Christmas with the Castle
Roleplaying Log: Christmas with the Castle
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Babs and Dinah join Frank for Christmas dinner.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 25, 2018
IC Location: Castle's Apartment, Hell's Kitchen, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 29 Dec 2018 03:03
Rating & Warnings: Light R for language
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Frank Castle's apartment is not impressive. It's a basement unit, with concrete steps down to the door, and narrow, barred windows that have been made nearly opaque by years and years of spraypaint and grime. The door opens to what might charitably be called a greatroom, with a third-hand couch, an end table with a lamp, a rickety dining room table surrounded by four equally-rickety thrift store chairs, and a kitchenette at the far end. A small bathroom sits to the left of the kitchenette, with the door to a narrow bedroom alongside it. The empty covers of the bed can be seen through the open door, along with the closed doors of the closet. The faint scent of gun-oil lingers in the bedroom, although it's mostly overwhelmed by the smell of dog, and the smell of buttery, cheesy, mapley, vinagery, bready goodness from the kitchenette.

In addition to the scents, the holidays have found their way into what is otherwise the very definition of a sad bachelor pad. A two-and-a-half-foot-tall Christmas tree (real) has been set up on a couple of ammo boxes in front of the couch, with strands of lights draped over it and a collection of presents a little awkwardly wrapped under it. A white tablecloth covers the table, which is set with worn thrift store plates and cutlery and a neat pine, holly, and pinecone centerpiece. There are also a couple of strings of white Christmas lights up around the top of the walls of the main room. There is no mistletoe in evidence whatsoever.

Whatever the cause that kept Dinah and Barbara away from ice skating earlier in the day, when they do arrive, Frank Castle unlocks the two locks, gives the door the ritual kick in the bottom-left corner, and opens it at the knocking. He's wearing clean jeans, a green wooly-pully sweater that is probably the closest thing he has to holiday attire, a gnarly shiner that's just fading — and an apron. Stepping back and pulling the door open, he gestures for the ladies to enter, "C'mon in. Red, Dinah."

* * *

It is not easy to travel up from Gotham with presents on the motorcycles, and so Barbara borrows Uncle Harvey's car. Harvey Bullock is not exactly a glowing example of positive family, but his adoration for his so-called niece goes without saying. Being Jim Gordon's partner at the start of his career has reaped a longterm friendship that has turned toward overprotectiveness for Jim's only daughter. So, when Babs asks to borrow his beat up sedan, he grumps about it while also handing her the keys.

So, Dinah and Babs traveled together in the car, blasting Holiday tunes through the old speakers. When they pull up outside Frank's apartment building, the redhead is definitely primed for some Christmas cheer with the Punisher. Armed with presents and some egg nog, Barbara leads the way to Frank's front door.

When Frank opens up the door, she beams at him. "Hi." She steps inside, armed with three presents — one of which is a bit large in size — about two and a half feet long.

* * *

Dinah's right behind Frank, and gives him a smile that's a sunny duplicate of Barbara's. "Also, hi." She's carrying the food, from the smell of things— plexiglass and tupperware, wrapped in heavy blankets. She, like Barbara, doesn't wait for an invite, and simply walks in on the redhead's heels.

Dinah's dressed in leggings and a plaid skirt, with fur-lined boots. Her long-sleeved shirt matches her leggings under a red ski vest and fuzzy pink earmuffs help hold back her blonde hair. "Holy smokes, I owe Babs ten bucks," she admits, looking around. "I figured you'd have Die Hard on the TV and have Playboy and Soldier of Fortune on the coffee table." She bites back an impish grin, eyes twinkling, and hipchecks Frank as she beelines towards the kitchenette.

* * *

"You got me a rocket launcher?" Frank's clearly joking, given the rule that Babs mentioned earlier about not guessing presents (and also her avowed dislike of deadly intent). Still, he offers Babs a brief hug, and then is knocked sideways from offering the same to Dinah, "I don't have a TV," he deadpans. "But I've heard Die Hard's the best Christmas movie — you two've probably already seen it today." As Dinah heads for the kitchenette, he shuts the door behind them, "Might be a little room in the fridge. You didn't have to bring anything, but thanks." He starts to meander back toward the main room when Max, a mix of rottwieler and about a dozen other breeds, comes wagging out of the bedroom, going up to Babs first and then Dinah for sniffs and doggie kisses at their hands. "Coffee's on. Eggnog in the fridge, boozed up. White wine for with dinner." And then he pauses, looking back to Babs, "Playboy?" He sounds a little offended by that, but not so much by Dinah's other suggestion. "Oh, shit. Right… presents under the tree." You know, by the ammo cans.

* * *

Inside the kitchen, in addition to all that drink mentioned, there's a crock-pot cooking something cheesy and potato-y, another slow cooker with something carrot-y and sugary, and crispy bacon. The refrigerator is stuffed with drinks (including a six-pack of winter ale with a Punisher-logo bottle open on top of it), brussel sprouts, and… lobster? Four of them, still wriggling a little. There's also whipped cream and a store-bought pumpkin pie.

* * *

"I think you already have one of those." Barbara's voice is light and teasing as she enters fully into the familiar interior of Frank's apartment. She steps toward the couch after she's followed Frank's instructions to put the armful of presents under the tree, and eases out of her puffy jacket. Beneath that frost-free jacket is a tunic-length sweater of deep forest green and dark heather gray leggings that disappear into white, fluffy-lined snow boots. They survived the terrors of the ski lodge if only because she changed into her Batgirl gear before things got bloodied.

She tilts a wide smile to Dinah, dimples in full force. "She's kidding," she says to Frank. Then she looks around, blue eyes searching hopefully. "Where's — there he is!" She drops into a squat to meet Max, and she grabs him by his face while she rubs and teases his cheeks and then smooches his nose affectionately. Only properly greeted does she let the dog go to go meet Dinah. Then Barbara heads for the kitchen to start sniffing around the food, expression obviously impressed. "Wow, Frank…"

* * *

Dinah sets the food out on the narrow strip of open counter. Frank's given a suspicious look at the simmering food. She lifts a lid, sniffing, and her eyes narrow at Frank even more. "This smells good," she observes to Babs. "*Too* good." She glares at Frank again. "I didn't know you could cook, Castle."

Not like Dinah can cook. Babs made everything except the thermos full of cocoa and schnapps.

