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Ghostly Interventions

Chapter Text

In hindsight, this had been a really bad idea. When Alfred had asked him to stop by the manor for lunch, he'd been so close to saying no. It's not like he'd been back there in years, not since… anyway, it wasn't a huge loss. He was fine just where he was, especially since it meant he was far away from his so-called family. Bumping into those idiots during patrol was bad enough; he didn't need to spend his free time with them too.

But Alfred had sounded so hopeful, and he was the one person Jason still had a hard time disappointing. Alfred had never let him down, not like Bruce, and Dick, and everyone else. Combined with the promise of his favourite foods (it'd be nice to have something other than shitty frozen meals for a change) and the deciding factor — the fact that Bruce would be away on a business trip that day — had ultimately convinced him to accept the offer.

It was just one short, meaningless lunch, that he could bring up as his defence if Alfred ever tried to guilt him into another one.

(Sure, he'd thought that, but he should have known that going to that stupid house was a bad idea).

Maybe if he hadn't looked, if he'd just minded his own business, and reminded himself that he was here for two reasons — to placate Alfred and stuff his face — things would have been different.

But who was he kidding? It was pretty damn hard to just ignore it, no matter how much he wished he had.

"Oh he's back!"

"He's going to be so happy…"

"He's not here at the moment, remember? Pity, I know he would have been so…"

Jason's head snapped to the side (an unfortunate move, he'd later realise), his eyes scanning over the the source of the whispers — a man and a woman, standing near the base of the staircase. They looked vaguely familiar, but Jason couldn't put his finger on where he'd seen them. 'Friends' of Bruce's maybe; the old man still had to maintain his air headed playboy act, so it wasn't exactly out of character to see rich socialites stopping by from time to time. Their clothing definitely supported to that idea.

Didn't really explain what they were doing here now though, or why they were staring at him like a pair of creeps.

"What the hell are you looking at?!"

They reacted almost simultaneously, eyes widening in shock and mouths parting. Jason felt a spark of approval — serves them right for staring at him. Seriously what the fuck was that about? — but before he could say anything else (bastards were still staring and didn't even have the decency to sound ashamed) he heard Alfred calling from the dining room.

"Master Jason? What are you doing?"

Jason glared at them, before walking away. Whatever. They could hang around if they wanted to; it wasn't like he'd be sticking around for long anyway.

He entered the dining room just as Alfred was leaving, most likely heading towards the kitchen to finish up with lunch. Jason felt a spark of annoyance when he saw that his three 'brothers' were already sitting inside. He'd been lucky enough to avoid Bruce, but of course his luck only extended so far.

They were arguing by the sound of it. No surprise there.

" — and that is why Drake was the worst Robin ever." Demon Brat had an annoying smirk stretched across his face. Jason had come to realise, over the short period of time he'd had the displeasure to know the brat, that his default expressions were smirks (if he was happy) or sneers (if he was angry, or feeling anything other than happy).

Apparently he had smiled once or twice, if Dickhead was to be believed, but personally Jason thought he was full of shit.

"Demon Brat, you realise no one cares right?" That was Replacement. Jason leaned his back against the wall, watching the show with mild interest.

"Guys, that's enough," Dick admonished.

' Fucking Golden Boy Goodie-Two-Shoes.' 

"Your tone of voice says otherwise," Damian retorted, ignoring Dick.

"Say what you want, Damian."

"I am simply speaking the truth, Drake. I am by far the best Robin."

Tim snorted.

" I will admit that Grayson is a close second, simply due to him being the first of us to carry the mantle. I tossed up between you and Todd for last place, but I suppose Todd's premature death prevented us from truly being able to analyse his failures as Robin. Therefore, I have to say — "

"Okay, not that this isn't fun and all, but what the fuck are you morons doing?"

The conversation halted almost immediately. Both Tim and Damian looked more annoyed than they had been — something Jason wasn't exactly opposed to, since any opportunity to cause these morons pain sounded great to him — but Dick perked up and shot him a wide grin. "Jay!"

Damian slouched in his chair. "Oh Lord no."

"Jason," Tim said, nodding uncomfortably in what Jason guessed was a poor attempt at a greeting.

He rolled his eyes. "Great to see you too. No, I'm not staying long. No, I don't really want to talk to any of you. But let me just ask one question — why the hell are you talking about this while there are people hanging around?"

"Wait, what?" Dick's brow furrowed in confusion. "What are you talking about?"

Jason sighed. "You know, that woman and man — " He turned to gesture at where they'd been standing, only to find that there was no one there. He shrugged and turned back. "Huh. Guess they left."

Damian glared. "What nonsense are you sprouting, Todd?"

"Nothing." Jason walked over, throwing himself down on the sofa next to the youngest Wayne. Damian let out a noise of displeasure and shuffled away, ignoring Dick's reproachful stare.

"Hey Alfred!" Jason called out. "Is lunch ready?" He was seriously ready to get the hell out of here. He'd promised Alfred, so he'd stick around for a bit, but — Christ this was as painful as he'd thought it'd be. Trust Bruce to pick the most fucked up individuals and bring them together in this shit-show of a 'family.'

Alfred reappeared in the doorway, and shot Jason a patient look. "Not yet. Perhaps you should sit down for a bit, Master Jason, and speak to your brothers. It's been a while since you've all seen each other."

Jason shot a glance at Dick's smiling face, Tim's averted gaze, and Damian's ever-present sneer, and thought, 'no fucking way.' 

Dick turned to him. "So Jay — "

"No," Jason said flatly.

"I just want to — "

"No."

"Just — " Dick was getting frustrated. Oh yeah, this was fun.

"Dickhead. No. Shut up."

"Master Jason!"

Jason twitched. "Oh come on! I came here, didn't I? Now can we just eat so I can leave?!"

Damian nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, let's. And then you can go, Todd. You aren't welcome here."

Jason shrugged. "Yeah I will. Thanks kid, it's nice to see someone understands what I want."

Damian let out a series of indignant splutters.

He swore he'd heard whispering as he'd left the manor, but he quickly brushed this thought away, because no way was he spending anymore time in that place. Besides, if the man and woman had been intruders, there was no way a house full of Batman's proteges had missed them, especially when they clearly hadn't been putting any effort into hiding.

And if they had, then….well, that was their problem. Jason wasn't wasting any of his time thinking about this.

He came home, went through his usual routine — went out at night and patrolled as Red Hood, checked up with Roy and Kory, and then headed back to his apartment, eager to go to bed. He was tired, and while wondering around in heavy leather and a constricting helmet looked pretty badass, it was uncomfortable as hell.

He'd been lying in bed for about fifteen minutes, drifting off to sleep, when he heard voices coming from his living room. He lay in bed for a moment, staring at the ceiling, and wondered if he could just go to sleep. It's not like he had anything valuable in his house, other than his phone and weapons, which were in the bedroom with him. This place was a dump. He had his TV, but it was a piece of shit and on the brink of breaking down for good. Let them have it; it'd just save him a trip to the garbage dump anyway.

The volume increased and Jason let out a groan of frustration. Shit, there was no way he was getting any sleep like this.

He pulled himself out of bed and grabbed his gun from the nightstand, switching the safety off. Muttering curses under his breath, he walked towards the doorway and flung the door open.

For a moment he just stood there, staring. The woman — the same one from earlier that day — was gazing around his living room curiously, while the man sat on his sofa, looking way too comfortable.

The woman was talking to the man — Jason was too busy trying to work out what was going on to really pay attention to what they were saying — and neither seemed to have noticed him standing in the open doorway, his gun pointed in their direction.

"Um, hello?! Want to tell me what the fuck you're doing in my apartment?!"

Their heads snapped in his direction, but rather than looking scared, they looked a mixture of surprised and excited.

"See, Thomas?" the woman exclaimed. "I told you he could see us!" She turned back to Jason and gave him a wide, beaming smile.

The man nodded. "I guess you were right. I just couldn't believe it…no one has ever been able to — "

"What the hell is wrong with you people?!" Jason snapped. "Has anyone ever told you not to ignore someone who's pointing a gun at you?!"

The woman nodded placatingly, still smiling. "Of course, sweetheart. We know that better than anyone."

Oh Jesus, these people were fucking insane. "Then what are you doing?!" He lowered the gun slightly, and then let his hand drop to his side. Sure, they were obviously mentally unstable and had broken into his house, but there was something about them that made him feel uncomfortable about pointing a weapon at them. They didn't exactly seem dangerous, even though Jason knew that looks could be deceiving. Well - if they did attack, no matter how unlikely that seemed at the moment, Jason could probably take them down easily, with or without his gun.

