It's bordering on just after dusk when the sky is sinking into twilight blues and purples, not quite the black of night but yet not the bright illumination of day either but rather the transition between the two. Shadows slowly start to stretch out from the buildings, sinking the ground in the same darkness that starts to consume the skyline. Sitting on a ledge in one such shadow is Catwoman who is perched thirty feet above an alley where she watches a small group of thugs who are preparing for an evening's worth of crime.
There is a momentary glint off to the right of that crowd. A hint of movement as a bit of black fabric swooshes around a crouching figure, a brief flash of a shadowy outline as cast by car headlights. And.. Did that outline have an all-to-familiar pointy head? It's only for a moment that the figure is revealed, before it fades back into the shadows cast by the surrounding buildings on the recessed windows of the building in question. . There's nothing to really clue Catwoman on to the fact that someone else is here as her attention is so intent on those milling about the street below. One of the guys nods after a bit of discussion and pulls out a small baggy while one of the others pulls out a small wade of cash, that being the start of a drug deal she's not going to let go down. Uncoiling her whip, she uses it to swing down, arching herself towards the small group in an effort to try and kick at least one of them to the ground before getting her legs back under her. Whips are for chumps. The figure that had been glimpsed oh so briefly before Catwoman swings into action abruptly launches itself off the window. Again, the silhouette is that of a caped figure with a pointy head. Undoubtedly a figure to strike fear into the hearts of any petty drug-dealer. Until, however, the figure straightens up and snaps a collapsible bo staff open. Female. And certainly no Bat, with the cross on her chest. The Huntress quickly looks around, as if looking for a specific person. Catwoman is ignored for now.
Turning to plant a kick in one of the criminals' face has her discovering she is not alone and for a second she falters. It gives one of the recently kicked man's friend a chance to hit her in the nose, it still swollen and sore from the shot Batgirl took to it the other night, it now starting to bleed again. Gasping in pain, Catwoman spins around, punching blindly, the flashing lights making it hard to see her target.
It is a dark night in Gotham's crappiest district, and a drug sale by a bunch of gangbangs /was/ going down. But Gotham being Gotham, honest businessmen can't seem to do business without someone in a mask messing things up. In this case, it's Catwoman and a strange woman in purple and black with a bo staff.
Catwoman seems to have suffered a bloody nose, given blood on her front and her blind punching. The man that punched her looks as if he's preparing to draw a gun or knife.
Fortunately for Catwoman, that man in question seems to be the one the Huntress is after. Dark blue eyes narrow to vicious slits and with a twist of her staff she shatters his ankle, and kicks him in the side as he goes down. The aim of the archer is true, and he is left bent over vomiting as the purple-clad woman takes stock, wary of both any surviving gangsters and the woman dressed as a cat currently flailing around like she's having a seizure.
It's only the fact that Huntress is doing as well as she is that keeps them both out of too much trouble and soon Catwoman gets a lucky blow in, her target finally felled when her fist manages to find his temple. Seeing them taken out causes the others who had been stunned into inactivity to finally move, that being to run off. Growling, Catwoman bends down and ties her man up, leaving the other heroine to do as she will with her own fallen target.
After his encounter with the 'hero' known as Moon Knight, Batman is not in the best of moods. He swings by Bryantown on his way back to the Cave, only to catch a glimpse of some sort of altercation. He hesitates for a moment, but he knows what his decision will be. He lets go of his swing and stiffens his cape, gliding down to the ground and landing dramatically on the outer edge of the brawl. Taking in the scene, he stares at the purple-adorned heroine for a second before catching Catwoman. Bleeding. He squints a bit before breaking out a pair of Batarangs, tossing them towards any armed thugs that might near by to get them to drop their pieces. No, the Batman is definitely not happy. Not at all.
When Batman swoops down out of nowhere, the Huntress almost drops her staff, but then she gets kicked in the leg and as she tumbles lashes out with the staff to hit the guy in the crotch. *Hard*. The purple-clad woman lets out her first sound of the night, a soft hiss barely audible, before dropping her staff and getting to her feet, crossbow drawn out of apparently nowhere and a bolt fitted on the string. The pistol crossbow is lifted then as she keeps an wary eye on the people, both masked and gangsters.
