Something on your nose...

July 16, 2017:

Bruce Wayne takes Stephanie Brown and Tim Drake out for an early birthday treat for Tim.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's hard to get the Bat-Family together. Between their individual lives, crime fighting responsibilities, and the natural friction that results from many dominant personalities all clashing at once— well, if there was ever a family that needed to drink at the holidays, it'd be the Waynes, et. al.

But that doesn't preclude smaller get-togethers, and with Tim's birthday on the horizon, Batman was able to snag Stephanie to join him and Tim for a little birthday snack.

So the three of them headed to Debbie's Doughnut Shack.

Of course, being a Wayne, it wouldn't do for Tim to be seen at the local Dunkin's; Debbie makes gluten-free, vegan, high protein, low-carb doughnuts that are amazingly tasty and actually fit nicely into the healthy diets that Batman forces on his proteges.

But they /are/ delicious. And spendy.

Bruce holds the door for Tim and Stephanie to precede him; he's dressed in a navy suit almost near to black, with a lighter blue undershirt, the collar undone and lacking a tie. Casual wear for the rich and famous. He follows the duo inside, hands in his pockets, and settles into whichever booth they end up picking out, after flashing a polite smile at the waitress who grabs menus and heads their way.

*

Stephanie steps in as Bruce holds the door open for her. Her hair tumbles loose down her back today, held out of her face by a simple bright pink headband. It matches the pink Funshine Bear tshirt she wear tucked into tight fitting blue jeans. She's got a litle blazer on over it, so she doesn't look like she's a) far younger than she is, and b) actually should be in Casual Bruce Wayne's company. Simple black ballet flats cover her feet.

"Thanks," she says as she slips in under Bruce's arm, her voice happy sounding, like its usual girly chime.

*

It's possible, that in the press of business, the many and various plates that he keeps spinning with an almost pathological verve at any one time, that Tim Drake - who, under most circumstances, doesn't forget anything - may have forgotten it was almost his birthday. He's been especially preoccupied lately because he's pretty sure someone has been messing with the main computer at Titans Tower, and the list of people who could actually do that is very small.

He's at least 60% sure it's somehow Bart's doing.

But, when Bruce Wayne wants to take you for a birthday donut, generally speaking you don't turn him down. Especially when he took you in and adopted you after the horrific deaths of your parents; most people don't manage to lose three parents to violence. Tim was always an overachiever.

Summer being what it is in Gotham, the soon to no longer be a teenager is wearing (designer) jeans and a red t-shirt that reads 'I'm Only Here Because the Server is Down' in the fixedsys font, but at least he's wearing a vest over it.

"Yeah, thanks, Bruce," he echoes Stephanie's sentiment. "It's been a while since we've done something like this, huh?"

*

"Maybe too long," Bruce concedes, wryly; he settles into the booth, positioned so that all three of them have complementary lines of sight to the kitchen, back door, front door, side access, and alley.

Some habits will never die.

The waitress walks up, and flashes a smile at the trio; she splits the difference in years between Bruce and the two just-post-teenagers, in her thirties.

"What can I get you folks?" she asks, apparently not recognizing Gotham's favorite son or his adopted ward.

Bruce pauses to look at Stephanie, lifting one brow and spreads his fingers at her in invitation to order first; then lets Tim go.

"Four of your doughnuts; I'll take the mixed bag, whatever the baker likes today," he tells her.

He focuses back on the Robins as she bustles off. "Since Christmas, I think," he tells Tim, in a pleasant baritone that's quite at odds from his normal, gravelling timbre. "How's the new digs working out for you?" he inquires, glancing from Stephanie back to his adoptive son.

*

"Do you have something with chocolate?" Stephanie asks the waitress after settling into her place in the booth: side access and front door. She leaned forward on her forearms toward the waitress, smiling and nodding when the answer comes back that yes they do have something with chocolate, Stephanie quite happily accepts the waitress's suggestion, a chocolate sampler thing. She settles back to let birthday birdboy get his order in, and assuming hte question is for Tim, Stephanie doesn't answer. She just follows Bruce's gaze toward Tim.

*

"Strawberry glaze cronut," is Tim's almost too quick response, suggesting that he actually knows the menu. He's never been here before, of course.

Once he learned where they were going, he googled it.

