Peter Gabriel Would Have Been Better

January 16, 2019:

Dinner turns exciting (and frustrating) for Jason and Lena.

Chinatown

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Jason Todd doesn't get out of Gotham often. He has an aversion to it really, it feels like leaving the sheep to the wolves no matter how many vigilantes are currently there trying to keep things safe. Exceptions are made of course, especially when offered free dinner.

Jason's red and black bike roars down the highway, weaving through the traffic with ease. He's used to this, and has made a drive like this often enough to not need directions to the city, but when he gets closer he does quickly consult his GPS for the right way.

The Bike roar echoes off the buildings as he arrives to the predesignated location, finding a place to park. The heavy bike purrs like an angry cat as he kicks down the kickstand and dismounts.

*

"Loud." Lena says to him, resting with her back against the side of her building of choice. Smirking his way, that twist of her lips becomes a smile, earnest and genuine. With a press of her shoulders, the heavy-coat wearing brunette offers a hand out his way, and should he take it, she wraps her arm around his own before leading him toward the door of their restaurant. "How was the drive? Not too cold, I hope. Wind's a bit icy tonight."

*

"I like it loud," Jason says with a smirk, pulling off his motorcycle helmet. "Makes sure people can hear me coming." He returns her smile and takes her offered hand, letting her lead him toward the restaurant. "Not too bad. Lots of traffic, icy roads, but nothing I can't handle. Icy wind is why I wear five layers. How's the Big Apple?"

*

"It's a city. They're almost all alike to me. Big, dirty, pretty sometimes." A shrug, she takes time to kick off the slush from her boots before entering the small, mom and pop type shop. Giving a smile to any welcome, she slips off to claim a simple circular table with two metal chairs. Removing her jacket, she drapes it off the back and sits, brushing her skirts down, she takes up her menu and looks it over. "How's Gotham? Your work going alright?"

*

"I never liked it myself," Jason says with a smirk. "Not like Gotham is any better, but it's home." He follows her inside, shivering slightly as the chill air is replaced with warmth. He walks after her, taking the chair across from her, and removing his motorcycle jacket. "Gotham is about the same Big, Dirty, and Pretty. Just add gloomy on to that. Work is abit frustrating right now. Too many hot heads thinking they know the right way to do things." He smirks again. "I'm sure you can comiserate."

*

"Mmm. I hate hot heads." She muses to herself, her gaze briefly flicking up and in his direction. Once she finds what she's wanting, she sets her menu down and waits for a somewhat older waitress, gray in hair and shuffle in step. Order made, with smile and thanks, she looks back over toward Jason and rests her head to the side. "You sure you're alright out here? I don't look like much, but I can help you if you need it."

*

Red Hood pours over the menu really quickly to make a decision. He orders quickly, seeming to make a snap decision. He turns back to Lena and gives her a quizzical look. "What do you mean?" He says, leaning forward. "I'm pretty good, glad you asked me to to come join you."

*

"Just offering." She explains without actually explaining. Her arms rest atop the table, fingers loosely linking together, and legs shifting to cross one atop the other. "Oh, sure. I hate to admit it, but I think I was missing the company. Been alone for awhile. Maybe the whole…loner thing isn't all its cracked up to be. At least back home I had people to talk to."

*

Jason leans forward, slowly rubbing his hands together back and forth. "Thank you for the offer," He says with a nod. "I may not look like much myself, but I am pretty liquid." He looks up into her eyes, meeting her gaze with his. "I used to work with a pretty close team for a while," He says, leaning back again. "I enjoyed it for a time, but then found that I could do more on my own. That being said, it is nice to have people you can go to."

*

"I never really had anyone to run around with in my line of work. I did when I was younger, but it wasn't a good setup. You'd easily get pushed under the bus. I was a wonderful speedbump." Chuckling, she takes her sight away from him, glancing away and sitting up only when their drinks arrive. Pouring herself some tea, black, she blows across its top and sips cautiously. "Why did you leave your group?"

*

There is a chuckle when she says speedbump. It's sardonic, cynical, with very little mirth. Jason looks away with a lop-sided grin. He looks back as she asks her question. "I got hurt," He says, with a shrug. "Bad enough that I was out for a long time. When I came back, I found that our methodology differed as well as some philosophical underpinnings of the job." He shakes his head. "I know, I'm being vague."

