Catharsis

April 24, 2018:

Bruce meets Jason in the Batcave as agreed weeks before. The two beat each other down (Or Jason does, at least). Alice stows away and watches.

Batcave

Characters

NPCs: Alfred

Mentions: Nightwing

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

*

The perimeter alarm had gone off a minute ago., but upon learning who it was that had found one of his older Batmobile exits, Bruce simply turned off the perimeter defenses, along with the inner defenses, and allowed the car to drive right on in.

Bruce was even out of the Batsuit, and in a casual black shirt and jeans as he waited, arms crossed, inches from the vehicle platform.

The vehicle platform usually played host to the Batmobiles and other assorted guests… but tonight, it would play host to Jasons car. Alfred was setting up the dinner table on the main chamber platform, the meal and drinks already prepared. He, too, was silently awaiting the adopted sons return, his stance and demeanor as professional as his suit.

*

Jason had been preparing for this day.

Even before he officially accepted Bruce's invitation, he had been training himself hardcore. His training under the All-Caste, the League of Assassins, and from various masters all around the world. He was ready for this…it was all leading up to this. Though eventually he does arrive at the Batcave, using one of the old routes that Bruce would take when they were still the Dynamic Duo.

He drives straight on in and once he reaches the main platform, his eyes are sharply on Bruce. he didn't wear his armor, as was the agreement. just a hood over his head that belonged to a leather jacket that was around his shoulders. a black t-shirt under that, black jeans, and combat boots. He exits the car, and he sees Alfred.

Jason likes Alfred, so he just gives Alfred a little nod of his head before he walks up to Bruce, looking him right in the eyes, man to man.

This night was probably going to change everything.

*

"Hello, son." Bruce greets, amicably. His arms drop to his sides as those keenly intelligent eyes glance over Jason. "You look well, in spite of it all."

Bruce and his demeanor are a carefully controlled neutral. This might be one of his adopted sons, but he was still legally dead… and shooting his chest armor only a few weeks ago. Still, those blue eyes meet Jasons own blue as he watches 'Red Hood'. "I was beginning to wonder if you'd ever take the invitation, preparing for the encounter as long as you did." Because of course he did.

"You seem like you're a bit calmer, at least… and no guns." Bruce observes, before he looks to Alfred, who perks a bit at the look, "Can you get us some water Alfred. We might need some hydration by the end of the night." Bruce states, before he smiles to the butler. Alfred gives a nod, "At once, Sir." Before he heads for the elevator up to the mansion… and Bruce looks back to Jason with that same neutral expression, "I hear you've been busy around the world, now that I know you're not dead. You didn't overturn your legally dead status to keep me in the dark?" The statement comes out as more of a question.

*

Jason watches Bruce then as he greets him with the word 'son.' But he's going to be a man about it and save it for the fight when it goes down…because it will.

Jason watches his 'father' as he compliments him. "Thanks. You look like you just got out of a boring-ass board meeting." he says then to him. and as far as Jason was concerned, Alice was helping him get a new identity.

Either way, that's been a closely guarded secret.

"Took a week to get in a good mental state to look you in the eyes without trying to shoot them." he explains then as he takes that deep breath, watching Alfred as the Butler leaves the area. Then his eyes return to the Batman. "…working on that part. and yeah…been a little bit busy. Knocking down some crime lords and tearing apart the families, you know how it goes. yeah…no guns." he pauses then as he looks around the cave.

"Never thought I'd walk back into this place alive."

*

"Son, at this point, it's pretty sure the pit did something to you, because you were angry before… but this 'Bruce is to blame' mentality is about as interesting as the clowns jokes." Bruce grates to Jason. His tone makes it clear any sympathy Jason might have had at the warehouse is gone by this point. "I can respect that you agreed to my terms."

Bruce then gestures to the simulator dome on a platform off the main platform. That's new for Jason; a full VR suite with modular equipment for training. "Let's get it out of your system then." Bruce gestures with a hand to the dome, before he steps up to the ramp to it, and presses the button to open it… and steps inside. "No killing or crippling. This is a spar, not a deathmatch."

*

Jason shakes his head then as he's talked about the pit..the pit…the pit…the pit. "Yeah? Well I didn't decide to get revived. Far as I'm concerned, I should have stayed 6 feet under." he says then. "You left me in the hands of that monster for months. Left me to die. I don't care if you're interested in it or not." eventually he just takes a breath. "Fine, let's get it out of the way." Jason's always been a hot head and had a mean streak…but apparently this is ingrained in his memory. or at least how he chose to remember it.

