Not SkyNet, Promise
Roleplaying Log: Not SkyNet, Promise
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Babs is late for a meeting with Frank, and they make plans.

Other Characters Referenced: John Constantine, Dinah Lance, Tony Stark, Huntress, Owen Mercer
IC Date: December 07, 2018
IC Location: Derby Arena and Voodoo Brew, Gotham
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 13 Dec 2018 06:19
Rating & Warnings: Hard PG-13 or light R for language
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Frank pulled on his 'Lit Chicks' t-shirt over his hoodie once he got into the arena, rocking his team colors throughout the derby. The late arrival of Belle-icose, however, has him worrying and checking his phone every five or six minutes. There's also the nagging doubt that she will show up at all, that she'll decide to skip the bout either because she's hurt or because she's decided that staying at the greenhouse is more important to her. It's not the most enjoyable derby-watching experience, but he soldiers on, even managing to cheer when Team co-Captain Tess of the DerbyWheels pulls off a perfect jam. Still, his scowl gets deeper and deeper as time ticks by without any Belle-icose, and eventually he stands up from his seat, turning toward the stairs.

Belle Icose never makes her appearance with the Lit Chicks, but a redhead dressed in denims and a Lit Chicks hoodie just comes up the stairs the moment Frank turns toward them, with an almost fate-like arrival. Luck magic, that's when John gave her when he cast a bit of protection magic, and this is apparently how magic works sometimes. Or just probability. Barbara isn't sure which it is at this point, but what's clear, she really doesn't care. She looks exhausted, a bit raw around the edges, and emotions are held tight in her eyes. When she spots Frank getting up, she starts to beeline toward him. She only notices the dark clouds around him when she gets close, and her approach stalls a bit, slowing into a hesitant walk.

Frank often walks head-down, so he makes it several steps before he glances up — and immediately spots Babs. His shoulders slump in relief, his dark eyes studying her close as he continues his approach. Closing with her, he reaches out to put a hand on her elbow, squeezing momentarily, and then nods down the stairs, slipping past her so that he can lead the way and get closer to her height. He waits until they can duck out of the stands themselves and into the concourse beyond, then gravels, "Had me worried, Red." The relief is clear enough in his gravelly voice, but there's also a hesitancy there, lingering clouds of disturbance.

"I'm sorry." The words stumble out of her lips quickly. She sounds weary and wary, rolled together into a bundle of uncertain nerves. She brushes a bit of lock behind her ear, looking down and aside at the flow of people around them. Then she looks back up at him. "A metahuman crash-landed in the Narrows. I was there, trying to track this woman who has been, well… Punishing people." She steps aside slightly, turning to face him now that they find a quiet corner away from the crowds. "Justice her way. Then the metahuman crashed, and we both ended up in an alleyway. It got messy… it ran late." She shakes her head, looking more than a little self-hating. "I shouldn't have suited up. This was taped to my locker." She hands him the folded up piece of paper. In her Captain's handwriting, it clearly states: You're late. Don't bother. You're late again, you're out. It has been a really shitty night.

Frank shakes off the apology without concern, although the story draws his interest alongside his concern. Tucking into the quiet corner, he glances over his shoulder, then turns his attention back to the redhead before him, "Nothing broken or leaking?" Evidently he's not overly concerned about bruises. He's ready to follow up on the idea of a Punishette, but then there's a note being handed to him. He flips it open, grimaces as he reads it, "Shit." He reaches out, looking to enfold her a hug despite his own frustrations. The motion pauses halfway through being offered, however, leaving him a little awkward before he shakes it off and steps into the offered embrace. Fuck it, comfort before worries of relationship status. "Sorry. Looks like this is adding stress you don't need, Red."

