Title: Bloodied Angels Fast Descending
Description: 3/13 late evening - Huntress
Vic - February 19, 2009 01:46 AM (GMT)
Marilyn Easley wasn’t yet thirty but looked half again her age. She was a thin, pale, colorless woman, beaten down by life in the Narrows and a common-law husband who alternated between Blackgate and her bed. When he was home he drank whatever money she might have saved and knocked her around into the bargain. That she stayed with him at all Vic found inexplicable, but even more baffling was the fact Levon had two more years to run on his current stint – two years she and her not-quite-teenage daughter Melina could be spared his malignant presence – and yet she was still trying her best to get him out early.
That misguided effort was what brought Max Buehner, the dominating force on the parole committee, to stand in the living room of her dinky little two-room apartment. It was what brought her to a state of hand-wringing near collapse as he reveled in exerting his power over her. It was what brought Melina close to tears, wide-eyed and frightened. And it was what brought Vic Sage to watch through fiber-optic eyes from the empty flat next door, a bad feeling growing steadily in the pit of his stomach.
Vic didn’t like where this was going. He didn’t like the way Buehner’s hands twitched, his contemptuously demanding manner, or the nakedly appraising way he looked at the girl. This was supposed to have been a simple operation – record the sleazebag soliciting a bribe from Marilyn, be it sex or money, and make it public. Not pretty, perhaps, but nowhere near the tornado of ugly the vigilante sensed forming.
Hardly realizing what he was doing, Vic began slipping on the faceless mask he used to hide his identity and buckling his trenchcoat over his clothes. He’d just donned the fedora that completed his transformation into The Question when the first scream came. Cursing himself for a slow, inept fool, he bolted for the hall.
Melina screamed when the man hit her mother. And she screamed again, scrambling backward as fast and far as she could when he lunged for her. The grown-up-early part of her knew it was useless – in the Narrows, there were no white knights, there was no cavalry to ride to the rescue. But the child part still hoped, even when the man’s hands caught her and tore the flimsy fabric of her cheap blouse. Then the door exploded open and the second man appeared, flinging himself across the room at the first with a growl.
“Run, Melina!” He shouted, charging into her attacker and knocking him away. “Go!”
He was dressed funny and he had no face, but Melina didn’t care. She ran. Over the kicked-down door and out into the hall, down the hall to the stairs, and down the blessedly-single flight of stairs to the street. She didn't even know where she was going, just kept two goals firmly in mind -- get away, and get help for the man without a face so he could save her mother.
Even as she thought it, there came a shattering sound from above as the faceless man came flying through the window and began to fall.
Helena Bertinelli - February 20, 2009 11:16 AM (GMT)
From her perch behind a gargoyle, Helena watched as her uncle Benny played house guest to some particularly unsavoury characters. He’d always been mixed up in the family business, but she’d never realised just how much, or maybe this was new. Gotham was a changing place and maybe he was just changing with it.
From behind her, she heard the sound of footsteps on tiles and whirled around. There, watching her was a figure clad entirely in black. Security for uncle Benny and his guests, perhaps? A third party? “Who are you?” she asked, but they remained silent and turned to run. Fast, faster than she could manage anyway. Her boots served her well enough most of the time, but these rain slicked tiles were putting up more of a challenge than she was used to. If she was going to talk to them, she decided she was going to have to bring them down, she realised. And reached for her crossbow.
It was mistake, she realised as she lost her footing and slipped and slithered down a roof. Neither her feet, nor fingers could find purchase until finally, she managed to catch herself single handed from an ominously creaking length of guttering. Overhead, the black clad figure reappeared and wagged a finger chidingly in Helena’s face, before dashing off again. “Bastard,” she hissed, trying to haul herself up onto the rooftop. As the creaking got worse, she redoubled her efforts, but it was all in vain as the guttering gave way, dropping Helena down into a skip, where she lay, winded. “Best night ever.” She muttered, dryly, as she picked a banana peel out of her hair.
