#SpoilerAlert: Here there be dinosaurs.

July 01, 2018:

Seriously, spoiler alert. There is talk about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. If you haven't seen it and you don't want spoilers, do NOT read this log yet! You've been warned.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: batman red_robin flash

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Buzz! Or ring! Whatever Stephanie's phone does when it receives a text, it's doing now. She has one from Drake! It reads: Heeeeey what're you up to?
Stephanie glaress at her phone with one eyes as it pings softly from the wireless charging pad on her bedside table. She frowns, the expression lost in the pillow her chin is propped up on, before reaching out and scooping it off the table. Her blackout curtains keep the bright of the midday sun from invading her bedroom, so the dim of her phone's screen has her wincing as she reads the text message.

She had thought the ping was from her work phone, since the two sit side by side, but one glance at the clock while her fingers feel the bumps of the glued on rhinestones of her sparkly Hello Kitty case tell her this is just a social call. Stephanie considers turning her phone off before she actually reads the text.

Stephanie: 5'8" barefoot. You?

When you hadn't quite fallen asleep yet… you play on your phone.
Drake Riley is alternatively quite bored! He's lounging around in the Institute's rec room on a couch, sprawled to the side with RAW reruns on the screen in front of him. He grins at the screen when she responds. Didn't even take her long.

Tappity-tap-tap…

"Oh," says the text message. "Leggy. ;) I'm just hanging. Loitering."

Drake pauses and purses his lips, thinking back on Spoiler. He takes a breath. He exhales. Tappity-tap..

"Wanna go out?"

Steph waited ten seconds before her head dropped back to her pillow, eyes closing, hand starting to relax on her phone.

Bing.

Stephanie's eyes open again and she reads the message - Bing. - messages.

Stephanie: Right now?
Stephanie: I mean, when?
Stephanie: Sorry. What?
Drake Riley stares at his phone screen in anticipation. Really, there's no telling how Steph' would react. And when his phone buzzes with the new message - messages - lots o' messages - he just blinks. That was less… uh… he isn't sure exactly what he was expecting, but this was certainly less. Less bombastic? Less awkward? Less.. Stephanie? The final message, however, gets a quiet groan and his head flopping to the side.

Tap-tap-tap.

"Maybe not right now idk. But I mean out. Movie or something. You know?"

Drake hits send and begins the process of chewing off his bottom lip.

Starting toward asleep again the next bing wakes her up again and she grunts. Her pillows shoved about to prop her up enough that her brain will work again. Which phone is she holding again? She's lost track. Did she give this guy her black phone's number?

Stephanie: Ohl teyah. movie soundsnreallyngreat. Laternthis afrwrnoon though mybe?

Can't… reread …for… tyopes. Stephanie plops her head back down again.
Drake Riley stares at the phone for a moment as Stephanie's ability to express herself seems to be diminishing in realtime. He can decode what she's sent him! But it's still getting a bit of a squint from him. Drake squirms around to sit up before tapping at the screen.

"You okay, beautiful?"

Bing. Stephanie's eyes open again. She shuffles, pushing herself up to sitting so she can recline against the head board.

Stephanie: Yeah. I'm awake. What's up?

She rubs her eyes after sending that, phone put down on her lap. Is it really almost two.. in the morning?
"Nothing just curious. Your typing went crazy."

Drake peers at the screen after sending that message. And then his eyes widen.

"Holy crap were you sleeping? I forgot how busy your schedule is! D:"

Stephanie rolls her head on her neck, getting a pop for her trouble. She looks over at the small clock across the room. Fourteen-oh-three… Oh. Two in the afternoon. She yawns through both bings, and then looks down at her phone.

Stephanie: It's fine. Sorry for the typoes. I don't like autocorrect.

It still hasn't dawned on her that he called her beautiful. The betting pool that she doesn't notice for X amount of time is now open.
Drake Riley would probably bet on 'never'.

Tap-tap-tap.

"That's between you and your god. Are you sure I'm not disturbing you though? I remember you have very little time for uh anything."
hree hundred on never it is. Even money on 'worse possible timing'.

"I'm sure. I slept in this morning. Was just being lazy a bit." she taps out, forcing herself to go slow and correct typoes as she goes. And by lazy we mean catching a two hour nap.
"Okay. Well," begins tapping Drake, "Later in the afternoon, we can go out. Do the movie thing, dinner or lunch or whatever. It's a date yeah?"

Drake is being sneaky. Looking for a little confirmation subtlely.

How badly does it worry him that there's no reply for a solid two hours? Stephanie propped herself up in an effort to keep herself awake, but the position had her Hello Kitty phone sliding from her knee into the blankets before the next bing. She never heard it for the sound was muffled. She slid sidewise to the bed again, sleeping curled up on her side, phone lost somewhere in the sea of bed-things.

Whens he finally woke up, drank water, and was coherent enough to remember she has a Hello Kitty phone, it takes her a half hour (and a change of bed thigns) to find it. The battery was low and the 'you've got mail' indicator light was blinking. She sat to read through the conversation.

'Beautiful?' Her cheeks pinken. Her thumb scrolls on.

'It's a date yeah?' He wants a date with me? Or is he just being nice? These thoughts swirl about as it's Stephanie's turn to chew her bottom lip. She ends up taking a gulp of a breath and then tapping out a reply.

"It's gonna have to be dinner, I think. I didn't mean to sleep this long. Where? When? What movie?"

And then she goes for a shower and another bottle of water.
Cutaway shot to Drake, still slumped on the couch, eyes wide, bloodshot, and unblinking as he continued to wait beyond the two hour span for a response.

Kidding!

Drake didn't like the silence. It nagged at him. The only thing that sufficiently drew him away from focusing on it was the pro wrestling on the screen. So he decided to just blank out watching that, instead. When his phone goes off, the knee-jerk reaction is to tense up. But he pauses himself, takes a breath, and determines to himself to not let whatever get to him. After all, delays that long with a cliffhanger like that are never good.

Tap-tap-tap.

"You're the one with the crazy schedule, so whenever works for you. We can go see the new dinosaur movie and watch that redheaded chick try."

"Jurassic World? I haven't seen it yet, and I've been too busy to read up on spoilers. There's a showing in Midtown Theatre in about an hour. It'll take me about that long to get out there." comes the reply about twenty minutes later as she's packing her purse with a few essentials… and the black phone, just in case. Her hair's still up in a towel, but this she flings aside on her way out of her Bristol home, keys in hand. In the care, she uses text to speech to get out the message: "I can order tickets from Fandango."
Drake Riley is getting used to waiting on responses from Stephanie. He has no idea what that girl's up to, so he's determinedly keeping his focus mostly on the screen in front of him. Wrestling's gone off, though. Ninja Warrior isn't bad, but it's not the same.

Bzzt.

Oh, Fandango. Why not add a buck to the movie price? Drake snickers to himself. "I'm paying for it. All of it. So there."

Bing. Her car chimes as she pulls out of the drive. Stephanie flicks the 'READ' option and listens to the car's voice read Drake's message to her. As the garage door closes after her, Stephanie hits 'CALL', then grabs the hairbrush from the passenger seat to brush her hair as she drives, listening to the the ringer until the call is connecting.

"Hi. Sorry. I'm driving now. Text to speech is a thing but it sometimes mangles what I'm saying once I hit the highway. My car's mic hates road noise, I guess," she rambles the moment she hears his voice on the other end of hte line.
Drake Riley is getting a call! Oh dear! Did she take exception? Is he about to get a firm talking-to about toxic masculinity? Why is he so freaking nervous about this? Ugh.

He scoots the little digital toggle to the side to take the call, then lifts his phone. "H-"

And she's off!

Drake is lying back on the couch, staring owl-eyed up at the ceiling. When he thinks he hears her breathe, he grins. "It's all good," he assures. "You sure you're up for going out?"

It was a breath she took! Bravo to Drake for finding and exploiting it. She tosses the brush to the passenger seat again, leanign forward a bit to get a better view at the intersection before contining on her way, and reaching for the last of her makeup: lip gloss. The rejuvenating one, because once again that purple lipstick stained and she had to scrub hard last night… early this morning… to get it all teh way off.

"Yes. I'm on my way, actually. Do i pick you up? I'm not sure how much travel time that's going to add, though… And I really don't mind getting the tickets. I thought I saw it had XD Reserved, and I want to try to get those seats on the break? Though, I can't order if 'm talking to you and if I can't order I also can't look up HISHE or CinemaSins for it, so maybe that's a good thing? Well, if you buy the tickets, I'll get the snacks, and I think there's a pho place next to the theatre for after. Unless we get tickets for the show AFTER the next one and get pho before hand… it'd mean I'd have less room for snacks, which I guess is a good thing because I really don't need to eat that much popcorn and-" Hey look, another breath. And a lane change into the on ramp.
She breathes. "Stephanie!" It's Drake's in! "It's okay! You don't have to think about a single thing tonight other than just relaxing and having a good time. And I'm taking care of it. It's a date, isn't it?"

Drake suddenly pauses. Man, he wishes he'd worded that differently; a little more confidently, maybe. Something. Something that made it seem less a question, more a definitive. But that wouldn't really reflect how he's feeling, to be fair. He isn't entirely sure she realizes he's asked her out. So hopefully that'll settle things, one way or the other?

Her name said, and Stephanie pauses. She had leaned toward the rearview mirror to run the soft blue eyeshadow crayon over her lids once each. She glanced at traffic again, changing lanes once more, before flicking her gaze down at her phone and then back to the road. Her ring finger comes up to rub the crayon over her lid one eye at a time, pausing at the word 'date'.

Well, that answers THAT question.

And sets her nerves jangling.

Stephanie's not sure she's ready to date! She swallows and licks her lips.

"Right," she replies, vioce just as uncertain as Drake's.

"…" Crap. NOW what?
Drake Riley eyeshifts one way. Then the other.

He clears his throat softly.

"I'll get the tickets. You can meet me there at the, uh.. I'll text ya the theater. We won't be crunched for time or anything, and if it's starting too soon? We'll just bump it back a showing. It's worth taking things easy. You've got enough stresses."

He cleared his throat. What does that mean? Does it mean something? Maybe he just has a tickle! Ah! Why am I freaking out of this!?!

"Sure. Sounds good," Stephanie tries to sound up beat, but it's a touch too manic and she realizes it after it's already out and in the air.

