24/When Paths Are Crossed...

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When Paths Are Crossed...
Date of Scene: 19 February 2020
Location: Museum of Natural History, West Side, Manhattan Island
Synopsis: A Black Cat crosses Spidey's path, and his luck changes forever.
Cast of Characters: Felicia Hardy, Peter Parker

Felicia Hardy has posed:
A fantastic new display of artifacts is about to open at the Museum of Natural History. The Black Cat knew that. But so does the rest of New York City. The unboxing of the exhibit was tonight. The Black Cat knew that. Not just everyone out there does. So, with millions of dollars in artifacts being unpacked in the museum all night, naturally the Black Cat has been in Tribeca since dusk. Watching. Waiting.

She has stationed herself on a lovely flat rooftop with a garden on a Spanish villa-styled house. It seems empty tonight. Not a soul around. Except for a black leather-clad kitty cat. And she stalks. And she waits.

Peter Parker has posed:
Spider-Man was...well, not on the prowl. He was testing out his patrol route. He had been working on figuring out the routes that would enable him to provide coverage for the entire city. Last night was the Upper East Side, then through Chinatown and five other zones. Tonight was Central Park, the Village, and the Tribeca area.

His interest in the Museumof Natural History was tangential at best. He had thought Indiana Jones was WAY COOL as a kid. If science hadn't been his thing, anthropology was his backup. But there were certain things his Spidey Search Engine looked out for, and that was new developments in major locations throughout the five boroughs, and a new exhibit was something worth checking out.
So, he swung around until he found a good vantage point on the tall building across from the main entrance, checking out the banners being added to the front displays.

Felicia Hardy has posed:
Looks can be deceiving. From the garage of the Spanish villa emerges a dark SUV with dark tinted windows. Silently, stealthily, a figure paces the vehicle, swinging on lines and hooks, or just freefall acrobatics are a mode of transportation. The black SUV pulls in near the back entrance to the museum, and one Black Cat swings in high to land on the rooftop, moving quickly to the access door to get inside.

Peter Parker has posed:
The black SUV is worth a look. He gets a sense of another person, but didn't get a good look at them. The suit's a few months old and he's already saving for upgrades.
He fires a webline, then swings towards the roof of the museum, landing on the edge of the roof and looking around warily.

Felicia Hardy has posed:
Cat hears footfalls on the edge of the roof, and she freezes. She swings the door open slowly, just enough to get a look at whoever might be pursuing her. Or possibly pursuing the same thing that she is.

Peter Parker has posed:
Spider-Man steps away from the ledge, walking around and trying to get a read on the area. He pulls out a rather beat-up Samsung, then says, "Museum of Natural History, building."
He REALLY needs to upgrade this suit. Maybe a wearable computer weave...

Felicia Hardy has posed:
Cat knows she can chance waiting much longer. But she can't help watching the masked superhero trying to get a bead on the place, either. It's...kind of adorable, really. In a poverty-stricken type of way. But there's no time.

Cat slips inside the door, letting it shut and lock behind her. Hastily, she descends the stairs down into the belly of the museum.

Peter Parker has posed:
Spider-Man hears something and makes his way back, but it is a good 15 seconds before he finds the hatch and opens it, looking around before descending in. He knows he's not the first one to go through here tonight, and is pretty sure it's not security who is ahead of him somewhere...

Felicia Hardy has posed:
Cat hears when the hatch opens behind her, and she knows if she has an issue up here, it needs to stay up here. There's no telling what might happen if this cape follows her down to the basement. But that is exactly where she needs to be in the next ten minutes. She holds up a moment and slips into shadows in the darkened museum to wait there on the upper floors and figure out what to do with this guy.

"The itsy bitsy spiiider went up the water spout..." She sings softly in the darkness.

Peter Parker has posed:
Spider-Man freezes. Yeah...he's been made. Okay, radar up, keep both eyes peeled and the recorder running.
"...I'm not that itsy bitsy, and no amount of rain is going to dissuade me. So...you might as well come on out and explain yourself. Starting with your name is always good."