"Nothing broken or leaking," Barbara says, a warmth coming to her eyes even if it is slow to heat. "I'm fine, Frank. Really." Then she lets him work through the note from her captain; when he comes in for the hug, she notes the hesitation and barrels through it. Maybe this changes nothing in her eyes; Frank is Frank. She hugs him fully, arms tight around his shoulders and head resting against his in a moment of connection. She breathes out a slow sigh then, and it chokes a bit with the threat of tears. She's exhausted, there's no doubt about it. Once he releases her, she slumps back into the wall, head knocking lightly into the hard painted bricks. "I should have known better… I can hardly keep up with what is on my plate. Adding derby?" She shakes her head, expression rueful. "Maybe I can just ask to be an alternate or something. I like the girls, I like the team."

One of Frank's hands comes up to the nape of Barbara's neck at the little choke, then looses her, "Guess I didn't know just how much you had goin' on when I suggested it." He looks up at a burst of cheers from inside the arena, "Bet they'd be okay with that. You're good, and good people. They'll want to keep you 'round." There's a pause, "Maybe wait a day to ask." Upnodding toward the nearest exit, he inquires, "Coffee and a beignet?" After a moment, he relents a little, "Or maybe not coffee. You look like you should be sleepin'." And there are people who don't drink enough of it to go to sleep right after putting the cup down.

"It was a good suggestion… a wanted suggestion." She squeezes his arm gently, trying to convey that she's not mad at him, or frustrated at him adding something to her plate. She said she wanted to do it, and she's done it, but the failure to succeed hits her hard. Harder than it should. It shows on how she wipes away a bit of tears gathered at her dark lashes. Then she nods slightly at his offer, and she breathes out a sharp exhale. "Tea and a beignet." She smiles wearily up at him, and then nods. "Lead the way?"

Frank nods, reaching back with one hand to guide her out of the little corner, but his hand stops short of actually touching her shoulder, and he frowns a little to himself as he catches up to her with two quick steps. His lips press together for a moment as he swallows down the words he had been planning to say. Instead, he just leads the way out of the arena, holding the door for her out of instinct. He's quiet for a few minutes as they get away from the minimal security still outside, "So you have a new project now? Punishette? Do your research yet?"

Barbara is painfully aware of the weird shift around Frank, and she frowns at it. But like him, she swallows down her words and lets them settle into her belly uncomfortably. She walks alongside him, hands sliding into the pockets of her hoodie. She wished she had grabbed a warmer jacket, but she does not complain about the crisp air once they walk outside. She takes a heartbeat to stand there on the sidewalk with Frank, and his questions arch her brows high. "Project, huh? Is that what you are?" Then she sighs out a breath and shakes her head. "No. I don't know how much I have to go on… she doesn't have plates on her Ducati. She's Italian. Her and Dinah were throwing insults at each other like I was in an episode of the Sorpranos."

"Pretty sure that's how I started out, Red." There's a mention of a Ducati and he shakes his head, "Yeah. That ain't so much like me. I've seen a Ducati. Once." Frank leads the way up the street toward Voodoo Brew, "Sounds kinda hilarious though." Crossing a street, he glances over to her, "You want someone to talk to her whose been there, lemme know." Shrugging a little, he adds, "Don't know if I'd help or hurt, but I'm willin' to try." Studying his breath for a moment, he looks back to Babs, "You want the jacket again?"

Then she sighs out a breath when he mentions the fact that he was a project. "You were a case." Though she's not sure that's any better even after she's said it. Then she smiles a bit wearily. "But I figured you out… found out about Maria, and Lisa, and Frankie. I made that my in… I could understand you, understand why. I don't have that with her… not yet." She follows along beside him, listening to his words more genuinely. "… You would talk to her?" Then the offer of the jacket causes her to pause, and she… sighs with a half-hearted smile. "No, Frank. But I'll let you know if I start stubbornly freezing."

Frank nods slowly at her correction, but his dry smirk suggests that that is, in fact, not any better. The mention of his family takes the dry humor out of the smirk, and tightens his eyes, but he doesn't fully withdraw, nodding slightly, "Yeah, gotta find the why. Because if there ain't one, she's just rabid." Her refusal to take the jacket causes him to nod once more, and this time his eyes drop down to the pavement ahead of him, "Ran into a guy doing some magic in your place." His voice is tight, the growl catching a little in his throat, which confuses him a touch, deepening his scowl.