"Who the hell are you people?" he asked. "I saw you at Bruce's place earlier today, and now you're here?" Another thought occurred to him, making him feel even more uneasy: "How did you even find this place?"

Did they know about him? If that was the case, something would have to be done.

The man shrugged. "We followed you."

Oh because that wasn't alarming at all.

The woman walked closer, and Jason watched her with weary eyes. "I know this might be confusing," she said, "but you have to understand — we haven't really spoken directly to any living person in…well, decades. This is so nice…"

Jason pondered this. Hadn't spoken to anyone in decades? Maybe they'd escaped from an mental institution or a prison. Sure their appearances didn't exactly match up, but it wasn't exactly impossible…

Oh shit, the lady was still walking towards him.

"You're so handsome and grown up now — "

"For fuck's sake, get the hell out! Look, you have some shit against Bruce? I don't care. Do what you want to him and those other morons. In fact, that'd be great. But I'd really like to get some sleep, so piss off before I decide to stop being so nice."

The woman just smiled as if she hadn't heard him, and said, "I'm your grandmother."

Jason's eye twitched. "Oh my god you crazy bitch, leave." 

She sighed. "Jason, if you'd just let me understand — "

"You're not my grandmother. I've never met my grandparents, but if I did have a grandmother, she sure as hell wouldn't look like you. I don't know how long you've been locked up for, but take a look in a mirror sometime, alright? You don't look nearly old enough to have grandkids."

"I'm Bruce's mother," the woman said, and Christ, this was really pissing him off. He was going to call the old man and give him a piece of his mind after this. Obviously, this was his fault somehow.

"Ha. Okay. I want you to…" And then his voice trailed off, because now that he was really looking at the woman, he was staring to realise exactly why he'd found her so familiar the first time he'd seen her. A quick glance at the man yielded the same conclusion. But there was no way…

Without a word, Jason walked to his room, pulled out his phone, and typed "Thomas and Martha Wayne" into the internet search bar.

For a while he just stared in numb disbelief, and then walked back to the other room. The man and woman - Thomas and Martha fucking Wayne, apparently - were still there, smiling at him.

Dammit, it was way too late to be dealing with this shit.

"You're Bruce's parents," he said flatly, and thoughts of alternate dimensions, and time travel, and lazarus pits, and ghosts filled his mind. Yeah, way too late. Goddammit, this was definitely Bruce's fault.

 

Chapter Text

"So let me get this straight — you're a ghost."

Martha - and shit, it was still hard to wrap his head around the idea that these were Thomas and Martha Wayne - nodded her head and smiled. "Yes."

Jason shifted slightly and tried to hide his discomfort as he eyed the couple sitting across from him. Both Martha and Thomas looked far too comfortable, and Jason felt a spark of resentment. Dammit, it was way too late to be dealing with this shit.

"So you weren't brought back by the Lazarus Pit. And you aren't a bunch of time travellers, or from an alternate dimension." They shook their heads. "You're ghosts."

Thomas raised an eyebrow. "You say that like those are more likely scenarios."

Jason snorted. "Oh, you've missed a lot, Tommy Boy." He raised his cigarette to his lips and took a long drag. Martha watched him and frowned disapprovingly.

"Oh sweetie, you might want to put that away," she said. "It's not good for you."

Jason bit back a snort. Oh she was definitely related to Bruce. Also, he really needed to take a moment to process this situation, because right now he was sitting on his sofa and having a nice little chat with Bruce's dead parents, and that was just not normal. Sure, nothing in his life exactly constituted a normal life, but there were limits to everything, right? And ghosts weren't supposed to exist.

He reached out and poked Thomas's arm; just like the last few times he'd done it, his finger went right through.

Jesus fuck, they were ghosts.

"Now, I really think we should discuss things," Thomas said.

Jason sighed. "What's there to discuss? You're a ghost, she's a ghost, and you stalked me." Not to mention they were related to Bruce. Seriously, what had he done to deserve this? Why couldn't it be someone else — Dickhead, for instance. Shit, Golden Boy would just love to have more Waynes to add to his collection.

Thomas coughed, looking slightly embarrassed. "Stalk is a very harsh word."

Martha nodded. "Yes, we were just very — excited."

"Which led to you stalking me."

"We weren't stalk — Jason, we're your grandparents."

Jason shook his head. "No, you're Bruce's parents. Therefore, you are definitely not my grandparents."

Maybe he was being a bit of an asshole — sure, Martha and Thomas were related to Bruce, but they hadn't exactly played a huge part in raising him, what with them dying prematurely and everything — but he was pretty much always an asshole anyway, so why fuck with perfection?

Jason dropped his cigarette to the floor and stepped on it, putting it out. He then stood up, stretched, and walked to the opposite end of the room, where the door to his bedroom was.

"Wait, where are you going?" Martha called after him.

"To bed," Jason said, without bothering to look back. "If you're still here in the morning, and this wasn't some fucked up dream or hallucination, then I'll call the local priest and get you exorcised or something."

"Exorcisms don't work."

Jason winced. "Oh for fuck's sake, fine, we'll talk then. But I'm tired, and I'm going to bed. And please don't talk, because you people have really loud voices."

As he left the room, he could hear them talking behind him in what Jason guessed were supposed to be whispers. He could probably cut them some slack for that though — it's not like they'd had any need to speak quietly over the last few decades or so.

"Is he really just going to bed now…?"

"He's changed a lot, hasn't he?"

Yeah, he was in desperate need of some sleep. He'd deal with this mess in the morning.

When he woke up, any hopes that the previous night had been a weird nightmare or hallucination were dashed when he stepped out of his bedroom, and was immediately greeted by matching "Hellos!" from Bruce's beaming dead parents.

They sat side-by-side on his sofa, with matching grins on their faces. Jason winced, rubbing his forehead. "Oh God, that's fucking freaky." He eyed them for a moment. Honestly, he'd been hoping he was just going crazy. Now that they were still here, he'd actually have to do something about this. Goddammit. 

"Oh, you're so grown up!" Martha cooed. She stood up and walked over, stopping only when she was standing directly in front of him. She cocked her head to the side, her eyes scanning him from head to toe. "I'm not sure about that hair though, that white streak is very — "

"I got it after being brought back from the dead." 

Martha averted her eyes, looking slightly abashed. Thomas stood up, frowning slightly.

"Obviously we've gotten off on the wrong foot here," he said.

Jason shook his head. "No we haven't. Look, whether you're real or not — " Because hey, there was still the possibility that he was going crazy. Bruce would probably have a field day if that was the case; he'd love to have an opportunity to lock him up in Arkham, " — I can't really help you. And even if I could, I wouldn't, because…well, you're kind of annoying. And pushy. And related to Bruce. So just go back to wherever you came from." He frowned slightly. "Wait, where did you come from? The manor?"

Thomas nodded. "It's where we've been since we died. We've made a few trips outside — "

"Okay, that's nice. You can fuck off now."

"Language!" Martha snapped, looking genuinely annoyed for the first time since this whole mess had begun.

Jason's eye twitched. "If I shoot you, what will happen?"

"We're already dead, so nothing." Martha already looked calmer, Jason noted, feeling more than a little annoyed. After decades of no human interaction with anyone but themselves, shouldn't it be a lot easier to get under their skin?

"Goddammit. Okay, fine, since you obviously aren't leaving — just stay there and don't talk."

Jason took a step backwards — because Martha was still standing in very close proximity, and he wasn't exactly comfortable with that — and turned around.

"Where are you going?!" Thomas called after him. "I really think we should — "

Jason shook his head. "No, no, this is a matter of grave importance. I really need to piss."

He caught a glimpse of Martha and Thomas' matching incredulous expressions before he left the room.

By the time he returned, Martha and Thomas still hadn't left. Jason bit back a sigh and resigned himself to the fact that they probably wouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon.

The two of them were standing close together, talking quietly. When Jason entered the room, they glanced up and smiled at him.

"Are you done, sweetie?" Martha asked. "I understand that this must be a very stressful situation, so if you do need to relieve yourself again — "

Oh dear God. "I literally just woke up, and there are certain things a person needs to do in the morning," he said flatly. Sure, he'd just used that as an excuse to leave the room, but they didn't need to know that.

Martha nodded, unperturbed. "Can we talk now?"

Obviously this wasn't going to over until he found out what they wanted. Jason bit back a sigh and nodded his head. "Fine. What do you want?"

"Well, you see," Thomas said, "when we died — "

"Wait, no, I don't want to go back that far. I just want to know why you're here."

"When we died —" 

Jason's eye twitched.

" — we woke up like this. We couldn't see anyone, we couldn't talk to anyone. We went back to the manor because Bruce was there, and he needed us." Thomas sighed, his shoulders slumping. He suddenly looked very tired. "He couldn't see us. No one could see us, until you."

