15369/A Meeting of Siblings

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A Meeting of Siblings
Date of Scene: 22 July 2023
Location: Chinese Food Restaurant, Two Bridges
Synopsis: Helena goes for a sit down with her supposed brother Pino, but it turns into an attempted ambush of Red Hood. Under questioning, Pino reveals a truth about himself, and Helena.
Cast of Characters: Huntress, Red Hood

Huntress has posed:
Plans were made.

Helena can't put off meeting her supposed brother, Pino, forever, and the continuing tension about that means she pushes for sooner than later. The meeting is set for evening, in New York's Chinatown -- a deliberate choice that puts it away from any influence of the Gotham or New York City mafioso, and squarely in the hands of the Triads. A not-so-chance meeting with a Triad leader allows a negotiated neutrality, and so, here Helena is -- dressed in pale white blouse, a pencil skirt, and purple jacket with matching heels -- stepping out of her Aventador and resisting the urge to look up.

Where she knows Jason Todd is likely to be set up, watching. She clears her throat, briefly, to check he can hear her over the in-earpiece she's wearing beneath her loose hair.

Helena's table in the restaurant is reserved specifically, placing her at the window and in sight of nearby rooftops. It makes her a target -- but it also allows the Red Hood to overwatch. And with him up on the rooftops, no one else should be.

In theory.

The Italian woman pauses, glances at her watch, and steps into the restaurant, seated a few moments later. From where she is she can't see the dark tinted SUV pull up, and a beefy guy get out to open the back door, but Jason can. The man claiming to be Pino Bertinelli steps out, tugs on a hand, and seems to indicate for his companions to stay at the car, crossing the street towards the restaurant.
Red Hood has posed:
They say that getting involved with the Mob is a one-way street. You get in and you never get out. How much more being born into The Family?

Jason is, himself, involved. Both as a civilian and as Red Hood. The funny thing about the difference between just being involved and being in too deep is that the line seems to move around. And it's invisible until you cross it and it's too late.

Tonight, set up across the street, Red Hood is obscured in the top framework of a double sided billboard. Obsurced above the glare of the billboard's lighting he is as hard to spot as anyone can be in the situation. It gives him cover and an excellent vantage point.

"I've got you" is all he confirms when Helena keys the earpiece.

Having learned from The Best, Hood knows better than to trust his blind spots to chance. Mini cams give him a 360-degree view of the rooftop fed into a small in-lens display in his mask.

As the SUV arrives, Hood watches through the high tech scope on his rifle.

"He's here" is the update provided as The Man Who Is Pino emerges.

"He's coming in solo. Watch the room." Because Hood fully expects someone else is already in the restaurant. There would be if it were him.
Huntress has posed:
The faint smile Helena gives as Jason acknowledges her is almost invisible. It's an intimate thing, to be in someone's ear, the closest of whispers. It's the thought that carries her inside, one she doesn't voice aloud despite the want to. She doesn't want to give her 'brother' any indication that she might have backup, though he undoubtedly assumes she does.

Just like she does for him.

There's a little surprise in Helena's manner when Jason lets her know he's coming in alone. There's almost certainly someone in the restaurant, but a quick sweep of her gaze doesn't yield any answers, so the only response he gets in the faint sigh from the woman.

Moments later, Pino enters, and there's an awkward moment as they regard each other. "Helena," Pino smiles, and steps in to kiss her cheek, one hand resting on her arm. That Helena is tense is obvious and she doesn't bother to conceal the body language. "Pino," her voice is a little less warm. "I took the liberty of ordering a bottle of red... ah, here it is." There's silence while the waiter pours their drinks, leaves the menu and departs.

"I know this has been difficult for you," Pino says, quietly, leaning forward. "But I want to do everything I can to reassure you I am who I say-"

"-a DNA test," Helena says, immediately.

"Yes. Of course." Pino's gaze remains steady, unbothered. He reaches over the table to grip Helena's fingers. "Whatever you need."

Down on the street, it's quiet. Pino's men stand around, smoking. The mini cameras pick up the movement, shadows at distance, moving in swiftly to take cover in neighboring rooftops. Not unexpected, really. Except that they're not focused down on the pair in the restaurant, but on Jason's location, closing in around him.

