This is proof that I am a masochist who enjoys having a ff account graveyard full of unfinished fiction. But oh well! Hasn't stopped me yet. XD
Extra long author notes/rant at end. (And even then I held my tongue a bit. XD)
Takes place after The Dark Knight.
Dirt Covered Clothes
Bruce was aware that as Batman, he was still a wanted man who carried the blame of over five murders on his shoulders.
Bruce was also aware, that he still had work to do as the city's underground savior. Due to the Scarecrow's gas the Narrows had never quite gone back to normal. Too much chaos to be handled by the police let alone after their attention was diverted by a mad man in grease paint. People had thought the area was just dangerous before, but now two years ago made the Narrows look like a park full of happy children compared to today. It was nothing more than a rotting leftover from fear gas and a clown running rampant as its prince and master.
Bruce found himself spending quite a bit of time in the Narrows cleaning up the mess that had been left to fester during the past year. He expected it would be this way from the beginning but he wasn't complaining. There was something soothing about taking criminals down and shoving them in prison that kept him sane. Rachel and Harvey were still fresh in his mind; failures he would never be able to amend. Cleaning up Gotham seemed like the best alternative to loosing himself to depression again and petty thieves and thugs didn't get a kick out of Batman hitting them.
At the very least, it was easier to avoid the police in the Narrows. They avoided this area as much as the regular citizens of Gotham so Batman was free to work alone and without putting pressure on his fellow keepers of justice to arrest him on sight. Both Batman and Gordon were aware that this worked out for the best. Batman avoided being arrested and Gordon knew there was a man he could trust trying to control the dilapidated area.
Batman did not, however, expect anyone would have the guts to try and strip the Tumbler for parts.
Batman stared at the vehicle he had left locked down in the middle of the so called "Crime Alley" of the Narrows. Bruce could feel his mouth drop as he stared at the Tumbler, the TANK, sitting on a set of cinder blocks. From this angle he could see that three wheels were missing and it from the lack of motion it could be safe to assume that the forth was probably also gone. Batman was so occupied trying to wrap his mind around how someone could get the wheels off the Tumbler in the few hours he was patrolling the Narrows that he didn't notice the slight sound of tinkering coming from the other side.
It took every ounce of his training from the League of Assassins to not flinch when a small body popped up from the other side of the vehicle, tire iron in hand and resting on his shoulder. Bruce stared at the messy black hair and face covered in dirt and grease with clothes covered in the same. Batman shifted his foot slightly causing the gravel to crunch and that small head flinched to look up at him. Green eyes widened before looking between Batman and the iron tool he held.
The boy dropped it immediately as if it would somehow shift the blame away from the kid caught in the act. It clattered loudly on the gravel, cement mixture of the alley street before staying frozen in place.
He wasn't the only one either – Bruce couldn't move either. That kid couldn't have been older than eight or nine by the looks of his figure and face. Thin, too, despite the muscle he seemed to have acquired somehow on the tiny frame. Bruce shook his head as he looked down at the cinderblocks again. "How did-"
The moment the two syllables escaped his mouth, the silent moment of staring was broken and the kid made a dash for the end of the alley in a sprint that the Flash would be proud of. Batman jerked before following just as quickly not willing to let the kid get away. Experience (and longer legs) allowed Batman to reach the boy before he could finish flinging himself up onto a fire escape at the edge of the alley.
"Lemme' go!" The boy yelled when Batman's hand clamped down around his arm and yanked back. He had been so close to the stairs his fingers had brushed the metal. The Batman's grip was strong though and the boy started to panic. The kid wans't stupid; he knew what happened to criminals Batman caught. He'd seen the news! A fist flung out in desperation and he hit the man's chest as hard as he could. His breath was heavy as he squirmed. "Let me go!" "chest as hard as he cuold.e man'oy started to panic. He flung a fist out and hit the ma'd the kid made a dash for the end of t
Batman managed to snake around the boy to grab his other arm and held him out far and high enough in front of him to prevent his legs from kicking. Arms pressed to the side and legs stilled now that he realized he could reach to do enough damage, Bruce was granted a good look at the little thief. A few bruises on his arms were now more obvious from under the t-shirt and dirt was caked onto his skin and hair. Angry green eyes glared at him filled with frustration that Bruce instantly recognized was aimed inwardly instead of at Batman. Bruce knew that feeling far too well.
