Summary: Batman and Huntress discuss the Red Hood, and discuss an agreement
Location: Lower East Side, Gotham City
It is yet again night in Gotham. And no surprise to anyone, the Bat Signal was lit almost the moment the sun went down and it got dark enough to show in the sky. The effect has been an odd sort of tranquility, as the criminals of Gotham hold their breath in anticipation of where the Batman will appear and exactly who he'll clobber. The GCPD, upon noticing the signal, feels a sort of boost in morale and courage, thinking that the Bat might swoop down any second now.
It's only temporary, the breath before the storm, as the Commissioner did *not* light it, nor any of the other people with proper clearance to do so. Instead, a woman in purple and black stands by it, fingering a crucifix hanging from her throat and appearing lost in her own world.
The Bat-Cave's generally nearby (yet secret) vicinity to the police headquarters makes it an easy stop before heading further into the city for patrol. Tonight, as the light shines in the sky, Batman is hopping to make his trip to the Comissioner as short as possible. A gang war has been boiling over in Gotham for days now, between the spark the Huntress set and the assassiation attempt of Chin Leong (still in critical condition), and now this vigilante posing as the Red Hood, indicating ties to both the Joker and the Jason Todd imposter...yes, he is hoping that Gordon has little to report. Using his super-secret pathway up the side of the Gotham Police Department building, IE the fire escape no one ever uses except for smoking, Batman crawls into the shadows of the rooftop, looking out to not see Jim Gordon, but instead...
The Huntress. "Is that you?" She asks in a quiet tone, turning to face the fire escape. She'd thoroughly reconned the entire building to try and judge the most likely place for him to enter, and kept a careful eye on the fire escape as well as the conducts by the air conditioning unit and back-up generator for the in-Department cells. "We need to talk." Which is perhaps quite obvious, given the blown up playground and then her uncharacteristic attempt to seek Batman out.
Batman is more used to Jim, who while bright, is notoriously easy to sneak up on. Sliding out of the shadows, Batman slowly approaches Huntress, silently staring from behind the lenses of his cowl. "You called me here," he says, before adding, "Why?" He doesn't seem upset or even curious persay, merely asking the logical questions that arise from the circumstance.
"I was tailing an mid-level goon of the Falcone family on a drug money hand-over earlier; I've been watching the families and they're preparing for something big." Duh. She crosses her arms over her chest, leaving the signal on until he turns it off. Might as well extend the peace as long as possible. "I think with that bastard Mandragora out of the picture, the Falcones are attempting to dominate the other families. Probably by securing a large enough financial base to buy everyone else out." She shakes her head. "Anyways. There was a man.. A man in a Red Hood."
He doesn't move to turn it off, narrowing his eyes slightly at the mention of Falcone. "The Roman is a patient man," he quips slightly as he starts to move towards one side of the rooftop, his cape draping over him dramatically. "He probably sees the current chaos as an oppurtunity, filling the void left in Mandragora's absence." He doesn't say its her fault; he lets her fill that void. "And I've...seen the Red Hood. And old disguise of the Joker, few people know about it. I think that it might be mind games, can't be sure. But whoever that is, they are clearly trying to send a message." He pauses, turning to face her again. "A message to me."
"The Roman is a cold blooded snake." The Huntress eyes and voice go cold. Cold with a hate that is intensely personal. "But unfortunately, he is no idiot. He's probably been prepared since before the Bertinelli massacre. I wouldn't be surprised if he knew about it before it happened." But on to more cheerful topics. The Huntress reaches up to touch her crucifix, getting her composure back. "Clearly. He thought I was one of your proteges. He called me a 'Batchick' before I shot at him." She grimaces. "The detonator was incinerated with the bombs, and there was nothing left of the bombs themselves. There were multiple bombs, enough to blow the entire playground up. He knew everything.. Except that I was going to be there."
"The Roman and I have crossed paths before," Batman admits, not that he needs to; his altercations with the top mafias families in Gotham are rather well-documented. "To be honest, though, I prefer his kind to the Joker and Two-Face. They are evil, make no mistake, and must be stopped. But they follow rules, at least. I...can respect that, even if I cannot abide their actions." He seems lost in thought for a second before glancing back to the purple-glad heroine. "Prepared," he says slowly. "And malicious. And he mistook you for my protege?" He frowns deeply at that, silently wondering if he should worry about Cassandra and Tim, before his mouth straightens. Underneath his cape, he clearly fiddles with his utility belt. "Well I suppose we should give him what he wants," he says, pulling out a card. It is blank, save for a name: "ORACLE", and a Gotham area phone number. "Call that number, ask for Oracle, tell her I told you to call her about the 'Birds," he instructs, the tone of his voice making it very clear that he's not leaving this open for debate.
