Roommate Squabbles
Roleplaying Log: Roommate Squabbles
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Frank drops by with a book for Babs, and gets caught up in an unexpected roommate squabble.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 06, 2018
IC Location: Sherwood Florists, Gotham
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 07 Dec 2018 05:05
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 (ish)
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: None
Associated Plots

Frank Castle didn't just show up at the house behind Sherwood Florists, he called first. He's not going to break Dinah's rule without running it by Babs first. So the women have several hours' warning before he arrives well after working hours, via train and then cab. He's wearing his warm winter coat again, with the hoodie on underneath and the watch cap under the hood, plus thick jeans and combat boots. He's still got the backpack, but at least without the trench coat he doesn't look like a disaffected teen looking for somewhere to cause problems. Keeping his head low, he moves around the florist's toward the turreted house, looking up briefly and shaking his head in amusement before he makes his way up the drive and rings the doorbell. To those who know the signs, his movements are those of someone who with some nice solid bruising on various limbs and parts of his torso, maybe even a bruised rib or slash or three. The bruising on one cheek and the black eye on the opposite side of his face tell the same tale.

Dinah's house is in full Christmas swing. Lights on the eaves, decorations waving from static positions in the windows. There's a menorah flickering in the corner parapet. Gotham's a diverse city, after all. There are even stuffed candycanes decorating the walk up to the door, though the high, sharp chainlink fence around the property tempers the homey feeling.

Dinah opens the door on the knock, face guarded and a little set. She's wearing warm winter tights and a red/grey plaid skirt, and heavy black boots laced up to her upper calf. The boots are absolutely for the winter air and have nothing to do with needing to feel a little taller with Castle coming by. Shrugged into a heavy sweater, she folds her arms across her stomach and eyes Frank, then tilts her head and steps out of the doorway. "Well, don't stand there freezing," she sighs at him. "C'mon in and get warm." She closes the door behind him, hugging her stomach, and gives him a look that's warily neutral. "You, uh… want a drink or something? Or an icepack?" She squints closer. "Tylenol-3?"

Barbara would have gotten the door, but she's getting dinner out of the oven with two heavy oven-mits. The smell of homemade lasagna wafts from the room, and the redhead is calling out to the front: "Don't let her bully you, Frank!"

Then she grabs up Dinah's forgotten wine glass, and two large cups of water — everything balanced neatly together — and heads into the front room. Frank isn't the only one moving a bit tenderly, a slight limp to her steps as she enters the front room in fleece-lined leggings and sweater. She steps up to Dinah to hand her the wine glass, and then nods Frank in. She hesitates, looking over the man, and then echoes her friend's own concerns, but her voice is a bit more worried. "Icepack? Tylenol?"

Frank pulls his hands from his pockets to carefully spread them to his sides when the door opens to reveal Dinah. His face also shifts from a burgeoning smile to a faint scowl. "Sorry. I called ahead." 'I'm respecting-ish your rule about not coming by,' his tone says. Ish. Very ish. Stepping inside, he rubs his hands together and glances around the explosion of holiday spirit. He might be expected to scowl deeper, or to grumble something grinchy. Instead his smile returns, some tightness leaving his chest. He can recognize when something goes beyond a house and becomes a home. Right, there was an offer in there, and it's repeated as he nods a grin to Barbara as well, "Oh, thanks. Naw. I don't like painkillers. And I ain't supposed to let you bully me." He looks between Dinah and Barbara a moment, hesitating, then just steps forward a little to put a hand on Babs's elbow and squeeze lightly, "It's been a couple of days, I'm fine." Inside, the bruising on his cheek is that startling purple-y yellow of an aging bruise. About the same age as those the Birds of Prey are sporting. "A.C. went okay, or you two'd be hurtin' more than just Red's limp." There's a little lift at the end, a slight question.

"Yeah, I know you called ahead," Dinah tells Frank, with a 'duh' implied in her voice and a smile that tempers it. A faint smile. "Babs told me." The redhead pads up and Dinah reaches for her glass. "Thanks sweetie," she murmurs, taking the wineglass from Barbara and cradling it in both hands to take a sip.

