Thai and Two Birds

October 17, 2014: Babs invites Damian to the clocktower, Robin invites himself.

Clocktower - Gotham City

A locally famous landmark, the Gotham Clock Tower is located in the Central Business District. Tours haven't run in years, though, since the building was bought out by a group of bird-lovers known as the Nightingale Society. Still, it's a well-known part of the Downtown skyline. From the outside it looks unused, but the clock is clearly maintained as it still runs on time, and now and again people can be seen coming and going. The bottom floor looks mostly disused, with a long hallway ending in a bookshelf full of coffee table books about birds. To either side of the hall are sparsely furnished rooms. The walls show illustrations of local Gotham feathery sorts, and charts on bird migrations. Cabinets store various bits of bird-watching equipment.

The doors to the stairs require a key card to access, probably to deter vandalism. The upper floors are only accessible by a secret elevator. The doorways to access it them the stairs have been bricked over and drywalled. On the living quarters floor, each door requires a keycard and voice recognition, except for the door to the training facility at the end of the hall, which requires palm, optical, and voice recognition. The top floor, however, is the most secure of all.

The pale glow of the four massive translucent clock-faces dominate the four compass points of the lair, casting everything in a warm light by night, and cool light by day. the natural brick walls of the buildings exterior are left visible on one wall while the others are painted a pristine white. The ceilings have recessed and track lighting, and the floors are smooth pale wood. There is a lounge area and even a kitchen, as well as other facilities here. The insulation around the top floor is meant to keep scanners and eavesdropping equipment from being able to image what's inside.

Mainframes and back-up generators line most of the walls in rooms of clear glass kept from overheating with with high-tech coolant systems. In front of one clock face is an enormous computer system laid out on a long, custom desk, lower than average, just the right height for Oracle's wheelchair. There is a command chair for use when needed, which slides on rails along the length of the desk. A huge bank of monitors are arrayed in a horseshoe shape around the desk, with the ability to form one large picture or individual smaller ones.



Mood Music:

The grey of Gotham almost seems greyer today. Thick clouds of smog have rolled in from NYC, leaving the threat of winter, dark, and death in its wake. For those that live here, however, it's just the change of seasons; an expected, and always anticipated move from the hazy sunlit summer days to the dreary, dark-enclosed winter nights. But the smell isn't something any can get used to. The pungent sent of sulphur radiates from across the water, permeating every nook and cranny of Gotham's old town.

The days have started to shorten.

While it's not quite dinner time, the sun has already made its way across the sky, threatening to give way to darkness — Gotham's veil that only increases its criminal element.

Some have already begun to fled the streets for the safety of their homes. Or, perhaps, for dinner.

Tim's internal monologue, however, is very different as he walks up to the Clock Tower with two bags in hand. One, a very brown bag containing the requested Baileys (WHICH HE IS STILL TOO YOUNG TO PURCHASE — Oracle is onto you, Timothy Jackson Drake-Wayne). The other? Thai food. Because he needs to eat before getting down to patrols. Which will happen. But later. After Thai food. And dark.

He strides to the door of the clock tower and punches in an all too familiar code, but pauses at the camera to hold up both of the bags: a peace offering of sorts. While he may not actually need to give the offered items of peace and friendship, he doesn't exactly like going anywhere empty-handed, less so when he's been a bit on the avoid-y side of things since the Gotham zoo.

The door is opened, the steps are taken two at a time, and Tim even welcomes himself into the control room. Although, because his hands are full, one of the bags is grasped in his teeth, which could be why, when he finally speaks, he mumbles, "Uh boufgth Tyee fud."

Oracle is in the monitoring room and as Tim activates his code, a small smile crosses her lips - she sees the two paper bags in his hand, Tim never comes without gifts.

Turning her chair around, she says "What a nice surprise, go put them on the table and I'll come join you" and then after a pause "We'll have another visitor tonight, I hope you don't mind."

As Tim is walking into the Clocktower, Damian appears behind him. In addition to his mostly surly nature, he does not often seem to understand the social queues of personal space.

