The Origin of the Protector
Part One

by Keith A. Kilburn

The Batcave.

Say the name an it conjures up all sorts of images in your minds eye, There is a prevailing theory that Batman imprisons the worst criminals there in the deepest, darkest bowels of the Earth, a pit of Hades that even the Devil wont visit...That in fact these criminals never see the light of day ever again. It isn't true though...The cave has many pieces of memorabilia within it...The giant penny from a battle with the horrible scared Two-Face, the oversized playing card bearing the evil visage of the Joker and then their is the monument to Jason Todd...The second Robin, the one who died trying to save his mother and escape one of the Jokers many deathtraps..... He failed and suffered the ultimate consequence.

Tim Drake looked from the case bearing the previous Robins costume back to the Massive computer bank laid out in front of him as he mistakenly clicked on the wrong subfile. It had happened before and he sighed impatiently, wanting to be on his date rather then in the Batcave helping the visiting Dick Grayson with the case he was on. And then an image that Tim had never seen before flashed across the screen and be paused long enough to read the data that accompanied the picture.

Real Name:Jason Matthew Hart.
Occupation:High school student
Martial Status:Single
Known Relatives:Charlotte and Lawrence Hart (Parents), Stacy Marie Hart (Sister), Ted Hart (Cousin), Louise and Robert Hart (Aunt and Uncle)
Group Affiliation:New Teen Titans (Honorary member)
Base of Operations:Formerly Metropolis, Long Island, Now mobile.

Tim scanned the sparse information beyond that before speaking to Dick.

"So who is the Protector?" Turning to face the closest thing he had to an older brother, Tim watched as Dick Grayson, who had been going through old case files, turned and looked first at Tim and then at the image on the screen beyond him and then Dick did something that almost scared Tim......

Dick Grayson smiled as he crossed the Batcave to look at the Data file.

“I didn't know that Bruce had any Data files on Jason......Man does this bring back some memories.” Dick commented as he knelt down next to Tim to read the data file, Tim looked from Dick to the computer screen puzzled and then ask another question, really not expecting to get an answer, but now more curious then ever..

“Was this guy another Robin in-between you and Jason Todd...How come I've never heard of him before now?” Tim asked, his voice almost a whisper as he looked over again at the case containing Jason Todd’s costume, he never noticed that Dick had also looked over at the case before answering his question.

“No, there wasn't any Robin in-between me and Jason Todd...Jason Hart was a kid who got himself into a real mess and I helped get him out of it.....I trained him to be the Protector...Much like Bruce trained me to be Robin...The reason you never heard of him up until now is really fairly simple...I haven't seen him in a while and you never seemed to interested in hearing about my old Titan days so I never mentioned him....”

Tim stared at the image for a few seconds longer, trying to figure out what this Jason Hart might have been like before looking back at Dick and responding.

“You realize that this makes him part of the family? I mean Bruce Trained you, Jason and Me, Barbara found her way in to...The Protector is a part of our Bat-family...if you will....because you trained him...He’s like the step-brother I never knew I had....” Dick smiled at the thought of a family reunion with all the various people who had drifted in out of his life in the Batcave.

Looking from the image to Tim, Dick replied. “You forgot Flamebird....Everyone always forgets Bette Kane....” Pausing to look at the screen once more Dick sighed before asking a simple question. “I suppose you want to know all about your new found “Step-brother”...Right?

“Yeah...Id like to hear this story.” Tim replied as Dick stood up from his crouch and turned the computer off as he crossed the cave...At first Tim thought that he had upset his closest friend and started to say something ...But stopped as Dick turned and motioned him to follow. They had left the enclosed climate controlled computer room and cross the turntable with the Bat-mobile on it before Dick spoke again. “Ok this story starts just before I stopped being Robin...and Started being Nightwing.” Dick said as they left the Batcave and ascended back into the light of Stately Wayne Manor.

Jason Matthew Hart is seventeen years old and is spending the summer with his Aunt and Uncle in Blue Valley Nebraska...The home of Kid Flash, not that Jason had seen the speedster although rumor had it that you couldn't see he when he ran. Blue Valley had one of those Mayberry type feels to it to Jason, he was use to Metropolis and this was sort of like being made to live as an Amish when you were use to living in the modern city. The only thing that kept him sane was his being a member of the track team back home in Metropolis, Jason was use to running every morning and as such he rose early and left without a word to aunt and uncle...How much trouble could Blue Valley, Nebraska be after all?

