We were all family once

July 18, 2016:

Nightwing seeks Arsenal and Starfire's advice on how to deal with New York's organized crime. They offer him better than that.

Green-Wood Cemetery

Green-Wood Cemetery lies several blocks southwest of Prospect Park in Brooklyn. It is considered a historic landmark and is the final resting place of several permanent residents. Of note, Samuel Morse, Jeremiah Hamilton and Henry George Jr.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Batman, Red Hood, Oracle

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Never let it be said that the Bat family of vigilantes don't keep to theme. There aren't quite as many woebegone gothic settings in New York as there are in Gotham, but Nightwing has arranged this meeting for one of the few: the Green-Wood Cemetery in South Brooklyn. For what he wants to discuss with his old comrades-in-arms, the location also doubles as a heavy-handed metaphor, so: bonus points.

The young man is perched on the peak of a mausoleum rooftop, bedecked in his black bodysuit and the requisite shadows. It's well after visiting hours, so he's hidden enough from random passerby, but the people he's meeting are likely to have sharper eyes. Unlike Batman, though, Dick isn't going to extra lengths to remain hidden from them. As a courtesy to his friends, he's making his presence merely subtle as he awaits their arrival. No leaping out from shadows like a bogeyman for Nightwing.

At least, not at his allies.


The distraction of day-to-day labor in the DEO, what with its shakedown in reorganization, the reporting to of a new boss, and various other incidents meant Roy Harper was going to be a wee bit late showing up.

So it was that showing up five minutes late (which must have been an eternity for most time-exacting Bat-clan members, but was practically -early- to the ex-Robin who knew him best) at the cemetary, accompanied with a litany of "a quiet location, yeah, can't get quieter than a -cemetary-. Might as well ask us to meet -right- inside a mausoleum, why not…?' complaints.

As if to accentuate his point, not noticing NIghtwing immediately, Roy Harper steps up and steals a peek inside the mausoleum. Probably a -perfect- opportunity to do that Bat-thing. You know the one. The one where Batman just pops up out of nowhere and shortens life-spans.


"Not even a hello? You're getting slow, Arsenal," Nightwing comments from just behind Roy. He hasn't jumped down to the ground; he's just dangling over the side of the rooftop, squinting at a trick arrow he just nicked from his old buddy's quiver. "Must be the kid. What's next? You gonna get a dad-bod on me?" Not quite the typical terrifying Bat-entrance, but it should be good for a jump scare at least.

With cocksure ease, the acrobatic vigilante slowly unfolds himself from the eave of the small tomb, landing lightly on his feet and handling the arrow with uncommon gentleness. "So, I'm pretty good with gadgets, but I'll admit it: I can't figure out where the boxing glove pops out from," he teases, gesturing with the arrow at Roy.


With a yelp, Roy Harper spins around. While the young Roy Harper might have swung first and asked questions later, the older Roy, with experience borne of dealing with young children and with Dicks, manages to -not- do anything reactionary like fire a crossbow bolt. It -was- rather impressive how quick he was on the draw with that crossbow, but at least nothing was prematurely fired. Taking a deep breath, Roy shakes his head ruefully.

"I know the Bat-dad has to do this, but -you- too? Gotta be setting an example for the Bat-brood?" Roy complains, as he returns his crossbow. "And the old man was always good at trying to squeeze things he shouldn't into small, tight space."


It is hard to miss Starfire when she comes in airborne, that is, if you are looking. The comet trail of flame hue burns a path behind Starfire, leaving it to fade off into the night behind her. But her flight is not one seeking speed or to break barriers so the approach is silent, leaving her hovering just above, yet behind Nightwing, the heated glow of flame cast like a halo around her physique, emanating from the fall of long red hair.

If Nightwing does not take note before hand, starfire leans forward and makes a swipe for one of his escrima sticks just like he had taken Roy's arrow - holding it in one hand while patting the palm of the other. "Boys and their toys."

