15562/A Totally Friendly Reunion

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A Totally Friendly Reunion
Date of Scene: 05 September 2023
Location: Rainy Rooftop, Gotham
Synopsis: Huntress and Red Hood finally swallow their pride and ask for help from the best person to step into the middle of the bloody mafia war. Batman.
Cast of Characters: Red Hood, Huntress, Batman

Red Hood has posed:
The war on the Mob has been all over Gotham news. TV, streaming, online and the nearly extinct printed page. Red Hood has cut enough of a bloody swath through mafia hitmen it's hard to guess where he'll strike next. Helena Bertinelli has returned - and everyone thought she was starting a new life as a teacher. Only now? She's the Donna of a resurrected Bertinelli family. So much juicy gossip and little of it is true or accurate. So par for the course.

But behind the scene, things have finally begun to come to a head. Something has to give. Exit strategies have to be planned and a destination for all of this chaos has to be settled on. While discussing matters with Helena, Jason expressed to her his thoughts that there can only be one definitive way to end this. It was a grim decision to have to make.

Neutral ground was key. Clear lines of sight with no chance for ambush had to be established. It wasn't an easy list to satisfy in Gotham but Jason has chosen a location he feels will satisfy the most of those requirements.

Two AM, Gotham City is clouded over and raining. After a hot day, the rain does nothing to cool things down. It just makes it a more oppressive sauna.

Atop Wonder Tower, Red Hood waits in silence. There are shadows and a few places to hide but many routes to escape if things turn sour. He stares at a device in his hands and swears under his breath inside his crimson mask. Then he presses the button.

In an instant, shining directly above Wonder Tower, a silver blade of light shines against the dark and ominous clouds and casts the Symbol of the Bat as a beacon.

If you light it. He will come. That was his promise to Gotham years ago.
Huntress has posed:
It feels like it's been far too long since Helena Bertinelli has donned the costume of the Huntress. In some ways, it feels long enough, and far removed enough, that it feels unwarranted, especially given everything that's happened in the interim.

It still fits, it just feels like it shouldn't.

She's standing in the shadows: in the dark, the purple of her outfit looks black. "I hope you are right about this," Helena says, quietly, as the symbol lights up the sky, but her gaze is not upwards, but on the Red Hood.

The Huntress has already double checked escape routes. There's nothing else to do but wait. And brood.
Batman has posed:
There are certainly times when it feels as if the sun never shines in Gotham City.

No matter the weather, no matter the time of year, the city seems to perpetually carry with it a certain aura that simply cannot be dispelled, nnot entirely. That nothing good can truly take root here, nothing can grow. That it will either be starved by the lack of light, or drowned out by the endless downpour. And no other outcome is possible.

Bleak, perhaps. But surely there must be some little ray of hope out there. Otherwise why would so many of its inhabitants choose to stay, to press on if there was nothing left to fight for? If there was no hope of things ever getting any better?

There is a certainly irony that it is exactly that spirit which brings the Dark Knight to this isolated rooftop tonight. If he were willing to take the dimmer, bleaker view that the only solution to the criminal problem in Gotham is the ruthless and permanent removal of any such threats, well, suffice to say it wouldn't just be fiends like the Joker or mobsters that would be lined up.

Afterall, the sad truth is they are not the only murderers in his city.

The Dark Knight has made only a few promises, laid down only a few lines. But those are inviolate. His code. To be imposed on others of his ilk, sometimes whether they like it or not.

There is a distant rumble of thunder and a momentary flash of lightning splashes across the grey world, lighting it up. And as it fades away with that crackle, the dark, shadowed form of the Batman simply stands on that rooftop, that cape draped around him like a shroud, only a hint of his features revealled by that cowled hood that hides away the rest of his face.

"I'm hear," comes those flat, implacable words, tone just as uncompromising as ever.

Red Hood has posed:

There wasn't much more to be said. He walks away from the projected beam to stand closer to Huntress. It may not be intended but it places him between her and Batman when the words come from the shadows.

He glances to Huntress then back.

"There's been a development." An understatement of course. Still. It's a start; that they're here and called for Batman means.. something?

Looking to Huntress, then back, "Helena Bertinelli isn't running the family willingly. She's being blackmailed by Casamento."

