A/N: I hope you enjoy.
One of the few things Jason Todd actually enjoyed about being Robin was the adrenaline rush he got from his time rooftop jumping with the Bat. He wasn't the acrobat his predecessor was but at least Bruce didn't give him performance lectures about it. When he was Robin, Gotham was his playground as the Red Hood it became his business. So when he gets a message from his old pal, Arsenal, about someone muscling in on his business, how could he not respond? Jason hadn't heard from Roy Harper since the original Outlaws disbanded, Kori left on a journey of self-discovery, Jason returned to the streets and Roy returned to being a hero. Jason usually didn't make a habit of seeking old friends but Roy was one of the few people he was still close to after "dying".
The Red Hood made his final jump onto the rooftop which, according to Arsenal's coordinates, was supposed to be their rendezvous point. Jason was a little on edge, well more than usual, whenever someone he knew went on with their life, so would he, there were times he had considered looking back and try to reestablish contact with them but he always thought it would be better if they just ended things without so much as a goodbye. The past was often a great source of pain for Jason, pain that he had come to embrace; it didn't matter if it was Bruce or his old teammate, what's done was done and there was no going back. The only reason he agreed to work with Arsenal again was because one of Roy's old enemies had infiltrated Jason's city.
While he was waiting for Arsenal, Red Hood sensed that there was someone behind him, someone who wasn't Arsenal, with lightening quick reflexes he upholstered one of his guns and aimed it at…
"Nightwing?" Jason exclaimed.
"Red Hood," retorted Dick Grayson. Nightwing was standing in a defensive battle stance with his escrima sticks at the ready, it was obvious he wasn't expecting to see Jason either.
Dick Grayson, Batman's first Robin, the one who set the example Jason was expected to follow. It irked him to no end how perfect Dick was, he got so mad that he's even tried killing him on several occasions after his resurrection. Bruce always seemed to make a habit of comparing Dick to Jason, and Jason couldn't even blame him. Dick was the most annoyingly perfect guy he'd ever met, always so cool under pressure, always eager to please, that kind of perfection should almost be illegal. Dick wasn't too fond of Jason either not because he used to intentionally break their adoptive father's cardinal rule of no killing but because he had a tendency of going on unnecessarily violent rampages. After a time, they made a cold war pact and just avoided each other as much as possible.
"What are you doing here?" Jason asked rather scornfully.
"Arsenal called, said he needed my help with a case. What are you doing here?"
"Arsenal called me too."
Before Roy met Jason, he and Dick would often work together, in fact the two brought their old Titans team back together, so it wasn't surprising that he would ask either one of them for help. What was surprising was that he had asked to meet with both of them, knowing of the volatile relationship of the two ex-Robins.
Before either of them could ponder this further, an arrow zipped between and hit the wall behind them, there was a note tied to it. The two former Boy Wonders precociously approached the arrow, after ensuring that it wasn't booby-trapped, Nightwing pulled the arrow out, detached the note from it, and read it aloud.
The note read:
Sorry for the trouble, but it looks like I didn't need your help after all.
Here's a coupon for free burgers and fries on me.
True to his word, there was a coupon enclosed with the note, a coupon for a free meal for two, from a dinner which was conveniently located across the street from their current location. It didn't take a master detective to know that they've been set up.
Jason grabbed the note from Dick's hands and re-read it, his anger was showing more than usual. "I'm going to get Roy for this," Jason said in his usual angry tone.
"You're going to have to wait in line," Dick responded, "when I get back to Titans Tower, he's going to wish he was dead for pulling this stunt."
Given the scope of Roy's long range capabilities, both boys estimated that he was already long gone,
Despite his irritation at his old friend's actions, Jason wasn't one to turn down free food and the dinner across the street just happened to make the best burgers in Gotham.
The coupon was about to expire, he figured that he might as well enjoy the free meal. One problem: the coupon accommodates for two.
"Well," Jason said trying to sound casual, "can't let a perfectly good coupon go to waste." He directed his attention towards Nightwing as if he was just noticing his presence. "Care to join me?"
"Seriously?" said Dick, surprised at Jason's invitation.
"Don't get any ideas Grayson," Jason replied, returning to his usual irritable self, "This is a one-time deal: you in or out?"
Dick may not agree with Jason's methods but he was getting hungry and, despite their past conflicts, Bruce and Jason had finally made amends. The least the first Robin could do was oblige the second one.
Jason tried not to make a habit of being friendly with Dick but they could at least be civil for one night, probably...
It was a quiet evening, the two spent most of it quietly eating. Still the silence had become unbearable, if someone didn't break the ice soon, both boys may end up dying from aggravation.
