The Step-ford Pt.1

September 18, 2016:

Girl Scouts and Citizens! None are what they seem.

Gotham Suburbia

((In poses))

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Judge Wyatt is about— Bruce Wyatt, sitting on his porch, reading a book. It's a quietly studious and perfectly respectable place for the lantern-jawed local judge, glasses on his nose and an iced tea at his elbow. It's a nice sunny day, just on the side of being hot if you're in the direct sun, and he makes no acknowledgement of Jason mowing his lawn aside from the initial wave 'hello'. A paperboy makes a delivery— a sprinkler *tink tink tinks* across the street.

It's idyllic, and a little 'too' perfect.

Suburbia. What's more white-pickett-fence than a high schooler selling Girl Scout Cookies? Stephanie's put on hazel colored contacts, put her hair up in a high ponytail with the perfect cheerleader tied bow, and pulled out her old Cadet Sash. She took a few moments to transfer only a few patches from her old sash to a newer one. Into a new backpack, she's put several boxes of Girl Scout Cookies and… she's off. Walking down the street in her High-School Girl Scout uniform, right toward Judge Wyatt's house to wave girlishly just on the other side of the fence in hopes he'll wave and give her the opening to make her sales pitch. I'm selling Girl Scout Cookies. Will you please buy a box or two to help my troop out? We're looking to make a sizeable donation this year to a local food bank.

#ITotallyGotThis

Across the street, Judge Wyatt rubs his brow as if distracted by something. Weirdly, it looks like he's facepalming.

Jason Todd lifts a hand in a wave back to the Judge before he turns off the lawnmower and moves towards the fence as if to speak with him. The scent of newly-mown grass just adds to that feel of Suburbia…that and the fact that Jason is wearing chinos and a polo shirt. To mow the lawn. There's a pause though as he catches sight of the teenager toting the Girl Scout cookies. Is it that season already?

"Are you sold out of Thin Mints?" is called out to the girl as he digs in a pocket for his wallet…that's still inside.

"You know, I'll take a box of Tagalongs," Wyatt tells the girl, digging in his pocket for a wallet. He walks towards her and Jason, leaning against the fence corner and coming up with a few $20s. "And the Thin Mints. My nieces, they're crazy for them," he tells Jason. "Four boxes," he tells the girl, handing her some cash. She's only got three boxes of Thin Mints. "Jason, you ever had the Rah-Rah Raisins? You should try them," he advises the young man, his voice level and quite bland— but there's a sense he's trying to give Jason some kind of hint.

"No, sir," Stephanie pipes up brightly, voice high and girly and cheery. Like the bright sunny day. She moves to slip the backpack off her shoulders so she can dig out that box. She's a vetern cookie-pusher. Earned that Philantropist Badge in like a month. Cookie sales, she TOTALLY has. And market research showed that Thin Mints are the number one seller in neighborhoods like this one. Thus, always pack an extra box of Thin Mints. If you're taking two of each, then thin mints have three boxes, and so forth. Also, put the Thin Mints on top.

The two quick sales seems to just make the Scout's day, for she brightens as Judge Wyatt comes up to purchase so many boxes. Stephanie didn't have to stretch too far. Just recall the joy of her first big sales day. Bam! Insta-smile.

"Oh! Yes, sir. Thank you!" she bubbles as she holds the backpack in front of her to get out the boxes that were ordered. All her boxes of thin mints, BUT!!

"Oh, the Rah-Rah's are really tasty! If you've never had them, you should totally try them. I have a box that I don't mind opening if you want? And if you don't like them, you don't have to buy that box," Stephanie says to Jason, being helpfully sales-girls about it. Free samples usually secure sales. Especially of food stuffs. Plus, Bruce just bought ALL the Thin Mints she had in her backpack. Which she'll high school freak out about in a moment. Right now! She starts handing over Thin Mints to Judge Wyatt.
Judge Wyatt just took his Thin Mints! This seems…appropriate, some how; Wyatt always seems to disappoint and make him angry. Blue eyes flash as he actually glares at the older Judge, but he doesn't quite miss the hint. "Fine…" is almost growled, "I'll try the raisins." He doesn't like raisins…they remind him of bugs.

The High School girl gets a glance as well as she seems to have heard of these cookies that Jason never has.

Of course, he calms down as people just aren't angry in Quaker Heights.

Every footstep bears the echo of heels. Ambassador of Cookie-Pushers. Even the (borrowed) pin on her beige lapel shows as much. Posture is picture-perfect and the pleated fabric waves with every pace, all the while the cross-strapped bag is tugged from over her chest to hang down in her grip at her side.

Red hair hangs in waves, recently lain and to bounce just over shoulders while a hand pushes glasses up over blue eyes, putting themback into place so that she can thrust a hip to the side and perchher bag there, just behind Stephanie.

