We've Met Before
Roleplaying Log: We've Met Before
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Barbara Gordon catches up with Ronnie and Professor Stein, and confirms a little hypothesis she's had on the two.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 14, 2019
IC Location: Midtown Manhattan, New York
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 15 Dec 2019 06:39
Rating & Warnings: G
Scene Soundtrack: None
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It's Christmastime in Manhattan. Despite all the bustle and freezing cold, the lights and evergreens warm the city streets. Barbara Gordon has settled into a coffee shop — a familiar coffee shop for Ronald and Dr. Stein. They met here once before, and it isn't that Barbara is clinging to that memory or anything. She's chosen a place where she can watch the shoppers pass the windows. A coffee steams in front of her and a pastry sits half-eaten on the little plate they gave her.

Normally, she'd be up in a stool, but today her chair is tucked underneath the table. The Stark model has seen some upgrades, but it still looks quite ordinary despite its streamline build and comfortable seat. She's lightly humming Christmas carols under breath while she remains lost in thought.

* * *

School's out and there's no reason at all to come here for tutoring sessions, but it hasn't stopped Ronnie and the professor from dropping by the place. With the cold weather and all, it's nice having a 'usual spot' to pop in and warm up, and it doesn't hurt at all that Stein's become rather fond of the coffee here. While he's not too much of a coffee drinker himself, Ronnie hasn't found any problems with the offerings in general.

The pair slip in, Ronnie nudging the door closed to shut out any more of the frigid air that trails after them before trailing after the older man to the line at the counter. His eyes skim the menu board even though he practically remembers it by now, before his gaze shifts around the rest of the place. It's been a while, but he catches sight of the redhead by the window.

* * *

It isn't metahuman ability, but just incredible perception paired with eidetic memory. She doesn't see Ronnie and Dr. Stein — not really — but she turns her head toward them all the same. She blinks at the familiar sight, and then her smile dimples her cheeks and she lifts her fingers to wave now that Ronnie is looking her way.

She strangely doesn't get up to greet them, or cross the room to offer anything beyond the wave. She just waits for them to come her way, particularly after she nods her head over invitingly.

* * *

Ronnie breaks into a smile as the young woman looks in his direction, and he pulls a hand from his coat pocket to wave back. "Hey Prof, I think I found us a seat," he says, gesturing with his head in Barbara's direction. Martin Stein glances over, brows arching over his glasses before he smiles as well and nods. He pays for the drinks, and once their order has been served, they make their way towards Barbara's table.

"Hey again! Barbara, right?" Ronnie's pretty sure it's Barbara, otherwise he'll be super embarrassed. He hesitates as his eyes take in the chair once they get closer, and while he manages not to blurt a question outright, he blinks as though unsure what exactly to say.

"Miss Gordon," Stein greets, stepping beside the college student. "Mind if we join you?"

* * *

The redhead smiles up at Ronnie and Dr. Stein as they close the space, and then she laughs lightly at Ronnie's attempt to remember her name. "Barbara. But you can call me, Babs. Ronnie, right? Dr. Stein." She remembers his name, after all. Professor and all that.

She wheels out a bit from under the table, at least turning more toward them as they near. "That would be wonderful." She gestures a bit more formally to the chairs gathered at the table. Only after a moment does she regard Ronnie's unspoken question. "I know. It's new." She gives the edge of the wheel a little pat.

* * *

"Yup, that's me," Ronnie confirms, grinning again, although his expression is all questions as Barbara maneuvers her chair, and he can't help but wince just a little. "What happened?" he can't help but ask.

Professor Stein looks likewise concerned, but at the invitation he steps over to pull out a chair for himself, Ronnie following suit after a moment. He can't fault the young man for the question, curious as he is himself, and there doesn't seem to be a more tactful way to inquire.

* * *

The confirmation has Babs wrinkling up her nose pleasantly, smile neatly paired with that little expression. Then she takes in a breath at his question, and she glances between Ronnie and Dr. Stein. She settles on the truth rather than some throw-away answer. "I was shot. Lincoln March was giving a speech, and a gunman opened fire." She holds up her hands slightly. "It's okay." She's anticipating the apology, not necessarily needing it. Or wanting it.

* * *

Slowly Ronnie sinks into the chair beside Stein, brow furrowing at the news as Barbara explains what had happened, not that much more needs to be said. The response of an apology is almost automatic and at the tip of his tongue, but shut down with her reassurance. He still feels terrible about it though, even though they were passing acquaintances at best, at least, so much as he knows.

Stein bows his head in sympathy, frowning faintly. "That makes it all the more good to see you, then," he insists. He's not sure just how severe her injuries sustained are, but being alive is always a positive. Ronnie nods at this, seeming to lighten up at least a little, but it's enough as can be expected.

"So…what brings you to New York?" he asks, trying to steer the conversation out of a potential dip.

* * *

The look of apology from Ronnie has Babs softening a bit more. She reaches across the table to squeeze his arm lightly. "Really," she says, emphasizing that she's okay. Really. As long as she doesn't think too much about it, so she hopes Dr. Stein and Ronnie won't let her do that.