"I mean. Yeah. Umm… sounds great. I'll key into my GPS and…" And.. and.. why is leaping off a rooftop ten stories up into a group of a dozen or so baddies easier to think about that something that is a date?! Why are the simple things so complicated!?
Drake Riley can't figure out how to interpret her tone just yet. All he knows for now - all that he's going to run with - is that she confirmed it's a date. It both relaxes him, and makes him all the more on alert. "So lemme get that info to ya, and we'll go from there!" Because just hanging up on her would be rude. Unfortunately, now begins the awkward process of ending the call in a polite way.

"Alright. I'll wait for the coor—uh, address," Stephanie says and then just hangs up. Because that was way way more awkward that anything yet and getting out of the awkward is dealt with the same way a bandaid is. One quick jerk and done. Stephanie glances at her reflection in the skewed rearview mirror and reminds herself that she did NOT put blush on her pink cheeks.

"Durn it, Steph. Why are you such a pill?" she asks the empty car, capping the eyeshadow and tossing it next to the hairbrush and the lip gloss.
Drake Riley blinked at his phone when it abruptly hung up. No, no, it was fine. He's glad she did it. Took the pressure off him. Whew. But he's then flying into his search for movie times and pre-ordering tickets. It's difficult to do without a visa, he's discovered. Indeed, Drake has no card with which to secure tickets. Whoops! But he managed to charm someone into holding a couple tickets for them at the box office. That'll do!

Stephanie was given the 'coor's, and Drake is there a little ahead of her. Dressed a little nicer, but still not exactly 'done up', the teen leans against a stone pillar near the box office. He'd obtained the tickets. Their show starts in twenty minutes, so plenty of wiggle room.

Just barely enough time as far as Stephanie is concerned. She took one minute in the parking space to make sure that her makeup was in place, that the bags under her eyes weren't too dark, and her eye shadow wasn't lopsided, and that her lips were infact clear of the purple from the night before. Personal care items are scooped into a bag and the back dropped into the back seat before she's grabbing the OTHER bag to sling over a shoulder.

Bee-boop. Car secured, Stephanie makes her way to the boxoffice. her hair is loose, hanging down her back, dried into slight waves of 'I was trapped between car seat and person for an hour'. She's got on black ballet flats, and a Grumpy Bear t-shirt that reads 'Ask Me If I Care'. Grumpy is being rained on…. by happy little red hearts. Skinny jeggings and a light cardigan complete the look.

"Hey," she calls out as she jogs up the steps.
Of course she's wearing a cartoony shirt. She wouldn't be Stephanie if she wasn't, right? But when she appears, she's met with a bright smile and nothing short of an admiring appraisal. She looks good. She always looks good. He feels a little freer to think that, since this is a date. He has no clue how to play this, but just /getting/ to this point is the hardest part. Right?

He swallows heavily.

"You look great. Here's a ticket. Your ticket. I got your ticket, I mean," he rambles, holding aloft the ticket in question.

Stephanie's closet has cartoony shirts, Gotham Prep uniforms, cheerleading uniforms, Girl Scout uniforms, lawyery professional buisness suits, and athletic clothes. The bat suits are a different closest. So, of course she's wearing cartoony shirts. She smiles and takes the ticket, though she looks like she's trying not to be as awkward as she feels.

"Thank you. Can I… get teh snacks?" she asks then, not sure of the rules on this kind of date. Dates with Robin were… rooftop stake outs over Bat Rations. Dates with Flash were… all you can eat buffets. Dates with Richards… aren't really something that's happened. There is absolutely no way Spoiler was going to sit to watch a movie with an Avengers Team Mate in teh middle of hte Manor and run the risk that Stark wanders in.

…and then whatever the heck is up with Cass… Stephanie smiles bigger, inhaling to dispell all of that. This is a date in her civilian life with someone who it's exactly a normal human, but who really should be treated that way because anything else would be rude.
Drake Riley, on the other hand, hasn't had such a storied history of dates. He's been on a couple - almost literally wo. One may not even qualify as a date. They were awkward and extremely structured. Most importantly, though, is his focus is entirely on Stephanie and having her with him. The way he looks at her probably even suggests that.

"I'm supposed to. It's the manly thing to do. But if you really wanna," Drake drawls, offering her a playful smile, "I won't argue. As long as that's not a sneaky way of making this not a date!"

the way her lips flatten into a bit of a line, the corners lifting up in an almost smirk, and her brow quirking, make it clear that Stephanie is not completely impressed with 'Manly Thing to Do' but is willing to go with it. She starts nodding at wanting to only for her smirk to fall and her eyes to widen at the idea that she's being sneaky.

"What? No! No… no. No. It's just…" I know you were hard up before things got settled and I don't want to over tax you? OMG Don'tSayThat! "If you really want to, I won't stop you, but… I don't need you do … for it to be.. a date." Cue the blush.
Most women seem to bristle at the idea of men being manly. Drake is mostly unaffected by the little smirk. But the awkward denial and subsequent blush that follows, that gets a much clearer response from him; namely, a broad smile. "Didn't say you did. Did say you wouldn't." He'd said that to her before. Does she remember?

His left hand raises to gently touch her upper-arm in an attempt to guide her on along to the entrance of the theater, wherein their next stop is no doubt the snack line. And she isn't wrong. He's not flush with cash. He's gotten some pay for his work around the Institute, but it's not great. Still, Stephanie feels like a good investment. Well-worth spending on to show her a good time.

His broad smile coaxes a shyer one from the blonde and she nods on a renewed blush. She remembers, and yet, she felt she had to offer anyway. She shifts her purse on her shoulder a bit, not seeming uneasy by the touch on her upper-arm. She turns, guided toward the snack line, where she looks over the menu of all the really bad empty calorie things Batman would have an eye-twitch over her eating a mere few hours before a patrol. She's got that community center to look over and a gang headquarters to sneak into. So, no chocolate, no soda (unless they have Mexican cola. Those natural sugars are SO much better than the high fructose corn syrup grossness), and no butter on the popcorn. Which leaves, Dasani and a small popcorn. Even if her just-woke-up-from-a-nap-and-only-had-two-bites-of-a-protein-bar-and-a-bottle-of-water self would rather have two hot dogs and nachos and a large popcorn and an Abyss Boy Dr. Pepper and some Sour Punch Straws and…

Stephanie smiles at Drake, a bit bashfully, hoping he didn't hear her tummy growl at her over the din in the theatre lobby, and when she gets to the front of hte line, her Patrol Friendly Order is placed.
Drake Riley didn't hear it! But he did, in fact, hear her order. His head turns very slowly to look at her, expression skeptical. "Really? That's all? They're putting peanuts in chocolate now. Have you heard about this? You've gotta try it. Change your friggin' world," he teases. And, naturally, that's something he orders. Along with a drink. And he ups the size of her popcorn because come on seriously what even.

Stephanie's blush deepens and her hand comes up to grab the strap of her bag a bit tighter.

"Yesh, that's all," she mumbles, chin tucking down. WHen he mentions chocolate, her brows pinch and the blush darkens. The number of times SHE was the instigator of bad eating habits while on patrol make thinking complicated, so it gets ignored in favor of being the good batling and shaking her head.

"I've heard but… no thank you. I.. I don't.. I don't want chocolate right now," she flat out lies. Because chocolate is amazing and while chocolate covered peanuts are really awesome, Stephanie would don that criminal persona she has and do not nice things for a bags of peanut BUTTER M&Ms. Which means those are a strict no-go, because she really can eat a one pound bag in one sitting; she really shouldn't eat a one pound bag in one sitting. Peanut Butter M&Ms are life. #MoveOverShrek

Seeing him up-size her popcorn, Stephanie inhales and opens her mouth to protest, but the deed is done. She closes her mouth and reminds herself that she has control and she can keep herself from eating the whole bag. Really, she can do this. Honest!

#SpoilerAlert - She really can't do this.
Drake Riley totally orders the chocolate /anyway/, because even if she doesn't want any, he's eating it. Neener. He has no supersuit to squeeze into, and mutants are latently more physically adept /anyway/. No, he doesn't know that. No, it isn't fair. Yes, chocolate with peanuts. The latter is all he needs. Well, that and the adorably-blushing girl beside him.

Though while they're fulfilling his order, he steals a look towards her and puzzles over said blush. Does chocolate do things to her? Embarrassing things? Nono, he won't let his mind chase that train of thought. No unflattering notions of Stephanie tonight. She's here, she's pretty, she's bringing her typical sweet self to the table. That's the focus.

His arms are stuffed with savory-smelling popcorn, a box o' chocolates, a drink (the water is passed to her, of course), and off they go!

"Hey. Hey. I heard dinosaurs might be in this," he asides to the blonde in playful manner, as if sharing some insider-level secret.

Bottom lip worried on, Stephanie finds a smile anytime she notes that he's looking at her. This between moments of her scanning the lobby for threats, quick entry and exit points, choke points, fuse boxes, light fixtures she'd have to disable quickly in case anything goes down. Her water is taken with a smile and she turns to walk with him to the theatre… and a bright giggle drifts free at the spoiler.

"Ohmygod! No spoilers!" she volleys back without thinking about it, eyes almost closed, clear and carefree for a heartbeat.
"And Chris Pratt might be in it!," Drake continues. He tilts to the side to gently bump shoulders with her. This is why he likes spending time with her. Not only is she very attractive, but she's fun. She's like the kind of person who makes you feel good just being around.

Oh yes. He's contently aware that he's developed a definite crush on her.

"M'glad we're doing this," he adds, and though his voice is still light and airy, it's sincere.

Bumped, Stephanie bumps back, grinning as she walks toward their seats. She's having fun, for the first time in a really long time, it's something not at all related to the cape and cowl, and it's almost easy for all that there are bits that are complicated, but if she can just dodge those, this could be what normal feels like. Even if Jack-Jack is the only one here that's normal.

"Me too. Thank you," she replies, voice softening with sincerity. She really needed this, and a New York theatre has a far lower chance of being the target of a Clown Gang attack or something else stupid that would force her to ditch her date, suit up in her not-really-as-armored-or-as-bad-ass emergency suit (less suit and more, remove top down to the purple and black sports bra, tug on gloves, and pull on a Robin-style domino mask that lacks the AR lensing), and try to deal with it on a limited crash belt. Really, this is about as vulnerable as the batling gets.
Drake Riley shakes his head. "No need to thank me. I mean, it's not like I'm not getting anything out of it." He adjusts his bundle-o'-junkfood to free an arm, which he moves to gently touch her back. "I'm on a date with Stephanie Brown. Kind of a big thing in my world." His smile softens a little. But it's then distracted when the ticket-taker asks for, you guessed it, tickets. Drake shuffles his arms around again to retrieve the ticket from his pocket and offers it forward.