"The only rule that the Families follow is that the strong make the rules, Batman." The Huntress says, looking out over the city, crossing her arms over her chest to hide the hate and the anger that threatens to make her very body shake with the intensity of it. "The only difference between them and your Joker is a thin veneer of civility that they wear like we wear our masks, to hide what they do from the world. They commit atrocities.. They rape children's bodies and souls, taking from them innocence in every form it comes, and call it /business/." That she almost spits. Again, she murmurs under her breath in Italian, another prayer for strength and tranquility. And she glances at him. "I doubt your proteges need fear too much. He only tried to blow me up /after/ I shot at him, and he stopped calling me 'batchick'. I get the feeling, Batman, that he plans for you and yours to suffer. Death and bodily harm are quickly gotten over. It is the emotional and mental that truly make us suffer. I don't doubt he'll try for them, but if I were in his shoes, if I wanted to make you suffer.. I would take everything else from you before I took the ones under your care." Huntress also takes the card.
Batman nods his head slightly, taking a few steps back. "I can understand your anger," he says cooly. "And on some level, I understand it. These men are monsters, I have no argument there." He purses his lips thoughtfully for a second before speaking again. "Have you considered our last talk?" he asks, curiously. "You say you shot at the Red Hood. To kill? That may have been tipped him off; despite the rumors, I never kill my targets. But don't spread that around; people need to believe the Batman is ruthless, unrelenting..." He trails off, frowning again. "Which means that it is someone close to me...knows my rule." He turns again, looking out over the city. "Maybe Batgirl was right..." he muses, mostly to himself.
"Not to kill." Huntress says a touch dismissively, raises a hand to push hair out of her face. "I aimed for his hand. At full draw, I'll grant you, but at that distance, it wouldn't have done much damage." She then moves to join him, not even hesitating to stand shoulder to shoulder with him. "He knows your rule. The first bomb would have been enough... The second /wave/ of them. That was overkill."
Batman nods his head slightly, brow furrowing. For the moment he doesn't look at her, despite her closeness, merely staring out over Gotham. "A message, clearly. He's been very good at sending those, messages that only someone who knows...my greatest secrets would think of. It is...distressing, to say the least. He clearly has intimate knowledge, a prospect I am far from comfortable with." He turns his head towards the Huntress, impressed with her boldness, silently thinking before he finally speaks. "I get the impression you enjoy your freedom, your self-autonomy. I recognize that. However, I need help with that. Perhaps you need not be my assistant or protege...but how would you feel about being partners?" He offers his gloved hand in agreement...and friendship?
"I can almost understand him. What I am.. It is about using an intimate knowledge to destroy those that wronged me." The Huntress grimaces. "This Red Hood almost scares me. I've seen you in action before, and saw myself in you. It's part of what inspired me to take up the crossbow and become the Huntress. But this Red Hood and his methods.. It's almost like looking into a mirror." The Huntress shakes her head, and glances over at Batman and his extended hand. "I don't know if I can be a partner, if I'm at all capable of playing nice." She then accepts the hand, her grasp firm. "But know I don't want to become like I think I'm on the path of becoming. That I will, if I continue alone."
The firm handshake is returned in kind. Clearly, the Batman respects her as he makes eye contact and gives her a strong grip before pulling away, setting is his hand at his side. "This doesn't make us blood bond to each other," he says, part comfort, part warning. "If you step out of line, I will not hestitate to stop you." A short pause and a slight nod of his head. "I only hope that you will have the same respect...to do that for me as well."
"Without hesitation." The Huntress says, looking him straight in the eye without blinking. "For better or worse, I am who and what I am." She hesitates, before speaking again, slowly. "I know your reputation. And I know I am probably giving you enough information to figure out who I am, behind this mask.. But when I spoke of the Families taking innocence from people, I spoke from personal experience. I hope that there is still some light left in me, but there is darkness. I think that like me, you need someone there that knows the darkness and will not hesitate. I promise to be that for you, if you'll be that for me."
Batman squints slightly; the clues don't link up to any particular name in his mind, though research will probably narrow it down to a very slim number of actual candidates. He will most likely puzzle it out later, if only to see if he can. "I will respect your privacy," is what he says outloud. "You wear a mask for a reason, I have no reason to break that trust. If you ever want to tell me, that is your decision." He pauses for a bit. "For what its worth, if what I have done has done anything to...inspire you to do what you're doing now, know that I am deeply honored and humbled. I meant to be an inspiration, but I had no idea that I would inspire such a gifted fighter and believer in justice." He pauses, before slowly stepping up on the edge of the building. "From where I'm standing, that is the greatest legacy I could possibly have: to inspire others to do the right thing. I am...very proud to call you a partner."
"Thank you. That means a lot." Helena then glances at the Bat signal and out over the city. "Thank you too, for talking with me. But I'm keeping you from your patrol. The various criminal elements won't buy the signal being lit for very much longer if you don't start your patrol."
Batman nods his head, pulling out his grappling hook. "I'm assuming you know how to turn it off?" he asks, his tone a bit teasing before he fires of his line. Jumping off the building, he flies over the roof tops before disappearing in the darkness of Gotham's sky, off for another night of defending the city he has sworn himself to.