*

"Very. But I told you that's fine. You do you. I'll do me." She murmurs, sipping once more and thinning her lips. Sitting back, she takes a breath, settling herself and looking out the window.

*

Red Hood leans back in again, taking a sip of his own hot tea. "You told me your meeting didn't go well," He says, looking at her with a neutral expression. "But you didn't really expound on it. What exactly happened?"

*

"More lectures. More boring ultimatums. You'd think offering someone something useful would make them shut up and accept it." A pause, her face twists up. "I don't take well to blackmail. I should have shot the fucker like I originally wanted to." Glancing his way, she swallows and waits, watching attentively.

*

Red Hood looks surprised for a moment at her words and chuckles slightly. "Wow, that must have been a pretty intense discussion," He shakes his head wrapping his fingers around the warm cup. "So shoot him? I assume this is a metaphor you are playing with?"

*

"No. Just annoying. I don't like people standing in my way." She confesses bluntly. At his follow up, she can only offer a soft smile. "Sure. Metaphor. We'll call it that." Drinking, she finishes off her small cup, setting it down to refill it from the metal pot.

*

"Well then," Jason says with a genuine smile. "Remind me to never stand in your way. Rather not get shot any time soon." He looks off, seeming to think for a moment. "I wonder if you can help me with something?"

*

"I'm listening. Worst I can say is no." Eyeing his cup, she offers it over, refilling his drink and setting the pot down. "What's on your mind, Jason?"

*

"So I went to go see a good friend of mine recently," Jason replies, looking alittle impish. "And we talked for awhile, but while I was there she gave me one of her foster cats." He smirks again. "Thank you," He says, taking a drink. "But its a little fluffy Birman with bright blue eyes. Really affectionate. I just for the life of me cannot think of a good name for her."

*

Lena blinks then, eyeing him carefully before canting her head. "You…want me to help you name your cat?" Given everything that was commented on, she can't help but start laughing. "Um, well, alright." Looking around, she drinks in a deep breath and then faces him once more. "Chairman Meow." She offers, straight faced.

*

Red Hood snickers at her suggestion, sipping at his tea. "Wouldn't that be more Chair Woman?" He asks, raising an eye brow. "She is a sweet kitten. Loves to monopolize laps. I can never get any work done really."

*

"You asked, I offered." Lena smiles gently, winking and sipping down more tea. "Why? What were you thinking of naming her? Never really had a pet so I can't do the whole…heart pangs of how cute something is. Sorry. I'd relate if I could."

*

Jason reaches into his pocket and pulls out his smart phone. He turns it on and opens up a picture, turning the phone screen to Lena. On the phone is a picture of a very fluffy cat, seemingly curled up on a computer keyboard and reaching out to bat at the hand holding the phone. "Does that help at all?" Jason says, looking up at Lena with another smirk.

*

Reaching out, she claims the phone and looks at the picture. Her eyes scan for anything, tells or information that are open for her to see. Instead, there is only cat. Straight faced, she nods slightly and offers it back. "She's pretty. So is that computer." Sitting back again, she offers a smile in thanks for their food, quickly reaching out for chopsticks to start digging into her noodle dish. Her other fingers pull at the bell of her sleeves, pulling it back and away so not to get in the way.

*

Jason leans back as their food arrives. His face betrays the hungry look on his face. "Oh wow, that smells good," He says, taking a deep breath of the steam coming off the plate. "Lets see how the taste test goes, though." He scoops up a part of chopsticks himself. "You know, if you really want to see where I live, I can just take you there."

*

"Really? You'd do that? I thought your type were…secretive?" She really wasn't one to talk, but the comment lingers as she slurps up her noodles contently. Chewing, sipping tea, she continues the cycle fluidly. "If you need more to eat, I'll treat you to whatever. You came all this way, after all, least I can do."

*

"Treat me to whatever?" Jason asks, giving Lena an exaggeratedly roguish look. "Be still my beating heart." He digs into his own food, munching down on the chinese food like a starving man. "Okay, it passes the taste text," He chuckles. "So what type do you think I am?"

*

Lena smirks, quirking a brow at the question and setting her sticks down for a moment. Finishing off her tea, she sets the tiny cup aside and then goes for her water. "A 'Contractor' of course. If you don't give stories for the marks on your body, I assume there's a reason not to."

*

"Gotham is a dangerous city," Jason says with a shrug. "Sometimes accidents happen, and they sometimes happen to certain people repeatedly. I happen to be one of those people. Accidents and Bad things. I think I am a bad penny, personally."

