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In Bad Company

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Good grief, there were enough crazies here to rival Arkham. He had not been expecting this many. He had no idea who half these people (and monsters, there was a freaking giant half robotic heart creature a few spots away. What the hell. How had the world come to this?) were and he didn’t even have a good grasp on how many villains were actually here. Enough to outnumber him, that was for damn sure.

Needless to say, he was a little on edge.

Brain had given his spiel pretty much immediately (very typical villain speech, 2 out of 10), not giving anyone time to mingle beforehand. Now that he’d given his pitch though, everyone was starting to interact as they debated on whether to join up or not. From the chatter he was hearing, most of the villains were on board. Guess getting your ass kicked enough times makes even taking orders from a brain in a jar seem like a good option.

He’d stuck close to Cheshire so far and hadn’t really talked to any of the others. No reason to, they’d all just got here, they wouldn’t know anything. His next steps here were murky. He’d probably have to actually join up to get the info he- holy shit what was Killer Moth going here?!

Reminding himself not to stare, he looked at the group in thankfully masked disbelief. The weird half moth man was talking to some wannabe magician dude and a blonde, oddly normal looking teenage girl. Couldn’t hear what they were saying. But why was he here? Had he come for Robin? Had any other Gotham Rogues come? Icy dread spread through Jason’s chest, cold and heavy.

If Walker was the only one here, pfft, who cared, the guy had always been a joke. A bit freaky to look at and his bugs were gross and- wait… Jason rewound back to when he’d broken into Titan’s Tower and come across the Titans’ pet bug alien. Of course he’d assumed it was an alien, they had an alien already living with them and that thing definitely hadn’t been a normal earth bug. But thinking back on it now, it did look kinda similar to Moth’s grubs. Just a lot bigger. But that had to be just a coincidence, right? No way would Dick actually allow them to keep one of Walker’s weird bug monsters as a pet. If the alien girl had really wanted it though…

Whether it was or not wasn’t important right now. Had any of the other Rogues come for a shot at the first Robin? Jason was at least confident he wasn’t here; Batman was the only one important to him and he’d never do a team up like this. What about the others though, especially the lower tiers? He doubted Brain would risk gaining Batman’s attention by recruiting the bigger Rogues, but he wasn’t certain.

Jason began scanning the room with increased urgency. Now that people were splitting into groups instead of bunched together it was easier to pick out who was here. He recognized some of them from when he’d skimmed Dick’s villain database. Part of him wished he’d downloaded that info along with the rest he’d taken, but he knew he wouldn’t have had time for that. He’d barely made it out with just what he had. The info would have been helpful here though. But even with Dick’s villain list in mind, some of the villains were completely new to him.

There was a fishman that he didn’t recognize. Some guy decked out in clothes covered in the British Flag that would probably make Alfred cringe. Various edgy costumes. Various goofy costumes. A mummy? A- he nearly did a double take when he saw the- was it a giant spider that had eaten a person’s head and- or, no, had the guy’s head mutated into a spider head and then the rest of the spider body had grown from that? Ew, the human body was just hanging there as its spider legs did the walking and- nope. Just nope. His skin crawled just looking at it. Easily the creepiest one here. The robot heart monster was especially weird too, but not as unsettling.

Doctor Light he knew. Plasmus. Overload. Phobia. Many others. No one else from Gotham though. Good.

Ugh, speaking of those he knew.

Control Freak lumbered up to him, eyes darting from him to Cheshire before stopping on him. “You! X boy!” he snapped, his accusatory tone making it clear what was coming. Oh, this was going to be good. How was he going to try to spin this?

“It’s Red X,” he corrected flatly, crossing his arms.

“Whatever,” Freak scoffed, jabbing his finger at him. “You were the one who told the Titans where I was, weren’t you? There is no way they found me that quickly on their own!” The nerd was irate.

If this loser thought he was intimidating without his remote, he was even more delusional than Jason had thought. He wasn’t intimidating even with the remote. However, this really wasn’t the place and the crowd to admit to helping heroes.

Rolling his eyes and silently willing for Cheshire not to say anything, he said, “Really? You’re blaming me for your screw up?” His scorn was audible even with the voice modifier. “I didn’t do anything to give away your location. All I did was walk out once the power shut off.”

Freak’s eyes narrowed. “How did they get there so fast then?!”he demanded                                             

“No idea,” Jason lied with a shrug. “However-“ The punch landed hard and fast into Control Freak’s face. Freak reeled backwards, confidence evaporating as he raised a hand to cover his now bleeding nose, eyes widening. It was hella satisfying to witness. A few of the nearby villains glanced over in mild curiosity, but only for a couple seconds and no one stepped in. Probably in large part because someone wasn’t very popular. He swore he saw one of them actually smirk.

