Chapter 1: Got'cha!
Disclaimer: I do not own Batman or Nightman(Dick Grayson as Batman), Damien Wayne, Tim Drake, Jason Todd, or any other characters in the DC Universe, all rights belong to DC publishing and Time Warner, please support the official release except Batman Inc. I really have to protest against that. I'm sorry but I just have to.
Author's Note: It's been bothering me that ever since Crisis on Inifinite Earths Jason Todd has been getting shafted by DC and then they make him a really cool anti-hero just to ruin it with Batman and Robin. I couldn't help but write this after thinking on one of my favorite characters of the DC Universe. Hopefully DC will do right by him in the future and help bring him back home finally.
Dick Grayson's POV
Dick Grayson's POV
I try to think of how far down this poor bastard went before he finally hit solid ground with a sickening splat. From the ledge I'd say six maybe seven stories and he was weighted down by a large object, a small safe that he was probably holding for the person who pushed him down. Typical leader mentality, kill the dogs who do your dirty work and then make off with all the money yourself. He had been tracking the criminals as they made their heist, noting at how professional these goons were despite the fact that previous encounters had said otherwise. Someone had planned this out, the same person who had killed the two when this was all done. In fact, I doubt the two ever knew who they were stealing from or else they would have just as soon walked away from the whole thing.
"What did you steal," I asked to nothing at all, a terrible habit of speaking out loud, something that Bruce never did, but more of a habit of watching too much NCIS. I'd never admit that I was hooked on a tv show because if anyone ever found out it would further cement my reputation as the "wussy-Batman" as Montoya had put it. One of these days I'm going to have to trick her into a terrible assignment for a little revenge on giving him that name. It got worse when Bruce came back as well. "Oracle, I want you to pull the records from the two and try to find any connections to the usual suspects, maybe they did time in Blackgate with a few of the men in Two-Face's crew or if there might be a connection to the Penguin's operations, maybe former Falcone family."
"I'm running a scan right now, Dick," said Babs, knowing that no one else would be hacking into the conversation, she was the only one allowed to use names when addressing them out in the field. Plus it would be confusing calling me Batman now with Bruce back in the picture. "I'm only putting up small time robberies, neither of them have a connection to any of the usual rogues."
"I've just found something, I might need you to analyze a scan," I said as I picked up a piece of material and spread it out only to curse slightly.
"What is it, is the object contaminated," asked Babs, a bit concerned at the sudden use of expletives and the way in which she could have sworn she heard tone used by Bruce once.
"Won't need a scan, but right now check on the status of Jason Haywood," I replied as I looked at the item of cloth in my hand, a green domino mask slightly covered in blood.
"Haywood, isn't that the name of Jason Todd's birth mother?"
"That's the name we had to give him without risking exposure of his identity and ours," said Dick, a bit reluctant at the fact that Jason could easily blow the lid on the whole thing in a psychotic rampage of anger, but Jason had never been that angry. "It didn't seem to improve his mood, but we were risking a lot just giving him the name Jason."
"Well, according to an email one of the Arkham guards sent, Jason Haywood escaped two weeks ago and they've been trying to keep that under wraps," replied Barbara over the transmission. "He kept his head down and was always dismissive and despondent in therapy sessions, at least that's what the report from his psychiatrist says. I've tried to make time to examine him myself, see if maybe he would open up to me more, but I haven't had time with everything that goes on."
"I don't know if he's ready to accept help just yet, he's stubborn as hell and too wrapped up in himself to address his problems," I explained, knowing full well that I'm describing my father and mentor as well. Hell I may even be describing myself, but if I do have some mental issues no one's noticed. "Sometimes wonder if he'll ever be…as close to normal as any of us get. I'd hate to think that one of us could become the very thing we fight against, but I don't know if Jason will ever come back to us."
"Only time will tell, Dick, but right now you need to find out what he was after. Should I send some back up your way?"
"No, I can manage this," I replied as I placed the mask into an evidence bag. Jason had wanted them to know it was him behind the whole plot, which meant that things had only begun. "But you might want to let Bruce know about this."
"Alright, Oracle out."
