Note: Jason and Sheila's banter outside of the warehouse is taken from Batman: A Death in The Family. I'll try not to use too much of the dialogue from there. Btw, I don't really know that much about the phantom stranger, so here's to hoping I don't completely flop his character :S
Oh ya, and…I own NOTHING! Zilch! Honestly, would anyone believe me even if I said I DID own batman?...Batman himself would probably come after me and make me eat those words….
Me: I own batman!
Batman: *Punches me in the face* No….Batman owns you!
"Oh Jason, why didn't you listen to me that day"?
Bruce was immersed in thought as he beheld the Jason Todd memorial in the batcave. He had been contemplating what had come to pass since Jason had come back to life.
"None of this would have happened if you had just listened to me…but you didn't…and you still don't".
Bruce thought painfully to himself.
Why didn't he listen? Why did he go after Joker by himself? Why didn't I know that he would go against what I said like so many times before?
The thoughts and regrets flooded his mind. No surprise there. They always did when he surveyed the memorial.
Bruce had his eyes closed and was so wayward in his thoughts, he didn't even notice it when someone came up behind him and, to his surprise, suddenly put a hand on his shoulder. Though no one else was present in the cave at the time.
He turned around. In front of him was a man wearing a top hat covering his eyes, a cape, and a pendant. He was surrounded by smoke.
"The Phantom Stranger" Bruce said quietly.
The Stranger simply looked at him, he then spoke:
"Do not think I haven't been watching you. More than just today I mean". The Stranger commented.
I've seen how you act every time you look at that memorial. Blaming yourself, and him, for what has transpired since that fateful day".
"Your point"? Bruce inquired dully.
"….I think it's time you see what really happened on that day".
"I know what happened". Bruce interrupted.
"I told him not to tangle with the Joker alone, to wait for me to get back before going after his mother. I should have known he wouldn't listen….It cost him his life".
"But you were not there at the warehouse yourself. How can you simply come to the conclusion that he disobeyed you, without any true evidence? Other than the fact that he died"? The Stranger countered.
Bruce turned on him. "Is that not evidence enough"?
The Stranger was silent for a moment, then continued.
"You must see for yourself what happened that day".
The Stranger put his hand on Bruce's shoulder. Without any warning, he found himself outside at a warehouse in midday. There was no one there at the moment, but suddenly the door to the warehouse opened, and out from it appeared a familiar figure.
Bruce looked at her incredulously. "Sheila"?...
She gave no answer, but acted as if nobody was there; she pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
"She can't see me…" He thought aloud to himself.
"She literally cant-" He reached his arm out, but instead of touching her, his arm simply went right through her, similar to a ghost.
"It's as if I'm not even here…." He said in wonder, as he moved his arm around, simply passing through her.
"Mom" Bruce turned around, just as surprised to see Jason as Sheila was.
"You're in big trouble mom, I know all about it…the Joker, everything…"
"I don't know what you're talking about"? Sheila countered.
"C'mon, mom, play straight with me, I can help you". Jason tried to assure her.
"Sure, tell me about it…" Sheila replied obviously unconvinced, turning away.
Suddenly, Jason did something Bruce was not expecting. He started unzipping his coat, revealing his Robin costume.
"Mother, there's a lot about me you don't know.
Bruce's jaw dropped in sync with Sheila's.
"That outfit!.." Sheila almost whispered.
Bruce just stared. How could he do this?! What was he thinking?
"You're…." Suddenly she turned to go back into the warehouse.
"Come with me." By this time, Jason had taken his full coat off, and was in his full Robin costume.
"Wait!" He called after her.
"Is long gone." Sheila finished.
"There's nothing to worry about." Sheila assured. "But there's something you should see."
Bruce started coming to the horrible realization of what was really going on.
"No Jason!" But when he reached out to grab him, all he succeeded in doing was grabbing thin air, as Jason followed her inside.
"What? What's going on?" Jason inquired.
"Just step this way, and you will understand everything…Robin."
It was too late. Jason found the Joker holding a gun to him as he too, came to the awful realization of just what was happening.
"What?! But you said…" Jason turned to his mother.
"I lied." Sheila stated cooly, as she too, took out a gun and pointed it at her own son.
(Im gonna skip some dialogue for fear of copyright infringement)
"What should we do with him?" Sheila asked in a cold voice.