Rabid. That's all she needs, all she could need. With the Red Hood running around, and now the Huntress… two rabid vigilantes is all she needs. Her thoughts are lost there, until he mentions John. That sends her straight back to Earth quickly, and she swallows down a bit of uncertainty in her chest. She lets it nestle into her stomach, where it settles in uncomfortably. "John." She ducks her head slightly. "Rumpled, blond, and probably rougher around the edges than even you?" Her attempt at humor is awful at that, and she smiles just vaguely. "He told me he was setting up some kind of… security system in the safehouse… because Gotham's learning magic, and that's really all we need." She hesitates, and then she asks, almost wearily, "Was he an ass?"

"Yeah, John." The humor causes him to shrug a little, and Frank nods, "Just wanted to make sure you knew what was goin' on." The question, however, causes him to consider, then shrug, "Eh. No more'n I was." Drawing in a slow breath, he forces something approaching a smile, "You've been holdin' out on me, Red. All this talk about bein' lonely, and you found someone." He's not sure why he's having to force the smile, and so he swallows it aside and allows something a little more natural to twist his lips.

You found someone. The words carry a weird flutter in her stomach, and she shifts slightly in her boots as they continue the walk to Voodoo Brew. She ducks her head slightly, red hair being nervously tucked behind her ear. She breathes out a slow exhale, shoulders sinking. "He's new." The words are quiet, uncertain. "But old. We… have a short-lived history back when I was in college. I went back to Gotham, took back up the cowl… broke up with him. Guess we're… trying this whole thing again… after six years." She chews slightly at her lower lip. "I wasn't… I wasn't keeping it from you. Not purposefully."

Frank nods slightly-awkward acceptance of the explanation, Barbara's uncertainty causing his smile to fade away and a slow frown to build. "Hell, if it makes you happy, Red, I'm happy." He stops outside the coffee joint, turning toward her and reaching out a hand to her forearm to stop her. He waits for a couple of late-night college students to rush past to Voodoo Brew, and then he seeks out her blue eyes with his own darker ones, "You love him?"

You happy, Red, I'm happy. Those words catch her a bit, and she looks at him just as he stops her with a hand to her forearm. The question he asks catches her off-guard, and she blinks sharply at it. "I…" Then she furrows her brows slightly. She searches his dark eyes with her blues, letting the question linger between them. She's actually thinking, not hesitating to tell him the answer she might already know. She furrows her brows as she eases a bit of lock behind her ear. "I could love him." There's something strangely thoughtful about that, almost like a hypothesis. "I could. But hearts are weird, strange things… part of his still belongs to someone else. A significant part of it. I don't want to love something that may not even really be mine to love. Ask me again after a little while. Maybe I'll have a better answer." She smiles half-heartedly at him, and in that moment, it's clear she's not sparing him, or hiding anything, or avoiding a better answer. That's all she has, all she knows, and she does not seem to be letting that weigh on her. Not yet.

Frank's dark gaze is weighty, even heavy as he listens to her answer. His lips tighten unconsciously, her words catching something in his chest so that his eyes drop away just before requests that he ask her again later. Breathing in slowly, he nods, "Probably a good idea, 'cause callin' someone your 'partner's' about the least romantic thing I can think of." There's a bit of snort behind the words, but then he nods, letting his hand drop from her arm, "You decide you love him though, you hang onto it." The words catch in his throat a bit, and he shakes his head, a flutter of confusion touching his heavy brows. "You don't get many chances at that." Then he steps forward, reaching to open the door to Voodoo Brew for her.

That draws Barbara's brows high. "… he called me his partner?" Then her mouth parts, expression turning into surprised thoughtfulness. "Knowing John, maybe he was letting you make the assumption, Frank." And Frank assumed romantic partner. His more serious words has her nodding, sharply and surprisingly accepting. "I will, Frank." Then she steps in once he's held open the door, entering the gaudy but fun coffee bar whose hours cater exclusively to this time of night. "I think I just need some tea. No coffee." She smirks. "Even if you're going to have coffee, no matter the hour. Beignets? Two?" She looks to be ready to pay.

