed Dick inside. They were welcomed by Alfred that looked every bit as haggard as Damien.
"Come," Alfred said, "You will need a drink and to sit down for this."
With Dick seated with a drink in his hand on one side, Alfred and Damien sat on the other side of the sofa arrangement. "So?" Dick took a sip, "Anyone care to fill me in? and why I suddenly owe John Steward season tickets to his favorite team."
"Bruce is dead." Damien said with a tiny voice. "Jason injured him, but it took him weeks to die." He looked over at Alfred who nodded solemnly.
"I'm sorry." Dick said, "But surely that is not why you went through that much trouble to find me."
"I didn't know who else to ask, the trek to Barry's house is too dangerous, and everyone else I know of is dead."
Dick nodded and sipped his drink.
"Jason found a way to resurrect Dickie, our Dickie." When Dick looked horrified, Damien hurried to correct himself. "I don't mean from the grave, I mean he made some copy of him." He sighed, "I don't know if the real Dickie is trapped inside there, or if it's a mindless drone."
"That is disconcerting, but why did you say you were scared?" Dick asked, leaning forward in his chair.
"Because last thing we heard from Barry was that Jason had found a solid lead on Tim." Damien said, "And we gotta save Tim from Jason, and that thing he lugs around." Damien looked Dick straight in the eyes, "I can't take them on by myself, and I had to give up on getting to Barry."
"But how did he make a copy of me? Or well Dick." Dick asked confused.
"I suspect dark magic, sir." Alfred said softly.
Dick sat silent and just stared into his empty glass in his hand. Why would Jason do something like that, sure he was grief stricken, but he didn't think his psyche was that frayed, killing Bruce and somehow bringing Dick back to life. But surely, seeing how everyone else here resembled those he knew and loved from his own home, then the Dick Grayson of this world wouldn't just let Jason rampage – right?
"I suggest we visit Barry." Damien said softly, breaking the silence in the stuffy room. "Between you and I - I have faith we can make it." He sighed deeply, "Unless we run into Jason and Dick – the other Dick."
Dick smiled wryly, "Yeah, though I wouldn't mind talking to them."
"Believe me; they don't want to talk to you – or me." Damien said, "They just want to kill us."
Dick looked up at Damien's determined face, "Alright, we better stay clear then." His mind was full of a million questions, one of them being why Jason and his new friend would want to kill them.
"There's a shift in the weather." Jason muttered looking out over the skyline of the ruins of Gotham. "It feels weird."
Dick just smiled at him.
Jason looked back down at his gun he was disassembling and cleaning. "I don't know babe, something just feels off."
Dick returned his gaze to the street below them. A lone straggler that somehow still managed to hold on to his top hat shuffled aimlessly around. "Yes Jason." He said, if Jason noted the unusually long latency, he didn't comment, he just continued to clean his guns in silence.
Damian and Dick was standing on top of Bruce's concrete wall, looking out over the ruins around them, the birds were chirping and the wind felt like any other spring morning, the sun warmed where it's rays made it. "You sure you remember what way to go?" Dick asked.
"Of course." Damien said with slight offence written across his features.
Dick just laughed and followed Damien across the rooftops, every now and then Damien would stop and listen intensely, shake his head and continue moving. "So…" Dick said, after they had slowly made their way across half of Gotham's ruined rooftops. "Was that all Barry said? That he knew where Tim was?" When Damien didn't answer, Dick continued. "If Jason lost the plot completely, what makes you think that Barry is even still alive?"
"He has to be." Damien answered bitterly.
"But what if he's not, have you considered that option?" Dick gently prodded.
"I have not." Damien said, his words carried confidence, but his voice did not. To Dick it sounded more like a childish statement of make believe.
"I guess we will cross that bridge when we get to it." Dick shrugged, looking around scanning for landmarks. Suddenly Damien took off running, and Dick just followed, not sure why they were running, but thinking that Damien might have seen something he had not.
"Barry!" Damien called, "Barry!"
And then Dick saw it, Barry's hideout, he remembered being here with Jason the last time he was here. The place looked normal from the outside. The door opened and Dick hardly blinked and Damien was gone, he could hear raised voices, or rather, he could hear Damien. Then the door opened again, and Barry stepped out, he stared at Dick like he was the worst. Dick stood still and let Barry stalk up to him on the rooftop one over. "Hey Barry." Dick said with a little smile.
