DJG: I feel like the last story was waaaaay too long, so we'll see how long this one is. ^^ This is the sequel of a sequel, so I highly suggest you read 'What It's Like' and 'How It Goes' before you read this so you aren't completely confused. Also, I decided to set this one up in chapter format instead of a gigantic oneshot, so I hope you like it better. I might go back and set up 'How It Goes' the same way if I get enough good feedback.
Jason stabbed his four-pronged weapon violently into his prey, grinning wickedly as something dark, warm, and sticky splattered onto face. Then, he twisted, tearing a piece off with more force than was probably necessary, shoving it into his mouth and inhaling as he raised the fork again…
"Jesus Christ, Jason! Quit murdering your pancakes, you're making a mess! Idiot, you have syrup all over your face…" Roy grumbled, making a face at the other teenager. Jason looked up, eyes narrowed and cheeks full of Alfred's strawberry pancakes.
"Fuhk 'oo, 'oy!" he said, before finally swallowing. "I haven't had these damn things in years, so shut up!"
Roy Harper shook his head, grinning. He had been served his own personal favorite flavor, chocolate chip pancakes. Jason had slept in much later than he normally did, but had still managed to wake up before everyone except Bruce. The smell of Alfred cooking him his favorite breakfast food ever had finally lured him out of his temporary room on the ground floor. Luckily, Bruce seemed to understand Jason's need for space and left him alone to eat. Soon after, Roy had been awoken by the sounds from the kitchen and wandered downstairs to eat.
It was the first full day since returning from the hospital. The night before, after a long shower to get the various types of food out of his hair, Roy had mooched a ride from Dick to the apartment he had just had time to rent before going to the hospital from infected arrow wounds. From there, he brought out his bow, quiver, and a few changes of clothes back to the Manor on his motorcycle, parking it just outside the boundaries of the large gates.
Jason had managed to wash the spray paint out of his hair, but the white patch was still looking awkwardly gray. It would be a few days before it finally returned to normal. However, he was not adjusting well to life on crutches, no matter how temporary it was. Jason was thoroughly annoyed that he was stuck on the ground floor, and when he realized that he would never be able to make it down the stairs to the Batcave, he gave his leg an immensely frustrated look. Then, he had tried to light his crutches on fire when the rest of the Bat family wasn't looking.
This all occurred before Bruce had even had time to take off his coat.
"Come on, Jaybird! You'll get used to-" Dick had began to say, before the small end of a crutch was practically shoved up his nose.
"Finish that sentence, and you can get used to the smell of cheap ass plastic all the time, Dick."
Then again, Jason was probably still embarrassed about the fall he had taken in the middle of the night. He had woken up, still loopy from his pain meds, and tried to get out of bed to find something to eat and had forgotten about the need for crutches.
The results? The entire household woken up by several loud, drawn-out screamy swear words.
Jason himself hadn't been seriously hurt, besides shattering a lamp on the nightstand and receiving a few gashes on his hands. His pride had suffered more, especially when Tim had insisted on helping him get back into bed. As soon as the family had finally left his room, he shook more painkillers than he probably needed out of the bottle and dry-swallowed them, before rolling over and going back to sleep.
"So, what's the plan for today, pancake killer?" Roy asked cheekily. Jason shot him a look, which might have been frightening if he didn't have a pink stain on his cheek from a strawberry that had missed his mouth.
"The plan? There's no freaking plan, why would there be? I'm going back to bed after this. Stupid pain pills…" Jason grumbled, fishing the bottle out of his pocket. Since Alfred had a strict 'no costumes in the house' policy, Jason had been given some of Dick's old clothes. He was now wearing a black shirt and simple sweatpants, perfect for lazing around the house all day.
"Lemme see those." Roy asked, snatching the bottle before Jason could protest.
"Hmm…side effects. Lessee…ooh, you've got a fun time ahead of you, Jaybird! Extreme exhaustion, nausea, headaches, dizzy spells, dry mouth, lightheadedness, chronic nightmares, muscle spasms, vomiting, depression, extreme angsting, boredom, inability to find Waldo, ranting to your sexy best friend, the tendency to be boring, herpes, super herpes, facial herpes, the desperate need to get laid, and the high possibility of contracting 'I'm A Douche' syndrome." Roy finished cheerfully. "You must have taken a lot of these pills already, Jaybird!"
