Summary: Why're you playing?
Notes: Set immediately after Detective Comics #796, but draws on a remark made by Judd Winick in his recent Newsarama interview - a remark which is repeated under the cut, in the interest of keeping spoilers unspoilery.
"...there’s an excellent chance that the Jason Todd you saw in Hush is the one you’re looking at now." - Judd Winick, on Batman #638
She lands in the alley as the second guy's head cracks dully against the wall of the bar. The first one's already on the ground, coughing up dark blood onto the sticky pavement. In his hand is the torn cuff of a woman's blouse, but whoever it belonged to has fled.
"Want some help with that?" Robin asks, tossing her hair back. Travel by jumpline has left it windblown around her face, pale gold against the bright red of the wide elastic alice-band.
The man in the leather coat and dark jeans gives her a sharp smile. The kind of grin wolves and foxes wear in cartoons.
"No," he says, and lets the second thug fall atop the first. Then he gives her a long look, up and down. "... Robin."
"Yep, that's my name."
"No, it's not."
She doesn't bother to rein in her sneer. "Hey, fuck you."
He just smiles. "You looked better before. When you were just yourself. I liked your mask."
Robin shrugs. It was only a matter of time before someone recognised the Spoiler in her moves. "You're welcome to it. I've got a new one to live behind."
The smile becomes a smirk. "Aren't you a little old to be playing pretend? You're not Robin. You never will be."
Robin almost feels bad about throwing a punch at him. After all, he took down two guys who look like they sure as hell deserved it. But no way is she putting up with any more shit tonight.
He grabs her by the wrist and twists her arm back, pinning it against her own hip. His other hand grabs at her throat, thumb pressed against the high collar of her cape, over the tear in the fabric.
"Hmm," he says. "Someone try to slit your throat, little pretender?"
Robin hooks her foot behind his ankle and pulls, snapping her head forward until it connects with his nose. He stumbles back, shoulderblades slamming against the wall.
"You picked the wrong night to get into a pissing contest," she growls, circling until she's got him in a better light. Now he won't be able to see her as well.
"Why're you playing? What's in it for you?" he asks, smile returning to his mouth even as blood seeps from one nostril.
"Why do you care?" she counters.
Now can she feel herself smiling, too. A fighter's smile. "Good thing you're not a cat, then."
"Scared I'd eat you, bird girl?"
"I'd like to see you try." It's going to be dawn soon. She should get home. She wonders if Tim's asleep, or if he's watching the sky. Wondering where she is. Thinking about her.
No, he's probably asleep.
"If I tried to kill you, think he'd let me get away with it?"
She blinks in surprise, before remembering that the lenses on her mask are down and that the man, whoever he is, can see her eyes. "What?"
"If I," he says more slowly. "Tried to kill you, would your boss hunt me down?"
"Who are you?" Robin asks.
He pushes himself off the wall and gives her another lazy, wolf-fox-predator look. "What about you? If you had to, could you kill someone?"
"Define 'had to'," she says, taking a step back. "Look, it's late. You're bleeding, not to mention an asshole. So I'm gonna go."
"That's a yes, then. Hold on to that. Your life may depend on it." He starts walking away, down to where the light ends and the shadows are total. "He won't save you, you know. He won't be there."
"Wait -" Robin was fast long before she was Robin, and now she could outrun any highschool track team in the state. She follows him into the dark. "Who are -"
But there's nobody there but her.