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runaway baby

Chapter Text

Your gloved finger traced over the olive leaf hoop earrings sitting beneath the glass counter in all their 18 carat diamond glory.

God, you had to have them.

Carefully, you used the razor sharp claw at the end of your gloved pointer finger to cut through the glass with military precision. You exhaled in satisfaction as the window of glass fell aside easily, allowing you to savor in the feeling of all the sterling silver and rose gold you desired to rest in your palms. Thankfully, the alarms didn’t go off after you tampered with the security system, much to your relief.

The Tiffany & Co. store was settled in a fragile silence except for the subtle sound of your clawed gloves carving through glass and the occasional revving of car tires against the rain soaked streets of Gotham City. You quickly stuffed the jewelry into the black backpack hanging loosely over your shoulder, silently smirking at a job well done before the crystal clear sound of someone clearing their throat cut through the quiet.

“You know, I think Gotham has more than enough cat burglars on the run around here,”

You turned swiftly on your heel of your boot, hand still tightly gripping your bag. A tall, male figure was leaning at the entrance of the jewelry shop with his arms crossed. Your eyes hardened, analyzing him from his combat boots, to the leather jacket rolled up his arms, to the arsenal of automatic pistols and sharp daggers settled on his belt that were refracting the gleam of the streetlamps outside the store windows.

His face was layered behind a red mask and was entirely hidden save for the subtle slope of his nose and slits for his eyes.

“Drat,” You groaned. “Looks like I’ve been caught red-handed.”

You sighed in a mock pout, eyelashes batting behind the black lace of the mask shielding your identity. The red-hooded figure scoffed. You can almost see him roll his eyes under the mask.

“I’ve heard of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but I’m pretty sure the movie has nothing to do with an amateur thief in a fucking get-up that’s trying to get her hands on a bunch of diamonds,” He chided.

You strolled over to him in defiance, heels clacking on the pristine marble floor and lips upturned in an impish grin. Not pausing until your hips bumped into his, you slowly ran your fingers up his chest, looking up as seductively as you can.

“What can I say, Red?” You whispered, lips barely an inch from where his chin hid beneath his mask, feeling his chest tense under your gloves at the sound of the affectionate nickname you gave him. “I’m a greedy girl.”

“Flirty is more like it,” He muttered. “With a very apparent lack of boundaries.”

“You’re no fun,” Your hands rested on his shoulders. “You’re not quite making the best first impression on me, Red. So why not let me go this once and see where it takes us?”

You could feel his glare on you. “Did you really think I was gonna let you escape that easily?”

He reached into his belt, threatening you with a nimble twirl of his pistol around his fingers before pushing it beneath your chin.

“Oh, Red, you wouldn’t hurt a lady,” You purred with an eyebrow raised, almost taunting him.

“Nah, you’re right--I wouldn’t,” His eyes narrowed. “But these guns sure as hell do, princess.”

You sighed. He really was no fun.

“Guess we’ll have to do this the hard way,” You tsked with a click of your tongue before swiftly grabbing his wrist and twisting it, eliciting a grunt from him before you tilted your head back and whipped it forward. The headbutt efficiently knocked him smack dab in the middle of his forehead.

Fuck,” He hissed before elbowing you in the ribs, knocking the air out of you before crouching down into a spin kick and sweeping you off the ground.

You fell with a hard thud onto the ground with your head throbbing and body aching from the surprise stunt. The man in the red hood hovered over you, pinning your arms to the ground as he dipped down to meet your eyes.

“You’re not impressing me,” He scowled. “So give it up--”

His voice trailed off, faltering to a stop when he felt you lean up closer, noses bumping as your warm breath fanned over his face. Even through the layer between the two of you, he could feel your soft lips brushing over his own.

“What’s the matter, Red?” You whispered. “Cat got your tongue?”

In the mere second of momentary surprise, you took this to your advantage by kneeing him in the groin and pushing forward. You flipped him onto his back before delivering a punch to the left side of his face for good measure. You scrambled onto your feet to hastily grab your bag of stolen jewels that fell a few feet away on the floor and bolted out the entrance, but not without a faint tinge of guilt in your heart.

As you stepped out the doors of the shop, you paused to throw a glance back to the man in red. He was already back on his feet, and you held your breath, expecting him to swiftly pull out a gun and pull the trigger to send a bullet square through your chest.