He glances to Huntress again. It's more than he wanted to explain on her behalf but not enough to satisfy Batman he knows. But Red Hood isn't here to speak for Huntress. He'll let her continue.
Huntress has posed:
Was that positioning intentional? The Huntress seems to suspect it might be, from the way she looks at Red Hood, but now is not the time.

"I'd forgotten just how loquacious you are," Helena says by way of greeting. She's had Batman appear abruptly around her too many times for it not to feel familiar, even if the suddenness of it still spikes her heartrate and she has to stop herself snapping the crossbow in her hands towards him.

Fortunately for everyone she masters the instinct.

It's probably good that Jason starts things out, because everyone knows Helena isn't a sharer. Her jaw tightens when Jason looks her way. "Franco Bertinelli is not my father. Santo Cassamento is." For her, it was a betrayal, a revelation. For the Batman... it's possible this isn't news. If anyone could piece it together, he could, though he may have had very many good reasons not to share that particular information even if he did know.

"Cassamento is starting to lose control of the other families. Him forcing me to reclaim the Bertinelli territory and take it from Panessa wipes them off the board. The Galantes are still troublesome for him, though. I intended to use them as leverage to break it all apart. It seems they took exception to this. That... hit you stopped the other night wasn't the first. They hired a... metahuman of sorts."

It's not that that upsets her. And Helena /is/ upset: it's evident in her tense bearing, in her voice. She never was good at hiding her feelings and doesn't try now. She's angry. "I'm close. I've got records that frame Cassamento as a CI for the FBI. They'll stand up to any scrutiny or investigation. But I don't think that blackmail can come from me."

She doesn't like it, at all. But there's one person that all criminals fear.

Batman has posed:
There are any number of tricks that the Dark Knight employs to intimidate his foes. Or even keep his friends off balance.

At this point they probably come instinctively. Just par for the course, done without any real intent to try to impose that particular feeling on Red Hood or Huntress. It's just the way he operates.

So yes, he appears on the rooftop without any warning. Yes, he lets that tell-tale shadow that has intimidated more then one thug fall over them that same way. Looming and ominious. Friend or enemy alike -- or wherever he stands with this particular pair at any given moment -- it is just the way he operates.

Warm and cuddly he ain't.

Despite the inevitable tension that resonates between them, that constant radiating feel that things could simply fall apart at any moment and that it might not just be a mob war underway, but one between the vigilantes that haunt Gotham's dark night, he is only silent as he listens to the other two. But then he is always better at gathering information in and then giving it out.

So he listens as implacably as ever as Jason lays out the fact that Helena isn't doing all of this willingly, as some master plan on her own for vengeance, to rack up an even greater bodycount amongst the mob. If he already knows of her secret parentage, he gives no signs of it. But then he is rarely if ever truly readable. Granite would probably show more emotion, more revelation at everything the pair of them as to share. Granite probably would.

But he does listen.

He can be so uncompromising. His way or the highway. It is one of the many things that can make it difficult to work with him. It is one of the many things that makes him so bloody effective at what he does. But while the hard line of his jaw might look like it's carved from rock in the shadows, he is flexible enough to know when and how to bend.

If only a little.

"So you would like me to intervene?" he finally asks quietly, breaking that silence. "To what end? If you want help to force him out, force him down, maybe even force him to turn to the authorities and become what you've set him up as we might have common cause," he allows quietly. There is potential there to be sure.

"If you just want to pit what remains of the families against him, force them to kill him on your behalf, that's another thing," the Dark Knight points out quietly.

"So what is it that the two of you are looking for from me?"
Red Hood has posed:
Red Hood listens to Huntress as she speaks, watching her in some sort of silent support. As she finishes he turns his masked gaze back to Batman. And, in a rare show of his own restraint, he again listens. There is no attempt to interrupt, no sense of hostility. Perhaps he fully grasps the actual weight of what is at stake from all sides.

He listens to Batman and remains silent. But he has to say.. something.

His voice is tight as he attempts to swallow his pride? Anger? Admit his philosphy might be flawed? One or all of those probably. "Even.. if the evidence is used to pressure Casamento. It leaves Helena Bertinelli as a target. Her reputation and career won't just magically come back." He pauses to find the words.

