Happy Birthday, Red
Roleplaying Log: Happy Birthday, Red
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Frank finds out its Babs's birthday, and awkwardness ensues.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: November 11, 2018
IC Location: The Library, Gotham City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 20 Nov 2018 16:46
Rating & Warnings: PG
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: None
Associated Plots

'Tomorrow afternoon NYC? Maybe lead.'

'Would but birthday.'

Frank frowns thoughtfully at the tiny screen of the burner phone, and makes plans.

The Punisher really doesn't worry about being out late, so showing up on a near-midnight train to Gotham is no big thing to him. He has a backpack slung on one shoulder, and when he steps off the train, the burner comes out again. He's taken to keeping the battery in it these days, and he types out another text message.

'Where am I bringing your present?'

Her birthday celebrations have been split between family dinner at home with the Commissioner — a tradition they have worked hard to maintain after Mom disappeared and James ended up in Arkham — and partying out with the derby girls. There was a promise in there to Dinah that she would be home and they could nightcap it, but then her phone lights up with the text message from Frank. Considering he never replied when she told him it was her birthday, she is surprised by the late message.

"Present?" She says aloud, and Jane Eyre-Senal peeks over her shoulder curiously.

"Oh, gosh… Belle. Who is Pete? Is he that guy who was waiting for you after your first bout. He was cute…" There's teasing there, and soon other teammates are peeking over her shoulder with the nosiness of affectionate friends. It takes her having to excuse herself from the table to get enough space to tap a message out to Frank. She hesitates, trying to decide where to send him. Not home — either the Gordon residence or her new place. It's late and cold out, so she makes a quick decision:

'Library. Be there in 30.'

Then she gets harranged by her new friends as she makes excuses, and there's plenty of 'ooooh, Beeellllleeeee' as she steps out. She waves dismissively over her shoulder, avoiding further embarrassments as she heads into the parking lot and to her bike so she can make the journey to the library to meet up with Frank.

'Okay.'

Frank is one of those people that even though he hates texting, he does it right, with full words and punctuation. When she arrives, he's leaning one shoulder into one of the columns outside of the library's staff entrance. He's in his watch cap and heavy winter jacket again, his hands shoved in his jacket pockets as he waits. When the bike rolls up, Frank pulls a hand out, resting it at the zipper of his jacket until he recognizes the motorcycle and its rider, at which point he tucks his hand back into his pocket and rolls away from the pillar. "Hey Red. Happy birthday."

The helmet is tugged off, freeing the high dutch braid of her red hair — that has somehow remained quite elegant despite the threat of helmet hair. She had make-up on for the bout, but tonight's darker with eyeliner and midnight skies of smudge across her lids. Her smile isn't glossy though, but a matte pink that smiles easily at the Punisher as she heads his way. She hooks her helmet onto her slim backpack as she approaches, and she only stops once her hand has settled on Frank's arm. "You seriously did not just come here for my birthday, did you?"

Frank mirrors the touch of hand to arm, squeezing briefly and then, after a moment's hesitation, stepping forward to offer up a brief hug. He closes his eyes at the contact, letting out a tiny little breath through his nose. Letting go, he nods, "Yeah." Looking over her features, he grunts a little sourly, "You were still out, weren't you? I thought you'd be done by now." Unslinging his backpack, he lets it hang from his left hand as he unzips it and pulls out a package, about a foot and a half long, wrapped in newspaper. "Hey, Billy and Curtis get presents too." He cracks a momentary smile, "You ain't that special," he teases dryly.

Inside the package is a packaged Beast doll, with a shoelace (skate-lace by the length and sturdiness) noose around its neck. He shifts a little and points at the noose, "For hanging from your belt. It growls too," he growls.

The hug initiated by Frank surprises her — but she doesn't let that surprise stop her from embracing him in return. Her arms tighten around his shoulders, and she leans her head against his with a warm smile building at her lips. Then she steps back, tilting her head slightly at the way his eyes move over her. His gruff grunt has her laughing softly, and she shakes her head. "We're closing down the bar, but I was ready to head out. So, you saved me." Then she watches him unsling the bag, and she slips her hands into the pockets of her jacket.

