Behind the Mask
Roleplaying Log: Behind the Mask
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Roy gives Eddie a gift and then their friendship gets complicated.

Other Characters Referenced: Nightwing, Starfire
IC Date: February 09, 2019
IC Location: Abandoned Theater, Gotham
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 10 Feb 2019 22:45
Rating & Warnings: R - Language, violence, drug use, canoodling that FTB.
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It's three days before Roy gets back to Eddie, at which point it's a simple text:

'Have a better idea for the chip-hoarder. Gift ready too. What night can you meet me at ? Back door'll be open.'

When Eddie arrives, the back door is indeed unlocked, the lock carefully duct-taped open so that it can't catch. Inside there's a dusty, spider-web-y backstage area with extra chairs, empty cabinets that may have once held supplies, and the big speakers behind the screen. On the other side of the stretched white mesh of the screen is a single auditorium, a third of the room's lights still working atop their tall pillars, casting the room into deep, blurred shadows.

About halfway up the rows of seating, Roy sits in an aisle seat, his legs jutting out into the aisle and crossed at the ankles. Just tucking away his phone, he puts a hand on his bow in the seat beside him just for a moment, just in case.

*

Eddie has no idea what she's walking into. With everything that's been going on the past few weeks with SHIELD, she can't trust that Roy or his phone hasn't been compromised. Anyone could have sent that text, if they got the personal information out of Arsenal. As such when she slips down the alley and into that doorway, she doesn't know what sort of building she's walking into at first. Her boot knife is pulled and in her gloved right hand, hilt reversed so the blade rests against the forearm of her grey leather jacket with its many pockets and the weight of her firearm against her ribs is oddly reassuring.

She doesn't call out as she slips in behind the screen, holding the door so it swings shut as silently as possible. Careful to stay away from the mesh lest she cast a silhouette, she slides through the shadows like a ghost until she can peer out into the auditorium. Is he alone? Hard to tell with so few lights on. But now her voice rises up, "This where you come to screen your porn?"

*

"Well it was, and then they closed down and sold off all the equipment." Well before Roy was living in Gotham. "I like it because it's big and open, but enough stuff on the floor," he gestures around to the seats, "To screw up a brick — a beat-stick meta — coming after me. Plus, the seats are great. They don't make 'em like this anymore." They're narrow and uncomfortable, and a couple of them are draped with a sheet so new that it still has creases in it. He hesitates a moment, then glances around, "What, are you waiting for me to start the peep show? Wrong kinda theatre, E." Hauling himself out of his seat, he steps out into the middle of the aisle, turning a slow circle with his hands out from his sides just in case she's worried he's carrying something dangerous — besides all the weapons that are part of his costume. "So I had an idea about the chip assholes," like he mentioned in the text, "You're trying to be good, how about an industrial-strength stink bomb instead? Wreck their business, not the building."

*

Through the beginning of his words, Eddie strays towards the shadows though she's moving closer. Even the little bit about him turning around doesn't make her that much more comfortable, but she's edging towards him so that's something. "And you're alone?" She asks, but it's not as if she can fully trust any answer she gives and so with that reasoning in her brain, she finally steps out from near the screen into the pool of light. "This is the first time you've asked to see me some place…private." Not the she owes him an explanation for her behavior, but she gives one anyway.

First, her attention goes to the sheet. "You sleep here? Seats can't be that great." And by the time she addresses the stink bomb, her tension has relaxed a notch. "Leave it to a Gothamite to go the stink bomb route."

*

"Well not since you got here. But yeah. I haven't been flipped or turned or set out as a honey pot." His grin curls up at one corner, although he half-shrugs an apology at the change in habit, "Well, the gift's not the sorta thing you want to give in public." One of Roy's hands gestures toward a little eight-by-four-by-two box on one of the sheet-draped seats. "Oh, and no, I don't sleep here. I figured there's a hell of a lot of history to the seats that you wouldn't want any chance of getting a part of." The accusation of being a stinky Gothamite causes him to laugh, "Hey… I spent as long in New York as I did in Gotham. And you wanted a way to punish the assholes that wasn't gonna get you in trouble. Voila. A gift and a plan."

*

Eddie stops at the first row of seats, kicking up a boot to set on the arm rest and she flips out the knife and tucks it back in the hidden sheath. "If you were turned or flipped, it's not like you would tell me." So she's erring on the side of trust and tucking her weapon away.

His words about the sheet, the gift and the plan explanation cause her to smirk, a wearisome thing that barely lifts one corner of her mouth with the expression. "You're being awfully nice to me, Roy Harper, Jr. Why is that?" Instead of pulling her boot down, she merely uses it as a prop to hoist herself up so she can walk over the backs of the rows and hop like a cat into one of the sheet covered seats where she curls her legs into the tight expanse and nests in, pulling the box into her lap and not waiting for so much as a 'by your leave' to open it.

*

"Nope, but there'd probably be stressors or tics or whatever that a super-spy like you'd notice if I was lying." When she comes stalking over the back of the seats, he drops back down into his chosen chair, directly behind the sheet-covered seats. "You ever notice how as soon as I knew your full name, I started using a nickname," to be fair, he was already using a rotating selection of nicknames, "but as soon as you know mine, you just can't wait to blurt it out any time you get the chance? Is that your protection against the possibility that I did set you up?" As she gathers up the box, he sits forward, resting his forearms on his thighs so he can watch her open it up, "And I like to make my friends comfortable. I mean, except when I'm flipping them shit. Or who knows, maybe I just want to get in your pants." That's accompanied by a broad, shit-eating smile that challenges her to believe it's anything but a joke.

