The First Things To Go

February 11, 2017:

In order to help Red Robin, Spoiler disguises herself as an average civilian girl couriering a message to Gerry Craft, whose paternal attitude triggers a more personal sense of responsibility towards his safety.

The Third Eye - Chelsea - Gotham City

An occult bookstore in Gotham


NPCs: Gerald "Gerry" Craft (NPC'd by Zatanna Zatara)

Mentions: Red Robin, Batman, Barry Allen

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Spoiler's efforts to keep the Third Eye surveilled have yielded little fruit in the last few days; while the men in the dark suits are still in Gotham, most of them have departed after their own investigations on the Red Hook tannery, Arkham Asylum and the Excelsior Hotel. But some of them remain - worrisomely enough, they seem to be concentrating their efforts in keeping an eye on Gerry Craft and the humble occult store that he runs just a few blocks from Gotham University.

The proprietor himself doesn't appear to have noticed - as Tim informed Stephanie in New York, the man is blind, though he suspects that he can 'see' magic. Otherwise, though, he suffers from the handicap much in the same way as others with the same impediment do; he reads Braille, he depends on his memories to get around, and he is never without his walking stick. He shows up at work every seven in the morning, though he doesn't open his business right away, content to take inventory and move around the mysterious back room that doesn't appear to show up in any of the x-ray or infrared scans by whatever Bat-instruments there are. He closes up at eight in the evening on the dot.

The only potential sign that he /has/ noticed that there is some strangeness about is the fact that he recently started bringing a German Shepherd with him to work. Further looking into it would reveal that the dog's name is Brutus, and he is well trained. Most dogs that fail out of Gotham's K-9 Academy usually are.

He is presently lying on the space between the counter and the door, nose turned towards it, the way most guard dogs usually do when his owner is present. Gerry himself is quietly 'reading' one of his ledgers, fingertips going over the raised bumps and depressions on the page.


Spoiler did her homework on the place, and noticed new addition to Mr. Craft's routine. She worked to find an entrance that would spook Craft the least while drawing as little attention from the street as possible. All while going over what Tim and her had spoken about the other night.


There is an alley branching off from the building's east side, with a window that one could easily slip through. It is locked, however, but it can be jimmied open. There is also the front door, where a few customers are going in and out of. The store isn't exactly empty, as it is still technically entrenched in its business hours.


Spoiler watches for a few moments, frowning lightly. Business hours. The window would draw more attention than the front door. Almost less than her walking in in uniform. Time to change.

It didn't take her long to change, jeans and a hoodie on over the nomex, gloves tucked away with her cape in the backpack. The hoodie hood she can draw up if she needs, and hidden in the collar is the black cloth lower face mask. Because the other two masks just aren't good for quick changes.

Thusly 'disguised', hair up in a ponytail, Stephanie makes her way into the shop via the front door.


Sometimes the best way to hide a tree is to plant it in the forest.

The scent of incense laces the air, cinnamon and vanilla - subtle and nothing too overpowering, wisps of smoke drifting from the brass holder situated on a shelf behind the front counter. The shelves hold plenty of what people would expect in a business that peddles to the New Age lifestyle - books on holistic living, crystals that purportedly have healing qualities, charts and graphs on helpful pressure points on the human body, and other such things. There are also more exotic items; dried herbs, labeled in nondescript black jars, a few preserved animal body parts locked in a towering glass case. Candles of all shapes, sizes and colors. There doesn't appear to be anything all too special about the place, however, though Tim's own detective work on the place suggests otherwise. There is also a large, heavy door at the very back, sealed with an antiquated lock.

Brutus' ears perk up, dark eyes following Stephanie's progress through the store, though his muzzle drops back on the floor, ears flicked attentively forward. Gerry shifts on his seat behind the counter when two young women move forward with their purches - a few white candles and a couple of books.

"Does this really work?" one of them asks, holding up a black book. "It says if I do this I'll be able to sleep better."

"If you read the passages carefully and follow instructions, sure," Gerry says after reaching out to touch the book.

