This is pure indulgence. I am crossing my two favorite fandoms and I love it. Big thanks to ocha-no-deathscythe for sparking the original idea, odat for being the best beta to rip apart my work, and awesomeasusual for beating my fight scenes into submission.
The brisk night air assaulted her skin, causing the hairs on her arms to prickle as Maka leapt from rooftop to rooftop. So far, the patrol had been uneventful, and she felt invigorated, that familiar swoop in her stomach as she soared through empty space in the darkened sky. It was moments like this that she felt most alive, most connected to the world. She could easily spend all night with the wind in her face and the blood pumping hard through her veins.
But she had her responsibilities. She slid to a halt on the roof of one of the tallest buildings in the warehouse district, gazing out across the twinkling expanse of her city. She reached into her belt and pulled out her communicator. It beeped to life as it connected.
"Maka," came the crackling voice of her teammate and oldest friend, Black*Star. "What's up?"
"I'm on patrol, Beast Boy," she admonished, using his public name.
"Robin," he amended. "Though I doubt anyone can here me when you're on top of, what, the Soto building?"
"Can you really see that well through the tiny screen?" she asked incredulously.
"Nope, just my godlike intuition!" Maka gave him a blank look, greatly enhanced by the opaque mask that hid her eyes. "All right, fine, yes, I can see part of the 'S' behind you."
Maka smirked. "Any word from Kid?"
"He checked in an hour ago. He's still in Brooklyn on assignment."
"Really? I would have thought he'd have been able to take care of the problem already."
"Well, he said he found the thieves. Pair of gun-happy chicks. But they're giving him a run for his money."
"Hmm. Does he want back up?"
"He says he's got it. 'Sides, do we really wanna leave the West Coast without any Titans?"
"No, we don't," Maka admitted. "Well, I guess we'll give him a few more days on his own. Hopefully he wraps this up quickly."
"Yeah. How goes patrol?"
"Quiet tonight. Nothing down by the docks. I'm gonna finish up here in the warehouse district, then move on to-" A flash of movement caught her attention from the corner of her eye. "May have spoken too soon," she said, lowering her voice and crouching down. Yes, there was definitely someone moving in the shadows on the fire escape of the building opposite her. The figure swung its arm, and a thin black line extended from it; a grappling hook, no doubt. The hook clanged against her building several stories below Maka, and the figure disappeared from sight as it swung towards the Soto warehouse. Maka heard the sound of glass shattering as the thief broke one of the windows a few stories down below.
"Need help?" asked Black*Star sharply over the communicator.
"No," Maka said. "Only one. I'll take care of this."
"Are y-" She shut the communicator with a snap, and dashed to the door that lead into the lower floors of the building. It was locked, but Maka maneuvered her glove and a small lock pick slid out of the sheath in the index finger. She made quick work of the lock and slipped inside. She took the stairs two at a time, but made sure to keep her steps as light as possible. She estimated that the thief was about six floors down, so when she reached the landing for the correct floor, she paused and pressed an ear to the door. After a moment, she heard a crash from behind it, and smirked again. This guy was clearly an amatuer; this would be too easy. Maka kicked the door open and vaulted off the upper ledge of the warehouse catwalk to land on the storage floor below, arms raised and ready for a fight. Her heart stopped cold.
There was no mistaking the crimson 'x' emblazoned across the thief's chest.
The thief struck before she knew what was happening. His arm snaked out and collided with her jaw, and she was sent reeling, stars flashing in front of her eyes as pain spread through her chin like lightning. Maka stumbled backwards, and the thief advanced, sending another fist to crash against her temple. She hit the ground with a thud, but the ice in her veins was melting into a boil, and the next fist that came sailing towards her, she caught in the palm of her hand, a snarl on her lips. She dragged him forward and pressed both of her boots to that damned 'x' on his chest and used his momentum to send him flying over her.
The thief smacked against the wall, and slid down in a crumple. He let out a growl and got to his feet, but not quickly enough; Maka's leg swung in a wide arc as she slammed her heel into his side. He let out a grunt and was flung sideways. But he vanished before he hit the ground, and reappeared suddenly four feet to the right, and Maka was forced to leap backwards, hands over feet, to escape another punch.
She landed in a crouch, and as the thief bore down on her, she rolled out of the way as his fist slammed into the floor. He turned again, cape billowing, and phased out of sight again. Maka knew instinctively what he was going to do, and ducked, just as his fist sailed over her head, pigtails streaming as she dodged him. She dropped and allowed her weight to rest on her back, steadying herself with her gloved hands, and caught his arm between her ankles. She sent him flying again, and he hit the ground with a grunt.