But he didn’t.

He simply stood there in the middle of the empty Tiffany’s shop with one gloved hand on his hip and the other balled into a tight fist beside him. He bathed in the moonlight, silently surrounded by empty glass shelves and the faint sound of your shared breaths.

It was as if he was letting you go. Coercing you to make your escape.

You smile at him playfully, feeling coy and perhaps a little grateful, too.

“See you around, Red,” You gift him a final wink before dashing off into the night.

 

/

 

“Tired?” A voice called behind you.

You turned to nod at your boss, Joe, with your mouth still hanging open in a tired yawn. He chuckled, never tearing his eyes away from the patties he was occupied with grilling.

Joe was a big man with an even bigger heart, you think, for agreeing to hire you as a waitress in his family owned diner when you nearly pleaded on your knees for a job after noticing the “Help Wanted” sign displayed outside the restaurant windows. You had moved to Gotham after being accepted into the city’s prestigious university program, and while your run there was successful, it also came with crippling student debt.

So you turned to less conventional methods of paying them off: waitressing in a run-of-the-mill 50s themed diner during the day and moonlighting as a feline fatale at night.

It wasn’t good; it wasn’t moral.

But it was desperate.

“I didn’t get a lot of sleep yesterday,” You admitted. Joe hummed in response.

You thought back to the sack of stolen jewelry still sitting beneath your bed, itching to be sold off to a dubious pawn shop a city away and having the truth set you free from the heavy weight in your chest.

In your dreams last night, he appeared. A red hooded man smelling of gunpowder and bad ideas. You could still feel his pistol beneath your chin, facing his masked eyes, and tasting the metal of the barrel of his gun on your lips.

It was so unsettling that he let you escape so easily last night that after sliding through your apartment’s fire escape and crashing onto your bed, you simply lied awake for hours, staring above at the ceiling and waiting for the world to collapse around you.

The bell above the diner’s doors rang, pulling you from your thoughts at the alert of customers entering. Tightening your waist apron, you briskly walked over to where two male patrons seated themselves in the corner booth with a pad and pencil in hand.

“--punched me and then ran off--”

“Wait, so you let her get away? Because you were smitten?”

“No! God, it wasn’t that easy--”

You cleared your throat, offering the two of them a forgiving smile when they flushed after finally noticing you approaching their table. The man on the right side of the booth had a mop of red hair and a sheepish smile curved on his lips that reached the corner of his freckled cheeks. He looked much more inviting when juxtaposed to the man who sat across from him at the table, whose jacket hood was covering his face as his fingers absentmindedly flipped the pages of the diner’s menu.

“What can I get for you?” You asked.

“I’ll have the classic burger and fries,” The redhead replied.

You nodded, quickly jotting his order down before glancing over at his friend. “And for you?”

The man looked up from his hood and you immediately faltered.

He was handsome, but in a devastating way.

He had disheveled black hair with one rogue silver strand dangling over his forehead and high cheekbones that sat prominently on his face, marked with faded scars and a nose that looked like it’d been broken and fixed back on his face one too many times.

But what stood out to you the most were his striking blue eyes. His left side was tinged with purple from what looked like a blooming fresh bruise.

“Just a coffee, please,” He muttered, handing the menu to you in return as his gaze lowered onto the table.

“Sorry about my pal over there,” The ginger leaned over to whisper with a sly smirk. “He’s beaten up pretty bad because of this chick he met last night--”

Roy,” The dark-haired friend glowered.

“I’ll be right back with your orders,” You said before scurrying away.

Before you sent the orders back to the kitchen, you tentatively glanced over at the handsome customer’s table. His hood was still partially covering his glassy, blue eyes and his lips were pressed into a hard line. You watched as the ginger across from him rambled animatedly with wild movements, and suddenly, his friend laughed. His entire face seemed to light up as the corners of his eyes crinkled, though the left side of his face was still clouded in a violet colored bruise.

Poor guy, You felt a tug in your chest. I wonder who gave that to him.

“Hey, Joe?” You called as the cook popped his head over from the kitchen window to listen. “Where do you keep the whipped cream?”

