This story is a result of a little tap-dancing gnome in my head that wouldn't go away. Most of the chibi stories always get stuck on hiatus so I decided to write my own featuring my favourite angry teenager. It will be a two-shot or three-shot (depending on if I want to split the next chapter which is proving to be almost double this length) and I will finish it!
The Curious Case of Jason Todd
Part 1: Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig
Jason was enjoying a quiet night in his apartment. That meant making dinner instead of ordering take out, skipping patrol, and attempting to finish The Tale of Genji in Japanese. He did become somewhat distracted by the glaring light show that spontaneously occurred across the harbor at the Gotham shipyard. It was really lighting up his living room. Since he lived so close to the area anyways, he decided to do Batman a favor and take care of the florescent problem. Then maybe the rest of Gotham could sleep peacefully in their beds for once and he could finish his book.
The Red Hood was surprised to find the Demon Spawn dressed as Robin playing keep away as some older man with a short white beard and wearing a dark blue cloak shot beams of light at him. The ex-Boy Wonder had absolutely no idea what was going on, and contrary to popular belief, he could indeed think before acting. It just wasn't as much fun. So instead he sat down on one of the shipping containers to watch the show. He could really use some popcorn.
"Come now little bird-boy! Don't you want to know what my magic can do?" The older man taunted. Okay ... no wonder those light beams were so colorful, they're magic spells. Duh!
Robin was taking cover behind a shipping container. On one end of it the metal was melting and there were blast burns across the side facing the Wizard-man. The man continued to taunt Robin until the little twerp tossed a handful of flash grenades over the container. Wizard-man cursed and covered his eyes, which was when Robin attacked. He leapt over the container and drilled his opponent with a foot to the head. The man hit the ground but shot out his hand and directed a beam of green light towards Robin. Plants erupted from beneath the concrete and snaked up Robin's legs and body to encase the kid in a plant body bind.
"Looks like I have you now Boy Wonder!" Red Hood shook his head. Villains may pop up like weeds in Gotham, but they're never very witty and always use the same lines.
"Now … what should I do with you? I'm thinking about turning you into a little pet. How about a frog? A bird? Maybe a cat?" Oh, Selina would like that! "No, see, you'd still be alive. I could kill you with an electrocution spell … but where would be the fun in that?" Red Hood felt that it was probably time to intervene. Jumping down silently from his perch high above, he stalked towards the pair by keeping in the shadows.
"Ah ha! I have the perfect death for you! No mess and no body for Batman! How old are you? Wait! Don't answer that. I'm guessing … twelve?" The old man was sweating and breathing heavily. He was probably running out of juice and was feeling the physical effects.
Robin scowled and squirmed some more within the plants. "Release me you Neanderthal! I don't have time to deal with this!"
The man's eyes narrowed. With his thin mouth, hooked nose, and deep-set eyes, the man had every look of a predatory caveman. "Impudent brat! I'm going to say fourteen just to be on the safe side. I'm going to turn you back fourteen years so that you've never been born!"
The man raised his arms straight at Robin and began to chant in … was that Gaelic? Red Hood slipped throwing stars into both hands and burst out of the shadows, hurling them straight at the plants entangling Robin. Instead of slicing clean through, the throwing stars were buried deep in the plants like they were reinforced Poison Ivy plants. Robin twisted his head to stare as Red Hood tossed more throwing stars, this time at the wizard. The man screamed in the middle of his chant and just barely ducked to save his head. Red Hood released the clutch in the glove on his right hand which allowed a short sword to slide out past his knuckles. He swiped his arm at Robin's right side and gritted his teeth at the resistance from the plants. They were certainly reinforced with something to cause such resistance to his sword. He still managed to cut most of the plants away from Robin's right arm so the kid could grab his own weapons.
"No!" Wizard-man screamed, "I will not have you ruin my hard work!" he viciously gestured at the still immobile Robin and released a stream of yellow light.
Red Hood didn't even have time to think about what to do. He instinctively threw himself in front of Robin, taking the blast of light directly in the chest. The force from the blast tossed the young man right into Robin and they both rolled to the ground as the plants lost their grip and slithered back under the pavement. Robin groaned and sat up, brushing quickly decaying vines off his ankles. The Red Hood sat up beside him and rubbed his chest.
"Man that was tingly! It feels like ants are crawling all over me."
Robin growled, "It was completely unnecessary for you to intervene. I had the situation under control."
"Mmhmm," Red Hood hummed doubtfully. He got to his feet and strode over to the unconscious wizard lying face-down on the dirty pavement. "I think this one's all out of juice. Since this is your mission and everything how about you deal with this," he tapped the wizards head with his steel-toed boots.