Another search of the area came up with very little, not even a footprint, smudge, or gunpowder on the ground from where the shell casing landed. Jason must have caught both shells before they hit the ground and I would have to wait for the coroners to determine the caliber and type of gun that was used to kill these two. We could use that information to try and track down a gun seller, possibly one of the contacts that dealt with the League of Shadow, much like a lot of the high grade weaponry that passes through Jason's hands. He's got an arsenal that he could go to war with and he uses it just for that purpose, only he's turning streets into warzones with a dangerous recklessness that could get him or other people kid.
Sometimes I think that's exactly want Jason wants, but I shut out that idea, not wanting to think on it. The police were already on seen, cops looking at me uneasy, wondering if they got the friendly Batman or the one who didn't speak just did what he wanted to. Even taking the mantle of Batman, I knew there were places that Bruce went that I would never dare go. It just wasn't in my nature to be as anti-social as he is or obsessed as he is over Batman. I do take the cowl serious and I know it's a heavy responsibility, but I became Nightwing because we didn't see eye to eye at how we got to the end.
Jason was a different story altogether and I wonder how much Bruce realizes about his former partner and ward. I think I know why he chose Jason, despite the fact the kid didn't have my acrobatic background, despite the fact that he wasn't as obedient or even clean cut as me. Jason was so much like a younger Bruce, right during his early years when he was looking for a purpose in life. Angry most of the time with frequent urges to commit violent attacks on those he thought deserved it, and rebellious to the good advice that was being given to him, instead swimming in his own bitterness.
It must have been hard for Jason to try to be like me, to be the golden boy who tempered Batman's own rage. Jason was far from being me, he couldn't be with the way he grew up, it just wasn't in his nature nor was it something that he could turn off. At night, when the city is quite and my thoughts go to the fallen Robin I think of how uncomfortable it might have been for him to wear that uniform, but to never reach Bruce's expectations.
Bruce blames himself a lot but I could have helped him just as easily as bruce could, maybe even more. A lot of people said that I was a good influence on Bruce, mainly Superman himself, but I always thought that it was also his friendship with Clark that calmed him a bit. That's why I always loved getting a chance to work with Superman, he always seemed to be shining with rays of hope as if he were a beacon of light, a sun to brighten the world. I chose Nightwing after Superman told me about the mythological figure and in many ways, he was like a second mentor to me, an uncle I could rely on.
Perhaps I could have done the same for Jason, made it easier on him, but instead I treated him like an usurper, constantly saying it was a mistake to make him Robin. I had so much support from the rest of the League and the family that my own hostilities transmitted into suspicion towards Jason. All these years, I've never made him feel welcomed once and very rarely I start to admit that to myself. I guess I am as stubborn as Bruce.
I should have been more brotherly to him, like I was with Tim, but I never have been and I sometimes wonder how different it would have been had I accepted him. Despite how I treated Jason back then, I still worried about the kid and I didn't want him to get seriously injured. I never told you this Jason, but I did think of you as a brother, I just…I couldn't let go of being Robin even if I tried to distance myself from the uniform. I'm sorry for not making you feel welcome, for the tears I might not have seen, and I wish I had looked over you like I did Tim.
I looked at the Batmobile knowing the only thing to do now was go back to the cave and examine the evidence, try to find Jason before he got into any trouble. He needed help badly and I was going to make things right between us. We all deserved a happy ending, Bruce and Jason most of all. To see the way he looks at that memorial case sometimes…even with the mask on he looks sad, it's the only thing besides the grave of his parents that makes it hard for him to hide his sorrow. And I had seen how Jason looked at that same case as well, with a sadness and longing. I could only hope for things to turn out well, I could only hope Jason would get better.
"What do you think he has planned," asked Tim as he looked over the notes that were sprawled on the table. Dick had come back and was helping us piece things together, something that hasn't happened since the Riddler went straight.
"He may try attacking us head on, he does know where we are," answered Damien as he looked down at the mug shot of Jason Todd.
"If he was going to he wouldn't announce it," I said as I stroked my temple, my eyes drifting to the same picture. He was smirking, but there wasn't any sense of real enjoyment in his face, he looked more like he might burst out in tears or lash out at something. I try to find something of that boy I once knew in those eyes. "He's getting our attention because he wants something from us. The only question is what?"