Pick up lines? Drake's got them and Stephanie blushes again, offering over her ticket as well. No one's said that to her. Not because of her being Stephanie Brown, at least, not that she was really sure of it being because she was Steph and not because she was also Spoiler. Boyfriend the First wasn't the best at communicating those things. That and the pressures of being batlings… Stephanie drops her gaze to the floor to shove those thoughts away again. She swallows, knowing that she ran from that by faking her death. She'd fooled everyone but the Bat. Not her proudest moment.

Permission to enter the theatre granted, Stephanie walks slightly ahead of Drake to give herself a chance to pull the sadder look off her face. She's going to have fun. She owes Drake that much. He's trying so hard. he doesn't need to be burdened with her stupid past, none of which she can talk to him about anyway. It's scary how much better Stephanie is getting about shoving it all down, biting back the want to just stop and cry about it all for an hour so it'll go away, maybe.

"Need help carrying anything," she finally asks, turning back to look at him when she's sure he won't see any of those darker shadows in her gaze.
Stephanie has a metaphorical stormcloud hanging over her head, whereas Drake is trying to not think too much about whether or not he'll get a kiss at the end of things. Oh yes, they're on two different wavelengths. And when she turns around and offers to carry something, of /course/ it's the chocolates Drake offers forward. He knows what he's doing. There's a sly grin on his face. "Sure~," he coos in an affectedly innocent way. "You can take these chocolate-covered peanuts."

Stephanie huffs every so faintly in the back of her throat, but still she takes the box. She will not allow herself to eat them. Popcorn and water, and that's all. #SpoilerAlert - Steph might still eat one or four chocolates.

"Don't think I don't know what you're doing, Mister," she quips at the sly grin, moving to their seats and waiting to give him first choice.
Movie happened! Drake and Stephanie likely did their best to not talk through the movie, though there were points where Drake balked and wanted to say things /so badly/. All he could communicate was a goggle-eyed look at Steph', helpless. The real question is: did Stephanie indulge in popcorn and chocolate?

Following the movie, Drake continued to hold his peace for the sake of not spoiling anything for the next crowd.

Finally, out of the theater, they have a decision to make. Walk or drive. Drake doesn't have a car, but he noticed that Stephanie did, in fact, drive over. He isn't sure how she feels about walking around and ditching her ride. "What do you think? Walk to noodles, or do you feel like driving? I don't have a car. Unless ya wanna wait long enough to see me hotwire something." He shoots her a wink and tilts to shoulderbump. He's kidding! Probably.

Steph had to bite her lower lip so many times, like every time Drake turned to talk to her. It was surprising, and it made her smile, brows lifting. He would have spotted her inhaling and then biting back waiting to speak way more than a handful of times. Most of what she wanted to say seems to have been directed at the screen instead of anyone else.

Stephanie has a scarcism couch, maybe.

As for popcorn and chocolate, Stephanie munched (read: nibbled) on about a quarter of the popcorn and snuck five chocolates under the guise of sneaking two. Sleight of hand is a great thing!

Passing the people, Stephanie is good. For a solid two minutes, until there's a jerk being loud, and talking about fan theories. Her eyes cut to him, then to Drake and loud enough to be easily over heard, she bumps Drake's shoulder.

"Ohmygod, can you believe that ending though?" Stephanie pauses, turning part way to glance at Jerk Face who's stopped and is staring at her. Stephanie brings a dainty hand over her mouth, her eyes falsely wide.

"Spoiler alert: There were dinosaurs,"she quips at him, while everyone else in the line starts laughing. Gigglnig herself, she turns back to walk with Drake outside.

"Either way. I'm parked right over there or I can leave my car and walk off dinner when we're done eating," she says, grinning at the idea of htwiring a car. These says, it takes a bit of computer hacking. She's got a battool for that.

Drake Riley looks ready to pounce at the opportunity to ramble about the ending. He has all these thoughts swelling his head, and if they don't get out soon, he may pop. But he restrains himself when he realizes she's just doing it to be a butt.

But once they're outside: "That little girl killed /so many thousands of people/ all because clones. Oh my god." Drake breathes. "It's a nice night. I'm cool with walking. But I don't wanna tire ya out or anything!"

"Ohmygod, I know, right!?" Stephanie gets it out right along with him, smiling at the relief it brings. She inhales and exhales on a sigh, so much calmer than she's been in days.

"No. It's fine. I don't mind walking either," she says, adjusting her bag up onto her shoulder. She turns to head toward the restaurant on the far end of the parking lot from the theatre's main entrance, and for a little while, she's quiet, lips smiling as she thinks over the movie.

"You know," she says after a bit. "They've just started like.. Jurasic Fallout."

"Aaaaall because of a little girl's feels. I /promise/ you they don't make her own that in the next movie," Drake lilts.

His gaze settles on the nearby restaurant as well, then flits back to her briefly. "Let's just walk. It gives me a chance to bust out this move," he adds with a playful grin as he pops out his elbow towards her in offering.

"Oh, they better," Stephanie quips, smiles warmnig her eyes finally. He pops out his elbow and for a moment, Stephanie is too surprised to react. When she does, she's laughing at the silly way it was presented and how warm it makes her feel - this simple gesture. She takes his elbow, cheeks flushed with laughing.

"Good move," she comments.

Drake Riley laughs cheerfully as she takes his arm, and he begins guiding her along in what many would consider an antiquaited manner. But he's enjoying it. He's also enjoying the fact that she's rolling with it. But he already knew she's a good sport. It's part of her charm; why he likes her.

"So, tonight's been pretty good so far. Crazy movie aside - which, by the way, we're /going/ to talk about a lot more real soon…"

Stephanie's nodding, smiling easily in agreement.

"Yes. Some where away from other movie goers, so we don't spoil the movie too much for anyone," she replies, not meaning for it to sound like it's hinting at a second date. That's too far a thought for her righ tnow that it's just the excitement of actually having someone to maybe talk to about silly movies now and again that has her even suggesting it.

Drake Riley moves his free hand to gently set over her hand hooking his elbow. It's a little bold, but he hardly even thought about it before he'd made the move. He glances down to his hand afterwards as if to confirm he'd just done that, then looks back to her face. "I'm sure they'll be fine..," he notes, voice softening a little in timbre.

They reach the restaurant - or its outer area, at least. He doesn't even really care what they serve. It's not the focus of the night.

It is bold, and surprising, and Stephanie forces herself not to look and not to seem like she noticed it at all. The smile is there, and her head it turned away to look for incoming cars, in a parking lot. It helps her seem like she's not bothered by his hand on hers.

The restaurant is a Pho Shop. Noodles and noodles and spring rolls. She looks back at Drake, smile warm again now that she's gotten contol over the non-reaction, and she reaches to open the door.

Drake Riley disengages! Her hand and arm are freed when she goes for the door for the simple sake of letting her open the door more conveniently. And once done, he breezes on inside. Whether before or after her is up to her.

"Do you order normal things? Or do you order weird stuff? Like eel? Or fugu?," asks Drake with a wry grin.

Door pulled open, Stephanie answers Drakes question with a wrinkle of her nose.

"Eel??? Ohmygodno, eew," she says, lips smiling even as her nose is wrinkles in disgust. She holds the door for him to step through since she'd already assessed the entry way for threats as she opened the door.

"No. I'm a #6 - Medium Rare Beef Flank Noodle Soup kind of gal," she adds. Which is about as normal as it gets. Because Stephanie Brown is completely normal! Just like Jack-Jack, right?
"Nah, I think you're a ten," quips Drake. He isn't sure that remark even makes sense in the context, but hopefully it does! It's not even fake flattery. Drake does think she's extremely pretty.

He makes his way up to the counter. "That doesn't sound bad. I rarely get beef or steak at these places - it's usually chicken. But medium rare?," he asks, looking back at her. "I like medium well."

He says she's a ten, and she looks at him, face deadpan.

"I'm really not. Pho Ga is not as yummy as Pho Tái," she says. Because she may have the menu memorized and didn't catch that it was flattery. She follows him to the counter, nodding.

"Yes. It means they let the heat from the boiling soup ccook the meat instead of cooking it and then putting it in the soup, which is different than steakhouse's medium rare. I like that better too," she rambles a bit before smiling brightly at the counter guy and moving up to her tiptoes to peer at him over the display.

"Pho Tái," she says with a decent enough accent. Dropping back to her whole foot, she looks at Drake and waits.
Drake Riley looks aside to the girl, then ahead again to the worker. "Same thing," he orders. No, he doesn't even attempt to repeat her fancy dialect. He knows his limits. "You know a lot about this stuff," he adds before turning to face her again. "Do you cook?"

With his order placed, Stephanie collects the little plastic tent that is their order number, and she leads the way to a table in a corner. She sits in the corner, where she can see the door and the front windows and anyone walking past going down the little hallway to the bathrooms and anyone coming and going from the kitchen, and when the door opens a little way into the kitchen itself.

Nevermind that the table seems a bit secluded from the rest of the diners.

"Me? No. Not really. I cook as infrequently as possible. Mostly because I'm a disaster in the kitchen and I don't really have time to practice. I do save up a lot of recipes though and I've tried a bunch, once, when I was younger, and had time," she rambles, purse set on the table near her, opening away from Drake. Her eyes skim the restaurant.
Drake Riley follows after her, happy to let her keep the lead. He's keeping an eye out for whenever the bill comes, though. He plans to be quick on the draw. As for the table she's selected - he's only assuming she's keeping things date-appropriate. And if it's date-appropriate, they'll want away from people in general! The logic follows.

However! He attempts to scooch her chair out for her before she sits. And then he'll be sitting across from her. No, he doesn't pay her purse-perusal any mind. All of this is pretty normal.

"Well, the most I've done is some grilling. So we're sort'a in the same boat."

There's a conspiratorial glance one way, then the other, as if to ensure the coast is clear.

"When the heck did Jurassic Park turn into Resident Evil?"

"I can bake though," she supplies, settling to the pulled out chair. Drinks had, of course, been ordered and those are set down just befoer Drake leans in. Stephanie counters, leaning in as well.

"Two movies ago, though there's fan theory to suggest it was meant to be that way from the begining," she conspires, grinning.
"Butbut," sputters Drake, clearly displeased by this normalization! "I get the genetic thing, but this is twice now that they've had a genetic monster be the big bad! And this time, the whole second half was done in a mansion! With a lab in the basement!" Drake looks like he might pop. "And did you notice this is the second time that darn super-raptor saved the day? The one with bright blue stripes that would totally help a ground-based carnivore born and bred on stealth and ambush tactics?"

