A/N: Second chapter! Thank you for the reviews/alerts/favorites. I was surprised at the response. :) So this chapter Jason meets the team and Batman and co. decide what to do with him. Just a quick note: Jason dislikes some people and hates on them (coughcough Tim coughcough) but I do not share that opinion. Jason's pretty bitter and angry about a lot of things. Batman went around and told pretty much everybody about Jason, but you don't see that, so I thought I'd mention that. Also, I'm trying to keep all the ships cannon, since I'm trying to keep everyone as IC as possible (even though I'm not really a Spitfire fan), but I kinda feel like Artemis and Jason are being kinda… flirty. Sorry 'bout that. But I can already tell you, they will be GREAT friends. ;) So, tell me if you find any mistakes and I'll fix them. Enjoy!
"So did you start this little team?" Jason asked as the pair exited the interrogation room.
"Yep," said Dick cheerily. "Me and Kid Flash and Aqualad and Superboy."
"That's cool," Jason replied. "In my world this team was different."
Namely, Robin was the Replacement instead of Dick.
He'd heard of the little team the pretender was on, since he kept tabs on the little shit, but hadn't really been interested in "Young Justice." He only really took notice when most of that team merged into the Teen Titans. Then he went over and screwed with the kid's head. Because it was fun.
"You probably don't want to give away any 'spoilers,' right?"
Jason snickered. Oh, the chick Robin made for some good jokes.
Dick raised his eyebrows underneath his domino. Jason only noticed because he was used to reading expressions under masks.
"Inside joke from my dimension," he explained.
Robin simply smiled and they finished the walk to where the team was in silence. They went through a large archway and into a wide open multi-purpose room. Going down some steps, the sound of quiet chatter drifted towards them. Jason and Dick walked into a kitchen-like area where the other five team members were gathered. They had all changed into civvies except for the guy with gills (who he was guessing was Aqualad) and who he assumed was Superboy.
"Team, meet our guest," Robin introduced him. "Guest, meet the team."
Jason surveyed the faces of the teens in the room. Most were curious, some a bit guarded, one full of food…
"Red Hood. But you can call me Jason Todd," Jason said, breaking the silence.
"Kaldur'ahm of Atlantis. I am the leader of this team," Aqualad said. Hm, so Robin wasn't the leader? That was certainly a change of pace.
"I'm Miss Martian," the girl with red hair and green skin piped in. "Or just M'gann."
"Artemis," the girl with long blond hair stated. She gave him a long, contemplative look, her eyes sweeping up and down his form. Jason met her hazel gaze in an unspoken challenge. This girl was edgy and very different from the goody two-shoes Martian. Jason decided he liked her.
Their little staring contest was broken when somebody else began to speak. "Superboy," a dark-haired teen grunted grudgingly.
Jason looked at Robin questioningly, as if to say, "Is there a reason he doesn't like me?"
Dick cackled softly. "Don't worry about SB. He's not much of a people-person."
Jason shrugged, deciding that was acceptable.
"And I'm Wally West," the red-head said, mouth full with the turkey sandwich he was eating. "AKA Kid Flash, fastest boy alive."
Artemis scrunched up her nose. "I've come to accept the fact that you'll never stop eating, Wally, but could you at least not talk with your mouth full?"
Wally purposely chewed with his mouth open obnoxiously in her direction.
"But he can't do that," Jason quipped. "Since his mouth is always full, he'd never be able to talk. And I can tell how absolutely devastating that would be."
Surprisingly, both Artemis and Robin broke into loud laughter at that. M'gann giggled quietly and Kaldur smiled. Even Superboy looked less grumpy.
Wally swallowed, frowning. "Hey," he protested.
"Oh, wow," Artemis said, breathless from laughter. "I can tell it's going to be fun having you around, Jason."
Jason smirked. "I've been told that I make quite an impact on poor, unsuspecting criminals – heroes, even. They never know what hit 'em."
"Well you certainly made quite an entrance earlier," M'gann chipped in, smiling. That girl was just all sugar and rainbows, wasn't she?
"Yeah, dude, spilling all of Bats' deep, dark secrets? That was pretty boss," Wally said, having already gotten over the insults Jason had hurled at him. "Anything you'd like to share with the class?"
Oh, so the speedster was asking for an exclusive on the Batman? That, he could do. Jason opened his mouth, ready to dish out some Bat-brand gossip, when Robin cut him off.