Barry grabbed his hand and pressed in with his fingers on his wrist, and then he did the same on his neck.
"Shut up." Barry hissed, he pulled down on Dick's lover eyelids, looking at his eyes. "It is really you, you are one dumb motherfucker."
"What are you doing here? We sent you back to your own life – why the fuck would you want to come back here and –"
"Come on Barry." Dick said, "Surely.."
"If it wasn't for you, Jason wouldn't have gotten close to Bruce, and if it wasn't for that – he would still be alive." Barry said working himself up in a pitch, "Bruce might have been crazy, he was a grown man dressing like a flying rodent for fucks sake! But he was my friend, and in these times, you need your friends. And you, you took him away from me, and from Damien."
"I'm sorry, I didn't know – "
"Like fuck. You shouldn't have trusted Jason." Barry huffed.
"You trusted him too." Damien said, having silently moved up behind Barry. "And so did I – don't blame Dick for Jason's crimes."
Barry stared at Dick and nodded stiffly. "Alright, come on in. No point in standing out here to get killed."
Jason stood on a ruined wall of an old office building, he watched as Barry, Damien and Dick walked into Barry's house. "What is he doing here?" Jason muttered to himself.
Dick stood next to him and just looked over at Barry's house, not saying a word.
Jason turned around and jumped down unto some rubble on the 5th floor of the remains of the building. "We'll just have to pay Barry a visit tomorrow and ask him."
"Your lead." Damien said, "on Tim?" He sat down in one of the rickety chairs in Barry's kitchen area, and Dick jumped up and sat on the kitchen counter, looking at Barry and Damien. Barry was slowly turning on a couple of lanterns, bathing the dark room in a soft glow.
"Tim is at the dome." Barry stated before he too sat in one of the rickety kitchen chairs.
Damien leaned forward, "You know this for sure?"
"Yes." Barry said, "I have a source inside, and well –" Barry paused, "I don't think you're gonna like what you find little Damien, he is not leaving the dome."
"But he has to come home, I mean," Damien stopped, "why wouldn't he want to come home?" His voice sounded frail and lost, and for a moment, Dick felt so sorry for the kid, and wished he could just take him with him when he left.
"He has a baby." Barry said, "He has a family, Damien. A family safe in the dome."
"Wha-" Damien looked up at Dick, "Then… then… there is no hope." He sighed and his shoulder slumped. "Soon it's just going to be me, alone in that underground mausoleum."
"You got Alfred." Barry said with a little smile.
Damien looked up at Barry with large wet eyes, somehow looking much younger than he had any right to. "Not for long. Alfred is old, and he is sick – And I don't know what to do about it."
Barry fell silent, and just wrapped his arms around Damien. "Maybe it's time to abandon Bruce's vault, maybe we could get you two into the dome?"
Damien didn't answer, and Dick just stared intensely on his feet, feeling like an imposter. After a long pregnant moment, Dick finally found his voice. "Do you know what the deal is with the resurrected – eh, Dick." He smiled a little embarrassed at Damien and Barry, "It weirds me out to talk about myself in third person, even if it's not me per se."
"You want to talk to Constantine, but he is a hard man to find. Word is that he doesn't want to be found." Barry said with a little shrug, finally letting go of Damien. "I could search for him, maybe that would be the fastest way, so to say." He let out a little laugh, even if he knew his joke was in poor taste.
"Constantine? You think he created that creature?" Damien asked appalled.
"No." Barry said, "But I think he might know who did." He ruffled Damien's hair gently, "If anyone knows anything about what went into conjuring that atrocity, it's him."
"Sounds like a plan." Dick said as he jumped down from the kitchen counter. "But how does one go around finding a wizard that doesn't want to be found?"
"I admit that is tricky." Barry sighed.
"Apparently he is stuck here like the rest of us, or he would have left." Damien stated, leaning back in the chair, "So he has to reside somewhere."
"I can go look" Barry suggested, "But I have no idea how long it will take, because if I know him right, he knows how to hide."
"It's our best shot." Damien said, and Dick nodded in agreement. "Damien and I will wait here."
