It was a surprisingly clear night and Jason was perched on a roof top surveying the city below him. This was his part of Gotham, and it was finally a bat free area. He had worked hard on getting it this way. He had even made a deal with oracle about it; it was a mutually beneficial business deal. She keeps him updated on the rest of Gotham, while at the same time keep the bats updated on his actions. Of course she could only report what he allowed her to, sure she could report his actions but not his intension. It was a good deal, or it served its purpose of keeping all the bats at bay.
They had some kind of truce going on, Jason did not try to actively kill or hurt his former family and they left him in his own corner of the city or did not actively try to spoil his plans. And for a while the only times the Red Hood saw a black cape it was on TV or some lunatic dressing up and being way out of his league. Well that was until they, mainly the robins and batgirls, decided that they had left him alone for far too long and he was apparently no longer a imitate threat. Or that was the only reason Jason could find for the resent bat activity on his turf.
It was starting to get on his nerves; he had a good operation going on. During the months the Red Hood had run the area, crime rates had dropped significantly. There were less drug lords, less human trafficking, and murders never spiraled into serial killings. Then, on the other hand there was less convictions and more graves, because when you step into the Red Hood’s line of fire you don’t step out, you paint the walls with your brain.
And now when he had finally stopped having to gun down scumbags every night, and he could go weeks without killing, the bats had started to show up. A flash of a cape around a corner, a bat shaped throwing knife in a wall or run away transitions caught in his radio feed, reviling snippets of conversations about a case one of them was working on. Something big was going on and apparently it was going down in his area.
Jason’s relationship with the bat family was to say the least, complicated. When he came back from the dead he did not come back the same as he had been. He had made his family realize that the hard way. He had been filled with rage, hate and that special brand of Lazarus pit crazy. But he did no longer want Bruce and the others dead; his goal now was to make them see that his way of cleaning up Gotham was better, preferably with as little contact with them as possible. Hell was that too much to ask? well apparently it was.
Someone was moving on the street below him.
It was the new player in the smuggling business the Red Hood had been keeping an eye on for the last week and tonight he was not alone. Because who else was following the smuggler then the demon child currently in the position of the Robin title. Damian, Bruce Wayne’s biological son, shit Jason almost felt sorry for the kid. But Robin is never alone. A soft foot step behind him confirmed as much. The Red Hood backed away from the ledge and slowly turned to face the new comer.
Nightwing stood a safe distance away on the other side of the roof, hands put in an appeasing gesture. The Red hood took the safety of his gun with an audible click.
“And here I thought we had a good thing going, I stay out of your hair you stay out of mine”
“Jason, please put down the gun I’m only here to talk to you” Dick said, careful to only look at the red helmet not the weapon aimed at his head.
“Why are you on my turf when there is oh so many places I’m sure you could be, so why don’t you take your bats and go away” Jason growled back, not letting go of the gun.
“We need your help with a case, so why don’t we work together?” Dick looked down right hopeful.
The hood was quite a few moments in what can be describes as mild shock, and then he laughed and laughed until it took a slight hysterical tone. Not loud enough to tip off the ones on the street, mind you, he was a professional after all.
“You want my help with a case? Why Dickie bird, you need to kill someone? Daddy bats put away your toys?” Jason chuckled, sheltered his gun and walked away. “Work your case and get the hell away from my streets”.
A week went by and after taking down a couple smugglers dealing in children the bats disappeared again. It probably would have taken longer if not Jason gave his file on the kidnapers to Barbara, of course it was not to help them as much as it was an opportunity for Jason to get a weekend off. And no he was not monitoring the come link he had hacked into, well not regularly. It was not like any serious happened anyway, who was he to care if the smugglers fought back a little too much and Robin almost walked away with one less functional kneecap? What is a flesh wound to someone who has been trained by the league of assassins? Nothing much apparently as Robin was back on the streets two day later, looking as smug as ever only limping when he thought no one was looking. Too bad there’s always someone looking in Gotham.
It’s hard getting away from your family when you are in the same city, and Jason knows he could just as well live out his life on some paradise island or clean up the streets in some other crappy city. But Gotham is his as much as it is Bruce’s and it’s here the Red hood got to be.
Gotham may be a crappy city but it is under his protection for better or worse and no kid is going to get killed on Jason’s watch, and that includes the demon spawn.