Whether or not Tim realized that Damian is a few paces behind is not clear to the young Batspawn.
He doesn't wait for an answer to Barbara's question.r
"I understand that something is wrong with our ally, Vorpal. I have a package to give to him, I hope it will assist in his problem. Can you give me more information?"

He's wearing a drab olive coat over a black hoodie which he wears up and over his messy, long black hair. "I enjoy coming to Barbara's house," he says without being asked. "Thank you for inviting me."

Not even Batman can sneak up on Tim anymore; a fact that Drake is thankful for after YEARS of training, and so he does notice Damian is behind him. But it does prompt a question once the bags are placed on the table, "Geez, number three, ever hear of personal space?"

His head turns towards Babs and he shrugs, "It's fine. I'm not expected anyways." Because he's not.

He begins taking the boxes out of the bag, and, as usual, he's bought enough for a small army. Maybe he expects one?

He reaches into the other bag and sets the Baileys on the table. "And that's all yours. Despite my ability to get it, I don't," he shakes his head, filling in the detail with body language rather than words. "Well. Once I did." Pause. "Never again."

He treads to the cupboard of the kitchenette and takes out two plates. One that he passes to Barbara and one he keeps for himself. If the other Robin wants a plate he can get his own.

As Damian appears behind Robin, Babs shakes her head at the entrance. "You're most welcome Damian, I thought it would be nice to catch up." As Robin pulls the Baileys offering from the bag, she quirks an eyebrow "Better I not know perhaps…"

Moving her chair to the table, she watches as Robin pulls two plates from the cupboard and despite the amount of food on the table and asks "Is there not enough for 3 of us, Tim?" the tone is mildly reproving, even though her eyes sparkle with mischief.

Indicating a chair at the table, Babs speaks to Damian "Make yourself comfortable, we'll talk whilst we eat." Despite Damian mentioning the package for Vorpal, Babs is determined to do the social things first. All work and no play, or so the saying goes.

"It's okay," Damian says with a dismissive wave. "I'll not be staying lone. And I recently ate. I just wanted to meet with you for a few minutes, Barbara. It has been a while." It's not clear if he meant to stay longer, or if Tim's arrival is making him want to leave. In any event, he does take a seat on one of the chairs.

As always, things are bit odd about Damian. He sits perfectly upright in posture, almost robotic. His hands fold over his lap neatly as he turns his head clockwise to regard Barbara after he sits.

"For the record, I didn't buy it," the Bailey's, "as Robin. That's all the twitterverse needs: a photo of Robin buying liquor to go alongside the one of me protecting Not-Harley-Quinn from the Joker. I can see the rage tweeters now: will Robin's escapades cease? Along with his romantic escapades he has an alcohol problem." He smirks boyishly, "Will Batman send him to rehab?" His eyebrows arch and he shrugs. "Apparently optics are a thing." Who knew? Not Tim.

"Yeah… there's more than enough," Tim states towards Babs only to note, "but he tried to steal my girlfriend," labels may or may not matter here. "Guys that do that can get their own plates." He whistles sharply and opens each of the boxes of Thai food.

He takes one of the offered seats and serves himself some of the Pad Thai, coconut rice, and curry veggies before glancing towards Damian, "If you see Vorpal, please play nice…" he tries to keep his tone casual, but those that know him well will probably hear a hint of strain in his voice.

"It's Babs, Damian, just Babs. Can you try that please?" Babs asks the younger of the two men. She watches him critically before commenting "Do you ever just relax?"

Directing her attention to Tim, Babs face lights with amusement through the rant about the Twitterverse. "You seem to have a handle on that, then…" and then there's the comment about the girlfriend and Babs raises a hand to her and rubs her forehead firmly, a pained look on her face.

Finally, she divides her attention between the two men and after a minute or so, Babs picks up a plate and serves herself a small mix of what's on the table. She sits backs, eating her Thai and watching the interchange between the two before commenting further.

