From day one of November, Harvey "Two-Face" Dent had been up against the odds. Considering that he'd fallen from the top of Claw Island and into Gotham Harbor, been dragged out and resuscitated, lost his lucky coin and his partner in crime, and been recovering from all of the above on stolen painkillers and minimal liquor stores. Whatever loot he'd had remaining from his crime spree with the Riddler had mostly been used on essentials - food, drink, spirits, new clothes, thank-you presents for his girls, Sugar and Spice. The meds he'd been cocktailing were comp, of course, courtesy of the girls' own larcenous skills. But they'd had to be careful - too much in too many places, too soon, and the Bat would be upon them again eventually. And that was something Harvey didn't want. Two-Face wanted it even less. So the revenue would have to resume again. And being a little too much on the weak side still to do his own dirty work, it fell to the gang.
A gang which, Harvey had realized earlier that day, may have left him for dead. So he had come to the pier at Tricorner Yards, where the gang had been known to hole up, previously. Where he'd found them in the first place.
It hadn't changed much, by night anyway. The fog still tended to roll in off the harbor, thick and low, cutting off anyone from the knees down unless you squinted. The buildings still sat squat, wide and uniform, along the wooden pilings, and there was still that sense of vagueness in the air, a feeling you could never quite put your finger on.
Harvey stood back and took a lungful of night air, thinking over his options. He would see if the gang was still there, and if they were, he'd find a way to bring them back into his service - either by asking nicely, or by beating the snot out of them. That, of course, was the coin's decision - even if it wasn't his -real- coin, but a passable substitute. He glanced up at the moon: a big, scarred silver dollar all its own, hovering amongst the stars.
Judging by the way the month was going so far, and how ugly he felt, within and without, Two-Face hoped he got tails all across the board.
And speaking of tails, just at that moment, there came a noise somewhere nearby like the tail of some great giant cat swishing. Harvey glanced around, one lip curled upwards. And as he turned his head to one side, a shadow came into view, a few yards away.
The shadow, he decided, looked a hell of a lot like Catwoman, even if she -was- supposed to have been dead before Two-Face had even been born. And whoever it was either really -was- Catwoman, or was doing a damn good impersonation, flicking her whip back and forth irritably as she leant back against one of the warehouse walls.
Even if she is an impersonator, Harvey mused, they look damned good in vinyl. And they're standing near our warehouse. His left hand dipped into his pocket and pulled out his coin, and he flipped it around pensively between his fingers before stepping toward her, making sure to keep his bad side in shadow.
At the sound of someone approaching, she turned to face him, dropping to a crouch, whip in one hand, the fingers of her other hand spread wide and clawed. At the sight of him, however, Catwoman relaxed marginally. After all, it was only one guy - one normal guy, at first glance. How hard would it be to get rid of him?
Harvey smirked, stepping forward. "Easy there, now, kitty cat. Pretty kitty. We're just out for a walk." The moonlight came down through the clouds, glinting slightly off the coin as he flipped it in his fingers.
"Mm. Somehow I doubt that, tall, dark, and suspicious."
He chuckled. "Is that so. And what might a lady like you be doing here?"
"Ah-ah-ah. You first." She waggled the handle of her whip at him, smirking.
Harvey gritted his teeth, ever so slightly, and tried to remain pleasant. "Ladies first. Of course."
"Mm." She blinked slowly, thoughtfully. "I'm looking for something. Now you."
"Seems we all are."
Cryptic as hell, Catwoman decided, and pressed on. "And what would someone like you want out all the way out here, hm?
"Things that belong to us."
She arched an eyebrow. The guy didn't look like the type of crook who slummed around Tricorner Yards after dark. But then again, looks could be deceiving.
"I don't trust a man in a suit after five pm," she quipped.
"But you'd trust a man in a mask."
Catwoman shrugged. "At least I'd know why a man in a mask would be wandering around Gotham's docks this late at night."
"We told you why. Now, then. What're you looking for?" He took a side-step closer. "Maybe we can...." Looking her up and down briefly, he smirked. "... help you find it."
She cracked her whip, stepping backwards to keep him at bay. "Down, boy."
"Oh-hooh....." Two-Face held up his hands, the coin tucked between the middle and index fingers of his left hand. "Kitty wants to play. Well then."
"Never said I wanted to play, I just said to keep your paws off," she growled.
"What is it with you broads and mixed signals? .... Then again," he paused, turning his head to grin at her, affording her a good look at both sides of his face, "like we can talk."
Shock only flitted across Catwoman's features for a moment, before she rolled her eyes. "I should've known. It turns out all the creeps in this city are creeps."
"Gotta problem with that? Too bad. You're supposed to be dead anyway."
"Funny, handsome, so are you."
Two-Face's grin slid down into a smirk. "Then it seems we've got something in common."
"And as much as I'd like to keep up the chit-chat, if we both stick around here, there'll be something else we both have in common. Jail." Catwoman glanced around. She knew Batman patrolled the area, due to its seedy nature - which served as a perfect excuse for Selina Kyle to leave and tell Bruce Wayne that Harvey Dent wasn't exactly dead.