The inside of the box is lined with white cloth — probably from the fitted sheet that came in the same pack as the one currently laying across the theatre seats. And on that white cloth is a black domino mask, pretty close to the right size for her face (he didn't exactly measure her features or anything). It's a little heavy, although not uncomfortably so, which he explains with, "Kevlar-coated ceramic. It's not bullet-proof, but it'll deflect a graze. Poly-carbonate lenses protect your eyes, and there's room to upgrade it with lowlight or thermo. It's not as good as Bat-tech, but it's just a step or two down. And really surprisingly good at hiding your identity, even from facial recognition scans."

*

Eddie might flick the top of the box away flippantly, but when she sees what's tucked inside, she takes greater care. She lifts it carefully with both her hands, turning it over in her leather clad palms and running appreciative fingers over the surface as he explains its construction. A bit hesitantly, she lifts it to her face to see how the fit conforms to the contour of her nose, brow and cheek bones, eyes closed against the inevitable visions. All she sees is the hard work that Roy put into it and the care given to make it so it would affect her in the least possible way.

“It’s…perfect.” She turns to him grinning, holding the mask up to her face and blinking at him from behind the protective lenses. She’d ask him how she looks, but she tends to avoid compliments like the plague. Instead she just sets it aside in the box because she has one more chair to climb over and that’s the one between them.

Pushing him bodily into the cradle of his seat so she can occupy his lap with a tangle of limbs, her hands go to his cheeks, sliding to his hair so she can tug at the short locks and pull his head backwards with a sharp yank. Any snarl or gasp in response is swallowed by a fervent press of her lips.

*

The mask has a little tackiness to the back, "Water makes it stick tighter. There's a little button inside the right side that reverses the polarity so it comes off without sticking." The visions, when they come, are of Roy, on his own, in a small room that is across between a workshop and a study. He works with sewing machine and hand tools mostly, although he has some more advanced gizmos for cutting the tougher fabrics. Occasionally he looks up and calls out almost-patiently to someone outside the closed door, but otherwise he is alone. Roy watches her put the mask on, and grins, "That's a — " And then she's coming over the seat at him.

Roy's feet gather under him, and one hand comes up to her side, just touching her holstered pistol before he recognizes her intent. And then his hand smooths under her jacket, ducking under the holster to spread strong fingers along her rib-cage. His other hand slides up the outside of her thigh, and he returns the kiss with interest, his teeth catching at her lower lip almost-gently and drawing it out for a moment before he looses it. " — a good look for you, E." The words are a low, heated chuckle against her lips.

*

Eddie grins wide and wild against his lips, the expression no doubt felt more than it is seen in the proximity. Her appreciation for the gift shown rather than voiced, she finds the matter concluded and eases back from the hands that have slithered around her. She doesn't go far, merely perching on the sheet-draped back of the seat in front of him and resting a boot in a chair to either side of his.

"I happen to have something for you too." She declares as her fingers grab the toggle of one of the many zippers on her sleeve, this one to a small pocket that she fishes a silver chain out of. She pulls it free, and at the end dangles the heavy quarter sized medallion of St. Jude, thicker than the standard coin. "I want you to keep this for me." She starts to dangle it towards him, but draws it back suddenly, causing the pendant to swing like a pendulum. "Wear it. Keep it close. And if it ends up in a pawn shop, I'll kill you with my bare hands." Bare hands, even. A double threat. "It's worth unfathomably more than the price of silver."

*

When Eddie eases back, Roy's smile takes on a wry sort of cast, but he doesn't try to hold on, letting his hands trail off the point of her hip and down along her side to drop his arms onto the carved wooden arm-rests. His fingers swing out to knock first against one of her calves and then the others, his eyes glancing to take his position trapped like a snake of a cleft stick, but he doesn't protest, his masked eyebrows lifting up as she declares that she has a gift. He sits forward a little in his seat, the flash of silver drawing his attention as readily as it might a barracuda's. One hand comes up to lift it from below, only to have the pendant swung out of his reach. His eyes lift to hers, "Come on, E, I wouldn't do that." Unless the cravings got too bad. They'd have to get pretty bad, but you'd better believe that the medallion would be on his mind before food for Lian would. He doesn't chase the medallion with his outstretched hand — in fact, he draws his hand back a little, "This was in the safety deposit box, wasn't it. You see yourself as a lost cause?"

*

"The boy knows his Patron Saints. I'm impressed." Eddie lifts her right foot, resting the arch of the sole on his armored shoulder and giving a little push to make him sit backwards and away from the shiny object.

"Actually this silly little trinket holds part of the key to my salvation." She pools the chain around the pendant in her palm, foot slipping off its hitch so she can offer the necklace out to Roy. "So if you don't want me to be a lost cause, I suggest you don't lose it." So it's not a gift so much as an obligation, but that's pretty on par for Morales. Everything seems to have a catch.

*

"The boy knows his lost causes. I also would have accepted St. Nicholas or St. Christopher." Roy is shoved back into the barely-padded back of the seat, looking up the jeans-clad length of her leg and lift his brows behind his own domino mask again for a moment. "Got it. So wearing that makes me your Horocrux?" His teeth flash in a grin, and then he allows, "I mean, not literally." He waits a moment when she offers it out again, then turns his hand palm-up under hers, "I'll watch out for it. I'm no Nagini though. Just remember that. I don't need some underwear model coming after me with a sword." He takes the medallion, curling his fingers around it and then bouncing it inside his clasped hand for a moment. Then he reaches up to affix the chain about his neck and tuck the medallion inside the collar of his jacket. "I'd ask what's in it, but being disappointed is a buzzkill for me." Not that he's buzzed at the moment. "We can still take your gift out for a test-drive if you're interested."

