WHO Dick and Pre Earth-3!Stephanie WHEN Backdated. Recently for Dick. Not so recently for Steph WHAT Big bro and little sis chat. WHERE A divey dive bar. WARNING not much! this is a bb steph log but i'm too lazy to log into her old account lol
Rudy’s was a typical dive bar. The kind that was cash only and had old men practically glued to their stools, sticky floors, cheap beer, and a jukebox in the corner. A couple booths with the vinyl peeling away from their cushions lined the walls, and bathrooms surprisingly clean enough to stomach. Some college students milled around, enticed by the cheap booze and free hot dogs with every drink bought. It was a frequent starter spot for nights where people went on the town, or a nice place to hang out and get buzzed without blowing all of your money. There was a sitting area outside, too, with a projection screen and smoking allowed, but it was too cold for something like that. Maybe in the spring or summer, when Gotham’s iciness melted away for the renewal of a new season.
Stephanie Brown had been there a few times with friends, mostly because they didn’t really care about the fakes that they brought and it was one of the few places they could afford as college students on strict budgets. Plus, who could pass up free hot dogs? Even if there was the risk of salmonella at some point. Regardless, it was good enough for her, and she hoped that it would be good enough for Dick. After kissing Eddie goodbye earlier and warning him that he might have a handsy drunk on his hands when she got home, she met her proverbial big brother at the shitty little dive. It might have looked weird that two people with such age gaps were hanging out, but Stephanie never paid mind to that. She couldn’t, after all, with her much older boyfriend. Some might even mistake Steph and Dick as related, anyway. They had similar kind, blue eyes that Gotham tried its best to quash out of them.
She waved Dick to one of those hodgepodge booths held together by duct tape, and she ordered a pitcher of Bud Light from the bar. (Not her favorite, but for ten bucks, you couldn’t really go wrong.) With the pitcher in one hand and two glasses in the other, she pushed her way through the crowd to the booth. “Here.” She placed the glasses on the table and carefully slid the pitcher on as well, then started the process of unbundling from the cold. Shrugging off her puffy coat, uncoiling her scarf, slipping off those gloves Eddie had made her all those months ago. She tossed all the clothes into the booth and plopped across from Dick with a smile. “It’s divey, I know. But you’re rollin’ with me, so we’re rollin’ deep.”
Dick wasn’t entirely sure how he felt about drinking with Steph, but he wasn’t entirely sure of anything she did and he certainly wasn’t going to judge her for it. As a matter of fact, he was working on moving away from trying to judge anyone on anything these days. Which wasn’t easy for him, he was a bit of a bitch from time to time.
But a little nasty dive bar, he could get behind that, and he could always get behind spending time with Stephanie, they needed each other. They always would. And he’d see to it that they would always have each other. Even if he had to sit on her for all of eternity. Which he would. And she knew he would.
He was dressed rather typically. Jeans, black collared button down, blue pullover sweater, and his winter coat and scarf sitting next to him on the bench. “I’m truly impressed,” he said with a tease as he started pouring the beer into glasses. He teased her by pouring her less than half a glass.
Maybe it wasn’t the greatest idea to go out drinking with her big brother, but A) he would protect her from frat boys and B) she was an adult now, right? An adult with an actual plan for the future and animals and a boyfriend who loved her. Sure, she was using a fake, but man, was she more of an adult than most people her age could ever be. Side effects of growing up in Gotham, putting on a cowl, living as a bat. Dick knew all about that, didn’t he? They all knew about that. It was a consequence of living the lives they did.
But, Steph and Dick were the comedic relief of the family, the ones that lightened up a situation and brought hope to a family that needed it most. And, they needed each other. Stephanie needed her big brother. While things had been rocky between the two of them for the better part of a year, they were trying. That was all she could really hope for in the end. She had come to terms with the fact that things would probably never be the same between any of them in this Gotham. But, that didn’t mean that they couldn’t forge something new, something different, and maybe something better.