This /is/ a trap -- not for Helena, but for the Red Hood.
Red Hood has posed:
That figures.

Red Hood was the one who interferred with Pino's plans last time. That she had a vigilante watching out for her would have been knowledge he accounted for this time.

Makes sense really. Listening in while the two talk, Red Hood is taking stock of the situation. They're still closing in on their positions and he can't help but be curious what the endgame is from this tactic.

Tim-Robin uses all manner of drones but that hasn't been a thing Red Hood has taken too. The little minicams and laser traps are more his style. Like the ones blocking off both ends of the frame behind the billboards and the camera aimed to watch the restaurant from the second floor across the street.

So he waits for the strike team to get into place, studying their locations and building a mental image of sightlines and blindspots. He studied the three blocks surrounding the restaurant for a week. Plus he has a 3D digital map from Oracle to reference.
Huntress has posed:
It's a classic pincer move, really. There seems to be four teams, in pairs of two. Two behind and to each side of him, their presence perhaps as much intended to strike as to force him to move. The logical way out -- forward and down -- is covered by a pair of loitering figures almost hidden in the dark alley adjoining his building, visible only to the infrared camera of the drone.

Once they all get in place, they seem to be waiting for something. A cue, maybe.

Down in the restaurant, Helena is unaware of the trap closing in around Jason. "How about we start with dinner, and see what our fortunes say," Helena's telling Pino with a smile that, to Jason's ear, sounds genuine.

"Lenny," Pino's clucking his tongue. "You're really going to base your belief in me on a fortune cookie?" He waits a beat, a laugh given. "You really haven't changed. All right. Let's see what the fortune says. In the meantime, shall we order? I'm in the mood for duck-" he turns as if to signal the waiter.

At that moment, there's movement across the restaurant. Jason can't see what it is from his angle, but Pino lurches forward even as he's dragging Helena to her feet. A second later, there's the /pop! pop!/ of a silenced pistol going off.

A heartbeat later, the groups of men positioned on the rooftops around Jason begin to fire. They're at least a building over in either direction, but they seem to be going with a spray and pray tactic to get the man to move, or to pin him down, one in each pair firing while the other carefully advances.
Red Hood has posed:
When the teams get into position, it's clear. As the signal is given and the teams open fire, there is an explosion from the billboard. A huge flashy explosion. As if a dozen flashbangs went off. Except the billboards are equally blown to pieces.

And grappling out of the top of that not as deadly as it looks explosion is Red Hood, launching himself across the street to the top of the building in front of him, where the team is at street level.

In the moment there's little time to radio Helena, and he doesn't want to risk tipping that hand to Pino. As he lands atop the building he tucks into a roll and disappears into the shadows as only a Bat could.

Moments later, Red Hood drops behind the ground level strike team. And he is in a very dark mood.
Huntress has posed:
The explosion is certainly unexpected, startled cries from at least one of the men creeping close as he throws himself to the ground. The scattered gunfire stops, as they try to figure out what's going on.

"Where the fuck is he? Is he dead? I want to see a body." That Jason hears up close from one of the figures in the alley, the man swearing in Italian as he holds his hand to his ear. "Shut the fuck up. Go in and verify. Orders were clear. He doesn't leave alive."

His companion is closer to the mouth of the alley, watching the street. "No sign of anything here," he reports without looking.

Both of them are entirely unaware of the silent presence of Red Hood dropping right behind them.

The restaurant, meanwhile, is in disarray. Patrons are screaming, running, and there's more gunfire, louder and unsilenced -- some of that echoing through Helena's earpiece, so it must be close to her. "We need to get somewhere safe," Pino can be heard, his voice strained. "This way, through the kitchen."

"No." Helena, sounding firm.

"No arguing, Lenny, I-" and Pino stops a second. "You're hit."

"It's a graze. And you killed the one responsible. Going outside right now is idiotic. Haven't you paid attention to our family history at all? That's precisely how our great-uncle Antonio died. No. I'm not moving until I know it's safe to."

Helena is not talking to Pino here, but Jason. Ready to take her cues from him.
Red Hood has posed:
Waiting till the leader of the teams finishes his orders, Red Hood could just step up behind and shoot them and then continue shooting. He was angry and ready to exact vengeance.

