Thank you all for your reviews, favs and follows! I hope you keep enjoying this fic.
Now, there are a couple of things I wanted to warn you about. My Jason's back story was mostly based on the origin from Red Hood and the Outlaws #0. I'm aware of the differences before the reboot and I now that in the original Death in the Family, Jason found his biological mother, Sheila.
November 2, 19:18
Jason landed the ship on the white sands of the Island he, Arsenal and Starfire called headquarters/home for the last months. Starfire had been living there alone ever since her spaceship crashed into Earth. It was her safe haven against enemies, prejudiced humans and broken hearts. No one was allowed to know about it, until the alien princess saved Jason Todd.
For some unknown reason, Princess Koriand'r saved the criminal known as Red Hood from drowning and nursed him back to health. She remained calm, gentle and polite despite his bad temper and listened to his story, treated him with affection. For that, Jason thought of the beautiful Starfire as one of his precious friends.
Damn, Kori was beyond beautiful. No man with blood in his veins could ignore her. She could have orange skin and pupiless green eyes, but looking at her made a man's blood pressure rise dangerously. Also, dismissing her as a simple pretty face and body was a deadly mistake. Kori was incredibly powerful. Her touch cold melt metal and her attacks could wipe out an entire battalion. If she wanted to, she could be a living nuclear bomb, though that didn't seem to dissuade Roy.
"Finally!" the red-haired young man said with a smirk. "I can't wait for a good meal."
"I assume blowing up weapons of mass destruction can be tiring" Koriand'r answered with her usual kind smile.
"It helps when you love your job, Kori. And we are very, very good at our job. We saved the world today, we should celebrate" Roy said. "What if we eat together? We can watch the sunset."
Jason always felt surprised on how different Roy was with them. With the Team, Arsenal was harsh and bitter, constantly angered by the clear preference everyone had over his clone, Red Arrow, and unable to forgive his mentor for giving up on him while he was frozen on ice in Lex Luther's hands. After Jason and Kori brought him along, Roy started to warm up to them and, before they knew it, he had found a place where he belonged and an amazing, hot girl to court.
"You two enjoy yourselves. I'm going to bed" Jason said, tossing Roy the keys of the kinda-of-stolen ship they got after defeating a vengeful scientist who tried to kill Kori over her Tamaranean origin.
"You don't want come, Jay?" Roy asked, honestly sounding disappointed. "You could have dinner with us once in a while."
"Two is company, three's a crowd" the raven haired teen answered, removing his mask from his head and facing his two companions. "Thanks anyway. I'll see you in the morning."
"Jason…" Kori called, floating towards him and staring at his face. "Are you well?"
Jason smirked but he knew he wasn't fooling her. He had almost been caught by the Team and he had seen the new Robin. She knew how he felt, how it still hurt.
"I'm fine, Kori. Have fun with Harper. I'll see you guys in the morning."
As he entered the crashed starship that became their home, Jason felt glad that Grayson hadn't come with the rest of the team. It wasn't just because he felt like punching the bastard, but also because Kori would be very upset to see him.
Jason didn't know the details; he had been too focused on being Robin to even notice Dick's new love interest at the time. Besides, the guy smiled and women flocked around him. Zatanna, Barbara… Dick had always been a charmer who enjoyed the company of beautiful girls, which wasn't necessarily bad (Jason also enjoyed the companionship of a good looking girl from time to time). Thus, when Nightwing met Starfire, they felt obviously attracted to each other and dated for a while. However, Kori's feelings grew from attraction. She wanted more than dating, she wanted love and she wanted a forever. She asked Dick if he loved her, he said no.
Rejection and heartbreak were feelings Jason Todd knew too damn well.
Brushing off depressing thoughts, the black haired youth entered his bedroom and took a nice and long shower. This was the part he enjoyed the most about finishing successfully a mission, the feeling of accomplishment and the time to finally relax.
As he cleaned himself up, Jason stared at his reflection in the foggy mirror. Fortunately, Talia had been right about his scars and burns, his face wasn't disfigured anymore and there were only faint scars of that fatidic night on his torso. Aside from that, he looked normal. Though… being dead and coming back was far from normal.
Unlike Roy's room or Kori's, Jason's bedroom door was soundproof. Not because he snored, but because he talked in his sleep, yelled. Jason's dreams were filled with crazed laughs of a demented clown and blood dripping from the crowbar that had beaten him into a pulp. Some nights, he also dreamed about his mother.
