7541/Midnight at the Hanging Tree

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Midnight at the Hanging Tree
Date of Scene: 25 August 2021
Location: The Hanging Tree - Park
Synopsis: Don't hang out in the park at night because that's how you get stabbed.
Cast of Characters: Tim Drake, Lonnie Machin, Karen Starr, Natasha Cranston

Tim Drake has posed:
    The Hanging Tree, like so many things native to Gotham, has developed into a kind of urban myth that far exceeds its actual historical roots. To some people in the city it's almost deified, and with that comes a certain religious fervor surrounding its care and upkeep. As such, it's rarely left alone, often used as a site for campouts or outdoor parties.

    So long as nothing gets too rowdy, both the local gangs and the GCPD tend to leave well enough alone.

    One of the less scrupulous of the fraternities at Gotham University hosted just such a party here last night. It's over now, with only a few drunk co-eds scattered around, some asleep in hammocks, and at least one couple doing things while tucked into the roots of the tree that would net them a public indecency charge anywhere else.

    Given that the branches on the east side give the perfect (and only) view into the office space on the street beyond, the party provides a perfect cover for Tim, out of uniform, to be perched up in tree limbs.

    Only a couple of days off the full moon, there's plenty of light to read by. He has a textbook and a notebook spread across his lap, and for all appearances he is studiously taking notes. But his real attention is across the street, into the dimly lit windows of the office building. Another one of the Perreault & Richelieu holdings he's been investigating.

    Eventually he's either going to run this investigation into the ground or find the smoking gun. Tim won't stop until he does.

    He writes down something about Young's Modulus of Elasticity without actually looking down, eyes trained on the building's facade.

Lonnie Machin has posed:
    Some distance away, a tall young man over six feet with his face shadowed by a baseball cap is walking a scrappy terrier mix, one ear up, one ear down. As the dog sniffs at a hole in the ground, he drawls, "The Hanging Tree embodies the fact that the things I preach CAN work, Yap. The tree is a community meeting point and resource, and groups who would otherwise be opposed have agreed to cooperate with one another to protect it and share it."
    Yap yawns, and proceeds to pee on a bush, and Gotham's most notorious anarchist digs in his pocket for a doo-doo bag. "Though this fraternity's going to leave a mess, I just know it." He squints, behind his glasses. "I should destroy the Greek system at the universities here in Gotham, huh, Yap? It's an outmoded and elitist method of organizing students."

Karen Starr has posed:
    Some time ago, the superheroine known as Power Girl began enacting the Be Absolutely Every-Fucking-Where Initiative. An office in Metropolis has worked wonders, being her home field, in operating within the city should any issues ever take multiple days to solve.

    After joining the Avengers, a Starrware satellite in New York has proven invaluable. As such, when nailing down locations in which she should at least have the option of perhaps maintaining some kind of presence, Karen Starr has set her sights on Gotham.

    Sadly, Gotham is easier sighted than opened-an-office-in. She's locked in on several sites within Gotham that have extensive promise, but each time she's tried to make a move, the property has either been rented or purchased out from under her. It's starting to become tiring- but all the same, she's still going to try.

    This is why, this evening, Karen Starr is walking the park, making small paces around the massive tree. She's on her phone, talking a big game about outbidding whoever has made the most recent bid on a small office building a block away, but it's...

    God she's a /problem./

    Somewhat rotund, with hair that reaches her hips and coke bottle glasses, she is wearing what can only be described as an actual, literal crime: In pinstripes, Karen Starr has clad herself in an absolutely horrid salmon pink pantsuit.

    "I don't care how much it costs! I'm going to open an office in Gotham, so all you have to do is tell me how much the bid is, and I'll give you ten percent on top, and we'll see how the other buyer likes that."

Natasha Cranston has posed:
        Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

Anderson Robotics.

    A relatively minor company specializing in industrial automation. Acquired about ten years ago by Cranston Multinational Shipping, ostensibly to help streamline warehouse logistics and reduce manpower expenses. Summarily divested at the behest of CMS' CEO last year during what more dramatically-inclined pundits called 'the great bloodletting'. Acquired shortly afterwards by investment firm Perreault & Richelieu... And, much more recently, implicated in a relatively minor smuggling incident.