Martha slid her arm through Thomas' and stood closer to him, as if for comfort. "Jason, you haven't been to the manor in years," she said softly. "The last time you were there, you couldn't see us. And then you came back, and you…could. I'm almost certain it has something to do with — "

" — me coming back from the dead? Of course it does." Jason rubbed his forehead. He could feel a headache forming. There were certain things he didn't like discussing, and having this turn into an in-depth conversation about his miraculous resurrection, and whatever fucked up aftereffects may have arose because of it was not something he wanted to deal with.

Martha smiled. "Sweetie, I know this may be outside your comfort zone, but we're just so happy to find someone who can actually see us! To think, we can finally speak to a member of our family — "

"Okay, hold it," he said, cutting off whatever she'd been about to say next. "We need to get something straight — we are not family. You are Bruce's parents."

"And Bruce is your father."

"No he is not!" 

Martha and Thomas exchanged glances, and Jason resisted the urge to scream. Goddammit, why was this happening? All he wanted as to stay the fuck away from everyone and everything associated with the name 'Wayne', and now he was being stalked by the very people who had unleashed Bruce into this world? How was that fair? And maybe, just maybe, he was just crazy — but in the world they were living in now, where things like aliens and witches existed, could he seriously be lucky enough to be imagining this whole thing?

There was also the fact that he had no real reason to be hallucinating this. He had literally no connection to Thomas and Martha Wayne beyond the few stories Bruce had told him back when they were still maintaining the whole family charade.

As much as he wanted all of this to be in his head — who cared if it meant he was officially crazy, he'd pretty much known that already — it probably wasn't. And that meant he was actually being followed around by a pair of ghosts who would not leave him alone.

"Can we talk?" Martha asked hesitantly. "We really need to talk."

Jason sighed. "You aren't going to leave, are you?"

"Jason, I don't understand why you're being like this," Thomas said, frowning. "We only want to help."

Martha nodded. "This family is in shambles. We can help — we've been watching over this family for a long time Jason, and up until now, there was nothing we could do to fix any of this. But with you here — with you able to see us and talk to us — we could work together to reunite the family."

"Oh my GOD, please shut up," Jason groaned, rubbing his forehead. Yeah, he could definitely feel a headache forming. "Christ, this is a nightmare. Okay, you've been dead for a while. Being dead sucks. But you were obviously doing fine at the manor, so why don't you go back there, because…I want nothing to do with any of this."

They stared at him.

"LEAVE!"

He then turned around and walked out of the room. Again. Maybe they'd see it as cowardly, or think he was running away, but that was not the case. He just needed breakfast, and aspirin, and he needed to process the situation far away from those two nut-jobs. Maybe by the time he returned, they'd actually be gone. Sure, he had pretty bad luck, but Martha and Thomas Wayne had died and stayed dead — and had apparently been forced to watch over the Bat Brady Bunch for the last few decades, which had to be torture for anyone — so obviously they had worse luck than him. Maybe they'd finally realise it was pointless, and they'd leave him in peace.

When he finished his breakfast and walked back, he wasn't even surprised that they still hadn't left.

Goddammit. 

He felt his fists clench at his sides, and he walked straight past them, threw himself on the sofa, and reached for the remote. Fine — they wanted to follow him around? They could do that, but Jason sure as hell wasn't going to pay them any attention. Hopefully they'd eventually leave him alone, and he could forget that any of this had happened.

Chapter Text

So far, Jason thought he was doing a pretty good job at ignoring his unwanted guests. They were still as annoying as fuck, and they didn't seem to understand the meaning of personal boundaries, but this was the fourth day since this nightmare had begun, and he hadn't said a word to them. Sure, he'd had plenty of murderous thoughts filled with all kinds of expletives, but unless they could somehow read minds (and considering that he knew very little about ghosts, he really hoped this wasn't the case), he could call them whatever he wanted to in his mind and still maintain a blissful exterior of 'I don't give a fuck.'

The old bastards sure as hell didn't make it easy though.

"I really think this apartment needs some better lighting…what do you think, Thomas? I think if he just replaces those curtains — they're not really letting in the natural light — "

Jason hummed to himself and turned up the volume of the television.

"Should we really be talking about curtains, dear?"

"Well, until Jason is ready to talk about other things, I don't see why not. What do you think, sweetie?"

What he thought was that Martha Wayne was a devious bitch. Obviously he wasn't going to tell her that, or inform her that he really didn't give a fuck about his curtains when 90% of this apartment was barely functioning as it was, because that'd mean he'd actually have to talk to her. Which he was not going to do. 

Maybe he'd invest in a really good pair of noise cancelling headphones. Those could be expensive though…maybe he could just steal Demon Brat's. Kid probably had a pair right? Bruce always had liked to splurge a bit on his latest charity projects.

Then again, Demon Brat wasn't a normal kid…he'd be better off paying a quick visit to Dickhead's apartment and see what he had lying around. Those bastards had to be good for something besides getting him stalked by the most annoying dead people ever.

Martha and Thomas continued to chat noisily in the background. Jason bit back a groan, and turned up the volume of the television yet again. Maybe he wasn't doing such a good job after all.

All of his restraint amounted to nothing and, as usual, the cause of yet another one of his problems was none other than his so-called family.

Maybe he hadn't had it completely under control, maybe those fuckers had been driving him insane, but at least he'd had the satisfaction of knowing that maybe, just maybe, he was pissing them off just as much with his silence.

Then Dickhead and Demon Brat had shown up, and any progress he'd made had fucked off to wherever all the good things in his life eventually ended up.

Martha and Thomas had decided to follow him on patrol, much to his displeasure. While they had mostly seemed content to hang around his apartment and comment on the overall shitty-ness of it (sure, they'd framed them as concerned suggestions, but Jason had still felt the burning urge to remind them that not everyone was filthy rich like they'd been), apparently that didn't extend to when he was on patrol.

No, apparently this was "too dangerous" for him, and apparently he needed to "be more careful", "invest in some better gear", "maybe get in touch with his family and let them know where he was, just in case."

(The last one had taken him a lot of effort not to snap at them, or take a swing at their — unfortunately intangible — heads).

He'd forced himself to ignore them and continue with his work. After all, there was filth all over his streets, and if he didn't take care of it, then who would? Bruce and his lackys? The police? No one else was willing to admit the truth and go to the same lengths that he did, and if he wasted his time freaking out about his dead stalkers and didn't do his job, then there'd be no one to pick up where he'd left of.

He'd been doing a good job, and Martha and Thomas had even quietened down somewhat. Maybe they didn't like what they were seeing. Maybe the sight of his guns were making them more uncomfortable than they'd initially let on (that was they're own fault. If they didn't like it, they could leave - preferably back to the manor). Or maybe they realised that this work took concentration, and they didn't want to see him lying dead on the sidewalk somewhere. They were annoying, selfish bastards, but they needed him to do their dirty work, and for that he needed to be alive.

Then he'd bumped into his oldest and youngest 'brothers' and everything had turned to shit.

It wasn't often that he came across any of them while on patrol. It occurred to him that he'd wondered a bit too far; he usually tried to stay far away from the places he knew that Batman patrolled in. His fists clenched slightly, and he felt another wave of annoyance. If those assholes had just left him alone, he wouldn't have been so distracted.

"Hood!" It took him a while to process that this was Dick and not Bruce — at first all he had seen was the Batman costume and he'd felt a wave of panic, because there was no way he was dealing with that right now. But the Batman in front of him had seemed way too cheerful and enthusiastic, so it was definitely not Bruce. Since there was only one other person who Bruce would allow to wear his suit, this was definitely Dick.

Bruce was probably out of town or out of commission then. Jason felt some relief at the thought.

Damian was standing beside him, and made a small noise of distaste as he eyed Jason. It was funny how different these two were, considering how close they were (Demon Brat might deny it, but Jason remembered what a shit brother Dickhead had been back when he, Jason and Bruce were playing happy little family).

"What the hell are you doing here?" he asked, directing his question at Dick. Asking Damian anything would probably lead to a string of death threats and migraine-inducing screeches, and while Jason usually loved to rile the kid up, he really wasn't in the mood right now. "Where's Daddy Dearest?"

Dick shrugged. "Not here at the moment. He asked me to take over for a few days."

Jason shrugged. He could pry a bit further if he wanted to, but he really didn't care. If anything, he was surprised that the Dead Stalkers hadn't said anything yet. He shot them a glance from the corner of his eye, and saw that they were simply standing there and watching them. Creepy, but as long as they shut the fuck up, he was totally fine with that.

