Promises, Lies and Reassurances

November 25, 2017:

Immediately after Part of the Problem, Red Robin and Spoiler question each other.

Red Robin's Nest

Now with that freshly evicted unspeakable monster feel.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Zatanna Zatara, John Constantine, Jessica Jones, Bucky Barnes, Jane Foster, Captain America

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

JUST A LITTLE WHILE AGO

A shapeless soul-devouring monstrosity from astral space got exploded in the Nest.

NOW

Red Robin still hasn't taken off his cowl. The Redbird has been moved into the Nest, and the underground access door shut… But that's about it. There's no relaxation on the part of the detective, a faint frown tugging at the corners of his mouth - the only visible part of his face - as he considers the interior of his previously sacrosanct hideout. The crumpled mess that used to be one of the wheeled toolboxes lays haphazardly on the motor pool floor, tools scattered everywhere, but the light removed the traces of the creature itself. The oily black residue.

He half-dreads what he's going to find once he heads up to the upper levels of the Nest - not that dread is really going to stop him - but at least he knows that it didn't manage to get out at all. It was contained, and destroyed. But he also knows there's more where that came from. He saw it.

"Spoiler, are you okay?" he asks of the other vigilante, looking towards her. It did… Something to her. Something that made her ask some very specific questions she shouldn't know anything about. "When it sprayed that mist at you…"

When the light blast had hit and the ooze destroyed, Spoiler stayed on the deck. Sprawled out on her stomach, hair a mess about her head and shoulders, the blonde is low to open her eyes, hands sliding against the floor to under her shoulders. She has yet to shove herself up.

Tell me you didn't swallow a thing, she had blurted out. Because him retorting with confusion would make it clear that he didn't and that whatever it was that had said something into her mind was just trying to get to her. Two will die.

"Answer the question, -Robin-," Spoiler grinds out. It unsettles her, the way he doesn't sound at all confused by the otherwise non-sensical question. It's stupid. Tim wouldn't do anything that stupid. Swallowing glass is… Stephanie shakes her head in an attempt to dislodge the mind-feel of broken glass inside your…

"When it sprayed that mist as me… Answer the question." she repeats again, because his lack of confusion or denial makes her ansty.

If he did, why would the creature say anything about it? Why show it? Is that how its going to try to kill… How can it hurt Tim now if it's gone?

Eventually, finally, he hunkers down beside her, sitting on his heels; it's been a long time since he'd learned to balance perfectly like that, his black cape pooling around him as he seems as comfortable as he might sitting in a chair. He'd never had the natural gift for acrobatics and the like that Nightwing did, but being who he was, he'd just trained harder to make up as much of the difference as he could.

"I did," he tells her. "There wasn't really any alternative. It was a rescue operation… A young woman named Emily Montrose, who was involved in iDol, had her soul separated from her body. It was lost in astral space, and the only way we could bring her back was inside one of us. So, right now she's inside me, until we can figure out a way to get her back where she belongs." Hence putting himself on lockdown, to the point where he missed Thanksgiving at the Manor. Hence the insistence on codenames even in private. The cowl, the voice changer, all of it.

"Now, fair's fair. How do you even know anything about that?"

Hearing him move over to crouch at her side, Steph shoves herself to half roll toward her back. Her eyes are still fuzzy and keeping them closed feels better than forcing them open. The roll came after she had thumped her forehead lightly to the floor, then just laid there as he explained the situation, why he wasn't around, why he's demanding codenames still.

There is no private for him right now.

"It talked to me?" Stephanie replies. The question is audible. It's clear when she opens her eyes to try to focus up at Tim.

There's a moment of silence, then..

"It showed me the group of you. I'm assuming those helping you work this out? The witch handed you a thing to swallow, and you did, and then it said two of you were dying." Pause.

"I guess… nothing more to worry about now that inky black thing is poof gone is too much to ask right now if Ms. Montrose is still stuck in you?" What aplumb.

