#3 THOSE UNEXPECTED THINGS
Catwoman turned immediately, claws extending from her fingers to answer the possible threat.
"And who are you supposed to be? Why are you here?" Catwoman asked softly, gracefully getting to her feet when she saw no aggressive action from Hailey.
"I go by Harlequin. But... you can just call me Hailey if you want to...?" She offered, fascinated with Catwoman's eyes and how it was they seemed to glow with intelligence and life as they swept over her appraisingly. She was very intrigued by this pretty cat-burglar she'd found all of the sudden. "As for why I'm here: just good timing on my part, apparently. I came here to commit a murder, you came here to commit a theft--would it be too forward if I asked you to go out dancing with me later?" She asked playfully. "I think I just made a new friend in the other room, we could make it a girl's night out?"
Catwoman smiled daringly. "Sorry. Not interested." She replied, moving around to get closer to the balcony window she'd came in from.
"No? That's too bad, kitty..." Hailey answered back as, predictably, Catwoman moved, swift and silent as her namesake, to jump out the window into the night. She smiled. "...because I definitely am now..." She spoke to the empty room, looking out into the city after dark, the scent of the night air coming in from the still open patio door.
She decided then and there that kitty was someone she definitely wanted to get to know better. Just something about that look in her eyes when their eyes had met... She just -had- to know more about her...
Holly chose that moment to come in the room from the bedroom. "Is... everything okay?" She asked.
"Hmm? Oh, of course." Hailey replied absently, turning to meet Holly's eyes. She touched the center of Holly's forehead with her index finger. "There. Just say my name, 'Harlequin' (though you can call me Hailey), and you'll look and sound just like Cecily Carter. I've even included access to all my research on her and her brothers. You now know their bank account numbers, pass codes, general family history, all that sort of nonsense. Just think of what you want to know, and, if it's in the database, the information will come to you. Say my name again and you're back to you again, easy as a smile." Hailey touched the tip of Holly's nose with her finger, and, yup, made her smile.
Holly laughed. "Really?" She asked. "It's really as easy as just that?" She sounded a little in awe.
"Well, I'm not making things up just to mess with your head if that's what you're asking." Hailey told her playfully, all of the sudden in a very good mood for some reason--probably having everything to do with her encounter a minute ago.
"Harlequin." Holly spoke softly and was changed, looking down at herself in wonder. She went over to a nearby mirror to look at herself as Cecily Carter. "...Out of this fucking world..." She spoke.
"My number's in your cell phone now. Call me. We'll have fun. Go dancing. Kill a few of your old Johns and Janes or something if you want. I could put them all in Playboy rabbit outfits and we could play Elmer Fudd with the shot guns and the hats? Or, you know, mini golf. Totally up to you." Hailey offered as she walked back to the bedroom. "I'm going to go inflict unnecessarily prolonged egregious violence on the last Carter brother now. Would you believe it? That cold hearted so and so actually kicks his dog? I mean, hurting a cute defenseless doggy like that... It really gets to me, you know?" She sighed. "...You can come with if you want?" She put forward, a little of a dare in her voice. "No pressure of course. I understand if you wouldn't want to."
"No, yeah, I... You go ahead... my, um, yeah, I think I'm more the mini golf kind of person, you know?" Holly answered quietly, going in to sit on the bed. She smiled to her. "I'll call you later, okay Hailey? Or, you know... you could call me too. That's good also."
"Okay." She agreed simply, smiling back and feeling warm and fuzzy about the whole thing as she turned to leave. Holly was going to make a good friend, she could just tell. Okay, so they wouldn't be murder buddies or anything, but she could tell Holly wasn't going to judge her for it either, and that counted for a lot in her book. In fact, she could tell Holly was genuinely grateful to her for what she'd just done for her... that she'd maybe even already started to feel safe with her and think of her as a friend too... how great was that? Not many people really got her like that right off and saw her for who she really was, and not who most people just assumed she was. It showed that Holly had a talent for unconventional thought and intuition.
Yup, tonight was turning out to be double plus extra lucky, no doubt about it.
She was humming happily to herself as she went out through the mirror the way she came, walking along the mirror-world road on her way to her next stop. She was going to make Michael Carter's bloody death quicker than he deserved (she'd had a dog growing up after all and he'd been her best friend back then, which was the root of her whole 'I hate dog-kickers with a burning passion' thing). After that, she was going to head back to her apartment to do some more research... Her subject this time? Why, a certain captivating cat-thief who'd caught her eye, of course...