With a grunt of exertion, she hauled herself up and over the edge of the dumpster and landed on unsteady feet. She was considering the worth of returning to uncle Benny’s rendezvous for continued reconnaissance, when a kid came running out of a nearby building, obviously looking scared out of her wits. “Are you okay?” she asked as she dashed to the kid’s side. The girl wasn’t looking at her, she was looking up as the sound of shattered glass came from above. Instinctively, Helena looked up and shepherded the kid back out of the way as a man came falling from the sky.
Even in Gotham, that was pretty weird.
Vic - February 21, 2009 08:04 PM (GMT)
Fortunately, the fall was only a single story, but The Question still hit the roof of a parked car with an impact that cracked the vehicle's windows and jolted a grunt of pain from him. There went a rib or two, he thought, turning some of it into a roll that suggested that while his day job might not be CPA, it probably wasn't gymnastics instructor, either. He barely managed to land on his feet as he half-tumbled to the ground. And not a moment too soon, he saw, as Buehner leapt from the window after him, landing in a crouch in the same spot Vic had just vacated.
From somewhere nearby he could hear the girl calling out encouragement to the 'faceless man.' "Run, Melina!" he shouted back, hiding a wince at the pain it drew from his ribs and not daring to take his eyes off his opponent to look in her direction. He didn't know what Buehner was on, but Vic did know he wasn't going to be able to stop the man. The best he could hope to accomplish was to hold him long enough for her to escape.
Buehner grinned at him with malicious glee and The Question breathed a sigh of relief that he seemed to be ignoring the girl for now. Another small mercy lay in the fact the politician still hadn't drawn the gun holstered under his arm. Not that he needed to, Vic thought grimly. Dropping his chin, he shuffled back in a boxer's stance, then darted in when Buehner jumped down after him. A combination of jabs and hooks to the body was capped by a powerful right cross to the head that rocked the other man, but still didn't down him.
What the hell was this guy on?
Helena Bertinelli - February 22, 2009 12:07 AM (GMT)
The guy hadn’t fallen far, but even from that sort of height, when he landed on the roof of a parked car, it looked like he landed hard. The shattered glass that lined the street and seats was a dead giveaway. It was one hell of a scene, set to a multi-car alarm symphony.
She wanted to ask if the guy was okay, but two main things held her back. One, which probably should have been the main reason; she didn’t know who he was. Secondly; asking after he’d made that kind of a landing would probably make her look pretty stupid. Maybe it shouldn’t have been an issue.
Suddenly, it wasn’t. There was a much bigger issue as a guy jumped from the window, down after the masked falling guy. And to think that she’d already thought that this was shaping up to be a weird night. As if it wasn’t bad enough that she had her own mysterious stranger to contend with, there was the matter of these two and which if either was after the kid.
So far, that was one in the favour the man in the mask. Jumpy McGhee didn’t really seem all that interested in making a case for himself. The only question was just what was Helena supposed to do? Maybe it was rash, but she’d picked her side in the fight, but did she back her guy, or help the kid get away?
This was no place for a kid on her own, but the girl didn’t have to go far. There was the guy with the mask and there was Helena. She was sure they could cope. “Try not to go too far, Melina,” she said, “unless I say run.” She turned her attention to the pair fighting. “I suggest you two stand down. Unless you want something more than a few car windows to be broken.” she advised sternly.
Vic - February 22, 2009 07:25 AM (GMT)
“I suggest you two stand down. Unless you want something more than a few car windows to be broken.”
Shrugging off Huntress' words as well as The Question's punches, Buehner backhanded him hard and fast. Vic barely had time to turn and raise his shoulder to shield his head. Though the blow lacked much in the way of finesse, berserker strength more than made up for it, knocking him sideways. Broken glass gritted beneath his knees and the palm of the hand he put out to catch himself.
"No!" Melina cried, fear and worry in her voice. "No-Face! Get up!"
Vic needed no urging. He half-scrambled, half-stumbled to his feet, chancing another glance in the girl's direction to see the woman who had spoken. Then he blinked and looked again. Was that really a crossbow?
