Like Old Times
Roleplaying Log: Like Old Times
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Dick Grayson stops by to visit with Barbara Gordon, and it is just like old times.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: November 25, 2018
IC Location: Gotham Public Library
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 26 Nov 2018 06:27
Rating & Warnings: PG
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: None
Associated Plots

It's edging toward the end of the library's open hours when Dick arrives, the consequence of working a straight dayjob, as well as traffic on the commute. There's probably something to be said about the dangers of burning the candle at both ends like this, but in their particular little family, it's not like anyone can throw stones. Part of the trick is definitely proper caffeination, which results in him arriving with a good-will offering in the form of a pair of lattes in a little cardboard tray. Otherwise, he looks like he's right off the job, slacks and shirt, jacket and overcoat. Is it weird that he's kind of turning into her dad?

Soon after entering, Dick greets a assistant librarian at the front desk, who is familiar enough with his not infrequent check-ups to direct him back toward wherever Barbara is holed up. He announces himself with a knock on the nearest shelf. "I come bearing caffeine."

The comparison of her old boyfriend and her dad is not entirely lost on her. She had been making the connection for a while now, particularly after Jim Gordon made a casual comment about how well her boyfriend was doing in the NYPD — something she had to gently correct. Ex-boyfriend. It isn't as thought Barbara and Dick had even been dating all that recently either. Oh no, this was Jim's way of casually remarking that maybe — just maybe — he likes Dick. Now that he is, oddly, not actively dating his only daughter.

Barbara Gordon's romantic life is just so freaking complicated.

When Dick comes upon her in the stacks, she is doing something so very Barbara. She's curled up on the floor against the bookshelf, book in her lap, glasses perched on her nose, and she's reading. She has about ten other books around her, and a book cart parked just a little way away. It doesn't take a detective to make sense of this scene: she found a book that interested her while she was shelving, and now she's reading it. She looks up at Dick's greeting, and immediately the redhead is smiling with dimples anew. "Dick!" She laughs lightly at his offering of coffee. "Mm, how'd you know?"

She starts to unwind, grabbing hold of a shelf to ease herself up to her feet amongst the fairy circle of books. She steps carefully over it, her chosen tome still in hand. She crosses a couple steps toward him, beaming brightly for the not-so-caped crusader.

"Well, I was trained by the world's greatest detective," Dick answers, with a characteristically easy smile. "That, and I just kind of had a feeling you'd need it. I sure do." Standing by as she disengages from the mountains of repurposed trees surrounding her, he has a moment to take in the scale of the piled research materials. "Looks like you're really into it," he observes, gesturing around at the piles with the non-tray hand. "Whatever 'it' is. Am I allowed to pry, or is it an operational secret?" Of course, even as he asks, Dick's doing a quick survey of the titles himself, eyes scanning across covers, down spines. The joys of lifelong membership in a coterie of crimefighters: everyone is nosy.

Whatever the answer, he waits until she's clear of the most precarious of the book-piles before offering out one of the cups while further ogling the book she's singled out from the pile. Just the book! Since he's at the end of the stack, when she gets close enough, he flashes a grin and steps back out to make some room for her to slip by, and from there he kind of spies around a bit until spotting a reading table that looks convenient to set up at. Just a nod toward it suggests a course, and he ambles over. "So, other than the usual, how've you been? I haven't been great on keeping up these last few, I know. My new hours with the task force have really been killing me." Which, if he's saying it seriously, really does say something, given their typical 'line of work.'

"Hey, so was I. Shocker." Barbara is all warm wit as she gets clear of the book circle and then is stepping up to claim her coffee from Dick. Either he's really gone cop, or he just remembers that Barbara drinks her coffee like one, she is pleased to smell the unaltered black coffee through the lid. Then she takes a sip. With the library almost at closing, she just eyes around the area before she slips into a lean against the sturdy, anchored shelf across from Dick. It's a casual, friendly lean that has her still smiling for the man.

She flashes him her book when he asks about it, revealing a rather odd topic indeed. Cymantics: A Study of Wave Phenomena and Vibration. New age mathematics is not exactly a typical choice for Barbara, quite outside the norm. Then she hands it over to him, and lets him flip through it. It matches the theme of the rest of the books around her, including some on mythology and mystical studies. "Light reading," she teases him.

Then she leans back against the bookshelf, kicking up a foot to brace onto the lower shelf. She crosses her arms, playing with the sleeve of her knee-length sweater dress in an idle, thoughtful way. "It's alright, Dick… world's been turning, I guess." She shrugs her shoulders. "I moved in with Dinah after the whole Blacksmith shooting up my apartment thing." She ducks her head slightly, looking down at the smooth fabric of her fleece-lined leggings. She huffs out a soft breath, glancing back up at Dick now. "Been dealing with the usual stuff… can't keep my life balanced. You know?"

