And "right" also includes a button down shirt with a tie.
Except now she's worried Helena will think she's just dressed for work.
Dear Ms. Montoya, AKA THE QUESTION,
You have three minutes to read this card, whereupon every trace of it will disappear completely.
You are one of many potential applicants that may be...
Inside the band around the roses you will fins a nearly undetectable monitor/communnication which will attach...
It's not exactly a conversation Renee was looking forward too, but seeing the way in which Myra refuses to let the world fall away beneath her on hearing of Charlie's death, it's like losing him all over again.
And it makes her hate herself all the more for the deception she's pulling on everyone.
"Yeah, he's dead. But I still talk to him a lot. You want to give him a message?"
But Myra deserves more respect for her mourning than that. She went to a lot of trouble to fake her own muging to attract the man she loved to ask him for help, and Renee can't let that woman know that she, Renee, has the contact denied to his lover. She deserves the chance to let Vic Sage go, which Renee cannot have for herself.
But you haven't been back to the bar for weeks, is it months now? Why, Renee? Why are you avoiding the place? Is it because you can't tell Huntress about Kate? Or Elicia? Is it because you can't let either of them distract you from the mission? Is it because you're ashamed of what you're doing?
If Hub City were known for one thing, it wouldn't be that the original faceless detective hailed from there, but that it's a seething cess pit of crime and corruption. Apart from Myra and the ghost (sadly not literal) of Vic Sage standing over everything, Renee would feel almost at home here.
In most respects, given the city she originally called home, that really would be damning with faint praise, but Isadore O'Toole, the Chief of Police is like an old friend. Like a lot of her old friends, for that matter.
"That thing in the news about the cops being murdered, that much is true. This guy, he cuts 'em up, takes their shields. But it's Hub City and the whole damn country knows we're a cess-pit, so it ain't like anyone gave a damn.
"The thing is, the dead cops? They're my cops. The ones I trust. The ones that ain't on the take or abusing the badge. It's taken me years to get this department this far, and now some nutjob is tearing it apart. Seventeen in three weeks.
Yeah. Definitely familiar.
His cops. The honest ones. She remembers being a part of that minority. Harder in many ways than being a gay Latina, a lot of the time.
This guy is going down, if Renee has to go down with him.
She just has to work out how to trap him.
"Your cops, you said," Renee says, her voice hard and all business. It's easy, behind the mask. "The honest ones. Who's the most honest cop in Hub City, chief?"
"...you gotta be kidding me."
Charlie probably knew what he was – scratch that, Charlie almost certainly thought he knew what he was doing by leaving his lighthouse jointly to his best friend and the woman he picked to continue this legacy. He wanted them to forge some sort of friendship – certainly, the way he frequently asks after Tot from the distance of the bar speaks of his desire to see the two of them cosy and settled roommates on the seafront.
Instead, it's just awkward.
Professor Aristotle Rodor is short with words and quick with judgement and doesn't hold back with the disapproval for everything Renee does or thinks. He is also the smartest person she has ever met, and dedicated to completing Charlie's work every bit as much as she is, out of respect for the man and as a way to work through his own mourning process. But she's growing used to having him around. After all, he judges everything she does, but he's still not as bad as a Dominican mother.
However, Renee has not told him that she's met Charlie at a bar between universes. And as such, she lies to him every single moment.
They're not friends. Rodor makes this clear at every opportunity. But that doesn't stop hiim from offering her coffee everytime he makes a pot, despite knowing full well she doesn't take caffeine any more. Renee gets the impression he offered the same to Charlie, immune to the refusals. She doesn't drink, but she notices.
In the middle of the exchange of short snipes that has become their morning routine, Rodor is distracted suddenly by the TV news he has in the background.
"Myra?" Renee looks sharply at the picture; a petite redhead with delicate features, looking at the same time too young to be a mayor and much much older than her years. "That's her?"
Pretty and intelligent and competent. The love of Charlie's life.
"Sixteen Hub City police officers have been murdered in the past three weeks. The attack on Mayor Connelly-Firmin now raising fears that the killer is branching out..."
A cop killer. Going after the woman known to be romantically attached to the old Question. Renee has no doubts whatsoever that Flay is sending the ex-cop new Question a very obvious message. He might as well throw rocks at her window.
I guess I'm off to the Mid-West.
Too much to ask that I could go back to Europe?
His name is Sinclair, and he's the leader of the tenth coven in Gotham. Kate says she doesn't know much about the religion, but she's picked up some leads with her not-an-investigation-honest. The strategy of attack for this guy is simple; the Question takes out his bodyguards while Batwoman pounds him into the floor.
Renee could watch Kate work for hours. It's not all from West Point; somewhere between their attempt at a relationship and the invention of Batwoman Kate became very good. She moves like she's dancing, and her fight is artistry. There's nothing of Renee's sensei in her, but it's all grace and force and a smile that means she really really enjoys what she's doing.
