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happiness like that

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In a blur of motion, bees upset by the assault to their hive, the White Scorpion members cocked their rifles and shotguns, some with bared teeth and expertise, others with more inexperience. Red Hood spotted the whole reason he was there, Scotty, the goddamn troublesome kid,  fumbling with a shotgun at the back of the assorted crowd. The fifteen-year-old didn’t even know how to hold it right.  

Regretting his life choices more and more by the second, Jason swore religiously under the hood, and his companion, fucking Timothy Drake of all people, who was top three on Jason’s Never Want To Encounter List, seemed equally aggravated if the kid’s posture, like a wire about to snap, was any indication. 

They both knew that if the gang opened fire now, Damian was as good as dead.

And Ramoji, shakily getting to his feet (which damn, the kid must have really been off his game if that palm strike had only kept the guy down for a moment), knew it too. 

“Hey, now,” the man shouted hastily with a grunt as he rose to his full height and his underlings came to a standstill. Blood sluggishly dripped down from his nostrils. “Don’t get all trigger happy. We need the bird alive. We all know…”

 Ramoji grimaced and wiped his nose on the sleeve of his white suit. The outfit probably cost thousands, and it was now covered, rather fittingly, Jason noted with satisfaction, in bloodstains. “We all know that a dead bird accomplishes nothing but an angry Bat and some new kid on the block as his replacement. You can all agree that it’s a shit deal. Angry bats are broken bones and loss of profit. What we want is the security to do our business peacefully. We want…” Ramoji flashed a smile with too much teeth. “... the Batman and all his associates put down like the parasites they are permanently.”

His voice darkened into a command. “Put down your goddamn guns.” 

The gang members did as they were told (something they probably would’ve done without the long ass monologue), lowering or holstering their weaponry. Scotty, the moron, even went the extra mile and dropped his gun on the ground. 

With Damian no longer in danger of immediate death, Jason looked to the Replacement for answers. “Where the hell is B? Or Goldie? I thought the kid wasn’t allowed to patrol without a chaperone, especially when I kicked his ass literal days ago.” 

Red Robin returned the inquiry with a look of intense long suffering, an expression that was probably the most emotive Jason had ever seen on the teen. 

“The brat wasn’t supposed to be on patrol at all after the...” Drake’s tone turned accusatory, “nasty concussion that you gave him.” 

Jason winced minutely at that, but cloaked the reaction with a cursory sweeping glance of the situation below. Ramoji was approaching Damian, hands in a faux soothing gesture as if to calm a wild animal (which, Jason conceded, Damian kind of was). 

He didn’t like the baby Wayne. Hell, some would even argue that he downright hated the kid. But nonetheless, he didn’t want him to die. At least, not anymore. Not now, when the Pit had for the most part faded into the recesses of his mind and the Bats left him well alone in Crime Alley (or at least, they had been until recently, the meddlesome motherfuckers)

Besides, Talia was showing up in two days and he sure as hell didn’t want to welcome her with a “By the way, your beloved son is dead.”

He glanced at the Replacement, who seemed to have recovered from any residual surprise and gone straight to high strung, big brain, Babs-level plotting. Their eyes met and for just a moment, long enough, Jason was reminded of Kori when he saw the steely resolve in Drake’s gaze.

Your help would be nice , the look said, but if you aren’t helping, asshole, stay out of my way or else.  

 “What’s the plan?” He replied. 

The kid had the audacity to smile at him. 

 

---

 

“Ow,” was Jason’s response to a bullet embedding in his suit with enough force to bruise his ribs. 

 

“Why are you here?” was Damian’s grateful response to Jason shielding him from enemy fire. 

 

They’d hit hard and fast, dropping smoke pellets, then launching into the fray with night vision and weapons drawn. Red Robin had seemed disapproving of Hood’s dual pistols, but didn’t comment. The Replacement’s concerns were pointless anyway. With the lack of visibility, Jason had switched to aiming for less fatal areas. He didn’t want to be responsible for Scotty’s death when he’d already gone through this much trouble to protect him.

And speaking of going through trouble, here Jason was, protecting a different damn kid, who enjoyed being a complete brat about it. 

“Unhand me,” Damian hissed as Jason led him to safety away from the battle.

“Imbecile!” the kid whined as Jason knocked him to the ground to stop a bullet from tearing through his entitled, pompous shoulder. 