Felicia Hardy has posed:
From behind a marble pillar, there is a telltale shift of leather against stone, and a figure brazenly steps out and watches Spider-Man as she approaches. A decidedly feminine form clad in black leather, trimmed in white fur. Silver cascades of hair spill over her shoulders, and a petite domino mask frames aqua eyes that seem to gather light, even in relative darkness.

"Hello, Spidey~" she utters with a playful lilt.

Peter Parker has posed:
Ohhhhhhhhkay. Network temporarily down. Reboot primary systems.
Spider-Man stops. He was expecting your garden-variety thief, someone with one of those all-over suits with the belts and armbands and leg-bands with gear. This is more...of a spectacle.
The Lizard is one thing, all brutality and sharp edges. She is...sultry. Dangerous sultry.

"Who..." He coughs, swallows, tries again. "Who are you?"

Felicia Hardy has posed:
"Why, dear Spidey...do I have you at a disadvantage? I know you...I've seen your picture in the papers. And on the news. All the good things you've done....Tsk Tsk tsk...and the bad. You /have/ been a bad boy, lately. Haven't you?" She smiles, as she crosses into a shaft of light, sauntering ever closer to the Spider-Man, and her eyes have seemingly gained a mischievous green sparkle.

Peter Parker has posed:
Network back online, but firewall up. BIG time.
"I'm...trying not to be...hey, stop changing the subject. Who are you, and what are you doing here?" He sounds almost indignant, and as she moved closer, he took an involuntary step back. Something was telling him she was more dangerous the closer she got, and it was NOT his Spider-Sense.

Felicia Hardy has posed:
"Aww...don't run from me. It'll only make it worse," Cat replies with a pout, as he takes a step back. But she's not wrong. The instinct to chase. To pounce. She has all but forgotten why she was here.

"You can call me Black Cat. Or just...Cat. Or...Here Kitty Kitty..." Her steps are steady, but slowing.

Peter Parker has posed:
Peter Parker has been flirted with before, but usually by canny teenage girls that were more interested in his notes than his personality...or his body. Since the Spider-Bite, he has done his level best to avoid any tight clothing at school, and did test out of PE at least by his junior year.
But this kind of naked (ha-ha) interest is something completely alien to Peter.
She knows more about him than he does of her. He's never even HEARD of her. So either she's new to this, or she's that good at it. And her confidence isn't the confidence of some newbie thief.
Suddenly, he wonders if there is a label on the suit with FRESH MEAT $6.99/LB written on it.
"What...are you doing here?" he asked, but the question was almost hesitant. Thank God he has the mask on, so she can't see his ears and face going crimson.

Felicia Hardy has posed:
"I..." she begins suspensefully, while trying to remember why she was here. Right! Those emeralds...

"I was here to stop a heist. There's still time," she adds, as she looks Spider-Man up and down. Because there is NOT time now to deal with him and then get those emeralds. "There is a pouch, black silk, full of uncut emeralds in the rough. But they are going to be worth millions...to whomever has them processed. They were smuggled in with the exhibit. The thief is down there...as we speak."

Peter Parker has posed:
Okay, THIS he can deal with. But he is going to keep one eye on her. If she is conning him, it wouldn't be the first time.
"Point him or her out...and where is the pouch now?"

Felicia Hardy has posed:
"The basement. In a crate with a particular marking. Actually....Probably NOT in that crate anymore, by now. There is a black SUV parked out back, and the man driving it came up here to make the pickup." Her eyes are still glittering with interest, but her expression is more focused than it was. Except when she's looking Spidey up and down.

Peter Parker has posed:
She is tingling his Spider-Sense in wonky ways. Or maybe it's just those eyes.
"We can't prove it's theft until he steps outside with it. But if he does, and he has them on him...then it's theft, and we can get the cops involved. Do you know what the guy looks like?"

Felicia Hardy has posed:
"Black hair. Dark-rimmed glasses. Wearing a sharp little number of a business suit, and walks with a very slight limp on his left side. Six foot two, 205 pounds." She pauses. "Uh...approximately."

