“Red Robin to Red Hood, Red Robin to Red Hood. Hood, you on?”
Jason grunted, shooting a would-be mugger in the knee before he responded, “I’m here, Red. Whatcha need?”
“I’ve got some wanna-be magician heading towards Crime Alley. I’m going to continue my pursuit, but I’m gonna need back-up to take this guy down.”
“Send me your coordinates. I’m on the way.”
“You know, you could have mentioned the crazy magic staff, Replacement. That would have been nice to know about!” Jason yelled as he ducked behind a chimney to avoid getting blasted by magic from said staff.
“Yeah, that was my bad.” Tim replied, breathing hard. “I’d just fallen into a dumpster trying to dodge whatever it is he’s shooting at us.”
Jason snorted. “Oh, so that’s what that smell is.”
“Shut up, Hood. Focus on the wizard.”
Jason grinned, and started shooting again. He fired off a couple shots before falling back against the chimney and calling out “This isn’t working. I’m gonna distract him, draw his fire, and you take him down.”
“Bad idea, you could get hit.”
“Then you better move fast.” Jason braced himself and counted down. “3-2-1, now!”
He spun out from behind the chimney, rapid firing at the magician. The man spun around to face him, and before Jason even realized what happened, he felt a blast hit him in the chest, knocking him backwards.
He heard Tim scream “Hood!” and then everything went black.
That’s the first thing Jason notices when he woke up. He’s cold, and wet. Why is he wet?
He opens his eyes slowly, looking around, and realizes he’s lying on the ground. The grass is covered in dew, and the air is thick with a heavy mist. He sits up, peering through the mist, and shoots to his feet when he recognizes where he is.
His graveyard, with his grave.
Every instinct is screaming at him to flee, to get away, but before he can take a step, he hears a sound behind him.
He slowly turns, and his gaze falls upon a very familiar grave stone.
As he stares, the ground in front of the stone cracks open, and a hand reaches out.
He tries to go, to help, but finds himself frozen in place. He stares, eyes wide, as a younger Jason in a torn and tattered Robin uniform begins to climb out.
A small part of Jason’s mind says ‘That’s not right. It was a normal suit. I had to use the belt buckle.’ That part falls silent as the boy, the Robin, finally emerges from the hole and stands to his feet, meeting Jason’s gaze through a domino mask.
Jason breaks eye contact to look down into the still-open grave, and he sees the casket, open instead of broken, lying empty and unmarked.
He cranes his neck to the side and once again hears that small voice ‘No. I practically destroyed the lid. This is wrong. This is-”
He jerks his head back up, realizing that they’re no longer alone. He and Robin stood facing each other on opposite sides of the empty grave, and now Batman stood silently at the foot, opposite the gravestone. His gaze was slowly shifting between the two boys, who both stared back at him.
Finally, Jason broke the silence. “B, what’s going on? Tim called me about the magician, and next thing I know I ended up here.”
Batman turned to look at him, still not speaking, and Jason furrowed his brow, confusion and – was that fear? – building up inside of him. “B?”
“He has to make a choice.” Robin spoke up, saying his first words since crawling out of his own grave.
“He has to choose.” Robin repeated. Batman still had not spoken a single word, not even a grunt. “Someone has to be in the grave.”
Jason drops his gaze slowly from the younger boy back to the open grave and casket, the words not registering in his brain.
When they finally sink in, he feels his breath leave him, and his head swivels back up to stare at Robin, who had turned to face Batman. “Don’t make me go back.” The boy quietly pleaded. “Let me stay, Dad.”
Bruce visibly flinched at the word ‘Dad’ and Jason felt himself begin to panic.
“B, he’s not real. It doesn’t matter if he goes back, he’s not real. I am. I’m real, and I’m right here.”
Robin reaches out and gently took hold of Bruce’s hand. “I’m real, too. I can come home if you make him go. Dad, please. I want to come home. Please.”
His voice is soft, pleading, and Jason sees him make his decision. He squeezes Robin’s hand, then turns to Jason, who slowly begins to step back.
“B, listen to me. I don’t know what’s happening, but you gotta trust me.” Now he’s the one pleading, imploring as he feels the panic begin to overtake him. “Don’t do this. B, please.”
Batman takes another slow step towards him, and Jason turns to run. Before he can, he feels a gauntleted hand grab him by the shoulder. Instinctively, he begins to fight, all the while trying to run, to escape from the gaping hole and the now silent Robin.
Slowly, he gets dragged back to the open grave. He tries to keep fighting, but his limbs won’t obey, and now he’s panicking.
He looks over his shoulder, and finds himself staring at the empty casket, open and waiting. Terror overtakes him, and he begins to beg.
“B, please listen to me. Don’t do this. Dad, please. Don’t.”
Batman only grunts before lifting him fully off the ground, and then dumps him into the hole.
As he’s falling, and everything starts to go black, Jason can only scream,