For the moment.

He leaves things out, of course.

He almost always does. In many ways, he was Batman's best student, learning the lessons the other disciples of the Dark Knight might not have even realised were being taught. For example the importance of controlling information, even with allies, even with the people you trust the most.

So he doesn't tell her what the glass object is, or that there were individuals out there who would want it regardless of the presence or absence of the soul of Emily Montrose inside it. Individuals who would probably do awful things to him in order to get the ancient relic… But, fortunately, they'd be expecting it to be somewhere else. Inside of Zatanna, specifically.

"Zatanna, Constantine, Miss Jones, Doctor Foster and Sergeant Barnes," Red Robin supplies when the blonde mentions the 'group', before he takes a turn for the intense. "Is that exactly what it said? That two of us were dying?" Even with the featureless white lenses of his cowl in the way, surely Spoiler of all people can imagine the fiece blue stare that accompanies his forceful words. "I need to know precisely what it said. Please," he adds, turning demand into request as almost an afterthought.

But the other question…

"I don't know. Her being inside me is safe enough," he's told; he's good at sounding confident about things he isn't confident about, though. "Her body is in some kind of… Stasis, I think. We need to figure out how to get her back into it." He won't accept that her life can't be saved. Not until there's no other choice. "We might need your help, though. Not with the body thing, with other stuff. I can't move as freely as I'd like right now."

Of course Tim gives her The Look. Stephanie sighs softly, body going lax so that she seems to just melt onto the floor. Uncle, says her body language. The please was the straw of Tim's 'arguement'.

"It said: Two of them will die." She's quoting, very much so. And clearly she interpretted it as Tim and someone else was going to die. She listens to the information, to part of the scope of what's happening so far and her purple-black lips frown lightly.

"Always," she chirps, almost like her usual self. There's an air of seriousness to it that has her tensing back up against the floor, ready to push herself up and moving again.

"Give all of them my number," she adds with a just-in-case feel.

The real question, the most important one, is one that Spoiler can't possibly answer:

Why?

Why would it show her that? Why would it tell her that? Some effort to sow fear and discord? To attack a perceived emotional weakness in the midst of the strange battle in the Nest, in the hopes of leaving the blonde off-balance and unable to continue fighting?

And: Was it lying? If so, why lie like that? Why not something more focused…?

His thoughts, at least, remain a place of privacy. His memoriae regis, his 'mind palace', was free of any outside intrusion. Whatever metaphysical space-sharing he might be doing with Emily Montrose, she only had access to his outward senses, and even that seemed… Limited. She was stuck in the metaphorical backseat, after all. In his thoughts, he could turn these things over, examine them, without worrying about his guest waking up and freaking out over them.

Seeing the change in Spoiler, the way she tenses to push herself up, he straightens up to his feet and offers the blonde a gauntleted hand up.

"I will. I already gave you the contact information for Zatanna and for Constantine," he says; it was months ago, but he knows that despite her outward appearances Stephanie is far too organised to just lose them. "And I suspect you already know how to get in touch with Miss Jones."

"And I could leverage contacts in Avengers to get the rest," Spoiler notes, taking Tim's hand to accept the help up to her feet. A half heartbeat of unsteady before she's back to 'normal'.

She will not mention that the 'promise' was made while she was still feeling out of sorts from teh goop. Or even that she got hit with goop. If he's forgotten,s he won't remind him.

"Still. They know you. The trust you. It's imporatnt they know that you and I are working together," Spoiler comments. She stops here a moment, looking Tim over the best she can. She tilts her head to one side.

"You alright?"

She says that she could use her contacts in the Avengers to get in touch with the rest of that group, and Red Robin wobbles his head slightly from side to side before shrugging his shoulders, because she is of course right.

"Sure, you could always ask Captain America how to get in touch with his old buddy Bucky Barnes," he agrees, a certain playfulness creeping into his tone. "Though I dunno if Barnes or the rest would appreciate the volume of extra attention right now."