"We're both too good to end up in jail, if we can't even end up dead." He shot her a level look. Neither one of us is afraid of the Bat. She's up to something.
Amused somehow that he had called her bluff, Catwoman smirked. "Let's say you're right. What do you suggest?"
He spun the coin from between his fingers and onto his thumb, praying for tails. Sure, he wasn't strong enough for thugs or the Bat, yet, but he could handle a skinny little thing like the Cat. "We suggest ..." He flicked the half-dollar up, catching it out of the sky and slapping it down on the back of his hand in the blink of an eye. "... you get the hell off our territory before we turn you into violin strings."
Catwoman snorted. "I vote option three - you get out of here before I pull that pretty little head off your shoulders." Cracking her whip threateningly, she took another step backward.
"HAH! Not likely," Two-Face snarled, before lunging forward.
Once, twice, Catwoman backflipped away, trying to put distance between them, then snapped her whip in the direction of the good side of his face.
Two-Face turned his head, catching the blow on his bad side. Putting his fingers to his face, he grinned as he drew them away and saw blood. "Nice toy," he said blandly, then pulled one of his Colts from his jacket, training it on her. "Ours are better."
Catwoman tried not to wince: only one life left, so she couldn't afford to get shot. With that in mind, she cracked the whip at him again, this time in an attempt to disarm him.
And the trick worked, in practice, but as the end of the whip curled around the barrel of the gun, Two-Face jerked his arm upward, so that the whip wrapped around his forearm, as well. With a chuckle, he yanked his arm backwards, attempting to haul her towards him.
Several factors - the element of surprise, Harvey's strength compared to hers, her own high heels - sent Catwoman spinning toward him so hard that she crashed into him. Hissing through her teeth - the sound more human than feline - she spread her fingers and slashed out at him with her claws.
"Ah-ah-ah," Harvey scolded. Pulling out his second gun, he pressed the barrel to her stomach. "Now tell us why you're here."
A second of wide-eyed silence followed, and then, adverse to the idea of being shot, she answered honestly. "One of the warehouses here got a shipment of diamonds tonight. I was going to steal them."
"Which warehouse?" Two-Face growled, shoving the barrel of his gun a little tighter against her stomach, watching the vinyl of her suit bunch around the barrel.
Silently, Catwoman nodded in the direction of the warehouse she had intended to rob, unaware that it belonged to very man who currently had his gun at her side.
Harvey let his gaze follow hers, then snarled, his nostrils flaring as his lip curled up in a lethal sneer. "So, it's true. Black cats really are bad luck."
"One of yours, Adonis?" she spat before thinking, and once the words were out of her mouth, she only regretted them briefly. It had been a bad idea, maybe, but considering her options were either be terrified or offer sarcastic commentary. And since she was Catwoman, and not Selina Kyle, she couldn't allow herself to be afraid. Even if it cost her her life.
"That's original." So, she had enough piss, vinegar, and audacity in her to use Harvey's old nickname to both his faces? Two-Face grunted. This cat's no pussy. Maybe a deal could be struck, after all. "Yeah. One of ours. .... Why, you want diamonds?"
"Didn't know you knew how to share."
"Oh," Two-Face glossed, backing off on his tone but not his gun, "we split everything."
A noise somewhere between vague disbelief and interest crossed her lips, and for a moment she said nothing, choosing instead to eye him suspiciously. Did he honestly intend to cut a deal with her? Because that's the way it sounded. But then again, the gun in her stomach still spoke to the contrary.
Maybe if she played this very carefully ...
"Then how about we split even - you keep your diamonds, I keep my life."
Two-Face thought about that a moment, glancing away toward the warehouse. "How about ...." he ventured slowly, "you keep your mouth shut. You keep your life. ... We each keep half of the diamonds."
A small smile curled her delicately painted lips. He wanted to give her some of the loot and let her go? That was more than fine with her. "Mm. I think I can manage that."
At that, Harvey released her and stepped back. As he holstered the guns, he grinned at her in a way that suggested killing her hadn't even been on his mind a moment ago. "Follow us, then!"
Amused by the sudden reversal in his attitude, she coiled the whip around her waist and fell in step behind him. Maybe she'd just tried to rob him, and maybe he'd just tried to kill her, but despite that, she decided she might just like this guy. After all, he'd just offered to give her more than enough to keep her happy for some time, and all she had to do was keep her mouth shut. It was a sweet deal.
Pulling a ring of keys from the breast pocket of his coat, Two-Face led Catwoman over to the warehouse, shooting her a look over his shoulder as he unlocked the door. "If it's in a bit of disrepair, you'll have to excuse us. We haven't exactly been in attendance." So saying, he swung open the door.
