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Birds of Prey

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Gotham City; the nastiest, dirtiest, most corrupt city in the world...or at least a close runner up. Not an unusual environment for Talon, just a different name and location. The sky was dark as it always was and the smog was thick enough to choke on for undisciplined lungs. It was cold... freezing, in fact, in the dead of a mid-December night. But the scum of the city had been quiet for a few days; At least that's what Batman thought anyway. Talon had taken great pains to make sure the vigilante suffered a slow night just this once, and watched in triumph as the dark knight finally retired and sped away at 3 am.

Now that the Bat was out of the way, all he had to do was finish his own job; Stake out the target from his bi-weekly appointment and wait for his chance. 

 

...

 

 

Talon stood slouched on the cold railing of a balcony that overlooked a dingy, dirty warehouse with bits of graffitti littering the walls, with the stench of alcohol and urine lingering in the air. He was still as a statue  in his wait and bored. Very, very bored. But his man would have to come out eventually. He'd been staking the target out for hours outside of the warehouse where, right at this very moment, a meeting between all the mob bosses and crime lords of Gotham city was underway. He really should just stalk in there right now and kill them all; Slit their throats or shoot them or even plant a bomb. Talon's piercing, yellow eyes glittered at the thought and his lips even twitched in amusement. It could be fun... At least it would end the boredom. But a mass murder, especially a mass murder of all the organized crime leaders of the city would create absolute anarchy. Not that he cared about rusty, dusty, dirty Gotham City, but the Court of Owls wouldn't be pleased. After all, this city had a protector...someone who would surely avenge any tampering, especially from a ruthless hitman like himself. The Batman would rear up his head and surely hunt them down until he discovered who they were and tried to interfere or take revenge. Talon would be punished for that...possibly even terminated. Both options, needless to say, were something Talon very much wanted to avoid. Besides, it was needless for the rest of the scum to die, as far as he was concerned. He only had one target...a big target; Red Hood. He would have his fun yet. All he had to do was wait until the crime lord walked out of the warehouse doors and then he could play.

He sighed dramatically, letting out a huff of breath that condensed in the freezing night air, his sharp eyes wandering after it until it dissolved into the murky, starless sky.

He was starting to get restless now, he realized as he once again pulled a dagger from his belt and twirled it absently in his hand. The meetings never lasted this long. Dick had been stalking this guy for weeks and waited outside several of these little get-togethers, and none of them had lasted longer than maybe one hour at most. This one, the night that Talon had finally decided to make his move, had now extended into hour number four and delayed him considerably. That didn't sit well with him. Hood was going to pay for wasting Talon's time, he decided with a sadistic smirk, re-pocketing the dagger with twitching fingers.

"What on earth could be taking so long?" he wandered aloud to himself. When he heard two loud gunshots and a muffled scream, he couldn't help but smirk; Hood was making a example out of some poor bastard. But still; he could at least be quicker about it.

Hour number five came and went and Talon was inventing more and more ghastly punishments by the minute: cutting Hood's tongue out and shoving it down his throat, spooning out his eyes, scraping the flesh inch by inch from his bones...  Finally, 15 minutes into hour six when he decided joint-by-joint dismemberment and forced consumption of the body parts was a worthy punishment for Red Hood's lack of punctuality, the massive warehouse doors creaked and groaned below before finally screeching open and releasing the various criminal overlords below.

Their faces were pale and one of them even fell to his knees and vomited into the garbage pile in the alley. Hmph. Must be a new recruit to have that weak of a stomach, Talon smirked silently to himself, still leaning casually against the balcony railing. The audience dispersed quickly, as usual (at least they never took their time with that) and Talon grinned darkly as his target, always the last to leave the warehouse, finally emerged into the street and closed the metal door behind him. Hood was lagging today, he noticed; stretching languidly, cracking his neck and his knuckles like he had all the time in the world. The contrast was so astounding compared to Dick's own mood that it made him twitchy. And...just like that, the excitement became too much. 

With a single, graceful bound, he leaped and landed flawlessly just in front of his prey with a wicked gleam. "I've been waiting for you," he smiled alluringly with a tilt of his head and a flash of his predatory yellow eyes.

