A Catgirl Is Born

April 08, 2018:

In which Cassandra Cain and Catwoman finally meet and Cass is "adopted". Temporarily. You know how the attention span of cats tends to be.

Gotham East End

The rooftops and alleyways of the rundown, crime-ridden East End of Gotham City.

Characters

NPCs: Some gang members

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Keeping up on what's been happening around East End is something Catwoman's taken a vested interest in. It's even led to some unneeded trouble with Penguin, who she's been waiting - with bated breath, no doubt - to hear from further about a certain thing she isn't looking forward to dealing with.

Now, it's come to her attention that something's been going on with gangs around the neighborhood, gangs and other seemingly minor transgressions to be exact, and it's enough for her to stick to some late-night excursions around the rooftops in order to see if there's anything to spot. It isn't long before this night gives her reason to investigate a matter more closely.

Shouts from an alley. Nothing new there, but always worth investigating. She's not going to let someone become a victim if she can help it. Only this time, as she vaults across a few rooftops for a better view and placement, she begins to wonder just which side is supposed to be the one in need of help. This is because she arrives just in time to witness Cassandra in the middle of a handful of thugs that make a move for her only to pay the price for their apparent folly. In fact, the way this is going causes her to put the brakes on descending to get involved. No..for the moment, she watches, adjusting her goggles to improve her night vision through them.

*

Clearer vision. Two Caucasian males, a black female, a couple of Latinos. Broken bones and a bit of blood on the two who are already down. The person they are attacking is young. A teenager, probably, and quite slender in build. And she is making a complete mockery of some dangerous and armed thugs. There are knives out; none of them have struck anything other than brick. One of the guys has a lead pipe. Cass catches his arm and then punches him repeatedly in the gut and then the throat until he drops his bludgeon to the ground with a loud clang.

Cassandra is breathing heavily as she turns on the last three. her chest rises and falls beneath the oversized hoodie, giving some idea of the girl's figure, albeit all obscured in the haze of nightvision. One lunges and Cassandra literally puts him through the other two, knocking them all to the ground. She advances like she might be about to stomp on soem fallen foes and, helping the ones who can stand to their feet, the entire gang beats a hasty retreat to some other part of the East End. The girl leans up against a brick wall and closes her eyes for a second while she lets her hammering heart slow.

They probably should have brought an army to deal with a petite Asian girl of average height. Nothing in Gotham can be normal, after all.

*

Sometimes, interrupting is the worst possible idea. What if Catwoman joined the fray as soon as she saw any trouble? She might have missed something important, and if at any point it looked like Cassandra /wasn't/ in control, she'd have been involved in the blink of an eye. Instead, it's not necessary.

By the time the fighting is over and the last of the would-be toughs are sent running by the small fighter, the costumed thief in the catsuit decides that's the time to get down to street level and find out what she can. Vaulting off a fire escape, she slides her way down one side of it to land softly and nimbly in a crouch about ten feet away, rising from it with the sort of feline grace she's known for. Gloved, claw-tipped hands come together a few times in a slow clap. "Not bad," she says coolly, underselling what she just watched.

*

Cassandra cocks her head slightly as Catwoman approaches her. First her eyes snap open and then she regards the woman carefully from where she is leaning, studying her from head to toe. She shrugs slightly after the words are spoken, playing off her own performance in a similar display of nonchalance. Cassandra straightens slowly. She uses her core muscles, straightening her abdomenand pulling herself in line with perfect posture in a way that suggests both strength and grace.

The girl looks Catwoman over again and then pauses ,lightly biting down on her bottom lip. she glances toward a bit of blood on the pavement, then the scattered weapons. her eyes then follow the fleeing gangbangers before sliding back to the Cat. There's a question in there somewhere.

*

Catwoman already understands this is no mere girl or young woman, however old she actually is. The physical stature is not particularly imposing, but that seems to have played right into Cassandra's capable hands, feet, whatever. There's a lengthy silence as far as these things go, approaching ten seconds or so as the cat burglar takes a moment to look around the area, assessing the aftermath of the encounter. It's the weapons left behind, a bit of red from where someone was opened up, a glance back toward Cass to verify none of it is hers, then a look toward the ones who are putting distance between them and their attacker.

By the time it's done, Catwoman's moved a few feet closer so she can study the one doing the same to her. "Shot in the dark here: this isn't the first group of punks you've sent packing, is it?" she questions, hands settling at her side. If this isn't the real Catwoman, Cass is looking at a damn good imitation. Everything is just right, from the catsuit to the whip, the claws, the goggles, even the body. Especially the body. She retains a sense of confidence and comfort, underlaid by just enough caution to leave her ready to act in the blink of an eye.

