Difficult People

October 17, 2017:

Red Robin finds Spider-Woman (not that one, the one with the hoodie) well outside of her usual neighbourhood. Armed with knowledge about her current predicament, he reiterates his earlier offer…

A bodega in Gotham City

Honestly, would you expect it to not get robbed?

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Spider-Man, Zatanna Zatara, Superboy, Impulse, Wonder Girl, Batman, George Stacy

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's never really quiet in Gotham. In fact, Gwen has started to make quite a few of her rounds here just due to the strangeness, the ability to run across random thieves. It's practically like the superhero version of a pick up game.

Tonight, Gwen is defending the most sanctimonious of things - a convenience store. The white clad spider with a hood is currently flipping over aisles as the robber turned gun-toting vengeance taker yells and shoots.

"Goddamn vigilantes!! What's a villain gotta do to make a living nowadays?!" he shouts as the echoing blast of a shotgun echoes across the small space. A large hole appears in the ceiling tiles and Gwen flips behind the counter, next to the store owner.

With an attempt at a quip, she gives him two thumbs up. "This'll be done in no time, I promise. You don't happen to sell corndogs here, right?" Another roar of frustration and she winces. "Okay, maybe later. Good catching up, maybe stay as far down and pressed behind this counter as you can, okay? This'll be over in a jiffy. Like Jiffy Peanut Butter, 'Choosy dads choose it.' Anyway, stay down."

Flinging a web, she attempts to swing up and clock the man with a shotgun. Outside, his friends are getting restless. They thought this would be a quick smash and grab. Now? They're not so sure. There are three of them. One pulls down his mask and brandishes a handgun. "That's enough time. He's not pulling this off, we'll handle it ourselves."

Having been dividing his time more and more between Gotham and New York, Red Robin has become a keen student of the differences in criminal activities across the two cities. The Big Apple has far more metahuman criminals, of course; the City of Yesterday has a way of driving off individuals who think they'll have an easy time of it just because they possess some manner of superpower. Gotham's criminals tend to be more, well… Unhinged. Maybe it's something about the city itself, some miasma of evil that lurks in its heart… Maybe it's simply the necessity of navigating an underworld controlled by the maniacs who've sprung up like weeds since the mob's hold on the city loosened, an underworld constantly menaced by the shadow of the Bat.

There are parts of the city that are far nicer than they were before the Dark Knight began his crusade, of course. There are parts of the city that are far nicer even than when Red Robin first took up the mantle of the Boy Wonder, a mere six years ago.

But, that's the thing about Gotham.

The fight's never done. There's always more.

Above the men lurking outside the convenience store where it sounds like somebody is really throughly testing out a shotgun, a flickering streetlight gives a last sputter and goes out entirely, plunging the sidewalk in shadow. That's not unusual, of course… In Gotham, the nights are always darker than elsewhere. The movement from atop the streetlight is subtle, nearly imperceptible even if someone were actually looking up - you would think that after all these years, criminals in Gotham would've learned to look up, but it's simply not a human instinct - as a caped and cowled figure slips downwards, looking to grab the rearmost member of the trio. The one they won't be looking at, won't notice until he's simply gone.

Barring complications, the streetlight flickers back to life… To shine on the figure of that third of the group, now dangling by his ankles from the lamp.

Red Robin has moved to the roof of the convenience store by this point, of course. Hunkered down in the shadows, his black cloak shrouding his costume, breaking up his silhouette until there's nothing recogniseably human about it at all: Just two white lights from the lenses in his cowl, a profile that one could nearly mistake for the Batman's, save for the lack of 'ears' on the cowl.

Of course, that is when two small black spheres fall from the roof to land at the would-be robbers' feet. Soft enough, tense enough to split open when they hit the pavement, unleashing a cloud of black smoke.

Criminals in Gotham just plain have to be crazier. None of the masks in New York, or Metropolis, or anywhere else are so devoted to making them feel like they're on the wrong end of a horror movie plot.

Gotham will always be Gotham.