The book earns an actual head-tilt. Partly in a practical effort to read along the slight angle it briefly hangs at, but definitely also to demonstrate Dick's mild puzzlement. Despite robust smarts being up there with athleticism for most young bat-cruits, he is definitely not the chief scholar of the clan, neither in fancy math nor mystical oddity. "I think you've got me on this one." But the inexplicable nature of the title does pique his curiosity, a hand extended for the book when offered. "Oh yeah, I bet. Just the kind of thing for quick read before bed," he banters back with a smirk, while continuing to idly flip through pages as they talk. Even if he isn't sure what it's about, he wouldn't be him if the very challenge of the topic wasn't reason enough to go and brush up on it later.

Hearing about Dinah does seem to… well, not precisely *relieve* him, as Dick doesn't make it a practice to run around looking overtly fretful on her behalf (overprotectiveness is a good way to get kicked around a rooftop, in his experience). But it does seem news he takes as reassuring? "Oh yeah? That's great, figure you two would get on pretty well." Having someone to watch her back isn't spoken, but it's still there in the subtext. Dick worries about her, that's obvious, and something that no amount of training by Mr. Emotionless can overcome. He just can't not, even if he's learned better than th make a big show of it.

So there's a pause then, a bit of empty air that just her own little chuff of breath takes up. Eventually, he breaks into sort of half laugh, just slightly awkward. "Yeah, I know. It's been… well, you know. I'm basically dealing with two lives, I feel like. One where I'm playing grownup but don't quite believe my own act, and another where I still dress up funny and run around at night." He gestures idly. "That, plus all the usual stuff."

"Hey, I've got a passing interest in the occult." Which is also quite new. But this is what happens when John Constantine pops back up — not that she's anywhere near ready to confess that to Dick Grayson yet. The complex relationship Babs has with her exes is enough to keep very carefully compartmentalized. She takes another sip of her coffee as she watches Dick with those steady blues, and she smiles a bit at his relief from the news about Dinah. She rolls her eyes in dramatic good-naturedness, and then she's shaking her head. "Careful, Grayson… your chauvinism is showing." She narrows her eyes at him playfully as she takes another sip of coffee.

Then at the more sobering conversation, Barbara pivots and sinks down into the space beside him, smiling up at the familiar features of the young detective. She bumps her hip into his, staying close and comfortable. She rests her head back into the shelf anew, this time beside Dick instead of across from him. "Only two?" She smiles ruefully. "But yeah, I know what you mean." She looks aside a bit, tucking a bit of red hair back behind her ear. "Haven't really heard much from Bruce lately." She shrugs a shoulder. "And it's getting lonely out there. Feels like I'm living in circles sometimes… all the bad guys are starting to look the same." She tilts her head up to him with a smile, head nestled against the shelf. "Is this where I ask the awkward question about your dating life?" Her smile gently redoubles and dimples.

Dick Grayson holds up one coffee and one empty hand in a defensive gesture. "Hey, I mean it, I do! Dinah's great, and you'll have a live-in sparring partner. How is that not awesome?" Nothing to see here! These are not the ulterior motives you're looking for! Etc! He puts on a moment of perhaps comically overstated defense, and then shrugs his shoulders in a helpless display, realizing that one way or another, he's caught. "Sorry. I'm being as good as I can. But I'm serious, it sounds like it'll be good. The two of you have always worked pretty well together, right? Gimme a buzz sometime when you're not out clobbering crime together, and I'll bring over a bottle of wine for the half-housewarming or something."

When she settles in closer, though, Dick does seem to relax a little, letting his defensively hunched shoulders slacken as he leans back against the same shelf. "Well, two if you just count the day job and the night job. It might be two and a half if you count 'accidentally' checking up on old villains on that side of the river, or going off-the-books on your supposedly legit job." How could he ever resist? Rather than Batman's absence, it's that more melancholy L-word that catches him, though, drawing another small silence, before he manages to admit to the same. "Yeah. Flying solo, no teamates. Even working with a lot of people on the force, its- well, they're not in the same world. It's why I think Dinah's good, and not just the stupid reason, you know? Keeps spirits up."

This is all a pretty good setup for her awkward question, which, to his credit, gets an honest-spoken answer. "Nothing serious." Which, in Dick-speak, no doubt means a rotation of less-than-serious options. But it's a clear distinction, particularly as their heroic isolation goes. "Some of it's the job, too. They're definitely a bunch all their own. The families, too. I mean, well-" He laughs. "Who am I telling?"