Frank shrugs slightly, "Yeah, he did." He shrugs off the explanation, accepting it, "Maybe that's what he was doin', Red." When she starts forward as if she's going to pay, Frank shakes his head, "Oh hell no. You got the last one, Red. Grab us a seat, I'll get you somethin' to eat and some tea." There's a beat pause, and then he adds, "And of course I'm gonna have coffee." There's even a little chuckle behind the words, although it fades just a hint as he considers his reasons. Blinking it off, he waves her off toward a table, turning back to the short line. When he's up there, he gets a few questions about the fact that he's wearing a Lit Chicks t-shirt, and they're still playing, but his monosyllabic responses have a way of discouraging follow-up.

The dismissal of her attempt to buy them their treats has her nodding, and not at all debating it. She's tired, and is happy to not think about correct bills or change. So, she heads back to the booth in the back, sliding across it to settle deeply into the seat. She rests her head down on the table, her folded arms pillowing her head. When Frank finally comes back, she looks up, smiling wearily. "Some nights…" There's no additional words to that, letting it hang between them. Some nights… some night. Then she breathes out a slow exhale, and she curls back up, chin resting in her palms. "You still thinking about that little real estate idea I had for you? I got a few places down by the water we could check out when I'm up for Christmas."

It doesn't take long for Frank to get their order, and as he approaches the table, he lets out a little breath, a faint smile touching one corner of his lips despite the maelstrom of emotions rolling through him. Setting the simple carbs and drinks down, he rests a hand on Barbara's shoulder for a moment before drawing it back and sitting down opposite her. "Some nights suck, Red," he agrees. Some part of him might even be convinced that this is one of those nights. "Yeah. I do need a place. You're still comin' up though?" It's a hopeful question, "I mean, I get it if plans change…"

"Frank." The name is said patiently, but still somewhat chidingly. "You running into John doing magic in my safehouse does not change a thing when it comes to Christmas, okay? Dinah and I are really looking forward to it." There's honesty in those words, genuine appeal to reason. She even reaches for his hand, squeezing his knuckles firmly with her own small, but no less strong grip. Then she grabs up her tea, letting the hot water warm the paper and then her hands. She goes back to his earlier words, focusing on them. Some nights suck. "I'd like a night where it doesn't… feels like nonstop." She sighs out a breath. "I really need to talk to Bats." She chews wearily at her lower lip. "About everything that's been going on… Whisper Gang, you — need to make sure he knows you know the Gotham City rules, and all that — and everything else."

Frank lets out a little breath at her patient reassurance, and he nods, taking up his coffee in his left hand. He's about to respond when she squeezes his hand, and he glances down, nodding a touch as he returns the squeeze, "Yeah. Didn't figure him doin' magic did," he's not going to parse the possible double entendres there, "but I figured him bein' your partner might. But I'm glad you're still comin' up. Both of you." Finally, he takes a sip of his coffee, setting it down a moment so that he can pull out one of the beignets and shred a piece off. "You know its your rules I'm followin', right? Not some city rules?" He snorts a dry, tired chuckle, "Plus, you know, not havin' much of a list anymore." Shifting tacks quickly, he adds, "You gotta take care of yourself, Red. You run yourself too ragged, not even your fancy new suit's gonna help. Who you got coverin' Christmas night, for instance?"

The use of the word partner is odd and a bit off-putting, and she can't decide why exactly. But she lets it remain there, hanging like that one mismatched Christmas ornament that no one quite remembers how it came to be to begin with. She smiles when he mentions still being glad that they are coming, providing an affirmation that she needed. "Good, because I can't return your Christmas present, and if you told me not to come, I'd just use it to be the crap out of you." It's a nervous, defensive teasing that is followed up by a sip of her very, very hot tea. Then she looks up when he corrects her, and something about that brightens her cheeks into a soft flush. "Okay, but I'm still going to say that you're following his rules, because he might get broody if I tell him you're just following mine." She smiles ruefully before she listens to his worries on her behalf, and she nods soberly. "I know… something's gonna have to give." She smiles a bit wearily. "Just can't be the library. Income is a thing." Then she looks down at her Lit Chicks sweatshirt, tugging at the pocket. "I'll think of something… but your advice hasn't gone totally in one ear and out the other." The mention of covering Christmas night causes her head to tilt slightly, and her thoughtful expression turns grim. "Batman will do it. He's… there's… he doesn't do well with holidays."

