Same As It Ever Was

Fandom: DC Comics - Outsiders
Summary:  If you squint, it could almost be the old bunker. Arsenal is here, they're taking down low-rent losers to kill time, and everyone came home laughing. Well, everyone but Nightwing. Same thing.
Author: Grey Bard
Rating: PG-13
Notes: Written for the  Jingle Bells, Batman Smells 2007 fic exchange
Warning: Canonical f/f couple, character with canonical slasher tendencies.

If you squint, it could almost be the old bunker. Arsenal is here, they're taking down low-rent losers to kill time, and everyone came home laughing. Well, everyone but Nightwing. Same thing.

Grace takes a sip and leans back in her favorite chair – gently, to avoid the bruises. This is going to be a good one. "So, okay, Giganta escaped Wonder Woman, currently location unknown and we're like, damn. She's totally going to hire on with some other group of villains. Hundred foot tall supervillain, better get her off the market"

Roy leans forward and his eyebrows go up, the way they always did when the good dirt came up. "Indeed," he says, smirking. Grace has no idea who he's mimicking.

Rex shrugs from his lounge chair. He never could resist a good story. Plus, this is Roy. They've missed him. "So when we heard some unnamed person is attempting to hire her services and has arranged a meet – we had to crash it."

"Only we get there tonight, we're staking it out, Giganta's at the meeting place and this figure steps out of the shadows and…" Grace says, smirking back and sips again. Ah, sweet alcohol. Not strong enough for even a half-Amazon to get drunk on, but what the hell. It goes down smooth.

Everyone looks at her expectantly. She shakes her head. "And Mouse Man says 'Join me, Giganta! With your size and my rodent army, nowhere will be safe!'"

Roy starts cracking up, Katana leans back against the wall with a smile and Boomerang buries his head in his hands and makes little helpless snorting noises. Anissa starts giggling into Grace's shoulder, and Grace reaches out to pull her girl closer.

"He's eight @##$%ing inches tall!" Rex waves his mai tai with the umbrella in it for emphasis. You can tell he's really into the mood, because he can hardly stay coherent. No, really,  Metamorpho's legs are turning into some weird chemical steam.

Well, Grace can't exactly help laughing herself. "Eight inches tall and wearing a yellow jumpsuit with mouse ears! Like, evil Mickey!"

Thunder, Anissa, superhero, valedictorian type, is totally incapable of stopping the giggles once they start. "I know!" she gasps into Grace's shoulder before the giggles hit again.

Grace gestures wide. "I know! And Giganta was like 'Seriously? I hope the benefits package for this gig is really good.'" That gets a really good laugh. Well, except for from Nightwing.

Nightwing, no surprise, is still standing there with his arms crossed. "What are you even doing here, Roy? We're dead. We'd be wanted by the government if we were alive."

Arsenal isn't even thrown a little. Maybe this goes for normal, if you hang out with bat-spawn. He just keeps smiling right into that glare. "Not exactly, boy wonder. They're dead. You're very much alive, and utterly innocent. But what kind of ex-team leader would I be if I didn't come in and check on you guys from time to time? It's not like you're so stealthy that you're beyond the reach of…"

Nightwing explodes forward, and has a finger in Roy's face before he can blink.

"You didn't!" he snarls.

Roy just tilts his head back and looks down his nose innocently. "… Oracle. Why, who did you think I was going to say?"

So, he's still feeling a little sensitive about Papa Bat? Good to know.

"Back off, blue butt." This from Boomerang, the kid who looks like a dog who's going to get kicked every time fearless leader glares at him. Which, oh look, is just about to happen again. Nightwing turns from Arsenal toward his new target. Boomer winces.

Roy tips his head. "Man has a point, Wingster. Let the people finish their story."

So Grace picks up where she left off. "And who is his backup? Aside from the mice?"

"You'll never guess," Katana says, flat, not moving a muscle, but somehow totally amused.

Rex is in his element, all gas and grins now. This is priceless. "Blue Snow Man  - who has a ray gun with the power of blue snow."

Katana nods. "Not just snow. Blue snow. He was very clear about that."

"It's an important detail!" Metamorpho protests.

"And the Black and White Bandit, with his Dalmatian Domino," Boomer chips in.

"Whose power is?" Roy asks.

Grace grins at the memory. "Damn if I know. He just really likes black and white!"

"We jump in, the usual way –" Rex explains, waving a hand and drifting smoke.

"With  a bang." Boomerang adds. He really does think he's funny.

Metamorpho nods. "Yeah, thanks, Thunder. Where did you find to jump off of this time?" He looks to her, curious.

Thunder shrugs, still leaning comfortably against Grace. "A crane. It's a warehouse district, it wasn't hard. Not important."

"And suddenly we're hip deep in mice and dodging blue snow drifts and screaming supervillains," Rex explains, picking up where he left off.

"Not to mention a very freaked out dog," Grace remembers with a smirk.

Rex catches her eye, stone nose crinkled in amusement. "Who takes a Dalmatian into battle, anyway? They're pretty high strung dogs."