Renee is going to remember that smile for many nights to come.
Right now, she just stands and watches thr Batwoman work her spell, and she remembers what it was like to be a layperson, watching the capes do theiir work. She has to remind herself that she's a cape herself, in a way.
He gives them the date and time of the auction, and Kate makes all the arrangements to crash the party. Renee's head is filled with the exictement and intoxication of working with a partner again. She missed this.
It's been a long long time since Renee was in Gotham, and the first order of business is Cris. He might not have any answers to the puzzle she's trying to put together, but she hasn't visited him, and he deserves that. She owes him a visit, and an apology.
She brings him roses. Not out of choice, but she didn't think to buy flowers until too late, and the street vendor only had red roses. Not usually the kind of thing that a lesbian would bring her male ex-partner, but Cris doesn't complain. Cris doesn't complain about anything these days.
She leaves them in their original wrapping by the gravestone.
From then on, she visits people in the exact reverse order of priority and need, because for everyone who isn't former Detective Allen, the people she most needs to see are the people she least wants to see. The uniform bars - nothing. Molly's - nothing. The obvious thugs - nothing, except the satisfaction of violence. The GCPD - something. Along with a lot of pain of seeing both Maggie and Jim at once. Renee is far too aware of how much she misses her cop family, but the job really wasn't good for her.
She's tracing the third version of the Bible of the Dark Faith. It was being handled by a man named Flay, and then passed to the Penguin for auction. Renee needs it; needs to know what she's dealing with.
And the best person to help her is the first and last person she wants to see.
"I owe you an apology, Kate."
God, she looks good. And she's mad, which is only to be expected considering how Renee left her (It feels like years now, fucking Milliways), and that just makes her hotter. It'd be a cliche to talk about redheads and their tempers; god knows Renee's been as guilty of that as anyone.
They go to a cafe for a drink – Kate is surprised that Renee doesn't drink anymore – and Renee explains about her quest to learn more about the book.
"The words, the pictures. It's hard to explain... it's terrifying, even... even evil... but it's also seductive and sometimes... sometimes you can see the beauty in it."
"STOP IT." Kate screams at Renee, who hadn't intended to start talking like that and is as much surprised by herself as by Kate's shouting. Kate doesn't have to remind Renee that the book ordered her murder, but she does anyway.
"You should destroy them," she insists. "Burn the books."
"No," Renee says stubbornly. "I can't. I have to know my enemy."
Kate remains unhappy, but she nevertheless aquieses to Renee's unspoken request for help.
Renee comes back the next Thursday.
And the Thursday after that. And after that. Regular. She meets Elicia, they sit in a room, and they talk. And then the Question slips out and investigates, waiting for the opportune moment to stop the initiation of Casucci.
Meanwhile, Renee can spend more and more time with the captivating, sweet, and constantly witty Elicia. As the weeks go by, she's thinking more of Elicia from week to week than of the mission; of the Cult. Elicia and Renee; Renee and Elicia.
On the eighth week, Elicia is not immediately available, so Renee waits, thinking only of the girl rather than the job, what they'll talk about, how Elicia will look and smell and laugh. She's marginally disappointed that another client gets to spend time Renee doesn't, but she can wait.
When Renee is shown up to the room, Elicia practically jumps on her, immediately sweeping her into a sudden kiss that Renee has to back out of.
"Elicia, slow down."
"Make love to me."
She has a bruise on her face, Elicia. Someone hit her, hard and recently. And Renee vows silently to make that person suffer for touching her in that way.
"She did," Elicia says reluctantly, voice lowering to a whisper. "You don't understand, they've been watching..."
They know. They know that Renee knows, what they're doing here. And Elicia has been threatened with further violence to keep her occupied here, because tonight is an initiation. Casucci's.
"That's why you keep coming back, isn't it?" Elicia asks. "You don't want me, you never did."
It cuts just as deep as anything Kate or Dee ever said. Renee flinches. "You're wrong,"
And she shows her just how wrong.
Afterwards, the regret hurts. Renee doesn't love Elicia, she knows that. She was just... infatuated, and she abused that infatuation, letting herself get distracted from the job in the process. The conversation is short, terse, and it's the Question who leaves the room, to find Casucci's initiation, catching him in ritual, just about to kill a woman at the alter of Cain.
They're all outmatched, and the Question makes short work of them all, reminding Casucci that "nothing they threaten you with could be worse than what they want you to become."
There's no satisfaction in making her way through the acolytes, but there is something in facing down the Mother Superior. The woman who hit Elicia, who used her to get to Renee, who orchestrated the whole thing and pushed her into doing what she hates herself for doing.
For a second, she sees and feels nothing except that hatred for herself, which gives way at anger at the whole sorry cult and what they did to her, and to Elicia. Out of disgust, she snatches a lit torch from the wall and throws it to the tapestries.
