This is my first fan fiction, tell me how I did. If you find any grammar or spelling errors feel free to tell me and I'll fix 'em. Constructive criticism is extremely welcome so please review.
i own nothing. I really, REALLY wish I could say i did but cannot. It saddens me deeply but I've come to accept it.
His head was killing him, that was really all he could comprehend as he painstakingly pulled himself upright against the alley wall and waited for the world to still before going any further. Everything was too bright and too loud but dull and distant at the same time and nothing made any sense. And he was cold, so cold.
After a minute, he took a deep breath and began dragging himself to standing. He managed, but he went crashing back down as his legs gave out when his legs gave out almost immediately. Staring blankly at the grimy wall, he lay there where he'd fallen for a while, not exactly conscious but not yet totally lost to the world.
get up! His mind screamed at him. He had to get up! Get away from here before who ever had done this to him got back and finished the job. A hunted feeling came over him and the adrenalin rush of being in danger gave a scant scrap of life to his lead limbs, just enough to stand and take a step forward. Then another. And another. And one more. One foot in front of the other was really all he could manage, one hand still resting against the wall as he stumbled drunkenly out of the alley.
then there was his next problem: he was up, he was out, he could still be in danger... What now?
pay phone, his brain supplied helpfully. If he went left and kept walking, eventually he'd come to a pay phone. Then he could call for help.
but who was he supposed to call? No one would- his brain cut him off.
Bruce. He could call Bruce. Bruce always made everything better. He would help him. He could fix any thing.
and so he set off again, a single shard of the shattered shambles of his mind being thankful that going left meant not having to cross the alley and give up his support.
left, right, left, right. One, two, three, four. Just keep going. Almost there. Time seemed to be dragging through cement He'd stumbled several times already, the pouring rain that made it impossible to see only working against him. His foot caught on something, abruptly shifting his balance sideways and sending him crashing into the wall. A cry burst from his lips when the impact introduced him to yet another injury he hadn't known was there and jarred all the other ones he'd already discovered. But, after a moment of breathing shakily through the pain, he pushed himself up again -like every time before- a forged on.
where was Bruce? He was wearing his uniform (which he'd discovered around fall number three when his mind pulled enough pieces together to realize he was clutching his helpmate in a bruising grip) so that meant he should have a tracer on him and batman should have found him already if he'd been captured. But he wasn't here.
he's never here, a part of him screamed, filing him with a foreign rage and hatred. I'm nothing to him. But another, stronger part that didn't quite seem like it was himself at all -the one that had gotten him this far- reassured him that that wasn't the case. That he'd see that if he made it to the phone booth and called Bruce, that he'd see that he cared.
he listened to the second voice and banished the feelings to the very back of his mind, because why wouldn't Bruce care? He'd saved him from the hell of his childhood, taken him in, given him something more o fight for, and made him apart of his family. Even when not everyone was particularly please with that, Bruce had never kicked him out but told him every day that he was there to stay for as long as he felt like.
he reached the phone with only half of him realizing it and found that someone had left enough money for one call. Probably someone who'd run for shelter when the rain had stopped. The shards of his mind pulled together for him to numbly punch in the number. Listening to the ringing, he slid down the electrical pole that the pay phone was built next to until he was resting on the ground. He drew one of his pistoles from its holsters and felt a lot more safer him it simply in his hand. Pinning the handset against his ear with his shoulder, he checked the clip on impulse. It was empty. That didn't really matter though, the presence of the gun it's self was enough to reassure him and most likely fend of anyone who got bold tonight -they didn't have to know it was empty- and Bruce would be here soon anyway.
this inspection had taken only a second and the thinking a second more on an almost instinctual level, but it still seemed that the ringing had already gone one for one eternity and was nearing a second.
"Wayne manor," the familiar British voice answered finally. "To whom am I speaking?"
"hey Alfred," he said by ways of introduction. "Can I talk to Bruce?"
what ever was said next happened when his consciousness dipped down so he missed it, but Bruce's voice woke him up.
"what do you want, Jason?"
in his extensive tenure as batman, Bruce Wayne could count on his hands the number of times he'd been shocked absolutely speechless. The number had just gone up with the phone call and looking at Alfred's polite but expectant face was only making it worse.
when the phone had rang, Bruce had been all too ready to let the old man answer it. There was a reason he wasn't out on patrol right now, a reason named Red Hood's crazy scheme that included the batman almost getting blown up. But when Alfred had uttered Jason's name, rage had filled him and he'd all but grabbed the phone from his old friend's hand.
"what do you want, Jason." He'd barked, his usual control over his emotions slipping and allowing some to leak into his voice. He didn't care though and was about to continue in a rage when Jason interrupted.
"look, bruce," that stopped him cold. The choice of words wasn't uncommon, he'd heard them from his wayward son thousands of times. Before and after his death. But there was something off about them now. He didn't have time to think on it long before Jason threw him for a whole new loop.