"Barbara got a boo-boo~," Dinah sings, and prods Frank with a nudge of her fingertips to move forward. "C'mon. We just got dinner going. You might as well sit and eat," she says.

On the way to the dining room, she retrieves a bottle of painkillers that say 'Made in Canada' on the label, and shakes out two for Barbara. A third plate and some utensils are set at the table, and then she sets two pills pointedly in the middle of the plate as well, whether or not Frank wants them.

It's a modest table, really just big enough for a family of four. Dinah wriggles into a chair, sitting with her legs folded under her, and starts dishing up food for the other two before serving herself. "Mmm, god I love lasagna," she mutters, mostly to herself.

Barbara fixes Dinah with an exasperated look when Frank mumbles about following her rules. "Di, cm'on. He's not here to cause us trouble. Frank told me he was stopping by." Then she looks to the Punisher with a little tilt of her head, tucking a bit of forelock back behind her ear. The squeeze to her elbow is returned to his own in what could be a quiet, steadying greeting between the two. The reassurances that he's fine has her frowning slightly all the same. "You… totally went in after the Whispers, didn't you? Frank…" A sigh escapes her lips, and her shoulders sag just a bit before she then nods after Dinah, tugging Frank into the house. "Just set your jacket anywhere."

She narrows a look at Dinah at the sing-songing tease, and she snorts. "I'll give you a boo-boo." Then she takes the offered pain killers — and puts one back. Then she's easing herself into a chain, mindful of her aches and pains and obvious wounds. "Yeah, it went alright in A.C., no major injuries across the board, really. Grabbed a few more clues to what's going on there, as well."

"Yeah, I got a few too," Frank notes, obviously, for Dinah. "She's a big girl, and can handle herself." Plus, he just went and smacked the Whispers in the nose with a rolled up newspaper made of knock-out gas, bullets, and boomerangs, and that makes him feel a lot better. That doesn't stop the worried glance down to Barbara's leg before he realizes he's being rolled in for dinner too. "I wasn't tryin' to intrude." Obviously. "I just wanted to drop off a book for Babs." Still, he lets himself be led into the house, dropping off the backpack and his jacket neatly on a chair on the way to the dining room. "But thanks. Looks good. And I'm not sayin' that I went after the Whispers, but maybe a couple of us figured they should know they can't come after capes." Even if the capes came after them first.

Settling into a chair, Frank draws in a heavy breath and lets it out again, only wincing a little, "Damn… is that real home-made? Smells great." If the earlier compliment was pro-forma, that one sounds like it comes from the heart. And then he gets back to it, "Way I heard it, the Whispers got hit by incap agents," that's military-speak for knock-out gas, "less-than-lethals," rubber bullets, "and other non-lethal stuff. At least at first." The two tylenol on the plate are given a glance, Dinah is given another one, and then he carefully sets them alongside his water glass. They're not refused, not exactly but he's not exactly knocking them back yet either.

Dinah, unphased by Barbara's reprimand, gives the redhed a pointed look when the pills is set aside. "Hey. I'm watching you." She eyepoints from herself to the pills to Barbara to herself to the pill. "You gotta stay ahead of the pain or you're gonna end up hurting way more later," she reminds her.

Dinah reaches for her fork and starts dissecting her food into three neat piles— beef, pasta, sauce/cheese. "Sounds like the Whispers got hit pretty hard coming and going," Dinah says thoughtfully, and scoops up a bit of each portion on her fork and takes a bite. "Question is, did we hit them hard enough to shut them down for a bit? Or are they just licking wounds and plotting their next big thing?"

Barbara shoots Frank a look. "I thought that's what the Birds were doing." There's some hint of fire in those words — a very tempered fire that doesn't burn, but definitely threatens. The accusation is also not terribly fair, but she doesn't have the time to think that through. They were in Atlantic City to figure out what the Whispers were doing, not exactly to physically admonishment the gang for their earlier beatdown.