*

Eddie's head tilts slightly, watching him with her dark eyes as he affixes the necklace around his throat and makes the pendant disappear beneath his collar. It's only after she's satisfied that he means to keep it safe that she speaks again. "You know, you keep making these references as if I'm supposed to understand them. You realize I haven't watched TV or a movie in…a ridiculously long time."

She grins and pinwheels an arm back to nab the mask out of the box again, wiggling it back onto her face until she's sure it's going to stay there. Now she knows his trade secret. Fluffing her hair back into some semblance of her normal spiked disarray and choppy bangs, she casually comments. "You sure your girlfriend isn't going to mind I'm keeping you out late?"

*

"Jesus Christ, E. You don't know Harry Potter?" Roy sounds honestly shocked, "We're getting you a brand new Kindle and a shit-ton of books. Starting with Harry Potter. We can watch the movies after you're done." He watches the transition between spy and vigilante, and then nods, "There you go. Now you just need a name." He hauls himself slowly up to his feet, "And you don't pick one, I'm going with Training Wheels." Reaching over to pluck up his bow and quiver and clip them to the back of his armored jacket, he puts his hands on his hips and shakes his head in mock disappointment, "That's like the oldest line in the book, by the way. But no, the only girl waiting for me back home is curled up, probably snoring." Lian has a cold, plus it makes her sound more like a pet when he says it like that. "This is where I ask if you've got a big strong man waiting for you to get home, or if I'm really progressive I go for 'someone' instead of 'man,' but instead I think I'm gonna skip that and ask if you're ready to find some idiot criminals and blow off a little steam."

*

Eddie touches the mask on her face again, getting used to the feeling of wearing such a thing, checking her sight lines with a rotation of her eyes that might just be another roll at his words. "You understand the irony of calling me Training Wheels, right? I've probably been carrying out jobs before you dropped out of high school."

Not quite ready to go yet, she reaches into the opening of her jacket, pulling out her weapon and ejecting the magazine and selecting another that she slams in, in its stead before clearing the live round and snicking it back into the original magazine. "And you forget, I see too much. If you didn't want me to know you live with someone, you probably should have made this at the garage."

*

Roy smiles brightly and crookedly at her critique of the nickname, "Yeah… the best nicknames are ironic." Says the man with the directly on-point nickname. It could be worse, he could be Red Arrow or Red Bowman. Thankfully, Red Robin Hood is a little too close to Red Robin, which is trademarked, and Red Hood, which has been ruined by an ex-Robin. His eyes narrow slightly inside the confines of his own mask, "The edges are beveled to lose as little peripheral vision as possible. And just how young do you think I am?" The words that follow, however, cause him to lose the teasing scowl and his features settle into a harder expression, adding instant distance despite his usual easy manner, "The person I live with… not a significant other. Not a friend with benefits. Not a girlfriend. I promise you that. And there's way too much that happens at the garage. Home was safer, for me and for you."

*

Can you raise an eyebrow with a domino mask on? Turns out you can, or at least a ripple of wrinkles appears on Eddie's forehead above her left eye to indicate she's trying. "Looks like I found the one subject that sets you off. All right, all right. Not like I give a damn anyways." She spins around on her perch, walking her legs back over into the sheet covered row of seats before hopping to her feet.

"So what brand of carnage are we looking for tonight? Purse snatchers? Car jackers? Rabid Rabbits with Rockets? I don't know just how crazy weeknights are in Gotham." Morales swings an arm behind her head, giving the muscles a good stretch to limber up for the coming pursuit of street justice. As she traipses out to the aisle, she glances back. "Seriously, it's cool. We don't have to tell each other everything. I'm a spy for god's sake. A little mystery between friends never hurt anyone."

*

Roy forces a bit of a plastic smile onto his face in response to the raised eyebrow, "Sorry, just some things." One thing. When Eddie starts to stretch and moves into the aisle, Roy's smile gets a little more lifelike, and he rolls his head, popping his neck as he does, "Depends. Some nights it's all Arkham rejects," the ones who reject incarceration there time and again, "and some nights it's all mobsters and muggers and… crap… I need another good m-criminal." Blowing out a breath, he shrugs a little apologetically, "Usually I just go up some place high over one of the hot spots — somewhere there's valuable stuff to steal — and then wait. Or I listen to the police scanner and play beat-the-cops-there. So… lady's choice, should we go fishing for street thugs, or try to find something more important to knock over? The mob's all freaking out with the fact that some of the big boys are making a play up on the Big Apple."

*

"Murderers?" Eddie adds another M word helpfully, now staying away from the sore subject of Roy's personal life. They take away a brick of the wall between them, only to add another so it's easy to focus on what has them both straddling the top and that's what they have in common. "So we're spending another night freezing our asses off. Good thing I put the thermal lining back into my jacket." She undoes her gun holster from the inside of said jacket so she can zip the coat up, converting the strapping to a thigh holster instead with a few choice tugs and pulls and buckles. "We gonna pre-game or what?"

