I really hope you're still taking requests. Feel free to ignore me if you don't want to write this. No. 2 with bluepulse please, if you don't mind.
“And I don’t want the world to see me, cause I don’t think that they’d understand. When everything’s made to be broken, I just want you to know who I am.”
“How do you know he won’t betray you?”
“Are you sure that he’s really reformed?”
“What has he done to prove his loyalty?”
“How do you know he won’t betray you?”
Jaime was on Watchtower duty, even though judging by how the latest Star Wars had just come out, nobody was going to be attacking anywhere tonight. The villains and the heroes had an unspoken truce on the opening weekend of any movie this big.
So, naturally, what better to do than torture himself by watching interviews of the Team and the League where reporters asked about him?
Jaime got why they had to make it look like he was a villain they’d reformed, (so no other villains got any ideas about mind control) but that didn’t make it easy. There was always that little pause where whoever was being asked had to gather their thoughts, and Jaime always wondered if he really was worth the effort. He’d killed under the Reach’s influence. No heroes, no one he knew, but he’d killed.
The others would say it wasn’t his fault, but that didn’t make it easy, either.
So, he watched interview after interview, seeing his friends’ responses to whenever reporters asked about him.
The first one was with Wondergirl, and Cassie launched into a long-winded explanation that boiled down to how Blue Beetle was her friend and he regretted everything he did.
The second one was with Batman, shockingly, by some teenage aspiring journalist the Dark Knight had apparently decided to help out. The hero tersely said that if he wasn’t sure, Beetle wouldn’t be on the team.
The third one was with Nightwing, who simply said that Blue Beetle had risked his life to save Earth along with every other hero the day Kid Flash died, and he’d put his life on the line to save others plenty of times since then.
Jaime wasn’t sure how much that really proved, given how good real villains could be at fooling heroes.
And the fourth one… that was with Bart. It was one that Jaime had watched a million times, never quite understanding it.
He watched again as the reporter asked the question, watched as Bart tensed and stared directly into the camera in defiance. He didn’t hesitate at all.
“Blue Beetle might have hurt me in the past, but you’d be surprised to know that he’s saved me more than once since then. He’s one of the most empathetic people I know. He even asked me to do whatever it takes to stop him if he ever goes bad again. He’s made sure that we have contingencies against his powers and even once tried an experimental surgery to try to remove those powers, knowing the procedure could kill him. It doesn’t matter what he did in the past. Because he’s proved every day since I met the real him that he will never willingly betray the Justice League and the Team.”
Bart had suffered more than anyone at Blue Beetle’s hands and he was defending him that fiercely.
Truth be told… Jaime really didn’t know why.
“Hey, Blue, what are you—“
Jaime didn’t get time to turn off the monitor before the speedster saw it.
“What are you doing up here?” He asked, turning around to see his best friend, standing there with a worried look on his face.
“The Garricks are out on a date night. I figured you’d be up here all by your lonesome, but…” Bart’s voice trailed off for a second, “But I didn’t think you’d be doing this.”
Jaime laughed tiredly, “What? Proving to myself that the public still doesn’t trust me? Remembering that they probably shouldn’t?”
“It wasn’t you who did those things.”
“They don’t know that.”
“Do you want to tell them?”
Jaime figured his face must be pretty good, because Bart tried not to laugh as he came over to the computer.
“With this thing’s network, we could have reporters in a press conference before Batman or anybody could stop us.”
Jaime shook his head, “Bart, you know why we can’t.”
“I don’t care,” Bart insisted, “I’ve seen what this is doing to you—making everyone think you were bad. If you keep letting this eat at you, you’re going to be unfocused in fights and you’re going to get yourself killed.”
“I’ll be fine, Bart,” Jaime said, forcing a smile, “As long as you and our other friends know—“
“You’re still hurting!”
“If I tell people what really happened—“ Jaime broke off, realizing he’d started yelling at the speedster.
Maybe he didn’t know why he didn’t want to tell people. Maybe it was about how if he admitted what had happened to him, it meant it really happened. Maybe it was about how the League was right and if he admitted it to the public, his friends would be open to it happening to them.
Jaime took a deep breath, “I don’t want the world to see me, cause I don’t think that they’d understand.”
“We can make them,” Bart insisted, “What’s important is that they know it wasn’t you.”
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Jaime shot back, and he was surprised to find that he meant it.
What was really important to him was that… he kept wondering if he deserved his friends’ forgiveness. He really hadn’t been worrying about what the public thought of him.
He’d been worrying about what his friends thought, if they really believed he never meant to hurt them.
“I just want you to know who I am.”
Bart seemed up understand, pulling him into a hug.
“I do. Even if nobody else knows who you really are, I know.”