With a little huff, Drake takes up his drink and dejectedly sips at it.

"Yes, I noticed. Did you notice that this was basically the first movie with dino vesus dino? And Blue didn't help the super-raptor because the super raptor was after her pack. Didn't you see all the cuts back to the previous instillation?" Stephanie argues right back, leaning back and waving her hands emphatically.
"Whaaaat? They had dino-vee-dino all the way back to the first one! Remember the T-rex getting jumped by three raptor- oh my lord it's always three raptors. They're like the fingersnapping greasers of the Jurassic Park world." Drake stares owl-eyed at Stephanie for a moment. "And no, Blue didn't help Yellow - I'm calling it Yellow, because if we're calling Blue Blue, come at me, bro - but Blue still saved the darn day. And I remember back in the movie just before this one that Blue was about to eat Pratt's face at the beginning in the pen. But now she's supposed to be super tame with him? Come ooon…"

He pauses then, and glances to the side. "I feel like we should have berets or something for this. I don't feel snobby enough."

"This is a movie about dinosaurs they cloned by splicing their genes with frogs and you're going to rack them over the coals because of some dino ex machina?!" Stephanie fires back, hands comingup as if tossing the table up. It's an animed gesture, a flush on her cheeks from the debate. She's missed this, arguing stupid things that really aren't important, but doing so with a focus and a determination that makes it seem like the fate of the world rests on it all.

The waiter comes by with the bowls, setting them down on the table. The bowls are on large plates with bean sprouts and cilantro and jalepeno and lime. She collects the lime but leaves the rest, and uses her chopsticks to help her juice it into her soup.

"Left my barret in my other suit. You want my bean sprouts?" she says, voice going from the frantic arguing to sweet and pleasant in a breath.
"Nope. That's it. We're dueling. Twitter at twenty paces."

Drake gives her a playfully fierce little squint, then refocuses on the food. Bean sprouts? On a date? That's gonna be a big Hell, "No."

Drake also takes up lime to do the same, but not with chopsticks. He makes a token effort to use them, but clearly fumbles. "How long did it take ya to learn to use these?"

"About two months of ridicule and a lot of dropped popcorn," Stephanie replies, getting every last drop before discarding it tot eh plate. Flat spoon collected, she eats with both utensils, blowing on the broth.

"Twitter at twenty, huh? No contest." Dramatic pause: "I've got you dead to rights."
Drake Riley scoffs at her bluster! Scoff! But it soon becomes a light laugh. Drake has to use his fingers on the lime like a proper gaijin. This means that she's getting at the food before him. So by the time he's raising his spoon, he gets the chance to ask her, "How is it?," before committing to any sups.

"Amazing," Stephanie says, with her mouth mostly full of noodle and without any hint of shame for it. Pho noodles are a weakness. She even slurps the noodles because it was explained that it was polite to do. …on a YouTube channel she watched. She chews happily, sighing faintly because a meal like this isn't something she's had the luxury of in a while.
Drake Riley had heard the same thing. But he can't rectify doing that. Not in Stephanie's presence, anyway. So he's as polite and conservative as he can manage, given the food itself. However, noodles of this variety are similar to barbecue chicken. They're not meant for etiquette.

After a little bit of letting her focus on the food and him doing his level best to not gross her out, he pauses. "M'glad ya found time to do this," he reiterates.

And focus on her food she does, pausing a few times to use her napkin to wipe a droplet of broth from the tip of her nose. It's in one of these moments that Drake speaks, and Stephanie pauses, refrains from diving back into her soup.

"Yeah," she says, tone soft and reserved again. Her cheeks dust lightly.

"Me too," she admits after a moment, looking up from the soup to smile at Drake. It's a smile that filled with fatigue fuelled gratitude at making it tempting to come out and just be normal for a little bit. "I really am."
"Well.. maybe we shouldn't let it be the only time," Drake suggests carefully. He glances down to the soup, then back up to Stephanie.

Stephanie blushes again, the smile turning bashful and small and like she's being bad just by being out. Her lower lip is bitten on, and she pushes the things about her bowl with her chopstickes.

"Yeah. We… shouldn't," she murmurs softly, the smile wanting to fall as her mind starts going through all the ways this is going to go wrong.
Drake Riley is zeroed in on her face; the expressions she's going through, the nature of her smile, where her eyes go, all of it! Her words are encouraging, but there's a shadow of sorts over her joy. He isn't sure what it is. "Kind'a hard to believe there isn't anyone who'd be getting all aggro with me taking you out tonight," he mentions idly.

Cue the way her cheeks pale. She knows that he wouldn't be the one to get teh aggro. It's herself. The Bat would growl at her for distracting herself. Dick would be a dick. Tim would… Nevermind. Thinking about it all is just not condusive and so she shakes her head a little too quickly.

"Haa… wha…t do you mean?" That was the wrong question to ask, Steph! "I mean, it's fine." Better? Probably not. Her eyes dart around for something to rescue herself with.
Drake Riley tilts his head slightly at her reaction. So he decides to explain himself! Sometimes hot girls don't know they're hot, right? That's what he's been told. He doesn't necessarily believe it.

"I mean, you're a beautifuly, funny girl. You're also kind'a thoughtful. I'm pretty sure a lot've guys would be tripping over themselves to switch places with me right now."

As if to seal the point, Drake brings his foot forward to very gently toe-bump her ankle under the table.

Tripping over? Here again the pale fades in favor of a blush, though at the toe brush, she yanks her foot back, chair scoot back a touch as if she's ready to just kick the table into Drake's face. She doesn't, but for a heartbeat, she's that wound. And then it fades, cheesk still pink,and she's looking under the table with her feet still held up as if afraid of a mouse.

"What was that?"
Drake Riley instantly freezes, rigid, and worried she's about to have a freakout. But as it turns out, she's just really, REALLY not used to footsie. When she asks her question, his eyes briefly move to the table. They slowly slide back up to meet her gaze.

His hand raises, as if timidly accepting blame from a schoolteacher.

"That- that was me. My foot."

"Oh." A pause. Stephanie slowly, inch by inch, sets her feet down.

"Scared me," she excuses, cheeks still blushing. She looks at her soup again and then scoots her chair back to where it was.
Drake Riley has withdrawn his foot at this point, thinking he'd crossed a line. She's not ready for that kind of flirting! "Sorry." He looks back down to the bowl before him and resumes spooning at it with a sort of renewed diligence to mask his own embarrassmnet.

And she ruined it. Bravo, Stephanie Brown. You officially stink at being a regular person. She too resumes eating her soup, no longer slurping at the noodles. The motions are dainty, delicate, not wanting to call attention to herself in that self-conscious sort of way.
THREE. HOURS. LATEUR.

Or at least, a little time passes in silence.

"Um. So. For the next time we go out..," Drake pipes up, not wanting to completely fall into silence, "Should we try the beach again? I'd offer to try to cook something for ya, but I don't think I can have guests."

The silence gives Stephanie enough time to get herself mostly back under control.

"Hmm… Sure? I can bring cookies or something," she offers, eager to get teh conversation back to the ease it was before.

"What else should we bring? Will it be like a picnic? But with swimsuits?" Drake steals another look back at her with a perked, playful eyebrow. "Assumin' you're not too shy this time, too.." His smile turns teasing.

A picnic. The idea has Stephanie smiling right into the reminder of being shy in a swimsuit. She blushes and looks away, lower lip bitten down on, but she's smiling still.

"Um… maybe?" Because the bruise might be gone, but depending on what happens After Dark, she might have other bruises to hide. Maybe swimsuits are just bad ideas in general.

"Or.. we could do the park?" So she can stay clothed and feel safer?
Drake Riley laughs softly and chances a foot forward again to gently toepoke her. "You know I think you look amazing, right? Even if you get dinged up doing.. uh.. whatever it was you said bruised ya earlier." He can't recall what she said. "But if you'd really, really prefer the park, we can do that. Just.. you being shy in a swimsuit is like the last thing I would've expected. Definitely, /definitely/ unwarranted."

The toepoke isn't as startling, but she does glance down, as if she can see through the table. She manages a grin, though her shoulder come up and bit. The blush dances across her cheeks.

"Um.. thank you," she says to the complement, refusing to even consider commenting about what she said she does to get dinged up. Because she didn't say and saying would be bad and just no. Let's not.

"I.. think… for right now… the park sounds better?" Please say that's okay!
"Okay," says Drake more softly, bobbing his head to her. "For as much as I liked seeing ya in a swimsuit." He shoots her a quick wink, then looks back down to the soup. "Getting a second date is the real draw for me anyway. Anything else is just a cherry on top, y'know?"

There isn't much soup left. And in short order, he's prodding at the base of the bowl.

A second date. Stephanie blushes at the thought, even if she nods in acknowledgement. It could be read as agreement, but really she means acknowledgement. Not that these two have been on the same page much at all tonight, but at least it's a nod, right?

"Maybe… maybe some other time," she murmurs toward her soup. Another time, like when she knows she hasn't been in a fist fight that's marked her up. She's thankful that the new suit seems to be better able to cushion those impacts.
Drake Riley glances back up to her from the bowl, noting her considerably more subdued demeanor. His mirth dims back into a small frown, and he tilts his head. "You okay…?," he asks bluntly. "I didn't mean to upset ya or anything. Too far? Ahead of myself..?" His head ducks about, trying to get a better look at her eyes.

Stephanie squeaks mentally, her eyes coming up, cheeks dusted light rose.

"Nono. No. No, no not at .. no, at all. I mean. Yes. I mean. Yes I'm fine, no you didn't upset me." She rambles about, chopsticks pushing around what's still left of her soup. She shouldn't eat more if she's going on patrol later. She really wants to just finish the damn bowl, then curl up and sleep another twelve hours. Her eyes fall again.

"No, It's fine. It's just… nice. To hear…. that someone wants to… hang out more… again… like a date… And I just… It's fine. Thanks."

What? None of that made sense to her, and so she forces herself to take another bite of noodles past the war of eat! do not eat! being waged in her head.
Drake Riley is rather unsatisfied with her response, even though it exonerates him of guilt or wrongdoing. He scoots the bowl aside and leans forwad, studying her. "I like you, Stephanie. There's a lot /to/ like. S'why I asked you out. I don't know what kind of guys you've been out with in the past, but you're way, way worth having; worth spending time with."

