Advice For Cults and Dating
Roleplaying Log: Advice For Cults and Dating
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Bruce and Karen discuss the attack on Starr Industries as well as her developing relationship with Kate Kane.

Other Characters Referenced: Kate Kane
IC Date: February 06, 2019
IC Location: Wane Manor
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 07 Feb 2019 04:46
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

PREVIOUSLY ON POWER WOMAN: LAST DAUGHTER OF ZOR-L

Karen Starr just wanted to feed orphans. Is that so much to ask? In Gotham, yes. Yes it is.

The funds were going to more than just food supplies, of course. The Starr Foundation partnering with UCC was a coup: UCC had deep pockets, a deeper web of relationships to call on, and no idea how to catch the media's attention. Karen Starr knows how to work a trending cycle even if right now her first name has (hopefully briefly) become meme shorthand. It helps that most people call her Ms. Starr.

With Karen leading UCC around by the nose, the Starr Foundation is on track to accomplish its year-end goals by the end of March. It was all so perfect.

Then some guys with plasma rifles showed up and started ranting some culty bullshit and Karen had to put her other talents to use.

Robbers with inexplicable plasma rifles brings one thing to mind: Intergang. Also Hydra and AIM, but Intergang is less strident about color-coded uniforms. The rambling about holy murder is admittedly new. Maybe a strange bedfellow situation has developed.

With few leads and the center of activity being in a city she hasn't lived in for years, Power Woman has one card that she is both excited and loathe to play.

NOW

In a burst of super-speed, Power Woman on one of the verandas overlooking the Wayne Manor's backyard. Technically it's the anterior grounds, but come on, it's a backyard. Her red half-cape flutters down to a resting position as she leans forward to look through a window, one hand raised to shield her eyes and the other tapping away at her League communicator. (It's just her phone because she's savvy and knows how to keep all her stuff separate and secure on one device. Unlike some people.)

<PG!> Baaaaaaats
<PG!> On the balcony
<PG!> The back one I mean
<PG!> The middle back one
<PG!> Let me in before Alfred sneaks up on me
<PG!> Also don't worry there's no drones or satellites overhead
<PG!> I checked

* * *

It takes very little time for the door to the balcony to open. Standing there, looking prim and as if he had just opened the front door to a guest of honor, is one Alfred Pennyworth.

"Power Woman, it is always a pleasure. If you would please step inside." It seems that in the upstairs of Wayne Manor, Pennyworth is the one that any intruders would need to get around. "May I take your….cape?" It's hard to tell whether that is a true question or merely a dry remark. "Master Wayne is in the study. I will take you to him."

With either cape draped over his arm or simply moving forward, he is quick to take Karen through the maze that is Wayne Manor to exactly where they need to go. The door is knocked upon politely and he introduces Karen to Bruce: "Power Woman to see you. Would either of you like a refreshment? I was just about to put together a tea tray."

Bruce stands, putting his phone down and greeting Karen with a smile. "Come in. I'm alright, but maybe just a tray of something to snack on. I'm sure our guest wouldn't mind something. It is something of a flight from Metropolis." He gives a smirk at that and gestures at her to take a chair. "I take it this is about the fundraiser, then? "

* * *

Power Woman looks down at her phone as she types the last few messages. She's hoping to see some chat activity that will hint at when someone will come by to pick her up, but—

The blonde looks up, eyes wide, when the door opens to reveal Alfred Pennyworth. She offers a sheepish smile in trade for the kind greeting.

"Thanks," she says, stepping inside when bidden. "But the cape really pulls the look together, you know?"

Kara rolls her phone over and over in her hand as Alfred leads her through the mostly-familiar upper corridors of Wayne Manor. Apart from being here from time to time over the years, she was no stranger to the place back on her own Earth — minor differences between here and there notwithstanding. When they arrive the study door, Kara lingers behind Alfred. She still raises her hand and gives a small wave while Alfred performs more pleasantries.

"I can't say no to fancy snacks," she says, giving Alfred one last smile (and a more composed one at that) before passing him up to enter the study and make for the indicated chair.

"Yeah. I have to admit, I felt like you'd have already solved it by the time I flew over here to ask."

Karen sits, settling down into the cushioning with a sigh. She crosses her legs at the ankles.

"Sorry for the outfit mismatch," she says, gesturing to her Woman of Steel costume compared to Bruce's more neutral Brucing. "Surveillance gets more annoying every year, right? I miss being able to wear whatever if I just flew fast enough. But—" Karen leans her head to the side and rubs her temple. "Anyway. Where should I start? The beginning?"

* * *

At that, Alfred shuts the doors behind him and goes about putting together said tea tray.

