A Good Deed
Roleplaying Log: A Good Deed
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Batman catches Catwoman in the midst of trying to do something good.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: January 31, 2019
IC Location: Penton Family Mansion
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 01 Feb 2019 03:54
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It's well past midnight in the palatial townhouse of the fabulously rich Penton family. The family themselves are out in Aspen or somesuch, living the lives of the idle rich. Their house is almost entirely empty, though there seems to be at least one live-in servant still present. Evidently, even that much danger was too much for Catwoman to accept: she came in through her attic bedroom and proceeded to ensure the girl would sleep soundly through whatever noise happened downstairs.

The family silver is still there. The painting over the sideboard? It's not like Catwoman's never stolen art, but it's five feet wide and has a heavy gilt frame. But there's a safe downstairs that LOOKS locked and untouched from the outside.

They say it's what's on the inside that counts. That's definitely true of safes.

Evidently, everything Catwoman has decided to take has been tucked away. Some into pouches, maybe, but most into a ballistic-fiber satchel strapped across her chest with an extra strap encircling a leg to make sure it doesn't try flapping around while she parkours her way across the city.

She creeps in again on little cat feet, light steps making no sound on the wooden floor of the garret room. The girl sleeps soundly in a shaft of moonlight from the window, and Catwoman pauses at her bedside to watch her, an unreadable expression on her face.

* * *

There is no flutter of cape, no dramatic entrance.

Instead, in the doorway, a shadow stretches. While Batman is generally one who can sneak up and surprise just about anyone, he is not even trying to get the drop on one cat burglar. To the girl asleep in the bed, he would be but a passing shadow. To Catwoman? It's like he fell down the stairs carrying a bunch of glasses.

For a few moments, he merely stands in the doorway, blocking it and surveying the scene. He's already - of course - scoped out the house. He's seen what has been stolen, what has been left. The fact that Catwoman lingers here? There's a reason for it. Either it's a ploy to lure him here or there is something else at play.

"You don't tend to linger.' That's his way of greeting. It's to the point.

* * *

The speed with which she whirls around — it's nothing new to Batman, but it's the sort of thing that a ballerina at the Bolshoi would videotape and rewatch for tips. One second she's poised over the bed; the next she's facing the darkness at the door, her poise still light as a deer about to flee or, for that matter, a cat perched on a railing.

"You do tend to watch," she counters, her voice simultaneously low and lilting. "I shouldn't be surprised. But you tend to stop crimes while they're happening, not after they've happened."

She takes a few steps forward, hips shifting, movements full of slow grace. But she's always staying between him and the sleeping girl. One hand raises, a finger tapping her own lips in a 'shh' gesture.

"Don't wake the baby," she whispers. A low, throaty laugh: "Not like that's very likely. She should be out until past dawn."

* * *

Batman doesn't shift, doesn't seem startled at her practical pirouette toward him at his announcement. "I wasn't here long," he assures(?) Catwoman as he looks about the room. The detective in him wonders what made this woman linger in this room in particular. "And the crime is still presently happening." After all, he has caught her cat-paws in the cookie jar, her spoils strapped to her back. "So my reputation remains secure."

However, he's not making moves to arrest her. Instead, he's watching, observing. "She's been drugged." Glancing back to Catwoman, he raises an eyebrow, hard to catch within the mask. "What's your interest in her?"

* * *

"Big crimes and little crimes."

Catwoman turns away from him then, actually turning her back on Batman as her hand rests on one of the knobs of the brass bedstead. She pivots around it, ambling along the foot of the bed to stand along the other long side. Eyes behind the goggles flick between the sleeping face and the shadow again.

'Why do you care?' The words are on the tip of her tongue, but she doesn't say them. It's an uncomfortable fact, but the truth might get her out of this situation easier than her usual lies and dodges.

"Her name's Anushri. The owners of this house would be hard-pressed to remember it, but they would remember that they own her." One long-fingered hand reaches out to comb through the ends of the young woman's hair, letting the darkness splay out over the white of the pillow.

"I believe she's fifteen or sixteen. Her parents own a food stand in Kerala, but times have been hard, and the Pentons offered to bring Anushri to America so she could earn a good wage. They bought her. For the equivalent of… I want to say it was a thousand dollars? Enough to help her parents immensely. You can guess the rest."

Catwoman withdraws her hand, gazing over the claws on her glove for a moment before she looks up to Batman. "Now, don't tell me I should have called the police. Do you really think anyone they send down here can't be bought? But a few diamonds can buy a first-class plane ticket and a first-class passport and a lot of no questions asked. And the papers in that safe downstairs will ensure that the Pentons don't fight too hard over it."