Somehow, Hailey just knew, the new kitty in her life was going to be good for her. She just has a sense about it.
It was nine in the morning and Selina was lazily lounging in bed after having gotten in at two AM. She'd only gotten six hours sleep, having woken up at around eight, but she'd felt no particular need to get up and so had simply lain there, cozy and warm in bed, with her cat, Isis, well fed and happy, purring softly on the next pillow over.
The doorbell rang and Selina's eyes opened immediately.
"Don't get up, I'll get it!" She heard her roommate, Arizona, call.
Selina smiled and closed her eyes again. She just hoped it wouldn't be another of Arizona's ex-girlfriends again. Really, her roommate was entirely too good at getting women to come home with her. It kind of surprised Selina that she hadn't tried it with her yet... Probably knew she'd get turned down. Or, well... probably turned down...
She couldn't hear what they were saying, but whoever was at the door was definitely not one of Arizona's--he was a guy for one, and Arizona was one-hundred percent lesbian. In the year or so Selina had known her so far, she hadn't seen her roommate come anywhere close to even checking out a guy.
The door closed and she heard Arizona's footfalls approaching her room, then a soft knock on her door. "Um, it was for you."
Selina sat up and stretched, yawning. She blinked and looked over to her roommate, who was definitely enjoying the view. Selina smiled playfully. "Like what you see, do you?" She asked, rolling up into a crouch and leaping from the bed to land on her feet in one graceful motion.
Arizona gulped a little. "Is that even a serious question?" She asked with a little of a bemused and flirty kind of a smile.
"I suppose not." She replied absently. "So who was it?" She asked a little warily. Her ex-boyfriend, Jason Bard, was out of town and wouldn't be back for weeks. He could have sent flowers or something in an attempt to get back in her good graces, she supposed, but she seriously doubted it... Other than that, she owned the building, and the building manager was a woman named Alison Markus, and Alison, and those that worked under her, knew better than to send anyone to bother her without calling first. There really weren't that many other people who knew who she was, or especially where she lived. Naturally she was curious, but she was also cautious--very cautious, when it came to Arizona's safety especially. She had exactly two real friends in all the world after all, and she was in no hurry to lessen that number.
"Delivery guy." Arizona replied softly. "Seriously, you won't believe this..."
"What is it?" Selina asked.
Her roommate silently handed over a rather hefty red and black box.
Selina took it and turned her back to her roommate, opening the box. A little gasp escaped her lips.
"I know." Arizona spoke. "I think they're all real too. And there's a note."
Selina spotted it and tossed the box onto her bed, opening the note and reading it. It said 'Hi kitty. Presents! Sure you don't want to go dancing with me? ~ Love, Hailey.'
"Who's Hailey, by the way?" Arizona asked softly.
"...She's... someone I... met last night." Selina replied, dropping the note on the bed and looking at all the gems and jewelry and such that had spilled out on the bed. Isis was curiously sniffing some of it.
"You must have really made an impression. How much do you think all that's worth, by the way?" Arizona asked.
Selina sat down and the bed and looked through it, her eyes bright with interest and outright avarice. "At least..." She looked from the necklace she was holding and dropped it on the bed, picking up a small rose that was made of gold and jewels, looking over to meet Arizona's eyes. "There's got to be more than a three-hundred million dollars worth here." She spoke in quiet reverence. "Maybe even five-hundred million, if you could find the right buyers..."
Arizona let loose a little whistle. "Wow... You must have done more than make an impression." She replied, going to sit down on the bed with her, picking up a few of the valuables and inspecting them curiously. "Who is she by the way--this Hailey of yours?"
"...Harlequin." Selina nearly whispered the word, actually more than a little uneasy at the idea.
Arizona's reaction pretty much said it all. She was speechless, eyes wide.
"I'm in trouble, aren't I?" Selina spoke with a little of a daring smile.
"Zo? Where'd you go?" They heard a woman's sleepy voice call from the other room.
" 'Zo'?" Selina teased softly in a playful voice.