"How are you?" Dick asked, his voice light and casual, as if this were a family get-together.

Jason sighed. "Right, I'm leaving now."

And, since he could never have any good things in his life, Martha just had to choose that moment to break her silence.

"Oh look at them, so grown up." She smiled, looking more than a little starry-eyed. "Jason, ask them if they're eating properly."

Jason's eye twitched.

"And if they're sleeping properly! Oh, I'm always so worried about all this crime fighting — and Damian's just a child, he really shouldn't be out this late — "

Thomas nodded in agreement. "I love Bruce, but I can't say I agree with some of his parenting methods. It's late. Damian should really be in bed at this time."

"Jason, darling, do you think you could ask Damian to make sure he gets plenty of sleep? At least eight hours."

"You know, we've been wanting to say that to you lot for years."

"I know! It's so frustrating having to hang back, not being able to have a say — Jason, be a dear and — "

"Oh my god, shut the fuck up!"

Well, he'd lasted four days. Demon Brat probably wouldn't last four minutes.

"Are you alright?" Dick asked, sounding shocked and concerned.

Damian had been staring at him, looking equally shocked, but he'd recovered by now, and was watching him with his usual sneer. "Yelling at nothing is a sign of insanity. Not that we didn't already know that, of course."

Jason took a step back. Martha and Thomas had gotten the message at shut up, for now anyway. Jason wasn't naive enough to think that would last.

"I'm leaving."

Dick opened his mouth to protest, but Jason cut him off. "I'm leaving, okay? Being around you assholes for this long is giving me a headache." He turned around and paused. "Hey, Demon Brat?" He turned his head and saw Damian stiffen, eyeing him suspiciously. "Stay up as late as possible, okay? In fact, don't even sleep, because who the fuck needs sleep, right?"

Thomas winced, and Martha shot him a disapproving look. Jason smirked.

"What the hell are you babbling on about?" Damian asked, confused and annoyed.

Jason walked away without answering. He caught sight of Dick's concerned expression as he turned away, and felt his mood dampen yet again. He clenched his fists, but worked on keeping his head high and maintaining an expression of disinterest.

The Dead Stalkers remained silent for the rest of the journey home.

"Jason, we weren't trying to make you mad," Martha said, sounding more subdued than usual. Their silence had lasted until they'd reached Jason's apartment. He removed the helmet from his head and dumped it on the floor, before working on his jacket. He considered ignoring them again, but remembered how well that had worked out. No, these assholes needed to be confronted head on.

"If you thought that," he said, removing his jacket, "then you're more of an idiot than I thought."

Martha's eyes narrowed slightly, and Jason thought she was about to tell him off. If she actually had the nerve to do that, then he was really going to lose it. In the end, her shoulders slumped, and she let out a small sigh. "We were honestly concerned. Damian's still so young — "

"I don't care about Demon Brat!" The softness in her voice annoyed him even more. If the past few days had proved anything, it was that Martha Wayne was a pushy, devious bitch. He wasn't buying into this nice act. "Or Dickhead! And it's not even about that, it's about the fact that you won't fucking leave me alone — but you know what, it's not like you persistent assholes are going to understand."

They only cared about what they wanted, after all. Bruce had to have learnt it from somewhere.

"We're trying to help you, Jason," Thomas said, his voice steady and calm. "This is for all of you. You're alone here — "

"I'm not alone."

"You need family."

Jason's head throbbed. "I haven't got family. Bruce Wayne is not my dad. Dickhead, and Demon Brat and Replacement aren't my siblings."

"And Cassandra," Martha said.

"…What?"

"Your sister."

What the hell? "Who the fuck is — oh god, there's another one, isn't there? Fuck. Okay. Just…fuck."

Oh God, he was really losing it. He needed to do something. He needed to get out of here, beat the shit out of someone, fire out a few rounds at whatever low-life scum he could find —

He turned around and walked over to where he'd left his phone balanced on the arm of the couch. He felt tired. Martha and Thomas followed after him, slow and hesitant, and he ignored them. Honestly, he didn't know what he was doing. He glanced at the sofa, in all it's stained and sunken glory, and considered collapsing into it and going to sleep. Apparently these bastards couldn't stalk him in his dreams, so there was always that.

Instead, he picked up his phone and skimmed through his contact list. If he didn't talk to someone who wasn't dead, and who wasn't somehow connected to Bruce, he was going to lose his mind.

"Who are you calling?" Martha asked.

Jason ignored her and held the phone to his ear. He tapped his fingers against his leg, waiting impatiently for an answer. Finally, there was a familiar "hello" from the other line as Roy finally answered the phone.

"It's me."

"Jay? What the hell man, it's late."

"Do you know any priests?"

"…Huh?"

"I need someone to do an exorcism," Jason stared pointedly at the Martha and Thomas as he spoke. Thomas sighed, and Martha's hopeful expression faded, her shoulders slumping in disappointment.

"Are you drunk?" Roy asked, sounding more annoyed than confused or concerned.

Jason winced. "I wish I was."

"Jason, I'm sorry if this is upsetting," Martha said. "I just think if you spent some time with them, then — "

Jason ignored her. "Do you know any good exterminators then? I feel like I really need to get my house cleaned, you know? There are just some pests hanging around that I can't get rid of."

Fuck, he didn't even know what he was saying anymore. He needed some sleep.

"Jason? What's the fuck is going on?"

Jason sighed. "God, you don't want to know."

" — it hurts to see your family torn apart like this. Thomas and I would give anything to make things better for you guys. I just wish that we — "

Jason tried to block out the sound of his voice. This wasn't going the way he'd planned. Hell, he wasn't even sure what he'd been planning, beyond really, really wanting to annoy the Dead Stalkers. Right now, he was starting to feel the beginnings of a very unwelcome emotion — guilt.

There was no way he was letting Martha Wayne of all people guilt-trip him into doing anything. He'd resisted Dickhead's nagging and kicked-puppy stares, he could definitely deal with her.

" — and I know you don't want us hanging around, but Jason, you're the only one who can do anything about this — "

Jason's eye twitched.

"Jason?" Roy asked.

"Oh my god, shut the fuck up. Fine!"

Martha froze, her words cutting off abruptly. Her eyes widened in surprise and hope. Beside her, Thomas looked equally surprised.

Jason felt a bit pleased at that. The thought of agreeing to any of this left a bad taste in his mouth, but this had gone on long enough. He had to get rid of them somehow, and if this was the only way to do it, then what the hell. He'd been through worse — he'd clawed his way out of his own grave for fuck's sake. It'd just be embarrassing if he couldn't deal with two dead socialites.

"Wait what?" Roy sounded incredulous. "Jason, what the hell?"

Jason blinked. Oh yeah, for a minute there he'd forgotten about Roy. "Oh, I was, uh…sleep calling you. Good night." He hung up the phone. Maybe that was a little weird and confusing, but it took two to maintain a friendship, and Roy could walk away whenever he wanted to. He obviously hadn't done so yet, so until he did, he could put up with all of Jason's bullshit.

He set the phone down, and turned to Thomas and Martha. "If it'll get rid of you morons, I'll do it," he said. "But we are doing this on my terms, okay? Forget all this 'reuniting the family' garbage, because it's never going to happen."

He thought for a moment. He had to be careful about what he agreed to. There was no way he was spending extensive time with any member of Bruce's fanclub, but maybe he could deal with an hour or so. It'd be worth it in the end if it got rid of the Dead Stalkers.

"I'll spend a bit of time with each of them," he said at last.

"A day with each one," Martha said.

"An hour with each one."

Surprisingly, she didn't even hesitate before nodding. "Fine."

"And I will not be including Bruce in any of this, okay? I'll deal with Demon Brat, Replacement, Dickhead, and uh, the sister — "

"And Stephanie and Barbara," Thomas added. "Maybe Bruce never officially adopted them, but they're part of the family too."

Jason ran a hand through his hair in a frustrated gesture. Fine, whatever. He liked Barbara well enough, and Stephanie…he didn't know her at all, really, but maybe that was a good thing. It'd make her easier to deal with.

"Fine. But no Bruce."

"Alright."

Jason sighed, relaxing slightly. "I'll tell the Demon Brat to sleep more or whatever if that's what you want. And I'll…do something with the others, I don't know. But everything has to be approved by me first, alright? I'm not passing along any messages that'll make me look like I'm crazy. Or like I actually like them. Okay?"

Thomas nodded. "Okay."

Jason glared at them. "That's all I will be doing. And after that, you're going to leave me alone. Okay?"

"We have a deal," Thomas said, smiling. Martha nodded in agreement.

