Of Role Models and Batcopter Brothers

June 15, 2016:

Nightwing and Red Robin catch up while ostensibly on patrol.

Otisburg

Otisburg was originally three separate locations but after the 09' earthquake restructure it's grown in size and those residential, commercial and industrial burroughs have all become a part of Otisburg. The Otisburg section of Gotham City stretches Burnley and it's Bay Side harbors overlooking the Gotham River and Arkham Asylum up northwards where it flows in to Newtown, the Scituate, Bryanttown, Grant's sporting district, West Village and Amusement Mile of North Point.

From residential, industrial, entertainment and commercial Otisburg is a hub of activity with it's lionshare of opportunities to be had.

The direct portion of Otisburg is actually called Bryanttown and is dominated by heavy industry and chemical factories. Ace Chemicals, Wayne Chemicals and Brant Chemicals all host sizable complexes here that run off along Sprang River through a very high-tech set up of water filtration systems. It is in Otisburg that one can find the easiest access pints to the very complex underground waterways and sewage tunnels of Gotham City.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Patrolling rooftops is so instinctive to Dick Grayson that, at this point, he can simply set his body on autopilot and think about something else. The rhythm of run, grapple, swing, climb, run is no longer even hypnotic, and his mind tends to wander. This is the problem with returning to his vigilante work after the hiatus; isolated reflection makes him moody and introverted and, frankly, a little too Bruce-like for his own peace of mind.

So, tonight, Nightwing and Robin flock together. Some conversation, a chance to catch up: it should be just the thing to keep him sociable and focused outward.

Somersaulting off the top of a grapple-assisted ascent, Nightwing drops nimbly onto the rooftop already at a run. "So, yeah, no cop stuff for me anymore. Not for the forseeable future. I see enough crime at night without some blowhard sergeant sending me all over the city to see more during the day. Not to mention the schedule conflicts — yeesh," he says. "But enough about me. What have you been up to lately?"


The rhythm of movement almost puts Tim Drake in a trance of sort; muscle memory drives him forward, and little thought goes into the motion anymore — a feat for the often-cerebral version of Robin. Like Dick, Tim had recently returned from a lengthy hiatus away from, well, everything. He'd withdrawn from Gotham University, and seemingly vanished. While this might be cause for concern, the bat-fam had reassurance that Batman was at least aware f Tim's sabbatical (whether he approved was in question), leaving little room for questions.

And since returning? For the last month, Tim has been relatively vague or cagey about his time away. Sometimes when broached with the question, his response is something vague about the far East. Other times, when accompanied by a self-deprecating smile, Time mentions his need to train to keep up with his Robin-predecessors (even though the mantle 'Robin' now safely belongs to one Damian Wayne) — what this had to do with his hiatus is never explained, even when pressed. More often than not, the question is met with a very tight, nearly grimacing smile, and a shrug followed by an equally measured response, "Oh, you know. This and that."

But oddly, in that six months away, he seems to have a newfound confidence in his own abilities. Each motion has become more refined. More exacting. More reactionary. He'd always believed in hard work and steady gains, but in six months 'off,' he'd somehow gained skills.

But then, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Canting his head towards Nightwing, Tim watches Dick for a few beats after the other former-Robin speaks. "Sorry," it's quiet, but telling word of empathy and support. It's only after the single word is spoken that Tim follows suit, dropping off the rooftop in an odd rooftop game of follow the leader. Once he lands, the younger Robin's eyebrows draw together and he notes, "I can imagine — " he starts, only to shake his head. No, no need for imagination, just unyielding support delivered in quiet confirmation, "Makes sense to me."

The question merits squinting, a flicker of a lopsided smile, and a one-armed shrug, "Been looking into school again." His lips twitch to the side and he notes, "In Metropolis." He coughs, clears his throat, and then adds, "And trying to follow up on," his eyebrows draw together, "all this Steel City nonsense with Oracle." Pause. "When she needs it."


"School? Hey, that's great!" Nightwing says as he uses his staff to vault over an HVAC unit. Not that this is a race or he needs to show off, or anything, but he's enough of an acrobatics expert to be impressed by the new confidence and smoothness in Tim's style. The more he pushes himself, the more he will see of Tim's new skills.

