Dinah: One might call it extreme willpower that had kept me from knocking Jr. off his bike and then leaving tire marks across his back. Maybe it would be surprising that I have that, given my penchant for skimpy clothing and outrageous flirting. And swearing. And maybe sometimes drinking, but those are all outlets. I’d always had a direction to channel the willpower towards, and then those where it was okay to let loose. It also made it a lot easier to lead the dual lives. The separation. It had been a little bit of that, the willpower. Mostly? It was just leeway. I gave it to him yesterday, I’m not terribly likely to do it again.
I was in his place once. It’s all going to hinge on whether or not he pulls himself out of that mood and into something more productive. It’s very possible he won’t be able to without some intervention though.
A solid, echoing thunk is the answer to my shoulder slamming into the door. It’d probably have drawn some attention if it weren’t for the steady thumping backbeat coming from down below. No one in the bar is likely to have even noticed and if they did, probably wouldn’t have paid too much attention. The Pretty Bird Bar has always been multifunctional. I just haven’t been terribly involved in the running of it since I moved out of the city. The bar portion I’d normally stayed fairly well clear of. Before I would have been out patrolling this time of the night, with the place emptying out by the time I was ready to crash.
When the beverages switch from booze to high octane caffeine, that’s usually my cue to participate. I don’t know how long I”m going to be here, so I’ve just told my managers they can continue to do their thing. Just that I’d taken up residence once again upstairs. It’s clearly in need of some cleaning, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Or to fixing the stubborn door that will recognize my keys, but not my authority at the moment. Not without those one or two swift body slams.
Tim: “It works a lot easier if you say the magic words.”
Now that only works as an opening line, if you’re able to really put something in to the statement. Me? I’m saying it from the vantage point of moving to catch the Canary, with all gentlemanly haste the next time she goes to shove a shoulder in to the door. If only because I opened it for her. From the inside, where I’d been awaiting her for too long to really discuss.
Needless to say, I’ve made myself useful. Cleaning. Mostly because there’s this little part of me that is at least meticulously OCD about being in a place with a thicker layer of soot than a chimney. Strictly speaking though, it certainly points to how long it’s been since the owner was about full time.
Now aside from performing minor magic tricks. Picking locks. And making with timely swash-buckling saves of damsels who were about to bite the dirt? I’m also fluent in the language of not getting my ass kicked before I get a chance to explain. So as soon as I’m sure she’s not going to take a tumble, I light in to that very explaination.
“No one knows I’m here. In Gotham or your Apartment, either one. I’d like to keep it that way for now.” Pausing, for nothing more than a heartbeat and a smirk. “Before you get to the grousing at me for breaking in, just remember that I didn’t launch in to asking you why you’re back in Gotham.”
Dinah : “No one really seems to appreciate it when I use my version.”
There’s a handful of actions and their answering reactions that happen in a very short amount of time. Surprise at the door moving, when I hadn’t quite hit it yet. For the third time. Third time has been the charm the other two times I’d come in so far. One to drop off my stuff and sleep after I’d gotten into the city, and the other when I’d trudged back in earlier in the day. Only the still packed bag, and the clean sheets on the bed, along with some footprints in the dust to show that I’d even been at all, because I hadn’t tidied up any of the rest of it. I hadn’t yet decided if it was going to be worth the effort.
The surprise is followed by senses registering that someone opened it for me. The next heartbeat preparing to block an attack, while stiff arming the start of my own, even as I start to pitch forward, into a body that’s ready to not just catch me but keep me from doing exactly what I was about to. Recognition, and a new round of surprise as to who exactly it is. So that the quip about me and my magic words comes with a half smirk, and eyelashes batted a la ‘my heeeeero’ at the boy who’s broken into my not-really-home.
“Want to avoid the jealousy? Great call, Drake.”
Feet under myself properly again, I move in the rest of the way to the place I used to live, that now I’m just going to stay in for a while, yanking the door closed once more behind me. It’s quieter inside than it was on the landing, but not by a lot. The bass is a little lower, less chest rattling, but still present.
“Grousing? You cleaned. You can break in all you want if you’re going to clean. Are you expecting accusations?”
I’m assuming he’s here for the same reason I am. Why he came here first, however, is the real question. Along with the one on the tip of my tongue that’s a sympathetic ‘are you okay?’ I’m not going to ask it. I know I wasn’t when I had to go through what these boys are. Only they’ve got the means to do something about it that I didn’t have at the time. I expect they’ll be using them.
“I’d say make yourself at home, but you already did. Drink? Of the non-alcoholic type. I don’t have anything up here but I’m sure they’ve got something downstairs.”
Tim: “Your version involves less bippity boppity and more &^%$ than anything. So I can understand, if not agree with, their displeasure.”