The boy cursed inwardly when the Batman started moving back towards the car and started the struggle again. It had been stupid to try and strip the Bat's car, but it was right there. Those tires had to be worth a fortune. It was a challenge and he'd thought he had enough time. He was wrong. Now Batman was going to throw him in jail and he'd never get away and it'd be horrible and- The boy's thoughts were interrupted when he was dropped back to his feet before his tire iron and the removed wheels.
"If you can take them off," Bruce started, hands still firmly on the boy's shoulders. The stack of tires sat waiting next to the vehicle just waiting to be rescued. "You can put them back on."
The kid snorted. Is he kidding? Whether or not he put the tires on, Batman was going to turn him into the cops. Why bother with the extra work? He crossed his arms and turned his head towards the wall. "No."
Bruce somehow knew this wasn't going to be easy. He could feel the kid's shoulders tense under his grip. "You could either be dropped off at the GCPD from the Tumbler, or I can call a squad car to pick you up. Your choice."
The kid full out smirked this time. The Batman really was nuts. "You go ahead and make that call."
Batman was a little taken back by the bitterness in the kid's voice underneath the sudden spurt of confidence. His face was contorted into an unnatural smirk on a face so young and Bruce wondered where he'd seen that sort of emotion before. The look was too old for him. "You really sure that's the route you want to take?"
"Of course." The kid showed some teeth in a self-assured grin. "What squad car is going to come down here?"
One very long, boring hour of being handcuffed to the seat to the Tumbler (that involved much cursing and language a kid his age should not know) later the kid was eating his words.
"Not a problem, Batman." Gordon nodded to the dark knight as he stood next to his squad car, boy now sitting in the back silently glaring at the chained barrier between the backseat and front. "Kid mention his folks?"
"Claimed he didn't have any." Batman answered, eyes trailed on the kid. He was glaring so hard into the seat, Batman was surprised it hadn't caught fire yet. "Couldn't even get a name out of him during his tantrum."
"Too bad," Gordon sighed. The kid was too young to be down this path of life already. Made Jim long for his own son and daughter safe asleep in their home. "Don't worry. We'll get him some help."
Batman felt Gordon clap him on the shoulder before turning back to the vehicle. The boy would be the city's problem now and Batman could get back to work on the Narrows. As the patrol car sped off, Bruce looked back at the Tumbler still sitting on cinder blocks. The kid had refused to put the wheels back on even after a threatening glare or two. Kid had nerves under all that bravado, Bruce would give him that. Talent too considering Bruce wasn't sure how he'd managed to get the things off . Either way, those tires needed reattached before Batman himself could leave. "Time to get to work."
"Dare I ask if something is on your mind, sir?" Alfred set a cup of tea down neatly next to his surrogate son's hand. Master Bruce had been staring listlessly out the window of his penthouse for a good hour this morning. He was distracted. Alfred had noticed when the young Master had returned pensive, but it seems his thoughts had finally flowed over enough to affect him visibly. "You seem out of sorts."
"Oh, it's nothing, Alfred." Bruce sat up in his seat. His faithful butler quirked a single eyebrow upward and Bruce bit his lip. Caught. "Just thinking about one of the busts last night."
Alfred smiled remembering Bruce's report on last night's activities quite well. Particularly since he kept coming back to one particular case. "Let me guess, the boy wonder who managed to get the tires off your tank?"
"That would be the one." Bruce shrugged and took a sip of the tea Alfred had prepared. "I can't stop thinking about him." The man shifted uncomfortably; something was eating at him about this whole thing. "He claimed he had no family, and I believe it by the looks of him. He'd been on the streets a long time and seemed self sufficient. He had too much skill to have been a new run-away."
Alfred watched as Bruce bit his lip and drew his eyebrows together. Being impressed by the boy's skills was clearly not the issue he was having. "What is truly bothering you, Master Bruce?"
"He was so angry, Alfred." Bruce muttered. "You should have seen him. Children shouldn't have that much anger. That much bitterness. And it." Bruce paused not sure if he was willing to admit this just yet. Rachel and Harvey were still fresh. He didn't need to pick at scabs of old wounds he'd closed over. He didn't. "It wasn't right Alfred."