 

You came back arms full with a greasy burger and a side of golden fries, a mug of black coffee, and two vanilla milkshakes. The two men watched as you set each of them down on the table before brushing your hands off on your denim jeans.

“We didn’t order these,” The dark haired one blinked up at you as he motioned towards their shakes, perfectly topped with a generous mountain of whipped cream and a sugary sweet maraschino cherry.

“They’re on the house,” You insisted with a wink. “It looks like you guys had a rough night.”

The redhead’s eyes lit up. “Hey, thanks! My name’s Roy, by the way, in case you didn’t catch it before. I have a feeling we’ll be coming around here more often if we keep getting freebies like this.”

“Well, I look forward to seeing you both in the future,” You laugh politely before telling them your name and turning towards the man to your right expectantly.

He cleared his throat, and when he looked up to meet your eyes, you couldn’t help but feel that he sounded so close to someone you encountered once before. Perhaps in a dream.

“Jason,” He muttered. “My name is Jason.”

“Nice to meet you both, Roy and Jason,” You nodded before turning on your heel to clean up after a toddler who spilled juice over her high chair a few tables away.

Jason’s eyes trained on your back as you sauntered away. His gaze hardened at the recognizable way your hips swayed, the furtive curve of your lips, and the coy wink you threw.

“She’s cute,” Roy sipped his shake before moaning, “Holy shit, this tastes amazing.”

Jason shrugged.

Yeah, cute.

“Let me have a bite of that,”

“What?! Order your own burger, man!”

 

Cute and so fucking familiar.

Chapter Text

Gotham was not a beautiful city--not by a long shot.

Nevertheless, you could still feel the pulse of the urban jungle come alive at night as you stood at the heart of the city, overlooking its streets. You leaned over the rooftop of the brick complex you’d been standing on, silently observing the surprisingly tranquil traffic flow through the rain slicked streets and couples walking hand-in-hand down the sidewalks.

Gripping a backpack of newly stolen jewelry tighter over your shoulder, you moved towards the side of the building, eyeing the one next to it and measuring the distance between you and its concrete rooftop. Edging over the side of the wall, you threw your backpack over to the other roof, watching it land with a thud before you moved back several steps.

30 feet apart. 60 feet high.

You could hear the city’s heartbeat thrumming through your veins as your steps followed in rhythm and you took one, two, three, four running strides. Your boots raced on the runway of the rooftop before you propelled forward and leapt off, feeling the air whiz past your ears as you touched down onto the solid surface of the building next to it.

The landing was still a bit shaky, so you rolled forward to ease your footing and sprang back into step, immediately stilling when you noticed your backpack had disappeared.

“Looking for this?” A familiar voice called from ahead, and you couldn’t betray the smile that tugged on your lips.

Squinting in the dark, you could spot the faint outline of the Red Hood walking towards you from the shadows with your backpack in hand. You had caught him in the papers last week after he made headlines for brutally punishing a senator who moonlighted as an underground drug kingpin, chuckling to yourself as you ran your fingers over the ink at how fitting his name sounded.

“Good evening, Mr. Red Hood,” You sang, watching his figure move under the reflective glow of the city lights. “Would you be a gentleman and return my bag to me?”

“No can do, princess,” He tutted. “What have you got in here this time?”

“Just a string or two of pearls,” You circled around him like a feline cornering its prey as the sound of the heels of your boots making contact with the ground followed in tempo.

He scoffed, and you could feel him tense under the palms you rested on his shirt--whether from your touch or his irritation, you weren’t certain.

“I left behind some cash,” You purred with convincing innocence, “I’m trying to be atoned for my sins.”

“Are you just saying that to justify the breaking and entering part of your story?” Red - as you so affectionately liked to call him - asked dryly with a slight tilt of his head.

“You have such little faith in me,”

He scowled. Your flirtatious game of cat and mouse had been going on for weeks--of you stealing diamonds for yourself and him chasing you down. But every time, almost on natural cue, he lets you go. After each night of playful banter and undeniable chemistry, he would simply sigh and shake his head in surrender as he’d watch you vault from rooftops and swing away from his grasp.

(Because he knows you’ll eventually come back to him.)

“You can’t keep this up,” He reprimanded. “Y’know, one day I’m going to have to take you in to the cops. For real.”

