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For weeks now, the plan had been for Jason to go home to Gotham this weekend, while everyone else was dealing with their parents and friends on the island. So, when Bruce e-mailed Jason to tell him not to come home after all, and that he'd let him know when a better time for his visit would be, Jason knew that something serious was going on, and worse, he was being left out. There was no way he was going to let that happen, orders from Bruce or not, so he'd booked the first portal out of Fandom, hoping to arrive in Gotham in time to not miss anything good. Besides, Bruce had said not to come home over the weekend, so he was still following orders. Technically.

When Jason arrived in Gotham, nothing seemed out of the ordinary right away, which was definitely good, but also a little disappointing. He made his way through the station, looking for any signs of trouble, and somehow managed to miss the biggest source of trouble of all.

"Going somewhere?" he heard, right before he was grabbed by his backpack and yanked backwards.

"Hey!" Jason yelled. He put his hands up, ready to defend himself, until he realized his attacker was Bruce. "Geez, are you trying to give me a heart attack?"

"I could ask you the same thing. I thought I specifically told you not to come home," Bruce said sharply, grabbing Jason by the arm. "And yet, here you are."

"Come on, you didn't really expect me to stay away, did you?" Jason said. "What are you doing here, anyway? What, do you have some kind of tracking device on me?"

Bruce fixed Jason with the kind of glance that made him feel like Bruce saw him as nothing more than a stupid street kid again. "Why would I need a tracking device when you used the emergency credit card I gave you to pay for your trip?"

Jason sighed and swore at making such a stupid mistake. "Look, obviously something big is going on. If you're involved, I want to help."

"Language," Bruce said mildly, before glancing around. "Come on, you're going back to school."

"I can't," Jason said with a smirk. For once, he'd actually thought ahead and had it pay off. "My return ticket is for Thursday morning, Fandom time. You're stuck with me for at least a few days. So, you might as well tell me what's going on."

Bruce didn't look happy, and his grip on Jason's arm didn't get any looser, but he did at least turn Jason in the direction of the exit. "Fine. If you want to know what's going on, I'll show you. Maybe then you'll understand why you can't be here."

***

The ride back to the manor was a cold and silent one, and Jason started to realize that this wasn't about some supervillain running free. Bruce was clearly shaken up, and that made Jason start to feel genuinely nervous too. There wasn't much that could throw Bruce off, after all.

When they got inside the house, Jason set his backpack down as Bruce turned on the TV. "This is why I didn't want you coming home," he said, flipping channels until he got to the news. Jason sat down next to Bruce on the couch, and watched as some blond man was interviewed on the show.

"I'd like to thank you for having me here today, to discuss a problem that ultimately effects us all--the menace of the so-called superheroes who live like a ticking time bomb in out very midst," the man said, shaking his finger at the studio audience.

"Who the hell is this nutjob?" Jason asked.

"His name is G. Gordon Godfrey, and he's not a nutjob, at least, not according to his growing number of supporters," Bruce said. "He's hitting every talk show and news circuit in the country, spreading his anti-hero cause."

"But...that's totally crazy," Jason said. "Who could ever think that the world doesn't need superheroes?" That wasn't even Jason's personal bias talking. The idea of Gotham without Batman, or Metropolis without Superman, of cities and towns with no heroes to protect them was a little terrifying. Jason glanced back at the TV to try to catch more of what Godfrey was saying.

"--my point is simply this: these costumed mystery men provide negative role models for our children," Godfrey said, "emphasizing violence as a solution to the world's problems. They're outmoded, maladjusted loners, outlaws working outside the system to--"

With a groan, Jason grabbed the remote and turned the television off. He and Bruce both fell silent for a moment before Jason felt Bruce's hand on his arm again.

"I know you think he doesn't make much sense, but people are starting to agree with him, and I'm not sure what kind of an effect his popularity is going to have," Bruce said. "That's why I told you to stay at school. I didn't want you here until this all blew over."

"Well, I'm here anyway," Jason said, tossing the remote onto the couch with a bit more force than necessary. "I'm not going to let some whiny geek with a jealousy complex stop me from helping you if you need it."

"Jason--" Bruce started, warning already clear in his tone.

Jason shook his head quickly. "Come on, maybe this guy will win some people over elsewhere, but the citizens of Gotham know they need Batman and Robin. I'm here, whether you want me to be or not. So, are you going to make me sit inside all night, or are you going to let me do the job you chose me to do?"

"I don't know. I suppose that depends on how far behind you've fallen in your language lessons," Bruce said, but he was nearly smiling as he spoke.