When he reveals the package, she takes it with an arch of her brows. She looks up at him, and then she smiles to herself as she starts to unwrap it. "Well, I'm in the same category as Billy and Curtis, and that means something, Frank." Then she finishes upwrapping it, and blinks at the sight of The Beast doll. She starts to laugh — delighted. Her eyes meet his and she's all dimples. "Thank you, Frank…" She is warm with it. "Really."

"Barbara Gordon, closin' down the bar." Frank shakes his head in amusement, "Or was that Belle Icose? You're pickin' up names like candy." His own hands go back into his pockets, his breath misting the air as he watches her dimple and laugh, managing a little, genuine smile himself. And that's something considering that he just spend time in a kids' toy store. "Good. Figured I was talkin' big, I better follow through." Beat pause, and then he adds, "Plus, I didn't have long to shop."

Barbara looks up at him after a heartbeat, and the redhead has softened a bit more. She reaches out to squeeze at his upper arm, and then leans in to catch him in a hug again, hand holding onto the box of The Beast. She just lingers there, expressing her thanks and gratitude through the gentle embrace. Then she leans back to look back up at him. "Cm'on… the library is empty… I'll get you some coffee." She brings the box into her chest, arms wrapping around it as she starts up the steps toward the staff entrance.

Frank isn't expecting the second hug, but he still gets his hands out of his pockets in time to return it. Even as it lingers, he doesn't withdraw, letting his eyes close and breathing in again slowly. The offer draws a pleased grunt, "Now that's what I'm talkin' about." He turns to follow her in, "You get all the fresh meat birthday hazing outta the way at the party? Or were they waitin' until after everyone got drunk?" There's a pause as he catches the door after she opens it, holding it for her, "They do hazing, right?"

"They do hazing," Barbara reassures him. "I was properly hazed." Then she starts to smile his way as she uses her keycard to open the staff entrance. She knows her card also disables the security systems, so she doesn't worry about the alarms or even the cameras. After all, she has all the feeds hacked upstairs and she can clear any footage that has her and Frank in it. She leads him into the back offices where all the books are sorted into their carts. She keeps looking over the present appreciatively as she leads him through this part of the library. "I actually was avoiding the drunk thing until I got home. Dinah wanted to do the job, and I hate taking cabs in Gotham." She also hates being drunk, but that's a different topic entirely.

Frank looks around the back area of the library, grunting softly, "Yeah, sorry, it's even more boring back here." He is not a library person, not really. Shifting his attention back to his guide, he nods slightly, "Better with friends anyhow." There's a pause, "I mean, friends you're close with. Have been for a while." That's awkward too, because, well, he's got two of those, plus a couple of newer ones. He's silent for a while longer, and then he shifts tacks, "Figure your other family doesn't do birthdays?"

"Are you suggesting that my library is boring?" Barbara's tone is serious, threatening, but there's a soft hint of something playful just beneath that mask of stoicism. She guides him through this part of the library and to a small elevator that they use to shuffle the carts through the two levels. She glances over her shoulder to him with a small, thoughtful frown. "No… I mean, Alfr — " She catches herself, and then shakes her head at her almost-slip. "The former-SAS… he does birthdays. I think he sees that as his job as kind of the… glue that holds us all together." She presses the button for the car and the doors open almost immediately, and Babs gestures him in before she enters. She taps the third floor for the attic, and taps her keycard, and the elevator begins to move with a whisper sigh.

"I'm suggestin' that I ain't exactly been a library type of guy." Holding his hands out to his sides a moment, Frank adds, "You don't gotta try to kill me for that." The elevator gets an eyebrow-raise, but he puts his hand on the door to hold them, then steps in after her, "Team mom. Every team's got one. At least, every good team." Given that he's not exactly a TV Tropes sort of guy, he's probably speaking from experience. Looking down at the keypad, he chuckles, "There really are bats in the belfry?"

