Stronger Together

January 31, 2017:

Stephanie barges into Tim's bachelor pad, flush with info from her own research into arcane affairs. Everything stays very professional.

Tim Drake's Penthouse Loft, NYC

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Batman, Zatanna Zatara, John Constantine

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Days after Tim handed Stephanie his notes on demon things, she set about tracking him down. He wasn't in Gotham and hadn't stopped by the cave recently. It took a little bit of work, but she managed it, and called him as she was pulling in by the place he was at.

"Hi, Tim. Can we talk?" she says into the phone when he answers.

The place Tim is at is, naturally, the building where he bought the penthouse in downtown Manhattan.

Freakin' rich kids.

Having had what might be diplomatically called an eventful weekend (he was briefly trapped in an alternate universe version of New York created by a maniac who wanted everything to be perfect and everyone happy all the time, and then he almost died on account of being shot by perfection-enforcing drones) he had decided not to return to Gotham right away, and was instead lounging on the couch in the sunken living room of his spacious loft, playing video games. He takes time off… Sometimes.

"Hey, Steph," Tim answered the phone, having not expected to see her number pop up on there, and he experiences a moment of reflexive dread when she says 'can we talk?', a trio of words no man ever wants to hear out of any woman, under any circumstances. 'Can we talk?' is never good. Never ever. "Uh… Sure, we can talk. What's up?"

"Well, I got to looking through your notes," Steaphanie starts, smiling winningly at the doorman and getting let into the building. "And there's some details I wanted to go over with you in person."

No man wants to hear 'can we talk' followed by 'in person', do they? But Stephanie's said those words, mostly in that order, and like any girl, she doesn't seem to realize the horrible weight they have.

The doorman is of course unsurprised; there are a lot of handsome, wealthy young men who live in the building. There's probably not a shortage of pretty girls visiting.

Tim, of course, has no idea what's going on. It's absurd to think that Stephanie could have some horrible emotional bombshell to drop on him /now/, of all times. Surely they've exhausted all their emotional bombshells on each other in the past. He does frown, though, with his cellphone tucked between his shoulder and his ear, still playing that game.

"Oh, you… Found something?" Tim says, having the gall to sound slightly surprised. He'd been worrying she'd get herself into some kind of trouble if she went nosing around, though at least now there's not much risk of her being captured by an evil secret society and brainwashed and getting a suicide chip implanted in her skull, which is one less worry on his shoulders. "I'm not in Gotham right now, actually, I'm in New York, it's… Uh… A long story. I should be back in a couple days, though…"

If only he knew, right?

"I'm not sure this can wait," Stephanie says as she stands at the elevator door, Hello Kitty phone held to her ear. She's in uniform. School, uniform. Not Gotham Prep, but what is concerned 'appropriate' for Gotham U, which still reads too young when she pulls her hair in a single high pony tail. Add to this a pink back pack with a Pinkie Pie charm on it and well…

If only she knew the picture she was creating.

"So, I'm on my way up to see you," she adds as the door dings open. Her tone is bright and cheerful, a cute chirp that was more than likely said with a bounce to her step as she gets into the elevator. (It totally was said that way.)

"It was a long trip, so please don't say this is a bad time."

"What," Tim replies, flatly.

It's not like his place is a mess. In fact, it's much cleaner than it has been recently, since there aren't bits of costume laying around, or the evidence that he'd performed some emergency surgery on himself to remove bullets and stitch up his own injuries. He was a particular and organised person, after all. He liked his space to be clean, and just so.

"How did you even…?" he starts to wonder, before he thinks better of it, heaving a sigh and shutting off his game as he gets up and heads towards the door of his penthouse loft. The tall windows look out on a spectacular view of New York, the whole thing very modern, very understated in the kind of way that lets you know it was really expensive, very open concept.

