Seeking Nerd Council
Roleplaying Log: Seeking Nerd Council
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Barbara comes seeking council from Kamala on taking Stark's job offer.

Other Characters Referenced: Tony Stark, Peter Parker
IC Date: December 10, 2018
IC Location: Stark Industries, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 05 Jan 2019 22:18
Rating & Warnings: PG
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: None
Associated Plots

Barbara Gordon hasn't made many trips to NYC lately. When not slowly organizing up the Birds of Prey — the coined name both a play on words and bit of a threat, all in all — she's been focused on Gotham. Batman has made it very clear that Gotham must be her focus, but… sometimes… focus drifts. Today, it drifts to NYC and Stark Tower. Her motorcycle pulls into the garage beneath the tower after a thorough check-in with the security system. She parks, grabs her gear, and starts the travel to Kamala Khan's lab.

When she gets to the Starktern's domain, she archaically knocks on the door before she pokes her head in. "Kam?"

* * *

It's one of the perks of working at Stark Industries: you get some really amazing workspaces. Interns here don't make coffee and sort mail (unless they're business majors, and Heaven help them). Interns like Kamala Khan get their own lab space and can carry on their own projects. As an undergrad, she's still taking some fairly intro-level courses; as a Stark intern, she's working on projects that are, in the grand scheme of things going on in this building, relatively simple. In the scheme of actual science and engineering, though, they're at least graduate-level work. It's the best part of her day.

So when Barbara knocks on the half-open door, she can see Kamala staring through a really huge magnifier. She has an eyedropper poised over a square of some kind of textile stretched out with teensy clamps. Squeeze… squeeze… bloop! The droplet hits the fabric. The fabric suddenly disappears… almost. It's still being held by the clamps. It's just shrunk MASSIVELY while maintaining its stretch across five tension points.

"Nice!" She looks up to the voice then, blinking her eyes back into normal-sized things. "Oh! Hey, come on in. Do you want a tea? Coffee? Chaiwala hasn't exploded in over a week, so I think I have that pressure thing taken care of…"

* * *

The sight of Kamala just has Barbara beaming at her like a happy fool. She shakes her head, and steps forward with a slight pivot in her strides. She is looking around her lab, taking an interest in each little detail of Kamala's lab. It's something she's done before, but right now, there's purpose behind it. Decisions are having to be made, and Barbara is gathering intel.

When she finally gets nearer to Kamala, her smile settles on the younger nerd and she shakes her head. "No, but thanks, hon." She slides her hands into the pockets of her motocross jacket, head tilting slightly. "Alright, I gotta ask… what are you doing?" There's a warm laugh in her words and genuine interest. She even leans in, peeking slightly. Then she remembers she is not wearing the right gear, and leans back. She starts to look around as if searching for eye protection. She knows how this works. And in Stark Tower, you definitely want eye protection.

* * *

Kamala looks about as happy as Barbara does: this IS her happy place, after all. Science equals not having to think about everything else going on in the world. She can just lose herself in concentrating on her work. When her heroine-pal asks about eye protection (Kamala herself is wearing some pretty heavy-duty goggles), she reaches out and opens a nearby drawer. "Oh, yeah! Take your pick. This is almost certainly not going to snap free and put anyone's eye out, but better safe than sorry. C'mere." She scootches over, reaching back to pull over another lab stool. She does that… mostly… without stretching more than your average lanky young woman.

"Look through the magnifier," she continues. "It's a prototype. Bruno made the chemical formula but I worked on engineering the fabric itself. It's a synthetic weave based on the structure of spider's silk. Super strong, plus the solution here lets it expand and contract to one-two-hundredth of its original size. Extremely lightweight, extremely durable, extremely flexible. There's no end of uses for it!"

Pause.

"The, uh. The cost per square inch is kind of unfortunate annnnnnd it still has water solubility issues, but we're working on that."

* * *

Barbara grabs a pair of eye protection, snaps them into place, and shakes her arms out of her motocross jacket. She flings the jacket aside so she's just wearing a t-shirt that says: Forget Book Worm. I'm a Book WYRM. Then she plops down on the lab stool next to Kamala and goes into listener mode.

