Author's Notes: Keeping up with story progress—also, not as confusing, and more to a direct timeline, and dialogue-like. But progress!

Disclaimer: All the characters belong to DC and I only use them for entertainment purposes. I own nothing. If I did the reboot wouldn't exist. Like other details.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Summary: Post-apocalyptic world. Six long years ago the world fell apart at the hands of Leviathan. Now, the Bats must decide if past events and strained relationships are to be put aside to end the Empire, while trying to remain alive. Pre-reboot.

Eventual Pairings: Dick/Jason and Dick/Tim with Dick being the center of the triangle; hints of Tim/Conner, one sided Tim/Stephanie, and one sided Dick/Barbara, Minor Bruce/Selina and Bruce/Talia.

Warning(s): Foul language, Angst, non-explicit violence.

Monday November 25th, 2013 Words: 5,638

War of the Bats

By Robin Wingster

Chapter XXI.- Boiling Pot.

-~21:56hrs. Sprang Br., Robbinsville (1), Gotham City (2 months later).

'There's a job for you.' Red Hood signaled, already irritated at the late arrival of his accomplice. Gusts of wind had been coming with full force from the South (thanks Freeze), and despite wearing his helmet, the grown man couldn't help but smell the stench that it carried in its wake.

It only soured his already foul mood.

'What are the specifics?' The teenager answered with equal dexterity, undeterred by the drafts that flapped his cape violently behind him.

'Superficial Reconnaissance only.' He gestured, making strong emphasis on the last word. Bypassing the annoyed glare on the little Prince's mask, Jason scooped another scan to their surroundings.

He was reasonably suspicious of any witness to their meeting thank you very much.

Black Bat was on the far side of Gotham, right by Chinatown, since they weren't supposed to meet for another twenty minutes, but he was more than familiar with the City's treacherous ways.

The Bat could be anywhere. Anybody could be anywhere. Whoever said paranoia is a bad thing they clearly hadn't been on Gotham before or after its transformation.

'Don't mock me, Hood.' The brat answered, also putting more force behind his statement. 'Objective.' He continued, somehow managing to make a sentence out of a question with just his gloved hands.

It amused Jason—and that disturbed him a little.

'Same as Louisiana.' The older man countered, wary of the slight tension on the Wayne's shoulders. 'There's a chance the place's abandoned,' he somewhat amended, knowing he was being unfair with the youngest Robin (it wasn't his fault that he was still stuckin Gotham), 'as long as you get some Intel of what went-on in there we don't care.' Jason almost huffed, already exasperated at the exchange and his own participation in sugaring the situation for Damian.

'If there are survivors where am I to take them?'

Jason's eyes slit behind his red helmet. "Where" was his constant headache. This wasn't supposed to be under Batman's radar, so the Asylum was out of the question. And it wasn't as if he or the others were expecting to see any survivors—there haven't been any on all the Facilities they've found over the years, so why start now. Still, there was always the chance that life up-ended him (again) and then what? The vigilante scowled, reconsidering his options to avoid the inevitable.

At least the brat wasn't asking more than he needed to.

'You bring them to Leslie.' He finally elaborated; hands almost refusing to make the gestures needed for the message. The 'you'll tell me first' was inferred. The kid was smart, if not overly exasperating with that perpetual stick up his ass. 'But you don't interfere with any shit, you clear? Don't touch or move anything. We only need pictures, nothing more.'

He'd deal with Batman later if the need came. He was sure he could spin it off and make it all seem an "accident" or something. Maybe detonate a thing or two. It'd do wonders for his mood in any case.

'Very well, I'll—' The teen began, but was startled out of his message when Jason's watch blinked in awareness. Both remained quiet while he raised his arm to uncover the helpful artifact, recognizing the signal from their illustrious sister.

He pressed a clog to open verbal communication (he refused on using a mic. from Bruce; there was some pride left within him, even if he remained in the City against common sense).

"Black Bat, over."

Jason smirked despite the interruption to a much delayed meeting, having grown used to that mouse voice of hers.

"Sup, 'sis." He replied, amused by the teen's frown on his complete dismissal of formality. Not like he 'worked' with them.