"To say steal implies the Spoiler is some piece of property. Which she is not. What she sees in you is difficult to understand, especially given you were hanging all over some slattern that was not her merely hours before going to see her. I was merely informing her of a few facts. If you have a problem with that, Facsimile, you and I can take this outside."

And then, as if nothing had just happened, he turns to Babs. "Forgive me, Babs. My grandfather always taught me that relaxing was allowing another to get the upper hand. You can never be sure when danger strikes, after all."

"First, I wasn't hanging over anyone. She was in love with the Redbird." Pause. "Which is the car, for the record," and not a euphemism for anything. Tim shakes his head, "Second, Spoiler was going to get the facts because despite how complicated things are I want to be honest with her. Third, I actually ran into the Joker with the Harley look-alike, and it was a problem," of course he didn't tell anyone he'd run into The Joker, which prompts the faintest flush of his cheeks and a clearing of his throat. His tone changes and he tries to minimize the thought and sound casual, "It's fine. We got away fine. The Redbird protected us from bullets as its supposed to. She was fine. I'm fine. Point is, my concern wasn't misplaced. The buses weren't running. And even if they were, she can't just walk around Gotham looking like Harley Quinn."

He rolls his eyes. "I don't want to fight you, Damian. We're supposed to be on the same team here. Twice over."

His head shakes then he refocuses on his food and shovels a forkful of Thai food into his mouth before emitting a small sigh.

Babs continues to eat the Thai she's served herself and looks at Damian. Very mildly, she says "You are a guest in my home, as is Tim, I would have you be courteous please." Nodding she continues "Your grandfather is technically correct however, the outwards signs of being relaxed may also draw your enemies too." and she shrugs.

Tims mention of his run in with the Joker gets a raised eyebrow but Babs lets it slide… for now. "I would prefer you two didn't fight each other too… particularly here, I would hate to make you clean up the mess you make." A few more mouthfuls of the thai and Babs comments softly "It really is like refereeing a family dinner."

"Damian, you mentioned a package for Vorpal. Would you care to share the details?" Babs sighs, as business is raised again.

Damian curls his dark hair over his ear. "You were acting inappropriately. That was clear and it was clear that someone was kind and sweet as the Spoiler should be notified. That she chose to do nothing is a testament to her mercy and class. She can do better and I informed her, and she wasn't quite as disagreeable as you might have liked. Consider yourself lucky you escaped with your relationship intact," Damian says in continual, robotic monologue. As he speaks he sits forward, growing more intense with each word. At the Joker comment he snorts and shakes his head.

"Communication is key to being on the same team. Twice over. I'm certain you discussed the matter with my father." The way he says father; he hangs upon it. "I'll be sure to ask him about it."

When Oracle mentions the package, Damian reaches into his coat. He produces a brown paper bag that he sets on the table. Inside is a large brick-a putty like material colored a deep green. "Where I am from, this substance has medicinal purposes. I hope you'll consider, Teammate, giving it to Vorpal at your earliest convenience so that it may lessen his suffering."

His eyes dart towards Oracle, "I think I'd better go."

Unceremoniously, he stands up. "Thank you for your invitation." And with that, he departs quickly.

"I was keeping a roller derby enthusiast from walking through Gotham at night dressed and getting shot while dressed as the clown princess. But okay," comes Tim's reply followed by a sigh. "I was literally taking her to her home. She didn't get weird until she saw the car," he frowns. And the notion of Damian discussing Tim's run-in with the Joker merits a roll of Tim's eyes. "Fine. Go ahead. Talk to Bruce."

The putty is met with a sharp draw of Tim's eyebrows. "What is it? What does he do with it?" Because this Robin really doesn't know. But even as the question is asked, Damian is leaving, causing Tim to glance at Babs and shrug.

As Damian walks away, Babs calls out "Say hello to Bruce for me and thanks for coming Damian."

Shrugging back at Tim, Babs goes for seconds on the Thai and raises an eyebrow at Tim "It's not you, it's him" is all she says.

