Author: Rei and Chris
Buffy and her mother sat in one of the conference rooms of Gotham PD. It had been a busy couple of days, that much was for sure.
Two coffee mugs sat, long emptied, as the two talked, "I ran those donations by the dates Catwoman made those hauls, they do match, that and they're all legit by the charity board, so she isn't laundering the money."
"Well good for her, Buffy, most people tend to put their own money to charity though, yes?"
Buffy shrugged her shoulders, "I'm not saying we let her off, even if most of the people she did steal off do all they can to horde their money, didn't see one of them at the ball. But yes, she is a thief. It does tell us a little something about her though, perhaps. People give to the charities that mean something to them. Add to that that Angel claimed that he made her, we know that the two can be connected."
Joyce nodded her head, "but I can see that you've come across the same problem."
"Yeah, how much attention do we pay to homeless people? We move them on from park benches, if it's particularly cold, we might leave them in their doorway for another hour to sleep, but we just pass them by. Catwoman does not even need to have been homeless but maybe to have been close to being which makes it even harder. Hell, it might be that she knows someone who was near homelessness and has never faced that herself for all we know."
"So the main lead is people Angel has been seen with, yes?" Joyce gave her daughter an appraising eye, "You look like you could do with some rest."
"I should be ok, I can go through Angel's..."
"Buffy, I'm your mother and your boss, I can tell you to take the night off, yes? I can get those names myself, knowing Willow, she'd likely be able to code a program and help us out there."
Buffy nodded her head, "Ok, I'm on afternoons tomorrow, so I might just call Will out and drag her to have a mocha, I can probably nab Xander as well, he's not as dim as he makes out."
Joyce gave Buffy a knowing smile, "You don't need to make a work related excuse to spend time with your friends, I'll see you tomorrow."
Buffy nodded her head and walked out of the door.
Warren looked over the parts of the spy-fly he had started to build with aid of a pair of tweezers, he needed to know where Willow was within five meters, three if at all possible. But it seemed that he was missing a key part, the mini nuclear didgeriedoo that would keep it flying for months if necessary. There were very few op these in the city...in fact, there was one, kept by some eccentric, one of the few on the rich list not associated with Rosenberg Enterprises...he gave a maniacal little cackle and turned away from that he had started to build and turned to that that needed the finishing touches, a tacky little cardboard box, one with a very important riddle inside.
Why just kill the bitch when you can tell everyone that you are going to do it? In terms that their small brains cannot fathom, of course.
Tomorrow night, The Riddler would be unleashed upon Gotham City...
Tara wiped the sweat from her brow, between cleaning in the morning, moving in in the afternoon and trying to find something suitable to wear tomorrow night, it had been a tiring day. Faith walked in with the last of the boxes under her arm, the two had barely managed to get the last of their stuff before darkness had fallen, "where'd you want this, T?"
Tara looked distractedly over at the box, just a few of her clothes and personal knick knacks, "on my bed should be fine." Tara stretched her shoulders, her eyes dipping to Faith's neck, "where's your crucifix?"
Faith shrugged her shoulders, "musta snagged it on something, besides, how much good will it do if..."
"Only the difference between getting the chance to run away and being a snack, perhaps?" Tara's voice had picked up a small edge, it was just like Faith to be careless when she most needed to take care. Tara rummaged through the drawer of a cabinet she had just filled and pulled out a chain with a cross hanging off of it, throwing it over to Faith.
"Ok, I'll wear it, what you planning for tonight, anyway?"
Tara shrugged her shoulders, "I noticed a coffee shop across the road from Pet Co when I last went there, can't think why I didn't see it before. I might go get a drink."
Faith grinned, "I wonder who pointed it out to you...mind if I come with?"
"I didn't think you drank anything so tame as coffee at this hour."
"I can start tonight if it means keeping an eye on you, you need to be careful too, you know, T."
Tara nodded her head, "sure."