"He reminded you of yourself." Alfred was never one for tact when the subject mattered. The butler put a hand on the young master's shoulder and squeezed. No one could forget that sort of pain in a child's life. "And you want to help him."
"You know me too well, Alfred." Bruce smiled sadly. "Yeah, he does. I remember being that angry. Angry enough that I brought a pistol to a court room." Bruce frowned remembering Rachel yet again and her disgust at the sight of the gun and Bruce's intentions. "But I was stopped. I got lucky, Alfred, and I had support. What did he see?" Bruce stood up and began pacing. He'd had all night to think of this. It ran through his head endlessly accompanied by angry green eyes and messy black hair that looked so like his own. "Who's helping him? Stopping him from pulling that trigger down the line?"
"Surely the city social workers will be able to help him." Alfred added calmly knowing Batman had probably already considered this possibility. "You can't help them all individually, Master Bruce."
"This one, he was troubled, Alfred." Bruce stopped and remembered long talks with Leslie into the night. Remembered how much good they did for him. "The state won't be able to help."
"You don't even know what happened to him." Alfred walked up closer to the young master. "You're getting awfully worked up over a child who saw in person for maybe an hour."
"I know." Bruce shook his head trying to clear it of scruffy hair and tired eyes that matched his own. "It's not rational but," Bruce sucked in a breath and looked towards Alfred. "When I looked in his eyes, I saw myself. I can't leave this one alone."
"Than I suggest you clean yourself up and pay the lad a visit before he's carted off into the system and you miss your chance." Alfred held a hand on the man's shoulder. "Go help him."
"Anytime, Master Bruce." The old butler chuckled. "But do take care not to do anything rash."
"I won't, Alfred." Bruce chuckled. "You know me."
The boy didn't acknowledge the voice near his head at first. He'd been sitting in the corner yard of the orphanage being ignored and that was the way he liked it. He'd seen enough visitors so far to know that they were normally addressing a child who looked less angry and murderous (that last term was something he'd overheard a potential parent describe him as). A finger tapped on his shoulder and he turned his head to glare at whatever kid was bothering him when he stopped. A man was standing before him in a suit. He was handsome, the kid noticed, and held his back straight. Rich. The kid glared and ignored him. He didn't need another person staring at him like a freak.
Bruce had a feeling something was wrong with him when the boy's reaction to his presence made him smile. All that anger was disturbing, but the pouting was pretty cute on the kid. Bruce wondered if that was why Alfred was always smiling when he was a little kid pouting in the corner. "Why are you sitting here all alone?"
Bruce sat down next to the kid and laced his fingers together. Before him in the open yard, the squeals of children laughing and playing filled the background. Behind him past the fence cars could be heard driving by. "It's a nice day and the other kids are playing ball. Did they do something to make you mad?"
"I don't want to play." The boy growled and tried to think of some good excuse to make the adult go away. "And I shouldn't be talking to you. You're a stranger."
"I'm a visitor. Bruce Wayne, to be exact." He held out his hand towards the kid. "It's nice to meet you?"
The boy didn't answer the implied question. Something wasn't right with this man. Too much interest and concern from a total stranger. "Why are you here?"
"I own the facility." And most of the rest of Gotham. "I like to visit the places I own to make sure everything is on the up and up." Bruce decided that sounded like a good, valid excuse. "And seeing a kid angry and hurt in the corner makes me wonder why no one's helped." A pause. "Or if they had done something to cause it."
The boy frowned and shook his head before shoving it into his arms as he drew his feet up onto the bench. "No, they didn't do anything. I'm jus' angry is all."
"I see." Noting the kid was still pretty curled in on himself, Bruce decided to press the big buttons. "So how'd you end up here?"
"Batman." The voice that answered was full of anger.
"Batman?" Bruce plastered shock all over his face but the amusement that leaked through was genuine. "What did he do?"
The kid shifted. "He got me arrested."
"Oh? What were you doing?"
"None of your business."
Fearing the child would soon cut himself off completely, Bruce changed tactics. "Are you waiting to be returned to your parents then? Is that why you're here? Overflow from the police station?"