Bruce then settles back down into his own chair and leans back. While as Bruce he is never quite as relaxed as he is while in his suit, he doesn't seem at all ill at ease. Instead, he shakes his head. "It's fine. I was going to head down to the cave, but I didn't wish to make you wait. I don't have the same sort of speed you do in those matters. And as it seemed as if you were worried about Alfred catching you outside as if you were past your curfew, I thought expediency was best. If you'd prefer, I can change."

However, he makes no move to go and do that. "I appreciate the official uniform, though. I have the benefit of simply being in my home. It's very rarely that I am not in costume and someone else is." In fact, this may be one of the only times it has happened with someone he has not adopted or trained.

"I have not yet exactly solved it, but it doesn't take a great detective to wonder why you are here." The question is met with a nod. "Yes, the beginning is best."

* * *

Karen briefly looks guilty at the Alfred mention — it's a running gag for her at this point — but the act swiftly collapses when she snorts a half-laugh as Bruce offers to go change. She waves her hand.

"No, no, it's fine. We'll miss the snacks."

The blonde uncrosses her legs and shifts her seating, looking off toward a window as she prepares to recollect.

"It was one of those times I wish I was more paranoid. I was so focused on the party that I didn't hear them until they were already in motion to break in. There were three of them who looked like the real rogues type; the rest seemed like crooks they had paid off. They paid a few guards, too. I wonder how they managed that — but that security company's getting sued by a dozen different lawyer teams right now, so I guess we'll find out."

Karen glances back to Bruce without turning to face him.

"The weird ones had supertech. Guns. Some kind of energy system. They're in police custody right now. I sniped them with heat vision without anyone noticing, so they didn't go off, but still — they got those from somewhere. I'm thinking Intergang but it's just gut."

It seems like that's it, but Karen shifts forward and raises her hands to gesture as if in disbelief. "Now, the weird part is the guy in charge was ranting the entire time. Like street preacher hellfire and damnation ranting. Except he's talking about murder being a virtue and all this other sketchy photo negative stuff. Aaaand…"

Karen hesitates. She briefly purses her lips into a pout. A classic guilty tell for her.

"…there was the stuff about your cousin."

* * *

Bruce can't help but smirk back at Karen at her retort.

However, his expression turns far more serious as Karen starts to relay the experience from her perspective. As could be expected, Bruce looked at the matter from the papers, from available surveillance footage and whatever else he could get his hands on.

"Weird ones in Gotham are not exactly the most weird." Unfortunately. It's the strange thing about Gotham that people tend to try out weird things here quite a bit.

As for the guy ranting the whole time, he nods, taking that in. And as he seems very serious, he tilts his head and looks to Karen with a raised eyebrow. "Oh yes? And what about my cousin?"

Is Bruce Wayne trolling right now?

* * *

Karen doesn't say anything for a moment. This is because there are things going on inside Karen's head.

Things like HE KNOWS OF COURSE HE KNOWS HE SAW THAT GOSSIP STORY AND DEPLOYED AN AUTONOMOUS DRONE TO ANALYZE OUR ROUTE FOR KISSING RESIDUE HE KNOWS HE KNOWS.

Karen carefully composes her expression and her tone. She settles back into her chair again and neatly folds her hands in her lap.

"I mean the ranting guy seemed to recognize her. He called her 'twice-named.' That's all."

Deception roll: GOLD STARR.

* * *

Bruce very seriously nods his head. "Yes, that tracks. From what I could pull from the tapes, it certainly seems like they may be a cult I have heard about from abroad that worships committing crimes." It seems as if Karen has certainly lied her way around the fact that she may both know his cousin and also know her secret identity. The fact that a cult is calling Kate 'twice-named' is worrying, of course, but he then switches the topic.

"Did he?" Bruce nods a few times. He looks at Karen's posture, her deliberate way of placing both her hands and her body. Unable to help himself, he smiles.

"And does your report include your noticing her?" He raises an eyebrow at Karen, letting that question linger.

* * *

"Huh," says Karen. She looks up toward the ceiling to consider the ramifications of a cult that worships crime. Her first thought is to be surprised she hasn't run into such a thing already.

Did he? "Yep."

And does…

Karen slowly inclines her head to look back down at Bruce. She is trying to do her neutral face again but is burdened by her eyes being a little too wide.

"Noticing her?" she says, her voice slightly higher pitched for the first syllable before she corrects. "I mean… red hair, purple tux. Punched a guy. Hard not to."

The blonde shifts her hands to the armrests and crosses her legs again. She tosses her hair. None of this succeeds at making her look nonchalant.

"Why, do you suspect something?" A pause. "I mean, do you think they're after her for some reason?"

* * *

Since it seems as if Karen did not know more about this cult, Bruce is first to talk about that: of course. Business first always. "Yes. I don't know much more about them then their reputation. It is certainly worth looking into, however. That should be our prime focus."