"You're missing out," Barbara says once she's tucked in the elevator. "A library has an endless supply of amusement." Then she smiles lightly at his assessment of Alfred, and she nods gently. "Yeah… guess you could call him Team Mom." Then she crosses her arms and watches him as the elevator rises. It dings at the second floor, and continues up to the attic. When the door opens, it yields a rather dark and musty attic space filled with boxes of old books. She smirks lightly at his comment. "Hm, you have no idea." Then she pushes off the elevator wall and steps out, gesturing for him to follow her. Once inside the space, she heads for a wall, and then taps her keycard again. This time, an unseen door opens into her Belfry.

Frank touches the door again as it opens, holding it open and following readily. He starts to look around as he follows her toward the wall, and then snorts, "Capes, man." It could be scathing, but he really sounds amused, even fond. Still, he once more puts his palm on the door to 'hold it open' for her. Looking around, he nods slowly, "Yeah. That's pretty nice. Good security cam coverage. Lots of techie stuff. At least two escape routes… I think." He nods again, "Yeah, I don't have to teach you how to suck eggs."

"That sounds absolutely disgusting." Barbara laughs all the same. She tucks the box of The Beast on her tech desk, and she glances over her shoulder to him with a tilt of her head. "What does that even mean… 'sucking eggs'?" She steps past him toward what looks to be the tiniest kitchenette in all the world. It provides coffee and has a tiny fridge. She starts working on the coffee, which is just a compact machine that produces nothing fancy. She glances toward him, her hesitation obvious. "… you said you had a lead?" There's something uncertain in her voice, almost weary.

Good thing Frank doesn't like anything fancy when it comes to coffee, just strong. "I got no idea," he chuckles faintly. "My folks used to say it. 'Go teach your grandmother to suck eggs.'" His impression game is on point, even if Babs never met his mother. The shift in topic draws a small shrug, "Yeah. Checked it out before I came down. More of the same bullshit. Rumors. Scare stories." He waits a moment before continuing, then grudgingly admits, "The guy's still alive. Barely hurt, even."

"Now I'm going to need to look that up." Barbara hits the button to start the brew, and she turns to rest her weight back into the counter as she watches him across the length of the Belfry. She frowns slightly, arms crossing at her chest. "Good." That simple word is soft, if not a bit serious. She looks over at the machine as it brews, giving her something to look at before she glances back to Frank. "Have you… you were talking about some construction work? I know money's been tight."

"Yeah. Lot of rebuilding in the Kitchen." Frank shrugs a little uncomfortably, turning his hands palm-up in front of him a minute to show a couple of neatly-popped blisters on his fingers and the heels of his hands, "That means a lot of demolition work and not many questions. Even a guy like me can swing a sledgehammer." Shrugging a little, he adds, "It'll hold out fine. Least it will if I stop makin' friends to buy birthday presents for."

Barbara's smile redoubles then as he mentions the gift, and she turns to pour him a cup of coffee. The mug is nondescript, heavy, and simple. She hands it to him without any flourish. "It's a perfect gift, Frank. And even if this derby thing is a total flop, it's a perfect gift. So, bask in that for a while." Then she goes back to get herself a mug. "You going to stick around, or are you going right back to the train station?"

"Well yeah, even if the derby thing," Frank takes a sip of the coffee, because he has his priorities, and then continues as he cradles the deliciously simple mug in both hands, "interferes with your cape-ing schedule, you're still a librarian who deals with fear the right way and gets shit done." At her question, he gives a little shrug, "I got work in the morning. I figured I'd head back on the next train or the one after that." Not that he's exactly sleeping well anyhow, so getting home at ass-o-clock isn't the end of the world.

Something Frank says there has her interest, and she tilts her head slightly as she regards Frank from her spot at the counter. Something he says catches her interest, but before she gets to it, she frowns at his news of the train. "Construction never gets a day off, huh?" She looks down after a moment, cradling her cup against her chest slightly with one hand. She reaches up to tuck a bit of hair behind her ear, glancing aside in a thoughtful moment. Then she looks back to him. "What do you mean… deals with fear the right way?"