"Great for everyone but the furniture," Barbara quips back with a bright laugh in her words. She flexes her neck slightly, hand hooked behind it and tilting it aside to smile up at Dick. When he gets all sentimental on her, the redhead can't help but soften a bit around the edges. "That'd be real nice, Dick. Really." She gives his shoulder a small punch of her knuckles. Then she rubs at her neck, an idle gesture. "Dinah and I are talking about that… maybe starting up a team. There's lots of vigilantes out there who aren't under the Bat." She shrugs a shoulder, and then smiles. "You're always welcomed over though."

She listens to him with that warm dutiful look. Her head is tilted, her smile warm, and she just lets him talk through his life in New York City. She laughs softly at the mention of him going a bit off the books, off the rails, and definitely not legit. "Can't break that. You'll always be Nightwing, Dick." When he isn't Robin. The Robin she totally crushed after in those early years.

Then she starts to laugh again, particularly at the who am I telling? part. She leans her arm against his, checking her weight against his lightly. "You'll figure it out, Dick. But, yeah… I know how that feels." She looks down a bit, expression momentarily thoughtful, hard to read. Then she looks back at him. "I think… I think I'm dating someone. Not entirely sure yet." She arches her brows high, frowning a bit. "That sounds awful, doesn't it?"

"A team? See, I was more right than I knew about the two of you." Which is to say, Dick doesn't seem too shocked by the idea. "I guess with it being 'Batman's city,' and his having no shortage of willingly backup, it's never quite had the same need that New York or even Metropolis has. Or maybe no one had the guts to do it under his nose?" All of this is just a process of mulling it over out-loud, although there's no real conclusion to reach, at least as it comes to the reasons. "Of course, it's not like everything working the way he wants is always for the best. I think, yeah, it could be something that would do a lot of good. Definitely shoulder the burden better than one man could." But one thing is certain: "Now I definitely gotta swing by and check this crazy operation out." Though, catching himself, he quickly amends: "Observer status only. But I'm pretty curious."

There's no denial where it comes to the certainties in his own life. Even joining, Dick couldn't have had illusions. Heck, he's working in an office that puts him in the middle of a very familiar mob crossfire. Different city, different costume… but same problems. "Got me there. But it's not bad. I'm learning a fair bit on the other side of things, and I don't just mean intel. Gives me a new appreciation for your dad putting up with Bruce all these years." Those darn Bat-vanishes!

When it's Barbara's turn for the personal confession section, he glances over, watching as she seems to mull through her own thoughts. "Considering you leading with asking me, I kinda had a hunch," he offers, although his mouth quickly curls into a grin at the edges. "Though I'd advise your first step is definitely figuring out if you are or aren't. Trust me, there is great danger down that road if you get it wrong." Surely he's never earned the wrath of any one on that casual rotation of his by not catching that they'd fallen a little hard! Never! But the jokes pass, and he stresses, a little more seriously, "I hope you're not sure because *you're* not sure? Not because he's-" Vague gesture, a stand in for all the ways a guy could be an idiot, in his mind. Whether it's friendly ex or big-brother speak, there's no holding back just a touch of that returned protectiveness.

There's a certain comfort there, between her and Grayson. To say that it always has been isn't right. She totally wanted to beat the crap out of Dick those first few meetings between Batgirl and Robin. Luckily, he's charming and Barbara has always given-in to charm in the end. When Dick so easily talks about Gotham City, his comparisons to New York City and Metropolis draws her brows up. "Dick, did you just say something nice about this crazy ass town we live in?" She starts to laugh, but it has a lightness to it that suggests that she gets it. She totally gets it. She tilts her head, looping her arm affectionately around Grayson's upper arm. She squeezes. "You can come by and mansplain to us all you want, but pretty sure Dinah and I can take you down to the ground before you get past, 'Well, actually, ladies.'" She winks up at him before she releases him — well, almost. There's a light clinging there as she leans her head against Dick's arm.

"Yeah, Dad's a real saint." She smirks slightly at Dick then, but shrugs her shoulder. "You know… if you ever wanted to transfer back to Gotham… you know Dad would put in a good word for you." She arches her brows slightly up at him. "Or is the point of all this being separate from your night life?" And maybe some breathing space from Bruce.

Her question hangs there between them because she's reflecting on his caution. She frowns slightly before she tilts her head back to him. "I don't know." That's not the answer she thought she'd give. "I don't know if I'm sure or not. In the moment, I feel so incredibly sure… but…" Then she laughs, but it has an edge of self-deprecation. "Just self-confidence, I'm sure."

"Hey, I spent the other day watching militarized riot police fire on a literal mob of metahumans while an alien space god-thing watched from above with… Well, ok, it wasn't cruel disdain, he mostly looked kind of confused?" Which is all to say: "Gotham has its particular charm. And you know I've never bought the… inevitable, unchangable bleakness. I couldn't do this, if I believed it was pointless, that we weren't making a difference." Dick shakes his head, casting off these more nihilistic notions. "I think it suits Bruce for it to be the worst of the worst, in every way, but it just isn't true." What's a father-son pair without some fundamental disagreements?