"Aaaand we're done here," Dick drawled dryly. He grabbed Jason's arm and tugged him away from the team. "C'mon, Jason, I'll show you where you can sleep."
Jason gave a mock-salute to the team before allowing himself to be pulled away.
He and Robin walked in silence for a moment before Dick finally said something. "Dude! Not cool. I told you Bats wanted me to keep my identity a secret," he said, a hint of sourness in his voice.
Jason put a hand on his shoulder. "Relax, kid. I wasn't going to tell them anything. Just mess with them a bit. Sorry, though. I get keeping your identity a secret. I was undercover as a criminal. Spill my ID and I would've been a dead man."
Jason smiled slightly, trying to reassure the kid he wasn't out to ruin him and his mentor. (Though, in another world, he was.) He wasn't very good at the whole 'apologizing' thing or the 'comforting' thing. To be honest, his people skills were rusty. He could do sarcasm and anger, but that was about it. If he was going to be serious about this whole 'brother' thing, he'd need to get back in the loop.
But Jason felt a little bit better when Dick tentatively smiled.
"No, it was my fault for overreacting. I just really hate hiding from my friends, y'know? Wally and Bruce and Alfred are the only people who know everything, and it gets a little frustrating I guess. I want to tell the team, but Bats insists that I can't. Gets a little lonely…"
Jason internally shied away from the situation. He knew loneliness like the back of his hand, but that didn't mean he knew how to deal with it.
"Well, at least you have them, right? You could have a lot less," Jason tried. You could live on the streets. You could have died. You could have no one at all.
Jason resisted the urge to add, "You have me." It was too soon for that, and why was he even thinking that? God, he'd been in this world a total of forty-five minutes and he was already spouting sentimental crap. Maybe not being around normal, well-adjusted people at like any time in his life made him emotionally stunted. Huh. That was definitely one theory.
"That's true," Dick said, smile growing. "Anyway, here's your room."
Jason was sprawled on the large green couch, lazily watching TV.
Black Canary wandered into the living room area. She was the only other person in the mountain; the team and Red Tornado were each out doing something or other.
It was the day after he had first appeared in this dimension. He'd been very briefly introduced to the 'den mothers', Black Canary and Red Tornado. Batman told them all about him, he was sure.
"Would you like to spar, Jason?" She asked. Half because there wasn't really much else to do and half because she hadn't yet had the opportunity to assess his skills.
Jason looked up at her, grinning. "I'd love to." He was excited at the chance to blow off some steam after doing nothing for the past day.
"Hmm," Canary hummed. The pair were circling each other, tense and waiting for the other to attack. "I can definitely tell that Bruce trained you."
Jason cocked an eyebrow, beads of sweat forming. "And why is that?"
She laughed shortly, just a rough exhale of air. "Your style has elements of his signature type of fighting. And yet you also mimic Robin's acrobatics."
Indulging her, Jason flipped through the air once, feigning an aerial kick to her collarbone. But then he seamlessly landed in a crouch and kicked Canary's feet out from underneath her. Once the woman felt herself falling, she arched back and melted into a perfect back handspring.
Neither of them went on the offensive, so they ended up circling each other again. That was how their fight had gone for the past half hour and that's how it continued. They'd exchange a few blows, the other blocking and neither gaining the upper hand. Then the pair would go back to prowling in a circle until someone went on the offensive.
After a particularly powerful left hook that Canary just barely dodged, Jason and the older woman jumped apart again.
"And then there's also your individual style mixed in with Batman and Robin's. The harsh, aggressive, and confrontational form of fighting. It's unpredictable and clearly meant to hurt, but I can tell how controlled it is. You certainly don't pull your punches like Batman," Canary assessed, narrowing her eyes. "And some of the places you aim for are clearly meant to temporarily paralyze or possibly even kill."
Jason snorted, effectively hiding his unease at how good she was at figuring him out. "Lady, for four years, I was in deep cover as a crime lord. Flipping around like Robin would've gotten me recognized and killed. Pulling my punches would've made me look soft. I had to adapt my style to fit my cover."
"Then why still use it?" Black Canary challenged.
Jason shrugged. "Do something a certain way for long enough and it becomes an integral part of your fighting style. I spent long enough training as Robin," imitating Dick, "that I often use acrobatics. I spent long enough pretending to be a crime lord that I fight dirty."
They circled each other several more times before the blonde woman finally replied. "I suppose that makes sense."