Jason's eyes narrowed slightly. It couldn't be that easy, right? There had to be a catch. There was no way these persistent assholes would be satisfied with what he was giving them.

"I will not be changing my mind," he told them, his voice firm. "If you think I'm going to magically have a change of heart — "

"It's fine, Jason," Martha said. "This is more than enough."

Jason eyed them suspiciously for a moment. Finally, he stood up and walked away in the direction of his bedroom. Neither Thomas nor Martha followed him, and he let out a sigh of relief once he was in the privacy of his room.

He wasn't an idiot. There had to be a catch. Maybe they thought he'd change his mind and go the whole way. Maybe they thought he'd suddenly realise how much he adored Bruce and the rest of those bastards, and go running into their arms while everyone shrieked and wailed in joy.

(Oh God, that was a horrific mental image).

Well that definitely wasn't going to happen. A deal was a deal, and whether they liked it or not, the Dead Stalkers were going right back to the manor when all of this was over.

Chapter Text

Since Damian was the most accessible — just a quick trip to the manor and back, and Bruce was away on a business trip, which was an added perk — Jason decided to visit him first. He tried to remind himself that it wouldn’t be that bad. It was just an hour, and then he could cross Demon Brat off the list and move on to his next target.

 

Then he reached the manor, caught sight of a scowling Damian standing in the open doorway, and thought, ‘Oh God, why?’ 

 

“What are you doing here?” 

 

“Move it, kid,” Jason said, shoving past Damian and wandering inside. The place looked empty, and Jason briefly wandered where Alfred was, since Damian had been the one to open the door. He would've thought the snobby little brat thought opening doors was beneath him.

 

Damian stumbled slightly, before righting himself and storming in after Jason, while Martha and Thomas watched on disapprovingly. 

 

“If you’re looking for Father, he isn’t here,” Damian said, eyes narrowed. 

 

Jason snorted. “I know that. Why would I be looking for him?” Hell, the only reason he’d even agreed to come here was because he knew Bruce was gone for the next few days. He’d take the Dead Stalker’s company over Mr. Father of the Year.

 

“Then why are you here?!”

 

“For you.” Jason reached out and slapped him on the shoulder. “It’s your lucky day kid. You’re about to spend the day with me.” Well, more like an hour, but Demon Brat probably didn’t care about the specifics.

 

Damian stared. “…Get out.”

 

“Nah, don’t think I will. What do you do in your free time, kid? Other than trying to kill people of course — I don’t have a problem with it, obviously, but Bruce might go a bit apeshit and I really don’t want to have to deal with that.”

 

“Todd, I’m warning you….”

 

“Jason!” Martha said warningly. Jason spared them a glance, and saw that both Martha and Thomas were wearing matching frowns. Well. It’s not like they hadn’t asked for this. 

 

Still though, as fun as it was to antagonise the bastards, it wasn’t really going to help him. The whole reason he’d even agreed to do this was to get rid of them, and unless he went through with this, they wouldn’t be going anywhere. 

 

Better just get this over with then.

 

“I’m kidding,” he told Damian, who continued to watch him with an expression that could probably shatter mirrors. “Look, I just thought we could spend some time together, because…” He tried to think of a reason, but found himself drawing a blank. Wow, he really hadn’t spent any time with this kid, had he? “Er…I’m thinking of going into childcare, and this’d be really good practice.”

 

Damian’s scowl deepened. “Is that a joke?”

 

Jason shrugged. “Yup. The childcare thing was a joke — I’m going to be a comedian.”

 

“You?” Damian snorted. “You’d be booed off the stage.”

 

“Nah, I wouldn’t.” Jason grinned. “Get this — for my grand finale, I’m going to — drum roll — reveal Dick’s manhood to the audience! Guess what guys, his name might be Dick, but he’s barely got one!”

 

Damian’s expression immediately darkened, and he took a threatening step forward. “How dare you?!” 

 

“…Yeah on second thought, Dickhead’s gotta be popular with the ladies for some reason. It sure isn’t his winning personality.”

 

“Talk about Grayson in such a disgraceful manner again and you’ll regret it!”

 

The kid clearly didn’t have a sense of humour. If Jason had been a kid, he’d be howling with laughter right now.

 

“I’m starting to think this was a very bad idea…” Martha murmured.

 

Thomas winced. “It’s like watching a train wreck, isn’t it?” 

 

Jason twitched slightly. He’d forgotten they were still there, watching his every move. Whatever satisfaction he’d gotten from Damian’s reaction vanished almost immediately. 

 

He glanced at his watch. “Has it been an hour yet?” 

 

“What on earth are you talking about, Todd?” Damian demanded.

 

“Not you.”

 

“There’s no one else here!” 

 

“Not even close,” Martha told him, her eyes narrowed. “Jason, you aren’t even trying!”

 

“Todd!” 

 

Oh for fucks sake. Jason turned back to Damian, and snapped, “If you must know, I’m talking to your dead grandparents.”

 

Probably not his best move, if Damian’s dumbstruck expression was anything to go by, but at least the kid hadn’t started screaming, or tried to kill him yet.

 

Then, because he was in a bad mood, currently being ambushed by three Waynes (which was fucking ridiculous because there should have only been two Waynes left), and because, admittedly, he could be a bit of a jackass at times, he kept going. “What they forget to mention is how fucking annoying they are. Seriously, Martha Wayne is a right old — ”

 

“GET OUT!”

 

Yeah, there was the Demon Brat he knew.

 

“You come into my home and slander my family! You aren’t one of us! Leave now or you will rue the day you chose to insult the Wayne family!” 

 

Jason shrugged. Well, he’d tried. “Okay then. Bye.”

 

He turned around and walked out of the door, making sure to shut it behind him, since Damian didn’t look like he was in the mood to do it himself. See, he could be considerate when he wanted to be.

 

He glanced up, hoping that Martha and Thomas had decided to stay in the manor, deciding that he was a lost cause after all. Ha. As if it’d ever be that easy.

 

Instead, the Dead Stalkers stood there watching him, their arms crossed over their chest, and wearing matching disapproving frowns.

 

“…I did try, okay. It’s not my fault Demon Brat is oversensitive.”

 

“Jason, you were tormenting the poor child!”

 

Jason snorted. “Uh, no I wasn’t. Not my fault the kid doesn't know how to take a joke.” 

 

Martha’s eyes narrowed. “Jason, I felt like slapping you, and I have a very high tolerance for dealing with assholes!”

 

Thomas coughed. “Martha, dear — ” 

 

“Did you seriously just call me an asshole?” He was genuinely surprised — in all the time he’d been around her, Martha hadn’t sworn at him. She was a manipulative bitch, sure, but she was apparently a sophisticated one.

 

“Of course not, darling,” Martha said dryly. “You’re just a grown man, trying to get a rise out of a ten year old child.”

 

Jason rolled his eyes. Maybe she did have a bit of a point but…well, you could hold a gun to his head, and he still wouldn’t admit that aloud. Besides, it was fun to annoy Demon Brat. It’s not like the kid wouldn’t do the exact same thing if their roles were reversed.

 

Martha sighed. “Well, you obviously don’t want to do this. We should just go home now.” 

 

The ‘we’ didn’t go unnoticed by Jason. “You’re a devious bitch.”

 

Thomas frowned slightly, clearly unhappy about the insult to his wife, but Martha seemed unbothered by it, to Jason’s annoyance. She simply raised an eyebrow and smiled slightly. “Insult me all you want — you’re still going to be spending a lot of time with me.” She turned to Thomas. “Oh, Thomas, we should tell him all about our ideas for improving his apartment! Jason, you’re alright with that, aren’t you dear? Since you don’t have any plans for the afternoon anymore — ”

 

“Oh God, FINE!” Because sure, this was painful, but spending the rest of his life being stalked by these bastards? Just the thought made him want to crawl back into his grave. 

 

He turned around and reached for the handle of the door, only to find that it was locked. He banged repeatedly on the door with both hands. “DEMON BRAT! OPEN UP!”

 

“Is this a good idea?” Thomas murmured, watching Jason with worried eyes. Jason thought he heard Martha say something in response, but didn’t listen too closely to hear what it was. It didn’t really matter in the end; whether they thought it was a good idea or not, he doubted that they’d be going anywhere. He was obviously their golden fucking goose, and unless he found some other unfortunate bastard who could see dead people, he was stuck with them.

 

The door swung open a moment later, revealing Alfred standing on the other side. The older man watched Jason with raised eyebrows, clearly confused by his presence. “Master Jason.” 

 

“Hey Alfie,” Jason said with a brief nod. “Where’s Damian?” 

 

“He stormed past me and went to the living room a few minutes earlier,” Alfred said, moving to the side to let Jason in. “I suppose you had something to do with that?” 

