Chapter 1: Hero of the Day
Dean was not about to admit that he was lost. Never once, on any of the thousand hunts he and his brother, Sam had driven to, had he ever been lost. He took pride in his driving and sense of direction, but for some reason the directions Sam had given him were wrong. Or it could be that he hadn’t been paying much attention. It was at this time that Dean missed the old Thomas guide his dad stored in the car.
In all honesty, John Winchester had never actually used the Thomas Guide. Dean had bought one after the one and only time they had gotten lost on their way to a hunt. Back then, Dean did not like the feeling of not knowing where he was going, and his dad had refused to ask for directions. Dean had talked his dad into buying one. It was one of a handful of times, John Winchester had given into his eldest son’s request.
Over the years, Dean had used the Thomas guide enough times to practically have it memorized, and they had never failed. Unlike Google maps, which failed him tonight. Stupid technology. He glanced over at the passenger seat, and thank Chuck, Sam was asleep, because if he were awake, Dean would have punched him for giving him shitty directions. Instead, he turned the radio up just as the good part of AC/DC’s Thunderstuck came on. The change in volume didn’t faze Sam as he just moved his head and continued to snore.
Dean wondered if his old Thomas guide was still under the driver’s seat. He reached his hand under the seat trying to feel around to see if it was still stashed under there. His eyes barely left the road for a second, when he suddenly looked up...
Dean instinctively turned the wheel and slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting the individual staggering along his lane. Luckily, there was a shoulder big enough to pull the car over.
“What the hell, Dean!” Sam said, groggily. He looked up in time to see the reason for the car’s abrupt stop.
Dean put the car in park, turned the engine off, but kept the headlights on in the direction of the newcomer. He slowly opened the car door not keeping his eyes off the person on the road.
“Dean, what are you doing?”
“Hand me the sawed off from the duffel. I’m going to see what this is.”
Sam quickly reached for the green duffle in the backseat, fishing for the sawed off shotgun already preemptively filled with rock salt shells. He promptly handed it to Dean. Weapon securely in hand, Dean got out of the car, and slowly walked toward the stranger. There was already a chill to the late night air, and Dean could start to feel a mist of rain on his face.
Sam hurriedly grabbed another shotgun and got out of the car, staying put by the passenger side, but within clear shooting range of his target.
This wasn’t the first time the brothers had encountered a weird occurrence on the highway. Five years ago they had purposely been driving down a particular road to catch a Highway ghost, Molly McNamara. Hopefully, whatever they were dealing with right now was not a Highway ghost.
Dean slowly approached the stranger, one palm out in a placating manner, and the other behind his back holding the sawed off. As he got closer he could see that it was a kid around 15 or 16 with pleading eyes and lips moving as if in a silent prayer.
“Kid, are you alright? Where are you headed?”
Upon closer inspection of the young man, Dean noticed the teen was dressed in a raggedy suit and tie and covered head to toe in soil and grass. His hands were bloody, and he looked and moved like he had recently been on the losing end of a fight or possibly a car accident.
“Kid, what’s your name? Can you tell me your name? Were you in an accident?”
Closing his distance to the teen, Dean could now hear what he had been muttering. Bruce.
“Who is Bruce?”
“Bruce, please help me,” the kid muttered as he his legs slowly started to give out.
Dean dropped the shotgun and rushed to catch him, slowly lowering him to the ground.
“Who’s Bruce? Kid, who’s Bruce?” Dean pleaded urgently, lightly shaking the kid to keep him awake.
“My dad,” the injured teen answered, before succumbing to unconsciousness.
“DEAN!” Sam shouted, running toward the teen and his brother. “What did he say?”
“He said, ‘Bruce, please help me,’”
“Who’s Bruce?” Sam asked, picking up the discarded sawed off.
Dean carried the unconscious teen to the car and gingerly placed him the backseat. Sam followed close behind his brother. The limited light they had in the car was enough to show what little color the boy had was now rapidly draining from his face. Dean and Sam could now see the full extent of the kid’s injuries and overall appearance.
Besides the suit being covered in soil, it was also ripped and damp. There was dirt in his hair and face as it caked along the tearstains on his cheeks. His right eye was nearly swollen shut as well as a sunken cheekbone, possibly broken. His hands were bloody all over, most of the damage was at the fingertips. He was having trouble breathing, likely due to broken ribs or a punctured lung. His brow was furrowed indicating that he was in pain. Dean also noticed flash burns along the left side of his face and neck. This was bad.
“Dean, what the hell happened to this kid?”
“I don’t know, but I hope he got a few good licks in.”
“We need to take him to a hospital.”
“There’s no time. CAS! WE NEED YOU! IT’S URGENT!”
Immediately the fluttering sound of wings filled Dean’s ears and relief washed over him at the sight of his friend.
“We found this kid. He needs help. We think he’s been attacked or something. Please, Cas.”
Without further explanation, Cas stretched out his hand and touched the teen’s forehead. A white glowing light illuminated upon contact. Instantly the fractures, bruises, and flash burns were healed. The boy’s furrowed brow relaxed, and the horrible wheezing sound was replaced by calm even breaths of deep sleep.
Dean let out a breath he didn’t even realize he had been holding.
“Thanks, Cas,” he said, putting a hand on the angel’s shoulder.
“The boy is asleep. I’ve healed all of his injuries, including the brain bleed that was slowing occurring a few minutes ago due to the multiple blows to his skull. Adequate rest should suffice for his further recovery.”
“We should get him to the Bunker so he can rest,” Sam suggested.
“Great idea, Cas can you take Sam and the kid right now. I’m going to drive ahead and see if I can figure out where this kid came from. It can’t be that far. He couldn’t have walked for very long in the condition he was in.”
Sam’s brow furrowed at Dean request. While investigating places this late was part of their job description, it didn’t sit well with Sam that Dean would be doing this alone with whatever unknown creature was still out there.
“Go, I’ll be fine,” Dean said confidently, making his way to the driver’s seat before Sam could argue with him. There was no denying the worry in his brother’s face. “I’m just going to backtrack the kid’s steps. I’ll call if there’s any trouble.”
Dean watched as Cas, Sam and the teen disappeared at the sound of wings. He started the car and pulled out onto the deserted highway. He wasn’t sure what he would find, but for the kid’s sake he had hoped it would be something to bring the kid resolution. A monster he could deal with swiftly and efficiently. It needed to be found and put down for the damage it had done to that kid.
He drove for miles, slowly scoping out the passenger side of the highway. There wasn’t much to go by, no city lights, no residential property, nothing. It did not yield anything but some thick forest. Up a little further Dean passed a city sign:
Now Entering Gotham City
He glanced at the odometer and discovered he had driven 12 miles.
Twelve miles! There is no way that kid could have walked 12 miles.
The next sign is what made his stomach drop and reflexively slam on the brakes.
GOTHAM CITY CEMETERY
“Son of a bitch.”
Dean parked the Impala on the shoulder of the highway near a fenced part of the property. There was a gap in the fence and he would bet his five favorite cassette tapes that is where the kid got out of the cemetery and onto the highway. He reached for the duffle with his sawed off inside and slung it over his shoulder. Flashlight in hand, Dean entered the property through the gap. Sure enough, he could see fresh tracks, so he followed them.
He wasn’t a stranger to walking into a cemetery at night. He and Sam did it all the time when they had to find a ghost’s remains to salt and burn. While he didn’t like to do this sort of thing by himself, most cases called for it.
With the flashlight lighting his path and a trained ear for any movement, Dean hoped he would find his destination soon. He continued to follow the tracks until they lead him to an elaborate statue of a praying angel. Below it was a headstone that read: JASON PETER TODD. In front of the headstone was freshly disturbed earth not done by any shovel or backhoe, and certainly not done with any care. There was simply a small haphazard hole as if someone desperately dug themselves out of their own grave. A bloody, dirty belt with a broken buckle lay discarded in the pile of earth. Dean’s stomach dropped a second time.
“SON OF BITCH!!”
Dean immediately pulled out his phone and called Sam.
“We have a problem.” Dean said urgently, making his way back to the Impala.
“What happened, what did you find?”
“I traced the kid’s steps to Gotham City Cemetery. His name is Jason Todd, he’s 16 and he died six months ago. The kid freakin’ dug himself out of his own grave with nothing but his hands and his belt!”
“That makes better sense,” Sam replied, more to himself than to Dean.
“What? So not the response I was expecting,” Dean replied.
“Sorry, everything you’re saying makes sense now. I’ve been checking the National Missing and Unidentified Persons database since we got here, and I couldn’t find anything. Now that we know he was dead, that gives us something to go on.”
“Dean? Are you still there?”
“Yeah, Hey Sam, remember what happened in Sioux Falls?” Dean asked.
“Zombies. Do you think it’s the same thing?”
“It could be. Where is the kid now?” Dean asked, as he made it to the car, shoving his duffle, shotgun and flashlight in the trunk.
“In one of the private rooms asleep.”
“Do you remember how many days passed until they turned?”
“A week, I think,” Sam speculated.