Frank shrugs a little helplessly at the question, "Not when it's day-work. You take too many days off, you don't need to come in the next day." He goes back to sipping from the coffee, and he smiles just a touch as she hones in on the other interesting part of what he said. "I mean you don't let it freeze you, Red. You do what you gotta do, even if you're scared." Which she would never admit, he assumes, but which she has also felt, he likewise assumes. "It's a good thing. The assholes who claim they never get scared, they break when things get nasty."

"Huh." Barbara frowns thoughtfully. She presses the warm mug against her cheek, causing her skin to flush a little where the heat presses into the pale canvas. She looks at him with a half-tilt of her head, taking him in from her distance. There is so much about Frank Castle that she cannot always make sense of… but this isn't one of those moments. His earnest, honest words ring true, and it causes her smile to soften slightly at the edge of the mug. Then she shakes her head and takes a sip from the ceramic vessel before she pushes off the edge. "I guess that saying I don't fear things is just stupid… there's lots to fear… and sometimes, there's too much." She chews slightly at her inner cheek. "But you either fly or fight, and I guess I always know which to choose." Most of the time.

The unguarded, vulnerable look, cuddled up to her coffee cup, draws a little smile from Frank. He nods at her words, continuing to work his way through the cup of coffee and letting the hot drink soak into his bones and warm them as readily as the easy comfort of the conversation does. "Yeah. Acknowledge the fear, move past it." He gives a little snort of amusement, "And yeah. Fight or flight, that ain't no choice. Most of the time." That's a grudging admission, "Sometimes you gotta…" And here his smile returns, "Famous Marine general from World War Two and Korea said, 'Retreat? Hell, we're just advancing in another direction.'"

Barbara slips besides him near her tech console, and she smiles gently as she tilts her head his way. "Somehow I'm not surprised this all gets leaked to a famous Marine." Then she takes another sip of her coffee… just before two and two click together. She looks at Frank, and she reaches out with her foot to nudge his gently. She doesn't say it, as if she might break the fragile moment between them, but there's a gentle exchange of thanks there… because her birthday is also Veterans' Day, and that means something to her… because Frank means something to her…

Frank gives her a face-only shrug, lifting his brows and scrunching his mouth up. "Way I figure it, most smart things were said by a Marine." He glances down at her foot as she nudges his, then looks up. He catches the look, and his expression sobers. The veteran Marine draws in a slow breath, nods, and then lets it out just as slowly. It's a comfortable silence that descends on the belfry, at least on Frank's side. He takes a sip of his coffee unconsciously, letting his thoughts percolate before he finally nods again, "Yeah." Another sip, and he sets the now-empty cup down. "So what else did you get, Red? For your birthday."

"That's not at all surprising," Barbara says, her laughter soft in each syllable. She turns slightly so she can lean her shoulder and hip alongside his, and the connection is just as comfortable as the silence. She sips her coffee, letting it warm her and wake her a bit. Caffeinating this close to her unreasonable bedtime is probably not wise, but most of what she does with Frank is probably not wise. She glances his way when he asks after what she got for her birthday, and she tilts her head thoughtfully. "Mm, Dad got me a couple new books from this Science Fiction author I like, and Uncle Harvey got me a new can of mace." Beat pause. "He does that every year." Then she shrugs. "Some new costume pieces from the derby girls. I don't know what Dinah got me, I'll find out I'm sure." She shakes her head. "Birthdays stopped being a big thing once I turned twenty-two… I think I've hit the boring age."

Frank nods at the descriptions of the gifts, although Uncle Harvey's draws a laugh, "And have you ever actually used one of the cans?" His low chuckle is accompanied by a slow shaking of his head, "Kind of like, a waste of time gettin' it out when you can just kick the guy's ass without it." Her complaint of being at a boring age draws a grunt from him, "Damn, Red. Already? I think you still got a while. Once you get excited about gettin' socks, then I think you've hit the boring age." There's a pause, "Or you've been deployed."