"I never asked for your interference Red Hood!"
"I'll keep that in mind next time some lunatic is threatening to turn you into a fetus and do everyone a favor. See ya Spawn! I'm outta here!"
Red Hood turned and hopped on to the nearest shipping container before releasing his grappling line. He hurried across the shipyard to reach his motorcycle. Revving the engine, his tires squealed as he pulled out of the shipyard onto the main road. His chest was starting to feel a bit numb and that was kind of concerning. Only a few minutes later he arrived back at his apartment on the other side of the harbor.
Pulling off his helmet and jacket, Jason tiredly put them back in their places. He pulled off his Kevlar shirt and the black undershirt before looking in the mirror. Everything looked the same but it felt weird; he couldn't feel his fingers poking at his stomach.
Right now though, his major concern was getting some sleep. That bed looked awfully comfortable and just what Dr. Jason ordered. He slipped off his boots and his pants and slid right under the covers, for once not caring about putting everything back in its place.
He just wanted to sleep ….
Twenty minutes after passing the loud-mouth wizard off to the police with a broken wand, Robin roared into the Batcave on his motorcycle. He removed his helmet and placed it on the seat of his bike before strutting over to his father. The Batman was sitting in his oversized black leather chair looking over collected evidence from serial bank robbers who had recently hit up some smaller Gotham banks.
"Damian," Batman greeted without turning around.
"Father," Damian replied, "I apprehended the wizard that had turned downtown Gotham into an amusement park. He is in police custody."
Batman did not reply for a few moments as he flipped through crime scene photos. "Is that all?"
Damian gritted his teeth in frustration. Of course Father would sense that he was not entirely truthful. "Red Hood got involved. I became immobilized for a short period of time and the fool felt the need to interfere in my mission."
Batman paused in his research, "His status?"
"Unknown," Damian grumbled, "He was hit by a spell and complained that his chest was 'tingly' before leaving."
"What type of spell Damian?" Batman turned to look directly at him and Damian felt just a bit smaller.
"It was meant for me, some kind of age reversal spell. The wizard was guessing my age before he cast it but was interrupted by Red Hood before he could finish it."
"He cast it regardless and Red Hood took the spell for you," Batman exhaled heavily and closed down the case he had been working on. "Damian, hit the showers, write up your report and then go to bed. I'll be back in half an hour."
Damian scowled as his father turned away from him and headed towards the Batmobile. "Todd can take care of himself," he snapped.
"No, that's the problem," Batman replied as he slid into the Batmobile, "Jason can take care of everyone but himself."
Damian scowled at the place where the car used to be and stomped off towards the showers, purposefully ignoring the glass case with the old Robin costume.
Batman softly landed on the fire escape outside Jason Todd's kitchen. The lights in the apartment were off and the young man was probably asleep but Batman knew that his former protégé was too prideful to ask for help if he needed it. He used his built in computer to override the Red Hood's security system and then picked the lock on the window. Slipping inside, he scanned the room slowly while listening for sounds in the apartment.
The room was Alfred-approved clean, not a speck of dust visible on any surface. Furthermore, although the room was relatively bare except for the essentials, it was arranged to military standards. The pans hanging off the wall rack were ordered by size and were spaced five inches apart. The kitchen knives were all in their proper slots in the wooden block and there were no dirty dishes lying in the sink. It would come as a surprise to most people, but out of all his sons, Jason was the most organized. On the streets he never had anything more than the clothes on his back but when he possessed personal items, Jason was obsessed with taking care of them. Unlike Dick whose apartment was a disaster zone or Tim who took care of his things but tended to hoard items until his room was cluttered with books and notepads from eight years ago. Perhaps the closest one to Jason's level of order was Damian, although lately the smaller boy had begun collecting wounded animals in his room.
He slipped through the kitchen and past the empty bathroom into the living area. The living room was as neat and ordered as the rest of the apartment and the entire wall of sparkling clean windows looked out over Gotham harbor. A wall divided the living room from Jason's sleeping space and that was where he next checked. The ancient knives, swords, and other sharp weapons were still safely away in their display cases along with Jason's collection of antique handguns. A YiXing clay teapot set was placed on a modern dresser next to a two foot tall Buddha statue that rested on the floor. Batman did not even want to know where Jason managed to collect all these antique weapons. There were some things best left alone.
Batman stumbled over a pair of black, Kelvar enforced pants that had been discarded on the floor. In fact, most of the Red Hood's usual outfit was scattered haphazardly around the otherwise spotless room. Now concerned, Batman headed right for the bed where a small lump was hidden under the bed sheets. That lump was far too small. He pulled back the red duvet to find a naked child asleep in Jason Todd's bed.
