Danger Red Maple

July 23, 2016:

Anarky lures Bluebird to the Red Maple for an offer.

Red Maple

The Red Maple has a distinct autumn color scheme to it with hues of red,
orange and yellow blended together throughout the entire restaurant. The
various tables are set up in such a way to provide an open feel and view
throughout the upscale establishment but the lighting scheme allows for the
sensation of privacy and intimacy. Grandiose art has given way to a
selection of mirrors decorated with vine styled etchings while branches used
to add depth to the room.

Each of the tables are of a polished oak surface decorated with a lone
candle and place settings. The support pillars throughout the room reach up
to the ceiling and are illuminated with backlit vine designed surfaces.

At the bar, a large mirror rests behind the bartenders upon which brilliant
showcases of light displays are projected.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Batman

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

He'd taken Harper off guard by staying in touch with her. They'd only met briefly, she and Anarky, and both while masked. But she started to notice things. She'd be walking along and cameras would seem to follow her, the surveillance ones around the place. Maybe it was just Batman keeping track or just the neighborhood.

But then she'd pass, say, a bank sign and the temperature would disappear and instead of saying "High: 94 degrees" it would say "Hi Bluebird" or "we need 2 *chattering teeth*"

She got phone messages from a "Mr. Key" last week, stating that she had won a prize and, if she wished to collect it, she should show up at a certain place. When she did show up there, a courier dropped off an envelope. That envelope contained a website address and a password. Once the password was entered, an address and a time were listed.

This address, for this restaurant. This time, which is now.

A young man sits at a table, by himself, a kindle at his side. His dark hair is slicked back a bit and he has on a pair of sunglasses. Nobody but him can see the LED screen inside or the data it feeds to him. But when the girl he put the tracer on last month comes in, he can quickly triangulate and verify the other observable data. "Here!" he calls, holding up a hand.


If there was a tracer on her? Harper doesn't notice it.

Anarky would note that there were times when it went slightly dark. Where the signal just got a little too weak. That was her at work. And chances are, she was probably welding. But once the five o'clock hour hit, the signal was strong again and she was on the move. And.. shockingly, it was a damn good time for her NOT to visit the batcave.

But, she was never one to turn down a free prize. And a meal at the infamous Red Maple.

While Harper wasn't dressed to the nines, she looked damn good.

Fishnets.
Black, form fitting dress.
Leather jacket with an.. shockingly enough, anarky sign embedded into the back and in random parts of the sleeves.
Anarky necklace..
Plugs in her ears and dark makeup to off-set the neon blue that marks the tips of her hair.

She was damn cute. And those combat boots give her a decent height as she strolls into the place with her tiny little, Little Mermaid hobo purse in tow. A girl has to be a girl once in a while.

As the man gestures her down, she raises a brow, her lips pursing as she stalks over towards the table, the place was crowded.. but she could tell a prize giver from the mooks that hang around this place. "So. Is the prize a free dinner or what? I got a kid to feed."


The tracker had just gotten him to her house. He knew better than to put a long term tracer on one of the Bat's associates. Plus, trying to get decent battery life out of something like that would have required something way too bulky to slip to her. But, once he'd traced her back to her house, he could settle down and do proper research. Hacking, surveillance, credit check, criminal record.

He knew plenty about her now, but wasn't going to brag about it. That would be very stalkery and, while he was very stalkery, girls didn't tend to take it as a romantic gesture. But to him, he was just…careful. Even knowing him could put someone in danger.

"Not your kid, though," he says. "Just your brother." Okay, so he might show off a LITTLE. "Free meal's a start. The prize? The prize is enlightenment, knowledge, a chance to do some real good beyond just punching bad guys in the face. Also, probably some moolah, if you want some."


Harper's eyes shoot upright as he mentions her brother, lowering soon after with a hand that reaches out to grip the chair to pull it out. If anything? That was one way to get Harper to be quiet, that cold calculation that she never really doles out until what she perceives to be a threat is nullified. She plops down upon the chair, her fingers soon steepling in front of her face, her blue eyes staring down the man with shades as he puts out his offer like so.