"Hello," she conversed, and the Demon almost bit his cheek to keep from clicking his tongue in distaste—it just entertained him the more, really, "we need to go back. Night-Robin's missing."

And what do ya know, suddenly the situation wasn't funny anymore.


"So we need to fill-in as babysitters? No offense Bat, but I'd rather keep away from the sugar-high ragamuffins on a Friday night." Jason changed his position against the metallic door to the rooftop, his amusement about to fade away. He had an idea of what probably had happened, so he signaled Damian to stay put. "And who says he's missing? He's like, what? Fifteen? Sixteen? Boy that age needs time to keep himself entertained—especially with three distractions on the loose. Have they checked-out the bathrooms yet?"

There was a flush of color that went all the way up to said teenager's tanned face, (never underestimate his ability to be an asshole) though Jason would be more diverted by the action if his conference wasn't treading by a hair.

"Red Robin said his team hasn't found him in more than an hour. He's not answering. And the tracker isn't working." Black Bat said, obviously choosing to ignore his suppositions on the whereabouts of his assistant. "I'll tell Batman in our way back."

That actually gave him an opening.

"That's it? Look, it's a no brainer: he's been training the Juniors, so chances are he's hiding from them somewhere in the cave to make them think outside the box. Seriously, that's why the Replacement called you? I bet the ragamuffins whined for his help when they couldn't do anything other than stare." At that he turned to Damian, making a set of hand signs for him. 'You really need to do something about them.' To his credit, Damian looked like he agreed with the comment, obviously upset about the little girls' lazy-ass dispositions.

"Red Robin couldn't find him too." She said after a pause, and it was in those little mistakes in her speech that Jason remembered her beginnings; a constant resonance whenever he cursed the Old-Bat after he sent the two of them together like they were his little sidekicks to boss around. The girl was trying to help (it wasn't on her that the Replacement lacked a spine either), and she'd done nothing to antagonize him, Jason gave her that much, so with a sigh he changed his tone to something more mellow.

"And I bet that's because the Little Shit knew Restaurant Boy was going to yield to the munchkins." He felt the angry glare at his person and met the disgruntled bird's stare without shame on his words. "Give 'em an hour. 'Sides, weren't we supposed to be doing something important here? Let Barbie handle it."

"… alright, Black Bat out."

'Looks like the search party's been cancelled.' Red Hood quickly picked-up after their sister disconnected from his line.

'Amateurs.' His grumpy companion responded. 'They were supposed to keep-on searching instead of going to the likes of Drake for assistance.'

'No need to look so down kid, this is actually giving us Carte Blanche,' He kept, focused on finishing as soon as possible so the other could go back to the Cave and act like nothing happened, 'you'll take the Juniors with you—' when he saw the teen's expected denial he quickly accentuated his sign language, '—they'll give you the cover you need to make your move, Precious.' Jason explained, annoyed at the boy's rash attitude. 'It's about time you've took them to a little field trip. Nobody will suspect a thing.'

'And what am I to do to them, Hood? They've yet to be ready, and are clearly incapable of taking care of themselves inside the Cave, much less out in the field.'

Jason rolled his eyes.

'Think, Precious. You'll drop them somewhere far enough for you to do your thing. Same scenario: let them play hide-and-seek—God knows they've been whining about getting some real work done all over the place. While they flounder around like headless chicks you'll get in, get out, and let them know how much they suck when it's over. You get the mission, they get work on their Portfolio, and Replacement stays out of our hair. It's a win-win for everybody.'

Damian had taken hold of his chin, nodding as he had read his movements in approval. 'God dammit,' Jason thought, almost feeling like he'd run a marathon with the hot-headed brat.

'It is, indeed, an appropriate cover. Very well, what is the location and time of departure?'

'33.98928, -88.50560, A.S.A.P.' The older man replied with precision, all business. If there were survivors he was sure the other one would make-up something for the inexperienced-trio, and that he wouldn't endanger the mission. This little cry for help was their excuse to get the princesses playing cops and robbers out of the house and the kid do their real work.