But then it would pull him away from his mission, that being Helena's safety.

Instead he disappers inside. While the teams are uselessly looking for him above and without, he is below and within, pistols drawn and firing the custom silenced taser rounds he uses. Anyone looking even a little threatening and who is Not Helena gets shot as he works his way through the kitchen.

"In the kitchen." It's as much an update as it can be an instruction for Helena to follow.
Huntress has posed:
All Jason sees at first is scared looking cooks, all of whom are bolting out of the kitchens, closely followed by a pair of restaurant goers, one of whom literally pushes a woman out of the way to get ahead of her and out the door. He stumbles to a halt when he sees Red Hood, eyes widening as if in recognition. He fumbles towards his waistband, but won't even get as far as drawing whatever weapon he has before he's downed by Jason's taser, slumping against the wall.

There's a pause after Jason speaks, as Helena weighs up everything. She's not entirely sure this isn't a trap for Pino as much as them, and while she's not a woman given to sentimentality, her family is definitely her weakness. And Pino, if he is her brother, is right up there.

"Let's go," Helena can be heard saying.

"But you just-"

"I changed my mind." Moments later, Helena can be seen, pushing Pino ahead of her into the kitchen. It means she doesn't see the look Pino gives Jason -- a kind of tightening of his eyes, like disappointment, and then the flicker of his gaze to the tasered man, familiarity attempted to be masked with a cough.

Helena's gaze, for a second, is all for Jason. He looks unharmed, and the relief in her expression is evident. There's a slight tear through the left arm of her jacket, the material underneath darkened a little, but she doesn't seem to be favoring it as she gives Pino another shove. "Keep moving, Pino. Are we clear?" there's a subtle softening of her voice as she looks to Jason.
Red Hood has posed:
Shooting his way to the dining room door, Hood pauses there, one gun aimed out toward the street in front, the other aimed at the back door.


Concealed in the same alley a half block away, the Car starts into motion and makes its way to the back exit.

As Pino is shoved through, Hood looks at him briefly then shoves the man deeper into the kitchen with only a little concern that he might hit something.

Not looking to Helena, he fires both guns toward the front, unleashing a volley of ten rounds before he holsters them long enough to throw a flash bang at the front door followed by two smoke pellets to make it seem like they will be coming out momentarily. Which they intend to just not that way.

Turning and slapping a laser triggered stun trap just inside the kitchen door, he looks to Helena finally.

"You paid a lot for this job. Now it's time to see what you actually paid for. Move."

Grabbing Pino by the scruff of his clothing, he shoves the man toward the door and out toward the now waiting GTO. Its driver side door is open and the seat tipped forward.

"Get in." He isn't asking Pino.
Huntress has posed:
The flash bang echoes a boom as the smoke pellets work to create confusion at the front of the restaurant. It does its job, it seems, because there's a rattling of gunfire coming from the nearby rooftops. Anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in the vicinity is in for a bad time.

Fortunately they're headed out the back door.

"Hey! Get your hands off me," growls Pino, struggling as the Hood grabs the scruff of his clothing. As he's shoved forward, he stumbles, catches himself, and reaches for the gun holstered under his jacket. Or starts to anyway -- something in Jason's gaze suggests he doesn't want to push the vigilante.

Helena must see something in that look, and she exhales a sharp breath, as she closes in, reaching to disarm Pino before he climbs inside the car. Her expression is tight, uncertainty paving the way for anger. With a last look at Jason, she circles the car, getting in the passenger side without a word.
Red Hood has posed:
Locking the seat back, Hood drops into the drivers seat with a last scan of this intersection of alleyway. As soon as Helena's door is shut he buries the gas, sending an angry roar of exhaust echoing down the alleyways as the dark red metallic painted car erupts into forward motion.

Emerging into the side street he turns away from the restaurant and then cuts through another alley. There was one strike team in this direction but there is no telling how far they have closed in since the billboard exploded.

Driving in silence, the large vigilante does not seem concerned about Pino being a risk in close quarters such as this.
Huntress has posed:
Helena rarely handles guns. It doesn't mean she doesn't know how to use them, though -- she was trained by master assassins of the mafia, after all. She checks the chamber, ejects the magazine, and keeps the safety on for now as she settles the weapon in her lap, muzzle pointed towards the door.