Dr. Stein's thankfulness of seeing her has her smiling again. "It's good to see you, too, Professor. You must be done with classes for the Holidays?" The question is asked just before she takes a sip from her coffee, and only after does she respond to his own question. "I float between here, Gotham, and Metropolis most weeks. Metropolis less so until I feel ready to come back, but I have friends here that I visit. Christmas season is good for that."

* * *

The two finally sample their drinks, Ronnie nodding in response to her question about school. "Finally," he says, grinning again. "Maybe the Prof will let my brain take an actual break."

Stein smiled crookedly over his coffee. "It's better to keep with some habits. What good would it be if you forgot everything we went over?" he counters, earning a frown from the other.

"Anyway," Ronnie sighs. "Visiting is good. Traffic, not so much, but hey, holidays, right?"

* * *

Now Barbara is laughing a bit more easily, pushing past her lingering thoughts. Her smile redoubles until it rounds up her cheeks, and she nods with Dr. Stein. "You know, Ronnie… you could come intern at Stark's over your breaks. It will probably make you long for the simple days of working with Dr. Stein." She winks to the Professor knowingly.

Then she nods at the Holidays, right? sentiment. "That's why I have a bike." She hesitates. "Had a bike. I have a van now." Again, she takes a breath and pushes through. "But, I like New York this time of year. Reminds me of my first year at Barnard."

Now she smiles a bit as she takes a sip of coffee, "You seen Firestorm around lately?" It's a bit unfair, but the two — err, three — have danced around that alternate identity thing for a little while.

* * *

For a moment Ronnie looks like he's torn between the possibility of interning under such a renowned name and the dread of what sort of work that could possibly entail that. Stein chuckles at that, raising his coffee to Barbara as if to toast her suggestion.

"Can't I just veg out instead? Holidays are totally for relaxing," Ronnie not quite whines. "Except for the Christmas shopping- that's always a big pain."

He's about to sip his hot chocolate when Barbara brings up Firestorm, eyes widening just a touch. Stein had been in mid-sip of his coffee which ends up just short of a sputter as he swallows it down and coughs. Ronnie reaches over to pat the poor man on the back, even as he glances at Barbara.

"Firestorm? Er, n…oo? Not really? I mean, not like I keep track of- why would I even…" he babbles.

* * *

"Vegging out is a proud college kid pastime," Babs offers helpfully. Her smile holds strong, though the pair makes it easy. She accepts the toast from Stein before she sips hers again.

Then the pair give their reactions to her all-so-perfect delivery, and Barbara just smiles at the pair. "I'm sorry. That wasn't fair, but it can be a little fun to spring that kind of stuff on people." She offers Dr. Stein a napkin after Ronnie's got his cough under control. "Don't worry. I won't share that you have an insider's hook with Firestorm. He's a nice guy, and it wouldn't be fair to cause trouble." Her grin is starting to broaden.

* * *

Professor Stein accepts the napkin gratefully, albeit somewhat wary what with Barbara's revelation.

Ronnie brings his hand back to rest on the table, fingers drumming anxiously. "So um, what gave it away..?" he asks as smoothly as he can manage. "And how long did you know?"

Belatedly he wonders that maybe it would have been better to play dumb, but he hasn't gotten any bad vibes from Barbara at least.

* * *

"It really isn't fair," Babs explains with a little smile. "I looked into Dr. Stein after our first meeting, and — well — I have a knack for this. Though, it really was a hypothesis… I just wanted to test it." Now she's teasing — mostly. But she is looking a bit apologetic now. "Don't worry. I respect this kind of stuff. I have to. I'm about as involved as you are in everything."

She curls her hands around the mug as she rubs at the ceramic. "Or, I was." Now she offers a tired smile. "We've crossed paths before… and not just in Battery Park." She's not sure why she's sharing so easily — maybe she's just feeling a bit, well, obsolete, or disconnected.

* * *

At that admission Stein looks down at his coffee almost guiltily as though accepting responsibility for their being found out. "At least if anything, we were discovered by someone trustworthy, " he says carefully, even as he wonders just how much Babs was able to piece together, and how much she actually knew about Firestorm's secret.

"Involved how so?" Ronnie asks, head lifting a little, along with the arch of a brow. His eyes drift briefly past her to the edge of the chair she sits in, a flicker of a frown drifting across his face.

* * *

Dr. Stein earns a warm look, and she shakes her head. "Not your fault. I'm relentlessly curious, and it gets me in all kinds of trouble." It has only gotten worse now that she's bound to her wheelchair. There's nothing else to do but poke her nose into things she shouldn't.

To Ronnie's question, Oracle's shoulders tighten a bit with a little shrug. "We've met before… now's your chance to use some deductive reasoning, Ronnie. What other redhead have you met that might be in the same line of work as Firestorm?"

* * *

Ronnie's finger-drumming becomes a bit more intense, his other hand parked under his chin as he now openly frowns at being made to actually use his head. It's brief, and with the question posed by Barbara, it doesn't take him terribly long at that, his head once again snapping up as though a literal lightbulb could be seen lighting above his head.

