AN: Welcome to my new crossover. It's set between the film/movie Avengers and Iron Man 3. (You can interpret it as AU to IM3 if you want, but I'm trying not to rule it out.) The DC parts are from just prior to Flashpoint and the New 52 reboot. The only difference is that Red Robin's using his new costume, because I happen to think it's completely awesome.
Little Bird's Vengeance Chapter 1 A Pretty Little Cage
Red Robin came round slowly, his head throbbing. He was lying on his side on a hard-ish surface, the temperature cool, but not uncomfortable, the air a little stale, but fresh enough. Cracking open his eyes, he saw a large, white, well-lit chamber, and he was lying on a bench against a glass wall. The wall opposite was also glass, and through it he could see a tall bald black-skinned man with an eye patch and long black coat watching him. A quick glance around showed no obvious way out, and a camera in the corner. He sat up, swinging his bare feet onto the floor. A swift check showed he'd been stripped of belts, wing harness, gloves and boots. Luckily, his mask was still in place over his eyes.
"So. You're awake," the man said. Red Robin said nothing; schooling his face into the emotionless mask the criminal side of Gotham knew to fear, and the hero population knew to respect. He wasn't giving anything away until he knew where he was, who'd locked him up and what had hit him in the first place. "Who are you?" One-Eye said.
"Where am I?" Red Robin asked straight back. He was slightly worried by the almost unnoticeable tremor in his own voice, and hoped the other guy wouldn't pick up on it. He tried running through his mental inventory of criminal geniuses to work out who could have a cell like this, and matching it with One-Eye over there. Nothing seemed to fit. It was very unnerving.
"You're in SHIELD's highest security cell," the guy said. "Built to withstand more concussive force than a warhead. We're currently several thousand kilometres over the Atlantic Ocean and this button here," he gestured to a set of controls next to him, "will release the magnetic bolts and drop you. In other words, you can't get out, and don't try."
A quick once-over seemed to confirm it, but a more thorough examination would be in order later. Usually that kind of reaction to him came from people who knew his reputation. People who would already know who he was…
Red Robin cocked his head slightly. "What's SHIELD?"
"Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division," he was told. One-Eye seemed concerned, or maybe just curious, that he hadn't already heard of it. "Where are you from?"
He stared at the floor, assessing. From the officious name and the American accent, these people worked for the US government. He didn't know of that organization; and it was impossible they were merely hidden (there was no way that Oracle could have missed something big enough to have a flying fortress over the Atlantic). Therefore, something had gone wrong, possibly with the teleport. Horribly wrong. That meant he was in danger. It also meant these people were not necessarily his friends. Until he knew more, he couldn't trust them. He'd have to keep his secrets. Well, that would be a new experience. Not. "Far from here," he told One-Eye. Choosing to dispense with his usual subtly in favour of expediency (and hopefully an informative reaction), he posed his own request. "Tell me more about SHIELD."
His single eye narrowed. This ignorance was suspicious, it seemed. "SHIELD was created to protect the Earth from extra-dimensional assaults, and other abnormal incidents. We also manage the team known as the Avengers. I am Director Nicholas Fury; I'm in charge here. You blew through our defences and materialized unconscious in one of the most sensitive areas in our operations. We took you into custody, where you will remain until we verify you are not a danger. It is therefore in your interests to co-operate."
Red Robin stood, flowing forward with all the grace, balance and skill he'd learnt from Shiva, Batman, Nightwing, Black Bat. "If you're asking if I'm dangerous," he murmured, "then yes, I am. If you're asking if I'm a threat, well," he smiled, showing his teeth, "do I have a reason to be?"
The somewhat predatory behaviour may not been the wisest short-term plan, but too much had gone into building his reputation over the years. He would not submit simply because he was imprisoned. He would distribute the information they required of him in his own time, thank you very much. Of course, what the right time would be he had no idea, especially since he couldn't remember anything between stepping onto the teleport in Titans Tower to go to the Watchtower, and waking up here moments before. He'd need to think about it.
Fury seemed to be tensing, wary despite the glass barrier. "And what would you consider reason to be a threat?"
"The big ones would be if you were planning to kill me, force me into quasi-military activity against my will, start a dictatorship, or engage in certain criminal activities. That enough for you?"
Fury held his gaze for a moment. "You're asking me to trust your word. Why should I trust you? You still haven't said who you are, where you're from or how you came to materialize in the Avengers' Headquarters."
"Why should I trust you?" He stepped forwards again, reaching out and resting both palms against the glass, deliberately projecting the look of a caged animal. "I wake up in your very pretty cage, you spout off a load about some people I've never heard of and tell me you can kill me with the press of a button. Why. Should. I. Trust. You?"
"What choice do you have?" Fury said, then turned and left.
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The next morning (was it morning? Red Robin couldn't tell. About a day since he'd come round in the cage anyway), he was feeling the strain. He hadn't eaten for nearly two days; the case he'd been working too intense to allow more than the odd snack before he wrapped it up and headed off to update Batman (who'd been on monitor duty). The SHIELD people, while probably willing to feed him, seemed to be waiting for him to ask. A relatively subtle power play, making him acknowledge his current dependence on them without actually harming him.
He also desperately needed the bathroom, but was very carefully not thinking about it.
It wouldn't be hard to ask someone. Apart from the camera, there had been people watching him on and off. A dark-haired woman, who'd just stood there looking at him for an hour or so before leaving. He'd met her gaze the whole time, sat on his bench with his knees by his chin. There were no words between them, none were needed. She was telling him they would watch him until he broke, he that he could wait it out. And later, when he'd tried to get a full night's sleep (for once), he'd woken after a few hours at the quiet footfalls of a red-haired woman and dirty blond man, an assassin and archer respectively, judging by their builds, their weapons, and their movements. The assassin had asked him what he was doing, he'd told her he was trying to sleep, turned over, and forced himself to drift off again. They'd been gone by the time he woke again. Other than those times, he'd felt a vague uneasiness, as though he was being watched, although he couldn't see who by. But as the lights focused on him, it was not surprising he couldn't tell for certain who was in the shadows.
It would be easy to play by their rules, but Red Robin didn't know if he should. He wasn't prepared to surrender to the inevitable until he knew what to say, and despite hours of thinking, too much failed to add up. He needed some way past the weaknesses of the flesh, and a long, uninterrupted thinking period.
The answer came easily. His brothers could not do this; Nightwing was too impulsively active, Red Hood too impatient, Robin too inexperienced. But he was good at this. He crossed to the centre of the cell, sat down in the lotus position, and started to control his breathing. He set up mental triggers, in case anyone entered his cell, and a time lapse- three days should be sufficient. Wondering what SHIELD would make of his solution, he sank into a meditative trance, and closed his mind to the world.
AN2: Now, I know it seems to be going a bit slow, but it'll pick up soon enough. Please review. If you have any questions, drop me a PM or leave a review. And please follow/favourite it. I intend to update next week. See you then.