The Fens (2019-2020)
Red Lynx and Nighthawk
It hadn’t taken long after the Royals lost product for word to start circulating that the Fens had a new defender, or at the least one of it’s old defenders had a new sidekick. Kam spent his nights patrolling the nadir of Freedom with single minded determination. Drug deals broken up and gang violence interrupted. It was weeks later when Robin received a call requesting her surreptitious presence in one of the paved over blocks that passed as a park in this part of the city. When she arrived she found Red Lynx perched in a darkened corner looming over the crumpled form of one of the districts too common would be pimps, and a tearful young latina lobbing occasional epithets his direction in spanish.
“Making friends and influencing people again, I see,” Robin strolled up, dressed down and her hands in her pockets. The weak moonlight glinted dully off her prosthetic, where her thin shirt rode up from where her hands were stuffed casually in the threadbare denim of her jeans. Robin didn’t wear her uniform anymore. That had gone in a box, in a shelf in her closet along with the rest of her high school memories.
She tipped her head to the side, her grey eyes taking in the woman’s distress and the snatches of Spanish.
“No pasa nada,” Robin offered soothingly to the young woman. She took a step closer, her body language easy and relaxed until she could put a gentle hand on her shoulder. The flesh and bone one, with her prosthetic still firmly in her pocket. “Indocumentado? Tengo un amigo… “
With a few soothing words, Robin managed to calm the young woman enough that her panic began to slow enough that Robin could reach into her wallet. With the deftness of someone used to making deals on the Fens rough streets, only Kam’s quick eyes caught the exchange of money and a business card. As the young woman bolted, Robin’s grey eyes flicked to the younger vigilante.
“Better the evil you know than the evil you don’t for a lot of folks here,” she offered gently, the words kind. “She doesn’t have anywhere else to go. When you can’t get legit work, it’s pretty easy to find yourself in an abusive situation. Sometimes the easiest part is punching the bad guy...”
Now that the girl was gone, Robin pulled her other hand out of her pocket, her posture relaxing fully and she gently clapped the Lynx’s shoulder with empathy rather than anything like pity or condescension. “She’ll have a place to stay for a little bit but you’ll probably see her out here again. That’s not a failure on your part; it’s the system that’s broken.”
The Masked Figure relaxed slightly as Robin approached trying to offer some explanation but Robin clearly had it in hand on approach, as he knew she would which was why he’d called. “Thank you.” he finally offered as the women took her leave and he let out a heavy sigh. He looked back to Robin at the explanation and grimaced beneath the mask, “Then someone should fix it.” He declared firmly, “Where did you send her?” he asked filing the information away for his next encounter as he added language study to his already busy schedule. The organization would see an uptick in anonymous donations in the near future as well.
Time crept forward, Kam spending more nights in the fens than not. Sometimes he’d find Robin on patrol or stakeout, others he’d call in her aid on a sticky situation. Word traveled fast in the Fens, the Nighthawk had a partner, again. Rumors Robin was likely not happy to hear regardless of the good done and aid rendered.
The winter chill was thick when Nighthawk got the tip, arms dealers moving a big shipment into the Fens. Unloading product on the cheap. They were well organized and well armed, and looking to get the goods out fast. No time for a police case, the warehouse too well defended to risk a solo raid, Fred was on a flight to Florida of all places. So she made the call on the comms channel he’d passed her that first night.
He was waiting on her roof as dusk settled falling seamlessly into following her lead on the approach. Stealthily take out the guards on the perimeter then move in on the main storehouse. Leadership would be there, they did this right they could take out the whole organization. And it went like clockwork. The duo came in loud through the skylight when the time came, shock and awe. Between the two of them the mafia soldiers hadn’t a chance. Half of them were dropped in the initial burst of violence. Red Lynx stuck to the shadows emerging to strike then vanish again before they could get a fix on him.
Her tip hadn’t said anything about a decommissioned soviet super soldier being in charge however. He shrugged off the flurry of attacks from Red Lynx and smirked down at the young hero with a scolding tisk. The bear of a man unleashed a punishing gut shot staggering the Dakanan then grasped him by the neck to slam him into an I-beam overhead and tossing the unconscious teen aside like a rag doll to slump in a corner of the warehouse.
Kam came to just as gentle fingers tugged his mask off. Behind Robin’s crouched form, the super soldier slumped in a bloody heap. Her grey eyes were lined with concern and then surprise. There was no flash of recognition. She had no idea who Kam was but her gaze took in his youthful features and that concern turned into a frown.
“Aw, hell, you’re just a kid,” Robin said with clear worry. He wasn’t so very much younger than Robin, two years or perhaps a little less, but young enough that she marked him as the teenager that he was. Her brow creased with irritation. “!@#ing Claremont. You alright there? Want me to call someone?”
Her fingers coiled around his biceps; her strength restrained enough to ensure that her handling was gentle as she helped him up.
Kams eyes slit open and to his credit he didn’t start as he came too. He remained still for a long moment taking in his surroundings and cataloguing his injuries before finally spoke, “Eighteen in the spring.” he corrected with good humor. “I take it then that you were victorious?” he inquired with a fond smile as she helped him to his feet, without the mask he was really quite expressive, the stoic act was clearly not a natural fit though it did serve its purpose. He ran a hand down his side and slowly turned his head focusing his eyes on a distant spot. “Cracked rib, minor concussion, greater injury to my pride.” he offered in reply to her question.
“This is my choice nothing to do with the school nor it’s dubious reverse psychology in restricting extracurriculars.” He corrected a bit more firmly, “Or I suppose the answer is supposed to be something about this being my bad boy rebellion and avoidance of the watchful gaze of the headmistress.” he shrugged with a half smile at his own ironic jest.
