|What: Red Hood decides it's high time to lend a helping hand to the Spoiler.|
Yesterday, Spoiler saved the universe; tonight, she's sprinting out of an empty, long-condemned house that local addicts sometimes use as a shooting gallery, trying desperately to forget the lingering scent of rotting flesh and hopelessness.
Also, her hands are clamped /really/ tightly over her ears, and once she's put a little space between herself and the house, she starts frantically checking over her shoulder; after the third such glance, she just puts her head down with a little squeal, crouches and /dives/ into the nearest alley; luckily, there is a pile of garbage there to break her file.
Moments after she lands, a soundless shockwave explodes through the house, splintering the boards nailed over the windows and blowing all manner of shattered paraphenalia out into the street; the shockwave is dense, weaponized sound, /so/ dense that it is felt deep in the bones more than it's really heard, though audible rumbles do echo over the street as the energy dissipates. Scratch one AIM-brand concussive grenade; hopefully it's enough to get the Red Hood's attention.
Spoiler will wait in her alley to see if it is; she has plenty of time. Hopefully, she can pick every last trace of garbage off of herself before anyone sees her.
"I always figured you for trailer trash."
The voice of the Red Hood comes from above as the local vigilante of violence comes sailing down from above. His boots connect with the concrete of the alley and he doesn't seem to be the least be worried about this being a trap or anything else of that sort. His expressionless helmet is cocked to the side and he immediately crosses his arms over his chest to provide the most Not Amused body language as humanly possible. He's definitely not in the mood to be dealing with people that decided they would rather protect his sisterly type than actually join him in his mission to do some -real- good for the future of Gotham.
"Thanks for confirming." Hood is probably smiling beneath that helmet. His tone is brimming with some sort of holier than thou tone. He already sounds victorious. "So. How fast do you wanna' die? I can make this as fast as you want." Oh shit.
Spoiler snaps her eyes up at him and freezes, a curled ribbon of soiled paper still hanging from her fingers. There are still some smudges here and there on her costume; good thing she doesn't live with anyone lucid enough to ask questions about her occasionally unusual laundry.
"I--" She glances down at the ribbon; it floats to the ground when she releases it, and then she makes herself look where his eyes should be. "--dunno--" Swallowing, Spoiler takes half a step back. "But I, uh--was thinking--that if you, uh--/train/ me--I could maybe put that whole 'dying' thing off for a little while?" Her voice breaks a little at the end; it was supposed to be more like light banter to downplay how very nervous he makes her, but the questioning lilt couldn't quite be avoided.
It's kind of like trying to convince her chemistry teacher that yes, her dog /totally/ ate her test--only her chemistry teacher probably won't shoot her in the head if he's unhappy.
"Ohhhh. /Now/ you want my help? You sure you're not just trying to get the inside scoop on me for your wheelchair bound friend?"
Yeah, that's right. Red Hood has not forgotten about certain incidents that had certain appearances by certain people who will remain nameless at this certain moment... because they could be headed for certain death soon. Certainly.
"Look. From what I can tell, you suck at this. Horribly. You don't know what you're doing. Your costume is available at Halloween Mart. And you don't even fill it out well enough for it to be a distraction. If you want me to train you, you're gonna' have to decide what side you want to be on? Do you want to play /their/ game or do you want to save lives?" Hood still doesn't seem as though he's going to be too worried about this being a set up or a trap. He's so far beyond the Spoiler's training that he could take her down on accident while drinking a Yoohoo.
"I--" Spoiler bites down on her bottom lip - /hard/ - to distract herself from the chills running through her body. She also thinks back to that night: it was dark, hectic; she never actually saw /him/, but for all she knows, he made her from his perch in the rafters as soon as she came in. Still, though--how does the saying go?
"--of course I wanna save lives, I--don't even /know/ any--I'm just--I'm just, like, /out here/, okay? It's just /me/, and--like--/yes/--sometimes Batman, or, or /someone/ will bark orders in my ear, and I /follow/ them, because he's a crazy person and I /don't want to die/--" Deny 'till you die?
