Threads
Roleplaying Log: Threads
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Matt drops a call to Barbara checking in after the Councilman's ball.

Other Characters Referenced: John Constantine, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Frank Castle
IC Date: December 19, 2018
IC Location: Gotham/NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 31 Dec 2018 18:44
Rating & Warnings: PG
NPC & GM Credits: None
Associated Plots

It's two days following Councilman Jennings' fateful Christmas gala that Barbara Gordon's cell phone will ring with a 212 area code number.

"Hey, Barbara," comes Matt Murdock's voice through the phone. "It's, uh, Matt." She might have recognized him even without the introduction; the signal is clear and absent the background noises of the city. That's because he's in the expansive, largely empty chamber that is Fogwell's gym. Late morning light filters through yellow-tinted windows in broad shafts, casting light on the heavy bags and lockers, the old posters and newsclips, the sagging ropes.

Matt is dressed in a sleeveless grey training tank and some gym shorts. His hair is sweat-matted and his hands are wrapped with tape.

"I was just calling to, ah, see if you were alright after all the crazy."

"This is Barbara," she answers casually, only to be greeted by a familiar voice — a familiar voice that is identified a moment later. She starts to smile, but there's a wariness in that smile. She hadn't expected call from Matt Murdock, and the pause carries that lack of expectation. "Oh, hey. Matt."

There's a loftiness to the city noises that come in through Barbara's phone. This is perhaps because she is sitting on the edge of the rooftop of the library, so high up and obscured by the blend of art deco and gothic styles that decorate the almost church-like steeples of the long-standing public building. She's taking her lunch, tearing off a bit of sandwich that she had been eating before her phone rang.

When Matt gets to why he's calling, her smile can be better heard through her words. "Oh, yeah… that was really crazy." She rubs at her brow slightly, mind drifting back to the chaos… the kitchen… the aftermath. "I'm… I'm alright." There's a slight weight to her voice, conveying the certain un-alrightness that actually is buried in her tone. "Are you alright?"

"Really crazy is right," the lawyer says, lips curving into a slight smile, eyes turning upward at the memory. He likes a good fight as much as the next vigilante, and better than some, but the ugliness of that bout had left him in a sour mood for a day afterwards.

And he realized, at some point over the course of that day, it wasn't just the rank smell from those Hellraisers that had him surly. It was the fact that violence — audacious, over-the-top gang violence — had once again returned to his neighborhood. How was this happening again? What the Defenders didn't end by putting away Wilson Fisk and his Russians, Frank Castle cleaned up in his own blood-drenched way.

Are you alright?

"Me? Yeah. I've been in a few of these blow-ups by now, and there's almost always someone who helps shepherd me out," Matt says with a roll of one shoulder. "I guess that says something good about humanity."

His lips twist wry, and you could hear that brand of humor creep into his voice: "From what I heard it was a vigilante-watcher's dream, though. Capes flying all over the place."

Really crazy is right.

Thinking back to this time last year, she feels sure things were not this crazy — not this out of hand. Barbara had been working on finalizing her first attempt at the ORACLE Mainframe, trying to organize her first mission with a group that had not yet coalescent into the Birds. She hadn't crossed paths with Frank, or even Daredevil. She had just been one of the Bats, protecting Gotham. Then she — as Matt put it, slightly paraphrased — crossed out of her lane. Got involved in New York City's vigilantes, crossed paths with John Constantine again, and then ended up in a bigger, crazier world.

This all flitters through her mind in a sharp, clear moment, and she's actually laughing slightly. It's mirthless, and weary. Matt knows who she is, even if she has no idea he does. It probably betrays just a bit more of her than she'd like, him having that intimate knowledge of just who Barbara Gordon is. "Yeah. Hard to breathe in either of our cities and not end up in a blow-up, isn't it?"