"Oh my goodness! Who's the puppers?" Dinah is instantly enamoured of the flop-eared mongrel. Dinah is wise— she offers him some bacon to lure him over, and offers the dog a double-fistful of ear rubs. "I didn't know you had a *dog*. I love dogs!"

* * *

"Naw, just the M32." The semi-automatic, revolver-style grenade launcher. "Oh… yeah… jackets. Right. They can go in the bedroom." He takes Barbara's, and then crosses the small room to get Dinah's, just in time to see her feeding Max bacon, "Damn it, he's gonna get food all night, isn't he?" He gives a grimace at Max, who is in doggy heaven getting attention from the two women. He gives a little whuff at Dinah, as if he were responding to her question, and Frank nods, "That's Max. He's a good judge of character." The commentary on the food cause him to shrug a little helplessly, and after dealing with the coats, he heads over to the kitchen, "Nobody asked if I could cook." As if it's their fault that they thought he couldn't cook. Just because he usually eats tuna casserole from the foil package, MREs, and chili from the can. He glances into the clearly-thrift-store crockpots, nodding to himself, then gets a huge pot out and starts filling it with water, presumably for the lobster in the fridge. "What do you want to drink? Didn't know if you went turkey or ham last night. Hope you like kimchi."

* * *

Barbara lets Dinah flirt with Max, not feeling at all jealous of Frank's dog finding a new vigilante to love on. She instead leans on the counter, admiring the work that Frank has put into tonight's dinner. She casts a glance toward Dinah, conveying her own surprise to her friend with an arch of her brows. She waits until Max is done getting seduced by Dinah so she can give him a couple extra affectionate scritches. Then she's pressing off the counter, and starting to peek at the pots curiously.

"You know… I'm actually not surprised… when I think about it." Babs casts Frank a warm smile then. "I heard something about you working at Luke's place, right?" She then glances to Dinah once more before she shrugs with a smile for Frank. "I'll take egg nog… only time of year I drink it." Then the mention of kimchi has her brows arching in surprise at that. "… Kimchi?"

* * *

Dinah makes a face. "As long as you stay downwind of me while you're eating it," she advises Frank. "It's a black mark on Korean cuisine. And— really? Kimchi? On Christmas?"

She shakes her head disapprovingly and rattles around Frank's kitchen for some clean(ish) glasses. Eggnog that smells strongly of brandy (or brandy smelling of eggnog) is poured. Glass for Dinah, glass for Babs, and she lifts brows inquiringly at Frank to see if he wants some as well. "Well let's not stand on ceremony," she tells the other two. "We've got green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, aaaand I think some cheesecake," Dinah says, unpacking the bundled food.

* * *

Frank steps over the in-heaven Max, pointing out pots and ingredients, "Cheesy bacon scalloped potatoes, brown-butter carrots, maple-balsamic bacon brussels sprouts, and butter-poached lobster in kimchi butter sauce." The water goes on to boil. "Plus I can't bake for shit, so crescent rolls and a pie from the store." Crossing back over the big dog taking up a significant portion of the kitchenette, Frank reaches for the kitchen, only to have Dinah beat him to it. "Yeah," he glances sidelong to Dinah, then to Babs with a little question in his eyes, "Twitch tricked me into goin' over there for ladies' night. Someone ordered nachos. Snow White nuked cheese over Doritos. I wasn't gonna let her do Luke wrong like that." He points to a cupboard that contains clean glasses (which weren't there when Babs came over after the bone demons). They're also clearly at least second-hand, and mismatched, but at least they're actually glass. He hesitates a moment, then nods for Dinah to pour one for him too. "Well, at least you had the sides covered for when you expected me to fail at dinner." He snorts, "I'll keep the kimchi butter sauce on the side. But I was pretty damn sure you weren't gonna have it for dinner last night." There's enough camaraderie in the room that he stops for a moment, something a little sharp, a little sad flashing behind his eyes, and then he nods, "Bring the drinks on over to the couch. We can do presents while the water boils, then dinner's in like twenty."

* * *

Barbara just laughs at Dinah's absolute disdain for the idea of kimchi, and then she tilts a smiling look to the Punisher. "I'll have some… Dinah's just being a stickler for tradition. She will soon be demanding we have figgy pudding, and perhaps caroling around your apartment complex." Then she is being given a boozy glass of egg nog, and she sighs out as of exasperated. "Particularly if she manages to make me down more than one of these." The mention of the horrible nachos that Jess tried to give away at the ladies night — which means she is also acknowledging that somehow someone got Frank to ladies night at Luke's — has her laughing brightly. "Oh god, good save, Frank."

She turns slightly toward Dinah. "Di, please remember… I need to actually drive us home tonight." Which is some casual permission for Dinah to drink merrily, but perhaps not enable Babs to do the same. Luckily, Di has never had much trouble drinking without Barbara joining her. Babs has been the designated driver of these two since they were sneaking into house parties. The sharp sadness that falls over Frank catches her attention, and she touches his upper arm gently before she nods. "Alright. But bring Max. I got him a gift, too."

* * *

"Look, we've got a bunch of Christmas carols to sing and we've got a bunch of eggnog to drink, and a bunch of carols to sing, and I'm not going home until I'm out of 'nog and out of songs," Dinah advises Babs. "So drink it now or carol later."

She gathers up the drinks and heads to the sofa, curling up on it so her boots are hanging off the edge of the cushions. She rests an elbow on the low sofa back and uplifts her chin at the presents Barbara brought in. "C'mon Barbara, you're the Presents Boss," she tells her roommate. Comments about 'last night' go TOTALLY UNSAID. "Or are we doing these all at once?"

* * *

"I'm pretty sure we'll get a fight if we go caroling here." Frank likes the place because it does not attract those who want to attract attention. Barbara's mention of driving home almost spurs a comment from Frank, but he stifles it, taking a sniff of the drink to ascertain its brandy to eggnog ratio, then taking a slug of it. The touch to his arm draws his attention back to Barbara, and Castle nods slightly, "Of course you did, Red." There's affection and amusement in his tone, despite his slip. He takes his drink over to the tree, gesturing for Dinah and Babs to take the couch, and then gives a little whistle for Max. The dog comes tail-wagging over, and Frank scruffs up his ears, giving him some rough attention before he points down to the floor at the end of the couch, "Sit." Max looks to Dinah, then Babs, as if checking to see if he's going to get a better deal, and then plops his butt down. When Dinah appoints Babs Presents Boss, Frank shrugs a little and settles down at the other end of the sofa, taking another sip of eggnog and setting it on the one end table in the room. "You guys can choose. I mean, it won't take too long either way, right?"