*

Roy snap-points at Eddie as she supplies the m-word, "That'd be the one. Although we like to keep them to being attempted murderers." And then he's being accused of leaving them out in the cold, and he laughs, "Hey, we can totally just sit in here and you can figure out how to make all the cool faces with a mask on. You've got to get your nose into arching your eyebrows, by the way. Emote with your eyes, not just your brows." The converta-holster causes him to chuckle, "The Amazing Velcro-ina." Clearly just joking, and actually buying a little time to think about the dangerous question that follows. He can feel the want, the //need/ burning in his veins, and he even starts to reach toward a pocket at his right thigh, "I mean… I was going to suggest your first vigilante lawbreaking be sober, but…" but he came prepared, even eager.

*

Eddie crinkles her nose and contorts her face, wobbling her cheeks and puffing them full of air but it's not as if she has a mirror to see the results. "It's going to take some getting used to." Like having to come to terms with the weight of a new pair of glasses on your face, only this one can protect against injury and protect her identity. The eagerness with which he reaches for his pocket seems to ignite her own, and she steps up close to him with her fingers tapping on her leg in anticipation. "I brought my grinder if you'd rather snort, that way we don't have to kill twenty minutes waiting for it to kick in." She's oh so helpful, isn't she?

*

The faces that she pull cause him to laugh, and he delves into his thigh pocket, unzipping it and pulling out a thin case, "What, you don't want to sit on a cold rooftop for twenty minutes waiting to relax?" Popping it open, he offers out the case with just two little pills in it. Oxy, or something like it. "Here I thought you were eager to snuggle." It's said with a laugh, however, and he shakes his head, "You get used to the mask, but yeah, when I first put it on, it felt like, I don't know, a starfish clinging to my face or something." He flashes for a grin, "And since your'e going to be distracted, we'll go fishing for mooks tonight."

*

"I find the starfish thing a little more apt. The way it clings. Definitely going to take some getting used to, but not like I can wear it around the Trike to break it in. Kind of defeats the purpose." As Roy pulls out the silver container, she leans over it expectantly to be greeted by the sight of two lonely little pills. "You're getting a little light there, babe. Sure we shouldn't roll a dealer who is letting school kids score of him or something and 'accidentally' not turn in the entire stash to the local authorities? That's not going to last us very long." Eddie considers this with a twist of her lips, screwing them up in thought before she slides a finger into her back pocket and comes up with a fold of money. She peels off two one hundred dollar bills and folds them into whatever nook of his Arsenal gear that's convenient. "The only place I'm getting the hook up is through you, so next batch is on me." Morales declares before patting herself down to remember which pocket she stashed the pill crusher in.

*

"This is my version of willpower. Only bring two pills, and I can't keep using all night." Roy starts to protest when she pulls out the bills and slips them into his pocket, but just sighs and nods grumpily. Apparently, his masculine pride has been offended, but his pragmatism is enough to accept the cash. He gathers it up with two fingers and tucks the pair of bills away with the pill case, rolling the pills around in his palm for a moment, "Well shit, E. I really am a bad influence on you, aren't I?" Shrugging that off, he waits for the crusher, "That's the same reason I don't roll dealers. I'm too weak to stop, but I try to at least stay strong enough that I don't become a threat to myself. I'm not gonna leave…" he cuts himself off, grimacing a little, and changes what he was going to say, "…my friends to have to deal with an ODed ex-teammate, or someone who got waxed by a mook because he was too high to fight."

*

"We walk a fine line, my friend." Eddie agrees quietly, "So we might just need St. Jude looking after us after all." She unscrews the top to the crusher, holding it out expectantly for him to either drop one or both of the pills inside so she can turn them into a fine power they can introduce quickly to their bloodstreams up their nostrils. "But let's face it, if I didn't have you, I'd find the high some place else. At least with each other we have the pretense of trust." She touches her bottom lip with a slight pass of her tongue. "Maybe just…we'll let it hit and give it a second to lull before we go out."

*

Roy touches the armored cloth that now covers the medallion as she mentions it, then topples one pill into the top of the crusher and gestures for her to go ahead and deal with that one, "Hey, if you're only using with me, that's pretty good. I mean, hell, we don't even use every time." Almost every time, but not quite, "And it's like, once a week, twice at most." It's better than he's doing. "I've got episodes of Real Housewives on my phone." In case they're left with nothing to do while they're waiting. "There's nothing quite so fucked up as being midway through an arrow-swing and realizing that your shit just kicked in. Totally screws with you." He looks up at the big screen as he waits his turn with the crusher, "You know, I should get one of those kickass laptop projectors and set it up in here. Or maybe play Smash Brothers on the big screen."

*

Eddie rattles the pill in the container before screwing on the lid. "I still go to the meetings. It helps me get through the days. I have too much riding on SHIELD to screw it up with something so temporary." She screws on the lid and gives it a twist, tapping on the sides to make sure the majority of the powder gets collected before she opens it again.

At the mention of rigging up the screen with a projector and gaming system, her gaze flicks over her shoulder to the big expanse of white and then back to Roy. "Going to set us up our own little flop house are you? It's got electricity so it's already one step up from my last place. Guess it would be nice to have a hide away far from the Trike." To do things like plunge her little silver straw into crushed up oxy and hoover it up with a pinch of a nostril. She makes a little noise, half pain and half enjoyment at the familiar burn, sniffling as she hands the stuff off to Roy.