"I can't wait to try it," the other, a brunette, says with a laugh. "Too bad there aren't any books on love spells here, eh, Mr. Craft? It'd make it /way/ too easy for us girls."

There is a considering pause. There are many reasons why Gerry does /not/ have books on love spells in his store, though he has it on good authority that they do exist. They're just…extremely tricky. The ones that work are.

"Far be it for me to be a traitor to my own gender, girls," he says affably, ringing them up. "You two have a good day now."

Both girls chatter as they wander past Stephanie, and out the door. For now, nobody else is in the store.


Stephanie had kept half a gaze ont he girls as she moved through the store. She kept her hands in her pockets as she moved, and when the girls left and the store emptied, Stephanie made her way to the counter.

"Good evening," she says amiably, keeping her voice soft and calm. "Are you Mr. Craft?" Polite Batling is Polite.


Gerry turns his eyes to Stephanie once he's addressed; pale, milky-blue eyes find her easily, for all of the man's supposed blindness. The man is in his forties, with brown hair graying at the temples, lean, but tall. His shirt cuffs are stained with ink, but his fingertips are rough. At some point in his life, the man has had a few adventures of his own, or at least led the sort of life in which he had to put his hands to good use.

"Yes, that's me," he says, sinking back on his stool. "What can I do for you, miss?"


Stephanie's head tilts slightly at Gerry's errorless gaze. Not what she had expected, and it makes her slightly nervous. Perhaps she should have pulled up her mask. Well. Too late now.

"We have a mutual acquaintance, Red Robin. He wanted me to pass on a message," Stephanie says softly, soldiering on. She noted the ink stains, the rough calloused fingertips, the gray of his temples. Adventures indeed.


Mention of Red Robin has Gerry blinking once. "You're— " He hesitates, a quick glance to the windows.

"One of those, eh, kid?" he wonders. "Didn't know he contracted civilians for this kind of thing. Follow me." He waves a hand, before shifting away from the counter and moving towards the sealed door at the back. Brutus stays by the door.

From his jacket, he brings out a key ring, which holds several; nothing cut out of modern tools, each have a specific weight, and specific heads. He selects an old brass one from the end and slips it in the antiquated lock. Stephanie would hear it immediately - a strange, reverberating echo, as a multitude of tumblers disengage, as a few gears click and turn. Whatever is behind that door sounds utterly cavernous, and make absolutely no sense with the outer architecture of the building.

He opens the door, and the young lady would find herself staring at rows and rows of dusty shelves, full of old things. Terrible things. Wondrous things. Things in jars, trapped in crystal, and books. So many books. So many scrolls.

He waves her in and shuts the door behind him.

"I haven't seen Red Robin since a few weeks ago when I tried to warn him away from this kind of business," he supplies to Stephanie as he moves forward, walking stick tapping around the hard stone ground. He finds his way towars one of the shelves at the back, close to a strange construct - what appears to be an old door, wrapped up in yellow police tape. The kind that chords off rubberneckers from crime scenes.

"Though judging by your presence here, I think he's decided to go on with his investigation anyway. I hope he knows what he's getting into."'



Stephanie blinks once too. Well, she did dress the part, and the blonde pony tail. Yeah. She gets what she looks like. The doorman to the building Tim was at might have gotten ALL the wrong ideas when Steph showed up in a school girl outfit, yapping on her phone like a cutesy teenager. Slightly on purpose, that. Stephanie just smiles at Gerry, not verbally confirming or denying. Better that way.

Stephanie follows the elder man, blue-green eyes sliding to and fro until she hears the echo. Her lips part in slight wonder as she walks in, hands falling from her pockets.

"Oh man… This is just like Harry Potter," she can't help but blurt out, eyes looking over as much as she can manage. But, one does not go touching things that don't belong without permission. So Stephanie keeps her hands at her sides, bouncing up to the balls of her feet once.

"He's stubborn sometimes, and has been a bit… busy," Stephanie replies, following still, eyes on the yellow police tape door.

"So do I," Stephanie murmurs softly, the concern audible for a moment before she draws a breath and refocuses.