“Don’t let the kid out of your sight. Keep him in that room. I’m on my way back.” Dean said, as he started the car. Things just got whole lot more complicated.
Chapter 2: No Leaf Clover
The next morning Sam continued to do research on everything he could find about Jason Todd. There were very few news articles, one linking him to Bruce Wayne, of Wayne Enterprises. The article was about 4 years old and featured the story of the rich, young bachelor adopting an 11 year old boy from Crime Alley. There were no pictures of Jason, just a side shot of a young boy with a shock of black hair, his face purposely obscured from public view.
The other article was the news of his death. Jason had been among the victims of a violent explosion while abroad participating in a refugee medical aid program in Qurac.
Further research lead Sam to a juvenile criminal record, nothing too serious – petty thief, vandalism, pan handling. In addition to the adoption records, he also found birth records, school records, a death certificate and finally an autopsy report.
Over the years, Sam had read his fair share of autopsy reports. There had always been the occasional error, most common was wrongful cause of death, but this one didn’t sit right. It reeked of forgery. It was hard for Sam to believe that the reason for all of Jason’s extensive injuries were only from an explosion. It was too easy to put down cause of death as, “smoke inhalation from explosive device”.
Sam’s thoughts were interrupted as Cas walked into the War Room from the sleeping quarters.
“Still sleeping. The healing of all his injuries took a toll on his body. The brain injury in particular was quite extensive.”
“Cas, if you had to speculate what happened to Jason just from the injuries that you healed, what would you say happened to him?”
“His physical and internal injuries suggest that he had been involved in a violent altercation. I’m certain a heavy object was also used to inflict further damage.” Cas answered, his brow furrowing in confusion. “The flash burns suggest an incendiary device was also used, but that seems excessive.”
“Yes, it does. Thanks, Cas.”
“Was that not the answer you were hoping for? You looked troubled, Sam, or as Dean would say, ‘constipated’.”
“What? No, I’m fine, Cas. This whole thing is just hinky.”
Sam further pondered the simple observation from the angel. This confirmed a theory that had been floating in his head since first seeing Jason and then reading the coroner’s report. Someone had purposely covered up this incident, and they would have succeeded, had Jason not crawled out of his grave. Now to figure out why his death needed to be covered up.
The creaky sound of the main door opening, snapped Sam out of his thoughts. Dean was back and carrying a bag from the local fast food place.
“How’s the kid? Any sign of him turning into a zombie?”
“Nothing yet. He’s still asleep.”
“Did you find anything else about him?” Dean asked, shoving a handful of fries in his mouth and walking toward Sam.
“Very little, but get this, he’s Bruce Wayne’s kid.” Sam answered, moving his laptop in Dean’s line of sight.
“Bruce Wayne. Why does that name sound familiar?” Dean questioned, sitting down and taking a bite out his burger.
“Billionaire, CEO of Wayne Enterprises, he practically owns Gotham City.”
“R’ght,” Dean swallowed. “Any news of other people…Thrillering out of their graves?”
“No, but honestly, I don’t think Jason’s a zombie.”
“Well, he’s something. People don’t just randomly resurrect and climb out of their grave.”
“You did,” Sam and Cas said, simultaneously.
“Technically, your resurrection wasn’t random. You were chosen.” Cas clarified.
“Right, because I had work to do,” Dean retorted, glaring at both of them.
“If you don’t need me here, I’ll go back to the cemetery to make sure there aren’t any more cases of…escapes.” Cas offered, the sound of wings signaling his departure.
The brothers sat in silence until the sudden sounds of screaming filtered into the War Room.
“Crap, he’s turning!” Dean shouted.
The brothers rushed to find weapons before heading into Jason’s room.
What they found surprised them, Jason was still in bed. Tangled in his sheets, eyes still closed, flailing and gasping for air.
“BRUCE! HELP ME! I CAN’T GET OUT! DAD!”
Jason was having one hell of a nightmare. From the looks of things he was reliving the past 12 hours.
“Jason,” Sam called, lightly touching Jason’s shoulder.
The kid instinctively punched the air nearly making contact with Sam’s nose. Sam reflexively moved out of the way. He quickly decided to untangle Jason from his sheets before he fell out of the bed.
“Jason!” Dean shouted, hesitant at first to touch the teen.
The young man kept flailing and gasping for air. Sam successfully untangled the sheets from around Jason’s legs. He stopped struggling once his feet were free, but his sleep was still fitful. Sam honestly had no idea what to do.
It was then that Sam saw Dean in his element. Not caring if he would get punched or kicked, Dean grabbed Jason’s wrists, crossing them and pinning them to his sides. He watched as his older brother tried to quiet the teen and coax him to open his eyes. But nothing was working to wake Jason up.
Dean changed his position laying down and wrapped his arms around Jason into a reverse hug. Securing the boy’s wrists in his hands, he quietly pleaded with the kid. “Jason, listen to me. You have to wake up.”
“No, no, no,” Jason whimpered.
Sam had remembered all those times when he was little and he had frantically woken up from a nightmare. He’d find Dean in his bed comforting him, just like he was doing right now with Jason.
“Open your eyes, Jason. You’re safe. You made it out.” Dean whispered into his ear. “Open your eyes, kid.”
At his words the boy stilled and his breathing evened out. Dean gently let go of Jason and walked to stand next to Sam at the foot of the bed.
“Bruce?” Jason whispered, slowly opening his eyes.
Chapter 3: Enter Sandman
It’s a rare clear day in Gotham. The sun is shining, a cool breeze blows ruffling through Jason’s hair and best of all, Bruce has the day off. They are outside on the Manor grounds, the front garden with the long stretch of grass and no trees. It’s perfect weather and place to throw around a football.
“Go long, Jason!” Bruce shouts, as he throws the ball.
Jason eyes the throw and he starts to run. He’s making good speed, the football arcs superbly, then down, down, and lands gracefully in Jason’s outstretched hands.
“Yes, I caught it!” Jason laughs, throwing the ball back to Bruce.
They toss the ball around for what feels like hours, until the sun starts to descend. They head inside and are greeted by the smell of Alfred’s delicious pot roast and mouth-watering chocolate chip cookies, both Jason’s favorite.
Later he and Bruce are sitting in the TV room getting ready to watch a movie. It’s a rare moment where they are not going on patrol and Bruce decides to stay home. Jason gives his dad a rare smile and falls asleep leaning on Bruce’s shoulder.
They are now in the Cave, messing around. Bruce is in a good mood and they are now sparing. Jason is laughing and so is Bruce. He’s also letting Jason win. Bruce soon gets the upper hand, moves out of the way of an attack and Jason stumbles to the ground. Jason can’t stop laughing.
Jason looks up off the ground, but he’s not in the cave anymore. Bruce is nowhere to be found, and Jason is in his Robin uniform. Instantly, the smell of dust hits his nose and he can feel the cold concrete on his hands as he attempts to right himself off the floor. It’s then that he hears it, the chilling, high pitched cackle of the Joker. The laugh fills him with dread and makes his stomach clench.
“Just want you to know, Birdboy, this is going to hurt you, a lot more than it’s gonna hurt me.”
The first swipe of the crowbar strikes his cheek, and it feels like his eye might explode. Next hit is along his back, then his chest knocking the wind out of him. Then the side of his head, blurring his vision, he’s now seeing stars. The hits keep coming and the cackling never stops. He can’t breathe now and everything goes dark.
He comes to and tries to get up, but he hits his head on a hard surface above him. It’s dark, he feels around, and his heart sinks when he realizes he’s in a coffin. He struggles and starts to panic. He chest begins to tighten as he starts to run out of air. He yells for Bruce, but he isn’t coming. No one is coming for him.
He finally punches through the wood of the coffin, but now dirt is closing in, suffocating him and pulling him down. He can’t break free. Nooo!
“BRUCE! HELP ME! I CAN’T GET OUT! DAD!”
He can hear his name, but it’s far away, like someone is saying it underwater. He keeps punching and digging until he breaks through the surface. Dirt continues to get in his mouth and eyes.
There it is again, clearer, but still faraway. The voice is familiar to him and yet it’s not. It’s deep and gravely, like Batman but the timbre is slightly different.
“Jason, listen to me. You have to wake up!”
He eventually gains enough leverage to clear the surface and out of the hole. Every one of his muscles screams in agony. He slowly stands to his feet on shaky legs.
Jason is finally able to take in his surroundings and a new wave of fear overwhelms him. He’s in a graveyard. His chest tightens and he suddenly can’t move.
“No. no. no.”
“Open your eyes, Jason. You’re safe. You made it out. Open your eyes, kid.”
It was Bruce. It had to be. He came.
Jason looked around taking in his surroundings. He rapidly shifted his gaze from the door to the two strangers standing at the foot of the bed. Searching for an opening to escape, Jason looked for any kind of weakness he could exploit. The silence was broken before he could contemplate making a run for it.
“I’m Sam Winchester, this is my brother Dean.” The taller one explained, his hand out in a placating manner. “Jason, you’re safe now.”
Jason’s eyes widen and his fists clenched the sheets at the sound of his name.
“Where am I? How…how do you know my name?” Jason croaked, his voice hoarse from screaming.
