A Meet

July 08, 2015:

Tim and Talia meet again.

Chinatown - Gotham

A small Chinese food restaurant

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

There are many places that Miranda Tate's name gives her access: board rooms, VIP lists, parties. However, tonight, it is not about what Miranda needs or wants. This is about League business. The League has shadowy wants and needs; much like Talia herself. And tonight it seems she wants something.

The old hole in the wall Chinese Restaurant is empty this evening. The door is, in fact, locked and most of the lights are turned off. The only staff members remaining are the cook and a lone waiter. It's safe to assume that both either owe Talia favors or are League members themselves. Only the back lights illuminating the lone woman sitting at a small round table remain gleaming.

Talia is dressed in tight, dark clothing, her curly hair neatly restrained. A pot of tea steams in front of her, a small cup resting at her elbow. She's given the man she's waiting for the signal to meet her here and she does not assume she will be stood up. While she may not be the Demon's Head, she is his daughter and the leader of the League of Shadows. In many circles, that commands more respect than the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

"Talia."

Tim Drake's voice is soft, but there's an underlying iciness to it's tone, as the young man steps out of a particularly dark patch of shadows. Perhaps surprisingly, he's clad not in the garb of Red Robin, but… in a three piece suit, looking for all the world like a young Wayne. His dark hair is parted in the center and spills down to frame his face, a face seemingly trapped between boyish charm and handsome masculinity.

"Oh. We are in Gotham. Perhaps here, I should call you Miranda?"

He steps forward, not making a sound on the floor, despite the hard soled dress shoes that cover his feet. He seems as calm as a Hindi cow, as he takes a seat across from her at the small, round table, unfastening the single button that holds his suit's blazer closed.

"Tim."

Talia's own countenance does not change from the calm look she gives to her cooling tea to her seemingly casual study of the suited Tim Drake. If she is surprised by his sudden emergence from the shadows, she does not show it. It's unlikely such theatrics would phase her; she helped train him, after all. In fact, her neutral expression turns from one of cool contemplation to something that some may even consider warm: strange for an enemy, but he may know by now that she rarely wears her emotions. The pause before she answers him stretches just a moment and then she waves toward the chair opposite her, inviting him to sit down even as he moves to do so himself.

"You should know by now that such false names between us are inconsequential. Unless you would prefer I call you by Robin. Or, what is it now, Red Robin?" Her tone is even, businesslike. "You're looking well. I've had the cook prepare one of the meals you enjoyed while you stayed with my father and trained with us." She gestures toward the pot of tea and the empty cup waiting to be filled, but she does not pour it for him. That is not beneath the Head of the League. Then, as if proving that there is nothing poisoned in the mixture, she takes a sip of her own cup.

She remains silent until the porcelain cup rests on the table again. "If we are both to be working in Gotham, I assumed it best to get the niceties out of the way. Don't you agree?"

Tim sits for a moment, and as she speaks of names, and his new one, a strained smile crosses the cupid's bow of his lips. "I didn't choose that name, but it seems to be sticking. It's a step up from having people always confusing me for Doctor Mid-Nite, at least."

Tim knows that Talia didn't call him here to kill him. That would be handled in a far different manner. There's a strange set of customs and codes that the League seems to conduct itself by. Or, at least, the royal family of the League, anyway. It's just not their style. It would be beneath them. So, for his part, as he settles in his seat, he doesn't seem very tense. Cool, collected and casual, but not worried.

So he pours himself a cup of tea. "That was very kind of you to think of me. You're looking rather well yourself. I take it that your father's recent misfortune has played to your favor. Judging from this exquisite dinner arrangement you've made for us."

Taking a sip from his tea, Tim watches her with those keen, brilliant blue eyes from over the ledge of his cup. After he sets it back down, he almost can't contain the chuckle that wants to escape him, lowering his gaze and shaking his head. "I'm sorry, Talia. You seem to be mistaken in thinking that you'd be allowed to work in Gotham. We don't like assassins in our city. You know this."

"It suits you, as much as a nom de plume can. You never are able to chose the names that sticks." Talia takes another sip of her tea and folds her hands delicately on the table in front of her. She smiles at Tim. For an intents and purposes it is a warm one, though Tim might be able to spot that it is fake. It's nothing new for the daughter of the Demon. There are maybe one or two people in the world that she would smile at and mean it. Many merely assume that is how she smiles.

"Exquisite," she smirks at his choice of words, sounding almost maternal. She knows the restaurant is run down. "Oh, Tim, you know better." It's as if she's admonishing a puppy that has not learned the proper command: her voice is gentle, guiding. This is about far more than his thoughts on the dinner. This is about business. "The call is a courtesy. You must know that we've been in Gotham since before you were born. You are the one that is new here, my sweet child."