By the time Stephanie gets out of the elevator, Tim is waiting for her in his open doorway, his arms folded across his chest; he's wearing a red t-shirt and a pair of black track pants, suitable for just lounging around in. And /she/ looks like…

"Are you going undercover at a girls' school? Or at an underground movie studio for a very /particular/ sort of audience?" Maybe she was just watching that old Britney Spears video again. "Come in, though, since you're here."

"What?" Stephanie echoes. Tim's flat, she's wide-eyed, innocent. WHen Tim starts to wonder, she giggles. God help whomever is in that elevator with her.

"That's such a silly question. I'll see you in a bit," she retorts, hanging up so he can unnerd himself a bit for her arrival. Not that the nerd thing ever bothered the captain of hte cheer team. Nerds are cute. And they help you with your homework. Win-win. Arriving at the penthouse, Stephanie quirks a brow at Tim, tilting her head and dropping a hand on her hip.

"I went to school today," she chides Tim lightly, a grin on her face. A grin with fades into a bright blush at the mention.

"Oh, God," is the groan, blue eyes rolling. She makes her way, eyes giving him a quick survey. Well, and the place too. Because PENTHOUSE. Stephanie doesn't live in one of those. Freaking rich kids!

That Stephanie went to school and then went to the trouble to come all the way to NYC to talk to him tells Tim that whatever she has to say /is/ important, so he lets her in and then shuts the door once they're both inside the penthouse, the electronic lock engaging with a quiet beep.

It is a very nice place, but of course certain things are expected of a Wayne, even one who only gets that name because he was adopted. Besides, there's no reason he should be uncomfortable, right? Between this, the townhouse in Gotham where Stephanie had returned him the other day (and made him get some sleep, probably with some implied threat of violence to his person) and his rooms at Wayne Manor, well. He's got plenty of comfort available.

"Can I get you a drink? There's water, iced tea, ginger ale, Coke…" he's already puttering towards the kitchen, and its large stainless steel fridge. "So what brought you all the way out here, Steph? Can't imagine you did it just to see me in person."

Seeing Tim moving a touch gingerly, Stephanie steps quickly and easily past him and into the kitchen.

"I'll get hte drinks. You sit. I'll have water. You?" Stephanie asks as her backpack is set to the counter.

"Can we talk honestly here?" she asks, tone almost sounding girlfriendy. She will not be jealous of his pad. Her dorm and childhood home are nice. Quaint, but nice.

Despite the magical healing he received, some of the pain still lingers, and there's still the matter of what Tim had to do to himself - psychologically speaking - in order to not be subsumed by the 'Tim Drake' of that other, supposedly perfect world. The Tim Drake whose parents had never died, whose parents had always been around and loving and attentive. The Tim Drake who had never been Robin, never made that strange new family. The Tim Drake who had, of course, never met Stephanie Brown.

He's managed to put the worst of that away, as well, but everyone takes time to recover. Even Tim, no matter it's impossible to get him to /admit/ it.

There's a faint sigh from Tim, but he knows that there's some things you can't dissuade the blonde from once she's decided on them, so he just redirects himself back to the living room, the sunken area ringed by a sort of built-in couch, around a coffee table. "I'll have a Coke," he says. Caffeine is an important part of the diet of someone who lives like him.

"Yeah, it's safe here," he assures her in response to that question. "I sweep for bugs every day, and the soundproofing is excellent."

"Oh, Thank God," Stephanie says then, tone losing that school girl cute. Not completely, because she is Stephanie, but enough that she's clearly not leaning on what people assume from that anymore. Drinks and backpack in hand, Stephanie heads back over and hand the drink to Tim. Coke, complete with ice cubes.

"I looked over the information you gave me. And sorry it took so long. I had to track down some occult guys to Arkham," she starts with a sip of her water.

A bit of tension that Tim didn't even realise he was feeling fades when Stephanie starts talking more normally… But then he starts to think about it, and the corners of his mouth tug down into a slow frown. What kind of ideas was she giving anybody she ran into on the way up from the lobby?!

