Ric Grayson had decided he wanted to live his own life— specifically not Dick Grayson’s old life. That guy wasn’t around anymore.
So he must’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed today because his instincts were telling him to go to the graveyard.
Ric doesn’t usually go to graveyards. The only people he visits there are his parents, but they’ve been long dead. He might not remember a big chunk of his life, but somehow the pain of their deaths feels like an old, healed wound.
But that only leaves him with more questions. Why does he want to go to the graveyard so badly? Is this a Ric thing or a Dick thing?
He doesn’t really know, but there’s only one way to find out.
Visiting random graveyards all day was not idle. When he had decided to follow his instincts and go to the graveyard, he didn’t really count on there being so many graveyards in Bludhaven.
He started his little mission at 9:00am and now it was almost 3:30pm. He’s visited at least six different graveyards in and just outside the city, but that feeling hasn’t gone away. He doesn’t even know which graveyard he’s supposed to be going to. Or who’s grave he’s supposed to be visiting.
After searching through his seventh random graveyard for a grave he doesn’t even remember, he takes a seat at a nearby park. This was stupid. He’s stupid. He’s chasing after some feeling that wasn’t even real to begin with. He probably just had too much to drink last night or something.
He’s about to give up and head back to his bike when a very familiar smell reaches his nose. Its food, he knows that much. Graveyard hunting must have made him more tired than he thought because he suddenly has an urge to eat whatever it is he’s smelling.
He follows the aroma just a little down the park path to a snack stand. There, the man behind the counter hands a little girl a chilidog.
That’s what Ric was smelling; chilidogs.
Its not that he’s never smelt chilidogs before, but for some reason, today they’re giving him a weird—almost nostalgic—feeling. He’s not really into to chilidogs, but now seems like the perfect time to have one. It just feels right.
So he goes up to order and he’s surprised that before he’s even thought his order through, his mouth starts saying “two chilidogs please. One to go.”
He doesn’t even want two chilidogs. He doesn’t even like them all that much. He doesn’t know why he ordered two but he’s already ordered it, and, strangely enough, it feels right.
He sits back at the park bench and eats his chilidog alone, the other in a To-Go bag next to him. This feels normal, like a tradition.
Which brings Ric to the conclusion: this must be a Dick Grayson thing.
And even though he’s given up that life, can’t even remember it at all, he knows he can’t stop now. That feeling won’t go away until he finishes whatever the hell he’s doing. If he doesn’t, he knows he’ll just feel guilty about it.
Ric finishes his chilidog and heads back to his bike. There’s another graveyard that he’s now just thought, and honestly probably should have thought of sooner. It might be a long ride, but he’s come too far to just give up on a good mystery.
On his way back to his bike, he passes by a construction site. Its by no means anything significant, but then he sees it. It makes him want to throw up the chilidog he’s just eaten. It doesn’t even make sense. He sees these things all the time and he’s never reacted like this before.
Whatever the reason for the reaction (again, probably a Dick Grayson problem), Ric quickly speed walks away before he vomits his lunch.
He doesn’t risk another glance at the crowbar.
It took a while to get there, and by that time the sun is already on the horizon, but he’s finally here. And he knows, in his gut, this is where he’s supposed to be.
Wayne Manor—or the road leading up to it at least.
He really really doesn’t want to interact with anyone from his life before. They’re always trying to make him remember things he can’t, and when he can’t, they’re just disappointed. They give him those goddamn sad eyes that everyone from Dick Grayson’s life gives him—like he’s some kid who just lost his parents again.
Ric’s done being that. That’s why he left. People who don’t know him never give him that look. They don’t know he can’t remember anything from before, and they don’t remember who he was. Ric can’t disappoint strangers with his presence.
That is why he is parked on the road leading up to the manor. As much more logically and easier it sounds to just drive into the driveway and have the butler let him in, he doesn’t want to see him, or Bruce, or any of them.
Instead, his feet (its almost like they have minds of his own) are taking him down another path. The To-Go chilidog in hand, he slowly winds through the forests and bushes that surround Wayne manor. And even though he is, by all means, an intruder, for some reason this feels right. Ric thinks that even when he was Dick, he used this way to get to the graveyard in the manor’s gardens.
It a bit of a walk to get there, but he finally makes it to the gate that marks the beginning of the Wayne graveyard. He’s a tad breathless so he takes a minute to rest. If he knew he was going to be hiking Wayne manor today, he wouldn’t have eaten that chilidog.
He thinks its about time for a good cigarette, considering how strange this day has been, but when he pulls out the box, he notices there are only two left. Deep down, he knows he has to save those. That doesn’t make much sense to him because there are two so he can have one now and one later, but no, his instincts tell him to save it.
So Ric saves it and climbs the fence, hoping that his instincts will finally tell him who’s grave he’s looking for.
Ric hates Dick—now more than ever. All Ric wanted was to start fresh and to let go of Dick’s life, but somehow Dick’s old, dusty memories pop up again, make him go on a wild goose chase, only to leave him hanging just before Ric finally figures out what Dick’s stupid tradition had been.