Disrepair was an understatement. It was as though the thugs had thrown the gang equivalent of a frat party in Two-Face's absence. Though the warehouse was vacant at present, various broken and cast-off furniture littered the interior, broken bottles and trash strewn in and around stacks of crates. Some of these contained the illegal weapons Two-Face had managed to procure for his minions - the nose of a rocket launcher even poked up over the lip of one open crate. But there was another bundle of crates, less cobwebbed and dusty, in the center of the warehouse floor, and it was these three crates that Two-Face moved toward. Hooking the spikes on the back of a glove beneath the lid of the topmost crate, he pried it open, rewarded by the sparkle of the moonlight through the high windows on several carefully packaged, sizable diamonds. Eyes shining with approval, he scooped the lid of the crate back up once again, to see what sort of resource his boys had been clever enough to attain.
The approval faded fast, however, as Two-Face scanned the address label and found the crates addressed solely to the interim captain of the gang. No mention had been made of his name anywhere. His face split once more into a sneer. "Hell," he spat. "See if we care, take the whole damn load. But first..." He reached down into the crate, scooping up enough jewels to fill the pockets of his suit coat. "... we'll just take a few as souvenirs."
Slowly, Catwoman's eyes widened as the weight of what he just said occurred to her. She could have the whole load, save for what little Two-Face seemed to be taking? There were three crates! Three large crates, and he was just giving them to her? Just to keep her mouth shut? She'd be rich - assuming she could get them out of there and fence the jewels - and it was almost too good to be true. Almost.
Expression of shock fading into one of immense approval, she plucked one of the diamonds from the crate and turned it over in clawed fingers, smiling. "I appreciate the gesture."
Harvey's smirk returned briefly. "For a pretty cat like you, we're honored." Then the sneer returned as quickly as it had gone, and he leaned in close to her, his voice low, dangerous. "Just make sure you don't go yowling on top of any fences about where you got it all. Or who you got it from." His mouth hovered open for a moment, as though he were thinking of something to add, but a sound outside broke his concentration. An unmistakable sound - approaching footsteps. Quickly, he clapped his gloved hand over Catwoman's mouth.
Out of reflex, she struggled against his hand, soundlessly. But it was only for a second, and as the sound of footfalls reached her ears, too, she went deadly still.
Slowly, Two-Face reached up and put a finger to his lips, his sneer shifting to a mischevous smirk as he let go of her and inched toward the door, drawing his guns, the chains on his left boot clinking faintly. No sooner had he reached the door than one of his gang came into view, checking his watch and cursing under his breath, apparently late for guard duty. Judging by the unsteadiness of his gait, he wasn't taking his post very seriously, either, despite the trio of crates under his care. As he came through the door, his cloudy eyes didn't even have a chance to widen before Two-Face took aim and shot him neatly - twice, of course - in the chest.
Before the body could even hit the floor, he holstered his guns and turned smoothly to face Catwoman. "Need a hand moving those crates?"
Where her expression had been one of approval a moment before when Two-Face had offered her the diamonds, she now looked vaguely disturbed. Yes, she knew Two-Face was a killer - hell, most of Gotham's villains were - but Max Shreck aside, she had never enjoyed that sort of thing. Though beyond her faint disgusted look, she didn't let this show. She couldn't. Not when it could be perceived as weakness - in this city, weakness meant death.
And so, instead, she returned her attentions to the diamonds, trying to ignore the corpse on the ground. "Mm ... I'd say yes, but I wouldn't want to compromise your secrecy."
Two-Face grunted noncommitally, before moving to push the crates toward the door for her, near a pile of burlap sacks. Turning, he offered her a polite, almost comical smile. "You can take them now, then. We thank you." After a slight bow, he brought his attention back to the body just inside the doorway. Seizing it by the wrists, he began to drag it to the spot in the floor once occupied by the diamond crates.
"Pleasure doing business with you," she muttered, almost numbly.
Then, picking up one of the sacks, she began loading it with handfuls of diamonds, oblivious to whatever it was Two-Face was doing. He wasn't her priority anymore - she had diamonds to make off with. And a few minutes later, she had loaded up three of the sacks to the point where they were almost bursting. True, it wasn't the entire load - only about a crate, actually - but it was more than enough. She'd be living the high life for awhile.
Satisfied, she shot one last look in the other villain's direction.
Two-Face had settled himself in to the task at hand, as though Catwoman had already gone. He'd dipped his scarred hand into the thug's blood, and was kneeling on the floor, writing slowly and methodically on the concrete, his right hand dipping into his pocket to embellish the gruesome graffiti tag with diamonds as he went. And after a few moments, though the letters were haphazard, they managed to form one legible phrase:
Look sharp, boys. We're home.
Rolling back on his knees to get to his feet, Two-Face wiped his hands on his pants - a futile gesture, as he was already virtually covered in blood - and stepped back to admire his handiwork.
Apparently curiosity had killed the cat ... or at least made her sick to her stomach. Offering Two-Face one more quick, digusted look - this time unrestrained - she slipped out the door.
Maybe she didn't like this guy after all.