jason todd x gender neutral reader. 720 words.
notes: a very abstract take on 'write a true story about you with characters instead of people', one of the prompts from the ever lovely @reaperintheroses drabble december! this was more 'write about feelings', but i tried.
warnings: vague bad headspace on jason's part
he was in a mood.
you weren't sure what mood, but it wasn't good.
it was, however, familiar enough that you weren't surprised when he walked through the bedroom like a ghost.
all he took with him as he left it was a nail file.
you sat quietly, listening for the window.
there it was, about half a minute later: the sliding sound of the window in the frame was quiet but unmistakable, as was the sound of it sliding shut behind him.
fire escape brooding.
you sighed- that was a surefire sign that the mood had settled in completely. you had hoped, somewhat naïvely, that it would be a "wrong side of the bed" situation; had hoped he would be able to shake it off.
with the mood here to stay, you put your phone aside and slid out of bed.
it wasn't something to fix. not days like this. as much as you wished you could carry the weight of this for him, you settled instead for trying to share the load.
you took your time walking through the apartment, giving him his space for a little while as you boiled water and steeped tea for him.
you dug out his largest, warmest sweatshirt, tugging it on to brace against the cold you knew was wrapped around him both mentally and literally. then, with a glance at his silhouette in the window, you picked up his mug and approached.
he barely reacted to the sound of the window opening, only shifting slightly so his ear was towards you in silent acknowledgement.
"i made tea," you said softly, leaning on the sill. "interested?"
jason hesitated a moment, the only sounds the traffic below.
he shrugged, twirling the nail file between two fingers.
you reached over, gently pressing the mug into his free hand, watching as he pulled it to his chest with a hum.
"do you want space, or would you prefer i join you?"
"...you can." his voice was steady, but uncharacteristically quiet and lifeless. "not gonna be much company right now."
you slid out the window, closing it behind you, and he glanced up at you blankly. "you don't have to be," you said firmly, quietly, as you sat down beside him. "i'm just here."
the metal was freezing, even through your thick sweatpants. it would take more than a stretch of the imagination to call it comfortable, but you settled in like it was memory foam.
you sat in silence, listening to him breathe beside you and watching it fog in your peripheral.
you sat until your legs ached and your nose felt about ready to fall off from the cold. you sat for far longer than it took him to drain his mug. you sat long enough that the rush of lunch traffic came and went below you.
you sat watching gray clouds churn in the sky, offering the only comfort you could: he wasn't alone.
eventually, he inhaled deeply, and you felt something shift.
"you want a grilled cheese?" his voice was rough and quiet, but using it was a good sign.
you recognized the offer as the thank you that it was.
"yeah," you matched his volume, gently breaking your silence. "that sounds good."
it wasn't over, not by a long shot. you could feel it in the air around you, as though jason was a storm and the front was rolling in. it would be a few days, you suspected, of this- of disconnect, of that distant look in his eyes.
and that was the best case scenario.
he pushed himself up and off the ground, wincing when his bad ankle popped unpleasantly, and you changed your mind. he wasn't the storm. a storm in his own right, sure, strong and beautiful and immovable to all the world, but in this case he was standing on the coast and watching the storm turn the ocean angry.
he reached a hand down to help you up.
you took it, squeezing it once, twice, three times in quick succession as you hauled yourself to your feet. once there, you relaxed your grip.
he kept his, keeping your palm against his own. bracing himself against the wind.
you'd be damned if you let him board up the windows and sandbag the doorways on his own.
hi! i mean this genuinely and i hope it isnt rude to ask, totally feel free to ignore if you prefer not to answer! but ive been wondering, what makes you seemingly so attached to your polish heritage? as a polish person myself, who has lived in poland their whole life, i just find it interesting, because i find that im almost... ashamed of my own nationality. im sure you are aware that poland isnt the most progressive, especially with the current government, and it is in many ways far behind many other european countries. again, i mean no disrespect to you and also im literally polish myself so its just a lot of conflicting feelings, and it makes me curious to see an immigrant who seems to talk about the country mostly positively. (also im sorry about the situation with your family, i hope you get to come here on your own at some point! <3)
oh yeah no i totally get you, i feel ashamed of how backwards and bigoted the country can be and i'm not some kind of proud nationalist who'll defend its ugliness. and i worry sometimes that i'll make people feel unsafe or uncomfortable by mentioning my heritage because of that. i suppose i'm just attached to the way i feel like i'm home when i'm there, in the town i was born in and the places i've visited. i'm attached to the good memories i have of the food and culture and scenery and people i've encountered who made it a beautiful place to live. and a lot of my family were wiped out during ww2, so i guess i'm attached to being alive and proof that they failed to destroy us completely? but i definitely don't think it's all sunshine and roses and pretty stereotypes.