Helena Bertinelli - February 22, 2009 11:05 PM (GMT)
“O-kay,” Helena breathed as the jumper backhanded the masked man and knocked him to the floor. It seemed like no one was going to listen to her.
"No! No-Face! Get up!"
Even the kid who she’d told to run wasn’t listening to her. Great. Now, not only did she suck at keeping order in a fight, but her authority as a teacher was going to look pretty questionable, she thought dryly.
If they weren’t going to listen to her though, she was pretty sure that she had something that they were going to pay attention to. With a shrug, she unslung her crossbow and took aim. The guy knocking ‘No-Face’ around wasn’t paying her a whole lot of attention, certainly not enough to react before she squeezed off a beautifully aimed shot at this shoulder.
Oh well. His loss.
Vic - February 23, 2009 05:19 AM (GMT)
Vic was proud of himself. Not only was he on his feet but he wasn't swaying. Well, hardly at all. He would just keep that hand out there, just in case. You never knew when a truck would come along and hit you and then you'd really need to have your hand out to keep your balance. Yes sir.
Yes, it was indeed a crossbow.
Vic's gaze went to the crossbow's target. Somehow it didn't surprise him that Buehner still wasn't down. In fact, the other man's reaction to being shot seemed to be disbelief, followed quickly by rage. Even more rage than he'd already shown, which was really going some. On the plus side, that rage now appeared directed at the person with the ranged weapon rather than Vic the Punching Bag. On the minus, that person was a woman and Melina -- despite the exhortations of two-thirds of the adults around -- was still standing right next to her.
What did surprise Vic was when the guy reached up, grabbed the bolt imbedded in his shoulder, and yanked it free. Even more dismaying was when, with a howl of fury, Buehner raised the bloody bolt high over his head and charged at the woman who'd just shot him. Cursing under his breath, The Question charged as well, launching himself at the drug-addled psycho in a flying tackle.
Helena Bertinelli - February 23, 2009 03:19 PM (GMT)
Apparently Helena was struggling to fully process the situation. She simply looked confused by the fact that her crossbow bolt didn’t seem to have had much of an effect. At the very least, she would have hoped that he’d stagger, or cry in pain. Instead, he just looked angry. At her.
This was what she got for trying to help. Great.
With barely a grimace, he reached up to pull the bolt out of his shoulder and howled. Not a good, pained howl, either. It was more like a howl that said someone was going to try to hand her ass to her. He wouldn’t be the first, though and as long as she was careful, he certainly wasn’t going to be the last.
The kid was still beside her, Helena realised. She was going to have to meet Buehner head on, before he got to her. Until she knew what was going on, she didn’t feel comfortable bringing him down permanently. Even as he ran at her, she threw herself into a run. Before she could get there, however, ‘No Face’ tackled Buehner, knocking him to the floor. “Stay. Down,” she tried the verbal approach one more, “or the next one’s between your eyes.” Threatening hadn’t worked before, but she hoped the crossbow tip just inches from his face might make a difference.
Vic - February 26, 2009 01:56 AM (GMT)
Buehner snarled but stopped moving, for which Vic thanked his lucky stars, since he wasn't going to be able to hold the guy down for more than a second or two otherwise. He was also grateful for the fact the weapon the strange woman had pointed at the politician's head and so close to his own ear was the crossbow rather than one of the pair of what looked liked .45s she had holstered.
"You're dead!" the pinned man snarled. "Both of you! I'm going to fuck you both up!"
"Language!" The Question interrupted as sternly as he could. His fey whimsy was no respecter of persons, nor of bruises and broken ribs. "There's a child present."
The child picked that moment to come running over. "No-face! Are you okay?!"
Vic shifted to put up a hand to wave her to stop. "Stay back. I'm fine, kid." It worked enough to halt the girl a few feet away, but it cost him his hold on Buehner in the process.
Helena Bertinelli - February 26, 2009 10:52 PM (GMT)
It had seemed like everything was okay. The rage-a-holic was still cursing his heart out, but he seemed to be under control. Of course, things simply couldn’t stay that way, could they? Obviously, the kid had to come running in and obviously, ‘No-face’ had to do his best to keep her away and it just wouldn’t be right if that didn’t lead to him losing his grip. “Perfect,” Helena hissed as the ensuing scuffle knocked her crossbow from her hand.