Plus, he likes to show off and wants to win the race.

"Are you pursuing a specific course in Metropolis, or just wanting to get out of Gotham for a while?" he asks, continuing the conversation as he slides down the canted side of a warehouse roof. When it ends, he leaps upward to clear a short gap to the next roof, spinning in midair so that he can face Tim and hold his hands up in a forestalling gesture before he lands. "Not that I would have an issue with either one. You're the genius of the family — you probably do need some kind of superscience program to keep up with that brain of yours." He sprints across the next rooftop, a slab of flat, brutalist concrete. "As for getting out of the city, hey: whatever you have to do to spread your wings." He turns and flashes a grin. "So to speak."


Red Robin squints behind his mask as Nightwing vaults over the unit and eyes the HVAC skeptically. "Show off," Tim mutters. There's another simple shrug followed by a small shake of Tim's head. The bo staff, reduced to its miniature version, rests comfortably at his belt. With a sharp tug it both comes away from the belt and finds its full form.

The staff makes purchase with the pavement, and Red Robin overcomes the unit. Rather than run, Tim turns and looks over his shoulder, as if studying the machine. But then whatever caught his attention easily falls off the radar. "Haven't decided yet," he offers. "Honestly, it's good to be home, but — " a boyish grin follows the words " — feels different, I guess." With a wrinkle of his nose, he watches Nightwing sprint ahead and demonstrate his acrobatics, only to shake his head. "Seriously. Are we on patrol or are you just showing off?" Despite the language, there's obvious admiration in the form, and no question: Tim Drake will never be that good. With a stifled chuckle, he takes a much rougher approach tot he rooftop. He brings himself to a sprint and vaults off the roof with the aid of his trust bo staff. The landing, however, has Tim doing a somersault to minimize its impact on his joints. And, as if answering some unspoken question, he states, "I need my joints to last more than ten more years."

Tim smirks as he considers school again, "Also applying to Columbia. And maybe NYU." He sucks on the inside of his cheek, "Just seeing who will take my Gotham U credits."

He swallows hard and pensively offers, "Medicine, maybe?" After that is offered, he watches Nightwing for any reaction, only to add: "Maybe."


Noticing that Red Robin's heart isn't really in the parkour, Nightwing skids for a meter or so to kill his momentum, hops up onto a parapet, and tips over the edge, bo staff held horizontally between a pair of decorative columns to prevent himself from falling. Yes, he's showing off — but also shading his eyes with one gloved hand and looking down into the street. Just look at all that patrolling! Watch out, crime.

The comment about his joints draws a look from the older vigilante. "I do stretches!" he protests, his tone mock defensive. "My joints are fine. My joints are great. Hmph."

Satisfied that there aren't any crimes being committed directly below this corner of the building, he pulls himself back up with an easy motion. "You're thinking of being a doctor?" he asks, grinning grandly. "That's great, Red. Seriously. It's a major commitment, but I bet you'd be great at it." He pauses, eyes narrowing behind his mask, and adds in a teasing tone: "I'm still not listening to your advice about my joints, Doctor Killjoy."

Returning to a relaxed standing posture, he flips his staff in a circle, splits it into a pair of batons, and secures both at his sides. "But don't think I haven't noticed that you aren't giving me a reason for the transfer," he says in a gentler tone. "I mean, you're not obligated to, or anything. But if there's something you want to talk about, I'm here for that."


Another squint has Tim evaluating both Nightwing's assessment of the city and current balancing act. "How is it I'm the only one that pieced that whole circus thing Robin/Batman thing together? Maybe logic evades people." He rolls his eyes at the stretching pronouncement, "Stretching isn't going to keep those knees good in another ten years! Gotta watch the joints; they need to last awhile." He whistles, "A long while." He stares down at the alley, "Hopefully."

His chin lifts, exposing a broad grin at the commendation, "Thanks." And whether or not Tim intends it, he offers a string of consciousness and semi-uninterrupted thought, the first in a long stretch, "I think I need something where I feel like I'm not breaking things or offering little more than a bandaid solution — I want to help make things whole again — not torn apart — " he chews on his bottom lip and stares out at the skyline.