They needed to get moving, Jason thought somberly. Mage had already researched part of the city, but he was just one man, and it was time their extra player got some work done too.

-~22:39hrs. Primary Base underneath Gotham's Arkham Asylum.

"Your lack of diligence is throughout noted." Night-Robin said to the young women who glared at his sight. "I found myself searching for you to find out you've given-up on the task already and went for help instead. Unacceptable." He kept, sincerely disappointed in their deficiency of persistence. The Son of Batman was nowhere-nearby convinced of taking his amateur group to an exploratory session outside the Cave, but the situation left him and Todd without much choice if they wanted to keep anonymous.

Nonetheless, they could have at the very least made an attempt at not embarrassing him against his co-workers with their shameless ineptitude.

"Well, what are we supposed to do when you disappear out of nowhere without specific instructions?" The Harper girl responded with bite; her fists clenched in those tasteless yellow gloves and azure eyes naked to his masked ones.

"You were 'supposed' to locate my position with precision, and without my awareness." He answered factually. The females glared at him all the more, as if expecting to make him react to their glowering.

'-Tt-, amateurs.' He thought with reproach.

"You weren't in the Cave." Reyes took a step forward, raising her hand to point at him in an accusing manner. "We checked. So what we did wasn't 'lack of diligence'—it was evening the odds."

Damian narrowed his eyes; white slits glowing in the darkness around them.

"While it certainly wasn't the case I'm curious to know how that would be 'evening the odds'." Night-Robin spat right back at her. The Hispanic was always trying to get the better of him, using his words in a mockery fashion, and it was starting to get tiring.

"Can'tyoujustadmityouwentoutandwecanallmoveon?" West interrupted Reyes' reply, undoubtedly impatient to leave the matter be. "Timchecked. Wechecked. You. Weren't. In. The. Cave. Case closed."

Damian crossed his arms above his chest; unyielding.

"Drake wouldn't be able to find me without the tracker on. You three simpletons are avoiding the fact that you are complacent and prefer the easier choice—"

"What is the point on doing these drills anyways?" Harper rudely interrupted him whilst the redheaded speedster kept moving on her spot. "We should be out there in the field instead of playing Hide-and-Seek with you. You've trained us—Batgirl's trained us too—we should be doing something!" She finished passionately; the other two complying on her revelation with their eyes.

Damian, however, remained unmoved.

"Do you expect finding the Lamp will be as easy?" He countered, immediately succeeding in silencing their questioning of his methods. "Drake has been researching through our Databases, and that of his capability from the Empire's and has yet to find anything valuable. My own investigation isn't faring better with your limited knowledge, constant distractions—and questioning—of your training exercises. If you three truly believe there is no reason behind our methods then we are, indeed, wasting our time just like our resources."

"… okay, tienes razón, tienes toda la razón en eso, y lo sentimos—pero (2) you can't say we shouldn't be asking for help when we can because we will die out there like that. We're not ready to face everything alone—and we don't have to either! Aren't we supposed to be a team?" Reyes picked up, her tone slightly more reasonable yet bristling with emotion from their outburst; practically bleeding with need of acceptance to their point.

He could, in point of fact, give them that to their credit.

"Indeed, though the recipient was the wrong one, it is a measure I'm pleased you're willing to acknowledge." He hummed, letting them bask in the praise of the one statement that deserved positive feedback.

"Thenwhoarewesupposedtocall?" West blurted out in incredulity; both pigtails bouncing with the pace behind her feet.

"West." Damian answered effortlessly, watching the realization dawn upon their faces.

"What?" The twin of the aforementioned questioned in even more astonishment.

"-Tt- I meant Jai West. You've been aware of his participation on several meetings—"

"—yeah, butwedidn'tknewwecouldcallhimforhelp!" The Meta exclaimed with a scandalized look on her face.

Damian raised an eyebrow.

"Why else would we have gone through the process of providing him the means of communication with all the appropriate equipment for reconnaissance missions?" Damian actually found the other West far more capable than the set of three before him; he was his Oracle in training (though obviously better), so to speak.

