“Hello, this is Dr. Catarina Crane.” She greeted, one hand holding her phone to her ear while the other was on her steering wheel. Other cars zoomed past her, coming across as shining, colored blurs on the other side of the road. She was a little bit more at ease knowing that J.J. wasn’t dead in a ditch somewhere, but his face haunted her. She couldn’t close her eyes without seeing his blank eyes and bloody pseudo smile. She barely got any sleep the night before, and she was surprised she functioned at work.
“Hey Cat, I need the address.” She rolled her eyes. She wasn’t even home yet, and of course he was already calling her. She couldn’t help but wonder how he got her number.
“How did you get my cell phone number?” She asked, carefully concealing her temper behind a callous voice. He laughed, and in that moment she realized how he got it.
“You didn’t delete it off of the call log on my work phone, I wrote it down.” Damn! She thought, gripping the phone harder. I knew I should have gone through the phone after that. Truth be told, Dr. Crane was far too embarrassed after that moment to stay in his office any longer than she had to. She made a mistake, and that was another defence that she lost to him.
“So?” He asked. She sighed loudly, yet none of the frustration from the situation left her.
“So what, Mr. Trager?” She asked.
“Hey, remember, it’s Rick when we’re not working.” He reminded her. She racked her mind as she thought of ways to not call him that.
“I’m not calling you that. I hate the name Rick.” She practically spat. She heard him chuckle over the phone.
“I don’t care what you call me, baby, just none of that Mr. Trager stuff. You make me feel old.” She scoffed at this, slamming on her brake as she hit a red light.
“I can drive myself tonight.” She told him, though this wouldn’t deter him. She could practically see his smug smile, and it made her blood boil.
“Sorry, babe, I wasn’t raised that way.” He spun around slightly in his chair, smiling wider as he heard her sigh. It was a loud sigh, one that should have reminded him that she was getting annoyed, and she wasn’t someone you wanted to annoy. That never stopped him in the past though, and part of him really enjoyed getting her all riled up.
“Fine.” As she pulled into her parking spot, she told him her address. She figured it was better than letting him follow her home.
When he arrived at her door later that night, he couldn’t help but be shocked. He always knew Catarina was rather attractive (her blue eyes and high cheekbones were enough to make any man or woman swoon), but he quickly realized she cleaned up rather well. Her brown curls that were usually in a (sometimes frizzy) ponytail were finally let loose, cascading over her right shoulder and looking like silk. She wore a sleeveless, backless black dress with a plunging neckline and a slit down the left leg, leaving almost nothing to his imagination. On her lips was a dark red that almost looked black in a certain light, and her eyes were done with a smoky grey color. Around her neck was a choker with a blood red gem in the center, though this small pop of color didn’t distract him from everything else.
He was wearing one of his usual button down shirts, this time it was a plain white, with black dress pants. His hair, as usual, looked as if there was an attempt to gel back the curls. He wasn’t dressed quite as vibrantly as he normally did, and she almost appreciated that.
She felt a shiver go up her spine as his eyes roamed her body, and she was sure she wasn’t prepared for the rest of the night. In a way, she viewed herself as some sort of femme fatale. She would make herself look irresistible, and when he fell into her trap, she could rub it in his face. Not that he’d be able to tell what was going on after she got her way.
“What’s wrong? Scared?” She asked, sadism flashing in her eyes. Trager thought his heart would explode at this. He looked down and checked his watch, hoping that maybe he could spare a moment before heading out. He wanted her badly, but he knew they had to go.
“No, not scared. You do have me feeling a certain way though-” He went to grab her hand, but she moved away. It was instinctual, and part of her wondered if she was going to do anything but move away from him. His words disgusted her, and she wanted to tell him that, but she knew she had to suck it up for a night and put on a happy face. She had to ignore his comments, ignore his advances, just long enough to get the toxin in him.
“Let me grab my bag, I’ll be back. Either wait in the hall or come inside and close the damn door.” She told him, only for him to realize the reason why she said this. Edgar II strutted toward the door, and Trager quickly stepped in and closed the door to prevent the cat from escaping. He knelt down, running a hand along the cat’s back.
“You have a cat?” He called, which prompted Catarina to come back into the room. In her hand was a small, black handbag, and her eyes were full of fear.
“Don’t touch him. Let’s just go.” She said, taking the cat up into her arms and putting him on the couch. Trager just stood there, watching every move she made. When she returned, he took her hand, and this time she didn’t flinch. While he was sure it was just him, he felt a spark when he touched her. He knew that she hated him, and he knew damn well that she wouldn’t enjoy the hand holding, but so far she didn’t say anything. He considered this a win.
Maybe, just maybe , he wouldn’t leave her in the dust when the night was over.
They got to the restaurant around twenty minutes after he picked her up, yet his friend still wasn’t there. Cat was sitting on the bench outside while Trager leaned against the brick wall. They could hear the chatter of people inside, a few times they could hear laughter, and the sounds of metal on glass. The warm lights from inside illuminated the outside, casting a soft light on the duo. It was chilly, which was to be expected around that time of the year, and the inside of the restaurant was warm and inviting. Cat dug around in her little handbag until she pulled out a thin, black shawl. She figured it was better than nothing.
She wrapped the cloth around her shoulders and held it close to her chest, catching the attention of the man beside her.
“You know, I have a sweater in the back of my car. I could get it for you.” Trager offered, but Cat shook her head.
