This is for the lovely anon who made my week. (I promised a fic and here it is!) Thank you for being so kind, dear heart. Much love. <3
When Bruce first clapped eyes on him, he knew Jason Todd was his.
It was as if something in his heart clicked into place. He could almost hear the echo of the found puzzle piece. The world–so barren and cruel–turned into a safe haven. The street lamps glowed with a new aspect of home.
“Hello,” whispered his soul, reaching out, “I’ve found you.”
“Piss off,” the other soul replied.
But not really. Jason Todd’s soul was layered, buried under rocks for protection. Yet every time Bruce lifted a rock and set it away, the shattered soul remains gleamed with boyish love. Bruce was mending Jason, one soul piece at a time.
He could see it when Jason reached out first, small hand extended like a flickering flame, fear erupting in his teal eyes but pushing through it.
“I…didn’t think you should be alone.”
He could see it when Jason no longer flinched, but instead smiled every time the man turned around.
"Don’t worry, Pops. I’m right behind you.”
He could see it when Jason grew an inch–just an inch–but ran down the corridor and pertly informed him.
“B! I made it! I’m no longer malnourished! I can help you now!”
“Almost, Jay, almost.”
He could see it when the boy was sitting on the med bench, knee scraped and ankle fractured from climbing to the top of the tallest oak, eyes gleaming with an unearthly light.
“But for a moment–just a moment–I lived. The world was my friend. I understood the sun. I lived, Bruce.”
That’s why Bruce knew when he found his grown son underneath a collapsed building and pulled him to safety, burying his face into the dusty curls, whispering–
“I’ve found you.”
–that Jason Todd was still the same boy, same soul.
They were different now. Their hearts were torn. They were tired and bruised, permanent invisible tear tracks ignored. But their souls were the same. They were shattered, but souls can be mended.
And they would mend each other.