The wince of Frank getting into his seat has her giving him a tilted, serious look again. Then she breathes out a slow exhale, and reaches to get her own plateful of food. At his complimenting question, Babs nodded. "Learned it from one of Dinah's boyfriends." She smiles ruefully to her friend before she settles with her food, leaning back in her chair a bit. She catches the pointed look, holds up a hand, and nods. "I'll take the second one after food, alright?" Which also gives her some time to see if Dinah forgets she's only taken a half-dose.

Dinah's own thoughtful add to the Whispers getting double-hit has Barbara shrugging slightly. "My guess? The latter… it's always the latter."

Frank eats in one pile, the one going into his mouth. He has an efficient way of eating that keeps his fork moving pretty much all the time, while still somehow leaving him time to talk. It helps that he doesn't talk all that much. Barbara's angry bite gets a shrug out of him, "You deal with the bigshots, but the folks who did the stabbing," he glances to Dinah, "and beating, still needed a lesson, yeah?" He wasn't just worried about warning the Whispers off from stabbing Batgirls, really. To Barbara's claim of where she learned the recipe, he glances at Dinah, then back to Babs and notes far-too-idly, "I thought you said she had bad taste in men?" Of course, Babs said no such thing. He lets Barbara answer Dinah's question first, having another couple of bites, then puts in his own opinion, "It's always gonna be playin' whack-a-mole, isn't it? Just a question of hittin' 'em hard enough that they stay down."

Dinah doesn't rise to Frank's bait, moving her food from the three little piles into a reconstructed forkful and taking a demure bite in relatively silence. "My taste in men /is/ terrible. It's my taste in *women* that keeps getting me in trouble, though," she tells Frank, and fairly bats her eyelashes at him with a demure modesty that looks like she's practiced it in front of the mirror In Case of Nuns.

Pointedly, a line like 'she's one to talk' is left unspoken aside from a flickering lift of an eyebrow in Barbara's direction when Frank digs into his plate like a soldier again.

"Okay. So we busted up their little freaky magical circle, put the hurt on their leadership. I don't think we've done much to really cripple their organization though. It might be time to put pressure on their supply lines. Dealerships and distributions. Hard to be a criminal if you aren't getting any money. We just need to make it unprofitable to be a Whisper," she says, reaching for her wineglass.

The lack of rise from Frank is worse than if he had risen to it. She just scowls slightly at him before she focuses on her own food. Always a critique, she is disappointed in the sauce, but doesn't verbalize it. Dinah hates when she gets self-deprecating. She looks up at the words from Frank on Dinah's boyfriends, a mouthful of food being choked on before she manages hoarsely, "I did not say that!" Then she looks to Dinah, waving her fork defensively. "I did not say that."

Then she sighs heavily, letting the shop talk flow over them again. "Yeah… I've got John on that stuff." Then she looks seriously to Dinah. "But we will at least get the magic out of the gang. They didn't need new tricks." Then she takes another bite of her lasagna, interrupting herself only to take a drink of water. "They were setting something up in A.C. though. I got Jessica on it, but we might need more than just Jess poking around in her super detective mode." She taps her fork against the plate idly, and then she sighs. "The suit is shot to hell though. I looked at it, Di… I'm serious there's no recovering it. Might be time to take the new gear out for a test run." Whatever Barbara's new gear is, she hasn't showed anyone it yet.

Frank keeps from choking at Dinah's rejoinder, but it's a near-run thing, the veteran Marine pressing the back of his hand to his mouth as he coughs. Dinah gets a nod, acknowledging the point, gesturing to Babs with his fork, "She didn't," he agrees. He misses the eyebrow sent Barbara's way, but nods a little at Dinah's point about the job not being done. He glances from Dinah to Barbara, considering something for a long moment before he says cautiously, "Break up the Whispers, you drive them to other gangs. Unless you put 'em all in jail, or drop all the gangs at once." Shrugging a little helplessly, he adds, "You know I'll help any way you need it." A little grin touches his lips, "Even if it's just helpin' test your new suit. Gotta know how big a round it'll stop, right?"