That's probably a silly thing to worry about, but, well. Boys, right?

He takes the offered drink, mubling something that might be thanks, and scoots over. There's plenty of room for the both of them to sit, but he tries to give her some space where she comes into the sunken area, regardless.

"I hope you were careful," he says immediately, a rare example of his mouth outpacing his brain that usually only happens in situations involving the blonde. Of course she was careful. She's not an amateur anymore, right? "I mean… These guys are bad news, and you can't handle a fireball the way you can a gun or a knife. I mean… What did you find out?"

Taking to offered space, Stephanie tucks a foot underself after toeing off her school girl shoes. She rolls her toes on the rug until she gets a pop from then and her ankle. Dancer's habit.

"Well, they were looking into the Kazinsky case. Mostly his slaughter house and where he died in that pipe bomb," Stephanie starts after taking a moment to force herself composed. Tim's lack of brain to mouth filter, words that smack her from their past stinging. She takes a sip to further cool those emotions.

"But that's not the bad part. The bad part is what else they've taken an interet in. Your notes mention that Mr. Craft is a real sorceror, and I think the cabal is after him."

Sometimes, it's like they're still those same kids they were before; it feels like ages ago, since they /are/ still young, without the weight of the years to remind them how little time a year or three really is. Him in that red, green and yellow costume meant to evoke the two Robins that had come before him, her in her eggplant purple shroud. Tim trying to get her to stop haunting the night, to go home, to be normal… Even though part of him really didn't want her to. Part of him liked having her there, on the rooftops and in the dark alleys and warehouses of Gotham, someone who seemed so /normal/ while he immersed himself in an insane world.

That there was a pretty blonde under that ridiculous getup didn't hurt either. C'mon, he was like fifteen years old.

What Stephanie tells him is worrying, though. Cultists in Gotham, nosing around the Kazinsky case. Around the place where he'd fought the serial killer and rescued Zatanna. Around the place where the man had died under circumstances that could only be described as /extremely/ suspicious. And then…

Stephanie would see it. She'd recognise it immediately, her more than anyone else. The way Tim's dark blue eyes widen, the way his hand tightens on his glass, his mouth setting just so. He's already blaming himself for drawing attention to Gerry Craft, no matter if it was really his fault or not.

"That /is/ bad," Tim agrees. "We need to warn him, maybe set up some kind of surveillance on his shop. He has a daughter, away at school, they might try to get at him through her…" Already blaming himself, and already trying to think of a solution. Basically, Tim Drake all over.

Stephanie waits. She watches Tim, watching her. Her head tilts and after a bit she leans forward.

How much like yeasteryear that is? Would that lean have brought a roof top kiss? A stolen moment before a faint growly huff in Tim's ear piece would remind them to get back to task?

Whatever it would have heralded, tonight it brings Stephanie's hand to Tim's arm.

"Tim? Are you okay?" Her eyes hold concern, the blue color troubled, brows drawn together.

The words had barely left her lips when his fingers tighten and his eyes cloud. Stephanie sets her glass down quickly, shifting to face him fully. Her other hand comes up to grab at his other shoulder, as if she might shake him back to his senses, out of that spiral that is Tim Blames-Himself-for-Everything Drake.

"We'll find a way to get a message to him and to the person I think their new mark might be: Gottfried Muller, Excelsor Hotel," Stephanie promises. It was not chance that her voice leaned on the word 'we'.

Stronger together. Stephanie might as well have it tattoo'd as her cutey mark.

"I'll help keep an eye on his shop. You're not alone, Tim. I'm here."

'Tim? Are you okay?'

He honestly isn't sure, anymore. It's been a long time since Tim has been sure about that, and lately things have been… Difficult, for various reasons. But Stephanie's touch draws him more out of himself, out of his natural reflex to blame himself for things no matter how unreasonable he's being - he knows how smart he is, how capable he is. He's supposed to be better. He's supposed to be five steps ahead of the bad guys, he's supposed to have thought of all the angles, all the possibilities.