A soft tink! tink! tink! sound suggests they breeze past that last strike squad, the bullets hitting the GTO but barely denting the bullet-reinforced vehicle.

"You've got this all wrong," Pino says, from the back seat. "I didn't pay for anything. Someone tried to attack us, I killed him-"

"-he did," Helena agrees, looking troubled.

"-they were after me. Not Helena," Pino concludes. He says nothing about the men outside.
Red Hood has posed:
Ignoring the volley of bullets raining on the car, Hood flips a switch and shuts off the traditional headlights and switches modes on his mask so he can see the infrared beams now illuminating the roadway ahead.

"Of course you didn't hire me, Pino. She did. Wasn't cheap."

At least attempting to sell this as a mercenary action that also would explain the last intervention, Hood steers them toward one of the tunnels leading toward New Jersey.

"Not all of them were after you, Pino. Were those strike squads your idea of keeping someone like me out of the way?" he asks with a mix of curiosity and disdain.
Huntress has posed:
It's a good thing Helena is sitting in the front where Pino can't see her expression -- momentarily amused when Jason says he /wasn't cheap/. "I'll say," she finally says. "But you've proved yourself worth it."

"Strike squads? I don't know what you mean," Pino says, from the backseat. He's aware they're heading back towards Jersey, and if anything, he seems to relax. This is his territory. He sounds utterly confident. It's just a shame he's lying.

Nearly simultaneously, Helena's looking at Jason, not at Pino, echoing: "Strike squads?" she's troubled, but he looks unharmed, and so she twists in her seat and pins Pino with a glare. "/Strike squads/?"

"It wasn't-!"

"You're a bad liar, Pino."

There's a long silence, as Pino stares at Helena, like he's weighing his options. "He's a loose canon. Dangerous. You need to cut him loose. I'll protect you."

Helena actually snorts at this.

"I /did/ protect you," Pino insists.

Helena's looking at Hood, now, expression troubled. "You have access to any sodium pentothal? Or would you prefer just to beat the truth out of him?" It doesn't seem like she's acting that part -- either the troubled expression nor the questions.
Red Hood has posed:
"I was thinking about taking him to Atlantic City." He looks in the mirror at Pino. "They all talk when hanging over the edge of Trump Tower. Or my grip gives out." Bluffing but only Helena would realize it.

Steering through the tunnel he follows up, "And I'm not a loose cannon, Pino. I know exactly what I'm doing and to whom. Your little games have managed to put your part of the Family back on my radar. I would have just let the Triads and Yakuza try to kill you if you hadn't."

"Next time you send your men, they won't be coming back to you." That is indeed a threat.
Huntress has posed:
"I could play a game or two while I'm there... that works for me." Helena smiles.

Pino's going a little white in the mirror. He leans forward to grip the seat's shoulder near Helena. "Lenny! You can't be serious. You can't let him do that to me."

"I hired him for his expertise. It would be rude not to defer to his experience in these matters, Pino." Helena, on the other hand, is very much not bluffing. She knows all too well her judgement is compromised when it comes to Pino.

Pino hears the threat in Hood's voice and he absolutely believes it. It's a moment Jason can almost seen in the rear view mirror, the weighing of calculations, and the resolve. It will almost certainly give him warning as Pino pulls a knife from beneath his jacket, and aims the blade at back of Jason's neck.
Red Hood has posed:
They just never learn.

Sure. The blade is pointed at the back of his neck.

"Not smart Pino."

He's driving. And he cranks the wheel hard left and hits the brakes to throw Pino's unseatbelted ass toward the passenger side. Of course Helena is probably not buckled - but she is already against the door so has little room to slide. At least the locks on the door are secure. Right?

Red Hood's right hand reaches back with a pistol and he shoots Pino with two taser rounds point blank.

He tried to show the guy some respect on Helena's behalf.

Standing on the gas again, Red Hood spins the car back around, ignoring the honks and stopped traffic as he continues their departure from New York City. Instead of heading toward Atlantic City, he turns the car west once on the mainland.

"Your going to get your clothes dirty. Sorry. That wasn't part of the contract." The last part is a joke.