Her response read to him as a low self-esteem. Compounding that with her evident shyness in a swimsuit, and Drake's a little baffled at how a beautiful bubbly blue-eyed blonde could seem so down on herself. Naturally, he'd like her to see herself more the way he sees her: vibrant, lively, and enchanting.

Stephanie glances up at the bowl is scooted aside. Her gaze flits up as Drake leans forward.

/I don't know what kind of guys…/ Stephanie's cheeks dust again. She knows. They've been amazing, each in their own right. One she ran from, becuase he was part of a life that was starting to suffocate and twist her and… she came running back, but by then the damage was done. They'd both just sort of moved on, without really moving on, while having moved on. It's complicated. The other… The other was a roller coaster. Too fast, too rushed, too brilliant and then he was gone. LIke she had just been gone. It eats at her, being on both sides of the 'disappearing' act. It's a pang that flits into her gaze and makes her drop her eyes again. Her fingers go slack on her chopsticks and they rest into the bowl; limp.

"Thanks." She doesn' tknwo what else to say. She wants to ascert that she's probably not worth it. But there's an arrogant voice in her stubborn head shouting that of course she is. Beau Un was her doing. Beau Duex …was likely a casuality of his superpowers. They were, afterall, how he ended up here anyway, in her timestream, he called it, and in her life. Just as quickly as he had arrived, he was gone. She was always the slow one in that relationship. Still is, since if he's alive in some other timestream, he's likely moved on.

Stephanie puts her chopsticks and her spoon down on her plate, no longer hungry.
"Really, Steph'.." Drake gently reaches across the table, angling for her nearest hand. "If you need time, it's okay. I wouldn't wanna push you into something you're not up for. And you don't have to worry about wrecking me or anything by pumping the brakes, if you need to. I'm tough. Promise." He offers another smile, semi-playful, but mostly focused on encouragement and reassurance.

He has no clue what's going on in her head.

Stephanie flexes her fingers out, and then curls them back in, taking his hand as he takes hers. Simple human contact, skin to skin. It's intimate in a way Stephanie rarely allows, rarely manages, rarely finds time for. She brings her eyes back up, a gaze worn and weary but stubbornly moving on anyway.

"It's complicated. I'm complicate. I complicate things. Doesn't matter how tough you are, how fast you are…" How super you are… "…that you're willing to try is… it's nice. I don't… get this. Much at all. I'll.. try not to ..be complicated?" She'll fail, and she knows she'll fail, and it bothers her to know that. She wants to succeed, be Perfect, be Worth It.
Her fingers curl with his, and she gets an affectionate squeeze as reward. No further advancement, just a holding pattern. Pun intended. Drake's emerald gaze rests on her blue-greens. "Be as complicated as you need to be. I can be complicated, too. It's like we're people or something." His thumb shifts just a little, brushing against her hand.

He knows he's holding back on her. He knows he has secrets. It's a dangerous game he's playing, and he feels a little guilty for it. If she's an anti-mutant person, he's setting himself up for failure, and he isn't even being fair to her. He's not a saint in this. But maybe it'll work. Maybe.

Except every relationship he's cared about in the past suffered from one critical problem; including with his family.

"Just, do me one thing." He glances to their hands together, then back up to her face. "Talk to me. If there's a problem, or.. or something's bothering you, or something, you've gotta tell me."

'I can be complicated too.' Stephanie's lips manage a grin for that, because of course he can be. He's a meta, superpowered. He'll never be allowed in Gotham. It's better that way, safer for him. Gotham is.. not a nice place. The light brush coaxes a light squeeze from her fingers. Hesitant to be sure, but a squeeze nonetheless. He's holding back, she knows he is. Because she is.

He asks, pleads with her, and her brows pull together, her fingers growing slack.

"I can't. There are somethings…" Spoiler Alert: "that I just can't talk about."
"Is it a trust thing..?," Drake asks, head tilting slightly. "I can keep secrets. I'm not gonna run. Not unless you're secretly a dude or something. Then we'd be having a whole other conversation." He gives her a little squint - a look erring on playful and hoping to keep her from curling into a little hedgehog ball.

Is it a /trust/ thing? Yes, very much yes.

I can keep secrets. Oh, I know you can. But some of these secrets aren't mine to tell, not are they yours to-

"What?" Stephanie's eyes widen, a laugh ninjaing from her. Drake's attempt to derail train of thought: Successful!

"No! I'm not a guy. I promise," she says, defending herself and laughing at the absurdity of it. Hedgehog averted.
"Yeeaah, I didn't think so," Drake submits with a deliberate dip of his eyes. Yes, he's trying to communicate that he's checked her out before. And to his credit - he totally has. (Insert: rawr.)

Insert Stephanie blushing brightly and averting her gaze. The coy of her lips hint that she's aware she's easy on the eyes. The pulling up of her shoulders hint that she's not as used to being seen so in street clothes.
Drake Riley snickers softly at her reaction. She's cute. That level of confidence he detects from her expression, though - where was that on the beach? She really /is/ complicated.

"So, if there's ever anything you wanna talk about, I'm all ears. That's the whole point of these dates, right? To get to know ya better? Don't hold back."

However, he gives her an easy out. With another gentle, reassuring squeeze on her hand, he breezes right on, "The park for date number two. That was the decision, right?"

Don't hold back. Right. Not happening. Not unless the cowl's pulled off in front of him and even then.. somethings have to go to the grave with her. It's just hte nature of being a batling. Her lips press into a thin smile that relaxes wider as he grants her the out.

"Right. I don't know when yet, so.. I'll have to call you. My schedule is… ludicris."
Internal translation: I'm too nice to tell you no outright.

Drake blinks once, and gives a mild nod. Though nonplused, he doesn't let it manifest on his face. He simply maintains that smile. No, he's not going to let his dread and disappointment be her problem. "Alright. Lemme take care of this, and we can start heading back before it gets too late." And with that, he scoots the chair back and lifts to his feet before heading to the counter, wallet retrieved!

He blinked. He kept his smile. Stephanie keeps hers, the expression shifting toward determined. She'll call him. She'll find time in her schedule. He's been too nice. She can do this, keep the cape and the cowl from being his problem.

Stephanie is an overachiever and stubborn.

"Sure," she says, drinking some water before she too pushes up and collects her purse to sling over a shoulder. He got dinner this time, so she'll have to make sure to get most of the picnic. His street-rat attire hasn't been forgotten.
Drake Riley quickly pays off the bill and turns to see Stephanie collecting her belongings. He rejoins her, smile a little more subdued now. And this time, he takes a few steps ahead of her to get the door!

She can see he's subdued, and it gnaws at her. It's her fault. Complications. She tries to smile back but he's turned away and is getting the door. She steps through, giving him her smile then, and a softly murmured 'Thank you' as she passes. On the sidewalk by the front door, she waits for him.

It occurs to her that they didn't discuss what comes next. He doesn't have a car, so would have to walk to wherever he's staying. Unless he can fly or teleport or some other form of fast travel. She turns to him when he gets to her side.

"Can I give you a lift somewhere?" she asks. Was it similar to what she had asked him as Spoiler? Stephanie's forgotten, but the offer is sincere. She really doesn't want the date to end yet. She knows the date has to end sometime. She can convince herself she's just being a good friend to offer him a ride home.
Drake Riley steps out into the warm night air and joins her on the sidewalk. Fortunately her car isn't very far, so neither is likely to get gross and sweaty. That said, he's pretty sure she's attractive all mussed, too. That's a train of thought he quickly abandons guiltily. He'd already given her that deliberate downwards-glance. Ahem.

"Huh?," he asks, snapping out of his thoughts to refocus on her in the present. It is, indeed, what Spoiler had said to him. But when she said it, it was with a mechanized voice. He's not connected those dots. However, he /is/ going to mention it now. "Y'know, the last person who asked me that… I kind'a-sort'a talked about ya to. And she was a superhero." He offers a small grin. "But, ah, no. I mean, I can walk. Don't gotta inconvenience yourself for me or anything. I know you're busy."

He checked me out again. Stephanie blushes again, but makes herself keep her chin up, and she tilts her head at him to listen to his answer. Which was not really what she had expected.

The last person who asked… Come ON, Steph. Rookie move! Remember what you've said to people!

Her cheeks color again as he admits having spoken of her… to her… self. Trippy.

"Really?" And then it settles in. He wanted to ask… It can't be! That would mean that for a moment, Steph was ready to be jealous of herself. Which is incredibly stupid.

Stephanie licks her lips.

Well, only one way to find out for sure.

"That's kinda cool, actually. I know.. that it's not really the most popular opinion but… I really like Batman." It's a leap of faith. She's NEVER admitted her super-hero fangirl to ANYONE. Especially not The Man himself. That would be Batling Suicide! Her cheeks dust again.

"Superheros.. they're cool," she hazards, the blush deepening. She's not that cool! THe rest are, but not Spoiler.

And then the topic of the ride, and Stephanie tries not to be disappinted.

"It's really not a problem, and… I really wouldn't mind it.. Driving you wherever.." She takes a breath to steady her nerves to press on.

"I just.. Awkward aside, I'm… having a nice time and… wouldn't mind it… not ending." Okay, brace yourself to duck and run!

"Is that so~?," drawls a coy Drake. "Well, there's something you should know." He draws up a quarter of his overshirt to cover half his face. And in an affectedly gravelly voice:

"I'm Batman."

The overshirt is dropped, revealing a lopsided grin. "No? Eh, guess I'll have to win ya over in some other way. Superhero privelege, man."

Goofiness done, Drake lets the focus adjust to the question of the ride. And her answer gets a genuinely surprised look from him. His gaze dips, but not in the 'obviously checking you out because rawr' way - rather, it's a self-conscious tick. But when they lift again, his left hand moves forward to lightly touch her at the arm just above her wrist. "Okay. Doesn't have to end, then," he nods. He's playing it subdued, but that turn of events - well, he's never been more happy to be wrong about something. She's a darn rollercoaster, though. It's difficult to get a steady read on her.

He moves a little closer to her. "If you could be a superhero, what would it be? Or, like, what powers would ya have?"

There's something you should know… Is he? Really? Stephanie's eyes widen ever so slightly, because in front of a pho shop is not the place for someone to say…

/I'm Batman./

Stephanie can't help it. She can't control it. She bursts out laughing. Eyes closed, her hand has to reach out to steady herself on something because that line, with that voice, she's heard before from the real thing in the real voice, but hearing it from Drake whom she absolutely knows is NOT The Batman, it's a silly that shatters self-control and pulls the laughter out of her in a way that leaves her light headed and giddy.

"No," she wheezes through slowly fading giggles.

