In case you didn't know, I don't own DC Comics or its characters.
Nothing's ever lost forever
It's just hiding in the recess of your mind
And when you need it
It will come to you at night
— Amanda Palmer
Barbara Gordon looked out over the ledge. The sun was just a sliver on the horizon — night was about to fall and then it would be her time. It would be Batgirl's time. With dusk turning to night, the city was hers again. And it was time to work.
Leaping from rooftop to rooftop, she made her way to 151st Street. Barbara wasn't sure if the tip she got could be trusted, but it was her only lead. The 22 year-old was up to 136th when she caught a flash of another shadow on the rooftop she just leapt onto. Barbara knew Dick was with the Titans and Tim and Bruce were out of town — but whoever it was held something that flashed of metal.
She stole behind the brick stairwell and turned slowly to catch a view. Holy crap, it was him … the one the mob bosses talked about. They one they were scared of. And he was armed. She waited for him to scope his surroundings and leap to the next rooftop, out of sight before she sighed in relief.
She crouched and waited for that precious black town car to pull into the warehouse. She readied her tools … her weapons … for the take down. But after an hour of crouching on the roof, there was only so much "readying" she could do before she was just wasting time.
"Well, look what we have here. A bat that's lost her way."
Barbara jumped up and turned to find herself face to face with—
"Red Hood," she breathed with a blend of nervousness and defiance.
"Batgirl," he responded, nodding his head with the red helmet that was so obviously his trademark, "You're a long way from home, Batsy."
"You should talk," she said, "Don't you usually stay near Old Town?"
"I go where I need to go."
"Likewise," she shot back.
"So," he walked forward and leaned over to look out at the warehouse, "What do you need the Marcotti clan for?"
"None of your business."
"Suit yourself," he started to walk away leisurely, mocking her with every step. But then he turned around. "Of course, if you told me what you were trying to do, I could maybe help you."
"Why would you help me?"
"Maybe I just enjoy aiding the less fortunate?" She could practically hear his smirk and she absentmindedly wondered if she could shatter his mask with a roundhouse kick to the face.
"Or," he continued, "Maybe we have a common goal in mind."
"Oh, I highly doubt that."
"You'll never know if you don't tell me. Why are you following Talon Marcotti?"
She stopped for a moment. Since he came out of the blue just a few months ago, Red Hood had kept out of the way of the Batfamily for the most part. She had only seen him a couple times before in person, the first time when she and the guys had last worked together. They were going to bring in one of Falcone's crooks … but Red Hood put a bullet through the thug's eyes from his sniper shot above. It was chilling, really. And yet what Barbara remembered most was turning towards the direction of the shot and getting a wave of the arm from the guy before he disappeared.
The second time was only from a distance. She had just said goodnight to Robin after patrol and was heading home when she saw him a few building away looking her direction. He gave her a little two finger salute before jumping down out of sight. Who knew who he really was — who knew how dangerous he really was.
"I think they have a teenage girl," she finally responded against her better judgment.
"Not surprising," he said without hesitation, "Little Talon is fond of the jailbait."
"So I've heard," she said bitterly, straightening her back, "And I have evidence, just not concrete enough for the GPD to get a warrant. But she's gone and I have to find her."
Red Hood circled her a little looking her up and down. She didn't like being evaluated by strangers, especially when she had been at this game far longer than he had. She also didn't like not seeing exactly where his eyes were focused.
"So," he said with a cheerfulness, "we should team up."
"… Team up?"
"… With you."
"Yes. Team up. With me."
Barbara laughed harshly, which made the Red Hood stop his trail around her.
"Yeah," she said, "I don't think so."
"Why not?" he asked facing her, "Afraid you can't keep up with me?"
She scoffed. "Hardly."
"Afraid the Bat will ground you?"
She didn't respond to him this time, so he took another step forward and leaned in close — it made her shiver a little.
"Afraid you might like it?"
"Dream on," she said as she kept eye contact … with his mask, at least. And she refused to look at any other part of him because damn it, she had a thing for broad shoulders and she wasn't going to give him the satisfaction.
"So what's the problem, Bats?"
"I don't agree with your methods, Hood." She crossed her arms.
"You mean how my methods get shit done?"
"More like how your methods get people killed."
"Hey, you don't have to agree with me," he said, "You don't have to like me. But I know these scumbags better than you. I have contacts you don't. And if it comes down to finding that girl while she's still breathing," he poked her shoulder, "I'd think you'd be able to put your batpride aside for her sake."
Damn, she thought. She knew he had a point. A really good point.
"What's in it for you?" she kept her arms crossed.
"I can't do a good deed?"
She stared him down and waited. He sighed.
"Maybe I don't like children getting hurt." Simple, straightforward … surprising, actually. Barbara tapped her foot.
"Let me see your eyes. Say it to my face."
The Hood's hands hesitated for a moment, but he pushed on a section of his helmet near his temples. Barbara expected the whole thing to come off, but it only lifted up the opaque eyes of his mask. Unflinching, she leaned in and went on her tip toes so she could see in properly. Soft aquamarine irises met her own pale blue ones as he said just as clearly (his voice echoing a little more within the helmet), "I don't like children getting hurt."
Barbara pursed her lips. She was good at catching liars. He wasn't lying.
"Fine." She put out her hand. He took it.
"Swell," he said as they shook. He put the lenses back down on his mask and got out his grappling hook.
"Where are we going?" Barbara asked as she got out hers. He turned back to look at her and chuckled again.
"Batsy, you're going to have to learn to trust me."
One minute in and she was regretting this partnership already.