Jason considered his options for his senior year as he ran...he had considered a stint in the Military...but had quickly decided against that...the thought of having someone scream at you at five o'clock in the morning wasn't his cup of tea....College was in his future...He’d probably get a track scholarship and go to Metropolis University.

His thought shifted back to his major....A touchy subject because his father had wanted him to go into a medical field of some type...Like he and Jason’s sister had...She was an Licensed Practical Nurse...but Jason didn't see himself as a Doctor or a Nurse of some type. Jason wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life...It seemed to him that at seventeen years old he had a whole year to decide and then to implement the idea...Maybe I’ll be an English teacher he thought as he raced through downtown Blue Valley at near top speed,Realizing that Blue Valley was actually much bigger then he thought.

Had Jason not glanced over into the All-Night Laundry Mat as he went by...He would have completed his run and went on to become a fine member of the Emergency Medical Crew driving ambulances in Metropolis.

But he looked...and that made all the difference.

There was his cousin Terry getting hassled by a couple of lowlifes.

“Who knew that Blue Valley, Nebraska had lowlifes?” Jason said as he stopped Jogging, dodging traffic as he crossed the street Jason had the feeling that this was going to lead to nothing but trouble as he entered the laundry mat.

“You either come up with the money or you do the deal for us Terry.....” Mike said, his three other friends glared menacingly at Terry Hart as Jason crossed the threshold into the otherwise empty Laundry mat. Everyone turned to see who had entered the building and Terry cursed under his breath as Mike motioned for his friends to be ready for trouble. They moved into position and hands went into pockets clutching pistols.

“Terry...what’s going on?” Jason asked as he neared his cousin, Mike smiled as he waved his friends on and replied for the now frightened Terry Hart. “You must be Terry’s visiting” Mike searched for the name as Terry and Jason both looked from one another and responded, Jason in more of an annoyed voice. “Jason.”

“Oh yeah...IM not good with'll have to excuse me Jason...Terry and I were just discussing a....”Business” transaction.....Well Terry would you like to tell your Cus. about the business DEAL we have going...Or should I?” Mike asked looking over his sunglasses at Terry, who was now a pale white as he looked from his visiting cousin to his pusher, before replying in a voice that was wracked with fear and a nasty case of cotton mouth.

“I’ll do the deal leave Jason out of this....”

Mike chuckled as his gathered friends smiled, Motioning them towards the door the Steven, Michael and Antonio relaxed and began to leave.

“I knew you would do the smart thing Terry....Ill see you tomorrow night at eleven thirty...Don't be late...” Mike commented as he and his gang walked out...He paused at the door and turned back to Terry before adding a final message.

“Or else.”

For a few quiet moments both Jason and his older cousin Terry stood in the empty Laundry mat before Jason broke the deafening roar of the silence by speaking and when he spoke it was as though Thunderclapped.

“What was that all about Terry?” Looking over to his cousin, who he had always looked up to Jason enquired again. “Are you in some type of trouble...Do Aunt Louise and Uncle...” Terry violently grabbed Jason by the shirt stopping him in mid-sentence and spun him into a machine before screaming at the top of his lungs at the younger cousin he always thought of as a younger brother. “My Mom and Dad can’t know about this....Don't you say a word to them...not one word Jas.....”

Jason realized in the at split second it wasn't fear that made Terry act this was shame....

“What is going on Terry?....What trouble are you in?....Why not just go to the cops?” Jason asked now more concerned then ever, Terry laughed a strange sort of barking laugh before replying in a deeply sarcastic tone of voice. “Mike and his friend would kill me and maybe saw them with me...besides IM in to deep...I owe them to much money for the.....” Terry paused as he looked from Jason out past him into the street beyond and finally continued. “I owe Mike over a thousand dollars for Cocaine...and he gave me three options....Pay now and keep all my body parts, have every bone in my body the very least or Ride shotgun with him when he goes to pick up some product.”

