#AwkwardSilence

August 05, 2018:

In which Stephanie learns WHY it's not a good idea to try to have a civilian conversation while in the mask and Drake doesn't even know what's going on with them right now, or This is why Secret IDs are hard, man!

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Drake Riley has been pondering his life since yesterday; and likely putting more weight on himself than he needs to. He needs something. He needs his medicine! Without raising up, he fetches the cellphone off the desk beside his bed…

Text: Hey, you up?

Stephanie was suiting up, making ready for a night out, when her Hello Kitty phone went off. Gloveless, cowl down, she looked over at the device from where she was tying the laces of a boot. She tucks the laces down, clipping the kevlar flap over them to seal them down before collecting her phone. Still pink lips smile at the text and she flicks a glance at the time.

Text: Yeah. Hi. What's up? :)
Text: Nothing. Kinda stressed. Miss ya. :<

That text from Drake made Stephanie frown.

Text: I miss you too. Sorry you're stress. Anything I can do?

…that won't have me showing up in purple and black nomex? Steph adds silently to herself as she hits send and reaches for her other boot.
Text: Dunno. Just want someone to talk to and I like talking to you. Goes without saying huh? I mean I wouldn't be dating you unless I liked talking to you. Omg you haven't dumped me by now have you? How long has it been? Has it been a year? It feels like it's been a year :V

Drake is not processing his thoughts. He's just tapping at the screen.

Bing. It was soft but demanded attention. Stephanie got her boot on and collected her phone, waiting to lace up until after she's responded.

Text: Did you want a call?
Text: And no. I haven't dumped you. It's been two weeks? I'm really sorry I've been scare. Work got busy.

Understatement. Gotham gets stupid some days.
Text: I don't want to be an inconvence! But it would be nice to hear your voice. <3

Drake smirks up at his phone as he holds it aloft.

Text: Oh or we could video chat!

Stephanie smiles at the first text, knowing she wouldn't be inconvinenced by putting the call through to her ear piece, thus going hands free. She's about to tap the Call button when his next text comes through and her cheeks lit up bright pink. Wide eyed, she looked down at the oversuit of kevlar she hadn't fully zipped into, so the purple bat symbol on black was cleaved in half.

Text: It's a little dark in here for video. I'm sorry! Is voice okay?

She hated lying like that, but she had to. Of course, if he pressed it wouldn't take much for her to plunge teh Spoiler Den into darkness and use her cape to act like a blanket. Or something. Hands slighty clammy from it, she sets teh phone aside to work on lacing up her boot.
In her time spent with Drake, hopefully Stephanie has learned two things: the man knows what he wants, but he also cares more about her than just getting what he wants. And so, when she gives her excuse, the text she gets back is:

Text: Ok. Your voice is enough for me. ^_^

And in short order, her phone will come alive with whatever ringtone she's chosen for him!

For now, just the standard. She hasn't found something she likes yet. Tim has his own ring tone. The phone Barry had, which was left behind and is now just sitting on an end table of a now empty of life apartment, has its own ringtone. Stephanie just doesn't have one yet for Drake.

"Hi," she says softly into her suit's com she quick linked tot he Hello Kitty phone.
"Hi," Drake replies breezily. "Missed ya." It stood to be repeated, or at least vocalized.

"You said that," Steph says, smiling softly into the words as she laces up her other boot. "Everything okay? You said you were stressed. Do you want to talk about it?"
"I, uh. Well," begins Drake awkwardly, uncertain how to really explain the situation at first. He can't exactly blab about the X-Men, now can he? Oh, but- "They decided that in order for me to stay here, I have to.. like.. enroll in college classes…"

Stay here… where? LIke, in the state? That's… an odd demand. Stephanie frowns lightly, figuring it has something to do with his meta-human status that she's not supposed to know about.

