“You’re like Willis.”
Bruce was startled back. Not Batman, but Bruce. Jason was pleased, a type of sickly pleasure, when he saw the Batman facade crumple so quickly at the words he spoke. There was a startled, pained ‘little wing’, but Jason ignored it. Dick will get his due later, but right now, right here, he’s finally going to talk to Bruce, and Bruce is going to fucking listen.
Jason remembers learning, in Shakespearean literature, whenever a character said they were not very articulate, the character would then deliver a monologue that would last through the pages of history, read and reread and analyzed over and over because the speech was so beautifully written. Jason only wishes he had that sort of magic, because he can’t speak well either. Except, he actually can’t.
His brain works too fast, and his mouth follows too slow. There’s so much going on in his head, and he doesn’t have enough mouths to allow all his thoughts to escape, instead only ending up with words tumbling over one another as each thought fights to be heard. But he will make it work, he’s been planning this. He’s been writing letter after letter that he’s never sent, waiting for the day he would be given the courage to actually say something, to actually stand up for himself.
Well, hyped on adrenaline and the rush of a good patrol, a good takedown, he finally has the courage - but no letter to give, so he will be forced to say it, and he will say it.
“What did you just say to me?”
Jason stood tall. He will not let himself be bullied down, he will not let himself bow. He will, he will say his piece, and then he will be done.
“You heard me. You’re like Willis,” He saw Bruce tense, the mask of Batman being built back up to cover his rage and pain, but Jason will not allow him to build back up that mask. He wants to talk to Bruce, not Batman. He wants to talk to the man who claims to be his father. “Stop that, let me talk to my dad,” The tensing paused, and Bruce stared at him through the cowl of the Bat. He supposed that’s as good as he’s going to get. He cleared his throat, and let the silence encourage him forward. They were waiting for him, for once, they were waiting to hear him talk. Hear him explain himself, “I know I never talked about Willis a lot, but he used to hit me. I don’t think that surprises any of you, or it shouldn’t, if you ever paid attention to me,” He held up his hand, stopping Dick before he could even finish opening his mouth. Of course Dick would be the one to try to talk over him, but no. No. He will not be interrupted, this time. This is his truth; his Shakespearean monologue. “He wouldn’t hit me for no reason - I mean, obviously no parent should ever hit their kid, not that you agree - shut it, I know you agree, but you do it anyhow. You still hit us… me - anyway, anyway, he’d hit me. Willis would hit me when I did something bad, when I got on his nerves, when I did something he thought I shouldn’t do. I didn’t know mom was on drugs, or I did a little later but… she always called them her medicine. She told me she needed them. I had a hunch, but I was a child and she looked so sick so I let myself believe her lies and I would get it for her and Willis would beat me. Or, or I would do the cooking instead of ma, even though that was her job, and he’d hit me. One time he hit me cause I broke the plate when I was cleanin’. I was gonna clean it up, afterwards, but he never gave me the chance. He hit me, cause I did something he didn’t agree with. He hit me cause he was angry.
You do that too,” Jason looked up, staring at Bruce, staring through his cowl and into his eyes, “You hit me cause your angry. You hit me cause I do something you don’t like, even though I think it’s the right thing, or when I mess up trying do something good, real good. Something we both agree is good.
And you call me your son. Willis did too.”
“Oh, Little Wing, it’s… it’s not the same, you know that, right?” Dick sounded pained, and hopeful, and so very naive. Ignorant. Just because he didn’t want to admit the truth, admit what’s happening, doesn’t mean it’s not real. Doesn’t mean it hasn’t been happening.
“It is the same. How is it not? Because we play dress up? God, maybe when I was crazy… crazier, when I was a murderer, and I admit it! I was! And even though I still think some people deserve to die, and dammit I do, I haven’t killed anyone in six months, but you’re still happening. This, the punches, is still happening. I’m not, I’m not that person anymore, I’m fighting so hard to be better now. I may not ever be a hero, not one you want me to be, and I’m still hitting harder than you want me too, but dammit I’m trying but you’re still… you’re like Willis.”
“No, no! We know you’re trying-“
“Dammit Dick! Stop talking for Bru-Batman! Stop it. And even you- do you even fucking realize how much you gaslight me? You go on about believing in me, and loving me, and us being brothers but when Batman has his fists raised - when I’m being yelled at for something I didn’t do, or something that was not nearly as bad as it’s made out to be, you turn the other way. We are only brothers when it’s easy for you. You only stick with me when it’s easy for you. When I’m struggling, when I’m moments away from killing, when I’m seeing green I’m just… predictable, because we all saw it coming. Because I’m never going to change. And after, only after, I lose fingernails crawling up from my own hell, broken and bleeding but finally doing what you want of me, you’re back by my side, patting your own back for helping me when you did jack shit.”
Jason isn’t yelling. It was surprising, even for him, but if he thought on it he’d realize he’s just so exhausted, he’s just so tired and hurting and…. He’s done. He’s really, truly, honestly done. He’s just… tired of playing the game. He’s tired of going through the motions, an act that’s never going to end. Over and over, it’s the same shit. He doesn’t want that, not anymore.