"I am -highly- inclined to punch you in the face right now." Harper states, but then picks up the menu in front of her, flipping the pages. "So you know who I am." Not that she's famous. Color her impressed. "But you do know that I don't do this for money. That's not my jam. I just want to know one thing before you say anything else, Christian Gray. Why me?"


Lonnie taps his fingers in a strange pattern over the surface of the tabletop, almost as if he were typing something, but he only does it with one hand. A repeated pattern, over and over again. A nervous gesture, maybe, or some piece of sense memory. Or a signal. Or something he's practicing. Or maybe nothing at all. Disinformation, after all, is the heart of what he does.

"That's a very poor piece of fiction you're referencing, although not, perhaps, as poor as you think. It was manufactured, after all, to condition suburban woman to feel a primal sexual attraction to white males with wealth and power. I know, hardly something that needed reinforced, but this specific narrative was designed to bend the standards of behavior. Grey is rude, selfish, disinclined to listen and utterly controlling - they are taught to see these traits as romantic and good and a sign of love. They are not. But they won't know that until they've signed their own contracts," he says.

"But enough about literature," he says. "You disrupted me. When I was doing work, work for the cause, work to make the world a better and brighter place. I was levelling the playing field," he says.

"I liked it. You weren't intimidated. You didn't take me at face value. You followed your own judgement and, unlike most of those who live at the sufferance of the Dark Knight, you act independently. I suspect, just from what I've been able to gather of your clippings, that you began on your own, without him. That he recruited you or tamed you or just…threatened you to play by his rules. He does love his rules," he says. He's never met the man, but he's pieced things together. Rumors, jailhouse confessions, account after account. Batman fascinates him almost as much as he repels him. Anarky, in some ways, wants to be just like him. In other ways, he wants to be his complete opposite.

"I chose you because you interested me. And because you're pretty. And because you understand what it is to do without privilege, to struggle for scraps. We have that in common."


Harper lowers the menu just a touch to lean over the table, her eyes squinting but she really couldn't see exactly what he was typing. She thought that this was a snatch and grab a free prize. In and out and maybe some take out for Cullen. But she was clearly, clearly wrong. Though, the takeout still might happen.

His entire explanation of Fifty Shades of Grey actually made her giggle, the pierced dimples drawing inward for that slight moment as her head slightly shakes, allowing those blue curls to dance along her face. "I didn't think you were a fan. Gotta appreciate a man who knows what middle aged suburban woman needs. You know.." She leans forward again. "A good whipping. Hands above her head, everything all tickled with a little flog until he beats her black and blue. -Love- that stuff." Harper. From the Narrows. Thank you!

She withdraws then, her brows lowering into a frown, concentrating. Searching. Her memory soon snapping in to match the patterns of speech and that very night where she just sat down to revel in the world burning all around her and him. She hadn't forgotten him. She was waiting for signs to pop up. But.. how did he find her?

"Wait.. no. He didn't tame me. He didn't recruit me or threaten me to play by his rules. I approached him and made him this offer to join him. But on -my- terms. He didn't want it but he's stuck. I made him kowtow. Not the other way around."

Defensive much?

Though, he interested her? He thinks she's pretty? Her cheeks blushed a full on red as she lifts the menu again to hide, one leg soon crossing over the other which accidentally bumps against it in the heat of her nervousness.

"You said moolah. How were you going to get the money to pay me if you're scraping like me?"


Anarky considers, "You went to him? Even more intriguing. You are full of surprises, which is rare, because I make a point of doing plenty of research. I tend to avoid surprises, because surprises get messy and surprises make trouble," he says.

"I read a lot. A lot of everything. Fiction, non-fiction. Manuals. Music. Warnings. You really should read warning labels, they slip a lot of things in there. And the fine print. Always have to read the fine print," he says.

"But not with me. Because I don't ever put anything in writing ever. Paper trails are bad, although, these days, an electronic trail isn't much better. I can follow both," he says. "Ah, I said I could relate, because I did grow up scraping by, barely making ends meet. Didn't say that's how I was -now-," he says.

