Disclaimer: I don’t own Marvel or DC comics, a near constant source of pain for me.
Author: Dimitri Aidan
Beta: Mechante Fille.
Fandom: DC Comics, Marvel Comics
Pairings/Characters: Jason Todd and Thomas Shepard
Word Count: 2,847
Rating: Patience: Pg-13, Overall: NC-17
Warnings: Jason’s using his ‘detective’ skills and Tommy’s…uh. Well, between you and me he's being crazy off camera.
Notes: Well, I picked up the Seven Virtues as well, so the whole series is extending. Sadly this means Billy won’t be appearing for a bit.
MGH, for those of us not up on our Marvel, is Mutant Growth Hormone.
Timeline: Post Nightwing118 and Young Avengers 11, then happily into Alternate Universe Land.
Summary: “Maybe, sometimes, the bad guys just need to die. Does that make me a bad person?" Jason Todd, Thomas Shepard, and the sins and virtues that push them together.
Prompt Two: Patience
When Law is Lawless
Jason’s hotel was a grimy pay-by-the hour (or the month) type of deal, close to the airport and bus station with a seemingly endless caravan of taxis waiting out front for someone to emerge and motion to them. The man behind the front desk looked, and acted, just as sleazy as the motel he ran and the people who frequented. Jason couldn’t do anything about him now, but when he was done in New York he was going to have to teach that guy the danger of offering potentially psychotic people a cut on the rent if they put out.
Though, perhaps he shouldn’t have been so surprised. This place was mostly frequented by prostitutes who worked the area, offering their services to out-of-towners looking for company far away from the prying eyes of their spouses and significant others. There were, on occasion, people here because of flight layovers, but they were few and far between.
It really was a piece of shit place, but it was out of the way and no one would come looking for him here. Besides, the guy took cash and didn’t really enforce the ‘Need Picture ID’ policy and so there was no paper trail to be concerned about.
It wasn’t much, but it served its purpose.
He unlocked the door of his apartment, smiling mildly at Sunshine as the woman flitted past him in the hall, swaying unsteadily on her feet. She smiled back, the two twenties he’d given her clutched in her hand, black eyes wide and empty behind lank hair bleached to the point of colorlessness, before vanishing around the corner. He’d like to think she’d buy a decent meal or give the money to her mother to look after her daughter, but Jason tried to keep from blatantly lying to himself.
It wasn’t his business anyway. If she was so inclined to poison herself and live a life that would only end in her dying, it was better she spent the money on something that didn’t involve her daughter so she couldn’t drag the girl into her world. Even the work she was doing for him was dangerous and was almost sure to end with her dead, not that she was aware of the danger she was in. She wasn’t aware of much.
Sunshine worked for one of Song’s lackeys and was more than willing to spill everything she knew for the right amount of money. She had to do what she could because, while Jason didn’t doubt she’d been pretty once, she was fading away quickly and pulling in less work than some of the girls in their early teens.
None of these kids were going to be saved by a vigilante who moonlighted as a billionaire.
He dropped his keys next to the sleek black laptop he’d liberated from some fairly undeserving parties a week or so ago. He opened it and made sure it was booting up before heading for the kitchen, jacket and t-shirt hitting the floor as he went along. There was a pile steadily growing on his floor and every time he looked in the general direction of his clothes he was reminded of how much he missed Alfred.
Not just for the laundry of course, but for the older man’s almost unnatural ability to know what was going on with everyone who considered themselves part of the ‘Family,’ and knowing exactly what they wanted and needed before even they knew. Alfred had been more of a father than Bruce had been, to all of them. Even Batman couldn’t argue with the butler once his mind was made.
He eyed the depressingly empty inside of his refrigerator with something that resembled annoyance before reaching around a carton of day old Thai and pulling out a bottle of soda. The bottle was cool, nearly frosted over on the outside, and chilled his skin almost immediately.
He suspected something was wrong with the refrigerator. Jason kicked it shut and, grabbing the pile of files he’d left on the kitchen counter at some vague point, headed back to his computer. It had been exactly two days since he’d found these files and one day and some odd hours since he’d read through them in their entirety. They contained observations, theories, and experiment results on about half a dozen young mutants, but there was only one that Jason was the least bit interested in.
He wanted to go back over them, pull out the important facts and find out what had lead to Shepard being free and killing people. Jason understood the desire to kill the people who screwed you over, to watch them suffer and know that they had lost; it was a strong impulse, almost overwhelming.
Though, in Jason’s case, it had paled beside the desire to have Bruce avenge him. He’d wanted Bruce to act like his death had mattered beyond making him brood a little harder and maybe put his damn ideals to the side for just once.