A roller coaster indeed. Told ya it was complicated.

She sucks in a breath, working to steady the dizzy giddy giggles, and exhales on a sigh.

"If -I- could be a superhero?" she repeats. Her brows pull up and together. Her lips smile this lopsided little smile. Technically….

"Oh, I don't know. I'm not sure I'd have any powers…" Because I really don't. Complicating things does not count as a superpower!
"So you'd be one of those karate people? Wait, are you loaded? Being rich is like a superpower, too, isn't it?," Drake furthers. His head tilts to keep his gaze set on hers, now a bit brighter in the aftermath of that laughter. That was a sound he's going to be holding onto for a while. It suits her.

"One of those. karate people?" Stephanie asks, giggles bubbling up again. This conversation is completely surreal and yet… freeing somehow.

"No, I'm not loaded. I mean.. yeah, I've got a small trust fund, but I can't dip into it for anything more than tuition and books until I'm twenty-five, and really it's not all that massive," she says, eyes turning away. A trust fund that it's a miracle she somehow still has, given that her father's locked up in Blackgate.

Regardles of her own financial standings, she can not in any way shape or form argue the point of money being a superpower. After all, look at her mentor…
Drake Riley nods stoutly. "One of those karate people," he confirms. Not super wealthy, no actual powers, what else could there be? Super genius? He prefers the idea of Karate-Steph' - she seems more accessible, more fun. "What would your costume be like? Would it be one of those.. swimsuit-style costumes~?," Drake furthers with a playful grin. "Showin' off the Karate-abs? C'mon, details. Costumes are half the fun."

"I don't KNOW karate!" Stephanie retorts defensively. Though her tone is defenseive, her lips are grinning and her eyes are laughing. Because she knows a little but really her fighting style is a mix of a lot of different things. Mostly Red Robin Fu. It's an actual fighting form now. #TryToChangeMyMind

And then we're off on the topic of costu- "Uniform. Oh my God," Stephanie interrupts but Drake just keeps on, and her cheeks dust again. She had not taken half an hour to play with a color and cut design of her uniform (it was more like an hour and a half) only to stay with the same old batgirl looking motiff, only to find herself in THIS conversation.

"Swimsuit designs are completely impractical if you're, you know, NOT invulnerable. One well-placed bullet and-" Okay. This isn't really as funny as it had started out in her head. Even fully covered, bullets can injure and kill. Stephanie clears her throat.

"…What is it with you and swimsuits anyway?"
"Prob'ly the fact that I'm with the hottest girl in New York," Drake offers offhandedly. It's true, too! At least in his mind. If he were to really devote a lot of thought to it, beyond the natural skimp that comes with it (burkinis need not apply), it's likely moreso the fondness he has for water. Pools, beaches, lakes, so on. There's a reason he's happily on pool maintenance duty at the Institute. "Anyway, it's the /style/. I dunno what else to call it!" But she had to rain on the fun with science and physics and bullets, so he relents on the what-if.

Backing up a step from her, Drake turns to start back towards her car, expecting her to naturally follow.

Follow naturally, she does, both phsyically as on the topic of /style/ over substance.

"Okay. Okay. Assuming just style? And not any need for practically when it comes to things like getting into fisticuffs? No, I still wouldn't do swimswuit bikini anime armor. Because, just… no. I mean… sure, there's something to be said about the potential to distract an opponent, but …I'm blonde. Do I really need to look the bimbo too?" Stephanie Brown Rambles. That should be the name of her second You Tube channel. How Now Steph Brown, and now Stephanie Brown Rambles.
"I'm a guy who's into you. You wearing something hot while saving the day is never gonna be a bad thing to me. Barkin' up the wrong tree," Drake notes, glaancing back over his shoulder to her. Her vehicle - or what he's assuming is her vehicle, he didn't really see what she was driving - isn't far now!

/I'm a guy whos' into you./ Stephanie blushes.

/You wearing something hot while saving the day is never gonna be a bad thing to me./ The Spoiler Suit really it's all that hot. It's thermal controlled and…. Take the complement, Steph!

She bites are her lower lip, a hand ducking a lock of hair behind an ear as she walks without really paying full attention to where they're going.
And they reach their destination! …Maybe. That realization dawns on Drake as he stares at the vehicle; a brown Chevy. The longer he looks at it, the more he finds himself wondering if many cars even come in this color anymore.

"It occurs to me that I have no idea what car you drive," Drake states, turning to her. "You might wanna take the reins on this one."

Stephanie blinks, turning her eyes to look more carefully at where they are. She had parked in the center of the parking lot, under a light, where it was a straight shot to the box office. This is a shadowier spot, between the threatre building and the strip mall with nail salons and eatries and a furniture rental place. None of the cameras visible here likely work. In fact, as she takes better stock of their surroundings, she notes that the one on the theatre facade has a bird's nest on it, where the actuators would have it moving. She reaches out the grab Drake's elbow just as the gang that stake out this area look over at the happy couple. They smile and push off the wall.

Five of them. One with a chain. That's light weight. Won't hurt too much to catch on a forearm. Another has cut off motorcycle gloves. He's a brawler, likely part of a boxing gym near by. The other… seriously? Where to thug always get metal pipes!? Lowes needs to stop running BOGO deals on these things. They're annoying.

QUickl mentla asssessments are being made as Stephanie starts backing up, trying to pull Drake along with her. Sure, she's behind him, making it seem like she's hiding, but really, she's trying to move him nito a place where she can use a bit of leverage to pull him back down on top of and across her body to force him to duck something, like that gun the other two are carrying.

Her free hand inches toward her purse. If she can drop a small EMP granade.. kill the lights for one minute, maybe… she can get them away? Or the guns out of the gang's hands… or something… without revealing that she really IS a karate ninja no-powers superhero?
Drake Riley finds the hand at his elbow before anything else. Being on a date has dulled his otherwise sharp perception. Distracted by booty. Booty-Blind. Whatever colloquiolism covers this, it's lead them to a bad position. And now that Stephanie is attempting to tug him back, a cursory glance reveals the people on approach.

Thugs. Gangers. Likely used to easy marks. People who're afraid of getting hurt and aren't accustomed to rough customers are probably their preferred prey. And suddenly, Drake realizes that his date and he likely very much give that impression. A part of him is amused endlessly.

Then realization hits him. Can he take all five of them without outing himself? There's no way he's going to let any of them hurt her. She's extremely pretty, smaller than them, this is New York… oh, Hell no. He's not letting them anywhere near her.

He swallows softly. She'd find out sooner or later anyway. And if he genuinely likes this girl, she needs to know about what he really is. If she hates mutants, they're doomed from the start. The right thing to do is to keep her safe. But here and now, he'd really prefer it not get to that point. A little more time to show her that mutants can be perfectly normal people could be all she needs to put potential prejudices at bay.

"Stay behind me," he murmurs to the blonde over his shoulder.

"I'm guessing you guys aren't the fashion police. Don't get me wrong, you're like a Westside Story version of the Village People, but who the Hell carries around a chain all day?"

Diplomacy has never been Drake's strongsuit.

"Let's keep this at a robbery and not a mugging, alright? Sound fair?"

It's a cautious play. His wallet for Stephanie's safety and maintaining his secret a little longer seems like a decent deal.

/Stay behind me./ No problem! Right until I get close enough to knock out the… Guano rolls… getting close enough to the street light to knock it out puts them almost in vision of another. New York is just so BRIGHT compared to Gotham.

Stephanie seems to lean against Drake's back out of fear. Really, it's to help mask how she's feeling in her purse for the hidden pockets that hold her gear.

Could she get away with… nope. Flash bang without the suit on HURTS.

"Sure, loverboy. We'll take your wallet and that pretty thing behind your back. Sound fair?" retorts the 'leader', whose words get a laugh from the rest. Behind his back, Stephanie rolls her eyes and bites back the quip: Spoiler Alert, gentleman - This flower has thorns.

That he's refraining from just busting out the mutant abilities is calming, actually. Far too many are far too used to relying on their powers to take care of things. It's shows a lack of responsibility, of respect for those that lack the same advantages. She won't sass him aout hte lack of diplomacy. He's giving her time to think of and discard plans to get them out of this without revealing the mask. Maintaining her secret is a huge deal.
"Sir, you may not have my ass," is Drake's response, delivered with such dry authority one might think it's a schoolteacher lecturing a student.

After a feigned moment of realization, he adds, "Oh, you mean the girl? No. No, she's not a part of the deal." Nip that right in the bud. Boundaries are important in negotiations, after all. Right? Another brief glance is cast back to Stephanie, but all he can glimpse of her is a mess of blonde.

Very important. Just keep talking, Drake! Stephanie considers calling her skycycle and having it drop a tazer net on the gang, and then zipping away again before Drake could see that there wasn't actually anyone ON the bike when the ones with teh guns draw and up the anty on the sitation.

"Well, we making it part of the deal, brutha. Hand over the wallet, and the purse-" Stephanie tenses. OH HELL NO. "-the girl can bring it all over to us." The brawler and the chain wielder start to move to flank and Stephanie shifts again. It feels like she's shivering, but really she's quick glancing between the two, watching them surround and cut off the thought of her bike being cavalry.
Perhaps ironically, Drake was thinking along similar veins. With them clumped together, he could discharge a single current of electricity along the parking lot ground and take care of /all/ of them in an instant. The only hangups are guns - people convulsing tend to fire off accidental shots, and the risk is high that someone in that group would take a bullet - and collatoral damage. He has fine control of the damage he puts out, but sending out a blanket of electricity is going to fry SO MANY TIRES.

Feeling Stephanie 'shiver' is starting to tick Drake off. These people have no right to victimize her. Him, he's used to this shakedown crap. But it's a part of his past life he'd hoped she'd never experience. And them upsetting her to this degree is rubbing him all the worst ways. He sees the two guys flanking them, and it would be /so easy/ to fire a split stream of electricity into them and stop that flat.

"What we have here is a failure to communicate," Drake continues. Stephanie may be able to detect a subtle shift in his tone - a departure from plucky mirth and a slow trek towards dangerous overtones.

His arms raise to either side, palms outturned as if warding back the two slowly flanking them.

"The deal's what I offered. You have one guy come up to me. /Me/. Slowly. You come at me fast, or you come at the girl, and you're spending time in a hospital."

Drake shifts his emerald gaze from one thug to the next.

"'Course, I know how this goes down. You don't believe me, so you send one or two in fast anyway. Then I have to make good on my word. So I'm saying this now - be unique."