Some twenty miles away he pulls off the interstate and onto backroads. The signs say they're near New Jersey's Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

As good a place as any to interrogate in private. Or hide a body.
Huntress has posed:
Even though she's not belted, Helena's legs are stretched out into the footwell to brace herself even before the car pulls suddenly to the left. She has to snap both hands out to brace herself against the dash, and the pistol in her lap goes sliding off to the ground in the process.

By the time she turns, Hood's already shot Pino and he's out cold, slumping backwards onto the seat as the knife tumbles somewhere beneath the seat.

Helena grimaces, looking angry. It's only Jason's joke that pulls her from that morose, angry expression -- she gives the faintest of snorts. "I'll take the dry cleaning bill off what I owe you," she says, but there's a sketch of a smile, at least. Her nose wrinkles when they pass the sign. "You bring me to the nicest places." She secures the pistol again, carrying it in her right hand as she steps out onto the uneven ground.

Her heels are definitely not made for this kind of ground, sinking in immediately, but she's not going barefoot either.

Pino is still slumped in the back seat, the most difficult part of the whole venture manhandling his dead weight.

"I should do it." Helena declares, looking at Pino. Clearly she thinks they're there to bury a body. Except there's that hint of a doubt in her voice, still. Some part of her wants to believe he is who he claims, regardless of evidence to the contrary.
Red Hood has posed:
"You're right. Don't say I never do anything nice for you" he says almost jovially.

Finally stopping someplace well off the main road and where they'll have plenty of privacy to get answers.

Stepping out, Hood leans back in and hefts Pino out and props him up against the base of a tree.

Slapping his cheeks, Hood mutters, "Wakey wakey, princess." Then out of spite he breaks a pack of smelling salts under the man's nose before stepping back.

"Sit still if you don't want to get shot again."

Those rounds just broke the skin to deply their charge but the impact against his side probably feels like the rounds cracked his ribs.
Huntress has posed:
"I'm going to remember this," Helena promises and somehow it sounds like a threat. Despite her personal discomfort there's no hesitation in following the pair as Jason hauls the unsconscious man over. Pino's a dead weight until those smelling salts bring him to sudden consciousness. He flails a moment, taking in his surroundings seconds later, and flails for his waistband. Unfortunately for him, Helena still has his gun, pointed loosely at the ground, and his knife is still on the floor of the GTO. "What.. ugh," he winces, fingers pressing into his chest with a painful wince.

In a single look, he takes stock of the situation, and elects to stay where he is, slumping against the tree. "So what, you're going to put me in the ground? Really?" he gives Helena a dubious look.

"Sure," Helena replies, casually. "It's the family way."

Pino must see something sincere in her expression, because his eyes widen. "Shit. No. Lenny,"

"-don't call me that."

"-we can do a deal. I know stuff. Useful shit, you know?" he glances at Hood, though not with much hope he'll relent more than Helena has.
Red Hood has posed:
Red Hood watches. "Sure you do, chum." His arms are folded across his chest. "There are two ways this works. The hard way. And the really fucking hard way. You choose. Honest answers earn you the hard way. I think you're lying?" He shrugs lightly.

"Let's start simple. Who you really are and why you're pretending to be Ms Bertinelli's brother."

He glances toward Helena then back. Will Pino answer? Of course that's the big question they're about to find out.
Huntress has posed:
Pino's eyes narrow as he does that same thing -- seeming to weigh the situation as he takes in the Hood's visage. There isn't much he can read from that mask, but he seems to take the threat seriously. Pino has exactly the sort of expression of a gambler weighing the odds and going with the option that serves him best -- in this case, survival.

"Benedict," Pino says, with a grimace as he presses hand experimentally into his chest, ill pleased with the results. "Name's Benedict Giordano. I work for the Cassamento family." Not that much of a surprise since it was a Cassamento property where they first met Pino. "They don't know I'm doing this though. I figured, stupid little bitch like this," he jerks his head towards Helena, "Why should /she/ get the fortune of the Bertinelli's blood, when she aint even a Bertinelli?"

Helena sucks in a breath. That's the only warning; she lifts the gun she acquired from Pino -- or Benedict -- and aims it at him, squeezing the trigger. It's a snap, pure instinct. Something Jason could intervene in if he felt inclined, but there's no hesitation in the vigilante's expression.
Red Hood has posed:
He should stop her. He could stop her.