“When I say dive, I mean dive.” Underneath her coat was, of course, a sweater with a light green dino on the front, dark jeans, and a pair of boots. Steph pulled a face at the less than half full glass, but slid it over to her side of the table and took a sip. “How’s it going, Dick?” She smiled softly, blue eyes trained on him unwaveringly. “You can lie, if you want. But I think you’ve got a really bad poker face, so I’ll call you out on it anyway.”
Dick took a drink from the questionable beer (it wasn’t his favorite - but was it anyones?) and sighed. He thought about lying, he knew she’d see through that immediately. She had just said as much, the only downside was that he didn’t know where to begin trying to ascertain the state of his own well being. He had no idea how he was. He had no idea how it was going. Everything seemed like it was going too fast and too slow all at once, and he just wasn’t feeling like he could grab hold of anything.
“I have no clue, Stephanie,” he answered honestly. “Everything is all fucked up, but some days I wake up and the world isn’t actually ending, and then I just feel guilty about that. Or I wake up and the world is ending and I get nothing accomplished. But sometimes I drink really shitty beer with my younger sister and I think things are looking up.”
Stephanie bit down on her lip, worried it a little at his response before sighing and taking a generous gulp from her cheap beer. (At twenty, she couldn’t really complain about beer, cheap or otherwise, even if it was Bud Light.) “I get it,” she said softly, tips of her fingers pressing into the plastic table until they turned white. They slid across the table a little bit, picking up pieces of condensation from the glass and the pitcher before snatching them back. “I really do.” She looked at him earnestly. Despite the age difference, Steph and Dick had a lot of similarities that lead to emotional weight on the both of them.
“But, that’s always the thing with this city, isn’t it? There’s always the ups and downs, good days and bad days. Believe me, some days it feels like the entire world is crashing down around me. Some days I don’t want to get out of bed or I want to lock myself in the bathroom for hours. But, then there are the good days.” She smiled softly. “And you and me are good at focusing on the good days, Dick. I’ve always thought so.”
He knew she got it, he knew she understood him - at the very least she understood him here - better than most. He was about a million years older than him - but he knew that happened when you were the oldest. And he knew that she could still relate to him on an adult level, and on the level he sometimes needed to remind himself still existed. The beer and fake ID level. “I know you do, Steph,” he said with a nod. “And I know we’re all hurting pretty bad - I guess there’s a little bit of comfort in that.”
“And the good days are so good,” even if they were little good days. They were cherished. “Well that’s because we’re the fun ones.”
Stephanie’s smile blossomed into an easy sort of grin that he used to see on her face so often before this Gotham. When she teased goons or mouthed off to him or dug into a really good plate of food. Here, she had it, too, but Dick hardly had a chance to see it, didn’t he? Eddie saw it almost every day, that easy joy that came with being Stephanie Brown, and other friends had been afforded it. Most often, Steph didn’t get to see Dick under good circumstances. She appreciated finally being able to actually do so, even if they were just putting the world on pause over a couple of cheap beers.
“Well, duh,” she said, exaggerated roll of her eyes more sixteen than almost twenty-one. “I mean, not that it’s much of a competition between anyone else, let’s be honest.” The rest of the members of the Batfamily weren’t necessarily sticks in the mud (well, most of them), but Steph and Dick were rarely as stoic as the rest of them. They weren’t built that way. “Someone’s gotta liven up this place. It might as well be us.” She raised her glass in a toast and took a gulp of cheap beer.
He laughed, there really wasn’t much of a competition. There never had been. Not where fun was concerned. Steph and Dick were pretty much it. With a side of Babs being judgey and hilarious on the sidelines from time to time. It made sense that they stuck together as much as they could. And he suddenly began to feel bad about all the times he’d shut her out. He knew he’d had his reasons, and he stood by them, he just wished that he’d spent less time holding onto those reasons.
He smiled widely at her and joined her toast before finishing off his glass. “It’s gonna have to be us.” He teased.
“It’s not our fault that we’re the full package. Good looks, good humor, great bodies,” Steph teased with her tongue sticking out between her teeth, taking another gulp before topping off her glass and filling Dick’s up as well. Running a hand through her blonde hair, she considered him for a second. The blonde bat admired her big bird brother a lot, but she could feel the space between them that had grown even as they sat there shooting the shit. She knew there would always be that little bit of awkwardness that this Gotham had drummed up, but she hoped that they could look past all of that eventually. They were both trying, after all. She was trying with all of them.
