|What: Oracle tracks down a homeless girl she's heard about.|
There's always violence in Gotham. That doesn't really stand out. But when it's the bad guys being beaten up, Oracle generally knows who is laying the smackdown. There's been a few instances over the last few weeks though where the GCPD has picked up thugs and Oracle didn't know how was doing the beating. There was another incident that Spoiler and some other vigilantes were at with some explosive zombies and there was an unidentified person there. There's also been some talk amongst the homeless of food and occasionally money found snuck into their things. Maybe not related... but all something that the information broker might have taken notice of.
The small homeless girl's nights havea bit of a routine to it. Wake up late, find a restaurant to stake out, and wait for them to throw away something to eat. It's an important part of her day, and one that she tries not to forgo if she can help it. She's learned the hard way that eventually even hunger can't be ignored. So she's perched on a the edge of a roof, watching. And waiting.
It didn't take long for Oracle to learn about a homeless girl picking up scraps at restaurants. She hasn't connected the girl to the beating up of bad guys, but she wants to at least get the kid off the street, either at the Wayne Foundation Rec Center or someplace else if need be. She's put burner phones in the alley behind a few of the restaurants the girl has been seen at, and monitored them with a subroutine on her surveillance systems.
Tonight she has a hit. As Cassandra lurks there, there is the sound of a cellphone ringing, coming from behind the dumpster.
At first, it looks like Cassandra might not hear the phone. But as the ringing continues, she tilts her head to the side and then makes her way cautiously down. There is no awkward scrambling, just a smooth flow of motion as she climbs, hops finally drops lightly to the ground. All while keeping to the shadows and using a minimum amount of movement, which makes her even harder to spot to those not looking for her. She creeps towards the sound, having to venture into the light, and finally finds the device. She picks it up, turning it over as she looks at it. When the ringing continues, she pokes at a button at random. And then another.
On the screen a glowy green avatar of a head appears. "Hello, thank you for picking the phone up. You can call me Oracle," the computerized voice intones. "I've been looking for you for a while. I wanted to know if you needed any help, and see if I can help your situation." Of course, she has no idea the girl doesn't speak.
Cassandra Cain leans in to look at the picture, and then hearing the sound she brings it up closer to her ear. But... it's just words and so poor Oracle is still giving her speil and Cassandra is already bringing the phone back down to look at the green picture.
"Hey there, girly." A few local thugs were walking down the street when they heard the ringing as well. Now five of them are standing at the mouth of the alleyway. One of them has a lecherous grin and elbows another. "Could just be a pretty boy." Another snorts. "I don't care either way."
The small girl glances up as they're speaking, but she can't see them very well with the way the shadows fall. So she can't read their immediate intentions. So she just stands there and looks back at the phone. She turns it upside down, putting it to her ear again but well, that's not helpful.
Babs grunts as the phone is pulled back then turned upside down, and she remotely toggles the speakerphone on. "If you go to the Wayne Foundation Rec Center in Scituate, they can help you with food and a place to stay. Or I can possibly give you some work." Oracle always needs runners. Who do you think hides phones behind dumpsters for her?
When her cameras pick up the thugs, Oracle immediately sends an alert to the GCPD. "Don't panic. The police are on their way to stop those men. If you can keep them talking or busy for a few minutes, ETA is 4 minutes to your location."
The talky-words don't mean anything to Cassandra, but the scrape of footsteps does. Her attention comes back up as what were just voices become people coming towards her and when they step into the pool of light near the dumpster where she is, she can finally see them. And just like that she knows what they want. What they're planning to do. And she just stands there as they move in closer. "Yo, Bobby, I don't think she's all there." Another guffaws, "She's there enough for what *I* want." Eagerly, the one in front reaches for the girl only... she's not there. It doesn't even seem like she moved she just... wasn't there. "What th--" The first thug starts. But that's as far as he gets. Phone still in-hand Cassandra moves at what seems to be impossible speed for anyone human. A punch to the first guy's face, and she's already using him as a step to get some height, a kick to the jaw of the second while the first is falling. A push off of the dumpster and an elbow to the throat of the third and a headbutt to the face to the fourth. Another kick to the fifth that lands as the first guy is just hitting the dirty alley floor. And the girl stands there, absently wiping at some of the blood from the one guys' busted nose and looks back at the phone, turning it over again.