Being called out without being called out earns Dick a flicker of a smile. "You noticed that, huh?" The smile grows into a smirk, "I won't say a girl isn't involved…" he begins. His arms rest over his chest, nearly defiantly for a moment, only to allow them to fall back to his sides. Almost unquestionably, there's more than that.

The gentler tone draws Tim into reflection. And then, almost randomly, he asks, "Do you remember that internship I took maybe… two years ago? You and Oracle didn't want me to, but I wanted…" No, that's not quite right, "…needed…" better, "something that was just my own. So I was a personal assistant for that woman…" his eyebrows draw together, "Miranda Tate?"


Dick keeps quiet, privately pleased that he has gotten Tim talking again, until the younger vigilante asks him a direct question. "I remember her. She seems a little old for you," is his first reaction, only the tiniest smirk playing at the corner of his mouth. "But what do I know? Us circus folk are simple and old fashioned. We don't know about you city dwellers with your cougars and your arthritis."

He grins openly now, adopting a wide stance and crossing his arms over the stylized bird on his chest. "But seriously — I do understand the need for a little mental space. Some independence. And I definitely understand getting discouraged after a while." He shrugs and concludes, "Sometimes a break like what you're talking about is exactly what's needed."

He's about to stop there, but winces and adds hastily, "Just one thing: speaking as a romantic disaster for the ages, it's not usually a good idea to base your long-term decisions on the ladies in your life."


”That’s not – I didn’t – it’s not,” Tim struggles as his face flushes from the misunderstanding. Finally he clears his throat, “No. Miss Tate isn’t…” he huffs a breath. “It’s my friend Kara.” Pause. “It’s complicated.” And then, with the conversation markedly changes once more, with whatever Tim was going to say about Miranda Tate lost to the ages.

”Anyways…” his cheeks now sufficiently flushed, Tim directs his attention downwards again. “And yeah. Indepenence. It’s good. Or I’ll stay in Gotham. I just.” He shrugs. “It’s good to have space between my lives. That’s all.

Pause.

”And, it’s not like she can’t come this way at all. Sos it’s not the only factor. But it is one.” Of many, it would seem.


Nightwing lets himself bask in his younger sibling's awkward protests for several seconds before admitting, "Red? I know you're not seeing Tate. It was a joke."

It did, however, have the welcome side effect of getting Tim to open up a little about his real relationship. He grins and continues, "Kara, huh? I'll have to meet her — make sure she's good enough for you." He puts one knuckle to his chin and squints: a gesture he probably doesn't realize he picked up from Bruce specifically for occasions when he wants to look extra thoughtful. "You know, the old pre-prom tough guy 'you better not break his heart' routine. But just so I show up in the right outfit, I gotta ask: is she dating Red Robin or…the other guy?"

It's a valid question. One of the central questions for bat-fammers' romantic lives. Are they mask-on friends, or mask-off friends? Or, Alfred help us all, has someone been dumb enough to make this lover both?


A sigh of relief follows Dick's remark about the joke. "Good, I wouldn't want — " he emits a second sigh as he rakes his fingers through his hair, ruffling it " — that would be awkward." In so many ways.

Instead he coughs and gloms onto the topic of Kara. "Uh." Well that's an awkward question. "The other guy, I guess." Kara is definitely not dating Robin. He arches a single eyebrow. "Kind of. I don't even know. It's not official and it's… complicated." His eyebrows both arch upwards now. "Kara is dating that other guy. Maybe. I don't even know." He stifles a chuckle, "Ever since that Spoiler nonsense, I've tried to avoid really having a life… in any sense of the word. Neither guy has really entertained the notion." He shrugs.


Nightwing watches Tim's stammered reply, his shoulders starting to sag. "Oh god. This is terrible. This is the absolute worst." The older vigilante uncrosses his arms, one gloved hand going up to push his hair up from his forehead. He's putting pieces together, trying to process what he's hearing.

"You're not definitely dating. Have you even definitely kissed?" Without even waiting for a response, he launches into a flood of worried words. "Or are you just totally head over heels for her, with absolutely no idea how she feels about it? Are you planning to rearrange your whole life in the hopes that you can make this happen, but you don't have any plans whatsoever about how to talk about your feelings?"