If one looks they might notice that Catwoman's face is more swollen than the recent punch to her nose would have caused, a sign that the initial injury had been received previous to this fight. The guy she's trying to bind struggle something fierce which gets him punched hard in the face, it getting him to quiet down as unconsciousness takes hold. Batman's noticed as is how the batarangs fly, hitting two of the three who are beating feet for the other end of the alley where an escape was hoping to be made. Stumbling and then falling, they remain nothing more than heaps on the dirty side street while the last is able to continue on. Shaking her whip out, she runs after the sole survivor, wanting to make sure he won't be able to tell his buddies back at their compound about what happened.
Batman does notice that Catwoman seems puffier than a simple punch would cause her to be. He moves quickly to put himself in the path of the thug who is fleeing away from the whip-wielding cat burglar. He throws his infamous right-cross, knocking the thug out cold if his timing and force is accurate, which it usually is. He glances towards Catwoman for a second, a flash of concern across his lips before he glares towards Huntress. He takes a few confident steps towards her before he growls in his deep Batmany voice. "This fight is over," he informs her gruffly. "Stand. Down." He seems to be implying that if she doesn't drop her weaponized arm down immediately, he will take it very personally, and consider her an enemy combatant. The gruff says a lot.
Fortunately for said Italian woman, that gruff works even on Italian woman. Huntress' eyes are hard, oh so tragically hard, and she doesn't /immediately/ put down the crossbow, but lower it she does, standing her full height and in an 'on guard' position as she gazes at the Dark Knight straight in the eyes. Good thing no one can hear her heart thumping like mad in her chest cavity. Would certainly banish the image she's trying to project.
The last thug crumbles like the others, a mass of limbs a tangle, something Catwoman takes delight in seeing. It's by one of those skewed arms that he's pulled to the others with little concern as to if he'll come away without scrapes or not. Once he's heaped by his friends and the dealer she turns, her hand brought up to wipe away the worse of the mess on her face while she watches the byplay that's unfolding. "Who are you," she asks Huntress, a new face to the Cat.
Batman remain eye contact with Huntress, waiting for her to put the crossbow down. Once she does, and following an appropriate amount of time to make sure it isn't a feint, he turns his attention to Catwoman, taking as few steps toward her. "Are you okay?" he asks. His voice is still gruff and batmany, but the tone is slightly softer, more concerned. To the untrained ear, it might sound the same; to Catwoman, it sounds like progress. He then turns and backs up, standing behind the burglar and watching Huntress' face, eager to hear her answer. He doesn't like newcomers.
Once Batman turns away, however, the Huntress lowers herself with a grunt to begin pawing through the pockets of the man she took down. Out comes his cellphone, and she's checking the call log when Batman and Catwoman turn back to her. "I'm the Huntress. Nice right hook, by the way." Her voice is slightly husky, pitched low in unconscious mimic of Batman and his bat-voice. She apparently finds what she's looking for, because the phone goes into a pouch on her boots and she picks up her bo staff, collapsing it down and storing it in her utility belt. Because this is Gotham and a utility belt is as much a must-have item as a pointy mask.
"I'm fine," Catwoman semi-fibs, the half-truth given due to not having the time to tell him all of what happened nor the desire to explain what happened to her in front of a stranger. The tone he speaks to her is indeed noticed by the cat burglar and for a second she allows a bit of a smile to grace her face. "She's right. You do have a nice hook." Turning her head away from Huntress, she watches Batman from the corner of her eye, peering at him from over her shoulder to do so. "Drug deal was about to go down. I was going to take them on but the purple-clad lady decided she wanted in on the fun."
Batman's face is stone-firm, professional. His glance is locked on the newcomer, squinting slightly as she takes the cellphone. He doesn't make a movie to stop her, but he does bristle slightly at her taking evidence from a crime scene. That is his job. "I've worked on it," he says, dismissively enough. "I find it's more affecive than any weapon," he adds, eying the crossbow gauntlet for a half-second before going back to the Huntress' face. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about the recent attacks on the mafia heads, would you?" he asks, his voice skeptical and cautious.
