Asking a Favor

September 12, 2018:

Batgirl tracks down Owen Mercer to ask him for a favor to help Frank Castle. To the surprise of no one, Owen is a dick about it.

Hell's Kitchen - NYC

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Frank Castle, Batman, Red Robin, Harley Quinn, Spoiler

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Tracking down Owen Mercer — Captain Boomerang, Jr. — was not as daunting a task as Barbara expected. Nose around the right corners, edge down the right alleys, and pay the right number of Jeffersons, and someone gives you everything you need to track the former Gothamite. Donning the cowl and armor of Batgirl, she transverses the rooftops in those treaded boots, crossing streets with the help of a grappler and batline. She's heading for a location directed by her latest snitch, planning on staking out Owen Mercer for as long as it takes.

She drops down into the shadowy narrows between two tall buildings, landing in a low squat. She settles into the shadows, comfortably waiting to be the damper on Mercer's day.


Owen hasn't really been worried about keeping a low profile lately. He's been too busy cracking skulls and doing a little paying off of his own to try and get any and all information on Fisk out of any contact or friend of a friend of a guy that he can get his mitts on. But now things are starting to crystalize into a plan and so he's started to settle down. It doesn't mean that he's being particularly watchful though. He's focused on getting ready for whatever comes next with Fisk. The easiest place to stake out for him is Stark's Tower and his place in Harlem above the new Luke's Bar.

Tonight Babs has settled into an alley in Hell's Kitchen, just a few blocks from Stark Tower, conveniently located between the tower and Owen's favorite local watering hole. If he were being more mindful he wouldn't have settled into a routine. He would take different routes, drink at different places, or at least keep his eyes more watchful of his surroundings. But he's exhausted from lack of sleep and has been putting all of his energy into making sure his gear, including some new toys he's been working on are in tip top shape.

He's headed right by the mouth of the alley without giving it so much as a second glance.


Black gloved hands launch out and grab Owen bodily by his shoulders just as he crosses by the mouth of the alley. Leveraging that exhaustion and lack of circumstantial awareness, Batgirl hauls Captain Boomerang into the alley in an unceremonious manner that could only be matched by her mentor. She pirouettes, hands still gripping onto his shoulders and back, and she shoves him deeper into the alley.

Now, the gatekeeper to the mouth of the alley, the Bat stands casually — feet spread to shoulder-width, scalloped cape draped down around her shoulders, and blue eyes taking in Owen. She tilts her head slightly, conveying a hint of curiosity.

"You're a long way from home, Mercer," says the kettle to the pot.


Maybe dipping into the whiskey in the bottom drawer of the desk was a bad idea after all. Owen rolls with the grab and awkwardly stumbles into the alleyway. His hand is reaching into his jacket pocket as he turns around though, but he stops when he catches sight of his assailant.

"Batgirl?!"

The hand goes back inside his jacket, and is withdrawn again, but slowly and not holding a weapon. Instead it holds a flask, which he opens and takes a drink from. Goodness knows he already doesn't like where this conversation is headed and he's going to need a good stiff drink or five by the time it's done.

"What in the hell do you think yer doin' grabbin' me off the streets? I mighta just blown you to bits. This is an incredibly shitty time to start popping in on me."

But of course it is, Owen thinks to himself. He's half surprised Batman didn't show up right after he broke up with Harley to 'have a word' or that Robin didn't show up at Stark's to glare disapprovingly through a window or something. Of course that says a lot more about Owen's paranoia or bat shaped personification of guilt than any real past behavior on the part of the bat clan.


At his greeting, Barbara can't help the small smile that lazily crosses her lips. She tilts her head a bit again, but this time with earnest amusement. She relaxes in her stance, hip cocking and weight resting into the casual lopsided lean. She crosses her arms at her chest, fingers only just away from the little razor batarang she stores there. Just in case.

"Would you have preferred me come tapping at your window at 3 AM?" There's a little coyness to those words before she gestures off-handedly. "I'd say we could reschedule, but I get a strange sense that this is the best time to catch you." There's that hint of tiny precognition that Batgirl just thinks as a gut feeling. The streets of New York City have a certain feel to them lately — a pregnant expectation of change.

She's looking to get back to Gotham, but… there's something still on her to-do list.

"I'm not here to be a bat-shaped thorn in your side." Her smile thins just before she speaks the words she's sure that Mercer would never hear a Bat utter: "I need your help."