He sees the full VR suite, and he looks around. "You upgraded? Not bad." he takes off and tosses aside his jacket, cracking his knuckles as he stood up to face him. "Yeah yeah." he agrees to the conditions as he enters a stance…and waits for Bruce to do so…watching the man who made him.

His eyes narrow as he thinks 20…30 steps ahead, before he lunges forward with a simple roundhouse kick, which leads into a fury of more wing-chun styled strikes aimed for various parts of Bruce's torso.

He's ferocious and technically sound…and maybe out of all the robins, the one who's most skilled when it comes to a focus on pure physical combat.

*

"Your fixation on this idea that I left you to die is the problem, not me. I found you too late." Bruce observes as they step in.

The inside of the VR dome is dark, sterile. Barren. "Computer, Dojo one."

Panels rearrange, the floor becomes padded, wooden. Holographic and modular construction combine to setup a fairly robust training dojo, North American style. "I'm not interested in your fixation on me being to blame. I /am/ interested in helping you see past this… obsession." He's about to take off his shirt, when Jason lunges forward.

Bruce, even without all of the gear, is one of the -if not the- best martial artists in the world, with reflexes that can probably take on speedsters in hand to hand. So, when Jason lunges with the roundhouse, two hands come up to attempt a grapple of it… which turns into a simple block as furious strikes start to come in. Bruce is on the defensive for now… but his multi-mastery of the various martial art disciplines on the planet easily shows as he keeps up with the offensive, "I trained you better than this." Bruce keeps his eyes on the pattern, that keen mind working against the chessboard in Jasons own.

*

Jason looks at Batman then, his eyes narrowed as he fights batman as he takes off his shirt. Jason? Jason just tears it off with very little effort, entering a fighting stance again. at Batman's taunts, Jason doesn't answer, instead moving forward as he throws two more kicks, one to his chest and another to his shoulder to try and chop down the tree that was Batman. until eventually? Jason pump fakes with a knee strike, only for him to shift forward to try and punch Bruce in the face.

He keeps his feet moving, though it's very clear Jason is channeling a helluva lot of anger as he tries to -hurt- Bruce. he knows Bruce is better than him in a technical sense, but Jason is probably the robin that stands the best chance (aside from maybe Dick Grayson) of keeping up with him. Jason -does not stop-/

*

Jason doesn't stop, and Bruce never stops dodging.

Bruce doesn't go out as Batman for his health; It's an obsession. Jason doesn't stop, and Bruce never stops dodging.

Bruce doesn't go out as Batman for his health; It's an obsession. A Drive. A Calling. To call the Dark Knight who is the real Bruce a fanatic to his crusade would be an underestimation of what goes on in his mind. He's constantly keeping in shape, and up to date with the latest martial styles. Muscle memory of countless sparring sessions and self-programmed training droids in the VR suite keep him ahead of the curve. What he lacks in metahuman powers, he makes up for in every other way… and it shows in the way he simply dances around most of those strikes.

Eventually though, that punch to the Bruce gets through, and Bruce reels back out of it. Bruce is no amateur; he took the pain, and adjusted. Did he let the punch get through? It's hard to tell with how fast the two are going. If anyone were watching, it'd probably look like a beautifully deadly dance of anger vs calm. A Drive. A Calling. To call the Dark Knight who is the real Bruce a fanatic to his crusade would be an underestimation of what goes on in his mind. He's constantly keeping in shape, and up to date with the latest martial styles. Muscle memory of countless sparring sessions and self-programmed training droids in the VR suite keep him ahead of the curve. What he lacks in metahuman powers, he makes up for in every other way… and it shows in the way he simply dances around most of those strikes.

Eventually though, that punch to the Bruce gets through, and Bruce reels back out of it. Bruce is no amateur; he took the pain, and adjusted. Did he let the punch get through? It's hard to tell with how fast the two are going. If anyone were watching, it'd probably look like a beautifully deadly dance of anger vs calm.

*

Jason gets that one punch through before eventually he just pauses, moving his feet after Bruce takes that big hit that sent even the dark knight reeling. But he notices that Bruce isn't fighting back…and Jason almost gets annoyed. "COME ON!" he shouts at him to fight back, and Jason actually leaps at Batman with a flying knee to his chest. They end up doing this for a while really, and Alfred probably comes back to the heartbreaking spar between Jason and Bruce.

Master vs. Apprentice.

Father vs. Son.

*

"You telegraph your movements so much it's like reading a newspaper. I taught you better then this." Bruce gives in reply as he changes stance, legs spread a bit, arm at torso level palm up, with a defensively centered open hand.

