Touching Base

September 22, 2016:

Gotham

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Back in her office at the Triskellion, Natasha sees a message from Batman requesting a meeting with a SHIELD personnel. Having approached him in the past for assistance with capturing the Winter Soldier, she takes over, and sets a meeting. Shockingly, Batman opts for a rooftop in Gotham again, so she just grabs her gear and heads on over. Give or take reasonable commute time, she makes it just a few minutes early for their meeting, waiting in a shadowed area.

Batman's already there, waiting— or he's capable of moving utterly invisible and silently. Maybe both. It's late in the evening, when the shadows favor the stealthy.

Natasha's looking one way— the next moment, another. And when she turns back, Batman's abruptly standing just outside of arm's reach. His cloak's pulled forward to completely conceal his features from view, save for the hard set of the point of his jaw.

"Agent," he rasps. "I need information on someone who entered Gotham. Young man— wearing a full suit of power armor. Wasn't Starktech, or Luthor gear. He met one of my associates and I want to know what he's doing in my city."

As she was here for a meeting, and not an actual mission, the Black Widow isn't playing games, so Batman does manage to rather easily sneak up on her. Though she, for her part, doesn't look taken by surprise. "Batman," she replies smoothly to his raspy voice, listening to his question, she smirks, "so, you weren't keen on helping me with the Winter Soldier, but you find no qualms about asking SHIELD for information? Hardly seems fair," she teases, before suggesting, "from the description, I think you shouldn't be concerned, sounds like one of the good guys."

"I don't do favors for the government, Agent," Batman tells Natasha. His eyes are hidden behind opaque slivers of light. "But if Winter Soldier came through Gotham, he didn't pop on my radar. And I don't miss much."

He tosses his chin behind Natasha's shoulder. "I don't care if he's a 'good guy' or not. Metahumans stay out of Gotham. That includes guys from the future wearing flightsuits," he gravels at Natasha. "He can take it up with Metropolis if he wants to operate in the open, but not in /my/ town."

"I've pulled some data from other sources." His hand emerges from his cloak, a flash drive extended to Natasha. "It's an incomplete profile, but there's some useful information there. I need to see how many blanks SHIELD can fill in for me— if he's not one of the good guys, like you said, then I think this is a situation where we can do both of us a favor." A brow lifts behind that mask. "After all, if he's got future tech, that's something SHIELD is probably interested in."

"Funny, sounds like expect the government to do you favors, mmm? A bit hypocritical, isn't it?" Black Widow muses without showing actually investment on who is right and who is wrong, merely making a point. "Oh, I know, I got to him on my own, in the end. The old saying, want something done right, do it yourself, turns out it's true."

"Are you saying that you're the people's elected government for Gotham? Sounds a bit tyrannical, I don't recall there was such a vote," Natasha takes a moment to fix her hair, swiping it back as she looks at Batman's mask. "No doubt SHIELD is interested in it, but he seems to take after you in trust shown to government."

Crossing her arms, Natasha adds, "I personally feel an inclination to avoid working with someone who only demands, but wouldn't give, it doesn't seem like a healthy work relationship." Cocking her head towards her left shoulder, she quips, "why should SHIELD fill in the blanks for you? Has your investigation caught up to any red flags?"

"I'm not asking SHIELD to do it. I'm asking you to do it," Batman points out to Natasha, in that low, angry gravel of a voice. It sounds barely human— and with those eyemasks not betraying where his gaze goes, it contributes to the unnerving sense that Natasha's speaking to something less man than force of nature.

"Not looking for favors. Exchange of information and mutual convenience. If he starts causing trouble in Gotham, I take him down and then SHIELD picks up the pieces, which could include some very advanced, very dangerous hardware. You come back that he's clean— I give him the speech, he focuses his work on other parts of the world, and then SHIELD's got a better handle on him for when your organization decides they need to talk to him themselves."

"It's not a zero sum game if we both win, Agent," he tells the redhead. "Doesn't matter who trusts me or who asked me to do it. I'm tracking him— and I'm telling you that your help wouldn't go un-appreciated."

"Ahhh…so I'm not as big bad as the government I work for?" Natasha wonders, it would be highly unusual if this Batman managed to dig up any real information about her beyond her service with SHIELD, so she wonders why he would offer the trust? Was he touched by the length she went to in order to capture the Winter Soldier? Did he discover it was a pet project of hers, that wasn't sanctioned by SHIELD? All possibilities.

Natasha does really want to tell Batman he can forego the act, as for her benefit it doesn't work the same as others, but then she's never going to be the one to divulge her past. That wouldn't sit well with most after all.

"Then there's no need for the research, I can vouch for him already, the man is here to 'save the Earth', if you could believe his words. I myself am not in the habit of trusting in anyone, but I've seen enough of his work to suggest he is the real deal. What happens in the future remains to be seen…give me a location, or means of communication, and I can have him contact you for a meeting."

"People are unreliable. Persons, however, can periodically be useful," Batman rasps at Natasha.

"I don't want to meet with him. I don't need friends, particularly kids from the future looking to make a name for themselves."