Finally she relaxed from her fighting position and Jason followed suit. "Want to take a break and grab some water?" she asked.
"Sure," Jason replied easily.
The pair walked over to the edge of the training room where they had placed two water bottles earlier. Jason picked his up, unscrewing the lid and chugging a good half of it. It was still cool.
Black Canary sat against the wall, drinking her water. Tired, Jason sat down, too.
"Jason, can I ask you something?" the woman inquired after a long silence. "You don't have to answer, but…"
"Shoot," Jason grunted.
"Did you ever kill anybody while you were undercover?"
Jason nearly choked on his water at her forwardness and suddenness, but he forcefully swallowed. He would not allow the shrink of the Justice League see any emotion that he didn't want her to see.
Jason sighed and ran his hands through his hair, damp with sweat.
I've killed lots of people.
And I wasn't even undercover.
"Indirectly," he admitted after some internal debate about the best answer. "Some from injuries I gave them. Some from infections. And some were killed because I got involved in crime in Gotham."
Jason lowered his voice into a whisper.
"A total of seventeen people's deaths are on my hands."
That was a blatant lie. So many more than that were killed by the Red Hood himself.
Black Canary put her warm hand on Jason's shoulder. "I'm sorry; that must be really hard for you. But I hope you know that there's nothing you can do now but move on from your mistakes. You can't bring them back from the dead."
Jason wanted to laugh. Really badly. How had this conversation gone from pretending he felt guilt over the people he's killed to how the dead coming back to life was physically impossible? Of course Canary didn't know what those words meant to him, but Jason felt hysterical laughter bubbling up inside him, itching to be released. It was just so ironic. And, admittedly, painful to think about. His death and resurrection were hard to think about. Bruce and Dick and Tim and Alfred and Damian were hard to think about. His sheer loneliness was hard to think about it. And most of all, the fact that he'd fallen so far from his pixie-boots days was impossible to think about. Everything was painful, really. He tried to keep the thinking and flashbacks to a minimum.
Black Canary noticed Jason's troubled features (though, they weren't troubled for the reason she thought) and changed the subject.
"Do you want to go back and spar some more?"
"That'd be nice," Jason said, standing up with a tiny smile of gratitude.
The meeting was relatively small; just Aqualad, Batman, Robin, Black Canary, and Red Tornado. They convened in one of the lounge areas near the kitchen. The room was dotted with couches, and everyone minus Batman and Aqualad sat. Batman stood stiff and formal as per usual, while his protégé slumped on the couch. Red Tornado was his usual emotionless robot self. Canary sat with her normal good posture and mellow attitude with her hands folded in her lap.
"I assume this meeting is about our visitor," Aqualad said from where he was standing near Robin with his arms casually folded over his chest.
"Correct," Batman affirmed. "We need to decide what we are going to do with Jason. Do we invite him to join the team? Is he going to live in the mountain permanently? But before we make those decisions, Canary, you spent some time with him today. What is your opinion of him?"
The blonde woman sat back slightly. "Well, first of all, he has more fighting experience than Robin and he and I were pretty evenly matched."
Bruce made a mental note of that. If Jason could match Black Canary, the man was near to Bruce's fighting level. Rather impressive, really.
"Jason also has a very… unique fighting style. It has striking similarities to both Batman and Robin's styles. But he also has elements of his own unique style that were obviously developed by him. Jason's highly adaptable in combat, which is a very good quality."
Canary paused, debating the best way to phrase what she was going to say next. No, she wasn't going to tell Bruce about Jason's brutal methods. She figured the older teen would tell Batman whenever he was ready. Plus, Jason was smart enough to tone down his current force as to not raise suspicion.
"I also managed to get Jason to talk a bit about his past. Everything he said backed up what he told you initially. When I asked him a very personal question, he was surprisingly open about his answer. Jason's pretty complex underneath all his sarcasm and snark. He's a bit unstable, but seemingly loyal. His heart's in the right place. I've been lead to believe that he's very trustworthy."
The room fell silent; its occupants digesting the woman's assessment. Batman was secretly pleased that he could trust their inter-dimensional visitor. He and Robin could always use an ally in Gotham…
"So now that we've determined he isn't a sociopath, what will his arrangements be?" Red Tornado asked in his metallic, robotic voice.
There was a contemplative silence for a moment, then: "I believe the best course of action would be to invite him to join the team."
It was Aqualad, surprisingly.