"I.. don't know how to bring this to a resolution that doesn't leave ruined lives." He isn't really talking about himself. For once he is worried about someone else. He's worried and thinking of Helena only here. This is a new facet of Jason. He has never, truly, cared about anyone else. Something has changed. It's right in the middle of a royal cluster.. but the change is there.
Huntress has posed:
As Red Hood makes his position known, Huntress looks his way. Like with Jason, she betrays herself in the way she looks at him, unintentionally softening for a moment. "I don't care about that. As long as they burn, it doesn't matter. My reputation is already in the wind." It's clear that that's one point on which the Huntress and Red Hood differ: she's willing to let her life burn if she can take down the entire mafioso.

Her gaze snaps back to Batman, jaw tensing. "I wont make a rat out of Santo Cassamento." Whatever else she is, Helena Bertinelli is born and bred Mafosio: Omerta is one line she won't cross. "But they're already well on their way to destroying each other. We just have to give them enough fuel to let them do it themselves. Cassamento himself..."

There's a pause. Helena's struggling to master her own emotions, but it's impossible. She's always felt too strongly about this, and her fury for the man who is her birth father certainly isn't able to be constrained. "If it was just a matter of killing him, I'd do it myself." And she wanted to, before. Now, though? "You can use the information you have to keep him contained. Control the mafia through him. We all know if you cut off his head, another will rise to take his place. Don't cut. /Subvert./"
Batman has posed:
It is an ugly situation.

Lives ruined, lives lost. He is not quite so willing to just stand aside and let it happen. It might be a justice of a sort, a rough justice. But it is not one that he is terribly interested in. Keeping others from knowing the same pain as he did, to watch their lives shattered in one violent moment, is a big part of the reason he does what he does.

Just standing aside doesn't keep his hands clean. Doesn't make him less culpable.

Still he does not just dismiss the idea out of hand. Doesn't turn his back and leave. One corner of his mouth curls slightly before it flattens out, leaving that unreadable expression smooth and unmarred once more as that masked gaze flickers between the pair in front of him.

"I may be able to bring some leverage to bear to try and salvage what can be salvaged, if you decide that's what you want," he says quietly. There are at least a few things that Bruce Wayne is good for afterall. One reason not to just chuck that part of his life aside and simply exist as Batman.

"As to the other, taking that information, using it as leverage to try and control is risky. It's not impossible," he allows quietly. Doing so as Batman? Probably not. And while it has it's risks in taking another identity -- says Matches Malone or someone else crafted specifically for this -- dismantling it from the inside has some merit.

"You just need to know that if I get involved, I will do my utmost to end the killing. Period. They'll be taken down my way. Not pitted in a war against one another where innocents might end up in the crossfire," he points out firmly.
Red Hood has posed:
Red Hood listens. It's a strange thing for him. As Huntress and Batman talk, he looks between them.

Stepping closer to Helena, he looks at her. There's more to this than just taking down the mob. Or, more correctly, there is more to his part in all of this. The way she talks it leaves him wondering if it's not really all one sided after all. It isn't something he cares to dwell on but it does affect him even in the moment.

Looking to Batman he nods, "I'm preprared to agree. There were.. reasons I did what I did." Of course there were. Not that it'll ever make Batman view his actions as anything less than murder. But that is just something Jason will have to live with. Actions have consequences.
Huntress has posed:
The truth is, Helena's life was already shattered -- thirty years ago -- when her entire family was killed. This, this moment, this denouement, is merely the end point in a string of events that stemmed from that one single tragedy that made her the person, and the vigilante she is today.

In some ways, it could be said the Huntress is what Batman might have become, if he let himself cross those inviolate lines he set for himself. Someone willing to kill. Someone willing to burn everyone and everything around them, for that single outcome. Someone who genuinely believes the ends justify the means.

It's this want that wars inside Helena as Batman lays out his terms. No internal warring. No killing. For a long time she looks away. This isn't want she wants. Her fingers clench into fists. She wants them all to burn, to pay-

-but that's not going to happen. Already, she wears the burden of the innocent lives taken to get here. That can't have all been for nothing.

In the end, it's Jason's words that draw the Italian woman's dark-eyed gaze back. While she can deal with the consequences of her own choices, that he crossed the line? That's a thing that still pains her, and probably will for a long time. Whether or not it's warranted, she feels responsible for that. And whether or not he realizes it Jason has a greater effect on her than she's conscious of.

"No killing," Helena agrees quietly, but she's saying it to Jason, promising it to him, not Batman.
Batman has posed:
While only those that know him well might notice it, but there is a brief flicker of relief there.