His cloak shifts. Changing his posture, or just an errant breeze? "You've got a good reputation, Agent Romanov. Not a clean one— but a consistent one." That sounds like a veiled threat, if there ever was one. "I can work with consistent. The dossier would be more useful, and it'd incline me to return the favor the next time your budget for spy satellites gets slashed."

Arching a brow, Natasha wonders just what Batman is refering to when he says her reputation isn't clean. It's unlikely he found any real information, but then even in SHIELD, she is known for some ruthless methods and high efficency in success rates on some frankly suicidal assignments. No wonder Fury leaves her as under his direct command alone, a rather unusual status for a field agent. "I'll take your offer into account, Batman…a dossier on the man from the future, I can do that."

"Glad we had this talk then, Agent Romanov," Batman rasps at the redhead. Is it her imagination, or does he seem slightly less terrible than he did a few seconds ago? "I'm suddenly inclined to tell you that AIM recently rerouted a shipping container full of lab waste through Gotham docks last week. I did my own lab work on it… but I imagine that SHIELD has some interest in going through AIM's trash bin."

"That is very much true," Black Widow concurs with Batman's assumption, "I'll report it back and have a team scour through it." She pauses a moment, and then look at Batman's visage again, "I do have a question…are you a woman under the costume and mask?" It's asked in quite the teasing voice, so clearly wasn't too seriously asked.

Batman just stares at Natasha levelly. "Anything's possible, Agent Romanov," he rasps at the woman, still little more than a mouth and those white lenses floating in shadow. "You're smart enough to apply your own deductive process to the question and solve it yourself. So you're asking me to see what kind of reaction it'll get out of me— provoke me into a masculine defense of my self identity or cause me to react and betray my lack of self-awareness. Classic tropes assaulting the male ego and maneuver #7 in dismantling a psychological identity to prepare someone for further interrogation."

He stares at Natasha with those eyes that are impossible to read. "Either that, or your dating life is really suffering."

"Anything is," Natasha agrees, her lips curling into an uneven, slanted smile, as she hears Batman's own deduction of her rather ludicrous question. "Neither actually, though good catch on psychology of interrogation, I was actually wondering about your will power," she takes some distance from Batman, moving to leann against a wall of a roof access doorway, "you show a complete lack of attention to me, that doesn't happen often in men. Not that I tried for a reaction, but it's intriguing nevertheless."

"It's frustrating for you to deal with a man and not have the upper hand socially," Batman observes. Only his head moves, tracking Natasha's movement as she crosses to lean against the wall. "Social dominance comes from control of sex, then strength, then social success. I'm not aligned with your social values so you think I don't respect you as an agent. We're allies— for the moment— so a show of force would be wasteful. And if I don't succumb to you sexually, then you've got no leverage on me." He turns to face her, his lenses flickering. "Which is why you're leaning against the wall to look as coy and appealing as possible, allowing you to present a more feminine appearance and attempt to entice me. Won't work— I focus on the job."

"If you haven't met Catwoman, you should look at her dossier. She's… flirty."

"Do I look frustrated?" Natasha asks in a rather robotic tone, pretty monotone and empty of emotional input. If he's done his research, he'll note that's actually a noted behavior trait she seems to exhibit, a turning on and off of emotions. "So you think a woman can have a upper hand socially?" She listens intently when Batman offers his guideline for social dominance, looking thoughtful for a moment. "You think I am strutting a show of force? You've been the one to lurk in shadows and play the ninja game on me, thus far in our meetings, I'd say if anyone was posturing it's you, Mr. I Am The Night." Natasha winks playfully, and as Batman explains why she elected to lean against the wall, Natasha plays to his words, arching her back ever so slightly, while pressing her rear against the wall to better support herself. One hand she takes to trace along the front zipper of her catsuit, "I see, so I'm this predictable and unimpressive when I am trying to seduce someone…not like this, flirt, Catwoman, hmmm?" Black Widow asks as she looks up at Batman again, "must be nice to have no weaknesses."

"It works for me," Batman agrees, without a trace of sarcasm in his voice.

"Gender is not a relevant component of social dominance," he rasps at Natasha. "And yes. You're attempting to find some leverage on me. You're frustrated by the asymmetry in our encounters. Catwoman does it for fun. You're doing it to manipulate me. It won't work," he tells her, again, his tone flat and unemotive as hers was.

"Seduction always fails as a long-term strategy. Intimidation is much more useful. Seduction is a voluntary surrender— but intimidation is not."

Black Widow laughs as Batman completes his analysis, though she does shift from her position against the wall, "intimidation gets you false information far more readily than seduction, my friend," she walks towards the edge of the roof, "I guess our meeting is adjourned? Unless you care to mention some flaws I've yet to find about myself?" She waits a moment to give him a chance to add something else, but if he's quiet, she'll assume he continued with the ninja play, and swings down the building on a widow line.

Batman's silent until the last moment. "You should probably ease up on the carrot cake," he says— quite accurately notating the snack that went with the last meal Natasha had.

But she's already gone, and looking backwards— so is he.

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