"I figured a new batch of socks and underwear would be a good Christmas present." Barbara's teasing him now — if not a bit affectionately. After all, there's no holding back around Frank these days. "For you. Not for me. I don't think that men should ever buy women underwear." The words just go flying past her lips without checking with her brain, and suddenly she's blushing all the way to her ears. "I mean… you know… socks. You can get me socks." She looks down into her coffee mug, almost hoping to send every ounce of heat in her face down into the hot black brew still halfway-filling the mug.

Frank chuckles and nods at the first teasing, and then she's going all bright red, and he smirks hard, shaking his head as the chuckle builds in his throat again. "Yeah, pretty sure the only guys who buy underwear for women are idiots hoping to get laid and gonna be disappointed." His shoulders shake a little with now-silent chuckles. "Don't know why that's a rule just for guys though. Kinda sexist, isn't it?" Yes, Frank Castle just claimed reverse sexism. At least he sounds like he's mostly joking. "I'm not gonna get you socks for Christmas, Red. Not unless that's what you want."

Barbara looks up at the chuckling from Frank, and it actually relaxes her smile even as her blush remains high in her cheeks. She shifts slightly, looking down at her feet once more as she rolls the mug between her hands. Then when Frank mentions the sexist thing, she leans back a bit to look at him with an arched brow and half-amused smile. "You mean women should buy men underwear in hopes of getting laid?" Then she shakes her head. "Here's the thing… women buy lingerie because it makes us feel sexy… I don't think men buy underwear to feel sexy." She shrugs her shoulders.

"Pretty sure they don't have to." Frank smirks at her question, but then lifts his brows and grunts thoughtfully at the critical information about women that she provides afterward. He thinks about it for a moment, then glances over to her, "You think the Jersey Shore assholes wear banana hammocks 'cause they're comfy?" Sadly, Frank does not know the term 'douchebro.' Still, he considers the point a moment longer, then nods, "Makes sense though. Wear what makes you feel good, when you feel good, people notice."

"That's my mantra," Barbara murmurs more or less to herself. This half-focused reply might be because now she's — unfortunately — thinking about Frank and his underwear, which he has clearly stated is nothing like the Jersey bros. To break that train of thought, she takes a sip of her mug once more, this time both hands curled around it. She tilts her head slightly toward him now, and she smiles at the previous comment about Christmas presents. "No socks… unless they are those quirky novelty socks. I like those." She then leans her head to his shoulder, curling her head up against his cheek and crook of his neck. It's a relaxed, quiet moment that is comfortable… on Barbara's end.

Frank settles in easily enough, but when she makes the suggestion directly, Frank grunts, "Well damn, Red. There goes my idea." When she leans her head on his shoulder, he blinks and draws his head back a little to look at her. After a heartbeat, he shrugs his non-Babs'd shoulder and settles back into his lean against the desk. He's silent for a long couple of minutes, and then he notes, "You're gonna miss your nightcap, Babs. Especially if you fall asleep on my shoulder."

"I'll pretend I didn't mention it," Barbara says softly as she remains tucked slightly against him. Then she breathes out as low sigh as he reminds her of her final obligation for tonight. She slides back from him, lifting from her lean so she can stand. "Alright, you're right…" She pauses, looking at him with a tilt of her head. "I got the bike downstairs… do you need a lift to the train station, or are you going to shove me off home so I stop procrastinating?" She reaches for the mug on the opposite side of the Punisher..

The warmth of Barbara's lean lingers on Frank's shoulder, the human connection, and he doesn't move right away, taking in another slow breath and letting his eyes close for a heartbeat. It's been five months since he's just been next to someone. When he responds, its through a tight throat, "I'm good, Red." Clearing his throat, he reaches for the mug as well, getting there at the same time and then relinquishing the grasp to her with a bit of a helpless shrug. "Thanks." Pushing up out of his lean on the desk, he runs his hands down the front of his coat and then shoves them in his pockets, "Go on and celebrate with your roommate. I'll see you 'round. Happy birthday, Babs."