"Do *not* shoot her," Dinah scolds Frank, eyes wide, and she waves the tines of her fork at him from across the table threateningly. "Don't shoot *at* her either." She stirs up another bite, and glances sidelong at Barbara. "Maybe not the worst idea to test that bulletproof liner," she concedes. "All I got were those carbon inserts," she says. "They'll stop some light bullets…"

"I'unno. Might be time to sell a bike or two and see what's on the market," Dinah frowns. "I know there's new stuff. All my stuff's like, repurposed motocross gear," she tells Frank. "We did the shorts and tights thing when we were kids, but I can't imagine how bad it'd hurt to lay down my bike wearing hosiery and jean shorts," Dinah says, shuddering. "God, I can't believe we got through our teens without skin grafts."

Barbara's brows arch up at Frank's offer, but Dinah's got this. Then she starts to laugh, ducking into her food as she does. She shakes her head. "I want to test it, but I also don't want to wreck it by testing it." She glances between the two, and then back to Dinah. "Cm'on, Di… I bet I could get some the Bat funding to help you out. Or maybe call in a favor or two. You just gotta let me do it." She takes another bite of food, and then finally gets back to Frank's offer. "Truthfully, I should give it some tests… I'm trying… something, um. New." She looks at Dinah. "New look that is…"

Frank snorts, "Hell, I didn't even shoot her when she tried to give me a concussion with those boom-a-rangs of hers." He breaks up the word to make it clear he means exploding batarangs, although he does put in, "Pretty sure she did give me a concussion." After that, he's willing to admit, "I did shoot at her then." Nodding to Barbara, he finishes, "But naw, I meant shooting at some extra parts over ballistics gel." Castle winces a little at the mention of laying down the bike with tights and shorts, "Might look at some of the ceramic stuff they're making for vests these days. I'm sure places like LexCorp and Stark have better than that, but it does fine for us grunts." He shrugs a little, "No rush anyhow. I didn't bring a weapon." Evidently the Ka-Bar half-hidden at his waist by the fall of his hoodie doesn't count. His brows lift a little at the mention of a new look, "Don't tell me you're gettin' rid of the cape?" That's too much to hope for.

"Frank, I weigh about a buck-twenty on a good day," Dinah tells their dinner guest. She unfolds and refolds her legs under the table, rocking back and forth to work her ankles under her knees. "I'm already wearing boots and a leather jacket, mostly 'cause I've seen what road rash does to unprepared riders. I ain't gluing ceramic body armor into my jacket on top of that— it'll be useless the first time I get thrown or fall over anyway, and it messes with my balance to have that much weight on my shoulders."

"And I haven't said anything about your terrible fashion sense for the last ten years, Barbara, so you can continue to expect me to not say anything about your terrible designs for at least another ten." Dinah blows Barbara a sunny kiss and beams at her like she just got caught praising Barbara's name in church.

"I'm not getting rid of the cape or the cowl. That's signature." Beat. "Plus, I made sure that the cape is still bulletproof. It's a Bats requirement." She takes another bite, this time slowing down a bit as she listens to the conversation. She looks between Dinah and Frank thoughtfully before she adds in, voice a bit uncertain, "They do have other material besides ceramic…" She then takes another bite. "And, um… I…" She looks uncertainly between Frank and Dinah. "Tony Stark, um… he offered me an internship. So, maybe I… have an in."

Then she hits Dinah with a slight glare, and she scowls good-naturedly. "Look, I actually totally cribbed my style from yours… purple motocross, yellow combat boots, and a cowl that doesn't cover up my ears. Having a harder time integrating the HUD this time around… might need to get Spider-Man to help me out with that."

