Author: This is an OOC/AU 'If she was written to fit the Batman: Arkham series' version of Stephanie Brown, not the classic/mainstream continuity. That doesn't mean I disrespect the main classic/mainstream continuity version, as that version is so awesome, but the thing is I've never had her comics and had only read her through Wikis and fandoms. That being said, I really like classic/mainstream continuity's themes, and want to incorporate them in future writing.
Spoiler hurls her own helm at the wall after receiving news of one of the hostages they saved succumbing to their injuries. She marches to the elevator, with him right behind her, after he sees the sharp but worried looks from Oracle and Lonnie, prompting him. It's been a long, frustrating night and they're ready to retire.
Nightwing is bringing in the usual fast food to 'perk things up'. Robin and Batwoman are still with the cops, laying down what and who did all these kidnappings and the theory of the 'why'...
Going inside the Clocktower's elevator, he listens to her deep breathing, her unmasked head revealing short, honey-blonde hair, frizzy and unkempt from the mask's helm and from her own frustrations.
He probably looks like hell, too. He always does, but probably more so than usual.
Things should've gone smoothly, but...
The inhuman screaming from her lips triggered the time he had to endure those Jack-in-the-Boxes...
…as she continued her beatdown at Zsasz. When her fist connected, it echoed against Zsasz's already broken cheekbones.
But there was no time for vengeance!
"SPOILER! THAT'S ENOUGH!" His voice didn't feel his own. It scratched and pierced the abandoned industrial area, bouncing against the old metals that loop and arch around them like internal organs. He felt like a virus...
The way she spun her head at him and her heaving breaths...he knew how mad she was. He is, too, but now he couldn't pinpoint if it was whether he still despised whoever funded Zsasz's new killing spree or for how he and Spoiler are too similar.
One of the kidnapped victims, a young woman of fifteen, looks at them with wide eyes, cowering. He sighs long and hard.
He holsters both his Desert Eagles before anyone says anything about it. Even with her mask and goggles, he knew how livid she must be looking right now. She stands up, gazing back at her handiwork and back again at his featureless face, hidden behind a domed red helmet.
She's petite but those wide shoulders and biceps, despite being hidden inside her DIY navy-violet cloak of sorts and with the extra padding of her bulletproof vest and guards, powerful thighs and an overall threatening wide-legged stance, has him careful. He had a taste of her dirty fighting before...
"Took you long, Hood..." She says coldly. "But I guess Birdie needed help taking down those crazy owls—"
"This is Zsasz's old hideout!" He lectures and he suppresses his own chuckle. He sounds like Bruce! "It's been rigged again after all these years! And yeah, you got lucky—"
"Always is..." She quips.
"—in having some of them disarmed because Oracle's cracked into the system before, has the floorplan and he's not Riddler!"
"And the victims are alive!" She adds exasperatedly and honestly, he sympathized. "Now call the medics—!"
He wasn't done yet! "And YOU diving in the line of fire by those freaky owl-maniacs isn't heroic! That's suicide! I know you mean to save those people, but that was too reckless—!"
"And you were too damn slow!" She spat with her point finger at him. "Take the FUCKING SHOT! You had that gun at that weirdo! And the fuck did you do—?!"
She wasn't done with him, either. She hit a nerve! "That shot was fatal—!"
"You blew it! You didn't even make sure he's incapacitated! At least I would've died for them! I don't think you would!" She accuses with a growl. "You weak!"
"ENOUGH!" Oracle's sharp voice cuts in, but it was too late for him. He knew she was right. He let Nightwing, for some reason, try to diplomatically get that owl-maniac to put down the gun because he knew who it was. But he wasn't that person anymore, or wasn't in the beginning. Should he have ignored Nightwing? Should he have aimed at the head? Too many should've's, would've's...
He's too tired to be smart now. But the wrath continued to simmer...
Oracle's bright voice slashes through the cold stare down as she recounts what has happened outside. "No use arguing! You both did what you have to, but that was stupid, Spoiler—!"
"You wouldn't know until you fucking stick your baton up my ass when you wheelchair youself out there!"
"FUCK YOU!" He howls at her and this time, he pulls one of his guns and points it at her chest! "You DON'T talk like that at her!"
But Spoiler does the most unthinkable thing: she scoffs at him and steps right at the pointed gun for a point blank!