*

Roy watches the preparation and inhalation of the Oxy with avid, addict's eyes, licking his lips as she snuffles it up and reaching out eagerly for the paraphernalia. And then he freezes a moment, the pill rattling into the grinder. Apparently, he hadn't thought of the idea of this as their flophouse. "Generally I figure it's close enough to my place to be convenient," with his real name, she can find his house easily enough if she wants to, "but far enough not to catch me. I use it as a meeting place time to time. Good lines of sight, what some of my nerdier former teammates would call 'difficult terrain' to keep anyone from rushing me before I can shoot them." His hands work as his mouth runs away from him, going through familiar motions to prepare — aaaaahhhh, that's the burn. He hisses in breath, rubbing at first one nostril and then the other, tilting his head back and offering the chopper back. "Ooooh." His nostrils get another quick rub, and then he lets out the breath he was holding in, "Or are you a total pop culture luddite, E? Do you skip the video games along with the movies and TV shows?"

*

Eddie's eyes are just thin slits behind the protective lenses of her mask, and even as the drugs work their way into her system she's watching him carefully. "I'm intruding." She decides succinctly. Of course instead of being distant and aloof, she's gotten far too used to being around him. This is his meeting place. This is his flop-house. And she just invited her way in. Her hand snaps over the paraphernalia as he offers it back, snatching instead of just accepting a hand off. "This is a bad idea, we both know it. Playing with fire is one thing, but willfully torching the world around us …yeah. Bad idea. Did I leave anything?" The last is wondered to herself as she twists so when she shoulders past him they won't touch, and she heads back up the aisle to the sheeted chairs.

*

"No no," Roy is quick to respond, fighting through the chemicals rushing through his blood to his brain, and he reaches out as she shoulders past — missing the initial aim to put an arm across her midsection and grasping her jacket instead, "Hey. E." He lifts his brows hard enough that the gesture is easily visible despite the mask, struggling to clear his mind against the first mellow bubbling of his brain on drugs. "You're not intruding. It's just a place I use sometimes. It's not like I crash here or anything. Might as well go home if I need to crash." Wrinkles gather above the mask as he tries to parse the rest of her words, "What are we willfully torching now? Suggestions about the chip-cashing place to the contrary, I'm not really like, a firebug or anything." Still, he looks around the area, "No, you got your knife, your gun, your mask, I got your medal…"

*

The thud of Eddie's pulse clangs in her ears, his voice sounding distant and distorted like it's slowed and underwater. The fire builds in her veins, a rising panic that makes acid sting in her throat. Looking for imaginary forgotten objects is just a distraction, needing time to straighten things out in her head but then he's trying to stay her both with words and with actions.

Eddie can move quickly when she wants to, even despite the drugs that are threatening to slog her down. Or maybe this is her slightly slowed. Once she feels the hand on her jacket, she turns to deflect the hand away with a strike of her forearm and her other hand comes up fast in a sharp vee between her forefinger and thumb to jut up under his chin. "I can't. Do This."

*

Not expecting the deflection, Roy is partly turned aside by it, his grasp missing entirely. But he has his own instinctive reactions, and his right hand is already snapping back across his body, reaching to grasp her wrist just as her fingers touch under his chin. "Hey." It's not a cute 'hey,' it's not a flirty 'hey,' it's not even an adorably befuddled 'hey,' a surprised, slightly angry, more than a little affronted 'hey.' "What the shit, E?" He aims next to shove her arm back away from his twisted-up jaw and back into the row of seats, "You can't do what? flirt a little with a friend? Have a friend? Jesus."

*

Eddie stumbles back a step at the shove, but it's not a casual stance she's taking up, but one geared for a fight. "Exactly." She says flatly, her voice taking on a cold edge. A necessary cold. Distance yourself, Eddie. Become the faceless Hashmark and all will be well.

Once you cross a bridge, you might as well burn it to ash.

A step forward has her pivoting, placing weight on the forward leg as she twists her hips sharply, kicking out a leg to his left thigh just above the knee. She follows the rotation through, whipping around to bring her left arm through the swing with her gloved hand fisted and aimed to backhand him across the jaw.

*

Backed up into the row of seats, there's not a whole lot of dodging that Roy can do, but the incoming kick draws an instant response, hammered into him by Nightwing, Starfire, and the original Titans even after he was a passable martial artist in his own right. He shuffles down the row, between the seats, crossing his wrists as he does and slamming them down toward the knee of her incoming foot. And then he's collecting a spinning backfist to the side of his head as he ducks down, trying to avoid it entirely and instead earning himself a ringing ear and a strained neck. Instead of attacking, however, he ducks under the follow-through, then springs up and away, one foot on the cushion of the seat up the mild incline of the auditorium and then the other on the back of the seat closer to the screen. "What the shit, Eddie?" Frustration and anger whip through the question, but he doesn't strike back, not yet, instead reaching up to his unhooded head to feel for what will soon be a bruise.

*

"What, I'm not your precious E anymore?" Eddie hitches up a boot, pulling herself up onto one of the wooden arm rests before stepping to the next in pursuit of him. "Should we do some more drugs together? Might numb that sting in your face a little. A few more lines and then at least I could stomach the thought of you touching me." Fuck, what are you doing Eddie. Just leave. Just salvage what pieces of this friendship you haven't ruined already.

With the added obfuscation of the mask, her emotions aren't so easily read, but there are definitely some playing out around the corners of her mouth. Inner turmoil. Self deprecation that has her lashing out verbally until she can get to him physically again.

*

"You're mental, E." Later, Roy will regret that verbal lash. Later, he might even connect some of what she's doing with how he put distance between himself and the other original Titans. Right now, it feels good to lash back. One boot braces on the back of the seat in front of him, the other on the wooden armrest, and he crouches a little, coiling to see if she's going to come after him. And look, she is. He pushes forward again, his back foot lashing out in an attempt to drive his knee into her midsection, a quick-snap more meant to send her off-balance than to actually chase her back across the tops of the seats. The blow puts him up on just one foot for a moment, before he's drawing back and planting his other foot on the back of the seat again. "You don't want me to touch you, all you've gotta do is say." His anger has gotten the better of him, however, and he snaps out, "Oh yeah, and not fucking pounce me." It's not just anger in his voice, but hurt as well.