"Shit-," he said, voice gravelly, but was cut off by Maka's boot swinging at his face. He lifted his arms and caught her foot inches from his masked face. He pushed her backwards, causing her to totter, but not fall. It was enough time for him to spring to his feet again. He held up a hand, palm flat, and the 'x' emblem stitched there glowed, and a large crimson blur shot towards her. Maka was forced against the opposite wall, held in place by a large scarlet x, head hanging forward between the two upper arms of the weapon. She struggled against the bonds as the thief rolled his shoulder lazily, then walking casually towards one of the crates on the warehouse floor. He pried it open and pulled out a small metal scanner. Maka growled obscenities, still stuck fast. He turned to her and approached. She curled her lips into a menacing snarl, but he had the gall to slide a finger under her chin. She glared defiantly into his face, but the effect was lessened by her opaque mask; he couldn't see her blazing emerald eyes. But neither could Maka see any of his features, hidden beneath an all-too-familiar mask of a skull.
He placed the end of a small metal scanner over her heart. "I'll be taking this," he said smugly, digging it into her uniform. "Better luck next time, kiddo." He slammed a hand down on the ground, and four red lines spread from where it made contact, opening up a chasm in the floor. Hovering over the edge, he turned to her again. "Oh, and thanks for the suit." Red X disappeared into the gap, swallowed by the darkness.
It took Maka almost thirty minutes to cut herself free; she was sore from the spar and her hands were shaking, but she eventually managed. The time gave her far too much opportunity to dwell on what she'd just seen. She replayed the fight over and over in her head as she used her Birdarang to slowly slice through the red 'x' holding her in place, thinking about the mask she thought she would never see again. Her greatest mistake, her biggest failure as a hero, her most shameful decision as Robin. Too many memories, too many wrongs, too many regrets. She couldn't keep the thoughts at bay as she sawed through her scarlet prison.
A mad man threatening the city...
Lead astray by the snake in the grass...
A bloody smile that stretched from ear to ear...
A terrible choice...
As Maka shredded the last of the red weapon holding her in place, she stumbled a bit, and slid the sharp edge of the Birdarang against her skin. She swore under her breath as a thin red line appeared across her forearm. As she watched the blood bead along the cut, Maka felt an anger surge through her stupor and set her nerves aflame. Maka had made a terrible mistake, one she thought she has locked up tight in her vault, but it had stared her in the face tonight, and she was livid. She reached into her utility belt and wrapped her gloved fingers around her communicator, but the thought of her friends' faces stopped her. Their angry eyes, their disappointed frowns, their furious words... No. Maka would take care of this on her own. She knew what Red X had stolen and where he would be going next; she could handle this by herself. Clenching her fists, Maka turned on her heel and swept out of the room, black cape billowing behind her, all aches forgotten.
Her breath hung in the air in front of her as Maka perched carefully on the roof of the abandoned observatory. She reached into her belt and withdrew a thin canister. Pressing a small button, it shot out a thin laser beam, and she drew it along the seams of one of the panels that made up the decrepit dome. Once detached from the other panels, it fell through to the floor below, and Maka quickly attached her rappelling Birdarang to the edge. She slid herself through the hole and released the rope, sending her down into the darkness below.
Her heavy boots hit the floor with a gentle thud, and she dropped into a crouch. There was no movement, and she allowed herself to stand slowly.
A spark of yellow light caught her attention, and Maka ducked to avoid a large beam of crackling energy. She rolled towards the source, diving behind a large drum barrel rusted with age, listening to the sound of the attack bounce off the metal above her head. The charge lasted exactly 23 seconds, as she knew it would, and once exhausted, she leapt out again and slammed into the person holding the gun.
There was a feminine cry as Maka grappled with the long barrel of the energy cannon and threw the person holding it into the wall. She found herself gazing into a withered face surrounded by dull auburn hair.
"Medusa," she sneered, pressing the cannon against the older woman to hold her in place. "It's been a while."
The woman stopped struggling. "Well, look who we have here," she said with only a shadow of her old confidence. "What can I do for you, Robin?" Her tired eyes roved over Maka's lithe form.
"Staying out of trouble?" Maka asked.
"Not much trouble to get into here, I'm afraid," replied Medusa conversationally. "Most of the raw materials here are degraded or contaminated. I haven't had much fun in a while."
Maka narrowed her eyes, but the woman in front of her appeared to be telling the truth; she was thinner than the last time Maka had seen her, and there were more lines around her eyes. "Glad to hear you're behaving yourself," she said, and Medusa shot her a dark look. "You wouldn't happen to have any xynothium stashed away in here, would you?"
"Trying to take all my xynothium again? What, the supply I gave you last time wasn't enough?" asked Medusa with a snigger. Maka shoved the barrel of the weapon further into her chest, and Medusa grunted. Maka eased off, and the scientist sighed. "Do you think if I had any xynothium, I wouldn't be taking advantage of it?" she said waspishly. The Titan frowned at her. "No, I don't have any."