There's a shirt-sized box for each of the women, plus a book-sized present for each. Barbara also has two other small ones, plus whatever they brought. Evidently Frank thinks that he spoils Max enough, or the dog already got his present from the Punisher.

* * *

Barbara settles onto the floor in front of the tree, curling her legs under her. She takes a few moments to ease off her boots, leaving her in comfortable socks with little snowman on them. She looks over the presents in turn, and then smiles warmly toward both Dinah and Frank. "Alright, I'll be the present boss." She laughs at the term, and just picks up the presents for Dinah first. She steps up to her friend, the gifts in hand, and passes them toward the pleasantly sprawled Canary.

Once those are delivered, she picks up the two for Frank — the long one that has a slightly off-balanced weight to it, and another that is about the size of a cake box. Both are set down in front of Frank with a wry smile from Barbara. "You're going to really appreciate my detective work."

Then she plops back down in front of the tree and starts to pick through her gifts. "Dinah first," she instructs.

* * *

Dinah tears into her gifts like a tornado. The first from Frank is a stab vest, meant for cover wear, and Dinah's eyes shine when she examines it. "Oh wow! Diamondback tactical! And it's even my size!" she marvels. "I love their stuff, it's *so* lightweight. Better than ballistic plates for when I gotta roll heavy!"

She rips open the second package and examines the cover and dust jacket. "Ooh, Che Guevara? I don't know anything about him, but I *love* bike stories. Thanks Frank! That was super thoughtful of you." She beams at Frank and then reaches over to give Barbara a package, and two small ones for Frank. "Dig in, you guys!"

* * *

Frank takes the gifts from Barbara, setting the cake-box-sized one at his feet and then threatening to give the awkwardly large one a shake. "Now I'm scared, Red." He actually sounds amused and… maybe even happy. As Dinah tears into her presents, he laughs at the gusto she shows, nodding at the description of the vest, "Fell off the back of a truck. If you get low on stab plates, lemme know and I'll see if I can shake a few more loose." The oddly-shaped package is set aside and he nods at the book, "Yeah… haven't read it, but I figured the whole motorcycles and rebel-with-a-cause shit would work for you." Taking the pair of gifts from Dinah, he nods his thanks, then pops them open one after the other. The first, the certificate, gets a slow nod, "Nice. Got my eye on some wheels. This'll really help keep 'em under the radar." The emergency trauma kit in the second draws an amused snort from Frank, and he nods again, "Are you sayin' I get hurt a lot, Dinah?" Then he lets a crooked little smile spread across his lips, "Thanks. I'm about outta staples." He holds off on Barbara's gifts for a moment, letting her catch up a bit.

* * *

Barbara watches Dinah tear into her gifts, and she laughs warmly at the way her friend reacts to each in turn. The Diamondback tactical definitely gets a low whistle of appreciation. "Dinah, wow…" Then she looks at Frank, expression open and impressed all the same. "Frank… it fell off the back of a truck?" She laughs then, shaking her head while also tucking a bit of red hair behind her ear. When Frank expresses his fear of their gifts, she shrugs. "They're good ones, I promise."

Then she focuses on her own gifts, tearing open the wrapping with a bit less gusto than Dinah — who still inhabits the Cindy Lou Who spirit of Christmas. The socks are first, and she laughs brightly at the library theme, showing Dinah the soles that sport the words 'Shhh, I'm Reading.' The Edgar Allen Poe-ka dot socks get another laugh, and she shakes her head. "I love them." Then the next small box reveals a wooden-carved bat that is meant to hold her glasses, and that has her smiling. "Subtle, Frank." She's honest! It is.

The clothes box gets another bright laugh from her as the insides are filled with six of her favorite t-shirt — a humble callback to his chiding on her getting blood on her favorite clothes. The book, though, makes her smile all the more fondly. "Good choice."

She takes her time with Dinah's, scowling a bit. "Didn't we already exchange gifts? Di, come on." She shakes her head as she starts to open it, and the scrapbook causes her to brighten. "No." She starts to flip through the pages, and within the first two, she comes to the first Batgirl and Black Canary in costume photo — the two barely seventeen. She immediately shows it off to Frank. "Now these two girls were crazy."

* * *

Dinah sticks her tongue out at Frank. "You got me a stab vest, I get you an IFAK. Fair's fair," she tells him. She winces and twists in an attempt to scratch at the pale new skin on her back under her shirt. Just talking about the wound causes a tickle along her ribs. "Itcheeesss," she hisses, and twists to poke her back in Barbara's direction. "Scratch?"

She looks at the picture before it's shown to Frank, and palms her faace with a groan. "Gah, don't show it to him!" she tells Barbara. The picture has Dinah at all of seventeen, wearing a halter top, leather jacket, derby pads and fishnets under a black gymnastic leotard. She's mugging for the camera that Barbara's using for the selfie with a 'fierce' scowl and a thumbs up.

As if having her memory jogged, she reaches for her newly upgraded smartphone and rests her head on Barbara's shoulder, pulling a goofy face up at the lens before taking the snapshot.

* * *

The juvenile gesture from Dinah causes Frank to chuckle and shake his head in amusement, "Fair's fair." Frank holds up his hands a little defensively at Barbara's laughing words, "I didn't steal it. Someone owed me a favor." He sits back as Babs tears into his gifts for her, drawing in a slow breath and nodding a little to himself at the appreciation. "Figured you'd want to keep the bat in the Belfry, but…" He trails off again, although he sits forward as she opens the wrapped book, a hint of nerves touching his brow. "You haven't read it yet?" Still, he leans down to scrub at Max's ears, chuckling at the picture, "You've gotta be what, seventeen?" Max rises up from alongside Frank, padding over to put his chin on Barbara's other shoulder to get into the next picture. Frank snorts, "Mooch," and then reaches for Barbara's gifts for him. The cake-box comes first, revealing a pair of high-end combat boots. He glances to Babs, then puts it up to his foot and nods, "Shoulda known you'd have my size right. Thanks, Red." He spots the book under it next, "The Princess Bride? Is that like from the movie?" His geek culture is sadly lacking. "I'm sure it's gonna be great." The last present is, of course, the most intriguing one, and he hefts it a moment before he tears it open to reveal a guitar. His shoulders relax just that last little bit, and he strokes the body of the instrument, "How'd you know, Babs?" The words are quiet, perhaps a little sad, but still warm.