"He wanted me to let you know that you were being watched by a cult that's taken an interest in you. He's concerned, and has an associate that can help keep an eye out, make sure you stay safe."


The Harry Potter comment would be offensive to plenty of others in the community, but not Gerry Craft, who has a daughter around the same age as this mysterious, pretty blonde. There's a wry smile directed her way as he eases himself carefully on a stool. He gestures for her to have a seat near him, tapping the walking stick on one of the chairs.

"Rowling's world was largely make believe, but she got a few of it right. Howlers /do/ exist, for starters," the man says, winking one blind eye at the young woman. "She had a consultant when she was writing about the horcruxes also."

He rests his hand on the top of his walking stick, though the words Stephanie conveys to him give him pause. There's a slight furrowing of his brows, and he can't help but sigh, tilting his head back to look at the ceiling, as if a silent entreaty to the heavens, though whether anyone would respond to it is yet to be determined.

He does catch onto her worry though. He may be blind, but there are some things he can still see.

"He seems a capable enough boy," he says, trying to be reassuring. "And his heart's in the right place. Determined to save lives, no matter how dark or dangerous it gets. I tried to give him every disclaimer, but he was determined to press on anyway. Truth of the matter is, miss, people die in my world….and that's people who were born and raised to this." He gestures to the things around him. "The survival rates of outsiders are even more abysmal. While I'm glad to learn that he isn't alone in his endeavours, I would like for the both of you to be as cautious as you can. You've probably heard it all already, so I hope you'll humor me a little. I have a daughter your age. Blonde, too."

He lifts a hand, scrubbing through his hair. "Thank you for the help, and you can extend my warnings also to this associate. Certainly can't help to have an extra pair of eyes, because these people are dangerous and I'm…really just a collector. An archivist. I'd like to say I don't know what they want with me, but I can hazard a few guesses. I've been around…and there's always a demand for my expertise."


"Brilliant," Stephanie says, sounding a little like Emma Watson. Her lips curl up in a warm smile, cheeks blushing faintly at the wink. Offered a seat, Stephanie moves over and settles to the chair. Seeing Gerry's entreaty, Stephanie glances up, assures herself there is nothing physical then… She draws a sigh and smiles, concern again on her face. She looks to the floor for her own silent well-wishes. Blind he may be, but can he hear, in the silence around Stephanie, the way her smile turns wistful for her friend, once high school romance, now… dear friend, even if he keeps at arm's length and she's hoping to move on while still being there for him, to support him, offer her shoulder to lean on.

"He mentioned her. If she goes to the university, I'm sure we can keep eyes on her too. In case they get any ideas to try to get to you through her," Stephanie says, making a mental note to get the girl's class schedule, see if they match up with her own at all.

"And yes. I'll make sure Red Robin's… associate… gets your warning. None of this is safe for any one involved. The best we can do is prepare oursel- Wait. How… did you know I was…?" A little slow on the up take there, Steffie.


He knows that the connection is personal; he has a daughter, a wife, he can hear very well, and he has seen over four decades of life. He doesn't need to see with his own eyes what experience can tell him just as well.

"She goes to San Francisco University," Gerry supplies freely. "Lived with Gotham winters all of her life, can't blame her for wanting to see the other coast - warmer, there, and she can smell the sea." Not see it for herself, sadly. Cassandra Craft is just as 'blind' as he is. "But that would be appreciated…I would never turn away the help. As you can see, miss, I lead a pretty simple life, for someone who dabbles in the strangest things." Though Red Robin's notes would indicate that he is more than just a dabbler.

The last remark has him smiling. "I see energy in color," he says, so Tim's deduction is both accurate and not. "So I'm not completely blind. Your colors aren't all that different from Cassie's. I see magic, this way, but I see others, also. More mundane things as well so long as it's kinetic in some way. For example, I would see it if a car crashes into another. Not many people know that about me."

He slowly stands up and moves to one of the shelves. "If your associate is determined to look after me, I should probably…aha. Here it is."

He produces a small glass cylinder, the surface scratched over with delicate, elaborate markings. The fluid within is red…blood, perhaps, though it doesn't /behave/ like blood. The ruby drops defy Physics in the small enclosed space, like a lava lamp. It certainly behaves like one.