*

Getting a sense of Cassandra's body is a bit difficult iwth the too large hoodie in the way, but it's sized for a woman of average height so that already gives away most of it. The girl is what most people would call attractive, undiminished by the way she's cropped her hair or the intensity of her dark eyes. She watches as Catwoman moves toward her, still breahting heavily.

A few feet closer. Cassandra's gaze follows the Cat's to one of the men on the ground, then the scattered weapons and back to Catwoman. The question causes the girl to furrow her brows. She cantsher head slightly to the left and gives another faint, one-shouldered shrug as a response.

Cass watches Catwoman very seriously but no words are apparently forthcoming. Instead she points toward one of the people near her feet and then at Catwoman,pursing her lips slightly as she does. There's no sense that Cassandra is prepared to fight right now, but she *os* a bit concerned.

*

Catwoman slides a hand up to stroke and tap at her chin in slow, deliberate thought. Cass doesn't appear to be about to attack her, which is a good thing, but she doesn't know anything about this young woman. Anything is possible, but the ongoing silence out of her leads her to muse, "Some other cat must have got your tongue, because it sure wasn't me." Eyes meet eyes again and study the expression Cass wears, the shrug saying more than nothing.

Then, the gesture leads her to focus on the man still crumpled on the ground. Catwoman turns some of her attention toward him, crouching to reach out with both hands and haul him back to his feet, whether he's conscious or not. If he isn't, she'll slap a little sense into him. If he's already there, the words are simple: "You're going to tell me what you and your buddies were doing here, and you're going to tell me now or I'll hand you back over to her."

*

The man starts to stir once the cat has him on hsi feet. he takes as econd to blink blearily, attemptign to chase away the haze of unconsciousness. "…Uh?" After a moment, however, he stares at Cassandra. She glowers at him and he turns back to Catwoman, nodding quickly.

"I didn't know you did sidekicks," the guy starts. "Anyway! We were, uh… Minding our business. Started catcalling at this fine ass chcik wh owent by…"

Cassandra cuts the thu off by taking a half step forward, lening into it as she lifts a fist. The guy splutters as he adds, "We tried to grab her and her purse. I didn't want to do it, but- well. We did. And this girl stopped us. She's crazy! I'd rather deal with the bat."

From the expression in his face this guy could probably use a change of pants. Sweat streams down his face. He glances at Cassandra and adds, "That's all! I swear. They were just- mugging people. Collecting purses. Need to pay one of the local bosses…'

*

The man is bigger than both Catwoman and Cassandra, but only in size. He certainly isn't bigger than either of them in any other way right now, held up by the fists Catwoman makes in his jacket. When he becomes more aware of things, he'll see her eyes, behind the goggles, staring intently at his. The glance between Cassandra and the man is not missed.

Then, she sniffs. "I don't have a sidekick," she states flatly, but she doesn't stop Cass as she reacts to the first things she hears. "You might want to watch how you talk about people in front of someone who can snap you like a twig," comes her advice, eyes narrowing at the rest of what he says. "I've heard that line a few times. 'I didn't /really/ want to take advantage of someone, but I couldn't help myself! They made me!' Bull. Get the hell out of here, and stay out of East End. If I catch you or your buddies around, you won't like it. If /she/ does, you'll wish it was me." Hands unclench as she releases him, encouraging the man along with the heel of a flat-soled boot to his ass.

Turning back toward Cassandra, she asks, "Is all of that true, then?" Best to stick to yes or no questions for now, evidently. Arms cross, somewhat relaxed in form.

*

The girl doesn't answer. She glances at Catwoman and then turns to stare at the man as he runs away. She seems satisfied with his departure at least, which is more than could be said a moment before when he was spouting his bullshit. Finally Cassandra takes a deep breath and turns to properly face the woman standing beside her.

They're almost of a height, though Selina probably has a dozen pounds on Cassandra. It makes it easy for Cassandra to stare into Catwoman's eyes and take a moment to study her expression. She exhales slowly and then sighs. The girl turns and walks over toward a steel bin nearby. She opens it and starts fishing out - money, mostly. Debit cards. A couple IDs. Jewelry.

Cass looks back over her shoulder at Catwoman as if to ask if this is what she was looking for. So far the guy's story checks out, at least.

*

Catwoman's attention remains on Cassandra in the wake of the man's departure, leaving the two of them alone. Anyone else who may have been there has, by now, found somewhere else to be. The look she gives Cass is a speculative, questioning one as she awaits some sort of answer or response, and it's the bin that serves as one for the time being.