Peter Parker has posed:
Spider-Man nodded. "Right. Hang on."
A tiny red circle rises from the red-and-blue backpack on his back, and then the drone rises in the air. Spidey's left hand tilts slightly, and the drone moves off. "It's running a check along the outside. It if sees someone close to the profile, it'll let me know." He looks around. "Let's...head back outside. It'll look less bad if we catch him outside the museum...and we don't get charged with breaking and entering?"

Felicia Hardy has posed:
Black Cat's pupils dilate and her eyes glitter. "Ooh, such playpretties," she purrs, as the drone takes off." Her muscles tense, as she resists the urge to give chase. She is completely distracted, but only for a moment before those aqua eyes flit to Spider-Man with intense scrutiny. "Mmm...Spidey, Spidey, Spidey...You wanna be my new best friend?"

Peter Parker has posed:
Spider-Man feels that tingle bump up a little. "...Depends on how you treat your friends, Cat. Let's start as friends and see how that goes." He looks up, tilting his head. "We might have a match." He fires a webline to the entrance point. "Let's see if he's your guy?"

Felicia Hardy has posed:
on the one hand, Cat has been caught red-handed. On the other, she has found a /lovely/ new toy. Spider-Man is a a curiosity. And we all know about curiosity in cats. So if she can't have those emeralds, no one will. "On it," the Black Cat replies, firing a tiny grapple hook from her wrist. It zips out, trailed by a thin cable. "Let's do this, so we can move on to more...enjoyable conversation."

Peter Parker has posed:
Hooooo BOY is she unsettling. Not in an evil or self-entitled way. More like a hidden-potential-and-agenda.
And it's not a good time to ponder it too closely. A very real thief is getting away.

Spidey slips out of the access point, sensing Cat's presence behind him as he steps out into the cool night air. He looks over to the right, then spots the drone and hurries over. He moves very quickly, seeming to jump from place to place instead of just running. He peeks over the edge and...
...well, he does meet the description. Very close.
He whispers to the Black Cat, "Is that the guy?"

Felicia Hardy has posed:
Cat slips up behind Spidey, and presses against his shoulder as she peers over it. "That's him. See the limp?" she whispers in his ear. "He has them already, Handsome, we gotta move fast."

Peter Parker has posed:
Spidey nodded. It was easier than thinking about the warmth of her against his back. "Three guys. One is the driver. Two are his bodyguards." He points them out. "Want me to handle this, or did you want to handle this your own way?"
In a way, it was something of a test. If she wanted him to take care of it, that indicated some level of trust. If she wanted to handle it, he could observe how she treated her opponents. And if it gets a bit dangerous, he could swoop in.

Felicia Hardy has posed:
Cat tilts her head slightly, bringing her cheek closer to his, her lips against his ear. "Could you distract them, Handsome?" She breathes the words into his ear. "I'll handle him, and nab those jewels. Then I'll meet you on the other side. Maybe we can celebrate..."

Peter Parker has posed:
Okay. Distracting he can do. He practically excels in that.
"Okay. Distraction it is."
Ten seconds later, Spider-Man lands on a nearby light pole. "Hey, guys...!"
As all eyes oriented on him, Spidey waved and asked, "So...can you give me directions to New York Comic-Con?"
The man with the limp yells, "SHOOT HIM!" And wouldn't you know it, all the others point pistols at Spidey, and then open fire.
Spider-Man jumps to the right, already feeling like a schmuck for agreeing to this...

Felicia Hardy has posed:
Cat works fast. Blindingly fast. "Hiya, Baby," Cat chirps as she lands beside the man with the limp. Instantly, he turns a gun on her, and an upward kick brings her boot into contact with the gun, which flips up into the air, coming back down into her hand. "Thanks. I'll take these, too," she adds as she pulls her hand from his jacket pocket with a pouch clutched tightly. "You're the sweetest, but I gotta go!" She winks, blows a kiss, and is seemingly spirited away by a nearly invisible cable in one hand, whisked skyward toward the top of the museum.