“But not today, hm?” You grinned as you pressed up against him, running your hands up his chest and loosely resting them around his neck. You moved closer, nose brushing over the hollow of his throat. “Not today, not ever. I’m starting to believe you’re letting me go all this time because you still want me sticking around you, Red.”

Red exhaled, and just as his grip loosened around your bag of jewelry, you immediately stomped your heel down on his shoe. He winced before quickly dodging the elbow that you had prepared to strike him with and bending down to swiftly sweep you off the ground with a spin kick.

After you fell, breath caught in your throat and hair spread messily over the concrete rooftop, you eyed Red as he stood over you and watched him lean down to pin you to the ground.

You’ve played this game before.

Before he could trap you down, you shot forward and tackled him. The both of you wrestled and rolled over the concrete until you both came to a halt with him on the bottom and you sitting on top of his abdomen. You straddled his waist, each leg resting stubbornly beside his hips as the both of you tried to catch your breaths.

You could almost laugh at the irony of this.

He could easily rip the black lace of your mask away from your face and meet the eyes of the reckless girl he’s been chasing for weeks. He could pull out his pistol and press the barrel into your temple in the simple blink of an eye with little to no effort.

But he didn’t. He simply stared at you from behind his red helmet, watching the wisps of your hair fall over your face, the cunning upturn of your victorious smile, and the way the stars seemed to glimmer like a crown over your head.

“You’re impossible,” Red muttered.

“Impossible to resist,” You corrected, and when you let your fingers run down his torso, you know that you had successfully broken his charade of exasperation.

His hands tentatively reached out to rest on your hips, hands barely brushing over the curve of your waist and feeling so featherlight that you wondered how someone so notorious for refusing to pull punches like him could touch you so delicately like this.

You could feel his heartbeat underneath your fingertips.

You reached down to trace his jaw, playing dangerously close with the edge of his mask. With a single swipe of your clawed gloves, you could remove his mask and lean down to feel his smirk against your lips. You would still be catching your breath as you’d tell him truthfully, sincerely, that you were tired of this stupid game and that you wanted something real.

Instead, you smiled ruefully, chiding yourself for entertaining the thought of him ever feeling something different for the poor, dishonest girl hiding behind a costume.

“Well, it’s been fun playing with you, Red,” You said as you slid off of him, grabbing your backpack that was strewn a few feet away without ever breaking eye contact in case he would try to pin you down again.

The both of you stood in silence. You could almost see Red narrowing his eyes behind his mask, deducing which move you were planning next.

“See you around, cowboy,” You sauntered away from him. He didn’t make any move to stop you. “Meet me on the same rooftop?”

“Is that a date?” You could feel his glare on your back.

You laughed, turning around to blow him a quick kiss before running a few strides and hopping off the building and onto the next, escaping from him again.

He only stood there, dumbstruck, watching you disappear as your laugh echoed into the night.

 

/

 

“Jason? Jason, are you okay?”

Jason blinked. When he looked up to the sound of the voice calling out to him, the cute waitress who had taken his order was watching him in concern with a slight furrow of her eyebrows.

He glanced back down to his table where a dejected looking plate of fries that must have already gone cold sat in front of him. He quickly scanned the diner out of instilled habit, noting how it was relatively empty and buzzed with the noise of whispered conversations and sips of malt milkshakes.

“Jason?”

He shook his head, mumbling, “Sorry, I was lost in thought. What did you say?”

“Just wondering if you’d like some more fries,” You offered him, nodding towards his plate as you proceeded to wipe down a sticky corner of his table with a towel.

“No, I’m fine, thanks,” He answered before lowering his gaze to the table.

You silently regarded how his windswept hair fell over his hardened gaze and the subtle fidget with his fingers that almost went unnoticed from beneath the tug of his leather sleeves. The brooding man that you had once called a stranger was now a familiar face at the diner by regularly visiting with his red-haired friend and ordering fries to dip in their shakes each time they came.

On a few rare instances, he would come solo and sit by a corner booth looking far too alone with himself. It was during those nights where you’d offer him a free coffee out of sympathy, often sticking by his table a little longer to listen to him grumble about the bad blood he had with his brothers or the trouble his friends would drag him into.