Frank shrugs a little helplessly, "And it's all muscle. You torqued my arm good up at the docks." He uses two fingers of his left hand to tap at an unhurt part of his ribs, "I'm not suggestin' you go all KISS or anything, just some trauma plates to protect your vitals. Plenty of women in the service wear vests with plates these days." He gives a little dry chuckle, "But you two've been doin' this shit since you were kids. I'm new to it." Did Frank just admit that he's a vigilante? And then there is shade being thrown, and Frank covers another chuckle with the back of his fork-hand, glancing from Dinah to Babs and murmuring, "Shots fuckin' fired." Babs crushes his dreams and he shakes his head, but the mention of a Stark internship causes his eyebrows to rise sharply, "Intern, librarian, cape, derby girl, charity worker," the last includes a gesture toward himself with a hint of a grin, "You're gonna run yourself ragged, Red." There's concern there, but the lift of his brows that accompanies, "Would that mean movin' to New York?" is perhaps even a bit hopeful.

Frank's commentary on the bickering little exchange earns him a flickering stare from Dinah, lips thinning a little in rebuke. She looks back to Babs. Volumes are spoken in that exchange, happening in the space of a few seconds.

*Boys*.

Frank mentions New York and Dinah clears her plate with two fast bites. "Good. Internship." She scrapes the plate clean with some bread. "Well, y'know, there you go. Daytime shifts for Iron Man, nighttimes hanging with the Bat," Dinah says, voice Perfectly Even— particularly after Frank floats a move to New York. "You won't even need to hang around Gotham anymore." She gets up and retrieves her plate and wineglass, and carries both around the corner into the kitchen.

Did Frank just admit he's a vigilante? That gets Barbara's attention, and he's turning slightly toward Dinah with a curious brow arch. Then she's back to Frank, listening to his concerns about her and Stark. "Oh no, this isn't with Stark Industries… um, he called it Stark Unlimited. He said I could telecommute, and visit the office now and then." Perhaps misreading the hopefulness, the unmasked Batgirl shakes her head. "No, I got to stay in Gotham. This is where I need to be. He doesn't know why I need to be here, but I told him I couldn't move to New Yor — Dinah?"

Barbara's brows arch high at that, only catching Dinah's lack of tone and demeanor a bit too late. She is up out of her seat, wincing as she moves too fast with her hurt leg. "Shit," she breathes under her breath, and then steps out from around the table. "Di?" She takes a few steps toward the kitchen in pursuit.

The first rebuke slides off Frank like water off a duck's back, but Dinah's reaction to even the possibility of Barbara leaving Gotham causes him to set down his fork and get up himself, a slower rise than Barbara's only because he's not actually going to go chasing after Dinah. At least not directly. The wince and the curse causes Frank to frown, but he takes his time collecting the remaining plates on the table and starting to take them into the kitchen as well, "Pretty sure Red ain't ever gonna leave Gotham." That acknowledgement to Babs and reassurance to Dinah, "Here, lemme wash the dishes." That's maybe an apology? Penance for bringing it up? Or just politeness. "Still worried 'bout you takin' on too much, Red, but you're the best judge of that."

Dinah's scrubbing her plate in the sink, and the set of her shoulders speaks volumes to Barbara. It's a little too tense and focused, and when Barbara moves up next to her, the blonde flickers her cornflower blue eyes at her friend with a thin-lipped frustration and worry, along with probably a dozen other emotions all bubbling to the surface at once.

"I—" she's just starting to speak when Frank hobbles around the corner, and her mouth snaps shut with an audible *click*. "Yeah. She's always doing that," Dinah says, her voice a little tense. She takes the plates from Frank's hands and tosses the mess into the sink with a clatter of utensils and ceramic alike. It's not exactly fine chinaware, and she rests a hand on her lower back and aims the faucet hose at the utensils.

"I'm fine," she tells Barbara. She's visibly not, lips pressing together. A beat. She tosses her head back to the dining area. "Go. You two go sit, I'll… do the dishes."

"And don't forget your pill!"

