Business Mode Spoiler

March 10, 2018:

Nathaniel gets to talk to Spoiler for the first time in months, finding the young woman quite changed and not in good ways. He attempts to reconnect.

The Avengers Mansion

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

It was the middle of the night. Of course it was. Bats are noctural creatures, and as a batling Spoiler was rarely seen in the Avengers Mansion during daylight hours. She'd been using her remote access login to get some queries, but tonight warranted a physical appearance. She set her skycycle to charge, freshly repaired from the damage it took when Stark Tower was attacked by technology eating somethings that died when she flipped on her ligthsaber flashlight, and made her way on near-silent foot falls toward the computer room.


Nathaniel is no longer living all the time in the mansion. He has some business going and he has a nice apartment at the other side of the park. But he still keeps most of his projects in the sub-levels of the building. Safer that way.

So it is unusual to find him around at night, which explains why he has not seen Spoiler in months.

Tonight it is an exception, and when HOMER notifies him the young woman is in the building, he finishes a few modifications on the temporal anchor and goes looking for her. "Good evening, Spoiler," he greets, "how is Gotham behaving?"


"It's not, but that's normal," Spoiler deadpans from the computer she'd just settled herself in front of. The prompt to login blinks as she turns in the chair to regard Nathaniel, a face she hasn't seen in forever. Nothing about the batling has really changed, it seems. Her hair is a touch longer, and she's being a fraction more ginger with one side.

"Something I can do for you?"


Nothing has changed in Nathaniel since the last time they talked. Same dark hair, same watchful eyes, same pleasant expression, always perfectly groomed. One needs to hit him with a metal pole in the head to make him falter. Like she did.

"Is that an offer?" He replies with a faint smile. "But no, I don't need Spoiler right now. But your presence is always welcomed and often missed. What brings you to the mansion tonight?"


Perfect men need taken down a notch or two some days.

"If there is a thing you need help with, perhaps. I would need to have more mission details," Spoiler retorts, voice flat and even and cool. Business Mode Spoiler. Of course, told he doesn't need Spoiler right now sends a faint want-to-shudder down her spine. He doesn't need Spoiler, does that mean he needs Stephanie? How could he, if he doesn't KNOW about Stephanie? Not really. Does he mean that villain persona she adopted for a bit in order to infiltrate some New York street gangs? Spoiler's lips press into a line.

"Work." Back to deadpan, and she turns toward the terminal to log in


Nathaniel does not know Stephanie at all. By her request. He has not investigated her past keeping tabs in her heroic stunts. Courtesy given to the only Avenger with a secret identity since Miguel O'Hara left the team.

And 'Business Mode Spoiler' is really the worst Spoiler. Wait, no. Miss Tery Clue is the worst Spoiler. Slightly worse.

"Work, or course," he murmurs, leaning against the far wall. "So, do -you- need help with this kind of business? If you are here it is because you are accessing databases and programs Batman doesn't have," or she is action without telling Batman. But he goes for the more likely scenario first. "Which means I can do it much faster than you."


It really is lonely. But it's for the best. Spoiler starts on data retrieval of the data base searches she remotely triggered earlier that day.

"No," is the reply. Flat and quick and cold. And then, "Somethings don't need to be done fast to be done well." As for accessing databases Batman doesn't have, Spoiler will not be discussing this. Nope. Just going to pull her the results.


Bat-thinking. The Avengers exist to help each other. Theoretically.

In truth Nathaniel re-formed the Avengers to change the future. How is that working? Events that he wanted to prevent are still happening, although in slightly blurred forms. Historical inertia is hard to stop. But there is still time.

"Should I leave you alone? But you certainly seem to have time to spare, if you don't need to do this quickly," which is perhaps unusual in the overworked blonde Avenger. "What else is going on?"


Definitely Bat-thinking. Avengers was all about helping each other. Batlings tended to be alone until something beyond them was discovered and when it looked like they were going to die unless they got help, most stayed solo. At least, that's what Stephanie's been led to believe. Her need for social intentions led her to working with the Avengers. Maybe it was the same for the others: Titans, Justice League… whatever Jason and Babs were doing.