“I don’t want your help,” Robin sneered as Jason fired at a line of opponents amassing in front of them. 

If they somehow survived this, Jason swore he’d kill the kid himself. And the Replacement too, for giving him the sooo fun task of handling the brat. 

By the time they reached the cover of the loading trucks, a few bullets had embedded into Jason’s protective vest. 

A twinge in his leg indicated that he’d actually been shot, although not seriously enough to need immediate medical attention. And the many near misses he’d felt toward the rest of him indicated that if he’d spent some more time under heavy fire, he’d probably have a few bullets in his whole body and another early ticket to his grave. 

Jason shook his head in disbelief at the thought. Dying for a second time for the sake of a mini Al Ghul. Knowing his life, he’d probably be unlucky enough to be shoved into the Pit again. 

Which reminded him. The Replacement was still out there, and as much as he’d love to teach Bruce a lesson about recruiting kids for the fucking fatal job of vigilantism since it seemed he hadn’t learned the first time, Jason wasn’t willing to let Drake die either. Not anymore.

Behind one of the trucks, far from any wayward fire or chance of discovery, he left Damian behind with a pleasant “Stay here, brat, or I’ll find you in the underworld after your death and kill you again myself.” Then, with a slight limp thanks to the bullet in his left leg, he re-entered the battle. 

He picked off those in the perimeter, fired one man in the shoulder who’d been planning to shoot Red Robin from behind. Drake responded with a nod of acknowledgement, before knocking down a goon with a flick of his bo staff and somersaulting over three men ready to let loose a wave of bullets. He sent one to the ground with a crippling kick to the knee, and the other two, he took down in a series of acrobatic movements that Hood recognized from Grayson’s repertoire. For a brief moment, he couldn’t help but feel a little bitter that Goldie had clearly trained the other Robins far more than he’d ever trained Jason. 

But whatever. Dickiebird was a dick. 

He shot one man dead center in the knee cap, another in the shoulder as his first victim collapsed to the floor. Mr. Broken Kneecap reached for his gun, which Jason promptly kicked away, and Mr. Shoulder Wound, he knocked out with a blow to the head. A man tried to ambush him from behind, and he responded by twisting the poor guy’s dominant arm and shattering it. Too brutal for the Bats, not fatal enough for the League. Still goddamn effective in the situation. 

A few meters away, the Replacement made his way toward him and shouted breathlessly over the commotion. “How’s-” An awkward pause as the kid ducked an unarmed goon’s attempt at a side kick. “Robin?” 

“A pain in my ass, but alive.” Jason replied as he sent a splattering of bullets into a group of goons to the right of him. “Thanks a lot for that, by the way. Really loved babysitting.” 

 

At that, Drake curtly nodded, but as the vigilante came nearer, Hood could’ve sworn he saw a self-satisfied smirk on the teenager’s face. A “thank god he got Damian” expression if there ever was one.

 

Asshole. 

 

--- 

 

Several minutes later, the White Scorpions were fleeing. Their leader, Ramoji, was long gone, and the few remaining seemed to be following his lead. 

Jason figured that now would be a good time to leave himself, before Bats showed up after finally discovering that the brat went on patrol without him.

“Wait,” the Replacement called out hesitantly as Jason aimed his grapple gun for the rooftops. 

“We never finished exchanging intel.”

Hood was too damn exhausted for this. He rolled his eyes, gave a sardonic wave goodbye to the kid.  “Don’t sweat it, Drake. I won’t hold you to it. Let’s just hope we don’t ever have to team up again.”  

With that, he zipped into the air. As Robin, racing on the rooftops had been exhilarating. Now, the adrenaline worn off for the night, his entire body just ached as he made the painful return to his safehouse.

He needed to deal with his leg before it got infected. And that meant alcohol and stitches and potentially passing out from a combination of pain, exhaustion, and blood loss.

 

Hurray.

Woo hoo.

Stake out totally went the way it was supposed to.

 

---

 

Damian had unsurprisingly not remained where he was, but this was more because he was almost discovered by fleeing gang members using the trucks as getaways, and not because “I’m completely fine, Drake, and was coming to help you and that dimwit, Todd, dispatch of those brutes.” 

 

In fact, upon this proclamation of health, Damian promptly collapsed as he had hit his head not once, but twice in the last few hours, only worsening the concussion he already had.

 

Alfred was not pleased. 

 

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