#StephanieFollies

February 19, 2017:

Barbara Gordon happens to run into Barry Allen at the mall. They decide to talk about their mutual subject: Stephanie Brown. Who finds out and tries to run interference.

Cain Street Mall - Metropolis

With space upon New Troy being limited, innovation becomes a necessity.
The Cain Street Mall is a good example of modern building design, making
careful use of limited ground space in order to create a shopping center of
surprising proportion.

The mall makes use of existing highway structures, right down to
interchange ramps, and is one of the few buildings in Metropolis to have its
own direct connection to the maglev train which rapidly shuttles commuters
around the city.

Having both countless numbers of shops and some of the most unique views
ever seen within a metropolitan area, this ambitiously expensive project has
become one of Metropolis' key locations for tourism and commercial trades
alike.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tim Drake, Batman

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

*

The evening has started to grow long in the tooth when it comes to certain Batlings needing to get on patrol. With no plans for tomorrow, Barry would love to accompany Stephanie to Gotham, but knows that's not possible. So after some long kisses outside of her car before she drove off, Barry sighs and turns to head back in the mall. He's hungry again, and he saw a TGIFridays. And really, a molten cake sundae sounds divine right now, though there's no getting rid of the smile on his face as he moves into the mall to head towards the food court.

*

For the record: Babs is not stalking Stephanie. She's not. One of her CTS clients works on an upper floor in the administration section of the mall complex. So, she's here legitimately. It's absolutely not her fault Stephanie chose this location to meet her new beau.

And seriously, it's nothing more than a crazy random happenstance that she just happens to be heading for the food court at the same time as the CSI. Of course, she does have the advantage of knowing his face, even if he doesn't know hers. There's that dossier DELPHI downloaded from the Watchtower system, after all. And a few dozen sec-cam clips from various places she happened to have caught in a cross-reference feed. But, hey. Discovering that sorta thing is just a hazard of the job when you're the owner of a cybersecurity firm and world-class hacker.

Totally NOT her fault!

But, let's face it. Babs isn't a woman prone to letting a golden opportunity slip away. As Barry makes his way to the food court, and she hers, she can't help but recognize him, though there's a moment's double take when she does. Then, she subtly adjusts her trajectory to intercept him. Because, again… why waste the opportunity?

*

Coincidences are terrible things. It was a coincidence that he was working in a lab in a freak storm. It was a coincidence he was hit by lightning and all of those chemicals was just the right combonation to imbune him with the speed force. Coincidences are great things.

Not that he would reconize Barbara Gordon from any other pretty redhead in the mall at the moment. Going up the hostess of the restaurant, he smiles warmly. "Uh. I don't think I can get a table for one. But is there a spot at the bar? Even if I don't drink." he says as he turns his attention as the redhead comes into view on an intercept course and offers her a friendly enough smile.

*

Babs cants her head as Barry smiles at her, giving him a curious look. "Oh, hey," she says, strolling his way. (Yep, without the wheelchair, today. It kinda got blown up, yesterday.) "I know you. You're Steph's new boyfriend."

How's that for a sudden introduction? She waits to see if he splutters or if he's as quick at recovering as his alterego might suggest.

*

Silly blown up wheelchairs. Barry was just giving Barbara a friendly smile, and preparing to step out of the way so that she could return to the table. He had assumed the woman was only on a bathroom break and was returning to her party, but when she speaks out of the blue, the speedster raises a curious brow and tilts his head.

"I am. I'm sorry, are you one of her YouTube fans? She's not with me at the moment, but if you want to get a message to her?" he asks. Barbara might see that little gleam. She's a detective after all. He may be playing the dumb boyfriend, but he's faster than he lets on.

*

Babs laughs lightly at that, impressed with the deflect. "Think of me as her older sister," she says, flashing the man a grin. "Steph and I go back a ways. We hang out pretty frequently." She reaches out a hand to him. "Barbara Gordon." He's likely heard the name, she expects. A beat. "Babs." Probably the name he's heard more readily. "Nice to meet you, Barry."

*

Taking the hand for a shake, Barry lifts a brow. "And here I thought I was the only one that had an unmet sister." Of course, Stephanie's in college. It could be a sorority sister. Or a long term friend. The CSI offers a smile. "I was just about to sit down and have a snack. And some dessert. Would you like to join me?" He assumes, naturally, she might want to pick his brains on the young woman that's now a serious part of his life.

*

"I'd love to," Babs says brightly. She gives him a smile and then glances to the hostess, giving her a light nod, as well. "Before your ask, no, we're not actually related. But, we're good friends." Because she can read that question in his face. She allows the hostess to move first and then gestures that she will follow Barry, rather than taking the lead.

