Title: Sopranos Style
Author: DC Luder
Summary: Nightwing has a peculiar encounter with Huntress during NML.
Rating: T for suggested adult themes
Infringement: All recognizable characters belong to DC Comics, not DC Luder.
Author's Note: Entry for the Bludhaven Summer Tournament Round 2 - Helena Bertinelli. Also, Dick is silly.
I loved The Sopranos.
I had always picked on Bruce about how he sounded like a Tony Soprano knockoff whenever he portrayed Matches Malone. The series finale ending still made me giddy with wonder at what really happened. I even had "Woke Up This Morning" as the alarm on my phone..
But then again, The Sopranos was a show with a large cult following. It wasn't real life.
In real life, gangsters weren't witty and charismatic. They were cruel and unforgiving. When you ordered a hit, the hit was delivered and it changed the lives of those left behind for all time. In my work as Robin and as Nightwing, I had dealt with Italian, Russian, Israeli, Cuban, Czech, French and even Brazilian mobsters. They were all the same, right down to their overzealous greed and the color they bled. I had never personally been affected by them, maybe physically if one of their goons got a lucky shot.
But Helena had been…
Bruce despised her because she was lawless and willing to cross a line he forbade himself from even approaching. She refused to work under his command, ignored his threats and even snapped back at him whenever he confronted her personally. Daughter of criminals against the son of socialites. And yet as much as they differed, they were really the same person, just different variations.
They both wanted to seek revenge for the losses they had endured as children, the brutal deaths of their entire families. They trained themselves to take on the criminal element, using whatever means necessary. Each had a secret identity, developed to perfection as to hinder suspicion of who they really were. Masks, capes, boots and belts… it was the yin and yang of vigilantism.
And yet I was the one laying beneath her on a rooftop, her lips pinned to mine as her nails tried to claw through the Nomex and Kevlar covering my chest.
"Uh…" head reeling from being knocked to the ground, I managed upon breaking away, "Huntress?"
"Shut up," she growled before taking my ear violently into her incisors, "You're ruining the moment…"
"I think you're ruining my ear," I complained before shoving her off of me.
I had been doing my part in No Man's Land, trying to make order out of the chaos that had taken hold of the crippled remains of Gotham City. Bruce had called for us months after it had been declared off limits to the rest of the world, no doubt after he himself had finally returned to see how bad things had gotten. I had known that Barbara had stayed behind as had her father and step-mother, but as much as Gotham was my home, I had come to realize it was no longer the city I grew up in. It was just a charred skeleton, waiting to turn to dust.
Having only been back a few days, I had spent most of my time touring the streets, breaking up fights, detaining dubious individuals and trying to help those in need. It was overwhelming to see how low the citizens of an already crooked city had fallen. Instead of an urban center of prosperity, it was reduced to the jungles of Central America circa 1500 BC.
Needless to say, returning had been significantly tiresome of both body and soul. I hadn't slept since I had arrived, had barely eaten and add in the mental and emotional anguish of endless and fruitless work, I was spent. It seemed pointless to even make the attempt to reorganize civilization when the residents of No Man's Land seemed to want anything but. Staying had been a death sentence, coming back against congressional orders had been even worse.
Wrapping up an uneventful patrol in what was once Gotham Village had come to an abrupt stop when I had been attacked from a dark, caped figure. Robin and I had been playing a violent game of Tag to try and keep our spirits up but Robin stank of hard work just like the rest of us where my attacker had smelled of perfume. Landing hard on my back, cracking my head on the rooftop, I hadn't a moment's chance to rise to my feet before my assailant leapt on top of me, straddling my hips between her legs.
I had finally seen her face just as she had growled, "All work and no play…"
After being tossed herself, Huntress righted herself, kneeling as I sat up on the rooftop, "What's wrong?"
"Uh… how do I put this without hurting your feelings? Or rather causing you to hurt me…" I stalled.
"I'm a big girl," she leaned in close, pressing her chest to mine, "I can handle it."
"So I noticed… listen… I'm all for loving thy neighbor but I have work to do… and I'm fairly certain you do as well."
"True… but things are quiet. I have been through most of the Village… not a peep."
As she made a move to kiss me again, I shook my head, "So that means we move onto Irving… not foreplay."
Huntress shook her head as well, her dark waves slipping over her shoulders, "You're getting to be just like him."
"Is that supposed to be an insult?" I commented as I rose to my feet.