The would be robbers on the street are wary, but they do not sense or see Red Robin at all. Instead, the black spheres drop to the ground and spew smoke. One of the robbers panics, coughing and spluttering and running out into the street. The others cough, teary eyed and shove their way into the store after their wayward robber. It's slow going and they're all but incapacitated even as they stumble inside. Spluttering, one yells in gasps, "Johnny! We're made! Smoke bombs! Vigilante level shit!"

Inside, Gwen is still dealing with the shotgunner. As she lands on a very narrow partition - perfectly balanced, she webs the shotgun and attempts to yank it. The man holds on for dear life, his heels squeaking on the linoleum as Gwen's super strength merely drags him all the closer to her. Well, if he's hugging the gun close to him he can't shoot it. That's something, right?

As the door opens and smoke pours in, she tilts her head curiously. "Company, I'm guessing." Louder, she yells, "Hey, I got this, okay!"

Of course, the newly admitted robbers hear the woman's voice and immediately shoot. Gwen curses and slips down to ground level. "I still got this, okay!"

Distantly - very distantly - sirens can be heard. Even if the convenience store owner didn't, Red Robin took the opportunity to contact the police. The GCPD is one of the things that has improved since the Batman and those who followed his example started fighting back against the darkness in their home city… But there's still so much they can't do. Still plenty of cops willing to end up on the take, or forced into it by the machinations of Gotham's various super-criminals. Still plenty of things keeping them from quickly and decisively responding to an armed robbery in progress at a convenience store in a middlingly safe part of town.

By the time they arrive, things will be over one way or another.

The remaining thieves run into the convenience store when Red Robin drops the smoke bombs, before he's able to get down and deal with them. It draws an annoyed sound from the costumed young man, a faint tt under his breath, but of course there's not much choice but to follow, dropping to the sidewalk all but noiselessly, dropping low to avoid expected lanes of fire.

More gunshots, but aimed inwards. A young woman's voice…

One he's heard before. Why is she here, of all places?

From Red Robin's perspective, the view of the world changes. The smoke is no hindrance to him as he moves low inside, then slips off to one side once he's within the store, moving for cover with the smooth ease of long experience. He can see the other occupants of the store: One huddled behind the counter, presumably an employee or owner. One holding a shotgun, being dragged by a line towards what is definitely Spider-Woman. Another shooter, trying to deal with the white-clad young woman. The final thief…

From around the rack Red Robin his crouched behind, a small object is hurtled: Lightweight, aerodynamic in a circular kind of way, a small disc that looks to catch onto that third criminal's clothes, a faint electrical impulse in the device itself making it cling to whatever it hits (the mechanism, in fact, is an artificial version of what very well might let Spider-Woman cling to things: Microscopic fibers exploiting the Van der Waals force effect, based on the clinging abilities of geckos, and regular non-people spiders) for about two seconds before it discharges an incapacitating electrical impulse.

Not really a gentle way to take someone down, but at least it leaves him without any broken bones.

The same might not be said for the guy trying to shoot Spider-Woman, though, as Red Robin, caped and cowled, vaults over the rack of unhealthy snack foods. There's no room for his staff in here, no space for fancy maneuvering. First, he aims to grab the man by the wrist of his shooting hand, twisting: Control the gun, keep it from being pointed at anyone. Keep the shooter where you want him.

Because then, second, he attempts to drive his elbow, savagely hard, into the man's masked face.

The disc is tossed and deftly attached to the robber's back. He convulses a few times, mouth open in a gurgled yell before he drops to the ground. The second robber turns - still holding tight onto the gun that Gwen is attempting to yank from him. The gun hand twists painfully. With the loss of strength, it swings out of the gunner's hands and toward the woman in the spider suit. The man in question, though, drops to his knees as Robin's twist of his wrist keeps him in place. Taking the shotgun, she bends it just slightly with her strength and then drops it to the ground.

If she didn't sense Red Robin's presence fore this, it's impossible to ignore him now. While Gwen may not know exactly who he is, the fact that he elected to help out is met with a frown and a sigh. "You know, I had this." Maybe she did or didn't, but she believes it.