"Now, I've liberated a fairly substantial amount of 'money'," he says, including air quotes, "I quote because money is a lie, it's a thing we've been convinced is necessary, a bartering chip, a measure of the worth of the human soul that we're meant to exchange back and forth all the while a precious few compile and collect as much of it as they can, usually off the backs of the workers and the students and the people they don't think are people. And they never know I did it and they never miss it, because it isn't even real and they already have more than they can count."

"Any of which could be funneled to you or your brother through any number of untraceable methods."


Ooookaaay…

Harper lowers the menu as he goes on and on, to the point that she was starting to get uncomfortable.

"Do you always get like this? I mean.. you know.. preachy." She pauses. "You're kinda preachy."

The menu is lifted again as she listens to -how- he had gotten the money. How he was rich as sin, and well.. it was all well and good but the money was still stolen. It was the key words that were used, liberated, people never knowing that he's stolen it. Her head shakes slightly as she begins to speak, yet once the waiter appears, she offers up a little smile.

"I'll take this.." She says, pointing at the menu. And this, and this, and this.. and these.." She points five more times, then offers up a sardonic grin towards Anarky. "I already told you, that sort of thing isn't my jam. I do have a job, you know. The bills are paid and food is on the table. -Better- food, now that you're paying for it." She takes in a breath, then exhales. "Look, if you want me to help you.. do whatever it is you do, fine. I can do that. We can catch the bad guys, punch or not punch them in the face, clue up the authorities, whatever. I don't reject help. I actually like it." Cause Harper needs more friends.

"So.. you know me. Obviously. You know my brother. So that means you know my name. And all of everything you said clued me into you knowing our names and everything about me down to the blood type. And you think I'm pretty." She frowns then. "But I don't even know your name. Either names. And I figure once we get that started and I take down my first plate, on the second plate you can tell me all about you. Cause.. y'know, enlightenment."


He considers, "Am I? Well, I suppose it comes with being a prophet. Not the most flattering behavior pattern, though, I'm aware," he sighs. "I just tell the truth as I see it."

He notes the rejection of the offer but doesn't seem offended by it. She seemed to give no real judgement. "Have what you like," he says. The credit card technically belonged to a Saudi prince anyway, albeit through a couple of shell funds. "My name's Lonnie," he says. "Lonnie Machin. You can feel free to look it up, even give it to Batman. He won't find anything about me. I've made quite sure of that," he says.

"I grew up here in Gotham. I never met my father," he says and, although he doesn't know it, should be very glad of that fact. "My mother worked herself sick to take care of me and then she died. She worked herself to death and she got nothing for it. Nothing but damned sick," he says. "If you want to know more, you should ask specific questions. That's all I'll volunteer unprompted," he says.


"You're a little weird, you know that?" This was said with a smile. "That stuff makes the world go 'round." His weirdness. She just paid him a compliment.

"Well, Lonnie Machin." Harper says with a little bit of a finality. "Let's eat." And just as those words were spoken, the first course of the dinner arrives. "I took the liberty of ordering for you. Because you know. You were busy jibber jabbering away." Lonnie received a Rib eye steak, with asparagus, all cooked to perfection. Even a side of mac n cheese. Harper herself? She received the same. Though without mac n cheese, she has potatos.

She picks up her fork and knife, then begins to cut into her food, which smelled so delicious her mouth was already watering. Even though it didn't seem like she was paying attention, she was, she was just focused on what was in front of her.

"I'm sorry about your mother." She states quietly. "Mine left. I don't even know who she is. There aren't any pictures of her, though. But I know if I see her I'll remember her face." She smiles, but it was sad. Something she's never brought up in a very, very long time. "I guess that's just like a sort of death. People leaving you. Because you have it in your mind that you won't see them again."


Anarky eats his food efficiently, although in his own peculiar fashion. He cuts his steak into a grid pattern, as if examining the degree of cooking on each portion presented. He won't complain if he finds a defect - he understands that working people may sometimes make mistakes and would never impose for a correction. He simply wants to make sure that he only eats that which is good. The rest, he efficiently sets aside on a spare dish. "A doggy bag," he says. In the literal sense, he drops off his leftovers for some stray dogs near his current squat.

"I know nothing about my father. Not even his name. My mother wouldn't speak of him. I believe he hurt her, in some way, but I don't think it was a one night stand either. She had a ring that she never wore, kept away in a cupboard. I found it, after she died," he says.