    Some very fancy PR footwork and a lack of direct evidence had shifted the blame onto the people directly involved and away from the company as a whole as far as the law is concerned... But The Shadow Knows.

    Specifically in this case, Natasha Knows that the directorship was in it up to their ears. It had been the reason the Board had acquired the company in the first place -- some backroom deals and kickbacks, allowing them to use the Cranston shipping network to move their goods with significantly less risk. Nothing she could have proved, but having a reputation for allowing personal whims to overcome business sense meant she hadn't needed proof to cut them off. With any luck, an investigative journalist looking for a juicy story will follow those breadcrumbs on their own.

    More interesting to her right now is why an 'Investment firm' is interested enough in an industrial automation company to not only acquire it, but to spend significant amounts of money to keep its nose clean after an incident like this. Investigation is warranted.

    One of the nice things about being a wealthy CEO of a major shipping company is that a /lot/ of people are perfectly willing to make time to talk with you at your request, especially if you've dropped hints that you're looking to expand and some of the real estate they own might be a suitable site for a new distribution warehouse...

    Benny, however, is a bit skeptical. "You sure about this, boss?" he asks as he pulls into P&R's guest parking lot, trying not to show his discomfort at either the official driver's outfit he's required to wear or the situation as a whole. "Gotham just gives me the creeps. No offense, but..."

    Natasha smiles. "I'm not about to do any actual snooping like this, don't worry. Just a friendly preliminary negotiation should be safe enough, no?"

    She glances back after exiting the car, holding the door open a bit longer. "... But keep the engine warm, just in case I'm wrong and you're not."

    With that, she turns and straightens, every inch the professional - if somewhat overly whimsical at times - CEO, heading toward the building's entrance and her appointment.

Tim Drake has posed:
    It may be hard to believe, but there's very little refuse left over from the party. This is not Alpha Kappa Kappa's first party at the Hanging Tree, and they have an arrangement with a few of the people living in the area that tend to the tree. Some cash and leftover alcohol in exchange for making sure the place is tidied up, and everyone is happy. It's a fair exchange.

    Tim is not, of course, a member of Alpha Kappa Kappa, or any other fraternity. Despite getting invites to most campus parties (comes with having Wayne at the end of his name, now) he's probably one of the most boring students currently attending classes. None of the party-goers was even aware he was here.

    Precisely as he intended, of course.

    The couple going at it in the roots starts getting a little noisy, until someone in the hammocks above leans over and starts heckling the guy on his, shall we say, 'form'. This is all happening on the opposite side of the tree. It's a big tree. So Tim thankfully doesn't have to listen to any of it.

    And since it's such a big tree, on the same hand, the co-eds don't hear the soft cry of pain and violent rustle of tree limbs that precedes Tim slamming back first onto the ground. The grass cushions his fall to some degree but the air is still knocked out of his lungs, each breath pained.

    He has less than a second to react and roll over before his copy of Materials Selection in Mechanical Design, 5th Edition, by Michael F. Ashby lands with a thud just where his head was a moment ago.

    Then the pain with each breath makes sense, as the maneuver jostles the throwing dagger sticking out of his chest. "Oh, great," Tim manages to wheeze out.

    Around the other side of the tree, a sharp cry pierces the night. Though neither Lonnie or Natasha are directly under the tree, it's... well, quite a scream. Even a few guys hanging around in an almost stereotypically suspicious way at a street corner have turned away from whatever muttered conversation they've been having with each other to look towards the tree.

    The hammock dweller now commenting on the moves fratboy is using on sorority sis beneath her, MST3K style, has just noticed two black-clad figures perched on the branch her hammock is suspended from. They're nameless, faceless, nothing but the gleam of their eyes to be seen amidst the shadows.