As the loot is revealed, a brow raises. It's mostly small stuff, beneath what Catwoman normally goes after, and that has an impact on her reaction. She could keep some of it for herself, but there would have been no challenge in earning it. Someone else already did the dirty work, and it was basic theft. "We'll have to drop this off somewhere," she muses. 'Somewhere' is probably going to be the local precinct, but it's not the sort of place she's just going to stride into. There's a very good chance some of the cops will just take a cut of it all for themselves, but the owners getting part of their belongings back is still better than none of it at all.

"So, do you actually speak at all? Let me know what I'm working with here, 'sidekick,'" she says, making finger quotes at the end. "It's fine if you don't. It'll just make things a little tougher."

*

At the question of whether or not Cassandra speaks she blinks at Catwoman. It's a simple gesture which speaks volumes. Then the girl starts gathering up all the stolen items. If she isn't stopped they will all go into her shoulder bag, still stuck against a wall nearby. Apparently she has some idea of what she wants to do with those. Maybe this is how she makes the money to pay for her vigilanteism. Surely she at least needs bandages or.. Something.

Whether Cass is allowed to take the 'loot' or not she moves to stand beside Catwoman and glances up toward the rooftop the woman had come down from. Then her gaze settles firmly on her new companion. It seems 'sidekick' has become an accurate description. At least Cassandra can probably keep up.

*

Catwoman's got a shoulder bag of her own, but hers is left in place when Cass starts on filling hers. "On the other hand, this could be a little lesson learned for.." She reaches out to pluck a couple of those IDs from the pile, skimming them, "Rosemary and Allie." They're dropped back in place for Cass to take or leave as she pleases, and she adds, "I noticed you don't seem hurt at all, so that's good."

The silence sets back in and it takes a few extra seconds for her to gather that Cass seems to be waiting for her to make the next move rather than simply departing. "Hmm? Ah." She gives a questioning look before it morphs to a more thoughtful one, and she glances higher. A hand uncoils the whip at her side, it cracks out to lash around the bottom rung of a fire escape ladder above, pulling it down for her to climb. "Coming?" To the rooftop, then.

*

When Catwoman starts up the fire escape Cassandra follows. She scales it quite nimbly, keeping to the taller woman's pace with ease. Cassie seems to be content to follow her companion all the way to the rooftops and bask in the cool, fresh air. The sky is threatening rain but moon still glows behind the clouds, barely visible despite the glow of the city beneath.

Cassandra is quite alert, surveying their surroundings with care and then orienting herself on Catwomqan as they move across the old tenement. It looks like the cat has found herself a kitten. At least she's cute, obedient, and most importantly doesn't ask annoying questions.

There are perks.

*

And then, after they've made their way to a mostly flat and uncluttered part of an adjacent roof, a strike lashes out at Cassandra, then another. First with a chop, then a kick, a flurry of moves placed with precision. Catwoman is attacking, but beyond the initial surprise of it, if Cass is as good as she looked to Catwoman, it will soon become clear the style and pace is meant to test reaction times and training. It's as if she's trying for an up-close look at just what Cass knows.

The question - and it's a dangerous one to ask without warning - is how Cass will react. Will she take it to be an actual attempt to fight, or a simple but serious training session?

*

The strike surprises Cassandra. She usually prefers to defend by attack, to judge by what Catwoman saw, but instead she leans out of the way, tilting her head andshifting her shoulder as she twists to avoid the first blow. The kick is blocked with a hand. The next set of strikes is block, block, parry. Cassandra lunges as she drives aside a strike but she doesn't actually throw a blow. She could, but her raised fist stays in place.

It seems the girl can tell when she's being tested. Catwoman would need to try a bit harder to hit her but at least Cass won't go posal and try to beat her to a pulp.

*

It's also a way for Cassandra to get a taste of what Catwoman is capable of. She's fast, but there's a way she telegraphs each strike that hints at her holding back. The two can learn a little about each other through physicality alone, and after the first half dozen or so moves are either blocked, parried, or simply avoided, the cat burglar dials up the speed just a bit. She's not using claws, as there's no intent to draw blood, but she also hasn't stopped just yet. Part of the test appears to be in seeing how long Cass will settle for playing defense before she decides to strike back.

*

Speeding up seems to have been a trigger. Cassandra is… Beyond fast. It isn't that she isn't nimble because she's clearly a superlative physical specimen. But it doesn't matter if Catwoman is broadcasting or not. She seems to be able to anticipate blows with a positively mindboggling degree of precision. They test one another, back and forth. And then Cassandra is fighting back.