“B, am I your kid?”
Bruce took a shuddering breath, “Of course you are-“
“Then why do you keep hurting me?”
“I- I didn’t realize-“
Jason scoffed, “Of course not. You do no wrong, right? You’re Batman, hero of Gotham, how could you possibly be a bad dad?” A pause, “No, you aren’t my dad.”
“Don’t say that!”
“Say what? The truth? No child should be hit by their parent. Blood doesn’t make family… neither do legal documents. You know what does? How we treat each other, how we feel about each other, how we- how we love each other. Abuse ain’t it, abuse doesn’t make family, it ends it. So no, you aren’t my dad, no matter how you feel about me. And I didn’t, I didn’t think you loved me at all, but then you all went on and on about how I was family and a son and a brother but still treated me like I wasn’t… so I talked to Harley-“
“Harley? Like Harley Quinn?”
“Yeah, you don’t lock someone up in Arkham and expect them not to make some friends? Really you fucking dumbass - anyway, yeah, and she said, she told me you probably think you love, and think you’re my family, but you’re… you think you can treat me like I’m still the bad guy, expect me to behave like I’m still the little kid who thought Batman was the sun and moon, that I didn’t go through the trauma of being tortured and murdered and betrayed- that I don’t have green in my blood. Well, it’s not me anymore. Got it? That ain’t me, and you can’t treat me as shit for not living up to you’re expectation.”
There was another breath of silence. Bruce was trapped within his mind, analyzing every word, trying to find the deeper meaning, trying to read between the lines, trying to find some lie, but he won’t. The truth was laid bare and there’s nothing more to find. Jason was honest, for once, he was honest. There’s nothing more to it, but Bruce can’t accept that - It breaks the rules of the game.
Dick was heartbroken, mouth moving as if he’s screaming, begging, but nothing can escape from his throat. Tears leaked from his mask, and Jason new that he was trying to find the right words, trying to find something that won’t set him off; trying to find a way to deny his accusations. But he can’t, he can’t so he’s floundering. He knows the truth now, he sees the truth now.
He cannot deny it.
“I’m leaving,” Both heads snap to stare at him.
“No, no, you can’t just leave we- I - you’re still family whether you like it or not! We can fix this, we can fix this!” Dick was frantic now, running forward to pull Jason into his arms, tears dampening his little brother’s shoulder, “I didn’t realize, god, Little Wing I’m so sorry. Please don’t go, we can fix it!”
Jason shook his head. No, not again. He’s not going to just give in again, he’s not going to give in so easily. If they want him back, if they really want him back as part of the family they are gonna need to prove it. They’re gonna need to work for it, and show him they won’t hurt him any more. They will need to fight for it. He feels he deserves at least that much.
Jason pulled from Dick’s hold shaking his head. “You can fix it, I won’t make it easy though,” He shot out his grappling gun, turning one last look at Dick, crying, and Bruce holding still as stone. He laughed something painful, something small - Bruce is probably glad, probably happy Jason is gone. Well so be it, Jason is also glad he’s gone. “See ya later, Dickie bird.”
Then, like a dying breath, Jason was gone.
Perhaps he will go to Roy’s first, hang there until he finds where to go, gets new safe houses, and leave once again to find something new. Or maybe he’d stay with Roy for a while. They’ve been dancing around something more for a while, so maybe moving in will be the last push they need.
Or maybe that’ll be too much, and he really will need to take off and do his own thing. Who knows? But that unknown is making Jason feel a little bit better, because finally, finally he’s doing what he needs to do. He’s doing what’s best for him. He doesn’t even know what’s best for him, yet, but that’s the joy. He gets to find it, however he wishes. He’s excited. He’s happy. He’s happy.
He’s the only one happy.
Dick turned on Bruce, eyes red and sorrow morphing in to rage, “What the hell?! You’re just gonna stand there?! Do nothing while your son, your son turns away?! Leaves you?! Calls you-“ Abusive. Like Willis. “What the hell is wrong with you!?”
Bruce continued to remain silent under the onslaught, under the yelling and accusations. Dick couldn’t handle it anymore. He knew… deep down he knew, no, he thought they made process. He thought they were past this, and becoming a real family again. He thought Jason liked being with them - he thought, he thought… god, when did he become so delusional? He was usually so good at seeing when people are hurt, angry, when others are in pain, or even, simply, don’t like having his company. He’s usually so good at reading emotions, he’s usually so good at knowing the social cues of others - and he’s, he’s, he couldn’t even tell with his own fucking brother. He failed, he failed their family, he failed his Little Wing.
“How dare you not- not care!?” Dick ripped the cowl from Bruce’s face in his anger, and froze.
It was the first time he saw Bruce crying like this, frozen, eyes red and openly leaking. Now that the cowl was no longer there to stop the tears, they flowed freely down his cheeks. It was the first time Dick saw him look so… broken.
Dick swallowed down a sob, voice quieting, “B. B, we need to win Jason back. We need to do it now,”