Dick wanted to say something, but what? They had been at each other's throats for such a long time, he couldn't even remember the last time they sat down together and had a conversation that didn't end in bloodshed. Their relationship had always been tense, but he wished it didn't have to be like that. He wanted to be someone Jason could rely on, instead of someone the Red Hood wanted dead. He wanted them to depend on each other, instead of always getting in each other's way. He wanted things to be different between them. Jason drove him nuts sometimes but he didn't hate him, he cared about his brothers, including Jason.
"So," Dick started nervously and quietly, "we missed you at Tim's funeral."
Jason wasn't sure how to respond. For as long as he could remember he always felt like he was in Dick's shadow, always being compared to him and never measuring up. He hated it…but only because he knew he could never be as good. When he was a kid, before he ever donned the mask and cape, he loved watching the Flying Graysons perform, and the Grayson that stood out to him the most was the original Boy Wonder himself. He loved the way Dick seemed to effortlessly fly above his head, without a care in the world, how he wasn't bothered by the fact that there was no net to catch him. Ever since he first saw those shows, Jason knew that was who he wanted to be, and meeting Dick in person made him want it all the more. But he couldn't be that person…he just couldn't…and he hated it.
Finally Jason mustered up enough courage to say, "When you've already died funerals can feel like overkill…Besides, the last one I went to was a bust even by funeral standards."
"Whose was that?" Dick asked carefully.
Jason avoided meeting Dick's gaze and simply said, "Yours."
After the Crime Syndicate invaded their world, Dick faked his death at Batman's behest, but he was forced to keep it a secret from the entire Bat-family. A lot of people were furious at him from hiding it because of all the superheroes you could ever meet Nightwing was the one you count on to be honest. He even approached Jason to join him, when the family confronted Bruce about the Joker's return, despite their obvious rivalry.
Jason would never admit it but he was glad that Dick came to him about the Joker, everyone knew what the Clown Prince of Crime meant to him personally, he went so far as to go against every one of his former mentor's cardinal rules for this personal vendetta. But Dick still came to him because he knew how much Jason needed to be there, he knew what the Joker represented to him, he knew what the Red Hood represented, and he was worried about Jason Todd. When Jason went to that funeral, he said things that he's wanted to say from the day he met Dick about how grateful he was for everything he did for him, about how they would've made a great team, about how he wanted a second chance with him, but his pride always got in the way. He would never admit it but he wished he would've stayed Robin long enough for them to be something more.
Needless to say, he felt betrayed when he learned the truth, and took back half of things he said…but only half. Maybe he shouldn't complain given that he's done the same thing, but he wasn't about to let Dick steal his shtick without giving him a piece of his mind.
"I'm sorry about that," Dick replied, "I wasn't trying to…"
"It doesn't matter anymore," Jason said abruptly, "what's done is done, right?" Jason really didn't feel like discussing the issue further, he had already felt betrayed enough the last thing he wanted was to kill Dick in such a public are without his helmet, so he quickly tries to change the subject. "Anyway, how's Roy been doing with your Titans team?"
Dick raised his eyebrows quizzically. "You two don't keep in touch anymore?"
"The Outlaws are supposed to be good guys pretending to be bad guys," Jason said, discreetly, "we can't be seen fraternizing with the good guys too often, it ruins our rep. And we have to keep a low profile."
"Then, what was that 'Rent-a-Bat' billboard about?"
Jason groaned at that remark, "One of Roy's 'get rich quick' schemes," he replied, "let's just say he was lucky he's never entered a popularity contest."
That was the day Jason officially cut ties with Roy, he knew his friend deserved better, and with Dick as a partner he would get it. Jason may not be Dick's biggest fan, but he believed that Nightwing could do what the Red Hood can't, turn Arsenal into a true hero, free from his baggage and his addiction.
Before either one could say anything else, the distinct sound of screams caught their attention. The two boys rushed out of the diner to find in the darkened shadow of an alleyway, a man with a gun in his hand and a cynical grin on his face, threatening a poor elderly couple.
Jason observes the mugger, as crime lord the Red Hood was well-versed in the big names of the criminal underworld and their underlings. "I know that guy, they call him Mooch because he was always mooching off of other's people's business through blackmail and faulty services. He's a con artist, a thief and an all-around creep."
"I've heard of him, his favorite tactic is preying on the most defenseless of victim, using their darkest secrets as leverage."
Jason took out his Red Helmet and slipped it onto his head. "He's moved onto my turf several time, and I've been itching to repay the favor."
Nightwing examined the scene and contemplated Jason's words, a plan was starting to form, a plan so devious that even Jason approved of it. "In that case, let's have some fun." A mischievous smile formed on his lips, this was going to be good night for both of them.