The statement has her slowly descending, the purple metallic soles of boots touching down in just as much silence as her arrival. Starfire was going to say more when Roy talks about old men and squeezing big things into little things her lips close with a click of teeth.

Not touching it.


With a practiced flourish, Nightwing draws the other escrima stick from its clip and extends it, handle-first, toward Starfire. "They're a matched pair," he tells her, offering to give her the second stick. "Collector's items. At least do me a favor and don't split up the playset." Leaning into that boys' toys joke, it seems. "Good to see you, Starfire. Good to see both of you."

He folds his arms over the stylized bird on his chest, tapping the pilfered arrow against his side, and raises one eyebrow at Roy. "But trust me, 'Bat-dad' would have done a lot worse," he says. "By our standards, I was practically ringing your doorbell. I try to be polite when I'm someone's guest."


"Yes, just reaching out and grabbing a man's shaft from behind is considered polite," Roy returns, shaking his head, as he reaches out to grab the arrow back so that he can return it back to its quiver. "Kori, love…"

Taking a moment to pull her into a hug and a kiss, Roy proceeds to drag Dick into the embrace for a group snug. "So, having engaged in some inappropriate innenudo, what's on your mind when you called for this menage a trois, Grayson?"


"I am in no place to give Dick a reach—-" Kori just. Stops. A palm smears over tawny huen facade, smearing downward only to flick emerald gaze from the other offered stick to Dick and back. "Oh, sweet X'Hal…"

Taking it she stands there almost looking bereft, even a red seems to flourish across cheeks and the smile is a darkening thing.

Words are stolen by the wrap of arm around bare waist, dragging her into Roy for a moment of affection that simply…

…Are we doing PHRASING, here?!?


Dick relinquishes the escrima stick and Roy's arrow, the latter with a snort. "Come on, Harper — you were practically begging for it," he says with a roguish grin. "And here I am, completely disarmed. Anything else the pair of you want to take off of me? I'm running short of options, here." Not quite done with the innuendo, then.

But the archer's question finally sobers Nightwing. "Well, I know we all sort of went our separate ways, and I've been mostly sticking to Gotham and its suburbs, but there's some work I need to do in New York. I wanted to talk to you before just showing up in your backyard, for one thing, but I also wanted to see if you could help me out a little bit." Mask or not, his wince is visible. "So… where to start. How much do the two of you know about the Robins? The ones who came after me?"


"Nah, I'll pass on the invitation, Grayson," Roy replies, grinning cheekily. "And I don't own New York or anything, but I think we -would- be pretty offended if you showed up and didn't stop by to say hi, at least. Lian hasn't seen her uncle in a while, and I've -just- managed to get her weaned off 'Unca Dick', so go ahead, ruin all my hard work, why don't you?"

The grin fades, as Roy considers the Robins. "I've heard about some, met some, and I'm still not sure why you have so many Robins. Is Batman planning to do one of those Matryoshka dolls things with you lot?"


Starfire steps back from the embrace between them and leans along the side of the mausoleum, easily adding color to the grim setting, all the while the cold dead stone feels a warmth unakin to death. The escrima stick are rolled in hands, flipped in a fan-circular motion to offer the handles of both back to Dick, gaze meeting and then falling away with a small smile at the mention of Lian.

"Why would Robins come for you? Weren't…" A pause and furrow of brows. "You one? No, I have not heard anything. I have not been back to Gotham since my return."


"Batman is kind of a compulsive mentor," Dick admits with a shrug. "As his hangups go, I'm willing to call that one of the endearing ones." Allowing a small smile, he adds, "Besides, I'm a hard act to follow. Are you surprised he had to recruit widely?" No one ever accused Dick Grayson of lacking self-regard — at least, no one outside a vanishingly small number ever allowed to see past his cocky façade. Even those wouldn't exactly describe him as humble. "Still, keep a close eye on him any time he visits Lian, unless you want to get her fitted for pixie boots and a cape."

