Disclaimer: I don't own them but I sure do love 'em.
Chapter 1: The Return of Jason Todd
Batman perched on a gargoyle overlooking the narrow streets of Gotham. His body created a soft silhouette against the light-polluted night sky. It was another quiet night and he was very thankful for it. Order in Gotham had been restored about a month ago with the arrest of Black Mask. The gang that he had created quickly disbanded into multiple factions. Batman was able to apprehend most of them after the confusion caused by Black Mask's fall.
By no means was Gotham rid of crime, but this was a very good month for Batman. No major criminals had escaped from Arkham, the police was working fine without him, and the media was no longer focused on the Wayne family, particularly Vicki Vale. It seemed that Tim's fake assassination attempt had worked. Over a month ago, with the help of fellow Teen Titan Miss Martian, Tim was able dissuade Vicki Vale from pursuing her investigation of the Wayne family, or at least it seemed so. This plan also led to an arrest of Scarab.
Life was good for the new Batman. Life was good for Dick Grayson. After Bruce died, it had been nothing but an uphill battle to keep Gotham safe. At first, he refused to accept responsibility, and Gotham was thrown into chaos. With the help of the Network, Dick managed to regain control of the city, but it did not mean he was forgiven for his sins. Jason Todd was right about his failures to act and the city paid for it, but not anymore. Dick was determined to prove that he was worthy of the Cowl. He spent almost 10 hours a night patrolling the city in the past month, attracting the attention of Alfred and Barbara. They asked him to stop, but he wouldn't. Dick was going to be different. He had to be.
"Batman?" Oracle's voice came through his earbud.
"What is it Oracle?" Batman replied, holding his hand to his right ear.
"A few hours ago, a girl by the name of Michelle Scott was kidnapped. By listening in to the calls with the police, I managed to put a trace on the kidnappers."
"I hoped you're calling me to tell me it worked."
"Of course it did. She's in a warehouse in Gotham Harbor, give or take a mile."
"The call only lasted for 15 seconds, I didn't have much time."
"Sorry... I'm on the way."
"I already sent Batgirl and Red Robin ahead of you."
"Okay, I'll be there in a few minutes." Batman stood up from his perch and jumped off the gargoyle. Gravity took control of his descent and quickly picked up speed. The cold air made his joints ache. Maybe he had been patrolling for too long, but he wasn't going to stop, he couldn't. Before he reached the ground, he opened his arms and deployed his cape. Wings formed along his arms and back and caught the wind, drastically slowing his descent. The change in velocity forced his arms back, straining his shoulders but he wasn't going to stop.
Batman landed firmly on top of the Batmobile and opened the top. The car started up once the cockpit closed. He changed gears and stomped on the gas pedal. The Batmobile zoomed down the empty streets of Gotham towards Gotham Harbor. The streets were narrow, but the lack of pedestrians and vehicles made his drive much easier and more comfortable. He couldn't help but admire the leather interior of the Batmobile. Bruce had gone all out when it had blown up for the hundredth time and he wasn't pulling any punches with the new modifications. However, Dick's favorite upgrade on the Batmobile was concussion plating.
Lights and sirens went off when the computer detected an incoming projectile: a stinger. A damn stinger. A damn stinger was shot at the Batmobile. Unfortunately, Batman was not as fast as the computer. He banked right but the rocket still made contact with the left side of the Batmobile. The explosion caused Batman to drive into a small store. He searched frantically for the latch and managed to open the cockpit. Rubble and dust fell into the vehicle when it opened. The leather interior was now ruined.
The store was small and it was completely destroyed. Batman made a mental note to write a check to the owner and slowly looked for his attacker from inside the building. It was undeniably a stinger and only one person used them. It was obvious.
"Hello, Dick." Red Hood called out from the rooftops of the buildings towering over him.
"Jason." Batman shouted when he left the building and looked up at him from the streets. He pulled out his grapple gun and fired the hook into the building next to Hood. When the hook made contact, Batman was quickly dragged up the wire to the roof.
"It's been a while." Hood laughed when Batman reached the top.
"I knew you didn't die," Batman muttered when he walked to the edge of the building.
"Of course, you wouldn't be able to live with the guilt."
"Don't worry, I'm filled with guilt, but none of it about you."
"Really? None? Well then, I feel quite unappreciated."
"What do you want, Jason?"
"What do I want? Well, we know what I want."
"And what is that?"
"That's easy. You dead and Bruce's legacy," Hood jumped across the opening between the buildings and tackled Batman. While the chest plate took the brunt of Hood's shoulder, it didn't stop the air from being knocked out of him. It was clumsy and he knew it. Batman should have been on guard, but he wasn't. He allowed his emotions to take control and dropped his guard. Another mistake, but he hoped not to regret it. The floor of the roof was hard, but it gave him a chance to counter Hood's attack. Batman squeezed his legs under Hood's abdomen and pushed off, sending Hood into the air.
"You'll never wear the Cowl again," Batman said as he stood up.
"That's okay," Hood replied. "I don't need to be Batman to save Gotham."
"That's funny." Batman snorted.
"It's funny that you think what you're doing is saving Gotham." It was Jason Todd that helped Black Mask take power of Gotham's crime world after Bruce's death. Even though he wasn't directly working for Black Mask, his "interventions" distracted Dick from what was really happening. Dick didn't have to just bring order back to the streets, but he had to stop an imposter from soiling Bruce's legacy. Even though Dick was successful at stopping both, he missed the rise of a new Black Mask.
"Oh, Dick, you're not thinking about the big picture? You need to introduce a little chaos to gain order."
Hood charged at Batman once again, but this time Batman was ready. His assault was quickly faltered with a few blocks and went on the offensive. First, a right hook to the face, which was easily blocked, and followed by a left cross to the chest that was dodged. Then Batman spun around to perform a roundhouse kick that connected with Hood's side. Hood collapsed in pain but quickly rolled to avoid Batman's right elbow.
"Then what's the big picture, Jason?" Batman asked, allowing Hood to pick himself up.
"I can't tell you," Hood muttered. He lifted up the bottom part of his mask and spat some blood. "That was a nice kick, Dick. You almost broke my ribs, that'll leave a bruise. I expected you to hold back."
"I did hold back," Batman responded as he took a step closer to Hood. "I won't next time if you don't tell me what you have planned."
"Well, I can't have fun if you're not trying. But don't worry, the fun will be starting very soon." Hood pulled a remote detonator from his pocket and pressed the trigger.