Shame suffused through Terry’s face as he looked back at his cousin and replied...”I took door number three.” Jason stood there in shock that his cousin was a drug user, the thought never crossed his mind...not once...well up until he walked in the door of the laundry mat and heard the conversation. “A thousand dollars??? Ask Uncle Bob to help you...” Jason started to say again but Terry cut him off as he rolled his eyes and motioned for Jason to follow him out of the All-night laundry mat.

“Look I can’t go to my dad and tell him I've been using Coke for the last month and I need to barrow a thousand dollars....He’ll skin me alive...I have to handle this one on my own Police, no Mom or Dad...MYSELF.....Promise you wont tell them.” Terry asked stopping on the sidewalk to look into his cousins eyes, Jason looked at him and started to say something again but was cut off as Terry spoke again. “Promise you wont tell them Jason...IM asking you to promise me this one thing...everything will be ok I promise...”

Jason looked down the street toward his Aunt and Uncles place before looking back to his cousin Terry and replied. “I promise not to tell them.” And in that moment Terry could no longer look Jason in the eyes and cast his eyes towards the sidewalk.

Jason promised that he wouldn't tell them about it...but never that he wouldn't interfere on his own...There had to be some way to stop Terry, a plan was formulating across his mind and Jason knew what had to be done to stop Terry.

“OK...When does this involve you Dick?” Tim asked looking over the bowl of Chocolate covered Ice cream at the older Dick Grayson, Sighing at the impatiens of youth Dick rolled his eyes before replying.

“I’m getting to that part of the story Tim...You just have to be patient a little while longer...” Dick replied after he ate another spoonful of his Chocolate covered chocolate ice cream, Tim nodded and quietly eat some more of his as Dick spoke.

“Making the decision to put on a mask and a costume isn't an easy one...Some factor usually pushes you into it...Whether it is your Parents dying, Being the last of your kind and being raised to believe in Truth, Justice and the American way or maybe your an ambassador on a mission of peace who has come to this place to dedicate yourself to teaching peaceful resolve....” Dick paused finishing off the last of the ice cream, he stood and took his spoon and bowl over to the sink as he continued.

“Jason and you both became heroes because, at the time circumstances dictated that it would have to happen...You clothed yourself in the Robin costume to help save Bruce from himself and netted the job for yourself...Not an easy task at all.” Pausing as Tim finished his Ice cream Dick then continued by adding. “Jason Hart became the Protector to save his cousin from certain death...from drugs and from the pushers that had enslaved him.

“Jason's big problem was that he wasn't a martial artist, he wasn't a master detective and he knew as much about Acrobatics and aerialism as he did about Ramjet technology and it’s repair...If anything that fact should have been the biggest factors going against him....Jason was a track star...The boy could run if he needed to and he was fast...Mind you not as fast as Wally...But fast enough where it counted.” Dick said as they washed up the bowls and spoons before returning them to their rightful place, turning back towards his younger friend Dick then added.

“And that should have been the biggest factors against him...But Jason surprised us all when the story broke...Enough of my rambling though...Let me finish this story.”

Tim and Dick began their trek back to the Batcave as the former Robin continued his story.

“Jason knew what had to be done to stop Terry...or so he thought.”

“Where have you boy’s been?” Jason’s Aunt Louise asked as they walked in, Jason started to say something, but never got the chance as Terry spoke up for them. “I got up early and took Jason out to see some sites....Right Jas?” Terry asked looking over at his cousin waiting for an answer...Jason looked over at his Aunt Louise before replying in a small voice. “Uh...Sure...Neat town you have here Aunt Louise...”

Jason hated lieing to his Aunt Louise for Terry like this and it made a knot in his stomach a foot thick and six inches wide...Smileing weakly at his Aunt as she smiled at the two of them and replied. “Well you two must be hungry after your little adventure this morning...Ive got breakfest on and it’ll be ready in a few minutes.”

“I'm going to go clean up Aunt Louise....I'll be back down asfter while.” Jason said as he wandered off upstairs, Terry smiling confident that he had snowed his mom, went off to watch saturday morning cartoons.

Jason stood at the door to Terry’s room and just stared at it for a minute before he silently entering.