"Stephanie and I have checked and he's not in any of his usual haunts," said Tim, the one I used to fear would be just like Jason, but in the end it all worked out as well as it could. I've been studying the progress of the two, trying to see where I had failed with Jason, even though I've been through it before. "There has to be somewhere that's he staying in the city, we just need to find out where the same way we always do."
"It could also be a trap that's he's waiting to spring," warned Dick and I resist the urge to bite my lip knowing that I should have thought of that in the first place. "But I don't know which one of us is his target, if he's being specific."
"Master Wayne, a package arrived for you from a Mr. Haywood," replied Alfred from atop the staircase, the sudden noise waking up the lazy bats.
"Bring it down," I ordered, a sense of urgency filled me as I wanted to see what Jason had sent me. I snatch the package out of Alfred's hands, ignoring the frown that he's giving me, I'll worry about it later.
"You should be careful it might be explosives or anthrax or something warned," Tim as I nearly ripped open the box. Inside was a large notebook complete with a picture of a missile, high military grade with a payload that could level a block. "I think he's made his move, but what's with the notebook? Is he trying to take the Riddler's place?"
"I don't know," I admitted as I picked up the notebook and started to examine it. It was a journal detailing the events in Jason's life since he came back to life, but there was also signs of a pattern that he could pick out. "I think this might be the key to finding him. I'll need every page copied and handed out to everyone here so we can try to solve this."
"Right, Master Bruce, I'll get on it," said Alfred as he took the journal, the look on his face told me that he was contemplating what Jason's motives could be. Alfred had taken care of Jason just as he had taken care of Dick and Tim and him long ago.
It was six hours later, with dawn about to break and most of the family sleeping or off on patrols that I sent them on to deal with threats in the city. This was one threat that I had to take face on, I owed that much to my former partner and son even if I knew this wouldn't end to his salvation. Will you ever be able to come back in from the cold, Jason? Or are you forever lost out there in that abyss that the Joker put you in?
I don't know how much of what I read was true, but I did know that I was sorry for Jason having to go through it all. I could have stopped that madman years ago, I could have saved so many people so much grief. Barbara, Gordon, his two wives and you as well Jason. There are moments when I question my methods, wondering if I had ever done more harm to my city by existing or by being lenient, but I know that deep down inside, this way the only way I could save my city. Everything I've lost…it makes me wonder if I'm ever going to be finished with my mission or will I become another casualty as well. Where the hell is Clark and his cheerful speeches when you need them? That's right, walking across the country to reconnect with the people. There are a lot of days that I envy him.
A fun house should have been so obvious a choice, but I had decided that Jason was too smart to go in that direction because we'd start looking for him. There are times I know I shouldn't feel pride, but right now I just can't help myself and I feel it burning in my chest. Deciphering the code hadn't been easy, but he figured I'd be the only one to do at this time and so I was coming on to his territory alone. Then the strangest thing happened just as I was about to pounce on a group to find out where Jason or the missiles were, the rafters I was standing on gave way. A quick glance at them and I knew they had been sabotaged, Jason had prepared for my arrival and I was about to pay the price for underestimating my young ward.
Despite the bad fall the goons weren't that much trouble, I was able to take them on despite the dislocated shoulder and sprained wrist. I knew more would be coming so I hid myself in the shadows, not letting the next group I was even there as I took them out silently, one by one. Too easy for them all to go down like that when Jason knew I was coming. That's then the park started to exploded, I had to work hard to get the goons out of the tent while other things blew up around me. In the distance I could hear a helicopter going off and I knew that was Jason.
As fast as my legs could take me I chased after the helicopter, thankful that it had not taken off yet. I spotted him with his red hood outfit, the original when he first started terrorizing the criminal underworld. Even with a sprained wrist I could hit him with a batarang and I would have if I didn't feel a sharp pain in the back of my neck. I cursed myself for my lack of hindsight, for the terrible manner in which I executed this entire infiltration, never realizing that I was being lead to the slaughter. A smirking face stood right over be as the white lens of the green domino mask covered whatever look he had in his eye.
"In every sense of the word, gotcha," chuckled Jason as he reached down to lift the immobile Batman onto the helicopter. "That paralyzing toxin will wear off in two days, by which time we'll b nice and isolated for our little chat. We have unfinished business, you and I, and I think it's time we settled it, but I think I'd like to do this far away from the rest of the gang."