Jason's eye twitched, his fist tightening around the fork in his hand. The very sharp fork.
Alfred's arrival to take the empty dishes possible saved Roy from a severe maiming.
Finally, Jason unsteadily stood, leaning stubbornly on the chair as he blatantly refused to acknowledge the crutches, instead hopping forward on his good leg and using various objects to hold himself up, despite how long it took for him to make it versus using crutches. Roy shook his head, standing up and grabbing the hated objects, before following him into the living room.
Jason had already made himself comfortable on the couch, downing two of the pain pills before curling up into a ball underneath a small throw blanket. A quiet knock on the door was suddenly heard, causing him to peek his head up curiously. Alfred was busy doing dishes, so Roy decided to see who it was, leaning the crutches up against the couch. He opened the door and froze.
"Kori? Shit, is that you?" Roy asked, inspecting the woman at the door. She was very beautiful, with red hair and tanned skin peeking out from underneath a wide sun hat. She appeared to be trying to hide her unusual appearance so that not too much attention was attracted to Wayne Manor.
Her green eyes widened in surprise. "…Roy? What are you doing here?"
The red-haired archer smirked. "Just chillin' out with my friend Jaybird here. Jaybird, say hi!" he called, causing the dark haired teen to grimace.
"…hmph." he grumbled quietly, before lying back down and burying himself in a blanket. Those meds worked fast…already, he was exhausted.
Roy grinned, holding the door open to allow Kori room to enter. "Geez, Jay, you must be sick! I think I've gotten away with calling you 'Jaybird' like, five times today and you haven't complained once!"
A small mumble from under the blanket, and then silence.
Kori turned to Roy, confused, as they left Jason alone to sleep in peace. "Excuse me, but…who is that boy? I have never seen him at the Manor before…"
The redhead ran a hand through his hair. "Eh, Jay's new around here, I think. Apparently he had some huge fight with the B-Man and ran away? No one has explained, so that's my guess, anyway. Any way, what brings you here?"
Kori blinked. "I was merely concerned as to how Dick was doing. It has been such a long time since the Titans were all together at the same time…"
A small creak suddenly caught their attention as Tim slowly made his way down the stairs, still looking tired. He rubbed one eye sleepily as he headed for the kitchen.
"Mm…morning, Roy…Star…" he said softly, smiling as Alfred presented him with a plate of raspberry pancakes.
"Hello, Tim. How's your back?" Kori asked, remembering Tim had been hurt a few days ago.
He gave a small shrug. "I'm mostly okay now. Sleeping on a hot pad has been helping, plus I've got some meds that really help, too. Damian's a little sore from firing that RPG, he just doesn't want to admit it."
Starfire looked concerned. "And, Dick?"
Tim blinked, scooping up a large bite of his pancakes onto his fork. "He pulled a muscle in his shoulder from being blown off the roof and grabbing Ivy's plant, but he's been taking it easy and hasn't been complaining much."
If they would have been in the living room, they would have seen Jason roll over uncomfortably at the news of everyone else's injuries. It may not have directly been his fault, but he still felt incredibly guilty.
"Shut up, Todd. It's not your fault they were idiots and got themselves hurt. In three weeks you can blow this dump and go back to the way things were before, so don't get comfortable."
Another voice interrupted them. "Speak for yourself. Grayson has been complaining plenty." Damian Wayne proclaimed, appearing in a simple white shirt and beige shorts. He gave Starfire a scrutinizing look, before entering the dining room and sitting down as far away from its other occupant as possible. Even after everything that had happened, Damian still didn't get along with Tim, and vise versa.
"Where's Father?" he demanded. Tim gave him a look, taking another bite of pancake.
"Did you check the Cave? He's probably down there."
Damian made a face. "I'm not stupid, Drake. Of course I checked the Cave. It's empty."
Tim looked up in surprise. "…wait, what? He's always down there! Where else would he be?"