Frank snorts at her threat, and then offers up a crooked little smirk, "So it's somethin' you can hit someone with then?" The blush spreads his smile further, and he squeezes her hand again and then gathers up a beignet and coffee alike, "You should eat." Her grim turn causes his smile to leech away slowly, and he takes a sip of the coffee, letting the artificial warmth spread through him in the wake of the warm little moment. "Yeah, I get that. I think it's goin' 'round." His intentions in taking her out to the coffee shop have melted in the face of her hang-dog weariness like snow in a blast furnace, and he gives her foot a little nudge-kick, "You'll get it handled, Red. Far as I can tell, you always do." There's a pause, and then the smile returns a little, "Somethin' you can hit me with. I'm assumin' it's not a mace."

"Frank, pretty sure we can both agree in this moment that you can hit someone with almost anything." Barbara's mouth twitches with a warm smile. Then she relaxes a bit at the squeeze to her hand. She settles into her beignet at his encouragement, and she tears bits off before she eats. She looks up at his nudging foot, and his encouraging words. She smiles at that, even if its tired. "I need a vacation." Those words are breathed out. "But, there's no way that will ever happen… except for Christmas Day. I think that will be a nice break." She looks up at him meaningfully now. Then she laughs at his attempt to guess his gift. "Nu huh… we don't play that game in the Gordon-Lance house… no trying to interrogate your gift-givers. You'll notice I haven't asked once what you got me for Christmas."

"Can and will," Frank agrees with a faint chuckle. He demolishes his own beignet, interspersing it with sips of coffee so that when she chastens him with her laughing comment, he nods, "Fine, fine." There's a long hesitation, and then he draws in a breath and lets it out slowly, "Need to delegate now that you've got a team, Red." And then he just hurries on, not giving himself time to second-guess, "You and Dinah should crash up in New York after dinner. I'll stay on the couch, and I'll get the bedroom cleaned up. Make it so you're actually out of town longer than you're drivin'." It's an odd thing to see Frank nervous, even if he hides it relatively well by simply pretending to not give a damn.

"You always crash on the couch." It comes out easily, and gently with a fond note of teasing. She smiles gently at him as she sees the nervousness settle around him. She doesn't get it, doesn't know why the nerves are coming through. His invite though is met with a slight nod of her chin. "Alright. I'll see what Dinah thinks." It is her turn to gently nudge her foot against his. "Hey… I'm sorry… about John, and coming late to the bout… I feel like I've thrown everything off." Her throat tightens a bit. "We're alright, aren't we?"

"Hey, this way she doesn't have to go ice skating if she doesn't want to, and can drink with dinner." Without driving home drunk is the suggestion, "Figure that's a sellin' point." Frank starts to shake his head at the apology, but subsides, nodding without any hesitation, "You can't get rid of me that easily, Red. I know you got work." Even if he got worried when she didn't show. "And John…?" He shrugs like he's shifting a weight from one shoulder to the other, "Just a surprise. Figured I'd've heard by now," his smile is a little tight, but it's there, along with a little chuckle, "but I guess I know where you've been lately." Upnodding a little, he shifts the topic, "So whatcha got on Punishette? How can I find her?"

"He's hard to explain. To anyone." It's a quiet, uncertain confession. Then she smiles again, feeling a bit more at ease in this moment. She curls her hands around the tea cup that is still amazingly hot. She digs out the tea bags that still float in the dark brew. She plops them on a napkin, letting the napkin soak and color with the moisture. She looks up at the mention of the Punishette again, and she sobers a bit. "The Narrows… it's where she has been the most… she drives around on a sleek black Ducati." She fixes Frank with a serious look. "She's fierce, Frank. And she likes crossbows. She's going to shoot you before you can get close if you present a threat."