*

Anger is good, Eddie can work with anger. Feed off of it. All of this will be so much easier if they just hate each other. If she can just ignore the hurt in his voice.

Her hands come up to brace against the blow of his knee to her midsection, absorbing the majority of force so it only causes a quiet guff of air to escape her lungs. Unfortunately because they are balanced on chairs, such an attack is enough to make her need to step backwards into the seat of one of the chairs awkwardly, wrenching her knee with a hiss. Temporarily stunted because of the injury, she grips the back of the chair with both hands and uses her good leg to strike out and likewise disrupt his balance and hopefully strike his shin straight on.

"I thought you liked being pounced in uncomfortable places. My bad."

*

If he weren't still holding back from hurt and confusion, Roy would try to follow up on Eddie's stumble and hiss — even if it would probably lead him straight into the kick. As it is, however, he doesn't continue the attack, and still gets the kick. His left knee collapses to keep from wrenching awkwardly, leaving him to batter his shin on the back of the chair as well, "Ow, fuck!" His hands drop down to catch himself from cracking his head on anything, and then he's rolling back into the row one down from Eddie, limp-rushing out toward the aisle proper. "I do. But not so much when it turns into trying to kick the shit out of me because you've got a problem being friends, or because you think I'm pushing you for more than that." And then he digs back into his really shitty early parenting, "Use your damned words, E."

*

Instead of heading towards the aisle after him, Eddie starts vaulting over the backs of seats towards the clearing in front of the screen to put herself between Roy and the known exit. Not that he doesn't likely have a dozen more points to flee out of, far more used to their surrounds than she is. This is his turf, but for the time being that doesn't seem to diminish her verve. "Words." She starts saying, speaking interrupted as she swings her legs over a row of seats and pommel horses the next. "Are pointless." She's favoring her one ankle slightly as she comes to the flat part of floor, but her high boots saved her from a worse injury. "And you're too much a coward to push." She pauses then, trying to judge what he's going to do next, a mirthless grin showing too much teeth. "Maybe that's why you hide behind these masks."

*

When Eddie gets between him and the back door, Roy frowns, his right hand dropping back to his now-slung bow, and then dropping away again. Instead, he clenches his hands, leather creaking softly. "Depends on the words, E. You don't think there's a point to 'payment,' or 'friends,' or 'enemy?'" He flexes his left leg to test the damage to his shin — bruises, painful, slowing him down, but not debilitating. "You try coming out every night in a place where what you're doing is illegal, where there's giant crocodiles and sociopathic clowns and fighting the good fight." Now there's as much anger as hurt in his voice, and he starts forward. There are plenty of other ways out, through the attic, through the front door, through the hatch he added in the men's room, but right now, he's starting to feel the urge to go out through her. "And you tell me if you'd like to go without a mask and make everyone around you in your normal life a target."

*

When Morales sees his hand tick for his bow, that grin grows more wild and wicked, almost daring him to go for it as he restrains himself from doing just that. When he starts forward, her uninjured foot is drawn back, the majority of her weight shifted to it so if he targets it, she won't simply crumble. At the end of his speech about vigilante life, Eddie throws her arms out wide, gloved palms towards the ceiling, "Sounds like you're just building a case for not having a normal life to me. Having normal things. Friends. Family. Things to protect. I can't even protect SHIELD. But what I can do? Is protect myself." He wanted words and she gives them, though likely not realizing that they reveal a little too much of where she's coming from. Her hands drop to a readied position, waiting defensively this time.

*

"Normal life's what keeps people sane, E. What grounds us." Something in her words tugs at the part of Roy's brain that's more hurt than angry, but there's enough of the angry that causes him to shuffle-step as he gets just to striking range, feinting a punch for her jaw, then dropping down to attempt to sweep her legs out from underneath her. "And screw protecting yourself if it means you don't get to actually have friends."

*

Eddie gives a little 'whatever' lift of her one shoulder at being grounded, just a little tick upwards before he's coming at her again. The feint is effective, causing her duck and weave under the perceived threat that never comes, but what does come is the quick drop and sweep to her legs. It's a successful maneuver that has her cracking her back hard on the ground of the abandoned theater but her adrenaline is pumping hard now so she's not stayed more than a beat before she's pushing off with her elbow and rolling towards him to clamp hands on a booted ankle and hopefully yank him right down on the ground with her so they can battle it out with fisticuffs on the dirty floor.

*

Roy starts to rise up in the wake of the sweep, drawing back his right fist for a blow to the fallen woman — except she's rolling right into him and pulling at his support-leg. When it goes, he goes, and he clatters against the painted cement of the floor, his head rocking back to crack on the thin carpet runner down the center of the aisle. That draws a pained grunt from him, and he's a little slow in rolling into her, reaching out a little blindly to grab for her wrists, trying to fend her off long enough for him to banish the flash of pained light in the back of his skull. He does, however, have the good sense to ground his right knee between them as he rolls, to protect the family jewels — Eddie seems like the type to use a knee during ground-fighting.

*

Eddie? Fight Dirty? Never.