Owen's face remains contorted in a scowl, annoyed at this interruption. Annoyed that he got taken off guard, and worst of all it was by a batling.

"Look I told you. The 'you up?' booty call texts have got to stop. I'm not into the weird dom sub thing you keep pushin." Oh, she's going to pretend to flirt or be coy? Does she not know that is a box to not open with Owen Mercer? It does however get him to stop looking like he's going to rip her head off or more likely weaponize the flask in his hand like a small whisky filled steel missile.

But when she asks for help, his face further lightens into an actual smile and then a big ol' kind of mean looking grin.

"He don't know yer here. Does he? An' I'd lay down good money that the silver sparrow doesn't know that yer 'bout to ask me for a favor either?" Owen takes great pleasure in needling her about the fact that she, a batling is about to ask a man considered more odious than many in Batman's rogue gallery for a favor and he is all to happy to let his glee show.

"So? What /exactly/ did you need to ask me? And I do hope you realize I'm gonna kinda need to see some really shameful begging and a healthy dose of insincere flattery to even consider it."


Barbara rolls her eyes, dropping out of her casual stance to advance several steps toward him. Her cape moves lightly around her as she moves, but her steps are too direct for it to have all the dramatic flare that Bruce has mastered over the years. "I don't need to know about your kinks, Mercer. Save that for the next Arkham reject you decide to woo."

It's a quick retaliation that hides the slight hostility that Owen causes when he accuses her of the exact damn thing she's doing. "We do not always act in lockstep, Mercer. I'm on my own case." Those words are petulant, and she knows it — hates it.

She flicks her fingers dismissively, almost as if she is changing her mind when he makes his demands. She even starts to half-turn before that little voice in the back of her mind reminds her why she's here; her jaw sets. She flashes him a glance before she turns back toward him. "There's a new dealer coming onto the scene in NYC. He's called the Blacksmith. Early this summer, he called a meeting of the three big Hell's Kitchen gangs for a meet in Central Park. He's been stepping on the toes of established heroin trade, and… I need to know who he is, and where I can find him."


Owen tilts his head to the side and smirks in appreciation of her verbal jab, it's not bad. Better than he expected from her.

"Oooh yer own case? Are you writing down all the clues in yer nancy drew solves it mystery diary?" He needles her about it, but again can't help but be annoyed to find another young person dressed up and playing bats. They don't have powers. They don't have weird lab explosion tragic pasts as far he knows. Why are they doing this? And why is the big guy letting them? All of those thoughts of course come out as mocking her for being a young girl playing a dangerous game, but maybe it's the thought that counts? Maybe.

He smiles to himself when she starts to turn, but then she turns back and his smile falters just so. When she talks about a new dealer, the smile fades completely. He looks at her with a stone cold face of pure hatred for a moment, until she says the name. Blacksmith? That's … not what he expected. The confusion plays across his face for a moment before he asks, far too sincerely at first, "What are you playing at girl? This ain't Gotham. And drug dealers aren't your usual brand of crazy."

"And it's pretty shitty of you to assume I know all heroin dealers. I'm clean." For nearly three months? If she's been watching him, he's fresh out of a rehab program and going to meetings, so that part is true if a little unclear on the timeframe.


Batgirl bares her teeth slightly at the needling, and she feels herself rising to it — which is what he wants, and what she gives, and only when that reality hits her does she take a breath that loosens her shoulders a bit. Her mouth settles into a thin line. "I'm doing this for a friend, Mercer." She's about ready to say something else, but she bites it back. Instead, she focuses on the reason she sought out Owen — and it isn't to trade insults. "Blacksmith is attempting to get a foothold here in New York City through Hell's Kitchen while everyone is looking somewhere else… but he made a mistake, and his attempted alliance in Central Park went south, and the resulting three-way shootout caused the death of a woman and her two kids."

Batgirl edges around Frank Castle's story, almost like she's avoiding dropping his name. She isn't all that great at being covert despite the mask and cape. She gives too many details, and doesn't use enough misdirection. After all, how many shootings between three Hell's Kitchen gangs have there been in recent months? The Hell's Kitchen bombings have slowed a lot of that down.

It's pretty shitty of you, Mercer accuses her. Her jaw flexes a bit. "I'm assuming that you know enough to be an asset, Mercer… and you can help me navigate these streets to find him." Her teeth set for a moment before her nostrils flare. "Please?"