Briarlights death makes sense to me. As much as I love her character, the movement technology you’ve come up with wouldn’t be enough to keep her alive in a society where her nether regions are constantly exposed to the outdoors. She would get UTIs and kidney infections very quickly, which would be fatal when you can’t feel pain. My partner has to use catheters to avoid them (he is paralyzed in the same spot Briarlight would be.)
I think it’s disingenuous to have a character that’s paralyzed but have no other health problems or concerns regarding it, even if it’s uncomfortable to think about for some readers. It’s just as ableist to minimize the additional struggles she’d face as it is to kill her off unnecessarily.
Not accusing you of ableism, but expressing my concern. They’d need to find a way for her to poop and pee in a way that’s sanitary and a way to combat infections long term - even if the thought is “gross” to some people it’s the reality she’d have to live with. She should, at the very least, remain immunocompromised.
That is a valid concern. I will keep this in mind-- I'll make sure to note her immediately being cleared out of camp at the first sign of sniffles to avoid it. My cats can do some very minor building and there are now several cats on Jayfeather's Garden Patrol, it wouldn't be too much of a problem to make that area into a comfortable "satellite camp".
I do want to add though that my most important guiding principle is a stronger narrative which includes better portrayals of disabled characters, not perfect rugged woodsman realism. The medicine I add and the guides I write are in the hopes of better representing the lives of the real-life people who see themselves in the fantasy battle cats.
Realism does factor into that of course! But it goes out the door the minute it would smash up against a disabled character's inclusion. This is a series for human beings like your partner; as close to it as I can get by bending the setting when needed.
For example, Epilepsy
Epilepsy was deadly before modern medicine. Full stop. The herbs I created for that guide would not save someone like Shadowsight, whose convulsions are at extreme risk of turning into Status Epilepticus. It would help manage, but Shadowsight's life would have been very brief.
All the chamomile in the world wouldn't replace phenobarbital... or even the older medications, barbituates. Barbituates have been replaced and good riddance, but it's important to understand that even this drug known for causing EXTREME lethargy and horrible side effects was revolutionary. It saved countless lives.
But I'm not here to write a story for the real-life horror that is epilepsy in a pre-modern society. I'm here for the parent who personally thanked me for making their daughter feel less alone.
Evil spirits attacking the living! God knocking over trees! Attacking a bulldozer! That all happens; there's no reason they can't help Briarlight too!!
But I'll make sure to include her being immunocompromised. And I'll include ways they handle that. Just like I included a cat engineer who made a blanket sled.
So... suggestion accepted! I will keep this in mind.
Briarlight's Canon Death
...I will maintain though that the canonical death of Briarlight was one of the worst, most short-sighted, cruelest decisions that has ever been made in this series.
Because ultimately Briarlight is not a real person. She is a writing choice. She is a character based on Vicky's paralyzed cousin, "Dan," and Briarlight was directly modeled on Dan's personality and recovery.
What did the new writing team do, the minute they were writing a series without Vicky? Killed Briarlight to fucking greencough. For shock points. Narrative moves right on back to the MAIN conflict-- Alderheart having feelings for Velvet and Jayfeather enforcing the vow of chastity. ShadowClan officially falls apart in the background lol
It was never about realism, or realistic portrayal of disability.
This series doesn't care about realism when cats have bloody Freddy Kruger deaths in their sleep, or when shadow goo starts eating cat hell, or when lightning strikes Shadowsight. But they suddenly care about how realistic it is that the only paralyzed character survives greencough?? No! Of course not!
In the middle of the CONSTANT "Ohh she's finally in heaven where she can run and jump and not have a disabled life"? And the infamous Squirrelflight's Hope line, "You don't want to be alive again, Squirrelflight! You might become disabled like BRIARLIGHT"
(WHICH BTW THEY STILL HAVE NOT REMOVED DESPITE PROMISING IT YEARS AGO)
I absolutely do not believe for a second that they had a realistic portrayal of an immunocompromised cat in mind when they did it! Hell, screw it. I'll just say it outright;
I firmly believe that the new writing team killed Briarlight because they did not want to deal with her.
I flatly refuse to give them charity towards this choice. At NO POINT did they earn a speck of good faith. They continued every negative trend that was set up by the previous writers (including Vicky herself tbf), and went a step further by killing her to "we need to get rid of some randos" disease.
Not only that; but the Clan dynamics were NEVER the same after her death, because there was no character who could replace her personality. In this cast of cardboard cats, they plucked out one of the few optimists with a clear, unique perspective, not shared by ANYONE else.
My ire wouldn't JUST be because they happened to kill a disabled character in the way they did (though that is frustrating on its own imo). It's because it was Briarlight.
I hope every writer involved with the decision to kill Briarlight in the "Nothing is Happening! Quick! Kill Someone!" book of AVoS chokes on it. I will DIE on this hill and my blood will never wash out of the grass.