Well then, it looks like Oracle also managed to find the bad-guy beater-upper, two birds, one stone, five asshats who need a whupping. When the beat down ends, she frowns. The girl never spoke a word, doesn't seem to understand what she's saying, but can kick ass and take names like no one else. Barbara ponders for a moment or five. The girl has only taken out the bad guys, didn't kill anyone. But how far can she trust her? To the ground floor of the tower at least.
Babs taps a few keys and triggers the phone into street map mode, and provides a walking path to the tower's location with the words "safe place" on the end point. Then she also orders pizza to be delivered there in case the girl does show, so she has something to feed her.
By the soft groans, at least a few are alive and Babs knows enough that none of the blows should have been lethal. Pictures, Cassandra has some better luck with than words. Mostly it's the 'follow the arrow' bit that really does the work. Good thing modern phones are so good at knowing which way they're pointed. The girl pauses long enough to climb back up the building, scaling it easily to collect a backpack there, even though it's empty. She doesn't even look the thug's pockets as she follows the blinky light, keeping to the shadows with a familiar, practiced ease.
When the girl gets close enough, Barbara deactivates security on the front door of the tower. A pizza is sitting there, prepaid with instructions to leave it on the stoop with a sign that says "Take me". The door is unlocked, and leads into a hallway. It mostly looks unused, but clean and air conditioned. There are side rooms, one of which looks like the arrow is leading there. It has a daybed with bed linens and pillows on it, a small desk and chair, and a bookshelf with ornithology and bird-watching manuals on it.
The pizza is like, impossible to ignore. It smells hot and cheesy and, after standing there and looking around for a minute Cassandra slowly stoops to pick it up. She's still wary, like someone might come out and yell at her. The note doesn't even really get a glance. Letters aren't pictures. Her belly growls but the arrow's still blinking and so she opens the door, stepping inside with the pizza. Now, inside the building, she steps with an obvious wary caution that she didn't have even when she saw the thugs. Eventually she gets to the empty room and lingers in the doorway, searching the walls. Looking to make sure stepping inside won't leave her trapped.
The front door is re-secured behind her, but can be opened to leave from the inside. Babs waits until she's had some pizza before she comes down in the hidden elevator in her wheelchair. She waits for the bookshelf to slide back in front of it before she wheels to the guest room and knocks lightly at the door. "May I come in?" she calls. She's not sure if the girl can hear, but she waits a few moments to give her time to respond.
Barbara smiles. In her lap are a few sets of sweats she can certainly spare. They may be a bit large on the girl, but they're clean. She hands them to Cassandra. "Hi, I'm Barbara," she introduces herself, speaking slowly in case she's a lip reader.
Cassandra Cain reaches out to accept the clean clothes and at first it might seem like she's jumping on the opportunity, as she's there to recieve them so quickly. But she's not moving fast. But she might have started the same moment, or even before Barbara did. She takes them gingerly and then steps back into the room, so she's not blocking the doorway. There's no specific focus on Barbara's lips. Freeing one hand, the girl points at the phone. Then the pizza. Then to Barbara with a slight tilt to her head.
Babs rolls into the room. She watches the girl as she does the pointing, then nods. "Yes, I sent the phone and the pizza. You don't speak?" she asks, feeling a little at a loss. She presses a hand to her chest and says, "Barbara." Then points at Cassandra and looks questioning.
Cassandra Cain shakes her head at the question. Which of course makes it seem like she understands English. When Barbara points at the girl? She just shakes her head again. There's no sense of embarassment or frustration. She doesn't look for things to write her name. Just that simple shake of her head.
"You don't have a name?" Babs asks, giving her time to reply before, "Or you don't remember your name?" She looks worried for the girl, concerned. She gestures for Cass to sit and she scoops out a slice of pizza for herself to share. Sharing food is a good means of bonding.
Cassandra Cain sits down on the bed without even blinking that she's dirty and the bed is clean, tucking her feet up under her. Which only makes her seem smaller and younger. She shakes her head at the first question. There's a line etched into her brow, like she's having to think very hard as she listens to Barbara.
Babs makes a sign for Cassandra to follow her, plucking up a clean set of clothes en route. She rolls down the hall to a bathroom, complete with a shower, and hands the girl the clothes. "Don't stress, we'll figure things out. Get cleaned up and change, and then we'll work on the rest," she says with a small smile.