The three stared at him dumbly, and the Team Leader narrowed his eyes in distaste at their dense obliviousness.

"…um, our bad…?"West quipped after an awkward silence of their own making and Damian couldn't help rubbing his eyes in exasperation. "Canwegotoourroomnow? It's been a long day andwekindaneedashower." She finished nervously, no doubt wishing to be spared from the shame of their foolishness as the other two nodded their consent.

"No. Whilst you three have yet to prove your usefulness, you deliver a strong point in needing more experience outside our Base." He added, finally able to converse his Mission on their meeting and enjoying their stunned expressions. "We will be traveling to a new terrain, that way you will actually have the opportunity to prove if you're ready for supplementary exercises outside our field of Operations."

"Are you serious?" The archer gasped with excitement filling her soprano.

"-Tt-, don't be ridiculous, Harper, I'm always serious." He admonished, making the trio smile at the prospect. Somehow, their reaction to his notice gave him a pleasant feeling that he decided to ignore, less he be getting proud of their involvement, disastrous as it was.

"You won't regret it—at what time do we leave?" Reyes asked, not hiding her grin at the news while West ran in circles around all of them, making the wind swipe his cape and dismount his hood.

"Be packed and ready—I'll not be lenient enough to let you know beforehand; you're always to be prepared for a Mission." The oldest teen answered, turning around and walking away. He could hear their chatter for every step he took away from them. Let them get prepared.

He had to do the same as well.

-~18:16hrs. (Next day) Fortress of Solitude. Kal-El's Home and Second Base to the Empire.

Something was wrong, he decided. He could somehow feel it. It was like a constant reminder that followed him wherever he went for the past months or so.

Clark saw the first sign in Diana.

His navy gaze narrowed; large hands grasping the sides of his face in agitation at the amount of stress he'd had over the matter.

The Kryptonian had been aware of the giant gap that kept forming between himself and the Amazon Queen over the years, but there had always been some kind of silent understanding behind their cause hiding behind regretful gazes and wounded pride.

Now though (and honestly since that Louisiana incident really), it was as if something had made the gap grow double the size in seconds, and Clark had no idea what he'd done to make his friend look at him with so much hate behind her withered eyes. There was always something wrong nowadays—it was like all the effort they've conveyed had suddenly been ripped to pieces: shattered beyond repair by some outside force he had no idea existed.

Clark used to be aware of everything that happened not that long ago… how did things took a turn for the worse without him noticing it? Had Diana always felt like this and had finally decided to let him know it? Was the world going mad? Or maybe it had something to do with Bruce again.

His eyes shone red.

It was always about Bruce. Everything was slowly slipping out of his control, and he could bet his life that the somber Bat had something to do about it.

But this time Clark had been prepared for that. Diana was busy tending recently Empire's orders elsewhere, and he just needed a little more time to set things straight and quell the Lords about their pest problem.

The time for Batman's end was quickly approaching, and it was with a heavy heart that he welcomed the relief it brought to him.

-~19:43hrs. Haughton Memorial Park (Cementery), Amory, Old-Mississippi.

He had to decide between his two responsibilities.

Beneath all the commotion Damian kept his position unmoving, as he assisted in holding Batgirl's frame in their tight space.

And that's exactly what he'd done.

He'd been denied of proceeding with his true intentions since the very beginning of his agenda for the day. His moment interrupted once he got within the State's territory he was to investigate by the voice of his Father—an important task to heed effective immediately:


Amongst their duties there were few types of errands Damian had the luxury to bypass as something beneath him that spurred out of the moment with no aforementioned trail behind them, or even interrupt an ongoing exercise like this—acquiring prime matter was not one of them. Instantly priorities changed: his General already leaving the specifics with Drake, who quickly sent them to him in order to rendezvous with Cain and steal the resources they could not afford to lose.

An entire City to feed was taxing, it left them with little to no choice in the means to take opportunities such as these ones without hesitation (and their own implements to keep waging their war were no less difficult to attain). So it was with great reluctance that he made the detour to take his Team-in-the-making towards Gotham, and was then intercepted by Brown to lend her charge over his Trainees.