    Down on the ground where there's a bit more natural light away from the shade of the tree limbs, three more figures step around a small shelter that has been assembled out of detritus, half a place to sit down and half its own kind of art sculpture. They advance on Karen, not apparently caring at all that they're about to interrupt her Very Important phone conversation.

    Fratboy is being pulled away from sorority sis by another figure, who puts a blade to his neck.

    The lack of yapping on Yap's part seems to have saved Lonnie and his canine companion from being targeted, as of yet. Further out, Natasha and her driver probably don't even register as threats towards whatever the assassins' mysterious purpose might be.

    And those two suspicious guys? They go running past Lonnie and Yap, pulling out what are definitely unregistered firearms. "Shit!" one says. "Someone's messing with Big Carl!"

    Apparently, uh, that's what they call the tree?

Lonnie Machin has posed:
    Lonnie has Yap very well-trained, so he doesn't bark at people in public - but when the dog suddenly looks up and raises his hackles and growls, he adjusts his glasses and says "I see it, boy." He puts his teeth into his bottom lip and gives the 'Go get help' whistle which causes the dog to scamper off. He'll go find and kite a cop. Lonnie hates cops, but they do have their uses.
    Also, he'd prefer to get his dog out of his way for what comes next, which is him kind of... slouching his way into the danger zone.
    "Hey," he says, playing up dat thick Otisberg accent - he schooled it out of his cadence a long time ago but it comes back like riding a bike, "What da heck's goin' on here, I was jus' out takin' a walk an' now all Hell's breakin' loose! Whadyadoin!?"

Karen Starr has posed:
    There's an artistry to being absolutely mind-bogglingly oblivious. For most people, it's an innate talent that they have to work at to be Present, Aware, and keep attention on their surroundings. For Karen Starr, it's the opposite. She has to actively work not to hear every conversation currently taking place on Planet Earth.

    One day, she'll get someone to admit it's impressive to be as oblivious as she has to be, day in and day out- because, here she is, in Gotham, and she has exactly zero idea that something strange is up. This is impressive because in Gotham, there is /always/ something 'up.'

    But does Karen Starr stop having her conversation because she's being approached by two ne'erdowells who may be quite ready for murder? No! "What do you /mean/ you won't accept the bid? I literally employ you to not do anything except take my calls and when I tell you to give people my money, you give them my money. There's a disconnect in the logic here that seems absolutely incomprehensible to me."

    Admittedly, neither Power Girl nor Karen Starr was aware that Tim- and others- had an open investigation that she was about to quite accidentally butt into by, well, being there. It's... Actually a new thing for her. So that's neat.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Natasha's first instinct when the screaming starts is to rush in guns blazing, assess the situation on the go, to secure any civilians and sort out the rest after -- a natural response for a vigilante, but not for a CEO, so she clamps down on the impulse and instead ambles over at a (relatively) much more sedate pace while pulling out her cellphone and dialing 911. "Hello? I'm in Gotham Central Park and there are several people armed with swords and I think someone's already been stabbed, you'll need to send an ambulance as well as police... Oh god, someone just pulled a gun, please hurry!"

    The last comes out significantly more panicked than she's actually feeling, but it should convey a sense of urgency. That done, she crouches behind a car trying to stay out of sight of the assassins like a frightened civilian would while she considers her next move. Her coat and gear are in the back of her car - she rarely leaves home without them - but getting /to/ it without drawing too much attention will be tricky.

    Lonnie's sudden appearance might give her an opportunity. If he can keep everyone's attention just long enough... She takes a breath to focus, clouding her existence from perceptions. Still there, just... not important enough to register presence or absence.

Tim Drake has posed:
    There are cops nearby that Yap will be able to locate. It's Gotham. GCPD has to patrol the streets pretty thoroughly just to keep up, and even if the Hanging Tree is a sort of free zone, that comes with restrictions.

    Restrictions that include the stabbing of people, for sure.

    MST3K girl is scrambling out of her hammock, but the two assassins are already on her. One grabs her leg, the other her hair, and she's screaming again--loud against the quiet of the park, which was previously only filled with the soft buzz of insects in the grass--as they pull her back up. One of them silently withdraws a sword from a sheath on their back.