He however was clearly not surprised she knew of the school, so he probably knew she had been a student there. He also watched as she digested this information and allowed it to percolate before offering assurance, “I am not here at the headmistress behest to follow you or your friends post graduation activities.” He winced as he flexed the sore side and bit his lip slightly, “We should likely make our egress before the authorities arrive to clean up the mess.” he suggested and glanced at her as he offered an explanation of how he knew her as a former student, “I saw you when you visited, paperwork I assume, the admin building.” he explained rattling off the date still a bit too rung out by the recent visit to dream land to hold back on filling in the details from memory.
Robin chuckled, “Relax. I’m in the yearbook and everything. Summers has better things to do than spy on me. Let’s get you home.”
Robin perched on the crumbling roofline of one of the Fens more run down buildings, her expression contemplative as she surveyed the dimly lit city streets. Her leather jacket was discarded and the tanktop hid none of her prosthetics this far away from prying eyes. Kam had picked up long ago that she hid the smooth metal of her arm from people’s eyes for their comfort, not her own.
When Kam settled on the rooftop next to her, she sent the teen a small smile.
“It’s the anniversary today,” she explained with a nod towards her arm. “I had to get out. Fred’s sorrow and guilt… It’s easier if I’m not there as a reminder, I think. I hope.”
She chafed the chilled metal with her other hand absently before lacing her fingers loosely in her lap. “Have anyone that you’re hunting tonight, Lynx?”
Kam slid his helmet and mask off as he came to rest at Robin's side. No longer hiding his identity from here he saw no reason to hide the subtleties of expression the mask concealed. He knew better than to ask about it, clearly it was not an event she wanted to share and he did not think he was the one to push on that even if perhaps she should.
“She most likely takes it as a rejection and blame.” he stated openly. One of many things he enjoyed about Robin's company is that he did not need to disguise his frank assessment of people's motivations. “She feels guilt and will justify it with or without your presence and regardless of any objective truth or your feelings.”
He had, somewhat invasively in hindsight, researched the circumstance around her arm. Medical records told but part of the story but enough. The specifics were less important than her reactions and requests. “I know they could have sleeved the arm in sythskin.” he pointed out delicately knowing she’d soundly refused the suggestion at the time. “Whatever your intentions to those outside your mind it is a constant reminder of what happened and how.” He paused for a moment and added carefully. “Something to consider, I do not know Fred, but I know that is not your intention, perhaps they do not.”
He dropped from his haunches to a more lazy sprawl along the roofline to let her consider his words. After a moment's respite shook his head slightly. “I do not.” he admitted he was here for her not the unending task of cleaning up the fens. “But I will find one if you desire the distraction.” he glanced to the arm then back to her with a sad frown.
The young prince sat up and met her eyes, “I have an alternative offer however.” he stated boldly. “Dinner. And in that a reason for you to be out that doesn’t look like avoidance.” he smiled slightly and tilted his head nervously, “Though I admit my intentions are not entirely selfless.” he was not going to pretend as convenient as it might have been this wasn’t a date he was suggesting.
“Synthskin isn’t as strong. I don’t have the resources that Claremont does and I don’t like owing people,” Robin replied, avoiding the more emotionally fraught parts of the conversation. She considered the offer and for a moment, Kam thought she’d refuse.
“There’s a Chinese place around the block. One of my favorites. I’ll give you a few minutes to change and meet you there,” Before Kam could comment, or before Robin could change her mind, she dropped from the four story roof without another word.
Kam opened his mouth to reply but was cut off by her exit and he smiled softly to himself. If she wasn’t ready yet to share her reasons so be it, they would instead share a meal. To his mind that was a very good start. He dropped in the alley soundlessly and once sure it was clear quickly retrieved his civilian clothes and changed tucking the costume carefully into his backpack before slinging it over a shoulder and following around the corner to the restaurant she’d suggested. If he played his cards right she might even let him pay, despite not liking to owe people.
It was a slow burn, but Kam was both patient and persistent. Occasional deviations from crime fighting for meals, eventually a movie not under guise of surveillance, progress was made. By the time April rolled around he was comfortable with a slightly bigger ask. Prom.
Thus he arrived at the appointed hour, the limo drawing some looks from passersby in the Fens was to be expected. It was however unlikely to be associated with the private investigation firm with offices in the building perhaps a developer, or an extravagance for a local that hit a big score. He strode confidently to thumb the buzzer and announce his arrival and all that was left was the waiting.
And wait he did. It took Robin not very much time to dress, but it took her far longer to go downstairs and open the door. Jumping in front of bullets? No problem. Putting herself out there emotionally, though, that was far harder.
Finally, Robin opened the door herself, looking just a little uncomfortable. The dress was a simple one, a soft dove grey that made her eyes seem even more brilliant. It fastened high around her throat but left her back and arms bare. The skirt draped down to her ankles but was flowy enough that Robin didn’t feel she’d be at a disadvantage in a fight. It was Claremont after all. She’d even weathered the salon to have her curls woven into box braids threaded with silver. Robin didn’t wear any jewelry - she didn’t even own any - but the silver of her prosthetic glittered under the light.
“Uhm, so…” Robin asked, spreading her hands in front of her skirt. “This okay?”
Kam grew increasingly nervous and had to work through a few breathing exercises as he waited to keep from fidgeting or pressing the buzzer again. He knew she was here and she’d come down when ready. When the door opened a smile bloomed on his face unbidden. He met her eyes and replied, “It’s perfect.”