"Huh! Is this what I have to do to get you to waste your billion-dollar bullets, Knight?!"
He was suddenly so tired again. He couldn't hear Oracle, Nightwing and Robin lecturing Spoiler or even his own heart beat. He needed to lie down, but he couldn't...
"Stand down, Spoiler!" Robin roars through the connections. "Red Hood and Nightwing got one Talon down! He's going to live long to tell the tale."
"And the other hostages?" She interrogates, still glaring back at Red Hood and his pointed gun. "Don't tell me no one's in critical after that trigger-frenzy that maniac did!"
There was silence. Robin's audible sighing told them everything.
"Like I fucking said." She murmurs, death in her voice. She puts her hands on her goggles and mask, pulling them off her face. He was wrong: Stephanie Brown looked like a hellion. The way her blue-green eyes stared back at his feel like those punctures he endured from a clown balloon popping, a long time ago...
Stephanie gazes back at the bleeding Zsasz, no longer a threat compared to the beast who just almost killed him.
He lowers his gun. He feels tired...
She steps off the serial killer and trots off to the exit, not even putting on the mask and goggles, as if daring Gotham and Blüdhaven to identify her. As she walks pass him, Stephanie nonchalantly strings another brutal sentence: "I'd clean up the whole mess, but I think you'd arrest me for homicide. And I know how you're family doesn't want your hands dipped in blood again, even if it's my blood, so I'm just gonna leave..."
He sighs as his eyes bore at Zsasz, barely alive at the floor.
Soon, the police and the paramedics were in the scene, with Spoiler long gone. Nightwing had come, told him he didn't bother chasing her anymore. The hostages back at the Bowery are being delivered for emergency immediately. Robin has taken more weirder evidence, and a surprise from Batwoman, which meant whatever they're up against makes Killer Croc normal...
The police and the medics glance at him and Nightwing, as they put Zsasz on the stretcher. But the same fifteen-year-old girl told them about Spoiler and the shock on their faces was both priceless and terrifying to remember...
Stephanie's frustrated huff fills the soft metal and electric sound of the elevator bringing them down to the main lobby of the Clocktower. He remains quiet, leaning against the left side corner of the elevator, seething with the same energy. He sees her fists coiling and uncoiling. He knows what it's like to internalize failure and the death of an innocent, but it's too much.
It's too much to think about...
He squirms in his corner and folds his arms, listening to the seconds slowing down, his eyes on the number pad above them, indicating their descent.
The silence is cruel. His heart beats normally, his eyelids sound like an annoying, creaky door, as he tries to keep it lifted. His own breathing is a noise compared to the smooth electric sound of the descending elevator. He inhales and it's like vortex, and he exhales and it turns into a tornado—
"The fuck you even doing here?" Stephanie cuts the silence. "Couldn't you have just comforted Mrs. Timothy Drake and my ginger partner on how good you've progressed with your therapy?"
His heart beat sped and it turned into a nuclear machine. "You're right, you know."
The way she spins around to face him was like looking at a boxer that got sucker punched. He smirks. "I think you would have done something stupid just to justify your way of saving people—"
Stephanie lunges for the 'stop' button on the elevator and their descent halts; their time inside, although short, felt like a million years. If someone from any floor presses on the button, that would continue it from moving it's current way. But it's looking like no one is going to press the button.
She snorts, her eyes glaring. "So it's a pep talk."
"We need you to focus, Stephanie." He asserts as calmly as he could, but the next words showed too much. "Otherwise, I'd lose it, too, and you wouldn't be able to stop me from pulling out a knife instead—"
"Is that how you got kicked out of being Robin?!"
He's immediately brought to that explosion inside that decrepit building, preventing Batman from coming for him and an opportunity for Joker to abduct him—
"Or better yet, was being left behind such a big deal to you that you sank so fucking low that you decided to drown the eastern seaboard with toxic gas just because a nutcase clown and your billionaire playboy daddy couldn't pamper your ass enough?!"
He grins at her temper, because he has to commend her word choice. The chuckle from his throat makes her nose flare and her fists coiling. He steps closer to her, noting her wide-legged stance.