There is something about the Huntress' eyes.. A hint of madness, perhaps, or at the very least a darkness that the Dark Knight might be only too familiar with. At the very least, there's something there that isn't entirely sane, like a bird of prey at rest. "I had nothing to do with the Tong." She says, straightening up. She glances at Catwoman, offering a tight grin. "What can I say? I'm a sucker for a good time."
Catwoman would love to respond with a joke of her own but, knowing Batman like she does, doing so would do nothing to improve his mood and most likely would serve to get her on his bad side. "Thank you for your help," is what she does allow herself to say instead. Might not be necessary but still. Gratitude voiced, she allows the conversation between Bat and the Hunter to continue without interruption, Catwoman going silent unless she's directly addressed.
Batman knows that look. And while it isn't as untamed as, say, Two-Face or the Joker, it is unsettling, even to him. Not that it shows, stepping forward slightly and squinting his eyes accusatory. "And Don Mandragora? Was that your doing?" he asks, rather directly. He doesn't seem likely to start a fight, his stance actually relaxing. He just wants information at this point, and killing Mandragora, while unacceptable, is also not something he's lost too much sleep over.
When Batman steps forward, the purple-clad woman with the cross on her chest doesn't step back. Instead, she steps forward. "Omerta." The word spills forth from the Huntress' lips effortlessly, her accent on the Italian word faintly Sicilian. Her hard eyes are cold with hate. "He had a debt to settle, and so he was hunted." Safe enough to say. Nothing to tie her and her deed to any particular one of Don Mandragora's countless atrocities.. Such as, oh, say just for shits and giggles.. The massacre of the Bertinelli family at their dinner table, but for a single little girl.
Left to her own devices, Catwoman crouches down and takes her turns rifling through the unconscious men's pockets, obviously having something in mind as she does. If it isn't before then it certainly is as she relieves several of them of their rather sizable wads of money. 'This is for the cats,' she thinks to herself while tucking what has newly become her stash of money away, it done as easily and with as little thought given as one might file her nails.
"So this is vengeance," Batman says, not exactly hiding the judgment in the word. "Eye for an eye, a pound of flesh. Which itself won't be repaid at all, which is why you hide behind a mask." He pauses for just a second before adding. "Stop me whenever you want." He then turns his attention towards Catwoman, frowning slightly as she starts to loot the downed thugs. "I hope that's going to the right place," he says, that concerned edge again rearing its head before he looks back to Huntress. "How many more are there that face Omerta?" he asks forcefully. "Because know I /will/ be there to stop you next time." He can't save Mandragora, but he can try to save his crooked buddies. But still, this woman (like Selina) is clearly talented and has her heart in the right place. It is just overrun by her wildness.
"We all hide behind masks, Batman." Huntress glances over at Catwoman, long enough to figure out what she's doing. And since Batman, the (arguably) greater moral authority doesn't see fit to stop her, Huntress lets her continue. In fact, she nudges the wallet of the guy she took down closer to Selina with one foot. Girl power. She then turns back to Batman, lifting her chin stubbornly. "How many more will face omerta? All. Of. Them. Until the crime families are broken and shattered, or my body lies cool in the gutter or chained to concrete blocks in the bay." She glances away, and her tone is both harsh and sad. "God help me, but there /is/ no end."
Huntress' generosity gains her a smile and a brief nod; wallet quickly removed of what funds is within it, it's tossed upon it's owner's body, discarded like one might throw away a rotten piece of food, with not so much as a half a thought given to how it's done. Now free to talk, she answers Batman, her voice kept low for as long as it takes for her to answer. "It'll be going to charity," Catwoman assures the Caped Crusader, looking at him with a faintly disgruntled expression.
"Your right," Batman admits, sounding a bit dry about that. "It will never end. This city has a sickness, and short of dropping an atom bomb on it, that will never change. There will always be a new psychopath, or a new mobster, or a new rapist who deserves to die, filling the void of darkness that is this city's soul." He seems to be saying this for the first time, spitting, angry. Not at Huntress but the circumstances. "But assuming that you have the right to do that yourself, to play the angel of death and judge who gets to live and die? That is just another part of the Darkness consuming you taking another victim." He shakes his head. "There is another way...one that helps you ride above, and at least not lose your soul. Its a path I've taught others, others who believed killing was the only way. If you'd be willing, I would show you. But things like what happened to Mandragora? That ends. Now, one way or another." Again, that isn't open for debate. After his speech, her turns to glance towards Catwoman, lifting a brow. He seems pleasantly surprised. "I...might have one you'd be interested in supporting..." he offers...not quite as screamy-preachy as he was two seconds before.