With each visit, Jason managed to open up to you, and you couldn’t help but wonder why your heart beat wilder every time he’d throw you an all too familiar smirk.

“Long night?” You asked, observing the dark circles stamped beneath his stormy eyes.

Jason ran his fingers through his dark hair. “Yeah. Brutal.”

And like any other day where you’d feel something tug in your chest whenever Jason sat by himself, trapped in his own head, you’d keep him company.

You left his table only to come back a few minutes later with two shakes in hand. Jason exchanged a curious look as you maneuvered into the plush seat across from him before sliding a chocolate milkshake that was overflowing with whipped cream over to his side.

“My shift ends in a few minutes, anyway,” You shrugged, crossing your arms onto the table to catch his eye. “You look like you need someone to talk to.”

Jason’s lips twitched into a grateful smile. You sipped your own shake, tasting strawberries on your tongue.

“So, tell me,” You nudged. “What’s on your mind?”

He huffed an abrupt laugh. “It’s just this girl.”

“Oh my, girl troubles?”

“You have no idea,”

“Do tell,”

“This girl,” Jason grunted as he wrapped his fingers around his milkshake glass. “She’s impossible to figure out. Each time I think I’ve got her pinned down, she just flies away from my fingertips. But she’s so...addictive. She’s funny. She’s messy. She’s a flirt. And yet she--”

“She sounds like she’s playing hard to get,” You suggested.

He tilted his head towards you. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” You could feel your cheeks slowly heat up at the way he held onto your every word, eyes intently searching your own. “Maybe she likes you, too, but she’s too shy to admit it, so she’s playing games with you to hide how she really feels.”

Jason hummed before he sipped on his own shake.

“You’re quite the love guru,” He raised an eyebrow.

“I try,” You reached over to pluck a fry from his plate. “But I’m not always successful.”

“Boy troubles?” He teased playfully.

“It’s complicated,”

Jason grinned. “I could help. I’ve been told I’m quite the chick magnet. I work magic with relationships.”

You quirked a smile. “A regular Houdini.”

“And redheads go crazy for me,” He shrugged nonchalantly, and you stifled a giggle. “Spill.”

“This guy,” You stirred your strawberry shake absentmindedly. “He’s dark and mysterious, but he can be surprisingly sweet. Everything is push-and-pull with him. Each time we take a step closer together, we grow further apart. I can’t help but keep running from him. I just wish he knew that I...I want things to be more, y’know?”

Jason leaned in closer as he listened, and the heat in your cheeks burned bright. He bathed beneath the fluorescent glow of the neon lights outside, and as you tried to catch your breath at the mere inches your faces were distanced away from each other, you thought to yourself that he was quite handsome.

“Sounds like a really private guy,” Jason reasoned. “Maybe he’s avoiding anything permanent because he thinks you want something temporary. He’s afraid that if you cross that line, and you know who he truly is, that you’ll pull away. He’s worried things won’t ever be the same anymore.”

The two of you were only centimeters apart now, sharing breaths and nearly bumping noses against each other from across the table. The white noise of the jukebox jazz and muted diner conversations blurred around you.

And for just a second, as your eyes fell to his lips and eyelids nearly fluttered shut, you swear you’ve felt the brushing of the line of his jaw and the feeling of his lips pressed against your own before.

Jason pulled away, clearing his throat and realizing your intimate proximity, you quickly do the same. You silently tucked a stray strand of hair behind your ear as his eyes caught on the olive leaf hoop earrings on your ears.

“Thanks for the advice,” You said, feeling bashful all of a sudden. “I owe you one.”

“I’ll accept a year’s supply of free chocolate milkshakes as payment,” Jason quipped.

“Easy, cowboy,” You laughed.

 

/

 

Jason couldn’t sleep.

Normally, after a long-winded night of bounding over buildings and knocking out baddies with a swift punch, he would’ve collapsed onto his bed and slept through lunch.

Abnormally, he was still wide awake in his sheets, staring up at the ceiling for answers it couldn’t give him.  He tried counting bats, ignoring how your eyes stared back at his each time his eyelids fluttered shut, but he gave up by the time he reached 218.

He should’ve texted Dick. He was good when it came to dealing with girls.

