15395/A Reckoning

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A Reckoning
Date of Scene: 30 July 2023
Location: Apartment 1A, Meldoff Building
Synopsis: Helena invites Jason to dinner and they try to ignore the elephant in the room. It doesn't work.
Cast of Characters: Huntress, Red Hood

Huntress has posed:
One thing you grow to accept after a while of living in Gotham, is that you can't keep the Bats out of anything or anywhere. It was something a young Helena Bertinelli struggled with, fresh in her career as Huntress, fresh from her training by the Sicilian mafia's most feared assassins. And yet, she is now older, and wiser, and just accepts the inevitable.

Still, it is disconcerting to have a round left in what should be a place of sanctity. Doubly so, despite the fact that it's a taser round, because she knows precisely who it belongs to.

She wonders whether this is how criminals feel all the time.

Helena Bertinelli hasn't been back to her penthouse apartment in over a week, but tonight, she's making pasta by hand, and the ravioli's done, a bottle of wine already opened and airing by the time she sends a text to Jason.


Just like nothing's amiss.
Red Hood has posed:
If there is one thing Jason knows from growing up with Bruce Wayne, with all of his extracurricular activities, it is to see when someone is trying to pretend like nothing's happened after something has very much happened.

Getting the message while wrenching on his car, he pauses to glance at it before going back to finish what he is working on. Then he stands up, stretches his back and wipes off his hands on a rag before he picks up his phone. Perhaps fifteen minutes have passed since she sent the text.

/Sure. What time?/
Just like nothing's amiss.
Huntress has posed:
/Pasta will be ready in about twenty. I've already opened a bottle of wine./

There's a saying, ignorance is bliss. Pretending ignorance is harder, but Helena's had a lifetime of pretending.

Helena's going for a particular mood. Visibly relaxed, visibly unarmed -- deliberately so, in a way he can see whenever he arrives. She's wearing a loose camisole top, no bra, over the top of yoga pants, feet bare. Her hair is left loose too, spilling free when she greets him at the door. "Jay," and yet despite the air of casualness there's an awareness things are not the same, in the flicker of her eyes as she steps back to allow him entry.
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd arrives like clockwork, knocking on the door exactly at the indicated time. He'd gotten here early and cruised the block looking for any possible traps or teams on the rooftops.

He's chosen to wear a red button up dress shirt, the cuffs rolled back twice. It's untucked over a pair of pale denim jeans and a pair of well loved bike boots.

"Helena" he offers with a smile that doesn't completely reach his eyes. The moment he has a view of the room, he's scanning for any of her 'boys' inside or any bugs. It wouldn't be difficult for her to see it.

Turning toward her he offers a more curious smile. "You look great. Things okay?" A vague and general question. He knows the song and dance all too well himself.
Huntress has posed:
There's no surveillance, no hidden groups watching, or watching out for Helena. The coast is clear. Except, of course, for the woman herself.

Helena doesn't try to hide the surprise in her expression at his dress shirt. "I feel a little underdressed, now," she admits, though it's done with a quirk of her mouth -- not so insecure that she's going to change. She closes and locks the door behind him in a long worn habit.

She's aware of his look. And she's aware /he's/ aware she noticed it, and pretends otherwise. They're alone, and no bugs -- except for whatever default devices come with the Wayne Tech she has running security on the place. No recrimination in her gaze for his check; she'd do the same herself. Helena's smile is faint when he finally looks back at her. "Oh, you know," she says, casually. "Family drama." Considering who her family /is/ though that's selling it short.

"Your timing is impeccable, as always," Helena says, as she turns and paces towards the kitchen. "The sauce should be done. Want to pour out the while while I plate it up?" The bottle of red -- at least a decade old -- is already opened, and a pair of glasses already set out on the table next to it.
Red Hood has posed:
He glances down at his shirt. "Wasn't trying to show you up. The one I had on had grease stains. It was the first one I grabbed." True or not, he's casual about it. Nothing intended by the choice.

He ignores the comment about family drama. Diving into that top after just arriving seems somewhat wise yet more so - extraordinarily foolish. Foolish wins out.

"I try not to keep beautiful women waiting. It's a sign of respect." Zing.

"Sure I can do that.." he moves over and proceeds to open the bottle. "Been working on the car" he adds casually.
Huntress has posed:
Helena is all about leaning into the foolishness, and ignoring the drama. Especially as it wins her a compliment that, in turn, gets a knowing, sultry look over her shoulder as she walks away. She's definitely adding a deliberate sway to her hips as a reward.