Owen meanwhile is enjoying himself greatly in this very low stakes game of playing hard to get. He seems to take great pleasure in adopting a world weary tone and replying "A shoot out that killed a woman and her kids? Really? Batarina 'm a bit busy tracking down who set of the bombs killing eight thousand New Yorkers in this very neighborhood.." He indicates the streets, with buildings still either burnt or under repair. And yes, just maybe he's trying to emphasize that he's on the up and up, even if he doesn't realize that himself.

When she actually says please though, his smile falters. For all his posturing Owen's maybe not the big jerk that he would profess to being.

"Blacksmith?" He frowns and thinks about it for a little before narrowing his eyes. It rings a bell sure, but if Owen recognizes the story about a shoot out in Central Park and any connection to Castle, he doesn't let on.

"I'll think about it." He then smiles and says, "If." He lets that sit for just a moment, ".. you do one small thing for me. Go give the Rose Rooster a big ol' hug and kiss on the cheek from me?"

Okay fine, maybe he is exactly the asshole he professes to be.


"It's Batgirl." For being a young twenty-something Millennial, she actually cares about that girl part. The answer is also automated, slipping past her lips without really getting a check from her brain. She corrects people — often. Particularly with Kate Kane running around as the redheaded Batwoman. It also gives her a second to settle out of her immediate frustration with Mercer — though it is hard to decide if she's more frustrated at him or herself. He's working on the bombings; that means something.

The frowning look from Owen lifts her blue eyes to his, and his smiling reply has her shoulders loosening — but only for a heartbeat. "Thank you, Mercer, I — " But she can't even get through that gratitude before he's laying down his favor, and she grimaces. "How about I just tell Batman that you're actually doing something good for a change instead? Maybe I'll be the last Batling you see for a while."


Being corrected on people's actual names somehow never penetrates Owen's thick skull. Of course he is well aware of her actual moniker and when surprised earlier he shamefully actually called her by her preferred nom de geurre, something that would keep him up at night if he remembered it. Regardless, he doesn't seem to notice the correction or comment on it.

When she suggest an alternate, of actually speaking favorably of him. He recoils as if slapped. "What?! No! Gross. Tell him you found me doing lines off a hooker's tits or something." But the thought of her being the last Batling he sees for a while is tempting all the same. Not that it's their fault but between Spoiler showing up right as he fell off the wagon or Robin crashing one of the last times he and Harley were actually happy together their timing sucks.

"How do I contact you? Pink sparkly bat signal in the sky? Text bunny and kitty emojis to a certain number? Because seriously you grab me again or show up somewhere unexpected I won't hesitate to test exactly how fast your dodging reflexes are sweet cheeks."

——

Batgirl snorts slightly at his first response. "Or something." It saves her from having to backwalk her own words. She's not going to tell Bruce she's here; he doesn't want her poking around New York City, or Frank Castle, or Owen Mercer. She's supposed to be investigating all she can on the ghost hunter who is stalking the streets of Gotham.

Then she rounds her shoulders back a bit, and a small laugh actually bubbles at her throat. She shakes her head. "Your patronizing must be so adorable to your teenage girlfriends." Her words are dry, and accompanied by a gesture of her tossing something to Owen. It's a tiny flash drive, no bigger than a quarter. "Plug that in to any computer and it will open a secure chat. Send you message and I'll get it." Her smile sharpens. "No kitty emojis needed." Then she starts to turn, stopping to glance at him in her profile. "And Mercer, I'm always happen to beat you down whenever you need your ass kicked."


"It's ridiculously effective. You talk down to 'em, break their self confidence, take advantage of the obvious self-esteem issues they're trying to work through. Toss in some body shaming for kicks. It's like magic." The quips are almost rote sounding, as if his heart isn't really in it at this point.

Catching the drive he eyes it warily. Just for kicks he might plug this in at Starks just to see what kind of hell will break lose between Stark tech and whatever Batsy Boop has in store.

"Oooooh" Owen does his best crowd reaction to a threat, sassy head movement included. "I almost believed you were a bad ass for a second there. And not some do gooder chasing daddy's approval." Now Owen doesn't know who Babs or her father is, but he's assuming Bats is playing the fatherly role here in terms of approval-seeking. The irony of Owen trying to needle someone for taking up identities and dangerous lines of work to please their father is completely lost on him.

Regardless he takes a page out of Bats book and is simply, not there. Granted it's a bit of cheating in that he doesn't even wait for Batgirl to look away, simply speeds off faster than she can track. With the rush of wind though it doesn't have quite the same unsettling effect as a trademark Bat disappearing act.

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