But he never thought that an innocent shopkeeper would get caught up in all of this, no matter what sort of knowledge he possessed.

"Muller?" he repeats, trying to think - has he heard that name before? It sounds familiar, but he's not sure. He hates not being sure. His free hand reaches up, scrubs through his dark hair, pushing the longer strands out of his face. Think, Tim. Think. Remember. "We should check that out, you're right. But… Carefully. We need to be careful with these people." If she wants to go with 'we', he'll stick with 'we'.

Though he wouldn't want to even discuss the possibility of her having anything tattooed on her butt.

"Okay, yeah. Okay. First off, the Third Eye. Gotta warn Gerry Craft, at least. Then…"

As Tim breaks out of that self-blaming circle, Stephanie smiles. She lets her hand loosen on his arm. Her smile turns warm.

"Muller's a point of interest, but it's the suite he occupited in the Excelsior Hotel. When you're feeling better, I think I know someone who needs to rent a room," Stephanie states.

"You do that-" Because Stephanie can't afford anything like that. "-and I'll talk to Craft." Because she's the unknown here, at least, to these demon things.

No, no, there's something. Something he's forgetting. He never forgets things.

Inside his head, Tim moves through the corridors of the now-gone Drake estate, though the version in his mind, his memoriae regis, is far more vast than the real one ever was. In his mind, he opens a door. A room, full of pictures, of notes written on papers attached to the walls. Hermann Steinschneider. Alias: Erik Jan Hanussen. Alias: Gottfried Muller.

Stephanie would see it on Tim's face, the colour draining from his lightly tanned complexion.

"It's him," Tim says, his attention turning from inside his own head to out of it. "Of course, he had to have been staying /somewhere/ when he was here. He wasn't living out of a van. There might be something… Steph, I could kiss you!"

Which is a pretty inappropriate thing to say to you /ex-girlfriend/, Tim Drake.

He nods, though, short quick bobs of his head in response to Stephanie's offer. "Okay… Yeah. Okay. Go incognito, mention Red Robin to Gerry Craft. He'll probably remember me, I snuck in and started asking him weird questions. He's blind, but I think he can see… Magic?"

Stephanie knows what that looks like, Tim roaming the halls of his recollection, so she waits, hands not moving just in case the shift against his skin breaks his concentration. She has to bite her lower lip to keep from shaking Tim when he pales. And then he's back to himself, collecting that final puzzle piece, and she smiles hugely at him.

It's like the time between never happened, for one heartbeat, and then Steaphnies blushes. She pulls her hands away, masking it by reaching for her water.

"I'll find a disguise that works," she says.

He's grinning; a smile that actually shows teeth, boyish and genuine in a way he seldom is these days. Like the sunlight peeking out through dark clouds. Tim isn't immune to the exultation of discovery… Though he has the Batman's thoroughness, his attention to detail, he's never quite matched his teacher's stoic composure when he comes to a key realisation.

When Stephanie blushes, pulling her hands away, Tim's brows furrow in mild, brief confusion. What was she…? Oh. /Oh/.

He has the grace to blush a bit himself, turning his dark blue eyes away from the blonde, towards his coffee table instead.

"Look, I… Just be careful, please? I don't want these guys coming after you, Stephanie. Enough people have gotten hurt already."

That grin. It's really so good to see it. Stephanie smiles in reply, eyes wanting to tear up at all the wonderfully sweet emotions the sight of it brings. She tucks a blonde lock behind an ear.

"Yeah. Of course. I'm… not completely as reckless as I used to be," Stephanie replies, eyes downcast, blush still high on her cheeks. She focuses on wraping her fingers around her glass.