*

"You told me that before." She replies, setting her glass down and chewing against a sliver of ice left in her mouth. Moistening her lips, she reclaims her sticks and goes back to eating. "I'm not mad that you're lying, Jason." She explains then. "I guess I'm sad you're bad at it."

*

Jason stops eating and puts aside his own chopsticks. The look on his face is complex. He seems to be annoyed, but also amused. He looks at her for a long moment. "You are asking for a great deal of trust," He says, looking away and out the window. "Though, I cannot say I blame you too much."

*

"I'm not asking for anything, Jason. Told you before, say what you want and only what you want. I don't usually ask for anything that I want, I take it. There are always exceptions, however." She explains, mirroring words he said only moments ago. "Trust is hard, and I don't have that in spades. I like you enough. I think I'll be alright with that."

*

"I meant what I said," Jason says, looking into her eyes with a very serious look. "One day, I will tell you the story for every one of those scars. Even the ones you /can't/ see." The word can't seems to resonate with Jason for a long moment, his eyes clouding over and growing distant again.

*

"You know you don't have to, don't you? You know that when you look into me, I could be a terrible person. One you don't really want to know about. We can keep the masks up for as long as you'd like." She offers in return, watching over his eyes and lowering her head, returning to her meal in silence.

*

"That is fair," Jason replies, the color coming back to his cheeks. "I don't think you are a terrible person. I wouldn't mind getting to know you better. However, I say you aren't terrible, and my opinion really is the only one that matters." He smirks again to show his jest.

*

"I guess all we can do is see how you feel about that when the time comes." Finishing off her plate, she sets it aside, going for another helping of tea and offering some to Jason should he want more. "Next time I'm in Gotham, I'll swing by your place if that's alright with you. Saves me from getting a hotel."

*

Jason polishes off his food as well, nodding to her to thank her for the tea. "That is definitely doable," He says with another smile. "Its alittle empty considering its just me and now the kitten, but you'll probably find it nice."

*

Lena finally smiles again, only to have her gaze roll up and spy what appear to be a set of men, young in age and baggy in clothing, enter the shop. The ringing of bells gives them away, and like before, they are offered a greeting. The greeting, however, stops, as soon as the elderly owner notices the brilliant patterned fabric covering all of the young men's faces. Lena sits back, eyeing the foursome with cool regard as they head up toward the counter.

"Time's up, old man. You promised to pay and it's payday."

"I-I don't have the money yet. We just need another week."

"A week? No, that makes you overdue and you'll have to pay /more/. You understand that? More? I suggest, for your own health, you pay now."

*

Jason's smirk falls, he sighs and leans back in his chair. He looks at Lena with a resigned look. "Sometimes work follows me," He says, shrugging. "I suppose I really am a bad penny." Jason grabs his motorcycle helmet in his left hand and slowly stands so he makes very little noise. His right hand goes to the small of his back, where Lena saw him keep his pistol.

*

"Sit down," Jason's told, a gun drawn from another man and pointing in his direction. "Hey, hey! Hands where I can see them! I swear to Christ, I'll shoot you man. Sit down!"

The older man behind the counter looks wide-eyed toward Jason, a silent request he do what he's told, even as he himself is being held in place by the hollow of a barrel. Lena smirks and shakes her head. "Stop saying that. Enough pennies and you get a dollar." She rolls her eyes and stands, digging something out from under the fluff of her skirts. It was something Jason had seen before, but not what the mooks had seen. Triangle in barrel, the weapon clicks on and starts to hum, a light building and dancing in place.

"If you're going to shoot, shoot. Don't talk." She informs the men, her finger pushing on the trigger, sending out a blaze of blue and white. The sweep is small, but so was the room, causing the temperature to drop drastically.

*

When Lena fires, Jason moves. His hand punches forward lightning quick as he attempts to body void where the firearm was pointed. The hand doing the punching is holding onto a motorcycle helmet, and that helmet is aimed directly at the face of the attacker pointing a gun at him. More specifically his nose.

In Jason's other hand is his own pistol, drawing just as fast as the punch and firing off a shot aimed at another assailant's (specifically the one holding the gun on the shop owner) kneecap.