Barbara's whole body changes, shoulders falling while her spine tightens up. She catches a hand at her hip, tucking a lock of red behind her ear. She glances back to Frank, and then to Dinah, and she steps up closer to the latter. "Cm'on, Di… I'm not going anywhere." Her mouth tightens. "I…" She's always doing that. Her shoulders sink a bit more.

A sigh escapes her lips, and she reaches out with her hand to touch Dinah's shoulder. "Alright… I won't." She feels the storm clouds gather up around her. She nods to Frank, frowning. "Hey, um… just give us a second?"

"Lemme get the dishes, Dinah. I owe you guys for dinner already." Frank watches the interaction, but apparently decides that discretion is the better part of valor, "Yeah, you got it, Red." He sets the plates and utensils down next to the sink and backs away a few steps before turning and heading back into the living/dining room. Once there, he heads for his backpack, pulling out a book and setting it at Barbara's place, and then moving back to the backback, where he lingers a moment, evidently unsure of his next move.

Frank is wise. Dinah's radiating a low radioactivity that intensifies when he crosses the sacred threshold into the kitchen. Nevermind that she can't actually cook anything that doesn't have '-roni' somewhere in the title, of course. It's a cop-spouse thing. One can imagine several generations of Lance spouses standing in front of the sink being equally passive-aggressive.

She starts scrubbing the dishes with a passive-aggressive lack of noise, focusing on her work. "Yeah, I know," she says, tight-voiced. "Just a job in New York. New boyfriend, from England. Old boyfriend just stopping by for dinner. Now you're hanging out with Tony Stark, no big deal." She mostly keeps the frustration from her face, though it's clear writ for Barbara to read as largely being inwardly directed.

"Go … go talk with Frank. I'm fine. I just need a minute. He's a guest," she reminds Babs. Another sacred cow there, playing to old rules about hospitality that was browbeat into both of them at a formative age.

"I'm not moving to New York!" The words are exploded first before she even gets a second to get her feet under her about the whole new boyfriend and old boyfriend, and she shaking her head sharply at both. "He's… Frank is not an old boyfriend. He's not a boyfriend!" She sighs out a deep breath, sinking heavily into the counter beside her. "And no one hangs around with Tony Stark. Peter Parker is around Mr. Stark all the time, and I can definitely say he doesn't hang around him."

She sighs out a breath, scooting in closer despite the aggressive dish-washing. "Come on, Dinah, please tell me what this is about? I'm not… leaving here. I would never leave here. Or you." The press of the sacred cow of guest-entertaining is met with a deep sigh, and she hangs her head slightly. "I'll go talk to Frank, but we're going to talk about this, alright?" She waits for any sign of a reply before she pushes off the counter and starts back out toward where Frank has gone.

There's Frank, trying desperately not to hear what's being said in the kitchen while still sort of hoping that he can hear what's being said in the kitchen. Thankfully, the sound of running water washes away most of the words, and then he gives the book a little pat and heads for the door after the first explosion about not leaving New York. Thankfully, that means that he's out the door before the explosion about boyfriends. He broke some rules of polite society, but sometimes you've got to break some rules to avoid getting in the middle of a roommate fight.

Dinah hears the not-conversation happening when Frank's not-there, and takes the opportunity to beat feet from the kitchen with a surprising lack of noise. She's just a flickering in Barbara's peripheral vision heading up the stairs.

When she's found, Dinah's in her room and sitting on her narrow single bed. In a profoundly childish gesture, she's facing the wall, ankles folded under her knees. "I told you I'm fine," she says, tersely. "Go take care of Frank. Or call John up, I'm sure he's grouchy and being a shit about something," she grumbles.

Barbara stands there, absolutely dumbfounded by the sudden lack of Frank. But then she turns her head slowly to catch the sight of Dinah fleeing up the stairs. Her whole body sags a bit, air escaping her lungs in a deep exhale. Then she slowly treks after her, sinking into the doorframe to her friend's bedroom door just as she lets all that out. Her head ducks slightly.