"I haven't fallen behind at all," Jason said. Considering how weirdly hot Nico found it when he studied, he was actually right on schedule in all of his classes. With a sudden burst of either strength or stupidity, Jason stood up from the couch. "I'm going to get dressed. If you want to come patrol with me, you can get ready too." With that, he turned around, and grabbed his backpack before heading for the cave. He trusted Bruce, and he was almost certain he'd read him right, but Jason still gave a small sigh of relief when he heard Bruce come down the steps to join him.

***

Even without Godfrey's words ringing in his ears, Jason knew better than to expect a quiet night. Batman and Robin hadn't been out for long when they passed by the newest shopping mall in town, and heard the sound of gunfire. The thugs inside didn't look very professional, but they had guns and hostages, and that was more than enough for Bruce to want to act. By the time the cops showed up, all the criminals had been taken care of - as usual - but where Jason was used to seeing grateful expressions on the officers, or maybe ones of annoyance at having been beaten to the punch, he only saw anger now.

"What the hell are you doing here, Batman?" the police captain yelled, getting so far into Batman's personal space that Jason was concerned for the guy's sanity.

"Your job, captain, but you needn't thank me," Batman replied smoothly. Jason opened his mouth to add something, but it was like Bruce could sense that whatever he was going to say wouldn't help, and the way he glanced back at Jason had him pressing his lips together tightly to keep quiet instead.

"My job? Of all the wise-mouthed--" the captain started, but he was cut off by Commissioner Gordon pushing his way through the assembly of cops.

"Kirkland, that's enough!" Gordon said, shooting an apologetic look at Batman.

Unfortunately, Kirkland caught that look, and it seemed to only fuel his anger more. "No way, Commissioner. That ain't nearly enough! We had everything under control here! That costumed gloryhound showing up like he did could have gotten someone killed!"

"But he didn't, did he Kirkland?" Gordon replied with a sigh. "Now calm down!"

The captain didn't look like he was going to calm down though, and as Jason stepped back to distance himself from the cops, hoping Bruce would do the same, he found himself backing up against the crowd of former hostages. He'd been so occupied with the captain's argument with Gordon that he hadn't noticed the crowd getting closer, or getting angrier, and just as he expected them to let Kirkland have it, the murmuring of the crowd became clear.

"What's Gordon trying to quiet that cop for?"

"Yeah, that guy's right! We could have been killed!"

"We could have all been killed!"

Jason stared at the crowd in disbelief, and something that felt an awful lot like betrayal. "What's the matter with you people? We just saved your lives!" he yelled, unable to keep quiet any more, and instantly, he regretted saying anything at all. The crowd, so focused on Batman, Gordon, and Kirkland, turned to look at Jason instead. It was a strange sensation, to have so much anger focused on him at once, and before Jason could even turn to try to get back to Bruce's side, the crowd was on him, grabbing him and pulling at him from every direction.

"Robin!" he heard Bruce yell, but Jason could hardly see him as the former hostages began tearing at his uniform and screaming at him. There were so many voices that he could hardly tell what they were saying, but he didn't need to hear the words to know how angry these people had become.

"Batman!" he yelled back, trying to be heard above the crowd. Normally, Jason would have been ashamed of the fear in his voice, but these people had gone off the deep end, and every move he made to get away only seemed to strengthen their anger. Jason fought their hold to try to get to Bruce, a lot harder than he normally would have with civilians, but that only made things worse as the crowd fought back. Holding and pulling turned into punches and kicks, and Jason fell to the ground as the crowd closed in on him. Putting his arms up to protect himself did nothing - the blows just kept coming and all Jason could do was scream for help again as he felt his body begin to break.

Surely, any moment now, Bruce would come to him. Surely Batman would come to rescue his Robin, and the crowd would fear him, and they'd let him go, and everything would stop hurting, and he'd be safe. But the blows just kept coming, and as Jason tried to get up, he saw Commissioner Gordon fleeing to a police car, and Batman going with him, away from the crowd, and away from him.

Jason didn't think anything could hurt more than broken bones, but he'd been sorely mistaken. "Batman!" he screamed again, like it would have any effect, and the last thought that crossed his mind was to wonder how he could have been left behind, when a blow to the back of his head made everything go black.


[Dialogue and story adapted from Legends #1 and #2. Warning: This post contains graphic violence. NFI, NFB, OOC okay!]

Date: 2011-03-09 02:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] batwaffles.livejournal.com
[[OOC/IC: SIGH, JASON. And yet I'd have done pretty much the same thing.]]

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