Aqualad backpedaled. "From what you have told me, Batman, both Green Lanterns and the Martian Manhunter are looking to find a way to get him back to his own dimension. Though, they are stumped. Since it appears he will be here a while, and his introduction to the team went exceptionally well, I think it would be a good idea."
"Not to mention he has phenomenal training," Robin added. Kaldur shot him a grateful look for backing him up.
"It would be up to Jason," Batman decided.
Yes, Robin thought.
"Where will he stay?" Robin asked, posing the question that had been on nearly everybody's mind.
"Miss Martian and Superboy live full-time in the cave, perhaps he could, too," Red Tornado said.
"No. He can come live with Robin and me," Batman said, finality ringing in his tone.
"Yeah, he was Robin in a different dimension, right? So it'd only be natural for him to live with us," Robin said cheerfully. Excitement suffused through him at the idea of having another person in the empty Wayne Manor.
I'm not always nice, but when I am, I am the most generous person you'll ever meet. Robin internally laughed at his joke.
"So it's settled, then?" Black Canary asked. Everyone nodded in affirmation. "Then perhaps we should inform Jason of these developments."
Dick was dragging Jason excitedly from his room, babbling something about cookies and Gotham and Batman being a good parent. Jason followed Dick, going along with whatever he was saying, nodding occasionally.
(Ha. Bruce? A good parent? That was a good one.)
Eventually he was in the living area where Aqualad, Batman, Black Canary, and Red Tornado were. Dick pulled him over to sit next to him on the couch.
"So…" Jason started, a bit awkwardly. "What's up?"
"We have discussed it," Aqualad said. "And we have decided that, if you would like, you may join the team."
Jason blinked. Well that was… forward. He understood that he wouldn't be going back to his own dimension any time soon (and was it weird that he did not care at all?), but this kinda blindsided him. Jason? On a team? Again? Sure, he'd been on the Titans—no, I was never a member of the Teen Titans, Jason had to remind himself. I didn't even get a memorial when I died. The time I spent with them meant nothing. But this team wasn't the Titans. Maybe… maybe he could actually be a part of this team. Maybe he could learn how to feel like he belonged. So why not? What was the worst that could happen? (Purple and green and red flashed in the back of his mind, but he ignored it.)
"Okay," Jason replied shrugging. He could practically hear Dick's mental cheer.
"You will be staying with Robin and me for the time being, as well," Bruce said.
Jason brain stopped functioning for a moment.
He was staying with Batman and Robin…?
As in, Bruce and Dick…?
As in, Wayne Manor?
Jason smiled and nodded to cover up his internal surprise. Robin started babbling, and the corner of Bruce's lips twitched up infinitesimally.
He was on autopilot as he followed the Dynamic Duo to the Zeta teleporter. Jason didn't even notice when Batman entered into the computer's log and it identified him as "Red Hood B08." Batman and Robin stepped into the teleporter and Jason followed numbly behind. Once the bright yellowish light faded, he was in a telephone booth. He methodically opened the door and re-joined the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder.
But none of this registered in his mind.
He was too shocked (and maybe a little nervous, too, but he'd never admit that).
Because, for the first time in a long time, he was going to be in the Batcave.
For the first time since he'd died, he was going to walk the halls of Wayne Manor.
For the first time since he'd dug himself out of his own grave, he was going to see Alfred.
(And so what if it wasn't his Gotham he was in? So what if these people weren't the Bruce, Alfred and Dick he knew? It was close enough.)
For the first time in five years, he was going home.
And he'd never been happier.
A/N: Phew. That was actually kinda hard to write. And this isn't my favorite chapter, since it's mostly character development and necessary interactions. If you live in the US, happy Memorial Day! I'll do my best to get the next chapter up before Sunday. My school's still in session until June 13th, so I still have that to deal with. :/ Constructive criticism would be really nice; I'd love your advice on how to improve my writing. Feedback also makes me very, very happy. :)
Quick note: either next chapter or the one after that, I will get into putting Jason into the actual episodes, starting with Downtime. He won't be in every episode, because not every team member is in every episode. He'll be in all of the episodes with the entire team, and select few with only a fraction of the team present. And for the ones he isn't in, he'll be off doing something else. And since this is a Jason-centric story, I'll only mention the missions he wasn't on/any developments that are necessary to the plot. Once I get through to the end of season 1, (or maybe before, this is still a WIP) I will take the story in its own direction. So, what are your opinions on that?
Thanks for reading!