"--and--" A shudder breaks up her ranting/pleading, she drops her eyes, and holds a hand over her jackhammering heart.
"--and--and--" she whispers, trying not to hyperventilate, "--and I /know/ this isn't--a game--and that I'm--I'm--bad at it--that's why..." She doesn't - perhaps can't - finish that thought; instead, she flicks her eyes up towards his a moment before looking back down at the ground.
Jason is finding himself more and more apt to listening to this girl. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that she sounds like she needs some guidance. And there's not really anyone giving her guidance. They are only telling her what to do and she's doing it. And that's going to get her killed. And while he's an asshole and a jerk, he doesn't want to see anyone get hurt or worse trying to do something that he's been trained to do.
"Listen." Red Hood reaches up to grab his helmet. Within a moment, he's unhooking it and releasing that air tightness and pulling it off his head. He holds the helmet down at his side and shows his face to the Spoiler. He's not really the most secretive when it comes to those that are willing to give themselves over to his cause. "I'll train you. I'll show you how to survive. I'll show you how to actually do something that makes a difference. And I'll show you how to not just blindly follow idiots that think they know what's best for this city. The only way you're going to actually do something worthwhile is to do it because it's something you want or need to do. Not because some crazy voice in your ear is telling you what to do." Jason Todd, Dropping Knowledge.
Relief begins to wash over the young vigilante when Jason removes his mask; he's buying it! And it's even mostly true; she has a more in the way of support now than she did the last time they spoke, sure, but Batman is still an unhinged mystery man in her eyes, and she is /still/ as ill-prepared for cleaning up Gotham City as anyone could be. All she has to do now is--
--return the favour. Right.
Swallowing, Steph hooks her fingers into the bottom of her mask and starts rolling it up; no amount of forced eye contact or attempts at banter can hide how pale she is beneath the dark fabric.
"I--put my dad in jail when nobody else could," she nervously murmurs when the mask is bunched up over the bridge of her nose, "All I wanna do is make the city better, I just--I don't know--it got--/complicated/ really fast..." She quickly swipes a gloved hand over her eyes, then tilts her head up so that her face is visible. "I just--want to be /useful/, and I wanna grow up and go to college one day, y'know?"
Okay. Didn't expect her to be hot. This is new. Play it smooth, Jason.
"That's a decision you're going to have to make right now. This business doesn't exactly lend itself well to having a normal life. If you let it, it'll eat you up inside. But you don't have to go to college or have some desk job to be great. There are people that I hate and kinda' wanna' maim horribly, but these are the same people that I respect. And they do great things. But they stop after a certain point and can't take it a step further to ensure that others behind them, those that they want to carry on their legacy, have a legacy to carry on."
Jason's practically talking about himself and his own problems at this moment. "I'm going to help you with this. Even though I'm pretty sure this is a trap. Whatever information you want to pass along to your friends in Bat Places? That's fine. I get it. You gotta' do what you gotta' do. I'd much rather have you alive and kicking ass than playing informant. So I'll deal." He shrugs his shoulders for a moment. "But one day, you're going to have to make a choice. Between me or them. So you think about that. You got me?"
"They don't know I'm here--" Stephanie hesitates when she realizes that they haven't been formally introduced; her eyes flick to his helmet.
"--Helmet--Guy--" She makes a little face, then quickly shakes her head; the motion stops with her right ear turned up towards his view. Oracle's earpiece is pretty small, so tugging the cartilege to offer him a good enough view to confirm her words might be more of a symbolic gesture than anything, but she really /did/ leave the thing at home. The last thing she needs is another lecture from Oracle.
"I--already know they wouldn't approve." She'll give it a couple seconds before lowering her head and nudging her hood more or less back into place; by now the mask is just bunched up around her forehead. She holds a hand out to him. "Why ask permission when you already know the answer, right?" Stephanie swallows after that comment, then quietly adds on: "Thank you for not--you know..."