This time when Catwoman lunges to close the gap between them and strike Cassandra pivots. She brings up her knee and then executes a 'cutting' roundhouse kick at catwoman's thigh. Then her foot is on the ground, whether or not it strikes, and she follows up with a series of lightning fast punches.

Cassandra is used to training full contact. Catwoman has apparently earned this honor from the girl. There will be bruises if things don't change.

Of course, the cat has yet to show her claws. Literally or metaphorically.

*

Yep, Cass is good. In fact, she's /really/ good. As prepared as Catwoman thinks she is, she deflects a couple strikes but then the kick lands right where it's meant to against her thigh. A punch or two nearly gets past her own blocking, but while Cassandra's pure martial arts abilities show up, Catwoman's got a few tricks of her own. She's certainly no slouch, but her style doen't involve a pure, straight-up fight.

As another wordless strike comes for her, Catwoman is simply not there. She rolls forward into a handspring flip, leaping back to carry herself over Cass, whom she expects to turn to follow her path. With enough of an opening, she'll float on by and tap Cassandra's temple ever so lightly with a clawtip, as if to say she had an opening she could have done more with before coming to land in a crouch, facing her again, one hand against the rooftop and a playful smile growing.

*

Catwoman landing a claw against Cassandra's face has the girl's eyes widen in shock. She twirls away immediately but the damage is done. That could have been half of her face. So now she squares off with Catwoman. That playful smile gets somthing of a stern glare from the diminutive marital artist.She takes her training Very Seriously.

So now it's on. Casasandra throws some fairly brutal punches now, lunging with a wordless snarl that marks the first audible noise she's made to convey some sort of meaning. This is a girl who trained for her entire lifetime with martial arts masters under conditions that would have killed most adults. Also, her pride is a little wounded.

Cass isn't going to seriously hurt Catwoman, but where she comes from you're supposed to get a little injured in a mock brawl. Call it culture clash.

*

It's a dangerous game, but it's also part of what Catwoman does. Get into someone's head and you have the advantage, at least in theory. She also likes to show off, and she's treating this as a bit of an advanced sparring session to test each other. What she doesn't know is how Cassandra will react.

She finds out quickly after landing that gentle touch to the side of the ninja's head, for it sends the woman into more of a fighting rage that puts Catwoman on the defensive now. It begins with deflections, whether with hands striking out to sweep punches aside, or kicks that accomplish similar results while creating space. Yeah, there will be some bruises.

A couple punches are countered with one or two thrown in return, requiring Cass to do something of her own to deal with them, but when Catwoman starts to feel like it's moving too close to 'threat of serious injury,' she backheels and cuts through with the first word since they left the alley:

"Enough."

*

Cassandra stops immediately. She takes a few, deep breaths, her chest heaving slightly, and then nods once. there's sweat on the girl's forehead, her hair clinging to the side of her face. She jutst fought an entire street gang, after all. The girl's clearly a bit winded… But she's also ready to continue at an instant's notice.

Sassandra watches Catwoman quietly from a couple meters away and slowly slidews out of her offensive pose, arms at her sides. There won't be any more violence from her tonight. She just needed a second to cool off.

*

Not too talkative, can kick some ass, and she listens, too! As Cassandra ceases the attacks, Catwoman draws back up to a standing position that loses any appearance of being in fight mode. And, she looks impressed. "So you're the real deal," she admits. "In a straight-up fight, I don't think I'd like my chances. No shame in saying that." It's why she also went with the deception and trickery to a small extent.

"So, you probably already know who I am. Do you have a name?" she questions, striding forward to circle the other woman a couple times. It also gives her the chance to catch her breath, maybe hide the way she shakes out one of her hands.

*

Harley Quinn heads out to The Crossroads.

*

Cassandra tilts her head slightly when asked about a name and doesn't respond. The girl takes a deep breath and then turns slightly in order to keep up with the circling Catwoman who is following her. Cassandra pauses for a second and thenshe straightens slightly, turning to look out over the buildings.

Perhaps the answer is no. This girl does not have a name. She might have lost it somewhere with her voice.

*

Catwoman is met with silence again, and aside from a moment of apparent frustration with that she moves right along. "So if I was a better person, I'd probably say you couldn't keep all of that," she says as she indicates the other woman's shoulder bag with the contents the thugs meant to steal. "But you're helping do a little of my work for me in cleaning up some of the crime around here, so consider that your reward." How nice of her to tell Cass she can keep what she's already claimed, isn't it?