Frank lifts his brows at the description of John, perhaps making a silent point, but at least not saying 'that might tell you something.' The same could be said about him, of course, but the view from inside is always different. Her description of the woman draws his amusement out again, "Yeah… and you and Dinah are wilting flowers." He shrugs through a chuckle, "A crossbow? Probably good I didn't bring a piece if she's on that much of a hair trigger." There's a pause, "That how you described me, Red? Early on?"

Barbara catches those brow-lifts, and she knows what they say even if Frank tries not to say it. It causes her to rub at the back of her neck, expression more than a little tenuous as she lets the tension settle around her shoulders. It never is easy. Frank's mental note is right though: he wouldn't be any easier to explain. There just would be a lot of guns instead of magic, which may be Frank's own saving grace. People understand guns. She looks up at his inquiry about how she explained him, early on. Her smile softens a bit, and she shakes her head. "I didn't describe you to anyone early on, Frank. I chased your leads on my own for a while before I brought anyone in. When I told Daredevil about you, I said you were hurting and mourning something deep. It was easier to describe you once I had the pieces. I don't know anything about her yet. I don't even know her name."

"Well, maybe I'll be less scary than you." Frank's slightly sardonic grin spreads in the wake of the comment, and he chuckles softly before he takes another sip of his coffee. "Your loss then. Missed the chance to call me broken, angry, dangerous, and deranged." There's enough humor left beneath his gravelly voice to suggest that he knows those probably aren't the words she would have picked, even then — or at least not all of them. "I'll see what I can do, Red." He lets a moment's silence settle comfortably, and then he lifts his brows in question, "So how else can I help your shitty night besides pissing off so you can crash?"

"No one is less scary than me, Frank." Then her blue eyes flit left and right before she leans in conspiratorially. "I'm Batgirl." Then she smiles a bit more warmly, and listens with a sympathetic ear for what Frank says. She hears the tease, but it's not hard to hear some of what is beneath it, just a bit further down. "Frank, I hope you don't think of yourself that way." She smiles to the bearded Punisher. But when he gets in to say he'll look out for Huntress, she nods soberly. "Be careful." With a sip of her tea, and chew of her beignet, she lets the tiredness slip around her. The question he asks is met with a half-hearted smile. "Maybe just walk me to my bike, and then I'll go crash." She sighs out a heavy breath. "Not enough hours in the day."

Frank chuckles at the conspiratorial murmur, shaking his head, "I know. Scary." He doesn't manage the deadpan all that well, with a little curl of a smile tugging at his lips. He shrugs at the expressed hope, "The first three woulda been fair. I'm workin' on 'em." He draws in a breath and lets it out slowly, "Sometimes it takes some time to pick yourself back up and put yourself back together, even with help." The warning gets a little nod, and he gathers up the trash from their meal, standing and stepping aside to throw it away. When he returns, he gathers up his coffee and offers her a hand up, "Yeah. Just make sure you don't crash 'til it's in your bed, Red."

She keeps her tea cup, holding onto it for a few more minutes to let it warm her hand before she looks up at the offered hand. She smiles, and takes it, hers strong and steady in his grip. She squeezes his palm gently before she steps in, and on the balls of her feet, wraps an arm around his shoulders in a tight hug. It's sure and confident and conveys her silent thanks for his presence, for looking out for her — always. Then she's back on her feet and stepping back. "I'll double and triple check that I only crash in bed." She laughs softly at that. Then her expression becomes bemused. "Should probably also check-in on the safehouse because leaving a Magician alone in a space could be bad." She smiles a bit ruefully before she starts to nod them to the door.

