Author: Rei and Chris
Faith sighed as she lowered the gun, then raised it again, Willow had been leaning on the outside of the building, right in Faith's line of fire. Sweating slightly, Faith put a little pressure on the trigger, halted by a quiet voice behind her. "Where d-did you get that g-gun, Faith?"
Faith spun around at the hurt familiar voice, looking at Tara in shock. She had been stood there, in normal street gear, tapping her foot against the ground. "T? How did you get behind me like that?"
Tara's voice had rose a touch, laced with a small helping of sarcasm, "You're asking Catwoman? Don't try to change the subject, Faith. Where did you get the gun you are currently pointing at my chest?"
Shakily, Faith lowered the gun, "A-Angel, he left it in my drawer."
Tara arched an eyebrow as Faith trailed off, "I assume that he had a reason for doing that," Tara had had a hunch that it was Faith that Warren had talked about that morning, and while she was a touch proud that Faith had said no to the money, and she had always known that Angel was less than... well, he wasn't a guy you easily said 'no' to, she still wanted to hear it from Faith herself, "I mean, p-people don't generally leave g-guns in someone's drawer without a reason to."
"He told me," Faith's head had dropped and she had gulped, "he told me that if I cared about you not going to jail, that I'd better shoot Red, said that he had a picture of you putting the outfit on..."
Again, Faith trailed off, finding it hard to speak, Tara didn't know what to do, while Warren had implied that he was giving Angel a lot of money, he had quite a steady income from Tara's heists, so to push Faith this hard, he must have some other reason that Tara could not think of right now. What Tara cared about right now, seeing that Willow had gone inside, was her long-time friend. She moved across and took the gun from Faith's shaking hands, thanking the cold that had convinced her to wear gloves for this little trip out, then she put an arm around her. "We still need to talk about this, but we can do that later, ok? Right now, I think we need to get you home."
Faith looked up, surprised that she still even had a home, for now at least, "but, Angel, he expects..."
"If Angel asks, Willow did not come outside all day, something he has no way of finding out about otherwise," Tara put the gun, now with the bullets out of the chamber, in an inside pocket of her coat, "but from what I heard, his employer is getting impatient, I think that Catwoman will make an appearance at this ball afterall."
It had been a couple of hours later when Warren had phoned Angel, "I don't know what kind of game you are pulling, but the bitch is still alive."
"Oh, I'm just fine and dandy thanks, and how are you this fine evening?" Angel had sneered back, not appreciating the way that Warren had been talking to him.
"Oh hardy har, har. So, what are you going to do about it? I want her dead, tonight."
"Well I suppose that means that I don't need to split the money any more, I assure you, Willow Rosenberg will die after her ball."
Warren had slammed the phone down as Angel had rose to prepare for a night on the town.
"And the top story, the place to be tonight is the Gotham Community Centre. Staff of Rosenberg Industries have been preparing the Centre since yesterday evening and well into today for Ms. Rosenberg's big charity ball. I was fortunate enough to get a few words with the woman herself earlier today."
The image on the news switched to the same scene, but obviously in the day, going by the light. "Ms. Rosenberg, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today."
"You're welcome, Charlene, anything for the journalists of this city."
"So, this ball tonight, I heard that it's going to be the biggest social event of the year, but what would surprise most people is that the complete proceeds of this ball are going to various charities around Gotham. I mean, many other companies do this sort of event, but a large portion of it goes into their own bank accounts."
"Charlene, some might say that I was born a winner of the genetic lottery. Unfortunately, not everyone was born with the same life chances as I was. Through no fault of their own, people find themselves homeless, unable to feed their families or terminally ill. When my parents were murdered a few years ago, it was a low time for me. People from all walks of life in Gotham helped me, not through money, but through support, kind words, all sorts of different things, and I guess that shows how popular my parents were. At times, it is good to give back and that is what I am doing tonight. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to oversee final preparations..."
The television clicked off as Warren moodily finished buttoning his shirt up, 'she's too damn popular, I'll have that bitch seen to one way or another, then I'll have what is mine. Imagine, a girl, a dyke no less, running the most powerful business in Gotham. Just you wait.'
Tara had finished slipping on her light blue evening dress, it hugged her hips and loosely covered her breasts, leaving a little bit of cleavage visible with thin straps being all that held the dress to her shoulders. Around her throat, she had clipped a collar with a turquoise faux gem that rested against her voice box. She then picked up a couple of gloves the same colour as her dress which she had pulled up to just above her elbows, semi conscious that these loosely resembled the gloves to another costume she planned on wearing that night, 'who'd have thought it, Catwoman a force for 'good'? Though what is 'good' and 'evil' these days?'