Boomerang tries, yet again, to get into the action. "So then the Black and White Bandit tried to get away in The Zebra…"

"The Zebra?" Roy wonders out loud.

Grace shakes her head. "His getaway car. Don't ask."

Rex shrugs. "And Boomer popped him in the back of the head with a boomerang. Kind of anticlimactic."

Boomer's arms cross and his face crumples up in outrage. "Hey, that was my big moment! I caught him all on my own!"

This is too easy, and way too good to pass up. Grace leans over and pats his arm. "Yes, you did! Awww, our little Owen is all grown up!"

"Shut up," he grumbles.

Familiar ground. "Make me." They'd  probably start rumbling right there, but let's face it, rookie guy with some aim versus a supersized strong-woman? Right.

Rex rolls his eyes and keeps going. Give him credit, the man can hold a train of thought. "Meanwhile, Blue Snow Man starts menacing Katana with the 'telescopic snow ray', so she just whacks it in half."

Katana nods. "I am Blue Snow Man, fear my easily destroyed equipment."

"Exactly," Metamorpho agrees. "At which point Blue Snow Man doesn't exactly have a back up plan, and is out of the game."

Roy gestures for him to go on. Damn, it really does feel like the old days.

"The mice aren't really the problem, Mouse Man is, so fearless leader here tells us to find the leader in the giant rodent army…" Rex shrugs.

"Not hard, he was wearing bright yellow," Anissa adds.

Grace can't leave it there. Hey, Rex can't have all the fun. "And then Thunder calls for Metamorpho, who obligingly morphs up a garbage can and some cardboard."

"That's not true!" he protests. "They were basalt and just sort of shaped like that."

Grace gives him a look. Who is he fooling? "Same thing. He floats in and traps Mouse Man housewife-style, like the teeny tiny threat he is. 'Garbage can' on top, 'cardboard' underneath. Trapped like a rat. Then the mice can't hear him or get his thought waves or whatever and they just run away. No more threat."

Rex nods. "Anyway, a clean bust, except Giganta got away."

"Which defeated the entire purpose." Nightwing states, darkly.

Now, hey. Grace has to stand up for herself.  "Hey, I didn't see the rest of you doing any better. Seems to me you were pretty busy with the rodent army and the blue snow at the time."

Thunder gives her a dirty look. "I don't like stomping innocent mice, okay?"

Too bad, girl. Grace takes another sip. "Which is fine, but it left me mano-a-mano with Doris the giant, so sue me."

"What happened?" Roy asks.

Grace makes a face. Not her fault she's several stories shorter. "She drop-kicked me, then shrank down and made a run for it."

"Which had nothing to do with how distracted you were by eyeing her up." Thunder adds, dry.

Grace spreads her hands, not apologizing. "Seven feet tall. It's not like I get to see cleavage from that angle often, okay? Give your girl a break."

"Mmm-hmm" Wow, she sounds unimpressed. Not really mad, though. You get involved with Grace, you have to get used to stuff.

Rex smiles. "Okay, not a banner day, but kind of a win. Hey, we caught some villains, had some laughs!"

"But Giganta got away! This is not acceptable. Totally unprofessional, and remember, you even get paid for this job" Nightwing thumps the drinks cart in frustration. He'd probably rather thump a table, but this isn't a meeting room, it's a kick back and relax room, so he has to settle for the drinks cart. Poor baby.

Rex looks up at him like he can't believe anyone is that dense. "Nightwing? Seriously. Seriously?"

Grace smirks at Anissa. "Somebody needs a girlfriend. Or maybe a boyfriend. I always kind of thought he and Roy had a vibe…"

 "Nightwing, relax. Okay?" Roy sighs. Nightwing, of course does no such thing.

Roy rubs his face looks like he can't believe he's doing this again. "I know you don't have the best role model or anything, but, hey. Giganta. Not exactly Joker on the evil charts. I'm sure the next time some two bit villain team runs afoul of the JLA, they'll catch her all over again. Plus, catching three villains is better than one - even if they are hilariously lame."

Nightwing raises an eyebrow and still looks unhappy, but less wound up. Wow, they could have used Arsenal around the last few months. Maybe he could do this by video-feed?

 "Plus, hilariously lame villains! I bet you even got to make a few quips while looking grim." Roy says, looking sly.

Grace gives Nightwing a sidelong look. Did he? Did he ever. "Yeah, he said 'Did somebody call the exterminators?' when he made his entrance."

 Roy nods. "Totally worth it."

"Besides," he adds, "I have a good lead on some real villains for you to beat up tomorrow, okay? I dropped by with a special folder for my favorite Outsiders."

Nightwing shrugs.

"You know it has to be good, if I could use it as an excuse to snatch some transporter time to see my 'unidentified informants'." Arsenal says, draping a friendly arm around him.

Grace bends down toward Anissa. "See? SEE?" she breathes in her ear and Thunder is stifling giggles.

Nightwing shakes his head and relaxes into the touch. "Fine, give. What do you have for me?"

Roy grins, broad and honest and happy. "That's my boy!"

"Hah," Grace says. "Totally married."

Just like the old days.


Grey Bard