There’s not an ounce of trying to combat Dinah. At least not once she’s recognized the voice, which I’d made special to give her as a clue before opening the door. After making sure she wasn’t going to clobber an attacker, I was able to move a bit more smoothly in to setting her to rights and out of my arms. In a way it’s a bit of a dance, something to distract. On the other hand, it’s more for her than me at this point. Setting her at ease, quickly, so that we move beyond my breaking in. Of course, she doesn’t seem to mind that half as much as I was concerned about.
“Needed something to do while I was waiting and.. eh.. it was more than a little bit gross. Like. Totally, in fact.” Stepping mostly aside so that she can enter and take command of the apartment. Conceding that is something of a learned trait when it comes to certain personalities and also partially out of difference to this being her lair. Temporary or not. “Well that might be part of the grousing. You’ve currently got more non-alcoholic drink up here than alcoholic. But. Upside? Clean bedsheets. Focus on the bedsheets.”
There’s that smirk once more, however fleetingly long it remains before I get more to the point. “Less avoiding jealousy and more avoiding… well…”
“The truth? I’m wanting to avoid the pity party, at least for now. It might sound callous,” or perhaps a little too like Bruce. “But I’ll have time to mourn later. Right now, I need to focus on the investigation while the trail is at least luke warm.”
“That’s why I’m here. I want your help,” there’s a particular phrasing, the word ‘want’ instead of ‘need.’ “I can do this alone. Dick could do this alone. We were trained do this. The problem is? We need a team to get this done, but we’ve all been trained to be the leader. The only way this is going to work? Is if someone else brings us together.”
Dinah: Maybe if this had been a year or two ago when this was home I would have had a bigger problem with it. If it were someone else skulking in my home, cleaning it or not, it would be an issue even now but this is someone I know. Beyond knowing Tim Drake, he knows my secret, and I know his. Their family’s. If he was here to cause harm, there was ample opportunity. Plus. Honestly. The place looks nicer than it did before I left in the first place.
“The fridge, too? Tch. I’ll curse you later, I’m sure. Right now I’m still riding the hey, place is clean wave with a side of I am actually fairly pleased to see you.”
Not pleased with why I’m seeing him, or why I’m here, but it is what it is. Ideally that doesn’t need saying, but you have to learn the hazards of this life and prepare yourself. Maudlin as that sounds. I just never truthfully expected it to be Bruce that we’d be mourning. Especially without one of Gotham’s regulars tooting their horns from the tops of the bridges and every other platform they could manage.
“No, it sounds pragmatic. And the only thing worse than a pity party, is a pity party of one.”
It’s not an unkind smile that I offer Tim, before tossing my keys on the now much less dusty coffee table that rests in front of a well worn leather sofa, that had been bed almost as often as the actual bed once upon a time. Like the many nights when I’d been too exhausted to make it the rest of the way, or needed the space on said coffee table to spread out first aid supplies.
“Do you have anything to go off yet? No one’s been gloating that I’ve picked up on. Which is telling, just not immediately helpful except for crossing some names off a list.”
Walking across the front room for the apartment’s kitchen is an elegant if funny looking heel to toe shuffle that steps me out of one sneaker, and then the other. Barefoot is a much less disgusting proposition in here now, and even if I sigh over what’s not in my fridge, I still select a bottle of water before leaning on the counter, blonde eyebrow lifted in surprise at what he’s suggesting.
“Too many cooks in the BatKitchen? Yeah, I could see the issue. I ran into Damien earlier. Judging by the … defensive… mannerisms I think someone’s already tried to rein him in unsuccessfully. But that’s what I’m here for.”
The bottle becomes more gesturing tool than beverage, animated hand gestures and an eye roll demonstrating that defensive might not have been my word of choice for Wayne’s son but that leeway thing again. He’s only going to get it for so long, though. I’m not above a little physical demonstration of someone’s asinine behavior and it needing to stop. Sometimes, it’s all someone will understand.
“I think, anyway. Helena asked. I haven’t been to see her yet, though.”
He hadn’t harassed me about why I’d come back, but I supply that answer freely anyway. Which means she, too, is back. Just with a farther trip than I’d had.
“Moral support has a little different meaning for someone like us than it would to your average gal pal. And potentially more vengeance than justice.”
Tim : “Fridge too. Unpacked your bags too.”
Which is the only way I’m going to welcome her back to the City. I’ve put her things away. It’s as good as saying out loud that I’m giving her permission to stay. Although, I’m not one to say it outright that she needs permission. From anyone. Even if the truth is that she does. Without it she’ll be persona non-grata, which in this city is worse than being one of the Bad Guys. Whether anyone else has given it too her, I’m making in-roads here and banking upon the idea that she’ll want to do her part. We’re not speaking about it, but she owed Bruce if nothing else.