“We uh…we um…” Sam faltered, pleadingly looking at his brother for help.
“We found you wandering down a highway outside Gotham city and backtracked your steps to a cemetery.” Dean said bluntly. “We followed the tracks to a messed-up grave with a headstone that had your name on it.”
Jason’s eyes were unfocused staring at the sheets in front of him. His vision started to blur with unshed tears as everything started hitting him at once. The realization that what he had just experienced wasn’t just a nightmare. It had actually happened. Waking up in a dark coffin, using his hands and belt to break through the wood, nearly running out of air, walking for miles to be found; it was all true. His chest was suddenly starting to get tight making it difficult to catch his breath. He closed his eyes to focus on his breathing. Swallowing the lump in his throat, Jason reined in the tears. He was not going to cry like a baby in front of these strangers. But it was too late, he could already feel the wetness on his cheeks. Dammit!
“Can you tell us what happened to you?” Sam asked.
Jason shook his head. He didn’t even know where to begin, and there was so much he couldn’t tell them. For one, it would reveal his and Bruce’s secret identity. He was already ashamed of what he did, defying Bruce multiple times to search for his birth mother. Secondly, he was embarrassed for opening himself up to her and in return getting betrayed to The Joker. How could he be so stupid and gullible to think that a woman, whom he had never met, would automatically love him just because a piece of paper said that he was her son? No, they didn’t need to know what happened to him, and these civilians were no match for the Joker.
“We can help put down the son of a bitch that ganked you.” Dean offered.
“You guys can’t help me.” Jason said softly, looking anywhere but at Sam and Dean.
“When you’re ready to tell us, we’ll listen. I think your stomach is saying something else. Let’s start by getting you something to eat.” Dean chuckled, helping Jason out of bed and leading the way to the kitchen.
Once they entered the kitchen, Sam reached into the pantry pulling out every box of cereal they owned.
Both Dean and Jason made a face at the selection. While Jason was used to Dick’s sugary cereals at the Manor, much to Alfred’s dismay, this particular selection looked like each one tasted like cardboard with dried fruit bits.
“No one eats that crap, but you, Sam. How about scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes!” Dean suggested, holding up a box of instant pancake mix.
“Better, “Jason answered. “So, is this place some kind of secret Bunker?”
“Well…uh…” Sam stammered, when the flutter of wings and sudden appearance of a man in trench coat broke the silence.
The man addressed Sam and Dean. “No other signs of grave disturbances at the cemetery.”
Upon seeing the stranger, Jason backflipped from his chair, and crotched into a fighting stance brandishing the nearest weapon he could find, a butter knife.
“WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?” Jason shouted, pointing his knife defensively at the intruder.
Dean immediately rushed to stand between Jason and Cas. “Whoa, whoa, easy kid,” he assured Jason. “This is Cas, he’s a friend.”
“I am an angel of the Lord,” Cas clarified.
“Jason, he’s cool. Put down the knife.” Dean insisted.
Jason righted himself out of his fighting stance and slowly put the knife back on the table. He kept eyeing Cas, trying to decide if he believed that the man in front of him was an actual angel.
“Dean, I think we need to give him “The Talk,” Sam suggested.
“Bruce already gave me the Talk,” Jason snapped.
Dean smirked. “Not that kind of talk, kid.”
Once the eggs, bacon and pancakes were made, Dean and Sam filled Jason in on what they called “the family business”, and how it was about saving people, and hunting things. They both also filled him in on the Men of Letters, the bunker and how they were “legacies”. Hearing that actual monsters exist wasn’t all that disturbing to him. The prospect of these creatures sparked his interest enough to ask Sam questions of their lore and how to hunt them. The only thing that made Jason uncomfortable was hearing that Cas had been the one that had healed him on the highway.
Dean looked at Jason skeptically. “You don’t seem at all freaked out at the existence of vampires, werewolves, demons, or angels.” He gestured toward Cas.
Jason laughed. If only they had known the weirdness he had encountered on a nightly basis as Robin.
“You’d be surprised at the crazy shit I’ve seen in Gotham. There’s this vill- guy that lives in the sewers called, ‘Killer Croc’ who actually looks like a human crocodile. A lady that can manipulate plants with her mind called Poison Ivy. Oh, and then there’s Clayface. He can shift into anyone he wants to…because he’s made of clay. Like I said, crazy shit.”
“So, then the stories of The Batman are true?” Dean inquired.
Jason nodded. He didn’t really want to talk about Batman. It was too risky letting something slip, still he had practice at being vague when it came to associating himself with the Dark Knight.
Dean continued this line of questioning. “Did you ever meet him?”
“Dude, not everyone who lives in Gotham meets Batman.” Sam scoffed.
At this Jason smiled, and answered Dean’s question. “Only when I boosted his tires.”
The entire room filled with laughter.
“No way, you lifted the tires off of Batman’s ride?” Dean asked, shaking his head. “What did he do when he found you?”
Jason paused in thought before answering. It was his favorite story to share. He took pride in being the one and only person to steal the Batmobile’s tires. “He made me put all four tires back on by myself, and then he bought me dinner.”
An hour later, Jason’s stomach was full, and he was sleepy again. He was fighting it hard, but Dean insisted he go back to bed. The bravado Jason put up whenever he was with strangers was slightly diminishing at the thought of sleep. He didn’t want to have another nightmare.
“We’ll be right down the hall. We’re not going anywhere.” Sam reassured, closing the door behind him.
Soon after Sam had shut the door, Jason immediately rushed to the desk, turned on the lamp and cracked open the door. The room had no windows and closing the door without any lights plunged him into complete darkness reminding him too much of waking up in that coffin. He was already starting to feel a tightness in his chest when Sam shut the door, but he wasn’t going to admit that he was now scared of the dark and enclosed spaces. He was Robin after all, and Robin doesn’t get scared.
Jason could hear the low murmur of Dean and Sam’s voices from outside his room. He couldn’t exactly hear what they were saying, but their voices were comforting. He laid there with his head on the pillow still fighting sleep. He knew he needed sleep. His body was exhausted and his eyes were drooping, but sleep brought back evil cackles, darkness, and tight spaces.
His mind started to drift to the Manor and his heart ached at how much he missed everyone there, Bruce, Alfred, and even Dick. Jason should have taken Dick up on his offer and phoned him, even if it was just to talk and bitch about Bruce. He missed Alfred’s cookies and teatime after school. He missed the Manor’s library and way the sun would shine through the big bay window overlooking the gardens. He missed his bed and the small collection of books in his room. The last book he started was The Outsiders and he still had not even finished it.
He also wanted to talk to Bruce, just to hear his voice. Hear the deep gravel of his mentor say his name. Instantly, Jason’s heart clenched at the thought of hearing something else from Bruce, resentment at taking him in, disappointment at disobeying orders and anger at getting himself killed. He was positive Dick had never defied Bruce’s orders and gotten himself killed. Golden Boy did everything right. The legacy of Dick Grayson was a hard path to follow, and Bruce reminded him every time they were out on patrol.
“I’m sorry, Bruce. I’m so sorry.”
Jason fell asleep.
Chapter 4: Unforgiven
“Dude, that kid can eat more than you, Dean!” Sam said, walking into the War Room.
“I know, we might need to rethink our food budget.”
“We don’t have a food budget.”
“I know, it just felt like something grown-ups would say,” Dean snorted.
“Dean, I think we should contact Bruce Wayne about Jason?”
Dean quirked an eyebrow at the sudden change in the conversation. “You’re serious…and say what? ‘Hey, Mr. Wayne, the son you buried six months ago is now alive and well and sleeping in our Bunker.’ He’d either hang up or call the Feds accusing us of extortion or something.”
“He needs to know his kid is alive, Dean,” Sam countered. “Maybe he can also give some insight on why his son’s autopsy report was forged.”
“Forged? I thought he died in an explosion.”
“The explosion couldn’t have caused all his other injuries,” Sam argued. “Cas said his injuries were caused by repeated hits from a heavy object. The explosion was likely to cover up the evidence.”
“That seems excessive.”
“Cas said that too.”
“What kind of heavy object are we talking about?” Dean asked.
Sam shrugged. “I don’t know, a bat, a lead pipe, a crowbar?”
“Okay stop. Let’s just give the kid time to adjust to being…alive before we do anything rash.”
Dean certainly helped Jason get back to living as he finally had someone to share in his food tastes and interests without judgement. Sam scoffed at the poor food choices, but every day he could see that Jason was smiling more and more.
A large portion of the Bunker’s lore textbooks would also find themselves in Jason’s room. Sam didn’t mind it as long as they weren’t books on spells and rituals. He also found a stash of fantasy novels in one of the other private rooms and asked Jason if he wanted them. Jason lit up at the sight of all the books Sam offered him.
Sam would mostly find Jason with Dean either in the garage washing the cars or tinkering with them. He even let Jason help him change Baby’s oil. When they weren’t in the garage, they were holed up in Dean’s room eating junk food and watching movies. Dean made it a point to find all the movies Jason had missed while he was gone so he could catch up. He would also use this time to influence his tastes on the teen with other movies he considered classics like ‘The Lost Boys’.