“Ow, what the hell man?!” Freak gasped, attempting to glare but the nervousness in his eyes made it even more ineffective than it would have already been.

That,” Jason said coldly, “was for delaying me on a time sensitive job.” And for trying to destroy Jump City with robots.

“What?” Freak squawked, shuffling back a couple steps. “You’re the one who-“

Cheshire slid in-between them. “Boys, boys,” she chided lightly. “Now’s not the time to fight.”

Control Freak’s glare became suspicious as he turned his gaze to Cheshire’s cat mask. “How do you know X?” he asked. “You’ve been together, like, this whole time.” Hm, not a total idiot then.

“I don’t really know her,” Jason answered for her because who knew what crazy thing she might make up if he let her. “We talked for like a minute when you were delaying me. Apparently she took that as an invitation to hang out when she saw me here.”

Cheshire shrugged, tilting her head back to look at him. “Oh come on, X, don’t be so grumpy. This is supposed to be a fun little get together. It’s just nice to have someone closer to my age with a similar job description around. I thought we’d bonded.”

Ah, he understood what she was going for here. Alright, he’d play along.

He turned his glare on her. “I told you if you made me late for my drop off,” he said drily. “I’d stab you with your own claws.”

“Exactly,” Cheshire chirped. “Practically besties. And I know you understand how a contract works so you can’t be mad.”

Jason scoffed and glanced away, smiling a little under the mask. Freak looked a lot less upset, though still a little vexed.

Cheshire turned back towards the nerd. “As for your accusation,” she said smoothly. “X here is in the clear. I was patrolling the whole time. He didn’t leave until the blackout. And you’re the one that said no signals could get out of that room, so unless you set it up wrong…”

“No,” Freak objected immediately. “I-I guess you have a point.”

Cheshire nodded. “Besides, X doesn’t strike me as the tattling type.”

“Course not,” Jason scoffed. “I’m not a snitch.”

“And as for you, X” Cheshire continued, and Jason somehow knew there was a huge smirk under the mask as she turned to look at him. “I know it was annoying, getting attacked by robots when you were just trying to walk down the street, and then getting zapped into a cage and told you had to stay there even though you had no intention of interfering and just wanted to leave the city as soon as possible-“ damn, was this her pulling her punches? What would she have said to actually yell at the guy? “-but you weren’t hurt, and you still made it on time, right? It didn’t end up costing you anything. You’ve had your therapy punch so why don’t we all just drop it and move on. We’ve got heroes to hunt after all.”

Well, as amusing as this was, he didn’t want to create some kind of feud with the nerd. He had to try to avoid making enemies while undercover like this. And X was supposed to be a kinda laid back guy. A badass laid back guy, but X wasn’t meant to be some super serious cutthroat mercenary.

Letting the tension drain from his muscles, he shrugged. “Yeah, whatever. Isn’t worth my time. So long as he doesn’t pull shit like that again, I don’t have any problems.”

“Message received,” Freak said, a hint of relief in his voice as he backed away. “Won’t happen again.” Then, under his breath so Jason could just barely hear it. “Freakin’ mercs.”

The nerd wandered off, ducking into one of the hallways, probably to find a bathroom to clean up his face. Once he was out of view, Cheshire walked to an emptier section of the large room and Jason followed.

“Well, that went well enough,” she noted pleasantly. “Was the punch really necessary though?”

Jason snorted. “You just wish you could have punched him.”

Cheshire sighed, bringing one of her green too-long sleeves up to her face. “You’re right,” she admitted in an exaggerated voice. “But I suppose I’m glad at least somebody punched him.” Lowering her arm, her tone became normal. Not serious exactly, but it lacked the playful tone it usually had. “Try not to upset any of these people if you can avoid it though. It won’t end well.”

“I know that,” Jason said, rolling his eyes. Most of these people had anger issues and a few screws loose already, he wasn’t about to paint a target on his back.

“Well, anyway,” Cheshire moved on. “You should go tell Brain and his entourage you want to join up. Unless you want to hang around all these people like this longer for some reason.”

Ugh, she had a point. He really didn’t want to linger any longer than necessary. None of the villains here had any info he could try to tease out of them. And he definitely didn’t want to small talk with them.

Jason raised an eyebrow (which translated surprisingly well for a mask without eyebrows). “Never promised I would actually join,” he reminded her, mostly to see her reaction.

“Mm-hm,” Cheshire hummed, the I’m sure you did clear in the sound. She didn’t even try to argue or make a case. “Sign up table is down that hallway a bit.” She flicked her sleeve at the largest hallway. “I can show you where. We might even get stickers and on brand pens.”

Was she getting paid for recruiting him? A more charitable read could be maybe she wanted to leave, but didn’t want to leave him alone, which would be at least vaguely nice of her. Maybe both. Not that it really mattered.

“Yeah,” he sighed. “Fine, let’s go.”