*

The goon's face cracks against the solid protection of Jason's helmet. The gun pops off, causing the owner and his wife to duck behind the counter, going prone and clinging to one another, all while a knee joint shatters in a sprintz of red. Both young men cry out, groaning from their fresh injuries. The other two no longer move. Their faces frozen in a silly expression.

Lena giggles, sliding up against the pair and slamming her weapon's handle against their heads, shattering the thin layer of frost and knocking their heads back. Sent sprawling, she looks at the other two still moving, though not by much.

"Do we kill them or let them go?" She asks Jason, gun leveling and sweeping from one punk to another. "Tick-tock, boys, time to start begging the nice man with a gun for your life."

And they do.

*

Jason's face is hard, and expressionless mask as he gazes down at the thugs. He looks between the two still conscious ones, putting the barrel of his smoking gun against the man's forehead. "One question," He says carefully. "Was this solo or are you a part of a gang?"

*

"S-solo! Well, gang! W-we wanna be…fuck man, please! Don't kill me!" The man stammers, red rolling down from his busted face, dribbling down across his lips and chin. "W-we just…wanted some cash, man! Something easy! W-we…god, please don't kill me! Please! I'll never do it again." He rambles on, his eyes flitting, wide and doe like, between Jason and Lena both. "H-he did it! This was h-his idea!!!" He rats out, pointing across toward the man who was now one knee down.

*

Jason scowls at the man. "I didn't ask whose idea it was," He growls, a certain tone Lena might recognize if she is really paying attention. "You went along with it. You were willing to kill just for a handful of money. That makes you just as bad." He fires his gun once more, but this one next to the man's head, putting a high caliber bullet in the floor next to him. "That was the one with your name on it. Providence made it pass you by. Keep it that way."

Jason walks up to the counter where the owner and his wife are no doubt still hiding. He takes out a bundle of dollar bills, well more than the cost of the food and the damage to the place. "For your trouble," He says, dropping it on the counter top.

Finally, he goes to collect all the weapons they brought with them, squirreling them away in his pockets.

*

Lena sees to it that the pair left behind, one with a ringing in his ears, are left out cold. The heavy soles of her boots crash against each of their faces. Watching after Jason, she takes a moment to finish off her tea, knocking it back like a shot of whiskey. Replacing her coat, she moves outside, waiting for her companion to join her.

*

Jason grabs his coat as well, zipping it up and bundling back against the cold. He steps out to join Lena, his breath gusting in clouds in the cold air. "That was…" He starts, seeming to try to find a word. "…bracing."

*

"Wasn't it just?" She comments, her tone shifting to one he might recognise as well. Cold gun up, she points it at the man's face, her own expression the perfectly captured expression of not amused. "Talk. Now." Comes her demand.

*

Red Hood faces down the cold gun with another expressionless face. "What happened to we can wear the masks until I felt comfortable?" He says, looking directly at Lena. "All the same, I'd rather not have this conversation at gunpoint." Jason moves fast, going through a quick disarming drill that he's done hundreds of times sinces becoming Robin. He is carefully to not hurt Lena at all, just get the cold gun away from her.

*

"I changed my mind, and I don't enjoy taking home someone who's threatened kill me." She explains with a slight snarl on her lips. The hold of her wrist causes her to growl, muffling a grunt at the uncomfortable sensation that sends the gun down against the ground. He'll hear it, that tell-tale flick of a blade, as her other hand holds a blade pointing toward his gut. "How about knives? Does that work better for you?"

*

Jason doesn't reply. He is in Red Hood mode now. Neutralize the attacker, and talk later. He throws his arm downward, letting the blade catch in the leather and padding of his forearm. Maybe it will draw blood, maybe it won't. Right now, he needs to get her weapons away from her. Jason attempts to get his foot behind her and shove her weight against his shoulder to tip her to the ground.

*

Lena wasn't a fighter. It was something Jason already knew for a few reasons. Regardless of the anger frosting over her gaze, she was only putting up minimal effort. The movement is smooth, hooking where he needs it to. Kicking back and tripping her up, the girl is on the ground now, her fingers digging into his arms and nostrils flaring as she glares up and into his face. She blinks, fat flakes of snow starting to fall down and around them, catching in her hair, across her cheeks and lashes, and the fluff of her jacket.

*

Red Hood moves as quick as he can. The pavement is hard and he still doesn't want to hurt her. He attempts to arrest her downward movement before her head and spine impact the concrete. He looks down at her, his gaze meeting hers and his face still and expressionless mask. His grip holding Lena tightly.