When I offered her a hand up, she refused and stood on her own, "It is. He has no feeling, no affinity for anyone… he's a machine, a cold blooded machine."
Knowing her previous undertakings with my mentor, I replied, "I know it must look that way to you… but if he didn't care, he wouldn't be here, trying to help these people."
"He cares about this city… That I'm sure about… maybe the good citizens of former Gotham… his little clan of heroes… Gordon and what few good cops are left… Now that I think about it, maybe it's just me he doesn't care about."
"Oh… I wouldn't say-."
She cut me off with a stern look, "You wouldn't say that. Because you're a good boy."
We stared at each other until it became to uncomfortable. I finally spoke up, "… That doesn't explain why you tackled me."
Huntress looked away from me, approaching the edge of the roof, "Sorry… Thought it might be nice… have some fun for a change."
Following her move, I chose to stand just to her left and out of striking distance. I had once fallen prey to her before, allowing my momentary lapse into weakness to lead to a one-night stand where we hadn't kept the masks on.
It wasn't entirely my fault though. There was something about her, how strong and independent she was, how she could stand up against one of the most intimidating beings on the planet without so much as batting an eyelash. She was a tortured soul but rather than let it consume her and leave her empty, it had fueled her fire within. I knew my own personal tragedies and failures often left me feeling weak, somehow hers only made her stronger.
I finally replied, "It is nice to have fun… when the moment is right."
"I don't think there will ever be another right moment… not for us anyway."
I sighed, crossing my arms over my chest, "You're probably right."
There was a long pause before she asked, "I thought you were the optimist?"
I gestured with a gloved hand to the ruins below us, "Hard to see the glass half full these days."
Another pause resounded between us and once again she broke it, albeit that time with laughter. When I asked her what was funny, she glanced up at me, "I was just thinking… Most fathers protect their daughters from bad boys, it's not supposed to be the other way around."
"He's not my father," I found myself saying too quickly. Legally he was, emotionally he was more than he wasn't, but lately…
"He's not your uncle. Too old too be your brother, too young to be your grandfather… Doesn't leave many options, considering no one who would call himself a friend would put someone through the things he's put you through."
Once again, she had isolated my weakness and drove a crossbow right through it. And the look of victory on her face and success shining in her brown eyes. Although the rest of us always hid behind white ocular lenses, she kept her eyes bared to the world, not willing to mask any more of her face than she had to. She wasn't afraid of anything…
"It's… complicated. And I'm not too keen on discussing complicated things with women who themselves are even more complicated than myself. Or those who tackle me in order to say hello."
She faked insult and replied, "Well it wasn't like you were going to tackle me… being such a good boy and all…"
A sudden need to defend my honor arose and I was quick to declare, "You know, I'm not that good of a boy. I've done my fair share of damage."
She rolled her eyes at me, "Oh please, he says jump, you ask how high."
For some reason, I turned to face her and blurted out, "I've punched him before. Right in the face. Couple of times."
"Knocked him on his ass, even."
Huntress licked her lips before commenting, "I bet."
"I'm serious, he pissed me off… pushed me to far… Had to show him I wasn't a little kid anymore," I added.
A grin spread over her face as she took a step closer to me, "My my… I didn't think you had it in you."
I nodded, "Damn straight I do. No one tells me what to do."
She kissed me on the cheek after resting her hands flat on my chest, "What if they asked nicely."
"I consider it, then act as desired," I found my words softening as her teeth found my tender ear lobe once more.
"In that case, Nightwing, please proceed out of the Village and into Irving Grove," a gravelly voice spoke up from behind me.
As Huntress did her best to stifle laughter, I spun around to see Batman standing not five yards away. Gulping air and wondering if it would my last chance to oxygenate my blood, I asked, "How long have you been-."
"I punched him before… right in the face," he quoted me, his voice even and terrifyingly calm.
Huntress started to speak but I cut her off, "I was going to Irving… after finishing things here."
Batman narrowed his eyes at Huntress as she cocked a hip, crossing her arms over her gold cross. He then directed his gaze to me, "It seems like you were just getting started."
I glanced back to Huntress as she finally let the laughter escape and when I looked back to Batman, he was already gone. Turning to her again, her laughter had quieted and given way to a brilliant smile. Had I not known any better, I would have thought they had set me up…
She said something along the lines that I should be a good boy and do as "Bat-Not-Dad" said.
Before being a good boy, I decided to be a bad one.