Ric had been standing in front of his parent’s grave for around 10 minutes now. He thought maybe it was them he was trying to visit, even if that wound had healed a long time ago. But he knew he’d been lying to himself. When he thought about this parents and their death, he thought about grief and sorrow, but also happiness at the time he had with them, and justice because he knows their killer was caught.
But whoever he was supposed to be visiting, all he could feel was regret and anger. There was no justice or redemption. And that just made him angrier—at Batman but also at himself. He doesn’t even know why.
So he keeps going. He makes sure to read every gravestone. He doesn’t know what name he’s looking for, but he guesses he’ll know it when he sees it.
It feels like he’s been walking forever. The chilidog has long gone cold, he’s really itching for a smoke, and he’s been to so many graveyards today he’s pretty sure he can draw every type of tombstone there is.
That’s when he sees it. The tombstone, the one he’s been looking for all day. It’s a couple years old, and it doesn’t look like its been kept up. The grass is growing long and there are weeds and there are no flowers or anything adorning it, but Ric knows this is the one. It reads:
“Jason Peter Todd
Beloved Son and Ally
August 16, 1995—April 27, 2012”
This is it. He doesn’t know who Jason is (or was, rather), but this is who he’s supposed to be visiting. And, by the looks of it, this guy really needed someone to visit him. No one else seemed to be doing so. Ric puts down the bag of chilidog and pulls out the cigarettes from his pocket.
He’s fumbling in his pocket for a lighter when he realizes he must have left it on the counter in the rush to get out of his apartment. He shakes his head and sighs. This was not how today was supposed to go.
“Excuse me, but this is private property.” A voice bellows from behind him. Its rough and callous and angry.
Ric turns around to find the man standing just a foot behind him. How did he not notice that? “Sorry,” Ric says, “I’m just visiting, um,” he glances back to the grave, “I’m just visiting Jason.”
The man’s face changes from angered to slightly less angered and a bit more shocked. “Dick.” He lets out a breath.
“Actually its— “
“Ric now,” the man quickly interrupts. “Yeah, yeah, sorry. Barbara already told me.”
“Oh,” Ric replies. Because, honestly, what more can he say?
“Listen, D—Ric. What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be living in Bludhaven forgetting about all of us.”
“Don’t know,” Ric shrugs and turns to sit down in front of the grave. “All I know is that I’m supposed to be here with him today.”
Ric and practically hear the man’s eyes roll from behind him. He sits down next to Ric with some distance put between them. Both physically and emotionally. Ric doesn’t know what this guy wants, but he guesses if he’s here to visit Jason the guy couldn’t be all that bad.
“Do you even know what today is?” the man asks.
“No, I mean—today is August 16th.”
“Oh,” Ric replies, and suddenly it all falls into place. “It’s Jason’s birthday today. That’s why I’m here.”
“Yeah.” The man says solemnly, then continues. “What’s in the bag?”
Ric’s almost forgotten about the bag. “It’s a chilidog. Did Jason used to like those? I don’t normally eat them, but today just felt like I needed to.”
The man laughs. “Yeah, they’re Jason’s favorites. It’d be really hilarious if you brought cigarettes too. He loves those.”
Even though the man meant it sarcastically, Ric pulls out his pack. “I only have two and I forgot my lighter.”
The man stares at the pack a little surprised, but then pulls out one of his own and his lighter. He lights his own and then hands the lighter over to Ric. “Man, I am really getting a kick out of this.”
Ric lights one of the cigarettes and then places the last in front of Jason’s grave. “Who was he?”
“Jason was adopted by Bruce Wayne, kinda like you were,” the man answers like he doesn’t want to talk about it. “And then he died.”
“So we were, like, foster brothers or adoptive brothers or something?”
“Yeah sure. Something like that. But we—I mean you and Jason, never really get along too well.”
“You didn’t like him when he first moved in. Thought Bruce was trying to replace you, which he kinda was admittedly. You’d fight a lot before, but eventually its gets slightly better.”
“And then he died,” Ric stated more than asked.
“Yup. And then he died.” The man says bitterly.
“Did it have something to do with a crowbar?” And at that question, the man’s face goes from shocked to angry to a ‘trying-to-keep-your-cool’ face. Ric thinks he may have gone too far and quickly tries to explain. “I saw a crowbar today and I nearly vomited. I don’t usually vomit when I see construction tools, but I don’t know. I just…”
“Yeah” the man picks up after Ric trails off, sounding evermore furious. “He was beaten with a crowbar before he died. And then the building he was in exploded.”
“Was he Jason Todd at the time or was he in the mask?”
“Mostly in the mask, he took your old mantle, but the guy who killed him knew he name by that point.” The man lets out a shaky breath. “He was trying to get at Batman. Thought killing the kid Batman was working with was a good idea. From the way things turned out after his death, the killer wasn’t exactly far from the truth. Or at least that’s what I hear.”