*

"Go on." She almost spits at him. "Tell me what I should or shouldn't do. I don't have all night and you have your precious city to get back to." Her voice is hushed, and by now, the scuffle is getting some looks from passer-bys. There are sirens blaring off in the distance, no doubt due to the owners of the shop calling 911 once they realized they were safe enough to do so.

*

Slowly, gently, with a firm grip, Jason raises her back to her feet. "I don't need to," He says quietly. "You heard me once. Believe it or not, I heard it all before and I didn't listen either." He lets her go, and reaches down to retreieve her weapon from the ground. He holds it for a moment, regarding her. "The big question now, is what are you going to do, Captain?"

*

Lena snatches the gun back, leveling it back up and toward his face. It shakes, just as she starts to, not from the cold, no, he knew her better than that already. Her jaw tightens, lips thinning, and after she squints, she shudders and lowers her gun. Stapping the weapon back against her thigh, she brushes her skirts back across it, hiding it away. "Go home, Jason. Maybe I should do the same." Is all she seems to muster before turning and starting to head down the sidewalk.

*

"You could always come with me," Jason says, his voice just as playful as before. "Meet the new kitten?" He smiles at her disappearing form.

*

Cold stalls in step, looking out at nothing before glancing back his way. Staring, she reaches up and flips her hood up, giving her face some cover before going on her way.

*

"Thought so," Jason says quietly. He turns, putting his helmet on and mounts his bike. He reaves the engine loudly and speeds off into the night.

Only to stash it a few blocks away. He doesn't have all his gear, but that shouldn't be too necessary. Jason takes to the rooftops, shadowing Lena closely until she reaches her destination.

*

It takes him a few minutes to find her again. The city was active this time of night, people bustling here and there and going about their way. Nightlife - it never failed regardless of the weather. He knew what he was looking for, and after losing her briefly in a see of winter gear and shuffling feet, he'll notice her turning off and toward a hotel complex. It's a tall building, over twenty floors easy. Now came the part where he'd need to find out where she was exactly.

*

Jason growls to himself. No binoculars or listening devices. Nothing but a pistol and his wits. He tries to keep pace, dropping down from rooftops in a place where he cannot be seen and then quickly emerging into the throng of people. He pushes his way quickly to the same complex as Lena, attempting to see which building she went into.

*

A slip of color here and there, he can use it as trace. Thankfully for Jason, most people in NYC choose black as their favorite color (it was easier to clean). The building stands there, towering over head, and the lobby seems to be set in a dull, relaxing lighting. She lingers by the elevators, pressing the up button and waiting to get on. Once in, the doors close and shift upward. It all comes down to how many stops it takes, and thankfully for him, it seems to only make one. Floor 17.

*

Red Hood jumps into another elevator going up, cutting in lines to do so and intentionally making himself look like more of an ass that he really is…if that is possible.

*

Red Hood jumps into another elevator going up, cutting in lines to do so and intentionally making himself look like more of an ass that he really is…if that is possible. He hits 17 quickly and waits for the proper floor before slipping out. He is banking on his unluckiness that she has a room further from the elevators for privacy. He slips out the moment the doors open on 17.

*

Lena stands there, resting with her back against the wall of the elevator foyer, eyes up and waiting. Her hands rest in her pockets, hood still up and helping her shadow a small section of her face. "I don't like being followed." She tells him flatly. "I said go home, Jason. I guess we both have a problem with listening, hmm?" Any other time, it may have been a joke passing her lips, but her often playful expression in regards to him was still vacant.

*

Red Hood looks back. "Did you think I came back to woo you?" He asks, just as flatly. "I was going to hold up a boombox and play Peter Gabriel in the Snow? No, Lena." He shakes his head. "I was making sure you made it here alright. Nothing more." He passes her and heads for the stairwell.

*

"I think you wanted the last word. A chance to 'white knight' me even if I don't want it. What should it matter, really? Some mook out there or you driving the bullet that takes me down? Either way, I go down, right? Unless I 'change my ways'." Watching after him, she presses off the wall, turning to head for her room. "Peter Gabriel would have been better."

*

Jason looks at her as she calls him a white knight. For a moment, it is a look of utter hatred at the term, but it passes again to an emotionless mask. He opens the stairwell and begins his descent. "Bruce is right," He growls to himself quietly. "Never again."

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