Okay, I'm wrapping this story up! It's been fun, and I'd like to do more. On the other hand, I should get back to writing my Ultimate Teen Titans series... which do you guys want? Lemme know.
Dick parked, or rather jerked the car to a stop outside of some brightly colored restaurant.
"Dick," Jason said, noticing where they were stopped. "This is a handicapped zone."
"Oh, don't worry," Dick said dismissively. "No one will ever notice."
Jason was about to argue, but Dick tossed him back his keys, for which he was eternally grateful.
"Where are we?" he asked, getting out of the car. Dick chuckled, while Tim performed a face-palm.
"Red Robin," he said, grinning. Damian rolled his eyes, while Cass stared up at the bright red neon sign.
"This is a joke, right?" Jason asked, a sinking feeling in his stomach. "Why the hell...?"
"Well, since everybody seems to have forgotten what day it is today," Dick said, emphasizing the last few words and looking pointedly at everyone else, "I guess I'd better enlighten you. Once we're inside."
So they trudged inside. And who was there to open the door for them but...
The elderly butler was standing in relative attention inside the building. A thin smile creased his lips.
"Welcome, young masters," he said, bending forward slightly. "I hope you all had a pleasant journey..."
Groans and stifled laughter.
"... and I hope Master Tim appreciates the joke."
Tim rolled his eyes.
"Really, Alfred?" he asked. "Really?"
Alfred gave a small smile, and then beckoned them toward a table in the back. Jason was feeling more and more anxious with each step. He couldn't help shake the feeling that this was a set-up, and that he was being set up. Damian's, Tim's, and Cass's faces weren't helping, as slow smiles crept on their lips(except Damian, he just kinda smirked).
Sitting in a corner table was Bruce Wayne and Barbara Gordon, waiting for them. Now Jason was really getting worried.
"Jason!" Barbara called out, beckoning him closer. He bent down to give her a hug, as she was still in her wheelchair. As he straightened up, he looked at Bruce.
"How are you, Jay?" he asked, holding out his hand. Jason took it, shaking it firmly, but not smiling.
"What's going on?" he asked, glancing around. Everyone was smiling at him(except for Damian, he was still smirking evilly). "Okay, this is getting creepy..."
"Well, it took everyone long enough to remember," Dick said, "but..." He took a deep breath.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" everyone shouted.
Jason felt like slapping himself.
He had been set up, from the moment he woke up this morning. Because today was his birthday. How could he forget?
Easy. He never celebrated it since his return from the dead. He had never felt the need, considering his entire birth had become moot by his death. But now he was here, and they all knew, and they had thrown him a surprise party.
Surrounded by his "family..." once that would have seemed like a horrible idea. Now, it felt... normal. Good. Great, even.
Dick gave him a present first.
"I wanted to give you something not expensive," Dick admitted. "Kory's controlling most of my cash at the moment."
It turned out to be a dart gun, but with real darts. Jason aimed it at no one in particular, and everyone ducked. He laughed.
"Trying to get me to stop killing?" he asked Dick, but before he could answer, he said, "thanks."
Tim's gift was an iPhone 4S. Jason held it up, pretending to be a Neatherdal.
"Can I eat it?" he asked. "Well, at least I can stop listening to Lady Gaga every time my phone goes off..."
"You never figured out how to change that?" Tim asked incredulously. "Wow, I need to coach you..."
Cass's present was a picture collage she had made of photos of the Bat Family after Jason had rejoined them. Pics of Jason, Tim, and Dick posing like models, Damian sitting in a massive chair stroking a white cat, Jason being surprised by a kiss on each cheek by Cass and Barbara, Alfred and Bruce smiling, and the whole family goofing off.
Jason tried to find something sarcastically grateful to say, but found his throat stuck. His vision blurred. He turned red as he realized that he was showing emotion other than hatred. Tim slapped him on the shoulder, and Jason grabbed his arm.
"Thanks, guys," he whispered hoarsely.
"Wait, there's more!" Dick said, picking up Barbara's present.
It was a box, a big one. Jason opened it, and revealed a full head Iron Man toy helmet, and everyone burst out laughing.
Alfred had gotten him several books on how to live by yourself in style. A lot of them were cookbooks, and Jason knew he was never going to open them. But he appreciated the thought.
"My present is not here," he said. "I'll have to get Lucius to show you tomorrow. But I gave you a new suit, because I noticed your old one has a few holes in it."
"You mean, my old suit," Dick muttered, but grinned. Jason was stunned.
"Full Kevlar-lined weave with armor plates for ensured protection," Bruce said. "Matte black, with built in tech to monitor your vitals and extra sensors that can be streamlined to a HUD in your helmet. Right now, it doesn't have a symbol one it." He looked Jason straight in the eye. "But I'll be very proud if you'll wear the Bat again."
Jason laughed, choked up with emotion again. That was Bruce all over, practical, yet very meaningful at the same time.
"Bruce," he said. "Thanks."
Damian was still grinning evilly. Jason noticed that Dick hadn't reprimanded him for not giving Jason a present, so he assumed the demon spawn had another surprise planned.
"Don't thank us yet," Barbara said, gesturing her arm. The staff came out from behind the kitchen doors.
"Oh, no, no, no, NO!" Jason protested, but too late.
"It's your birthday, happy birthday, and we're all gonna celebrate, hey, hey, hey!" the staff sang, and the others joined in. Jason sunk his head in his hands. But everyone knew he was secretly pleased.
It had been the best birthday of his life, and debatably the best day of his life.
Of course, it couldn't last. At 1:00 in the morning, Jason walked out with his family, and saw...
"My car!" he yelled, seeing the Impala being towed away and a police car in the spot next to where it had been parked... illegally. "What the hell are you doing?!"
The cop, who had been leaning against his car, nodding off, walked over to Jason.
"You the owner of this vehicle?" he asked, rubbing circles under his eyes.
"Hell yes!" Jason said. "Where do you think you're taking it?!"
"Away," the cop said irritably, slapping a ticket on Jason's jacket. "Parking in a handicapped zone, driving at speeds higher than the normal flow of traffic, and God knows what else you did tonight..."
Jason turned, seeing Dick looking at his watch and then glancing up.
The night wasn't over yet.
At 7:45, when Jason finally stumbled into his apartment to get some sleep, he found Damian's birthday present.
On his countertop, he found a handwritten note by the little guy.
You know what they say, when you give, give 100%! Happy Birthday, Todd.
He heard a meow, and his heart sank.
"Oh, no," he whispered. "Oh, hell no..."
A wave of fur leapt on him, claws out, teeth sharp, spit flying. Six, seven, fifteen, twenty-five cats hurled themselves upon him, driving him to the ground.
Any warm fuzzy feelings he had for his family vanished. It was time for some people... or animals... to die.
One thing was for sure... Red Hood was back.
I had to include the cats. I just had to. And I didn't include Stephanie Brown because I don't like her.
Thank you, and good night.