From the side of the other aisle, the last robber approaches as stealthily as he can. Gwen steps to the side, webs and then yanks with quite a bit of might. The robber gives a Wilhelm Scream and then is smashed against the glass of the soft drink fridge. With a squeak he slides down it.

"What're you doing here?" she asks Red Robin, almost accusing.

What're you doing here? the young woman asks of him, her tone very nearly one of accusation.

Yep, Red Robin decides, definitely the same Spider-Woman.

"I could ask you the same thing," the vigilante responds, though there's a note of amusement in his tone. Without the electronic voice modifier active, it's quite possible that the web-slinging young lady would recognise him by the way he speaks. The more confident, focused 'work voice' that Red Robin uses - one which certainly nobody would ever recognise as that of Bruce Wayne's adopted son - and which Spider-Woman had heard in New York on the day of the eclipse. He wears the same colour scheme of red and black with some yellow detailing, and the chest logo is the same, too, the bird's head in profile… But this suit is heavier, more covering. More visibly armored.

It's the suit of a vigilante who works by themselves, not someone who operates as part of a team.

Already, he gets to work hogtying the robbers with zip ties, though he's not about to stop Spider-Woman from webbing any of them up, he knows how effective that stuff is. Making sure that none of the criminals are able to get away before the police show to round them up: The NYPD might have a more relaxed attitude towards capes - some capes, anyhow - but in Gotham there's far less official tolerance for vigilantes. Probably because some people think they'd be better off with no GCPD at all, and the weirdos in masks given free rein to deal with the other weirdos.

"I'd say you were a long way from home, but from what I gather that'd be an impressive understatement. Anyway… Does it matter who 'had this'? The important thing is that the bad guys are down and that civilian," he points right at where the man is huddled behind the counter, as though this were perfectly normal, "is safe. Better to get an assist you don't need than not get one you do. Right?"

"Me? I'm stopping a robbery." Gwen, pulls back and then tosses the robber against the fridge door again to ensure that he's knocked out. It's a thing she does absently.

The only times that Gwen has talked to Robin is when he's been in his cowl and on the job, so his voice is one that she certainly recognizes. "You're not stalking me, right? Though, I'm guessing this is all your territory, right? People tend to stay in their territory's themes. Gotham is bats. New York is mutants. Everywhere is aliens."

As Robin starts to ziptie, she thoroughly webs the now unconscious man she was tossing against a glass door. It's sturdy and should be enough to keep him incapacitated until the authorities arrive.

"Yeah, a pretty far long way from home," She agrees. Way too far, in her opinion. Now that the bodega seems to be safe, she moves to the exit, squinting through the still dissipating smoke. "And, really? You're gonna play the high road card on me? Of course I'm glad everyone is safe. What I'm saying is that there may be too many cooks in the kitchen. Though, whatever, yes thank you." That seems almost sincere.

"I should head out. Got other things to do." She pauses, studying Tim. "You're not following me or anything, are you?"

She's a difficult person, Red Robin thinks to himself.

That thought is immediately followed by: Not that I'm in any position to throw stones.

More than that, it's difficult for him to blame her, given what he's learned. To be stranded in a world that isn't your own, with no way back… No way of knowing who's a friend and who's an enemy, no way of knowing if the people you knew back home were safe, if they were trying to find you, if they'd mourned and moved on, assuming you were dead… And instead, coming face to face with people who look and sound like people you know, but who are different in fundamental ways…

And worse, well. Red Robin knows what he'd do first thing if he was stranded in an alternative world. He knows the first person he would look up.

"I'm not stalking you, no. I mainly work in Gotham. New York is sort of… A side project." It's not as though he's unfamiliar with dealing with prickly people. "You should know that the Batman won't like this. You operating in Gotham, I mean. He doesn't like metahuman vigilantes in this city. But as far as I'm concerned, if you hadn't been here who knows what might've happened. So, thank you."