Damian looked like he was about to attempt to shove his fork down Tim's throat. "That's why I asked you, fool! Because I don't know!"
Roy quickly intervened, having seen firsthand how the two youngest Robins typically interacted with each other after the 20 minute ride home from the hospital yesterday. Tim had somehow annoyed Damian, who had then shoved the third Robin's head out the window and rolled it up so far that he couldn't fit back inside, before tying Tim's hands behind his back with the sleeves of his sweatshirt…and he did it in less than a minute. Tim, being resourceful, had quickly escaped the binds and then twisted Damian's arm behind his back, which resulted in Damian accidentally kicking Jason in the face while he was struggling to get away. Bruce didn't even have to tell the younger boys to be quiet. One withering glare from the former Robin had gotten Tim to sit quietly, and Damian to at least pretend to look guilty.
"Knock it off, you two. If you wake up Dick or Jason, they'll kill you. Well, Jason will. Dick'll probably just give you a hug." Roy grumbled, pulling out a chair for Kori while he sat down another. She gave a look of surprise at his action, but sat down as well.
Damian visibly grimaced, while Tim merely went back to eating his pancakes.
Roy looked around awkwardly as the room became silent, broken only by the occasional scrape of a fork moving across a plate as Tim and Damian continued to eat.
"Er, Star? Want some pancakes? I can see if Alfred would mind making some more…" Roy asked. She looked confused.
"The only pancakes I've had did not have toppings like those. Why add fruit to pancakes? Is it more healthy?" the alien asked curiously. Roy stood.
"Nah, not really. It gives it a better flavor, but it doesn't have to be fruit. I like chocolate chips on mine." the archer explained, moving to go find the butler.
Starfire pondered this. "That is a very interesting concept. Could I perhaps have mustard on my pancakes?"
Tim choked back a laugh while Damian gave her a look. "Mustard doesn't go on pancakes. It would be disgusting." the youngest Robin stated.
Roy rolled his eyes. "If she wants mustard, then she can have mustard. It's not like you have to eat yours like that, Captain Boysenberry."
Tim couldn't hold it in anymore and burst out laughing, earning himself an annoyed glare from Damian.
Starfire shook her head. "No, no. I'll have something else, then. I would like to try human customs as they were meant to be, first, before altering them to my tastes. You pick."
Roy shrugged, before leaving the dining room and entering the kitchen to investigate where Alfred had gone.
Suddenly, and very silently, Dick entered the room, an apple in his hand. "Hey Star. When did you get here?" he asked, ignoring the way Damian complained to himself about acrobats sneaking up on people, and exited the room, still grumbling. Tim followed with his cell phone in his hand, probably texting Conner. He left his dish for Alfred to retrieve later.
She smiled. "Hello, Dick. It's been awhile. How are you?"
Nightwing rolled his shoulders a few times, wincing. "Eh, I'm okay. Blew out one of my shoulders, but I'll be fine in a few days." He sat in the chair on the other side of Starfire.
She looked concerned. "How did you get hurt? Actually, how did everyone here get hurt? Your shoulder is injured, Tim's back is hurt, Damian is sore, and the other boy, Jaybird, is unable to walk on his own."
Dick couldn't hold it back. He laughed, earning a small frown from the Tameranean. "I do not understand. What is so funny?" she demanded.
"Nothing, it's just…his name is Jason, not Jaybird. Roy calls him that, and he hates it. But yeah, you're right, the only ones who aren't hurt physically are Alfred and Bruce." he responded, sobering up.
Kori pondered this statement. "You said physically. Is your father hurt another way?"
"I don't know. He fought Clayface that night, a monster that can change his shape into whatever he wants. Seeing as all of those Arkham escapees were all trying to find Jason, that's probably the shape he took, to mess with Bruce mentally and emotionally."
"That night…Arkham escapees? When was this, exactly?" she asked. Only then did the first Robin remember that the escape was covered up by most of Gotham's authorities.