"And you haven't used any of it to make any more suits, right?," Maka said dangerously, but the older woman just rolled her eyes.
"Yes, yes, of course."
Maka eyed Medusa with distrust, but there was an angry sincerity in the older woman's eyes. She looked haggard and worn, so Maka said, "I also hope we understand that if you do get your hands on some, you will not be selling it to anyone, either."
Medusa perked up at that. "Know a potential buyer?"
"I think thieving is more his style, but I'm mentioning it just in case he decides to be a gentleman. But you and I both know that I will be very unhappy if you do try to sell to him."
The scientist peered fruitlessly into Maka's inscrutable mask, then dropped her gaze. "I would have better buyers than a thief anyway."
"We're gonna just have to leave it at that," Maka said, finally stepping away and allowing Medusa to stumble forward. "For now." Medusa rubbed her chest and glared at the Titan. Maka held out an arm and shot a Birdarang to the gap she had made in the ceiling. "Stay out of trouble." She pressed a small button and hoisted herself into the air, Medusa's sneering face growing rapidly smaller as she ascended.
Maka was hopping back onto the roof when she heard, "Fancy meeting you here." She reflexively jumped into action, dropping into a crouch and swinging her leg in a wide arc, kicking the feet out from under the newcomer. He dropped with a loud grunt, and she flipped back onto her feet and pressed a boot to his chest, right over the crimson x.
"Who are you?!" Maka demanded through gritted teeth.
"Would I really be wearing a mask if I wanted you to know who I am?" Red X sounded entirely too cheeky for a man lying on the sloping roof of an abandoned observatory, and Maka bristled.
"What do you want? What's your angle?"
"Can't a guy just wanna have a little fun?"
"Not in a suit that belongs to me" she growled. "I want it back." He only laughed, sending reverberations up the leg pinning him to the roof.
"You can't take the suit from me now, I have nothing else to wear," he said as she glared down at him. "But I gotta say, there are easier ways for you to get me naked." Maka ground her foot into his chest, but he only chuckled again. "Speaking of naked," he said lightly, "I really appreciate that you designed this suit with pants; I wouldn't want to be leaping off tall buildings in a mini skirt like you. Do you show all the criminals your panties, or am I just special?"
Maka gasped and jumped backwards, hands flattening down her uniform's skirt. Red X curled his legs up, then shot forward onto his feet. He straightened, and the mirth in his voice was clear. "I bet the color of your underwear is a hot topic in certain circles. I wonder how much someone would pay me to tell them that the Girl Wonder likes-"
She kicked him square in the chest, and her foot made a satisfying thud as he sailed backwards. Red X flipped himself in midair and slid into a crouch, wheezing as he rubbed his chest with a gloved hand. Maka charged him, pressing her advantage, and he was only able to get back on his feet in time to receive a blow to the lower jaw in precisely the place Maka herself had a bruise forming.
He crossed his arms in front of him in an attempt to block her attacks, but Maka knew how to break a man's defense, and soon he was sent reeling again, his thin boots sliding against the paneling of the observatory. "C'mon, Girl Wonder, 'X' marks the spot," he grunted, the humor in his voice overshadowed by his ragged breathing. He swung at her again, but she held up a forearm to stop him, and they were caught in a precise dance of attack and defend, attack and defend. It was a painful waltz, the only music their heavy panting and occasional grunt of pain, but they were partners nonetheless, giving and taking with equal measure, caught up in a rhythm all their own.
It was clear that he had learned how to fight somewhere, but Maka had been training all her life, and her skills were sharper. Nevertheless, he was larger than her and surprisingly agile, and he proved be a challenge in a way she had not expected. But her years of hard work paid off, and she finally grabbed his wrist and threw him over her shoulder, using his extra weight against him to send him crashing onto the roof. She loomed over him again, putting her hands on her hips in what she hoped looked like an intimidating pose and not an attempt to hold her skirt down.
"I know why you're here," she said, winded, the opaque white eyes of her mask staring into the gaping black holes of his. "That tracker you stole is a xynothium scanner, and there were traces of it here. But it's gone now, and you won't be able to find another supply in time. That suit will run out of power soon; I won't even need to take it from you."
"I keep telling you, there are easier ways of getting my clothes off," he said, panting heavily. Red X slowly got to his feet in front of her, never turning his mask from her face. He reached into his belt to pull out a sharp red weapon while Maka grabbed a Birdarang. They sized each other up for a long moment. "Next time, Birdy," he said, and threw his weapon at her. She dodged it, trying to keep an eye on his retreating form as he hopped from the roof. Tossing the Birdarang with as much force as possible, she managed to hit the edge of his mask and loosen it, and it fell from his face. Red X caught it as he phased out of sight, but not before Maka got a good look at shockingly white hair in the moonlight.