He walks over to the man he considers his little brother, reaches out to take him by the shoulders, and tells him in a croaky whisper, "Red. That sounds like something I would do."


Worry lines crease Red Robin's forehead behind his mask as his eyebrows draw into a sharp furrow at Nightwing's first replies. For a moment Tim Drake almost looks like a deer caught in headlights. But then each of the words has to do specifically with Kara. Tim freezes, taking on a statuesque quality as the outpour of worried words washes over him. The younger of the pair remains silent through each iterated question, almost anticipating the dramatic end to the inquisition.

He remains frozen, emotionless, at the whisper, and for several beats just stands there with Nightwing's hands on his shoulders. It's only then that Tim's near-worried expression breaks into complete and utter humour. His lips twitch, hitching up on one side into a boyish grin, and he actually snorts as he efforts to keep a bottle on the good humour bubbling inside him.

It's then and only then he cracks up. The whole-hearted belly laugh echoes in the alley underneath them, and Drake's relief at the actual questions is palpable. Something about the situation is hilarious.

After a few moments, the younger of the pair collects himself and bares a toothy grin before managing, "It's not that complicated," he finally states through another chuckle. "Just… " he emits a softer sigh "…she left for awhile without a word. And then I left without a word." He coughs. "She could honestly come visit me here no hassle. So that's not the only thing drawing me away, but… it's a piece."


Nightwing turns his head so that he can peer at Red Robin sidelong for a handful of seconds, evaluating the honesty of his response. Then, grudgingly, he claps the shorter man on both shoulders and releases them. "Good. So long as you're remembering not to follow my example with women, you should be fine. Or at least, better off than you would be if you did."

Seeming to consider the matter settled, Nightwing sidles up to the edge of the building, leans over, and peers down to street level, just in case the loud laughter caught anyone's attention. There are a few people passing by, but directionless laughter drifting through the streets isn't exactly unknown late at night. He keeps watching for any upward glances as he continues, "So, why did you bring up Tate? Is it another piece of why you want a change of scenery?"


There's another grin at the comment. "Honestly, I fail at romance. Or, I barely pass. D, D+ at best. But I'm not quite that headstrong. Besides, I try to be rational with decisions. So. It's a factor, but not the be and end all, you know?" Pointedly, he waves his gloved finger, "Have to admire your concern over the quality of your example though. Good to know at least one of my role models is at least moderately aware of their patterns. And what they want to pass on." Tim grins again.

Like Nightwing, Red Robin shuffles to the edge of the building. It's now Tim's turn to watch the street. He inhales a deep breath and just watches folks mill about. "Thanks for that by the way. Don't think I've laughed like that in awhile," he issues Nightwing that same lopsided grin. There's a hint of mischief in his eyes that seems to fade at the mention of Tate again. A few beats pass, probably more than would be comfortable, before he lifts a gloved hand dismissively, "Just you and Oracle were right. Not good to divide my time. So I quit." Pause. "Probably." His eyebrows draw together, "If you stop showing up for a job without telling anyone, that's kind of like quitting, right?"


"Um, I think it… depends on the job?" Dick answers, scratching the hair on the back of his head and scrunching up his face. He's not any better with professional advice than romantic advice, and given his nonsensical resumé, possibly even worse. To be fair, they both had the same fairly useless model to follow in both areas. "But I feel like the more, ah, professional your job is, the more you've got to be very official about leaving." He waggles one hand vaguely. "But I mean, personal assistant is kind of a casual job, right? I'm sure you'll be fine.

Poor Richard. Always trying to help, but so often out of his depth.

"But the really important thing to remember — I really can't focus on this enough — is that you just said, out loud, in public, that not only was I right, but I am your role model," he points out, turning to Tim wearing the grin of a man holding a handful of aces against an opponent who's all in. He reaches out playfully, trying to tousle his brother's hair. "That is a thing you literally said, and can never take back, and I'm going to tell everybody, and I will never forget it."