Tara was pulled out of her internal musings at a knock on her door. "I'm decent, though that's never stopped you before." Tara had smirked as she said this. Faith had still been down about what she had nearly done, and while Tara knew that they would need to talk at some point, she also know that Angel could be 'persuasive', as she had learned after she had pulled her first job, Angel had helped her by lending her money for her first job, she had stole enough to pay him that back, but though part of her was drawn to the excitement of being another persona, a persona that didn't even have her stutter, another part of her had wanted to leave it at that. But of course, Angel had known who Catwoman was... manipulating poor Faith hadn't been the first time he had made that threat.
Faith opened the door, and Tara looked her up and down, she had been dressed similarly to Tara, but without the collar and gloves. Her dress was black and she was fiddling with the straps. "I don't know about this, T, I'm not a dress person."
Tara laughed, "Faith, you look beautiful, now no bringing anyone back here if you leave early."
Faith gave Tara a mock pout, "You're no fun, T. A gal should be able to live once in a while."
Tara clipped Faith on the head lightly before turning to her... other gear. She had packed her Catwoman suit in a light bag that she planned to leave in the car, she could then change into the suit in a nice secluded alley, if she could find one that didn't have women of the night seeing to their... clients, that is. Tara slipped on her high heels the same colour as the dress, "ok, I think we're all set... oh, you might consider taking that diamond off." Faith looked down at her neck and nodded, it would be a bit noticeable, she took it off, then the two walked out of the apartment and towards Tara's Volvo.
Xander had been outside the front of the Gotham Community Centre taking a few breaths. Everything on Willow list had been properly arranged and ready for the event that would begin in half an hour. He looked up as he heard footsteps coming towards him, "Hi, Buffy."
Buffy smiled, "I'm on duty, what did you want?"
"I overheard G-man and Willow talking, seems that Angel was following her?"
"It didn't come from me, but this is correct."
Xander paused for a moment, "I don't feel easy about tonight, I think something might go down."
Buffy placed a reassuring hand on her friend's shoulder, "don't worry, we've got everyone we could get on overtime patrolling, Kendra will be walking round the building and I'll be nearby, as well as everyone else. You just go have fun, ok?"
Xander smiled slightly, "if you're sure..."
"I'm sure, you big goof. Now go have fun, you're getting as bad as Willow."
Xander gave a lopsided grin before walking into the building.
Tara and Faith had parked their car down the street before walking the short distance to the Centre. When they got inside, neither could help a small gasp at the room. The ceiling was covered with streamers and banners of all colours, leaving space for the large centrepiece, the crystal chandelier. A fairy light effect seemed visible as coloured lights were focused towards the chandelier, defracting the light beams all around the room. A balloon had been anchored to the middle of every table, floating above and the whole of one side of the room had been devoted to a catering table with all sorts of food and beverages, and everything not on that table could be found at the nearby bar. A large space had been left clear for the dancers and soft music was playing from the speakers. Also, a stage was set up for a few live bands that had been booked for the night.
All of this was grand, but what had truly taken Tara's breath away had been the woman walking onto the stage to greet the now fairly large crowd. Willow was wearing a dress as fiery red as her hair and an emerald acted as the clasp to her dress cut just above her pert breasts. The dress was held in place by a thin piece of fabric that circled her neck and the whole outfit appeared to shimmer in the light. She called for the microphone and winced at the brief moment of feedback, "never could get one of these to work properly. Anyway, you're obviously not here to hear me babble about the evils of audio technology so I'll make this short. Thank you for coming here tonight, I know that a lot of you are busy people, I hope that you have a good time and please remember that every cent you spend tonight will be going to charities around Gotham. Thank you."
There was a brief moment of applause before Willow took a bow and the DJ got some dance music going.
Faith and Tara were dancing together, pointedly ignoring the stares that some people gave them, ok, so Faith was dancing pretty close to Tara, not that she minded, but it wasn't like the two were trying to find each other's tonsils with their tongues. Faith muttered to Tara, "I see plenty of straight couples doing more than us and they don't get the stares."
Tara shrugged, "They d-don't understand us, so they fear us, they think we're some sort of threat."
The two carried on dancing until the end of the song, when the final bars cut out, Faith took a breath, "Ok, I need a drink, then I'll go see if there's anyone worth... having fun with."
Tara smiled, "Be careful." Faith nodded and walked off to the bar.
Meanwhile, Tara had been left alone, a situation that was soon rectified as another song kicked in, "May I have this dance?"
