Apparently, just walking in wasn't her worst of plans.
Sure, she didn't get to talk to the 'Boss'
immediately, but as soon as you say 'I just want to make some money, I know the city like the back of my hand with my eyes closed'
Penguin is surprisingly willing to give people chances.
Granted, anyone that screwed him over usually went missing, and turned up in the harbor with some limbs missing, but that wasn't the point.
After a brief conversation between the muscle that waved her in that she later came to know as Reggie and the Beak himself, Stephanie was waved over to his table, where the would be Kingpin was eating a late lunch of fish, fish and more fish, all in various states of… rare.
"Alright, Missy. I like your style. I'll give you a job. A trial run, if you like. I need a package taken from the fish packing plant to an... old friend of mine."
Saying nothing but raising a brow, waiting for more details, Cobblepot slowly grinned, seeing there was already an understanding of how things ran.
"No questions? I already like you. He's paid half, so I know how much you're meant to bring back to me. Don't get any ideas."
Unable to help herself, Steph shakes her head.
"Me? Ideas? Wouldn't dream of it. I do have one question, actually. Is it bigger than a bread box? Will I need a bag?"
Leaning in and studying her, eyes narrowed slightly, Oswald let out a sudden loud honk of a laugh, slapping the table top.
"You're funny, kid. It's packaged. A bag might help you transport though. You'll get the delivery address from the packing plant. Now before I have Reggie here throw you out on your pretty little backside to get to work, what's your name."
"Crystal. Cris. Cris Brown."
She blurts before her brain catches up with her, hoping her face stayed neutral in her panic. If anything happened on her face, neither of the men in front of her caught it. Nodding slowly, shifting to pick up his cigarette holder, Penguin waved her off with the outer hand.
"Go on now, Cris. If you do well, we may have a spot for you in the family."
'Oh goodie… just what I always wanted…'
Somehow, she managed to keep her inside voice inside. She needed money. She didn't really want to go with her other plans.
"Thank you for the job, Mr Cobblepot."
Receiving a grunt in response, and being led back out, Steph waited until she was a block away before she started swearing at herself.
"Really? You immediately go to your mother's name?! What is wrong with you?! You're an idiot. Stupid, STUPID girl."
The pick-up itself went smoothly enough. Someone at the Lounge was kind enough to call ahead about a new girl on a trial coming by to pick up the thing for the guy. While waiting by an industrial tub full of ice in a walk in fridge, the thought crossed her mind about how easy it would be for her to be locked in here and never heard from again, for real this time.
However she was pleasantly surprised when a package in brown paper and twine was handed to her, along with a slip of paper, before being basically shoved out the door.
Honor amongst thieves, or something. Or maybe they knew Penguin would handle any mess caused by a new girl messing things up.
Her innate curiosity drove her to squeeze the package a few times, before sniffing at it, pulling a face, smelling only the fish. Probably by design. She'd have to remember that one.
Unfolding the paper, she saw a number, which she took to be the sum remaining, and the address, which she immediately recognised, unless he had moved in her time away.
"Oh, son of a bitch–"
At least she had a rough idea of what was in a package this size now, if it was heading to that address. And she felt a whole less safe just carrying it about willy nilly. Maybe. She wasn't an explosives expert.
A bump couldn't set off plastic explosives, right?
Just to be sure. She could put it in a cake box and then yell at anyone trying to destroy her grandmother's birthday. Perfect. Great idea.
Where was the nearest bakery?
Gingerly carrying the package under her arm, she poked around in the nearby production company dumpsters, before finding a donut box that wasn't entirely trashed.
Gently slipping the package into the box and closing it, she carried it flat, before setting out to find the mark.
Travelling Gotham on foot took so much longer than she remembered. Job three, get some wheels.
Maybe Mom still had her bike? Was she game enough to go and rob herself? Maybe. She'd deal with that later. Get rid of this first.
"Everything doesn't have to be about fear. There's room in our line of work for hope, too."
Taking in the sounds of the city as she made her way through it, some she missed, like music, passing snippets of conversation, laughter, traffic, and others she didn't, like the distant sounds of gunshots, sirens, screams for help, especially when she had to ignore them, she found herself standing across the street from an apartment block that she had been in only once before.
She wished she had a disguise.
Sighing heavily, hoping the Bats and Birds of Prey currently had more on their plates with the gangs than bothering keeping up to the minute tabs on the Riddler, Steph reluctantly moved through the building, taking the stairs to avoid the camera in the elevator. Checking down the hall of the floor and seeing it clear, she shook her head at herself, at her damned luck, – of course she'd get sent here first, the only way it could be a worse delivery would be if it was to Selina –
and raised a fist to rap on the door, hanging her head.