 

“Yup.” Alfred frowned slightly, and Jason bit back a sigh. “Look, I’m here to apologise, okay? No really, you can even watch me if you want. I just want to spend…” He glanced at his watch. “…Forty five minutes with the kid.”

 

“One hour,” Thomas corrected. “I don’t think any of that counted.”

 

‘You’re dead, so your opinion shouldn’t count,’ Jason thought to himself. He didn’t say it aloud, because by now he’d realised that his mind was his only sanctuary when it came to dealing with these assholes.

 

“I mean one hour,” he amended.

 

Alfred frowned. “Master Jason, are you alright?” 

 

“Fine,” Jason said, nodding. “Just fine. I’ll be even better once I see the little demon.”

 

Thomas coughed. “Maybe hold back on the insults?”

 

“DEMON!” 

 

“Just take what you can get, dear,” Martha said to Thomas.

 

“He’s in the living room,” Alfred said. “Try not to antagonise him too much.”

 

Jason shrugged. He wasn’t making any promises. It was Demon Brat; the kid’s default emotion was anger. He walked towards to the living room, and found Damian curled up on one of the sofas, his dog (something pretentious…oh yeah, Titus) curled up beside him.

 

Damian glanced up, his expression immediately darkening. “What do you want?!”

 

Okay, this was going to be hard — Damian had always been so easy annoy, unlike Dickhead, who seemed to eat rainbows and sparkles for breakfast these days, and even Replacement, who mostly just got uncomfortable and made excuses to leave whenever he was around.

 

A glance at Martha and Thomas reminded him of what was at stake here.

 

“I just wanted to apologise,” he said. “…I guess.”

 

Damian looked suspicious, which, Jason supposed, was fair enough. “Apologise?”

 

“Yeah. For…” He thought back to what he’d done. “…Calling you a demon.”

 

“You insulted Grayson.”

 

“Yeah. Well, that was…a joke. Just some brotherly banter.” He inwardly gagged — ‘brotherly’. Ugh. Wrong choice of wording.

 

Martha beamed, and Jason thought he might actually throw up.

 

Damian crossed his arms in front of himself, still wearing at expression that could make babies cry. Probably had on more than one occasion. “You made vulgar remarks about him.”

 

Seriously, what the fuck was wrong with this kid? “Oh Jesus kid, lighten up a bit. I get that you’re the spawn of Bruce and Talia, and that’s pretty much doomed you for life in terms of having a sense of humour — ”

 

“And now you’re insulting my parents!”

 

“No I’m just stating a fact!”

 

Martha sighed, rubbing her forehead. “Just tell him you’re sorry for all of it.”

 

Jason twitched. “I’m not — ”

 

“Still an hour.”

 

Dammit. God fucking dammit. 

 

“Look — I’m sorry okay,” he forced out. Damian continued to watch him, obviously unmoved. Well, screw him, that had taken him a lot of effort, even if he hadn’t meant a word of it. “Let’s just watch a movie or something.”

 

Damian sniffed. “No.”

 

“Yes. I’m going to be watching so either you join in or…look kid, just shut up and stop being such a shithead, okay?”

 

“I don’t want to watch a movie!” Damian snapped. “Grayson always makes me watch those horrid Disney films.”

 

God, the kid hated Disney too? Was there anything remotely normal about him? He liked animals, which Jason guessed was a normal, human thing, but he also tortured them with pretentious names like ‘Titus’. 

 

“We don’t have to watch anything Disney,” Jason told him. He thought for a moment. “What about something super violent and bloody?” That’d probably be more Demon Brat’s cup of tea. 

 

“Jason!” Martha and Thomas both said, because they obviously hadn’t realised just how fucked-up their grandson was.

 

“Come on.” He nudged Damian, who still looked annoyed. “I bet it’ll remind you of your mum.”

 

Martha face-palmed. She actually face-palmed. “Oh dear Lord, he has no filter.”

 

His comment seemed to fly straight over Damian’s head, which was equal parts relieving and disappointing. “Father disapproves of those type of movies.”

 

Well, fair enough. Damian was kind of a lose cannon, had spent most of his life being turned into a killing machine by his mother, and had probably tried to murder every member of this family at some point or another. Bruce probably didn’t want the kid anywhere near anything that reminded him of killing…which was pretty stupid since he chucked him on the street, crossed his fingers, and hoped for the best each night.

 

Jason spared another glance at the kid. Eh, it’d probably be fine, and if it wasn’t…he’d be long gone by the time Bruce got back anyway. 

 

“Come on,” he said, “let’s go see what Bruce has in his DVD collection.”

 

 

So, this actually hadn’t been as bad as he’d thought. Damian was a pretty decent movie-watching partner, in that he stayed silent throughout the entire thing. In fact, he barely even moved, which was actually kind of creepy; but then, there were a lot of things wrong with the kid, so Jason wasn’t going to nitpick too much.

 

Thomas and Martha were also pretty quiet, which was nice for a change. Jason glanced at his watch and grinned slightly — the hour was nearly up.

 

“Don’t know what Bruce was on about,” he said, reaching out to pet Titus. The dog had laid his head on Jason’s lap sometime throughout the movie, and Jason had to admit, he was pretty damn cute. Probably his favourite occupant of the house, besides Alfred of course. “This stuff is great.”

 

“Why?” Damian asked, glancing towards him briefly, before turning his attention back to the television.

 

Jason shrugged. “Well, you get secondhand satisfaction from watching people get the crap beaten out of them, or their brains blown out, and you don’t even have to go out and do it yourself. Should be a win-win situation in Bruce’s books.”

 

Damian hugged Titus closer to him. “I suppose.” He pat the dog quietly for a moment. “Grayson made me watch Cinderella.”

 

Jason blinked. “Why?” Bit of a weird movie choice for a ten year old boy. Then again, it was Dick.

 

Damian scowled. “I don’t know. It was a ridiculous movie from start to finish. As if that prince wouldn’t recognise her just because she was wearing a fancy gown and sporting a new hairstyle. Furthermore — I refuse to believe that no one else in the entire kingdom shared the same shoe size as her.”

 

Jason stared. Okay then. “I…don’t think you’re supposed to analyse it this much.”

 

Damian ignored him. Jason bit back a sigh, because this — actual conversation — was exactly what he’d been trying to avoid. “But what really irked me was the treatment of those poor animals.  That wench Cinderella kept those mice as slaves, using them to sew ballgowns for her, making them endanger their lives each day simply so they could have food — ”

 

Jason watched, slightly incredulous, as Damian’s face steadily changed to an interesting shade of red. He noticed Martha nodding along indulgently, and Thomas looking more than a little resigned.

 

“ — and those birds! Forcing them to make her bed, to bathe her! And if that isn’t bad enough, some of them obviously have some mutation to allow them to share the same brain capacity as humans! They are intelligent creatures who should not be kept as pets!” 

 

“Well…at least she dresses them?”

 

Damian scoffed. “Please. Dictating the way they behave, what they wear — they are a different species who obviously live very different lifestyles to her.”

 

Shit, what the hell was he supposed to say? He glanced at Martha and Thomas for help.

 

“Ask him if he’s had enough sleep!” Martha said.

 

‘Yeah, thanks for nothing.’

 

“You’ve…obviously thought a lot about this,” he said.

 

Damian nodded, smiling proudly. Jason blinked in surprise at that, because wow, the kid was actually smiling. This…was probably the first time Jason had seen anything other than derision or a deep desire to kill someone on the kid’s face. Huh. This…didn’t feel normal.

 

(Damian almost looked like an actual kid. Yeah, definitely not normal).

 

“I’ve written a letter to Disney, demanding that they create a sequel where Jaq, Gus and the others exact their revenge. A storm is brewing, and Cinderella’s reckoning is fast approaching.”

 

“…Right. Well then, I need to go.”

 

Damian blinked, looking slightly startled. “Oh. Yes, of course.” He nodded quickly, that familiar scowl reappearing. “You’ve forced your presence on me for long enough.”

 

“Ask him if he’s gotten enough sleep!”

 

Jason’s eye twitched.

 

“Jason!”

 

“Did you get enough sleep?” Jason asked Damian, since he doubted the Dead Stalkers would shut up until he did. 

 

Damian frowned. “Excuse me?”

 

“At least eight hours,” Martha added, hovering near Damian’s shoulder.

 

Jason ground his teeth together, thinking, ’It’s for a good cause’. “At least eight hours.”

 

Damian stared.