The worst part was that, up until the end, he had loved her. Catherine Todd wasn't the best mom, but the moments when she wasn't clouding her mind with drugs or too high to even notice his presence, Jason enjoyed the way she stroked his hair, the warmth of her hugs, the way she let him sleep in her bed when he was scared.
He knew he had to protect her, especially after his dad was arrested. He convinced himself that if he took care of her, his mom wouldn't be so depressed all the time and she would stop using drugs. That's why Jason stood by the door with a baseball bat to keep the dealers away from their house, which was why he stole medicine, clothes and food from his neighbors so she could eat and get better. Even as a small boy, he knew his mom was sick and he would do anything to help her, then they would be a family like the ones he saw on TV.
Then, one night, after he went looking for food, Jason returned to an empty house. He called his mom and looked all over for her, but he knew already why she wasn't home. The money he had hidden in the cookie jar was gone; she had gone to buy another dose.
He found her on a dirty alley, leaning against the wall with her head down like a broken doll. She looked like she was just asleep, so he shook her and called her name. After a while, his screams alerted the neighbors. The paramedics pushed him away as they tried to revive her, but it was worthless. They said she was dead. They called her "another dead junkie". Still shaking with horror, Jason saw the lights of the police car and ran away. His mom was gone, he didn't want to go to jail too.
At the age of ten, he was all alone in the world and he needed to survive. No one cared about a street rat like him and he learned how to swallow his tears and harden his heart into stone. He didn't want to be a crook and he didn't hurt anybody, but he did what he had to do to stay alive in Gotham's deadly streets. He would have probably ended up dead a lot sooner if he hadn't try to steal Batman's tires and gotten caught.
Suddenly, Jason went from a crappy street to a luxurious mansion along with food, clean and warm clothes and even his own bedroom. Obviously he didn't believe the Bat was going to help him and he waited for his chance to run once the vigilante tried to send him to juvie, instead, he learned about Batman's secret identity, he got to know Bruce Wayne and Alfred, he trained hard and he became Robin. Suddenly, his life had a new meaning. He wasn't trash on the streets anymore; he was making a difference and being a hero. He wasn't alone anymore. It was the best time of his life.
But he should have known it wouldn't last. You could take the kid off the streets, but you couldn't take the streets off the kid. Jason's anger was what made him survive during his childhood and he used that same fire against the criminals he fought. Soon, both Batman and the Team felt uneasy with him. They were too used to Dick's easy nature and, probably subconsciously, they expected Jason to turn up just like his predecessor. When he didn't, once they realized Jason's fiery personality was a part of him, they started to doubt him and question openly if he should go on missions, if he wasn't too reckless and dangerous. After a while, Jason refused to go on missions with them all together. He knew when he wasn't wanted and he was sick and tired of being compared to "Saint" Dick, who was perfect and God forbid if he ever did anything wrong.
It would have been fine, but Batman started to doubt him as well. Their fights grew more frequent with each patrol, the words became bitter. Finally, Bruce said something that hurt him more than all the insults he had heard on his life.
"I starting to think I made a mistake" Bruce told him grimly after another fight. "I should have never made you into Robin."
Those words cut deep, more than a knife. Over the years, he had come to look up to Bruce more than anybody else. He began to see him as the father he wished he had and, foolish and gullible as he was, he actually believed he felt the same way.
Soon, Jason was on monitor duty and he knew that was only a step away from being "fired". While he was looking at the different screens in the Bat Cave, he saw her. His mom shopping, happy, smiling. Alive.
Jason remembered how he stared at the holographic image for a long time, tears running down his cheeks and a smile of happiness on his face. He didn't even think when he packed his Robin costume and caught the next airplane. All he could think was about seeing his mother and hug her again. To hell with Bruce's permission! Who needed a fake family when he could have a real one?
So he tracked her down and he found her, just like he found that she was being blackmailed by the Joker into smuggling medical supplies from the clinic where she was working. Jason promised that he was going to protect her and told her not to worry. She took him to a warehouse, where they could talk about their plans to escape the Joker.
The moment the doors closed, Jason was held at gun point by the Joker and his thugs. He looked desperately at his mother, confused.
Catherine looked down. "I'm sorry, but the Joker would never let me leave."