"I have a photographic memory," he says. "I remember everything. Every face. Every voice. Every grade, every commercial. Every letter of every word in every book," he says. "It's exhausting, sometimes."


Harper.. watches. She was eating her own food but she had to stop and watch as he eats. Her movements were careful, careful as she slowly slides the chair around to sit closer to him instead of across, then reaches for the side dish with the steak that he hadn't eaten to draw it closer to her. "It's okay. I'll eat it." Her voice was quiet, calming. Not that he needed it, but his pretentious ways were.. special. It was kind of cute.

"My father is a criminal. He's in jail." And that's all she had to say about that. -THANK GOD- we don't know who HIS dad is! Holy sweet bajeesus..

"I wish I had something like that." Harper states. "I think all of the times I was beaten as a child pretty much shook something loose." She laughs a little, the second round of plates coming.. pastas.. with special fancy sauce that looked good on the menu and does currently now. For once she takes a bite of it? She nearly melts.

"Try this. It is -so- good!" He had a plate of his own.


Anarky nods, "Oh, I was beaten as a child, and often. Simply not by my mother. The kids at school took care of that aspect of my education," he says. "Especially once I began skipping grades. They'd only let me skip two years. Which is foolish. If I'd been extremely smaller, the older kids would have seen me as harmless, as a child they could keep almost like a pet. Instead, I was just an annoyance. A pest. Especially if any of the girls decided to be nice to the kid in class."

He begins to eat and closes his eyes, "Very nice. Creme fraiche does wonders," he says. "I didn't see anything about food allergies. YOu don't have food allergies, do you?"


"My brother.. it's like that for him too. Well. Was.." She frowns a little, mixing the pasta with his bits of steak that he didn't eat. It wasn't going to the dogs. She was going to take it all. "But that does make a little sense. I imagine if my brother was at least ten years old in high school, they'd protect him and care for him where I couldn't." She leans a little close to him as he tries the food, her brows lifting in a hint of a shock as she gives a shake of her head. "No?"

And then she stops. A little gasp heard as she immediately snaps out to grab water and drink. And then cough. And cough some more, her glass dropping upon the table as she begins to rock back and forth, her fingers clawing at her neck as she points with alarm. "Hellp.." She squeezes out.

(Clearly, it was a joke.)


Lonnie has enough understanding of body language to recognize immediately, from her eye dilation and the way her throat is obviously still open and not spasming, that she isn't having a real reaction. "Ha ha, very funny," he says, although he definitely smiles.

"I don't really blame them anymore. I understand the kind of conditioning they're under. The pressure to fulfill the masculine stereotype, to prove your dominance. The system as it…" he stops and shakes his head.

"I'm preaching again. I'm sorry," he says quietly. "I don't…I don't spend time with people. In person." he says. No caveat. No "very often" or "as much as I'd like". Just "I don't spend time with people".


Harper stops, then offers up a little laugh as she continues to eat, her eyes alighting as the waiter comes by with dessert that she wasn't going to eat just yet. Well, they weren't going to eat. Her hand strikes out to rest along his chair, a leaning motion, something she felt comfortable doing. It could have been a throw back to a previous relationship or.. at least something she did with her brother. But she was comfortable.

"If you like, next time we go fight or.. have lunch or something we could create some wheelie type computer monitors and watch each other eat through the screen. Type our responses and alla that." She even goes so far as to wriggle her fingers.

"Do you not like people?"


Lonnie laughs softly, "I could probably do us something better than that. Snapchat's not bad, although I don't particularly trust it's corporate ownership, but I know a few freeware alternatives from programmers that I trust. I can get them on your phone, if you like," he says.

To the last question, he considers. "I don't trust people. And I know that I've…committed myself to doing things that won't always seem sane or safe to regular people. Or that could just put me in jail for a very long time. So I don't want regular people dragged in along with me," he says. "Also, I, as you noted, have a tendency to be…better at talking about facts or providing a great deal of information than having conventional conversation."