He hands it to Stephanie.

"Give this to your associate and tell him or her to break it if she's in trouble."


San Francisco. Fantastic! No way Stephanie is getting to the west coast easily. But it puts the girl far enough away that the cult would have a harder time of using her. Still, Stephanie made an offer and she's going to make good on it. So she nods to the man, brow lifting as he claims to just dabble. Tim's notes: not just a dabbler. She watches Gerry get up to the shelves, head tilting, brows pulling together. It's weird, and alomst comforting, to be seen as like this man's daughter. Father issues abound. Eyes tracking to the cylinder, Stephanie is once again curious and awed. She reaches out for the item.

"What.. does it do?"


"It's a ward," Gerry says truthfully, retaking his seat. "Break it and it'll throw a protective, metaphysical mesh on the person who breaks it, for a time, to repel spells away. It won't hold forever, but it should have enough juice to make for a quick exit. If your associate intends to tangle with sorcerous cultists, he's going to need what you've got in your hand. These people are serious."


Stephanie peers at it then pockets it.. in her utility belt hidden under the hoodie.

"Thank you. I'll get this to… the right person," she says mind now in a bit of a fight. Keep it for herself since she'll be here to deal with this? Or… or… get it to Tim. Stephanie noticed how gingerly he was moving that night. He hadn't been seriously injured when she got there, but.. still. She worries. Her lower lip is bitten. A breath is drawn.

"We're doing what he can. If there's anything you can tell me, to take back to …them, I will. Anything that can help. Maybe. Put an end to this."


That would have to be a decision the young woman will have to make - to keep it for herself, or give it to Red Robin.

Gerry hesitates; she'd find it clearly on his face. It is always the conflict that he struggles with, whenever another young person finds his door, to learn from him, or to ask dangerous questions. It is never an easy thing to even open the door, to provide these young faces a glimpse of the terrifying and the fantastic. He struggles with it because he is a father, and he knows the most important rule in his world: Magic costs.

And more often than not, the things that a person loves the most are often the first to go. To be sacrificed.

But to leave them to wander in the dark, or to provide them with enough guidance to keep their heads above the water? How to balance what he believes is an inherent responsibility put on him by his very nature, with the needs of his own family? Their safety, their security?

It's always the same old fight. Always.

"…before he left to return to Germany, Steinschneider was here," he says slowly.

He has not told Red Robin this.

"He was inquiring after a diary penned by his own son, Armand. He thought given my connections with the book trade that I might've heard where it ended up. Since the Cold Flame members seem to be retracing his steps, I believe there is a link."


Hesitation, conflict. Stephanie sees it. But it's not an expression she's used to in the elder and wiser of those around her. Tim? Sure. Barry? Definitely. Her own reflection? If she bothered to selfie in those moments. But in her father? Never. And Batman? ….In his eyes, and only there. Not used to it being so easy to find. Stephanie's brows pull together, lips frowning lightly as she leans forward slightly.

"I'll relay the information. If there's a link, I have faith it will be found," she tells this father figure as she slips from her chair to rest a hand on his shoulder. Ill-advised, perhaps, since he can sense so much. He'll know what she is. But if he can see as he describes then the first time she reveals herself on her nightly check in, he'll See her for who she is. Righ tnow, she far more concerned that this retracing of steps will have him in teh cross-fire, just as Tim has likewise worried.

"Can you… do you have a cell phone?"


There's a paternal smile there at the feel of Stephanie's hand on his shoulder. Gerry gives it a small pat, before offering him her cellphone. Further inspection would reveal that all of its Ease of Access functions have been switched on.

"Thank you," he tells her, sincerely. "For the help. And please tell Red Robin that also."


Oh, this could be such a bad idea. Tim is so going to kick her blonde butt if he ever finds out what she's about to do. Taking the phone, Stephanie keys in the Bat-scrambled number that connects people to her black-cased Spoiler Phone. To track it, one would have to our Oracle Babs, but this is still a slight security risk. One that Stephanie is deciding, all on her own, is worth it. Especially since the paternal smile makes Stephanie's eyes sting and makes her squeeze once in an effort to not through her arms about him. He's A father. Not YOUR father. Stephanie could almost be envious of this Cassie, for the ease of affection he shows.