    Two of the assassins who had originally approached Karen wander away from her, apparently uninterested in her after she in turn pays them no mind. They drag sorority sis up to her feet, and like her boyfriend (or maybe just party hookup, no judgment) fratbro, they put a sword to her neck. That just leaves the one to deal with Karen. The moonlight glints off his blade as he steps in her path, pointing it at her sternum.

    No slicing and dicing happens. No decapitations, either. They aren't making demands but at the same time they don't seem to be waiting for something, either. It's more like they've just paused, or run out of prewritten commands.

    The figure with his sword out and ready to skewer Karen only turns his head towards where first the two gangbangers approach, guns pointed. "The hell is this? Big Carl's neutral territory, you can't be here!" one says. Given Gotham's penchant for themed villains, it's probably not that unusual for them to suspect this is just a rival gang.

    Lonnie gets about the same level of acknowledgment. Head turn. Stare. No words.

    Around the other side of the tree, Tim has managed to get himself up onto one knee. He can see through his peripherals that he's being approached by a figure in black. Because this isn't a movie, there is no sound of metal grinding against metal when the figure removes the sword from its sheath on his back. The blade rises up into the air.

    Tim drops back down to the ground with a bitten-off cry, but it puts enough space between him and the descending blade to get his textbook up between. It cuts through, and Tim gets a momentary glimpse of the sword tip an inch or so from his eye before he twists, throwing the book off to the side. The sword goes with it, but the assassin doesn't.

    Which was stupid on his part, because Tim drives his foot up into his attacker's groin with a yelp of effort.

    It's just then that the lone figure facing Karen pulls his blade back, clearly about to strike. One of the thugs' guns go off, pop pop pop in quick succession, and the figure falls. "Come on!" The other thug throws himself between the couple being pulled apart and aims, managing to put a bullet between the eyes of another assassin. That one drops too.

    In the distance, there are police sirens. On Natasha's phone, the operator asks, "Ma'am? Ma'am are you there? We have units on the way, please take cover and stay away from the park!"

Lonnie Machin has posed:
    Lonnie doesn't generally believe in starting fights, only finishing them. They don't even move to attack him and - well, that's one thing proven true, a gun will always come out ahead no matter how good of a martial artist you are, unless you can seize some other kind of edge. When they start getting tied up, he sort of... sidles around the tree - nothing to see here, just your regular Gothamite joe - and he comes across Gotham's most eligable batchelor and an assassin on the ground hugging his junk.
    Lonnie casually steps on the guy's neck - the assassin's, not Tim's, putting just enough pressure on his throat to choke him out. Anyone looking at him would notice that local yokel expression has turned into something steely and arrogant as he just kind of... throttles the trained killer into unconsciousness.
    Then he shifts, and leans down. "Well hey. If it isn't GQ Drake, the Creme de la Creme of Gotham City's well-heeled elite. That's a nasty cut there, Mr. Drake." He kneels down. "Any idea how deep it is?" He whistles, sharply. "I got some Xstat in the first aid kit my dog carries around on his tacti-vest. He'll be back in a second."
    When is when that terrier in his black tactical vest with an antifa patch on it comes sprinting up. "Did you get the pigs? G'boy, Yap! Make them earn their pay!"
    He sneers, as he opens the first aid kit, "I was just walkin' my dog. This is what it's like for everyday people, y'know. Mobsters, gangs, ninjas, evil clowns, man-eating plants. Probably hard to see all that when you went to school at Brentwood. Me-" he prepares the syringe, "Gotham Central High. Didn't graduate though. You gonna help me get to that wound, Upper-Crust?"

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    "Yes, I'm still here. I don't think they've noticed me - they've started shooting at each other..." Natasha keeps up the conversation, letting the operator think she's managing to calm her down. "That boy has a knife sticking out of his chest, he's going to need medical attention immediately..."