Frowning behind his less than impeccable mask he strongly questioned his judgment at authorizing such measures despite encouragement towards the idea. At the end, he only agreed based on appearance's sake, not wanting to risk his and Todd's Operation.

And now here he was yet again, amid cursing himself for his lack of foreboding in time he battled to keep the unconscious girl from moving hence worsening her (most definitely) fractured ribs, while feeling an odd sense of accomplishment at the measures his Team had taken before and after their chaperon was out for the count.

'What now?' Reyes signaled between their reduced space first; the calmest one of the trio despite being underneath a Crypt with no foreseeable way of escaping anytime soon.

'We wait.' Damian beckoned with one hand without difficulty. The other two were tightly clung against one-another, with West being the most affected about their underground position. He was sure it all revolved around remaining incapable to move freely if the occasion requested it. A clear disadvantage to a Meta that had no control on moving her molecules like her predecessor (he'd intended to ask Dick about tips). Harper just kneeled herself at the other's side, no doubt offering silent comfort.

Unrelenting amounts of shouts kept coming from the world above; it had been an unpredictable situation, with no manner to depict a brutal confrontation between Soldiers from the Empire (who were most likely transporting bodies), and foolish Resistance Members (who craved vengeance of their own) in a mostly deserted area.

'Idiots,' Damian though, 'all of them.' he added with a bite. Though the details on how Brown got incapacitated weren't specific, he had a general notion to form an accurate theory. It wasn't the first time that a rebellious set of Resistance followers had went overboard once they spotted one of them in the arena. If only, it made them more reckless—dangerous.

A discreet sound came from under his gauntlet: a message from the other West that had procured his aid to their Team—an immediate improvement from his colleagues—carefully Damian answered the call, also taking note of Cain's status of the Raid because of his sudden departure of the area.

No regrets. His father would be upset, or perhaps he wouldn't; he'd no doubt Cain would at least get them some of the products on her own (the woman was not that unqualified).

He was exchanging information with Jai; so absorbed in his data that the usually alert Crime-fighter was oblivious to her pensive stare on him.

Milagro couldn't understand him the more she tried. And, at the same, she felt she could so completely that it just made her all the more exasperated with how he wasn't able to grasp the concept in favor of keeping that perpetual frown on his face, and stuck-up attitude to boot.

When the situation had imploded, Stephanie had told them to stay hidden (and they did), it hadn't taken much to keep it like that. Batgirl was the first to move, and Speedy the second to follow. They've actually done a great job, but were too far into their heads that nobody saw that hit coming except for Steph who had shielded Lian from a nasty blow against a giant sledgehammer—a sickening crack resounding against their eardrums.

Milagro had held the front as she instructed the others to guard the older woman, immediately thanking whatever moved her conscience earlier to signal a ready Irey to contact her brother to inform their situation to Night-Robin A.S.A.P.. They've yet to hear from him, so she repeated the motion once Batgirl was out for the count.

He needed to know, though a small part of her had resented him at first when he'd been called by the Batman (a man she had not that long ago thought was in reality Matches Malone but been proved wrong) for an urgent Mission that the other teen didn't faltered to obey. How dare he—the one who kept saying they were the only ones to trust and go for help—to ditch them and leave them like some children to be kept under watch?

When they've been contacting the illustrious vigilante, Milagro had half a mind that they wouldn't be able to find him, less of all keep him from his task; a bitterness forming in the pitch of her stomach at his preference.

She, obviously, had been quickly proven wrong.

He'd answered on the first try, and under the sound of desperate carnage and guttural yelling she heard his voice on their shared line stating an immediate "On my way. Stay in line." before cutting his end.

Yep, just like that, here he was, right after giving them a hand in clearing a path so Lian could help the wounded Gothamite to safety, completely in control of their situation (or as much as it was possible anyways), and not making one reproach on their renewed hostile position.

She wondered if he was even able to finish his work ordered by Batman, but doubting it. While it might not mean something to him (since he was as emotionally capable as a sack of potatoes) it blared sirens inside her head, were her Will to find conclusion to this War kept drumming even stronger within her insides—they had a Leader that really cared and delivered—and whilst her ring remained useless, it wouldn't for long.