* * *

"I have, but not for a long time… and I don't own my own copy." The redhead smiles warmly for Frank, and the thanks is there even if it is unspoken. Then she's being distracted by Dinah's whining, and she huffs a breath before she scratches slightly at the offered back. She's gentle though, scritching at her friend's back.

Barbara is laughing brightly at Dinah's absolute disgust at the selfie. She curls up against Dinah on the couch now that they are basking in the memories of being moron teenagers. This is perfectly timed to get caught up in an updated selfie with her BFF, and she flashes the peace sign with a wink. Then she kisses Dinah's cheek.

Now she is looking toward Frank as he starts to open up his own Christmas presents. "The boots have some hidden compartments in the soles. Good place to stash things you don't want others to know you're carrying. Dinah's idea." Because every vigilante needs hidden pockets, even in their shoes. The comment on the book has her shrugging, grinning a bit to herself. "I think you'll enjoy it." But it is the last that has her glancing to Dinah meaningfully. When she looks back to Frank, she quietly confesses, "I saw one in your house when I was… snooping… before you…" Destroyed it with fire? "I thought that… maybe you needed a new one."

* * *

Dinah's goofy expression is utterly ruined by Babs' show of affection. The camera ends up catching Dinah mid-laugh just as Babs plants one on her. She shows the picture to Barbara and leans heavily against her friend's shoulder, smiling winningly at her.

Her attention shifts to Frank's gifts, and she beams happily at Barbara's callout. "Chick clothing has no pockets, so you gotta get creative with storage," she tells Frank, a little deadpan. She gives Barbara's arm an approving squeeze when the heavy book is brought out, nodding very slightly at the unspoken exchange between them.

When Frank opens the big box, All The Feels hit the room and Dinah puts fingertips to her lips. She's not crying of course. Proximity to Barbara's thoughtful gift just triggers the happy sort of wistfulness that happens around Christmas.

"Oh, my god, I need more eggnog," Dinah says, finally breaking the lingering silence. She clears her throat and steps towards the kitchen, giving Babs and Frank a moment to themselves. "Max, c'mere! Have some bacon!" she says, coaxing the dog around.

He's gonna get fat if he spends much more time with the girls.

* * *

The news of the secret compartments causes Frank's brows to raise, "Nice! Can't exactly use webbing downtown. Thanks to both of you." And then he's caught up with the guitar, and he pushes off the last little bits of wrapping paper, looking down at the instrument as Barbara explains, "Yeah… it's been a while." Without even thinking, he starts to tune the guitar, soft little strums of music. Dinah's demand for more eggnog reminds him that he's got a cup beside the couch, and he takes a sip, setting it back and looking after Dinah, "You keep feeding Max bacon, he's gonna have to roll around the place. Check on the water?" Looking down, he draws in a slow breath and starts to play. It's a soft, wistful song, and he focuses down on the guitar for a long moment.

Max apparently disagrees with Frank's belief, or just doesn't care, because he goes walking off after her, panting enthusiastically. Looking up again, Frank rubs his thumb across the bridge of his nose, covering up the moisture in his eyes. "If you eat all that bacon, it's just maple brussel sprouts, Dinah."

* * *

"Really creative," Barbara says wryly, which may explain that thigh pack she's added to her new suit. Then she curls a leg up, tucking her knee under her chin. She watches Max go wandering off to get his bacon while Dinah excuses herself so she can get re-nogged and perhaps not get emotional around Frank's own quiet emotions. She tilts her head toward the Punisher, and the smile redoubles gently as she watches him focus on the guitar.

It was a good gift.

Then she turns on the couch toward Dinah. "Stop feeding Max bacon!"

* * *

"Okay, *mom*," Dinah grouses. She feeds him just one (two, three) more pieces of the bit in her hand and moves back to the sofa, brandynog in hand. Instead of sitting she kneels behind it and folds her elbows across the back of the furniture, near Babs. Her chin rests on her wrists and she lolls her head back and forth inquisitively at the other two vigilantes.

"So, like— are we gonna eat? Because if I gotta eat brussel sprouts, I'm definitely not going to eat them *cold*," she admonishes the duo. "And we oughta get back across the bay before it gets late and the drunks start trying to drive home."

* * *

Max follows Dinah like… well, like a dog following someone who provided him bacon. He even licks at her hand several times — but that's just doggy kisses. Or her hand smells like bacon.

Frank looks up at Dinah's question, his throat still tight. Clearing it, he sets the guitar aside, then pushes himself up to his feet, "Yeah, sure. I'll get the sprouts and lobster goin'." Running his fingers over the curve of the guitar, he offers a smile over to Babs, and then pushes himself up, "You gotta try three bites, Dinah." It hasn't been that long since he had kids. The reference to needing to get back across the bay causes him to look Babs again, arching a brow. Still, he heads for the kitchen, starting to get out components, "Dinner in twenty. And when is it too early to start talkin' business?"

* * *

"Hey!" The mom incites the right response, and she laughs behind the couch to Dinah. Then she's looking back to Frank, watching him with a tilt of her head against the couch cushions. Her smile is soft, genuine, and then she's shaking her head as he gets up. She's thankful he likes the gifts, and thankful she gave him something that reconnects him.

Then she's pulling herself up so she can help in the kitchen with Dinah and Frank. She tilts her head toward the latter at his mention of talkin' business, and then she looks back toward Dinah. She shrugs slightly, and then back to Frank. "What's up, Frank?"

* * *

Dinah pitches in with a will, setting out plates and utensils as needed. She more or less stays out of Babs' way, though, 'cause she knows better by this point. Fetch and run, fetch and run.

Once everything's ready she gets in the mix and dishes herself a plate before returning to the seat she'd claimed with her eggnog glass. A bit indecorously, she tucks a leg under her and sits on an ankle (hey, when you're short…) She starts digging into the food with a heroic appetite.

"There's a lotta business. YOu talking New York, Gotham…?" she says, raising her brows at Frank inquisitively.