"Is that what this is about, Dinah?" She doesn't accuse Dinah of liking Frank or John, but instead goes for something a little more real. "Are you… feeling lonely?"

"No." Dinah passes a hand over her face. "Yes. Christ. I don't know," she admits, frustration edging her voice.

"I just can't—" She hesitates, then drops her face into her palms. She pivots on the bed, not quite facing Barbara, but at least not staring moodily at the wall.

"I remember when you were stressed about going to *prom*," she says, wearily. "Like you didn't have time to go. Now it's… you've got all these boys crawling out of the woodwork, and now a job with Stark and I'm…"

She hesitates, jaw flexioning but no words coming from her mouth. "The shop isn't doing… I'm …" she exhales. "I'm wishing I'd tried harder, I guess. You've got all these … everyones, coming out of the woodwork with jobs and support and money and gear. You've got boyfriends lining up starry-eyed, and now Stark's hiring you for some sweet gig, and I had to sell my '54 Harley to cover the property taxes last month." She presses fingers to her brow, staring at the well-worn hardwood flooring.

That sinks Barbara's heart, and she sighs as she steps into the room. She turns, and then immediately sinks down on the bed beside Dinah. She sighs, wraps a leg up with her arm as she snugs in her knee, and just looks at Dinah with a serious expression. "I'm sorry," she says after a heartbeat. "I'm really, really sorry." Her mouth tightens a bit.

"Look, I can't… I can't pay more rent. The library job pays shit, particularly when I got my own expenses." Because it may look like the Bat family takes care of everything, but there's a lot she has to fund on her own. She rubs at the back of her neck. "But maybe I can help you with the gear… and get you some support, too." She bites at her lip.

"No. I don't do charity," comes the flat, instant response. "I bought my own gymnastics gear, I'll buy my own goddamn armor if I need it so bad." Dinah's objection is fierce and instant, and fades a moment after it's delivered.

"I don't want rent money. Jesus, Barbara, you're my friend," Dinah scolds the ginger. "I wouldn't charge you rent if you tried to fight me over it."

She hugs her thighs to her chest, chin resting on her kneecaps. "God. I don't know," she repeats, wearily. "I'm just… I just miss it when we were both nineteen, y'know?" she exhales. "Before daddy blew his back out, or when your dad was bucking for Captain. Biggest things we stressed about was how to rope Dick into asking you out and which of the local car thieves we were gonna rough up."

"I guess I'm regretting cutting classes for cheer squad and gym practice," Dinah says, wryly. "It's kinda biting me in the ass."

The instant response is taken in stride, though she does look a touch reproachful. She turns in her seat toward Dinah, leg drawn up toward her chest lowered to rest alongside the bed. She looks seriously at Dinah now. Her smile breaks a bit, looking quite sad as she replies with a gentle, "Yeah, I miss it, too, Di."

Then she curls her hand back behind her neck, rubbing at the muscles beneath her hair. She hesitates. "You know, um… you could still do something. I don't know. Are you going to punch me if I suggest maybe some classes at the Uni or Gotham Community?" Because learning is Babs's solution to everything.

Dinah lolls her head sideways, giving Barbara a withering look. "I'm not gonna punch you," Dinah sighs. "I'm not…" She exhales, pressing her face to her palms.

"I don't know how else to do what I do, Babs. I'm not the school type. I blew off most of junior high to prep for the Olympics. Now I'm… doing exactly what I wanted to do most, and I'm a little old for the PanAms, and … I'm twenty-six and working at a flower shop to finance my nighttime crime-fighting spree."

Dinah palms her brow. "I'm sorry. I just… I know I'm feeling insecure. God." She sniffles, and laughs. "Stupid Dick, growing up and discovering he had a butt. Maybe I am just jealous. None of my exes or imaginary currents are showing up for Christmas."

"You could if you wanted… but if we're going to spar, let me go get my new gear on so we can test out the shock plates." Then her lips twitch into a soft smile, and she ducks her head slightly as a sigh escapes her lips. She looks down, listening to Dinah's words, only looking up when she tucks another bit of hair behind her ear.

