It’s always the damn birds.
Jason has been able to hear them since he was little. It was known, but not commonly thought about, that birds carried spirits of the dead that couldn’t move on. Most people thought it was a superstitious joke. Jason figured his life was a joke anyway so that made sense in a twisted way. He used to curl up in the closet and cover up his ears to cover up the sound of the birds on the windows.
It was just chirping to most people, but to him-
“I gave you my wallet, I don’t understand why-”
“Harry just has a bit of temper, see? He wouldn’t really hurt me-”
“Mommy, mommy, come back! I’ll be good! I swear I’ll be good-”
“Where am I going to find that kind of money? I don’t care what kind of hot shot psycho he thinks he is, you can’t just-”
“All my tax dollars for this? These roads are so dangerous-”
“It’s not my fault!”
“I just want to go home…”
Over and over and over again a million different ways.
He tried telling people about it - especially when it sounded like the ghost had been murdered- but everyone thought he was just a kid with a wild imagination or looking for attention. He eventually realized that he should keep what he heard to himself or people would think he was crazy and lock him up in Arkham when he was older.
He wanted to help though. Wanted to get justice for all the people he heard in the birds everyday. Wanted to make it so the people responsible were caught so there weren’t so many new ghosts turning up everyday.
He got his chance when Batman took him in.
One of the best things about crime fighting at night was the fact that sparrows weren’t nocturnal. He could kick ass all over the city and not have to be anxious about the listening to another horrible victim he wasn’t able to save. Though it was Gotham: there was still plenty of horrible to be seen with his eyes. But at least Batman could also see that shit.
Plants also responded to him.
His mother used to joke that he had a green thumb. She’d get little plants for their windowsill from the store that were going to be thrown away because they were almost dead. A week or so under Jason’s care and they’d be thriving. Alfred also commented when he had moved into the Manor that the gardens had never been so lush. The whole grounds at Wayne Manor was bursting with life while he was there.
Now Jason was pretty sure he wasn’t a Meta. Afterall, Meta’s had power. Jason didn’t really think he had power. The spirits were always in the birds, he could just hear them. He wasn’t like Poison Ivy, he couldn’t control plants, they just grew better when he existed in their vicinity. And the other things, the shadows that sometimes only he could see, the streets in lower Gotham that only sometimes existed, the alleyways that looked perfectly harmless but Jason could sort sense were distinctly… other. But none of that was Jason.
The only things that sometimes made him wonder sometimes were the occasions that he really thought had killed him but just… apparently didn’t. Being stuck outside in the winter in Gotham and being so cold, lying in an alleyway and watching everything slowly fade to black while a light snowfall covered him- and then waking up in the morgue at Gotham City Hospital (he’d booked it out of there so fast, scared the shit out of a couple of nurses). Falling into the bay by accident when he couldn’t swim, struggling and struggling to get the surface and just not being able to- and then waking up on the banks perfectly fine a week later.
That shit was weird and scared the fuck out of him. He generally tried not to think about it.
But Jason still was sure he wasn’t a Meta.
He didn’t tell Bruce about any of it though when he came to live with him because, well, at first he wasn’t sure he’d believe him. Didn’t want Batman to think he was crazy and take away Robin. Then… well, it wasn’t a secret how much Bruce distrusted Meta’s and Magic users. He didn’t even let them in Gotham. And Jason agreed, they were dangerous and always wrecked the city.
But even though Jason wasn’t a Meta (he wasn’t, he wasn’t!) he was terrified of Bruce not seeing it that way. Would he still be allowed to be Boy Wonder if it was known he could hear ghosts? Would Bruce send him away? Would he lose his home?
Not worth the risk.
So he pretended not to hear the ghosts, ignored the shadows, stayed away from the garden, and gave everything to being Robin.
Sometimes though, the things the ghosts said were just too much for Jason to ignore. He’d make up some contact he had on the street- a “birdy” he sometimes joked, no one needed to know how literal that was- and tell Bruce about whatever fucker was making so many sparrows lurk around his window.
The only person who had looked like maybe they might know for one fraction of a second was Poison Ivy. The look on her face when one of the vines she’d tied him up with had suddenly burst into bloom… Jason had immediately known in his gut she hadn’t been the one to do that. Before she could get any twisted ideas he’d broken free and set fire to a bunch of her plants and then she was simply too mad to care that the Green liked Robin more than it should.
Jason wondered sometimes if he should’ve told Bruce anyways about all of it. He thought about it briefly when he’d woken up in his coffin six feet under delirious and clawing his way out. Would Bruce have buried Jason so deep if he’d known there was a chance Jason might just wake back up?
He died again when he’d stumbled out of the graveyard and immediately got hit by a car.
All the ghosts were louder when he woke up yet again in another morgue. The shadows much sharper than they should be the veil between the human world and all that other way to thin. Talia had picked him up and he’d been either completely unresponsive because of how overwhelming everything was or babbling about the things he was seeing. She’d thought he was crazy, that perhaps not all of him had come back from the dead, and had pushed him into a Lazarus Pit.
The birds fled from his presence, the plants now more likely to die, the shadows to shy away cautiously.
Because the Lazarus Pit had been the start of a whole new kind of madness.