The faint sound of a grumbling stomach brought her out of her musings, and with fond exasperation she redirected her gaze at her friend, who sheepishly excused herself before eating another one of her packed snacks to quell her demanding metabolism.

It was getting late, and so far it didn't seem like the confrontation was going to end anytime soon, especially with them trying to find the masked heroes in their desperation for service to their madness. Glancing at her two friends Milagro chewed her lip, contemplating in asking what she was about to—at the very least Irey wouldn't feel the repercussions as much, and Lian did not look that much for the better.

'Should we settle for the night?' She braved herself to ask their Leader, making it a point to glance at the other two to pass her silent message.

They're hungry.

They're tired.

They're scared.

And she was a little too, her training on the other side of the border hadn't left her this prepared—the raids similar to this one not a possibility for her at her father's command.

Night-Robin glanced quickly at the others, and she found him contemplating the scenario far too long for someone so sure of himself before he nodded ever so slightly.

'Rest; we'll take turns to keep guard.' Not wasting time (she was a little afraid he'd change his mind), she motioned for the others with deliberate slowness until understanding shined in their tired eyes. The girls were young; it was her responsibility as the second oldest one to look after them.

'Roger,' Iris answered while Lian gave a thumbs up with an exhausted smile, settling herself against the tired speedster.

Quiet reigned over in their little hiding spot; the slaughter of the background dead to her ears in favor of keeping a watchful gaze on all three sleeping women.

"You've shown improvement."

Milagro's eyes popped open at the disturbance; Night-Robin's posture still keeping Batgirl's figure on the exact same position.

'Isn't he tired? Numb? It's been hours.' Oh, right, he'd said something—


Eloquence be damned he didn't even flinch.

"West relayed what happened, said you took command once Brown was incapacitated and kept the front until my arrival. You did well, Reyes."

"Oh, gracias—"

"Don't fret, you've yet to achieve anything major, but it's a start."

"Like I said, gracias." She decided to stop him from further sticking his foot on his mouth. "Thanks you, by the way." At his narrowed gaze she explained, "You came."

"I'm your Leader, of course I did."

'Figures; guy can't take a compliment.'

"Still, you were busy; it couldn't be easy to leave your business behind for something like this." At his clear dismissal she shrugged the topic away. "What are we waiting for, por cierto (3)?" She'd been contemplating it since he told her.


Whelp, that much she had anticipated—he could still elaborate some more.

"Right, but from who, and when?"

"-Tt-, patience."

"Right, right," she kept within whispers, eyeing his rigid limbs out of the corner of her eye, "hey, aren't you tired? Your limbs must be sore from staying like that that long."


"Oh, well, is she going to be alright? I mean, it was a pretty bad hit, and I've been thinking you haven't been wanting to move her so she doesn't get her lungs pierced or somethi—"

"Reyes," She stopped her rambling, anxious on his answer, "Quiet."

"… that it? That's all you've got to say? Seriously?"

"Sleep." He finished, dismissing her to go back to his gauntlet, and her flicker of annoyance kept ongoing.

"… you know, I've noticed a pattern with you," Milagro insisted, wanting to keep the conversation going in favor of beating the somber of the tomb against the horrible contrast of the boisterous conflict on the surface, "there's a word for what you do: 'Bisílabo'(4). You that every time you can."

"Nonsense." He said and she smiled to point at him. The young teen clicked his tongue in distaste at his poor demonstration to show the contrary and went back to ignore her.

"… it's alright to feel insecure about us, you know," Milagro began again, her restlessness slowly receding, "we weren't really that nice to you from the beginning either, that's why I thanked you for coming. It might be silly, but you being here makes us feel more confident in finding our way out."

"It should, that's why I'm here." Another voice found its way to their one-sided conversation, and Milagro's reflexes were quick to pull out her SW1911 Series from the holster on her left thigh. Another distasteful sound from her Leader came immediately afterwards, and her face refused to grin back at the grown man who was obviously doing so behind his red helmet.