* * *

Batman doesn't comment on Anushri, nor does he need to extrapolate on the rest. Remaining an imposing figure in the doorway, he watches the woman in the bed that it seems clear to him now that Selina drugged in order to put aboard a plane and then back to the woman who did this.

"Does Anushri know what you are attempting to do for her?' It's a simple question, one that will make all the difference. His sentences still sound like an interrogation. He does not contradict about the police, about the passports, about the papers. This one thing is what is most important to his knowledge and how to move forward.

* * *

A tiny shake of her head. "She wants to go home. She doesn't know who would be sending her there, but I plan to give her the choice once she's out of here. Waking up on a plane might be a little stressful. Of course, given what else she's endured…"

Catwoman regards him quietly, pressing her lips together. She gives a little sniff: "This is really more your area of expertise than mine. But I'm going to make sure she gets a chance at a life. …And don't go thinking I've gone soft, because I haven't. But there are big crimes and little crimes, and I know where I stand."

* * *

"By taking her on a plane you've made her choice for her." Batman shakes her head. "Putting her on a plane and asking her what she wants when she's there? How is that not making her decision for her?" Batman has quite a lot of insight on making choices for other people, it seems.

"If she's not prepared and she simply wakes up on a plane? She'll think she's responsible for the fates of her family. And, not only that, you're giving her a stipend, will that sustain her for the rest of her and her family's life? No. You're getting her out of a bad situation and then placing her in one that has no other prospects and will lead her to merely being in a similar situation somewhere else."

Strangely, Batman is not telling her she should abandon her plans, that she should not steal. Of course, that is not yet. "What she needs is a table living, a place where she can actually be safe. Sending her off drugged but with a thousand dollars doesn't help her int he long run."

As for her going soft? Batman simply tilts his head slightly to the left. "I would never dream of that, Catwoman."

* * *

A pause at the end of that. A faint smile, too. One with perhaps a touch more warmth than her usual sly smirks.

"Good," she murmurs.

But there's something in the rest that seems to irk her. Her lips tighten, but she lifts her shoulders a little: "Gotham's clearly not safe for her, and I'm not hiring for Robins. Though I've seen the way she handles a kitchen cleaver; she certainly has talent. What would you do, hero? What choices would you make for her? What do you think the best outcome is, and do you think she's in a position to know?"

* * *

"I'm not auditioning for a Robin and I didn't I was her knight in shining armor." Batman looks to Selina. "I just don't know if you're thinking through the repercussions. Sure, she will be out of this house, but where will she go? After the thousand dollars is up, what will she do? She will have no references or resume that will not lead back to this and her disappearing."

Frowning, he shakes his head. "I don't disagree with what you are trying to do here, but she came here for a reason. Do you think if you put her on a plane first class her worries will suddenly be over? It's more complicated than that."

* * *

"She'll have a touch more than a grand to take home. The Pentons paid that to bring her here. With what I'm sending her back with, she can make whatever kind of life she wants. Wherever she wants. All she has to do is choose."

She walks around from behind the bed then, back to where she was before. "That's what I'm about. Choice. I'm not going to fix her life. I'm going to give her the chance to fix her own and some of the tools she'll need for it. That's more of a chance than most of us get. If she goes back home, she can do that. She can bring every dollar home and she and her family will be set for a good while. Or she can fly to New York, London, LA, anywhere. But I'm not going to steer her life, and I'm not going to judge what she does with it. I can fence what I took for… fifty grand, easy. That'll give her a start wherever she ends up."

* * *

"You know what I mean." Batman looks to the sleeping child in the bed. "You're giving her something fixed. She's a child." Looking back at Catwoman, he frowns. "What will she do when the money runs out? What tools are you giving her? You're taking her from her bed drugged and then placing her in the country she came from to help her family. There is no lesson there, no way for her to grow. What will she do if she flies to LA? To London? To New York? She will go there, but you give her nothing to go on. She will have to figure it all out alone. She won't even know why she was put on a plane with that much money."

It's not about the amount of money to the Bat. It's more along the line of how she is going about this. Of course it is. It's always about method, about the meaning. That's the way Batman operates. "She may need some sort of guidance, if not steering."

* * *

Catwoman stares at him. Looks back to Anushri. Looks back to Batman.

"You know I've really never been one for the valuable lesson part, right? My part of the caper usually ends with 'take the money and run, worry about the rest later.'"

But she looks back to the girl in her bed, biting her lower lip for a long moment. It is personal. Whether Batman knows it or not, whether he knows how closely this girl's life story mirrors her own. She's happy as she is. She could have been something else if she'd had guidance that wasn't her own — or that of interested people.

