|What: Batman and the Red Hood finally face off.|
After his talk with Selina, Batman took to ending every patrol in her apartment. For several nights, the shadowy symbol crouched in one of the corners waiting for the Hood, specifically for the hood, dispite everything that he had pressing on his time. The last two hours of every night belonged to this.
His eyes staring absently, endlessly patient, at the wall across from him. The cape draped over his shoulders like s shadow of memory cloth. decades of training keeping him from view of the windows, every angle into the apartment observed from his position. The communications equipment built into his cowl is tuned, so that he can hear the other bats patrols, but not broadcasting.. and all of them know better than to try and force the issue.
The bat is hunting. And he's got a pretty good idea what's he's going to find.
It might almost be like looking in a mirror. The reason Red Hood is just now getting to the apartment of Selina Kyle, is because he's been casing the joint and making sure there wasn't some sort of trap waiting for him. He's been able to scare a few normal hoods out of his town but, for some reason, he wasn't so sure that the Catwoman, would go out without a fight. Interesting, though. It seems like she did. Which would be why he's chosen tonight as the night to go ahead and make his entrance.
With her no longer being an actual factor, the Red Hood wastes no time in being stealthy. In fact, the window that he busts open with some random smoke grenade is just to make sure that there is no laser trip wires or something of that ilk. He's being careless and careful at the same time. Something that is, more or less, probably one of the lessons he was taught not to be. But only someone like Jason Todd would make sure that he goes against the grain. It's natural.
Once he's sure that the place is secure, he's hopping in through the broken window and stopping only to adjust his jacket, while the lenses in his helmet recalibrate for the darkness levels within this apartment. Time to see what kind of loot she left behind.
The smoke wouldn't have bothered the Bat, even if he hadn't adjusted for it the moment the canister broke the window. In truth, the smoke only last a couple of seconds and his vision can adjust to a different spectrum to prevent it causing him any more than a temporary set-back.. If even that.
Then the hood is coming in through the window and adjusting his jacket and the Batman is standing from his crouch, stepping forward towards his former protiges right shoulder. "Jason."
The titaniam fins on his gauntlets are already extended to act as a second defensive shield against the attack he 'knows' will come. He tried the man... and he may have learned a few new moves to add to the barrel, but Batman is more than equipped to accomodate.
Batman's slipping. Okay, maybe he's not. But there was a second sound that was not the jacket shift that Jason heard. Not to mention the saying of his name. And the anger that arrives on the unseen face of the Red Hood is more than adequate. In fact, just the body language alone is screaming he's about to attack.
Body spinning to attempt a quick blow to the face, only results in his own armored forearm colliding with the fins of the Bat's gauntlets and Jason is probably smiling. "Bruce." He's got no issues using the first name, since Bruce is the one that started this whole using the name thing.
Jason's body has spun, though, putting him back on the defensive and his feet are planted just enough to be one of three to six different martial arts stances. But his sudden hand positioning has lowered that to one to four possible movesets he's about to use. Granted, the weight that's on his left foot is probably shrinking that down to one of two choices.
"Let me guess. Cat got more than your tongue. Am I right?" Audible Sneer.
Batman's arms come up in a cross block and flare downward, to protect his flank when the Hood falls back into the telling stance. Calculated risks. Bruce bet on his presence angering Jason, he knew it would from conversation with Selina, and it paid off. It left him those extra seconds to catch a glimpse of his former partners reflexes. Sharp.
Batman expected nothing less.
As always, Bruce remains loose. His hands dont come up in a tell to which art he'll counter with, safe in that he will.. and puts a bit of space between them with a step back into the corner from which he came. It might seem like he's painting himself into a corner, and most people would make the mistake of thinking that... Jason isn't most people.
"It wasn't that hard to find you." The bats tone is the graveling growl he uses when pressing a point with the common criminal. Another tactical move meant to touch upon Jason's desire to stand out from the other's. Batman holds him in no more light than a thug.
It's deception, for certain, but that's every bit a weapon to the Dark Knight.
"Why are you doing this..." Not, a question.
"Doing what? I haven't done anything yet. I mean, in about four seconds I'm about to kick your ass but that's in four seconds." Jason's voice rings nice and true from within the helmet. The pain and the anger is all there, but the sarcastic snarking it a small and weak cover for it. There's true pain in those words and it has a lot to do with the fact that Batman's tone is not one of anything useful.
Asshole probably thinks he's nothing more than a common thug. Gonna' have to change that theory.
"Well shit. Time's up." And Jason takes a step, but it's only a feint, his body spinning backwards and drawing both of his guns at the same time and firing shots at Batman before he's even got those guns all the way up, his legs already taking him in a strafe back toward the window he came through in the first place. Just in case he needs some room. He doesn't know this apartment.