Catwoman's used to Batman making speeches like this, it like those that came before it listened to with some interest. "As much as I hate to say this, he's right," she adds quietly. "One way or another you'll lose yourself and all you'll be able to do is spiral down into the very pits of Hell." Looking at the ground, she falls silent. When Batman mentions having an idea as to where the stolen money should go she raises a brow, cocking her head to regard him curiously. "I...see. Perhaps we should discuss this in private."
"I.." Huntress hesitates, the facade of strength crumbling slightly to show the deeply wounded woman behind the mask and the rage. But with force of will, she pulls herself back together, blinking away the hint of tears. "I will think on your offer." She glances down. "I won't kill. Not without reason or any other choice. I can promise you that much. But the Darkness you spoke of. It is already part of me. I don't know if redemption is possible, now. I made the decision to take that Darkness on myself and use it as a tool to make sure no one else ever has to go through what I did." She touches her mask. "You called this a mask. I don't know if it is a mask anymore, or the truth."
"We have a lot to discuss," Batman agrees with Catwoman before glancing back towards Huntress. "That is the least I can expect, for you to consider it." He pauses for a second, before adding, "A long time ago something terrible happened. It consumed me, made me filled with rage and hatred. I let a little of the Darkness in, and for a while, it festered. It is what made me the person I am today, why I chose this mask. But..." He tries to find words without giving away too much. "But I can't allow my anger to turn me into them. The one way, the only way, that the Darkness could ever be defeated is each person looking it in the face and saying no." He offers a slight nod of his head. "I give you that chance. I hope you make the right decision." With that, he turns on his heel and walks away, nudging Catwoman softly to follow after when she has time/has lifted all she needs to.
Taking a deep breath, Catwoman brushes a hand over her face carefully before falling into step behind the taller hero. "If you...ever need help, we're here for you." The 'we' in that being Batman and herself. Bowing her head politely to Huntress as a parting gesture, she leaves everything nicely wrapped up with that, her mind drifting from the conversation to what has been happening in the past day and a half.
Batman waits in the shadows of a sordid apartment complex as Selena takes care of the bodies remaining strewn about the drug deal gone wrong. As she approaches him, he steps back out of the shadow, merely looking in her eyes for a few seconds of silence. Finally, he asks the question that has been bubbling in the back of his mind the entire previous encounter. "Why were you here? This isn't your usual stomping grounds, and you certainly didn't have theft first and foremost on your mind; if anything, it was an afterthought. A compulsion." He isnt being judgmental, merely investigating. It's Batman's job to know people, and especially to recognize and decipher breaks in behavior.
Catwoman's mouth curls in a faint smile when he makes his presence known just before starting to question her. "No kiss?" Taking a moment, she pauses to think before she comes out with the answer. "I'm trying to do what you asked of me, Batman. I'm trying to go straight." Looking to the side and down, she looks tense, the tautness creeping up in her shoulders and neck until they ache. "You undoubtedly heard about the activity at the Waterfront. I did it. They were going to smuggle drugs out of the country in beef carcasses that were supposed to be going to feed the poor in another country and I stole the money they were going to buy it with." Risking a look up, she tries to gauge his reaction to all of what she just admitted to.
For his part, Batman shows little emotional. No tension, no sense of romantic longing barely held down. However, he also skates past the whole fishing for a kiss, nodding his head. "I heard about that," he says before adding. "I've been busy...with that..." he says, gesturing towards where Huntress was a few moments before. "And the situation in Chinatown. Circumstances are tense." He starts to move around Catwoman, making the additional choice to not look at her for the moment. "And how is going 'straight' turning out for you? As hard as you expected?"