Instinctively, she swung a mean kick at Buehner’s head, but it was just to buy her time. She didn’t relish the idea of shooting the guy full of holes in front of a kid. That really didn’t mean that she wasn’t going to, though. “Stay fucking still, already,” she demanded, quite clearly growing irritated by the whole situation.
Maybe she should have left them to it. It wasn’t like there was much she could actually do with the masked guy in the way.
Vic - March 3, 2009 03:46 AM (GMT)
As if hearing Huntress' thought, Buehner launched a short hook punch into Vic's ribs, landing it squarely on the ones broken earlier. Despite himself, Vic groaned and doubled over, which earned him only a savagely malicious grin and an elbow to the head that dazed him and knocked him sideways.
Despite the ringing in his ears, Vic heard Melina cry out. And, despite the fog that swept through his brain, he could picture clearly Buehner's 9mm. It had stayed in its holster thus far, but that wasn't likely to last. Ignoring the pain, The Question rolled back toward the crazed man and grabbed for his right arm with both of his own.
Helena Bertinelli - March 3, 2009 07:31 PM (GMT)
The first that Helena really noticed of the gun was the fact that it was being pulled from its holster as Buehner climbed to his feet. She couldn’t immediately tell what it was; she’d done a little research when choosing her own sidearms, but not enough that she could consider herself any kind of expert.
What she did know, however, was that with that thing in play, the kid was at a whole lot more risk. Quickly, she fired off a few wild shots at Buehner, before moving to snatch Melina off the street and put her out of the way. Fortunately, as planned, she seemed to have managed to take Buehner’s attention away from ‘No-Face’ for the time being.
Hopefully, he could do something with that.
Vic - March 12, 2009 11:32 AM (GMT)
At the sound of the shots, Vic aborted his dive at Buehner, curling away reflexively. Congratulations, Vic, he thought, it's turned into a gunfight -- and you without a gun. It did seem to have distracted the drug-crazed psycho, though, and The Question bit back on a grunt of effort as he lurched once more to his feet.
Just thumping on Buehner wasn't going to work, he realized. Whatever the guy was on, it insulated him from pain. Time to start fighting smart. He'd learned a good bit of that in prison, especially for dealing with guys tougher than you were. Unbuckling the belt of his trench coat, Vic quietly slid it from its loops as he slipped up on his target from behind.
Intent on drawing a bead on Huntress, and having dismissed Vic as an insignificant threat, Buehner never heard him coming or realized he was there until the belt was looped over his head and tightened brutally around his throat like a noose.
Helena Bertinelli - March 12, 2009 09:16 PM (GMT)
Thankfully, No-Face took the opportunity that Helena had created for him. Backing up, Helena made sure that Buehner wasn’t going to come down on her. Once he’d hit the floor, she kicked the gun from his hand, sending it skittering across the floor out of reach. She hoped that that would be and to this all, but somehow, she wasn’t counting on it. Sense and self preservation hadn’t seemed to be high among his priorities so far.
“Stay down,” she hissed. “Stay down or I will put holes in you.” If he had any sense, he had to be able to see that at this range, there was no way that she was going to miss.
Vic - March 18, 2009 04:12 AM (GMT)
Pulling back hard on the belt gripped tightly in his hands, knee in the small of Buehner's back, the Question half-rode half-dragged the other man to the ground. It took time to choke someone unconscious -- a fact Vic knew from grim personal experience -- and he'd been worried about catching a bullet before he managed it, but the lady vigilante took care of that problem.
Still, even disarmed, Buehner fought longer and harder than he would have thought possible, bucking like a bronco and clawing at the strap around his neck. It was all Vic could do to keep his grip, every heave sending a fresh jolt of pain through his abused ribs. Finally, at last it was over. Buehner wasn't quite motionless, but his struggles had grown so weak they no longer mattered. Quickly, with the mysterious woman covering him with her own weapon, Vic unlooped the belt from around the other man's neck and used it to lash his wrists.