That… should have been what she expected. Her shoulders sink slightly, but then she's smiling after him in her tight, accepting way. "I'll be there next time." She then nods slightly. "Stay safe, Frank." She takes both mugs and sets them in the little tub that she will use to wash them in. Then she turns slightly to watch him go. She gives him some space, not chasing after to escort him out. He knows the way, particularly if he chooses one of her extra exits. She hesitates a moment before she calls after him, "Thanks, Frank!"

Frank heads back toward the door into the attic, reaching out for it, and then stops, looking over his shoulder, "You want to give me a ride?" It's not incredulity that prompts the question, just a direct query as to her preference in the matter. Proof that the Punisher does actually think about other people, even if the number of other people he actually thinks about is vanishingly small.

The glance back toward her isn't spotted until he's offering the query. She glances back toward him, already looking like she is getting ready to let Dinah know she's on her way. The question sparks a small smile on her lips, and she shrugs. "I like saying goodbye to you, Frank… and making sure you get on the train safely. I don't know." Then she smirks. "Maybe I'm just an old fashion girl."

Frank smiles a little at the shrugging words, shaking his head, and then the words that follow draw a snort of laughter from him, "Bullshit, Red. With all your…" he gestures toward the computers, hell, the hidden door, the whole Belfry. Then he pauses, shrugs acceptance, "Okay, maybe a little bit old fashioned, Ms. Librarian." He stays by the door then, waiting for her to finish getting the dishes put away, "You can drive me to the train station. Thanks."

"Librarians rule the world, Francis Castle." Barbara is all smiles as she cuts across the Belfry toward Frank. There's a lightness to her that makes it easier to kiss the Punisher's cheek gently before she steps out in front of him to lead the way back into the attic space and the elevator. She glances behind her as she departs, just making sure that Frank gets the door shut behind him.

"Naw. But they can tell you who does." Frank blinks again at the kiss on the cheek, but just goes with it, slipping out after her and closing them off from the Belfry very securely before heading over to the elevator. There's no wait of course, since they just came up, and so he 'holds the doors open' for her and then steps in, "And who did. And probably who will next. That whole 'doomed to repeat it' thing."

"Knowledge is power." Then the Librarian steps into the elevator, but only after Frank 'holds the door open' for her. She had caught the little shrugging — even if it was just an unseen shrug — at the cheek kiss, so she sobers herself a bit and leans against the wall of the elevator with her hands tucked into the pockets of her motocross jacket. She looks down at the edges of her Lit Chicks t-shirt, and then beyond it to her feet while the elevator moves. "I didn't want to be a librarian, but it's a good second fit."

The information draws Frank's eyebrows up, "Well yeah, you said you wanted to be a cop. Or is librarian your third choice, Red?" He gestures upwards to the receding Belfry, "I mean, yeah, it works great. Space, 9-5 hours, nobody expects the librarian to kick ass…" The door dings, and he puts a hand on it again, letting her lead the way once more, "There somethin' else you wanted to be, though?"

Barbara starts to laugh softly inside the quiet, closed space of the elevator. She reaches up, hooking both hands at the back of her neck. Frank's question prompts deeper thinking — but it's almost wistful thinking, too. She looks up at him through the light fall of her red hair. "I don't know. I think I always wanted to be a vigilante… or at least the moment I saw Dad and Batman working together. Being a cop was, at first, doing what I thought was the right thing… but Dad hated it. Uncle Harvey really tried to talk him through the idea, and then gave me such a hard time when I dropped out of Barnard and came back to Gotham." She looks up at him when the doors open, and she steps out onto the quiet first floor of the library. She glances out beyond the back office toward the stacks, and she pauses for a heartbeat to look at Frank once more. "A librarian was just… safe, I guess. It wouldn't worry Dad, wouldn't cause a huff… has reasonable hours… and lots of resources… and I like books. Some people would call me a book worm, but I'm really more of a book wyrm." She emphasizes the last word, and then follows up with a sheepish: "Dragon reference." Then she pushes forward, leading him back to the staff-only entrance. "Batman offered me this, I took it, and I guess I've made my life fit around it."

