A fresh drizzle was seeping into the sweatshirt I wore. I stare at the two wet headstones. One had four years of grass growing below it; the other was just barely six months old. It was the engravings that captured my attention the most, however.
June 1968 - November 2010
Beloved Mother and Wife
August 1966 - May 2004
Beloved Father and Husband
Gotham Police Officer
It had been barely six months since my mom died and six years since my Dad's. Dad had been a Gotham Police officer who was killed on duty, they never caught his killer. Mom had been worse, though. Just when everything seemed safe, it wasn't. I could still remember it like it was yesterday.
Arcee had just gotten my mom down from the ledge after Arachnid had fled. "You ok, June?" Arcee asked.
"Better," She responded before turning to me, "Giant metal robots?"
"Yup. That turn into cars, or in cee's case, motorcycles."
"Of course." She says sarcastically.
"Still want that ride I promised?"
My mom smiles slightly, "Sure."
I turn to Cee, "Ready to go?"
Arcee smiles at me, "Su-" A gunshot rings out, cutting Cee off. I duck down as I hear it and look for the shooter. Silas stands on top of the warehouse with a sniper rifle aimed at us.
"You took my prize from me, Darby, now I've taken something from you!" He screams before running towards a chopper behind him.
A thud sounds and I look over to see my mom on the ground sprawled out. "Mom!" I gasp and run over. A collection of blood is seeping from just above her heart. I place both my hands above it to slow the blood flow. "You're going to be fine Mom!"
She smiles up to me and places a bloody hand on my cheek. "So much like your father, like Joshua."
"You're going to be fine," I demand. I faintly hear Fowler calling for paramedics and Arcee coming up next to me.
"Take care of him for me Arcee." My mom tells Arcee.
"Of course June." Arcee looks at my mom sadly.
"But you're not leaving!" I keep demanding, "You can't leave! Not like Dad did!"
"Be good Jackson. I love you so much." Her eyes start to glass over, "Just like you father." She gives me one last smile before she takes one last breath and her hand falls from my face.
The few days following were mostly a blur for me but some things stood out violently. I remember paramedics having to pry me away from my mom. I remember hearing soldiers telling Fowler that Silas and MECH disappeared without a trace. I remember Arcee staying with me almost every second she could. And I remember Arcee screaming at Fowler when he told them I was leaving for foster care.
The Bots had tried to keep custody of me but according to the government, Autobots don't make good guardians. I don't think I'd ever seen Arcee so helpless. I didn't have any living family either, so I was going to be put in the system. Everything happens for a reason, though. Or at least that's what I've been told all my life, I never believed it till both my parents had been murdered and I ended back in Gotham. Yes, that crime infested city is where small town Darby was born and raised. At least till I was 10 and my dad died on the job as a police officer. We moved to Jasper two and half years later when my Dad's brother, a police detective, went missing on a case.
After they brought me back to Jasper I was put into a group home for three weeks, until MECH found me. I was running for my life when I got saved by none other than Batman and Robin. They seemed worried and Robin returned to my group home, in secret, every night in the following next week. Shortly after that I was told a man and his son wanted to adopt me.
That was how I ended up with Bruce and Dick or rather Batman and Robin. It took me less than a week to piece it together. I told them I wanted to join their "nightly bonding time" as they tried to write it off as. Bruce and Dick were against it at first. I lacked the physical skills, hacking ability, and stealth required. Bruce, however, agreed to train me once he realized I wasn't going to take no for an answer. He told me I had "the drive required to get the job done, the control necessary to not go too far and the compassion needed to be trusted" and that since I had MECH after me it was a good idea if I could defend myself. I went through months of practice in hand-to-hand, weapons training, hacking, acrobatics (courtesy of Dick), stealth, and villain history. I was most adept at hand-to-hand and stealth.
It was the first of April when they let me go out with them for the first time, I still had a hard time believing that it had four months since my first night as Sparrow. The nightly runs are something terrifying yet exhilarating, almost addictive.
Keeping up with the bots became harder as time went on, especially when the Batman became my guardian. I told Dick and Bruce I had come across a government secret in Jasper and that I didn't know much, just that there was some new tech in the making. They didn't really buy it but took the answers. Or rather, Bruce took my answers and continued to try to look into it without me knowing and Dick continued to pester me about it and try to hack the U.S. government on what I knew. I couldn't visit very often with my "new extracurricular activity", trying to find Silas, find my missing Uncle and identify who killed my Dad. It hurt to lie to Arcee and the Bots too, tell them I'm fine and that everything is normal when it wasn't. Felt like my life completely changed the day my mom died.
A hand comes and settles on my shoulder and a smaller one wraps around my waist. I place a hand on the smaller shoulder of Dick.
"Ready to go Jack?" Bruce asks.
"Ya." I say, wiping a few tears away, "I'm ready to go."