Speaking clever verbal retorts has fallen away to concentrating on the fight at hand. He manages to get one of her wrists securely in his grasp but the other manages to whip away as he rolls, coming up in a fist to give a quick jab to his protected ribs which makes her gloved hand hurt more than any damage she could have done with such a blow. She grunts, trying to find purchase to get her off of the floor and roll on top of him, her leg looking to hook into his to help draw him beneath her even if that means she's sacrificing a painful twist to one wrist to do so.

*

One arm is no longer trying to punch him anywhere vulnerable, and no matter how thick the kevlar weave of his armor is, the pure kinetic energy of the punch still hurts, drawing another grunt of pain from his lips as he curls around the impact. Her leg twines around his, and his returns the favor, his calf locking behind hers to pin down her leg and keep it from lashing out at him, keep her from drawing away. He reaches out with his free hand, aiming to grasp the front of her shirt and jerk her forward even as his head cocks back and to one side — and then comes slamming up, looking to plant his forehead right above the thicker area of bone at the front of the head. He's not looking to break her nose, but he definitely wants her to feel the impact, his left arm tightening hard to keep her wrist from twisting out of his grasp. His left leg lashes out as well, aiming to lock down her other calf even as she settles above him. Without the impacts of fists and foreheads on ribs and heads, without the pain in the grunts, a bystander might be forgiven for thinking their position a much more intimate and compromising one.

*

At some point pinning him becomes trying to untangle from him, Eddie's limbs warring against the grasps and hooks that draw her in like a spider spinning her in silk. The comes to an abrupt halt when he jerks her downwards into the rising smack of his forehead, that ugly sound bone against bone makes that some how manages to sound like a crack. The edge of her new mask gets driven into her, a small split in her skin opening up from where it was drawn tight against her skull and beyond its natural elasticity. "Fuck." She's seeing stars now, and perhaps why the elbow that drives down into him is nothing more than reactionary and she's left just heaving a pained breath against him.

*

Roy has one wrist and the front of her shirt, along with her legs — she's got the upper hand. They might both have micro-concussions. He also has an elbow to the rib, which squeezes his eyes nearly shut from the pain. But his ears are still ringing from the skull contact right in the wake of the back of his head thumping into the thin carpet of the aisle. So instead of anything agile, offensive, or tricky, he just twists the fist caught up in her shirt, trying to hold her close against him where she can't get the necessary leverage to hit him either. This does, of course, pull them rather close together, his right arm pinned between their chests. His breath too comes quick and sharp, sharing the close air with her. His eyes close, trusting to the tight press to give him warning of any incoming offensive, he groans a little as he tries to clear the flashes behind his eyelids. "What. The hell. E?"

*

Eddie certainly doesn't feel like she has the upper hand, but then again, she doesn't have the same fight in her bones as if this were truly for her life. She contorts against him, trying to get her leg free from the wrap of his, but with a sprained ankle it causes a hiss of breath to escape her lips that's tinged not only with pain but a weird sort of amalgamation of emotion that has the last of it sounding like a whimper. The stilted question spurs another jerk of her torso, but his grip on her clothing is too tight. She's left just looking down into his face, nearly mask to mask and for the first time since the fight began it's as if she can truly see him and suddenly her ire twists into something else.

With something akin to a growl of bitterness that her own emotions are betraying her, Eddie's mouth crushes against his in a hunger that she's been trying to tamp down. It's rough and brutal and not the least bit shy in the ply of teeth and tongue to war the kiss deeper.

*

Roy grunts again as Eddie's twisting and pulling wrenches at his hip, and he starts to gather himself to roll, to punch, to do something else to shift the paradigm of the fight — but she gets there first, and in a very different way. When she growls and ducks toward him, Roy tenses, his hand scrabbling at her wrist for better purchase — and then her lips are on his, and after a long moment of his lips and tongue sparring with hers, trying to find an equilibrium and perhaps even take the lead, his hand looses the front of her shirt and smooths up the side of her neck to grasp the hair at the back of her head. His hips roll, and his left arm looses from her right, looking to roll them onto her back in the aisle, even if the motion might send his shoulder crashing into the side of the aisle seats.

*

The noise Eddie makes in the back of her throat is a mixture of longing and despair but mostly it's a bubbling need that's come to boil. Heavens know they've been dancing around their mutual attraction long enough and their brief kisses before weren't enough to sate. When his hand removes from its knot in her shirt and her gripped wrist released, she still no longer has the will to escape their tangle so kissing him certainly wasn't a tactic to disarm him. As he shifts their weight into a roll, her leg jerks up from the loosening calve lock to rub her thigh against the outer of his and squeeze it in a hitch at his hip. Her back rolls on the ground, reminded of a budding bruise from his leg sweep before and she arcs against him sharply but it turns into a convenient excuse to chase his lips again. Thankfully the hand in her hair keeps the back of her neck from touching the floor, and now hers are raking up to his back to try and strip the various weapons from him and get them out of the way in fevered movements.

*

If Roy were thinking, he would be trying to move them toward the relatively-new sheet on the chairs up the aisle from them. Of course, if he were thinking, he wouldn't be in the middle of a very-compromising clinch with a mysterious Agent of SHIELD. There are a lot of weapons to remove, even just from his back — the bow, the quiver, the bandoleer of throwing knives, the long knife (or short sword, depending on who you're asking), a couple of small spheres that might be smoke grenades or flashbangs — luckily, most of them come off with the relatively simple removal of the bandoleer, Roy drawing back from the near-frantic kiss to duck out of it. His own free hand finds the gun at her side and pulls it out as well, sending it clattering down the aisle as he leans into the heat of her body, turning his head as he ducks down to deepen the kiss and draw all the closer into her embrace.

*

FADE.