Arizona smiled unapologetically and shrugged. "She came up with it, not me." She whispered, getting up and going to attend to her current lover. "I'm here. You hungry?" Selina heard Arizona offer... Katy, Katy Harris, Selina recalled her name. It was kind of hard to keep track usually, but Arizona had managed to keep this one for almost two weeks so far so Selina had bothered to learn her name. Two weeks was better than her roommate usually did, actually. Somehow though, she had yet to know Arizona to spend a night without a woman in her bed, even if it was just a one night stand. In a way, Selina was actually a little jealous. Her own track record was something on the order of few and far between. She just didn't open up to other people very easily--she never had.
She looked down at the rose in her hand and tossed it on the bed. "Not going to happen." She told Isis, getting up to go get a glass of water from the bathroom sink and then take a shower.
It wasn't that she had a problem with a woman as a lover, mind you. She'd had romantic interests of both genders at times in her life--men more than women, but still.
And she liked trouble, of course she did... It was only, The Harlequin... Hailey apparently... Well, if her reputation was anything to go by, that was trouble on a level she really didn't need, and wasn't at all sure she could handle. Not that her 'courting gifts' weren't appealing, but it had the uncomfortable notion attached that Hailey was trying to buy her affections or something, and that part wasn't so appealing... The problem was, she could be pretty sure that just ignoring this particular problem wouldn't make her go away.
No... This was probably going to get worse before it got better.
Still though, she remembered the look in Hailey's eyes when their eyes met, and somehow... Somehow she couldn't help but smile to herself a little.
Why was that?
"Sylvan..." Hailey spoke. She was standing in Sylvan Scofield's living room when Sylvan walked in from a night out doing... well, whatever it was she'd been up to lately. Hailey hadn't bothered to find out or ask, actually... mostly because she got the idea Sylvan didn't want her to know (she wasn't usually the type to volunteer things about herself very often).
"Oh, you're here." Sylvan smiled softly to her as she came in the door. She put down her things on a chair and walked over to where Hailey was standing.
She moved in for a kiss, but Hailey held her off. "Um, you might want to wait until we've talked before you decide if you want to do that or not."
Sylvan looked confused at that a moment, then her features took on a more guarded look. "What's wrong?" She asked in a cold-sounding voice.
"I'm breaking up with you..." Hailey told her softly.
"...Why?" Sylvan asked.
"...Would you prefer tactful or blunt?" Hailey asked. "Or... Do you even really want me to answer you at all?" She was fairly certain what Sylvan would choose, but she felt she owed it to her to at least ask first.
"Blunt." Sylvan answered in a flatly hostile tone.
"I met someone last night. Our eyes met, we exchanged a few words, she left, but I want to peruse her. I think we could have a real connection... and I think I'm ready for that in my life again. Or, at least I want to be." She told her.
"-We- have a real connection, Hailey." Sylvan countered, making it almost sound like a threat.
"Not enough of one for my tastes." Hailey told her, trying not to make it sound too cold. "I do care about you... a lot. Maybe I even love you in a way. But you're still scared of me..." She explained softly.
"Fuck you." Sylvan told her in a hushed voice, looking into her eyes with contained fury (that fear was still there though, even now).
"You have--repeatedly and very, very thoroughly--it hasn't helped the way one might hope... Not that I really expected it would, I just didn't want to be alone--and we were so beautiful together, I guess I just couldn't help myself. So I suppose you do have a good reason to really hate me... If that's the way you wanted to go about this. I'd hope it's not, but I can understand if that's your choice."
"What's her name?" Sylvan asked coldly.
"Don't know that yet, actually. She goes by Catwoman. I've already nicknamed her 'kitty' in my head though." Hailey replied honestly. It was more honesty than was at all needed, obviously, but Sylvan had chosen blunt, so Hailey felt she owed it to her to be very blunt. That way, maybe she'd hate her for it and it would make the breakup easier on her in the long run.
The level of sheer anger in Sylvan's eyes at her saying that though actually shocked Hailey a little. It made her smile. She wanted to say 'you're cute when you're angry', but thought that would probably be just a -little- insensitive of her, and, really, she didn't want to hurt Sylvan any more than she already had if she could avoid it. The way things were going though? Her prospects on that didn't look too good. Maybe she hadn't gone about this the right way after all...
Sylvan visibly clamped down on her fury before Hailey's eyes though, turning away as a few tears escaped her eyes. "We're meant to be together." Sylvan told her, her back turned to her.