"I'm sorry okay?" Whatever was said after fell on deaf ears and Bruce found himself gaping like a fish and quickly snapped his jaw closed. Jason just apologized, before his death it was a common occurrence -if he believed he had something to apologize for, that is- but now a days, Jason would never. Not even to save his own life. As batman, he was used to expecting the completely unexpected but undeniably ingenious from the Red Hood. But this was a whole different level. This had to be a trap, a plan to draw him out.
"you can ground me later." And now Bruce wasn't sure if he wanted to laugh or cry. Was this what some of his colleges felt like when he half explained a mission?
the question was meant to be internal, but it seemed his brain was only taking messages and it slipped out his lips instead. "what? Ground you?" The answer he received invited a sense of foreboding to settle in his gut.
"yeah, you're obviously pissed. So that means I screwed up again, but I honestly can't remember doing anything wrong but you're gonna ground me anyway. But can you come and pick me up first? I'm cold, I'm exhausted, I have no idea what's going on, and I'm pretty sure I got myself shot up with one hell of a drug. and i still have that freaking term paper to write and it's due in... Like two days."
this wasn't happening. Bruce could only stand there, eyes wide, jaw locked, with the phone straining in his grip. Nostalgia suddenly poured over him and skewed his sense of reality until he almost believed that he was talking with his son. The Jason from before he'd died. The Jason that he'd loved and been loved in return by.
"Bruce?" Jason asked over the line, sounding more than a bit apprehensive, at the same time Alfred called "master Bruce?" And then the spell broke and he had no doubts about what he was going to do next.
"I'll be right there," he said curtly. Then he hung up. He didn't bother asking where the boy was, the computer in the batcave could give him that. He didn't demand what the red hood was planning, because Jason wouldn't pull something like this even with a gun at his head. And he had no idea what was going on. Bruce simply hung up and strode quickly toward his study and the grandfather clock.
"master Bruce," Alfred called again, easily keeping a brisk step exactly two steps behind. "May I ask what the rush is?"
"something's wrong with Jason," the billionaire replied, distress evident. "He sounded off. He was apologizing and taking about being grounded and term papers. He..." The man suddenly stopped and turned to face the old butler with eyes filled with a thousand different emotions. "He sounded exactly like he used to."
to his credit, Alfred's eyes only widened minutely. "And where are you headed at the moment?" Good only Alfred, keeping calm and on track when even the batman could not.
"he asked me to pick him up," Bruce said, resuming his journey. In record time he was dressed in his bat suit and headed towards his car.
"I've already located the payphone the call originated from and sent the coordinates to the batmoblie." Alfred reported.
the batman nodded. "Thank you, Alfred. And call dick. Tell him to get here and that I'll explain when I know."
the butler barely got in his "of course, sir" before the batmoblie was speeding off.
the old man took a deep breath and released it slowly before nodding to himself and heading up stairs to place the call.
when the phone rang, dick was just walking into his hotels room, pizza in hand. "H'lo?" He answered, putting it on speaker phone with more difficultly than he would like to admit. Juggling a large pizza box, a stack of case files, and a computer bag while trying to answer a cell phone was no easy feat.
"master Richard," Alfred responded.
"oh hey Alfred! You don't have to call and check up on us," dick teased, looking up when his younger brother walked into the living room; hair still wet from swimming at the beach. "Tim's fine." He flashed the young hacker a winning smile when the boy scowled playfully at him.
"just barely," Tim said, coming up to the counter where the cell phone rested. "between dick's driving and the take out food and the hotel beds. But it's been fun." Tim had been spending the last two weeks on a road trip with dick after his school was momentarily shut down from the last joker attack had rendered half the building a biological hazard. While the hazmat teams took care if that, all of the students were on break.
"yes while I'm glad to hear your time has been enjoyable," the butler spoke as proper as he always had. "I regret to inform you that master Bruce requests both your presence in Gotham as soon as possible."
that put both of them suddenly on alert, this one on one bonding had been Bruce's idea after all. He wouldn't interrupt unless something was wrong. "What happened?"
on the other end, Alfred gave a suffering sigh. "We're not sure. Master Jason called and master Bruce rushed out soon after instructing me to phone you."
the Wayne brothers' gazes met over the screen, both were thinking the same thing. Of course it was Jason. Ever since he'd come back, the red hood had made it his mission to make everything as hellish as possible for the bats. Sometimes, they almost wished he'd stayed dead. Almost. Jason was still their brother and Bruce's son, regardless of what he was doing right now, dick wasn't sure Bruce would be able to handle burying the same son twice. Once was almost too much; for all of them.
as if reading their minds, even across the vast distance, Alfred spoke again. "Master Bruce seemed quite distressed when he left."
and that did it, if Bruce was even slightly worried, the rest of the world should be absolutely terrified. "We're on our way."
"very good. See you soon." The call dropped dead.
"I wonder what happened," Tim asked softly, still staring at the darkened screen.