The little boy moaned and curled into himself against the cold, a pair of men's black boxers lay discarded at his feet. If his face's uncanny resemblance to the former Robin still left some doubt, the slight crease between the eyebrows wiped away all uncertainty. The Red Hood took an age reversal spell that would have otherwise killed Robin but instead turned him into a small child no older than six. He was probably closer to five.
Batman pulled the covers back up to the boy's chin and went about searching for a small shirt. Instead he had to settle with one of Jason's older t-shirts tried to maneuver the boy's head through the opening of the red shirt. Jason was completely knocked out and did no more than grumble as Batman shoved his arms through the sleeves and flopped back on the bed when it was over. Batman filled a duffle bag with some of Jason's clothing for when the spell wore off or was reversed. Zatanna the magician would be his first call of the morning. He slung the duffle bag over his shoulder and wrapped the small boy in a soft red and black blanket and lifted the child into his arms.
It was only after they were safely in the Batmobile and on their way to the cave that Jason woke up.
"Mmmm … what? Where am I?" Batman glanced in the rearview mirror to see that Jason was fighting dearly to stay awake. He was cocooned in the blanket with his arms pinned down by the blanket and the seat belt.
"You're safe," Batman said and saw Jason's dazed teal eyes focus on him.
"You're the … the Batman! What are you …? Where's my Mom?" He struggled a bit at his panic.
"Calm down Jason," the child paused, wide-eyed at hearing Gotham's hero say his name, "I need you to stay calm; can you do that for me?"
The small boy bobbed his head in acknowledgement. "Did the bad men come?" he asked quietly, his large teal eyes staring at Batman through the rearview mirror. Batman wasn't sure how to reply to this question. "They know Dad's away. Did she … hurt a lot?" Underneath the cowl, Bruce couldn't help but feel his heart break just a little. He knew Jason's childhood was hard but a young child should not have such knowledge.
"No … No Jason, she wasn't in pain…. She asked me to watch out for you. That is why you are here."
"Oh … okay," the little boy bowed his head and slumped back against the leather seats. A trail of wetness was the only indication of his sorrow as he cried silently in the back seat.
Bruce winced under the cowl but the Batman rationalized that it was for the best. Catherine Todd was dead and the boy shouldn't be waiting on her for however long he was stuck like this. It would be harder to explain why she wasn't coming to get him. The Batmobile turned on to the dirt road that led to the Batcave and it was only after he drove through the waterfall did he realize the boy had fallen asleep again.
When they reached the Batmobile's platform, Bruce removed the cowl from his head and unbuckled Jason from the back seat. He was careful not to jostle the child too much and carried him upstairs to the manor. He had just reached the second floor when he was waylaid by his irritated butler.
"Master Bruce, how many times must I insist that work is to remain in the office?" Alfred Pennyworth murmured from behind him, careful not to wake the other house occupants.
Bruce flinched and slowly turned to face the older man, "I thought that you would be asleep, Alfred."
"Normally I would be, however Master Damian insisted on a midnight snack – my word, Master Bruce! You must stop this! I know you wish you could, but you cannot save every dark-haired boy in Gotham."
Bruce scowled at the accusation. "I believe Damian can take part of the blame for this. He was reckless with his mission tonight and Jason had to save him. As a result of his involvement, Jason was aged backwards to a child."
Alfred stepped closer and brushed some dark hair aside, "It is Master Jason! How old would you say?"
"I'm estimating between four and five but he was always on the small side when he was younger."
Alfred smiled softly and brushed the boy's cheek with the back of his finger, trailing the tear-tracks. Jason may have been one of the most difficult inhabitants at the Manor, but he and Alfred were always very close during his first life. "What happened here?"
"An unpleasant conversation about his mother."
If possible, Alfred's mouth looked even thinner, "Well, sir, his room is always prepared. I shall search about for something appropriate that he can wear in the morning."
Bruce nodded and continued down the hall and after a few moments, Alfred's footsteps echoed heading in the opposite direction. He carefully lay the child down on the queen-sized bed in Jason's old room. Since he had started wearing the bat symbol, Alfred had kept Jason's room available for if he ever chose to stay the night.
"Batman?" Jason mumbled, snuggling deeper into the many layers of blankets. He peered blankly up at the mask-less man tucking him into bed.
"Bruce," the older man corrected, "My name is Bruce. I would like it if you stayed here with me Jason. Would that be alright with you?"
