The Ones Forgotten
They're finally discussing, after who knows – certainly not them – how long.
Why they're here. How they're here, wherever here is.
"I think I'm supposed to be dead," Steph says in answer, frowning slightly.
Jason looks intrigued. "Really? You too, huh?" He lifts his head up from the not-ground to look at her. It looks like the top of a thunder storm underneath them, all dark and misty, obscuring what lies beneath. Sometimes the darkness leaves, and they get a peek into the real world, like the bottom of the sky is some sort of weird cosmic television.
'Sometimes' doesn't happen often enough, though none of them have any idea how time passes where they are. Sometimes it feels like they've only been there a few minutes; other times it feels like forever.
They both turn to Timmy. He isn't Tim, and yet he is. And he's more fucked up than either of them ever thought about being. But he was Robin. Like them. That makes him…family. And he's here, with them, which makes him…something else. Something more.
Timmy twitches under their regard. "I didn't die," he finally says, as if the words are being pulled from deep inside him. And each of them hurts him in ways they don't understand. "Technically." He twitches again, and stares off into the distance, broodingly, like Batman, only angrier than Batman ever lets himself appear outside of life or death situations.
"Technically?" Steph asks softly, using her 'reassuring young children' voice. Timmy isn't fragile, despite seeming like he'd break if you touched him, but he needs to be handled with care nonetheless. He might explode otherwise, into all sorts of messy kinds of violence.
That's how they found out that no one stays hurt here – the hard way.
The way Timmy acts kind of reminds her of how she felt after she gave her baby up for adoption: angry at the world, because the hurt was too much to keep inside herself. Steph wonders about her sometimes, and when she gets too melancholy her memories rearrange themselves and she doesn't wonder about her for awhile.
Steph isn't sure how she feels about that.
"My body's still alive," Timmy states. "I don't know what happened to…the rest of me." He waves a hand illustratively, then curls in on himself and generally tries to look tough instead of miserable.
They're all in pretty sad states, so it's nothing new.
Jason nods slowly. "Someone – or something – hijacked my body out there." He waves towards the nothingness that surrounds them. They can't get through it and they've all tried, so it stands to reason that the real world is on the other side.
And if it isn't, well, it doesn't look like they'll be finding out anytime soon.
"Batman…and the others. They think he's me," Jason continued. His face tightens, all over, and he snarls, just once, before finishing, "And he's currently running around calling himself Red Hood and killing people." His eyes close as if to block out the knowledge of what he's saying, and his head drops like a lode stone to hang down between his knees.
"Good people or bad people?" Steph asks after a moment, because, while she doesn't think a third-rate crook like the Cluemaster actually deserved to die – never mind that she doesn't think she could have ever brought herself to kill her father – there were some villains that did. Tim, her Tim, had told her about what the Joker did to Jason. And she was the only one who Cass talked to about Lady Shiva…her mother. Not even Batman knew about that. And now…he never will from her.
Not that he would have anyway. Sometimes Steph thinks the reason that she would never have really worked out as Robin long-term was because her morals were too loose for Batman. She tries not to think about that too much.
Jason snorts and turns a sardonic look her way. "Do you think it really matters?" But his eyes are hollow like the mask in the Case, and there's an undercurrent of pleading to his voice.
"Yes," Timmy replies. There's a hardness in his voice, and it makes Steph wonder if maybe there's a different reason for them all being here. Other than them being dead.
"They were bad guys," Jason says finally. "He's killed…a lot of them. Drug dealers, rapists, child molesters…" He growls and punches the not-ground. "And yet, when he went up against the Joker, he didn't kill him. He k-killed me, he…" Jason swallows and looks away, probably to keep himself from shedding tears in front of them. Not that either of them would say anything against him if he did; they were none of them very…stable…when they first got here.
Or even now.
And Steph gets it. She doesn't know if she could have ever brought herself to kill anyone, no matter how much she thought they deserved it…that didn't stop her from wanting them dead. Letting someone else do the dirty work may be the coward's way out, but Batman's been doing it for years.
That isn't fair, she knows. But if life isn't fair, death is…not much different. At least in that regard.
"What happened?" Timmy asks, and for once his voice isn't halfway flat. The emotion is hard to pinpoint, though; or maybe it's just because he hasn't figured out how he feels yet, either.
Steph gets that.
"With what?" Jason asks, and he's almost snarling. Steph hopes that whatever Timmy wants to know doesn't make Jason even more upset. She's not going to bet on that, however, and not just because she doesn't have anything to bet.
"With your doppelganger," Timmy replies, almost eerily calm. "What's he doing with your body if he isn't using it to avenge your death?"
Jason blinks, and gives Timmy a sideways look, almost as if he'd been wondering the same thing. Steph thinks that if she was in his position, she would have been.
After a few minutes faced with Timmy's implacable questioning stare, Jason gives a forcedly laconic shrugs. "I don't know. He seems to trying to be live that old saying true." At their uncomprehending looks, he elucidates, "Y'know: 'Live fast, die young, leave a cute corpse'?"
"Did you?" Timmy asks with idle curiosity. He twirls a knife in his hand, and Steph can't even be bothered to wonder where this one came from. Things just seem to appear – and disappear – like that.
Jason snorts at that. "I got beaten to death with a crowbar by the Joker. I highly doubt I ended up looking 'cute.'"
"I got turned into the Joker's idea of Mini-Me," Timmy says, and the laugh in his voice is anything but humorous. "Hours and hours of plastic surgery fixed…most of it… I look like I used to." His eyes flashed, and his mouth twisted up into…it couldn't be called a smile, no matter that on the surface it looked like one. "But there's a reason I'm here with two dead Robins despite technically being alive." There's a hardness to his voice that simultaneously has Steph wondering what the other half of Timmy is currently doing in his universe, and also thankful that she doesn't know.
Steph also, once again, finds herself grateful for the fact that none of them remember everything about their lives. Whenever they try to think about the people they know, or the things that happened, it's all hazy. Especially the things that hurt; it's like it happened to someone else, or in another lifetime. In another life.
The good things come through okay mostly, but the bad things…disperse, and are easily forgotten. As long as they want to forget. There's a surprising amount of bad memories that Steph just can't bring herself to let go of. She thinks it's because they made her who she is. Who she was, really, but while this isn't life, it's…something. An existence, of sorts.
"What do you think that reason is?" Jason asks, and Steph finds herself pulled back into the conversation, almost against her will. It's like rubbernecking at a car crash; you can't look away, no matter how much you want to. No matter how much it would be safer to be elsewhere, though there isn't really an 'elsewhere' where they are.
"What did Red Hood do to the Joker?" Timmy asks with evasive curiousness, and the almost eager smile on his face is creepy. It would be frightening if Steph wasn't still seeing her Tim whenever she looks at Timmy. It probably should be frightening, but they were all Robin, and now they're dead, and it's not like you can die twice.
Not without coming back to life again, and Steph really needs to stop hoping for that.
"Beat him with a crowbar," Jason answers, eyes shadowed with hidden pain. "Just like…he did to me."
Steph thinks about giving Jason a hug, but he wouldn't accept it right now. Then she thinks about how Black Mask killed her and shudders, pointedly pushing the memories far enough away that they disappear for awhile.
They're all fucked up, and they're none of them getting all that much better. They don't know where the hell – or heaven – they are, and if they are in limbo or purgatory or whatever, it doesn't seem like they'll be 'moving on' anytime soon. There isn't even any light to head towards.
It isn't a bad…existence…for all of that, however.
Because…wherever they are…at least they have each other.