*

Well, okay. He was about to totally let ladies go first, but nope. Barry laughs a little as he takes the first step of the two, following after the hostess as they claim a window bistro table and he at least pulls out the chair for her first. Then he takes his own seat as he settles his hands in front of him. "Kind of figured. Sorority sister?" he asks. But then she corrects him and he draws a breath. "I'm glad to meet one of her friends, they're important."

*

Babs nods to that, having thanked him for the courtesy of the seat. "They are," she agrees. She picks up a menu, glances at it briefly, and quickly decides on her order before she continues. "I know she really enjoys spending time with you, so that's good, too." She cants her head, now. "What is it you do, Barry?"

*

"Good, because I really enjoy our time together as well, Babs." Barry responds, looking over the menu and ordering as well. Nothing alcoholic - there's no point in it. Her question causes him a momentary pause. "I am forensic and chemical scientist at SHIELD." he says, which is the honest truth - it seems the JL File is just a little out of date, and hasn't updated just yet.

*

Nor has Steph updated the Bat Computer with ANY of this. ahem.

*

Oh, but it'll get updated. "SHIELD. Wow." Babs shakes her head at that, conveying her respect. "Nice. I'm just a code monkey," she says, under playing what she does both for Clocktower Technical Systems and, well, pretty much everything else. CTS is a known name in the cybersecurity business. It's considered a very small operation but well able to keep up with, and often surpass, most of the big boys in that market. "One of my clients works in this mall and they had an emergency. So, here I am." On a Sunday, no less. Talk about customer service.

*

Considering that Stephanie took Barry out to dinner to celebrate his hiring, double ahem.

"Code monkey, huh. That explains why Steph has an impressive gaming computer set up. Even for a laptop." Barry offers with a grin as he considers what she's saying and giving it proper weight. "How long have you known Stephanie? Do I get to ask about embarassing stories on what she did when she was younger?"

*

While he's talking to Barbara, Barry realizes, as he finds her camera in his pocket. Stephanie forgot it, and she might want it. To upload videoes, and you know, not those ones they do when alone. Wait, they don't do that. Taking out his phone, he sends a quick text:

7:58PM Barry: Steph, you left your camera, didn't mean to distract you so much, lol. <3 :D

*

Babs arches a brow as the camera appears and the text is sent. She smirks some, but uses it as a segue into her reply. "Hey, a girl can never have too fine a gaming system," she says, green eyes dancing. "But, I've known Steph since she was an awkward teen. So, yeah, I've got enough to blackmail her." But, there's nothing that says she'll spill it to Barry. Unless, of course, Steph were there to enjoy the friendly humiliation. That's different.

*

When the text comes through, Stephanie's just getting on the freeway. She glances at the time, deciding that if she drives a little like a batling she can make it back, grab her camera, and then head out again. She exits as she voice activates her car's bluetooth to speech-to-text for her.

2/19 8:02PM Steph: Oh my god thank you I'm on my way gimme like ten minnows end I'll be there where are you send

Speech-to-text does not puncuate. Also, it typoes stupidly. Time to change lanes a little dangerously. Grr, her Toyota Corolla does NOT handle like the Batmobile does. That car? Amazing handling. AH! Batdad is the best for letting her drive it!

*

He considers for a moment. Barry glances at the drinks as they arrive. He waits for the waitress to leave before he speaks again, the man getting a thought in his head. Something that he would probably never ask Stephanie to her face. He draws in a breath to gather his thoughts. "She and her ex.. Tim. They were close, I know.." he says with a thoughtful look at his water as he takes a drink. "…how close were they?" Translation: Does he have to worry about her going back to him if Tim smiles at her thr right way.

*

Typing on his phone, Barry looks up at Babs and grins. "Eight minutes before she's back for it." he says, knowing how Stephanie drives as he sends a message back.

2/19 8:05PM Barry: Babs is here with me. She's telling me all your secrets. >:D

*

Babs considers the question, and whether or not she should answer it. "Yeah, they were close. First major crush, you know. Teen crush, though. So, I doubt you actually have to worry about him." In the first place, Tim doesn't tend to smile. But, she doesn't say that any more than Barry did. She does, however, smile. Particularly at the text to Stephanie. That elicits a grin. "She's so gonna kill us." Even if Babs says nothing more whatsoever.

*

"Isn't that half the fun with her?" Barry asks with a little grin. "Oh! I have a terrible idea." He leans over to speak quietly to Barbara, so that sneaky Spoilers don't get spoiled.