He couldn’t make that mistake again. The next time he got his hands on Joker, and there would be a next time, he was just going to snap his neck and stop all the bullshit. He was looking forward to it.
When he had more time he’d look at the files again, but for now had to focus on Song and what he as up to. Jason sat down and opened the files he’d started on Song’s operation. As much as Jason loved a little chaos, he liked to keep all of the events leading up to said chaos in order. He couldn’t afford mistakes, couldn’t rush into things because his solution resulted in death. You couldn’t kill lightly without being like the people Jason fought against, but that ideal wasn’t to be confused with the ‘you can’t kill at all’ line that he’d been force-fed as Robin.
Bruce thought that crossing that line was so easy, that he’d never find his way back if he did it, but Jason could see through that. It wasn’t the line or how easy it was to cross, it was about Failure. Admitting that the only way Joker could be anything but a blight on the world was with two bullets in his skull meant failure. Admitting that Poison Ivy was unredeemable and would never change meant failure. Admitting that anyone, anywhere, didn’t deserve a second chance and should be stopped before they could just kill and kill again meant failure.
Batman could never admit failure in his dream. Even now, if Jason went back to Gotham and asked for help, Bruce would give it because he didn’t want Jason to be his failure; even years and a resurrection later it was eating away at him.
He’d lucked out this week, so to speak, in that Sunshine had been pretty active with her handler who had in turn been active with Song. She had a lot to say, in that rambling disjointed way of hers, and though lucidity wasn’t one of her strong points, she’d yet to give him any bogus information.
She’d also let him know about a party she’d be going to with her handler later that night, a chance for Jason to do a little more watching if he were so inclined.
He edited the document he kept of his projections for Song’s intake, figuring in what Sunshine had told him of the drug trade and how it was starting to really boom now that Mutants had suffered some kind of freaky depowerment. Some people were desperate for their powers back, refused to live as normal humans, and it was no longer criminals looking for a leg up on the cops and the competition after MGH. Mutant Town, the slum that had once been totally populated by mutants and their families, was Song’s new area scheduled for takeover.
He’d have to start by taking over a few businesses in that area, places he could siphon his money through and make it look something resembling legitimate. He’d probably already started, which meant Jason was going to have to figure out which places were now fronts for Song. It was going to be difficult; Song would have mutants, powered and depowered, working for him in Mutant Town and Jason had no such connections.
The problem with informants and violence as an information gathering tactic was loyalty. If he beat up a guy for information it went without saying that the moment he regained use of his legs he’d be telling Song everything there was to tell as his form of revenge. Buying people held the same risk; the minute someone offered a more impressive payday Jason would find himself sold out and minus the edge that came with being an unknown factor.
Mutant Town was full of depowered mutants who still had whatever physical abnormalities they’d had as mutants, as most of the normal looking mutants had gone off to try and forge normal lives. There were also the mutants not affected by whatever happened, but the odds of passing for one of them were slim to none.
He needed someone in Mutant Town who wasn’t going to sell him out to the highest bidder. Easier said than done, of course, and so something for him to figure out later on.
Most of the changes and projections had to be made for Song’s top three guys; it seemed Song didn’t have any plans of replacing the man Jason had taken out any time soon. He was a smart man after all; he wouldn’t bring in a guy mid-way through his greatest scheme.
Then there were the new players, two of whom now had names. One was another boss from China Town, Wung, and a known rival of Song’s godfather. Either the two bosses were getting together to back Song—unlikely—or Song was going behind his godfather’s back and aligning himself with other people.
The other name Sunshine had given him was Professor Jackson Sweeny. He was a physics professor at NYU, lived in Queens, married and divorced twice, and had four kids, the oldest of which was seventeen. He also did work at some government lab in New Jersey, but Jason had yet to figure out what exactly they did there and how it might be valuable to Song. Sweeny wasn’t a chemist but it was possible he was smuggling out chemicals or drugs for Song.
It’d be easier if he had an idea of what was going on out there. For all he knew Song could be building the next atomic bomb while he was busy chasing down the drug angle.
He leaned back, rubbing at his eye with the heel of his hand when the pale tan of the folders, stacked in a neat and unsuspecting pile, caught his attention. He stared at it for a moment then back at the computer.
Initials. He had the initials of the scientist, but no actual names. He knew of Susan Albrecht because she’d gone missing some time before and Simon Schroeder he’d seen killed. That left J.S. and B.Y. unaccounted for.