Angel was livid, the moment the sun had gone down, he had stormed out of his hiding place and over to where that ungrateful bitch lived. There was a palpable aura around him, a menacing threat of what would come should someone cross his path. Not bothering with little things like doors, he had jumped up to the window that he had so often entered...and the room was empty. Not just empty of Tara and Faith, empty!
Now, back near his crypt, he grabbed one of the thugs he employed to do his dirty work by the throat and slammed him into the wall, taking a photograph out of his pocket. His voice was low and oh so dangerous, "you will take this to Gotham PD and tell the officer at the desk to give it to Ms. Summers, you will do this by tomorrow evening or I will hunt you down, slit your throat and watch you bleed to death before lapping it up like a very hungry cat, believe me, you will suffer. You got that?"
Angel released the thug enough so that he could nod his head and stormed out and into the city, tonight he needed to feed.
The thug was left with the photo, it showed very clearly Tara, having just slipped on the catsuit, holding the mask in her hand as she was about to put it on. Angel wasn't stupid, not by a long shot, she didn't know that he had had this. He would take down that bitch, he would bleed her slowly, and the irony of it, it would be the police that found her for him, that irony, he could taste like a fine night's meal.
Buffy had indeed been able to call Willow and Xander, Xander had indeed been able to drive Willow down here, so mochas all round, not a thing to be sneezed at, that is for sure...well, I guess you could sneeze at it...if you were allergic to coffee.
The regular clientele were used enough to seeing Willow Rosenberg here in casual clothes that they knew that now was not a time she would like to be disturbed, though some of the less frequent visitors here would gawk from time to time. Willow would always give a few words to those who talked to her, but this was a time where it was obvious she just wanted to be a woman of her age hanging out with her friends. One can't party wildly every night, after-all.
Willow had been resting her chin on her fists as Buffy had outlined the idea she and Joyce had had about the computer program, Willow nodded her head, though she knew she didn't need a program... "I can probably narrow it down to two or three names with a ninety-eight percent probability of Catwoman being on the list."
"Since when did you admit not being perfect with the computer-fu?"
Willow smiled at Buffy, "since I still haven't found out just who Batman is, no matter how many programs I have run to find him."
"Willow isn't perfect? You've lied to me all these years!"
Willow laughed at Xander's goofing off, this was why she needed the time with her friends, all business and no play would drive the poor woman mad, "Well when people go to such lengths to keep their identity from the general public, they're generally determined that no computer program should be able to do it either. I actually ran my name through the computer and came up as a closer match than most of the men in Gotham, so I really do need to fine-tune that one which probably means going through..."
"Your mocha's getting cold."
This sent the group into another round of laughter, that being what Tara and Faith walked in on. Willow looked up as she wiped tears from her eyes and saw the two walk in. She gave a little squeal and waved her hand, "hey, Tara, come sit over here." This was one of the last things that Tara had been prepared for, not that she didn't want to sit next to Willow, of course she did, but the police officer she had chained with her own handcuffs was sitting there, Willow saw Tara's look at Buffy and Xander and smiled encouragingly, though she had just gathered the reason for the hesitation. "Oh come on, they don't bite."
Buffy shrugged her shoulders, "I only cuff naughty little boys and girls."
Faith, grinning like a Cheshire cat that has just seen a vat of cream overturn dragged Tara over while she returned the quip, a half-grin on her face, "that should be me worried then." Tara, well and truly out-voted and blushing red walked across with Faith and sat down, through process of elimination, Faith having taken the chair between Buffy and Xander, next to Willow. Willow could see that Tara's face had reddened slightly and gave Tara's her a little squeeze as she greeted her.
Xander took Tara's hand and left a faint kiss on the back of it before she held it out to Buffy, "I d-don't think we've m-met."
Buffy took Tara's hand in hers for a moment, noticing the startling blue of her eyes, where had she seen that before? She shrugged it off, she had seen Tara with Willow at the party, after all. "You looked pretty busy at the ball, I didn't think you two should be disturbed. Th'name's Buffy."
Tara nodded her head and returned her hand to her lap, "It's n-nice to meet you."