When Damian is gone, Tim watches Babs carefully. "Are you suggesting I bring this on? Because I've tried very hard here. For months. He's hard to work with." His eyebrows arch a little higher on his forehead. "But I don't like him. He doesn't understand things. Like trying to turn my girlfriend against me." He sighs heavily and then forks his food again.

"And no one else seems to see a problem with his open antagonism towards me…"

Sighing Babs tries again "No, it's him. I see you trying, Tim and I saw you try just now. In fact, I'm pretty damn impressed with how you handled the whole situation. And I will point out, that I called his behaviour towards you, he just chose not to heed it and then left. Had it continued, I would have invited him to leave."

Leaning over, Babs reaches for Tim's hand to give a sisterly squeeze "What we do isn't easy, and I think you're doing a fantastic job."

The squeeze is returned and Babs earns a rather sheepish smile. "Thanks for the support He doesn't make it easy." Tim lays down his fork and presses his free palm to his forehead. "And thanks for calling him out. Honestly someone has to." He sighs.

The last causes his smile to turn crooked. "I'm trying. I am. This whole Bruce's protege thing isn't what it's cut out to be. Not anymore. I mean, there was a season when…" his eyes turn downwards. "I'm not ungrateful. I just don't want to be mistaken for Damian. Or fighting with Damian just to be Robin. And you hear him, he's Bruce's son. His real son."

Tim sighs and then manages a tight-lipped smile that never meets his eyes, "It's fine. I'm fine. Damian and I are just experiencing growing pains. Vorpal will be fine. Steph and I will be fine. School will be fine. Everything is fine."

Babs smiles slightly as Tim talks and then becomes thoughtful. "Well, proteges are supposed to outgrow that role, you know. It's not unexpected and no one will see it as ungrateful. Would you like me to try and talk to Bruce?"

There's a nod at the question. "I wanted to try, but taking about it," his chin drops to his chest. "I get tongue tied. And nervous. I know I'm not always the easiest to get along with or as open as maybe I should be, he is my family. Legally. And." He offers a one shouldered shrug. "Sorry. I feel like I've brought you nothing but problems lately."

"Advocating for yourself can hard, Tim and that's what family is for, to advocate for each other. You reckon we might do a family dinner here?" At the mention of problems, Babs nods at the food and the Baileys "That's not all you bring me…. " and the smile reaches her eyes.

"Alfred taught me never to show up empty-handed," Tim says with a lopsided grin. "He might not like me eating store bought mac 'n cheese, but he's good people." He finishes off the last of his Thai food. "Family dinner would be good. I'm sure you'd be welcome to come to the house too, if you wanted. I could try to cook, but would probably be shoed out of the kitchen." He wrinkles his nose, "How am I ever going to make Steph dinner if I'm not allowed to practice." He flushes again. "Sorry. I. I really like her. I'm going to introduce her to Oracle, like you suggested."

"If you think coming to the house will better, I can do that. Do you want to arrange it?" Babs tilts her head as she considers that.

Gesturing to her kitchenette, Babs grins "It's not much, but it is a kitchen. Come up and practice here. I've told you, your company is welcome."

"Yeah… come to the house. I'm sure Alfred would love to see you. And we don't get enough company these days." Tim pauses and then smirks, "All the bachelors living in Wayne Manor have probably got the neighbourhood biddies talking anyways. 'Course, everyone knows who I am. All adopted and stuff." Because when Bruce Wayne adopts a poor orphan kid, the media hears about it. He forces a smile.

But the smile turns more genuine at the invitation. "I'll take you up on that. It might not be very good. I don't get a lot of opportunity — "

"Practice makes perfect. I'm not much of a cook myself, but I manage. Come up whenever you want, you'll need to be ingredients though." That settled Babs leans back in her chair and picks at the remains of the food Tim has bought.

"You'll get that package to Vorpal, soon, won't you?" and Babs nods at the parcel that Damian had left.

Tim begins to tidy up his plate and he nods. "I will," but he pales some at the thought, prompting him to turn to the sink to fill the sink with hot soapy water. "I… don't want Keith to die," she can probably hear the frown in his voice, but when he turns around, he's managed to find neutrality in his expression. "It's not good is it?"