    Inwardly she suppresses a curse. Now that she's officially been registered as present on the scene it will be much harder to explain if she's not there when the authorities arrive. Whatever she does here, she'll have to do as her civilian persona - or not be seen to do at all.

    She looks over where Tim is fighting for his life, pitting a book against a blade. A moment of focus, a twist of will... /should/ be all it takes to add some confusion and tilt the odds in the boy's favour, but their minds seem strangely unmutable. Fortunately, Lonnie is there to take the assassin out instead -- and with the area clear, she can move.

    "Careful, with an injury like that he shouldn't be moved," she points out as she appears by Tim's side, already reaching for a pressure bandage. "This looks pretty deep; we'll have to secure it in place to keep it from slicing open anything else..."

    She turns her gaze to Tim's face. "Do you have a relative we can contact, young man?" she asks, then her eyes widen briefly. "... Mr. Drake. My apologies, I didn't quite recognize you without the tux. I hope your lady friend is well?"

Karen Starr has posed:
    It honestly takes a man pointing a sword at her for the platinum blonde billionaire to notice that she's in danger.

    The next few moments are, perhaps, the least Power Girl moments in the history of the universe. Step one is to scream bloody murder, as if the idea of being threatened with a weapon at all is an indicator that she has already been stabbed. Step two is to wrench a small 'weapon' from her pocket, this frighteningly pink little tube that fires a stream of liquid hate into the face of her assailant. It is important that the absolute horror of this liquid not be understated: a combination of a number of chemicals, it clocks in at 20 million scoville, and is essentially a hate crime targeted specifically at mucous membranes. This stuff is so powerful that it practically /creates/ allergies in its victims.

    The importance of its potency is that it is less 'oh no, my nose and eyes' and more '<incoherent screaming, vomiting, and nasal evacuation>.' The design is to improve upon the concept of pepper spray, a substance that in comparison is simply displeased with your sinuses. The man drops: Karen's intent seems to have been to debilitate him- and she does very much so debilitate this random seeming-cultist-assassin- but she's somewhat more altruistic than that. As her assailant's movements become more erratic, the gunshots intended to cause his untimely demize simply rip open his robe, splitting flesh along the way in wounds that he'll remember more fondly than the Fluid Facefuck that is currently turning every soft bit encased in his skull into some form of liquid.

    Karen, for her part, does not stop screaming. For good measure, though, she happens to spray a couple of the thugs, as they're shooting people in the head. Everyone gets some. Stop killing people. That's the message here, delivered by a nerd in a pantsuit that has no business being there, while she actively shrieks as if physically dismembered, and charges across the lawn to try and get to the other side of the tree.

Tim Drake has posed:
    Apparently these two local gang members are going to handle this encounter, with no help whatsoever from any local vigilantes. Well, the swift application of foot to throat does mean Lonnie has successfully rendered one unconscious, but really that one gets split an even fifty-fifty between him and Tim.

    Who is blinking up at Lonnie like he's not quite sure his eyes are actually seeing what they're seeing. So Lonnie gets at least one full blissful moment to see Tim Drake fully speechless, at least until he's reminded of the throwing dagger sticking out of his chest.

    "Maybe nicked a lung?" he asks, words coming out in-between small, tight breathes that do the least amount of jostling. "Don't think it's colla--."

    This is when Natasha approaches close enough for Tim to notice her, and she basically catches him with his hand extended to scratch behind Yap's ear. The dog is on his uninjured side and it hadn't taken much to try and, okay, think fast, think fast, wow is it hard to think fast with something sharp lodged between your ribs.

    She recognizes him. Another complication. Tim's head rolls away from her so he can flash a solid 'wtf' expression Lonnie's way, before he sucks in a deep breath--ow, ouch, bad choice--and injects some panic derived from that pain into his voice. "I-I'm fine!" he says, as his hand scrambles, shaky and twitchy, to the knife. "Really, it's--nothing!"

    Then Tim's hand grips the dagger and he pulls it out.

    No one probably hears the gasp that Tim gives, because the entire neighborhood is currently being serenaded by Karen Starr's screams instead. She comes around the tree just in time to see two people huddled around a prone figure on the ground, who is currently holding a bloodied blade.