After a week of Jason being at the Bunker, Sam again, approached Dean about contacting Bruce Wayne. He found it worrisome that Jason had not once mentioned wanting to see his dad. Dean, on the other hand, was not worried. He refused to push Jason into doing something he didn’t feel ready to do. Sam disagreed. Family was important. He felt very strongly that Bruce needed to know that his son was alive.
“Jason, don’t you think we should contact Bruce and let him know that you’re back?” Sam suggested, approaching Jason and Dean at the table in the War Room.
Jason stared at both of them frantically. “Are you kicking me out?”
“No!” Sam and Dean exclaimed.
“Jay, no one is kicking you out,” Dean glared at Sam. “You can stay here as long as you want.”
“We are not kicking you out,” Sam continued. “I just think he’d like to see you.”
Jason stared at Sam with a cold eyes. “No.”
“Why not?” Sam pried.
“Sam, enough.” Dean growled, shaking his head.
“I have my reasons. Will you drop it?” Jason snapped, keeping his head down not looking at Sam or Dean.
Sam moved to the table, taking a seat across from the teen. He spoke softly. “Jason, he’s your dad. He deserves to know that you’re alive.”
Jason’s head jerked up and he stood to his full height so fast his chair clattered to the ground. His cheeks flushed in anger. “FUCK OFF, SASQUATCH, I SAID NO!”
Jason kicked the chair and stormed off to his room.
“Nice going, Sasquatch.” Dean sneered, leaving Sam alone in the War Room.
Jason stewed in his room pacing ready to hit something. The room was sparsely furnished, there was nothing to throw or break to help release the tension. He settled for kicking the desk leg. Sam had no right to tell him what he needed to do. Everyone was always telling him what to do, Bruce, Dick, Barbara. No one ever listened or cared about his needs or what he wanted.
Too many thoughts were warring in his mind for Jason to focus on what he really wanted to do. He did miss Bruce, and part of him wanted to go home. He wanted to be back in the familiar surroundings of the Manor. The other part of him was scared shitless of being turned away. Bruce had every right to not forgive him. He disobeyed orders and that is exactly what got him killed.
He never was the good solider that Bruce had hoped he’d be, like Dick. Instead, he rebelled, he defied, and he fought back.
Jason was starting to get nervous that he had overstayed his welcome with the Winchesters. He knew his days at the Bunker were numbered. It was only a matter of time before they would get tired of him like everyone else and get rid of him. He wondered if he should do a preemptive strike and just leave while they slept.
A knock on his door interrupted his thoughts.
“I don’t want to talk. I said to drop it!” Jason shouted to the door.
“It’s just me, kid.”
Jason was relieved it wasn’t Sam, still he wasn’t sure he felt like talking. He crossed the room, opened the door and sat back down on his bed.
“I don’t want to see Bruce.”
Dean put his hands up. “I’m not going to make you.”
“Is Sam always that pushy and nosy?”
“Only when it comes to keeping families together. Don’t be too hard on him. He’s gets that from our Dad.”
“What did you get from your Dad?” Jason asked before he could stop himself. He really liked Dean, and now he was afraid that he just pissed him off. “Sorry, you don’t have to answer.”
Dean smirked and sat down on the desk chair. “How to follow orders and be a good soldier. He was a Marine, and when our mom was killed by a demon, he wasn’t our dad anymore. He was a drill sergeant with a mission and he needed soldiers.”
“And were you a good soldier?”
“For the most part, but there were definitely times when orders needed to be questioned, or defied. I paid for it of course, but I don’t regret it. The only time I regret disobeying had been the one time I had put Sam in danger. I was nine and maybe that much responsibility shouldn’t have been put on me, but I had been given an order and I ignored it. Until the day he died he never let me forget it.”
Jason was all too familiar with following orders and living up to impossible expectations. Bruce never let Jason forget anything and he was particularly good at reminding Jason that he wasn’t Dick. As Robin, Jason doubted he would ever be good enough for Batman. He was either too rash, hit too hard or acted too fast. As Jason, he doubted he would ever be a good enough son for Bruce. He was too argumentative, too brash and too much of a street rat.
“Why was he so hard on you?”
“I think it’s the only way he knew how to be,” Dean continued. “My grandfather died when my dad was five, so he didn’t really know how to be a dad, and when mom died, he was alone with a baby and a 4 year old.”
Jason took a nervous breath. “Did he constantly compare you to Sam?”
“No, but I’m sure he wished Sam was more like me. Sam fought the soldier thing. He went along with it in the beginning, but once he got to a certain age…” Dean recalled. “…he wanted out. It’s the one reason he went off to Stanford. I was mad at him for leaving, but I understood why he left. The hunting life is not for everyone, but it’s our family business. It’s why I needed him to come back.”
“I don’t want to go back to Bruce…not yet anyway. Besides, he doesn’t need me. He has Dick.”
Dean quirked an eyebrow, “Dick?”
“Dick Grayson, he’s sort of my brother.”
“Bruce couldn’t officially adopt him, so he became his ‘ward’ or something like that? Anyway, Dick got mad that he was able to adopt me first and not him.” Jason shrugged. “I guess he feels I replaced him.”
“Is he nice to you?”
“Yeah, he gave me his number and told me to call him whenever I wanted to talk, because he knew that Bruce wasn’t ‘the talking type’. I never did call him, and eventually he stopped coming to see us at the Manor.”
Dean nodded. “Does Bruce compare you to Dick?”
Jason sighed. “All the time. He never lets me forget that I’m not him.”
“Well that sucks. I haven’t known you for that long, but I think you’re great. You can change a car’s oil like a pro. You can understand and retain everything you read from ancient Lore textbooks. You know all the lines to Empire Strikes back, that’s impressive, by the way.”
Jason shook his head. “I’m nothing but a street rat from Crime Alley.”
Dean got up from the chair, sat on the bed next to Jason, and put his arm around him. “You’re more than that, Jason. It’s about time you believed it.”
Jason wondered if this is what it felt like to have a big brother. Someone who’d listen to you when you’re not really sure what to say. Someone who’d tell you the hard stuff that you don’t necessarily want to hear, but need to hear. Someone who’d take care of you and protect you. Someone who’d put their arm around you and tell you that you were more than the street rat you believed yourself to be.
It was at this moment that Jason was a little jealous of Sam. He was so lucky to have Dean for a big brother. Jason didn’t want to admit it out loud, but maybe Sam was right. Maybe Bruce did deserve to know that his son is alive, but not right now. Right now, Jason wasn’t ready to return to his old life. He wasn’t ready to face the disappoint in his Dad’s face, or strong enough to face the rejection of another parent.
Dean patted his back awkwardly. “Chick flick moment is over. Let’s go get some pie.”
Jason rubbed his eyes and laughed following Dean out the door.
Three weeks went by and Sam didn’t mention Bruce again. Jason had kept his distance from him for a week leaving things between them extremely awkward. At first, Dean didn’t even try to play peacemaker, instead choosing to rub the teen’s animosity in Sam’s face. However, several days after Dean had talked to Jason, he stayed in the same room long enough for Sam to apologize to him for meddling.
Sam continued his research into the events leading up to Jason’s death. He mostly waited at night and kept to his room away from prying eyes. He started by first looking into all refugee medical aid programs that went to Qurac. There was a small article that featured a story of a Dr. Shelia Haywood of Gotham City, who selflessly sold all her possessions and moved overseas to provide medical treatment to refugees in various countries including Qurac.
Qurac was known for being a country in constant political unrest. It wasn't surprising that there were numerous outreach programs providing aid to displaced citizens. The surprising part was Sam could not find a link between Jason's school and any of the charitable groups that went to Qurac. Gotham Academy did have an overseas student aid program available only to Senior students. Not to mention, Jason was a Freshman when he died.
Sam still couldn’t find any reason why Jason would have been in Qurac.
He kept going back to the name, Haywood. He had come across the name a while back, but he couldn’t remember where he had seen it. He decided to look further into her history and it wasn’t good. She had fled Gotham City 15 years ago when her medical license was suspended following a botched surgery. She had fled the country before the malpractice suit had gone to trial.
It wasn’t until he found her death certificate with the place and date of death the exact same as Jason, April 27, that results started to turn in Sam’s favor. Her autopsy report had also listed her cause of death as “smoke inhalation from an explosive device”. The small link to Jason sparked Sam’s memory of where he had last seen her name, Jason’s original birth certificate. Sam scrambled on his computer to bring up the document. On the birth certificate, typed in the box under “mother’s name” was Shelia Haywood. Finally, he found the connection, Sheila Haywood was Jason’s birth mother.
Sam’s thoughts raced as he began to theorize why Jason might have been in Qurac that day. He wondered if the reason Jason went overseas had been to meet his birth mother? Had he decided to go meet her against Bruce’s wishes? Had something gone horribly wrong that caused both his and Shelia’s death? Is this why Jason didn’t want to go home, because he somehow felt responsible for her death and can’t face Bruce? Does he blame himself for his own death?