"You know," she mutters, "you're really making my good deed of the day kind of a pain."

Lifting her head then, she flashes Batman a little grin: "All right. We'll have a little chat, she and I. Or do you want to be in on this, o grim spectre of justice?"

* * *

Batman remains where he is, the solid and solemn figure of responsibility to the cat burglar trying to do the right thing.

"Yes, somehow I have learned this about you." His tone is incredibly dry and sarcastic as he responds to what he believes is a lashing out against him questioning her plan to do good.

Then, though, his tone softens just a hair. It's still gravelly, still the voice of darkness and justice, but there's something else in there, too. This isn't exactly a learning moment, but. he does tell her "That's the thing about true good deeds, Cat. They tend to be kind of a pain."

He shakes his horned head at the idea of him being involved. "This is your good deed, not mine. I'll be in the background for moral support should you need it." And so he moves from the doorway, back into the shadows. He doesn't leave Catwoman alone with the girl, but he makes himself as inconspicuous as a tall bat figured vigilante can be in a dark room.

* * *

This, then, is the really infuriating thing about the Bat. For all that he's reliable for a good chase around the rooftops, for all that he spends every night dealing with the worst criminals in the city, somehow the profound cynicism she expects isn't the only thing he's made of.

It's a significant ingredient, admittedly. But the frustrating thing — and one of the appealing things, when it comes to the dustier corners of Catwoman's rather cracked soul — is that he really believes there's a spark of good in everybody.

So there's the quirk of a smile from her lips. The goggles she wears mask what her eyes do, but there's a good chance they follow suit.

Reaching into one of her pouches, she pulls out a tiny little… packet? It's no more than an inch long and less than half an inch wide. Breaking it in half makes it obvious: apparently smelling salts do still exist. There's an instant brief acrid ammonia smell in the room, enough to start the slight figure in the bed into consciousness.

Unsurprisingly, her first move is to gasp sharply and scamper backward in her own bed.

"Easy," Catwoman says, raising one clawed hand. "I'm not here to hurt you."

"Who are you?" The girl's voice is a touch panicked, a touch wondering. Her heart beats a mile a minute as she stares at the dark figure perched smirking on the edge of her bed. The answer to that question doesn't need much confirmation. Not many people go around Gotham dressed in cat ears.

As realization dawns in the young woman's face, she breathes out an "ah!" It's quickly followed by a sudden plea in strongly accented but perfectly clear English: "Oh Catwoman, PLEASE don't steal from the Pentons. I am the only one here; they'll be sure I had something to do with it!"

"Relax, kid," Catwoman replies. "What they think won't signify for long. I can get you out of this dump. Anywhere you want to go. Anything you want to do. They won't be able to touch you, or your family."

Anushri, puzzled, is silent for a moment. She rubs at her eyes, trying to figure out just how much of this is real. It can't be all of it.

* * *

Batman watches Catwoman as he makes for his hidden…well, corner. That's basically all he has to hide in. The shadows are best gathered there and the last thing he wants is to give this girl an enormous fright by suddenly standing over her bed along with Catwoman while she wakes up from a drug induced sleep.

As he passes Catwoman, he reaches out a gloved hand a quickly taps it on her shoulder as a means of comfort. It's brief, more like a 'you got this, buddy' than anything else, but it is something. Then, he hunkers down.

He watches from the shadows as Catwoman makes good on her agreement to talk things out. For now, he remains silent, watching, letting the Cat take the lead on this one.

* * *

"I want," Anushri says… and then she hesitates again.

"I want… to have a lot of money. Enough money that I can send to my parents to make sure they are okay. They thought they were getting me a job and an education. They thought I would have opportunities. They didn't know this was what they had planned. I haven't even been allowed to send them a letter in over a year! They probably think I'm dead."

"Do you want to send them a letter? Or do you want to see them? Or both?"

The girl thinks about this too, her face unsurprisingly serious in the glimmers of moonlight from the window. "I…" Silence.

"Let me guess," Selina murmurs. "You feel like you should want to see them. Maybe a part of you does. But part of you is mad. Part of you — "

"They sold me." Her voice is low. Stern. "I know they meant the best, but they took money to lose me. What would I do back home? But if I send them money, then… then maybe."

Catwoman nods slightly. She understands, and possibly too well. "Where would you go, then? If you could go anywhere in the world. For a day, or to stay."

"Why would you give me this?" Anushri's face wrinkles. She's beyond untrusting, the more she thinks about this. "I am no one to you. Don't tell me you feel guilty about robbing them, or — or pity for me."