Then, lacking the strength to get to his feet, he rolled a little distance away and sat up, gathering breath enough to speak.
Helena Bertinelli - March 18, 2009 12:54 PM (GMT)
No-Face restrained his opponent with his belt, before rolling away and thanking Helena. She frowned quickly and murmured a quick, simple and rather dismissive “Yeah.” Still frowning, she stepped forward to take a look at the binding. It looked like he’d done a decent enough job, so she stepped away again. She still had no idea what she’d walked into the middle of and it was not a feeling that she was enjoying.
She didn’t actually point one of her pistols at No-Face, but she made sure she’d only have to adjust her aim a fraction if it came to it. “Now how about some answers?” she asked slowly. “Let’s start with the obvious; who you are, who he is and what this is all about?” She may have been inclined to side with him because he’d seemed like the only one who had any consideration for the kid. When the bullets stopped flying, though, she wasn’t willing to trust that the guy’s motivations in any way meshed with her own.
Vic - March 23, 2009 03:45 AM (GMT)
“Let’s start with the obvious; who you are, who he is and what this is all about?”
"I'm -- "
"No-Face!" Melina ran to The Question once more, though this time she prudently kept him between herself and her would-be attacker. Shaking as the reaction set in, she clung to his shoulders.
Making sure to make no sudden moves, Vic reached up to pat one of her hands reassuringly. "I'm The Question," he answered. "His name is Mark Buehner. He's head of the parole board and has been extorting money from the families of prisoners in return for 'favorable results.'" His frown was invisible, but audible in his voice. "Only this time, he wanted something other than cash." Reluctant to elaborate in front of the child, he hoped the woman caught the implication.
"We really should check on Melina's mother," Vic continued, "he hit her pretty hard."
Helena Bertinelli - March 23, 2009 05:41 PM (GMT)
Well, it looked like even if Helena wasn’t sure that she could trust the guy, the kid was. Irritably, Helena frowned; she just hoped that the kid’s faith was well placed.
"I'm The Question. His name is Mark Buehner. He's head of the parole board and has been extorting money from the families of prisoners in return for 'favorable results.' Only this time, he wanted something other than cash."
Helena’s expression darkened and she spat something that wasn’t at all suitable for current company. “Sorry,” she said quickly, her teacher’s instincts giving her a slap on the wrists. She wondered how The Question would feel about her putting a bullet through Buehner’s skull here and now. He’d taken a beating and she was pretty sure that even if he did have a problem, she could deal with him.
"We really should check on Melina's mother, he hit her pretty hard."
Helena’s train of thought was quickly derailed and she glanced away from Buehner in surprise. She wondered how obvious she was being. “Do you want me to come with you?” she asked, “or should I stay here and make sure he doesn’t try to run away.”
Vic - March 27, 2009 12:35 AM (GMT)
“Do you want me to come with you?” she asked, “or should I stay here and make sure he doesn’t try to run away.”
Vic studied her, quickly trying to decide on an answer. On the one hand, she'd passed up more than one opportunity to shoot Buehner to death. On the other, that had been before she'd learned what he'd been about, and the language she'd used suggested that she was plenty pissed about that. Not that Vic wasn't plenty pissed himself, but he didn't want murder done.
"Even if he does run, it won't matter. I videoed the whole thing. He'll be in Blackgate by the time I'm done." With Melina looking on and listening in, he didn't elaborate on the likely fate of a former parole officer and wannabe child molester there. He figured the lady vigilante as plenty intelligent to follow the line of thinking.
"And I may need some help getting up the stairs, truth be told."
Helena Bertinelli - March 27, 2009 08:52 AM (GMT)
"Even if he does run, it won't matter. I videoed the whole thing. He'll be in Blackgate by the time I'm done."