Barry had been gone for hours, and Damien had finally fallen asleep. Dick was reading in one of Barry's books, killing time. A muffled noise tore him from the pages of the book, and he placed the book down on the table, picking up the lamp. He took a couple of steps towards Barry's bed and saw that Damien was still sleeping. And then he looked out the kitchen window, trying to see if anything was outside.
To his surprise he saw a figure sitting on the ruined building next to the one Barry lived in. He could be mistaken, but he was pretty sure it was Jason, and he was waving.
Dick placed down the lamp again, and instead grabbed the metal rod that Barry had nailed to the wall above the door before he gently pushed the door open and stepped outside on the landing. "Jason?"
Jason danced across the beam from ruin to ruin, "Dickie, you're back." He sing song.
"I am." Dick said, his grip on the metal rod tightened as Jason came closer.
"I'm not here to fight." Jason held out his arms, "If I were, you'd already be dead."
Dick just looked at Jason, "What do you want?"
"I want to chat." Jason said with a smile.
"What about?" Dick resisted the urge to look over his shoulder to check on Damien, but kept his eyes trained on Jason in the dark.
"I have a proposition for you." Jason leaned against the chipped green painted railing of Barry's landing. "I have ears you know." When Dick said nothing Jason just chuckled, "You want Damien inside the dome, am I right?"
When Dick just looked pissed off, Jason laughed.
"Am I right, or am I right?"
"Maybe." Dick said in a stoic tone.
Jason smiled wide, "That is a yes, Grayson." He pointed at Dick with a gloved hand, "I can make that happen."
"Alright, I'll bite." Dick said, "- How?"
"I know a dude who knows a dude." Jason said, paused and clined his head looking at Dick with a little sly smile, "You think I'm lying don't you?"
"Yes." Dick admitted.
"Is this about Bruce?" Jason asked straight out, "That fucker had it coming."
"Maybe he did, but you shouldn't have used me to get your revenge." Dick's lips was a fine line of contempt, "that was low."
Jason's smile faltered a little, "What is your problem brother - is it that I killed Bruce or that poor defenseless Damien is in need of a white knight?"
Dick frowned, "My problem is that you lied to me."
Jason shook his head, "I didn't." He took a deep breath and looked up at the starry night sky, "I told you to take the last good part of me with you – and you did."
Taking a step forward Dick noted that Jason took a tiny step back, "You were supposed to redeem yourself! Not make Damien into an orphan, stuck in a world he doesn't understand." He pointed angrily at Jason with the hand not holding the rod, "You did that!"
Jason nodded sadly, "I know."
"So quit the bullshit, and tell me why you are really here." Dick demanded.
With a little smile Jason shrugged, "I told you, I can help Damien – only thing I want in return, is that you stop searching for Constantine."
Dick couldn't stop the tiny chuckle that made it out. "I can't."
"No - You won't." Jason said the disdain evident in his voice.
"Sorry." Dick shrugged, "I really can't."
"Fuck." Jason muttered under his breath, "Alright, let's pretend it's true – and let's pretend you even find him. Don't go see him. Send him home – whatever. Don't speak with him… please Dickie."
Dick couldn't quite read Jason's expression, it looked horrified and sad at the same time. "You gotta give me a reason, Jay. Because from where I am standing, your offer is worth nothing."
"Look, I get Damien into the Dome, and you go home." Jason said.
"No deal." Dick noted that Jason's hand touched the gun at his hip, and his own hands clenched the rod again. "I don't trust you."
"Careful Grayson, you don't want me as your enemy." Jason warned, his hand resting on the handle of his gun.
"You're right, I don't." Dick said softly. "But I still don't trust you."
Fast as lightening Jason drew his gun and aimed it at Dick, "I like you, you helped me when I had no one. But you gotta go back where you belong." He frowned. "Please Dickie, I really don't want to shoot you."
Dick squinted his eyes, "Is this about your corpse boyfriend?"
"Don't you fucking call him that" Jason sneered.
"You're right, so what do you want me to call your reanimated lover?" Dick said, acid dripping from every word.
Jason shot his gun, but Dick was faster than he had anticipated, and he only graced his shoulder. But he knew how dangerous Dick was in a fight so he chose to slip away before it became a fight – he would get his chance later. Before he could jump the railing, Dick got a hit in with the metal rod, and sharp pain shot up Jason's leg.