There is something ‘else’ though. Dinah has connections here and she isn’t immune to them like Bruce was. She hasn’t turned me down either, so there’s at least a foot in the door. Leading me to follow her, not too closely, as she pads along through her newly cleaned apartment. One might wonder just how long I’ve been here, because there’s no dust at least one anything. I’ve been busy. Whether truthfully allowing some OCD to take hold or cleaning as a means of staying busy, who knows?
“One of our contacts at the GCPD, gave me the names of the detectives working the case. I’m going to be paying the coroner a visit to get the reports. Unofficially.” There seems to be more to the ‘plans,’ so far, but I’m hesitating a little. Only to jump back to something she had said before. “It doesn’t take a degree in deductive reasoning to draw a line from someone trying to reign in Damian to it being Dick. But that just goes back to my original point. That means Damian is already on the defensive and Dick’s already on the offensive. Grayson is probably already back at the Cave with Al tailoring the batsuit for him.”
“If we don’t bring them all together soon, there will be no bringing us together. It’ll fracture. Quickly. Bruce is… was… a shatter point. Everything is going to go to blazes if we don’t bring everyone together. Get some sort of organization in the works. Mourning does strange things, it’s like a drug. Enhancing all of our worst qualities.”
“Erm… Helena asked you back? So are you her… or are you still with that girl with the bow and arrows?”
Dinah: “Timothy Drake. Pilfering a lady’s unmentionables with your grubby, private school paws? Well. I’d be shocked but there’s not really a lady present, and your hands are probably cleaner than everyone else in this building right now put together.”
The bar isn’t exactly in the nicest part of Gotham, because the nice parts of Gotham are pricey and I hadn’t moved the location when I’d taken it over. Equal parts happenstance and design because it was always here, even before I was born and it left me right in the thick of things, with better access than I would have had if I’d kept my Father’s house closer to the ‘burbs. That had been sold, and the money gone towards gear and my own revenge turned justice. I just have to try and make sure that Bruce’s goes the same way.
I’d say they can’t actually throw me out, my birth certificate says Gotham. My high school diploma reads the same. I know the city front to back. But they can. Bruce had at least put it in a way that made sense, and I understood. I’ll take the request for help though, over Damien’s help or get out of my way line. And the unspoken welcome in the Robin Maid and Turndown Service. Tim’s still clearly on top of things, or just thrown himself fully back into the fray since he arrived if he’d tracked me down that quickly. Which is a good thing, when you need to hit the ground running as a crew. If we can actually make a crew of more than the two of us.
“The longer it takes, the more opportunity there is for everyone to start making their own playbook, and then it’s taking their balls and going home to their own imaginary vigilante sandboxes.”
Drumming the fingers of my free hand on the counter, my mouth pulls to the side in the most dour look that’s crossed it since I walked in. He’s absolutely right, and he doesn’t need me to tell him that. We’re a gaggle of orphans, and now in different ways for each of us? Suffering through it again. Brother, father, friend, lover. Preparing for it, and living through it are different. It’s easy just from brief encounters with each to see the wide variety in coping that’s going on.
“I’m not sure if having the training, skills and resources to do something about it makes it easier or harder. We can at least be productive, and hopefully less reactionary.”
Rolling my eyes, I finally take a swig of my water like it’s all that’s keeping me from coming across the space between us and swatting him upside the head. There’s still humor in the expression, though.
“Her…hero? Role model? Friend? Because the answer to all those is yes. Keeping tabs on me, Red? But no. I’m not with anyone. I’m here. And that’s all I am for the moment. Do you want me to see what I can get from the Detectives? At least some of the department that worked with my Dad are still there, and they usually at least act happy to see me.”
Tim: “Pilfering….” There’s this look of blankness that accompanies not really recognizing what she’s said, with what I’ve done, but when the facts click in to place you can’t unring that bell can you? “Oh, hoo. You are teasing me aren’t you. So that’s what that feels like?”
With a sigh over having been caught in Dinah’s teasing, I let her witness my roll of the eyes because it melds right in to the self-same smirk she’s already seen multiple times. “Given that I didn’t see any unmentionables. Either you don’t wear them or that bag got lost at the airport. In either case there weren’t any to pilfer.”
There’s teasing, bantering and then there’s our real discussion. She’s caught right on to the thread of what I actually came to see her for. I can almost see the chips falling in to place behind her eyes. Now we both know it to be truth. If we let everyone play in their own proverbial sandbox too long? Everyone is going to become their own version of Batman. It’s what he trained us for. We were the lineage. Taught in order to leave this city and others like it with a Batman, even if he should fall.
Only now Bruce’s plans are left without a schemer to bring them to fruition. “If you can contact the Detectives working the case. I’ll hit the Coroner’s office. Once we’ve gathered the case work, we need to bring everyone together. Put everyone on the same footing. If you can define the task and the parameters, then there’s a chance we curb the tide.”
