Wandering up the stairs, Steph was ready to just not do anything for a while. She was beat.
A whole ass patrol the night before, full day of being 'Mild Mannered Stephanie Brown blah blah blah'
with all the lectures (the higher education, working her ass off to pay for kind, not the Batman, roll her eyes at kind
) and study halls that entailed, along with a dumb bet with Wendy about how long into the week she could get without completely crashing and burning without coffee had her entirely.
The joke was on Wendy. She could get a great many things done on pure spite and a desire to prove someone wrong about a thing.
One hundred percent ready to fall face down onto her bed and just cease consciousness
for a few hours, a brow quirked as she reached out to push her door open from it's slightly ajar position. Taking a step into the room and letting her bags slip from her shoulders, a flicker of movement caught her eye before they hit the ground.
Her lime green curtains wafted in a breeze, slipping in through the cracked window. Narrowing her eyes slightly, her certainty that her bedroom door was properly closed when she left this morning came back to niggle at her. The usual suspects of room crashers weren't currently here, and they usually left some sign they had been. A case file, a pillow nest, their sleeping body. Y'know. Something.
Stephanie wasn't what one would call a cautious person, but she was growing suspicious, and didn't much like the unknown, especially in her own space.
Continuing with the motion of setting her bags down, and slowly stretching as she straightened up, Stephanie quickly scanned her space for anything out of place.
Impossible to say anything was out of place with the war zone she called a desk, her closet door was ajar, her bed — the covers were flicked up on one side, like someone had been looking under it.Or was still under it
To avoid the potential of raising suspicion to herself while she trying to run through ideas, she moved around the room, to her drawers, all while listening for the slightest hint of sound.
'Alright, who knows about the window being a free pass to the house, Steph. Work it out.'
Pursing her lips, keeping an eye on the room behind her in the mirror, she ran through the list.
The 'Family'. Some friends. Dad. ….Dad.
She resisted the urge to let out a growl, biting down on the inside of her cheeks. She could flip the bed and –
'And what? Get another face full of Black Mercy? Go back to coma land, only this time not have the added benefit of the Super Girl Gang getting your gang getting your dumb ass out of there? You don't even know IF anyone is under there. Let alone WHO. Be smarter.'
As much as she hated to admit it, the inside voice was right. Couldn't confirm if it was Suckassmaster or someone he just put up to the task, hoping they'd get lucky, when a cult, and a bunch of pseudo-metas couldn't get the job done last few times. Or anyone at all, and she wasn't just spiralling down a very Tim-like path of paranoia.
Assuming it was Arthur or a Blackgate available crony, and she ignored the fact he orchestrated all that other bullsh*t, they'd still buy the 'Stephanie Brown is a dumb blonde' routine that she had skated thought life on, right?
'One way to find out.'
A plan started to form. Bumping the draw by her hip closed and whipping out her phone, starting a playlist, any playlist, loudly, she started off toward the bathroom, 'oblivious'.
Shutting the door behind her, she had to move fast, ignoring the feeling of stupidity that this could all be for nothing. Taking out yesterday's clothes from the hamper and changing her shirt, in the event she was being watched from under the bed, she dropped the dirty jeans, balled up layered shirts and left them in a pile on the floor by the shower. Setting her phone blasting Echo and the Bunnymen on the side of the sink, she readjusted the showerhead to point it straight towards the wall, turning on only the hot, the room rapidly filling with steam.
Stepping in behind the thankfully dark shower curtain, at the opposite end of the tub from the shower head, she waited, practically holding her breath, ears straining over the running water and music.
She had been waiting long enough to start feeling like a complete idiot when the temperature in the room dipped slightly, the shower curtain billowing as colder air from the hall outside rushed in. If she had actually been showering, she probably wouldn't have noticed that.
'No time for vindication now, dipsh*t. You're about to get attacked in the shower. What was the next move?'
Inside voice was kind of an a**hole sometimes, but was worrying needlessly. This was the part she was good at.
After what felt like an eternity, with Steph having to remind herself to breathe a few times, fingers poked around the side of the curtain. Bare fingers. As it slowly peeled back, she quickly took note of a knife in the would be attackers ungloved left hand.
'Is he even trying anymore, or is he just trying to get my attention…?'
"Everything doesn't have to be about fear. There's room in our line of work for hope, too."
Yanking the curtain the rest of the way back herself, seeing the surprise on the hapless 'attackers'
face, the words were out of her mouth before she could stop herself.
"Are you looking for Stephanie Brown, or Marion Crane?"
To say there was a fight would be an understatement. There wasn't even a struggle. A foot to a face, an inexperienced, ungloved idiot cutting his own hand in an attempt to defend himself, very quickly breaking down into sobs. Rolling her eyes, she almost felt bad for him. Almost.
"Tell me everything, and I'll save you a hospital trip."
It was both a threat, and a promise. Speak, or I'll start breaking things. Tell me what I want to hear, and I'll even stitch your hand for you. Aren't I nice.
The easiest interrogation she's ever done. And to think she could have just flipped the damn bed… "Ok! Ok! A guy in Blackgate paid me! Told me you'd be an easy mark, and a good start for some street cred!"
Rolling her eyes, starting to toss his pockets as he froze like a deer in headlights, she huffed.
"Lemme guess. Burn scars, glasses, kind of an a**hole called Aaron Black?"
"Stephie?! Is everything OK?!"
'Great. Mom is home. I need more pieces to this puzzle…'
Narrowing her eyes and pointing a finger at 'Norman' as she started shutting off the water, the bathroom door flinging open, Steph sighed.