Tucking his escrima sticks back into their clips and growing serious again, Nightwing continues, "Not 'came after' like chasing — well, not exactly — I just meant the people who were Robin after I was. Specifically, the Robin who died." After a pause, he amends, "The Robin who we thought had died." In case that doesn't tell the whole story, he continues: "I can't quite believe it myself, but I ran into him again. He's calling himself the Red Hood and playing mobster, of all things. I caught him shooting his way out after a hit on a rival gang." A tense shrug, then: "Which at least settles any question of whether he's still playing by Batman's rules."

There's not much that gets to Nightwing, and not many people who ever get to see him less than poised, but Roy and Kori probably won't have trouble picking up on the genuine worry Dick is feeling. "His gang primarily operates out of New York, which is probably why we missed that it was him for so long. I need to make contact — I was wondering if you two had some advice on dealing with organized crime here."


"Huh. I'd heard some things, but never had the pleasure of meeting the Red Hood. Not so sure about him as a Robin either, they tend to keep their identities pretty close to their vest. Bat influence, right?"

Glancing at Kori, Roy shrugs briefly. "Break them up, basically. You could infiltrate them. I'll help." He eyes Kori. "How about it, babe, feel like being a moll?"

And before Dick can object about how she might stand out, Roy waves a hand. "Relax, Grayson. She's got this image inducer, and it's always good to have an ace up our sleeves."


A brow perks between them, letting it all sink in before she looks down, seemingly study where arms met in their cross over her chest. The lowering of her head before she shoves from her leaning post casts ember hair over shoulders in a cascade, veiling her face for a moment before she approaches them both and speaking slowly.

"Your current employer hates me and my kind." A shift of reflective emerald eyes towards Roy, but those deep purple lips curl upward at the corners despite the words and the turmoil it causes.

"In fact, there is a lot of hate out there. Apprehension. Fear. I'm in, but instead of hiding who I am, I can offer what I am perhaps. I'd be a safety on a weapon in the hands of a gangster." A look between the two of them and rolls a shoulder in a shrug.

"I'm in. No matter."


"Wait, you don't have to —" Dick holds his hands up, grimacing. "I appreciate it, but I'm not trying to drag you into my family drama, either. This is likely to get ugly, and I'm not getting any support from Batman." There's a wry twist to his lip and a glance at Roy at that: they've both had countless infuriating experiences with being cut loose by their mentors at the least convenient moment imaginable. (Usually while attempting to clean up one of the previous generation's messes.) "Go figure. But if we go in, it's just me and whoever I can get to volunteer. You're not obligated in any way."


Tilting his head to look at Kori, Roy pursues his lips as if to argue, before shrugging. "It's not the DEO I'm concerned about, it's the gangsters. I mean, you're so -very- recognizable that they'd probably catch on that something's up." A fond grin crosses his face, before he eyerolls at Dick.

"Screw your family drama. If the Bat shows his face in -our- business and says it's his, I don't see why we can't show our faces in -your- business. Fair is fair."


"We were all family once, in one way or another." Starfire looks from Dick, to Roy and back. "When did that change in -your- head?" Starfire's head tilts slightly, almost a look a feline inquisitiveness if it was not for the small smile that still touched only one side of lips in a quirk.

Roy's statement gets a slow nod with yet another shrug. "Not if they think there's reason for me to side with them." Wheels are turning but this is not -her- issue, this is only her assistance. "I'm not an easy one to stop when family is involved." There's her stance and decision, unwavering.


Dick opens his mouth to object to that characterization, then shuts it again. He'll go to bat for the Bat in a lot of arguments, but respect for other people's boundaries? Hell, none of the Bat clan are any good at that, and the patriarch is likely the worst of all.

"Nothing changed the way I felt about either of you," Nightwing answers Kori with a sheepish look. "Actually, I'm honored that you consider me part of your family. But I know that he's not part of that family," he clarifies. "He's like… an in-law, or something. You don't bear him any responsibility, like I do."