“I’m sorry to put this on you. The others respect you too. They’ll at least listen, if for no other reason than the Cowl would clash with your fishnets.” She’s not going to be Batman or even try to be any time soon. So by my count, that should put her squarely as someone not to rub Dick or Damian the wrong way. “… oh… and I keep tabs on everyone, it’s kind of what I do. Especially the good looking, but morally questionable ones.”
“Said with all due respect.”
“No, seriously. I mean you’re like a role-model to scoundrels every where. Hall of Fame. I want to ask for your autograph.” Instead of letting her swat me with the water bottle, I’m passing her a burner phone. “I’m also about to suggest you give me your number. Go ahead, take the flattery. I’m here all week.”
Dinah : “Maybe a little. What, no girls to do that to you back in Metropolis?”
Although if I remember correctly, and it’s really unlikely that I don’t, he’s been going to an all boys school, so I hope there weren’t any girls there to tease him mercilessly. Could have met some elsewhere though. Maybe. If he had bothered to devote any real amount of attention to that kind of thing. When I was that age, my priorities had been a little bit different. Not a lot different though.
“Little of column A, with a side of I basically threw the contents of a laundry basket into a duffel, stowed the suit and was on my way.”
Anything I missed, I figured I’d just replace when I landed. Apparently that meant underwear. Probably some half pairs of socks too, based on my usual laundry habits which are poor to abysmal at best. My everyday wardrobe had just seemed a lot less important than the suit and getting my ass to Gotham.
“I’ll head over there first thing…well…”
Looking a little mournfully at the bottle of water in my hand, before I cap it and set it down on the counter once again.
“Second thing in the morning. After I round up some coffee for myself, and as a little warm-up gift at the precinct.”
There’s jokes in what Tim’s just said, but there’s also absolute seriousness. And truth. I have my own name, my own Legacy that I’m a part of and it doesn’t hinge upon the Bat, or any of his work. Yes, I’ve worked with Bruce. I helped train the younger ‘class.’ It taught me that sometimes teamwork gets shit done that you may be able to do on your own, just a whole lot slower. It also brings backup, and a modicum of safety in a very unsafe world and line of ‘work.’ But the cowl? Isn’t something I want. Even if I were going to set up permanent residence here once again. I’m the Black Canary. I don’t do hats. Cowls. Whatever.
“Respect is noted.”
Laughing, I waggle my eyebrows at him for the compliment, and his not wrong commentary about my morals. It’s just the way I work, and how I always have. Call it my version of coping with what happened to me. But that, too, isn’t entirely a joke. Not the morals, the keeping tabs. I’m very sure that he really does do just that. Even if he hadn’t turned up here when he did, I would have believed it. He’s one of Bruce’s progeny after all.
“Just all week? I better get my fill while I can, then. Here. I assume you’ve got somewhere to stay?”
Punching in the series of numbers that connects to my phone, before handing the cheap and serviceable plastic number back over to him.
Tim: “St. Francis doesn’t lend itself to entering the dating scene,” there’s no joking here, this is a straight answer if there ever was one. “Especially when you’re there to get more than a classical education. My ‘tutors’ weren’t bringing a math book and didn’t look half as nice as some of my class mates’.”
If what she says about her laundry is a surprise it never registers on my face. But then again, if I am true to my word (and I am), then I’ve gone through her things in the name of putting them away. Meaning I know more about what she brought along than she does. What’s important to take away from this, is that I’ve kept no secrets from her. Veiling the truth in playful teasing and flirting, so as to not put it forth as something hostile. Yet there’s no insulting Dinah’s intelligence. She knows that I’ve vetted her. Agreed to her remaining in Gotham, if not out right endorsed her as taking on the mantle of leadership to keep our egos out of play. All of those things accomplished without either of us being angry at the other.
When the dust clears I’ve accomplished all of my goals for coming her -and- I’m leaving with two boons that I hadn’t planned on. The first being the good humor that she’s in. Apparently my approach had more merit than Damian’s. Then there’s the second thing I’m making off with…
“Mhm. We had safe houses all over the City,” most of the world actually, to be truthful. “But I was planning to crash on your couch. Until I can make sure they’re all still intact. I was just hoping that you’d get around to offering, so that I didn’t have to invite myself. Especially after I just got your number, talked about your unmentionables and told you that you’re morally bankrupt but awesome-in-my-book.”
“Great. Now it sounds like a very twisted pick-up line.”
“Tell you what, I’m going to crash over there,” gesturing to the apartment’s sofa. “Tomorrow we’ll go to the precinct. I’ll head to the coroner’s, you to the detectives. And if you play your cards right, Ms. Lance, I’ll treat you to a steaming hot cup of Tim in the morning.”
“Joe. I mean. Joe. Steaming hot cup of Joe.”