Tim being Tim, there's a nagging doubt that he's managed to impress on Stephanie just how much bad news these guys are. She wasn't there in Switzerland, after all, watching the fanatical cultists offer up their lives and souls to their leader, or try to kill the interlopers with dangerous magic no matter how much of a risk it posed to the cultists themselves. They'd only barely gotten out of there alive, and even that perhaps was only due to the sudden appearance of Zatanna with her own vast magical abilities.

His imagination can conjure up all sorts of horrible things that could happen to Stephanie because she put her nose in where the cultists might think it didn't belong; can and does. It twists up his guts, leaves him with a feeling of sour dread in the pit of his stomach.

But maybe he just needs to have a bit more faith.

"I really hope not," Tim says, taking a drink of his coke, letting the ice cubes clink quietly against each other. "If there's any trouble, contact me immediately. But… Yeah, I'm sure you can handle it." He's not, really. But he /is/ trying.

Trying, but Stephanie can hear the lack of faith. It takes all the wind out of her sails for a moment, like a punch in the gut.

"Yeah." The word is short, clipped, her face turned away. She draws a breath, rallying, and puts that smile back on her face.

"Spoiler Alert. We're gonna get these guys." There. She said it.

'Spoiler Alert.'

Tim stares quietly at the blonde.

"You know, I used to think you were cool…" he starts, though at least this time he's just teasing her. He was sure he'd effectively hid any concern about Stephanie's ability to handle herself, not realising that she can read him better than just about anyone except for Bruce Wayne. But, if the two of them didn't have a natural talent for hurting each other without even trying, without even realising it, they probably wouldn't be exes, now would they?

"But you're right. We are gonna get them. They're going to underestimate us because we're not mages, and we're going to make sure they regret it."

Alright. Maybe it is time to see if He'll let her get a new get up. Now, even Tim's laughing at the name. The blush is hot, edged by annoyance, until Stephanie reminds herself that he's teasing. Of course he is. Still. Tonight, it stings. She smiles through it though, giving a nod as she sips her water to hide the way her lips want to frown.

"Right," she says, nodding that cheerleader nod of hers.

On the other hand, Tim /does/ frown, a faint tug of the corners of his mouth downwards as he regards Stephanie. He, of course, thinks he hid any of his doubts and expressed that he was just teasing about her catchphrase perfectly, so surely it can't be /him/ that's the problem, right? Even if she's trying to hide it, there's a problem.

"Steph, are you okay?" Tim wonders. "It wasn't… You know I was just joking, right? I mean, I'm not really a catchphrase kind of guy, but yours, uh, it makes sense with your codename."

Yes, Tim. Surely /that/ is the issue.

"Yeah. Of course," Stephanite replies, smiling though it doesn't quite get into her blue yes as she looks up.

"I'm fine." Red alert! A woman just said she was fine. Activate shields! Engage cloaking device!

"It's just… Yeah. I know you were joking. It shouldn't let it get to me. It wasn't you." Worried yet?

"It was… just someone I ran into the other day? It's fine. Really." Stephanie tucks a lock behind her ear again. Not that it was needed, but she did it anyway.

"I guess I've had a hard few weeks and I"m tired."

Claiming that Tim Drake was good at talking to women would be a bald faced lie. He never managed to absorb whatever strange sorceries his adoptive older brother knows that made the first Robin a deft hand with the ladies… But still, Tim can feel the short hairs on the back of his neck try to stand up. He knows these sorts of warning signs when he hears them.

"You don't seem fine," is the rather blunt reply from the young man, and he mentally goes back over the conversation, trying to figure out where it turned. Maybe she's telling the truth though, and it's someone else that upset her before. Maybe she really has had a few hard weeks, and she really is tired.

Maybe.

Maybe.

"You didn't need to come all the way out here, then… Not that I don't appreciate it," Tim adds. "It's nice to… See… You."

Really, it's a wonder that he's single.

Blunt as always, and Stephanie looks away, pushing her hair back over a shoulder, even if it's not strictly needed. She sets her water glass down, shoulders falling a bit.