Talia's head tilts, almost coquettishly. "This is my welcome home meal for the boy who helped steer the league on its current path. We are more than simply assassins. We are about justice, as you, yourself, can attest."

Tim knows well that the smile is fake. And he returns it with his own false, hollow smile. Even as she admonishes him, he remains silent, just watching her with that smile. Of course, the "exquisite" comment about their surroundings was sarcasm, though subtly played. After all, Tim treats his interactions with Talia as he would treat an interaction with any high society Dame that he might abhor and admire in equal measure. With calculated wording to never be rude, but convey his message.

"Of course I know that, Talia. I'm young, but I'm not a child. I've had the full view of your world, after all. Your father gave me that." He says quietly, taking his tea cup and cradling it in his hands, as he folds one long leg over the other. Lifting his gaze back to her, his head tilts to one side, and one of his dark, arched brows lifts up high on his forehead.

"Murder is never justice, Talia. We both know this, so let us drop the platitudes and company lines. You kill for money. You can be better than that, but you're unwilling to try. Or, at least, this was the case under your father." Here, Tim makes eye contact once more, level and steady. Intense in his scrutiny, but also earnest. "You have the ability to change that course. You know that your father is insane, and only looses more with every dip he takes in his… special bath. His vision is corrupted. He corrupted you, but… Sometimes, Talia, I think I see a sliver of a soul in you. You have the ability to do some real good. You just need to see that in yourself."

Just as Tim knows her smile is fake, Talia can easily see through Tim's. As is ever the case, it takes one to know one. Perhaps her admonishment was a chastisement to not try and placate her when they both know the game. They both were under the League while her father was it's head.

"You give a lovely lecture," she tells Tim sincerely, a tinge of bitterness to her voice. "One for which I'm sure your other mentor would be proud." That being Batman, of course: a man that is very tangled in Talia's own history. "You were not so squeamish when you first arrived to us. Mourning, vengeful, wishing to find the people responsible for your pain." She sighs and rolls her eyes. "But, what do you know of changing the course of a thousand year old organization? One which your own father led for hundreds of years? I am sure a single mission of vengeance and running your family's company for a few months surely has given you great insight as to what I am facing."

Her eyes dart down to her cup, betraying a moment - a very brief one - of indecision
of indecision, before it is walled back up again and she snorts. "You know nothing of me or what I must do. What do you know of the League other than what you attempted to take from it?"

Tim lets her words sink in, and he nods, remaining silent as she speaks, indicating that he understands, and the he knows full well what she was going to say. His tea cup is settled back onto the table, and Tim neatly folds his willowy fingers within one another over his lap. Leaning forward, Tim lowers his face so that he's looking up into hers, as he says, "You're right. I know nothing about running a thousand year old gang of killers. I hope that I never have to learn what that is like."

Slowly, he leans back, one shoulder hiking up under his hand-tailored suit to shrug. He continues, "But, with the time I spent with the League, I have come to know a few things about it's current leader. I know that she's cunning and skilled. I know that she's driven and determined. I know that, if anyone could change the course of history if they set their mind to it, it's her. All she needs to do is realize it herself, and to step out from those deep dark shadows that her father has spent a lifetime drowning her within. That is what I know about the League. Other than what I… ahem… did… take from it."

"Yes, the boy king is quite high and mighty now that he has gotten what he wants." Talia looks at Tim with an expression of knowing and possibly of derision. She worked with him a few times, so it is possible that she feels personally offended by many of the things he has said about the League - it's what she grew up knowing. There is no other life that she could ever have had or imagined.

"Your flattery, as you know, gets you very little, Tim. This was a courtesy call, a welcome back to the neighborhood now that I see you are here and back to your old ways. I can only do what I can and what I must. My way is not my father's way. You know that. This call is an olive branch. The League only kills when it is necessary and I am attempting to limit that. I'm attempting to bring some form of control over what I can of the certain elements of Gotham." A hand swirls the tea cup in front of her. The few escaped leaves twirl in an indiscernible pattern. "With the added help of others, it would be easier to push back against the more…" she gestures with a hand. "…traditional members of my flock."

"I didn't get what I want, Talia." He says, and for a moment - a split second, at best - his voice creaks, and the pain in his eyes is evident as he says, "I just want my father back."