"Ha! Leaving me with that pasty-ass clown for fifteen months was FUCKING awesome! Not only did I get to enjoy my life flashing before my eyes while I endured his deranged girlfriend's juice boxes full of trips, bath salts and Joker's venom, I get front row access to his toys—WHOA! The drills, the hacksaws, his fucking favorite rusty knife collection!—and he gets to share those with a bunch of other doctors and orderlies who the head honcho wants silenced forever and is in cahoots with the Joker! And the fact that everything I do, I owe it to my own failure. Every. Single. Day. And I didn't even want to die!"
The stare down, their body heat, their fists clenching, his throat stinging, his neck bulging, her jaw muscles twitching...
...the elevator continued its descent, but that wasn't important—
"Because my pampered ass got shit together!" He exhales, his teeth clenched. "You said you think I wouldn't die for these people! Maybe you're right! I wanna live long enough to get the people responsible! You willing to die so quickly?! Maybe you wouldn't last a day under Arkham's abandoned cells—!"
Nightwing only heard the sound of her fist connecting against his left cheek, right where his J-shaped scar is, as the elevator's door dinged and opened to reveal the aftermath!
The whole elevator room whirled around him as he fell backwards and his head hit the metal walls, an explosion of joke dentures clattering around the floor, psychedelic-style circus marches, torn limbs flying all over and landing at the infested, broken-tiled floor, while the barbed wire dug deep in his skin as he yelled desperately for Joker to stop killing, to stop it all, because it's too much...
...it's all too much...
But there was no pasty-ass, rundown clown with a wide blood-grin, or his Las Vegas-stripper-looking sociopath girlfriend.
There was a normal woman, all athletic and rippling muscles, her dark blonde hair and death stare. And the way she looked down at him, like he was a monster...
...he understood perfectly well.
He groans, lying at the elevator floor, while Stephanie's foot lands at his chest, her dirty sneaker and its sole sullying his old white shirt. A guttural choking sound comes out of his lips as the full one-third of her weight presses him down.
"I wouldn't even end up in Arkham!" She spat at him and he can see, in her wide-crazed eyes, how Spoiler wouldn't last long with her ways. "And I would've been glad to take the fucking shot for you, Robin! I'm not afraid to die..."
He coughs and grabs her leg, attempting to pull her off. "You're afraid to live...And yeah. Therapy's going nice for me, thanks to Felixa..."
He didn't need to mention her. Felixa, his and his family's new friend, had nothing to do with this, so was his doctor, so was his therapist...
...who, unfortunately for him and his family, are all Stephanie's friends. Her only family.
She gives another powerful pressure on her foot at his chest, kicking him down before pulling her foot off. "Fuck you. Don't mention my friend. She's not your friend." She swipes her hand across her hair and turns away, face-to-face with Dick, still in his Nightwing suit. "And I have enough of your grease food for one night! Go pack on some calories! I'm sure your bubble-butt needs it!"
"Ha! I didn't even buy you one!" The way his voice raises a pitch too high, he recognizes it to be Dick's defensiveness. Stephanie leaves the building without any word while Nightwing goes to help him...well, try to.
"Oh man..." Nightwing murmurs as he looks at the bruise on his cheek. He can feel it swelling already, but he smirks. He figures that he's ugly already, so why does he need to worry?
"You were no help."
"Took me by surprise—"
"You could've hurled your Large Crisp Fries at her."
"No! Not those!"
He sneers at Nightwing, who does let down the packages and bags of fast food at the elevator floor, to free his arm to help him up. "Maybe I should've—I don't know..."
"I started the fight." As much as he hated Stephanie's guts, he didn't want this little trifle to mutate further. He'd learned that the hard way for years, and just a few years ago.
"Yeah, well, we're ending that...soon." The way he comforts him with his optimism and humor is a classic, but because of his own 'humor' and fucked-up face, his chuckle is making his brother nervous. "I mean, like...we have to find some kind of middle ground with her."
"We already do." He adds and Nightwing leans closer, concerned. He knows, he can see it, how tired he is...
"Jason? You okay?"
He really needs to lie down. He really needs to realize that he and Stephanie aren't similar.
Maybe, in an alternate world, Spoiler would've had the chance to kill the Joker, if it weren't for Batman and Nightwing, or because Lonnie has convinced her to fry other fishes in the east coast...
...maybe she would've beat him as Robin, or maybe not...
But there was no maybe with the way he and Stephanie are completely different beasts, trapped in this cage...
"I just want some chili-cheeseburger..." He murmurs while leaning against the wall-corner of the elevator, ascending to take them up the Clocktower.