“How’s Barbara? Everyone else?” She’d been trying to keep in touch, but also pretty much failed on that front. Not that they were doing much better with her. “Have you been keeping up with them?”
Dick rolled his eyes, but he had to agree that if anyone was going to come out on the other side of all this shit okay, it was going to be him and Stephanie. But the question remained whether anyone else was going to be able to join them. He was tired of losing people.
“Babs is good,” it was the one thing he could comment on definitively. “I need to touch base with Jason and see where he’s at, I feel like I should reach out to Tim more than I do, sometimes its just hard to forget how angry he was. And I don’t always feel like I’m in the mood to defend those decisions for the rest of my life.” He didn’t think Tim would necessarily bring it up, possibly not at all anymore since Damian was gone. But it did worry him. “I’m living back at the manor, so I’m seeing Bruce a lot more, but I think he and I are spending an awful lot of time worrying about the other.”
Stephanie smiled. It was good to hear that Babs was good, at least. She missed her Babs, the one who rattled away in her ear, but wasn’t that what Eddie’s job was now? “Did you guys have a good Valentine’s Day then?” she asked, hopeful that there would be at least one other couple in Gotham that could be called functional. She took a sip of beer before shaking her head about Tim. “I think he’s trying to adjust. He won’t want to stir the pot too much, I think. And, you’re preaching to the choir,” she languished of having to defend decisions. Defending decisions was what she did on a weekly basis. She understood.
“Isn’t that what you two always do, though? Even if you don’t admit it to each other?” Drumming her fingers thoughtfully, she tilted her head. Bruce and Dick were the patriarchs of the family, but that didn’t mean they didn’t worry about each other.
Dick smiled, “I’m taking her to Montreal for a weekend, that should impress her a little, but she doesn’t remember half the shit I’ve done- which is both a blessing and a curse really,” he said inhaling a bit sharply and pouring himself some more beer. And granted they were going to take things a little at a time, but there was no question that the relationship part of the relationship had started under duress. As it so often did with them, but he hoped he wouldn’t screw it up this time. Though he was holding out very little hope, he wasn’t too skilled at keeping things going. With anyone. Ever. No matter the relationship status. “You should talk to her, find out what she says about me,” he said waggling his brows playfully. Because while he was definitely curious, there was still an ulterior motive. They could do each other some good, and he knew that.
He held his glass up and clinked it against hers. “Amen to that,” he said agreeing wholly with her. That was exactly what they always did, and he knew it was exactly what they would always do. “But I think things have come around a little, I think me and him understand each other a little better. It’s just a little bizarre trying to draw those lines all over again. They took a lifetime to draw before and we’re trying to get them all set up in no time at all now.” Not that he was complaining. His relationship with Bruce had always been complicated. But it seemed, for now, despite how much Dick was relying on the other man to be a father figure - that they were on more even footing than they’d ever been before. Another blessing and a curse it seemed.
“Montreal?” she asked with an eyebrow wiggle that he might find familiar from somewhere else, and she rested her chin on her hand. “I mean, I’m sure Babs would love something with a little more sun and less subzero temps, but I’m sure it’ll do.” Her tongue stuck out between her teeth as she teased him before shrugging. “Y’know, sometimes the different times and places thing is a blessing in disguise,” Stephanie replied earnestly. “Are you happy or mad that she doesn’t know everything?” She thought it was a good way to start over. Dick and Babs had more history than anyone in Gotham, aside from maybe Selina and Bruce, and Stephanie knew they struggled to move past some of their problems. Here, they could get a clean slate. She smiled over at him. “You want me to do recon?” She seemed astounded. “It’d be a violation of girl code to tell you what she said.”