His tone darkens. Not unlike how her tone tends toward darker, deeper, whens he's in the cowl. She flicks a glance up at the back of his head, pink lips pressing together. She notes how he rises his arms, palms out, aimed at the flankers. He'll taze them, Stephanie fairly certain of that, but it leaves him vulnerable to the two gun-wielding morons in front of him and the leader wild-card who so far seem unarmed, but is doing all the talking. Her eyes track to that brown Chevy and the black GMC they are standing between.

Drake's description is exactly how it's gonig to go down. Steph knows this. It's happneded far too many times. He zaps the flankers, and she pulls his arms in to aim at the location of the gas tanks of those cars while putting her knee into the backs of his and driving him down to the ground to avoid the gun fire that the flicker of electricity is going to cause and maybe she'll be able to ride it off as 'I was scared!'. She'll ahve to scream in 'fright'. And that might summon someone. But so will the kaboom of gas tank hit by electrical bolt that she's planning. Oh well.

Ready?

The two melee ones who had been flanking charge in.
There's a short, pointed /sigh/.

Two brilliant streams of electricity lance from his palms in either direction, just as Stephanie predicted, aimed to not only taze, but /wrack/ the oncoming assailants. He did warn them, after all, and once bitten, twice shy. What may be a little surprising to Stephanie is that Drake was already starting to lower and twist, intent on using one arm to guide the blonde to a lower base while shifting himself from an easy target to a lower position. The idea is to give him just the one half-second needed to redirect his aim onto the obviously-gun-toting thug.

But that's not what actually happens, is it? He'll be swinging and dropping low, but not in the way he'd intended!

Not even remotely.

The zap lashes out. The flanking thugs get hit. Stephanie lets out that girlie damsel-in-distress-from-every-movie-ever squeel, while efficiently driving her knee into his.

Pressure points, The Bat had once growled. Control the pressure point and you can control the fight.

Stephanie uses her body weight to drive him down, her hands sliding out and up from his shoulderblades over the backsides of his arms to reaim his attack to those gas tanks. When the plan was devised, she had pulled out the tiny flashbangs, with the power of a black cat firecracker, so that as he finished falling to the ground, and she 'fell with him' (read: covered him from any stray bullets) she could toss-roll the bombs under the cars where the last of his electricity can set them off and-

Ba-bang!

Two tazed gangers on their left and right, three electrozap-mini-flashbang-cars-just-seemed-to-blow-up-in-their-face gangers in front of them.

And Stephanie sprawled on Drake's back, stradling the back of a thigh.

She stopped the squeel on impact though, so at least that's something.
Whump. Drake hits the ground. Explosions happen. His face lifts from the concrete, and he spits out a pebble. Ph-too!

"Did I do that? Damn." He was trying to /minimize/ collatoral! Oh, the Institute is going to be riding his ass about this. But at least the thugs are evidently down. And he can tell by the steady weight on his back that Stephanie hasn't.. well, he's not sure. Hasn't been vaporized?

Oh crap, she might've been shot.

Drake suddenly bursts into wiggly motion, attempting to roll over and essentially switch positions with the girl. Ideally with her not facedown, though. "Are you okay!? Did anything hit you!? Are you hurt?!"

Where Drake faceplants (because he wasn't in control of that fall) Stephanie kept her eyes more or less on the explosion. It wasn't a giant fireball of death and destruction like in the movies, but it was enough to more or less total the cars while ensuring those thugs aren't getting up any time soon. She's also trying to make sure that there isn't going to be too big of a leak of fuel that could try to explode later.

The problem is that Drake starts wigglign before she can get a good look and she oofs lightly to her hip onthe ground at his side, and then u phowever he wants to pull her.

"Yeah, yes, I'm fine. Nothing help me. I'm okay," she's saying turning from the explosion and reminding herself that she should probably seem like she's n shock or something? Quickl short breathes, wide eyes… If she could control body temperature and heart rate, she'd do that too, but she can't , ebcause she's not Batman.
Batman hacked life, so he doesn't count. And Stephanie need not worry, because Drake has wide eyes, quick short breaths, and a rise in body temperature. He's also somewhat on top of her, so this combination makes things a little dicy. Fortunately, he realizes this and quickly takes her by the upper-arms to draw her up to her feet. Ahem. Nothing going on /here/, ladies and gentlemen.

Suddenly, his hands snap back away from her.

"Sorry. Sorry. I should've- I mean- I- I'm sorry! I couldn't let'em hurt you!"

Batman totally hacked life.

Drawn up, Stephanie lets Drkes help her regain her feet, eyes looking over the thugs who tried to flack them, assessing them and making sure they stayed down.

And then his hands have snapped back and he's stepping away from her. Stephanie looks up, lips parting faintly, brows pulling together in mute question.

For a moment she can't imagine what he's so frightened of, and then it occurs to her…. He doesn't know how she feels about metas. He likely supposes that she'll be afriad of him, for shooting lightning from his hands. And perhaps, if she hadn't ever donned the cape and cowl, she might have been.

Spoiler Alert: Stephanie's not scared of mutant powers.

But, thre's only one way to fix this. Stephanie lurches herself forward and wraps her arms about his midsection, burying her face into his chest. What she really said is muffled by him, but it sounds a lot like "hero".
Drake Riley makes an almost quack-ish 'ack!' as she suddenly is attached to him. That's /definitely/ not a reaction he's used to. It takes his brain a second to reboot, but once it does, his arms slowly drape around her just behind her shoulders. He wants to say something, but nothing makes sense. So he quietly holds her, even squeezing a little in reassurance. No, he won't be letting anything happen to her in his company. Even if it means exposing himself as one of those scum-crawling mutants.

Finally, he whispers to her. "Sorry I didn't tell you before…"

She waits, tense, and when he relaxes she breathes a bit easier. Adrenaline still in her system eases as he squeezes and she sighs lightly into the embrace, giving herself a moment to just be.

His whisper draws her attention. Her eyes open and she twists so she can look up into his face.

"It's fine," she says. Her tone is simple, calm, frank. There's so much she hasn't, likely won't ever, tell him. She pushes back gently, looking at the thugs on ther ground and the smoldering cars, then back up to him.

"Let's get out of here." Police are a thing, and I know that they don't react well to mutants, metas, or vigilantes. Her tone isn't exactly a question, but it's not an order either. It hovers somewhere between asking and stating, and her hand comes down from his ribs, along the inside of his arm, to his hand; that hand that a moment before had shot forth a bolt of lightning and electricity. Stephanie curls her fingers around his hand without the slightest hesitation.
Drake Riley stares back down at her when she says it's fine. Another thing he didn't expect. She seems so very chill about it, though. Not.. surprised? Worried? Concerned? Fascinated? It's very curious. He's used to the cycle of disbelief, shock, then either awe or scorn. Usually the latter, but still.

She's right, of course. Cops are a thing. They really do need to bail. His fingers curl around her hand as well, and he begins moving along towards.. well, wherever. He just starts moving, hoping she'll take the lead and bring them to her car. But he doesn't say another word yet.

Take the lead she does, back out into the light, but along a path that doesn't make it look like they were near the still smoking vehicles. And she they walk and theatre secruity start to move near, she leans foward to look at the scene, like any good rubbernecker would, and then just keeps awaking.

As Drake stays quiet, so does she, making her way to her white Corolla. It's clean and new enough to be still under warranty. There's no dents on it, no cracks in the wind shield, no stickes on the back. Nothing of personality in the vehicle. It boopboops as she draws near.

"Get in," she says, hand uncurling so they can each go to their own sides of the car.

Take the lead she does, back out into the light, but along a path that doesn't make it look like they were near the still smoking vehicles. And she they walk and theatre secruity start to move near, she leans foward to look at the scene, like any good rubbernecker would, and then just keeps awaking.

As Drake stays quiet, so does she, making her way to her white Corolla. It's clean and new enough to be still under warranty. There's no dents on it, no cracks in the wind shield, no stickes on the back. Nothing of personality on the vehicle beyond the student parking sticker on the back windshield. It's silver and blue, and proudly proclaims the owner of the vehicle as a student at Gotham University. It boopboops as she draws near.

"Get in," she says, hand uncurling so they can each go to their own sides of the car.
Drake Riley takes in the details of her ride quickly, as well as the sticker. Gotham University. He's not sure why, but of all the things for him to be thinking about in this very moment, it's Stephanie in a cheerleader uniform. Yep. All aces.

Drake mechanically loads himself into the passenger seat of the car, shuts the door, buckles in, and stares forward for a few seconds. Then those eyes slowly shift aside to the girl. "…You have a sweet car." It's maybe the dumbest thing he's ever said.

She too buckles in, and without a comment backs the car out smoothly and starts away as a scene starts to gather at the far end of hte parkig lot. Her face is calm, somber almost, as she drives away from the theatre. Her eyes cut briefly from the road to Drake, and a tiny smirk tugs are her lips.

"I have a stock car," she quips simply. This is Wheels, her most basic more of transportation. The Skycycle is cooler and will never be named the Spoiler Bike.
Drake Riley bets it has cool spoilers though! Hahahahno, Drake doesn't even know what spoilers are on a vehicle, really.

The level of calm on her is almost unnerving. He's justified in being a little calmer than most would be. He's been vigilante-ing for a little while. And before that, he'd gotten into /so many fights/. But her? She's driving steady, she's focused. Something's up. Rogue-senses are tingling; those senses that tell a grifter the jig is up and to bail before things go into lockdown. He used to survive on instincts like those.

"You.. see a lot of that?," Drake asks carefully.

Careful tone. He's suspecting something. Why?… I'm too calm now. I have to be. Traffic, in New York, AND if you drive crazy away from the scene of anything, cops rush in to nab you. Stephanie looks over at Drake a moment, reading his body language, before looking back out of the windshield.

"I'm from Gotham. Gang violence and vigilantes in capes being the snot out of people is pretty much my every Tuesday night," she replies, hoping it's enough to calm him, explain things, smooth things over.

"Not that Gotham has a lot of mutants and metas, but I've been in New York long enough to have see some things." None of this is a lie since said caped vigilante beating hte snot out of thugs is literally her and that's literally her Tuesday nights most weeks.

"…Thank you. For acting so quickly like that," she adds, glancing over again to heck on him, a light and hopeful smile on her face. The sun has set and the only real amount of light on her face is teh reflection of headlights from the rearview mirror in a stripe across her eyes.
Drake Riley hasn't stopped staring at her, scrutinizing her carefully. Things that've been getting said around the mansion are banging around in his head; things like sentinels, new ones, tthe government making moves to not only label mutants, but eradicate them. He's sure Stephanie isn't a part of that. He /knows/ she isn't. But she's so darn calm. Is everyone in Gotham that hard-edged? Maybe he should've gone there, instead.