"Good to know," comes her voice as she begins plating up the pasta and adding the sauce. A quiet laugh soon follows. "I assumed that, from the grease stains. Didn't think you'd taken up a new hair product. Adding more guns, more toys or more armor?" she assumes those are the three obvious options, as she returns, setting down the plates.

Steaming, freshly made cheese-and-spinach ravioli with a truffle butter sauce. Whatever else has changed, this hasn't: Helena enjoys cooking.
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd works the cork from the bottle while watching the view he's offered.

With a muted pop he removes it and sets it aside as he fills the two glasses to the proper level.

"No obvious toys, just a new engine computer and fuel injection system. Once I have it calibrated it should improve performance by about eight percent if not more." Always looking for that edge.

As the plates are delivered, he looks at the meal. "Smells amazing" he offers appreciatively while waiting to see if she wants him to sit at the table or just how casual she wants things to be.
Huntress has posed:
"Eight percent. That's decent." In terms of percentage figures it doesn't sound like much, but Helena also knows -- and agrees -- with stringing every edge one can get in their life. It's a genuine sentiment.

Helena's set both plates at the corner of the table, so they can set close. She slides into a seat at the table, pulling one foot up underneath her. Super casual -- just like it was any other dinner they've had before. The only difference is she deliberately picks up a fork and steals a ravioli square from his plate, eating it. It's not subtle, but it is very /sicilian/, and a new and maybe uncomfortable habit she's picked up.

"It's always nice to cook for someone who can appreciate it."

A beat.

"Did I tell you I got a cat?"

Yup, she's working hard to avoid the elephant in the room.
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd says, "Yeah, I think once I get used to the system I may be able to tune it further. Not trying to swing for the fences yet."

He moves to drop into the indicated chair and slides over her wine glass. When she stabs and steals the bite he arches a brow questioningly but other than a smirk he doesn't protest. He hasn't tasted it yet. Next time he might defend his plate aggressively!

"Anyone who cooks for me is appreciated" he pauses then frowns, glancing around, "A cat? No, you haven't mentioned that before. I like cats. They fend for themselves well when left alone for long periods."
Huntress has posed:
His plate seems to be safe... for now. Helena's retreated back to her own with nothing but a smile at his arched brow.

"A good way to your heart." And there, she said it. It's not why she chose to cook for him tonight. Not the whole of it, anyway. Cooking soothes her. It reminds her of family, reminds her when she and her mother used to sit in the kitchen making pasta for hours.

"It was living in my old house when I moved back in. I figured it was there first, it should have dibs." Helena's careful in her choice of words, deliberate, pausing to take another square of ravioli and wash it down with some the wine. It wouldn't have taken that much digging to figure out the mansion he visited the other night was the old Bertinelli property. The one her father ruled the Five Families from. The one the rest of her family was slaughtered in.

Why she'd chose to go back there is the question. And not one she plans to tackle, given the thrust of her follow up: "You had one hanging around when I was staying at yours, right? Seems like a wise policy. Leave well enough alone." Helena's dark gaze is on Jason as she says that last. Observation... or request?
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd takes a bite, then another before he responds.

"My stomach first" he agrees easily. "It's better than anything I've ever ordered" is the best compliment he can give.

He pauses to take a sip from his glass as she explains. Old House. Right.

"The Pope? She didn't live in the station originally. Little bastard hung out in the alley behind the church but he followed me down one night while I was still cleaning things up." Considering the way the station still looks like an abandoned hell hole that leaks (Intentionally. He even told Batman as much.) and comes close to flooding, it really must have been a disaster when he first chose the location.

"Every time I'd close up one of her ways in, she'd just find another. I gave up after the fourteenth time." Never let it be said that Jason Todd is a quitter.

"Another thing about cats I like is that once they've decided you're good people, they just accept you for who you are. As long as you take care of them, feed them, you're good to go. Dogs? They'll fall all over themselves to be accepted into a pack. But you have to take them on walks. They crap in their own house if you don't. And you can kick a puppy, then be nice and it'll just come right back for more. Cats? it might come back once. But never twice. They'll just go find somewhere else where they can keep their pride. It might be a shithole in an alley. But it's better than a silk pillow in a mansion where they're hurt you know?"

Leave things alone? When has Jason Todd ever done the smart thing and left things well enough alone?
Huntress has posed:
"You called your cat what?" Helena looks incredulous, because while she might not often show it, she is Catholic still; she wears that gold cross around her neck, goes to mass, and seeks repentance. A lot. But she's always honest about what she does and what sins she's committed. Her faith has been one of those unwavering, silent things.