She grinned and took a sip after he clinked his glass to hers before her mouth fell into something more thoughtful. “I like this Bruce.” Stephanie had never hidden her affinity for this new bat, and she wouldn’t now. “I think that everyone’ll realize how good he is for all of us.” They didn’t need a sergeant. They needed someone to push them and support them, too, but shouldn’t the patriarch have a heart? “I’m glad you guys are getting along better. Even if he isn’t what you’re looking for exactly.”
“Its a twofer, I need to see a guy about some kevlar, and want to take Babs to a cirque show-” nerd at heart. He was so suave and yet got a major hard on over Cirque du freaking Soleil. “Besides she’s got a big old coat already for when she ventures into a mystery door to meet her, probably serial killing, Valentine.” He said looking at her pointedly from above the rim of the glass that was pouring beer down his throat with a swiftness.
He rolled his eyes and even kicked her under the table. “Please, no amount of girl code breaking recon is going to make me understand Babs anymore,” he assured her. “I am at maximum capacity for understanding Barbara Gordon. Which is what makes it something different every single day.” Which was sometimes the best. And sometimes the worst. “I don’t want you to do recon. But I do want you two to start spending some more time together.” Ha. Trapped. “Excessive amounts of it really.”
He poured himself another glass, and sat back in the booth and sighed loudly. “I like this Bruce too,” he said not wanting to misspeak. “I do. We’ve come a long way. And maybe he is good for everyone, and I can get behind that. I do care,” he said making sure that was abundantly clear. “I’ve never not had a father before,” he said after a moment. “Even when my father died, Bruce was there. This is different. I’m adjusting to some things. Its great to have him here, I rely on him a lot in ways he doesn’t understand and he still puts up with it. But it is different.”
“Serial killer?” she asked, eyebrows up. He earned an exaggerated OW when he kicked her, looking at him in a horrified way that only a little sister would. “You’re gross, y’know that? Disgustingly adorable,” Stephanie teased as if some people didn’t think she and Eddie were gross. But, for different reasons of course. She softened, however, and rolled her eyes a little with a wry smile crawling up her lips. “Yeah, you’re right. Okay, fine. Scout’s honor I’ll do girl talk with Babs.” She raised three fingers, then saluted him.
She nodded along with him, sipping thoughtfully. “Yeah, of course it’s different. And I see how everyone’s reacting to it. But, you’re finding the good in him, at least. I don’t think a lot of the rest of us are trying very hard without some pushing first.” Shrugging, she drained her glass, and that warm buzz shot straight to her head. “I wish a lot of things stayed the same as back home, but I can’t lie. I wouldn’t want to give up so many things I’ve gotten here.”
“I’m gross?” he said aghast. She was clearly the grossest of all. “You’re grosser than gross,” he sighed and shook his head a bit, clearly perplexed by the entire serial killer scenario. “Her Secret Cupid gave her a key to a door. Pretty sure she’s going to be eaten by alligators or someone will crown her queen.”
He furrowed his brow, “I’ve seen the good in him since day one,” he said clearly confused. “He’s not what I’m used to but he’s not some crazed lunatic either. And he’s trying,” it wasn’t always so and he knew that, but he gave the guy the benefit of the doubt.
Stephanie pulled a face that only a little sister would towards a big brother, and stuck her tongue out childishly before pouring herself another glass and tipping the rest of the pitcher into his glass. “I think we’d all be happy if she got crowned queen,” she offered with a smile, pushing the empty plastic pitcher to the side. “She’s already queen over here, pretty much.” Her teeth rolled over the bottom of her lips, and she shook her head. “That’s not--yeah, no. I get that. But I don’t think everyone does. You know? Like because he’s not what we’re all used to, that means he’s not good for us.” She shrugged, unapologetic for trusting and loving this Bruce more than theirs. “He’s trying as best he can. I think that you and I need to make him realize what he’s doing right and what he needs to do better.”
“No, no we wouldn’t be,” he said feeling a bit horrified (but clearly amused) by the thought.
He nodded and sighed and leaned back in his seat and looked up at the ceiling for a moment. “Alright, we’ll give him report cards and progress reports,” he said with a wink, but the idea was there, and he clearly accepted it. It was the best he could do - and he supposed it couldn’t hurt.