"No." The kid swallowed. "I don't have any." He pulled his lip back in a slight snarl. "That's why I'm in an orphanage you idiot."
Bruce managed to ignore the insult. "What happened to them?"
"They're dead." Pulling in tighter to himself the boy started to breathe a little heavier. What did this guy think he was doing? Just because he owned the building and was a Wayne he didn't have the right to pick on him this way. "What else?"
"My parents are dead, too." Bruce spoke softly. Here it was again- that connection he had felt earlier. The draw to this child that made Bruce's heart ache. "I was about your age when they were killed."
"Oh." The kid's face looked shocked and open. He swallowed before shoving his face down into his knees. It was odd thinking that Wayne hadn't brought the subject up in order to be mean. If his parents had been killed, then he probably knew how much it hurt himself. He almost felt bad for snapping at him. The kid only half-meant the apology that escaped out of his lips. "Sorry."
The tiny, pained voice that responded was the final straw. Bruce knew. He knew this kid had suffered the same way he had. There was a connection here past anger and Bruce knew he'd never be able to walk away from this boy. Alfred told him not to be rash. Bruce wouldn't believe for a moment what he was about to do could be considered anything other than the right thing. "Do you want to come home with me?"
"What?" The kid's head jumped up so fast the courtyard spun a little. Bruce Wayne could not have just said those few words. It wasn't possible and he felt himself begin to hyperventilate from some mixture of fear and excitement.
"Do you want to come home with me?" Bruce repeated with a soft smile. He wouldn't let this kid be left alone. "I want to adopt you."
"Why?" His voice was so soft the kid barely even registered he had spoken. This wasn't happening. This man wanted to take him home. No one ever wanted him. Not for anything good anyway. Not even his parents. Feeling slightly panicked (beneath that tiny sliver of hope this is real), the kid threw his hand out and pointed at the children playing ball. "Why would you want me instead of one of them!"
Bruce didn't even glance at the other kids. This child before him was pleading with every ounce of his body not to be lied to. Not to be fooled. The widening of his eyes, the quick breath and the slight shaking begged for something he didn't even think the child knew what it could be. It spoke volumes of how much he'd probably suffered already. Bruce answered honestly. "They're not you."
Bruce found himself with an armful of a tiny shaking body when the boy tackled his chest in a hug threatening to crush his ribs. The child mumbled "yes, yes, yes" over and over and Bruce felt like crying himself. He was really going to do this. Bruce was going to support this child and keep him from destroying his life like Bruce almost had. Just like Alfred had done for him. There was just one last thing to get out of the way. "What's your name?"
A voice muffled into the pressed shirt he had disheveled in his frantic hug. "Jason." He sucked in a deep breath and smelled cologne. "Jason Todd."
This prompt refused leave me alone. I'm sure it's been done before somewhere in this section, but I wanted to do it myself. Nolan's commitment to keeping one of the most important parts of Batman's life out of his films bothers me. A lot. Sure Batman is great at the solo act – but that's not what makes me love him. It's his awkward family relations and the relationships he has with his "kids." Let's face it, Bruce Wayne has had like seven of these guys. They have to have SOME importance to the series. In fact, I think all of my favorite storylines have revolved around Robin in some way shape or form be it Under the Red Hood (Watch this movie.), anything with Dick Grayson (or his evolution into Nightwing) or just the fact that Tim is great (read: awesome mini-bat).
So I'm writing him in – but I'm not going to totally disregard what Nolan was trying to do with his vision of Batman. Even I'll admit adopting the newly orphaned acrobat from the circus doesn't seem to fit with the Nolan films. My compromise is making Robin's meeting/origin more realistic to fit with the tone of this continuity– so you'll notice this Robin is a bit of a hybrid between Dick & Jason. He got Jason's name because his origin and attitude will be closer to/taken from the second. And hey – if all the movies and TV series can merge the Robins to make them fit; so can I. Mwa ha ha ha.
Either way, This should be fun and I really hope Nolan reconsiders his Robin-less stand…in a forth film since its doubtful we'll see him in the upcoming TDKRises. Because - To quote Tim Drake (I think…), aka Robin III: "Batman needs a Robin."