The boy's eyes were already drooping, "S'okay. You gonna be my new daddy?"
Bruce paused; his hand just centimeters from brushing back the little boy's unruly hair. The boy forced his eyes open at Bruce's lack of response.
"Would you like that Jason?" Bruce couldn't explain why his heart rate was accelerating.
"Mmhmm, you seem real nice; better than my other Dad."
Bruce finally allowed his fingers to run through Jason's hair, feeling the soft locks curl around his fingers. He forgot how wavy Jason's hair used to be. "I'll do my best, okay son? Now go to sleep."
"Kay, night Daddy."
"Good night Jason."
Bruce turned to meet Alfred standing in the open doorway. The butler wordlessly held out an armful of Damian's clothing, his lips trembling dangerously. Bruce gently took the clothing from Alfred and lay it down on the dresser by the door. He gripped the older man by the shoulder and guided him out of the room. They would deal with everything when the sun rose in the morning.
After an early morning workout in the gym, Damian headed down to the kitchen for a late breakfast. He was surprised to find his father sitting at the breakfast table, a steaming mug of coffee in front of him and his face hidden behind today's Gotham Gazette. Pennyworth was unusually absent but plates of blueberry pancakes, bacon, and a variety of fruit were spread across the table. Damian was perplexed by the large assortment of foods and eyed the plate of bacon distastefully as he poured himself a glass of orange juice.
"Father," he greeted, "are you not required at work today?"
Bruce sighed and folded his paper to place on the table beside him. "We need to talk about last night."
"Everything is in my report," Damian was very confused by this interrogation.
"It's about the spell that Jason took for you."
"-tt-" Damian scowled as he loaded his plate with pancakes and fruit, "that fool should have minded his own business."
"Damian," Bruce leaned forward to catch the boy's eye, "Jason saved your life. It was a delayed spell so there was no immediate reaction."
Damian scrunched up his nose, he wasn't feeling particularly sorry. "So … does that mean Todd-"
"Health wise, Jason is fine," Bruce interrupted, "However he was still affected by the age reversal spell."
"Father, I don't understand," Damian hated to admit it.
Before Bruce could reply and prepare his son, Alfred returned to the kitchen with a small boy trailing behind him. His hair was still wet from his bath and Damian's black shirt was too large as it slipped off one of the boy's shoulders. A pair of Damian's shorts was being used as pants and was tightly belted to the boy's thin waist. Damian stared at the little boy wearing his clothes and felt jealousy rear its ugly head.
"Who are you?" he growled at the small child wearing his clothes, in his house.
But the boy did not crumple under his glare as Damian thought he would, instead he glared right back. "I'm Jason Todd. Who're you?"
Damian opened his mouth to reply but found that the words just wouldn't come out. This is what his father had been trying to tell him. Eventually he managed to stutter out "I-I'm Damian Wayne."
Jason shrugged in reply, obviously unimpressed with Damian's name. He turned and smiled shyly at Bruce, unsure what to do.
"Here Jason," Bruce patted the chair next to him, "What would you like to eat?"
The smile that the small boy returned was so wide, so toothy, and so … Jason, that Bruce felt his lips curling in response. Jason scrambled up the chair but just barely could see over the table even sitting on his legs. "I'm not really picky, I'll eat anything."
Bruce ignored Damian's mumbling about scraps and dog food as he loaded Jason's plate with a little bit of everything. Jason's eyes went wide as he saw the feast that was laid out in front of him; he'd never seen so many kinds of fruit before!
"Master Jason, would you like milk or orange juice?" Alfred hovered near the little boy's chair with a jug in each hand.
"Uhmmm …" Jason bit his lip and glanced between the two jugs, "milk please."
Bruce's paper remained beside him on the table untouched as Jason completely consumed everything on his plate while chattering away. Sometimes he forgot how much Jason liked to talk. He asked about his brothers, the house, the pool, Batman (which he promptly dropped when Bruce shushed him and Jason replied with "Oh! Secret!" and his finger held against his lips. Bruce couldn't help but ruffle the boy's wild hair). In return, Bruce found out that Jason was five, he knew his letters and numbers, his favorite food was chili dogs (Alfred cringed at this), and that he wasn't sure what he wanted to be when he grew up but he knew that he wanted to help people.
Damian scowled as Todd prattled on, waving his hands to emphasize his point. Father and Pennyworth were hovering around the boy, hanging on to his every word. Damian had tuned out long ago but was brutally ripped out of his daydreams of nooses around the necks of little boys by something Todd said.
"It's real nice of you to get me clothes, but you don't got to get me much."