But just like that, Tim's back to that cool, collected paragon of self-control. He inhales deeply, and releases it slowly through his nose. It takes just another brief moment of silence before he continues. "I'm not attempting to flatter you, Talia. Everything I just said is absolute truth, said knowing that those words won't sway you from any course of action that you don't want to be swayed from. I'm an idealist, but not naive, nor so crude as to try to manipulate you, of all people."

Now, his eyes narrow, not in anger, but to study her more closely. There's even a twitch at the corner of his lips that might be the flirtation of a smirk. In the end, he lifts his chin and says, "We can make an arrangement, then. You do not take contracts in Gotham. Your people kill no one in Gotham. If my mentor has shown the world anything, it's that Gotham doesn't need lethal force to clean up it's chaos. And this city deserves better than that."

Of course, he can't just make his terms clear without offering the carrot, either, so he gives her a moment to think, before stating, "As long as that bargain is kept, then I will not directly strike at any of your other operations outside of Gotham. And, when I can, I will aid you by apprehending the more traditional zealots that won't accept a leader that is not Ra's. They will not be killed, but given to police custody, along with evidence of their crimes. For most, I imagine that will ensure that they are no threat to you for the rest of their lives."

At Tim's show of weakness, Talia does not give him any sort of sympathetic gesture. Instead, she studies him and frowns. "You cannot," she tells him succinctly to his desire to bring his father back. "Not now. That is what the League is for. Righting wrongs that time will not." They are not there for jilted lovers or business deals gone wrong. They are the justice reserved for when people are desperate and need it; much like Tim was.

"Many people say they are one thing and all too often mean another," she tells him, face neutral. If there was a code of Talia, that may be it. It's one she certainly lives by. At his terms, she smirks, seemingly amused by them. "And the boy king thinks he can read terms to the League of Shadows because he has now taken his father's company."

She sighs, shaking her head. "The League cannot be apprehended by mortal means. Our justice is our own. If a member is given to the city's authority, it must be because I decreed it. And the contracts are not to be decreed by anyone outside of the League, you understand?" Most of the members who defy the League's orders are met with death. If she is to give any to Tim and the Gotham police, it would certainly be extenuating circumstances.

"If your mentor has showed the world anything it is that he is willing to allow the city to be crippled by his own morals." With a sigh and a roll of her eyes, she looks at Tim and his idealism, meeting it with her own cool business acumen. "I make no promises, but should it be possible to operate outside of Gotham, it will be done."

"Stop."

Tim says with an uplifted hand. He's done with the pretenses. With all the double talk and modicums of politeness. Real talk demands real people. "I know that I can't have my father back. That was the point of saying it. That I'll never get what I want. But maybe you can, Talia. I'm not asking for much from you, and offering a fair deal in exchange. I try to assist you, on my terms, in my way, to solidify your hold on the League. You, in turn, just don't kill in Gotham. You have the whole world to do with as you please. But you don't kill in my backyard. I'm not demanding you leave Gotham. I'm not demanding your forfeit your interests and holdings here. Just simply that here, in this city, you act in accordance with the Bat's rules."

He looks her in the eyes, and again, there's a sincerity to his gaze that is undeniable. "You're not your father, Talia. You don't have to be. You can carve your own path. As I am. You know that. There's no way that you can't know that. You're too smart."

But he stands up, tugging at the ends of his wool vest, and fastening the middle of three buttons on his jacket. He even takes a moment to straighten his tie, saying, "You think on it, and if you decide that you can agree to those terms, then we can work together. You know how to reach me."

He places a hand on her shoulder, as he passes her by, walking towards the exit now, with no grand show of ninja skills or any flare for the dramatic. Just simply walking.

"The whole world is not mine to do with as I please," Talia tells him with a raised eyebrow, almost amused. "And neither is Gotham yours to dole out. It is not only your own backyard; many hold claim here. The Bat may hold much sway in this city, but he is not its ruler. I am not claiming to be, either. You already know this, but your deal is not so much fair as simply an extension of what you might do otherwise extended to the League."

She smiles, the motherly smile again, a hand wrapped delicately about her tea cup. "You may demand all you will, but the League is not simply the will of one man or woman. As I have told you, I will do what I can, but you attempt to stem the will of a thunderstorm by telling it you have an umbrella."

The smile fades to something much more serious as he places a hand on her shoulder. He'll find it hard and muscled - much like the rest of her. As he walks away, she tells him, "You have said many times that I am not my father and you are right. I am his daughter. I have told you before you cannot escape your past, you can only live through it. Remember that, Tim Drake. I have told you what I can do. As you know, it is far more than my father would give you." She will not leave just yet. The restaurant is hers, she will enjoy its solitude for a few moments more.

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