The upload to her person system was going to take an hour.

"You can stay or go. It doesn't matter," she replies before looking up at Nathaniel and quirking a brow. It showed into the tension on one side of her face.

"What else is going on? In terms of what, exactly?"


It doesn't matter? That hurts a little. Nathaniel thought they were friends, sort of friends.

Truth to be told he used to be much closer to the old Outsiders than to the current Avengers. But what did he expect? They were a gang of homeless misfits, most of them aliens. The Avengers are 'professional' superheroes, each with an established career and a life. They get important things done.

"Fallout from the blizzard and Stark's raid in Genosha," he comments. "Good will on one side, angry politicians on the other. Both events will fade out of the media and public sub-consciousness in roughly three months. But the UN Security Council is still blocking any intervention in Transia. Now, that is a dangerous delay."


It's hard to be friends when nothing is known. Stephanie tries, but she knows it's a hard game to balance. It's when the mask is peeled away that friendships can happen. This professional distance between them is a painful must. Spoiler just trudges forward as always.

"Sounds like," she says, working not to want to get involved. There are too many things and to think about something else that could possibly grate on her, make her want to do more, could lead to her not having the time or the energy to maintain what she has. No. If there are others involved, it's best if she stays out of it, leave it be so that an extra hand doesn't mess up what's already in motion. She turns her chair to face Nathaniel again.

Maybe he's more right than he thought, and she's got some time to kill.


Ironic that Nathaniel willingness to respect Spoiler's privacy has led them not to be close friends. But then again, Nathaniel is not the most approachable person. He is too controlled, clinical, dispassionate, he approaches every problem with a tactician mindset.

Like now. He approaches the problem considering Spoiler needs and the Avenger needs. Friendship comes third. They are lonely? How does that factor in personal and organization efficiency? He is an engineer, not a psychologist.

"Are you agreeing with me or just wishing I leave?" He asks, somewhat amused by her attempts to cold professionalism. Spoiler still has a long way to go before becoming someone like Black Widow.


Very much. Likely, Spoiler never will be another Black Widow. And that's not a bad thing. Spoiler is Spoiler, with all the emotional flailing and complication of things that that comes with.

"I was agreeing with you, but if you have somewher eto go I'm not stopping you." Not demanding he leave either.


“No, I was just tinkering with a side project Mr. Stark asked me to develop,” he explains, “it is finished, I could go to sleep, but I do not need to. Catching up with you seemed more pleasant.” And perhaps useful. “But you are more… warded every time I see you. Tonight you seem particularly tense.”


Catching up with me seems more pleasant? Beneath the cowl, Stephanie's brow pinch and her blue-green eyes blink. She has no idea how to take that.

"I've got a lot on my plate, that's all," is her wary reply. Yes, guarded.


Translated from Richards-speak, it looks like Nathaniel enjoys her presence. Or at least he did in the past.

"There is always much to do," he agrees. But he is connected to the networks, he can multitask while talking to Spoiler. "But you do have some time now," he adds, looking at the working computer screen without prying too deeply. "Talk to me, hmm?"


Spoiler thinks about it all. It's clear in how long it takes her to work through it all before finally just nodding.

"What are we talking about?" she asks, not hiding the fact that she's downloading something off the Avengers computer and onto her own personal devices. Connected as he is, Nathaniel could likely peek into her files, but knowing the paranoid batling, it might trigger an alert.

Maybe.

Possibly.


Not his business. Nathaniel is not prying if Steph is not showing him or asking for advice. He needs to trust the Avengers.

"You? Your problems?" He offers. "Or mine, but I am not tense and overworked. I can handle stress and responsibility much better than most people in America. You have been withdrawing slowly the past year. I do believe it is a mistake."


Beneath the cowl, Stephanie's eyes narrow. Her lips frown slightly at the offer of topics.

"You make it sound like I can't handle things," she pokes at the thing that could be perceived as an insult. She's not taking it that way, but she recognizes that she could have. Her head tilts.

"I haven't been called for, and I spent as much time at Stark Tower during the black out as I was able to. The reasons are my own; I'm giving what I can. If you think it's not enough, say so, and I'll walk away. But whatever 'problems' you think I'm having, you don't have to worry about them."