"I wasn't gonna let'em hurt you," Drake replies earnestly. "I may not be the fanciest date, but… you'll never have to wonder whether or not you matter with me."

Stephanie looks over again, needing to meet his gaze in moments, sharing her attention on his with the road. She knows he's staring at her, has been since she got out of the parking lot. Adrenaline is a thing, and half a decade of training have her steady in such circumstances.

"Thanks. That really does mean a lot," she says, accepting it without the blushes from earlier as she drives through the city. She follows the speed limits, and uses her blinkers, and slows for the yellow light and stops when it turns red.

"Are you okay?" she asks finally at a red light, using it to steal a much longer look at him.
Drake Riley finally brings his gaze off of her to the road, but it soon returns to her - this time in meeting her blue-greens. "Yeah," says Drake. "I'm good. I'm the one with the powers, right? I've been in scraps before. More than my fair share."

Hang on, on that note? How did she say she got that bruise before? He /really/ wishes he could remember. But since he can't, he sticks to the facts:

"I'm glad you're okay. And I'm sorry I sort've bumbled us right into that spot. I should've been paying better attention."

"Just becuase you have powers doesn't me you're immune to being freaked out by things," Stephanie notes. How did she say? Likely she tried to change the subject. But thinking back, it was thin, perhaps an inch and a half thick… and it couldn't have been t-shaped like the perpendicular rungs of a ladder. that would be just weird.

"Me too. And it's my fault too. I wasn't looking either, and I didn't tell you where my car was parked. It's find. We got out of there. Everything's fine." She turns back to check the light just in time for it to turn green. She rolls on, driving well under control.
Drake Riley continues watching her. Things bothered her. She said she's complicated back at the noodle shop. She hardly seems like the same person right now. He glances to the windshield, then back to her again, measuring his approach.

"It takes a lot to freak me out," Drake says. Will she pick up what he's dropping? "And if there's anything you ever wanna talk about… like.. this, or anything else.. really, you can." He's shooting in the dark here, but it's worth reiterating. If nothing else, it's an open invitation to vent and not bottle anything up.

No. She hardly does, does she. It's slipped into work more, get the 'civilian' out. It's a weird place to be, and she flicks a glance back at him, reading him for a heartbeat, catching that it's trying to hint at something, offer something. Her lips press togehter slightly.

"…Yeah," she says. It's a noncommittal tone, only because it really does hit closer to home than she wanted to admit and it reminds her that she's playing a very dangerous game of capes and civilians. She looks at him again, then back to traffic.

"…My father's a Gotham criminal. Put into Blackgate by Batman. … So… Gang violence …. caped vigilantes… basically: …Tuesday night," she repeats at the end of that little bit of 'origin story' share. It's more than she likes to share. She's told one person in the Avengers, but while in the mask and something more along the lines of criminal family, that's the reason, so back off. She's told her lawyer boss, but while in her civilian clothes, because he asked if there was anything she could think of that might compromise her work for him at the law firm. It was that or her actions as Spoiler. The former was the only way to answer that question and be truthful. Stephanie really is a not good liar.
The explanation isn't at all what he was expecting, but he seems to accept it. In fact, he seems to accept it and refuse to shy back from her. Drake leans towards her a little more and lifts a hand to set to her shoulder. And then, a gentle squeeze. "That's crazy. I get it." After a beat, his hand will slip away again. Nope, he's not running.

She was very vague about the 'criminal' aspects of her father, so Drake's imagination is running wild. He might be connecting dots that aren't there, not for a lack of refinement, but perhaps more for a desire to explain her shift in demeanor. If she's seen some things, yeah, this wouldn't have her terribly freaked. The fact that she's all into Batman - which he's taking at face value - is an oddity, but a reassuring one. It means she doesn't want to continue her father's work, right? Can't be a fan of a vigilante and also a criminal!

Can you?

"I won't tell anyone."

It's reassuring that he accepts it, and she looks over at the shift and the squeeze to her shoulder. There's a relieved smile on her lips that doesn't quite reach her eyes. There's more, of course there has to be, that she's not saying, but giving this much, can you blame her for hiding it all?

And, you can, technically? If the city you're working in has called you a criminal… and you take the actions that go along with vigilantism at face value: breaking and entering, assault and battery, ownership and use of an unregistered high-tech vehicle, use of paramilitary equipment, cyber attacks hacking and other cybersecurity issues. If any of those things got put on Stephanie, without the context of WHY she does what she does and on whom she does these things too, Stephanie Brown is every bit the criminal her father is. Im some ways, more so.

Her career has been longer.

Stephanie looks back over, the smiles warming ever so slightly.

"Thank you. Same here," she replies, turning away again. Then she shrugs with a bit of a rueful chuckle.

"Although, if you know where to dig at Gotham's Courthouse, all of it is public record. My name. His name. His codename. The charages against him. The prosecutor's name. The defense, the evidence, the judge, the sentence… When he's due to come up for parole," and here her voice is going flatter, deeper. Her lips are frowning, brows getting together.

"Which precint will handle assigning the parole officer…." What isn't listed publically is that a purple and black batling will be watching and waiting to Spoil the Cluemaster's plan should they once more turn to crime instead of helping get her mother to stick to a rehab program, instead of maybe being there for her graduation, her passing her bar exam. No, what's not listed is how much she wishes all of that would happen, and how much she dreads what's really going to happen: She'll probably be the prosecutor the next time. And it won't end with just her punching him in the face…

That she isn't crying is a testiment to how much into the cowl Stephanie's let her mindset fall. it's the only way she CAN keep from breaking down about it.
"And not a bit of that matters to me," says Drake simply. "I'm not gonna hound your background, your family, whatever. Only skeletons I care about in your closet are the ones you break out for Halloween decorations."

He chances a smile her way before continuing.

"You're you. You're Stephanie. Everyone's got things in their past, but that's just where it can stay. 'Cuz the person I've been getting to know isn't a criminal. She's good. She's sweet'n thoughtful. And unless you've been playing me," he pauses to gently prod at her shoulder, "that's the you I'm interested in. The rest are just things."

Like his background - which he hopes she doesn't dig into, herself. He wants her to like him, and if she's anti-criminal, she may have a few things to say about it.

"thank you," she says, the tone lightening back toward Stephanie and away from the cowl. She rocks at teh shoulder prod, not letting the car weave even an inch at the motion.

The person he's gettnig to know isn't a criminal. How warming that hits, since showing herself she wasn't like her father is among the reasons she put on the cape in the first place. Her cheeks blush again, finally, ever so lightly, and she turns her gaze back ou the windshield.

"….Where am i going, again?" she asks. Because she's just been driving through Manhattan without any real sense of destination. Talking like this, for its ups and down, has been oddly calming. Like a release.
"Uhhh.. Westchester's fine. I can take it from there. The place I'm staying with is crazy snooty and cautious, and if I'm being honest, a little embarrassing." And bringing Stephanie to the mansion seems like a terrible idea. He's already made a huge scene as a mutant tonight. So tonight might be his last night there anyway. He doesn't want to double up on the security risks and /ensure/ he's given the boot.

"They're weird about guests." It's the best he can offer. He knows it isn't satisfying.

Drake starts to settle back into the passenger seat. "So, a park next. Whenever your schedule lets you."

It might not be satisfying to him but Stephanie seems to accept it with very good grace, her head nodding a litle. After all, it's not too much to imagine that mutants might gather up, have a stronghold safehouse, and that they would be leary about 'outsiders'. She's fine with this and not about to start poking at that too much, especially on the Batcomputer. No need to draw someone's attention, after all. He settles back, and Stephanie smiles, opting to take the non-highway route toward Westchester.

"Yes. A park next. Whenever my schedule allows. I'm coming up on finals next week, so my mornings will be crazy for a week, and then I'll be out of class for a week before the next semester starts. Unless work needs me to put in extra hours. I work in the afternoons, but sometimes there's a client meeting or something, and I'm needed in the mornings. I'm really sorry about earlier today. I basically just sleep on the weekends," she says, glossing over the fact that she sleeps that much during the weekend DAYS becuase she really doesn't sleep weekday NIGHTs.
Drake Riley glances aside to her. She sounds like she's working herself into an early grave. The upside is that college isn't forever. The downside is that college is for years. He has no idea how much longer she has to go. "Steph'. Take care of yourself," he suggests, his tone kept at a gentle level. It's a suggestion rather than a demand. But he's seen what happens when someone overworks. It's what happened to his father. And he's living the results of that scenario playing out - estranged from what he'd define as an abusive family that blames everything on him.

"But, uh.. if you need time or whatever, just say so. I'll let you sleep'n stuff. I'm not vanishing. At least, I don't think I am." It's a fair caveat. From what he's hearing, giant specialized killer robots could rip the roof off the Institute any moment and vaporize him. Live in the now. YOLO.

Stephanie looks over at that tone. It's rare to have a gentle tone like that leveled at her. Usually, if anyone tells her to take care of herself, it's grumpy and gravelly and coming from someone just as stretched thin as she is. Which really is just Pots and Kettles. She smiles, warmed by the tone, and then turns back to the road. Everyting's FINE until he says he doesn't think he's vanishing.

Her knuckles pale, the warmth and smile bleed from her face. She swallows down the way her mind wants to flail at that remark.

"Somethings are worth skipping a few hours of sleep," she entones. Live in the now, indeed.

Drake Riley doesn't notice her tension this time, still settled into the chair. "Let's compromise. If you skip sleep to see me, I'll let'cha sleep on me to make up for it that came out /so/ wrong, wow, I heard it while I was saying it, lemme get a do-over."

He clears his throat. A/hem/.

"I'll let you sleep on my shoulder, or something else that Jesus would approve of." He eyeshifts aside to Stephanie, the corner of his lips tugging upwards in that typical, playful way of his.

Tension drug out into a backalley and beat with a fit of giggles. It did sound so wrong, and they way he just seguewayed right into realizing it and then clears his throat and then smirks. Stephanie can't contain the giggle fit, her eyes dancing happily once more as that playful nature helps disspell the darkness that had tried to settle on her shoulder.

That Jesus would approve of! hahahahah!

"You sounded like a troop leader I had one," she comments between giggles, before she's nodding.

"It's a fair enough compromise that I'm not going to argue it… but I reserve the right to stay awake anyway, just incase I drool or something."

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