Jason is huddled in his dingy little apartment trying to ignore the fact that he's tired, hungry, and cold. He hates being cold and hungry for more than just the obvious reasons. It reminds him of the times when his mother (and it doesn't matter what the birth certificate says; Catherine Todd was his mother he just wishes that it hadn't taken him so long to realize that) would sit down with him, and discuss whether they were going to use the last of their money to pay to keep the heat on or to buy food. He realizes now how hard that talk had to have been for her, but it was only fair that Jason got to help decide which to go without, and often it depended on what time of year it was, more than anything else.

If it wasn't too far into winter they would often just huddle under all of the tattered blankets and random bits of clothing they could find and suffer through the cold. However, that wasn't enough in the dead of winter, so in the later months, when the Gotham air was so cold that no snow fell, they would always do whatever it took to keep the heat on, because living off of crackers and slightly expired canned goods was far better than trying not to feel the wind seeping through the cracks and ignoring the whistling sound of it rushing through the partly open windows-because they never did shut right-while he tried to tell himself that he wasn't as numb as he really was. It was better than trying to find some way to pay the shut-off fee, the return of service fee, and being hungry despite their best efforts. It was almost always easier to find food than heat anyway.

Jason doesn't like thinking about any of that, though, because, somehow, it always seems to leave him colder. He's always cold now. He has been since he crawled out of his own grave. A part of him knows that it doesn't have to be this way-that if he just put everything aside he could be warm and well fed again, but he can't. He can't just let it all go. He doesn't know how-doesn't want to know how. The anger gives him an illusion of being warm and keeps him from forgetting. It doesn't matter that he is sitting alone, on a dirty floor, in a cramped apartment with peeling wall paper, mold, broken floor boards, and cracked walls, because at least he's still himself and not some useless house pet. Jason doesn't like being taken care of-never has. He's always taken care of himself, and he's not about to become some well-fed show dog just because he's a little more alone.

It doesn't matter that he could be sitting in a warm room right now being brought Alfred's hot chocolate and peanut butter scones, because he lost all rights to that when he chose the path that he's currently on. Jason knows what he would have to do to convince them that he's not an insane killer, and some days he even wants to, but then he remembers how crowded the manor has to be right now, and he can't take that. Even if they could get over the fact that he's attacked almost everyone living under that roof, there's still the problem that Jason doesn't think that he's wrong. He whole-heartedly believes that there are just some people who don't deserve to live, and nothing any of them could ever say or do is going to change that. He won't let it...let it change him, because being who he is is all Jason has ever had, and he won't relinquish it for something so trivial as heat and decent food.

It doesn't matter what other people think. Heat and decent food is trivial. It isn't necessary for survival. He's proven that more times than he's willing to count. It sure as hell isn't any reason to go become something that he isn't willing to deal with. Jason can handle nightmares; can deal with waking to the sound of screaming, only to realize that the screams are his own; can cope with being covered in blood; and can sure as hell face the fact that he's alone, because he chose to be. What he can't live with is the idea of letting someone take something so primal from him as his ability to take care of himself for something so insignificant...no matter how much comfort he knows it would bring him.

Jason's life has only ever taught him one thing, and that's that the easy road is always the wrong road. It'd be easy to go back to Bruce...to apologize, and play the good little former Robin everyone wants him to be. It'd be so simple to just hide away the parts of himself that no one wants to see. It'd be effortless to give in to all of his wants, which is why Jason has to continue to choose the path that he's currently on. It's hard to live the way he does, which means it has to be right. It's the only thing that makes sense to him-the only thing that's ever made sense to him. Being on the streets was difficult; training is always challenging; living is hard, and all of those things worked out in some form or another. Living with Bruce, pretending to be a rich boy, and just being a kid was easy, and that ended in blood and pain, so clearly it was wrong. Clearly, this is the only choice Jason has, because it's the only thing that could possibly ever be right.

The End