They know you, she says of the group who'd gone into astral space, which of course isn't strictly true aside from Zatanna.

They trust you, Spoiler adds, and he's not entirely sure of that, either.

"I know," Red Robin says. "You'll be my Bat-backup. Depending on how things go, I might need you to go undercover. You can still pull off 'intern', right?"

She's watching him, and he knows that. Studying him, trying to figure something out for herself. Outwardly, he doesn't seem any different. And she asks a simple little question, one of the most important anyone can ask, or be asked.

"I'm fine," he answers. "You know me, I'm always fine."

Tim creeps to playful, and Stephanie's lips smirk. She waits though, because she knows she has a point about the group trusting him. They may not like it, but they do. Tim is, always has been and always will be, trustworthy. Even if he's been cruel, you can trust that it's for your own good.

"You know I can," Spoiler confirms of being an intern. Really, that's the polite way of saying: ditzy blonde.

He's aware she's studying him. She doesn't care. You notice that I'm studying you, that you're cared about. Go right ahead.

Fine. Always fine.

Spoiler's lips purse faintly. This is my 'believeing' you face, Tim. "Mmhmm.." Not convinced, but until Montrose is our of you're head, we'll consider leaving it at that.

"You make sure you call me for any reason," she says, head dipping down as if to say that any reason is a good reason. Finals are in two weeks. Stephanie's got a decent average going into them, so… she could spare soem studying time if her needed her.

Not that he'd feel comfortable with executing Zatanna's previous suggestion about infiltrating whatever company iDol has used to replace Auspex without his own direct presence, but if it turns out that he can't with Emily Montrose in the back of his head, well… Red Robin would have to content himself with being on earpiece comms while Zatanna, Stephanie and maybe Jessica handled things on the ground.

And really that's not a mix of people who are prone to getting into trouble, right? Right.

With the blonde not pressing the issue as to whether he's actually alright or not, Red Robin doesn't address it any further, either. He is, of course, as fine as he can be under the circumstances. Except now he has to worry about, on top of everything else, what might be a prophecy of death for two of the people who were there that night.

Well, to hell with that, too. Stupid prophecies.

"I will," he assures her that he'll call for 'any reason', although of course he won't unless it's something really pressing. "Work phone only, though. Besides, you should be studying."

Zatanna, Jessica, and Spoiler. Nothing could go wrong with that at all.

Tim's assurances has Steph nodding even though her lips purse with that. You should be studying. Yes, Tim. I know!

"I'm ahead enough that I can't put down the books to come help you with whatever," she retorts, arms folding stubbornly. She stands there for a few moments, before backing away from it, posture softening. Work phone collected, she summons her skycycle to the rooftop of the building.

"I'm serious, by the way, Robin. Whenever you need me, time or reason is unimportant. I'll come by, okay?"

"Okay," Red Robin says, bobbing his head in a short nod. "Okay," he repeats.

It's a social contract thing; he remembers those, most of the time… It's only when he's really engrossed in a problem that 'acting like a person' tends to fall away from his list of priorities. It's a social contract thing that he agrees, that he acknowledges Spoiler's offer… But of course, odds are he won't unless it's necessary.

He was always one to try and deal with things on his own, after all.

"I'll let you know if I find anything else weird here. And I'll get you another one of those flashlights." They work, that's good. Might need some fine tuning, but…

He shakes his head. Later. Worry about that later.

"Fly safe," Red Robin tells Spoiler, as she heads towards the rooftop access, where her Skycycle is waiting.

It's only once she's gone that he turns his attention to the Nest, and the signs left by the creature's presence, the view in his cowl's HUD changing, running through different visual enhancements. He's got a puzzle in front of him, now. One that might be very, very important.

He doesn't even notice the faint, almost eager smile tht tugs at the corners of his mouth as he gets to work.

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