He should have known something was up the moment he realized Damian as alone and on his side of the block. He observed from a roof top as Robin was cornered by a gang all twice the kid’s size and armed to the teeth. They were apparently aware of Robin’s injury as the first thing they went for was his injured leg. They beat him up until he stayed down, something that took an impressive amount time considering the kid was like ten. The Red Hood did not interfere firstly because if they had wanted to kill Damian, they would have shot him the moment he was caught, and secondly they looked way too organized to just be a street gang, no this was the work of a new gang. A gang on his turf, going after a Robin.
They took the kid to a warehouse at the end of the block near the docks, and Jason was surprised to see that this was not your average abandoned warehouse but it was actually in use, by a flower company. Seeing that, what was inside should not surprise him but he did not think anything could prepare him for what was inside. First of all, there was a shit ton of flowers, and Damian was tied up and surrounded by at least 10 to 15 men. Although there were only about 5 of them that carried guns, there were a lot of them. They were all standing there between piles of soil and racks full of house plants listening to a man Jason figured must be the leader. The leader had some kind of robotic arm and was that a broadsword? Yes, that was definitely a sword, only in Gotham.
And apparently but not so surprising the sword wielding cyborg had one hell of an ego, as he was currently telling Damian how Robin was going to die by his sword and the rest of the heroes would follow until he ruled Gotham with his sword and his robotic arm and bla bla something about robots and knights. Whatever, good thing the Red Hood was not a hero then. A hero would have stayed in the shadows, figured out a plan and called for backup. Jason figured he had been in the shadows for too long already and he could easily take out these guys, robot arm be damned. Besides, with an assassin trained robin it was going to be a walk in the park, or at least that’s what he told himself when he jumped out from behind a box guns blazing.
The Red Hood took as many guys as he could before they realized what the hell was happening. No head or chest shots in front of the kid, he had learned that the hard way, but lots of busted kneecaps and heavily bleeding flesh wounds. In the confusion that followed after he shot some of the lights, he got Damian and managed to drag him behind some big bags of soil. Jason tried not to think of the smell, because soil is just a synonym for dirt and dirt and the smell of dirt make him think of graveyards. And that’s a trail of thought he really did not want or had time to go down right now.
“Are you supposed to be up this late? Don’t you have school or something?” Jason cut the roped holding Damian’s hands and legs, earning him a glare. This brat such good manners it was shocking. Really.
“I can take care of myself just fine!”
“oh really! Did I spoil your plan to get killed by a cyborg with a freaking broadsword?”
Damian scowled at him and huffed, but did not offer any explanation for his solo mission. Something that didn’t really surprise Jason, because the kid was as mentioned an A-class brat.
They took down most of the rest of the underlings in a matter of minutes after that. Robins always made up one hell of a team. Although Jason was only a former (failed) robin, and Damian used a bit too excessive force and there was a bit too much assassin in his fighting style. Something Jason just knew must irk the old man.
After the short but surprisingly coordinated fight, the only ones left standing in the flower filled wear house was: Jason and Damian on one side, and the sword wielding cyborg as well as two heavily armed guards, on the other side.
“What do you say about making this quick so we could all go back to our own business?”
“Trust me when I say that it was not my intention to make this ‘my business’ or yours, Hood”
“Whatever you say, demon brat, whatever you say” Jason gave the short vigilante a smirk under his helmet (one that could be heard in his voice by no doubt).
“Let’s just make this quick, okay?” Jason surveyed the scene, his guns would certainly be more effective against the sword and the cyborg’s would easily get the upper hand in hand to hand combat. The kind of combat robin utilized. He might as well engage the boss and let the brat take the underlings, solely on the principle that Nightwing, Red Robin, and Oracle would all kick his ass if he allowed the kid get hurt under his watch.
“I shoot at the maniac with the broadsword and you use your ninja skills on the scumbags over there, deal?”
“tt” Damian rolled his shoulders and took out more batarangs from his utility belt, “don’t get stabbed”
“well, I will certainly try, baby bird”.
The following events proved several things:
Firstly, Damian was no where near healed enough to go on solo missions fighting guys twice his height.
The first underling fell like a bag of dirt after getting hit by an expertly executed ninja move. That however, gave the second underling just enough time to catch Damian off guard and this time Robin would not get out with a functioning knee cap. The guard shoot the kid before Damian could as much as turn towards the armed man.
Secondly, regardless of past, present, and unavoidable future actions, Jason still cared about his brothers.