* * *

"I talked to Wilhelmina Tell." With Frank's prep work, cooking actually isn't that difficult. The lobster gets boiled, chopped up, and sauted, and the brussel sprouts get cooked up in bacon fat. "The Punishette." He shakes his head, not pleased with either of those nicknames. As he pops the top off of various dishes, he steps back. And yes, he kept the kimchi butter sauce for the lobster on the side. "The Huntress." That sounds better, and he nods, "She's looking for someone who ordered a mob hit a couple decades ago. Whole family. She's willin' to work with us," the gesture includes all three of them, "and keep collateral damage down, as long as the guy responsible goes down. For good." Cheerful Christmas topic, that. "Her reason's a good one."

* * *

The mention of first a woman named Wilhelmina Tell, then the Punishette, and then finally the Huntress all has Barbara carefully setting down her plate beside Dinah's before she lowers herself into a chair. Her gaze cuts toward Dinah briefly only to alight back on Frank has he unpacks the summary. Her mouth tugs into a tight frown. Nothing else is remarked upon — not yet. No, she needs an answer to a simple, but perhaps not-so simple question: "What's her reason?"

* * *

"Punishette sounds kind of stupidly gendered," Dinah agrees, with a shake of her head. "Huntress is… edgy? I like it," she offers.

"I'm not wild about a 'permanent solution' approach, though," she points out. Likely, Barbara isn't either, but Dinah never fails to be blunt. "It's one thing if someone breaks his neck falling down the stairs but I don't think I'm…" she purses her lips. "Comfortable setting out with the *intention* of killing some dude because of something he *allegedly* did who knows how long ago."

* * *

"It's personal," there's a pause, and then Frank shakes his head, "But I'm not gonna tell you exactly what it is." Once the two women have gathered their food, he brings a bottle of wine and the pitcher of 'nog to the table, then gets his own plate and joins them. He points once to Babs at Dinah's complaint about 'Punishette,' but then subsides. As he sits down and looks across the tiny little table to the pair, his throat tightens, flashes of figures in fatigues and balaclavas marching behind them. He looks down a moment, clearing his throat, but his voice is still a little tight when he looks up and continues, "You got the whole secret identity thing goin', and she wants it too. So you can trust me that her reason's worth it, or not." The words are low, quiet, but there's more than a hint of stubbornness behind them as well. Dinah's points draw a nod, "Yeah. I get that. And you gotta follow the Rules of Engagement wherever you are. But that's why I want her to work with you two. Because you can make sure it isn't some dude who allegedly did it."

* * *

That has Barbara frowning harder at Frank, and she exchanges a serious look with Dinah. Her shoulders change slightly, a tightening and softening happening all at once. She tilts her head down a bit, looking at her foot with a slight shuffle of her fork. "Frank…" She hesitates, setting her fork down slightly with a soft clink of metal to the ceramic. There's a small panic in her chest, that she's going down that same path she barely escaped in the summer — and she can see Dick's disappointed face at her, his frown, his worry.

"Is it just the one guy?" It's all she can ask right now, all she can muster.

* * *

Under the table, Dinah nudges Babs' ankle with her toe. A dramatically reassuring handgrab would probably be a bit over the top. She's showing subtle support for the redhead. And it's clear from her face that she's not wild about this plan either.

"Frank, it's… not just about 'getting' the right guy," she tells him, finally. "If she wants to get him arrested, brought up on charges, thrown into Arkham— hey, whatever, y'know?" She pushes a sprout around her plate, unenthusiatically, and sighs.

"We can hammer that out… later, I guess," she says, brushing the issue aside for now. "This Huntress chick. Where does she operate out of? You have a neighborhood, PO Box, or…?"

* * *

The hard frown and the clear worry and anxiety from Barbara draws some tension back into Frank's shoulders as well, especially when the disapproval comes from Dinah as well. The veteran Marine pushes some of the wealth of food around on his plate himself, "I don't know if it's just the one guy." He looks between the two women, "And she's got my number, but she doesn't have a burner yet. She's just gettin' started, and this is your chance to train her up." Finally, he takes up a forkful of lobster, "I know that you guys got different ideas about how to finish shit than I do. Right now, she's thinkin' like I did at the start. You work with her early, you got a chance to change her mind." Finally, he pops the lobster meat into his mouth, chews, swallows, then shrugs slightly, "Worked on me a little, and you only caught me partway through, Red."

* * *

Barbara looks up to Dinah at the reassuring foot-nudge, and then she exhales slowly with a slight puff of her cheeks. She takes a bite of her own food, using the chewing to give her think time, letting her thoughts turn over Dinah's words, and Frank's — as well as the latter's actual demeanor and posture change. She finally finishes her bite, and nods. "Alright, but… Frank… the reason this worked — " She gestures between the two of them. " — is because I understood what you were going through, I could… wrap my head around the reasons, the motivations." Then she sighs out a breath again, and nods slightly. "Give her my contact, Frank… we will do what we can… to help her." She looks at Dinah, seeking her confirmation… or perhaps something dismissive.

* * *

Dinah holds a hand up on the tail of Barbara's words. "It worked because you two made a personal connection," she observes, shrewdly. "There's no guarantee that'll work with Huntress, or whomever she calls herself." Her face twists and she sets her fork down with a sigh.

"I'm … look, I don't kid myself about it. I've had to use a gun when things got really bad. I didn't sleep right for months. I still don't," she says, looking to Barbara for support. "I hated that it happened, even if there was literally no other way to do it. I didn't set out to kill someone," she says, shifting uncomfortably. She turns her blue eyes on Frank, then, pointedly. "Even you have to admit it turns into a slippery slope. I know I'm a little hair trigger on taking someone to the floor these days, more than I used to be. Kill someone once, and the next time there's a problem, 'homicide' becomes a much more justifiable solution." She starts to continue, then presses her lips together and sits back in her chair.

* * *

Frank smirks faintly at the gesture from Babs, "Pretty sure the reason this worked is because you didn't give me a choice." Still, he nods as Dinah puts in her two cents, apparently agreeing. "You gain her trust, she'll tell you exactly why." He keeps at his food between bursts of words, his gravelly statements a little halting, "It's more than a slippery slope. You can be trained so that killing just isn't a big deal." He would be Exhibit A for that. "But there are people that shouldn't be alive in this world." Says Exhibit A. Still, he looks down, shaking his head, "Look, I ain't tryin' to start that argument up again. You guys and Luke… you convinced me that it shouldn't be my first choice. That's why I'm talkin' to her. That and I don't want her tryin' to put crossbow bolts through you two. I'll keep workin' with her, but if you want her to do things the Gotham way, you're gonna have to get her trust. And right now, that's gonna have to take helpin' her find the person who did it. I figure the hard part's gonna be use takin' long enough for you to try and talk her 'round to your side without losin' her trust by takin' too long." He… sort of just put himself on their side, didn't he?