"I've been off and on," Stephanie admits on a gentle sigh. That blunt is both a source of utter frustration and warm comfort. It's weird. But then Tim's saying she didn't need to show up and she levels a Look on him.

"No, really. I did. Can you imagine this conversation over then phone?" Heavy pause. "Seeing you is always nice. You're hardly around the Cave anymore. …we miss you."

From where he sits nearby on the couch, positioning himself to give Stephanie room - room that she had previously crossed to put a hand on his arm - Tim continues to frown faintly as he studies the blonde. He's… Definitely been caught up in his own problems lately, his own projects and personal entanglements, maybe he should try…

Stephanie gives him that Look, and Tim's chin lifts defiantly, just for a moment.

"I guess you're right," he admits, scrubbing a hand through his hair again. "There's just been a lot going on, and it can get kind of crowded in there." His own hideout provides a lot more peace and quiet, after all. Basically only one other person has really been inside of it.

"Look, Steph… If something's bugging you lately, you can tell me. We both know I'm not always great at, uh, communicating," he says, making a gross understatement. "But I'm pretty okay at listening, if I do say so myself."

Misreading that defiant lift of chin, Stephanie presses her lips together, ready to get upset. She doesn't, because she gets it. Needing space, time on your own. That's why she left originally. Loneliness and her father brought her back. Speaking of…

"Same thing that always bugs me, I guess…. My dad." There's a pause, because that's not all. But, talking about some of the other things with an ex is just… cruel and unusual.

"And… I guees what I really need to say is…" She pauses a moment again, looking up at Tim, meeting his gaze. Her browns pull together.

"I'm sorry. For everything I put you through when you were training me, how worried I must have always made you. I… I really am sorry and… thank you."

Tim nods when she mentions her father, just like she had during the conversation in the library. It's hard to not be bugged by the fact that your father is a supervillain, even if he's just the Cluemaster, and not one of the really big-name ones. Still, it's not like a lack of name recognition makes Arthur Brown any less of a scumbag.

He's sure that's not it, he can tell that there's more, but whatever it is it seems that Stephanie doesn't want to tell him about it, despite his offer to listen. Tim doesn't push, wanting to at least try to respect her boundaries, even if part of him itches to figure out what she's keeping from him.

And /then/ she apologises to him for 'everything' she put him through before. And thanks him.

"Steph…" Tim says, his brows furrowing.

"…You're not… Dying, right?"

"Waht?! No! Why would you even think? Ohmygod, Tim. You're melodramatic," says the cheerleader Girl Scout who created a twitter acount for her super heroing and starts fights by giving her opponents a spoiler alert. Stephanie's eyes are wide, lips smiling despite herself. After all, considering many thought she WAS dead, this is mildly amusing.

"You're the one making this big sudden apology!" Tim insists, though yeah he's probably being melodramatic about it. "I was worried it was leading to you admitting you had six months to live or something… Look," he says, his fingers curling around his still half-full glass, and his gaze slips down from the blonde again, even if his response had gotten an amused smile out of her despite being sort of macabre.

"…You don't need to apologise to me, Steph. I just… You do everything with your whole heart, and I wanted to make sure you didn't get hurt. And I know /I/ wasn't the best teacher, either, because I was still learning, but I wanted to do as good of a job as I could, for your sake. I used to have nightmares about… About you getting badly hurt, or killed. Forgotten in some back alley. I just… I just want you to be happy, and healthy, and safe."

As for him, well, just healthy will have to do.

"I still learned a lot. I never said thank you, and I should have." It's touching, to know he worried, still worries. She reaches out to touch his knee this time, leaning forward again into that space between them.

"I get it now," Stephanie says, trying to catch Tim's gaze again.

"He put me in charge of the new girl. She's angry and raw and …this case might help me understand her more. But I get it. Why you were so… you. I hated it as much as I craved it, the attention of it." Was that too much information? Stephanie blushes a bit and starts to withdraw on a hasty: "I jus thought you deserved a thank you."