"Oh, yeah…you don't know, do you? Basically, the Joker offered everyone in Arkham a get-out-and-stay-out-of-jail-free card or one billion dollars to find Jason and the Red Hood and capture them at the same time. Meaning, all hell broke loose." By this time, Roy had managed to locate Alfred and requested Starfire get some pancakes with pineapple chunks on top, before bringing it out to her so the aging butler could finish the dishes. Her eyes lit up in surprise.
"Pineapple is very similar to a fruit on my planet know as chuvca…it's my favorite." she remarked, before allowing Dick to add to his explaination as she began to eat. Roy sat down as well, eager to hear the full story for the first time. They sat like that, just talking over the recent events, for about half an hour.
"Because Jason is the Red Hood, you can see why it was an impossible task. So pretty much, he had all the crazies in Gotham chasing him down. So we decided to get involved. We were kinda useless though, seeing as not only did he get burned by acid, he also had his apartment bugged, almost got sniped, got kidnapped, was in a car accident and got a concussion, got stuck with a few needles of the Scarecrow's fear toxin, got thrown into the wall by Bane and got another concussion, took down Bane by playing dead, and to do that, he had to take a traffic light to the chest, got mind-controlled by the Mad Hatter, shot himself in the head, and then jumped into a vat of acid. After that he spent a week in the hospital going through Venom withdrawal and the lingering effects of the Scarecrow's fear toxin. So…on a scale of one to sucktastic, we didn't do that good of a job protecting him." Dick finished.
Starfire frowned, putting down her fork. "Why was he being hunted, and not you, or Tim, or even Damian?"
Dick sighed. "Ever since Jason came back to life, he's been really angry with Bruce. The Joker probably wanted to use that against us. I can understand both sides of the argument, actually…Jason was horrified that Tim replaced him and also that Bruce didn't avenge his death. Bruce needed a new Robin, and he has a moral code that keeps him from killing anyone, so he couldn't kill the Joker.."
Roy choked, coughing wildly as he processed this new information. "Wh-what? Back to life? What do you mean, back to life? Jaybird's not dead! He's got a heartbeat, I saw the heart monitor in the hospital-"
"Roy, we have no idea either. All we know is that he was fourteen when he got killed by the Joker, he was in the ground for a few years, then woke up and had to dig himself out of his own grave. Then he wandered around with no memories or personality, just some muscle memory. Talia, Damian's mom, found him and saw him doing Robin's signature moves on some creeps who were messing with him. She took him to her country and pushed him into her father's Lazarus Pit, which gave him his…I don't know what, exactly, soul, spirit, whatever you want to call it…but he was back to normal. Relatively. He got that streak of white in his hair and he also is more violent than he was before. But since he never got a chance to…well, grow up, maybe that's just how he is." Dick stated.
Roy scowled. "Does it bother you that you can't tell?" he asked in a low voice.
Dick frowned, but said nothing.
Starfire pulled her lips back in a snarl. "I have heard of Lazarus Pits on my planet…they are very rare, and very taboo. I believe there is only one on Tameran. It is said that whoever uses a Lazarus Pit to resurrect themselves comes back with only half a soul. Anyone on my planet who willingly uses one is outcast and shunned by the rest."
Roy grimaced. "Well, it sounds like Jaybird didn't really have a choice…plus, he wasn't dead when they shoved him in there, he was just screwed up in the head, right? So he's still got his whole soul, right? That makes sense…right?"
Dick shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine. We don't know enough about Lazarus Pits to know for sure. But…I don't think Jason's crazy or anything…I think he's scared."
Roy looked incredulous. "Scared? You are talking about Jaybird, right? He's not scared of anything! No way!"
A bloodcurdling shriek from the living room forced the Green Arrow's former ward to find a new argument.
DJG: Soooo...multi-chapter format…you like? You hate? Someone give me some feedback pretty please? I'm hoping people will like this better, but I can go back to the old way if you prefer.
Muse: Feh. Quit being so damn wishy washy and just pick one already. Also, the song of this story is 'This Is Letting Go' by Rise Against. I swear every song by them could be about Jason. Seriously. It's epic.
DJG: Geez, no need to sound so enthusiastic.
MusE: SILENCE, FOO!