Almost everyone who knows the story of Lazarus thinks of his resurrection as a miracle. Jason Todd disagrees. The Red Hood knows that with a second birth comes a second death. Dieing the first time was hard, he doubts that it gets any easier. The sound of resistance and a hard thud in the background let him know his work is done. Jason looks into the shocked eyes of his replacement, of his brother in arms if not in blood.
Jason cocks an arrogant grin, blood on his teeth, "A thank you would be nice Drake." Tim Drake still hasn't processed what has happened, he can tell. The boy stands there with a stupid lost look in his face unable to believe that Jason Todd had just taken a bullet for him when, just a year ago, he had tried to kill him.
A small gargle and a whispered, "Jason" is all that is heard.
Jason wants to walk away, but this time he knows he can't. Jason has a high threshold for pain, but even he has limits. The ability to be independent, to stand on his own, was always a point of pride for the street urchin that was still inside of him. That, more than anything is why it hurts when he falls face first onto the floor of the warehouse. . . Why did it always have to be a warehouse?
He can feel the vibrations in the floor and he knows that his family is coming for him, and if they are coming he is redeemed. The blood will never be washed off his hands, but he is no Pilot. He carries his guilt, his pain in recompense for the protection he affords the week and helpless. That, he reflects, is his greatest strength. It is not the path his father would have him take, but his job was necessary. Bruce could not carry the guilt, and Batman would not allow it, so Jason bore that cross.
As Jason Todd lies in his own blood, bullet in his back, he reflects on the events that led him to this moment. He thinks about lost baby birds, a broken bat, and a family that never was, but could have been. Hard hands roll him over as dead eyes look down at him. Bruce was broken far before Jason met him, but he can't help but think that now he's about to shatter, and that is wrong. His father is larger than life, imperfect, but he was always someone that Jason wanted to emulate.
Jason Todd was surrounded by family, a word that by all rights shouldn't have even made it into his messed up vocabulary. Two brothers and one father, all looking at him, and all Jason can think to say is, "it'll be. . . all right, just like last time." His family doesn't seem to think so. Tears in a bat's eyes are almost sacrilegious, to see so many at once is terrifying. Jason Todd believes that they will move on though, after all, they did the first time.
Jason can't help but wonder if it was Bruce or Batman that pulled him out of the rubble the first time. It is Batman who finds the strength to lift the Red-hood off of the floor and begins running towards the bat-mobile. Does it lookthe same now as it did then?
"Jason. . . " mutters Nightwing, "you'll be alright, we'll get you to the hospital." Of course he would be the only one who had something to say. He stands there, and Jason knows that Dick is Batman's golden bird for a reason. The light to Batman's darkness. Jason tried so hard to be Dick, but he was too much like the bat. Too stuck in the past, in his own tragedies.
Dickie-bird, it was funny really. Jason Todd had never really thought of Nightwing as a brother, but he had always used him as a measuring stick to his own success. Jason had admired the acrobat, and had always wanted to live up to the Robin that all Robins were compared to. He was still a Robin, even though he would never admit it, you never grew out of being a bird, or a bat. He has always been the strongest Robin, more broad and muscled than the first Robin. Jason Todd had hoped that someday his height and bulk would match his father. That's what Bruce was, he admitted, his father. At nineteen Jason Todd was not done growing, it was truly a shame that he would never reach his prime. This time being the strongest was enough to get the job done, but if he had been Dick Grayson he would have been fast enough to miss the bullet completely. Jason knows now, he will never truly measure up to Grayson, he will never get the chance, and God knows he had always wanted to.
Tim stood behind, hanging on the Bat's cape like a child to his mother's skirts obviously in shock. Jason caught his eyes "Why, why. . .why" all muttered in a distant whisper.
"You already know, kid." Jason coughs.
Jason is dying, he knows it, and so does Bruce. Jason knows that, despite wearing the cowl, it is Bruce, not Batman who is carrying him. It is his father, not his mentor or commander who is holding his hand. Right now, for the first time in a long time, Jason Todd is not a soldier. Jason Todd is a son and a brother saying goodbye to his family. And because of this Jason says the words he has wanted to say for a very long time, but always thought would sound like less of a man, less worthy of the man who raised him if they were said aloud, "love you Dad." Jason closes his eyes and lets the darkness over-take him. He doesn't get to hear Bruce's reply, he doesn't get to see his eyes as the cowl comes off. Maybe one act of heroism did not allow him to reclaim his soul, but he knew what was his. Even when living in the darkness Jason Todd had always been a protector, he did not regret dieing for family.
It felt good to stand in the light again, even if it was only for a little while.
If I get enough reviews I will continue this. The next chapter will take place six months prior to these events. Not Mine.