Dick stood and looked down the side of the ruin, seeing Jason run with a severe limp off into the dark. He couldn't quite make up his mind if this was wise, maybe he just should have taken Jason's offer, after all wasn't that what he wanted too? Damien safe and return home.
John Constantine was just as Dick imagined he would be like, he had never met him before but he had heard tales about the charismatic, crazy conjurer of the dark arts. He couldn't help but to be amused at Constantine's resting bitch face, and Damien's infatuation with him.
"So." Barry finally said, "We need to make a plan." He crossed his arms over his chest, looking down at the odd threesome at his table, "Most important is to get Damien into the Dome."
"What about Alfred?" Damien asked in a strange childish tone.
"He would never leave Bruce's vault, you know that." Barry said, his eyes were sad in the sparse daylight that made it through his shutters in the kitchen. "That is his choice, and mine is to get you to safety with Tim." Barry looked up at the other two at the table, "any objections?"
Constantine looked like he thought Barry was mad, and Dick shook his head.
"Great," Barry said, "I have a way through to the Dome, and I ought to be able to sneak in Damien, and get back to you two." When all of them just stared at Barry, he smiled. "I have bourbon, and you wouldn't believe how far that gets you these days."
"You have bourbon? Why didn't you just say so?" Constantine said, he sounded tired, and looked even worse.
"Because I don't want you to drink it John." Barry stated drily. "So do we all agree? I get Damien to the Dome, it's fastest and safest if I just do this – and you two wait here." He looked directly at Constantine, "And there isn't anymore bourbon, so you can stop trying to guess where my secret stash is."
Constantine just chuckled.
"Let's go Damien, I'll be waiting outside – say your goodbyes." Barry said, ruffling Damien's hair as he passed him.
Damien looked up at Dick, "Thank you, I don't even think –"
"Don't worry about it kiddo." Dick said with a smile, winching as Damien stood up and hugged him, his shoulder where Jason's bullet had grazed him stung, and for a moment he worried if it had gotten infected. "Next time I see you," he whispered in Damien's ear, "you're gonna be taller and stronger than me, I'm sure of it."
"You'd come back?" Damien whispered back, surprised.
"Of course, you are like second family." Dick let Damien's hug linger, "Now get going."
"Yes." Damien said with a sigh, "I'll tell Tim how awesome you are. Just in case."
Dick laughed softly, "You do that."
Damien finally let go and smiled at Constantine, "Good luck."
Constantine laughed too, "You too kid."
As Damien left the room returned to it's half light. Dick sat completely still till he couldn't hear Barry and Damien talk, and risked to open the shutters to look outside. "They're gone." He said and started to shrug off the shirt that covered his injured shoulder. "Fuck it hurts," he mumbled tossing the shirt on the chair he sat in earlier. "Can you see if it's infected?" Dick gently prodded the linear wound on his shoulder.
Constantine got up from his chair and walked over to where Dick stood, "turn," he said and waited till Dick's shoulder were illuminated by the bleak sunlight that made it into the kitchen. "Doesn't look too bad," he said, "but it ought to be cleaned." He looked at Dick with a smile, "Bullet?"
"Yeah." Dick said reaching for a washcloth by the kitchen sink, "Don't tell Barry."
"Not like that – it's just I don't want him to know Jason was here, and it didn't exactly go super well." Dick said with a childish pout.
"Give me that washcloth." Constantine said, and when Dick handed it over, he forcefully turned Dick so the light was directly on the shoulder. "So dimension travel, huh?" he said casually.
"Jason's reanimated sidekick," Dick said softly, "what do you know about it?"
"Richard Grayson, yeah I can imagine that is weird." Constantine laughed and tossed the washcloth into the sink, "hang on, we need to dress it."
"Yeah, so do you know who made him?"
"Sure I do – I did," Constantine said casually, "He paid me handsomely."
Dick sighed, "So that is why he didn't want me to speak with you, it makes sense."
Constantine looked over at Dick from the drawer he was searching at the other end of the kitchen. "Back in the days I wouldn't have done anything so frustratingly difficult and time consuming, but these are different times – and well he paid well."
Dick just stared at Constantine. "Is he – is he in there? I mean the other Dick?"