Batman does. Shit.
Of all the weapons at the disposal of his enemies, guns are the least appreciated by the Dark Knight. There's a reason he puts no stock in their usage, applies no foundation for their effective application. They're telling and time consuming. They require retrieval, often from secured holsters, even if they are retrieved by some of the sharpest reaction times in the business.
Batman has years to consider how to get away from the bullets.
The guns come up, snap hissing bullets into the plush carpet before they've even completely pointed at him, and already he's firing a grapple at the wall near one of the windows. Darking with a surprisingly level of quickness towards one of the big bays over looking the Gotham Skyline and shattering it with a roll... The Line goes tight and swings him around the small length of wall, throwing him right back through another window on the otherside, showering the carpet, air, and Jason with broken glass.
In a heart beat he's closed the distance between them, pushing his hand flat upwards into the clip side of one pistol to bring The Hoods hand up and chop inward around his own forearm just beneath his protiges elbow.
It's gritty, close ranged, and quick.
But so is Jason, snapping his elbow down upon the gauntlet to bring it low and against his own armor.
There is no amount of hatred in the world that can explain what Jason Todd is feeling at this moment. No amount of hatred in the world.
He knows Batman. Perhaps even more than Batman may think he knows him, but doesn't mean he knows how to stop and counter these Bat-Actions. He's actually watching them unfold in his own head before the window crashes and he's showered with the glass. "Shit." is the only thing he can say before he's lost the first gun. But he's still got one left and it's using that arm's elbow to pin the Bat's gauntlet.
"You really should add more Witty Banter to your fights, Bruce. You're missing out on all the fun." Words are just being said so that he can kick the lost gun off into a location to be used later, whilst his body pushes back against the Batman's to just get a small bit of footing. Enough for him to sweep the Batman's ankle. He just needs enough room to get a better shot.
The Bat is entirely too quiet, not rising to the attempts to get him talking. Banter is a weapon to be used against an opponent at the approrpiate opportunity, not to distract the mind. Thinking of something to say, wasting the breath to actually say it. Oxygen he uses to keep himself moving at a pace must normal men would find impossible.
Their locked together at the airs and Jason pushes back in an attempt to get his ankle in behind Batman's, while the Bat controls the angle of that pistol with the flat of his palm pressed in against Jason's wrist. Always down, always slightly away. Just enough that the shots will hit the piece of art infront of them, instead of the armor of his thigh.
When Jason pushes, Batman rolls over the sweeping ankle, sweeping his cape out when he springs up to brush the leaded end against the pistol barrel.
The bullets pass through the memory cloth and destroy some expensive, likely stolen, piece of art off to the Dark Knight's right. Pressing right back into the attack with his hands up near his cowl, brushing the wrist out with his elbow and swinging the other elbow up towards the underside of Jason's helmet.
Fuck. How does he always know here the weak points are? Did he get caught on some surveillance camera somewhere during his terrorizing of Gotham's Underworld. He shouldn't know that the helmet's softest and weakest point is part where it meets the neck. Yet, there Jason goes, reeling his head backwards from the collision and even stepping backwards to give himself some stumble room.
Except that he's not actually about to stumble. He's just simply bringing a knee up to be blocked by the Batman's quick hands, while he sends a jab to be dipped by the Batman's quick cowl'd head.
By then, though, Jason's slightly airborne, jumping straight up and planting both of his feet in a stylish front dropkick from which he flips backwards and into a tight somersault, allowing himself to come crashing down on top of whatever expensive table that was bought (or stolen) by Ms. Kyle.
"I'm gonna' kill you. You do know that, right? Not tonight..." And the helmet is unlocked and tossed off to the side, as if he doesn't need it. Or he just wants Batman to see his eyes when he repeats himself. "I'm gonna' kill you."
Both feet plant in Batman's chest and shove him back off his feet into the glass and wire dinner table between the kitchen and living area, shattering it beneath his weight and shoving the chairs out and down when he swings himself quickly back up to his feet.
Several slivers of glass have jabbed themselves into the armored plates of his nomex suit and one long bloody line has sliced across his jaw just beneath the hard scowling cowl.
"No. You wont."
It's not bravado, it's also not the first time he's heard it. If the statement was meant to get a rise out of him, which he half suspects it was, Bruce isn't buying into it.
At least not in the moment. He's always waited for the moment that one of the children would rise up against him. He's heavy handed and pointed in their training. He gave them the tools and all of the motivation. Somehow, it's worse that it's Jason.
His shoulders roll to drape the cape back down over his shoulders, melding his form easily with the dark rooms lengthy shadow. That's the way his armor and cape are designed, masking him, even in the augmented vision he has to assume Jason was using beneath that helmet.