 

“…Right, I’ll take that as a yes.” Jason stood up quickly, gave Damian a quick nod (the kid continued to stare after him, clearly confused), and walked out of the room. So that was one out of the way. He had to admit, it hadn’t been as bad as he’d thought it’d be. Sure, the kid had gotten a bit weird towards the end — was this what Dickhead had to put up with? God, no wonder he regularly shat out rainbows these days; his nauseating happiness probably balanced out Damian’s winning personality — but Damian had been focused on the movie for the most part, and hadn’t really said much until those last few minutes. Maybe he could do that with all of them. He could get it out of the way in one go, get rid of the Dead Stalkers, and then move on with his life. 

 

“Master Jason?” Jason glanced up to see Alfred standing nearby. “Will you be staying for lunch?” 

 

“Nah, I need to leave,” he said. There was no way he was hanging around here longer than he had to. “I’ve got some…work to do.”

 

He gave Alfred a quick wave and then left. Once the door had been shut behind him, he turned around, and winced when he saw Martha and Thomas watching him with matching grins on their faces.

 

“Okay, seriously, stop that. It’s creepy.” 

 

“I have to admit,” Thomas said, “I’m not exactly pleased with your choice of movie — ”

 

Seriously, didn’t they know how Damian had grown up? He didn’t think a bit of fake blood and guts was the worst thing the kid had ever seen.

 

“ — but I’m thrilled that you spent this time with your little brother.”

 

“You even seemed to enjoy yourself,” Martha added, looking more than a little smug.

 

Jason glared. “Okay, first of all — he’s not my little brother. He’s just an annoying little brat that I can tick off the list of ‘shit-heads I need to spend the day with to get rid of the pests.’ And secondly, I did not enjoy any of that — I was actually thinking about what to do with all the free time I’ll soon have when you two idiots finally leave me alone.”

 

Martha and Thomas continued to smile at him, and Jason decided that it was a bit like talking to a brick wall. He reminded himself that they’d probably had zero interaction with anyone but each other for the past two decades or so, which probably was like talking to a brick wall, considering the amount of time they’d spent discussing his curtains over the last few days.

 

“Whatever,” Jason said. “That’s done, thank fuck. Let’s knock off a few more.”

 

Martha looked surprised. “What, now?”

 

Jason shrugged. “Yeah, might as well. It’s not like I can actually do anything else with you two hanging around.” He thought about his options. The thought of spending the day with Dickhead actually made him wish the Lazarus Pit hadn’t worked, and Replacement, while slightly better, was still a pretty shit choice…Babs? He’d actually liked her, before all of this, and she’d always been nice to him…spending an hour with her wouldn’t be that bad.

 

“Barbara,” Jason said. “We’re going to see Barbara.”

 

He’d just get through the list as soon as possible. Then the Dead Stalkers would relocate back to the manor, and he could go back to being his awesome, ghost-free self.

 

(Fuck, he really just wanted his life back). 

Chapter Text

If Jason had pegged any of the upcoming visits to be completely emotionally draining, it probably would’ve been Dickhead’s. He would’ve had picked Barbara, because he’d actually quite liked her before he’d died, and even though he hadn’t seen much of her since coming back, those feelings hadn’t really changed.

 

That being said, her feelings about him probably had changed, so he’d been expecting more of a protest when he went to visit her. Maybe she’d slam the door in his face, or attempt to knee him in the balls, or something along those lines.

 

Martha told him he was being ridiculous. Jason told her to shut the fuck up.

 

“You probably shouldn’t speak out loud then,” Thomas pointed out, and Jason once again thought about how wonderful, and peaceful and normal his life would be once he could get rid of them(and the fact that he was even thinking of his life as having the potential to be ‘normal’ just went to show how much the old fucker’s had screwed with his mind). 

 

He’d reached Barbara’s house and she’d answered the door (after a series of what Jason called ‘polite’ knocks, consisting of him putting all his strength into slamming both his fists against the door, and hoping it didn’t fall off it’s hinges).

 

The sight of Barbara, sitting in her wheelchair, made his gut clench uncomfortably. It was just a further reminder of the damage the Joker had caused, the damage that Bruce refused to do anything about.

 

(That probably should’ve been the first hint that this visit wasn’t going to be easy, because any reminder of the Joker, or Bruce being  fucking moron, usually led to lots of screaming, and destruction and murder).

 

He greeted her with a quick, “Let’s watch a movie. I vote Cinderella.” Okay no, he really didn’t want to watch Cinderella again, but a part of him was tempted to steal a few of Demon Brat’s lines and see what Barbara made of that little literary analysis of his.

 

A few moments passed, and then she seemed more concerned than annoyed or suspicious. Jason didn’t know if he was disappointed or not. 

 

“Do you want to come in, Jason?” she asked, sounding a mixture of bemused and concerned. 

 

“Yes,” Jason said, shouldering his way in. Barbara followed after him.

 

“So,” she said, “what can I do for you?”

 

Jason shrugged. “I told you. Let’s watch a movie.”

 

“Maybe you should explain,” Martha suggested, because  of course she had to say something. The woman couldn’t shut up for more than a few minutes at a time. “She looks a bit confused.”

 

Well what the fuck was he supposed to say? ‘Bruce’s dead parents are keeping me hostage until I spend time with you assholes?’ He’d probably just end up in a mental asylum, and it wouldn’t even get him away from the Dead Stalkers because they’d be right in there with him.

 

“I’m bored,” he said at last. “And you’re like the one member of this stupid family that I actually don’t hate.” Huh, it was kind of true, wasn’t it? He might even go as far as to say he liked her…although she worked for Bruce, and that kind of ruined things a bit.

 

“So you want to watch a movie,” she said, sighing. “Jason, you’ve never stopped by my house before.”

 

“First time for everything, right? Look, I’ll pick something really good. Like Cinderella!” Okay, he really wanted to use some of Damian’s weird analysis, just to see how Barbara reacted. The kid was so fucked up it was honestly hilarious at times. “I have a whole new appreciation for it’s mouse slavery symbolism.”

 

“He’s really just going to keep watching Cinderella?” Thomas muttered.

 

“Just take what you can get,” Martha replied.

 

Barbara stared at him.

 

Jason shrugged. “Just something that Demon Brat said.” 

 

Barbara looked even more confused. “You’ve…been hanging out with Damian?”  

 

“Not willingly.”

 

“I…” She rubbed her forehead and sighed. “Okay fine, whatever. I’m not really doing anything now anyway.”

 

Jason blinked. “What, seriously? You’re just going to spend time with me? Me? This family’s arch enemy?”

 

“Jason, you went to the manor for lunch a few days ago,” Barbara pointed out. “No one thinks of you as our ‘arch enemy’ but you.”

 

“And Bruce,” Jason said. Martha sighed loudly behind him, and Jason resisted the urge to glare at her. Or stick his tongue out childishly. 

 

He glanced at the clock. “Oh, would you look at the time! Looks like we’ve only got forty five minutes left!”

 

“For what?” Barbara asked. 

 

“Till I get the hell out of here,” Jason replied, walking over to the sofa. “Well? You coming?” 

 

She stared at him for a moment longer and then groaned. “You know what, I’m not even going to bother to ask what you’re  talking about.”

 

 

They didn’t end up watching a movie after all. Jason wasn’t exactly complaining; he wasn’t Dickhead after all, and he did have a limit. 

 

(Later on, he’d really come to regret skipping that goddamn movie). 

 

Instead they just sat and spoke for a while. Jason was surprised to find that he actually didn’t mind it as much as he’d thought he would. 

 

“So,” Barbara said, settling into a more comfortable position in her chair, “you said you’d been hanging out with Damian? I have to admit, I’m kind of surprised. I didn’t think you two were close.”

 

Jason snorted. “Me and Demon Brat? Nah, we’re not. I was just…” Well, what was he supposed to say? He couldn’t exactly tell her the truth. “…Well, I thought the brat could use some company. He lives all alone over there with Bruce and a bunch of animals. That can’t be healthy.” Although the animals were definitely better company than Bruce, that was for sure.

 

“He has Alfred,” Barbara pointed out. “And Dick’s over there often enough.”

 

“Okay, I get it, Demon Brat doesn’t need my bad influence hanging around.”

 

“That’s not what she was saying, Jason,” Martha chided gently. Thomas hummed in agreement. Jason’s eye twitched in annoyance; couldn’t they ever shut up? 

 

“That’s not what I meant,” Barbara said, not sounding at all put off by the irritation in his voice. “And Dick’s only over there because he basically thinks he’s Damian’s second father. He adores that kid.” 

 

Jason rolled his eyes. “Don’t know why.” 

 

Although, he supposed spending time with Damian hadn’t been terrible — well, at least not as bad as he’d imagined it to be. The kid was definitely insane though. He’d never really had a chance, not with Bruce and Talia’s genes intwining in the most fucked-up combination possible. 

