The Story of Jason Todd

August 01, 2016:

..as brief as it gets.

Batcave

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Red Hood, Nightwing, Red Robin

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

So, right after the visit to their 'special' nurse. Bluebird was all patched up and still ready to go. A few asprin were popped as she enters into that all too secret entrance that would lead to the batcave. Maybe.. if she sneaks just right, she could catch the old man unawares and out of uniform. It wasn't like she hasn't seen it all before, but right about now, it would be a welcome sight. But as she enters, lights mark her path as she walks along the walkway, dropping down a few stairs and onto the main platform, the motion sensors lighting up as she approaches the large console, heavy duffel bag slung upon her shoulders.

"What'ya working on now.. old guy.." Harper murmurs to herself, bag soon dropped to the ground with a loud *DOOF*, the chair spun and flopped upon as she turns not once, but twice in the chair at a full tilt. A girl has to have -some- type of fun. Right?

The really creepy part is that Harper makes one full rotation and sees no one around her, but on the second rotation, Batman's abruptly standing /right there/ behind the chair when she makes the full 720 turn, and even though his mask isn't on, his blue eyes are just as hard and impossible to read as his white eyelenses.

He doesn't say anything. He just… stares at Harper, a little downcurled moue at the side of his mouth suggesting disapproval at the words 'old guy' that seem to be echoing around the room despite Harper's muttered question. His cloak's thrown back over his shoulders, and his forearms are folded over his thick chest.

"AHUGAHAHA!" Harper nearly shrieks out, her hands immediately drawn up as soon as she sees him there. But the chair kept spinning, which was soon stopped with a tip of her toe as it faces him again. "S..sorry?!" How in the world? She didn't even hear him! She didn't even -see- him! Is this why he wears all black?

Cause -that- was SO cool!

"Bruce.. um.. let me get up for a second.. I mean, I know its your chair and all but.." She waves her bandaged hand a bit, then leans forward as if she were seventy years young just to make it to her feet with a bit of a struggle. "Nng.. Anyways. There's something important that I wanted to talk to you about."

Serious is as serious does, she was clearly sure that she wasn't going to get a -full- disclosure answer about it. Either way, it'd tailor her decision about a lot of things. "Here. Have a seat." She manuvers herself, pressing her hands upon the tops of the chair as she gives it a brief wriggle. "Please?"

Batman just keeps staring at Harper as she starts babbling, then as she cringes, and finally she invites him to sit. He gives it a long three count after she says 'Please', then relents and moves to the chair. He settles himself into it and rotates the chair around to face Harper with a quiet flick of motion, and rests his elbows on the arms of the chair, steeping his fingers under his chin. It's a position of intense focus and thought for the Dark Knight, well known, and it turns the entire weight of his incredible focus upon Harper.

Which is more than a little unnerving for most people. And what's worse is, he just sits quietly, waiting with endless patience for her to compose her own thoughts.

Harper imagined how this would go.

1. She'd march right into the Batcave and throw the bag at his feet. 'Who the fuc-..' And then she'd get punched.
2. She'd march right into the Batcave and carefully set down the bag, which was kicked towards hi-.. And then she'd get punched.
3. She'd curl into a ball and start crying. And then she'd get punched.

Neither of those would actually work in that moment and in fact? Once he turned the chair around to face him she was rather horrified. Never has she ever been this intimidated. It was even a little bit worse with him -half way- suited up but.. goddamn it. She was a kid of the Narrows. She's got.. BAWLS.

"Who the fuck is Red Hood." She snaps out.

(And then she gets punched.)

Batman remains impassive for a long moment, then one brow hikes up. It's a subtle reprimand, but as with so much of Batman's communiques, a subtle, silent bit of body language speaks volumes more than all the words from someone else's lips. He doens't punch her, of course, nor does he threaten violence or even shift from his chair.

Just that quiet, rather pointed notation of the explicative in her voice, and the untamed anger that the cursing hints at. Profanity is rarely heard in the Batcave, and the loss of temper permitted even less frequently.

So he sits, with that endless patience, seemingly waiting for Harper to recognize her misstep and find an alternative means to express her ire at the situation.

Harper held her breath; there was a moment where her already swollen eye instinctively closed further even though there wasn't a need for it. There was even a little point where he could read her like a book as she grows stiff. Her lips bunch, pursing together and finally blowing out the hot air that she holds, her shoulders slumping in defeat as she takes those few steps back to fall into 'Alfred's' station. "I'm sorry.." She finally relents.

He'd be the only person to ever get her sorries.

"I.. I don't know how I did it. Like, I was taking someone down. Next thing you know I wound up in this guy safe house. I must have picked the wrong or the -right- door to rest up at and he was there. I don't know if he was coming or going or not, you know? But, seems like that guy wears that mask all the time."

She waves her hand. "Anyways. I guess there's some bad blood between you two. Or to him and all of us. Sure he's a bad guy but .. he -must- know you, right? He called Alfred to pick me up. Like a direct line." She huffs a little, then shifts. "But.. he gave me a bag of money. I didn't count it all. I didn't spend one bit of it." She gestures at the bag there, obviously conflicted. "But.. I'm tempted. Tempted to just give it all to Cullen and get him the hell out of Gotham. Set him up at a nice little boarding school and just.. I don't know." She leans forward, her hands in her face, blowing air into her palms. "He coulda taken me down, Bruce. But he didn't."