Jason crossed his arms behind his head and rested them on his pillow as he tried to piece you together, desperately attempting to figure out why he couldn’t get a cute waitress from a run-of-the-mill diner out of his head. Under the afterglow of the summer air, he traced your flirtatious smile in his mind.

Just a few hours ago, when you leaned in only inches away from him in your diner booth, he could swear he had felt the familiar way your lips teased his before. Everything--from the way your eyelashes brushed over the tops of your cheeks, the coy glint in your eyes, and the silver olive leaf shaped earrings--reminded him of someone.

He scowled to himself in frustration, racking his brain over analyzing the soft slope from your nose down to your lips and how you managed to look anything but ordinary in jeans and an apron tied to your waist. He knew should’ve fucking texted Dick.

Easy, cowboy.

Your sultry voice sang in his head like a broken record. He listened to it again.

Easy, cowboy.

See you around, cowboy.

Jason replayed your voice again as if it was a cassette tape, but this time, he illustrated your eyes blinking behind the lace of a black mask and your lips puckered to blow him a goodbye kiss.

See you around, cowboy.

He shot up from his bed, breathing hard and pupils dilating.

 

It all clicked.

Chapter Text

Jason checked his watch.

Forty minutes had passed.

This is so fucking stupid, he thought to himself.

He had waited a week to see you. Days of mixed emotions passed before he mustered up the courage to bring himself to the same rooftop where he had seen you last. Ever since Jason had come to the revelation that you -- the cute waitress from the local diner by day -- were the same person as the masked thief that stole his breath away by night, the flirtatious kiss that you’d blown his way as a bid of farewell wouldn’t stop playing in his head.

He twirled his knife between his fingers, tossing it in the air and spinning it for good measure to entertain himself. Forty-five minutes.

The rooftop was barren and quiet, save for the occasional whistle of the wind that blew past him and the sound of tires revving against asphalt. His legs dangled over the edge of the building where he sat waiting, resorting to people-watching in boredom and observing cars swerve by in the streets below. Another quiet night in Gotham, and he was missing your company.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, Jason berated himself. She doesn’t even have your number.

Fifty minutes. He sighed. You weren’t coming.

Jason stood up from the concrete roof, giving his legs a quick stretch after resting for such a prolonged length.

Suddenly, he heard a loud gunshot cut through the night. He whipped his head towards the sound, hearing two more gunshots in succession followed by a harsh cacophony of distant screams. 

They were coming from the direction of the diner.

Jason cursed under his breath before vaulting from the building, whipping out his grapple gun and landing onto the streets below, racing towards the chaos with his hands clutched on his firearms. He sped through intersections and honking cars, his adrenaline spiking like a shoot-em-up drug in his veins as he prayed to whatever God was out there that your shift already ended and that you were safe at home, far away from the diner.

As he neared the corner where the restaurant was tucked in, the sounds of cries crescendoed and a few patrons frantically bolted past him in the opposite direction. A panicked looking woman stumbled over the sidewalk, and Jason paused to help her up.

“D-Don’t hurt me! Please!” She pleaded, clearly intimidated by his red helmet and the arsenal of guns strapped to his belt.

“I won’t, but you need to tell me what’s going on!” He said urgently.

“Burglars! Burglars with guns! They raided the diner and shot the owner,” The woman yelped as she tried to regain her balance.

“Is anyone still in there?” He gripped the woman’s wrists tightly, teeth grit as he feared your name would leave her trembling lips.

“I-I don’t know,” She shook her head, still stricken. “Everyone ran out in a hurry. There may still be the chef and a girl taken hostage back there--”

He growled, immediately releasing the woman and yelling at her to run far away before sprinting as fast as his legs could take him to the diner, dodging frightened passerbys trying to escape from the scene along the way.

The doors were already shattered when he entered with arms raised and guns aimed. Jason quickly surveyed the area, noticing chairs scattered around and broken glass littered on the tile floor. It looked as if a storm pummeled its way through the diner, and standing right in the eye of the hurricane, was you.

One of the robbers, clad in a dirty jacket and ragged ski mask, held you at knifepoint in the middle of the diner with one arm wrapped tightly around your hip and the other pressing the blade into the soft flesh of your neck. Jason spotted the others shuffling in the back of the shop, stuffing wads of cash into duffel bags. Three robbers, maybe four. Each with a pistol hung on their hips, he deduced. In the corner of the kitchen, he spotted the middle-aged owner of the restaurant lying on the floor beside his grill, towel pressed to his chest as he bled through his apron.