The questions kept rolling around in Sam’s head and they wouldn’t stop. He felt like such an asshole for thinking Jason should contact Bruce. Worst of all, he was still strongly convinced the billionaire had covered up the details surrounding his son’s death. He just couldn’t figure out why yet.
Sam slammed his laptop shut in frustration and rubbed his eyes. “Fuck!”
“You alright, Sammy?” Dean asked, leaning against the door jamb.
“No, I’m not, Dean. I need to show to you something. Close the door.”
Dean made a face and turned to leave. “You know, I’m good.”
“Grow up, it’s about Jason.”
Sam reluctantly told Dean what he had been doing the last three weeks since the confrontation with Jason. He repeated in detail everything he had found leading up to Jason’s death. Jason’s connection to Shelia Haywood and possibly why he was in Qurac. As well as why Jason doesn’t want to go home.
Dean rubbed his face harshly and shook his head. “Fuck, Sam. We can’t tell Jason we know all this. The kid will get pissed and take off.”
“I know. What do you want to do, Dean?”
“Until he tells us he wants to go back to Gotham, the kid stays. He’s family now.”
Chapter 5: I, Disappear
It had been two months since Jason was first brought to the Bunker. In that time he had met an angel of the Lord and two of the best hunters in America. It was a rough start in the beginning, but he was starting to feel at home here in the Bunker with Sam and Dean.
There had been no further mention of Bruce or any coaxing to call to see him. Jason had been tempted many times to check the internet of any news on Gotham, but thought better of it. Besides, Sam and Dean were keeping him plenty busy to be bothered with checking the news in his old hometown.
They wouldn’t let him go on hunts with them. Dean was adamant that Jason was too young and inexperienced to go on the road hunting monsters. If they only knew that he had been trained in hand to hand combat by the best and could probably throw a knife better than anyone. His Robin skills were still a secret he had been keeping from them, though they would prove useful on a hunt. He wasn’t sure why he was still keeping Bruce’s secret. Maybe because if he were truthful they likely wouldn’t believe him, or maybe deep down it was out of respect for Bruce.
Sam proposed a compromise, Jason would stay in Lebanon at the Bunker and be their “Lore go-to-person”. He would also attend the local high school to finish his schooling. Jason scoffed at this at first, no way was he going back to high school. However, those were the terms of being the Winchesters “Lore go-to person”. Jason relented as he secretly loved learning about monsters and how to get rid of them. During the day, Jason Campbell went to Lebanon High School and at night Jason Todd stayed at the Bunker reading ancient texts. It was also agreed that Cas would check in on him when the boys were gone.
Christmas was coming in just a few short weeks and Jason started to get homesick again. Alfred always did a great job decorating the Manor despite the Scrooge that Bruce was about the holidays. The whole month of December the Manor smelled like gingerbread, cinnamon rolls, and sugar cookies. It was the only time of year Alfred made all three types of treats. Jason always liked helping him bake.
Every Christmas since Jason had lived with Bruce, Alfred would buy Jason an ornament. It was a tradition he had started with Bruce when he was eight. Dick had also been part of the ornament tradition every year since his first Christmas with them. Last year’s ornament had been a Robin with a Santa hat.
Jason looked around the Bunker. He wondered if there were any Christmas decorations stashed away somewhere. There were many old boxes in the storage area, but none labeled Christmas. He went to the kitchen to see if there were any ingredients to make cookies. Nothing but an old pizza box with a half-eaten slice still in there. He needed to do some serious shopping.
The next day the creaky front door opened and a strangled shout filled the War Room.
“Jason! A little help here!”
It was Dean. Jason heart raced at the muffled shout. He hoped no one was injured. He could do a good field dressing but not as good as Alfred. What he saw surprised him. It was both Sam and Dean carrying a huge Christmas tree. Jason rushed over to hold the door open.
The familiar smell of the Nobel Fir filled Jason’s nose as Sam and Dean passed him carrying the tree inside. The scent made his heart ache for Christmases at the Manor, yet excited for new traditions with Dean and Sam.
“There are decorations in the car, can you get them?” Sam asked.
Jason raced out the door to Baby. “Sweet!”
It was fucking cold outside, but Jason didn’t care. He gathered as many bags as he could carry and raced back inside.
Dean went and brought in the rest of the stuff. They had also gone grocery shopping. There were the usual essentials and ingredients for baking sugar cookies. Jason had a feeling a certain angel had been eavesdropping on him yesterday. He quickly put the groceries away in the kitchen.
“Cas told us you were feeling nostalgic about Christmas and to be honest so were we.” Dean explained. “I don’t think Sam and I have decorated for Christmas since…”
“…never.” Sam finished.
“What about that one year at the motel with dad?”
“Dean, that year we decorated the silk fiches tree with toilet paper.”
Dean shrugged. “We still decorated a tree.”
Jason started unboxing the lights and handed them to Sam, taking advantage of this height. “Please?”
Sam smiled and started placing the lights on the tree. Having never done this before, Sam was taking his time spiraling the cord of lights around the tree on the branches with care.
Dean and Jason busied themselves unboxing the ornaments waiting for Sam to finish. Sam’s lighting job wasn’t bad, but he was no Alfred.
They spent the next hour decorating the tree, talking, laughing and teasing each other. Dean and Sam kept taking the others ornaments and putting them different places on the tree. Jason got in on the fun and started doing that with all the ornaments. By the end, the tree looked like a complete disaster, but the important thing was they had fun and Jason got to decorate a tree.
In the days leading up to Christmas, Jason had been contemplating asking Dean and Sam about finally going to see Bruce. Sadly, the timing was never right and when the timing was right, Jason would chicken out. They did a great job at indulging in his need to decorate the Bunker, but it still wasn’t the same as the Manor. He couldn’t replicate the smell of freshly baked cookies like Alfred. While he didn’t burn the cookies, they didn’t taste right to him. Dean and Sam ate them all and bought more dough for Jason to make more.
Christmas morning came and Jason decided today was the day to tell them he wanted to go see Bruce. He didn’t think they’d say no. A month and a half ago Sam was practically pushing him to go talk and see his dad.
“Presents!” Dean shouted making his way to the tree.
Sam yawned and rubbed his eyes, “I’m going to get coffee first.”
Jason watched as Dean sorted through some of the gifts, while Sam walked in with a steaming cup of coffee.
“Here, open mine first.” Jason offered, each handing Dean and Sam their own brightly wrapped package.
Dean tore into his and held it up for both to see. “Motor oil and car wax. Thanks Jason, you know what I like for my Baby. What’d you get, Sam?”
“Hair conditioner and coffee.”
Jason shrugged. “It looked like you could use both. The lady at the salon said the conditioner is supposed to be the best.”
“Thank you, Jason.”
“This one is from the both of us,” Dean said, handing Jason a big box.
Jason opened the box to find a dark brown leather jacket just like Dean’s.
Dean walked over and helped Jason put the jacket on. “It’s a little big, but I think you’ll grow into it.”
“Thanks, guys. I love it!”
The rest of the day was spent watching Christmas movies and eating junk. It was the best Christmas Jason had ever spent away from the Manor. He hadn’t expected to enjoy this holiday again with two people he had only just met two months ago. Jason felt a pang in his gut for what he was about to say, but he knew it would keep eating at him if he kept it to himself.
“Guys, I-I think I’m ready to go see Bruce.”
The request did exactly what Jason had expected. It rendered the brothers speechless. Sam’s smile was forced, while Dean’s scowl told Jason all he needed to know, except no one was actually saying anything. The silence was starting to grate on Jason’s nerves. He knew he should have just taken off without a word while they slept.
Sam was the first to break the silence. “Okay, when would you like to go?”
“It doesn’t have to be today or tomorrow.” Jason answered. “You guys don’t even have to take me. I could go by myself.”
He figured letting them off the hook would be easier. Instead, it only made things worse. Sam smile faded into a grimace and Dean scowl only deepen.
“You are not going all the way to Gotham by yourself, we’ll take you.” Dean insisted.
Jason laughed harshly. “I lived on the streets on my own for two years, I think I can handle a bus ride to Gotham.”
Sam looked at Dean and then to back to Jason. “We’ll take you. It’s not a problem. We’ll leave tomorrow.”
Dean got up without a word and headed toward the garage carrying his gifts.
“Where are you going?” Sam asked.
“I’m going to wax my car.”
“You need any help?” Jason volunteered.
The last thing Jason wanted to do was piss off Dean. He had hoped Dean wouldn’t be too upset with him wanting to see Bruce, but it was clear Dean was mad.
“Don’t worry about Dean. He’ll be okay.”
They decided to leave early the next morning as it was a lengthy drive to Gotham. Dean’s mood was a little better than last night, but only because instead of saying nothing, he was only saying one or two words. Jason sat in the backseat to minimize the awkwardness, also to catch up on the sleep he didn’t get the night before.
He knew going to see Bruce was the right thing to do. Two months had gone by and while he was still scared shitless of Bruce’s rejection, he now had two new people in his corner. Also, it was better to do this now before any more time had passed.
“Doing alright, Jay?” Dean asked, looking at him from the rear-view mirror.
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Are you scared?”