"Oh. That's… great though, right? I mean, is it a scholarship thing? Or do you need to find scholarships or funding?" Stephanie starts, hoping to mask confusion with concern and confusion and a tacit offer to help.
"I don't know!," balks Drake. That's something he hadn't even thought of! Is he going to go into mountains of debt over this? Will the Institute basically own him? Oh lord! "It- um, I don't really like to /brag/ about this or anything, but I barely passed highschool. I never thought I'd be going to college.."

"Most colleges have a Learning Assistance Center with tutors staffed to help you out with course work. There are videos of lectures or explanations or both for a lot of things on YouTube. I'll help you," Stephanie makes the offer more explicit, willingly adding something else to her plate because this is what the Over Achiever does. Boot laced, she stands and zips her suit up the front before closing the protective flap in the front to seal her in.
Drake Riley exhales a gentle sigh. "You're too busy. And if we met up and started studying, you'n I both know we'd get derailed." He eyeshifts. "You've, you know, got that face. And when you bring that face around, I'm not /not/ gonna kiss it."

Stephanie had turned to her own mini Batcomputer, to queue up the patrol maps for the night and get them uploaded to her black phone and thus connected to her HUD as he sighs. She's inhaling to try to brush off how busy she is, and her willingness to do it anyway when he derails her with comments of derailing her. She blushes, and clears her throat audibly while tugging on her gloves.

"Umm.. yes. That.. is a ..distraction, but.. If.. you're sure. I can… still find you videos on things you're confused with?" she manages to get out arund her blush.
"I just don't think I'm smart like that," blurts Drake, now frowning at his ceiling. "I'm street smart. Books'n stuff.. nuh-uh.."

"Do you have a major you have to take?" Stephanie asks pulling her cowl up and on and making sure the voice modulator stays off. The throat piece is clipped to place, setting the mic against her throat and transferring her voice to her phone that way, and for a moment Spoiler stands shock still. She doesn't take Stephanie Brown's personal effects to 'work'. It's risky. She can leave the phone behind.. if she reroutes the call through her com systems… thus granting the whole of the Bat-family access to her call, live, if they really wanted to dig around and crack into the personal coms she has running. Spoiler's not known to use personal coms. She's either completely alone or running off DELPHI's grid for the Gotham group or the Avenger's sustems while in New York. For her to be out and about, without a team-up, AND talking on her coms is out of place and has Spoiler nervous enough to pause.
Drake Riley is blissfully unaware of the complications he's causing her. Nope! He has his suspicions about her, but he tends to take her at her word. When she says she's good to talk on the phone, he assumes she's good to talk on the phone!

"No.. not required, anyway. I have no idea what to do with myself. One of the people basically insisted I take aggro-culture class." Beat. "I mean, what is it? What was it? Agro-something. I think I said it right. The point is, baby, they're wanting to turn me into /farmer Ted/!"

"Agriculture? Yeah. It's farming and livestock and.. if you don't like that, then don't do that. I'm sure… we can find something else," Spoiler says, struggling to keep her tone Stephanie light now that the cowl's up and the HUD's on, the little blinking light of her first way point in the corner of her vision. She bites her still pink lips, fingers having pulled out the purple-black lipstick to finish teh 'transformation sequence'. She peers at it, torn.
One does not simply refuse Storm when she kind-of-but-not-really threatens you. But Drake doesn't feel inclined to mention /that/ particular detail. No, he may as well go shopping for sunhats.

"What do you think I'd be good at? And, spoiler alert, 'seduction' isn't offered~!"

HEY! That's MY line!!! Spoiler presses her molars together to keep that from tumbling free. Sensing that this conversation isn't near an end, and knowing he NEEDS this, Spoilerinhales to summon her courage and then starts on the rerouting, hoping to make it seem as unassuming as possible, this little use of coms. Call secured, and knowing there won't be wind noise, Spoiler plugs her phone in so it will charge while she's out, and then turns to her skycycle.

"Ha, ha. I don't think International Spy is a Degree plan," she retorts instead, voice slipping toward Spoiler low before coming back up. She mounts her bike, paints her lips, and starts the engine.