"No, but are doing well," admits Nathaniel, sighing. He steps forward, picking up another chair along the way and setting down close to Spoiler. "But when I see you like this, I worry. It feels you have aged ten years since I met you in Gotham, not so long ago. Remember? I complimented your eyes. And you hid them afterwards. It made me smile."


"It's called life, Richards," Spoiler retorts, tone growing tense as he nears. Not because he's not trusted, but because she's more tired than she wants to let on and she really only wants a few people to realize this. Nathaniel isn't really one, since finding out the fatigue she's under would lead to a conversation about her civilian life. Her tone could very easily be mistaken.

After all, she does remember him complimenting her eyes. That her having hid her eyes made him smile (because that's what she took from that) is blinked at and helps dispell some of the Work Mode.

"I remember," she says, not sure where this conversation is going anymore.


“It is called a bad life, Spoiler,” counters Nathaniel. Yes, he has noticed the exhaustion. He is observant enough he could be a very good detective if he wanted, and he has seen her going darker as the months pass.

“You might need some vacations. Or maybe just share your burdens a little, and in this the Avengers might be able to help you, hmm?” He offers. “Don’t make yourself sick, please.”


"There's nothing /wrong/ with my life," Spoiler growls, upper lip almost sneering. If she repeats it enough….

"I don't need a vacation. And there's nothing that needs to be shared," she adds, spinning to turn back to the progress bar. Still nearly an hour. Nathaniel's got her as a captive audience if she wants this information, which she does.

"I'm fine. What more do you want from me?"

It is interesting how she finds her Growl in moments like this. How the rest of the time her voice is too high and too innocent to be a Gotham Vigilante.


Nathaniel leans back, frowning faintly. What does he want, she asks.

Maybe he misses the eager, sweet girl he met in Gotham shortly after returning to the 21st Century. He wanted a Gothamite in the Avengers, but he also wanted more people of his age. Diversity of skills and viewpoints would make the team better. But he really liked Spoiler.

Maybe he shouldn't have respected her privacy so much. But he was trying to set an example too.

"Maybe I just want a friend," he admits.


He frowns and leans back. Spoiler watches him. She can see it just before his admission, and she sighs lightly. Her shoulders fall a few inches.

"I'm sorry." For what? For not being there? For not seeming to want to be a friend? For changing? For getting drug through an emotional roller coaster that's left her heavier than she was? For growing up? For starting toward being like her mentors? For not wanting what he wants?

"….I don't know what to tell you."


No, she shouldn't be sorry for growing up. Or for becoming a better warrior. Nathaniel shakes his head.

For not trusting him, perhaps. But is he trustworthy? That is a question that concerns him quite a bit. "Do not be so defensive, please. I am worried for you. You keep pushing yourself too hard."


So far, he's proved himself to be. But it only takes one slip and everything is ruined, and she all but handed him the Clues to her real name, if he had looked. Stephanie's pretty sure he already knows and just isn't saying anything because…

Spoiler sighs and lowers her gaze.

"I have to."


No. If he had looked he could have found her real name within days of meeting her. But Nathaniel never did. In fact he has helped her to keep his identity hidden. The biometric disruptor he added to the hard suit is something even Wayne will have problems duplicating.

He sighs, looking at the masked blonde with some concern. The young man sees a gap between what the blonde feels she has to do and what she can reasonably do.

What to tell her? That is it not logical or efficient to work past a certain point of exhaustion? Spoiler might be more responsible and organized than a year or two ago, but he doubts hers is going to be a logical response.

“What is your goal, Spoiler?” He asks instead.

--

The hard suit. Something Spoiler rarely wears. It is not her go to uniform, and she brings it out only when she needs the added protection it offers during Avengers specific missions.

“My goal?” The repetition of the word is deadpan, cold. Spoiler turns back to regard Nathaniel.

“Seriously?” There’s the typical Steph. In the way her head tilts and her voice dances toward annoyed teenager. She goes from surly middle aged adult to rebellious teen in heartbeats.