As Karen continues to dig something of a hole for herself, he let's his head tilt just slightly. For Bruce that is practically declaring himself the winner of a chess match. "About Kate? No. About you? No. However, I do have to ask you the question: does Kate know who you are? Did she see your surreptitious laser blast to these weirdos with guns?"

* * *

Karen is too tilted to notice the head tilt. She'll remember it in two hours and groan for a full minute.

The blonde switches from nodding at the suggestion of focus to raising her hands, palms open to show nothing.

"No one saw anything. Short bursts, super speed."

She furrows her brow, glancing away. Her hands dip.

"That does remind me that she stole one of the pistols from the guards that turned. I disabled all those, too, since they were taking hostages. I knew it'd arouse suspicion, but gambling on it dying as an unsolved mystery in police lockup is better than someone getting shot."

Karen looks back up to Bruce. Her expression is still perplexed.

"Why do you think she'd try to take a gun, though?"

* * *

"Hm." Bruce does lean forward, truly looking like as if he is thinking this through. While he is quite willing to tease Karen, he is not about to easily give up Kate's own identity. "I thought you said she did take the gun? Then she tried?"

He watches Karen still to see her reactions. "Kate is my cousin, I have talked to her about making sure she has the means to defend herself. I think if she was attempting to take the gun, it was to ensure the safety of those around. I assume even meeting her just the once, you would know that she has the family trait of stubbornness and she does not take things by halves."

Bruce then raises a finger. "Remember the security footage. Is it possible you were caught on tape?"

* * *

Karen doesn't immediately respond to Bruce picking up on her phrasing because she senses he has more questions, but the return of the pouty lip purse definitely means she's been caught in something.

Bruce's explanation of why Kate may have done it draws a different reaction. Karen shifts in her seat and furrows her brow. Clearly comparing new information against old information. The mention of security footage doesn't seem to bother her much.

"I checked. The systems there aren't new enough to catch me. It'll be years yet before gear like that trickles down to commercial stuff on the hotel tier."

The tension leaves Karen's expression. On the subject of Kate, she seemed more relaxed: this may only be a strange puzzle to her that she's trying to help Bruce figure out.

"That's the strange thing. She picked it up after it misfired, and hid it in her coat. I said 'try' because I lifted it off her later. I didn't want to… I don't know, I didn't know her, I didn't want her to have evidence. I slipped it into the police van with the others."

* * *

"Mhmm." Bruce thinks this through. "Alright. As long as you were not compromised."

As for why she picked it up after it misfired, he raises an eyebrow. "That's good." Whether he thinks it is actually good or not, well he keeps that under wraps.

"I appreciate you looking after my cousin," he tells her sincerely. "I imagine, she was wanting to find out more. She's a smart woman."

Settling his hands down on the desk, he smiles. "I appreciate both the warning and the update on my cousin. So you haven't seen her since the fundraiser?"

* * *

That all makes sense. Not really. There's gaps! But Kara gets a certain feeling when she shouldn't pry any further into family business — most capes who spend enough time around other capes develop some sense of decorum about privacy. If Bruce knows a reason, that's good enough for her.

But then—

Karen opens her mouth.

After consideration, Karen shuts her mouth.

She sits stymied for several seconds, drumming her fingers on her legs with increasingly intensity until she clasps her hand into a fist.

"Okay, come on, are you teasing me right now?" she says, raising her voice fractionally — not in anger, but from a pique of emotion.

* * *

Raising an eyebrow, he watches Karen with a very studious expression, as if wondering how she could ever accuse him of teasing her on a serious matter.

Then, however, his expression cracks just slightly. Bruce Wayne does not grin, but he smirks at Karen. "Did you think I wouldn't know?" That, to him, may be the most insulting thing about this whole endeavor.

"I don't need details of any sort, but I feel as if I must ask you your intentions. You have an identity, does she know it?" These are all important question for him. He needs to know the facts so he can put everything together.

* * *

Karen watches with her breath caught up in her throat while Bruce goes through the eyebrow raising routine. Her mouth is slightly open and there is genuine haplessness in her eyes.

Then she sees the mouth twitch up. She doesn't even see it all the way. Thanks to Kryptonian super senses and reflexes, she's already letting out a murdered groan and leaning forward to bury her head in her hands by the time her tormentor starts the motion.

"Bruuuuuce," she says, dragging the name along with her mood rebound. "I didn't mean it. I mean… I did, but, ugh!"

Karen partially regains her poise, dropping her hands to her knees and looking up to return her attention.

"She asked me out. I didn't even realize she was flirting at first. I turned her down, but then I kept thinking about it, and…"

The blonde starts to say something, but the word dies in her throat. She flumpfs back into the chair. It scoots back on the carpet a half inch.