Helena regarded Buehner with a frown and decided that just this once, she was going to be more than content to let the authorities handle this one. A guy like Buehner would be in deep trouble if he saw the inside of a prison cell. Hell, killing him now would practically be a favour. She didn’t say any of that, though. “If what you’ve told me so far is true, as long as justice gets served on this guy, I’m good.” Best not to expose her harder tendencies just yet.
"And I may need some help getting up the stairs, truth be told."
“Sure,” Helena replied, no problems there. “Lead on.” She did, however have just one more question that she suddenly needed answering. “If you’re the Question, have you any idea what the answer is?” she asked casually.
Vic - April 1, 2009 02:50 AM (GMT)
“Sure,” Helena replied, no problems there. “Lead on.”
With Melina looking on, Vic managed to get to his feet with only one try, though it wasn't a quick, graceful maneuver and involved a fair bit of gritted teeth. He'd had broken ribs before. There wasn't much to be done with them except wrap them tightly and take the strongest painkillers you could lay your hands on. Grimacing behind the faceless mask at that joyful prospect, he thought dark thoughts in Buehner's direction.
“If you’re the Question, have you any idea what the answer is?” she asked casually.
Returning his attention to the Huntress, the Question motioned in the general direction of the building he'd been thrown from. Setting off in that direction, he tried for reasonable facsimile, but managed something like a pale shadow of a confident stride. "If I did," he answered her, "I wouldn't be slugging it out with hopped-up lunatics." Then he laughed softly. "Or maybe I still would. Doesn't matter what the answer is if it's not the right question."
Glancing along his shoulder at Helena, he said, "So, what do you call yourself?"
Helena Bertinelli - April 1, 2009 11:15 AM (GMT)
"If I did, I wouldn't be slugging it out with hopped-up lunatics. Or maybe I still would. Doesn't matter what the answer is if it's not the right question."
Helena frowned uncertainly, not sure if she was supposed to respond to that. It sounded like someone was having a minor crisis of faith in themselves. She ignored it, in favour of jumping back a topic or two. “City like Gotham? There are always going to be lunatics to slug it out with,” she said pragmatically as she followed behind. Maybe one day, the streets would be cleaned up, but there was going to be a long, hard fight before they got to that.
Especially if certain people couldn’t come to an agreement about how to do things sometime soon.
"So, what do you call yourself?"
“Huntress,” Helena replied. It was hardly the most passive of names, she thought idly. She’d chosen it because it seemed to fit her goals and approach. Right now, she was wondering if it had betrayed her in some small way; made The Question more inclined to think that she would have killed Buehner if he’d left her the chance. “What do you mean ‘not the right question?” she asked, unwilling to let the thought go. Maybe she was reading too much into it.
Maybe not, though.
Vic - April 7, 2009 07:39 PM (GMT)
With his mask, The Question's expression was literally blank, but the smile was audible in his voice. "Exactly," he said.
Hopefully, she wouldn't shoot him for the answer, he thought, aware it was annoyingly cryptic. She was heavily armed and prickly -- he had the distinct impression that she might well have shot Buehner if he hadn't spoken earlier. It was a cautionary realization, not all of Gotham's vigilantes held to the non-lethal principles Batman and Vic himself did. And that led his thoughts to a further question -- should he do something about that?
Then he was at the apartment stairs and he put the issue out of his mind. He was going to have to think it through in the peace and clarity meditation offered, neither of which was available here and now. For the time being, he was going to have to focus his attention and energy on getting his battered body back up to the second floor. Preferably without whimpering, he amended, aware of Melina's worshipful gaze.
"This is Melina," he said to Huntress, stalling for time. "Her mother is Marilyn Easley."
Helena Bertinelli - April 8, 2009 10:39 PM (GMT)
Helena reigned in her annoyance, but narrowed her eyes, dangerously. “Be glad there are minors present, so I can’t say what I want to,” she threatened. It was about as close as she ever came to making to jokes when she was wearing the mask; other than comments designed to piss off the bat.
"This is Melina. Her mother is Marilyn Easley."
“Pleased to meet you, Melina,” Helena told the girl warmly. She supposed that as the Huntress, she probably shouldn’t have shown any warmth like that. Huntress was not a protector of the people, except when it suited her goals to be so. All the same though, she was still Helena Bertinelli underneath the mask and she did care.