“That is a horrible thing to ask and you are dancing around the issue. Yes, I’m tired. Yes, I never feel like I’m keeping up. But it needs to be done anyway.” Spoiler pauses, her lips pressing into a line.

“I took a ‘vacation’.” The quotes can be heard; verbal emphasis. “It wasn’t all that. I dont need or want one now.”


Nathaniel nods again. He is obviously not getting through. He really should leave this kind of thing to Captain America. “I am dancing, hmm? No, I am trying to help you and failing. You are tired and angry, and it looks you have found a target to vent on me. Very well, message received. You have officially pushed me away.”

He stands up. “I will leave you to your investigation. Since there is still 50 minutes for that process to finish I would suggest you take a nap.”

No. He never investigated who is Spoiler. Because she -asked- him not to do it, and so doing it would have been like betraying her. Nathaniel has waited well over a year for her to tell him, and will keep waiting. It is perhaps ironic those who did investigate and found out her real identity were the ones that managed to get close to Steph.


He's so infuriating. None of his words seem like he cares and yet… Spoiler frowns, chin lifting to track him as he stands.

“Sit down, Richards.” Her tone is tired, but the angry fight is mostly gone. Her chin dips, eyes averting. Her gaze seems to shift to the computer though she's not really looking at it.

“You’re not wrong. But there isn't anything you can help with. So, just… thanks anyway.” it's awkward; the blonde unsure of what to say.


Nathaniel was leaving, but stops when she tells him to sit down, glancing at the young woman with a frown. “There is quite a bit I can do,” he points out. “I am a genius,” he enumerates, fingers out. “I have access to technology from a thousand years in the future. My tactical and strategic skills are second only to Captain America. And I am trying to be your friend,” beat, “admittedly the last one is the one thing I am not good. I never had many friends.”

He sighs, sitting down again. “But I am going to keep trying. I do think you are worth the effort,” he offers a brief smile.


I am a genius. The line smacks Steph like it makes him better than her. Like everything she could ever try comes so naturally to him. Her lips press tighter and tighter as he continues on about how much better he is than she is.

And then he admits to something he is not good at: having friends. Spoiler refuses to acknowledge the faint blush he summoned at saying she was worth the effort but the line if her lips relax into something not a frown.

“I’m sure you could figure out what I’m struggling with in a heartbeat. But that’s not the point. The point is that I need to do it. I’m not smart like you. I’m going to fail. But if you do it for me I won’t learn to do it myself so… really, it’s not something you can help.me with.”

It’s not a lie not it’s not really refereing to what she's working on. There are secret ids to keep.


“Determination and conviction can take someone much further than just intellect,” replies Nathaniel. “You have plenty of those, and you are intelligent enough, too. On the other hand, as valuable as experience is, some lessons can also be taught.”

Not that he knows what she is actually trying to do. He is talking in broad terms. He is smart enough to know she probably can’t talk about it because of those secrets she keeps. Like her face.

Catch 22 situation. Either he invades her privacy or he stays away and they can’t be friends.


“Point conceded; I still don't want your help with this,” Spoiler replies after a few moments of silence. She sighs lightly, turning to look at the slowly moving progress bar.

Catch 22, without trust there can be no friendship. But Stephanie comes with more secrets than her own. She won't do that to them, not willingly.

“I dont always feel like I belong here,” she admits, offering an olive branch of her feelings. Two missions? That’s all she’s been on? She did help with Stark Tower and Tony did build the hardsuit…. Still…. Stephanie bonded with her Bat Family over late night patrols in Gotham. The Avengers dont patrol.


Actually some Avengers do patrol. Nathaniel does, at least. Probably Captain Marvel does too. But half of the team works for law-enforcement agencies and their daily jobs involve a good deal of crime fighting or training.

And the Avengers are in New York, not in Gotham.

“Very well, although I was talking in more general terms,” offers Nathaniel. “You do belong here as much as any other Avenger. And you can rely on us to help with your own cases. We are a team, and some of us are your friends.”


The smiles isnt the warmest but its there, pulling on her purple lips.

“on the ones I think you can, I will call,” she says. Of course, it leaves her some much wiggle room to not call.