"But now what? That idiot back there thought you were my sidekick." She scoffs at the thought, but another side of her begins to consider the possible merits of having one. Batman's got his, Joker's had one. Wouldn't someone like this on her side just put a major crimp in Batman's undies? "Do you have a place? A home? You look a little like a stray, to be honest." Yes, she's sizing Cass up and down, the wheel turning in her head. What if..?

*

Cassandra reshoulders her bag and listens to everything Catowman has to say intnetly. She observes her movements and gestures carefully while the words are given and then takes a deep breath. The girl tilts her head slightly to the left and looks catwoman over from head to toe. then she takes the same questioning stqnce she had earlier. Lead the way, Catwoman.

Perhaps havign a sidekick is ludicrous. perhaps Batman will be double upset when he idscovers a girl he offered to help is hanging out with the Cat. it's impossible to say. Right now, however, Catwoman does have a Cassandra with her. With hundreds of dollars and more of loot on hand, no less. There's no indication the girl has a home or a place to be.

If Cass does she'll probably just wander away when she's bored to judge by this performance.

*

Catwoman did hear Cass sort of growl or snarl, but aside from that there hasn't been a single word from her. This is something she isn't used to, as basic conversation is, well, basic. "Let's try this, then," she says after Cass reacts like she's ready to go off somewhere with her. "Just nod yes or shake your head no." Ready?

"Are you hurt?"

"Are you hungry?"

"Are you cold?"

"Do you want to come with me?"

The answers she gets to those questions will shape her next round of decisions, and she begins to saunter back toward the edge of the roof before remembering she's got to actually watch Cass first.

*

Cassandra's eyes follow catwoman's as they shift toward her body. She's askeif she is hurt. The girl spends a secnd watchindg and furrows her brow. She seems to shake her head slightly but she doesn't seem certain of herself.

Are you hungry?

No clear reply.

Are you cold?

A bit of pantomiming gets across at some length that Cassandra doesn't feel chilled in the slightest on this night.

Do you want to come with me, at least, elicits a clear reply. It's osmething easily conveyed in body language after all. The two exchagne a look and then Cassandra takes a deep breat h and shifts herself a bit closer to Catwoman, watching her reply all the while.

After a moment the girl stops and unzips a pocket on her bag. A sketch pad and pen are produced. onto this she draws carefully,if Catwoman waits long enough: A picture of Catwoman and Cassnadr standing over the top of a small pile of vanquished gang members. Cass looks proud, even triumphant. Not a wound on her.

It does seem to answer question one, at least. The growling sotmach which follows answers question two.

*

Communication with Cass seems like it's going to be a challenge. At least, a test of patience. There's no flow of conversation to work with, and a lot comes down to reading body language and dealing in simpler questions that can lead to definitive non-verbal answers. Even there, some of what she's getting back from Cass isn't the easiest to determine, but they eventually get there.

A brow slides upward at the response to coming with her, for moving toward her rather than away from her i a pretty clear reply. There's a casual crossing of her arms when Cass rummages around for..pen and paper. "Oh, I see.." she says before moving a few steps to lean against an HVAC system or some other kind of metallic box built in nearby. She's got time to see what's written, or in this case, drawn.

What she's shown actually causes Catwoman to genuinely smile in a way she didn't expect to feel. "That's..really touching," she confesses. "I guess we'd better start thinking of something to call you, and if you're going to hang with me you'll probably want to cover your face up. It makes things a little easier."

Without skipping a beat, she pushes away from the box and approaches another ladder. "My motorcycle's nearby. I'll give you a ride." She heard that stomach, and as she glances over a shoulder there's one more sly grin. "And we'll find a nice place to chow down. I saw what you had in the bag, so you can do the buying this time."

*

Cassandra doesn't seem to follow the conversation completely but she responds readily enough. A smile is given to match Catowman's and then the book is tucked away into the bag. It seems that the pair are ready to be off! She nods briefly when Catwoman gestures to her fac.e Cass pulls down her hood and pulls up her collar, obscuring most of her features. It's enough for the moment, at least. She'll need to figure out something more substantial later, but she seems to know that.

As the pair are riding through the city Cassandra lifts a hand and taps Catwoman's shoulder. They've stopped near the local police precinct. While the light sits red Cassandra hefts her bag meaningfully. Well. So much for keeping all of that, apparently.

In the end, with a bit of coaxing, Cass walks away with the cash if not the IDs and cards. She didn't seem to care but Catwoman's influence counts for a lot.

This is the start of their rather adorably dysfunctional time together.

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