That does sound sincere; genuine gratitude that she was there when he might've been precious minutes too late to do any good. It was pure coincidence that he even noticed anything was happening in the first place.

"I'm glad I ran into you, though." The criminals dealt with, the caped and cowled vigilante rises to his feet, also walking towards the door. Despite his boots, his footsteps are all but silent. "I wanted to offer you some help."

"I'm not," Gwen tells Tim through her mask. "Operating in Gotham, that is. Not a fulltime thing. I just needed to…" she shrugs her shoulders. "I needed a change of scenery. This was just a happy circumstance." Stopping a robbery? Well, to some people putting on the mask is both a pleasure and a distraction. As she doesn't know that Tim has heard about her circumstances more in depth from Peter Parker, she stays tight lipped as to why she needed that change.

"Batman. He's the guy with the mechanic bats, right? Likes toys? Laughs a lot?" She makes a hand gesture to mimic a shadow puppet bat. Apparently Batman in her timeline is different from the one here. "He cares about territory? I would have thought he'd like the help. Always seemed ready for a team up. But I'll keep that in mind."

With the robbers now properly webbed, she starts to pick her way across debris and unconscious bodies as she makes her way to the exit. "No need to thank me. I mean, we don't do this for the thanks. Though, don't get me wrong the thanks are nice. As are corndogs. I'd be glad to be thanked in corndogs. You guys don't have nearly enough of those here." In Gotham? Possibly. In this world, certainly.

Then, though, he says that he wants to help. Is glad that he ran into her. "Oh? How's that? Why do you think I need help?"

Batman. He's the guy with the mechanic bats, right?

Oh, what?

Laughs a lot?

What.

Always seemed ready for a team up.

Red Robin stares silently at Spider-Woman for a long moment; in his caped and cowled costume, different from the winged affair she'd seen him wearing in New York, his face is almost completely hidden. Only his mouth is visible. It's helpful, keeping his face concealed: It dehumanises him, makes it easier to seem other, to seem like something else than a person when dealing with the sorts of criminals he does. Also, with his mouth schooled to stillness through years of training, it lets him hide his incredulous expression as he tries to decide if the young woman is messing with him or not.

But he tables the unspeakable, mind-shattering horror that Spider-Woman offers up for now with a faint shake of his head. He doesn't really get the appeal of corndogs, himself, especially from sketchy convenience stores, but he supposes that spider-metabolism probably takes care of whatever might be in them. Plus, spiders do eat bugs.

"I talked to Spider-Man," the vigilante says, portentiously. "He told me that you're from another reality, and it's a testament to how weird my life is that it makes perfect sense. I know that you're stranded here, and… I'm sure you've got people back home who are probably horrified, wondering where you've gone. Maybe you even had some Blockbuster rentals that were overdue."

There's a faint exhalation from the former Boy Wonder, regarding Spider-Woman sidelong, now that they're out on the street. Gotham, generally, is only ever muggy and hot, or cold: In the October night, his breath mists, however faintly.

"So… I wanted to offer our help, again. The Titans. We can work to help you get home, and in the meantime, if you want, an environment where you don't have to be isolated."

Gwen is - strangely - good at reading mask face. It helps that her own covers her entire face and therefore she got used to reading micro-expressions. Red Robin, though, remains pretty hard to read. It's more his silence on the matter that speaks volumes rather than anything on his barely there face. Okay, so that was just her version of Batman, she assumes. Got it. There's a lot of times that this has happened.

The mention of Spider-Man gets that same panic at the bottom of her stomach, a need to run and fling herself onto the nearest rooftop. Her voice is tight, but somehow also flippant. "You talked to him? And, what, he's suddenly okay with me running about in that T building?"

Her pace increases once they're on the street. By now she would have webbed away, but she's in the company of someone who can't do that. And not only that, he knows her circumstances of being here. His words hit her deeply and she thinks of her father in their Queens house. It's a nightmare she's had often. He's sitting in an armchair, alone with a case file of her open on his lap. He finally changes her status from 'missing' to 'deceased'. The thought of it guts her.