The mention of the vigilante-watcher's dream gives her the meat she needs to clarify why she was there, and she does it casually — but Matt has the ears for lies, and hers are just slightly imperfect, even if well-practiced. "That's why I did some work, got myself a ticket in. Got some tip-off that something was going on with Carmine Falcone and that Councilman of yours are doing some dealings in the third district. Since I got the tip-off through the vigilante network — " Hey, that's not a lie. " — I thought it would be good to get an eye on what's happening."

She hesitates. "Too bad neither of us got a good sense of what happened there. All I saw for sure was a bunch of guys in demon skulls." A beat pause. "You're getting a bit weird in New York, Matt. Pretty sure that's my city's schtick."

Matt chuckles a little at talk of blow ups. It's a running joke that he and his girlfriend can't go on a date without some Silicon Valley cult or mutant terrorists raining on it, and Kinsey wasn't even here for that. "Seems like it's getting worse for sure," he says, sitting himself down on one of the benches near a heavy bag and rolling his neck from side to side, working out the kinks. "I heard that group responsible for it wears demon bones from the invasion to — I don't know. Intimidate people? But also that they were roided out on — something. Made them superhuman."

A beat, punctuated by a sigh. "So, yes on the weird. It's hard as hell to close a door once it's open, and those demons opened a pretty big one right in midtown."

There's a lot to absorb in even the scant sentences she gives him; his head pauses mid-rotation at one point. "Carmine Falcone and Jennings?" Matt repeats. "I thought I heard someone mention a Molinari being there and that rang a few Gotham bells. What's the story there?"

"It always gets worse, Matt." The words are stark, naked, and a bit wearied. "We just keep adjusting our normal so we don't notice." Then she rubs her hand along the back of her neck though the fine hairs of red, staring out at the snow-covered, and sunlit streets of Gotham. The snow has gone dingy, carrying the grey of the city winter. There's some talks that they will get a White Christmas — and that will just add another layer to hide the ugly that is Gotham City.

She hears Matt, hears him reflect on what he saw in the Ball. She just lets a bit of silence lapse, hinting that she's in her own head again, twisting about in her thoughts. Then she shakes her head, breaking through just on the heels of hard as hell to close a door once it's open. "Yeah, you got a case of the Gotham Weird, Matt. Sorry… probably brought it with me when I came visiting." Which is an odd slip that only Matt would be able to contextualize: did she bring it when she was Batgirl warning him of the Punisher, or was it when she came to ask Matt for legal help on the Frank Castle case? Maybe this is really all Frank's fault…

"Yeah," she says after a beat. "Some of the vigilantes in Gotham got word that Carmine is buying up some wharf properties up your way… apparently they used to belong to the Kingpin." Then she sighs, thinking slightly as she considers his next question, frowning to herself. "Natasha Maroni. I only know anything about her because I saw her face pinned to Dad's organized crime wall." No really, Jim Gordon definitely has one of those. "She's tangentially connected to the Maroni Family. Niece to Sal Maroni, but her father hasn't been in Gotham in like two decades…" Not since the gang war that almost imploded the city, and was one of the reasons Jim Gordon advanced so quickly through the ranks to Captain… and ended on the heels of Batman's arrival.

"There's something that's really been bothering me about the whole thing… something I'm still trying to figure out… this friend of mine thinks there was some ritual going on. They were tearing apart bodies out in the gallery… but, I don't know."

"Wow, Barbara, that's pretty dark," Matt says on matters of adjusted normals as he sits, still homeless, in the empty and shadowed expanse of the gym.

She talks of the Gotham weird as a contagion she brought over with her — when? As Barbara Gordon, vigilante-watcher, or as Batgirl? Either, both. "But I'm pretty sure you didn't have anything to do with the demon army on our doorstep. Not your fault they left some high quality body armor for the bad guys."

He listens to what she has to say about the Maronis, but what she has to say next is what really piques his interest and narrows his eyes. "Wait, Carmine Falcone is buying up the docks?" The grip on his phone tightens. "I — uh, guess it makes sense. Nature abhors a vacuum."

And you obviously haven't been doing a good enough job of filling it, he hears, in Stick's curmudgeonly voice.