“No. Yes. Maybe.” Jason huffed “This was a bad idea. What am I even supposed to say to him?”
“Hi always works for me.” Dean joked. “Seriously, start with the truth. Even if it sounds bizarro and it will. The truth is easier, lying is harder.”
“Dean’s right. Start with the truth, and Jason, it won’t really matter what you say, he will be happy to see you.”
Jason hoped that was true. He hoped Bruce would accept him again despite all the bad that Jason had done before he died. He couldn’t take back what he did, but he could move forward with a clean slate.
It was dusk by the time they arrived at the front gates of the Manor. Jason heart was beating so fast and hard he could feel the pulsing in his ears. He sat stock still in the back seat until Dean spoke up.
“Jay, I don’t think the gates will open unless someone speaks into the intercom. Do you want me to do it?”
“Jason, what do you want to do?”
Hearing Dean use his full name was rare, and he only used it for times when he needed to get Jason’s attention.
“Drive along the west side, the fence is climbable on that side of the house.”
Once Dean put the car in park, Jason put on his new leather jacket, gathered his backpack and exited the car.
“We’ll wait here until you give us the all clear and then we’ll leave.”
Jason nodded. He knew it was useless to argue with Dean.
“It will be okay, Jason. Remember, just tell the truth.”
Jason carefully climbed the fence and made his way to the front door. He kept practicing what he was going to say when Alfred answered the door. Hi Alfie, I’m back, did you miss me? Hi Alfie, save any cookies for me? Hi Alfie, it’s really me you can put down the shotgun. He hoped he might not have to say that last one.
He knocked once he approached the door and noticed a folded newspaper on the stoop. It was the afternoon edition of the Gotham Gazette. The picture on the front sparked his interest, it was of Batman. He unfolded the newspaper and there on the front page was a full page spread of Batman in action and behind him Robin?
What the fuck?!
ROBIN IS BACK IN FULL SWING WITH BATMAN
After a 6 month hiatus Robin is back patrolling the streets of Gotham with Batman. Residents wondered if they would soon be seeing the Dynamic Duo in action again after it was rumored that Robin had disappeared unexpectedly. While the presence of Batman and Robin have been a source of controversary for years, crime rates have slowly declined over the years.
No. No. No. NO!
Jason froze on the spot just staring at the picture. How could Bruce do this to him? He replaced him. The new Robin looked younger than Jason and…happier. Jason’s chest started to tighten. It became more and more difficult to breath. Bruce knew how much he loved being Robin. Did he even care that Jason had died? Did he even mourn or miss him? How soon after he had died did Bruce go looking for a replacement? Jason was starting to hyperventilate.
This can't be real.
His thoughts were broken when he heard the door’s locks being maneuvered and the doorknob start to turn. Jason ran as fast as he could in the direction that he came from and headed toward the parked Impala.
Jason flung open the door and jumped inside. “Drive. P-please. Home. N-now.”
Dean started the car and peeled out onto the road away from the Manor.
“Jason, what happened?” Sam asked.
“He…replaced…me.” Jason sobbed, handing Sam the crumpled newspaper.
Sam glanced at the newspaper and then back at Jason confused. “I don’t understand. This is a picture of Batman and Robin. How did Bruce replace you?”
Jason took a shuddering breath between sobs and blurted out. “Bruce is Batman! I’m Robin…w-was Robin!”
Dean swerved and slammed on the brakes. “What?”
Chapter 6: Nothing Else Matters
Disclaimer: Jason retelling of what he can remember of the crowbar beating.
Dean drove as fast as he could back to the Bunker. Jason wasn’t talking anymore, instead he was staring out the window, a sniff could be heard every now and again. He didn’t say anything else, only revealing that Bruce Wayne was Batman and that he had once been Robin.
He was pissed this would set Jason back and he’d never open up to them again. Dean knew the kid wasn’t okay, he wasn’t even going to ask. He kept checking on Jason through the rear-view mirror. The loss of adrenaline was soon starting to catch up with Jason. Dean could see it as Jason’s shoulders sagged and his eyes began to droop. Sam was quietly reading the newspaper article.
Dean glanced one more time through the mirror to see if Jason was asleep. His eyes were now closed and Dean could hear Jason’s low rhythmic snore.
“Son of bitch. I knew I should’ve talked him out of doing this. He wasn’t ready.”
“Dean, he had to make this decision for himself, and see where it would take him. There’s no way you could have predicted what was going to happen.”
“We’ve got to fix this.”
“How? By kicking Bruce Wayne’s ass?”
“It’s a start.”
“You realize he’s Batman and could probably kick your ass in two seconds flat.”
A few more hours passed in the car and out of nowhere Jason started talking. Dean lowered the radio to give him his full attention. Jason kept his focus out the window as he slowly started to reveal little bits about himself. Most of it Dean had already heard from Sam, but not everything. Jason did not hesitate going into detail about his life.
Jason told them about his parents, taking care of his junkie mom until she overdosed and living with his abusive dad until he was killed by some guy named Two-Face. He didn’t mince words telling them of his time living on the streets for two years getting by on stealing and panhandling until one day he dared to steal the tires off the wrong car.
He fell asleep again mid-story and Dean was grateful. He honestly wasn’t sure he could take hearing anymore of Jason’s life story. He knew the kid needed to talk, to purge the ugliness out and not hold it in. It still didn’t make hearing it any easier, especially when there weren’t any words to say to help Jason feel better. Dean had thought his life had been hard being the son of a hunter and practically having to raise Sam on his own. No, in comparison to Jason, his childhood had been a cakewalk.
Dean sighed. “I need a drink and some pie.”
“It’s not good to eat your feelings.”
“Shut up, Dr Phil.”
They made it to the Bunker and Jason woke up as soon as Dean shut off the car’s engine. Jason sleepily made his way out of the car and to the front door. The three of them walked in silence, and Jason started talking again.
“Do we have any pie?”
All three walked into the kitchen and Dean started to pull out all the leftover Christmas food setting it on the table. They tucked in and again Jason started sharing with them about his life as Robin. The good, he got to fight crime and beat up bad guys with Batman. The bad, being a bit too overenthusiastic with his punches, tactics and attitude, therefore getting constantly compared to Dick, the first Robin. The ugly, disobeying orders, getting sidelined, disobeying orders again, and getting killed.
“Things started getting shitty when I found out that Catherine Todd was not my mother. A woman named Shelia Haywood was listed as my mother on my birth certificate. I wanted to find her. Bruce was okay with the idea, but he was also working on a case. The Joker was causing some trouble in Qurac.
Sam quirked an eyebrow. “The Joker?”
“Psychotic clown obsessed with Batman.” Dean answered, getting a queasy reaction from Sam.
“Since Qurac had been where Shelia was helping with refugee aid, Bruce had agreed to take me with him,” Jason continued. “He wouldn’t let me help with the case since I was still on ‘probation’. He helped me track her down and we found her at a medical supplies warehouse. Bruce gave us time to get to know each other. He left to follow a lead on the case, but said he’d come back to get me.
“The intel revealed that, the Joker had fucked with Shelia’s supplies. Bruce told me to stay out of it, but I refused. She was my mom and in trouble, and I couldn’t just sit by while the Joker fucked with her life’s work. I headed back to the warehouse alone as Robin and it turned out she was working with the Joker. He tied me up, pulled out a crowbar and…” Jason mumbled, his voice starting to shake. “…and the fucker just started swinging and kicking. I blacked out for a bit.”
Tears started streaming down Jason’s face as he stared blankly at the floor. His arms were crossed over his body in a protective manner while his leg bounced nervously.
Dean was queasy hearing Jason recall the crowbar beating as he remembered what he looked like when they first saw him. It was a miracle this kid was able to dig himself out of his own grave, much less walk twelve miles to be found.
“Jason, do you need to take a break?” Sam asked, lightly touching the teen’s knee.
The gentle contact helped to snap Jason out of this stupor and give him extra resolve he needed to continue. He stopped bouncing his leg, but kept his arms wrapped tightly around his body.
Jason wiped his tears and shook his head. “When I came to, Shelia was crying and tied up to a support beam. The Joker was gone, but he left a present, a bomb. I could hear it ticking. I crawled over to her and untied her ropes, at least she could get out. She tried opening the door, but he had locked us in. Last I remember was the bomb stopped ticking, then nothing, and then…”
“…waking up in the coffin,” Sam finished.
Jason nodded as more tears started to slowly fall. The simple nod and fresh tears indicated the end of story time. The only sound filling the room were cutlery on plates and chewing. Dean could see that Jason wasn’t yet ready to talk about waking up in the coffin or digging himself out of his grave.
Dean figured that Bruce Wayne, as Jason’s father, wanted to put as much distance as he could, between his son, and the woman who had purposely put him in grave danger. This explained the forged autopsy report and the false news story of Jason’s death. It also revealed the harsher truth that Bruce’s motives weren’t entirely altruistic. He was also covering up Robin’s death as well as Batman’s involvement severing all links to Bruce Wayne.
“I really liked being Robin." Jason said with a watery smile. "It was a cool gig and I fucked it up badly. Maybe that’s why he replaced me. Though I would have liked to have left on my own terms.”