"I don't pity you," Catwoman retorts. There's a little smirk on her lips again, and though she leans forward to say the next few words, a lipreader or a particularly keen listener might hear her murmur to the girl: "I know what you did with the smoothie packets."

Straightening again as Anushri goes very quiet and still, she goes on: "No, I see something all too familiar in you. There's dozens, hundreds, thousands of people in this city with something worth stealing. I chose the Pentons because someone worthwhile lived here. Now. You don't know where to fence diamonds and sapphires. I do. You don't know how much to ask for or how to ask; I do. So I'll split the take with you, and if you want all the money to go to your folks, I'll make that happen. There's a crappy song from the late '90s with the line 'every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.' This is the end of one part. The beginning of the next part is up to you."

"You don't do anything for free," Anushri counters.

"Maybe I'm feeling benevolent."

"Maybe you want something."

"You don't have anything I want, sunshine."

"But I would be in your debt. And you are a criminal."

"You don't have to pay me back."

"I'm NOT going to live in debt to a burglar. How much money do you make as a burglar? Is it a lot?"

Catwoman actually snorts. "Kid, I'm not about to tell you crime doesn't pay. That's someone else's job. But I tell you what. You're so upset about how much you're going to be in debt to me? I'll set up an account. Whatever you end up doing in your life, you can pay it back fast or slow. And when it reaches your share in this little caper, then your debt's paid. Until then, just don't tell anyone who your new best friend is, okay?"

* * *

Batman keeps his position against the wall, not moving, not shifting. He keeps still to make sure the conversation continues between Catwoman and Anushri. He is good at watching and listening without drawing attention to himself.

Anushri studies Catwoman with that same suspicion in her eyes. Though younger, she is one that is used to the betrayals of life by now. "No raising the price?" she asks firmly. She doesn't exactly know what interest is yet, but she wants to make sure this is a flat price. "What I owe you is what I owe you? Nothing more?" As for not telling anyone who Catwoman is, well, she wants to hear the outcome of this first.

* * *

"No raising the price. We agree on a flat sum. You pay what you can, when you can, into an account. No more than what you can afford, and if you can't afford it, you'll never be forced to pay."

Catwoman raises her hand: "On my honor. Thieves have to have a code of conduct, or no one will work with them. Even thieves have to be honest in some ways."

As much as she's aware of the spectre in the corner, she's also being, frankly, herself.

* * *

"They do?" Anushri tilts her head at Catwoman, distrusting of this sudden idea that thieves have a code of conduct. "They're criminals, how do they have a code?" The thought that there may be laws even for criminals in one that she does not exactly believe but is certainly curious about, despite herself. "What is that code? Is it written down somewhere?"

* * *

"Not exactly. We try not to write things down, as a rule, or do anything else that can go into evidence. But a criminal is expected by other criminals to obey a different set of rules — and to handle the consequences if they don't. I don't HAVE to tell the truth when I sell on what I steal, but if I lie to my buyer, I risk their not buying from me again. I can operate on someone else's turf, but I have to face the consequences of the entire gang coming after me if I do."

Catwoman puts her head to one side. "This isn't getting you out of this house, though. Where do you want to go? Short term or long."

* * *

This seems to be something she is starting to memorize. If she's to leave the house and owe money to Catwoman, that seems to be the best thing to do. "Okay." That's her acknowledgement of this. As to where she wants to go? She frowns. She does want to send money back to her parents, but going back to them? After all this? "Where would Superman go? Where would you go?" She wants options, she wants to know if there are choices.

* * *

'Where would Superman go?' "Apparently, Metropolis. It's very nice. Clean. Public transportation smells like new cars. It's not a bad choice. Me? Anywhere I want to, darling. Just at the moment, Gotham City, but nothing stops me going wherever I want. You," Catwoman continues, pointing one long clawed finger, "I would recommend getting educated. GED at least — that's the equivalent of a high school education. You're old enough to work legally, but you could be rich enough to not have to. Then? Find out where what you like and what you're good at converge, and then do that. Try to find something along that line that pays well. You're in the land of opportunity, and a big one just dropped into your lap."

* * *

Metropolis, Gotham City. She's already in Gotham City and she doesn't like it. Metropolis isn't far enough, she thinks. "Where would you both go other then around here?" She doesn't want to run into the Pentons, she doesn't want anything to do with the Pentons any more, obviously. "I can get educated anywhere, can be rich anywhere. I don't want to be anywhere near here. What's London like? What's China like?"

* * *

"London? Terrific if you're rich, like most places. Difficult to make a life in, like most big cities. China is enormous; it's not 'like' anything. But it's not the easiest place for someone who doesn't speak Chinese."