Hard as it might be to believe, Bruce has tried to grow a little more reasonable. A little more willing to compromise. At least on anything that does not violate that one, line in the sand. At least where it comes to those in his inner circle, those that he knows the best, trusts the most.

It might not always be apparent. But it is there.

Will those familiar divides crop up again? That seems rather likely. All of them have rather strong wills, rather firm beliefs in the best way to manage things. But he is at least willing to give it a chance.

"That's all I ask," the Dark Knight says quietly.

"I'll begin making preparations to leverage your information, making them toe the line. Get them used to someone else calling the shots. Get them to dial back on the violence and then start to take them apart from the inside. It might not be everything you wanted, but they will pay," Bruce says quietly.

Just not today.

The looks shared between them can hardly be missed, but it is plainly none of his business. Besides, he is hardly one to weigh in on that particular score. He may be an expert in quite a lot, but his record when it comes to interpersonal relationships?

Red Hood has posed:
Jason listens. Somehow he expected there to be either literal or verbal blood shed on this night. And yet somehow, they're all still standing. What's more, they're largely in agreement as well. For the moment at least. It wasn't a thing he was going to take for granted.

Nodding to Batman, he looks back to Huntress. To Helena. He can agree. But he can't speak for her. This was always and foremost her grieavance with the Mafia, not his. If she can accept this route, this solution, then he'll support her and it as well.

All he can offer to Batman is a quiet, awkward, "Thanks. For talking." And not just going off on how badly they have screwed up; at least from his point of view.
Huntress has posed:
Whatever agreement they've made here tonight may only be temporary. But it is an uncomfortable thing for Helena, no doubt. Even when she worked with the Birds of Prey and the Batfam before she didn't rely on them -- didn't /need/ them. Didn't /want/ to need them.

It's a step too close to family, and Helena doesn't do that.

For now, though, she appears to be willing to toe the line.

The Huntress finally moves, out of the shadows and closer to the pair. She holds out a USB key for Batman. On it, he'll find an electronic copy of an extensive FBI record that, while they don't name him, heavily infers a now-defunct CI who can only be Santo Cassamento with his reach, his whereabouts, his resources. If Batman happens to want to look further, he'll find these records do exist in the FBI database and appear to be genuine.

That or they've been planted by a very, very talented hacker to make it indistinguishable.

Helena Bertinelli doesn't do half measures.

Nor does she really do thanks. Good thing Jason has that covered! This is awkward. And Helena's not sticking around to find out if Batman has other plans in play in case things went wrong. She turns and leaps off the building, a well-timed crossbow bolt attached to a line allowing her to swing safely to the ground and the vehicle stashed there earlier for her.
Batman has posed:
So everything is water under the bridge then?

Probably not. Like must families they will probably sweep it under the rug and do their best to ignore it until the next big feud presents itself. Then it will all get dragged out into the light of day once more to be thrown about with all the other recriminations.

You know, the way healthy families are supposed to function.

Somewhere, right this second, Alfred is probably sighing heavily and rolling his eyes at all of them.

Taking the offered drive from Huntress, the Dark Knight nods his head, that gauntleted hand disappearing back beneath that shroud-like cape, no doubt tucking it away into one of the pouches that line his belt. If he was expecting thanks, if he was expecting anything else at all he gives no sign of it, seemingly content to allow her to escape back out into the rainy night as that distant thunder rumbles again.

There is probably a part of him that is already formulating a plan. Probably already working on contigencies, figuring out what approach is best. Formulating risk profiles to determine whether one of his exisiting cover identities is best used or if it is time to introduce another.

In other words just being his usual, methodical self.

Again the sky ripples with lightning, again there is that momentary flash to distract, to blind, but this time he is not simply gone. Instead the Dark Knight lingers for just a moment, that masked gaze fixed on Red Hood. "I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision, bringing me in. Thank you," he says quietly. No recriminations, no lectures about how his way is the best. Not even a disappearing act.

Turning away, he strides across the rooftop, the drizzling rain and shadow starting to swallow him up. "She's probably going to need you more then ever," he says flatly before there is that soft hiss of releasing compressed air, his grapnel firing off into the darkness, a quiet *thunk* as it finds purchase. "I'll contact you once I'm ready to implenent the next steps.

And then he is away, leaping from that perch.

They fought their war. Fought and killed.

Now the Dark Knight will turn his methods loose on what remains of the Five Families. And destroy them with peace.