Manouevring her chair around the table, Babs heads to the Kitchenette and, after checking the jug has water in it, flicks it on to boil. Preparing two cups, one with coffee for herself and the other to be determined by Tim, Babs lets the silence grow for a little.

Softly she says "Dying… isn't good or bad. It just is. It's hard though, on those left behind. What Keith is experiencing is not good, but I'm confident that with the information I've passed to him and the rest of the team working on finding the Cait Sidhe, we will have a solution. Tea or Coffee, Tim?"

There's a small nod at the words, but more silence for a few moments as Tim processes that thought. And then he realizes he hasn't answered, and so, gratefully he shoots her a small, nearly sad smile, "Coffee… please," before going back to his work. He inhales a deep breath and then scrubs the plates before leaving them to dry in the sink adjacent.

It's only once the dishes are done that he picks up where they left off. "Death sucks," he states honestly. His eyes lid for a moment and he pushes off the counter back towards the table. "I don't know what will happen to everyone if Vorp…" he swallows hard and shakes his head. "I won't let that happen." Plain and simple. And no pressure.

Using the silence, Babs makes two cups of coffee and after adding milk to hers, balancing them carefully, places them on the table. "Milk, cream, sugar is all in the kitchen, Tim. You'll need to fix yours as you like it."

There's nothing more to say on the Vorpal issue, there's work to be done and done quickly, so Babs sits and sips her coffee, letting Tim drive the conversation.

Just black for Tim, which has him smiling faintly when he sits down again. "To be honest, what I know is so lacking compared to what other people know. I know you said we're extraordinary in our own right, but with stuff like this… I'm out of my element."

He shrugs. "Plus I can't imagine that a cat demon running around Gotham is going to be nice to control. Seriously." He sips the coffee and sits back in the chair. "I just want life to calm down for once."

"If you mean being out of your depth with death, most of us are." Babs shrugs "We each have to deal with it, in our way."

"The Cat Sidhe is concerning but Tim, isn't our lives just one thing after another? I think I would be very bored if things calmed down."

"I meant the Cat magic thing, but the d-word too," Tim sighs. He sips his coffee again. "And I guess you're right. I'd probably be bored too. I just feel so… lost, I guess, right now." He sighs and issues Babs a tight-smile. "Maybe I just need to let things happen. Stop reacting and start accepting. Or something."

"You're 19, Tim. Lost kinda comes with that territory. That's what Dick was trying to say as well. But learning to accept some things is a good way to start. Start with accepting that Steph is really into you, because it's you regardless of whether that's Robin or Tim. And the rest will come."

Babs cradles her coffee in her hands as she sips it, quietly watching Tim.

Even the mention of Steph's name causes Tim's gaze to turn downwards and his smile to turn shy. He sips his coffee, possibly to cover that same smile, and he flushes just a little as his eyes turn up towards Babs. There's a sweetness in his expression as his eyes soften a little more. "Have you ever been in love?" It seems like a weird question to ask and prompts his face to redden further. "I haven't. I can say that resolutely. But I," his eyes turn up towards the ceiling, "I think about her all the time. I wonder what she's doing. I want to know everything about her from start to beginning…" his eyes turn downwards again. "I want to be better. I don't want to give anyone questions to doubt me with her. Not even freakin' Damian." He gestures towards the door.

"I think…" is eyes clamp shut and he manages another tighter smile. "Bruce won't approve. I know it. But…" He sighs. "And we're in one of the same classes at school. Ironically, I wanted to ask her out before, when I didn't know she was Spoiler, before I met Spoiler, but didn't because — " his smile softens and he shrugs. "I'm me. I've got no game unless you're talking about my PS4 or computer. And she…" his shoulder slump. He hasn't voiced any of this before. Not to anyone.

Bab smiles at Tims discomfit - not because he's in discomfit but because she can recognise it. "Yes, I've been in love. Did I know it?" she shakes her head "No, not until much later. If you're thinking about her all the time and she makes you want to be better, as long as that's better for you, I think you're well on your way though." Compassion shows on Babs face "Who cares what anyone else thinks? You're your own man, you need to stand for something. It doesn't mean we, as your family, won't ask you questions but we, or at least I, will respect the decisions you make."

