To Robinett, my faithful reviewer, I must thank you for your motivation to write! Also, Yoda and my other reviewers…. Thank you. ^^
And here… is the conclusion to my story…. I may write more to the story depending on what feedback I get, but my muse has been fading as of late…. So…. Here it is. Thanks for sticking with me throughout it all!
Disclaimer: I do not own Batman or any of the characters affiliated with the series, that belongs to DC Comics. I own only my OCs. I also do not own the quote below, that credit goes to Albert Pine.
Without further ado, read on!
What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others lives and is immortal. – Albert Pine
Jason really needed a smoke. He hadn't had one in years, hadn't had an urge for one, but now… well, he'd give up every last one of his guns – and he had owned quite a few when he was with Kor Hol – for one single cigarette. He longed for the burn at the back of his throat, the rush of nicotine…
"Come on, Jason. Time to go back to the cage." Cold, detached, Kor Hol love. Jason could feel it in waves.
Yeah, he needed a cigarette. His blue-green eyes met Jacques' black ones. The berretta had Damian in its sights and all movement was frozen. They had planned this all too well. The initial shot was never meant to kill him, just to put Bruce out of the game, draw Dick and Kaiser away, and leave Damian and Jason completely vulnerable. They knew exactly which brother to target in order to ensure that Jason would not move against them. The familiarity of the hate made it no easier to bear.
Bruce's eyes betrayed the fear deep within despite the cowl as Jason shrugged off his father's arms. He staggered forward towards the man. He could actually feel the agony emanating from the man behind him with each step he took from Bruce.
"ah!" Jacques exclaimed, "Not another step, little bird, or I put a bullet in his brain." He waved the gun at Damian. Rage and revulsion rose in Jason, but he stopped about ten feet away from the bastard.
"Aim the gun at me, Jacques. After all, do you really want to push the League of Shadows to declare all-out war on Kor Hol? That boy's mother is Talia Al Ghul." Jason's gaze was as unwavering as his resolve, "Point the gun at me."
Jacques cracked a smile before laughing outright. He took a step closer. The barrel was facing Jason now. It was the most messed up thing, but the black sheep felt an unreserved sense of relief. Damian would be safe; he would have the life Jason knew the boy had always dreamed of. Normalcy.
"Why are you out here? Did you even ask? Or maybe you just like being Kor Hol's bitch." Jason smirked, intent on catching the man's anger.
Jacques' lips formed a hard line and the Hood could almost imagine it when the bullet ripped through his chest. "I'm no one's bitch. I volunteered for this. I just wanted to be the one to make you… dead." He smiled wickedly. Then he pulled the trigger.
Everything slowed down. Jason was on the ground, kneeling in the snow as the sky looked on mournfully. For a moment, just one, Jason swore he could see each snowflake individually as they reached for the ground. He definitely saw his blood lingering with each one.
Jason could almost imagine the tidal wave of black that tackled Jacques to the ground. He could almost imagine the tears streaming down Bruce's usually impassive face, or maybe the screams of his brothers and the howl of his wolf. But, of course, it wasn't imagination when the shadow overtook him. It could never be imagined that death stood by, waiting, for what would be the second time Jason's heart stopped beating in his chest. He wished he'd gotten that last smoke.
Jason could hear the faint beeping of machines, the stinging presence of the IV, and the familiar scratch of bandages, but it was all very far away. It was as though he could reach out to these feelings, but each slipped from his grasp. Only the steady noise of the machine came through. Faintly he could make out the angry clamor of voices, he picked out names and faces without seeing. Dick. Damian. Bruce…
The world slipped away as a flashback sucked him back into the confines of his mind.
Dick remembered the day Bruce had come to him with the news about Jason.
He remembered the man walking into his Bludhaven apartment, cape and cowl fixed firmly over his body. The eldest son of Bruce Wayne had waited for the man to speak, his royal blue eyes showing only an inkling of the curiosity inside. As the silence drew on, Dick's heart had begun to sink.
"Spit it out old man!" His nerves were still scattered from that nights patrol. "And where's my replacement? The punks usually dying to rub it in that I'm not robin anymore." He had smiled, his words were not harsh, simply reminiscent. Then he noticed how Batman's face had fallen at the mention of Jason.
"Richard…" The use of his name startled him. Dick took a moment to look at his father, really look at him. His shoulders were slumped forward, something remarkably out of place on Batman's shoulders, as though they were weighed down by some unseen yet crippling force. Dick's eyes focused on how the man's breathing was labored and erratic; if he hadn't known better he would have guess Bruce was harboring some horrible wound… yet there was no blood on him now…
"What happened, Bruce?" The fear had risen and filtered into his voice.
"Jason's gone, Dick." And suddenly it all clicked for him. It made sense why Bruce had chosen to come to him in full costume; to keep the façade of impassivity. It made Dick Grayson sick. He remembered rushing forward and punching Batman right in the jaw, but it didn't stop there. Dick rained down blows that would probably leave bruises all over the older man. The tears had been flowing down his face and onto Bruce's chest by the time his father had finally snapped out of it and caught his eldest son's wrists.