“I’m fine.” She answered, and again an awkward silence fell between the two. Trager sighed and sat down beside her, looking at his watch and rolling his eyes. This was the first time she had seen him be slightly annoyed.
“I really thought Jer would be here by now.” He muttered to himself, though Cat heard him. She was sitting close to him, close enough to smell his cologne, close enough to notice his small, subtle ticks. He would bounce his leg, and adjust his watch on his wrist nervously. He leaned forward, resting his arms on his knees, and for once Cat wanted to say something.
“I’m guessing this friend is Jeremy Blaire?” She asked, but he only nodded. When he looked up at her again, she saw a certain vulnerability in her eyes. She wasn’t sure what to make of it, and she wasn’t sure why he’d be feeling that way at that moment. She couldn’t help but wonder if he wanted that night to be perfect.
“I wouldn’t worry about it, he’s an ass anyway.” She stated in her usual tone, which brought a smile to his face. He liked that about her, she was blunt and humorless at times, with a certain bite to her when she was joking, too.
“I haven’t been much better,” he began, his voice low. She couldn’t be sure if he was being genuine, but if he was, she was intrigued. “I’m sorry, really, for how I acted before all this. I shouldn’t have blackmailed you into this.” He let out a small laugh.
“I really thought the night would’ve gone better than this.” He finished, his voice soft. She wasn’t used to him whispering, and when he did it frightened her. The idea that this man, who was the item of her hatred, had feelings and thoughts that didn’t revolve around annoying her and making her uncomfortable, bewildered her. She didn’t say anything, she didn’t trust that he was sorry for blackmailing her.
She was right to think that way. He didn’t regret it. In fact, he believed it would have been the only way to get her to go out with him. He was right about that. She’d do anything for J.J., and that was her weakness. Her love for her friend didn’t matter when she could be there with him, even if it was only for a few hours. He was going to get what he wanted, and he wasn’t going to feel bad about how he got it. Yet, as time went on, he realized he wanted her more than just in the physical sense.
“I guess we can go in and get a table before they get here.” He suggested, and she wholeheartedly agreed, to the point that she stood first, offering her hand to him. He still led the way inside.
They sat down at a booth, the waiter left menus for them, and two more for the missing people in their party. She was still cold in demeanor, but she was sitting much closer to him than when they were on the bench. He had already ordered their drinks, she chose a simple sparkling water, while he had ordered wine. He learned that Cat wasn’t a drinker. She wasn’t fond of the taste of alcohol or the feelings that came with it, and he was practically mystified. He hadn’t considered the fact that she wasn’t a drinker, but it made perfect sense. He bit back the urge to make a smart comment about her being a stick in the mud, or something along those lines.
Almost a half an hour later, they began opening up to each other.
“So your dad had a room full of weird masks? That’s why you think you have daddy issues?” He sounded surprised, as if he couldn’t believe it. She chuckled.
“I didn’t say I did!” She slapped his arm, a smile on her face. It was a smile that mirrored the one from when she saw J.J. again, even if she didn’t realize it. In turn, Trager didn’t realize the fondness in his eyes.
“It was just weird and, yeah, it freaked me out. It’s why I do what I do. That and the expectations from my family.” She explained finally. She didn’t consider this information important, and she didn’t think he could use it against her in any way. These were things she told Michelle after hanging out with her in the cafeteria - common knowledge.
Trager, on the other hand, was a wildcard at this point. She felt like she could handle anything he threw at her and there was nothing he could tell her that would change her opinion of him.
“Well, since we’re on daddy issues, I definitely have some. My dad used to be a real dick, you know? He used to call me stupid, fuck up, shit like that. He’s the reason why I didn’t become a doctor. He said I wasn’t smart enough, I believed him, even if my grades didn’t match up with what he was saying. I was popular, and he was convinced I would be dead in some gutter somewhere by thirty five because of it. Turns out I was just really good at talking.” Well, prepared for anything but that.
Despite what he told her, he laughed. She felt a familiar tug at her heart, and as much as she hated to admit it, she felt bad for him. She wanted to laugh along with him, and she did, albeit awkwardly.
“He did hit me once, but he never laid a hand on me after that.” He got quiet again, as if he didn’t realize he was talking.
“I’m sorry.” She muttered, taking a sip of her water. He seemed to snap out of it at the sound of her voice.
“No, no, I’m sorry. I got a little carried away there.” His smile was back, and this time he rested his cheek on his hand, smiling widely at her and waiting patiently for her to speak again.
“You’d do well in Gotham, you know that?” She said to him, and his eyebrows shot up in a look of intrigue.
“I’m not gonna elaborate.” She shook her head and looked to her left. Even though she didn’t want to say it, she wouldn’t mind doing something like this again. He wasn’t as unbearable as he was at work, and in a way she related to him. She wasn’t sure if she should be worried about that or not.
She slipped her shawl off and started wrapping it around her hand so she could put it back in her bag, and Trager watched her silently. She was amazed at the fact that she was enjoying herself, especially considering how she didn’t want to go out in the first place.
Then, her hand brushed against the syringe in her bag, and she was reminded of the danger she was in, and what this man who was getting into her head had done. She had a moral obligation to finish what she started, but she wondered if she’d be able to by the end of the night. She didn’t realize that her face dropped, nor did she realize that Trager noticed this. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye and smiled awkwardly before stuffing the shawl into her bag finally.
She went to say something, but was cut off by the arrival of one Jeremy Blaire and his date.