"I don't know, Tim," dick admitted in the same tone. After quickly packing up and checking out of their room, they were climbing into dick's car. Tim didn't even bother to change out of his swim trunks. The pizza was eaten on the way.
he was pushing the batmoblie as fast as it would go but it still didn't seem fast enough. This is why the batman hated emotions. They compromised everything and made you act recklessly. They were the reason Jason had died and the reason Bruce had almost perished with him.
the call had come from the slums completely across the city and in the worst part of town, right near crime alley. He was still taking too long to get there. When the computer alerted him he was close to his destination, the only thing he saw was the rain blurred figure of someone decidedly much smaller than Jason slumped against a telephone poll. And he almost kept driving, but then he saw the payphone two feet away. And then he saw the unforgettable red helmet sitting next to him, visible even through the pouring rain.
Bruce couldn't get out of the car fast enough and when the boy looked up he was taken back years in the past. Images of Jason's incredulous expression when he'd been caught red handed in the alley with the tire iron. Jason's determined gaze when he was robin. Jason glaring up at him after a fight. And finally, Jason's peaceful expression as he lay in the coffin.
the last one stayed with him longer, because it was the same face he was looking at. There was some difference, in fact it looked slightly pained, but was so different than the rage marred face he'd grown used to seeing. This face was years younger and only had that defiantly angry spark in his eye that had always been there, though it was dulled to almost none existent.
"sure took your time," Jason said suddenly, ripping Bruce from his thoughts. "But that just might be me,it did seen to take me an hour to just sit down." Bruce didn't respond. Jason sighed. "I guess i should get up then huh?" Not waiting for a reply, one he probably wouldn't get, Jason sowed the pistol in his holster and began trying to haul himself upright to standing. Using the poll behind him, the boy made it almost half way before the world tilted dangerously and his knees gave out and sent him crashing back down to the pavement once again.
"well screw that idea," Jason mumbled. He turned his head, without lifting it -he didn't have the strength, to stare forlornly at the super car parked about ten feet away. Ten feet that might as well have been ten miles through eighteen inches of tar.
meanwhile the batman could only look on with his heart splitting open old wounds on every beat. Then his body was moving off its own accord. Completely numb, he gently slid his arms under the boy's knees and shoulders and lifted him up in his arms. Once he was standing again, Bruce was swept back up in another memory. The last time he'd done this, he'd just finished digging Jason out of the rubble and his son was dead. His breathing hitched and his eyes began to sting as he stared at the boy in his arms.
it was only Jason shifting and letting out a gasping breath that brought the man back to the present and reminded him that while Jason's face was still blood and bruised like it had been that day, he was alive.
carefully Bruce walked to the car and lowered the boy down in the back seat, laying him so that he occupied the entire bench. During the ride back to the cave, Bruce split his time, unevenly, alternately glaring at the road and glancing back at his passenger, Who had slipped into blissful unconsciousness almost as soon as he'd hit the seat and hasn't moved since.
Alfred was waiting for him when he pulled into the cave. Wordlessly, Bruce slipped out of the drivers seat and went around for Jason, lifting him again like before.
"oh my," was all the butler could say as he followed the bat to the intermarry.
laying Jason on the table, the two men set about removing his shirt to look for wounds they knew were there. Once they had the top off, Bruce's stomach clenched. Last week, the red hood had made a move on the last part of the drug market still under the black mask. The move hadn't been subtle either, in any regard. Everyone had known that something was going down, that had been the plan: get everyone in one place and take them all out at once. Unfortunately, batman had heard about it and had shown up as well. And the joker had followed batman, or at least decided that was the most likely place for the bat to be and had paid a visit. Long story short, the warehouse had ended up exploding at the result had been Bruce being benched with injuries; several broken ribs, stab wounds from flying shrapnel, burns, a concussion, and such that had Alfred insisting he stay home a few nights and the rest of the family backing him up. There had been a report that one of the hostages, a little girl about twelve, the joker had brought with him when he 'crashed the party' had said that someone had shielded her from the blast. She'd said that he'd worn a leather jacket and a red helmet. Naturally no one had really believed her and chalked it up to stress and trauma talking, but now he believed it.
Jason's entire torso was covered in burns and lacerations and bruises. They looked like they'd been treated but someone had ripped that bandages off. There was a gash between his hairline and left temple than ran about an inch and a half down his face. Again it appeared as though it had once been stitched but no longer was. It took them almost forty minutes to treat everything; and they found that his wrist needed to be braced as well as evidence a a sever concussion. The blood work to tell wether or not Jason's guess about being drugged was right or not wouldn't come back for a few more hours, by then it would already be tomorrow.
when they were done, they took the boy up to his room and laid him in his own bed. Then with a final look, because neither had quite convinced themselves this was really happening and not just some sick dream, they left him be and headed down to the main living room to wait for dick and Tim.
because heaven knows they wouldn't get any sleep that night.