Harper grins, the arm around his chair serving a purpose. A tiny little tracker was placed upon the back of his shoulder in the guise of her 'accidentally' brushing her fingers against him. "Uh.. sorry.." Though, she was blushing. At least that was real. "It was just a joke." Harper stated, but she was sure he knew that. She draws her arm away from him then, focusing upon the plate of food, occasionally looking and checking to see if he's noticed.

"You don't trust people. You don't trust me.. and that is why you pretty much hacked me." At least he didn't see her other identity. The one of when she was in Arkham for nearly three months. That was pure hell. Even her medical records were nuts. Typical of someone whos a bird.

"I think you're doing well with conventional conversations." She states, then finally slides the apple crumb ice cream weird elaborate big deep dish cake and ice cream towards them, taking the liberties of moving the plates aside, the two large spoons there for the both of them to share.

"You're not also that type of person who wouldn't eat from the same spoon or bowl from me are you? You know.. 'fraid of cooties? Not a kisser?"


The tracer will only get so far - he has protocols to sweep himself for bugs, trackers and surveillance, not to mention that he operates a dead zone for unwelcome broadcasts within his current squat. No signal goes in or out of that place without his approval and certainly not ambient radiation that just anyone could be listening in. He's not a philistine.

But she did drop it on him and it will get her at least his neighborhood. More than that? Not so much.

"Actually, I think most fears of germs are overblown. Not to say that some aren't real, but human beings need to encounter certain bacterias in order to gain immunities, a coddled immune system cannot function. And you're making fun of me, a little bit, but that's okay, I'm fairly used to it. Not afraid of cooties. I've done my share of kissing, although none recently and largely in Europe while I was on…sabbatical," he says. "There were some cults of resistance, in fact, that required sexual contact to join. It helped show commitment to the cause."


Hey, whatever is clever! She could do the actual footwork once she gets there. Though.. chances are he may see her before she sees him. Then she'd have to think of another way.

"…what?" Yes. Harper, for that moment, thought that the poor kid was a virgin. He talks like one, right? "Ah.. uh.." She shifts uncomfortably, finally reaching for her spoon to quickly unass her part of the dessert to stick into her mouth. And it was -so- delicious. Even though her face burned red and she couldn't quite look at him the same after that little tidbit of knowledge, the food was just phenomenal. Yep. Great food. Uh huh..


He enjoys turning the tables on her a little bit - seeing her squirm ever so slightly as she absorbs that he's more worldly than he seems, his boyish looks hiding a far more mature soul inside. Which wasn't to say he was internally an old man - his idealism certainly was still born of his youth.

He spoons his own portion of the dessert, taking a taste. "It is very good," he says. "Do you feel more satisfied about my intentions?"


"I am.." Harper says quietly, after clearing her throat.

"Look, I need to get going. Um.. I can just.. rightfully assume you know how to contact me if you need anything. Right?" She was earnest about that. "I'll help you. But.. we have to go over some ground rules. Not tonight though." She looks up, then motions over their waiter so he could begin to bag up the food, as well as gather the take out for her to take to Cullen. "But.. this was cool. I mean, just sitting here and talking."


Lonnie nods, "It was good to sit and talk," he agrees. "And I agree, we should probably go. The banker at table 24 is going to begin to hallucinate in approximately ten minutes. He'll be fine, but they'll end up calling am ambulance and he'll be hospitalized for at least three days. Three days is approximately how long it will take the worm I placed in his system three hours ago to dump the funds of at least twelve fascist terrorist organizations into an untraceable charitable redistribution."

"Of course, the terrorists may come and kill their banker later, when the funds are discovered missing. But perhaps he should have chosen better business associates," he says.

He wipes his mouth and stands up, taking his own doggie bag, "Please, ladies first."


"Wait.. what?!" She nearly shrieks out, immediately standing from her table to look around and pinpoint table number 24. And true to his word, the man begins to sweat. He was looking pale, frantic almost, and attempting to keep it under wraps. "Shit."

Harper doesn't immediately move to the mans side, instead.. she gathers her things with the quickness, bunching everything against her chest as she commits the mans face to memory. "Goddamn it Lonnie.." Harper hisses, immediately moving away from the table to rush out of the restaurant.

It looks like in two days, Harper is going to be a very, very busy girl.


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