A/N: More of a prologue… but… it's something I had to write. Had. To. Write. Please leave a review if you would like to read more!
Rain storms were common in Gotham. The water often poured for hours on end, soaking every person to the bone and generally making life a living hell for anyone forced to work through it. Coupled with (and it often was) the freezing and bitter cold of winter the city became that much more dangerous. It made the chances of hypothermia setting in skyrocket.
Even through the Kevlar reinforced suit and the cape and cowl, Bruce could feel the chill. The droplets berated him nonstop in an endless cycle, yet he couldn't quite make himself move. He'd heard a nasty little rumor that the Red Hood was back in town and staying at one of his more frequented safe houses. The Bat had watched in silent vigil as the young man entered the warehouse, had listened as glass broke and the lights flickered from on to off, on to off. Still, he waited for the man to come out.
By now it had been an hour, still no sign of the man who had once been his son.
This was getting ridiculous. That in mind, Bruce lifted his arm and swung a grappling hook out. He landed silently on the rooftop, intent to watch, but not interfere in whatever was happening.
What he saw was utter darkness. That didn't surprise him. No, what shocked him was what he heard. Faint rustling, and over that a loud sobbing, childlike in nature and very broken sounding. It did not sound like the Red Hood.
The Dark Knight shattered the skylight and dropped below in visionary perfection.
His lenses accommodated him and switched to night vision. He saw clothes piled on the floor, and there it was, the source of the crying. A little boy sat curled up in the corner of the place, he couldn't have been older than six. He wore Jason's shirt, oversized to the point of obsurdity, hanging loosely around him. His black hair was crushed to his head with sweat and tears ran freely from his teal eyes. At the Bat's presence the boy looked up and stared at the man clad in the dark suit.
The boy's face contorted with fear and sadness, he began to cry louder.
Bruce searched the room for Jason, but when he detected no other living organisms it all but confirmed the worst. He took a deep breath and approached the boy, hands raised in a calming gesture.
The child tried desperately to back away, but with the wall at his back he found no purchase. He sniffled and buried his face in his knees.
"I'm not here to hurt you." The Bat was surprised at the gentleness of his own voice, "Hey, can you look at me, kid?"
The boy shook his head, but mumbled something incoherently.
"What was that, boy?"
Teal green eyes showed themselves over his knees, "it's Jason, not 'kid'."
If there was a shadow of doubt in his mind before, it was definitely gone now. He breathed deeply again.
"Hi, Jason. Do you know who I am?"
Young Jason ignored the question, instead asking one of his own. "I want my mom… She died though, right?" His eyes filled with more tears and Bruce's heart broke. The image was so close to his own memories of another little boy mourning over the bodies of his parents…
He gulped over the lump in his throat before kneeling down to eye level with the little boy. "Catherine Todd?"
The boy nodded vigorously, apparently hopeful knowing Bruce was familiar with her name. "I'm sorry, Jason." Bruce took a step forward, but the boy tried to back away again, fear obvious in his eyes.
Something clicked and suddenly he was removing the cowl to reveal weathered blue eyes, human, normal, what the boy needs. Though the bat demanded that he leave the child in the hands of the authorities so that this second chance – If one could call it that – would manifest into a better man… the part of him demanded he give Jason a chance at a better life with another family rationalizing the event easily.
Instead, Bruce took another step and told the child he would not hurt him. Jason seemed to respond to the less intimidating man, he lunged forward and wrapped his arms around Bruce. He sobbed into the older man's chest in anguished bursts and Bruce held him until the tears dried and then turned in to soundless trembling.
"shh, it'll be all right, son." The boy relaxed a little and with time Bruce felt his small body regulate his breathing into slow, balanced breaths. The boy was finally asleep.
From the shattered skylight above, rain flooded the area. The cold was deafening, and for once Bruce cursed the weather. After pulling the cowl back over his head, he unlatched the cape from around his shoulders and wrapped the little one in it. Hefting Jason up and being careful to keep him as close as possible, Bruce left the warehouse with his son cradled safely in his arms.