Dean could see in Jason’s face how painful it was to use the past tense when talking about being Robin.
“Jay, you died. It was out of your control. Did the first Robin get to leave on his own terms?”
“No. According to Dick he was fired. He didn’t even know about me until he saw me in Gotham in his old uniform.”
“Kind of a rude awakening for him too, wouldn’t you say?” Dean asked.
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Well, it looks like Bruce has a pattern that has everything to do with him, and nothing to do with you, or Dick.” Sam explained. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Jason, despite what you think. Did you really want to be Robin forever?”
“No, not really. But, dying sucks and so does being replaced.”
“Yes, it does.” Dean agreed.
Jason’s brow furrowed in thought. “You guys are hunters and deal with the Supernatural. Do you…do you know what brought me back?”
Sam and Dean exchanged a look. Dean silently pleaded with Sam not to say anything, not yet, anyway. They were still waiting to hear from Cas to find out if he had heard anything on Angel Radio about Jason’s resurrection and which angel was responsible. Dean finally spoke. “We honestly don’t know what brought you back. At first we thought you were a Zombie.”
Jason chuckled then stopped. “Wait, those are real? What gave it away that I wasn’t a Zombie?
“You didn’t try to eat us.”
Jason laughed harder this time. It wasn’t forced or fake, just a genuine release of laugher that Dean was happy to hear. The kid had been through so much these last few months, he hoped the kid knew he had a place with them as a Winchester. Dean was still a bit reluctant to open up the family business to him, but with his skills, he’d be a great addition. Jason already fit right in, but Dean didn’t want to force the hunting life on him.
“Can I stay here, with you guys a little longer? Just until I figure things out?”
“Kid, we told you before. You can stay here as long as you want. You’re family now.”
Chapter 7: Epilogue
This is it, the final chapter. Enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
3 Years Later
Jason was excited to be heading out on his own for his first solo hunt. He had been looking forward to this moment for over a year. Dean and Sam had made him wait until he had graduated from high school to allow him to go on the road with them on hunts. It was a drag at first, but he soon realized why they were so protective. Unlike many of the criminals he had dealt with in Gotham who were humans who did monstrous deeds, they were still human. Dealing with true monsters was completely different.
Dean had told him on their very first hunt together that monsters were pretty straight forward. Over the course of that first year Jason learned that some of the rare ones just wanted to live in peace and at times toed the line for their survival. For most, there was no sense of right or wrong, just what they could get out of their victim (mainly a food source). Jason learned that a monster’s motive was either for self-suffiency (hunger or survival), or in a vengeful spirit’s case, revenge.
Dean and Sam also made him wait before they would let him go solo on hunts. Dean called it part of his ‘training’. Jason had to admit, hunting with them was fun, even if they made him do all the grunt work, like cleaning weapons, restocking bullets, repacking buck shots with salt and cleaning the guns. He also learned that he needed to work on his gun handling skills.
While Bruce refused to use guns or allow Jason to use them, he still made Jason learn how to handle a gun. Even made him take a marksmanship course learning how to properly aim and shoot, squeeze the trigger, don’t pull it. How to properly hold and secure the gun or shotgun so the kick back doesn’t break something. But if that skill isn’t repeatedly exercised, one tends to forget details that matter. This is where target practice at the Bunker helped Jason hone his aim and techniques with all types of guns.
It surprised Jason that hunting monsters and vanquishing vengeful ghosts was something he was not only good at, but actually liked. He equated it to fighting crime, only without the ridiculous outfit and he was able to use guns.
The only creatures he did not like dealing with were demons. Those guys were dicks. It was rare that they had to deal with them, but Dean and Sam made sure he was plenty prepared, like having him inked with an anti-possession tattoo. The brothers also gave him a very thorough education in creating devil’s traps, made sure he carried an angel blade, had holy water on hand, and that Jason had the exorcism liturgy memorized.
For the last three years, Dean and Sam had been ‘training’ Jason for this moment. It also helped that in those three years he had grown 6 inches and was now in the buck eighty range.
A few days ago Jason had read a few online news reports of bodies found with their hearts missing in and around Downtown Gotham City. It looked like a standard werewolf case, but the only way to be sure was to go and check it out.
“Did you pack enough silver bullets and the machete?” Dean asked, overlooking the contents of hunting items in the trunk of Jason’s Charger.
“Yes it’s all there, Dean. I’m ready.”
“And you restocked everything else just in case: holy water, salt, gas can, spray paint, witch-killing bullets?”
“Yes, and we really need to think of another name besides, ‘witch-killing bullets’.”
“Remember to check in, Gotham is a crazy place. You get in trouble, you call for help. We’ll be right there, you hear me?”
“Loud and clear.” Jason answered, closing the trunk.
“Are you sure you want your first solo hunt to be in Gotham?” Dean asked. “I know that it isn’t your favorite place.”
Jason shrugged. “Yeah well, the location is familiar, and as much grief as that city has caused me, it doesn’t deserve to have a werewolf terrorizing it. Plus, Bruce won’t know how to deal with it. He’d likely tranq the monster and take it Arkham. I’ll be fine. I’ll be in and out, no one will even know I was there.”
“They will if you insist on wearing that red hoodie.”
Jason looked down at his red hoodie. “What, I like it. Hey, I’ve worn worse things, you’ve seen my old Robin uniform.”
Dean laughed. “See you in a few days.”
Jason didn’t say goodbye, there was no need and really, he was only going to be gone for a few days. Dean had also engrained in him to check in daily, so it’s not like he wouldn’t be talking to him on the regular.
The drive to Gotham wasn’t bad, much better than the last time with Dean and Sam. He arrived in Gotham about 10pm just in time to scope out locations and maybe talk to witnesses.
The werewolf who had been terrorizing the city had picked their victims from various bars around Downtown Gotham. Bold choice in Jason’s opinion as the bars were pretty high end serving most of the Business district executives. There wasn’t a known pattern to the choice of victims, just the locations, mainly the alleys between the bars. Jason needed a better view to people watch. He got out his grapple gun and aimed for a roof to perch for a better look.
The first time he had done this he had scared the shit out of Sam and Dean. He told them he was going to get a better look and went to the roof of the closest building thanks to a grapple gun he had found in the bunker. From up high he had a better view of everything, and could instruct Dean and Sam if they were being trapped by incoming accomplices. Also, at the height he was at and his training in stealth, he could ambush the monsters should the brothers need back up.
It was aiming to be a slow night when something red and black in a cape caught his attention. He saw this costumed person fighting some guy in a nearby alley outside one of the three bars he had been scoping. The kid was good, holding his own in the fight with a Bo staff. Interesting weapon of choice, Jason thought. After a few minutes of watching this kid fight, and get thrown against the dumpster a few times, he could see him start to get tired. His reactions were starting to get slower, and his blows less impactful.
Jason quickly made his way to the ground and snuck over to get a closer look, that’s when he saw it, the fangs, and the claws. The werewolf now had the kid pinned to the ground and was trying to find an opening to bite. The kid had his bo staff braced in front of him trying and failing to push the monster off of him.
Jason yelled. “HEY, FUCKWAD!”
His yell was enough to distract the werewolf. The younger teen took advantage of the temporary lapse and was able to push the monster off of him.
Jason took his opportunity and shot the werewolf clean in the head. It fell limply to the ground.
“What? You didn’t…you didn’t have to shoot him! I had it under control!”
“Did you now? Well from my angle it looked like you were his next meal ticket.”
“Batman doesn’t allow other vigilantes in his city, or the use of guns.”
Jason grinned. “I’m not a vigilante. I don’t fight crime. I’m a hunter. I hunt monsters.” He gestured to the dead werewolf lying on the ground. “This is a monster, a werewolf to be exact. The only way to kill it, is with silver bullets.”
He could see by the look on the kid’s face that he didn’t believe a word Jason was telling him. No big deal. Jason wasn’t sticking around Gotham to convince the kid. Jason found a loose tarp by the dumpster and laid it on the ground to use to wrap up the body.
It was then that the kid broke the silence. “Monsters aren’t real.”
Jason laughed bitterly. “You live in Gotham and I’m assuming with that get up on, you fight crime alongside Batman. How can you say monsters aren’t real? You deal with monsters on a nightly basis. How is any of this a surprise?”
Jason could see the kid’s jaw clench and his posture stiffen at the mention of Batman. He looked closer at the kid’s uniform and it wasn’t at all the standard Robin kit. There was no green in the suit and no ‘R’ insignia on the chest. The outfit was red and black, with a golden yellow double chest harness and utility belt. In the center of the chest harness was a black silhouette of a bird’s head. His cape was red and black, long and angled making it look like folded wings.
Jason continued. “You are Robin, right?” He had a feeling he hit a sore spot when the other teen glared at him through his red domino mask and quickly looked away.
“Not anymore. I’m Red Robin now.”