"Seems like it was the cat's home, not yours," Helena concludes. She can't bring herself to call it The Pope. Too uncomfortable.

Speaking of prideful creatures, exhibit A: one Helena Rosa Bertinelli.

This is the moment. She could come clean. Be honest with him. He deserves it. More than that, he's earned it, over and over. And what he's saying is a warning, in a way -- that she might push it so far that he'll turn away. She makes the poor choice for what she determines is a good reason, /because/ of who he is and what he's come to mean to her.

Helena sips at her wine, as she says, "And sometimes, the cat just wants to be pampered. Wants to live in the mansion because it's where they belong and who they are. After a while, fighting that? It just gets exhausting." The Helena he's come to know would never just give up. It's not in her nature.
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd looks up from destroying his plate of ravioli. "What? Seems high time there was a female Pope. She's as good as any other candidate. She's caring and gentle and knows the right time to be firm and put her fangs and claws out but never out of aggression. Since the station is basically under the cathederal, seemed fitting. Acts like she owns the place anyway" he adds matter of factly.

He is silent after her would be justification, reaching for his glass to buy a moment.

This is playing out just like every Good Fellas movie or drama ever.

Setting the glass down and laying his fork neatly on the corner of his now empty plate, he looks at her for a long moment, his wrists on the edge of the table, fingers laced.

"If that's the case, then there had better be a nest of really fat rats in that house. Because no amount of money. No amount of pampering and luxury will ever make up for being used or mistreated." There are many forms of mistreatment or abuse after all.
Huntress has posed:
Helena's slower with her food, more purposeful. While she chews she gets a measure of his mood -- or tries to, anyway. But there are things that slip for her, too: the way the corner of her mouth hooks upwards, pleased, as he demonstrates how well he enjoys the pasta; the slight, anticipatory tension for his answer.

She cares what he thinks. A little too much, perhaps. But then, he already knew that, even if it's a thing Helena's been denying to herself.

Helena meets Jason's long, steady look. Purpose fills her own regard. Not anger or fear or regret. Just that flat determination, that Sicilian stubbornness. "Everyone uses everyone else in my world. That's how it's always been, because that's how you get what you want. And everyone wants something."

Helena's always been single minded in what /she/ wants: vengeance. With a few exceptions.

"I hope you'll stay the night." But tonight, she'll understand if he chooses otherwise.
Red Hood has posed:
Jason Todd cuts in, probably too quickly. It's a good indication that he's getting angry. "And you've repeatedly been shown a better way and you're turning your back on it? Just like that? Some asshole pretends to be your brother and when he's not, you just cave and go back?" He shakes his head in a mixture of disbelief and disgust.

"That's bullshit. That's not what the Helena I know would do."

Then she has to go there after saying that everyone uses everyone in Her World. That sounds like a decision to him.

"Stay the night? Why? So you can use me too? I think I've heard enough."

The chirp of the chair legs against the floor is probably more harsh than he intended as he moves to stand up abruptly.

"I don't know what you've decided or what is going on. Because you haven't told me shit. I'm done playing charades, Helena. I may lo.." he bites off what he was going to say and changes it quickly, sounding more angry with himself than her. "Whatever you're doing, if this is some angle to get on the inside or something, you had better come clean and let me know what the plan is. Soon. Because if you don't? If this is really what you've chosen?" He stares at her hard. The gentleness and protectiveness, the caring that she has given him reason to water and grow is pushed down in an instant and locked away. The gaze is of a wronged man, a full blown predator.

"The vengeance Huntress used to unleash on crime out of righteous anger will be a -candle flicker- to what Red Hood is going to do to your -family-. Thanks for dinner."

He steps away from the table, preparing to see himself out.
Huntress has posed:
Helena knows she's pushed Jason too far. She knows it when he calls her bluff, when he cuts off that declaration mid-syllable, when she sees the change in his expression become the predator. It's not the latter that gets her. It's the declaration. The almost three-little-words.

She could fix it. She could explain and lay out her plan. But there's an old saying: three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead. No one knows that better than a Silician.

Helena says nothing, but the weight of her dark gaze tracks his departure keenly, like she knows -- suspects -- this might be the last time she sees him as Jason Todd.

Only when her door closes behind him, does her breath sigh out. She won't cry. She won't.

"Goodbye, Jason."