Xander grinned, "Buffy isn't too bad, alas, I have been chasing her since high-school...she ran faster."
"I thought Willow was your crush at school."
"Ah, but when her interests ran in other directions and I was faced with your radiant beauty..."
Buffy reached behind Faith, her arm brushing her hair, to thwap him on the head as she deadpanned, "don't make me find something to arrest you for."
Xander clutched his chest, "Ah, my lady wounds me."
"Not half as much as Anya will if she finds out why..."
"Hey, hey, no need to bring her into this."
Willow shook her head, leaning in to Tara and whispering to her, "And people wonder why I turned out half crazy with these around."
Tara gave a half smile, "it m-must be g-good to be able to turn off how serious you have t-to be at work."
Willow nodded her head, "Can't beat half-mad school friends when you need to wind down...nor a good woman." She brushed her lips across Tara's cheek in a faint kiss as she said the last.
"Hey, lovebirds, get a room."
Faith dug Xander in the ribs, thus negating the need for Buffy to thwap him again, Tara, having hid her face behind her hair at that, gave Faith a small smile, "It's a long t-time since I've see you this quiet."
"Just been tryin' to find a way to break into this oh so witty repartee."
Xander tilted his head at the half-barb, "hey, I can do witty."
Faith smirked, "coulda fooled me, looks like B and Red over there barely have competition."
"Well hey, every time I do show them up, Buffy slaps me upside the head."
"Which would be why I rarely bruise my hand, not needing to do so that often."
"Witty, Buffy, witty, why don't you go get these two lovely ladies a mocha instead of abusing my already shattered ego." Xander's voice left little way of misinterpreting his joke for hurt and Buffy patted him on the shoulder affectionately before standing and walking down to the counter.
Tara leaned in towards Willow, "I've n-not had a mocha before."
This brought a gasp from a seemingly utterly appalled Xander, "the blasphemy! We'll have to fix that up quickly! Hey Buffy, hurry it up, we got a mocha virgin here." Willow gave Xander a sly kick under the table, "hey, how come every woman here abuses me?"
Willow whistled innocently which brought a smile to Tara's lips, Buffy looked at the pair of them, closer than they needed to be and so obviously falling as she walked back over with the mochas. She had seen a lot of Willow's girlfriends and had not liked all that many of them, in Tara, she could see what she had found missing in the others who likely hadn't lifted a finger to hard work a day of their lives, it was something that wasn't glaringly obvious at first glance, but something you had to be specifically looking for.
Buffy smiled as she placed the cups on the table, "careful with your first sip, they can give you a buzz, you should see Willow babble...more than usual after she's had a few."
Willow gave a 'hey' in protest though the general mood was relaxed, even for Tara, oddly enough considering she was still a little wary of Buffy. Time ticked on as the group talked and Willow and Tara spent more time almost snuggled together.
After a moment, Buffy stood and caught Willow's eye, flicking her gaze across towards the ladies. Willow stood, stroking the back of Tara's hand with her thumb as she did, and made her way across with Buffy.
Buffy splashed some water on her face as she looked in the mirror, looking into Willow's green eyes in the reflection, "I don't think I've ever seen you so in love." Willow looked a little uncomfortable, Buffy didn't quite know all that she did. Buffy put two and two together and came up with an odd number for its answer, "I mean it, Will, she's different from the girls you usually hang around with."
"You're not going to hurt her, I hope Will..."
"Hey, I've never two-timed a gal."
"Just let her believe that she's the one for a while, though since with most of them it's for the money, I can't say I can complain. Just..."
Willow smiled, "Hey, one night and it sounds like you've adopted her as a sister."
Buffy shrugged her shoulders, "She's an easy person to like, she doesn't deserve to be hurt, Willow."
Willow nodded her head, "I know. I don't want to hurt her either."
Buffy nodded, "Yeah, now get back out there before they start wondering if we've escaped together."
Willow laughed and held the door open for Buffy as the two walked back across to the table.
But behind that laugh, she had to wonder if Buffy would have read her the riot act if she knew what she did.