"Whoa, really?" She peeks at the material curiously, head tilted a bit. The downsides of the experiment has her laughing, and she casts a warm smile toward the girl. "Hey, this is Stark Labs… my guess is that you don't have to worry about the price tag. The water solubility though… definitely a thinker."

She considers the fabric, touching it carefully with the edge of a fingertip. Then she looks to Kamala. "Stark offered me an internship," she says completely out of nowhere. "Or, well… he offered Oracle an internship."

* * *

"It's true. But I still have to justify all my funding. The fun part of the project, right, is figuring out how to do it. The part of the project I'm actually getting graded on, so to speak? The feasibility study. Ugh." Kamala leans back, hooking her feet under the stool's supports so she can get almost horizontal. Her back pops just a bit.

"Gnh?" She sits back up when she hears this revelation, blinking at Barbara. "Whoa. That's… no small thing. So you wanted to get a look at what it's like at Stark's labs? I can give you the big tour. Other people would forget to show you the minikitchen that they stock with the cans of boba tea."

* * *

"God, school." Barbara shakes her head, almost ruefully. There's also some degree of self-consciousness there. "I have a Masters in Library Sciences, Kamala. I can safely say I never got graded on whether or not I created an awesome new material that simulates spider silk and has other properties of wow."

The response to her offered internship has Barbara shifting awkwardly from foot to foot. She glances around the space, looking around at each little detail. She breathes out a slow exhale, and her shoulders just slump. "Here's the thing… it isn't at Stark Labs." She hesitates, frowning. "He called it… Stark Unlimited. And he said I could commute from Gotham virtually if I needed to, because… my responsibilities roster cannot be spread thin enough." Her mouth tightens. "He doesn't really know who I am, Kam… he just knows me as this hacker who hacked Stark Labs." Heh, confession. "And built an AI that went off the rails. I'm… a Librarian. I'm totally self-taught. You, and Peter… you guys are studying to be this."

Not often does someone get to see Barbara Gordon — Batgirl, daughter to Commissioner Gordon, student of the Batman himself — look so damn uncertain and extremely lacking in self-esteem.

* * *

Kamala's eyebrows shoot up. Hacked Stark Labs?

"Um. Barbara. How do I put this. You've already done more to qualify yourself for a legit position at Stark ANYTHING than I ever did. Listen."

She swivels on her stool, resting her elbows on her knees. "Look me in the eyes and believe me when I tell you I am NOT a super science genius girl. Seriously. Not. I'm smart, okay? Maybe smarter than average, but I'm not a genius inventor or engineer or chemist or anything. This fabric? I'm piggybacking off countless inventors before me. I didn't invent this. I didn't even invent the stuff I just droppered onto it. I'm just taking it one tiny step further because, frankly, this is a thing I need." She gestures to one side, to the slightly R2D2-looking Chaiwala-bot.

"This guy? I took the design some guys in Houston came up with, miniaturized it, and put it on wheels. That's literally ALL. I mean, okay, there were some calibration issues and stuff and my stuff never works first time, but. I just have ideas. And drive. And enough caffeine so that I can work all night long if I really need to."

Kamala lets out a weary sigh. "If I were a genius, I'd be a lot faster and maybe come up with some cooler ideas. That's it. You have no IDEA how many ideas I've scrapped because I couldn't think my way around them. And as far as Mister Stark is concerned… you've got guts and drive and smarts. He can't teach you those. The fact that you're self-taught is an asset."

She reaches a hand out to settle it on Barbara's shoulder. "When Mister Stark gave me the internship, I absolutely couldn't believe it. When I could talk in complete sentences again, I said 'I'm not a scientist. I'm not a genius. I don't know any of this stuff.' And you know what he said? 'If you already knew all of it, you wouldn't need the internship. You wouldn't need school.' Do you want this, Barbara? Also. Let's be real. You designed a network that's so scary complicated and powerful it kiiiiinda gives me nightmares. You could probably teach him a thing or two dozen."