Nathaniel rolls his eyes. She won’t ever ask! “Don’t make me build up a drone to watch your backside, Spoiler,” he teases. “I would want to have a chance to know you better without being creepy about it. But I would prefer also you do not get hurt or killed because you feel your secrets are more important than your well-being. I have the impression you are not balancing those very well,” he leans forward, taking her hand if she lets him. “We have fought together against deadly enemies. The snakes of the Serpent Society. Crimson Dynamo. AIM. What else do you need?”


Build it. I will break it. Spoiler doesn’t say these things, but the way her lips shift with a quirked brow could hint at the thoughts. Hand taken, Spoiler’s chin angles down to look at Nathaniel holding her hand before looking back up at his face. There’s no tension in her hand, no hint that she might pull it away or return the gesture by curling her fingers into his grip.

“Everything about what we do is dangerous. I’m …managing,” she allows and knows that Managing and Balancing aren’t the same thing.

“What else do I need…? Before what? Letting you in? I really haven’t had the best track record with anything more than working relationships with guys, thank you.”


Yes, right. Invisible microdrone or something. No, he was not being serious.
“Letting me in, or letting me back in your life, in your heroic activities,” replies Nathaniel, “I am not asking you to let me into your bed,” he adds, smirking back. “Although a bad track record does not scare me either,” he points out.


Letting him in, back in, to her life? For a moment Stephanie frets that he wants into the whole of her life. That was the bad track record and the thought has her gun-shy. Even into her heroic activities runs the risk of crossing into her unmasked life. That's whay happened with the rest. The smirk and self-assurance and not being scared of a bad track record all have a faint blush creeping up to her cheeks.

"Maybe it should," she murmurs softly, hand tensing now and starting to withdraw.


Nathaniel chuckles and shakes his head. “Someone told me everything about what we do is dangerous,” he retorts, squeezing her hand lightly. “And you do everything with rare intensity. I would have thought someone calling herself Spoiler would be far less grim. I think you were more light-hearted when we met the first time. But if everything about what we do is dangerous, how dangerous could this be?”


Hand squeezed, it prevents her from retreating so Spoiler stops pulling her hand away.

"Things change, Richards. People change. And this? This could be very dangerous. The details of how don't need bearing to the light, thank yuo," she quips, blush remaining as her lips frown.


“Yes, everything changes,” finally Nathaniel releases her hand, slowly. “But when I see someone I care about changing for the worse, I do try to step in.” He is also trying to imagine why it could be more dangerous than tackling supercriminals and ruthless megacorps. For a few seconds he considers if Spoiler might be in real trouble with some major criminal or agency. But seems unlikely, since she is one of Batman wards and part of the Justice League.

On the other hand he doesn’t know if the League keeps close watch on their younger members. The Avengers don’t do it much. “No? But I want all the details,” he quips.


"I'm fine," Spoiler says again, pulling her hand free and brining to herself as the blush darkens slightly. She's really not, but if she tells herself that she is enough times, maybe she'll make it so.

"And many of those details you want aren't mine to hand out, so you won't be getting any of them from me, ever," she retorts, turning her face away again and looking at the progress bar: 45minutes. Spoiler's not sure if she wants to be happy or annoyed about that count down, since even though the conversation is uncomfortable.. it's nice to just HAVE a conversation.


"Yes, we still have time," confirms Nathaniel. Steph is hard to read with that mask he wears, but in truth Nathaniel has been observing her for long enough he can somewhat read her body language. She is both uncomfortable and entertained, which is paradoxical and amusing.

And hits her social life must be in shambles in whatever secret identity she keeps.

Nathaniel, of course, does not have a social life per-se. Everyone who cares knows he wears a power armor for the Avengers. Most everyone knows he claims to be from the future. Most people do not believe it and assume he is just Tony Stark's sidekick being Stark-level eccentric. And it is fine, because those who can't accept time travel are pretty much irrelevant for him. And for the future.

The Avengers are among those few -he- personally cares about. "Very good, then give me one detail that is yours to hand out."