Red Hood, who had tensed the second the assassin landed, seemed to relax -to Talon's well-hidden astonishment- and even audibly laugh behind his helmet. He put one hand to rest on his hip without even bothering to draw his gun.  If he could see it, Talon was sure the man would be smirking -(the nerve of this guy, sheesh). Talon had actually never seen this guy's face before; he always had the damn helmet on. Maybe he had a nasty scar he didn't want anyone to see for fear of weakness, or maybe he was just very protective of his identity. Either way, he was going to find out just who this big shot thought he was. Even now he had to fight the urge to rip the damn thing off; he'd have his chance to savor the first and last expression on the Red Hood's face before he finally killed him; that blinding, familiar fear. Just like everyone else. He'd make sure of it. 

"Really? That's the line you go with to intimidate me?" the man scoffed. "It's so cliche, it hurts. You had me going until you opened your mouth," the man sneered, setting Talon's blood to boil. "Assassins should be seen, and definitely not heard in your case." he jeered. "Actually," he amended as an afterthought, "a good assassin shouldn't even be seen. What kind of killer are you?"

Talon blinked in shock. He arched a brow and pointed the edge of his blade directly against the Hood's throat. "You're awfully cocky for someone who's about to die," he hummed, perplexed by Hood's lack of fear. Interesting. Was it a chemical defect or just stupidity?

"Humor me," Red Hood snorted, making Talon's skin crawl. "Come on, as a dying man's wish. Where on earth did they dig you up, hot stuff?"

"Same place you're about to go, sweetheart," Talon replied with a smirk. Two could play this game. "The pits of hell."

"Ooh, how cryptic. Much better," Hood nodded in approval. Talon rolled his glowing eyes. This guy was unreal. How could he dismiss Talon's threat's and joke so easily? Was it a death wish?

"Are you going to put up a fight and attempt to give me a challenge, or are you going to stand here flirting with me and make my job easy?" Talon retorted without missing a beat. Before Talon could blink, however, Hood unexpectedly knocked his feet out from underneath, twisted one of his swords out of his hands and aimed it precisely above his rapidly beating heart. Talon stared up, frozen in awe; no one had ever managed that before. But then, no one had ever casually flirted over their own deaths before, either. Hood was good...definitely not a stranger to hitmen antics or attempts. No matter. Talon was no ordinary hitman.

"What? I'm not allowed to make a little foreplay? You must be one of those strictly 'down to business' kind of guys," Hood shook his head sadly. "Love 'em and leave 'em, right?"

"I prefer to think of it as 'hit and run,'" Talon grinned at his own pun before kicking the weapon out of Hood's hand, repossessing it and jumping up fluidly before kicking Hood into the nearest wall and strutting over with something of a swagger in his hips.

Hood grunted from the force of the impact and shook his head swiftly to gather his wits again. "Your sense of humor might just be a deal breaker."

"I can live with that," Talon smirked. Jason snorted before launching himself at the assassin, who danced almost gracefully out of the way before snatching the back of the collar on Hood's leather jacket and slamming him down hard against the ground. Hood retaliated by twisting and kicking Talon's feet out from underneath him again, knocking the swords away and rolling on top to straddle him and pin his wrists high above his head.

"You know, you look really hot, all sprawled underneath me like this," Hood commented slightly out of breath, reaching for the gun at his side.

"You think that's hot?" Dick taunted seductively. "You should see how flexible I am," Talon added breathlessly before proving his point and using his legs to wrap  around the man's throat, effectively throwing him off and switching their positions. He smiled poisonously sweet and took the chance to press his hidden dagger against Hood's throat. Unfortunately, however, Hood had already reached his gun and had that pressed point blank against Talon's forehead, so they were in a very provocative, not-so-stand off.

"Aw, did you get shy?" Hood mocked when Talon obviously hesitated. "Or did my big package scare you off?"

Talon snorted and rolled his eyes before pushing off of the criminal and backing away cautiously. "Don't get so cocky. It's not the biggest I've ever seen."

"It's not the size that matters, sweetheart, it's the firepower," Hood sneered back, never once wavering his aim as they circled each other. "And let me tell you, it packs one hell of a punch."

"That's what they all say," Dick replied quickly, darting his eyes to his two discarded swords directly behind his adversary. How was he to get to them without getting blown up by a Desert Eagle?

"So. Now that I have the advantage, you wanna tell me who you are and who sent you?" he inquired, taking a step forward dangerously.

Talon crossed his arms, shifting his weight to one leg with a smirk that screamed I'm not stupid, asshole. "Not a chance, Red."