Frank watches her through that soft laugh, and he nods slightly. "Not many folks grow up wantin' to be a cape, Red." A chuckle rises thought his throat to his nose, and he smirks, "You might be a little fucked up." That's a pot knowing he's pitch black when he calls the kettle a little dark. He exits the elevator, pausing as she does, "Yeah, there ain't many other jobs safer than 'librarian.' Makes people think of cat-eye glasses, button-up shirts, and hair up in a bun." The word-play causes Frank to frown in confusion, obviously not up on the important differences between wyrms and worms, or how it relates to dragons at all. That doesn't stop him from heading for the door with her, "Well, you seem to have found your place, Red. However it happened."

"Name one person who isn't fucked up… in their own way." Barbara sets him with a dubious look that clearly states: Including You, Castle. Then she falls into stride with him, hands slipping into the pockets of her jacket once more. She glances to him, catching the look of confusion and then she shrugs. "Type of dragon," she explains, albeit a bit lamely. She makes a note to slip a book from the Fantasy genre in Castle's bag next time. He'd know about dragons if it was a tactical requirement. If only he had a chance to battle the demon dragon in New York City, then knowing everything about dragons would be a must. Then she laughs at his description of a librarian. "I wear glasses… just not often. It isn't exactly compatible with being Batgirl to wear spectacles… definitely a safety concern." She smiles ruefully at him. "But I think I could pull that look off… maybe when I'm done with the vigilante gig."

Frank is pretty sure some of the larger weaponry from the Blacksmith's stash could have dealt with the dragon if it had to. He's also no Bard the Bowman. He nods his acceptance of her explanation, then glances aside at her when she mentions glasses, "Contacts? Or are the glasses for reading?" Attempting to answer his own question, he powers on, "There's basketball players who where these sports-glasses…" And then he stops and considers her for a moment, "Yeah, I bet you could. How's the vigilante retirement package, by the way?" Which might be his round-about-ish way about asking about her long-term plans, even if he has zero.

"Reading, but I still wear contacts… I'm a detective. I always have to be able to read the fine print." Then Barbara steps out into the cool — almost chilly — Gotham night. Her shoulders tighten up a bit under the abrupt change, and she shivers a bit beneath her jacket. Time for layers, girl. She glances slightly toward him at his comment about basketball players, and she smiles ruefully. "Not my jam." Her chin drops slightly when he mentions retirement package, and she shrugs. "If I live to see that… I guess I'll just do the library thing full time. I don't know… Bats has been doing this for a long time…" A long, lonely time..

Frank hunches his shoulders too as the cool Gotham night settles around them, digging his hands further into his pockets. "Yeah, it'd kinda ruin the whole cowl look, wouldn't it?" He hesitates a moment, and then he shucks off his jacket, offering it out to her and leaving him in his hoodie and watch cap. "Yeah. Pretty sure that you'd be bored as hell just doin' the library thing, wouldn't you?" There's a little chuckle behind the words, and he nods in the direction of the parked bike, "Lemme guess, you got another helmet with you 'cause you were gonna be DD if you needed to."

Her thoughts are elsewhere — thinking about the life she could have lead and the life she could lead later. She almost misses the offer of the jacket. In fact, it's mere presentation stumps her a moment. Then she is gently taking the jacket from him, and she smiles a silent thanks to him. She eases on the jacket, encompassing herself in warmth and the scent of Frank. Then she is falling into stride with him, drawing the collar up around her jaw. "You're probably right." The words are almost half-whispered. Then she glances toward the bike at his gesture, and she tilts her head back toward him. "Oh no… you definitely do not offer to be a DD to drunks on a motorcycle. You call them a cab." Then she shakes her head slightly. "I always keep a spare… never know when Frank Castle is going to need a ride to the train station because he just can't get enough of Gotham City."