Maybe he wouldn't recognise her with her hair grown out. Last time she was here she had short hair. Maybe it wasn't even Eddie here anymore and it was all a coincidence. Maybe–
The door opened a crack, the door chain in place.
"Yes? Can I help you?"
It was Eddie.
Sighing softly, shoulders slumping, Stephanie raised her head, holding the box in both hands.
"Delivery, Mr Nygma. From a friend…"
'Don't recognise me, don't recognise me, don't–'
The door snapped shut, the sound of the chain sliding out of place, before the door flew open, and she was yanked inside, the door slamming behind her. While Steph stumbled, struggling to keep her balance, holding the box above her head before righting herself, Riddler jammed his cane into the base of her skull.
"What game is the Bat playing now?"
Lowering the box slowly, sitting it on top of her head, she turned it to face him and flicked it open, revealing the brown paper package.
"No Bat at all, Eddie… Penguin."
A long silence between them, Stephanie not moving while her, for better or worse, 'Uncle' peered into the box. Never a fan of the quiet, in any situation, she cleared her throat and offered a suggestion.
"You could call and verify with him if you want. Maybe not with the landline though… last I knew the Birds of Prey were keeping tabs on you. It's how I found you the first time after-ow!"
The cane came down across her knuckles sharply, jerking her hand back reflexively.
"Yes, thank you, Miss Brown, I remember your last visit all too well. It was after your father died. Then you died. Supposedly…"
However, he took the box from Stephanie's head, flinging the donut outer shell disguise across the room.
"I got better…"
She shrugged, not sure how else to respond to the statement that wasn't going to dredge up a years worth of healing and trauma. With a murmur of acknowledgement to the statement, the Riddler peeled off the brown paper packaging to confirm his order was accurate, before moving to open the cabinet under the kitchen sink. Taking the opportunity to glance at what was inside the package, Stephanie couldn't confirm or clarify her suspicion, before having a Chinese takeout bag stuffed into her hands.
Peering into it reflexively, getting wrapped on the back of the head by the cane, Eddie shook his head.
"You'd get shot doing that anywhere else. That's Ozzie's. Eyes up."
Scowling and rubbing her head, she closed the bag.
"I'll just have to remember to wait and be nosy when no-one is watching then."
"Better. But keep your nose as clean as you can. Until you're liked and can get away with things. That's the only advice you'll get from me. Consider it even, for the Birds on the line tip."
Narrowing her eyes slightly at the Riddler, she backed towards the door, before offering a weak scouts salute and letting herself out, and leaving the building as quickly as possible.
She didn't want to get roped into any games, or busted, after all.
Heading immediately from Riddler's apartment back to the Iceberg Lounge, doing her best to avoid gang lands where she could, (easier said than done, since territories had changed in the aftermath of her mistake, and the year following, and her not having access to current intel) Steph greeted Reggie at the door with a grin, holding up the bag.
"Boss order some food?"
Being waved in by an almost surprised looking doorman, she looked to the table Penguin was at earlier, before heading towards the office. Cris shouldn't have known where that was, but Stephanie knew all too well where it was, having crashed it several times. Wrapping a knuckle on the door, tilting her head as she looked at it, she folded her arms across her chest.
'Is this new?'
Came the response from the other side of the door, along with the muffled chirps and clicking of several birds. Opening the door a crack, peering in wearily to see Penguin on the other side of his desk, working through stacks of paperwork, surrounded by dozens of varying breeds of bird on all different perches, and in different cages, she pulled the door open more.
'This is definitely new…'
"Uh, delivery from your friend, Boss?"
She held up the bag, eyes drifting to the sparrows and robins on a perch built to look like a branch in the corner.
"Ah, good. Bring it in."
Crossing the room in a few quick strides, she sat the bag on the desk.
"Did you count it?"
Cobblepot grunts, taking the takeout boxes from the bag, and taking the bundles of bills from them. With a quick shake of her head, Steph folds her hands in front of her, squeezing them together.
"I didn't touch it at all. Not mine."
With a honk of a laugh, running the bills through a counting machine – he might have been willing to give chances, but he wasn't completely stupid after all – and confirming all the money was there, Penguin counted out a few of the bills and held them out to the blonde.
"You did good today, Crissy. No trouble from Eddie either?"
Reaching out for the bills, surprised to get so much for so little done so quickly, she shook her head in response to the question.
"Good, good… welcome to the family. There's plenty more for you where that comes from."