And.. despite his own anger and hunger for vengeance on her behalf Red Hood moves quickly to place an armored glove on top of the pistol as it rises. Possibly in time to make Helena at least pause.

Benny will realize, if so, just how close to punching out he came.

"Ms. Bertinelli. You've got a different life now. This isn't going to help with that." As a teacher or as a vigilante in Gotham. And if Hood lets her kill Benny, his own reputation will include accessory to murder. Something he has struggled to avoid.

Looking to Benny, he comments. "I've got his confession recorded. Don't you think the Cassamento family would love to know one of their boys has gone rogue? Hired a strike squad to all but declare war on the Bat Family?" His voice is dark and menacing as he speaks the last toward Benedict so he realizes just what sort of fire he may have called down on the mob by trying to kill him.

"I think leaving Benny alive may be the cruelest fate for him."
Huntress has posed:
If it were anyone but him, it would be a different outcome.

His intervention is like the cold water awareness she needs. Helena's eyes snap towards Hood, unable to discern his expression beneath the mask: hers is fury and frustration and resignation, rolling from one to the next in quick succession, as she lowers the pistol. Probably not before Benedict sees exactly how close he came to being ended.

Without a word, Helena turns and walks away. She /tries/ to stalk but the soft ground catches at her heels and it only serves to worsen the Italian woman's mood.

Benedict, meanwhile, goes white. He might've avoided an instant death, but that by no means results in him being out of the woods. He tries and fails to bluster, "You think I'm the only one in the Cassamento family that knows about this? Look, we keep this between us, no harm, no foul. I stay out of her way, you stay out of mine, capiche? Everyone wins." And he stays alive. It may be the cruelest fate, but the man is a survivor.
Red Hood has posed:
Benny may not expect at this point to get kicked in the groin. Not after Red Hood intervened in his instant killing.

"Shut up Benny. You're fucking lucky I'm a good guy." He kneels down and grabs Benny's hair in an armored fist and wrenches the man's face around till it is just inches from the unblinking lenses of Red Hood's mask.

"You -should- have stayed out of -her- way as well as mine. But you didn't. You're just that fucking stupid that you believe you can go against any of the Bats and win. What do you think your bosses are going to do when they learn you've earned the attention of every one of Us."

The capitalized 'U' is most certainly discernable in his tone.

Shoving the man's face into the swampy muck, Red Hood grabs Benny's wrists and forces them behind the back to be zip tied together. Then his ankles. Then he hog ties the man's wrists to those ankles. Too bad Benny probably isn't flexible enough that such a position is comfortable.

Grabbing him by the scruff of his shirt again Red Hood drags him back to the car.


The trunk lid clicks and opens to reveal the great thing about 60's cars - they could all hold at least three or four bodies even on a bad day.

Hefting the man up, he tosses the man into the the cavernous space and slams the trunk closed. Not because he has to, because he can.

He then walks around to Helena.

Looking at her arm, he finally asks, "Are you okay?"
Huntress has posed:
Benedict's eyes widen as Red Hood's words finally penetrate. There's too much intensity in Hood's voice for this to merely be a mercenary job, and this is the moment he realizes that trying to kill Hood was almost as bad an idea as baiting Helena was. "Wait, we can... we can do a deal. Just cut me loose, I'll head west, you'll never hear another word out of me."

But whatever other protest Benedict might've been about to make is cut off when he's face is pushed down into the swamp, wriggling about -- but that doesn't stop Jason from firmly zip tying him. Tossed into the trunk, the man squirms, aiming for a last minute reprieve: "I've got money-" and then the trunk closes.

Helena, meanwhile, is still, looking at not much of anything. There isn't anything worthwhile seeing out here. "Fine," she answers, and it's a lie -- because she's not aware of the direction of his look -- and it's a reflexive answer.

"I don't think he was lying. He believes it was true, anyway." Her shoulders shift, jaw tensing. "Will you drop me back at my apartment?" She doesn't ask what he's going to do with Benedict. Maybe she thinks it's better if she doesn't know, in case she makes the wrong choice... again.