"Oh! No way!" The corners of his lips tug upwards, and he grins at Professor Stein as he elbows the older man lightly to see if they're on the same page.

Stein adjusts his glasses along the bridge of his nose, brows lifting. "Ah, I see," he muses, nodding slowly as he seems to come to the same conclusion almost simultaneously. He rubs at his arm even though Ronnie's gesture doesn't hurt terrible.

"That is so cool," Ronnie follows up, although he instantly sobers. "…so… How's that going to work for you now?" He winces as he realizes how insensitive that might sound. "Sorry, maybe I could've worded that better," he admits, scratching the back of his head as he ducks it.

* * *

The paired reactions — almost perfectly contrasted like day and night — has Barbara starting to laugh. She ducks her chin to soften the sound, and then she nods with a slight gesture of her hand. "There you go."

She anticipated the question, and so when Ronnie asks, she smiles a bit wearily. "I passed on the responsibility to someone else." She folds her arms in front of her. "And it's alright." She smiles to Ronnie. "I'm still… in the fight. Just… different. I've spent a lot of time developing ways to help others when they are out there. I just am now the one playing overwatch."

* * *

Both of them nod at that, although Ronnie visibly relaxes as Barbara continues. "Good to know," he says, a half-smile quirking at one end of his lips. "Just in case I accidentally do any dumpster diving in your part of town. Not that I've been..! I'm like, super better at stuff now," he promises.

Professor Stein nods as he once again attempts his coffee. "We haven't seen the inside of any more dumpsters recently," he confirms. "Sewers on the other hand…but that's completely unrelated and with purpose."

Ronnie waves a hand at that. "Good to hear you're still active, Babs. Sounds just as important as being out on the field. I mean, never hurts having someone watching your back."

* * *

"There's quite a lot of interesting things in the dumpsters in Gotham City." Her smile lifts at one corner before she's distracted by her own coffee once more. She sip it slowly as Dr. Stein confirms they have not visited a dumpster recently, and again she's grinning. "Good to hear."

With a breath that lifts her shoulders just a bit, she nods. "Brings me to my point," she says quietly before she tugs out her phone. "If you need me, Ronnie and Dr. Stein… I want to help." She starts to tap something into her phone, and then she turns it out to them. "Here's my contact info." It's a phone number. "You call and it will patch into Oracle." Beat. "Me."

* * *

The two across from her exchange glances before Ronnie smiles at Barbara as he slips out his cellphone to enter the contact info she shows them. After some consideration he shows her his own phone number. Doesn't hurt, right? "Sweet. Thanks Babs. Oracle, huh?"

"That might come in handy sooner than you think," Stein says to Ronnie before glancing at Barbara. "Thank you, Barbara. It's much appreciated. If there's anything you need that we might be able to assist in as well-"

"Oh yeah, way ahead of you with that, Prof," Ronnie cuts in, tapping at his phone with a grin. "But yeah, what he said. We've only been chasing after slime trails lately."

"Dangerous slime from an unknown origin," Stein clarifies as Ronnie tries not to sigh as he nods. "Yeah, that."

* * *

"Old codename," Babs offers, even if it is far newer than Batgirl. "I'm still Jim Gordon's daughter." Her smile is light if not a be wearied at the edges. Now she pushes herself back slightly from the table in the same way she might rise from her cheek. The chair obeys the gentle push, responding to it smoothly and silently.

"We look out for each other," she promises Dr. Stein first, and then she smiles to Ronnie.

Then, her brows arch at the words of dangerous slime trails. "Let me know. I'm kind of twiddling my thumbs when not monitoring the nightly patrols for the Bats. I could use some dangerous slime trails."

* * *

At that, both Stein and Ronnie nod again. It's not like they haven't been looking out for each other before. Now however, they'll be actually more aware of it.

"Metropolis," Stein says solemnly on the subject of the slime. "It was in the sewers and we traced it out to the coast. There's still something of it roaming the sewers and we're not sure whether it originated from the ocean somehow, but it's been feeding on sealife. It's sentient. I believe that LexCorp is also monitoring this odd lifeform as well, if the buoys we located out in the water are anything to say about it. I'm still studying the sample we procured as well."

* * *

"Metropolis," Babs almost sighs. "It's own brand of weird, it sounds like." She tightens and loosens her hands around the wheel guides before she nods. "Alright. If you send me some starting points, I might be able to see what I can find out." Her smile lifts slightly. "I hacked in Stark Labs once before, I bet LexCorp will be a walk in the park." After all, Babs has totally bought into whole 'Lex is the Worst' propaganda within Unlimited.

She rolls back a bit more. "I'm going to be late for a date." An actual one. "But, seriously… give me a call. Or a text." This is to the younger Ronnie with a grin. "I'll help out however I can."

* * *

"I'll see what I can do," Stein says, brows arching as he looks impressed at the suggestion of her hacking skills.

Ronnie snaps off a salute in her direction. "Awesome. We'll do that. Good seeing you, Babs. Catch you later!"

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