"You think so?" Hailey asked curiously. This was actually pretty darn unexpected--it hadn't been one of the reactions she thought she might get at all, actually. It made her curious... and a little bewildered, actually, that she somehow hadn't even remotely seen this coming (that just usually didn't happen with her).
"I know it." Sylvan told her. "I'm not losing you to her."
"Why not?" Hailey asked. Frankly, she was riveted- she wanted to know more.
Sylvan walked away without answering, going towards her bedroom. At the door to her bedroom, she turned her head, but still didn't meet Hailey's eyes. "You can either stay and forget about leaving me... or you can leave. It's up to you. Either way, you're going to be my wife one day." She told her softly, actually sounding... very vulnerable as she said it--maybe even a little desperate. She went into her room and closed the door behind her.
Hailey stared at the door in bemusement. "I think I might just have underestimated her." She spoke to the empty room, actually feeling tempted to take Sylvan up on it to see what would happen... and... because she really hated to see her cry...
She looked through the walls like they weren't there with one of her future apps and saw that Sylvan was laying on her back on her bed, arms spread out and looking up at the ceiling, like she'd just let herself fall there. She was still crying, though she wasn't making a sound.
Hailey's heart went out to her, but there were some things you just couldn't fix. She couldn't fix this, not without going into that room and telling Sylvan that this had all been a horrible mistake and that she'd changed her mind.
And, despite Sylvan's unexpected and very intriguing behavior, and the pull she couldn't deny she felt towards going to comfort her now former lover, in her heart, Hailey knew she didn't actually want to do that--didn't want to try something that still seemed like it would be futile. No, what she wanted was to go find the kitty she'd met last night and try to get frisky with her. She wanted to be in love again. She wanted it to be right this time. She wanted it to last this time. And, somehow, without anything but her feelings and a few fleeting moments of eye contact to assure her she was right, she found herself having an almost absurd level of faith that kitty was the right woman for her.
So, she left.
It was getting close to dawn and Jason Todd was just getting home. He'd sold some of the jewelry he'd gotten to some unscrupulous sorts an acquaintance of his had put him in touch with and hidden the rest in a safe place so he could go back for it later (it didn't pay to have a lot of cash or valuables on you in the neighborhood he lived in). After that, he'd gone and bought some groceries: A few apples, oranges, oatmeal, lettuce, trail mix, that sort of thing.
As he walked up the stairs to his apartment, the events of last night were playing through his head again. He was thinking of Zane and wondering again if he should have said yes to that woman's offer as soon as the words had left her mouth. Holly had been right--Carter would have been dead either way, and there was nothing either one of them could have done about it. The Harlequin: He'd used his smart phone to look her up online, and, really, if she'd wanted that woman dead, there was no damn way short of maybe Batman or Power Woman showing up that she was ever going to keep breathing come morning. Had he been selfish to throw away the opportunity, even given what he would have had to do?
No, he told himself. No, he'd done the right thing. He was a father now, and that meant that doing the right thing was even more important, not less. It meant that he owed it to his son to set a good example. And committing a cold-blooded murder to get ahead was about the worst betrayal of that responsibility he could think of.
When he got to the third floor and turned down the hallway towards his apartment though, he froze when he saw the door open. Kelly would know better... He dropped his groceries and raced ahead, burst into the apartment and was stopped again in his tracks by a sight that was infinitely worse than an open door. Kelly was laying on the floor, dead, her blood on the floor from a crack in her head...
Jason backed away in denial of what he was seeing. He stopped though, and raced into Kelly and Zane's room. "Not here..." He spoke in a soft, agonized voice.
...There was, however, a note.
Still in shock, he moved forward and picked it up, holding it for just a second before unfolding it to read.
'Kill yourself before noon today or he dies.'
He stared at the words, willing them to make some kind of sense--any kind of sense.
"Harlequin." He spoke the word aloud in a voice that cracked as if he were starved of water or horse from speaking too loud.
It was the only thing that made any sense after all--who else in his life could possibly be responsible for something like this? The serial killer/eco-terrorist he'd met last night was the only name that came to mind.
He got out his smart-phone and searched through his contacts, finding the number he wanted and tapping 'call'.
The phone rang three times before she picked up. "Holly? It's Jason. We need to talk."