"Something I've wanted to do for a long time…" Joker stated in a dark tone, moving Sheila aside. Suddenly he pistolwhipped Jason hard as Jason cried out in pain and fell to the floor. He started getting up as Joker kicked him across the face.
Bruce had seen enough. He went straight for Joker, punched him across the face, threw him across the room and held him up against the wall.
If only justice were as kind...
As usual, he only succeeded in punching thin air. He lashed out, throwing punches, kicking, anything he could do. But it was all futile.
Jason managed to get a good punch in as Joker was holding him by his collar, sending the clown stumbling back. But even that proved no good as he was quickly overpowered when two of the Joker's henchmen suddenly stepped in. One punched him and he fell to the cold cement floor as the other kicked him hard in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him.
"That wasn't a very nice thing to do to uncle Joker..." Joker's voice dripped in a tone of such darkness that it seemed the warehouse dimmed in what little light it did already have. He started towards Jason, when he turned his head slightly and saw a stray crowbar on one of the crates. A cruel smile spread across his face as he picked it up, Continuing towards Jason, who was still gasping, struggling to get air back.
Bruce couldn't believe what was happening. He wouldn't believe it….Here he was, at a time when he could stop Jason from dying, and yet, he couldn't. He couldn't do anything as the clown raised the heavy steel bar above his head, and for one fleeting moment, time seemed to stop, along with all sound and all that was. Before he brought it down swiftly on his partner's…on his son's back.
Jason screamed in excruciating pain as the hard steel collided with soft flesh. The clown raised the bar again, and the sickening thud echoed in broken ribs. Again and again, the gruesome scene repeated, like a broken record player.
Bruce shot his eyes toward Sheila, who had turned away from the scene before them altogether, smoking another cig.
He could not believe her, this was her son! Did she not even care?
He looked back at Jason just as the bar came down across his face. Blood splattered everywhere. A pool of blood was quickly forming beneath him. His body convulsing with each strike.
He couldn't take it anymore. He turned away from the anguish of the brutal scene.
"Stranger! Get me out of here! I've seen enough!"
Bruce yelled at nothing, and nothing happened.
"Stranger! Do you hear me? Get me out!"
Joker's maniacal laughter grew louder with each bludgeoning of the crowbar.
Bruce closed his eyes and covered his ears. But nothing could block out Jason's agonized screams, and the Joker's maniacal laughter as it grew to a crescendo.
Bruce opened his eyes again and was shocked to see Alfred coming towards him. He took his hands off his ears.
"…Alfred?" He stated incredulously.
"It's not your fault sir" Alfred stated.
"The lad was determined to disobey you."
Bruce just stared.
"What? No…He didn't disobey, he was-…he was…"
Bruce had said it himself. Jason didn't disobey, he went into the warehouse thinking that the Joker was gone. He was tricked, he was lied to…by his own mother. Sheila had sold him out to the Joker.
He now understood what the stranger had said.
Suddenly Dick came up and joined Alfred.
"He's right Bruce, Jason was brash and headstrong, he did things without thinking."
"N-…No, he did think this through, we were wrong! He had no intention of going into that warehouse while the Joker was in there!"
"There's no one to blame for what happened to Jason but himself." Bruce spun around and saw Tim behind him.
"His own disobedient selfish actions are what got him here. Now he is paying the price for his own actions."
Bruce couldn't believe what he was hearing. It was the kind of conversation they had when talking about Jason's death. They used to all agree that he was the reason for his own death, because he disobeyed. Bruce now realized just how ludicrous that idea was. It was the kind of idea that Joker would have them believe.
Joker...His laughter grew to an earsplitting level as the vile show with the crowbar raged on. Jason was barely even recognizable anymore from the amount of bruises, scrapes, cuts, and the mass amount of blood he had on and beneath him. He barely made a sound anymore as the crowbar kept coming down just as relentlessly as when it had started. Just small moans of pain escaped him, as he struggled desperately for every breath.
"If you ask me, he deserves each and every whack of that crowbar that comes down." Damian stated as he joined the group.
Bruce didn't say anything. What could he say? How could they be saying these things with their brother mere feet away, being beaten to death?
Without any warning, the scene changed. The robins and Alfred were gone, and Bruce was no longer in the warehouse. He was in the Batman costume. He and Jason- Robin, were out on patrol. Jason looked as if the beating had never even happened. Bruce thought that maybe the Stranger had ended that nightmare at last and they were getting another chance to be Batman and Robin together.