Jackson Sweeny did government work in New Jersey. J.S. had been one of the main people involved with the Shepard kid in Springfield. He’d seen the aforementioned kid in a parking garage, taking out Schroeder because he was watching Song, who happened to be doing business with Jackson Sweeny.
There were, really, few things quite as amusing as stumbling over a solution to a problem or puzzle at random. Not that there was any way of knowing he was on the right track, short of talking to Sweeny, and it was unlikely the good professor would be available for a chat right now.
Jason would just have to wait.
“That’s great Betty, I’m really proud,” Jackson Sweeny said, holding his cell phone carefully between his ear and his shoulder while juggling his briefcase, groceries, and keys to let himself into his home. It was dark inside but he didn’t bother with the lights, knowing his way around that well. “Yes, I think it deserves a dinner. Tell your mother to pick anywhere she wants and we’ll go out on Sunday.”
He chuckled softly as Beatrice, his youngest child, talked excitedly about her achievement. She’d made High Honor Roll and the pleasure in her voice seemed to fill the room despite how faint it was. He frowned down at his arms for a moment and, making soft affirmative noises as she chattered, managed to drop his briefcase as well as his keys before shifting around his other bags. He headed for the kitchen, craning his neck to get a glimpse of the pale green numbers on his VCR as he did.
“Betty, I think its bath time for you.” He laughed, almost blocking out the sound of her exclamation of denial. “Yes it is. Tell Mel’ I said goodnight and then get into bed. Lord knows the last thing I need is your mother telling me how I got your ‘overexcited’ again.” The last part was muttered with not a small amount of bitterness in his tone. “Don’t worry Betty, I’ll be there on Sunday, I promise. Night baby. Yes, I love you too. Now, bath and bed.”
The bluish glow of his phone went out a second after he hung it up, but was replaced by the soft white glow of light filtering through its covering. The fan started to turn and he cast an annoyed glance in its direction before heading for the refrigerator. He set the phone on the counter next to the sink and crouched down to set the bags on the floor.
Wouldn’t want to break any eggs after all.
He saw the broken glass on the floor first, tiny shards glittering like strewn diamonds across the white and black checkered linoleum floor. He straightened so fast it seemed almost painful, eyes zeroing in on the broken out panel of his back door. He backed up, eyes darting around his seemingly peaceful and undisturbed kitchen, until his back hit the counter. He reached over, body stiff and at the ready, as he pulled open his ‘stuff’ drawer and began to paw through it.
The gun. Working for an up and coming dealer could land a guy in a lot of trouble with less than savory characters looking to snuff out the ‘scientific’ end of the competition, and so a little protection was surely warranted. It was a safety thing.
He realized two things immediately: One, his gun was missing but the bullets were strewn along the inside of the drawer. Two, he had to get out of here very fast.
He ran, back the way he had come. His car was out front and he’d just scoop up his keys on the way out then make a run for it. Call Song, tell him to send some of his muscle to take care of this little problem and then come back with enough time to finish checking his term papers.
He didn’t see the blow coming, though he certainly felt it as he crumpled.
The statue resembled two cows humping to Jason but, he thought as he slid out of the shadows from which he’d been watching Sweeny, who was he to judge art? He looked down at Sweeny, frowning at the blood leaking from the matted mass of his hair and down his neck, before using his foot to roll him over onto his back.
Unconscious. He’d just been going for stunned but maybe he’d misjudged how much force to put into the blow. He would have thought that, being a fairly well built and in-shape guy in his mid to late thirties, known for playing basketball with his students, that he could take a blow to the head better.
Maybe he had a soft skull.
He shook his head and headed back into the kitchen, letting Sweeny’s gun fall into the sink and reaching for his phone. He turned it off then let it fall to the side as well. The drawer was still open, displaying its contents for Jason’s eyes for the second time that evening.
He didn’t know what this guy needed with nylon rope and heavy duty packing tape, but it was a convenient development because Jason hadn’t thought to bring his own. He gathered those items, along with a pair of shears, grabbed one of the chairs from the kitchen table and dragged them back into the small hallway.
He made short work of getting Sweeny set up, then headed for the living room to wait. He flicked the TV on, tossed the Nightwing mask to the side, and settled back in the armchair.
It looked like he was going to be missing that party, but hopefully Sweeny would be very forthcoming with minimal blood loss and it’d be worth it.
*Burns original plotting plans* *Wanders off to replan*
Next Part: Envy (Maybe), in which Tommy doesn't like Jason killing off his...victims, Jason is an ass and decides to keep the nylon rope (much to Tommy's future pain.), and there is talk of sex.