"If we're going to be working together, you can call me Jason. In the field, it's Red Hood." Jason needs to make that clear. Since he doesn't want people coming to find him and kill him in his sleep. And besides, even if she's lying, the Bat Clan already knows who he is so there's no worries there. Not that the wouldn't just destroy whomever decided to try and show up at his place to kill him. With ease.
"I'm not a murderer." Jason explains, fighting back the urge to make it sound defensive. Nobody understands his way of thinking. Even though it is very logical and pretty much air tight and sound. "I kill as a last resort. And even then, I only kill those that deserve it. Those that cannot be redeemed. Those that have created so much chaos and death with their own lives that taking them off this Earth can only provide safety and peace for the innocents of the world or justice for the families of those that had been victims. Sometimes, there is no other way." Jason is fine dropping his philosophy on his new protege.
"But we'll worry about that later. After we get you better equipped and better trained to not almost die every time you come out here." He swings his helmet back up and locks it around his head again, as if preparing to make yet another grandiose exit.
"Stephanie," the girl in purple murmurs in reply after taking his philosophy in. Hearing that he /doesn't/ go around capping people - even criminals - willy-nilly is a huge a relief. Meting out lethal sanctions to jay-walkers and graffiti artists is definitely not for her--especially with all the unsigned 'art' she's left scrawled throughout the city's worst neighborhood in her one woman fight against low level crime.
"Spoiler, I guess--although--" Her brow creases as she briefly turns her eyes up to the mask. "--I might--need a new name or something." She pulls her hand back and lets it hang beneath her cape; they can totally shake on it later. "I, uh, I--I'm glad you aren't--like, completely psycho," she warily adds.
"You sure about that?"
Red Hood is moving with the quickness as he draws a weapon, takes crucial aim, cocks it back and fires a single bullet right towards the shoulder of the Spoiler. His aim is likely true and he's very good at what he does, so making sure the shot is only sent to go clean through and not injure her in any permanent way is the key to this shot.
And with that, he's already turning to make with his escape, rushing down the alley and extending a hand up to launch a jump cable for which to swing away on. "Lesson Number One! Trust No One!" is yelled back over his shoulder at the Spoiler. Beneath the helmet, Jason is smiling in both a smarmy and proud manner. Oh, yes, training the cutie is going to be /so/ much fun.
Spoiler -- Stephanie -- doesn't put the pieces together as quickly as she should; she sees the blur of him going for his hip, but he /did/ seem to be making an exit; it could easily be a grapple gun or something, since everyone else in Gotham seems to have gotten one along with their high tech costumes and gear.
And then his hand comes up, and the grapple gun--doesn't really look like a grapple gun at all.
In fact, come to think of it, didn't Jason fire the line from his gauntlet, the last time...?
"able--" The junior vigilante's blue eyes grow as big as dinner plates. "--o-oh my go"
The hand she offered Jason in partnership is immediately clamped down on her shoulder, which only makes the searing agony coursing through her worse. And then there's the blood, which she gets her first glimpse at when she has to pull her glove back from the wound; her palm is already smeared with the stuff, and more is pumping out to stain her costume. Nerves made her pale before, but now she is ghostly--albeit from fear more than anything, even now; her lip quivers as she looks up from the wound to--Jason's back. She starts to call after him - to curse, to ask /why/, something - but she makes the mistake of trying to reach out after him at the same time.
The pain is enough to bring her tumbling right back into the pile of garbage she dove into earlier. She'll pick herself back up--eventually. No earpiece - and the nature of her meeting - mean that she can't really call for backup, and the costume means that she can't exactly dial 911; fortunately, there's a clinic in Gotham for people like her who have nowhere else to turn for treatment.
Too bad her bike is in the shop; it'll be a long and interesting walk.