Bruce saw all that Jason did as Robin. He really was good, he really wanted to help people. In fact, his desire to help people was the source of why he would go overboard so many times. He was so intent on helping those who were hurting, that he would do anything to stop those who were causing the pain. He was just…..going about it the wrong way.
Suddenly, just as quickly as that scene had come to be, it vanished. Vanished back into the warehouse. But the other robins and Alfred weren't there anymore. It was just Jason, back in his broken and battered state on the floor, and Bruce, who was now standing above him.
"It's ok, Bruce" Jason forced out between struggles to breathe.
"I should have listened to you." Jason managed to get out, obvious that each word was causing his body tremendous pain.
"It's my fault for trusting her. I deserve this, and there's…no reason…that…you should stop…now." Jason finished.
Bruce felt himself gripping something, he looked down and saw a bloodied crowbar in his hand. He instantly dropped it in sheer horror.
Jason looked past Bruce now. Bruce turned to see what he was looking at and found Joker and Sheila right behind him.
Jason spoke to Joker, resentment in his voice.
"I'm sorry for being close to batman. For being his partner and friend."
He turned his gaze toward Sheila.
"And I'm sorry for trusting you."
They both curse him. The Joker picks up the crowbar from the floor, goes to Jason and stomps on the side of his head, pushing him into the cement. Jason yelps in pain.
The brutalization begins all over again.
Bruce goes to stop it, but again the scene changes. This time he finds himself in crime alley, his parents on the ground in blood.
"Bruce, we are sorry for dying, our deaths were our own fault. We failed you. Don't blame anyone but us for our deaths. For we brought it on ourselves."
Bruce just stood there, horrified. Seeing his parents on the ground, in blood, saying these things…It was as if corpses themselves were talking to him.
Yet again, the scene changed, and it seemed he was everywhere….with everyone that he had ever failed, all apologizing for their deaths and injuries. Stephanie was there, as was Barbara. Along with countless others. All apologizing, all telling him to blame themselves. The voices grew louder and louder as more and more joined in.
Just as it seemed like his eardrums would burst from the noise, the scene goes back to the warehouse.
He catches sight of Sheila struggling with a door, as Jason's against a crate.
"The Joker locked us in here!"
The last thing he witnesses is Jason throwing himself in front of Sheila as the place explodes into flames. Bruce himself can feel the heat and pain of the searing flames as it eats away at him too. Just as he thinks that it's all over, he finds himself back in the batcave, on the floor in a cold sweat, in front of the memorial case.
Right back where he started. He has no way of knowing if he's back for good, or if this is just another segment of that nightmare. But he prays that it is over as he gets up to his knees, puts his head against the glass, and lets the tears flow freely from his eyes.
It seems as if an eternity has passed when he feels a hand on his shoulder. He turns his head, and through tear stained eyes, he sees the Stranger back.
"Ok, so he didn't go against what I said." Bruce said quietly.
"He was tricked, lied to… betrayed." His voice was barely above a whisper.
"But he still…should have listened to me. I told him not to go in there at all…why would he trust her over me?"
"You must remember…" The stranger starts after a long pause.
"She was his mother…she got the best of him."
"If he hadn't gone in there,-" Bruce interrupted.
"If he hadn't gone in there, none of this would have happened." Bruce finished as he looked down and turned his gaze to the ground.
The stranger was silent for a moment, taking this in.
"You cannot keep blaming him..." He finally continued.
"Put yourself in the situation he was in. What if the tables were turned?...Wouldn't you trust your own mother?
Bruce fell silent at the mention of his own mother.
I….yes, but…" He found himself at a total loss for words.
He looked up again, but he found himself alone, the stranger had left him.
Alone….a word he was all too familiar with.
So? Love it? Hate it? On a rating of 1-10, what would you guys give it?
10 being "OH MY GOODNESS THIS IS THE GREATEST STORY IVE EVER READ IN MY LIFE!"
1 being "…take this story, and throw it out the window….and yourself too while you're at it"
Btw, this is my first attempt at a fanfic. So let me know how I did! If I get enough reviews, I may even consider a second chapter, but you guys have to give me ideas of where to go from here…if you even do want me to continue with this story, because this is about where my imagination runs dry for this story…so ya…IDEAS! And feel free to leave criticism on how I can improve my writing. Again, I apologize if I didn't get the Stranger's character quite right…Don't kill me!