Jason couldn’t help but laugh. The irony was just too fuckin’ good. Everything he’d been wanting to say to the fucker that had replaced him started bubbling to the surface. Here was his chance. “Dude, you got replaced! That’s fucked up! Let me guess, you didn’t get a say in the matter, it just happened. Did you walk in on the new guy wearing your uniform? Is that how you found out? Or did you show up for work and get the pink slip face to face?”
Red Robin just glared at him. Clearly not wanting to talk about this particular painful subject. Jason wasn’t going to let him off that easily.
“So, who’s the new Robin, another orphan he decided to adopt?” Jason guessed.
“No, it’s his kid.” Red Robin answered flatly.
“Wait, what? Batman has a kid?” Jason sputtered.
Jason could now understand the underlying bitterness this kid was going through. It was one thing to be replaced by some random kid from Gotham, it was quite another, to be replaced by Bruce’s biological child. It had to sting horribly for this kid.
“Yeah, the Demon Spawn just showed up one day. Demanding his part of the Batman legacy, so Batman gave it to him.”
Jason had a hard time believing that Bruce would put up with such insolence, but if the kid had part of Bruce’s DNA, maybe that was the pass this Demon Spawn needed.
He continued to work in silence and to his surprise, the kid started to help him wrap the body in the tarp.
“I guess it was only a matter of time before I was replaced too,” Red Robin continued. “Still it would have been nice to have had a say.”
Jason’s head snapped up in anger at the last statement. “Did the Robin you replaced have a say? I’m going to take a wild guess and say no.”
Red Robin’s eyes widened. “No, he didn’t. He died.”
“Oh, so you saw an opening?”
“No. No, it wasn’t like that at all. I saw…I saw a need. Batman needs a Robin. He needs Robin’s light and when…and when Robin died that light was gone.” Red Robin continued. “Batman was angry and genuinely scary. He was beating up criminals within an inch of their life. He was making rash decisions without strategizing and at one point walking into a trap. The first Robin wouldn’t be Robin anymore, so I did what I thought was right and I helped.”
Jason shook his head. His voice losing all heat. “By stepping into a dead kid’s shoes. You must have had some kind of death wish, kid.”
“Maybe, but I helped save Batman and Nightwing that day, and I’d do it again. I didn’t do it because I wanted to be Robin. I did it because Batman was in pain and needed a Robin.”
Jason wasn’t sure what to make of this new information. Running into the kid who had replaced him was kismet. He finally got to lay into the kid everything he had been holding in for the last three years and yet, it felt unsatisfying. The kid’s words when he talked about being Robin were still filled with heartfelt nostalgia, with just a hint of bitterness. Dammit Bruce! Jason knew those feelings all too well. Except his departure from Robin was out of his control, where this kid’s exit was forced.
It did feel good to hear that Bruce had missed him, and missed Jason being Robin. All this time he had thought Bruce didn’t care about him at all. It turned out he had missed Jason the most. He did find it disheartening to hear that Bruce had been so broken by his death that he had been putting himself in danger.
“How did you know all this about Batman? Did you follow him around with a camera?” Jason smirked.
Red Robin’s cheeks flushed in embarrassment. “Basically, yes, that’s how I found out he was walking into a trap.”
Jason laughed at the thought of some kid stalking Batman throughout Gotham with a camera.
“So what do I call you? Red Hood?” Red Robin asked, gesturing to Jason’s red hoodie.
Jason took a deep breath. He wasn’t expecting to run into anyone associated with Batman, but he’d be remiss if he didn’t expect it. This was Gotham after all and it was Batman’s city. Did he even want to give this kid his real name and would this kid believe him if he told him? Jason was a pretty common name.
“No, you can call me Jason.”
The small smile that had been on Red Robin’s face started to fade. He looked at Jason like he had just seen a ghost, or something equally as frightening.
“I knew it.” Red Robin whispered, more to himself than to Jason.
What the fuck?
“Knew what, kid?”
“It makes perfect sense, kind of…” Red Robin babbled. He looked like he just solved the biggest puzzle. “This is going to sound weird but, you’re…you’re Jason Todd. Aren’t you?”
Jason gave him a hard stare. One he had learned from Dean. Did he really want to be one hundred percent truthful with this kid? Could he trust him? He didn’t have any secrets to keep. He wasn’t tied to this city. He had a home in Lebanon, Kansas and a new family with two older brothers. Still, he couldn’t help but be cautious.
“What makes you think I’m him? Jason Todd is dead.”
Red Robin paused in thought before answering. “Truthfully our entire conversation tonight kinda gave things away. You were a little too happy to hear that I had been replaced. You didn’t hesitate to tell me what you really thought of me replacing you as Robin. The true tell was your face when I mentioned Batman’s state of mind after your death. There was sorrow and regret, and then relief. Like you finally believed he missed and mourned you.”
“Nice trick. Did Bruce teach you that too?”
“It’s all part of being a great detective, observation.” Red Robin held out his hand. “My name is Tim. Tim Drake. Nice to meet you, Jason.”
Jason looked at the hand offered and then to its owner. He knew the kid was taking a chance giving him his real name. This kid didn’t even know him, why was he telling him his real identity? For the first time that night, he saw a genuine smile appear on the kid’s face.
Jason shook his hand. “Nice to meet you too, Tim, and it’s Jason Winchester.”
Jason’s cell phone started to ring, breaking up the moment. Shit! He missed his check in with Dean. “Hang on, I need to take this. What’s up, Dean?”
“You forgot to check in. How’s it going?”
“Good, I got the werewolf. It was stalking its victims in alleys near bars in the Downtown Gotham business district. I also ran into a little bird.” Jason said, looking at Tim.
“Oh, the Replacement? How did that go?”
“Not as bad or fisty as I thought it would be,” Jason winked at Tim. “I might stick around for a few days, just to make sure we aren’t dealing with a pack.”
“Let me know if you need backup. Sam and I will be there.”
“Thanks, Dean I will, see ya.”
“So you’re going to stick around?” Tim asked. “I heard there might be some weird stuff happening in Bludhaven. We should go check it out…now.”
“Bludhaven? You’re not subtle at all. I’m not looking for a family reunion, kid.”
“It will be fun. I have to meet Dick in an hour anyway.”
An hour later they were in Bludhaven, and Jason couldn’t believe this kid had talked him into seeing Dick. He had to give Tim credit, the kid was a smooth talker. Still, this wasn’t the reason why he came to Gotham.
Jason followed Tim to one of the tallest buildings in the city. From the looks of it, it reminded Jason of the Old Gotham Bank building complete with the stone gargoyles overlooking the city.
Once they got to the roof, Jason saw Dick looking over the city in his Nightwing uniform. His heart was beating fast and his mouth started to get dry. How do you tell someone who thinks you were dead that you are alive? Just tell the truth, no matter how bizzaro it is, and it will be. Tell the truth, lying is harder. Just tell the truth. No, he couldn’t do this right now. He turned quickly heading for the ladder, but Tim grabbed him and pushed him forward.
“You’re late. I heard you once you reached the roof, you really need to work on your stealth.” Dick instructed, his back still facing Jason.
“Yeah, I was never really good at sneaking up on you, was I? Better late than never, huh Big bird?”
He could see Dick’s entire body tense up and freeze. Dick didn’t say a word, nor did he turn around. Jason waited, but nothing happened. This was mistake. This whole twisted family reunion was fucked up. Jason knew he should never have allowed the kid to talk him into this. The silence was starting to get to him. Someone needed to say something.
Jason finally broke the silence. “Dick, I know how weird this must be for you. I’m gonna go.” He turned heading for the ladder.
He paused hearing the old nickname. It caused an odd ache in Jason’s chest. It was something he hated being called when he was Robin but became an endearment he missed once he wasn’t Robin anymore. He turned around to face Dick, who was now standing within arms reach. Dick gave him a watery smile and then embraced him in a hug.
He expected a hug from Dick. Dick was always ‘the hugger’. He didn’t foresee how much he missed the brotherly affection from Dick, or how much he needed it. He didn’t anticipate missing his brother this much.
“Little Wing, you’re so big and…alive. How?” Dick muttered, once he broke away from the hug.
Jason patted Dick on the back awkwardly, “It’s a long story. I’ll tell you everything over pie.”
Jason stayed in Gotham for two days scoping out any signs of a werewolves. There were no further occurrences. He also used this time catching Dick up on what had happened to him and where he had been the last three years. It was clear that Jason did not miss fighting crime, and he had emphasized his stance to Dick. He had a new life, a new family business hunting monsters and saving people with two guys he loved like brothers.
Dick kept trying to talk him into going to the Manor to see Bruce and Alfred, but Jason wasn’t ready for another family reunion, not yet anyway. He reassured Dick that seeing Bruce would eventually happen.
“So will we been seeing you again?” Dick asked, walking Jason back to his car.
“You can count on it. If you ever have another monster problem, don’t hesitate to call. Nothing is too weird that we haven’t seen.” Jason offered, getting into his car. “We’ll be there.”
Thank you to all you readers who stuck around. I had so much fun writing this fic. I hadn't found many fics where the Winchesters find Jason so this was to satisfy my own want for such a story. I had also just finished binging all 14 seasons when I started this fic.
Special thanks to my friend Emma for her beta skills and encouragement.