Likewise, she cared about the fact that there was a possibility that her current partner was struggling a little. Leaning in towards The Question’s ear, Helena lowered her voice so Melina wouldn’t hear. For whatever reason, the girl had put her trust in him and she didn’t want to disturb that right now. “Are you okay?” she asked as they climbed the stairs.
Vic - April 12, 2009 06:43 AM (GMT)
“Are you okay?” she asked as they climbed the stairs.
Vic made an inconclusive motion with his shoulders. "Ribs," he whispered tersely. "I'll live."
At the top, he paused to brace one hand against the wall for a moment, glad the mask hid his expression. Not so much from Huntress -- though his male ego wanted him to play the stoic tough guy -- but from the girl. She had enough to worry about with her mother.
And, speaking of the mother ... "Can you check ... her?" he asked Helena. He needed to collect his gear and didn't want Melina coming face to face with how he'd been spying on them.
Helena Bertinelli - April 12, 2009 06:46 PM (GMT)
"Ribs, I'll live."
“Sure,” Helena replied. She’d managed to avoid them herself, but she knew well enough that there were plenty of injuries out there much worse than a few cracked ribs. “As long as you actually rest up for a bit and give them chance to heal and don’t pull some macho bullshit like trying to play vigilante again before you’ve got any better.”
"Can you check ... her?"
“You got it,” Helena replied, surprising herself by how willingly she followed The Question’s lead, unlike certain people she could mention. Certain people who seemed to look at her like she was trash. When Helena found her, Melina’s mother didn’t seem particularly enthusiastic about having someone in a mask look her over. Given the transaction she’d been involved in, Helena didn’t find it too hard not to care. “Nothing serious,” was Helena’s eventual diagnosis, once she’d talked the woman down. Climbing to her feet, she turned to try and find The Question. If he’d bailed and left her to pick up the mess, she was going to have to find him and have some words.
Vic - April 16, 2009 03:26 AM (GMT)
"Thanks." As he turned to head up the hall toward his temporary lair, Vic barked a short laugh, which he regretted almost instantly. "'Macho bullshit?'" he asked rhetorically, wry humor in his voice. "Me?" Tot would probably agree with her on that, if likely on very little else.
Taking it easy, making sure his motions were slow and smooth, he went back to the room from which he'd emerged so precipitously ... not so long ago, he realized with surprise. It felt like hours, but could only have been a few minutes. How time crawls when you're getting beaten to a pulp.
Fortunately, despite the enforced gingerliness of his movements, his gear was designed and set up with the possible need for a fast getaway firmly in mind. It didn't take long for The Question to disconnect everything essential -- or traceable. And it all packed away into a surprisingly small bag that he slung over one shoulder. Still, it was enough time to catch his breath.
Returning to the hall, he encountered Huntress just emerging from the Easelys' apartment. "She's okay?" he said, only half a question. His fellow vigilante's manner didn't seem to indicate either a medical crisis or a corpse, but it seemed a good idea to inquire anyway.
Beyond her, he glimpsed the doorframe and the splintered area where the door had once latched. Sighing inwardly, he moved around to lean into the room, fishing in one pocket as he did so. There was a little table just inside the door and he laid a few bills on it. "Sorry about the door," he said. "You should stay somewhere else for a night or two while you get it fixed."
Helena Bertinelli - April 16, 2009 08:02 AM (GMT)
Helena shrugged her shoulders. “There’s some heavy bruising. It’s not pretty, but she’ll live,” she replied dismissively. Folding her arms, she propped herself against the doorframe, watching as The Question made his way into the room and laid a few bills on the table for the woman. It was more than she would have done.
"Sorry about the door. You should stay somewhere else for a night or two while you get it fixed."