Selina begins counting them off on her fingers: "Between those, London is a solid choice. California's coastal cities are good in general, but they have London's problem of being very expensive. Hong Kong and Singapore are very vibrant, very interesting, but most places worth living in are expensive. Of all of them? London if you don't mind rain. San Francisco if you want to stay in the States and you're all right with fog and damp. Los Angeles if you like heat and beaches and don't mind traffic and an image-obsessed population. Tokyo, you'll always be a foreigner but it's still marvelous if you can get past that. Find something to make your name with, though, and you can try them all yourself."

* * *

Anushri frowns, watching Catwoman and thinking things through. "I get to choose?" This is a main sticking point. She's taken all this advice, all the ways of knowing how she can trust Catwoman, but she still needs to know this. "I can pick where ever I want to go? How do I know you can't…track me? Or…or follow me or something? What if I just want to go where I want to go and not be followed?"

* * *

Catwoman shrugs: "Then go. If I give you a wad of cash, you can go anywhere you want with it. Cash is hard to trace. It's why we criminals use it a lot." Her eyes twinkle, though fair's fair, it could just be the goggles. "I honestly don't care where you go, as long as it's where you want to go. Fifty thousand dollars, no questions asked. Will that do, do you suppose? It won't set you up forever, but you'll have a good long while in most places. And if you need more, you can always ask. And when and if you want to pay it back, you can."

* * *

The money, the ability to hold it, that definitely calls to her. Anushri can escape, that is really the be all and end all to her. "Then let's go. I want to go. I can choose where while we're going, yes?" Immediately, she pushes back the sheets and starts to grab a bag to back what she wishes to take. As she does so, she moves forward toward that corner to find the figure of Batman, suddenly thrown into relief by her change in position.

With a shriek, she goes running backward toward the covers, bag in tow.

* * *

"Easy, kid!" Catwoman reaches out to catch Anushri's shoulder. Not to hold her in place — just to keep her calm, hopefully. "Yeah. You're in Gotham City. Batman's gonna do that sometimes."

It's not the… best explanation.

"II'm probably going to have to give up the jewels," she says confidentially. "But I'll give him the blackmail I found in the safe downstairs. He won't interfere."

* * *

At the shriek of the kid, Batman stands quickly - probably also not the best idea. Anushri immediately pulls the covers over her head. "I'M SORRY BATMAN!" She shrieks.

Stepping forward, he gives Catwoman a bit of a look. He's doing this to help her, after all. And the child, but also her. "I'm not here to arrest you, Anushri. I'm here to help. If you wish to leave this house, I and Catwoman are here to help you. Together." He gives Catwoman a bit of a look at that. "Plus, that blackmail downstairs will help matters."

* * *

"He really is here to help," Catwoman agrees. "He came because he wanted to figure out what I was up to. We're — "

She glances back at him. There's… just no good word for what they are. 'Friends' sure doesn't cover it. A lot of explanations wouldn't make sense to a terrified sixteen year old from Kerala with a fairly limited knowledge of…

"He won't hurt you. Or arrest you. I promise. He's… a good man. He told me to wake you up instead of just dropping you off in the airport with fifty grand in a suitcase. On the whole, I'm glad he did."

* * *

Batman doesn't look at Catwoman as she stumbles over what they 'are'. Instead, he keeps attention on Anushri. "I'm here to help." His hands are held up in the universal sign of non-confrontation.

Anushri looks at Batman and Catomwan and immediately grabs her already packed bag. "I want to go. Take me. I want to go. I don't want him to see where we go." Softly, she tells Catwoman, "We have a code."

* * *

"We do," Catwoman agrees. She lets out a little breath through her nose.

Reaching back, she unclasps the buckle that holds the pouch in place at her shoulder, then the other one at the back of her leg. The pouch slithers down and she catches its strap, slinging it toward Batman. "There. Everything you could want. Proof of some rather nasty dealings, I think. You'll know what to do with it. When they see it's gone, they'll never try to come after Anushri. They'll just hope she disappears."

Confidentially, she whispers into Anushri's ear: "Honestly, this really is more his kind of thing. Helping lost girls? Very Batman. I'm not helpful, by and large. But you remind me of somebody I used to know."

With that, she slings an arm around the frail girl's shoulder and strides toward the window. "Now, don't you follow us," she says, looking over her shoulder at her… counterpart. Let's call it that. "This can't be a first for you. Maybe you should consider a more cheerful outfit."

With a blown kiss, then, she's helping Anushri onto the roof. Her motorcycle is a block or two away, and if she has to carry the girl, well… she supposes she will.

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