Tim studies Dick for a moment and then nods slightly. "I was a personal assistant more or less, and in not coming into work I bet Tal-te can take a hint. Means I'm done, right?" He nods confidently. "I'm sure it's fine. Just should consider leaving here." Pause. "So as not to sully my professional reputation." Clearly. He clears his throat.

And then comes the crowing. Incredulously, Red Robin shakes his head, "Do you have it documented anywhere? Unless you have solid evidence, that's not going to hold up anywhere. Ever. Can't prove it happened, and obviously it's your word versus mine." And then he relents, "But I guess you earned the whole being right about Tal-te thing. So. Kudos. You were right. Once."


"We both know the truth. Right here." With his index fingers, Nightwing outlines a little heart shape over the crux of his uniform's blue bird motif, his grin never wavering for a moment. "On second thought, I'm not going to tell anyone. I'm going to keep it for myself. On the longest, darkest nights of my soul, I'm going to whisper quietly to myself: role model. And it will make it all worthwhile."

Done (for the moment) with his teasing, Dick leans back against the parapet and crosses his arms again. He's still wearing a relaxed, happy grin, and there's a sense that he is genuinely pleased beneath the smug, relentlessly joking big-bro exterior. "So I was right about them, and now you're partly thinking about skipping town because of your 'professional reputation,'" he echoes, bright enough to be a little bit skeptical of this story. "Anything I should know about? Any particular 'sullying' tactics you're worried they might use?"


A few beats pass as Red Robin considers the questions, and Tim busies himself with staring at the streets below. "Not exactly skipping town, but it'd be nice to start fresh. Sort of." He certainly has mies feelings about the prospect. "I suspect I will be hearing from Tate again soon enough." The words are followed by a humourless smile. He rakes his hand through his hair again, "A matter of when and where I guess. I think she considers leaving an act of betrayal." With a scoff and a dramatic eye roll he notes, "Business people."

With a sniff and a smirk he notes, "It'd be nice to start anew. That's all. Try something different, work differently." He clears his throat. "Meet some new folks." He hmms, "Admittedly, it's nice to be home too. Oracle, you, Batgirl… nice to see you all again. Just need to not revert back, you know? Would be easy to fall into the same old same old."


"I know what you mean," Nightwing answers. After a long, slow breath spent staring at the rooftop, he looks back up at Tim and continues, "And since we're being honest, I'll admit something. I was right about Tate, but I was maybe also being overprotective — trying to keep you too close to home. I had to branch out, expand my horizons, even screw up royally a few times to get to where I am today. So, I'm going to worry about you, okay? But I'm also going to try to remember that you're capable enough to deal with your own problems." He pauses, then adds pointedly, "And, on the flip side, smart enough to ask for help if you need it."

He lets the conversation hang on that point for a second, then extends his hand. "You go get that fresh start and perspective. Promise to take care of yourself and keep me in the loop, and I'll stop playing batcopter brother. Deal?"


"Yeaaaah," Tim draws out longer than necessary. And therein is half of the battle, although less with Nightwing than others. "I'm not a kid anymore. And I don't need to be coddled." The discussion of worry merits a small nod followed by a noncommittal shrug, "I do okay. Honestly. I…" he sucks not he inside of his cheek, "do okay." There's a contemplative quality to his expression as if weighing something, "I'm good at figuring things out. Always have been." Pause. "Including when I'm over my head. When I get there, I know where to go." He offers an easier smile. "Besides, it's just growing up or something."

There's another grin, "I like you being the batcopter brother. Now and then it's good to know someone's looking out for me. Just need to test the waters a bit, you know?"

Tim takes the grappling gun from his belt, "I'd do anything for the family. I might not be the ever hovering brother, but I am always looking out for you. All of you."


"Well, I mean, I might hover just a little," Nightwing admits with a smirk. "I'll try to be sneaky about it, at least." Then, as Tim grapples away, his brother cups his hands around his mouth and calls after him: "I still expect to meet this maybe-complicated-girlfriend of yours!"

A glance down at the street confirms that that, at least, drew some attention from ground level, which means it's time for Nightwing to continue his patrol elsewhere. Firing one of his wrist grapples in the opposite direction from Tim's, he is gone in seconds.

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