An hour later, Dick had ripped off the cowl of the Dark Knight to reveal the grief-stricken father below. "If you're going to tell me how he died it has to be this way. Without the Batman to safeguard your emotions." His voice had been full of hate, but steady despite the tears threatening to choke him.
Now Dick Grayson just wished he had a cowl of his own.
Three weeks later
The members of the bat family stood by like silent guardians over the gravesite. It was cold today. Not nearly as much as it had been in Europe, but freezing nonetheless. The sun was shining, despite the temperature, and the man silently cursed the day. It was like an insult to the memory of his brother for the sun to be out, shining brightly.
The man knelt down and spoke softly to the grave, his words muffled and unintelligible due in some part to the wind plucking at his midnight black hair.
Dick stepped forward next, placing a patch of crimson roses atop the ground. He was sullen and quiet, much unlike his usual upbeat and joyful personality. The day was sucking the life out of all of them. It was almost too similar to the other time they had… but no, the family was not willing to go there.
Damian, the youngest and newest edition to the family was still crouched by the stone that marked the existence of his older brother. There were no tears on his face, there couldn't be. Jason had asked him to be strong before… but his eyes were red and puffy, he had already let the tears go long before now. He had known this man, perhaps not as well as he would have liked, but he had been nice nonetheless. He mourned the loss of strength and the yet unaccomplished goals of the one buried here.
Kaiser, the faithful wolf was nowhere to be found here. Once the family had arrived home, Damian had honorably declared Kaiser would be the first animal that would make his home at the manor. The family had agreed to make to position a permanent one, though Bruce suggested a Great Dane would have made a more hospitable pet…
Bruce stood by next to Tim, watching the scene through hooded eyes. He was tired, he didn't want to be here. There'd seen too much death already and seeing his sons here was the last thing he needed. It was bringing back all the times he'd walked these yards forlornly looking out for signs of life. It was foolish, really. Hoping for something was useless. Bruce longed to feel the slums of Gotham beneath him, to take his frustration out on those thugs. Seeing his sons in pain was… not something he bore lightly. Still, he couldn't quash the sense of contentment rising within him… it was uncalled for – he knew that – but it was there, just below the surface.
Tim watched his brothers quietly. He felt like an intruder here. He had never really known Jason – not in any way that counted at least. However, he had always idolized the Robin that was Jason Todd… He had always put the boy on a pedestal, perhaps because Jason, in his tenure as Robin, had been everything Tim wasn't. Jason had been strong; his fighting style fully developed and quite aggressive after his first few patrols. Tim always found himself lacking in that department. Tim was weaker, he was somewhat scrawny, he lacked the forceful bite that would back his bark. Sure Tim was always good at outwitting his opponents, but sometimes he just wished he had his predecessor's raw ability. Instead, he had been left to pick up the pieces. He sighed inwardly. Maybe, just maybe he could learn from Jason.
Kaiser, the faithful wolf was nowhere to be found here, he was roaming freely across the property. Once the family had arrived home, Damian had honorably declared Kaiser would be the first animal that would make his home at the manor. The family had agreed to make the position a permanent one, though Bruce suggested a Great Dane would have made a more hospitable pet… Then again, he couldn't exactly be considered a 'pet'…
"Well, I've said my peace. Let's go, guys." The man kneeling before the gravesite stood, his voice was nonchalant. The sun caught the white, somewhat ghostly scar that marred his neck as he got to his feet, his brothers followed suit. They were always meant to rise with him, as a family.
Dick, Damian, Tim, and Bruce followed Jason Todd as he walked solemnly away from his blood brother's gravesite. Right now, it honestly didn't matter that the family wasn't technically related to him by blood – they were family no less, and they weren't as broken as they were before.
When Jason had awoken a week ago back in the manor, he had been surprised to say the least. After all, not only was he alive, but he was alive and not being held captive in some cage in Kor Hol. Damian had been nowhere to be seen, but Kaiser was highly alert and laying devotedly beside him. His body had hurt like a bitch, but as he glanced around he realized he was in his old room. His head had been pounding painfully, and Jason had been glad to feel each bruise and gauze covered ligament. He was alive and he let himself revel in the fact. When Bruce asked him to stay at the manor Jason had wanted to flat out refuse… but then he remembered Jax and the promise made to him. And so, Jax in mind, he had agreed. Now, as he walked away from his brother's grave, he could almost feel Jax's presence here… it was odd, it weighed on his shoulders and his instincts, but he chose to ignore both in favor of laughingly sneering at Dick and ruffling Tim's hair in a rare display of affection. Damian trailed after them as Bruce wrapped his arms around his sons in a somewhat guarded display of affection.
Jax had set Jason on the path back to his home, and his little brother had stayed true to his promise. He felt himself smiling at the thought, and the pride attached to it. Below him, Jason strode steadily back to the manor completely oblivious to his silent guardian. This life wasn't for Jax, but he had made damn sure his brother would live a happy life behind those walls. And who knew, maybe one day they would meet up again. For now though, Jax turned away, leaving his brother and his family to peaceful coexistence. He chuckled lightly, yeah, like that would happen knowing Jason. But what the hell, a guy can dream, right?