Batman is quiet for a moment again, his eyes going introspective and flat. He exhales through his nose, and looks up at Harper Row.

"Red Hood is Jason Todd," he says, with a tone of finality. "You've been here long enough you deserve to know that."

"Jason was… very important to me. I took him in like I did Dick, or Tim. Jason was brilliant. He took to the life. Loved it, even. We had a few arguments but… things were good."

"And then the Joker killed him," Batman says, his calm voice masking a deep grief. "It was one more plot to try and hurt me. To break me. It almost did."

"A few months ago I started seeing patterns emerging around this 'Hood' person. I saw some surveillance camera footage, spoke to witnesses. There were things he did that Jason had taken to, but I wasn't entirely sure until a few weeks ago when I met him face to face and he put a gun under my chin."

He focuses back on Harper. "You just met the lost Robin."

Harper thought that he was just going to stare again. Stare and wait for her to spill all of her guts, offer up all of her passwords and tell him that her bank account fell into the negatives again this week. Once the NSF's kick in, that would be close to her whole paycheck with one hundred dollars to spare. Making rent was going to be hard this week. Hence why she was conflicted.

But she listens like an apt pupil that she was, nearly hanging on every word, her lips curling into a slight frown as she leans back into the chair, her fingers clutching at her forehead with the need to question.. but respectively. Respectively.

"Oh.. snap.." Is all she could manage to say. Even though the story was there and brief, it was deep. Deep enough for her to put two and two together. He hates the Batman. He used to be one of them. But.. he really, really hates Batman..

"But.. how?" She says, nearly bewildered. "If.. if he was dead? How is he alive now?" She even gestures wildly. "Like.. he.. how?!"

"It's difficult to say." Batman carefully avoids 'I don't know', as a rule. "But, I never saw a body— just some bloody clothing. I assumed, which was perhaps a mis-step on my part."

He considers Harper again. "You said he gave you money, but he clearly had time to tell you how much he disliked me. Did he threaten you, or was he a bit more amicable than he's been with the boys?"

Harper wasn't going to point out that Bruce may have been devastated. Which caused him to probably misjudge the entire thing..

"He.. did in a sense. More or less warned me. He warned me a lot, really." She looks down towards the dufflebag, then scoots the chair forward to lean, snatch, grab and tug to the middle. She unzips it so that he could see.. just a cursory glance would easily put it over a thousand.

"Pretty much said that if I shot him, he'd kill me. Then gave me asprin and water." She snorts a little. "But also said that if I keep going down this route, I'd be dead." She leans back then, thoughtful. "Makes some sense now, at least…"

"If someone says they're willing to kill me, I'd be disinclined to take water or pills from them," Batman reminds Harper, his tone dry. "Easy enough to feed you a tracking device or a poison."

He glances once at the money, then shrugs, dismissing it from the matter at hand. "You met him and survived, so that's something. That means he's not actively trying to kill you, most likely, but I wouldn't be sure he's offering a branch of friendship," Batman warns her. "He might be trying to lure you into a false sense of security. Or, more likely, he's opening to use you as leverage against me— or exploit you to find a weakness."

Doh! Harper hangs her head slightly in shame at that. She didn't even think. No.. she wasn't even thinking at all. She was still too new to this and was just breaking ground. "I.. wasn't thinking about that at the time.. Cracked ribs and all.."

"But isn't there something you could do? I mean.. for him to be a bad guy he treated me kind of decently. There may or may not be some weird little glimmer of hope there, you know? Make him turn good. Maybe.. he could come back, right? Stop whatever it is he's doing and just.." She was at a loss.

"So that's it then? He's back from the dead, Bruce. I'm smart enough to know if I'm being played or not, I think we can bring him back. Right?"

"Maybe." A polite way of saying 'I doubt it'. "Rob- Hood made it very clear to me that he's not interested in rejoining me here. I think I caught him on a good day," Batman says, a little wryly. "He didn't have time to sit and think about killing me. Put on the spot, I was able to back him down somewhat."

"He's extremely dangerous, Bluebird. Very smart. Strong, fast, determined, and lacking any semblance of moral restraint. He'll shoot someone in the head as soon as break their leg. That's a difficult person to negotiate with."

"Was that a joke?" Harper smiled just a little. "Just.. a small joke?"

"You know.. I have faith in you. As Bruce and as Batman.. but I think.. I mean, aside from his obvious resentment of us he could actually be a point of contention if someone out there could actually sway the guy."

She leans back again, her head tilted. "I'll be careful though. I don't think I could handle seeing you cry if I get murdered or something, y'know? Then you'd be stuck with Cullen and lord knows that little brat won't let you get an ounce of sleep." Her nose wrinkles faintly. "But.. this. All of this. How are -you- doing?"

Of course it wasn't. Batman's features don't remotely suggest one. Which is weird, because it was kind of funny. Right?

He eyes Harper at her rather personal inquiry, considering his semi-ward's question with a flat and unreadable gaze.

"I've work to do. If there's nothing else, I'm going to get back to it." Bluntly ignoring the question entirely, Batman turns his chair 'round the right way and turns his computers back on, the Bat-Symbol spanning the screens before one by one, they flicker to life displaying a portion of the endless streams of intelligence that are the backbone of his crime-fighting organization.

Leaving Harper to sit there and stare at the back of his high-backed chair, and figure out for herself Batman's relationship with the recently revived Jason Todd.

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