Some habits really will never die, and if he doesn't always make things look as effortless as Dick does, none of the other students of the Bat can match the third Robin when it comes to thoroughness and preparation.

"Yeah, I guess the Gotham Antiquities Commission gala wasn't really a fun night out." His father would've been sad to see that: Jack Drake had been a staunch supporter and zealous member of the GAC. "Maybe we should try to get everybody together, play laser tag or something. Just gotta search Damian for knives first."

It's one of those things that's a joke, but also not really, because man that kid and sharp objects.

"They're good," is Tim's reply to Bruce's question, his head bobbing in a few short nods. "You know, my place by the university's more of a one-person thing, this is… Communal. Bart even managed to convince Max Mercury to let him leave Middle of Nowhere, Georgia."

Tim pauses, and hedges.

"Actually I'm pretty sure he didn't ask Max about it, and just left…"

*

"The chocolate doughnuts are excellent," Bruce assures Stephanie. "I've had them before. I think you'll find most everything here is excellent." Batman doesn't have any vices… at least, that's what he tells other people— but there's a glimmering in his eyes that suggests the doughnuts here strain even his self-restraint.

He listens attentively to Tim, with that razor focus of his; nodding along when Tim describes his 'alternative' living accomodations. He smirks just a little at the 'joke' about Damian.

"Strong locks make for good neighbors," Batman reminds Red Robin; words to live by. "As fast as Bart can run, it's possible he's still living at home," Batman tells Tim, a little wryly. "Georgia's only an hour away from here at a moderate pace for him; in a hurry, he could be there and back in short order."

He turns his frosty blue eyes towards Stephanie. "You're being quiet, Stephanie," he tells the blonde, with a calm lack of accusation in his voice. "I haven't seen much of you lately, either. What do you think about this new endeavour?" he inquires, lifting his fingers at her in invitation to speak.

*

She's a bit people watching. The people at her own table being the focus. Her eyes flit from speaker to speaker, Tim and Bruce. A smile and a little squelched little giggle is given at his glimmer-eyed assurances of the chocolate doughnuts he's had before. She nods quickly, bridge of her nose wrinkling faintly with the expression. Chin on hand, she too smirks at the joke about Damian, blue-green eyes rolling faintly. Though family lasertag does sound like it would be fun, so aside from the smirk, Stephanie nods in agreement. Her eyes avert slightly, shifting to track some movement away from the table, as mention is made of people moving fast enough to live out of state. It takes Stephanie hearing her name to draw her attentino back to the table, and blue-green eyes meet frosty-blue ones. She swallows and smiles toothlessly.

"I think it's great. The few I've met seem like a solid group," she answers, an edge of uncertainty over what exactly to say coloring her tone before she scoots topics to comment on not havnig been around much.

"I've… been keeping to myself mostly. DA's office is quiet, and I'm back in summer classes," Stephanie says, eyes falling toward the table where she put her Hello Kitty! cased phone.

*

The embarrassing part would be when Alfred came out of the laser tag game with the best score.

It doesn't even occur to Tim that Stephanie might find the topic of speedsters a bit of a sore subject right now - and that without even knowing who Bart is, which would definitely be some kind of awkwardness multiplier - though he can tell that the blonde feels a bit uncertain as to what sort of insight Bruce is expecting out of her. As usual, she switches topics deftly when she sees a train of conversation she's better equipped to deal with.

Not one to linger when she doesn't know what to say, Stephanie Brown is.

"You've been working yourself pretty hard," Tim says to the blonde, watching her sidelong. "No more concussions, at least? You play field hockey with a pretty rough crowd." She always seemed like the field hockey type to him.

"What about you, Bruce? With the news recently, I'm guessing some of your friends are having a rough time. Cassie was pretty stressed about it, too."

*

Bruce exhales through his nose, mulling things over. "It's been… a complicated few weeks," Batman acknowledges. "Diana in particular has been feeling somewhat stressed. The attacks were—" He breaks off as the waitress approaches from behind him, switching topics to a mundane discussion about the weather, until she leaves.

"—very trying for her. We're still trying to get to the bottom of it," the World's Greatest Detective explains. "But it's relatively small-scale stuff. Nothing world-ending. For a change," he remarks dryly.

Bruce reaches for a fork and knife and transfers one of the caramel-painted doughnuts to his small plate, and starts eating it with a tidy sort of efficiency.