"I am isolated," she tells him. He was right in his first assessment. She is difficult. She is not a person to lean on others. That gets them killed. Though, so did not telling Peter. It led to him experimenting on himself, on her best friend becoming a supervillain intent on destroying her.

"So, what, you're trying to get me on your team or something? What do you want with me? You've got Spider-Man. He's…he's what you guys deserve."

Perhaps not surprisingly, as a young costumed hero, Red Robin could commiserate on the topic of having nightmares about one's father.

His are different, though. Not hypotheticals. He'll never forget the feeling of his father's blood in the dark, the first sign that something was terribly, horribly wrong.

That's part of why he operates on so little sleep, three or maybe four hours on a normal night. The dreams. The accumulated ghosts of six years of trying to save lives, and not always succeeding. Sometimes, it's a wonder he gets any sleep at all.

Something else clicks into place, with the way she talks about Spider-Man. He'd noticed it before, when she went from cautiously interested in joining his 'sorority' to wanting to leave, immediately, at the mention of this world's webbed wonder… But it wasn't until now, with his conversation with Spider-Man in the lab at Titans Tower to provide context, that he sees the parallel.

"It seems like some cruel twist of fate, doesn't it?" the detective says. "He won't talk about it, but the 'you' of this world is someone he cared about, and someone he couldn't save. For a guy so dedicated to his secret identity, sure wears his heart on his sleeve." Or maybe having to figure out what Batman is thinking from context cues gives him a skewed perspective on that sort of thing. "I'm guessing your story is more similar than either of you would like to admit. And now you're here, both of you."

Cruel indeed. But is what he's trying to do really any less cruel? He used his deductions about their relationship, and his own past experiences, to manipulate Spider-Man into agreeing to help. But it's for a good cause, isn't it? Wouldn't it be worse, leaving Spider-Woman to her own devices, leaving the people who care about her back home to wonder, to grieve, to have to bury her? He knows what that feels like. And Spoiler didn't even have the excuse of being trapped in another dimension.

"The point of the Titans is to help exceptional young people who need it. To give them a place. What I want with you is to help you, no strings attached. You don't have to join if you don't want to, we'll help you either way. But there's plenty of room for you. Nobody's going to make you take off your mask and tell us all your life story… I mean, I keep mine on the whole time I'm at the Tower. You don't have to be isolated. They're a weird, wonderful collection of people, sometimes we stay in and Impulse brings a dozen pizzas and we watch movies… Sometimes we go beat up supervillains and foil their plans for world domination. I know… I know it's not going to be easy, Spider-Woman, but you don't have to be alone."

'Not being alone' is never easy, Red Robin would say.

But he's kind of a weird guy.

'It seems like a weird twist of fate.'

It does. It really really does and insider her mask, Gwen shuts her eyes for a moment. Peter is here, he is Spider-Man. He has everything he ever wanted. All it meant is that she is dead. Or a version of her. Neither world, it seems, was meant to allow both of them to simultaneously get what they want.

There's a breath and Gwen keeps walking forward, not looking at the impossible to read Red Robin, the man who seems to find out everything about everyone else. A tightness builds in her shoulders and she frowns, shaking her head. "Yeah, it's easy for you to say. You found out what there was to know about me. Figured out things I probably didn't even want to tell you." There's a bitterness there. "I don't know you and I don't trust you yet." The words spill from her mouth, angry in the first time since she's arrived here. She's been confused, frightened, upset, filled with grief, but this is the first spout of real anger.

"It's easy for you to say I can trust you and I 'don't have to take my mask off' when you think you already know who I am. I don't have to be isolated? What are you offering me? A tower with a ghost and someone who I only know through a mask. That doesn't sound like a trust when I know nothing about you and yet you toss out what you know about me that has nothing to do with Spider-Woman. I had a family. I had a team. And they're…" she trails off, a short gasp hitting her voice. No, don't do this Gwen, she thinks. She's better than this. Don't cry.