Jason tried to fight, but the thugs restrained him and handcuffed him. All he could do was stare at his mom, who he protected, who he loved, who had just betrayed him to an insane murder while pleading for her life to be spared.
When the Joker started beating him with the crowbar, Catherine looked away. The pain was unbearable, but Jason couldn't escape the blows. He felt every hit break his ribs, his jaw, his arms, ripping up flesh and muscle, until he was choking on his own blood.
"Wow, that looked like it really hurt" the Joker said with a huge grin on his face before hitting Jason several more times. "Whoa, now, hang on. That looked like it hurt a lot more. So let's try and clear this up, okay, pumpkin? What hurts more? A?" he beat him again on the torso. "Or B?" he hit him on his face, on his back, on his abdomen. "Forehand? Or backhand?"
The boy tried to talk, but the words wouldn't come. He didn't know how many of his bones were broken and it was getting hard to breath. Soon, the mad clown grew bored with the beating, so he ordered his men to tie Catherine to a pole and leave them both with a bomb about to explode.
"No! Don't leave me here!" his mom yelled. "I did everything you asked! You already have him! Don't let me die!"
Despite his pain, Jason tried to crawl to where his mother was tied up. He told her that he was going to save her and managed to untie her ropes. The moment she was free, his mother ran to the door and left him on the ground. Jason was too weak, too injured to move anymore and could only stare at her desperate attempts to open a door which was obviously locked.
With a sob, Jason looked at the bomb's timer and thought of Bruce. He remembered being sad that he didn't get to say "goodbye" or "thank you" or… "I'm sorry."
Then, the world exploded with pain and fire, and he plunged into the darkness.
After dressing his nightclothes, Jason lay on his bed and stared at the beautiful sunset. He should be dead and rotting on a coffin somewhere. Instead, a group of egomaniacs had brought him back into a world which didn't want him back.
It was pathetic how he still wondered how Bruce and the others would react if they knew that he was alive. Honestly, he had been about revealing his identity plenty of times. That's when he picked up the recorder Talia had given him.
After his disastrous attempt at his reunion in Gotham, Talia found Jason again and took him to be trained by the best assassins on the planet. Before she left, she gave him a recorder and told him that she had picked up frequencies on the Bat Cave and Mount Justice. He had recorded several conversations about him.
Though he knew the recordings by heart, Jason pressed the play button.
"What are you doing Bruce?" Nightwing was yelling at Batman. "When I was growing up with you, I always knew where the line was… Exactly what we did, exactly what we didn't do, and why. But Jason didn't know what the hell he was doing or why!"
"It's not your fault" Alfred whispered. "The lad was determined to disobey you."
"Jason was brash. Impulsive. Headstrong. Never looking before he leapt" Batman said. "But I didn't stop him because he wanted it so badly. He wanted too much to prove something."
There were more conversations, several more. It hurt him, but he needed to hear his so called "friends and family's" true feelings about the arrogant and incompetent Robin. He needed to remember why revealing his identity was a huge mistake. He was dead to them and he should keep it that way. It wasn't that he didn't expect them to move on without him, he just didn't think they would move on so easily.
With a sigh, Jason turned off the recorder and closed his eyes. He hoped for a dreamless night for a change.
November 2, 22:06
Tim and his squad returned to the Team's new headquarters with a tired and grim expression on their faces. The mission had been a total failure! The submarine and the nukes were destroyed, several criminals were dead and the Red Hood had escaped again. All that under Robin's lead!
As his companions hit the showers grumbling, Tim walked towards Nightwing, who was busy on the computer screen.
"We failed the mission" Robin said, lowering his head. "I'm sorry… I should have done better."
Nightwing stared at his protégé with a small but reassuring smile. "You did the best you could, Tim. Everyone came back alive, that's what really matters."
Tim nodded, but he still felt troubled. "It's just… I keep thinking that if I hadn't hesitated so much… if I wasn't so careful, we would have gotten there in time."
"No! You did well. You thought things through and played it safe" Dick answered, his voice slightly harsher.
"I know… But I wonder if I would be a better leader if I was more confident, more impulsive…"
"A leader needs to be careful, not impulsive!" Nightwing said, raising his voice. "You have to know the line between what you can and can't do! If you don't, you're being just reckless and irresponsible. We don't need that kind of Robin, both Batman and Team! If you don't watch out, you will certainly end up dead…"
Dick stopped talking; his eyes wide and shocked before clenching his fists. Tim didn't need to be a Martian to know who Dick was thinking about.