"Yeah, Mom. Just work stuff. Don't even worry about it… I guess I'll be heading out early tonight…"
Slowly looking around the steam filled room, with music blaring, a man with a bleeding hand, and Steph in yesterday's clothes, she just shook her head. At this point, as long as Stephanie wasn't the one bleeding, she didn't ask further questions. She wasn't likely to get an answer further than 'Bat-stuff' anyway. Turning away she made her leave, but not before shooting 'Norman' the dirtiest of looks. The kind that Steph reserved for ex boyfriends about to be punched in the face, causing him to flinch, and Steph crack a grin while shutting off the music, and typing out a quick text to her more trusted GCPD connection (sorry not sorry Commish) shooting it off
'Got a little job to do tonight. Need an arrest made at my place, and then you get to be roped into some guano. Fun!'
Setting the phone back down she took out one of the first aid kits they kept stocked and shoved 'Norman' to sit on the side of the bathtub, kicking the knife away absently, always mindful of its location. She was keeping up her end of the deal, but she didn't have to be nice about it, after all. Inspecting the cut and determining stitches weren't ideal after all, she sighed, cleaning it. After a good few minutes of her working quietly, and him watching, he spoke softly.
"I came here to kill you… and you're taking care of me… that's ridiculous…"
Raising a brow slightly, but continuing her work, strapping the wound firmly after dressing it, she shrugged a shoulder.
"Oh honey. You couldn't kill a mouse… besides. It's not that ridiculous. I try to help people who want nothing to do with me all the time. Call it a flaw."
"Who is out to get you now, Blondie?"
Luca had been let in by Crystal while Steph was being Bat-Doctor, apparently, and had coffee with him. A small pout passed over her features as she got to her feet, cleaned up after herself and made note of what had been used, washing her hands.
"Same old, same old. We'll talk in the car. Let me get the bag."
Jerking her thumb over her shoulder to 'Norman', as left the room, she huffed.
"Read him his rights for attempted murder."
After dropping 'Norman' off at the processing cells, and Steph doing a quick change in the back-seat while Luca buried his face into the steering wheel, doing his best to pretend she could just do things like a normal human, or something, Batgirl climbed into the passenger seat, en route to Blackgate.
"Ok. Storyline. Dad sent the dipstick to try to kill me to get my attention? I guess? Mom doesn't know Dad is still alive. And I'm not playing his games this time. So YOU are going to go see what he wants."
After a beat of trying to work through what was just said, he shook his head slightly.
"Right. Ok, hold on. Why me, Blondie? Why not one of your other creepy friends."
Breaking into a grin, she pointed.
"Because they're higher up the totem pole than I am. He doesn't get to be escalated. He doesn't get to deal with the Bat. He's a nobody. I'm all the validation he gets. I'm taking that away. He's getting only cops now."
"What am I meant to be doing exactly?"
"Find out what he wanted. Push his buttons. His ego is so massive, he won't know what to do if you act like it's a chore."
"Blondie, hate to break it to you, but it is a chore."
"How do you think I feel?! It's been my entire life!"
Pulling into the Blackgate visitors lot, Batgirl didn't bother waiting for a pass, or the paperwork. She just strolled through, yelling for Luka to keep up.
Just off the the side of Aaron Black's high security cell, Steph gave Luca's arm a reassuring squeeze, whispering
"If he tries anything, I'll break every bone in his body."
Before giving him a wide grin. Luca rolled his eyes slightly, before motioning for the cell door to be opened, taking a casual position in the door, as Steph leant against the wall next to the door.
Steph could hear the shifting of fabric. He was likely laying on his bed.
"Not the visitor I was expecting…"
Arthur sounded calm, but Steph knew well enough that he was thrown. The smug was missing. A grin started crawling across her face.
"Yeah, well. You know how those Bat folk be. Too busy for common criminals like you."
More rapid shifting of fabric, the thudding of feet to concrete.
'Oh, he mad.' "She wouldn't be anywhere without me."
That very familiar hiss. It might have been years since she heard it but it immediately took her back. Luca however, had no connection or attachment to it, and shrugged a shoulder, hands in his pockets.
"Sounds more like you're nothing without her, Aaron. Let's just stop wasting my time. How about you just write a letter like a normal father, and maybe I'll make sure she gets it."
'Ooh! Yes, Skittles! Right on in there. Press those buttons!'
It took more self control than she knew she had to not jump up and down, slapping Luca on the shoulder after that one. After what she could only assume was a stare off, with only being able to see the side of one participants face, there was a frustrated growling, a habit Steph was all too sad to say she had inherited, and the shuffling of papers.
After a good while, Luca shifted to shoot a glance out to Steph with a shrug, who returned a 'yeah, I got nothing' expression, Arthur had finally finished his… whateverthef***. Snatching it from his grasp before the D-List 'Dead Man' could get near the door, Luca folded it up blindly and stuffed it into a pocket.
"Right. Now. Stop with the sh*t. Your little 'hitman' stunt will be ensuring you get shifted to solitary for a good while."
With a grunt, there was shifting, and the creaking of springs. Luca rolled his eyes, slamming the door shut as he left. Passing the piece of paper to Steph as they made their way back to the car, she screwed up her nose, considering tossing it, but a girl was never free of the games, and her curiosity was killing her.
'Stephie. You're never too busy for your dear old dad. Or your mother. And your dad needs some help. Or you become an orphan.'
"SON OF A BITCH!"