"Thin Mints and Rah-Rah's? I have some additional, as we promise "to help people at all times,". "

Extra boxes extracted.

"Oh, y'know." Wyatt chuckles, patting his stomach. He looks a bit paunchy. "I don't want to gain TOO much weight. I'll need to take up running again," he says with an easy smile. Which, to Jason, looks… weirdly false.

"How are you ladies doing? Have you had plenty of sales today? I know Mrs. Caruthers down the street is looking to help feed her kids, they're crazy for snacktime," he says with a smile.

Inside the box of Rah-Rahs is a note. In flourishing script, a pen— and Jason might peg it as a girl's handwriting.

'Poisoned', is all the note says.

Wyatt pointedly ignores the note that falls into Jason's palm, chatting amicably with the two ladies. Other Girl Scouts are going down the street, too, selling cookies.

Seems a LOT of Girl Scouts, actually, for a town of only a thousand or so people.

Which is normal.

Or is it?

With the Thin Mints handed over, and the money taken, Stephanie turns a smile at the red-head.

"That's right!" Stephanie says with a bright cheerleader nod of her hand. It sets her blonde ponytail bouncing even as she collects the Rah-Rah's and hands them over to Jason.

"We've had good sales, Mr. Wyatt. Thank you. And your help, both of yours, is so greatly appreciated!" Stephanie adds in that over-enthusiast way that does not read at all false on her face or voice or frame. She's got her attention on Bruce, happily chattering as only a bright-eyed high schooler can! And one who's a girl scout and a cheerleader and probably on the Student Council and….

This disguise… not a stretch. #IgotThisCoach!

Jason Todd takes a peek at the note and then looks sharply at Wyatt. The He..ck? The boxes of the cookies are taken and he brings them inside, promising to return with the cash to pay for them. The boxes of cookies are tossed in the trash before he returns and hands over a twenty. And now there are two girlscouts? And one of them might look a little familiar.

"Do I know you?" is asked of the redhead before he glances at Wyatt. Does he?

"Caruthers…" A small notepad is pulled from inner pocket of the beige vest-coat. Glasse are gripped by the frame to tuck back up upon the bridge of her nose. A lick of finger and she flips through pages of the tiny booklet.

Over her shoulder? Empty. But within those glasses a digitalized screen scrolls and gives her data.

A small bamboo digital tablet-pen comes to lips and taps, pausing with the return of Jaon and the query. "Do you? Depends. What school did you go to, or graduate from? What ranking? I am simply an Ambassador for my fellow Scout, and we pave the way.."

So pre-programmed, and yet… between Jason and Wyatt, something is familiar.

"Sure, happy to help," Wyatt says, nodding in a friendly fashion at the girls. "You know. The Girl Scouts do good work." An ice-cream truck rumbles past, singing a cheery song. Treats and candies for everyone!

And then a shadow passes overhead, and two girlscouts turn down the alley, and Wyatt does something so fast that Jason almost misses it— he whips a rock at a nearby telephone pole, and a bird looking away falls to the ground… with a metallic *clunk*.

"Now. Quick," Wyatt says, his tone brisk and efficient. He vaults the fenceline and grabs Jason by the arm. "Storm cellar," he tells the two girlscouts, nodding at the back of Jason's house. "Thirty seconds until it reboots." He tugs Jason along with a surprisingly strong grip. "Quick, Jason— don't argue. Not much time to talk," he orders the fellow, moving to the back of the other man's place.

Stephanie bites her lip as she looks at her Ambassador as she consults the Sales Log to see if they hit that house yet or not. That nervousness helps mask Stephanie's want to cringe at that pre-programmed 'reading from a script'… OHMYGOD! Really, Barbara? Just -really-?! It wouldn't have killed you to .. i don't know… had a conversation with an actual honest to God Girl Scout Ambassador before… No, you know what. Stephanie will not let this ruin the moment. She's selling gosh-durn cookies here!

And then ACTION!

Stephanie's nervousness falls away instantly and she moves. Backpack snapped shut and she sprints for the back. Storm cellar openned, she holds the door open for Barbara before dropping down after and closing up behind her.

Babs' schooling was summa cum laude, not selling cthum laucookies! Coconut and all. Though, the chocolate drizzle…

Once action starts Babs is left standing alone on the suburban street with that pen dimpling lwer lip and the pad of paper falling from her hand to the sidewalk….

This is exactly why she has done what she has.

White button up blouse beneath the vest is gripped, and while buttons fall beneath golden heels that crest of shining 'foolishness' is revealed, a symbol to gleam against the shadows while she pursues Stephanie into the cellar.

Behind her the vest is left to lay like forgotten leaves on stairs and a cowl is thrust over deep auburn curls.

