The man they had found, with neither memories nor identification, was an absolute enigma. Dick couldn't help but feel a deep empathy for the quiet, reserved man, as well as a deep respect for his fighting skills. It amazed him that No-Name (the stranger's own choice, oddly enough) could remember nothing and yet be so skilled.
The clincher, though, for the growing rapport between the flashy Nightwing and the near silent No-Name, was when Dick persuaded him to go to the circus with him, as a change of pace.
The way those dark green eyes flickered, the intensity of the staring at the clowns, and Dick found himself impossibly lost in the mystery.
The former acrobat, former vigilante, leaned hard on the walking stick as he stood in front of the plain marker. He felt a sense of intense relief to finally be at this point, to know that no more harm would come from Slade's hand.
If, at the same time, there was a hidden sense of release, to know the man he had come to see with too many, complexly intertwined emotions, had finally found freedom from both immortality and vicious hatred, there were few who would blame Dick Grayson.
He turned away, rejoining his stepdaughter and his life partner, a single tear escaping his aged eyes.
He does miss Alfred. No matter how hard-bitten he's become, no matter how many times he convinces himself this is what he was born to, he can't help but miss Alfred. Not Dick, not Bruce, not even the hot chick that used to be Batgirl.
The old man made damn good cocoa, the best sandwiches, and even Red Hood will admit that no one could touch the cookies that came out of Alfred's kitchen.
He doesn't let it bring him down, or make him feel sorry. Some sacrifices are necessary.
The muzzle flares, a dealer dies, and Red Hood walks away into the snow.
He's proud of Dick for walking away. It's never been the right place for the young man, a point he knew even as he and Roy Harper plotted behind Dick's back to make it happen.
He's even more proud when the trust fund gets tapped for a Titan's project. That team makes sense for his first partner, in the spotlight.
Now, Bruce faces his own picks for the grim, gritty team he had first founded to meet a need the League could not fill. Again, the world is at that point, and he will rise to the call. It's made all the easier by having J'onn as his wingman this time. A glance at the Martian, and he knows it is time.
"Let's do this."
Life had been confusing enough, when it was Magneto reaching out to her, pulling at her heartstrings. She had almost lost herself to him, but his nature, the cruel death meted out to Zaladayne, had cooled that ardor.
Why, then, had fate been so cruel as to present her with Joseph. Everything Rogue had ever seen in Magneto was realized in the young mutant. His dedication to overcoming all of Magneto's evil ways pulled her further and further into his heart, his arms, giving life to a dream that had been buried so deep.
Only to watch him prove just how unlike Magneto he was, with one choice.
It was the only thing Joseph could have done, Rogue knew, but that did not ease her loss.
The costumed vigilante had to twist and bring herself up short to avoid the blonde woman crouched in the shadow she had aimed for. When the blonde spun, a curious looking device in her hand, Batgirl reacted without thought. A yellow booted foot kicked the cobra-headed looking thing away before she appraised the woman in soldier's gear.
"Who are you, what do you want in Gotham, and what was that?" the vigilante asked, trying hard for menace…and falling far short into curiosity instead.
"Excuse me, did you say Gotham?"
The blonde rolled her eyes. She was not going to enjoy this debrief, once she found a way home. Although Daniel might geek out over a world with a city named for a comic book city, complete with a masked lunatic wearing a bat on her chest.
"I'm Sam, I'm lost, and that was a piece of alien tech that I'd really like back without you kicking my hand again." Sam pushed a smile up. "I promise the BDUs aren't for pretend, and I am a good guy."
"We'll see about that."
Sword on mace, hard boot clashing off a magic bracelet, and the dance goes on. Green eyes meeting blue, obscured at times by ebon or auburn hair. Wings sweep back, slender arms snake in, yet they are too well-matched for one or the other to truly gain the advantage in honest battle.
On a battlefield, things might go differently, depending on the stakes. One might flash the sword to blind her opponent, or the other might use those heavy wings to force a power dive.
Here, when victory or defeat brings a kiss, there is only the joy of combat shared.
The statue would weigh at least six pounds, but she did not believe it would hinder her much. The gold alone was lust-worthy, but add in the emeralds for the eyes, the diamond chips in the paws, and she was looking at a fortune. It may also have been the tackiest art-deco representation of a feline in history, but Selina could easily look past that.
What she could not ignore was the small note she found as she reached the targeted prize's pillar.
She sighed, spun, and was already sprinting, before the bat completed his descent. At least it would be an exhilarating chase, she decided, and the cat statue would wait for another night.
Wintergreen had never felt children should be his targets.
Slade told the man that children shouldn't pretend to be soldiers, and continued with his plans.
Yes, he knew the HIVE had killed his son, had used his son as a cat's paw to trap him. It didn't change the fact that Grant would not rest in peace until his contract was complete. Slade believed it with the diehard superstitious certainty of an embattled veteran.
Complete the contract, and then he would deal with those manipulations. Tara Markov was one step toward that. Actually capturing the Titans were another.
Grant's peace came first, and no whelp in a flashy costume would stop him from making it happen.
In the grand scheme of things, Diana knew both she and the woman now sparring with her had given the Bat plenty of reason to not trust either of them. They had discussed that over lunch.
Why exactly the Bat could not fully let things go was a common refrain. Huntress worked for Oracle now, and had fully adapted to a less violent method of crime fighting. Her work as a teacher garnered nothing but respect from those who knew both sides of her life, except the Bat.
Diana, on the other hand, ran at his side, and caught his sidelong glances at her responses from time to time. She knew it was only a matter of time until things came to a head, and had met Huntress to get help on how to deal with him then.
She just never realized how strong a sister Huntress might be, in the long run, and found herself looking forward to more lunches, sparring, and discussions of more than just the Bat.
Robin didn't often go patrol with people very often anymore. Between the League and the Outsiders, Bruce had been having to delegate more of Gotham to him.
Tonight, he was more than pleased to run into one of the Winchesters. Sam would be good back up when they tracked the Ventriloquist's Dummy down. Who would have thought the thing would make an excellent haunt for a minor imp?
From Sam's grim look through the night, Tim figures he's not the only one who has been having the universe take dumps on his head. Maybe, after the hunt, they'll talk.
More likely, they'll each go on their own ways, and miss the ones that aren't there anymore.
Bruce Wayne rarely handled mergers personally these days, leaving most of Wayne Enterprises to Lucius's careful handling. But when the Hong Kong company in question is a research facility utilizing alien tech, the Bat thought best to put an eye on the situation.
If he had just asked, he could have saved the trip, because a man Bruce knows too well, even if the older Chinese man is merely a mask, meets him. Both of them have a glint in their eyes as they sit to business, and later, after most eyes are off of them, J'onn takes Bruce for a tour.
It's amazing how well a man who needs only think it to vanish would know that many places to hide from prying eyes. And Bruce is pretty sure he doesn't want to complain anymore about wasted trips.
They look at each other over the top of their weapons. The one man, completely hidden from view by costume and mask, cocks his head to one side.
"Tangling with me, means you die. I never miss."
The other, as much machine as human, just smiled. "The last man to say that in my hearing wound up getting webbed to his weapons…with them pointing at his own head."
"Webbed? Neat." He shrugged. "Don't see any giant spiders here, man."
"Don't need them. You sure you want to do this? I don't miss either."
The two stared, and then they each made their decisions. When the shots had made their marks, the masked one was down, blood coming from his arms where his favorite guns had been lasered off just as he fired, causing some damage to his arms.
"You said you never miss."
"I also don't kill."