"Di, we all feel like this sometimes, already?" Then she frowns, and scoots in closer to the Black Canary. She wraps her up immediately, pulling her in for a hug. "No, but you got me. And, yes… Dick's butt will still be around." She smiles ruefully, and then she shakes her head. "Really wish you'd stop calling Frank my ex-boyfriend." Then she kisses the blond's hair fondly.

Dinah curls into the hug, leaning against Babs, then slumps sideways and rests her head in Barbara's lap, staring at the wall opposite. "Current… not-boyfriend," she concedes, finally.

"Okay, fine, I admit he's got kind of a scruffy, hot-DILF thing going on," she admits, and rolls onto her back and rests the flat of her feet against her headboard. Her head rests on Babs' leg. "Soldiers are hot. And John is, somehow, *occassionally*, a little charming."

Her eyes narrow at Babs and she holds up thumb and forefinger a micrometer about. "A little."

"I freaked out when you started talking about the internship, and then he was all 'oh hey, move to New York', and I'm sitting here going 'this is the best I've felt in this house in three years'," she says, gesturing at the totality of the Lance estate. "'cause you're here. So, like, no pressure, but you're not allowed to move out. Ever."

Barbara starts to smile gently at the weight of Dinah against her. She loves on her friend, curling in close with their heads pressed together in a lovely mix of gold and red. She stays there, lost in the embrace, and then she sighs softly at the concession. "That."

Then Dinah is moving and shifting, and she curls back against the wall with Dinah's head on her leg, and she brushes the hair back from Black Canary's brow. "Yeah… I know." Her throat tightens a bit with emotions she holds — holds for Frank. She blushes slightly. "I don't know. The last time in New York was the first moment he seemed at all available. I don't know. I don't get Frank Castle, and then there's… John." She smirks slightly at Dinah's concessions for Constantine, and she shakes her head slightly.

"Look, it's just the way John is around people… I think it's part of his… I don't know… defenses. He can really be charming, and not a total ass, and I still don't know why none of you called him out on just chugging the bourbon that Dick brought."

Then she softens, and smiles down at Dinah. "I'm not going anywhere. I promise. Gotham's my home. You're stuck with me, Di."

"Ugh, ack, no, lame," Dinah protests, even as she wriggles close to Barbara and squeezes her hand reassuringly. "Stuck with an A/V club nerd like you. Fine!" she declares, pre-empting any objections from Barbara. "It's ok. Someone needs to show you how to wear eyeliner, and the virtues of bras that are not just beige and functional," she teases.

"And how exactly was that conversation going to go? 'Hey John, don't shotgun that two-hundred dollar bottle of bourbon until I've poured it in the eggnog?'" Dinah quips, playing with Barbara's interlaced fingers and waving her hand back and forth. "I love Dick but oh my god, that boy needs to learn there's a difference between sippin' whisky and eggnog whisky." She rolls her eyes with a sisterly tolerance for the well intentioned batling.

There's a hestiation, and she looks up at Barbara with wary and worry. "Really? You're not gonna pop smoke and leave me stuck cleaning up Gotham by myself?" she asks, with a worried vulnerability to her voice.

Barbara is all smiles at Dinah's loud and obnoxious objections, and then she's curling her arms around Dinah in a fierce hug, and she whispers, "I wish you'd stop raiding my underwear drawer. And then judging me for it. Look, I bulk-buy. It's cheaper. I've shopped at Victoria's Secret before. You want to know her secret? Her bras are EXPENSIVE."

Then she settles into a warm smile, and then she laughs at Dinah's attempt at the rejoinder with John, and she sighs out a breath soon after. "No." Then she smiles warmly at the mention of Dick, and she tilts her head. "I'll talk to him about it, so he knows his rules next time."

When the worried question is asked, Babs is back to leaning deeply against her friend, heads resting together. "No way, Di. I'm here to stay."

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