"And — uh, what kind of ritual? Like, actual magic? I know a few people were there who could pick up on that kind of stuff."

That's pretty dark. A soft laugh hums at her lips, and she ducks her head slightly as she considers her own words. She shifts slightly beneath her jacket, feeling the chill settle in around her despite the warm glow of the late morning. She watches the city move beneath her, legs dangling down from her perch. "Yeah, I know." She rubs at her forehead. "Been a long year."

The memories of the humans dressed in demon-bone armor has her breathing out a slow exhale again, and she tucks a bit of windswept lock behind her ear. "Resourceful, at least. Gotta give them that."

Then she straightens up a bit, and there's some small alarm in her head. Maybe she's said too much, letting her casual weary breakdown some of her boundaries. Maybe taking lunch on the library roof isn't the best way to maintain the sweet librarian alternate ego. "Just what I've heard in rumbles around Dad's office." She almost mumbles that, hoping to move on, get past it. She's not even sure why the lawyer would be interested… except that it's Fisk's properties.

The talk of the rituals has her shrugging a bit. "I don't know. John had been knocked out, and just woke in the body pile of those being…" Her throat tightens. "Torn to bits. He just was trying to put the pieces together. But he had mentioned that some Gotham gangs were starting to get into the whole magic thing, so… who knows? It isn't like the fabric of reality hasn't been shredded enough to make us all more aware."

It's been a long year, she says.

"Yeah," he echoes. "I definitely hear that."

Matt rises from his bench near the ring and makes for the kitchenette as he listens to her elaborate on gangsters, both Gothamite and sorcerous. The New Yorker feels out of his depth in both instances, but he's at least made contacts who know about magic. Gotham? In some ways that's a different story. For all that he lapped up stories of the Dark Knight as a kid, Gotham's actual underworld is a mystery to the all-too-parochial son of Hell's Kitchen. He needs to correct that quickly if Falcone is seriously making moves.

She tries to throw a little smokescreen over the line that divides her lives. Maybe it's for similar reasons that he tacks on: "Hey, do you mind if I tell a few of my friends and clients about this?" he asks her while he grabs a bottle of water and twists off the cap. "Jess and Luke and some others put a ton of work into putting Fisk away. They won't love anyone picking up where he left off, no matter the city of origin."

The redhead feels a chilly wind sweeps through the city, and the grinning gargoyles that occupy this gothic art deco facet of the library shield her from the worst of it, but it still buffets up against her cheek and side and sends her hair into a fluffy of red about her face. She closes her eyes, just letting it move around her, knowing the wintry exhale not be the last.

He tacks on the request, and the woman frowns to herself. Then he's mentioning Jess and Luke, and that loosens some of the tenison in her shoulders. Matt Murdock and Barbara Gordon — not that many degrees of separation. "Yeah, do. Jess is already kinda read in because she's a busybody." There's a light, warm smile to that before she takes a bite of the sandwich that's been going cold in her fingers. She chews through it thoughtfully, and then something creeps into her trailing thoughts, and she frowns.

"Be careful out there, Matt. Okay?"

The howl of that wintry Gotham wind on the other line might garble Barbara's voice for some. They might miss the grudging assent, the well-wishes. But Matt? He's always picked up more than most.

He puffs out a laugh when she calls Jess a busybody. "Hardest-working P.I. I know, even on cases that aren't hers," he says with rueful affection.

Be careful out there, she tells the blind lawyer who improbably survived a gauntlet of murderous, pumped up gangsters.

"Always," Matt assures her. "You too, Barbara. Sounds like a cold wind's blowing out there. Take care of yourself. And hey, happy holidays."

Click.

Barbara hums a soft chuckle at Matt's words about Jess, and then she nods her agreement. That's Jess… in a nutshell.

"Happy holidays," the redhead manages in reply before the call ends. She tucks her phone into her pocket, finding her appetite waned. She looks out at the city, and then… begins her slow trek back to the rooftop door and into the attic space below.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License