Disclaimer: Characters belong to DC Comics
When I woke up, I was home in bed, lying on my back in the dark. I never questioned how I ended up there. I mean, it's happened before. It was normal for me to fall asleep in front of the TV, and wake up in my room with no recollection how I ended up in my bed. Sometimes I would walk up on my own, so tired I didn't even remember climbing the stairs to my room. And other times, Bruce would carry me to my bed and gently lay me down under the covers.
On the other hand, I did feel strange. I was still dressed in my Robin uniform, when I knew my "work" clothes weren't allowed beyond the cave. Yet, when I stopped to ask myself why, I had no answer. I remembered being on a mission with Bruce somewhere in the Middle East. I had no memory of the past few days, and how I ended up back at the manor.
I climbed to my feet and walked into the hallway. Because the lights were off downstairs, I had a little trouble seeing my way down into the living room. However, I noticed the dark brown paint seemed to glow as did the colors on the furniture. Which was weird, because it was early in the morning, and the sun had not come out yet.
I walked down the hall to Bruce's room and stuck my head through his partially opened door. The room was empty, the bed perfectly made. He must still be in the cave after patrol.
I went downstairs. I could hear Alfred cleaning in the kitchen but decided to not disturb him. I then made my way to Bruce's study. To my surprise, the door behind the clock was already open, so I walked down the secret staircase that led to the cave.
I made my way to the computer, where Bruce was sitting still in his uniform with the cowl pulled off, working on a case. I knew he heard me, I hadn't bothered to hide my footsteps, and even if I did he still would have heard me.
He looked tired. He was hunched over the vast keyboard typing furiously. "Hey Bruce." I said.
He didn't even look at me. He does this sometimes, when something happens you can't get him away from his work. Whatever he is working on must have gotten him pretty worked up.
"Master Bruce." Alfred said quietly as he walked passed me. "I've prepared dinner, and I insist you eat. You've been sitting here for days, please you need something. Jason….."
Bruce cut him off "I am not hungry Alfred. Pack it up and put it in the fridge, I will eat it later."
I turned to Alfred. "Hey Alfred, can you make me a…." I was cut off when Alfred sighed and left the room.
He never ignored me. Bruce sometimes, but never Alfred. Something was wrong, very, very wrong.
When Bruce heard the door to the cave shut he put his head in his hands. His body started to shake and he sucked in a broken breath. He was crying. Bruce was crying.
Then he said something really weird.
He let out a low moan "Jason…"
"Huh?" I said.
"Oh God…." He was still crying.
"What?" I asked. "What's wrong?"
He continued to ignore me.
"Hey," I said slightly annoyed about being ignored "Will you please tell me what the hell is wrong?"
Nothing….. Not even a look to acknowledge my presence. Then it hit me.
He didn't hear me. Something really bad must have happened, if he could get into such a state where he would block me out altogether.
"My son…." Bruce whimpered quietly.
"What?!" I screamed "Is Dick….?"
Bruce abruptly stood. I followed him to the medical bay in the cave. On the table where we lay to get patched up was a body, lying under a thin white sheet.
With tears still falling down his face Bruce slowly pulled down the sheet. However instead of seeing a head, I saw a dark towel wrapped around the person's face with thick pieces of dark hair sticking out. As Bruce revealed the face, I noticed the person's eyes were closed. His black hair was matted with blood while his bruised face remained clean. It was there that I made the connection. I knew that hair, I fought with it constantly. My face, which was bruised and cut.
Memories of the past few days came back to me in an instant.
My own mother's betrayal.
The stench of her cigarette.
every broken bone, every bruise, my blood pooling around me.
I remembered the intense heat and the feeling of numbness throughout my body. I remembered being engulfed in orange seeing nothing but brightness, then seeing nothing at all.
It was me lying dead on that table.
The longer I stood in front of my body, I could understand that yes, I died, but it didn't make any sense. I couldn't be dead, I told myself. I was too young. I had too many things I haven't done. I finally had a family.
I spent 15 years on this world. 15 years to grow, learn and live.
And seconds to die.
It wasn't until a loud sniff broke me from my state of confusion. Bruce had kneeled next to my broken body, like a child saying their nightly prayers. With his hands clasped together over my stomach.
"Jason….I…I am so sorry. I've failed you, you were my son and I failed you. I love you more than anything, my son, my soldier, one of my reasons to live. I would give anything to have you back. Please forgive me." He whispered as he closed his eyes and sobbed into his clenched fingers.
I tried to soothe him, to do anything to let him know that I was here with him. I couldn't because his son was dead, and I was his son. Blood didn't mean anything. A father is somebody who watches over their children, loving them, caring for them, making sure they went down the right path.
Bruce Wayne will always be my father.
I wrapped my arms around him, knowing that I couldn't feel his warmth, his safe embrace. And that he couldn't feel me there with him.
"It's okay…..Dad, I forgive you. I love you so much." I whispered to him, wishing he could hear that I loved him and that he never needed to be forgiven. It wasn't his fault. With tears falling down my own cheeks, I wept with him.
And it was there, in that moment finally and forever, I accepted that I was dead.