    And then a funny thing happens. The knife drops to the grass because Tim's fingers have gone slack, and his eyelashes flutter. His chest stops moving for a fraction of a second and then, in the space of a heartbeat, expands fully as Tim blinks his eyes back open and swallows. "Uhhh," he groans softly.

    Which isn't funny. What is, however, is how the body behind Lonnie sort of.. flickers. Like a poorly loaded texture, popping in and out of existence as they load in the background. It happens a couple of times before it stops, and then the body's gone. Less of a 'funny haha' thing, admittedly, but certainly unusual.

    It's true for the assassins, both living and dead, around the other side of the tree. Not that anybody is noticing over there because they've all been blasted by a legitimate chemical weapon that is probably against the Geneva Convention. Karen's screams aren't the only ones filling the air. The two thugs, who had split their attention between rescuing the co-ed couple and the theater kid being dragged out of her hammock, all of them. They're all screaming.

    On the ground, probably too quiet to be heard, Tim says "I would really like to go home now."

Lonnie Machin has posed:
    Lonnie glances up and cocks his head "I know you, you're Natasha Cranston. Did I stumble into a high society party by accident? I would've worn my 'eat the rich' t-shirt." He looks up, and then holds the syringe out to Natasha, "You know how to use this stuff? It's better than a pressure bandage, but it's also INCREDIBLY painful-" He looks up as the assassin vanishes, and he wrinkles his nose. "Huh."
    Then he kneels down and snaps out a pocketknife. "Sorry GQ, but your hoodie's ruined anyway." He cuts it open, along with Tim's undershirt, and then says, "Y'know, I fancy myself as something of an intellectual, and so I ask myself - 'Self' - which is how I knew I was the one talking - why is the tippy top of Gotham's idle rich built like he gets into a fight every damn day of his life?" One red eyebrow goes up.

"It is a mystery. Maybe he cage fights to push back the ennui of his tremendous wealth. Then again he just got stabbed and fell out of a tree." He fetches... a leather band out of the first aid kit. "Bite down. This is gonna hurt like hell."

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Natasha inclines her head toward Lonnie in acknowledgement, and takes the X-stat syringe with little more than a raised eyebrow. "I was /supposed/ to be in a cordial discussion involving some useful real estate changing hands," she replies with a slight incline of her head in the direction of the P&R building, "but then people started screaming over here."

    She deliberately keep her voice casually conversational, with motions of her head to distract Tim's attention from her hand. "Also, I've personally found that keeping a fit body makes for a great deal of convenience easily worth an hour's daily exercise," she continues while pressing the syringe's tip into the wound and depressing the plunger.

Tim Drake has posed:
    More screaming. Or, wait, are those sirens? Hard to tell. There's just a lot of screaming, and the way Gotham's built, the sound echoes back. All that tall gothic architecture.

    Tim's head tilts back against the grass. "I've never been in GQ," he pants out, weakly. "Why do you--."

    His eyes track the passing of the syringe above him with the trepidation of someone who knows what's coming. He turns to look away, which allows him to glare somewhat unobserved up at Lonnie. "I'm feeling," pause, deep breath, wheeze, "Very objectified right now."

    He is absolutely still glaring as he bites down on the belt or whatever it is that Lonnie shoves in front of his face. And he also reaches up with his non-bloodied hand to grab hold of Lonnie's wrist because, as the Look-with-a-capital-L Tim shoots up at him, they are IN THIS TOGETHER NOW, BUDDY.

    And then Natasha shoves the syringe in.

    Yes, those were definitely sirens. There's red and blue lights reflecting off the underside of the tree branches above them now, and enough of the screaming has quieted down on the other side of Big Carl that dimly the sound of paramedics and police officers alike can be heard. It's enough chatter and noise to cover up the muffled yell that mostly sticks in Tim's throat. His feet kick and spasm against the ground before he digs his heels in and squeezes his eyes shut, and for a startling couple of seconds he manages to just bear the pain.