That just makes Ric angrier. Jason was only 16 when he died. Batman should have never let kids get into that life, should have saved the kid before it was too late. Hell, he should’ve saved the kid. Doesn’t matter whether they got along or not, they were both kids in the crazy crime fighting world, which begs the question. “Where was I —I mean Nightwing when he died? How come Nightwing didn’t save him?”
“Nightwing was on a mission with the Teen Titans. I don’t think you found out until, like a month after he died. No one told you.”
At that, Ric feels sick. Just pile that onto the other things he doesn’t want to remember about Dick Grayson’s life. “I’m sorry,” he says, because he doesn’t know what else to say.
“Not your fault. Batman couldn’t even save him. And Batman’s supposed to be able to save everyone.”
The two fall into silence. Ric needs a minute to absorb the information he’s just been given. He had a younger brother, a dead younger brother, who died in the worst way, beaten and then blown up, at the premature age of 16. No wonder he had felt the need to come here so badly.
“Who was he to you?” Ric asks the man next to him, since he seems to know an awful lot about Jason.
“Who was Jason to me?” man asks a bit more nervous than before. “He was, um, we were friends? Yeah, that sounds right. Really good friends.”
“It’s nice to know Jason still has friends that visit him,” Ric states, even though the way the man answered make it seem like he’s lying. “Seems like the Bat and the old guy don’t even keep up the grave, let alone visit him.”
“That’s a bad on Bruce’s part, but give Alfred a pass, man. He’s old and he doesn’t need more heartbreak or a reminder of his dead kid.”
“Still. They should at least visit for his birthday.”
The man chuckles, “You’re still an emotionally righteous little shit, even if you can’t remember anything. If it makes you feel any better, I’m visiting Alfred today so we can celebrate a bit together. Jason doesn’t like making a fuss about his birthday and rather celebrate in peace.”
Ric sighs. “Don’t tell him I was here. I really didn’t want to run into him or Bruce.”
“You sure? I get not wanting to talk to Bruce, but he isn’t here right now and Alfred would be glad to have you.” The man gets up and offers a hand to Ric.
“No thanks, man. I’m good.” Ric declines, “I think I’ll just stay out here with Jason for awhile.” He gives the other man a small smile. “Thanks by the way, for telling me about him. I get why Jason and you were good friends. What’s your name?”
The man looks a bit dumbfounded by that question, and his eyes are darting everywhere but Ric’s. It looks as if he’s forgotten his own name. “My name…” he says, “um, yeah. My name is, uh,…Rason.”
“Rason?” Ric doesn’t exactly believe that.
“Yeah. Um, Rason…Harper. Rason Harper.” Rason Harper replies.
“Alright then, Rason Harper. Thanks for the talk. And for not outing me to Alfred and Bruce. I appreciate it.” Ric doesn’t believe that’s his real name for a second, but if the guy doesn’t want to share, then that’s fine with him. “Oh, and I like the hair. The white streak in the front is really fashion forward.”
Rason snorts, and comments under his breath “Like Mr. Discowing would know what fashion forward looks like.”
“Excuse me?” Ric interjects.
“Nothing, Dickface. You’re a true fashion icon.”
And even though that was an insult, a tease meant for the person Ric was before, somehow it just feels right. This feels like home.
Ric thought Rason was leaving, but Rason lingers around for a bit. He seems like he wants to say something.
“Um, Ric?” Rason calls.
“Jason really appreciates you coming to visit him on his birthday. He doesn’t really have a lot of people that come, so to have his birthday remembered by the guy with amnesia, well that pretty cool.”
“Yeah well,” Ric takes one more drag of his cigarette before replying. “Happy Birthday Jason.”
“Thanks,” Rason answers.
And before Ric could ask about that comment, Rason is already heading back to the manor, in a bit of a quick and nervous manner, he might add. Rason’s a weird guy. He keeps talking about Jason as if he’s alive, as if he is Jason. But what the hell does Ric know? Ric is some guy with amnesia that used to be a superhero, so he guesses that weird just comes with the territory.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there Jaybird,” Dick says spontaneously. Ric doesn’t know where this is coming from, and none of it makes sense, but the part of him that’s still Dick, he seems to know exactly what to say. “Maybe, if I ever get better, I can make things right between us.”
Jason walks back into the manor with a giddy, little smirk on his face.
“Master Jason,” Alfred calls him, “Did you see to the intruder in our garden?”
“Yeah Alfie,” Jason lies. Dick wanted him to. “He’s already gone. Just some guy visiting old graves or whatever.”
“Since it is your birthday, I’m going to pretend you aren’t lying to me and trust that you’ve already handled the situation, young sir.” Alfred answers curtly. Leave it to Alfred to always see through you.
Jason lets out a nervous laugh. “Sorry, Alfred.”
“Of course my boy,” he says as he brings out a small cake with a candle on it. “Happy Birthday Jason.”
Jason felt like a kid again, blowing out candles and still believing in their magical properties. But as childish as it may seem, he made a wish.
He wished that Dick would get his goddamn memory back already. As stupid as it sounded, Jason was ready to have his fashion failure of an older brother back.