A Girl with a Bird

June 14, 2016:

Bloodied but not broken by their recent experiences, Nightwing and Catwoman meet by chance on a rooftop. The two discuss what they've been through and the uneasy truce they are forming.

East End - Gotham

The first impression of Gotham for many is East End, a district notorious for it's poverty, crime, prostitutes and drugs. The lit up central strip at night is colorful, bright and looks like something out of Las Vegas with its innumerable gentleman's clubs, casinos, bars and strip clubs. The downtrodden feel of East End has been glossed over by these glowing lights and brilliant signs along with the towering cityscape of surrounding districts, such as Otisburg, Burnley and to the north the Robert Kane Memorial Bridge.

Along the East End's southern region the streets begin to be overtaken by cobblestone alleyways, alleyways that web work throughout a rundown slum city of shacks, sheds, makeshift homes and decrepit apartments called Alleytown. A heavily populated district many immigrants and their descendants call home.

Park Row aka Crime Alley rests upon the other side of the main strip, dominated by an underdeveloped housing project called Scurvy City by the locals (it's actual name being the Skirley Apartments), East End Free Clinic, the Bowery, Tin Roof Club, Sheldon Park, Robbinsville and the GCPD’s 9th Precinct.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Batman, Red Hood


Mood Music: Iron and Wine - Boy with a Coin

Fade In…

Across the ramshackle rooftops of Gotham's East End bounds the vigilante Nightwing, boots skipping almost silently over the uneven surfaces with a sure-footedness born of over a decade of familiarity. He hasn't been seen around recently; truth be told, he needed the break to clear his head. Whether he can afford to take breaks like that, well… that's why he decided to make some changes in his life. He's looking for a better balance: one that will be healthy for his outlook, not to mention his emotional state. Bruce probably wouldn't approve.

But now Dick is back and — he hopes — better than ever. A nice, simple patrol to ease himself back into the work is just what he needs. At the moment, things are quiet in this neck of the woods, but that's unlikely to last all that long. Nightwing springs over the edge of a rooftop, catching the parapet with one hand as he passes, to hang at the corner and peer down into the streets with the enhanced visuals allowed by his mask.

A few weeks and East End is shifting, changing from the prior warzone it was. Walled off like Cabrini Green and meeting visitor on ground and sky with a herald of bullets. But Catwoman was back, and once recovered (as good as it gets), she met with the Alley Cats and her people and let them know… With a Bird (Harper) at her side and Bats on her tongue.

The gates of garbage and defunct vehicles came down. But that never stops what is "normal" for East End.

The streets are aglow with the nightlife, girls on call, and drunken party goers as well as those that watch from the shadows. But above… Where Nightwing traverses and hangs like a Bat of his upbringing he will look up and find boot laden feet embraced to calves, a body suit reinforced, zipped and buckled in definition of of another type of acrobats musculature. The silhouette tailed with the twine of a whip around her waist.

Boy with a coin, he found in the weeds - With bullets and pages of trade magazines. "Did you ever hear of knocking?" Catwoman inquires as goggled gaze looks down upon Nightwing, the words bearing the eased lilt of feminine casual, and yet a small smile rests upon the corner of lips, one bearing a marring still from the blunt force split.

Nightwing looks up, clearly surprised by Catwoman's presence — for all of half a second. Then he breaks into a grin and answers, "Go ahead: just guess whether the Batman's training manual covered knocking." Springing out of his perch and flipping to Catwoman's without so much as a grunt to betray the strength his move takes, he stands next to her, looking over the thief with evident concern.

"How are you doing?" he asks, sincerely questioning. The question is honest but guarded — he doesn't expect the jaded woman to suddenly bare her soul after all their years as sometimes-allies, sometimes-opponents. Still, he has to ask. Her situation the last time he saw her was… well. 'Ugly' doesn't cover it.

A girl with a bird, she found in the snow… Catwoman watches, unmoving at first on his approach and landing, but then finally stepping from the ledge to allow room. "I know that manual enough. It resembles my own." But as said, in sometimes-like, and sometimes-not.

No, Catwoman was not a soul-bearing type, but enough had been seen for them all the night they found her. All of them took their licks, saw the ugly and saw more then they wished with openings far more raw then emotion could betray. The green of eyes flick behind the mask to the streets below and slowly climb back to him as his query is thought on and moreso answered with the look then words.

"Recovering as well as you are, I would assume?" The assessing sweep of eyes comes and goes. She may not be an immediate Bat-Family member, but she knows enough to know how they roll, as aiding Harper in her fix up came with some hurt pride. But she owed them…

"I cannot speak for all of East End, but me and mine… The doors are no longer totally closed." And if you know Catwoman, East End may as well be her heart.

A shadow of wariness passes over Nightwing's features when Catwoman turns his concern back on him. He might have had enough sense to know that he needed a break after the raid on the fight club, that his mental health was at a tipping point, but now the mask is back on. Dick can need breaks. Nightwing doesn't permit himself those kinds of frailties. He turns away from her, glancing back down into the streets. "I'm fine," he answers, his unspoken truths symmetrical with hers.