"It doesn't have to be like this, Jason." As much assurance as threat. It's hard to drop the act, but when has he /ever/ dropped the act? Is it even an act at all?
"Wrong. It's always been like this. Except, this time, I'm actually not being left for dead by the one person I thought actually loved me. Imagine that."
Jason may have his facts wrong. He may be wanting to have his facts wrong. It could just be what he believes to make sure that he's doing the right thing. Or what he believes is the right thing. Whatever it is, this is the talking portion of this shindig, so he doesn't press the attack. Not this time. He's lifting up to his feet and standing there, in much the same way Batman was standing at the beginning of this. Nothing to telegraph. He's just standing there. His face is visible now, which shows nothing but frustration, emotional hatred and anger.
"How long before you do the New Kid like you did me? I can loan you a crowbar if you wanna' just do it yourself."
"You disobeyed my direct order, Jason." Batman isn't growling anymore, but there's nothing to his tone but that simple directness. Many have reasoned that this, above any voice, is the one that truely belongs to Bruce Wayne. Cold, impassive, direct.
It's a defense. Like Jason's twisting of facts, Bruce uses cold logic to legitimize what happened. He didn't leave Jason to die, nothing could convince him of that, but he didn't give him the tools to 'live'. Only to survive. Bruce knows where he's guilty.
This just isn't one of those places.
"You were impulsive and attached to an idea. You made a mistake and it cost." No indication what so ever that the price paid was Jason's alone to burdon. Batman takes a step towards his wayward son.
"Come home, son. We can -fix- this."
And that's it. That's why he's going off. That right there is why this is such a bad idea. Jason Todd is already in motion, stepping to the side and kicking the holy shit out of his helmet. As it soars towards the Batman, there's a blinking light on the inside of it, which can only mean one thing.
It's nothing major. A localized explosion that is more meant as a deterrent than anything else. Just something to throw the Batman off, while Jason draws his blade and rushes the nearest wall, running up it just for a second to leap off in a divetackle through the exploding helmet in mid-air towards the Dark Knight.
"You had your chance to be my family. You chose to be this. You chose to be this fucking Batman. Fuck Batman. Fuck you. I hate you. I hate you so fucking much..."
He's crying. Fuck. Don't cry for this asshole, Jason. Stop.
Bruce wishes he could say he wasn't expecting the deception. He wishes he could honestly look at himself and say he believed this could end any other way. That his paranoia wouldn't put him on edge, even with the boy, now a man, he was forced to bury. The hardest thing the 'man' ever had to do short of burying his parents.
The closest he'd ever come to breaking his /one/ rule and killing the clown.
Batman, however, expected it. He doesn't trust anyone. It's a tough pill to swallow, a terrible burdon to carry, but he doesn't have room for it. Both arms come up to block his face from the explosion which still reels him backwards, opening his guard for that knife.
It buries into his side several inches, slipping between fourth and fifth ribs milimeters from his left lung before both hands clamp down on Jason's wrist and prevent it stabbing into him any further.
His teeth grind with the effort to fight against the agony of the wound, the venom of Jason's tone, and the 'fury' that's whirling up inside him. Pushed back against the counter until he's got nowhere else to retreat, the Red Hood pushing at the hilt of that knife and Batman using every ounce of energy on reserve to keep it from stabbing into his left lung.
With a humphs, Batman slams his cowl forward into the bridge of Jason's nose and twists his hands on the man's wrist to release his grip on the knife, shoving with both palms to push him away enough that he can sink down onto one knee and gaze up at his 'son' with teeth bared bloody.
"No, you don't." Standing, with his hand clamped down over his armor, blood oozing out between his fingers.. and the source of the wound held by the blade down at his side.
"You.. are.. me. And it's the only thing I'm sorry for."
Jason skids to a halt across the floor. This place is a mess. And likely some of it is on fire. But none of it compares to the emotions that are in place right now. And Jason Todd cannot bring himself to kill his Mentor. His father. It's just not in him. And Batman knows it. He knows Batman knows this. And this is why he's so angry. This is why he can't figure out why the hell Batman doesn't want him. If he and Bruce are the same, shouldn't they be on the same side?
"You don't get it. I want this. I want to be you. I need to be you. You don't get that my entire life, the whole time I was Robin, all I ever wanted to be was you, Bruce." Jason is standing by this point, but doesn't look like he wants to attack. He's not going to. He's just going to stand there and explain. Talk. "But you don't want the same thing. You just said it. You're sorry that I'm even anything like you. But here's what's fucked up. I'm here. I'm standing right here. I'm alive. And all you can say is that you're sorry. You're sorry I'm you."
