There was a whining, beeping sound. It was familiar, like he had been listening to it forever. Then there was crackling, like static, and barely remembered words surfacing through the noise.
Infection…. Traumatic injury… 15% chance…
… Mr. Wayne…
Mr. Wayne. That sent pictures tumbling though his mind and feelings coursing though his body. He struggled to catch them, to hold them, but they spun away like wasps caught in the wind.
Then, later, there was a sensation of searching, of panic, like he had lost something and couldn’t remember what it was.
Then there was swimming through the dark.
It went on so long, he forgot himself.
He had been awake a while before he realized he could see. White-clad doctors, and the faint sent of familiar cologne. For a weird jarring moment he thought he had survived the explosion; the Joker.
Then he remembered he hadn’t.
This was some other fuck up, some new shit he had gotten himself into. He was muzzy with drugs, but his lower body hurt, a dull pain that made his breathing hitch.
“Hi Jason,” a bright, white gowned doctor said, her expression impossible to see behind her mask. “You’re in Gotham memorial.”
Jason blinked at her. He couldn’t remember how his voice worked, and his lungs felt tight, full of smoke and fire.
“Please lie still, you’re in good hands!” She told him. “You're very brave, you saved the other young man’s life. Mr. Wayne was so grateful, he paid for all your treatment.” She checked his IV and studied the big blur next to him, which he assumed was a machine recording his vitals.
“You’ve beaten the odds so far, Jason, just hold on a little longer.” Her face looked warm, like she was smiling, her eyes kind and distant.
Then he sunk back into the dark again - but this time he dreamed. He saw fire and blood, felt himself scream and inhale hot sparks. Saw the white hint of skull though flesh and skin.
“I’m not sure if I should hug you or pull the plug.”
Jason blinked. The kid sitting opposite him was familiar- dark hair, light eyes and well formed thin lips, pulled tight and disapproving. But Jason couldn’t quite place him. He remained quiet, unsure of his situation. He just stared through his lashes, only half aware.
“Bruce can’t handle losing the both of you, so you better pull though.” the kid said.
Jason stared some more and the kid stared back. He should know him, he should feel something about him. Instead he was blank. There was just a nagging anxiety behind the fuzziness of the drugs.
Another person was in the room – Jason hadn’t noticed, and that should have worried him, but he couldn’t summon the energy. He thought about trying to turn his head to see the intruder, but decided against it, he hurt too much to care.
“Come, Master Tim, leave the boy to rest.”
The name gave him a flood of memory and feeling, but he shook it off and slipped away from Drake’s tight-lipped expression.
The days continued, he hurt, the world was unreal, fleeting.
And then his mind started to sharpen, moments of clarity interspaced between darkness and dreams. He recognized his visitors; Tim came often, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, Bruce.
He was in pain, and his thoughts were tangled. But nothing prepared him for the jumbled return of his memories.
He was asleep when they first came, the smell of cordite, and meth. Familiar and pleasant - full of the promise of retribution.
And then, a flicker of color - Nightwing, pursuing a man over a roof, down onto the street and into the building.
The whole complex was going to blow. It was going to go up like fireworks. Fuck
He remembered that moment very clearly; fuck.
Jason’s blood pumped, strong and fast, it felt toxic in his veins.
Nightwing didn’t know it was going to go up, he didn’t realize the danger he was in, and he was going to die.
Jason may not have liked the guy much, but he wasn’t going to stand by and let him be blown up.
He chased him into the building.
Stupid, foolish, emotional response, he knew it was hopeless, knew he was going to die for the stupid golden boy.
Time moved slowly, the shiny flash of Nightwing’s suit, the green t-shirt of the dealer Dick had just chased into the building. The hard, grey concrete under Jason’s feet as he ran. He heard his voice, an empty echo in the force of the explosion that followed. It ripped through his body and mind, tossed him onto the floor like he weighed nothing and his ears rang even as he choked on the fumes.
As he came back to himself, swimming through the strange silence that followed a blast, with blood running into his eyes, he cast about for this brother – and was pleased to see him still breathing.
Dick was sprawled awkwardly against the wall, but he was alive, the fall of his chest visible as he struggled feebly to move. Jason clambered painfully to his feet and pushed though the smoke and debris to reach him. Stumbling the last few steps, he picked Dick's heavy ass up, and started hauling him towards the door. Dick’s head lolled against his arm, still knocked silly from the explosion, but his eyes were fluttering with the return of consciousness.
And then the second explosion hit.
And Jason’s mind didn’t want to go further, didn’t want to see what had happened.
He had lost something, he couldn’t quite remember what.
He was burning.
A sensation of unreality, coupled with a very real shot of adrenaline.
Jason's legs were stupid and unresponsive. His pants and boots were melted onto his skin. He didn’t want to look at that, so he wiggled forward despite the impressively hideous pain in his lower extremities.
There was a whining, a strange dissociated noise.
…..hes coding! …. Quickly….
…Have to prevent the infection from spreading…
Then he saw Dick. He was lying by the entrance; he looked like a broken doll, limbs askew. And in the weird high-res vision that seemed to be plaguing him, Jason could see Dick’s skull.
Part of his face had been ripped off.
He could see his brother’s skull.
Jason’s eyes blinked open.
The world spun and wove.
As his vision steadied, he knew his fever visions were memory, and he knew they were true.
Dick was dead.
And it was his fault.