Terry’s room was littered with clothes, Hard rock posters and stacks of comics, Careful not to make very much noise Jason searched around the room and found the small stash of Rock Cocaine in the back of the closet in a cigar box. Shaking with anger Jason considered his plan...He had to scare Terry bad enough to get him to not only go clean but stay clean.

“I'm never going to be able to do this...” Jason said to the empty room and then he looked over at the stack of comics and a thought crossed his mind.

“Terry wont listen to me but maybe he would listen to a superhero....” Jason muttered as he thumbed through the stack of comics....The Pulverizer, JLA, Some of the limited edtion Batman comics that had come out before a company in Gotham bought the comic company printing them and closed it down for some reason....The Batman comics looked as though they had never been read...Looking back over the comics Jason came to the realization that most of Terry’s comic collection was Batman related appearances.

Jason’s mind raced as he left the room with the rock cocaine and entered the bathroom, he dumped the drug into the toilet and flushed it before starting the shower water. How do I get in touch with a superhero when I cant even find Kid Flash in this town? Jason thought to himself and then it dawned on him.

Jason would have to play the part of a superhero.

Slipping out of the shower Jason quickly dried himself and darted from the bathroom to the spare room that was his for the summer...Quickly dressing and grabbing his summer money Jason slid back out into the hallway and down the stairs as quietly as he could.

Terry was still watching T.V. and his Aunt was still trying to make breakfest....She wasnt known for her culinary skills and as such Jason believed that he had at least an hour before he was discovered......

Now to find a costume shop........Jason thought as he slid out the front door and made his way back to Downtown Blue Valley.

There wasnt a costume shop in town.

“How am I suppose to get a costume if there is no costume shop....” Jason muttered to himself in anger as he slung the phone book back into the phone booth....”This is just great...Ive got to rescue my cousin from getting himself killed and in order to scare the living daylights out of him...Ive got to dress up like Batman and there isnt a costume shop in town....” Jason said his voice rising as he turned to kick the nearest trash can in anger...but stopped as a thought came to him from whereever it is that bursts of inspiration came from.

Superheroes all wear spandex....I can buy spandex at a department story.....

Jason smiled and nodded as he thought of it...Going back into the phone booth Jason grabbed the phone book and called the local Sears and Roebuck for directions.

Luckily it was two blocks over and Jason made it there in record time.

Stepping up to the sportswear counter Jason smiled as the attractive Blond turned to face him spoke. “Hi there...I'm Francis...How can I be of assistance to you?” Her voice was light and clear with a mid-western accent that could melt ice...Jason’s heart skipped a beat and he almost forgot what he was there for, but his mind drifted back to the problem at hand. “Hi there Fran...I'm looking for a black Spandex Cos....” He stopped in mid sentance before blurting out his secret and coughed from the effort as he tried to change direction. “Joggin suit....a spandex Jogging suit is what I ment...” Jason finally finished as Fran smiled at him.

Again Jason’s heart skipped a beat.

“Well...I'm afraid we dont have a Black spandex work out suit....”Fran said as she lead him over the rack and then added. “This being summer...Well im afraid that you have gotten on your kick a little to late to have much choice....” Jason had never considered this....They didnt have a black bodysuit and time was quickly running out on him...if he wasnt back at the house soon...well someone would notice.

“Are you sure you dont have Black?...Brown would work” Jason comment as he looked through the choice and realizd that the only thing in this bin was a bunch of Maroon and Blue body suits. Fran looked up at Jason again but didnt say anything to him...Jason considered saying something but before he could a gust of wind hit his back and caused him to turn.

It was then that Fran spoke.

“Hi Wally...your early for a change.” Fran said as Jason came face to face with what had to be Fran's boyfriend and a friend of his.

“Well...Dick and I thought we’d surprise you...he’s in town visiting..I hope you dont...” Wally had started completely ignoring Jason and he would have continued if not for Dick Grayson elbowing him in the ribs and politly pointing to Jason.

“Wally...Fran has a customer...”Pausing as he looked back from Wally to Jason, Dick smiled and then added. “You have to excuse Wally...Hes got the fastest mouth alive...” Nodding at the two newcomers Jason offered his hand and replied. “Well since everyone else knows everyone else...I'm Jason Hart...nice to meet you two...let me get my Spandex cos...Bodysuits and im out of here.”