With hands full of tea and coffee, it's a crooked hug, but Frank returns the one-armed squeeze, touching his temple to hers gently for a moment. He steps out of the way and then leads the way back to hold the door for her, nodding his acceptance on her reassurance. The comment about John causes him to shrug a little helplessly, "It was somethin' with a bird and purple light and candles. Besides, cement floor, easy cleanup." Which has its own unpleasant reminders to Frank's own past, and he grimaces just a little, shoving one hand into his jacket pocket and taking a sip of his coffee, "Pretty sure it'll wait until tomorrow, Red. Sleep won't." Which is hypocritical as hell of him, since he's planning to hit The Narrows before he heads home. Of course, he's also doing his best to avoid the dreams that tend to wake him up well before his alarm.

For a heartbeat, she almost shares her worries about John with Frank — his self-destructive personality, the way he probably will set something on fire without a babysitter. But those thoughts carry a deeper unsettling feeling in her gut than she would like to admit, particularly to Frank. So, she just smiles a bit wearily, and nods a silent understanding. Then she's looking apologetic. "Sorry you came all the way down here to see me jam, and instead had to deal with… well… everything else." She tugs her hoodie-jacket tighter around her and then she nods them to the door, trashing her tea as they go. One thing that won't work is drinking tea on a bike. That's how accidents happen. "I'll be up your way in a day or two, though. I got to recruit Jess for a thing." Then she pauses, idea flashing across her mind. "Hey, how did the recon with the, um… our 'friends who don't talk much' go?"

As they walk through the cold Gotham streets, Frank shrugs at Barbara's apology, "Hey. Sounds like you needed a little break anyhow, instead of somethin' new piled on you. Glad I could help." He keeps his coffee in one hand, sipping from it occasionally as the chill robs it of its heat. "Stop by if you got time." And then she's asking about the 'recon,' and he clears his throat, glancing down, "Yeah." It's a stalling tactic, and not a very effective one. "Twitch and I went in there, started out with non-lethals. It was workin', then the darkness came back and they rushed us from four sides. I got a little nicked up, got a nice bump on my head." Otherwise known as a concussion. Castle clears his throat, "Twitch might've dragged my ass outta there. But they know they've been kissed."

"You're telling me," Barbara breathes out slowly, deflating into her steps as they walk. She tilts a glance toward him when he invites her to stop by, and she starts to smile. "I will. I just want Jess to maybe beta test my vigilante operating system." There's Frank's only warning flag that she's about to nerd out at him, but… it doesn't go very far. She's distracted by the news of how it went with Frank and Owen in the undercity. Her brows arch high, expression turning from tiredness to surprise and then worry. "Mercer had to pull you out?" She stops Frank with a hand on his forearm. "You're alright?"

"Vigilante… operating… system…?" Frank knows those words go together, but it's not an instant connection of how they go together. Luckily, she's saving him with worry, as he stops under the influence of her hand, "I'm fine, Red, really." Tilting his head back a little to let the wan streetlights shine on his face, he demonstrates the fading bruises around his eye and on his cheek, "Bumps, bruises, a couple of slices," he gestures down to his arm and his leg, "Nothin' too bad. Just got clocked in the head. You were right about the darkness. The gas grenades worked pretty good. Wouldn't have been a problem if we didn't get hemmed in." Clearing his throat, he tries to change the subject back, "So vigilante operating system?"

Barbara listens to his description of events, but that does not seem to relax her. She instead is meeting his eyes steadily after he shows off his bruises. Her mouth tightens for a moment, and then she breathes out a slow exhale. "Alright… but… you know to go to Curtis if something goes bad, alright?" Then she steps closer in toward him, encouraging them to move again. Her hands slide into the pockets of her hoodie as they walk, feeling the chill move around her. His question tilts her eyes up to him, and then she shrugs. "My friend Peter and I were working on this mobile system for cell phones that vigilantes could use. Things like creating support lists, and calls for help, and other things to help a street-side vigilante. I'm sure Stark has amazing systems for the Avengers, but not everyone can swing that kind of support."

Frank takes another sip of his coffee as Barbara takes her study of him and then starts them off walking again, "Yeah. I know. If I can't stop the leakin', I go see Curtis." He snorts softly, "Worrywart." Pot, kettle, black. He goes silent as he listens to her explanation of the VoS, glancing up to study the animation of her face as she nerds out. A faint smile sneaks onto his lips, and he nods slowly, "Yeah… I can see that. Maybe some kinda push-to-talk so you can use 'em like a squad radio. Make it easier to bring a team together on the fly." Nodding again, he adds, "Good idea, Red."