Jason would wipe the tears from his face, but what's the point? Really? Everything's getting thrown out there now. So he might as well just keep it up.
"You're not even happy to see me, are you?"
"No." Batman shakes his head, dropping the knife down beside him on the hardwood floor with a metalic clank and leaning a little heavily with one elbow back against the counter. It could be a deception, one he's not even doing intentionally, but blood is oozing from his mouth so... maybe not.
"You don't get it." Quietly, pushing back to his feet, standing on his own strength despite the severity of his injuries. "I'm sorry you have to bare the weight of who we are. I'm sorry that humanity is not something you'll ever understand, but be doomed to try and protect anyways... I'm sorry you're only equipped to 'survive' and not to live."
Bruce takes a step towards Jason, "I'm sorry for all the things /I'm/ not equipped to express.. It's necessary, Jason. That's what you don't understand. Being me... being who I am.. it's not a good thing, it's a necessary one."
"And it comes with too much sacrifice.. None of them understand that. They think I'm cruel because I want to be, I am what I have to be.. just like you are. And I'm sorry for that."
Jason's hand is outstretched and a finger is pointing to the floor. Apparently, there's an invisible line that should not be crossed. Jason is already on the edge. He doesn't need this 'talk' becoming something that he won't be able to recover from. He's too emotional right now and he's barely functioning as it is. It's taking everything he is to not just... he doesn't even know what he should try to do at this point. He really doesn't.
"I don't care. I don't care if it's necessary. I don't care if I like it. I don't care if you don't think I can handle it. None of that even matters anymore. We have to do what we have to do, right? Right. You have to be the Batman. I know you do. I know why you have to do it. But I don't know why you can't do it the right way. The way I know it needs to be done."
Jason turns to look out the broken window, staring at the Gotham night. "You're going to need stitches." Jason must be getting ready to make with his escape.
"There's only one way to do it." Batman says without flinching, holding pressure to the wound in his side. He only took the single step towards Jason before stopping, staring at the man. "You cannot fix this city the way you're trying to, Jason."
Bruce knows that. He knows the calculated risk he's got to take to keep the balance between too much and not enough. It's a dangerous line, one that he knows the Red Hood is already crossing. "It wont last. You'll replace what's there, with whatever remains of yourself when it's over. Your way is easy... that doesn't make it right. It makes it easy."
Most people with the kind of injuries they're both sporting, a knife wound that's probably knicked his lung, and a no doubt broken nose... not to mention all the scraps and bruises... would be broken beneath it. Unable to stand, unable to think.
Bruce's head is clear. The pain pushed away like sheets from a window so he can look over the scene infront of him without anything in his way. "And if you keep going at it like you have been, I will stop you." He doesn't want to. Not this time... but he will. The Batman, will. Because he'll have to.
Jason just continues to stare out of the window. He's not even looking at Bruce during this last speech. Either because he knows it's true. Or because he knows that he's too far gone to be saved by the words of the only father figure he's ever known. It's all too much for him to really understand at this moment. Not to mention that he's in lots of pain from his own injuries. It's just not a good look right now.
"Then I hope you're ready to do what you know you have to do. Because that's the only way you're going to stop me."
Jason looks over his shoulder now, peering at Bruce for just that one more moment. In that look, he has managed to apologize but also be even more angry that he's allowed himself to be emotional in the Batman's presence. Too many emotions are flashed in that brief moment and then? He's gone. Leaping out the window and into such a heavy stealth escape that it's only natural that he could be a Son of the Batman.
And there, on the windowsill, is the tracer that Batman put on him during their confrontation.
Both of them.
Batman has shown very little, but it's not because it wasn't there, deep down beneath the cast iron mask... and the cowl. Bruce is a cold man by necessity, but it isn't simply because he doesn't feel. Some things are better hidden, even if the deception does more harm than good.
Jason is left to retreat and the Bat goes immediately over to retrieve his tracers... Still sharp.
Nodding to the darkness of the window as the thunder clouds begin to roll in over Gotham and the lightning front lights him for one brief moment, the fire starting to grow encreasingly hotter behind..
Before the light subsides, in the flash between bolts, the Batman is gone. Back into the shadows, transmitting across the comms, "Oracle, fire fighters to my location.." Growling the words to hide the pain radiating from his side and from inside himself.
Kneeling, Batman grabs the remaining portions of Jason's helmet and disappears into another strike of lightning, headed, first to the Batmobile parked several blocks away.. and then to the Thompson clinic to be stitched up.
There was a break in The Red Hood's armor. Batman will fix that.
He doesn't agree with his wayward son's methods, but he hasn't given up on him yet. And while he doubts anyone else would get close enough to find the weakness in the hood, he'll make sure they can't, even if they do.