Dick and Wally shook Jasons hand after he grabbed two bodysuits and paid for them.

“ you think there is something weird about that kid?” Wally asked as they watched Jason leave, Dick considered the question for a few seconds before replying...”You mean other then the fact that he’s buying Spandex in the middle of June...And that it was Maroon and Blue?” Dick said witha a smile and may never have actually thought another thing about Jason Hart if not for Francis Kane speaking up and that moment. “He wanted Black spandex.”

Wally and Dick looked at one another.

“Wait a mean Jason Harts Costume is made of Spandex????” Tim asked as he dribbled the basketball past Dick Grayson and went for the three pointer but missed by scarce millimeters as the ball bounced off the rim and Dick recovered it before replying. “Hey...I hate to break this to you...but not everyone has an Alfred to make their costumes...Supermans was made by his mother...Yeah he bought his costume in a Sears over the weird as that sounds .” Dick paused as he raced around the court and went for the slamdunk, Tim tried to block but didnt have the leaping power that Dick had and Dick made it look that much easier when he made the shot.

“Jason bought two Spandex workout suits so he could fashion a mask, gloves and a cape from one of be really honest with you it looked bad...I mean really bad...The original costume...the later one he actually got a few tailored and they looked better...Although Roy and I could never break him of the Maroon and Blue.” Dick said as he walked over to the small section of the Wayne family gym where they had left their Gatorade and drank from his as Tim again spoke.

“I never really thought about where other heroes got their costumes from...You didnt mention Roy Harper in this Story yet..did he come in later when Jason went to bust the drug dealers?” Tim asked as it dawned on him that Dick hadnt spoke of Roy Harper...Tim immediately felt bad about asking as both Roy and Dick had a recent falling out over the Titans.

Dick looked over before speaking.

“No Roy wasnt there when Wally and I meet Jason...although he and Jason worked together...Similiar interests in stopping drug runners...Roy would have to tell you more about those stories.” Dick said and then added a though it were an afterthought. “Roy and Jason...I think that was about the first time Roy meet Chesire...”

“Whose Chesire?” Timasked as he sipped from the Gatorade...Dick smiled and then replied with a touch of sarcasm. “Well...lets just say she is to Roy what Catwoman is to Bruce and leave it at that OK?”

“OH...OK...” Tim said nodding as realization dawned on him.

“Ill skip over the part about Jason sewing his costume up or trying to and I’ll get down to his confrontation with Micheal...Ive got to get back to work on the case I came here on anyway.” Dick said as he finished up his Gatorrade and tossed it into the trashcan before continueing his story.

Jason had feigned a sore stomach and went to bed early...He quickly slid into his costume and felt like a goof as he spotted himself in the mirror. He could see the seams where he had patchworked it together and the cape was almost to long on him, Jason would be lucky if he didnt trip and kill himself while wearing it. Flipping off the bedroom lights after sticking several pillows under the blankets Jason leapt out the bedroom window and made his way over to Aunts car, which he had overheard Terry asking premission to use earlier this evening. Reaching in he poped the trunk from the glove box and went around to the back and slid into the trunk before pulling it almost all the way shut.

And in the Darkness he waited.

Terry came out a short while later and clI'mbed into the car...Jason immediatly wondered silently wheather or not he had shut the glovebox and for a brief second he panicked...But Terry started the car right up and backed out of the driveway. Jason sighed as he layed there in the Darkness.

The drive seemed to take forever and then finally Terry pulled over and parked.

Jason waited a few seconds before climbing out of the trunk and glancing around.

Having no idea where he was or that this was the worst part of Blue Valley...Jason thought that Terry had driven to the front gate of hell itself. Terry went into a rundown building but neither he nor the person opening the dor for him could see Jason because of the angle of the doorway and the door.

Robin and Kid Flash watched from a nearby rooftop trying to figure out what was going on. “You are sure that is the crackhouse that the Streetdeamonz run?” Robin asked taking the Binoculars from his eyes, Kid Flash looked over at him with a “Get-real” glance before replying.