It would be difficult for Red Robin to blame Spider-Woman for getting upset at him for seemingly knowing far more about her than she would like to let on: Nobody likes to be analysed like that, to be read and figured out. That it's something he does without even really meaning to, without even really trying, would be cold comfort even if shared. The distrust the remove, the secret creates is frustrating but inevitable… How long was it before he let Conner, or Bart, or Cassie in on the secret, even though he knew theirs? How long before Stephanie Brown learned that Tim Drake and Robin were the same person?

For some people in their world, of course, treating the masked identity as the only one of consequence comes easily. But it's the exception, rather than the rule.

"They're waiting for you," he says, quietly, when Gwen's justifiably angry words trail off. He's not good at this. Nightwing would've won her over easily. Conner, too. Cassie or Zatanna would've befriended her already. Bart… Okay, Bart would've done a worse job. He can at least comfort himself with that. "I know that I don't know who you are. I don't know who Spider-Man is under his mask, either. I just know that you need help, and we might be able to provide it, so how can I not offer? I've spent every waking moment since I was fourteen years old trying to prevent tragedies, to keep other people from losing people they care about. If I can help you get back home, then I can undo someone's tragedy. God… What kind of a monster would I be if I didn't at least try to help you?"

Gwen turns on Red Robin, confronting him at his attempt at being comforting. The anger is still there, vibrating through her veins. As a woman with superstrength, superhearing, superalotofstuff she can feel that adrenaline. "You don't know that." That the people on her world are waiting for her. They might have already think her dead. She disappeared in an explosion.

If Robin could see her incredulous face under the mask, he would see it when he says that he doesn't know who Spider-Man is, doesn't know who //she/ is. However, she doesn't immediately fight back.

"I don't think you're a monster," she sighs. "And I'm not a tragedy you can prevent or undo. If you start to look at me like that I'll web you a new face. This happened. There's no going back from it. I want to get back home but there's no undoing it, there's just a transport."

She's somewhat resigned to the fact that by the time she returns home most people may think she's dead. "What do you think you can even do to get me there?"

There's a faint sound that might almost be amusement from Red Robin, his mouth taking on a hint of a wry twist.

"I'm very sure that you're not a tragedy," he agrees. Though, maybe he just doesn't want to get webbed a new face, which honestly doesn't sound very comfortable at all. She's right of course, in the simple factual sense… Unless they can somehow return her to her own world at the exact moment she left, or near enough to it, they can't 'undo' the experience for the people she's left behind.

And then, Spider-Woman raises a key practical point: What does he think he can even do to get her home?

"One of my teammates has vast magical power, she might be able to figure out a way to create a portal back to your home dimension," he starts, ticking off fingers. "Another one has access to the Speed Force, and with the right equipment he could feasibly travel between realities, though navigation is a problem. If we could find out if your molecular vibrations are on a different frequency than ours we might be able to trace your point of origin and construct a device to get you back there. There's a lot of possibilities, and admittedly none of them are easy. Or safe. I'm not going to tell you that we can have you home in a week, but if it can be done, we can find a way to do it."

"Speed Force? What the hell is that? A new sort of Mormon thing?" It seems she doesn't have many speedsters in her corner of the world. Gwen studies Robin as he continues to try and recruit her. This seems more than just a cursory attempt to get all just graduated masks into an easily regulated place. He sounds like he actually cares. Still, she remains wary.

"My molecular vibrations," she repeats. That's not how she would think herself sent home. "I'm not something you can fix, Robin." She studies him now, no longer angry, no longer running off of just adrenaline. She can feel that energy in her fingertips, but she presses it down, waits for it to be used when she webslings away. That's definitely the exit strategy, after all.

"And I can't guarantee I'll be a good team player." However, she hasn't exactly said no. "I don't know if I'll show up for every scout meeting, but let me know. Maybe we can work together. I'm not promising anything."

Speed Force? What the hell is that?