*

All the chocolate. Stephanie smiles a bit, brightening from the speedster aside at the sight of the confection. She glances up at Tim as she just picks up a doughnut with her fingers.

"No. Not recently anyway. It's been quiet for them too, no big games," she replies, chin down so she's looking up at her age-mate through the side of her eyes. Field hockey isa horrible sport. It's got nothing on competitive gymnastics. Her bites aren't massive, but they aren't dainty, and she ends up with chocolate frosting on the tip of her nose.

"Anything you need help with?" she offers around a bite of chocodoughnut and not seeming to realize the frosting is there.

*

"Don't jinx it," is Tim's response to Bruce's assertion that it's 'nothing world-ending'. "It never starts world-ending, but then before you know it…"

*

"Don't jinx it," is Tim's response to Bruce's assertion that it's 'nothing world-ending'. "It never starts world-ending, but then before you know it…" You're trying to keep everyone from being drawn into a sinister alternate reality, or keep some demon-worshipping cult from unleashing Literal Hell on Earth.

Never a dull moment, though. Never a dull moment.

Like Stephanie, he doesn't use a knife and fork for his cronut, though he doesn't even bat an eyelash at the fact that Bruce does: The man was raised by his butler, after all. Imagine the scandal that would be caused if anyone ever saw Bruce Wayne eat a pizza like that. He'd never be able to set foot in New York again!

That Stephanie hasn't been in any fresh dangerous situations with the Avengers is a bit of a relief, and likewise he hopes she hasn't been beating up any more of her teammates… But he won't bring that up in front of Bruce. No point in snitching on the blonde for its own sake.

"Like Steph says, if you need any other help," which is unlikely because a) this is Batman we're talking about, and b) he's got the Justice League backing him up, "we're around. That's what family does, right?" He looks to Stephanie for agreement with that idea, which is when he notices…

"You've, uh, got a…" He points at the tip of his nose.

*

Bruce looks at Stephanie, chewing slower and slower at her as she offers her assistance; he glances at Tim, then back at Stephanie, and it's a good few beats before Tim chimes in and points out that Steph's having a food malfunction.

He mirrors Tim's gesture, scratching the tip of his nose; after a beat, he offers Stephanie a napkin from the little pullout. "And you kids laugh at a fork and knife," he tells Tim, with a sly note of playful remonstration.

"Diana asked me to move discreetly on this," Batman tells the other two, honestly. "But I thinsk we could cover more ground as a team. A few of us working together could come at this from different angles. We might be more productive that way; but, it woudl require some time in the field, in the tropics," he warns Tim and Stephanie.

Oh no. A trip to Brazil. The horrors.

*

Stephanie finishes her bite, blue eyes widening as Tim and rbuce are both sort of staring at her. She licks her lips, then brings a hand up to wipe her fingers at the corner her her lips. And then she seems to realize they are rubbing their noses - not unlike little kittens - and she snatches up the napkin Bruce is offering to wipe her nose clean.

Stephanie's cheeks turn bright pink to match her headband. She dips her chin down and when her nose is clean, she takes a more careful bite of her chocodoughnut.

"Sure. Anything you need, Bruce," Stephanie says in that 'I am so embarassed right now' tone of voice.

*

"I only laughed the first few times," Tim says, defensively. "And whenever Dick would do his imitation."

That might not be true. He might just be busting Batman's chops, a rare privilege reserved only for those in the innermost circle of the World's Greatest Detective's confidence.

But on the other hand, that is totally the sort of thing Dick Grayson would do, isn't it?

But the young man, soon to no longer be a teenager, can't help but grin ruefully at Stephanie's embarrassed reaction to realising she'd gotten chocolate frosting on her nose, shaking his head a little before discreetly brushing the tip of his own to make sure he didn't get any strawberry there.

"She isn't high on the list of people I'd want upset at me for nosing around," the younger detective admits. Of the Wonders, he finds Cassie to be far easier to deflect when she gets her temper up. Wonder Woman herself is… Impressive. "But if you need backup, I'm there. Besides," he adds, lightly. "Then we can watch you eat some bolinho de chuva with a knife and fork…"

Then he takes another bite of his cronut, grinning.

All in all, a little bit of normal is never bad.

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