"You mean 'you don't need to get me much,' and actually I do. At least the basics so you can get by."
"Okay," Jason shrugged and shuffled around on his chair. He lifted one bare foot into the air near Bruce's face, "How 'bout some shoes Daddy?"
Bruce grabbed hold of Jason's foot and was probably about to start a game of tickle until Damian exploded.
"How dare you! You are not worthy to call him Father, Todd! You are a disgrace to the family legacy!" Damian violently pushed away from the table and stalked through the house towards his room. Bruce exchanged a look with Alfred and turned back to Jason to reassure him. Instead, the boy was sniffing his bare foot.
"Are my feet too smelly? Is that why he don't like me?"
It was moments like these that made Bruce realize why he had picked Jason to be the second Robin. It was because the boy could make him laugh.
Just after eight o'clock that night, the door to Bruce's office creaked open and a tiny, dark-haired head popped in. Jason grinned at the large man behind the desk and bounded up to Bruce's black leather chair, his curly hair bouncing with each step.
"Look Dad! Look!" He twirled in place to show off his Batman pajamas and held up a smiling stuffed bat toy. Bruce smiled at the exuberant child and lifted Jason up to put on his lap. He held the small boy's back against his chest, his large hand spread entirely across Jason's chest and stomach. Bruce smiled softly down at Jason, an innocent, happy Jason that he never got to meet. Jason giggled as he made the bat's wings flop up and down.
"Do you like the Batman?"
"Yes!" Jason kicked his legs out in excitement and winked up at his father, "He's my favorite!"
"Do you like him better than Superman?" Bruce raised an eyebrow when Jason stuck out his tongue.
"Superman cheats with his powers. Without them Batman would kick his butt!" Jason's grin widen when Bruce chuckled at his response.
"I'll have to tell him that next time. Were you going to bed?"
"I saw Damian," Bruce felt his body tense just a bit but the child in his lap didn't notice. Damian had skipped dinner that night, preferring to eat in his room away from Jason. Although his son had been pacified by Zatanna's assurance that Jason's current predicament could be reversed, they still had to wait until she could properly identify the spell and find or develop a counter-curse. She did warn Damian though that the curse would have been irreversible if Damian was the one who was hit with it. So for however long, Jason was stuck as a five-year-old. "I asked him if he didn't like me because my feet are smelly."
Bruce's lips twitched, "What did he say?"
Jason paused and fiddled with the bat's ears, "He said a lot of big words that I don't know. I think he called me a stupid baby."
Bruce raised his other hand to run his fingers through Jason's thick, wavy hair. "That wasn't very nice of him. I will have a talk with Damian tonight."
Jason shrugged and stared pointedly at his bat toy, "It don't matter. I told him that he speaks like an old man and asked if he needed help up the stairs."
Bruce laughed a deep belly laugh that rattled Jason's body. He was afraid his new dad would be upset but it seemed like he thought Jason was funny. Jason really liked his new dad and the older man Alfred but his new brother Damian wasn't very nice. Jason didn't tell his dad everything that Damian said because he wasn't a snitch but he hoped that the older boy would be nicer to him. He was actually kind of scary.
Jason yawned and relaxed against his Dad. He hugged his brand new bat toy and let his Dad stroke his hair. It felt really nice; no one ever did that for him before.
"Okay, kiddo," Bruce whispered twenty minutes later, "Time for bed." He picked up the nearly unconscious child and carried him to Jason's room. When he tucked the child into bed, Jason reached out to grab his finger with a surprisingly strong grip.
"What if I have a bad dream?" His eyes were glazed with sleep but the child was fighting it.
"My room is just down the hall. The one with the big double doors," Bruce whispered.
"But aren't you the Batman?" The poor child looked confused by the double life aspect. "When do you sleep?"
"Even the Batman needs a night off." Bruce had asked Barbara and her Birds of Prey to take over regular patrol duties for the night. He skimmed over the entire issue and merely explained that there was a problem with Damian and Jason and that he would need a night or two at home. He was, of course, on call if absolutely necessary. Barbara had sighed in exasperation and agreed to his request but stated that Jason needed to stop hurting the other Robins. Bruce was torn between defending Jason and offering a proper explanation for the situation. Instead he turned off the com link.
Bruce pulled the red blankets up to Jason's chin and brushed his lips over the child's forehead.
Bruce really shouldn't have been surprised when he woke the next morning to find Jason had wedged himself under his arm and snuggled to Bruce's side.
Let me know what you think by leaving a review. Do you like chibi Jason?
Tim, Dick, Barbara, and temper tantrums are coming up next!