* * *

The seeking for comfort is met with a gentle press of her foot to Dinah's — a sure pressure that conveys that it is okay, and that her friend gets it. Really gets it. Babs is bound by Bat Code, but she killed someone at the Christmas Ball, no matter how hard Frank tried to cover it up, tried to make it seem like he was the one who dealt the neck-snapping blow. Frank's rejoinder against the idea of killing is met with a simple nod, but she knows that killing for Frank is a close second choice. She's never going to break him of that, but Frank is a soldier. He can respect mission parameters. Her smile twitches a bit at Frank's protectiveness of the two vigilantes, and she nods gently.

"She did try to take out Dinah's bike already." Her head tilts with a smile for Dinah before she sighs again, taking another bite of lobster. "We will do what we can, Frank. Promise."

* * *

Dinah goes for her fork and drops it promptly at Barbara's last words. "Wait, *THAT'S* Huntess?" she demands. Her mouth slacks, then clenches shut. Red marks her cheeks in irritation. "That friggin' Italian bitch? I'd like to pop her in the mouth, the way she talked to us!" she says. She pokes at her food with a bellicose scowl, mumbling under her breath about 'goddamn Italian street trash'— and is clearly grousing about Huntress' choice of bikes being a direct reflection of her character as a person.

Because that's how it works in Dinah's world.

* * *

"Won't just be you either." Frank is cut off right there, because Dinah reacts, well, as Dinah reacts. He leans back in his rickety chair, watching the anger and irritation flow through her. He glances over to Babs, chuckling behind his fork-filled hand. "Is that what I look like when I get grumpy?" Letting out a breath, he shrugs a little, "I'll be there too. Because she's still pretty pissed at you two." Chewing up another mouthful of dinner, he shrugs a little, "Pretty sure that's all the work I've got for tonight."

* * *

"The crossbow bolts thing gave it away," the redhead says quietly to Dinah. "She's the only woman we've ran across with a crossbow." No one likes a smartypants, Barbara. She looks toward her friend, and her smile is a bit apologetic. "Dinah…" There's a warm patience to her voice, accompanied by a vague tilt of her head. Then she looks back to Frank at his chuckling words, and she shakes her head. "No." Then she takes another bite of food, sighing as she does. "A murdering vigilante is mad because I didn't let her kill someone? Why does that sound familiar."

* * *

Dinah's counting on her fingers at Barbara's whimsical remark. "Wow, I know a *lot* of loose cannons," she says with a thoughtful frown. "Babs, we might need to get out more," she advises the redhead.

Plate cleared, Dinah gets up and starts bussing a few dishes to take with her to the sink, and rests a hand behind her hip while lazily rinsing them with the faucet. "As long as you're there to back us, I think we can get through it," she tells Frank. "I mean, at least you can keep *me* from killing *her*, anyway," she amends.

* * *

"At least she didn't duct tape you to a pipe, Red." Frank grins a little crookedly at Babs, then snorts at Dinah, "I ain't a loose cannon." Pointing across to Babs, he inquires, "Unless you mean her? By the way, you don't do dishes here. You're a guest and you didn't let me at your place." Finally, he pushes himself up from his own chair, moving around to put his dish by the sink and get some kibble for Max, "And yeah. I figure I can keep you both from killing each other." Stepping up behind Babs, he rests a hand on her shoulder and squeezes lightly, "Think of this as a chance to catch someone else who needs the help, Red. Like you caught me."

* * *

"Do we have to?" This is offered to Dinah in an almost bemused, but no less amused plea. Then she snorts at Frank at the memory, and she points her fork at him threateningly. Then she takes another bite of food, chewing through it before she watches Dinah take care of the dishes and plates, and she shrugs her shoulders a bit as she picks up her cup of nog, taking a sip. The squeeze from Frank causes her to tilt a smile up at him, and she rests her hand on top of his to return the companionable squeeze. Then she sighs, and nods. "Frank will back us up. If something goes too far sideways…" She looks up at Frank. "You'll let us handle it, right?"

* * *

"I'll get right on that," Dinah tells Frank, and continues hosing down dishes as they're brought over.

"And yeah. You need to get out of the house more," she tells Babs. "And I don't mean work or cape-ing it up," she adds, raising an index finger imperiously at her roommate.

"And she's right, Castle," Dinah tells Frank, reinforcing Babs' plea. "We'll plan for you in the planning. But if it goes sideways, just get clear if you can. Babs and I have been doing this for a long time. Well-oiled machine, clockwork, yadda yadda yadda."

* * *

In the wake of the return squeeze, Frank nods, stepping back to finish bussing the table. "If it comes down to a fight, I'll do things your way, but I'm not gonna run, and I'm not gonna just sit back and let either of you get hurt." One shoulder rises and falls in a little shrug, "Because that's not how things work." Blowing out a breath, he grimaces a little, "Has she ever gotten out of the house enough, Dinah?" There's amusement there, but his lips press together as he looks back to Babs, "How 'bout that convention down in New Orleans?"

* * *

"You're about to tell me my New Year's resolution is to go out clubbing more, isn't it?" Barbara is at least amused by Dinah's threatening finger-waggle. Then she breathes out a soft exhale, rubbing at the tops of her thighs to her knees in an almost weary motion. Then Frank mentions the convention down in New Orleans, and she laughs at the reminder. "Oh, right… I forgot about that. I haven't even put in my registration, or anything." She rubs at her brow fretfully. "Might be too late."

Then she gets up, beginning to help with what she can. She opts for finding places for leftovers in Frank's fridge. "As for Huntress… just get her in touch with me. We will start with a conversation." She cuts Dinah a look. "Without Italian insults."

* * *

At Babs' prim remonstration, Dinah delivers her a devastatingly slow narrow of the eyes at the redhead. Then, when that's completely (inevitably) ineffective, she sticks her tongue out petulantly.

"Yeah, I know, I'm the worst possible friend. 'Babs, put some real clothes on today'. 'Barbara, let's go clubbing'. 'Barbara, let's go for a run'." She huffs and turns back to the dishes, putting more vigor into scrubbing them.