*

SOME TIME LATER:

The joint Eddie lit after she shimmied back into her jeans and shirt sits smoldering in the corner of her lips, her socked feet scuffing along the aisle as she tries to find the one boot that went sailing a few rows back. For all their fervor, those damnable masks stayed on, and some how that made things easier, and she still hides behind hers now.

"I'm broken, Roy. And until I'm fixed, thisthat can't happen again. This was a mistake." Eddie flops down into one of the chairs, flexing her fingers until the gloves reform into the webs of them and only then does she reach for the errant boot and slide it onto her foot, pulling hurriedly at the laces to tighten it around her calve. "I like you, and that scares the absolute shit out of me."

*

Roy scrambled for clothes just as quickly, his own thunderheads gathered over his brow. Something is gnawing at him, clearly enough, and so he looks up from sealing up the throat of his jacket at her words and rolls his shoulders, "Everybody's broken somehow. But yeah, that can't happen again. And it was a mistake." There's a pause as she continues, and he blinks, tilting his head to one side, "Shit. I just meant we needed to use protection next time." Because obviously that was the most important thing on his mind right now. "And, you know, maybe not try to kick the shit out of each other first." There's another pause, "Wait, why does that scare the shit out of you? Lots of masks hook up." He blinks, then quickly adds, "That's not why I got you the mask."

*

Eddie touches a knuckle to her forehead where the little split in her skin has since clotted over at the reminder of violence. Plucking the joint out of her mouth, she pinches off the end, exhaling her last lungful of fragrant smoke into the air. "Just my way of over compensating." She gives a sardonic little smile his way, but manages to avoid any eye contact. On her way back to the aisle, she snags up her holster and starts to refashion the straps so that she can wear it under her jacket again.

"Look, Roy. I know how this goes. 'Hey, that was fun, let's do it again'. Then it becomes a regular thing. Then one day, let's say I touch the wrong thing. Or heaven forbid we go for a toss in your actual bed and I see you fucking all the women before me, in excruciating detail. Then we fight. Probably not even about that, because, hey, I'm open minded. But then you start to feel insecure. What else will I accidentally see? That one day you decide to ditch out on plans for a boys night. Innocent enough, until I happen to touch your jacket and see you lied to me. Which sucks more than just the ditching." She grabs her coat as she talks, a speech she's probably given before. "Then we fight some more. People like me? Don't need to be around other people for an extended period of time. It just inevitably falls to shit." She toes the pile of weapons until she can find her gun, "You know, I get why you're called Arsenal now. What is this, like thirty pounds of gear?" She switches topics so nonchalantly, it's like she's distancing herself already. Slamming up the walls again.

*

Roy rubs at his shin for a moment, "Maybe… you know… less with the overcompensating next time. Because 'ow.'" And then he rewinds and shakes his head, "I mean, you know, next time we're hanging out totally not banging." Because that's what she said she wanted. Straightening up again, he starts finding weapons. It's the escrima sticks in the boots first, then… nope, her gun, not his. It gets handed over, and then he finds his and puts it back in its holster as he listens to her reasoning, "You know, that's actually some pretty good reasons not to get in a relationship." He pauses there, thinking it through, "Like, really, really logical reasons. That fucking sucks." It's not pity, that steady look that he levels on her, just sudden understanding. He thought he understood before, got how it worked, but that's clearly opened up a whole new level. "That's not broken. That's reasonable. That's screwed by genetics." And then she's distracting him, and he looks down at the mercenary's yard sale still on the theater floor. "Yeah. That's my way of overcompensating. You hang around people who can shoot energy bolts, lift buses, run faster than the speed of light, and get into any computer ever… you either go all super-brain like Nightwing, or you start carrying weapons for every occasion."

*

Eddie has the habit of checking her weapon before she slips it back into the holster, at the very least ensuring that the safety is on before she goes and tucks it away, zipping up her jacket in the wake. "I need to get my retractable baton back, I left it with the last guy I screwed and then turfed." She gives him a bright smile, confident he won't be able to see that it doesn't reach her eyes because of the protective lenses. "Thanks again for the mask. It's going to come in handy. Might even be a do-gooder on my way back to Manhattan." In reality she desperately needs to go nurse the thudding headache the visions have left her with. The visions she unfortunately got because the real 'protection' they should have used was that sheet to keep her from the theater's memories. Thankfully the pain of the bruises, twisted ankle and likely concussion coupled with their other activity kept the worst of it at bay.

She starts walking away. Does that mean she's ditching him tonight? Oh, yup. She's headed off to the exit before he can finish collecting his toys. Totally making with the ditching. It's sort of her thing.

*

Honestly, at this point if Roy notices that the smile doesn't reach Eddie's eyes, he might just assume that it's because she's trying to piss him off, not avoid any demonstration of actual feelings. Still, he gets the various and sundry weapons at his waist and hips tucked into their various and sundry pockets, sheathes, and holsters, and then stops, quipping through sheer defensive reflex, "Well, I hope you didn't stick it anywhere uncomfortable, or you might not want it back." He's only halfway into re-arming, and she's headed out, and he reminds her, "And stink-bombing. Don't forget stink-bombing." It leaves him feeling… unsatisfied, however delicious their less-clothed encounter was. He waits a minute, two, then shakes his head, then presses both hands to the sides when the spark of pain reminds him that he's hurt both the front and back of it tonight, "Shit, Roy. Damn it." Frustration, pure and nothing-simple-about it. With himself, with her, with the situation, with a whole lot of things. Including the fact that he still has a dozen or so weapons to put back on.

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