"Take a shower. We'll go back to Gotham in an hour" Nightwing said, shifting his focus to the computer screen once again.
Tim complied, though his mind was filled with questions he knew he couldn't ask. It was an unspoken rule in the Bat Team: no one talks about Jason Todd. It was ironic because Jason had been how he had found out Batman's secret identity and the reason why Tim was wearing the Robin costume right now.
It took him ages to convince Bruce that Batman needed a Robin. Jason's death had almost destroyed him and Nightwing and, even though no one dared to talk about him, they could still feel his ghost haunting them like an invisible force. When they went to the Bat Cave, Batman always glanced at the glass case with Jason's Robin costume, his eyes sad and filled with guilt and sorrow over the boy he couldn't save.
Despite never knowing him, Tim's entire training was a result of Jason's death. Both Batman and Nightwing repeatedly taught him the importance of thinking things through, to listen to orders, to look and wait before jumping into a fight. Their intentions were good, they wanted to keep Tim alive, and they didn't want to make the same mistake that cost Jason his life. However, Tim often found himself thinking way too long before acting to the point where he barely did anything at all.
November 2, 23:33
When Tim and Dick arrived at the Bat Cave, Tim told his adopted older brother that he needed to do some research on the computer.
"Alright, but don't stay up until late" Dick said, his harshness long gone. "Remember you have school tomorrow."
"Yeah, I know! G'night!"
The moment Dick's left the cave, Tim logged into the training records and click on one of the videos from 2013. Batman was working with the League and Dick was probably getting into his bed, it was the perfect opportunity for Tim to learn more about his predecessor without opening old wounds.
There was nothing left of Jason Todd in the Manor. All his belongings had been taken, along with any photos of him; even his old bedroom was locked. The only thing that proved that the young boy had ever existed in that house was the glass case with his costume. Tim had expected Batman to erase all of Jason's data from the computer as well, but fortunately he hadn't.
The video was from a training exercise. Tim's eyes widened as he saw the twelve year old Robin running through the fake alley, throwing kicks and shuriken with an infectious grin on his mischievous face.
"That's it? You could have given me something harder to beat, old man!" Jason yelled at the screen.
"Cockiness will get you killed" Batman answered through the communicator.
"I finished your little maze in no time flat."
"You scored in the 95th percentile, Jason" Bruce answered solemnly. "But you need to be better than that" the camera shifted towards a holographic old lady that Jason's shuriken had accidently hit. "Collateral damage is simply unacceptable."
"Yeah, well…" the young Robin in-training mumbled, both ashamed and defensive. "Maybe the old biddy ratted us out to the Moxon mob. Bet she was a stoolie."
"I'm resetting the program. Stretch out and get ready to go again!"
Jason pouted for two seconds before smirking at the camera. "Fine! I bet I can finish it even faster! Keep your eyes open, Bruce!"
Tim had to smile at the kid. He was definitely different from Dick, but he had his own charm. Back when he was a little kid, Tim remembered staring at the TV screen and watching Robin kick the bad guys' butt. Jason had been the Robin he had looked up to, the one he saw as cool, badass and apparently unstoppable. The Robin on fire!
Silently, the young teenager turned off the computer and undressed his uniform. As he glanced at the case, he couldn't help but wonder what Jason would think of him as his successor.
He wished he could have gotten to know him.
Jason had two different back stories before the reboot. The first, he was a young acrobat just like Dick and had red hair. Then, during the Infinite Crisis, his origin was changed to the better known story of Jason as a street kid (with real black hair) who tried to steal the tires of the Batmobile.
Then why is Jason's hair red in some of the recent issues while keeping his street punk origin? Because the writers either A) didn't do their research or B) they did and didn't care. The result was a very weird adaptation of the Red Hood. One moment he was fine, the other he was insane. In one issue he was an anti-hero, the other he was a crazy psychopath.
Which was why, in my opinion, the new 52 was the best thing for Jason's character because it gave him consistency.
There are many people who strongly disagree and enjoy the "Villain Jason" more and I'm okay with that. I'm not an expert. I'm just someone who started reading the comics last November because I loved Jason's character on the Batman: Under the Red Hood movie.
I hope you liked the chapter! Feel free to tell me what you thought!