    Digging his fingers hard enough into Lonnie's wrist that he hopefully has blood under his nails helps, somewhat.

    Then he turns, spits out the makeshift bite guard and a decent amount of his own blood, and wheezes out a "Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu--"

    From around the other side of the tree: "What do you mean they just disappeared?"

    "Please get me the hell out of here," Tim says. He's not even asking anyone in particular now.

Lonnie Machin has posed:
    Lonnie gives a little twitch under his eye as Tim digs his nails into his wrist, but he will not let on that the kid has a grip that could crack a walnut. He pins his shoulders to the ground as Natasha injects the agony foam into the wound and then he straightens up. "Well, I suppose I can only play dumb for so long."
    He flicks his gaze up to Natasha. "You and I are on different sides of the social abyss ma'am, but thank you." Then he looks down, and drawls, "I really was just out walking my dog, you know. Yap likes the bushes here." Then he casually brushes Tim's hair out of his face. "...It's just another symptom of the ultra-affluence of Gotham's old money elites, you know. They won't use hospitals where the regular people go. So he gets all the amenities of his adopted father's *private* clinic. If it wasn't for Wayne subsidizing all the free clinics in this city and keeping the one on Park Row open, I'd be disgusted by the vulgar display of wealth."

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    "... Yes, that looks about exactly as painful as I imagined it'd be," Natasha comments, amazingly sangfroid given the circumstances, one hand on Tim's shoulder holding him gently but firmly down -- and with more strength than one might expect from a businesswoman, even one who works out. Or maybe Tim is just a bit weak from blood loss. "Try not to move too much; the ambulance will likely be here shortly."

    Not that she doesn't silently agree with him -- if she stays here much longer she'll be stuck talking to the police and their questions, some of which she does not intend to answer truthfully, and which would take entirely too much time in any event.

But right now she has to play the civilian.


    She turns to Lonnie. "I don't suppose you've got some painkillers in that kit as well? The paramedics may not appreciate it but I suspect Mr. Drake would really like some right now..."

    Behind her and some slight distance away, the sound of a very familiar car engine signals that Benny has noticed the commotion as well and has driven closer in case a quick departure becomes necessary.

    She nods at Lonnie even as she pulls out her phone again with the hand not keeping pressure on the wound. "You make a good point, but I think the desire to have the best care you can afford - especially in familiar surroundings - is a universal notion, even if some of us can afford significantly more. I'd say the problem lies less in how much money he has and more in how much money far too many people /lack/."

    She takes a moment to look back down at Tim. "Do you have someone specific you want to call, or should I just phone Wayne Incorporated's public number and ask them to inform your adoptive father that you're currently lying in the park with a knife wound?"

Tim Drake has posed:
    Success. Lonnie didn't flinch but Tim's going to count it as a win anyway, because that's literally the only positive thing he can take away from this evening. Scoping out the office building? Failed. Taking notes for class? Failed (also he has to buy a new textbook now).

    He's got a sore back, a stab wound, and a huge migraine.

    Also, no shirt.

    "Less about the regular people and more about the paparazzi," he tries to point out, though it's hard to take part in this discussion when he's prone and also underwater? Why does it sound like he's underwater? Oh no the park's flooded.

    In fact the park has not flooded, though there's plenty of Tim's blood soaked into the grass. He blinks up at the tree branches a few times. The whole thing Natasha said about not moving much? Well, Tim maybe wasn't listening. His hand releases Lonnie's wrist, and he has to flex his fingers a couple of times because that was quite the grip he had there. It just transfers higher up, nearer to Lonnie's shoulder, as Tim starts to pull himself upwards.

    He looks a little bit like he's going to throw up, or maybe pass out. But he does at least get himself sat up. For all the good it does him since he immediately sways and half-collapses against Lonnie, already sliding back to the grass. "Please don't call Bruce," he says, voice quiet. "This is so embarrassing. He's going to disown me. Oh my god, I got stabbed in a park. And then I fell out of a tree."