Still have time. He noticed her looking at the progress bar. Spoiler doesn’t manage to hide the way her lips press together at that. They press tigher as he asked for a detail she can hand out. What could she hand over? Something that’s hers and doesn’t lead anywhere? Spoiler’s lips purse in thought.

“I'm a law student at Gotham U,” she finally says after a few very long minutes of pondering. She turns back to regard Nathaniel, eyes hidden whilst they study him.


Law? Maybe that is why she has gotten so serious lately.

On the other hand, “that is actually a pretty useful field of study for a crime-fighter. See? And a set of skills I did not know you had.” He is also wondering about her priorities. College is time-consuming in this age. If somewhat short compared with his own time. “Are you doing well in your studies?”

-—-

To his assessment of skill set, Spoiler smirks faintly. Her hand is set back to the armrest of the chair.

“Not as well as I'd like, but logically I know that I haven't fallen behind. It just feels rhat way when Im not at least three sections ahead of the professor,” more revelations. Spoiler folds a leg over the other knee as she sighs. Her gloved left hand collects her loose hair, tugging it over her shoulder to twist about her fingers.

“I never know when I'm going to miss a lecture or not have time to read because some crazed villain has me and the rest running half way across the world. If I'm not ahead, I fall behind. I fall behind, I dont catch up. I dont catch up, I fail. I fail, I lose my internship and my scholarship and basically everything that even made me going back to Gotham U possible since I can’t access my trust for another few years…” Mental word vomit. Gratz for making Spoiler thought puke on you!


To his assessment of skill set, Spoiler smirks faintly. Her hand is set back to the armrest of the chair.

“Not as well as I'd like, but logically I know that I haven't fallen behind. It just feels that way when I’m not at least three sections ahead of the professor,” more revelations. Spoiler folds a leg over the other knee as she sighs. Her gloved left hand collects her loose hair, tugging it over her shoulder to twist about her fingers.

“I never know when I'm going to miss a lecture or not have time to read because some crazed villain has me and the rest running half way across the world. If I'm not ahead, I fall behind. I fall behind, I don’t catch up. I don’t catch up, I fail. I fail, I lose my internship and my scholarship and basically everything that even made me going back to Gotham U possible since I cant access my trust for another few years…” Mental word vomit. Gratz for making Spoiler thought puke on you!


Nathaniel tilts his head. “No. If you run into that kind of money trouble we can help,” cue in for a holoscreen. “Avengers are allotted a weekly salary for expenses. This was designed with the idea a team member can live comfortably without financial pressure if they want to devote all their time to the group. But it is not mandated and you can draw from it. It should be enough to keep you at college even without a scholarship. I can make sure you can have access the found even without a public identity.”


The frown was directed inwards for Nathaniel’s response made the content of the wordvomit clear. Once started, Spoiler was sharing more than she intended.

“You mentioned the payment before. I never gave you enough information to start the account. What makes you think I’d want one now?”


“I would not want you to lose access to college if you are busy saving lives,” replies the young man. “Much less if you are injured and need to take some time to recover. That kind of problem should not be a concern for an Avenger.”

Before she objects again, he raises a hand. Peace. “I know. This is not charity, this is safety. You do not need it now and you do not want it, but you might need it. It could give you some relief, hmm?”


Granted, it”s completely possible that if she even breathed it to Bruce he would ensure it was never a worry for her. Spoiler is, however, stubborn and an overachiever. With an uninvolved mother and a criminal father, she did for herself.

Nathaniel’s hand up for peace is well timed for she had already started to puff up, an inhale heralding the start of her argument. She knows how hard it was to get back into Gotham U. The money she had to secure and the hurdles she faced. That money would be set aside so if something happened that she was too injured to keep up with her case load… Stephanie suppressed the shudder.

“fine.” it’s a bit graceless she knows. The lack of it is softened by the pout she didnt seem to realize pulled at her bottom lip.

“In the light of being prepared.”


Well, Nathaniel doesn’t know Batman can easily makes sure Spoiler stays in Gotham U no matter what. He is just trying to ensure she can be a hero without worrying overmuch about her financial situation. Which is the purpose of having the Avengers allowance. It is not a large amount of money, but it is enough to keep any of them independent.