Constantine nodded as he victoriously pulled a wad of medical dressing from a drawer. "He is." Constantine smiled as he returned to Dick by the kitchen window, "Raise your head and stand still."
Dick did as asked, he licked his lips trying to decide how to ask the next question. "But that is hardly ethical, is it?"
"No." Constantine said in a dark tone, "But it was the one condition of the job."
Dick twisted around, causing Constantine to drop the rolled up fabric on the floor. "He is dead, maybe he would like to remain dead? Have you thought of that?"
"I said stand still dammit." Constantine sighed as he returned to his task, dressing Dick's shoulder. "For what it's worth, Dick took it better than most to be returned to life."
"That doesn't make it right" Dick said.
"No." Constantine agreed. "So what was your plan? Why did you go through all of this to get me here?"
"My plan is to undo that grotesque golem of yours." Dick growled.
"Why?" Constantine finished the dressing, and walked back to the dark corner of the kitchen, sitting down to light a cigarette.
"Because it's wrong, that's why." Dick argued as he turned to glare directly at Constantine.
"Love is one of the strongest forces in the world, and you can argue that it's wrong – but when all is said and done, then Jason did this because he can't live without him."
Dick looked down at his feet deep in thought. What Constantine said made sense – because why else would Jason go through that to bring his Dickie back? "So this is my fault too?" he asked with a tiny voice, "When I landed here, he was grieving but – Maybe seeing me prompted him to do this? Maybe he had to find a way to keep his Dickie close?"
Constantine shrugged, "Maybe."
Dick looked up at Constantine, "We have to find them, and make this right."
"And how do you suppose we do that?" Constantine laughed amused.
"Well we get rid of the golem, and well – figure something out." He groaned in frustration, this wasn't even a plan. If they got rid of the fake Dickie, then what about Jason? Could he just leave him in a limbo like this? That wasn't right either. He sat down on the chair next to Constantine with a deep sigh, "Well we just have to make Jason understand that he needs to do the right thing, I suppose."
At this Constantine actually roared with laughter, when Dick looked at him with an offended glare he laughed even harder. Eventually Dick had to join in the laughter, because it was honestly the worst plan he had ever come up with to date.
"You do realize that he would rather kill you than let you take Dick, right?" Constantine chuckled, wiping amused tears from his eyes.
"I do." Dick took a deep breath to sober up from his laughing fit. "That is where you come in."
Constantine shook his head, "You must be mental mate, if you think I'm going to help you with this ludicrous plan of yours."
"Well do it for Dickie" Dick said, "I think you owe him to set things right." Constantine's face hardened and Dick smiled disarming, "You said love was one of the most powerful things in the world, but I would argue that grief is just as powerful – making you think and do things that aren't rational. Have you ever thought of that?" He leaned in over the table and looked directly into Constantine's blue eyes, "Jason couldn't deal with his loss, it's not love – it's inability to deal with the lack of it."
Constantine looked thoughtful. "You might be right." He smiled widely, "It will cost you though."
"Alight? What is your price?"
Constantine leaned in over the table his smile widened, "A kiss."
Dick almost groaned by the crude suggestion in the offer. "You got it." He said looking directly at Constantine.
Constantine rose an eyebrow in interest. "I don't want no grandma kiss either."
"I figured." Dick said, the corner of his mouth rose in a crooked smile.
Constantine crossed his arms over his chest; sure, that Dick was taking the piss. "One now and one when it's over – and all of my services are yours."
"Your asking price just rose to the double, Mister Constantine." Dick clined his head and looked amused.
"Because I didn't think you'd ever agree to the first one – can't blame me for trying." Constantine shrugged. "Do we have a deal Grayson?"
Dick nodded, "We do."
Dick and Constantine left Barry's apartment and started to make their way to the one safehouse of Jason's that Dick knew about – not that he had any clue where to actually locate Jason, but he had to try something, and with a little luck Jason would find them first.
"There's not a whole lot of those corpses left huh?" Dick said, "Seems like it thinned out since I was here last."
"I think most of them flocked to the domes." Constantine said, shielding his eyes from the sun.
"And we sent Damien there with Barry?" Dick said "What the fuck? Why didn't you say something?"
"It's not like Barry didn't know that." Constantine shrugged, "They'll be fine."