Hey, it's been a while. Sorry for the lengthy hiatus, life just plain sucks sometimes, and oh boy did I find that out this year. Take care of your mental health people! And don't be afraid to admit you're struggling.

Anyhoo, onto the story, section in italics is a flashback :)

Chapter 3 – Do Not Expect to Survive

In the far reaches of his subconscious mind, Jason was concerned. What on Earth had the League been thinking when the sent an ill-equipped team of three after him? There was no way they could have defeated him and his people. But those thoughts belonged to a part of Jason that he chose to ignore. A kinder, more compassionate part. A part he connected to his days as Robin. He'd rather forget everything to do with those days.

"Now what am I supposed to do with three kids who got in over their heads?" he mused quietly to himself.

On the ground before him lay the aforementioned junior heroes, legs and arms secured with rope, and inhibitor collars sitting snug around their necks – even the replacement. Jason knew perfectly well that Bats would have trained the new kid for these scenarios. It didn't hurt to be overly prepared. Plus, this wasn't the first time Jason had seen the replacement in action. That happened shortly after his first return to Gotham.

It was right before the whole Reach invasion blew up in everyone's face. Jason had returned to Gotham seeking his former mentor, be that for reconciliation or revenge, he wasn't sure. And then he saw him.

Flying across the rooftops, dressed in his old colours, was a kid he'd never seen before.

He stalked the kid for several minutes, hoping he was wrong, but then he met up with Nightwing. The two of them seemed to share a joke, and laughing, they continued off into the night, unknowingly leaving a stunned Jason in their wake. Blood pounded in his ears; boiling. Bruce had replaced him. Found some other black-haired kid and stuck him in a red and black suit. But what stung the most in that moment was that Dick – Jason's brother – had moved on and forgotten him too.

A green haze threatened to overcome Jason's vision, and it took immense will power to keep himself together. He had to be calm, collected, in control. More so than ever if he was going to accomplish anything, because there was no way he was going to let him get away with this.

But that didn't exactly go to plan. It wasn't long before Jason realised Batman wasn't around. For that matter, neither was Bruce Wayne – apparently off on some expedition, completely off the grid. Jason knew there was more to it than that, but with no Batman in the picture, all his plans dissipated.

He kept to Gotham for a little while after that, establishing small pockets of organised crime all over the city. But before the Bat returned, he ended up branching out; left for another city to expand his business on a whimsical thought of what if he doesn't come back. However, he found success in other cities, which lead him to concoct a new plan.

Jason was well aware of who and what The Light was from his days as Robin. And he knew exactly how to get into their back pocket. He also knew how to use them to serve his own personal gain. He was only up to his fourth city when he was approached by Ra's al Ghul of all people. And at first Jason thought he'd been found out, but to his pleasant surprise, the ancient man did not appear to have any clue who was really behind the mask. What gave him away was the clear frustration the man displayed when Jason point blank refused to give up anything about his identity. But deals were struck, and plans were put in motion to his relief.

The Bat was back in Gotham by that point, which calmed Jason somewhat. Only his subconscious would be truthful about why that calmness found him. Was it because it meant he could pursue vengeance, or was it because it meant Bruce was alive and safe? Jason would say the former. He'd be lying to himself.

At the very least, the appearance of Ra's al Ghul confirmed that Jason's mind was as sharp as ever. If he managed to lure in and manipulate The Light, then his plans for Gotham were surely achievable.

"Alright you lot," Jason barked at his remaining men. Only one truck was still being loaded, then he could blow this joint – literally, "Load Robin and the fast kid into the truck, make sure they're secure, then head out. I'll be right behind you."

"What about the blue one sir?" One of the men asked.

"That's my business, now clear out!"

Jason watched silently as his men grabbed the two young heroes. He waited until the trucked started up before backhanding the beetle kid across the face to wake him up. The young hero woke with a surprisingly comical start, and a shout that combined with a gasp, so the sound didn't carry. Jason might have laughed if he wasn't busy calculating what he was about to do.