"Shame. Can't blame me for trying," he shrugged, shaking his head almost sadly, if Talon hadn't known better. "In that case, you have a choice; I'd love to keep chasing each other's tails with you, but I don't have all night. So, you can either run for your life and hope that you can outrun a bullet, or you can try to jump past me and reclaim your swords, in which case, I'll have to shoot you where you stand," he explained politely. "Don't think I didn't see you eyeing them. If you think I'm going to play fair, you're dead wrong."

"Who says I need the blades?" Talon challenged. "A skilled assassin can specialize in a certain weapon, but the best assassins don't need weapons at all. Why are you giving me a choice, anyway?" Talon tilted his head suspiciously. "That's not usually how you work. Red Hood doesn't negotiate."

"Did it sound like I was compromising with you?" Hood retorted. "I thought it sounded more like a friendly ultimatum."

"But why give me the chance to get away?" Talon insisted, honestly at awe at the stupidity and/or tenacity of the man.

Red Hood audibly chuckled. "I like to spice things up now and then. Now come on, what's it gonna be?"

Talon didn't answer right away, choosing instead to bite his lip in contemplation. Hood didn't seem to mind; for someone who didn't have all night, he sure did enjoy lingering to watch Talon squirm.

"What to choose, what to choose," Hood mocked. "To be, or not to be. And that is the question, isn't it?"

Talon could almost hear the grin in the man's voice. "What the hell are you talking about?" Talon rolled his eyes haughtily. "You sound like some kind of cryptic poet. I'm going to be either way, I'm just deciding on the best way to make you beg for mercy." Hood's laugh was so loud, it almost sounded exasperated.

"Well, we can't have that, can we?" Hood snorted in amusement. "Since you're not a fan of cryptic poems," why did that sound so mocking?  "...and I'm no fan of awkward silences, I'm going to give you ten seconds to decide. Either tell me who's trying to kill me, run, or die."

Talon hummed and smiled seductively, taking one cautious step forward. Hood cocked the gun without hesitation and Talon froze once again. "It's nothing personal, Red. You're just another name on the list. I don't ask why. I just have fun with it."

"You must be having a ball right now, then," Hood audibly smirked.

"You have no idea. You just made everything interesting," Talon smiled dangerously. "I don't normally need effort for a hit. The fact that you actually present a challenge just made the game significantly more exciting. My victory will be so much sweeter in the end when I finally kill you. You know; lose the battle, win the war thing."

Hood groaned and sighed. "Again with the cliches," he shook his head before lowering the gun and holstering it easily.Talon arched a brow and watched as the man turned to pick up the dual swords behind him and admire them in the light of the street lamp.

"Since you don't really need these, they'll will make a nice souvenir," he commented with a smugness that made Talon's lips twitch in irritation. "I think I'll hang them up on my- guh," he choked as a flying assassin leaped and twisted through the air to land a kick and drop him on his ass. The swords clattered to the floor before Talon bent over to lift them back up lovingly. He tsked loudly as he holstered them and turned back toward his mark.

"Those are mine," he leered, kneeling down so that he was looking the man directly in the eyes (or the white eye lenses of the helmet, anyway). "Touch them again...and I'll make a sheath out of an unpleasant orphice."

"Kinky," Hood retorted with strained laughter behind a cough as he pulled himself back up to his feet swiftly.

"You have no idea," he repeated, pulling the man forward by his chin and pressing a fierce kiss against the cold metal of the helmet. "I'll see you again, Hood. Watch your back," he stood and strutted away slowly. "As well as your front."

"Come on, can't I at least get your name?" Hood jeered out. "Something to remember you by?"

"First date not enough for you?" the assassin smirked in amusement as he cast a look back.

"You act like you're through with me. I'm kind of offended, I thought we were having a great time," Hood crossed his arms, tilting his weight to one foot as he played along.

"Not by a long shot, sweetie. Unfinished business leaves a bad taste in my mouth," Talon replied seamlessly.

"Bad taste? I can fix that," Hood offered with what Talon assumed to be a shit eating grin underneath that irritating, unrevealing helmet.

"Maybe next time," Talon rolled his sharp, yellow eyes. After all, it's not exactly like he was in a great hurry; He had time to make this the greatest game ever, as long as the Owls didn't come up with another name for him any time soon. "Until then," the assassin saluted, lips pulling up into a soft smirk. "Call me Talon."

With that, he turned away, leaping gracefully back up onto the balcony he had watched from earlier and disappearing into the night.