She decides not to overwhelm Frank with the details, but the fact that he smiles at her nerding is enough to soften her edges. Then she ducks her head a bit, tucking a lock of red hair back behind her ear. She nods after a heartbeat. "I hope so. We'll see…" Then she laughs, a bit of embarrassment creeping into her voice. "But it's also kinda why I want to take the Stark job… I'll have access to tech and maybe even be able to make a better system. I've been working on my Oracle Mainframe to help the Birds out." She hesitates. "It's an AI."

The hair-tucking draws a little chuckle from Frank, but he powers on, "Yeah, if you can get all the resources you need for your night-job at your day-job, makes sense." The mention of the AI causes him to chuckle again, "You're not gonna make SkyNet, are you, Red? I mean, sure, no one'd give me shit for shootin' Terminators, but I don't really want to live in a post-apocalyptic wasteland." He pauses a moment, "You and me, we'd probably do just fine though. Well, you would if you could get wi-fi."

"If Tony Stark hasn't made SkyNet yet, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to." There's a laugh in her words before she takes the corner, and there's her bike, parked in the shadows of a bus stop. Everything is locked to the bike's chassis, and her helmet stands secured on the saddle. She looks toward Frank as they step nearer to it, and she starts to chuckle in a soft amusement. "Don't worry, I won't send us into an apocalypse any time soon." Then she sighs as she steps in close to the bike. When she looks back up at him, she meets his dark eyes easily. "See you in a couple days?"

"Oh? Figure you're better than him," Frank teases quietly, "'Cause I'm pretty sure SkyNet was a fuck-up. I might've missed a couple of the movies though." The appearance of her sleek bike at the bus stop ahead settles a faint frown onto his lips, but he drains off the last of his coffee and tosses the cup into the trash by the bus stop. Her prompting turns him back to her, and he nods, stepping up and offering a brief hug. "Yeah. And if you don't make it, I'll see you and Dinah for Christmas. Get some sleep, Babs."

"My guess is the last Terminator movie you saw was the one from the 90s." That would be Terminator 2 for those who would rather not have to Google that. She continues to the bike, stopping only once she's unlocked the helmet. Then she turns back to him as he steps up for the hug, and there's a warm smile there as she returns it, keeping the helmet balanced on the bike seat. She squeezes him gently, and then she starts to gear-up to ride home. "You will. I think we will come up in Uncle Harvey's car, or maybe the train if you think you could get us at the station?"

"Yeah. Snuck into the theatre." Frank pauses for a moment, "Wait, how the hell old do you think I am?" It's apparently a rhetorical question, because he just lets it sit. The question about transportation causes him to chuckle a little dryly, "I'd pick you up, but I don't got a car. Pretty sure you don't want me pickin' you up in a hot car." His smile spreads, "Pretty sure no one in Manhattan owns a car. It's all from the other boroughs and tourists." He grunts, "I can get a… what the hell are they called, Zipcar?" Except those require credit cards. Which he would know if he'd ever tried to use one.

Barbara just smiles warmly at his rhetorical question, and she answers with a vague shrug. She knows how old he is, but she lets that settle between then amusedly. Then she shakes her head slightly, waving a hand dismissively. "We will figure it out. Dinah will probably be okay with a walk without complaint, or we can get a taxi." Then she gives Frank's forearm another squeeze before she sweeps astride her motorcycle saddle. Then she holds her helmet in her lap, and she smiles one last time at Frank before she ducks her head into the helmet.

Frank nods, "Yeah. Think between the two of you, you can figure out how to get to my place from the train." There's a bit of amusement there, and the squeeze at his arm and the smile sparks another smile from the Punisher, and he hitches up his backpack on one shoulder and shoves both hands into his pocket, waiting until she drives off, then turning and starting to walk toward The Narrows. He's got a Punishette to track down. Happy birthday, Frank.

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