“Yeah, I'm sure it is...Micheal Crawford runs it along with a few of his thug friends...Word has it that a huge drug deal is going down tonight...This begs the question...What is our young friend doing here?” Kid Flash asked as he looked from Robin back to the costumed Jason Hart, Robin shrugged and then replied. “I havnt got a clue on on that one....But lets hang back and follow him...I dont want him to get caught in the crossfire.”

Kid-Flash nodded before leaving the rooftop.

Jason creapt around the Word down building in the crazy makeshift costume of his and thought that he was very possibly crazy and then the reasons for his being in this darkened alley in the worst section of Blue Valley, Nebraska surfaced in his mind. Flattening himself against the outer wall of the crackhouse Jason stealthily moved along trying to make as little noise as possible.

Not knowing that not only was he being watched from a rooftop nearby, but from within the very crackhouse he was hoping to get into.

Mike Jaxon looked from the Tv Screen and out the crack in the boards...he some times did this hoping to find a homeless person to shoot at, instead he found some weirdo in a strange costume. “Hey James....Comere and look at this..” Mike said in a low whispery tone, his younger brother leaned over from his vantage point on the otherside of the couch and looked outside to see Jason move from one shadow to the next. “What in the name of Captain Boomerang was that???” James asked as he looked from the crack in the window and over to his brother, Mike smiled and replied. “I dont know...But I say we got and have somefun with him.....”

James smiled evilly at his brother.

Jason knelt down beside the abandoned building trying to look for a way into the basement through a window and never heard the back door slide open, he didnt hear the Jaxon brothers creep outside with their pistols aimed at him....He didnt know they were their until they made their prescence known.

A swift Kick to Jason’s Right Kidney got his attention in a brutal way and slammed him into the side of the Building, he managed to bring his hand up at the last possible second to keep from smashing face first into the buildingside.

“You got a name BOY??????” Mike asked as he cocked the hammer on his pistol and aimed it at Jason as he stood up quickly, James brought his nine millimeter to bare as well and Jason suddenly realized just how dangerous this whole plan was. “Well....Answer me boy...You got a Name....What should I have them write on your Tombstone??” Mike asked again getting impatient at the silence, anger flashed in his eyes and he took a step closer before jason finally spoke.

“I'm the Protector” He said, it was the only thing he could come up with on short notice.

Both Jaxon brothers Laughed hysterically.

Jason glanced around without shifting his head and spied a trash can next to him on his left and suddenly he burst out laughing too, the Jaxon brothers stopped briefly before laughing harder.

And then Jason moved.

Grabbing the trash can lid Jason brought it up and into Mikes extended hand hard, the wrist twsited funny as he howled in pain and James moved into action. Imiataing something he had seen in a comic book the Protector flipped the trashcan lid into his hand and hurled it like a giant frisbee at Jame Jaxon.

James being a spilt second faster raised his pistol anf fired as the trascan lid caught him in the face, breaking his nose and sending him sprawling to the ground as his shot went wild. The Protector moved to enter the house but was grabbed by Mike and spun around elbowing him in the face on accident.

Mike went down effectively all the same.

For split second the Protector considered picking up one of the pistols but then decided against it...not wanting to hurt anyone he dicided that he just wanted to get his cousin out of this mess. Turning he crossed the thresehold into the lair of the beast.

On the nearby rooftop Robin Sighed and swung down into the alleyway on a batline from his utility belt, Kid Flash stopped beside him and they lloked at one another before Wally Spoke. “I must be slowing up in my old age....Swatting that bullet out of the way wasnt as easy as it use to be....” Robin collected up the pistols and dropped them into a nearby trashcan before replying. “We can run some tests back at the Tower, lets go rescue Jason before this get really out of hand.”

The Protector crept along one of the inner hallways and passed a room with people in it...they all looked like they were high on Crack, he doubted they would remember him being there much less react to his being there and he was right.

The Guy who watched the front door was a different sotry on the the other hand.

He spotted the Protector as he rounded the corner, thinking it was Kid Flash he brought the butt of his shotgun into the young heroes forehead as hard as he could. The Protector turned just in time to get a real close up of the business end of the Shotgun butt.

And then the darkness claimed him.

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