Helena scoffed, incredulously. That couldn’t be it, right? “You, follow me,” she told The Question, “you, don’t even think about going anywhere,” she told Melina’s mother, before backing out into the corridor, resisting the urge to try and drag The Question out of there, in respect for his injured ribs. Once The Question was close enough, she lowered her voice. “Tell me that’s not it!” she hissed, “we’re really going to leave that kid with the woman who tried to pimp her out? This might not even be the first time and we’ve sure as shit got no assurance that it’ll be the last.”
//Right, I’ve been kind of assume-y, there; if Vic wouldn’t follow, let me know and I’ll edit
Vic - April 19, 2009 09:58 PM (GMT)
What?! The Question had followed Huntress obligingly out into the hall, but then stopped dead, brought up short at her accusation. For a moment, he somehow managed to look even blanker than his faceless mask normally did. Then the light dawned and he shook his head.
"I saw Marilyn's face," he said, "when she realized what he wanted. She hadn't known until that moment. And when she knew she tried to stop him. That's how she got hit. She was willing to give him money or maybe her own body, but not her daughter's." Vic's voice was low but urgent. The woman before him was clearly accustomed to taking the law into her own hands, probably lethally so on occasion. Misunderstandings couldn't be afforded.
Helena Bertinelli - April 19, 2009 11:05 PM (GMT)
"I saw Marilyn's face, when she realized what he wanted. She hadn't known until that moment. And when she knew she tried to stop him. That's how she got hit. She was willing to give him money or maybe her own body, but not her daughter's."
Oh. Helena’s expression fell. She’d judged the woman overly harshly. Without anything to go on, she’d gone right ahead and assumed the worst. “Sorry,” she said reluctantly. It wasn’t something she tended to say a whole lot. Much of the time, she didn’t feel the need and when she did, it didn’t come easily to her.
With a sign, she leaned back against the wall and folded her arms across her chest. “Are we done here, or do you need any more help?” she asked. Somehow, she couldn’t see what else there was to do, but you simply never knew. Besides, what did she know? This was hardly her field of expertise.
//Guh. Short, sorry
Vic - April 20, 2009 05:05 AM (GMT)
"S'alright," Vic said in response to the apology. "You couldn't know." He refrained from pointing out the perils of jumping to conclusions when one was willing to pull a trigger. She was plenty smart enough to think of it on her own and she wouldn't thank him for mentioning it.
“Are we done here, or do you need any more help?” she asked.
Vic moved to glance back into the apartment. Marilyn was just ushering Melina to pack and looked up, an ambivalent expression on her face at the sight of him. Understandable, he thought. He wished he could help her more, but he'd done all he could. Only she could get herself out of the rest of the tangle she was in.
"We're done," The Question said. "And thank you again. I owe you one."
// feh, pretty short, too
Helena Bertinelli - April 20, 2009 11:15 PM (GMT)
"We're done. And thank you again. I owe you one."
Helena shrugged her shoulders. “You don’t,” she said dismissively. It wasn’t what she did, but it had been the right thing to do. “Or, I don’t know; pay me back by making sure you heal up properly so I don’t have to save your ass again,” she said, sounding almost as though she was joking. It wasn’t meant as an act of generosity, it was just that she couldn’t imagine the idea of teaming up again. She just wasn’t a team player. Frankly, if he knew her better, she doubted The Question would want to team up with her again.
“So maybe I’ll see you around sometime,” she said, although she wasn’t holding out much hope of it. With that, she turned to leave the apartment block and head for home.
Vic - May 2, 2009 05:32 AM (GMT)
"Maybe," Vic murmured quietly as he watched his fellow vigilante depart. Even from the brief encounter, he could tell their means differed drastically, but their ends were much the same. And he still counted himself in her debt.
Filing that awareness away for later, he made his gingerly way back down to the street. Buehner had disappeared, a fact he noted with mixed annoyance and alarm, but not much surprise. Sticking to the shadows, he found a halfways comfortable place to observe the street and the front door of the Easleys' apartment building. To his relief, it was a commendably short period of time before Marilyn and Melina appeared.
Sticking around long enough to see them safely on their way, Vic headed back to his own vehicle, every twinge of pain bringing with it images of the unstoppable man and inspiring paranoia that had him constantly checking his back trail.