Hunting Ghosts in Gotham 2
Normally, when I get plotbunnies they're completely unrelated to each other. This time, I tried to stitch this plotbunny to the plotbunny in chapter 1: Hunting Ghosts in Gotham.
There's a kid on Dick's doorstep.
For a moment, Dick's brain points out that he's in a hotel, in civvies, about to meet up with Wally and Artemis. How did this kid find him? and then his brain kicks into gear.
It's Daniel Fenton. He's exactly three weeks older than Jason would have been. Two years ago, Jason had barely been in the ground a week when this kid and his sister made themselves a bat signal and begged Batman to stop their parents from poking at his brother's grave. Fenton's mother hadn't gone down without a fight — but in the end the couple had been dropped off to their children only slightly scuffed up.
They'd done a background check on them — the Fentons were ghost hunters, and seemed to have a weak connection to Lexcorp through Axion labs and Vladco, but nothing that raised any particular flags. For the most part they seemed to be small-town heroes that kept their own batch of rouges in check. Bruce hadn't been eager to investigate any further, content with running them out of town, and for a while that had been that.
But now, Daniel Fenton is on Dick's doorstep, and the seventeen-year-old is shuffling from foot to foot and looking like he's about to vibrate out of his skin. It's a very Wally look, honestly. Dick feels like he does when he catches the newer members of the Team in some sort of misdemeanour.
"Well, what have they done now?" he asked, meaning the kid's ghost-hunting, chaotic parents.
"What—who?" Daniel asks, eyes wide.
"You're not here about your parents?" Dick asks, leaning against the door frame.
"Uh, no," Daniel says. "Actually, well, it's about your. Er. Can we speak in private?"
The kid is nervous, but he doesn't seem to malicious, so Dick lets him in. He shoots off a text to Wally to let him and Artemis know that he's held up, and then faces Daniel.
"Right. Well." Daniel rakes a hand through his hair. "I'm Danny. Uh. My parents are ghost hunters? We kinda almost had a run in with your dad a few years back—"
"Yeah," Danny answered. "Thanks. For not bankrupting us, I guess. Actually… it's kinda about that that I want to talk about."
Danny's nervous. His speech is all over the place, and his knees are wobbling. "Not the bankrupting. Er. What do you think of meta humans?" His voice goes high.
"They're people," Dick answers and resists the urge to fold his arms. He's not comfortable enough to let his body move like it wants to. Danny is an unknown quantity, and it's bugging him. "Just like anyone else. Some of them are good, some are bad, most are both."
Danny isn't appeased by that. He swallows. He opens his mouth, then closes it, then opens it again. "I'm here about your brother."
"Jason's dead," Dick says.
"Well yeah but—" Danny groans. "He's a. We think. Augh."
"You're suggesting he isn't?"
"Death is not the end!" Danny waves this hands dramatically. "Look, I'm a meta okay? My kind of meta… we come into existence when we die. After we die. Kinda."
Dick sucks in a breath. The idea that this is a trap sticks in his mind, but right now it's a trap he's willing to walk into. He made so many mistakes — Bruce made so many mistakes, and the idea that Jason is still here — that he could apologise, that he could do better— It's mixed in with the knowledge that Jason has been surviving — somehow — and they've left him all on his own for two years.
"Do you know where he is?" Dick demands.
"Uh yeah, my cousin—"
"Tell me on the way." Dick steps out of the room, and Danny hurries behind him. He texts Wally again and gets a terse reply back. His friend wants to know what the hell he's doing getting in some strange kid's car. Dick tells him to track his phone and gets a poop emoji in return.
Wally and Artemis have his back. He refuses to feel guilty about dragging them into this. This isn't league business. It isn't Team business. It's personal.
Danny's car is a boxy, heavily modified two-door hatchback. Once it was probably something a granny would tot around in, but now its hard to make out the original shape beneath the roll bars, antennae and radar dishes. Danny puts his hands in his pockets and straightens up defensively as they approach.
"My parents bought it, and they didn't give it to me until they were… happy with it." The words come out with a cringe.
"Ye—ah," Dick says. At least Bruce's sense of drama is curbed by his need to maintain a secret identity. He'd hate to think what he'd do to Dick's bike if given the chance.
"So we're heading to my, uh—lair," Danny says as he fumbles the key as he slides it into the driver's side door, probably scratching against the white and green paint job. He grimaces and slides it in correctly the second time.
"Your lair," Dick says. It comes out harsher than he expected. "What are you, a supervillain?"
"No," Danny snaps. "Look, people like me, and my cousin, and—and your brother, lairs are part of what we are—who we are."
"And you are…"
Danny ignores him, starting up the car and looking around the road carefully as he moves into traffic. There's an awkwardness to his movements, so Dick keeps his mouth shut. He doesn't want to get involved in a crash today, though he suspects, from the way this car is kitted out, they'd come off better than the other guy in just about any scenario.
He takes a look over the car. There's a screen in the centre console where he'd expect a reversing camera to be, but it's been smashed. The words "Ghost Radar" are written in playful green and orange bubble writing across its top.
"A halfa," Danny says about a minute later. "That's… half a human, half— a… ghost, we call ourselves."
"You look pretty solid to me." Dick wants to keep him talking, and not… spook the guy.
Danny laughs. "Only because I want to be. I can do the whole intangibility thing. And man, I tell you, it's a pain to get a handle on. The number of beakers I broke as a kid… I sucked at chem."
Dick thinks for a bit — his thoughts are running around in freaked out circles — JasonJasonJasonJason. He needs to be next to Jason. He needs to wrap him in a hug. He needs to make sure he's alright. He needs to know where he's been. He needs information.
"How long 'til we get to your lair?"
"Forty minutes?" Danny hedges.
Plenty of time to pump the guy for info. Dick presses a few buttons on his phone and lets Artemis and Wally listen in through the speaker. Danny's probably trustworthy to some extent, but—
But he's not taking any more chances than necessary.
"Tell me about him."