* * *

Barbara softens a moment, hearing Kamala. She reaches out to touch Kamala's wrist gently in a fond, almost big-sisterly kind of exchange. "Okay, I'm hearing you, but before we get back to my stuff, can you take a moment to really celebrate that you just told me some amazing stuff you just did, too? Alright? Because now we're both sounding like we have zero self-confidence, and that's just stupid crazy."

Then she leans back just a bit, smiling wearily at Kamala. It's a weariness that just comes from having so many balls in the air, not wearied for her friend or at her friend. She chuckles a bit awkwardly at the nightmares bit, but she knows that's hyperbole. She hopes it's hyperbole. "I want this." The words are said softly with a deep exhale. "But it feels like I need to give something up to make it work." Then she worries at her lip, thinking through everything she has going on. "I'll figure that out."

She rubs at the back of her neck, looking around the lab. "This is… really cool, Kamala. What you're doing… you and Peter… I really want to be part of it." Then she puffs out a breath. "Guess I'll have to tell him who I really am." Beat pause. "I mean, not all of it. But Oracle = Barbara Gordon, I think is probably something that has to come out, huh?"

She hesitates, "Does he know how to keep those secrets? Does he know about, um… you're extracurriculars?"

* * *

"Oh, I'm SUPER cool with where I am in all this. No joke. I mean, not to say I don't sometimes wake up wondering how on Earth I deserve this kind of luck. But I'm kind of coming to terms with it being, y'know, the right place for me. So if you're not too worried about the occasional extremely positive existential crisis, absolutely. And honestly, absolutely ANYWAY, because this is not one of those opportunities a sane person passes up."

To the rest of it? Kamala actually pops a wry smile. "Hoooo-boy. Short answer? Not officially. Long answer? I'm really bad at keeping secrets sometimes and I kind of told him… before I came clean to my folks. As practice, kind of, but also for. Reasons. He knows."

The smile fades somewhat. "Which is one reason I'm going to be transferring to the new lab he's putting together outside New York. Hush-hush and all that. I get to do the same work, I don't get harassed by the authorities when I'm not in costume, everything's unsatisfactory but basically fine."

* * *

"You told your parents?" There's no denying the jealousy there. Barbara "The Batgirl" Gordon wouldn't dare, couldn't dare. And she goes on to explain why: "I tell my dad and he arrests me because it's his job. He goes out of his way not to learn about any secret identities. I bet if Batman stood there and started to take off his cowl, he'd shoot him just to stop him from revealing that." Noble, that Jim Gordon is.

Ah-HA! "So, Stark Unlimited is a thing." She frowns. "Where's the lab going to be? Pretty sure that's what he's roping me into." Then she hesitates. "I'll tell him about Oracle, but I can't say anything about B.G., so you'll keep that a secret for me right?" Then she sets a serious look at Kamala. "Right?"

* * *

The look is somewhat panicky as Kamala raises her hands: "Hey, I'd never tell about YOU. It's my own identity I've been criminally careless with. And I'm not just scared of the Big Bad Bat dropping me off a rooftop; when you're mad, you can be scarier than him." The last, of course, said with a little bit of a smile. Just a little, though.

"So yeah: it's not /inevitable/ that he finds out about any of it, but remember, he is kind of really smart. Lucky for all of us he can also be so focused on his own stuff that he doesn't notice what's right in front of him. Just make sure you've got your story straight," she adds, sliding off the stool and pushing off her goggles. "He's an engineer. He homes in on any kind of inconsistencies. But straight up? He's a good guy at heart. Just don't tell him that or he gets all awkward and gruff."

  • * *

When you're mad, you can be scarier than him — Barbara's brows arch high, expression a bit surprised by that observation. Is she? Really? A small frown settles into place, head tilting thoughtfully. She'd ask more about that, get Kamala to tell her what is it that makes her scary, but then she remembers why she's here.

"Alright — get my story straight. That I can do." Maybe. Hopefully. Then she tugs up her own goggles, smiling at her younger friend. "I should get going… if you see Peter, tell him I said hello. We should all get the Nerd Pack together again soon, though." She gives Kamala's shoulder a squeeze, and then the redhead is stepping off to give the girl back her lab.

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