Then, Jason throws himself at Bruce… and Bruce sidesteps, before he brings both hands around that knee, giving Jason a precious second to realize what's happening as Bruce tosses him like a ragdoll across the entire dome, almost effortlessly as Jason would to himself.

That stance is rebalanced as Bruce reorients himself to face Jason, silently waiting. That wall of calm ready for another attack.

*

Jason looks at Bruce then. "Shut up!" and he leaps…and he;s thrown like the Hulk would throw Loki. Jason flies across the dome, but he catches himself with a hand on the ground and easily flips back to his feet, gliding on the floor with his feet. He cracks his neck as he stands up straight. he takes a deep breath as eyes of seething hatred fall upon the Dark Knight, and without another word, he rushes at Bruce, leading with rapid fire jabs, before he tries to grapple the Batman!

Specifically, attempting a one-armed jujitsu throw.

*

Alice had slipped in silent, quiet, and in her stealth suit. It wasn't the battle suit, that was back home. This was specifically for sneaking in and through places. It still had dozens of little pockets and a camel-pack of water with a spray, but it was all very fancy and sleek and black. Batman might even approve.

The woman had decided she had enough of letting Jason go off and get beat up. And of secrets. So she had slipped into the trunk and then out as he pulled to a stop. Silent and smooth, the indicator having been turned off. On silent feet she had followed Jason down into the cave. Oh sure she was horribly curious, but she was more worry than anything.

Anger was something she was familiar with. Something she herself had dealt with. Vengeful anger was a particularly touchy one and she had tried to stay out of it. So she had stayed in the shadows, arms eventually crossing, as she watched beneath the balaclava. When Jason is thrown she might twitch slightly, but the living shadow doesn't say anything or move beyond that. She could stay there, unmoving, for hours if not days.

*

Bruce never loses the calm, that neutral demeanor throughout. He's clearly not throwing himself into this fight as much as Jason is. Still, he /is/ putting energy into it when he does go on the offense.

Almost like lightning, Bruce starts to counter and actually /attack/ Jason. He's no longer dodging, but trading blow for blow.

Now that the rage was stoked, time to burn it out. Jab meets Jab meets punch.

Then the throw is attempted… and like Jason Bruce is thrown like a ragdoll, and lands on his feet. "Maybe we should go get Nightwing. He seems more on your level these days." Bruce taunts some more as he gets back into stance.

*

Jason looks at Bruce then as they start to -really- fight. It's fast paced and only a truly perceptive mind can keep track of it all. These two were some of the greatest martial artists in the world sans powers. with that in mind….imagine these two as the dynamic duo…they were practically unstoppable.

Jason takes a few hard hits. A jab to his jaw, a punch to the gut, and a kick to the side of his leg, before Jason retaliates with ea vengeance, punching Bruce twice in the face before he threw him. Though after the throw and Bruce's landing and taunting, even Alice can see the rage and pain on Jason's face.

"How about you send me the punk you spent no time replacing me with!" and he moves back into the combat, though he was burning off his steam and he became more vulnerable after each exchange. He leads in with a spinning back-fist aimed for Bruce's chin, and a strong kick to the side of Bruce's leg to try and chop down the tree. Jason was a master of using pain to his advantage. at this point…pain was fuel.

*

Alice frowns as Bruce taunts Jason. This is not her fight and she understands the potential catharsis this has. It doesn't mean she has to like or that her gut doesn't twist with every blow, or jeer. Even Jason's own words have their own way of tearing at her.

Most would be hard pressed to follow the exchange, but this is Alice. Her mind follows and tracks and processes. She would never want to go one on one with Bruce, that is for sure. Of course some things have become painfully clear to her now. Things Jason has told her clicking into place.

For a moment the woman's eyes drift from the fighting bare to the Batcave itself. The gear about is cataloged with a glance, the bank of computer wear, the VR suite in more detail. Very softly, because she is a bit overconfident and doesn't think anyone knows she is here, "Well *#$!…Bruce is Batman."

*

"Should I have mourned you forever, Jason? Is that what you wanted? If you didn't want to be replaced, maybe you should have come out of hiding and talked to me, instead of acting like a child and blaming all the worlds problems on me." Bruce continues to jeer at Jason as the two go at it.

The back-fist is deftly dodged this time, but the kick is simply taken with a grunt… the momentum of the kick leveraged in an attempt to leg sweep Jason onto the floor as he tries to regain balance.