"I will pass on your message," she says, hoping her voice isn't as wobbly as she's afraid it is. (It's really not. It's more wobbly. Stephanie will pretend that it's strong.)

"The contact name is Spoiler. If you need anything, if something happens, call Spoiler. Red Robin's associate will come running," Stephanie promises. She holds the phone back out. Please don't ever have to call, Mr. Craft. Not because I don't want to be inconvenienced, but because… I don't want anything to happen to you.


He reaches out to take the phone, placing it back in his pocket.

"I'll remember that," Gerry says - it's keyed in already; typical of his generation, to be shown the ropes by those who have practically been raised by such devices. There's a slight smile and an incline of his head. "You're a good kid," he tells her. "And mired in dangerous business." Slowly, he stands, walking stick in hand, leaning against it. "I don't know what happened to you in your life that you feel that you need to….do this. Not that I don't find it admirable, I do. But if I was your father, I would be incredibly worried. Proud, sure. But worried also."

He lifts a hand, waving it about in the air before rough fingers rest gently on Stephanie's head. Not quite a ruffle, but it's a gentle gesture all the same.

"Come by any time. And be careful out there."


In the quiet of the room, Stephanie's shakey inhale is a full, chest racking sob. He was never proud of her, never worried. The feel of his hand on her head, it's almost the only thing she ever wanted. Stephanie opens her mouth to try to ease out her stuck breath so it doesn't spasm from her chest. Tears streak down and she brings the hoodie up to wipe her face dry.

"Thank you," Stephanie says, voice tight and harsh. It's not a growl, but for the blonde, the perkiest and most optimistic and full of joy and life of the bats, it's as near a growl as she ever manages. With the same determination and stubornness as she musters to catch her father and return him to Arkham where she prays he'll get the mental help he needs to get better, Stephanie silently promises that she'll help keep this man safe. Some rules might need to be broken in the process, and that's a shame, ebcause rules are important but…

"Your daughter's lucky to have you." Others things are more important than rules.


Mention of his daughter has Gerry smiling faintly; it's a rueful one. "I'd like to think so," he says, lowering his hand. "I try to keep her from…all of this. I just think it would be better for her. But she was born like me. She has my eyes. And determined to help people with her talent, much like you. If it's what she wants, I don't know if I'd be able to say no as firmly as I could. But I can't help but hope."

It would be awful, after all, to outlive your own offspring. Because Magic costs. And often it is the things you love the most that are the first to go.

These are things that he does not tell this mysterious young lady. With the way her voice sounds, the last thing he wants is to upset her, and while he doesn't know what prompted this suppressed bout of emotion, he can draw guesses based on experience. After all, he doubts that anyone would elect to help Gotham's teeming population of crimefighting vigilantes without compelling personal reasons, and these are often found in the home.

Or, even worse, the lack of one.

A hand finds Stephanie's shoulder, and he gently guides her back to the direction of the store's proper.

"Come now, I'll see you out. Be careful walking back home, wherever you live. You know how this city gets at night."


Turned, moving with him, Stephanie chuckles a watery little chuckle.

"Yeah. I know how this city gets at night," she comments bittersweetly. "Thank you again and… I'll…. stop in," she promises, turning away and leaving via the front door. She pauses briefly to pull the hood up 'against the chill of the night', before stuffing her hands into her hoodie's pockets and turning back to her hiding spot with her bike where she can quick change back into Spoiler more fully and… ride off into the night.

36 From: Stephanie Brown At: Sat Feb 11 01:59:18 2017 (Conn)
Fldr : 0 Status: Unread
To : Tim Drake, Zatanna Zatara
Subject: IC Message for Tim

Text from Spoiler to Red Robin: Msg dlvrd. #SpoilerAlert I come bearing gifts. #It'sNotMurr Muhr? idek lol

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License