"Wh-what? What's going on?" the kid muttered, seemingly to himself. It took him almost a full minute to get his bearings, looking about the room, assessing who was there with him, his current predicament, before finally the memories seemed to flood back to him, "Where are Robin and Impulse!? What have you done with them?"

"Impulse! So that's who that was," Jason remarked jovially to himself as he paced back and forth before his hostage, "It bothers me how I haven't heard that name before. Mind you, if the news isn't about Gotham, I don't really care. But enough about me. Robin. Impulse. They're around – I'll be catching up with them later, but you have a purpose to serve now."

The kid – Blue Beetle he seemed to recall the name being – visibly gulped. Jason was just a tiny bit proud that he'd managed to strike fear into the kid, be that for himself or his team mates. Regardless, it would hopefully benefit his plans.

"What do you want from me? And what do you want from them?" Blue Beetled yelled with a surprisingly stoic voice, but Jason saw the anxiety in his body language.

"Well I want them for different reasons," Jason replied calmly, "but that doesn't concern you – you're just the messenger boy."

"Like hell it doesn't concern me," the kid growled through gritted teeth.

Jason ignored him, and got right into his face, hoping the soulless eyes of his helmet conveyed just how deadly serious he was about the words that were about to come out of his mouth…

Wally wasn't panicking. No, no. That would be far too much of an understatement. Wally was right on the verge of losing his freaking mind. He was honestly surprised that he didn't trip right over the edge when they reached the building Gamma Squad's trackers were coming from. A building that was engulfed in flames. They'd heard the explosion a few blocks away, right after they'd run into Alpha squad. Apparently their investigations had lead them to the same conclusion – the Red Hood was in Gotham.

And suddenly the Batman was there. Did he sneak up on them? Was Wally too panicked to notice his arrival? Who would know – Wally sure didn't. Batman was talking in his normal gravelled voice, demanding an explanation for what was happening. Wally had forgotten how much the Bat hated other heroes coming into his city unannounced, and an exploding warehouse was a sure-fire way to gain his attention and wrath. Before any sort of heated argument could begin, M'gann suddenly cried out – there was something moving near the burning building. In the flickering light of the fire, it simply looked like a dark, slowly moving mound, but as the heroes drew closer, the mound grew features. It wasn't a mound at all, but a banged up and barely conscious Blue Beetle. The heroes quickly dragged the young man away from the building, but to their surprise he hadn't been singed by the flames at all. He'd definitely been through a battle, but the fire hadn't touched him.

A coughing fit brought the gathered heroes attention back to the injured Blue Beetle who was almost fully conscious after being moved.

"Stay calm Blue, don't get up," Nightwing calmly spoke to the teenager who had been trying to pick himself up.

"No, you don't understan-ghk" Jaime again tried to move, but the pain in his body clearly told him not to, "He took them, he took Robin and Impulse"

A chill swept through the gathered heroes. Dread turned several faces into scowls, but Wally was pretty sure he was about to have a full-blown nervous breakdown and his face was anything but an emotionless scowl. If anything were to happen to Bart, he didn't know what he'd do.

"He gave me a message," Blue Beetle wheezed from his place on the floor, supported by M'gann, "he said to tell the Justice League that you'd soon learn why you should have never brought children into your fight."


Sorry not sorry for the cliff-hanger. Next chapter will be called "He Says He's My What?" and hopefully won't take another 8+ months to come out! I really am truly sorry for the delay.

Anyhoo, in case you were wondering, I'm being vague about how Jason died because I don't want to follow the whole 'Joker ain't dead, how could you not kill him' thing. Also, just to clarify because I know it's kinda obscure cannon, but Jason and Dick had a good relationship before he died in the YJ-verse. One of the show runners confirmed it at some point, but yeah that's the case with this story too, it'll probably come into play later

Please review x