Behind the featureless white lenses of his cowl, Red Robin's dark blue eyes blink, curiously. A lot of people probably wouldn't experience the sudden urge that he does, right then: He wants to see Spider-Woman's version of Earth. Maybe she just doesn't know any speedsters well enough to have heard of the Speed Force - even on this Earth, most costumed heroes don't have the strange in-group cachet that being part of the 'Bat Family' gets you - but maybe it's just not a thing there. If they took Bart, would he lose his speed until they returned home?

Would Zatanna's magic still work there? Would Cassie's demigoddess powers?

Questions for later. But questions he isn't about to forget.

"Red Robin," he corrects offhandedly. "Robin's someone else, these days. Very cranky, wears a hood. Likes sharp objects too much." Maybe he should've done a little more work on his new heroic identity after getting replaced by Damian, but at the time the borrowed identity of Red Robin was… Useful.

Though the maniac he took it from probably wouldn't agree.

"You don't need to promise anything," the caped and cowled vigilante says finally, his hand moving under his cape - back pocket of his utility belt - and then he pulls out… A phone, offering it towards Spider-Woman. "I know I gave you our card before, but this is easier for keeping in touch."

Strangely, it would be a veritable delight to Tim to see the differences between Gwen's world and their own. Not only for how Batman is there. Much of what he is used to just isn't quite a thing in her world.

"Sorry. Red Robin, then." Not that she's actually good at the codename thing. She generally just gives nicknames. Now, though, is not one of those times.

Gotcha. Don't want to step on any toes. At least, no more than I already have."

The phone he offers is met with a blink. "Are phones just, like, cards here?" This isn't the first time a phone was offered to her. "Do you guys just exchange them instead of numbers? That seems totally counter intuitive."

"Most people don't," Red Robin assures the costumed young woman. "But they're cheap and I like to be prepared. You never know when you might need to be able to contact someone without giving away everyone's identities… Plus, this way I never have to awkwardly ask anyone for their number," he adds, in a bit of self-effacing humour.

That never-satisfied need to learn, learn everything he can does indeed make the possibility of exploring an alternative reality a sorely tempting one to him. It's that same drive that he has to consciously curb in his efforts to respect the secret identities of Spider-Man and now Spider-Woman. He's pretty sure at this point that finding out one would make figuring out the other fairly trivial… Which is a situation he can empathise with.

He doesn't keep his own identity as strictly secret as he can because he's a control freak.

Well, okay, not just because he's a control freak.

"Why, did someone else give you a phone too?"

"I get that." Gwen takes the phone and pockets it somewhere. "Where I come from that's personal territory. But, this makes sense." Also, having a different phone for different things makes sense, too.

As far as Gwen is concerned she would certainly find Robin a control freak. Though that might not be his own fault as much as her own observation. Though, then again, it might definitely be his own reasons why she may think that.

The question is met with suspicion. Okay, so this is not a normal masked thing. As such, she closes herself off. "Maybe. Thanks for the phone. We'll be in some sort of touch."

Finally, she runs forward and then slings her webs toward a roof and swings upward. Maximum small talk and awkwardness has been reached in Gwen's mind. She has an option to get out, she'll take it.

Red Robin is too keen an observer to not notice the way that Spider-Woman closes off, the way she replies to his question with a 'maybe'. She might not, as he'd describe Spider-Man earlier, wear her heart on her sleeve in the same way the other webslinger does, but her shifts in temperament are obvious. And really, her response there was… Well, just downright suspicious.

But he was trying a different approach. She has her secrets, and he's not about to start prying into them… Without a good reason, anyway.

"Hrn," the Gotham vigilante mutters to himself as he watches her swing away. One nice thing about the City of Yesterday is that there's plenty of stuff to swing off of. All that towering, oppressive architecture. Red Robin's always enjoyed swinging around the city himself, though he privately has to admit a certain envy of the webshooters, they seem much more convenient than grapple guns.

Not a minute later, a sleek black car with a metallic red canopy in a shape suggestive of a bird in flight pulls up, the top sliding open - it's empty - to let Red Robin hop in.

Hopefully, he thinks to himself as the Redbird seals up and speeds away, this is the right thing to do.

He'd hate to think he was going to open all these emotional wounds for nothing.

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