*

Barry's phone pings.

2/19 8:07PM Stephanie: I am five minnows out you butter not ass her anythings oh my god just stop talking already i'm going to die now for reals where are you

Followed by Babs'

2/19 8:08PM Stephanie: Why are you even here stalker

Stephanie gets into the closes parking space she can find quickly, gets out, locks her car, and runs for it while quick dialing Barry's phone.

"Come on.. come on… don't make me trace you again. I can't on this phone…" she's grumbling to herself as she skip-turns past some kids and squeaks into the doors.

*

Babs listens to Barry's idea and laughs outright. "That works for me," she agrees, nodding firmly, eyes dancing. "It really does." It sounds harmless enough, in any case. As her phone pings, however, she glances at the message. A snicker escapes her.

2/19 8:09PM Barbara: Client emergency. Crazy random happenstance. :P

*

2/19 8:10PM Barry: Restaurant, you just walked by us!

*

Barry sees Stephanie run by the window and waves at her.. too late. She continues on the way, as the man turns his attention to the waitress to add a +1 to the party, because Stephanie will be there in a moment. He also places an order, and grins across at Barbara. "Was she always so chipper?" he asks, though at her thoughts on Tim, and the idea that Steph.. wouldn't, there's a grateful smile. "Thank you." he offers quietly. "She means a lot to me."

*

Her call goes unanswered so she glances at her texts and… clutz out when she tries to stop. It's amazing to watch, because both Babs and Barry get front row seats to Stephanie running through the hall, reading her text, trying to stop, her shoes losing traction, and then WHAM! Right into a potted plant next to a bench and down she goes. Two seconds and she's back on her feet, eyes scanning for a restaurant and then through the window to see Barry and Babs, and Stephanie straightens up and walks quickly over trying to act like she didn't just wipe out… in public… because she was looking at her phone… while running… inside a mall…

'Babs is going to hack the CCTV here and that's going to be on loop in the cave for a week,' Stephanie's telling herself, the mortification of that turning her run-flused cheeks bright pink as she walks over in her usual tight jeans and a black tshirt with Twilight Sparkle on it with text that reads: We must science this at once!

*

Babs starts laughing again as Stephanie tries to pass off the wipeout just like a cat landing on its face. 'I meant to do that!' Yeah, right. "I suspect the feeling's mutual," she tells Barry before Stephanie reaches them. Once she has, however, she smiles broadly to her friend. "Steph. Fancy meeting you here. Barry and I were just chatting about you." Oh, yeah. Rub it in.

*

"Hello, sweetheart." Barry says, rising to kiss Stephanie in greetings as he offers her a chair. "Have a nice trip back here?" he asks oh so innocently. Oh, but it's just starting. As soon as Stephanie is sat down and settled, several of the waiters come over. One of them is carrying a 'BIRTHDAY GIRL' Princess Crown. Setting down a fudge brownie and ice cream in front of Stephanie, they urge her to stand up in her chair as they gather around and then sing..

I don’t know, but I’ve been told!
Someone here is getting old!
I don’t know what has been said!
Someone’s face is turning red!
Good news is we sing for free!
Bad news is we sing off key!

Sound off! HAPPY
Sound off! BIRTHDAY
Happy birthday—
To you!

Yeah, Barry just did that. #WORTHIT.

*

"Yeah. Clearly. I just wonder what about," is all Stephanie can get out before Barry's up and kissing her and getting her into a chair and startign to tease her. The blush doesn't fade as she opens her mouth to reply… and is confronted with everyone turning to look over at the ruckus. She's crowned. There's a fudge brownie in front of her. There's loud singing and true to lyric, Stephanie looks like a fair approximation of Barry's OTHER suit. She smiles, oh so embarassedly (It's totally a word now!), and when the staff all leave she round and punches Barry's in the bicep with the knuckle of her middle finger a little further out than the rest.

"Ohmygod, Barry, you did NOT just DO that! What is wrong with you?" she's complaining, while smiling and blushing like a fiend. She looks over at Babs, leveling a finger at her.

"You put him up to this. I know it. Oh, I'm gonna get you back for this…."

Yeah. No one's buying any of these Girl Scout cookies Stephanie's selling.

*

"I totally did not," Babs replies. But, she didn't stop him, either. He did promise her he'd explain, after all. "I have been nothing but circumspect since I arrived." And if you believe that, there's this bridge in Gotham…

*

"I figure with a fall as graceful as that, you deserved a celebration, Stephanie." Barry laughs as he's poked in the arm by Stephanie as he grins, his own burger arriving shortly after as Babs gets her food as well, if she ordered any. "We were just getting better acquainted, since.. the two of us share you in common."