With a smirk, he continues, "Now, if I go off the deep end and get a bunch of guns and start pretending I'm Don Corleone, you're damn right you're both obligated to knock some sense into me."


"Don't worry about it, Grayson. I mean, we think of the Bat as that weird uncle in the attic. What's a black sheep between friends?" Roy grins. He glances at Kori, before shrugging. "Well, maybe… actually, if Red Hood has something -against- Batman, it might not be too off for you to. You know more than us how the Red Hood ticks, how about giving us a profiler's view on this guy?"


Kori watched Dick with his sheepish look and regard, her own look a quick set of blinks before she glances away and to Roy with a slow exhale. "He matters to you. Just as there are those that matter to Roy. It doesn't matter if it is through betrothal, communing, or simply flying together. It's family. Doesn't mean if they get involved I am obligated to listen, as we're here for -you-, not the Caped Bat of Gotham. He has my respect, but not my heart."

So when Roy get's down to business aspect of it on profiling Kori nods and rests back once again, listening and waiting.


Smiling, Dick nods at Starfire. "Thanks, Kori. That means a lot," he says. "I hope you know I'd do the same, if our situations were reversed."

After a pause to consider Roy's question, Nightwing clarifies, "I knew him when he was Robin. I've only had one fight with him now that he's the Red Hood." He waggles one hand and elaborates, "That said, he's always had a mean streak. Rougher around the edges than the rest of the team. He carries pistols and, I'd imagine, the standard set of bat-style equipment — I saw him use a grapnel gun, at least. But his M.O. is more like an imitation of your standard-issue Gotham rogue than one of the Bat apprentices. He's had plenty of opportunity to observe how they operate. Make a splash, build up a gang, knock your competitors around to dig out a niche."

He pauses, considering his interactions with the Hood, limited though they have been. "There's definitely a grudge against the rest of us, but that doesn't mean there's no connection. He's not bent on killing us. If anything, he's trying to avoid us."


"A Gotham rogue, eh?" Roy considers. "Like a Killer Moth type? Don't you have, like, some voice in the sky that keeps tabs on these activities? And when you say mean streak, that means… what exactly? Being willing to break bones to do things?" He considers that, before shrugging. "Maybe we -could- get on the same page as Red Hood, Kori. I mean, we got tossed by our mentors, left to fend for ourselves, and went… 'street', right?"


Kori got tossed from her planet, then it blew up. Mentor? She lost it all. This is her home, these have become her family and people, and mentors in her own way over the past and into the present. Lian is more a mentor for the Tamaranean.

When Roy makes his suggestion Kori nods and the smile grows once again, the nod a slow one that tips her chin down and holds it there in affirmation. "If anything its what we have been doing. Getting Outsiders and bringing them…Inside. If we have to play hard, then we do what we have to. I am not opposed."

A look back to Dick and Kori's smile softens slightly. "We can match his new style and you do not have to." They all had codes or a lack thereof, but that did not mean this would not be approached softly but end with a bang.


"Don't sink completely to his level," Dick cautions Kori. "Like I said, he's gone off the deep end. But if you can reel him back in — get him stable, show him that there's a middle ground between what he's doing and what Batman does — well, I couldn't ask for more." He favors the alien woman with a rakish smile.

"Oracle does keep close track of upstart criminals in Gotham," Nightwing confirms. "Unfortunately, that's probably why he went to New York to start his gang. Like I said, he's avoiding us." He offers a tight, rueful smile and a shrug before continuing, "As for the mean streak… I guess we all have our reasons for doing what we do, and his just happened to include a major chip on his shoulder. Yeah, there was excessive force, but it was more than that."

Dick looks away, the eyes in his mask narrowing. "We spend a lot of time hip-deep in real ugliness, in Gotham," he finally continues. "It's not easy to cope with. You have to compartmentalize — find some kind of balance against it." Dick shrugs and concludes, "He was never able to keep himself at a remove from it as well as the rest of us could."