"I didn't think I was… I don't know. I'm trying not to over-analyze here. She asked to see me again and I said yes."

Karen pauses a moment, though this time it's to indicate a tangential topic change rather than buy time to think. Then: "As far as she knows I'm just Karen Starr."

The next silence that spreads is more the latter type than the former. Karen looks down at her hands, bringing them close to lace her fingers together. She's had years to get used to everyone being younger here than in her dimension, but sometimes it's hard not to treat a few of them as mentors.

"Bruce…" Karen looks up, her sky-blue eyes without the guile or determination that people associate with Power Woman.

"How do I do this?"

* * *

To this point, Bruce has been sort of enjoying playing the protective cousin. However, Karen becomes sincere and he pauses for a moment. There's a knock on the door and Alfred, the consummate caretaker, puts a tray of tea sandwiches, crackers, cheeses and meats on the desk between the two of them. A pot of hot tea is also there, two cups empty set there for them.

Bruce gives Alfred a thankful look and then pours himself a cup of tea, taking it black.

He knows the gig is up even as he's pouring. "Karen, what do you want to know? My advice is to never date while you wear that cape. You will have to divide your attention between your duty and the person you are dating. Neither deserves half of your attention."

He's sure she wanted good advice and he thinks he is giving it. Taking the cup of tea, he simply holds it while it cools. "Karen, people like us do not date. We make decisions and we either go all in or we do not. Are you willing to tell Kate about Power Woman? If not, you should not get involved with her. If you are, then you should think about what may happen if something bad may happen. Can you trust her with this secret and if you do, do you think she can handle it?"

* * *

Alfred, always perfect timing. Karen looks up sharply to the door, but then glances away with a small, shy smile as the butler delivers the tea service. She murmurs a thank you, which are her only words during the interlude.

Interludes always end. Karen leans forward to pour herself some tea after Bruce is finished, but is listening as she does. It's simple to tell: she freezes briefly when he says never.

She asked, and now she listens. Karen sits back into her chair with her tea. Her posture is different now: straight, poised, Power Woman. Even if there is still uncertainty in her face.

"A part of me already thought this," she says. "I asked if I could ethically hide something like that. Even if it wasn't dangerous, how can you try to get close to someone when you're only showing them half of you?"

Karen cups her tea in both hands and watches the hints of steam rise. Her mind makes the leap it wants to make: the steam of Kate's exhale while they stood on that balcony after the party. That smile on her face. That feeling. That feeling that maybe someone out there understands.

"I've always respected you. You're more dedicated than anyone I know. If we all had more conviction, we'd all be more like you."

Karen looks up again. The look in her eyes is no longer lost. A touch of regret, maybe, for the thing she found herself needing to say.

"But I want a life. I want… evenings, and walks, and arguments. I want to cook for someone and fuck it up and order pizza." The last few words tumble out of Karen's mouth with a hint of laughter behind them, but her smile doesn't fully reach the rest of her face. "I don't know if that's Kate, but I want it to be me. I just want to get to know her, and then… and then I'll decide what happens next. Is that terrible?"

* * *

"No, it is not terrible." Bruce finally takes a drink of the tea he's let cool for the few moments he's had it in his hands. If Kate was worried that her words would emotionally hit him, it does not. Taking a drink of his tea, he sets it down onto the saucer.

"There's nothing wrong with wanting those things, Karen. However, if you do what we do, those things come second. That is true of if you want that relationship with Kate or with anyone else." He knows she's being serious at this worry and he treats it as such. "Get to know Kate if you'd like, however know what that means. You are Power Woman even if you don't wear the uniform. The evenings, the walks, the arguments, the pizza…should someone be in trouble would you abandon them to help them? That is something to think about. You want a life, that's not terrible. However, you need to find what you are willing to give up either way."

* * *

Kara knows there's nothing she can say that could hit the Batman in his heart. However, there are plenty of things she could say that might disappoint him. That still hurts.

Karen takes a drink of her tea as well, giving her something to do while she waits to listen to the whole of the response. She drinks a bit too deeply, but the feeling of 'too hot for human' is merely one of conscious acknowledgment.

The blonde bows her head one last time as Bruce elaborates. Her lips press into a thin line. It's not like she hasn't thought about these things before. She's been thinking nothing but them, almost. Bruce saying it out loud brings the weight of wisdom crashing down on that side of her unbalanced heart.

"…you're right."

Karen takes another drink. Cup emptied, she sets it and the saucer aside and exhales with purpose. This purpose appears to be giving serious consideration to the charcuterie tray.

"I'm going to keep seeing Kate. If we get anywhere serious… I'll tell her. I promise I'll tell her."

Power Woman raises one of the miniature sandwiches to gesture at Bruce with.

"Alright. Tell me more about this crime cult so I can go punch some answers out of them."

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