 

“So, anything new?” 

 

“Tell her she should stop by the manor for dinner sometime this week,” Thomas said. “It’s been a while since she’s been over.”

 

“Oh yes!” Martha agreed eagerly. “Poor dear, she’s starting to look a bit thin.”

 

‘Oh sure thing, I’ll just invite her along while I do my best to stay the fuck away from that place. For a bunch of dead people, you sure are a fucking — ‘

 

“Jason?”

 

Jason blinked. Barbara raised her brow, looking amused. “You zoned out on me.”

 

“Uh…” Shit, it was distracting with the Dead Stalkers hanging out in the background, staring intently at them. Jason wondered if he could come up with a subtle way of telling them to back the fuck off, because if they wanted him to do this, they could at least try to give him some space so he could do his thing. Having them staring at him like a bunch of vultures gazing at a slab of dead meat was just distracting.

 

“You and Dickhead still fucking?” he said at last, because he honestly didn’t know what else to say.

 

(Sure, he picked one of the worst options for conversation starters that came to mind, but it was him. If people didn’t expect these things by now, they were idiots). 

 

Martha glared. “Jason!”

 

“No,” Barbara said dryly. Jason nodded.

 

That was the end of that conversation thread, apparently. Jason glanced at the clock. Half at hour left. Dammit. this hadn’t been this hard with Demon Brat. Having a movie playing instead of actual conversation had probably helped…well, it wasn’t too late to save this sinking ship. Jason reached for the remote.

 

“Hey, you’re okay, aren’t you?” Barbara said suddenly. Jason froze.

 

“I’m fine,” he said. “Can’t you tell?” 

 

She looked at him for a moment, her head cocked to the side. “Honestly, you seem a bit all over the place right now,” she said. “Something’s distracting you.”

 

“Yeah well — I’m fucked up. Everyone knows that.”

 

“Well you seem more fucked up than usual.” 

 

Jason blinked. “Wow, harsh Babs. That — I wasn’t expecting that from you. Congrats.” 

 

She laughed. “I’m just worried about you. And maybe you think it’s weird, because I guess we don’t talk much, but we were — close, I guess. Before.”

 

Jason shifted in his seat, feeling exposed, and very uncomfortable. He shot a sideways glance at Martha and Thomas, who were staring at Barbara and him with wide, intent eyes. When they caught his gaze, they both looked embarrassed.

 

Thomas coughed and reached for Martha’s hands. “Er, Martha dear, perhaps we should leave them be for a bit.”

 

“Hmm?” Martha blinked. “Oh yes, we probably should. Jason sweetie — carry on, please. Don’t try to leave or we’ll track you down.”

 

‘Love you too, you old bitch,’ Jason thought sarcastically.

 

When they were gone he relaxed slightly. He refocused his gaze on Barbara, who was starting to look slightly awkward.

 

“I guess we were,” he said, because he wasn’t sure what else to say. It was true. He wasn’t sure if he’d call them close — it was a bit hard to remember the good things from back then these days  — but he couldn’t deny that she’d always been nice to him. While Dickhead had wanted nothing to do with him, probably terrified that Jason was going to run off with his precious golden boy mantle (fat chance of that ever happening), Barbara had always been supportive.

 

She sighed, chewing on her lip. “Look — I know things have…changed. But…if you ever want to talk, you can stop by, alright? I don’t mind.”

 

Jason swallowed, and forced a smile onto his face. It felt more like he was barring his teeth than anything. “Yeah, sure, sounds great.”

 

“I mean it. I…you went through hell Jason. You’re allowed to be mad about it, you know? And maybe I didn’t go through a fraction of what you did, but I know what the Joker is capable of — ”

 

‘And what do you think of him, huh? Do you think Bruce should’ve put him in the ground? He robbed you like he robbed me, and now he’s still alive, and WE’RE the ones who are fucked up, WE’RE the ones who are suffering, I’m screwed in the head, I have nightmares all the fucking time, I’ve lost EVERYTHING, and now I’m being stalked by a bunch of insane DEAD PEOPLE, you can’t make this up Barbara, oh my god — ‘

 

“Jason?” Barbara sounded concerned. Jason realised that he’d been staring at her for far too long, his expression frozen.

 

He glanced at the clock. One hour had passed. He felt something akin to relief, but he was too busy standing up and looking for an escape route to really focus on it. The conversation was nearing dangerous territory, and Jason didn’t want it to go there. 

 

He didn’t want to talk about what had happened with the Joker. This wasn’t supposed to be about that — this was about him, doing what he needed to in order to get rid of Bruce’s asshole parents. He didn’t care about any of these people, not even Barbara, because his if his past had taught him anything, it was that you couldn’t afford to trust people. He’d put his trust in Bruce, and where had it gotten him? Six feet out under the fucking ground, that was where. 

 

He wasn’t going to talk to Barbara, because it didn’t matter if she was just another one of the Joker’s victims — she wasn’t anything like him. She’d gone right back to Bruce, as if the things he’d done to her weren’t unforgivable. She was another one of his mindless followers, and Jason wasn’t dealing with that.

 

Time was up. It was time to get the fuck out of here, and move on to the next person. 

 

“Look at the time, gotta run!” he said, hurrying towards the doorway. He heard her wheeling herself after him.

 

“Look Jason, I was only trying to help — ”

 

“Yeah I know you were, but look at the time. You know how it is — you’re sitting around, having a deep and meaningful conversation, but you’ve got other plans and you’ve just got to fuck off, no matter how much you’d love to be sitting around and continuing such a…lovely chat.”

 

Huh, was did he sound a bit hysterical there? He thought he did. Barbara probably did too, with the way she was staring at him in concern. 

 

Oh wait, he was always just a little bit insane around them, wasn’t he? Never mind then, this was probably just a normal day with Jason Todd.

 

“What happened?” 

 

And now the Dead Stalkers were back. Martha sounded concerned — devious bitch was probably worried that he was ruining their master plan.

 

“Bye Barbara,” he said, giving her a quick wave before hurrying away. He could feel her gaze on his back, but she didn’t try to stop him.

 

“Jason, what happened?” Martha demanded. “You look — ”

 

“I’m fine,” Jason ground out.

 

Fine. What a joke. He hadn’t been fine in a long time. And God, being around Barbara had just brought it all up again, the rage, the injustice of it all. She was yet another reminder of how the Joker had fucked so many people over. She was another person that Bruce had failed. 

 

“Maybe we should take a break,” Thomas suggested hesitantly. “Why don’t you — stop by a cafe, maybe, get yourself a nice cup of tea.”

 

“Shut the fuck up. Please.”

 

He did. Didn’t even look disapproving, Jason noted with surprise. Maybe he was losing his touch. Or maybe they were genuinely concerned.

 

(Jason wasn’t sure which one was more worrying). 

 

He ran a hand through his hair, feeling a wave of exhaustion pass over him. Things had started off alright, and he wasn’t sure how the hell they’d derailed so badly. 

 

Well no, he thought, briefly going over the recent events in his head, it had been around the time Barbara had asked him if he was ‘okay.’ Because no, of course he wasn’t, but while he’d usually be able to brush any unwelcome thoughts away easily enough, the past few days had really drained him. Being stuck with these ghostly motherfuckers, being forced to deal with his ‘family’, and then being asked if he was okay — it was like a slap in the face, a reminder that he was too fucked up for okay to even be a possibility ever again.

 

He was being haunted for Christ’s sake. He was being followed around by the ghosts of his adopted father’s dead parents who wanted him to reunite his family. Oh God, it sounded like the plot of some sappy Christmas tv special. 

 

His life had turned into a sappy Christmas tv special. Oh fucking God, why.

 

He felt angry. He always felt angry, and now he could feel it boiling over, and felt far too drained to suppress it.

 

Fuck, if he exploded, it was not going to be pretty. He could almost see the gates of Arkham, and wondered if the Dead Stalkers would leave him alone if he was locked up and unable to comply with their little family reunion scheme.

 

Nah probably not. They were persistent fuckers, they’d find some way to ruin solitary confinement for him.

 

“Jason?” Martha said, her eyes wide in concern. “Maybe we should call it a day. I think this has all been a bit…much.”

 

He shook his head. No fucking way — the only way he had any hope of getting some much needed peace and quiet was to get rid of these assholes, and the only way that would happen was if he did what he’d promised. Then they could go back to stalking Bruce like they should be doing, and he could go back to avoiding anyone with the last name ‘Wayne.’

 

“No, let’s get this over and done with.”

 

(And this time, there was no way he was forgetting the movie. Anything that meant he could avoid actual conversation sounded great).