All traces of her sin must be erased.
Lesson Two: Lust
When it rains in Gotham, it rains sudden and it thunders hard and it continues until the city is swimming in its own filth. It is, Renee considers, real rain. When it rains in London - and she's decided it's always raining in London - it's a pale imitation of Gotham and somehow more annoying; a grey dampness that doesn't seem to actually come out of the sky so much as ooze up from the poorly kept streets (and Gotham's been through an earthquake) straight into her skin. It makes her miserable, and a miserable Renee is a Renee that misses alcohol and cigarettes and mild violence.
She's in London at the tail end of a short tour of the Religion of Crime's major outposts in Europe, and because of a newly published book by a Professor Stanton Carlyle, a Scot currently holding a research position at the Folklore Society at University College London. Tonight is a talk and accompanying signing - the single one promotional event for Carlyle's new book ; A Blasphemous Mythology: The Religion of Crime.
Renee has, of course, read the book. She's read two copies of the book it was based on: the Crime Bible, holy book of the Religion of Crime, the acolytes of which had only recently tried to cut out the heart of Renee's friend and one time lover. Not to mention that the man who first alerted her to the presence of the cult was Charlie, Vic Sage, the latest in the line of dead friends and partners of Renee Montoya. This is a job that needs completing.
If she could only stop making so many rookie mistakes.
Her first mistake was attempting to confront Carlyle at the talk about the possibility of the cult actually existing. It gave him the opportunity to be rude and dismissive in front of his audience, and alerted him to someone with a special interest to be there.
Her second mistake was, when cornering him in a Bloomsbury street after the talk, to betray that she knew of the existence of the three copies of the Crime Bible, even to name the two 'considered lost' (actually in the lighthouse with Tot). It put his defenses up even further and he stormed off with a mild threat.
So she did what she probably should have already done: she pulled her mask down over her face and broke into his offices, where she found a presentation case for what appeared to be a pair of scissors made by Watson & Weir in Westminster. Scissors - the favoured murder weapon of Peter Kürten, the Vampire of Dusseldorf.
The Crime Bible is like another of a similar name - it's made up of a number of 'books'. The Five Books of Blood. The Book of Moriarity. The Book of Kürten. It's all connected, all entwined. All obvious to the woman who's spent months immersing herself in the Bible and the cult.
The scissor-sellers supplied the charming American PI with Carlyle's home address, and she was back on the trail, pulling her mask down on the way. By the time the Question arrived at the house, it wasn't a moment too soon - Carlyle already had the scissors up and posed ready to kill his wife from behind.
By now, she had the answers, or so she thought. Carlyle, an acolyte of the Religion of Crime, wrote the book about it: pretending to be a dissection but really to promote knowledge of the Book and spread the cult further. The murder of his wife and child in the style of the Vampire of Dusseldorf would just increase profile and have more people turning to the book. Fortunately, the Question has been trained by Richard Dragon, and is able to easily subdue Carlyle. The sudden appearance of a better trained martial artist bearly phased her - she recognised him as a member of Order of the Stone, one of the major covens within the Religion, and he kept her working hard for a few tough minutes.
"You have learned the word," he told her, "but you resist its call."
Renee's final mistake was assuming it was just Stanton in the Cult of Crime. She was too busy with martial fighter man to notice his wife, or to stop her stabbing the professor. They were both followers.
Fueled with a sudden rush of adrenalin, Renee knocked the thug down and raced after the woman to the second floor, where she was just in time to utilise some vicious armbreaking and stop the murder of the son.
Vicious and intensely dissatisfying.
And now it's now. Face clear, Renee watches from an alley as the response to her 999 call comes in. A father is dead, a mother arrested and broken, and a son left. And the cult will get their publicity.
"I should've seen it," she tells herself. "I could've stopped it."
Lesson One: Deceit
“I need you to go to him again. Tell him it worked.”
It was a lifetime ago. More than a lifetime ago. That was a different city, a different world, and a different Renee who followed Jim's orders and made deal with the devil.
When she wakes, she'll rationalise it and remember and know that they didn't know where they stood and they didn't have much room to do anything else. She'll go over the mental pathways she's covered a thousand times since, and fail to come up with away they could have survived that isn't complete fairy tales.
But in her dream, right now, all she can see is hisface – both of them, and that eye continually mocking her while his other begs her to do the right thing, by all of them, by everyone. All she can hear is the tingle of his coin as it tocuhes ground, and she can't bear to finsd out what side came up this time.
It was another lifetime. But since Huntress returned to the bar, Renee has been dreaming it every night., and she realises now why it was she waited so long before returning to her own life, her own world.
She had to make sure Huntress came back.
And now she's back, and alive, and safe, and everyhting's going just as Renee remembers it – which isn't well.
Now it's time for Renee to get on with her own task.