"Come on Mrs. Richmond," said Mooch, his gun still pointing at the elderly couple, "It's not a hard decision, all you have to do is transfer your entire account to mine and no one has to come to any harm. After all if you're little secret gets out after you or your husband die of 'mysterious circumstances', no one is going to protect your family."
Tears welled down the woman's face, she was clearly frightened and her husband's company only added to her anxiety. But before she could say a word, a cable swung down onto Mooch and lassoed itself around him, before the criminal could react he was quickly pulled up to the top of a building where the line had dragged him from. As Mooch hit the hard floor of the roof, the cable uncoiled from him and returned to its original position, the tip of an escrima stick.
As Mooch subsided from the pain he looked up to the owner of the weapon.
"Nightwing," Mooch sneered, "what a pleasant surprise." He didn't seem all that threatened by the vigilante's presence.
"Causing trouble, Mr. Mooch," Nightwing asked in his cool, casual tone.
Mooch spat on the ground and directed his gaze at the hero with a challenging stare. "I ain't afraid of you."
"Oh, he's not the one you should be afraid of," said a voice from the shadows.
From the shadow of the adjacent building was a pair of crimson eyes staring right back at Mooch, but they weren't eyes at all but the glint from a bright, red helmet or a Red Hood.
"It's the Red Hood," Mooch cried in terror.
"You remember me," Red Hood replied with false sweetness, "I'm touched." As the vigilante villain approached Mooch, he upholstered his guns, the clicking sound of a new cartridge. "Did you really think you could get away with stealing from me?" He pointed his gun to Mooch's forehead.
"Hold it Red," Nightwing intervened, "we made a deal, I help you get your stuff back and you let me take Mooch here to prison."
"Don't worry hero," said the Red Hood with a hint of disdain and confidence in his voice, "I'm not going to hurt him…much."
The good cop, bad cop routine was one of their favorite maneuvers, it was probably one of the best parts about being a Robin, of course back then Batman was usually the bad cop. But Jason and Dick were pretty good at striking fear into the hearts of the criminal underworld, even if they did like to do things differently from their mentor.
Because of Jason's promise to Bruce about not taking a life, his cartridge was filled with blanks but Mooch didn't know that.
As Jason was about to pull the trigger, Mooch flung his arms over his face in protection. He cried in a trembling voice, "Stop! Don't! I'll talk just please don't let him hurt me."
If it weren't for the helmet over his face, Jason would be rolling his eyes over how easy a job this was.
After Mooch's fearful rambling of a confession, he was taken to prison, still shaken but alive.
After the drop-off, Nightwing and Red Hood overlooked the police station from a nearby rooftop. How long was it since they last worked together without trying to bite each other's head off? As much as fought, it was hard to admit that they had fun.
"Gotta admit Dick we work well together." Jason said happily, "You should be come and join the Outlaws some time, unofficially of course can't have your shinning personality ruin our rep."
Dick looked at back at him, stunned. "I take it Bruce and Alfred haven't told you."
"Told me what?"
Dick was usually so talkative, so it was a rare sight to see him so quiet, then again it was also a rare sight to see him and Jason getting along. "I'm…I'm leaving Gotham," he said carefully.
Jason was stunned, it's been ages since he and his predecessor weren't fighting for Bruce's attention but the one time he was actually enjoying Dick's company he drops a bomb the size of a county on him.
"Where?" Jason asked, trying to contain the rage he was so famous for.
"Blüdhaven," he answered simply, "I'm sorry it's just…after everything that's happened with Spyral, the Parliament of Owls…Tim…I just need some space to sort things out."
Jason tried to sound like he was brushing him off even though it was eating at him, hard. "Forget about it, no harm no foul."
As he was about to walk away, Dick called out to him, "Listen I know you and I are probably never going to be best friends or anything, but I don't want us to keep fighting like this, especially after losing Tim." He took a long, deep breath. "So, do you think we could at least bury the hatchet?"
Jason hung onto his predecessor's every word. He wanted to say that he wanted more than to just bury the hatchet, he wanted to start over. As much as he hated to admit it, Jason could remember a time where he and Dick were actually close, where he wanted to learn everything he could from the guy who invented Robin, where he wanted to be the better Robin just to impress him. He wanted his brother back.
But instead he just said with his usual casual tone, "Sure, I can do that."
And with that Dick extended his hand in comradery. "Truce," said Dick.
Jason reached out to grab it. "Truce," Jason affirmed. "Hey," he continued as he pulled his hand away, "listen Blüdhaven can be a pretty brutal place, so if you ever need someone to watch your six…"
"I'll keep you on speed dial," Dick finished, "And if you ever get into any trouble, and I know you will, let me know."
"Sure thing Grayson."
And with that they silently parted ways.
It wasn't what either of them was hoping for but it was a start...
A/N: Thank you for reading, feel free to review and if you have any suggestions for future stories please let me know.