Summary: Two of the world's gloomiest good guys meet

Location: Hell's Kitchen

Participants: Batman, Daredevil

Rating: PG

Hell's Kitchen is a place transformed... or, at least, in the process of it.

Formerly one of the darkest pits of New York, it remains so, but with a distinctly more dangerous air about it. Not because of the criminals preying on the innocent -- but because of the predators preying on the criminals. Word has moved through the heroic community quickly enough. Daredevil, a hero who's gone through so much, who's lost everything he's had, built it back up, lost it again, and perpetuated that cycle... he may have finally snapped. Because he's taken control of the Hand, a mercenary ninja faction whose demonic power and pervasive evil is second only to the likes of the organization run by Ra's al Ghul.

Daredevil is a better man than the Demon's Head. For now.

The crimson-clad superhero is perched on a gargoyle in a tense squat, his radar projecting outward. Throughout the Kitchen, his ninja horde prowls silently, striking violently and swiftly at those who step outside the law. Not the law the Police enforce. His law. Daredevil's law.

Batman, in town on Justice League buisness, has heard the reports of a red-suited brooder in Hell's Kitchen edging in on his territory of gloomiest superhero, while also making the residents there rather nervous. Unhappy, and considering a copyright infringement case, he travels over to the infamous neighborhood, telling the kids back home that they were on their own for the night's craziness.

Silently creeping up behind the gargoyle-planted adventurer, he merely stands a few feet behind for a while before finally speaking. "I hear they call you Daredevil," he says, using his gruffest of gruff voices, sizing up the man who is slimmer from what he was expecting. "I also hear that you've been giving this neighborhood a good scare. That the truth?" He doesn't introduce himself; urban legends need no introduction.

Daredevil can feel Batman creeping towards him like it was a hot breeze on a winter day. He doesn't respond, though -- no whirling around, no waved billy clubs. A master detective like Batman would know that Daredevil knows that Batman is there, from the way his body tenses... preparing to move, even if it doesn't move, yet.

Radar gives him the shape of the man speaking to him, lets him pick out the horns on the cowl. Someone who doesn't belong in the Kitchen. Someone whose voice he'll remember. "I hear they call you 'the Bat,' down in Gotham," the lawyer-by-day says, slowly standing and turning around. "When perps from down there come up here, they think they're on easy street. 'At least New York ain't got no Batman,' they say."

"I have no patience for criminals," Batman says matter of factly, taking a step forward. The majority of his body, save for his head and his boots, is covered by his cape, not that the effect will be fully appreciated, nor does he know it won't. He does note that Daredevil, at the very least, is not impressed by his history and reputation. "They made their choice of how to live their life, I simply am helping the police in making sure they meet proper consequences." He squints slightly, his voice growing a bit deeper. "As I understand it, you've appointed yourself king of these streets. That might make some people nervous, even innocent people. Those you're supposedly protecting."

"I am protecting them," Daredevil replies. His tone is terse -- his voice not the powerful rasp of, say, the Batman, but a more world-weary thing, something that's been trampled but never broken. (Maybe.) "The Hand were a force for evil, Batman. I can guide them away from that. But to do that..."

Daredevil turns away. He gazes out at the streets -- his streets. "You can't just go to a cadre of mercenary assassins and say, this is how it is now. You have to put it into terms that they can understand -- you have to show them the profit of changing." Daredevil looks back over his shoulder. While he speaks, he listens to the other crimefighter's heartbeat, his preferred method of judging character. "So I put them to work."

Batman actually doesn't have a ready response for that, furrowing his brow beneath the cowl. Yes, he knows exactly how frustratingly difficult it can be to turn someone from their less-than-legal ways, even if they look good in a catsuit. "So it is a process," he finally says, his voice still low as he starts to pace around the other hero, showing remarkable balance as he walks along just the edge of the roof. "You're building something, making something better."

He pauses, turning to look towards Daredevil again. "And how sure are you that you can control this? Control them? From what I understand, the Hand were merciless killers, and you are trying to mold that?" He shakes his head. "I've fought assassians, Daredevil, as have you. I've seen that look in their eyes. If you really think you can control that, manage that all on your own, you're just as crazy as they say you are. Perhaps crazier." He's goading now, trying to get an emotional reaction.

It'd be easy for Daredevil to turn around and go 'Yeah, you know, you're right, it could all fall apart tomorrow, but if it does, it's my own mess to clean up, and...' But he can't. He's the war chief of the Hand now -- and the Hand is always listening. Always testing him, just like Batman is doing now. So when Daredevil turns away to gaze out at the city once more...

"I don't think I can control the Hand, Batman," Daredevil replies, as calmly and conclusively as he would deliver a closing argument in court. "I know I can."

Daredevil's conviction is impressive, even if inwardly Batman suspects he's bitten off more than he can chew. He simply nods his head. Not my city, not my problem, or at least not yet, he tells himself. "For what it is worth, I hope you're right," he says, sounding earnest enough as he starts to fuss around in his utility belt, eventually pulling out his zipline-grappling hook. "But know that if and when the Hand does get out of control, the League will be here to stop them. And you." With that, he shoots off his line at the tallest building nearby and starts to swoop away, long cape flapping dramatically.

So that's how it is, then, Daredevil thinks. Another set of enemies in waiting. He immediately backtracks and chides himself -- how can he think like that? The Justice League are his allies -- heroes -- fighting the good fight. And yet, if they plan to bring that fight to him, if they don't understand...

Daredevil turns and begins traveling in the direction opposite Batman, losing himself in the tar pit of his thoughts.

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