On the other side of the room, Red Hood was trying to blow the drug smuggling cyborg’s head off. Trying being the key word as the cyborg was on hell of a good swordsman, and deflected every shoot Jason could get at him.
Damian’s scream when the bullet tore into his leg, made Jason forget his own opponent for a moment. No robins were allowed to die on his watch. Red hood turned just in time to see the second underling take aim on Damian bleeding form on the floor. He shoots the guard in the head, out of pure reflexes, before the guard could put one in the kid’s head, on purpose.
In retrospect, Jason had done the same thing all over again if it meant saving Damian, even if that meant taking his eyes of the god damn metal arm coming towards his throat.
As soon as he got of the shot and that saved Robin, Jason felt metal fingers closing around his neck and slamming him into the closest wall.
The sound that Jason’s head made when it connected with the concrete wall was a sound he would remember for months to come.
However, if the sound of his head colliding with concrete, shattering the back part of his helmet, was going to be hard to forget, the next thing that happened would find itself a special place in both boys’ nightmares for years to come.
The gang leader held Jason still against the wall with his robotic steel hand, and with the other hand he raised the sword
and stabbed it through the former robin’s chest.
The blade slid in between his ribs, impaled his right lung, cut through the muscle in his back and penetrated the concrete wall. Pinning Jason to the wall like a live butterfly. A severely bleeding butterfly with a perforated right lung quickly filling up with blood.
Jason felt nothing at first. He just could not get around the shock of actually getting stuck to a wall with a broadsword. And he was just about to get really fucking mad at the universe, and everything that had had a hand in getting him to this situation, when he started to chock on the blood filling his right lung and pouring into his windpipe.
He spurted and coughed, trying to breath around the blood with is one good lung. When he finally began to register his surroundings again he zeroed in on three facts. A, his chest was on fire, nearly distracting him from the fact that; B, the steel hand was no longer around his throat, and C, this meant that the only thing keeping him up-right was the sword stuck in the warehouse wall. And if he didn’t get his legs working nothing but gravity would slice his chest in half.
On the other side of the room robin was struggling with the concept of his sort of brother being impaled with a medieval styled sword, only momentarily of course. He was after all a professional, used to gruesome scenery and more then capable to neutralize the threat.
So when the overconfident gang leader was focused on hooded vigilantly at his mercy, Damian ignored the pain in his injured leg grabbed the gun from the dead underling beside him and shot the criminal (the threat, the man hurting his brother) in the leg. Twice.
Only when the thug went down and let go of Jason did Damian realize what that would entail for the impaled vigilante.
Jason grabbed for the sword, the wall, the metallic arm anything really that would keep him standing. He could feel his legs giving out from under him and every time he moved the pain intensified. Every breath felt liken he was tearing his lungs apart, and he probably was.
Damian’s leg was screaming at him as he made his way as fast as he could towards the Red Hood. Cursing the trail of blood, he left behind him across the floor.
The hood was gasping, desperately trying to stay still and the current robin could only imagine the pain. But he had to focus; Jason was bleeding out and the worst thing that could happen was if Jason lost consciousness while still pinned to the wall.
Blood was pouring down Jason’s neck from underneath the red helmet, and he was probably going to chock and suffocate on the blood coming from his mouth if the helmet stayed on any longer. It had cracked from the impact with the wall and Damian managed to remove it relatively easy when he reached Jason. The problematic brother was clutching at him and Jason was shaking hard from exhaustion and pain. But at least he seemed to be able to breath a little easier without the helmet obstructing his air.
Damian was relived to see that Jason had decided to wear a red domino mask underneath the Red Hood. So he would not have to worry about anyone seeing the Red Hood’s face, well that was only a problem if the rouge bat actually survived the night.
They had made him stay at home. For his own safety they told him, but to Damian it sounded like they did not thought that he was strong enough. Batman had grounded Robin, and because of what? A wounded leg. He could work with worse injuries; hell he had gone on patrol with a lot worse. Why could they not just trust him.
So Damian had gone out on his own. He had been just fine until they caught him off guard and used his injured leg against him. And now Todd was bleeding out and Robin could not save him alone.
The blood coming from the older man’s chest and mouth was soaking Damian’s gloves and cape. One of his legs were useless and the other was shaking from pain and blood loss. Todd’s breathing was slowing down, would removing the sword kill him? Damian didn’t even know if he could get it out of the wall.
He had to call for back-up. He needed help, they needed help, and time was running out.