The chill leeches through Frank's hoodie, and he shoves his hands into his pockets after Babs takes the jacket. "Oh…" he considers that for a moment, "Yeah. Wild leaning and yelling." Her actual reasoning causes him to blink, and then chuckle, shaking his head, "Hey, you came up to New York when there are demons. Least I can do is come down for a bout or two and your birthday." Rolling his shoulders inside the hoodie, he adds, "I deserve somethin' for making the trip though. And for spending time here." He gives a little sniff, "Smells like Jersey here."

"That's because it is Jersey, Castle." Barbara takes out her keys, and she unlocks her helmets and gear. Then she turns slightly toward him, and a warm smile fills her lips and incites those dimples. "You get to be around me," she teases. "Or is that not enough to justify you coming over to Jersey." Then she thrusts the helmet into his chest even while her smile does not falter. Then she turns to get her own helmet tapped down over her head and secures it under her chin.

Frank grunts as he takes the helmet, "Hell, Red. That's the only thing that gets me over here." He pauses as he pulls it on and gives it a little tap with the heel of his hand. "Well, you and targets. Now that you ain't trying to blow my fuckin' head off with those 'rangs of yours." He's grinning, teasing her back even if it's quieter. Waiting for her to get onto the bike, he swings a leg over and settles in after her, reaching for the sides of his jacket, "That was less fun."

He can't see the way she smiles, but she smiles warmly at that. She ducks her head slightly in an unmistakable shyness. Then she swings up into the saddle of her motorcycle, and adjusts it before he swings into the seat with her. She looks over her shoulder, waiting for him to give her the signal that he's set. It also gives her a chance to offer a reply: "I didn't exactly like trying to take you out either, Castle." Then she kicks the throttle, and starts to push off from the sidewalk curb.

Frank gives a little thump on the top of Barbara's helmet as she ducks her head, just a little 'dap.' When she glances back, he gives her side a tap, grasping onto her borrowed jacket. "Bullshit, Red. I think you like the challenge." And then the roar of the engine cuts off conversation, and he ducks down low behind her to lessen the wind tugging at his torso.

Frank's words cause a warm smile to tug at her lips. Then she is focused on the road, dodging along the traffic toward the train station. She feels the weight of him against her, and it keeps her grounded as they travel through the quiet Gotham streets. Once she gets to the lot, she claims a parking spot at the back. It's half-empty, but she still chooses the furthest spot, perhaps because there's less light and it gives Frank more terrain to maneuver in case something goes sideways. She kills the engine, kicks the kickstand down, and then looks over her shoulder as she tugs off her helmet. "You were a pain in the ass… that's for sure."

Good sightlines too. Easy to see anyone approaching. It's appreciated, and Frank pats Barbara's shoulder once before he climbs off the back of the motorcycle. "Was?" Pulling off the helmet, he hefts it for a moment, and then offers it out. Once she takes it, he puts a hand on her upper arm, then steps close, "Happy birthday, Red." Ducking a little, he aims to press his lips to her forehead briefly before loosing her arm and turning to walk toward the train station. He has, apparently, either completely forgotten that she's still wearing his jacket, or has decided to let her wear it home.

"Was." It's a soft declaration, and she's smiling again as he hands back the helmet. She is about to say something more until Frank is scuffing forward across the lot and leaning in toward her. She tilts her head up, but not enough to interrupt the kiss. Her eyes close, and she breathes a slow exhale. Then she smiles and nods. "Thanks, Frank." She doesn't notice the jacket either until he's almost to the other side of the parking lot, which is when she starts to call after him. Then stops. She is left wondering if he meant to leave it with her… or not.

Most of the way across the parking lot, Frank Castle pulls up his hoodie over his watch cap, tucking his hands deep into his pockets and hunching against the chill of the autumn night. His head is bowed as he fades into what passes for a crowd at the main Gotham station after midnight, taking advantage of the fact that New Yorkers and Gothamites alike don't generally look their fellow humans in the face. The pretty solid beard he's got going on now helps.

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