Tara looked behind her to see Willow, an amused glint in her eye, "S-s-sure. If you w-would like."
Willow smiled as she took in Tara while they moved to the beat of the music, "Hmm, first the Volvo, then this lovely dress, some might suggest that I pay you guys too much."
Tara didn't know how to take this at first but could tell by Willow's voice that she was joking, "I b-borrowed it off a friend." Tara hated telling a lie, but how else could she explain wearing a dress that cost nearly three months of her salary.
"Some friend. It really does bring out your eyes, you know. Who was that girl you were with?"
"F-Faith? She's my room mate, we get on, though not in the way that some of those people were thinking."
"Oh? So, you got a boyfriend?"
"N-no, never found a man my... type."
This answer and the fact that Tara's eyes were straying rather naughtily to certain areas let Willow know what Tara wouldn't quite put into words.
About half an hour before the end of the night, and Willow and Tara had been talking for a while, getting to know each other outside of work, both at one point or another touching on the topic of their parents. After a while, Tara yawned slightly, "I need to g-get some sleep, I h-have work tomorrow... ugh, later."
Willow grinned, "I could always ask Rosy to give you the day off."
"And h-have people imply favouritism?" Tara smiled back, "I-I'll s-see you at work."
"I'll make sure of it, or maybe for a coffee? If you can afford a Volvo off a cleaner's salary, you can afford a mocha."
Tara had stood from their table and started to walk to the door before turning back, "I've enjoyed tonight, thank you for inviting me."
Tara pulled on the mask and looked up at the building opposite the Gotham Community Centre. She had figured that this would give her the best vantage point to over look Willow's exit should anyone else be watching out for her. Tara slunk out from the shadows and used the narrow gap between the alley and the wall of the building to scale to the top.
Catwoman did not know that she was being watched, Buffy had noticed her come from out the shadows and followed her progress up the building. What Catwoman probably did not know, Buffy surmised, was that there was a ladder on the wall adjacent to where she was climbing, it was one of those things where you had to know where to look. From out of Catwoman's point of view, she sidled round to the ladder and quickly climbed, she wasn't just a member of the police merely due to her mother being commissioner, oh no. When Buffy reached the top, Catwoman was looking down at the entrance of the Centre, 'oh no you don't, thief.' "Freeze."
Buffy should have drawn her gun before drawing attention to herself, Catwoman was quick to react, turning on the spot. "Evening, officer, how is Joyce."
Buffy grit her teeth, "the Commissioner is doing well, she'd be a lot better with scum like you off the street, however."
"Aw, and you're going to do that for your mother? How nice, unfortunately, I cannot stop you doing what I must do."
Buffy put her hand to her gun, but quick as she was, Catwoman was quicker, her whip was almost instantly in her hand and she flicked it out, casually flicking the gun from Buffy's hand and bringing it to her. Catwoman held the gun and pointed it at Buffy.
"I do not like these, but as I said, I cannot allow you to interfere."
"You do know that that money is going to charity, right? I'd have thought that even you have a heart."
"Slide your cuffs over, please. And for the record, this isn't about the money. In fact, you might want to look into how many large donations that homeless charities have received since the start of my crimewave, the evidence is there if you choose to look." Catwoman walked over to Buffy, keeping the gun out of her reach, she efficiently cuffed one of Buffy's hands, looped the chain around a flagpole and cuffed her other hand. "Of course, with information like that, if I were the kind of woman you think I am either behind or out of this mask, you would now be dead."
"If this isn't about the money, what is it about?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you, dear." Catwoman walked behind Buffy and placed her gun down on the floor, "Where is the key to this and your radio?" Buffy told her where and Tara quickly got them out, placing the key with the gun. She then walked to the edge of the building and saw people streaming out, her sharp eyes also caught sight of Angel. She ran back to where she had restrained Buffy and keyed the radio. "Gotham police officers near the Community Centre, I have restrained one of your officers on top of the building opposite the Centre, if she got up, I would assume that there is a ladder or some other way of climbing up nearby. She is unharmed, her equipment, including the key to her handcuffs are behind her, just out of her reach, but there nonetheless." Catwoman keyed off the radio and placed the radio with the rest of her equipment before putting a hand lightly on Buffy's shoulder, "I'm sorry about this, dear, really I am, your colleagues should be up in a moment, I'm sure. But like I said, I can't afford for you to get in the way."
Catwoman gathered her whip and took a deep breath before looking down as Willow was visible near the door.
Angel waited in the shadows, he had looked forward to this for a long time.