However, this is all put aside for a slightly more vigorous protest in defense of his intentions toward her budding gang of bats and avians. "What? Hey! C'mon, that's not even close to being fair." Dick makes a wounded face, although this is definitely Alfred's acting lessons, turned up to 'theatrical.' "I'm sure you'll have it all down just fine. You can file my interest as zero percent meddling, one-hundred percent wanting to hang around a bunch of costumed ladies." Is that better?!

But turning from the jokes, again, he tilts his head to touch hers where it rests at his shoulder. "I'm sure he would, and I appreciate it, but no, it's- yes, exactly. I need something separate. In Gotham, any job I have, I'm still Bruce's ward, a society page curiosity. But no one's going to accidentally call me 'Richard Stark.'" There's a little upward roll of his eyes. "And it'd be unfair working both sides in Gotham. You know that for every criminal we leave gift-wrapped in an alley, there's a crime-scene we wreck, evidence we nab. I'd be giving my own partners trouble."

And where her relationship woes are concerned, it seems genuine uncertainty is pretty easy to accept. "I get it." Pause, and correction: "Well, I get everything aside from the lack of self-confidence. Gonna have to call a foul there. Because, c'mon- take your pick. Smart, beautiful, good with a swing-line? Total package." There's a playful nudge here, too. Because while he doesn't really question that she could doubt herself- he does, they all do -he knows it's all about pushing through them, and sometimes that starts just with having someone unambiguously in your corner.

Barbara looks up with a startled blink. "You were at that protest, Dick?" Her lips part, eyes widening a bit more. "I saw the footage. That looked awful." She squeezes his arm, conveying comfort through the limb. Then she slowly begins to release him, tugging at his shirt sleeve in passing before she's back to cradling her cup with both hands. "It's only a matter of time before that comes here, Dick… mandatory registration." She ducks her head a bit. "Everyone's afraid."

The levity returns, albeit a bit lighter, at Dick's outrage to being challenged for mansplaining. "You can be our… hmm… auxiliary male support." She flashes a bright grin that warms her dimples again. There's some warmth there that is hard to tamp down around Dick. Old flames, old friends, bonded by the old job.

Then she ducks her chins again, looking down into her coffee as she looks thoughtful. She leans back into his side, resting against him because it just gives her something to lean into, something that's stable in this moment. She looks up at the Richard Stark jab, and she grins a bit. "Hey, if you do swing by Stark, say hi to Peter Parker there. He's a good friend… total nerd… he's been helping me with some vigilante work." Though she's not about to spill that Parker is Spider-Man, even if Dick is one of her closest friends. "We're developing a Vigilante iOS… you know, for smartphones." Nerd.

The playful nudge from Dick and the warm encouragement has her blushing lightly while she smiles. "Huh, didn't think about that whole swing-line thing… how silly." She hits him with that lovely lopsided smile. "It'll shake out. I mean, there's no other option there."

Then she pushes up from the shelf, pivoting back toward him. She hesitates a moment, tapping her finger against the lid of her cup. Then she shrugs a shoulder. "Want to come out with me tonight? Like old times?" She dimples a bit. "I promise not to call you Robin." She lifts her cup to take a sip.

"Yeah. Since it was happening downtown, they had pretty much everyone out helping," Dick explains, now a little more stoic by comparison to her shock, though her comforting gesture draws a smile. "I was fine. Well, obviously. But it is the kind of- it's exactly that. It's going to come everywhere, though we'll probably manage to slip through the cracks for a while." There's a furrow to his brow here, suggesting worry and thought alike. "It just makes it more important that we do understand how the authorities work. We're gonna have to figure out how everyone gets along and keeps doing what we need to do."

And somehow, because he's who he is, he actually manages to sound a little optimistic, despite it all. Which makes the laugh at her offer of that particular spot on the new roster flow all the more easily: "What, like back to sidekicking?!" He mocks horror, then rus his chin. "Well, maybe. So long as I don't have to wear- well you know."

"What exactly does a Vigilante iOS do that a bat-puter doesn't? Is it backward compatible? Am I gonna need a new suit?" Clearly, they've marked a turn in the tide of conversation, as the optimism persists, seriousness and worry put on the backburner. Even through the serious topics. "Hey, there's nothing silly about swinging around one ropes. It's a respectable profession, you know." And so he confirms, with a nod and a ready smile, "You'll be fine. I hope it works out, I really do."

With their worries behind them and a suggestion of nocturnal antics, he pushes from the shelf energetically. "And here I was worried you'd never ask. My gear's in the car- meet you on the roof?" And just like that, it's like old times again. Or as close as it can ever get.

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