*

"That is totally not a good reason?" Stephanie tries to retort at Barry before leveling A Look on Babs.

"Yeah, I call a big stinky pooop that one, Babs. Cricumspect… Please! Accompliance, for sure!" she says, reaching up to take off the crown now to turn on Barry.

"Thanks for celebrating my horrible crash. I guess I have to be thankful you didn't record that, though even if you did I would so erase that because I don't wnat anyone ELSE seeing that." ALl the conversation shifts!

*

"No?" Babs replies. "Gee. And here I thought 'Dad' would love it." She doesn't clarify which 'dad' she's talking about. "Seriously," she continues, shifting gears. "I actually was here on business, though. I'll have to send my client a thank you card." Her eyes twinkle.

*

Knowing both of Stephanie's dad, Barry glances up for a moment before returning his attention back to Barbara and chuckles softly as he offers her the crown that Steph set down. "You can make sure he gets this." he winks. "Well, it was either your crash, or the recent promotion at work." By which he means her joining the Avengers and getting her own Skycycle, but that's not something to be discussed openly. "And how do you know I don't have my own secret YouTube channel for #StephanieFollies?"

*

Promotion at work? Babs arches a brow at Stephanie. There's that look again. The one that suggests they're gonna talk later. "You know," she says to Barry, then, "that'd probably do quite well. I can help you set it up, if you need." Again, the dancing eyes. If she's gonna be forced to 'pay' for something Stephanie thinks she's done, she might as well deserve it.

*

Barbara mentioning 'Dad' only means one person for Stephanie, and it makes teh blonde groan, drop her face to her hand, and slide the brownie toward Barry. He's going to want to eat it anyway and Stephanie does NOT need to be doped up on chocolate and ice cream while galavanting around Gotham at night in skin tight nomex armor. And then Babs offers to help Barry set up the hashtag that she hadn't suspected ws real but is now going to dearch for and monitor because #Paranoia and Stephanie ends up just droping her face into her arms on the table top.

"Some one put me out of my misery, please? Boyfriend and sister are in the same room and making fun of me," she mumbles into her arms. Give her a bit and she'll realize she's just thought of Bruce ''Batman'' Wayne as 'Dad'. Why do the BOYS get the name and the money but the girls don't? Are people afraid that's going to look LESS inappropriate than Wayne having adopted four young BOYS?

*

It's true, Barry is totally going to end up making Stephanie fat with their eating habits. Corn dogs, sundaes, lemonade. All those empty calories, that he digests like they're nothing. Because he's constantly burning energy. "Anyway, Barbara, so we can spare Stephanie the terror, I'm sure she wants you to ask more questions about me to make her more comfortable."

*

"What would you like me to ask?" Babs replies, eyes still dancing. "I know where you work, now. And that your affection seems genuine enough. Where are you from, Barry?" She chuckles and flashes a grin. "Should I google you?"

*

Glancing at Stephanie, Barry smirks. "Go ahead. Tell her what you know." he teases his SpoilerStalker girlfriend.

*

"Check, please?" Stephanie says, lifting her head blushing horribly as she effectively pleads the fifth in an effort NOT to out Barbara as either Batgirl or Oracle even though Stephanie is well aware that Barbara KNOWS this is Flash.

*

Barbara laughs again at both of them. Her own food arrived with Barry's, though it was little more than a light appetizer since, like Stephanie, she doesn't want anything heavy on her stomach when she's swinging from rooftop to rooftop on a light zipline. "I should probably go, too," she admits. "It's quite the drive back to Gotham. But, we'll definitely talk again, Barry." Because, really, she's not actually done, yet.r

*

"Alright. Well, I don't have a night job like you two.. so have a good night. And I hope to see you again soon, Babs. It was a pleasure to bond over Stephanie." Barry says as he leans over to kiss Stephanie's cheek. "Love you." he offers quietly. The 'stay safe' is simply in his eyes. He knows where the two are heading.

*

Stephanie just smiles as barry talking about a night job. Her eyes track to Babs with that slightly panicked: I didn't say anything, I swear to Tom and Martha!

The blonde accepts the kiss gracefully, glancing at Barry's request and she just nods once before pushing herself up to leaving. Three steps and she turns crisply back around, puts her hand over the camera that started this mess, smiles again, and walks out.

Oh, Stephanie has a feeling Babs is going to either join her on patrol or else 20 questions her over the comms. Patrol would be better. Keeps the conversation off channel. Maybe. Damn Voice Activation option.

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