It's impossible to not notice the hand on his knee.

Tim can feel it, the familiar pressure of Stephanie's palm, of her slender fingers. Some things you don't forget, especially not when you're so young, and they're so recent; there's something almost electric about the contact, though the tingle is purely psychosomatic, his brain responding to her closeness with adrenaline, with dopamine. Her eyes catch his, and for the moment he's trapped, remembering in the way of someone who never really forgets anything. How soft that blonde hair is. What her lips taste like.

And then shame and guilt wriggle their way in. Reminding him that he has no right to think about her that way, not after everything.

She makes it difficult, though, reminding him of the past the way she does, and then blushing at her own comments.

Almost on reflex, Tim's hand moves to cover hers, his callused fingers curling around her palm, squeezing lightly.

"She's a handful, from what I've seen," Tim agrees on the subject of the Dark Devil. "I'll try to help you with her, when I can, Steph, but… I think you'll do a good job."

What guilt she sees has Stephanie starting to withdraw her hand, not wanting to hurt him, but his fingers close around her hand and she halts the retreat. Lips part and her fingers tighten suddenly. It's that brash, unthinking, purely reacting motion of physical contact, of warmth. Without warning, without her even having a moment to try to stop them, her eyes fill and two clear tears spill and tumble down her cheeks. Stephanie pulls her hand free so she can press her face dry with the palms of both her hands.

"Thanks. I appreciate it. I had a good teacher." A breath. Stepahanie turns away to get her shoes on. "I should go… It's a long drive back to Gotham.. I have.. class.. in the morning… And work…"

The tears, shockingly, don't make Tim feel any better.

The feeling of guilt worsens, and he doesn't try to stop Stephanie from pulling her hand free from his, turning his gaze down to the carpet. He remembers what Zatanna had said to him, after she found the pictures he kept of his friends and family, and found Stephanie's among them - Tim having referred to the blonde as 'a long story'. How she'd laughed, chiding him for telling her that he liked her, when he was still hung up on his ex-girlfriend.

Of course, the gothic magician was in a similar position, which is why she rejected him.

"Sorry," Tim mumbles, feeling… Well… Terrible, actually, and getting to his feet with every intention of seeing Stephanie out. He can do that much for her, at least.

"Listen… If you need any help, with that magic stuff, try these numbers." The entrance has one of those fancy cameras and intercom setups, the latter also working as a phone, and so there's a notepad there. He writes two phone numbers from memory, each with a name. One, John Constantine. The other, Zatanna Zatara. "They're both experts, and I'd trust either one of them with my life, whatever Bruce thinks. Just tell them you're a friend of Red Robin. Okay?" he says, holding the piece of paper out to her, folded neatly.

Stephanie shakes her head at the apology, taking her time to get her things so she can be reasonably composed as she approaches the doorway to be lead out. She reaches out to take slip of informaion, lips twitching with the want to smirk coupled with her forcing it away because Tim is very much a Complicated relationship status.

"Okay. You too. If.. you need anything. Call me." She looks up, bites the inside of her lower lip, and almost gets a smile.

"Good night, Tim."

"I will, I promise," Tim says, nodding. "Goodnight, Steph."

He stays at the door, watching until the elevator doors close and hide the blonde from sight. Only once she's gone does he shut the door to the penthouse loft, letting the electronic lock engage with a quiet beep. He puts his back against the door with a heavy sigh, almost sinking down to the floor. He can't though. Things to do.

"You're an idiot, Tim Drake," he mutters to himself as he makes a beeline for the steps up to the overhanging second level of the penthouse; where the bedroom is, but more importantly where his workroom is. Not as fully equipped as his hideout in Gotham, much less the Cave, but it'll do for a little research.

Research that'll keep him from thinking about /any/ girls, be they raven-haired or blonde.

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