"You said street-smarts, but… what sorts of things are you good at or do you like and are curious about?"
"We go from 'seduction' to 'international spy'? Geeze, Steph', that's what revs your motor? I'm learning so much about you tonight!" Drake grins, then breathes a soft sigh. "I thought I mentioned before, didn't I? That my, uh.. background's.. a smidge sketchy?"

Beneath the cowl, Stephanie's cheeks turn bright pink.

"That's not what I- Nevermind," she tries not to growl to hide the blush. The growl, tiny as it is, only makes the blush easier to hear.

"So… maybe Law Enforcement?" No! Stupid bad with all the mutant hate around. "Or.. Security? I don't know… maybe… tell me what's sketchy? No, I mena, if you son't want… Ugh. I mean… there's got to be some skills that can …transfer?" Like how being a batling translates into legal proscution and defense?
"Hahah. You'd be all over me in a tux. Noted. Put it on a stickie note. Puttin' it on my mirror," teases Drake. The things she puts forward, however, kills all audio on his end altogether. Nothing but tense silence. "N-.. no. My dad is a cop. I- I don't want to be him."

Beat.

"Breaking and entering. Theft. Street fights. Uh… hotwiring.." He pauses again. "..am I single again?"

"Drake!" Stephanie complains as she gains altitude from her Den. The silence, that dreaded silecne is noted and her climb slows as she frowns in worry.

"Drake?" she prompts, voice tiny but tight, body tensed for a fight she has no outlet for. When her speaks again she almost sighs.

"Y-yeah.. I .. I get that. Not wanting to be like your dad," she murmurs into that beat of silence. She listens to the skills he rattles off. Wow. He's make a batling, easy, if not for those super human abilities of his and Batman's rule of no powers in Gotham. She bites her lips, mind working.

"Hmm? What? Single? No. No, of course not. Don't be silly," Spoiler replies, voice lightt and airy as Steph's. Who is she to balk at some B&E, given what she does in the evenings?

"I'm just… I'm thinking… What you could do-" legally. "-what all that. That's all. It's a real particular skill set, and college course work to support that has to realy be thought about you know?"
"Hey, what'd you say?," asks Drake, trying to change the tenor of the conversation. "I got it. My major is in having a particular set of skills. I'll be a professional Liam Neeson."

"That's not a college degree either," Stephanie retorts on a chuckle before she's back to pensive and thinking.

"I'll have to do some research on it, so until I have a chance to look it up… is there anything you've been interested in." Does she realize she's left herself open? Nope.
"Don't you clip my wings before I've even fluttered!," playfully admonishes Drake. His tone shifts to one a little lower, a little more subdued, "Steph'.."

Behind her cowl, Stephanie rolls her eyes. her lips smirk though as she gets to her first checkpoint for the night and settles in to scan and look about. She hears her name, not realizing that's the answer to her question. The lower, more subdued tone is waht catches her attention, and she blushes.

"…yeah…?" she replies, voice just a whisper of sound across the communication.
"I may not have /any/ idea what I'm gonna do here, but having /you/ to talk to is what I needed. Wish you were here in person, though." Drake rolls over onto his side.

Stephanie really has to get this blush under control! There could be thugs down there. She presses her lips together.

"Thanks," she murmurs as she watches her feeds. "I'm glad I helped, even if I don't feel like I did all that much… And… it's really late… Not that I knew where you lived anyway…" Even if she was sure she could find out, but thus far she's been a bad little batling and hasn't starting stalking him for information on him.
"What, tuckering out on me? Or are ya scared we'd move a little past PG-13, with it being so late~?," Drake coos suggestively. "And, y'know, that's why I'm dating you. Because you make me happy without even trying. Just by being yourself."

Oh, god! Tha blush is worse, and Spoiler can't even clear her throat to try to shake it away. Thre are thugs down there, and for the moment they aren't doing anything. Still, she moves into position, body tensing, voice going softer.