Red,” Your voice came out like a breath of relief, and the burglar that held you threatened the blade to sink lower into your skin.

“Let her go,” Jason demanded. His finger brushed against the trigger of his gun.

“Watch where you’re pointing that, Red Hood,” The man snarled behind his ski mask. “Wouldn’t wanna miss and shoot your precious little kitten here.”

His other hand palmed over your black catsuit, teasing along your hips, and Jason seethed. His eyes poured fire as each millisecond passed that he didn’t shoot the man point blank in the head, but when he looked back to meet your gaze, he could feel your eyes calming his heartbeat.

They were searching through his own, begging him to be rational. He watched as your hands subtly gripped tighter onto the arm holding the knife to your neck, and you gave him a slight nod.

“You underestimate me. For one,” Jason smirked, watching as you dug your heel into the burglar’s shoe and he howled in pain before you tugged with all your might on the man’s arm, tossing him to the floor, “I never miss.”

Jason pulled the trigger, sending the bullet straight into the robber’s shoulder, who crumpled on the ground.

“The fuck was that?” A surprised voice called from the back of the kitchen. Jason met your startled eyes, and the both of you rolled over to hide beneath the bar stool counter. The sound of shuffling neared, and the both of you could hear the rest of the gang kneel over the body of their accomplice, yelling, “Shit, he’s been shot!”

You turned to glance over at Red, who was crouched beside you, grumbling something incoherent about stupid gun jamming on me after only one fucking shot while fumbling with his guns. Under normal circumstances, you would’ve teased him about the limited distance between your faces, providing a snarky comment about how he couldn’t stay away from you before closing the distance between your lips. But now, your cherished boss from your daytime job was bleeding in the corner in a puddle of his own blood and your life was hanging by a thread.

“What was that all about?” You whispered. “I could’ve handled it myself.”

Red snorted, unconvinced. “I shoot to wound, not to kill, sweetheart.”

“I was doing fine on my own,”

“You’re an amateur,” He insisted. “This isn’t anything like the games we’ve been playing. If I had arrived any minute later, you would’ve been dead meat.”

And with all the stupid courage he had left in him, he reached out to hold onto your wrist, feeling your pulse beneath his fingers as he let out the truth, “I know you don’t need my protection. You’re independent like that. But I also know that you’re the girl who gives out free milkshakes to lonely guys in this diner and the same one stealing jewelry and fighting baddies, believing that she’s invincible.”

Your eyes widened, stunned speechless that Red knew of your identity. “How did you--”

“Hey, they’re hiding back here!” A voice shouted as footsteps neared the counter.

Red met your eyes again, and perhaps it was your deliriousness from fear or suspense, but you imagined a pair of reassuring blue eyes comforting your own for a split second behind the white lens of his red mask. Red reloaded his pistols with a swift click, before instructing, “On three,” as the footsteps echoed closer. You nodded.

“Three!”

The both of you leapt onto countertop, dodging the hail of gunfire as you flipped to the side and Red retaliated with his own shower of bullets. With a few graceful flips and scratches to the chest with your clawed gloves, one of the gang members winced in surrender, falling with a thud as you granted him a final kick to the head. Red handled the other robber just as quickly by twisting the gun from his wrist, whipping the butt of pistol to his neck, and delivering a swift right hook to knock him out.

You and Red stood in silence in the middle of the diner, catching your breaths and watching the pile of bodies strewn over the diner’s floor groan and roll over in pain. He looked over to where you stood by his side, your eyes still trained on the blood-stained floor.

It took a few minutes for you to register the sound of police sirens blaring outside, and that your fingers were loosely intertwined with Red’s gloves.

“This was so not how I was picturing our first date,” Red complained.


/


The summer air was cooler than usual.

You let the breeze blow past your hair as you overlooked the red and blue sirens flashing in the streets below, eyes glazing over stretchers and nurses dressed their baby blue scrubs bustling in and out of the hospital’s revolving doors.