A sip of the coffee and a small wry grin "Women don't need their men to have game, they just want to know their man feels the same about them."

Tim listens carefully to each of Babs' words and he shoots her a flicker of a grin at the comment about the family. "I guess I just feel the weight of everyone's expectations," he shrugs. "But… I can't ignore how I feel about her. I want everyone to know her and her to know everyone." His smile turns shy again and he nods lightly.

"Is that true?" he asks at the last. "Because I'm not smooth. Maybe smoother as Robin, but not smooth by anyone's stretch of the imagination even then." He sighs and shrugs. "So. I should just… tell her how I feel?"

Babs blinks at Tim, opens her mouth and closes it again. "Do you meant to say that you've been telling myself, Dick and who knows else how you feel about Steph, and you haven't told her?" Taking a sip of her coffee, Babs shakes her head. "Um, yeah, you should tell her how you feel."

"As to expectations, do realise the expectations people have of me and this place? I feel the weight to Tim, it's the life we've decided to lead."

"Uh," Tim ponders the question before arching a wry eyebrow, "Kinda." He flushes. "She sort of knows. I think. I may have said something." His brain tries to remember what he did or didn't say. "I'll talk to her about it for real. Like. A real conversation." His gaze drops to the table. "Dick said I should get her an apology present for the Harley-lookalike fiasco," and Damian's evilness involved, "and I'm working something out. I — " his cheeks flush " — fixed her bike." He shrugs. "I don't want her out there fighting crime, but if she's going to do it anyways, she needs good tools, right?" His eyebrows draw together.

He sighs a little at the last. "Yeah. Just the weight of everyone on our shoulders." He shoots her a side-smile. "I hope I'm not adding too much to yours these days — "

"Make sure you say something definitive, Tim. Don't assume the woman knows howe you feel." Babs shrugs "That is a girl thing, we like to hear the words." Babs considers for a little bit "What did Spoiler say about the Harley-lookalike thing, to you?"

"Well. She slapped me. And told me to put the next damsel in a bus," Tim answers truthfully. "But the buses weren't running. So…. I probably wouldn't have done anything differently. Except maybe a cab. Dick said I live with Bruce. A two hundred dollar cab ride should be an acceptable expense." He shakes his head. "But do cabs run from Gotham to New York?" His eyebrows draw together further. "I haven't seen her since the photo went viral though — "

"For what it's worth, if you were concerned for the young woman then you did the right thing. If I was in Spoilers position, I might be angry until someone asked me what I would have done, then I would be embarrassed." Babs takes a sip of the coffee and raises an eyebrow "Get Steph a gift, but make a because you're special to me gift, not a oops I stuffed up gift, hmmmm?"

Babs earns a lopsided grin. "That's worth a lot actually. I'd have asked Bruce, but…" he frowns. "I dunno. That would take talking about Steph. And I want him to like her. Like really want him to like her." He scoffs, "Damian may be huffy about the whole Bruce-spawn thing, but I still care what he thinks." He grins easier at the last and nods, "Right. I guess there's a big difference between those gifts. And I want it to be the former. Not the latter…"

Babs grins "Well that's good then. You need to talk to Bruce, but lets see if we can do something at dinner together, hey?" Babs sips her coffee and tilts her head slightly "Feeling a little better?"

Tim finishes his cup of coffee. "A little. Thanks." He shoots her a flicker of a smile and walks his now-empty cup to the sink. He rinses his coffee cup and then notes, "I should get going. Gotta change and then go to patrol." Pause. "And then figure out a great gift for Steph." He grins, "Thanks Babs. I'll see you later." He treads towards the door. "I'll let you know how it goes. And introduce you. Soon." He grins.

Watching Tim leave, Babs smiles. It's the first time in a while the young man has left in a relatively good mood. Turning her chair, she heads back to the monitoring room and her screens.

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