Then he's back on: resumed eye contact and the flick of a smile at one corner of his mouth. "Not totally closed, huh? It's a start," he says. "I've always thought you do some real good here. Keeping people safe, giving them a family when they would otherwise be alone." He knows how important that can be. Still, he can't resist a light quirk of his eyebrow and a wry comment: "Shame about all the rest of the stuff you get into sometimes."

It seems for moments of pause, the two rooftop shadows act in a mirrored tandem, down to the unspoken and spoken; even the facial quirks. Like when he turns away her chin lifts and that downward sweeping gaze angles his direction in a sidelong manner. The returned eye contact gets him the same smile, brief and flickering akin to the string of diamonds that hangs from a small pouch at her hip. Not totlly tucked away as she came back from an excursion herself.

"That never stopped. Never will. It's delivery," Though when he speaks of the rest the dangling treasure is glanced and well… Busted? A clawed fingertip hooks it and shoved it back out of view. "What, this little thing? I found it." Chin rises indignantly but the small quirk of a smile grows.

Unspoken still, but her ties with the Families and the Calbrese, those are over. As over as they can be.

"Come now, Nightwing, a girl has to have her vices despite her virtues." In saying that a hand slings to rest on hip as she lazily shifts her stance. But in that eased shift of posture her gaze does shift away. "Thank you."

"Yeah, I'm sure its owner will be very grateful to see it," Nightwing answers in the same wry tone, unable to stop his own smile from growing. Whether that owner will be the same owner it had before it passed through Catwoman's claws, he is careful not to speculate. At the end of the day, he's a practical guy. He can waste his time busting enterprising jewel thieves, or he can fight the real monsters.

That sobering thought still at the forefront of his mind, he answers her gratitude with, "You don't owe me thanks. People shouldn't be treated like that. Not ever. The fact that that sort of thing can happen to someone?" He grits his teeth and shakes his head. "That's why we fight back. If we aren't doing everything we can to stop something like that, why fight at all?" He lets out a breath, lowering his shoulders. "Still, you're welcome. If we can work together against that kind of madness in the future? So much the better."

"I already called the owner." Yep, not the original owner, but as he does not speculate she is not going to elaborate. The money goes to East End and its people, semantics can be as broken down as that necklace through her fence.

As Nightwing speaks the smile fades, turns, and darknes her features in a manner that has her resembling a new type of Gargoyle perched over rooftops as yet another to ward of the evil intent. "I saw many pass through and not come back. We have all been through horrors, seen them… It's why sme of us do what we do, in our own ways." Now, Catwoman looks back at Nightwing and the look of sobered moment seems to hold hard, but then with the tilt of her head a small smile begins to return.

"That is my intent. It always has been. The Families are left somewhat crippled now, silent because of it. Seats of power are shifting and they are too busy there to add to what needs done out here… To hurt more people.." As this is why it all started, with her girls getting taken and killed. The roads to Hell..

"You have my help. You will meet no more bullets here, not from mine at least."

"I do hate getting shot," Nightwing admits, following the woman out of their shared dark recollections. He crouches, adopting the pose with ease and perfect balance, the mere mention of bullets is enough to have him minimizing his target profile. In the darkness, he's little more than a face and the stylized bird emblem stretched across his shoulders. "Which begs the question of why I took up this kind of work in the first place."

After a moment's thought, he continues, "I've been hearing rumors. There's another syndicate trying to move into the city. I don't know how bad they are, but I know they're led by a new player. Somebody colorful who moved to the top fast." He stops there, figuring that she's Gotham through and through: the mere outline of that pattern should be enough to put her hackles up. "If you see them moving in, you let me know, okay? I'd rather start causing them trouble before they get established, not after they're entrenched." He swivels his head to glance at the pouch that contains her recent haul. "We may not see eye to eye on everything, but I figure we can agree on that much, at least."

When God left the ground to circle the World.

"Because we're only humans with scars we don't want to see others bear." It may not turn out the same for them…

Catwoman looks down at Nightwing as he crouches, not taking the same stance as her fear is beyond these borders where she is mostly safe. Stepping up beside him her boots balance on the ledge, rocking her in the updraft passed between the old structures, tilting her head back and smiling lightly. It was truly good to be back, even as he speaks about this newcomer her stance does not shift, only the smile fades and her eyes come back to him.

"We do not have to see eye to eye. We just need to step over toes and join the same dance." A thing she loved to do but for the past year got to do rarely as tension sang too rigid along her spine. But now…

The whip at her waist uncoils like a lax sepent to pool at her feet, just between them.

"I'm back. You know how to get my attention." The smile returns and that balance along the ledge slips with arms outspread to enter the urban jungles swan dive. The crack of a whip and that sudden descent is caught and has her swinging along buildings and scaling the walls as if there was never a break in that freedom.

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