"Well… it's late…" she starts, before licking her lips and swallowing, not aware that some of that gets picks up by her throat mic.

"That's… I don't know.. I dont know what to say to that," she admits.
"Something like 'Oh Drake'," he begins in an affected falsetto, "'I think about you oh-so-much, and you make my delicate heart soar!' Or something like that." He grins a little. "Or, or! Honesty. Honesty's usually good. I'll definitely settle for it."

Drake's falsetto makes Spoiler giggle. Which is a mistake, because she had dropped down for a better look at what the thugs were doing and the light airy sound alerted them to her presence.

'Shit.' she cursed silently as they called out their alert. Her giggle cut off abruptly at Drake's request for honesty.

Which is really poor timing.

She draws her bo staff, extending it because she's been spotted.

"Umm… hang on a minute," she says quickly, eyes triggering the MUTE CALL option.

"Alright. I was just going to watch you guys, but since you want to do this the hard way… I'm really short on time… Spoiler Alert," she tells the thugs, just before she tosses her first flashbang and launches herself into the fray.

Four minutes. Four solid minutes of silence on her end, in which she drops the thugs, zip ties them and sends the alert to the cops. Illegal guns some drugs. Nothing major, but enough that they'll get some time. Spoiler zips back up to her bike and heads out, turning her mic back on.

"Sorry… I….. bathroom," she stammers, hating that lie on her lips in the face of Drake asking for honesty. Her knuckles are white under her gloves.

"…I was being honest… I …don't know what to say to that… last part…" she repeats. Because that was the honesty, even if the bathroom line was complete BS.
Drake Riley waits when she asks for a minute. He waits another minute. Then another. He begins to develop his own personal, metaphorical lil' raincloud. He said something wrong. Or she can't give him honesty. Either way, this amount of waiting has him worrying. By the time she returns to the line, he's staring blankly at the wall across from his bed. "Ah..?"

Bathroom? …Oh. Ohhhhh. Wow, he wouldn't have expected /that/ level of honesty. Hoo-boy.

"A-anyway. I mean.. I guess that's okay. I'm getting ahead of myself anyway, probably. It, um, no big."

Spoiler offers a noncommital sort of hum, not at all sure what to do about this now. She licks her lips and swallows again, moving to her next patrol point.

"I'm sorry?" she offers, because she's at a complete loss.
"..it's okay," says Drake, audibly more subdued and less enthused. "I guess it's late. I have things I've gotta figure out tomorrow. I should let you go."

Stephanie slows to a stop, a sigh escaping her. Why did she think she could do this again? Her conversation with her friend really hadn't helped enough to make this any easier.

"Yeah," murmurs Spoiler, hovering over the city.

"I guess it is," she repeats, sounding just at defeated but not at all sleepy. But she doesn't disconnect the call, doesn't say good night or good bye. She doesn't want to, but she knows she likely should.
Drake Riley doesn't want to. But he doesn't want to because he's hoping she'll say something to reassure him. But it isn't happening. It's not coming. Just a defeated sort of agreement. Crap, did he misread the relationship? How stupid is he?

"Um.. talk to you soon, I guess?," he offers. Every phrase sounds a little more beaten down. With a quiet sigh, he breathes out, "..g'night, Stephanie."

He's hoping, but Stephanie just doesn't know WHAT to say. Relationships are harder than kicking in thug-teeth. She hovers, not quite at her next check point, brows pulled tight, lips frowning at herself.

"Yeah… I… guess… I… Yeah… Good…goodnight," she makes herself say, not wanting to. She can hear his defeated tone, it makes her voice go soft too.
Drake Riley hangs on the line a few seconds more.

Then just that ol' dialtone.

Spoiler listens to that tone. She listens far longer than she should listen to it. her eyes flick to disconnect and for a long minute she just sits there. Her head bows, wind yanking at her hair and her cape.

Now what?

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