Catwoman winces. "Sorry if I trod on your territory, Batman," she gets out before succumbing to laughing, that being a jerk-knee reaction to his question. "Very. It's difficult to not be selfish after being so for so long." Turning around, she watches him closely, baffled by the way he's reacting to her. "Are you mad at me," she asks, the question posed as she also busies herself with recoiling her whip.
A few steps away from her, he stops and faces away. "I didn't say it would be easy," he says sternly. "I meant what I told Huntress; it would be much easier, and much more satisfying, to get a gun and shoot any crook in the face," he admits, before turning to face her. He's professional: stern, stone-faced, none of that sweet romantic moment in his body language. He does give a passing glance to the whip being undone, before looking back to her face. "But I stand by it being the right choice. If you need help...my people can help you." Not him, his people. Is he part of his people? Does he know his 'people' have so far treated her skeptically and on one occasion violently?
"Yeah, well...thanks, Batman." Looking away, she puts the whip away, clipping it to her hip before she finds something to sit upon, that being a dumpster's lid. "Your people? I don't think they care for me much. Batgirl hit me in the face because I forgot to tie up those guys on the boat so the police could take care of them and Robin..." Yeah. Another of Batman's people who distrusts and dislikes her. "Maybe I'd just be better off on my own," she adds after looking down, her posture stooped, defeated.
Batman actually blinks at both of those reports, not realizing that either was in contact with Catwoman. He takes a few steps forward, remaining still for a second before placing a hand lightly on Catwoman's shoulder. "No," he says, his voice more gentle. "You don't have to do this by yourself. I know that you're expecting...waiting for something else...but I'm offering myself as an ally." Pause. "For now." What he means by that 'for now' is certainly open to interpretation. 'For now' as in until you get your feet underneath you? Or 'for now, until we become something more.'
"An ally." Not quite as painful as it could have been, especially since he did say 'for now' as well, but it still stings. "I'm...I don't want to complicate anything between us so it..." She leans her cheek against Batman's hand, ignoring the fact that angling her head to the side makes her face hurt all over again. "I'll let you decide when the time's right." Not the easiest of choices to make but it along with going clean is the right thing to do.
Batman twists his hand slightly to help bring Catwoman's face up to a comfortable position. His thumb rolls against her cheek a few times, showing signs of that deep-seeded tenderness. "Just try, a bit longer," he asks her, before cruelly pulling his hand away. "I will talk to Batgirl and Robin, explain to them the situation. I can't...promise that they'll understand, but they'll follow me. Because they believe in...whatever this is." He takes a step back. "Do you?"
The touch helps to soothe her face as well as her heart and she is able to smile. "I do. I think I always have, Batman." With the touch to her face over she slips off of her perch and stretches while speaking in afterthought. "Don't force me on them but please do be honest. It's the biggest favor you can do them." That gentle reminder's given with a touch to his nearest arm if she can, Catwoman's fingers brushed along it's lower length if it is allowed.
Batman does nothing to stop Catwoman's touch, though he also doesn't push her away. Merely stands still and quiet for several seconds before finally saying. "I will...talk to them, tell them...the truth..." he says, forming the words slowly as if he's trying to find the best way to phrase something he's afraid to say explicitly. He merely stares down in the face of Catwoman, before he blinks and squints. His free arm raises up to the side of his head. Pushing his temple softly, he says, "In Gotham dealing with some personal business, keep me informed, will be available for later back-up if needed." After he's done speaking, he puts his arm down and starts to turn. "I need to leave, something cosmic happening in New York, Superman's asking for back-up. Doubt I'll be called in, but if I stay here, it could be...complicated getting away."
Catwoman nods. "The truth," she echoes. When he's gotten in touch with she steps back, listening to his end of the conversation. When he says he has to go she nods and turns around herself, unable to bear watching him leave. "I will see you later, then. Please stay safe." The fact that he never brought up the charity he had mentioned to her before is not even noticed, her mind now reeling.
Batman looks at Catwoman turned away for a moment, perhaps for more reasons than simply enjoying the view. Soon, though, he turns on his heel and shoots off a grappling hook line, soon being pulled away. His form disappears against the dark spread of the sky, leaving Catwoman to consider all these things unto herself.