While this is going on, Alfred, who has been monitoring Alice since she got out of the car, finally gives a report into the earbud in Bruces ear, "Sir, I believe she's trying to understand what's going on, not steal anything." Bruce hasn't given any orders to Alfred about what to do with her yet, and Alfred isn't presuming anything yet either… knowing that Bruce will eventually make a decision regarding their 'guest.

"I'm sure that can be arranged." More jeering.

*

Jason keeps on moving towards Batman as Bruce keeps on jeering and luring Jason into the fight, and Jason finds purchase with that kick, likely buckling Bruce's leg a bit…but he's swept instead! Though Jason lands on his upper back, using the momentum and proper placement of his hands to kip right back up and attempt to jump-spinning roundhouse kick Bruce right in the face in almost enhanced fashion.

Jason looks at him. "No…I didn't want you to keep mourning…I didn't even care that I died…but my question is, why didn't you avenge me! Why didn't you put that clown six feet under like he's done to however many dozens of people by now?! You talk about not crossing that line, but how many people have to suffer and how many people have to die before you make the hard decision!" he calls out to Bruce then, looking ripping angry, but he wants an answer.

Why.

*

Alice has returned her attention to the fight and has decided to pull the balaclava off her face. It isn't like Batman doesn't know who she is. And she suddenly has an urge to kick Bruce as well, if only in the shin once. Maybe twice. Asshole. The frown on her face is now obvious as she folds her arms and leans against the wall.

*

"You already know the answer to that." Bruce gives in reply non-chalantly.

Alfred pips in at that moment, "Sir, she's taking off her mask and coming out into plain sight now."

Bruce levels his gaze on Jason, "Right now though, it looks like your stowaway is done hiding." Bruce quips, almost, before he turns to look directly in the direction of Alice. "Friend of yours?"

*

Jason looks at Bruce and he looks angry, he's about to go fight Bruce again before Alice makes her appearance. "….what the fuck are you doing here, Alice?" he looks her right in the eyes then, almost looking upset that she came along and saw him at his worst, really.

He looks at Bruce then "Yeah…friend of mine." he says then as he seems to visibly calm down just by looking at her and he turns around, turning his back to Bruce, as if debating with himself.

*

Alice keeps leaning against the walls with her arms crossed and the frown on her face. Her eyes go from father to son and back. There isn't disappointment in her face. Instead the pale-haired woman looks sad. "Support," She replies in a dry tone. "Please, don't let me stop the slug fest. If you think breaking skin and maybe even bone and bleeding will help. Certainly nothing else has." There is a little judgment in her tone, but it's a familiar argument for Jason likely.

*

Bruce says nothing as Alice talks, listening to her with an impassive demeanor and face. Then, he looks back to Jason, reading him next with a glance. Still, he says nothing, dropping the martial artist stance briefly when the anger seems to drain out of Jason like so much water down a drain.

*

Jason looks at Alice then as he paces the floor, brushing at his face as he looks at her. Oh yeah…that's a talk later. One that she will most likely win. Anyways, Eventually Jason just growls and roars as he punches the ground. and it cracks. Over and over again until his fist has made a subsequent hole and his hand is somehow not shattered, but it is bleeding. He then just stands there a moment, and in that moment….Jason breaks.

Tears escape his eyes, and he just falls to his knees. He didn't want to hate. He didn't even want to fight..life's just kicked the literal shit out of a man who was born with nothing and died with nothing…only to be brought back to life for it to continue.

*

It doesn't take the greatest detective in the world to see the dam break. Still, Bruce never wanted to fight… instead giving his adopted son something to rail at if that's what he /needed/. He still has some serious issues, but even with those, there's still a chance at rebuilding some semblance of sanity for Jason.

Barely a few seconds later, and Bruce is walking over to Jason as he breaks down, one hand on his shoulder; physical contact, to let Jason know Bruce is there… a hand that can be grabbed onto, or slapped away. Words would just ruin the catharsis for Jason.

*

Alice watches Jason rage and slam his fist into the ground. Though her face draws up into a grimace she doesn't say or do anything right away. Too many decades of pain and rage and various ways of dealing it have taught her things. That sometimes you need to rage, to hurt, and to cry. But will Bruce see his chance and take it?

The woman turns her cool gaze from Jason to Bruce now. Her lips a thin line. Arms still crossed it is clear now she is judging him on what he says and does. As Bruce moves towards Jason she stands straight and her arms fall from her chest to rest around her belly now. Relaxing a bit as the tension breaks and the flood comes.