    For a little bit he just lays there wheezing, and it's... almost like he's laughing. But then he sobers.

    "I think I'm going into shock."

Lonnie Machin has posed:
    "Money isn't real, but this sounds like a fascinating debate we should get into when Gotham's most eligible bachelor isn't lying here with a nicked lung." Lonnie looks down, his eyes half-lidded, and he says, "But if something happened to him there wouldn't be a frontispiece for everything wrong with this city for me to rail against." He quirks his mouth, and says, "...I'm opposed to everything GQ here represents, but he's still a human being, and I'm still obligated to help him, after all." Yes, that should be a sufficient explanation, nothing at all suspicious about *that* is there. And so humbly delivered. Truly Lonnie is a bastion of reasonability and humility.
    He looks up, plainly made uncomfortable by the arrival of all the police. Yet not willing to leave just yet.
    "Even if he is a feckless, affluent parasite."
    He pauses, and then leans in to whisper in Natasha's ear. "...Park Row free clinic, ask for Dr. Thompkins. Play dumb."

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Natasha gives Lonnie an evaluating look, taking in his clothes and the lettering on his shirt, then nods. "... I promise he'll be in good hands. But I'm afraid I was a bit rattled when I called 911 earlier; the police might make... Hasty assumptions... when they arrive." There's no condemnation or judgement in her voice, just pragmatic acknowledgement of an unfair reality. "If you'd rather not be here when they do, I'm sure he'll understand."

    A motion of her hand, and Benny comes hustling to her side, and between the two of them they have little trouble lifting Tim into the back of her car.

    "Park Row free clinic, if you would, never mind the police for now" she instructs Benny, then pushes... And as they pass the oncoming police cars, none of them flag them down or even seem to register their presence -- something that Tim might find concerning if he were at all coherent right now.

    Natasha looks down at him, and it may be his own vision going bad due to shock but are human eyes supposed to be that bright? "Try to remain awake, Mr. Drake," comes her voice, almost seeming to push into his brain without even bothering with his ears, forcing him back to painful awareness, then the unmistakable sound of a telephone dialing.

    "Park Row Clinic? May I speak with Dr. Thompkins please? ... Yes, I believe it is an emergency... Doctor Thompkins, I am currently bringing Timothy Drake to your clinic. He's been stabbed in the chest with a dagger... No, I assure you this isn't a joke, we should be there in a few minutes... No, he pulled the knife out himself before anyone could stop him... ... ... .... You can tell him that in person shortly. ... No, a friendly passerby had a first-aid kit with an X-Stat syringe in it - and may I just note that it speaks remarkably poorly of your city that that is a sensible precaution - and we administered it, so he's not currently bleeding but... Yes, thank you. As I said, we'll be there in a few minutes. Until then..."

Tim Drake has posed:
    It takes more than a little bit of tugging on both Benny and Natasha's parts to get Tim's grip dislodged from Lonnie, but eventually he does let go.

    He tries to reach for Lonnie again, but he misses... in fact it almost looks like he was taking a swipe at Lonnie's face. Huh. Anyway.

    Despite being jostled, shock has set in enough that he's not feeling much of anything at this point. His eyes haven't gone closed which is mostly pure willpower on Tim's part, though it's a nearer and nearer thing as the moments pass. Until a voice rings in his ears and his eyes snap open, and all his various aches and pains register themselves again as if they were brand new.

    Tim wheezes out a breath, but he doesn't make a peep otherwise for the rest of the trip.

    Whatever pain he's in now is going to be nothing in comparison to what Leslie does to him.

Lonnie Machin has posed:
    By the time the cops show up, Lonnie and his little dog are gone. "He'll be fine, Yap." Lonnie says, as he bundles the dog into the sidecar on a motorcycle, puts on his helmet, and takes off into the dark. "I mean, sure, he'll hate me having this over him-" The dog barks, twice. "...I mean I would've saved anybody who was in need, rich twit or not! My alliance is with Robin, not Tim Drake, and it's purely transactionary... right. And there's such a thing as a clean cop or an honest politician."