* * *

"As soon as she gets in touch with me, I'll give her your burner number, Red. Or pass you hers." Frank finishes clearing the table, offering another round of eggnog. Dinah's eye-narrowing and tongue-sticking-out draws a chuckle from the veteran Marine, and he shakes his head, "No real clothes, Red? I'm disappointed. Livin' your life in sweats is no way to live." Says the guy who bashes down walls all day then goes out to track down information on secret prisons. Refilling his own 'nog, he settles back into his chair at the table, looking down the scattered remnants of the meal. His lips purse together and he looks down for a moment, his arms carefully lifting away from the arms of the chair and rubbing at his wrists. "I'm with Dinah on this one though. You should check out that conference if you can still make it. And then not look into anything creepy down there."

* * *

"I really don't like it when you two join forces," Barbara says in a half-hearted grumble. She uses giant gallon-sized ziplock bags to load up the leftovers, and then tucks them in an organized manner in the fridge. When she passes Max, she gives his spine and shoulders a hearty rub-down before she returns to her chair with her hands curling around her cup of nog. She looks toward Dinah and Frank, and she breathes out a soft exhale that sinks her shoulders. "Alright, alright… I'll look into it." She glances between the two. "But only after New Years is over. There's something going on out there… on the streets. We were all at the Ball." She glances to Dinah. "A Gotham mobster's niece was there with Jennings… and you have a new gang that's definitely terrifying, Frank." She looks at the Punisher. "Serious stuff."

* * *

Standing behind Barbara, Dinah engages a complicated pantomime to reassure Frank. Hand gestures, eyerolls, 'walking' motions from her fingers, emphatic pointing at Barbara, mimicking chatter with her hands— she's fairly flailing at him.

When Barbara glances backwards, Dinah's casually studying her fingernails.

"We'll figure out who those dudes were. Demon masks? Hostile takeover of a swanky ball affair? Stabbing me? They bit off way more than they could chew," she says, confidently.

* * *

"You want to check with someone else?" Frank smirks faintly, "Dick? Bats? Your SAS guy? John?" He glances to Dinah, frowning at her pantomime. He doesn't hide his confusion all that well, but tries, "You want… to take a walk… Red?" He's pretty sure that's not what Dinah meant, but that's the closest he can get. He grunts thoughtfully at the mention of the Ball, "Yeah. The Hellraisers. Nasty st — " he stops then, frowning at Dinah, "You got stabbed? You had someone look at it?" Yup, Dinah's definitely on the Punisher's protection list too. Lucky her.

* * *

When Frank asks if she wants some extra opinions on whether or not she's not getting out enough has her shaking her head. "No. That's cool. Thanks." The words are said dryly.

Barbara can almost feel Dinah's pantomime, and the confused look from Frank causes her to look over her shoulder — only to find Dinah examining her nails. She sighs out a breath, almost rolling her eyes before she looks back at Frank at his question. She blinks at his question, looking obviously surprised by the idea. "… Right now?" It's a fair, suspicious follow-up. She turns back toward Dinah briefly, only for her glare to be demurred by the talk of the Hellraisers. Dinah's mention of being stabbed, and then Frank's worry prompts her to look back to the Black Canary.

* * *

Dinah gives Frank a flatly questioning look as he not only OUTS her, he also asks a question of Barbara lacking the proper context. Fingers flick upwards in the air dismissively to go with the blue-eyed glare.

When Barbara turns back again, Dinah's once more looking Too Casual, this time at something in the other direction.

"Yeah, stabbed. Right under the seventh rib," she says, and turns around to lift up the back of her shirt. There's a bright pink slash of new skin that looks like a six-month old scar that's healing nicely. "Kept going pretty well but blood loss is a bitch," she says, dropping down her garment and folding her arms across her stomach. "I finally tapped out, then one of the Harry Potter crew stitched me up, apparently. I remember waking up back at my house with a hangover, that's about it."

* * *

"Yeah, I think Dinah wants to dig through my shit. Or maybe she wants to steal all my ammo — " Frank glances to Dinah, "Most of it's in the closet," he gestures toward the bedroom. "I cleaned up in case you two wanted to crash here." He shrugs a little, "Don't look at me, Dinah. I'm crap at the spy shit." Looking back to Babs, he adds, "But I do got somethin' I wanted to talk to you about." Despite that, he still studies the wound, surprise flashing across his face at the well-healed scar, "Shit… why the fuck don't we have the Harry Potter crew enlisted in the service? That'd be great for gunshots. Glad you're doin' alright though."

* * *

Barbara just shakes her head at the pair of them, sighing with some exaggeration. "I'm definitely not taking you two in for covert ops." Then she takes another sip of her nog, pausing slightly when Frank mentions needing to speak to her. She glances to Dinah, then back to Frank. "Sure. Of course." Then she smiles a bit wearily, as if unsure what he might need to talk to her about. Then she's taking another drink of nog. "Yeah. John gave me a hard time about not going to the healer. I just wanted to get the Hell out of there." She rubs at her forehead. "That was… a rough night." Her voice carries a bit of weight.

"Don't get me wrong, I don't miss six weeks of rehab," Dinah tells Frank. "But there's something icky about magic. I'unno."

Dinah looks at Barbara and a flickering, silent conversation takes place. It's done so fast and subtle that Frank might even miss it. A raised brow. A negligent shrug. Eyes flicker.

Dinah drains her glass of eggnog and sets it aside. "Oof. It's too warm in here," she says, flapping the hem of her shirt. "I'm gonna get some fresh air. Max!" She purses her lips and whistles soundlessly, summoning a suddenly very interested Max. She looks for his lead, then clips it in place and heads to the door. "I'll take him for walkies while I'm out there. Be back in a tick!" she says, waving her hand in the air without looking back. She heads out the door of the apartment and closes it with a firm *click* behind her.

* * *

Frank scowls at Babs, shaking his head, "There were healers there and you didn't see 'em, Red?" By his tone, he's both disappointed and not surprised. "But yeah. That was a fuckin' mess from what I heard." Because the fight in the kitchen wasn't 'a fucking mess.' The weary look causes him to snort, "C'mon, Red. I'm not gonna be askin' you for anything. I come by without makin' your life harder — sometimes." Still, he nods a slightly-wary agreement with Dinah's opinion on magic. He doesn't entirely miss that there's a conversation going on, but he misses the content of the conversation. Dinah's smooth excusing of herself draws a nod, and when she calls to Max, Frank points to the lead curled up by the door. As she heads for it, he nods, "Thanks, Dinah," and moves over to the bedroom. He's back in a moment, with one more small, wrapped box, about palm-sized. He tosses it over to Barbara, "One more."