Cassandra Cain unfolds easily and follows Barbara down the hall. When they get to the bathroom it gets a glance but she's clearly not unfamiliar with it. She takes the clothes back and gives a small smile in return and then heads into the bathroom to do just that.
Barbara rolls back to the room and she sends out a text to the Bat, but he might be out of touch for a few more days. She's on her own with this. How to communicate with the girl? She understood the map enough to follow it...
By the time Cass returns to the room, she has a whiteboard on the wall with dry erase markers so they can try pictures.
The sweats are indeed too big, but the girl has rolled them up. When she comes back in, being clean emphasies a few things. Like how her hair hasn't been cut so much as hacked short. Probably not too surprising. It also makes the shadows beneath her eyes and the hollowness of her cheeks more pronounced. Her hands have the tough skin of a fighter and the edges of scars can be seen here and there where the legs and sleeves are rolled up high enough. She comes back in with another of those brief, quick smiles that seems to hold nothing back.
"Well, now I can see you under all that dirt," Babs says softly with a chuckle. "Can you understand what I say? Do you hear me?" she asks, gesturing to her ear. She then hands a dry erase pen to the girl and gestures for her to use the board.
There's that crease in her forehead, like she's concentrating. And then she shakes her head at Barbara. She touches her ear with one finger and nods. Then reaches out to not-quite touch Barbara's lips, and shakes her head.
"You can hear, you just can't speak. Or don't know how?" Barbara asks curiously. She pushes her glasses up on her nose as she ponders this predicament. She can let the girl stay here as long as need be, get her some proper clothes, make sure she's fed. But communication may be tough.
Cassandra Cain's lips thin into a slightly frustrated line but she nods. But then she points at Barbara. And then at Barbara's mouth, and then shakes her head. Another quick frown and then she brings her hands together in a sharp clap and then points to her ear and nods. Then she repeats pointing to Barbara, and her mouth, and shaking her head. Yeah. Communication might be a problem. While it might be some kind of deception, the girl doesn't seem to planning or plotting or seem otherwise dangerous. But she could be a good actress.
Barbara ponders for a moment, then she pulls out her tablet computer and taps on it several times. An eBook purchase later she hands it to the girl. It's a sign language primer using pictures instead of words with the signs. "If this would help I can buy a hardcopy," she notes.
Cassandra Cain cranes her neck to look at the screen, but there's no flicker of recognition. She does look from one of the pictures and tries, perhaps a bit awkwardly to copy the shape and looks to Barbara with a mix of 'am I doing this right' and 'what am I doing?'
Babs gestures to the pizza, then to her mouth making a chewing motion, then copies the sign for "eat" from the manual. Then she gestures to the pizza itself and spells out PIZZA with the signs.
Cassandra Cain's brows go up a bit and she copies 'eat'. She tears off a bit of the pizza and pops it in her mouth and signs that out again, watching for Barbara's response. Her attention narrows on the more involved 'pizza', copying it not so much as p-i-z-z-a but as a flow of of movement.
"Right! Eat!" Babs exclaims happily. She makes the sign again and this time says "Eat." Then spells out PIZZA and says "P-I-Z-Z-A. Pizza." And points at the pizza.
Cassandra Cain's lips pull back as she focuses on Barbara's lips "eeeeh." She frowns. "aaaaah." She scowls then with obvious frustration. The signs she seems to have much more ease with. 'eat'. 'pizza'. It does show she's not mute, however.
Not mute is a huge difference. This means she /can/ learn to speak. This means Barbara needs to find her a speech therapist or somehow learn how to be one herself. "Very good. Try again. Eeee-TUH. Peeeets-zah."
Cassandra Cain does try a few more times but even she can tell that what she ends up with, despite the ease of the word, isn't even close to being recognizeable as the word. She gives a huff of annoyance. Then she points at Barbara, and then to the book.
"It won't be instant, but we'll work on it. I'm going to order you the book. You can use that tablet for now." Babs makes a motion to close Cass' hands around the tablet with a nod in the positive.
Cassandra Cain accepts the tablet, and gives Babs another smile. This one is a bit tempered by that obvious frustration she has. She bites her lower lip a bit as she looks at Barbara and then nods.
Barbara makes the signs for, and says, "Rest. Sleep." And gestures at Cass, then the bed. She heads for the door with one final sign for the girl to look up, and that is "safe."