Peter Parker has posed:
Spidey dances to the left, then forward, staying one step ahead of the gunfire. He waits until the Cat is clear before firing enough webbing to rescue a HUNDRED talking pigs. He looks at the men, then hmms. He needs to get the gems to the cops - it will make prosecuting them a lot easier.
So...off to the meeting point, and hoping that the Black Cat won't turn rabbit on him.

He pulls himself up to the museum roof, looking for the Cat. A part of his mind is already telling him she is long gone, with a flip of her tail-section and a roguish smile. But he has to know for sure.

Felicia Hardy has posed:
She'd never even considered looking back. It was the perfect crime, and the Spider-Man had helped her pull it off. So when Black Cat's boots touched down on the roof, she is sprinting to the other side of the rooftop.

By the time Spider-Man peers over the edge of the roof, it is empty. For a long moment, the disappointment can also be heard in his breath. Then, slowly, a figure steps out from behind the roof access door, dangling a pouch from one finger. Black Cat has a come-hither smile and a twinkle in her eye. She pulled it off. She doesn't need the money. What couldn't be done has been done, and with flair. "C'mere, Handsome," she purrs with a wink. "I've got somethin' for you..."

Peter Parker has posed:
Jeez Louise, she gave him a Hell of a start there. She's smiling like...well, like a cat in the cream.
"You're assuming an awful lot, Cat. For all you know, I could look like Clint Howard with a receding hairline, acne scars, a cleft palate, a broken nose..." He stopped as he found he has talked himself right up to her, standing a few feet away, and definitely in Friendship Area. "Uhm..." Still nervous. How does she do that? He holds out his hand, the palm open. "I can get these to the police. It'll give them enough to put those guys in jail..."

Here we go. Where the rubber meets the road.

Felicia Hardy has posed:
Cat steps forward, closing the space between the two of them. "Are you?" she asks, placing a plain, dingy canvas pouch gently into Spidey's hand. "Because somehow I don't think you are."

Peter Parker has posed:
"I'm...well...okay, I don't look like that."
It takes him a few moments before he realizes he has the bag in his hand. He looks down and opens it. Partly to make sure he's not being conned, and maybe he wants to see what More Money Than He'll Ever Make in His Lifetime looks like.

Felicia Hardy has posed:
"It's all there," Cat purrs, her eyes flitting up to those lenses. Her gaze is intense for a long moment, before she looks down to the pouch as he peers inside. "Put 'em in jail, Sexy. And let's go find something more fun to do."

Peter Parker has posed:
Spider-Man, looked up to the masked face of the Black Cat. Sexy? Him? Really? Okay, MAYBE he does look a little better (okay, a LOT better, leave us not gild the lily here). He was a little weirded out. Usually, it would be his mind they were interested in...or at least his notes, or a copy of the test he took so they could get the answers. It was Flash Thompson who got the dates because of his looks...

FOCUS. He looked back down at the glittering gemstones. "Okay. I'm going to send these back. I'll keep your name out of it...since, technically, you didn't take anything. And, unfortunately, I will have to skedaddle..."
Crud, did he REALLY use the word 'skedaddle' in conversation? Shoot him now. And he was not about to tell her that he had a test he really needed to study for...there's a difference between sounding MOSTLY uncool and COMPLETELY uncool.
"...so I guess I'm going to have to put a rain check on that, Cat. Sorry..."
He stepped back, closing the pouch. "I'd better get this to the cops, now."

Felicia Hardy has posed:
"Fair enough," Cat replies with a flip of her silver hair as she turns on her heel. "You skedaddle. Take care, Spidey."

And with that, she launches a hook toward an adjacent rooftoop, catching it firmly, and swinging off into the darkness.

Peter Parker has posed:
Spider-man watched her go, thinking that she was serious trouble. She was smart, skilled, and clever. And sneaky.
"Ever get the feeling that someone is so far out of your league you're not even playing the same sport?"

Three minutes later, the bag of jewels fell at the feet of two plainclothes cops, who were eventually glad to find them, as the gemstones had fingerprints on them.

One hour later, Peter Parker was in the basement lab, looking through his notes, and saw those blue-green eyes again. He closed his eyes, rubbing his forehead.

Yeah...she was DEFINITELY going to be trouble...