* * *

"I'm alright," Barbara reassures Frank. "Constantine isn't too bad at the healing thing either." Then she watches Dinah make her smooth exit with Max, smiling a bit uncertainly at her friend before her blue eyes cut back to Frank. She scoots out of her chair a bit as she watches him disappear into the bedroom. Upon his return, she's perplexed by the box. "Frank…?" Then she frowns thoughtfully as she takes the box. Slowly, she unwraps it; inside the small box is a set of Lieutenant bars, tarnished by fire. She holds them up a bit, and then realization dawns. "Frank, these… are yours."

* * *

"Yeah." Frank glances down a moment, then lifts his eyes to hers again, "You're going to be leading your own team, Babs. And I know you're ready for it, but I figured you could use the reminder." Since she tends to psych herself out — not that he's going to say that right here and now. Stepping closer, he puts his hand on her upper arms, squeezing lightly, "I'm not sayin' you've gotta wear these or anything, that'd be weird. And it'd clash with your silly-ass cape." There's a little smile behind the words, but he goes on, "Just wanted you to have a reminder that there's folks who know you can do it."

* * *

The purpose behind the bars becomes clearer, and it is a truly heartfelt moment. She smiles at the bars, rubbing her fingers across them even if there's no way to clear the burned spots. She nods gently, looking up at him with a slightly watery look at the offered sentiments. Goddamnit, Frank. "My cape is not silly." Her words are strong, defiant, and matched with a warm smile. Then she curls her hand around the bars, squeezing them before she's up out of her chair and giving Frank a full-bodied hug. She squeezes his shoulders with that unforgiving tightness. "Thanks, Frank."

* * *

Then Barbara's phone buzzes, and she sighs heavily as she steps out of the hug to look down at her screen. Then she rolls her eyes dramatically, and looks at Frank. "Dinah wants to know if she should call a cab." And she's not about to add whatever ELSE was involved in that text message, either. "Maybe we should let her back inside."

* * *

Dinah's back indoors within about ten seconds of Babs texting her back, stomping her boots on the ground to clear a dusting of snow from them. "Fuck me, it is *freezing* out there," she hisses. Her teeth chattering, she removes Max's lead and shuffles over to Frank's heater to perch as close to the thing as possible.

"Babs, I need more brandynog, or I'll definitely die of exposure or frostbite or something," she tells the redhead. She flashes Frank a sparse but speculative glance, head tilting minutely— checking if she's in fact intruding on the moment or not.

* * *

This time it's Frank's turn to grunt as Babs squeezes him, "Ribs," he explains. Where he got clocked by the tonfa in the kitchen. He returns the hug readily enough, however, letting out a little breath before he steps back again with the buzzing of her phone. Smiling a little wistfully, he arches his eyebrows at the question, "Don't you have…" and then he gets it, his brows lifting up before he looks back toward the door, "You're surrounded by bad influences, aren't you, Red?" Wry amusement touches his voice and he gives her arm a little squeeze. And there's Dinah back, and he shakes his head, moving over to get Dinah another glass of extremely-alcoholic eggnog, "No, you don't need a cab, Dinah." He pauses a moment, then snorts softly, "Even if Babs decides to go drink-for-drink with you, there's a bed in there if you need to crash." Because ignoring the actual suggestion is totally the way to go. Because that will never backfire.

* * *

Barbara relaxes on her squeeze, and then she smiles at Frank. "Sorry." Beat pause. "You had those wrapped properly, right?" Then she laughs brightly as Frank catches on, and she gives Frank's arm a squeeze. "Always and eternally, I'm pretty sure." She smiles back to Dinah as she comes back in, and she immediately hands Dinah a cup of nog before she complains too much more. "I'm definitely not going drink-for-drink with Dinah. That's how you end up wrapped in Christmas lights with a massive hangover."

* * *

Dinah eyes the glasses as both are delivered to her, and gives Frank and Barbara A Look.

"We deem this acceptable for Her Majesty," Dinah says, and moves to dump both of them into a much larger glass. Which she starts taking liberal sips (gulps) from. "And I appreciate it, Castle, really," she tells Frank, laying an index finger against his shoulder. She tries to push and instead just pushes herself backwards. "But Babs gets cranky if she doesn't get to sleep with her special nightlight and white noise machine on," she explains. "I probably should get her home before she gets drunk and does something crazy."

Another hefty gulp.

* * *

"Yeah. They're good, Red." Frank looks around the apartment at its sparse assortment of Christmas lights at her suggestion of drunk activities, "Yeah. That might be a bad plan. Not enough coverage." Looking down to the pair of offerings to Dinah, he snorts softly, but gives his up readily, likewise no-selling the push with her index finger. He chuckles and gathers up his own nog, taking a sip before he looks back to Babs, "I'm pretty sure she does the craziest shit when she's stone cold sober. You can take your pie or cheesecake to go if you want to head on back." There's a hint of disappointment there, but he covers it a whole lot better than he covered misreading Dinah's signals.

* * *

"Look, I told the other Bats I would take the Narrows patrol tonight." The redhead sighs out a breath at Dinah's teasing, and then she looks to Frank. "We will stay for dessert. I'm not trying to bail out of here or anything." She glowers at Dinah slightly, though it is done with good nature. Then she squeezes Frank's wrist gently before she finishes off her egg nog.

* * *

"Oh, my god, you've got NO idea," Dinah tells Frank, eyes going wide. Story Time, kids! She curls her eggnog protectively close so it doesn't get upended. Also, because she tends to talk with both hands when she's drinking. "And that's like, CRAZY, right?" she stage whispers. "But hey, dessert— did I hear someone mention pie AND cheesecake?" she inquires, looking towards the kitchen hungrily. Dinah is, among other things, a boozy eater. Fattening pie and sweets sounds like a great idea!

* * *

Frank scowls at that, "Damnit Red, you said you were going to take the night off. You needed the vacation." He shakes off the scowl in the face of the reassuring wrist-squeeze and Dinah's sheer boozy good cheer, "I just meant stupid shit like getting in the way of someone killin' shitbirds, and throwin' herself off buildings, and wearing a cape in public. But it sounds like you got good stories." Starting toward the kitchen, he adds, "Tell you what. I'll get pie and cheesecake, and you two can try to come up with the craziest shit you took pictures of in that book," he points to the picture album.

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