Gliding across from the next building over, Nightwing's zip-line slices through the haze of gunpowder and cold night air. He lands with a soft thump on the tarpaper roof at Robinson and Aparo. It's been a long night already and it's about to get longer, but he can't think of anything he'd rather do than fight beside the man who's summoned him.
Batman doesn't call for backup often—none of them do. The city's too big, since the quake, too lawless—divide and conquer's the strategy, so they all spend more hours alone than together, showing up in enough places to keep the lowlife as cowardly as they can, pissing on the dozen different hotspots that flare every night, just trying to keep what's left of Gotham from blowing like one big rancid powder keg.
When his comlink buzzed, Dick dispatched the punks he'd bested in Quadrant Five and headed for the rendezvous point. It's taken twenty to get here—he had to fight his way across the Otisburg Bridge, and Batman's waiting. "Nightwing." Batman steps from the shadows, nods, and together they cross to the edge of the roof. Below them the mob pulses, fighting like savages armed with guns and knives and god knows what else they've scrounged up here in No Man's Land.
Grapple aimed to fire, Batman says, "Ready?"
Nightwing smiles, index finger on his trigger. "Very." And together they shoot, lines wrapping in tandem around matching gargoyles on the old Grant building.
Stepping off the ledge, swinging down from the rooftop, the two men plummet in a fast, smooth fall to the street—one a blur of sleek dark leather, one a shimmering ribbon of blue and black. They touch down squarely in the center of the fray.
The horde shifts and repositions as two warring gangs drop their turf battle for The Hill in favor of banding together, now united in one desire. There's strength in numbers, and every thug dreams of going down in history as the man who murdered a legend.
Batman and Nightwing are surrounded on all sides. From the edge of the swarm, gunfire erupts. Others hold their weapons ready to discharge, ready to kill. They slink closer, vying for their best shot.
Batman nods, an almost imperceptible 'go' and Nightwing has to grin. Still giving the orders. Some things don't change. Batman's eyes dart, twice, but Nightwing knows the score, knows exactly who Batman's going for first, exactly who he wants Nightwing to take first—it's the same gunman he's already chosen himself.
They are simpatico, coiled and ready to bring down their opponents. A few steps apart, giving themselves a little room to work, they surge forward, and then everything happens all at once. Nightwing's foot flashes out in a fluid double roundhouse and his mark goes sprawling, Glock sliding from the thug's fingers to clatter on the pavement.
Batman pivots toward his man and launches his fist in a smashing uppercut, followed by a jab and a left hook and the sound of breaking bone splinters the cold night as his target doubles over with an ugly grunt, Colt Special flying from his hold, glinting in the moonlight as it arcs above their heads to crash to the street.
Around both men the goons swarm, clumsy and confused already, the sharp scent of their blood and sweat tingeing the air with the dirty smell of fear. Too many knives and eleven visible guns still pointed at them—Nightwing counts the weapons without consciously even doing so, filing away the places and positions of the men who are going down next.
One fires, and the bullet whooshes by his ear with a burst of sizzle and heat. Another firearm goes off and he dives low, flying at the shooter. The man's eyes widen as his legs slam out from under him, sending him crumpling to his knees.
"Nightwing!" Batman says, and he's got just enough time to twist away from next shot, flipping into a springing hurtle that lands him right beside the man who trained him for this, made him able to take it and win.
Silver gleams, aiming right for the Bat on Bruce's chest. "Batman!" he snarls, and Batman whirls, a swirl of dark silk and hard muscle. His cape rustles against Nightwing's calf as he lands a granite fist square in the idiot's jaw exactly one point five seconds before Nightwing's leg swings out to knock the punk on his ass—another gunman useless.
The second wave churns forward, these thugs hair-trigger desperate and more dangerous than the first, and Batman and Nightwing spiral in a sweeping turn: Batman taking in the crowd to the North and West, Nightwing scanning their South and East. Back to back, squared shoulders skim as they study the prey and periphery.
Nightwing's got his next target in his sights, and he knows Batman's watching for his own goon's tell, waiting for the precise moment to strike, the exact second to shatter the calm before the storm, wreak the most havoc, instill the worst fear.
Nightwing can feel the man behind him, Batman's breath coming as hot and as hard as his own—not winded, but ready, calculating. They're both moving in tandem like two cogs in a well-oiled engine—an intricate, perfect machine.
Nightwing grins at the thought, and even though there's no way the thugs can see it, no way they can see anything but Batman and Nightwing, two men who are scaring them senseless—he can hear the smile in Batman's steely growl when he says, "Ready?"
Nightwing feels his hair brush the back of Batman's cowl as he nods. "Ready."
"Let's take them down."
The thugs don't stand a chance.