After signing off a few documents and fabricating a more or less convincing story as a witness to the police, you visited Joe in the emergency room, sitting in the recliner beside his hospital bed to hold his hand gently as he slept through recovery. When the pristine white walls and bleached floors became too suffocating, you slipped out onto the roof through the building’s fire escape as the sound of IV drips falling like raindrops echoed behind you.

You waited for him on the rooftop, because somehow, that’s where the both of you always ended up.

He arrived a few minutes later, your back still turned to him. Your catsuit and lace mask were replaced by a simple peacoat and jeans, and when you heard him shuffle closer to you, you had never felt more naked in your life. Red knew who you were behind the costume and the flirting. He knew that you were the girl that wiped tables and served milkshakes in the modest 50s diner tucked behind one of Gotham’s hidden corners. He knew that you were vulnerable.

“Hell of a view,” Red commented, but was only met with silence. “How’s the owner?”

“Joe’s fine,” You replied, never tearing your eyes from the hospital driveway below. “The bullet missed his coronary artery. He’s no longer in critical condition.”

“That’s good to hear,”

When you finally turned to meet him, Red was standing a few feet away, bathing under the light of the full moon. It reminds you of the night you first encountered him, of the night the chase started.

“Did you know?” You asked, searching for his eyes behind the red mask. “Did you know all along? Who I was?”

“No,” He answered, head slightly hung low. “Not for a long time.”

“Now that you do,” You spoke carefully, hands still stuffed in the pockets of your coat. “Are you going to arrest me?”

Red shook his head silently. It was unusual speaking to you like this, with you standing an uncomfortable distance away and acknowledging him so formally instead of circling around and teasing him like a cat’s quarry. He met your rueful eyes behind his mask, and he surrendered, letting his heart rule over his head for the girl who he fell in love with in a jewelry shop first, and in a diner second.

His hands reached up towards his mask, and he prayed that he wouldn’t regret this decision. And that you wouldn’t run away.

“We all have our secrets,” He said. “I think it’s only fair that you know mine.”

You watched as Red prepared to pull his mask over his head, breath caught in your throat. You couldn’t look up at his face, opting instead to train your eyes on the red bat symbol painted over his chest. His red mask fell to the ground with a hollow thud, and you swallowed, still apprehensive at the thought that once you saw Red as he truly was, the future wouldn’t ever be certain again.

“I swear I’m not that ugly,” He huffed a quiet laugh, and you hesitantly looked up.

The first thing you saw was a familiar pair of startling blue eyes.

Jason,” You managed to stifle a gasp.

A sheepish grin tugged on his lips. His dark hair was slightly ruffled and a rogue strand of silver fell over the left side of his face, and you would’ve thought it was endearing if it weren’t for the momentary shock that dumped over you like a bucket of cold water. Jason and Red were one in the same. Behind the sarcastic voice of the red mask was the brooding boy that sat by himself in the corner of your diner, the same one that smiled softly each time you poured him a cup of coffee.

The way he smirked at you and let your noses bump together as your mouths teased each other a hair’s breadth away were all so familiar to you because it had always been Jason. Everything aligned like planets in the solar system.

You stepped towards him, hands resting on his chest. But your fingers didn’t tease him or trail down his torso seductively. Instead, you felt his heartbeat beneath your palms, closing your eyes and taking a shaky breath as you memorized the soft rhythm. You let them run over his jaw, holding his face delicately as you met his startling blue eyes. He leaned into your touch, a gloved hand reaching up to cover your own.

“It was you,” You muttered wistfully. “It was you all along.”

Jason nodded, eyes fluttering down to your lips. “Are you going to escape from me?”

“No,” You whispered to him, as a secret and as a promise. “Never again.”

And you leaned up to kiss him, slow and open-mouthed and sweet. It was long overdue, after months of teasing and pushing and pulling and only ever brushing the material of his mask whenever your lips would try to meet his. But now that he was in your arms, finally, you thought to yourself that no amount of diamonds or pearls could replace what it felt like to have him hold you like this.

He pulled away first, murmuring so beautiful under his breath as your fingers played with the ends of his dark hair around his neck.

“So, if we’re planning on having a second date,” Jason gave a quick kiss to your nose before slanting his lips over yours again. “Can it involve free milkshakes?”

You laughed, and he could feel your smile against his own.

 

“Let’s take it slow, Red.”