"Well, we can give it a try," Roy says, giving it a shrug. "Does he have any issues with you, or is it just dad issues with him? Oh lord, don't tell me the Batman already tried to approach him, that's probably gonna be like, fire and oil."

He glances at Kori. "We'd probably better get going before things get crazier. Think maybe K'tten can find him? We should get you to meet Kori's crew sometimes, Dick. It's like Spaceballs meeting the Enterprise, with a bit of A-Team in there."


"Relationships of any kind are not always fair or good. But its theirs." Starfire states in regards to the talk of the Batman and his clan. It had confused her before and it is no better now, but it is family none the less, she stays sane not bothering to dwell on it.

Pausing though, Starfire looks at Roy and lifts a brow. "Dick has been on the ship once before, it was before the island was blown apart." Pausing her gaze shifts back to Nightwing. "Remember the trinket I gifted you? It's your way to speak with us, and if you ever want to have a one way ticket of being beamed up and the whole alien experience, I will activate it again." Pausing. "No probes. I'll tell Depalo to behave."

The emerald eyes narrow with the smile, a devious cast in response to the rakish grin. He did not get to meet the crew as it was brief and him asking for investigative assistance, and back then it was best that way. Now….

It's changing again. "Go before the crazy? If I am parsing this right, we're going -into- it." The devious does not fade, even as she leans forward and takes Roy's hat, plopping it on her own head, tilting it to the side. Street enough?


"He has issues with me, same as his issues with the whole group," Nightwing answers Roy. "I don't think he especially hates me, but I wouldn't lead with 'we're Nightwing's buddies' if you want to get on his good side, either." He shrugs and continues, "Batman did approach him, yeah, but that was inevitable. If anything, I'm annoyed that he's gone all hands-off now — guess I'm my brother's keeper, after all." Brothers only by mutual adoption, maybe, but to Dick, the difference is entirely academic.

When Roy starts in on how cool Kori's ship and crew are, Dick winces, shoulders tightening. "Yeah, I've, uh — I've been — I've… visited," he reminds Arsenal, uncharacteristically awkward. He looks over at Kori, then immediately looks away from her. It's not as though Roy isn't aware of — and at peace with — the history between Nightwing and Starfire. It's just that Dick isn't really any better at dealing with his relationship history than he is at dealing with his relationships. He mostly skates by on not bringing it up. So much for that plan.

Fortunately, Kori intercedes to smooth over his awkwardness: he laughs at the move with the hat. "It's definitely a look," he says. A second later, he pulls the communicator out of a recessed utility pouch to flash it at both of them and says, "Yeah, tell your science officer he should at least replicate me dinner, first."

Replacing the device, he nods at both of them. "Listen, I really appreciate you both being willing to help with this. He's in a bad place, but rough around the edges or not, I don't think he's a bad person, deep down," he says with a smile. "That said, you don't owe him anything. It's good of you to offer to help me out. Now, while I'm in town, I should dig for pieces of his organization — I'll let you know what I find."


"Oh, right. See, it's been a while," Roy laughs, throwing an arm around Dick's shoulders. "Since you're in town, how about taking a small break, and we'll take you to Kori's favorite coffee shop? It's pretty good, though I'd stay away from the Kopi Luwak, if I were you."

Taking a second to adjust Kori's hat just enough to let her hair cover one eye, Roy grins. "There. You're gonna knock Red Hood dead. Now about that coffee…"


The adjustment to the hat bringing her hair over one eye makes her tilt her head, mean-mug it and curl fingers of both hands together to make a heart shape and then twist fingers into….yeah… She's clueless, no 'west-side' for Kori.

"Bad place?" The look between Dick and Roy says it all. The eyes soften a bit and so does her smile. "Don't forget your own. If anyone is more fit to try and help him it is us." Slipping to their side she wraps arms around them and proceeds to basically 'usher' them forward.

"Who picked this place to do this talk at by the way? You fail."


Roy jerks a thumb at Dick. "HE DID."

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