Batgirl is back, and she has a family to help.

"Uhm…Law School…" Jason knows that much and he looks to Wyatt for some help. Is this sort of what he was talking about? There were no diplomas in his house…maybe they were in his office? But he should remember something like that, right? But then Wyatt beans the metal bird and jumps the fence to grab him towards the storm cellar of his own house!

Didn't he have a paunch earlier?

"Wait, what? I…" but he's being pulled along without much of a chance to react for a moment.

It isn't until they're in the storm cellar does he pull away…twist away, if he must, with a muscle-memory that he didn't realize he had. "Just what was that about?" And then he looks over to Barbara and blinks.

The brain is an incredible thing — even if it's been washed a little, some memories are ingrained and can't be erased, just buried. At some point though, they push themselves back to the surface, especially when triggered by certain catalysts. Like a Bat-Symbol. Jason steps back away from them and looks down at himself in Chinos and a polo shirt…and no gun. "Just what the HELL is going on?" It sounds much more like Jason Todd.

"Not now," Wyatt hisses at Batgirl, tugging the front of her shirt shut. "Not ready yet." He holds a finger to his lips and crawls around the basement, even stooping to put an ear to the outlets and tap the lightbulb with his fingertips. It doesn't take him long— he finds a bundle of wires behind an outlet that should /not/ be there, and plugs something into the socket. There's a *bzzrt* as it shorts out.

"There. That's the only bug," Wyatt explains.

He faces Jason, leaving the man bracketed by the two women— one blonde, one redhead, and both with serious expressions.

"You couldn't find the photos, could you," he rasps. "Not of /your/ kids. Other people's kids. You realize that's why you never look at them— why they don't mean anything to you. They're not /your kids/ in that photo," he tells Jason.

"Are they."

Batgirl's expression goes blank when Wyatt seals her shirt before the buttons can *tick* more then twice over the cellar stairs.

The glasses are gone, the eyes have shifted to adjust to a placement of contacts that came with preparation for cowl that remains like a headband beneath the billow of auburn hair. Fingers even still clutch it at the bas eof neck like a youth inconsolable to the plight going on. Even her lower lip quivers as Jaon begins to recall…

"Please, don't…" ..Fight it…

Eyes cast to the side and what had once been laid out in the rolling digitalization of disposed glasses now comes to life: When Batman taps the bulb it seems to fizzle to death and then pulses… The whole cellar starts to try to charge.

"Please. Jason…" A hand clutches her shirt where Batman had concealed the symbol, the other reaching for him, that natural empathy with it, all the while standing beside Spoiler, between them.

"There were no pictures," Jason answers Wyatt, watching as he zaps a bug in the cellar. Really? "Why would someone do this?" He looks back to the redhead, clutching at the cowl, his frown returning as he takes a step away even as she reaches for him. "I don't know you…" and he has no gun. He should have a gun. At least two.

There's a look between the three as his wariness just increases. "I'm…too young to have kids that age." Well, not -technically-, but it seems unlikely.

"What the HELL is going on?" he demands again.

"You know what's going on," Wyatt rasps at Jason, his voice dark and sepulchural. "I've seen you. You're putting it all together. You've got all the pieces— youi know something here is very wrong," he tells Jason.

"This city. Have you ever seen so many cops and girl scouts and people in uniform?" he says, waving a hand at the wall.

"The birds. They don't sing. They just watch. The free food, the doughnuts at work— even the coffee near the bus line. You know something's not right. The camera in your clock— why is there a /camera/ in your /clock?" he rasps, putting a demand on Jason to start /thinking/.

Babs steps for Jason, the evident regret a shadow in those eyes as her had slightly wavers from the reach for him, a curl of pale fingers with the dip og the outer corner of brows. The clutch of cowl becomes a thing much akin to a blanket while she looks to the broken cement floor of the cellar.

Wyatt speaking drops the clutches from symbol to cowl, a thread of fingers between red hairs' waves and white thread.

"You are not too young…" Her voice becomes just as raspy, a mimicry of Wyatt's, but effeminate.

"You just haven't, because it isn't you." Those eyes, the glasses hooked into pocket of white blouse tugged over the symbol he shouldn't have seen.

"Remember!" She shouts in tandem with "Wyatt's" word about his clock.

Jason Todd lifts is hands up in front of him as if warding the two away. He -is- thinking and it's confusing him. Happiness isn't something Jason's felt in a long time…years, at least, and peace and contentment is unknown to him, yet he was shown this here. And it's all fake? It's all a lie? If he thinks about it, he can catch glimpses of the truth…a truth that's pretty awful.

So are the chinos and polo shirts and mowing lawns and PTA meetings.

But then he goes back to misery.

Blue eyes flick between the others before he goes to push his way through them and back out the storm cellar.

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