"Took you long enough Hood," her companion spoke towards the intimidating figure of the Red Hood, "Reyes, put that down."

She glared back at him, not doing so out of spite for the mocking figure inching closer to her. Months staying in the same place with the (barely present) adult hadn't changed much her thoughts of him: keep your distance and guard your back.

Her instincts told her he was dangerous cunning man—ready to fire a bullet between your eyes at the least expected moment, and she was inclined to trust them.

It suddenly occurred to her that this was the only occasion they've been so close since their arrival to Gotham.

"You do that kid, less you wanna hurt yourself." Red Hood told her, completely dismissing her standing. "Ready to do this?" He went back to ignoring her, while the other only nodded, taking a firmer grasp of Batgirl and starting to edge his way towards the exit and the taller male.

"Once Brown is secured I'll come back." That threw her out the loop, and it must've shown for the way he was staring at her. "Reyes, you are to investigate what caused this sudden conflict and report your findings."

"Excuse me, what?"

"-Tt- Hood will accompany you, rest assure he will not interfere with your investigation. I expect a full report by the time of my arrival."

And just like that, he was off.

"… he—he just left—really? Ugh." She shook her head, unable to prevent her frown. "Figures."

"You really shouldn't be saying things you don't mean."

She blinked.


"Well, just a second ago you tell the man he has reason to trust you and how much you believe him yadda yadda yadda, and not a moment after you take it back." The Red Hood scoffed, already getting comfortable by adjusting the soles of his feet. "That's cold, even for me."

"Oh yeah? And what would you know? From what I've heard you're one to talk." Milagro was deft to answer, feeling insulted at his suggestion.

"Here's the thing about me Junior," the man continued, unaffected, "unlike you, I don't hide my contempt behind pretty smiles and nice words. I outright say what I need or don't from the start. Something you oughta learn." He gestured to the other two with a head movement. "So, you gonna wake those two, or leave the kid dry?"

"… I don't trust you." She said, already reaching towards Lian who was the closest one.

"That's a start." Red Hood stated, "And not gonna lose sleep for that, I'm just here to watch the disaster front row to keep me entertained."

"Disaster?" She squinted her eyes; her many guns burning for her hand to grip, instead of hovering over Lian.

"This little 'charade' of yours. Kid trusts you enough with solving this for him, pfft, don't understand why when you obviously suck so much."

"Care to say that again?"

"You deaf or something—or you done stalling from waking that Speedy-wannabe and Kid West over there? You know exactly what I said."

Milagro tightened her shoulders against the cruelty behind his mockery.

"What is your problem?" She asked straight to the point and the vigilante straightened his shoulders.

"You're way ahead of your league Junior, though you get a point for trying, not a total loss there. Now, personally, I've no shit against you—except you making me and my two siblings waste our time—and your weapons choice gives me just the right amount of curiosity to keep it like that; those two, on the other hand," he chatted nonchalantly, like what he was saying wasn't personally offending her or something, "I've got issues with." He paused briefly. "And I'm not the only one either."

"They haven't done anything to you—they've barely even seen you."

"I have to remember your teenaged-peanut-size brain is not going to keep up, so I'm gonna let it go, you should do the same Gina (6); it's got nothing to do with you—won't actually mean I'll let them die if given the option if it keeps you from wetting your jammers." He cracked his neck, the sound giving her goose-bumps, and out of the corner of her eye, his weaponry of choice gleamed to remind her who she exactly talking to. "Now, I've got better things to do than hiding here, so the real question is if you're up for it." He cut her; his presence demanding she better leave the issue for the time being.

The alarms on her head blaring to stop and run.

'It's far from over.' Was her promise through her eyes, already waking Lian and Irey to explain their current objective.

Fine, if Night-Robin wanted his self-proclaimed brother to keep an eye on them she'd do as told.

(1) Catwoman's District.

(2) " [..] you're right, you're completely right about it, and we're sorry—but"

(3) "by the way"

(4) 'Dysillabic'.

(5) "What?"

(6) "Scarface" reference.

Author's Notes: Again, very, very late update, but progress! A lot of it.