That pout makes him smile, too.

“Always prepared,” he confirms.


Spoiler hmphs. It is a lightly grumpy sound turned amused by the twitch at a corner of her lips; thw ghost of a grin.

“How do you propose to transfer the funds then?” because id’s are a thing.


Nathaniel fehs, “hard cash, or bitcoins,” it is not as if they are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. He *will* give her far more if she really needs it. But not for ‘pocket change’.

The young man smiles back. After the previous tension he finally allows himself to relax slightly. Not that it is easy to notice; he kept his calm demeanor the whole conversation. Never an easy to read man. “I wouldn’t be surprise if the D.E.O. is watching the transactions of the Maria Stark Foundation like hawks. Better not to use those founds.”


Cash, actually, Spoiler could work with, and drop into her personal account. Bitcoin? Her lips purse slightly at the mention. At least the preference is clear. His smile, after her tension railed against his calm demeanor, soothes a smile of her own into place. It’s a smile that flips into a ligjt almost smirk. Oh, the DEO. Let”s not and say we didn’t.

“Reasonable, “ is her assessment, given as she settles back into the chair wirh an almost sigh.


“When am I not reasonable?” Replies Nathaniel, shaking his head and tsking. “Logic guides me. Not like someone I could mention. Hmm, I what I am going to do with you now? I cannot even meet with you except here or in the battlefield.”

That sure limits his options given he sees her at the mansion only every few weeks lately. Perhaps he needs to invite her to fight criminals more often. It is not as if there are not plenty of problems to tackle.


“Logic dictates that you ask for my number,” Spoiler quips, turning away before she loses handle on the smirk. Why did she say that? No idea. But it seemed the right thing to say. She rolls forward toward the computer to… busy work something, waiting to see how Nathaniel takes that.


That comment makes Nathaniel pause. Out of the left corner: she has been trying to keep him at distance and that was positively flirtatious. “Logic would dictate you do not give it to me,” he suggests. Bit this bit of illogic reminds him to the old Spoiler.

He leans forward and lays a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “If you want to, I can easily devise a way the number you give me is not associated to your real name. At least if you have a S-Phone.”


And there is the giggle from the Spoiler he may remember. Her hands still and she turns to face Nathaniel again, lips curled up into smirking grin.

“I have a ‘work’ phone,” she states without flinching from his touch. Her head is canted to one side.


“Yes, you do,” and he has access to her Avenger communicator. Which is not supposed to be used except for Avenger business. But some other work phone? He is curious.
Fine. “Would you give me your phone number, Spoiler?” He stands up, this time sliding behind her, both hands on her shoulders. “I want to see you more often, or at least talk to you,” he adds, gauging how tense she is, and if it feels she needs a massage, seeing if he can do it through the outfit.


Technically, her Bat phone shouldn’t be used for anything more than Bat-Business. However, she’s branching out. She’s given her phone number to contacts she’s made as Spoiler, knowing and trusting Batmans’ communication network to keep them from getting too close and tracking her down using that phone.

So, when asked for her number she nods. About to speak to give her number, the feel of his hands pressing into her shoulders, digging into the stiff knot of the muscles, pulls a faint groan of a moan from her throat.


Nathaniel tilts his head, feeling the tension on her shoulders. Worse he expected, looks like the young woman does not know how to relax. He is no expert and there is not much he can do through that uniform, but he tries. “You are too tense,” no kidding, but he actually can and does a quick scan on her vital stats and bio-systems using his armor sensors. The results make him pause and sigh. Bruises, healing injuries, sprains and general exhaustion become much more obvious.

She does not need a quick massage but a week off some physical therapy, good food and plenty of rest. What can he do? He has like 30 minutes.


Bruises, sprains, still tender but healed broken ribs, and yes general exhaustion. It’s the exhaustion of Superheroing and the exhaustion of being a college student and the exhaustion of having an important part time job all rolled into one.

“No I’m not,” is her rebuttal, weak as it is. Torn between letting him continue and brushing him away, Spoiler finds that the first thing she needs to do is open her eyes again. When had she closed them? No idea.

“….” Words fail.

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