Without a word she makes her way across towards where Bruce and Jason stand. The blood dripping from Jason's hand earn a glance and faint grimace. As she climbs into the VR she pauses, getting a better look at the two. She doesn't want to fuck this up.

*

Jason is just knelt there crying silently, his fists clenched together, before he takes his -other- hand and starts to punch that hole deeper two with just pure…unadulterated rage until that one is in the same condition as the other. He's just that angry. Then Bruce touches his shoulder, and Jason makes no movement about it. He knows Alice is watching him…but it's the last thing on his mind.

As it stands, a small pool of blood is now forming from Jason's hands. "…I should have stayed dead." he eventually mutters.

*

"You think you're the only man on the planet with issues, son?" Bruce gives in reply, "I made peace with mine long ago, as you know, and I'm happy to help you through yours." Bruce then goes to a knee, glances to the pool of blood… before he clasps his shoulder again… and pulls Jason into a hug.

"That's important is you realize your problems, so you can actually solve them."

*

Alice moves forwards at that point and there is the sound of Velcro pulling quietly apart. From a pouch Alice produces a small first aid compact. As she draws forward and knees down opposite bruce she pulls it open. From it comes gauze wrap and she reaches out to rest a hand on Jason's bare arm.

Fingers warm and tends stroke up and down across his shoulder and back. All the while keeping contact with his skin as her power does it works. The blood stops and within a minute scabs have formed over the broken skin. Though before then the sting, as if pure rubbing alcohol, had touched them for a moment. Alice doesn't need to carry fancy chemicals to cleanse the blood.

Scabs forming she quietly reaches to take his hand and presses a kiss to the back, watching his face. There is shared pain in her eyes before she turns to the task of wrapping the self-inflicted wounds. Only then does she make a sound and it is to tsk at the damage.

*

As it stands, it's a wonder why Jason's hands aren't shattered.

But alas, Bruce Wayne pulls Jason Todd into a hug. If he was a kid, he wouldn't believe this was even happening, but alas, Jason gives in completely. His head rests on the shoulder of his mentor as tears fall from his eyes but he doesn't make a sound. at the touch of Alice, he leans into her too as she does her work.

Eventually, Jason leans away from Batman, and he looks up at him, though no smile is on his face. "….I'm sorry." and that's the end of that. While Jason may not be able to change his method of vigilantism, he can learn to forgive Batman..and more importantly, forgive himself. though the latter will take -far longer- than the former.

*

"You came here to lash out. I allowed you in to let you take the first step to learning to live with yourself again." Bruce gives in reply, before he stands up. Then, for the first time, those blue eyes turn on Alice. Gone is the playboy that Alice once had a date with. That Bruce Wayne isn't a mask per say… but a good portion of it is certainly an act. "We need to talk." Even without the technologically advanced voice modulator, Alice can still hear familiar authoritative note behind that order. This man is definitely Batman. "But it can wait until after dinner." He continues, before he starts to walk out of the VR dome, "Computer, end simulation."

By the time the dome is shut down, Alfred already has a third plate ready at the dinner table, his impeccable demeanor as impeccable as his suit, still. "Shall I go get the first aid kit, Sir?" Bruce gives a glance to Alice and Jason, "If only so we can be prepared." Bruce replies, before he sits down. "This was made around fifteen minutes ago, so it's still hot." Bruce digs in at that point, carving his steak.

*

Alice smiles ever so slightly as Jason hugs Bruce and she leans in to hug him on the other side. Oh sure she and Bruce -will- talk later. Might be some yelling, might not. She glances at the man thoughtfully for a brief few seconds and then away to Jason's hands. They both have acts they play, she isn't one to judge.

The apology has her lip quivering even and her eyes may have been momentarily misty. But having utter control over your body chemistry means she doesn't -have- to cry. Leaning in again, one hand tied off, she presses a kiss into his sweaty temple.

"I love you," Alice whispers into Jason's ear. Soft enough it would take Bruce being exceptionally nosy, I.E. normal, to hear it. Then she finishes wrapping Jason's hands and waits for him to stand before following to the table. She shoots Alfred a lopsided and wry smile. "Alas, no lasagna," Alice's comment is a little sarcastic and is obviously referencing some earlier conversation.

*

Jason watches Bruce leave to the dinner table, his eyes watching him as he eventually looked down at his hands…but thankfully for Jason, his saving grace might -actually- be Alice. Standing up after she whispers her words of love to him, he smiles to her, whispering into her ear. "and I love you." he holds her hand shakily, and he'll move with her back to the table…

Where he actually has a family dinner for the first time in a very long time.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License