1964-10-29 - Familiarity or Contempt
Summary: Spoiler is checking in on her father's latest plans, Nightwing introduces himself to Spoiler.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
stephanie-brown nightwing 

It's around ten in the evening. The young woman who calls herself 'L'Aubergine', at least temporarily, is still out and about. She has a physics exam in the morning. She should be studying, she knows, but…

But, her father has called a meeting at the house she grew up in. He's called in a dozen of his top henchmen to demand answers to the problems they've been having. People at all levels in his gang have been captured by the police, the Batman, found tied up to telephone poles and mailboxes and sometimes locked in dumpsters with evidence of their misdeeds duct taped to their chests, or their legs, or in one memorable occasion, to the man's groin. Under his pants. With the evidence sticking out his fly. That guy might have deserved it, is the quietly murmured sentiment of many of the men attending this meeting, but to Arthur Brown, that man, like the rest, was one of his own, and he is pissed.

L'Aubergine is settled atop a brownstone across the street. Her hood is pulled back, and a pair of clunky headphones are in place over the featureless cowl she wears. The cowl itself is pulled up so she can sip coffee from a Thermos at her side. As it happens, this came from the kitchen of the house across the street, where she had dinner with her parents a few hours ago. This is possibly ironic — L'Aubergine is far more interested in matters of law and justice than in literary truths. She simply knows that she will take whatever of her father's ill-gotten gains she can to use against him until she manages to put him in jail with the rest of his thugs.

The evening will find L'Aubergine alone for the moment in her coffee. As she sips, and watches the meeting, the cool air that cuts through Queens as October's finally embrace yields to November's chill, stripping away the final leaves that battled valiantly to stay attached to their mother trees, but realizing - it was time to let go.

The irony is not lost on a figure in black and red that is several houses away, perched and watching the young woman on the rooftop with a pair of field binoculars. A few weeks ago, the same woman in purple handed the Bat an address of a gang meeting. Now he wanted to know more about her. And of course.. he passed the information on to Nightwing.


That doesn't mean that Nightwing needs to be happy about it. He's taking a few mental notes on the girl already and drawing a few conclusions. The suit is makeshift and a work in progress. The thermos. She's not got a support system in place. She may not even have a lair as it were. Unless her bedroom with possible Beatles posters counts.

Turning his attention from the woman, he moves to scan the house and writes down the address. That itself will be investigated in time, but for the moment, the protege of the Bat considers. To see what her plans are after coffee, or to interrupt her now. For now.. he waits.

The girl is, in fact, not merely watching. The headphones are plugged into a makeshift directional microphone. It's a fairly standard microphone with a heavy battery pack, the handle inserted through the base of a Tupperware bowl coated with black electrician's tape to act as a parabolic reflector. She's listening closely to what's being said inside, as her father rants about being targeted by some agency, and alternately demands that they go on the offensive or decrease their activity to avoid notice. She smirks slightly as she sips her coffee. Her father is not often what might be called cool under pressure.

It's not that she's completely unaware of her surroundings, though. Nightwing's costume, red and black, does not blend as well with the shadows as her own, dark purple. It took her awhile to notice his presence, but since he's making no moves against her she's elected to let him come to her as she takes notes on what she hears. Lucky Louie's got a jewelry heist planned. Shouldn't be hard to foil with a couple of days to prepare. After her physics test.

L'Aubergine does not live here, of course. Not currently. As far as her father is concerned, Stephanie, the brat, has returned to NYU where she's probably wasting her time partying and trying to find a husband. She'll probably get knocked up by some loser before she's twenty and he'll have to take care of both her and the kid.

He really doesn't know his daughter very well.

There was little attempt to hide, truth be told. In fact, Nightwing had hoped that by being present, the woman would have approached him. He sighs to himself and runs a hand through his hair. "Need to work on that Grayson charm." he chides himself quietly, before moving from rooftop to rooftop, finally coming up behind the young woman and crouches down next to her.

"Cream and sugar?" he asks as he eyes the thermos, before turning his domino masked face towards the house. "Anything good on the radio, or is it just a bunch of static?" True, he could pull out his own microtransmitters to listen in, but he's looking to see how much information that L'Aubergine is willing to share with him.

Under other circumstances, she might have. But the meeting's on, and she's been focused primarily on that. When Nightwing approaches she reaches up, flips one of the headphones away from her head so she can hear what he's saying, but still transcribes, pencil scratching across a sheet of black construction paper — not impossible to read, but hard to read easily without getting a close look at it.

"Black," she replies to his initial question. "I have an exam in the morning. When this is over, I need to study." She nods toward the house across the street. "That's the Arthur Brown gang. They're pissed 'cause somebody's been spoiling their jobs and getting their people put away."

"Arthur Brown?" comes the question, before he arches a brow. "Same guy that used to host…" he snaps his fingers a few times in thought. "..what was that game show called?" Nightwing responds as he glances at the woman for a moment and smirks slightly. Well, if she's volunteering information of a personal nature, he's not going to look that gift horse in the mouth. "Good, I'll know what to order for you next time we meet." he says with a smirk as he squats down and considers her setup, the girl, and then his attention falls back to the house.

"Second time you've been directly involved with him." comes the comment finally. "The Bat sends his regards. Had some 'world-saving' rigamoroe to go tend to, so he sent me instead." She may hear the eye-roll in his voice before he grins. "Though not that much of a complaint, really."

"Only reason I told him in the first place was to keep my face out of it," says the girl in purple. "Doesn't matter to me if he says you or somebody else to keep an eye on…" She nods toward the house again before scratching a few more words on the dark paper. 'Friday. 3 am. Hudson River Gallery.' She'll have to delegate that one. Hard to get from the gallery to NYU at that time of night.

"Sorry. Brown's setting up a schedule of events for this week. They're almost done. Give me a minute, please, and I'll be free."

She wants to keep her face out of it. She's only directly involved with Arthur Brown specifically. She knew where to set up exactly to listen to the house. The clues are lined up like breadcrumbs, and it's a rather easy trail for Nightwing to follow as he considers for a moment. And he's listening. That's the beauty of those old headphones, if you listen close enough, you can hear what's going on from within the shells. Sort of like hearing the ocean.

When there's a break, he decides to ask the question that the Bat asked him.

"You get him behind bars, are you going to hang up the eggplant?"

"Depends," says the girl after a moment, as the meeting is ended and she can put away her headphones. "He's not the only person doing bad around here. It's not like I'm the only one trying to take care of Queens, either, but Spider-Man seems to have his own problems to deal with." She takes another swig of coffee, pulls up her hood, but leaves the cowl up so her chin and mouth are exposed — plenty of coffee to be consumed. As she starts to put away her gear she notes, "It's for the color, not the vegetable. The name. And you…" She pauses a moment, considering the young man. "Nightwing, oui?"

It was a question that the Bat had asked him. And it was how Dick ended up putting on the colorful garb of the Boy Wonder, Robin. Nightwing can feel that pull of familiarity of justice that he once and still feels deep within him. Just by taking in the shape of her jaw and mouth, he already knows she's youthful. And possibly pretty. Not to think about that on the clock as it were, he taps his knee for a moment.

"Alright." he finally decides, as he turns his attention back to the house. "Nice accent." he says with a small smile, before offering in perfect French, "»I have met a few French superheros, and you do tend to follow their naming traditions, such as Ladybug. But I can hear the Queens in your voice. Take it from a local.«"

There's a small grin. "Not that I have much room to speak on the choosing of codenames." he finally allows as he opens a pouch at his hip and takes out a small box to open it. "This is a tracking device. It has a range of five miles. You want to keep a closer eye on him, or his associates, this will certainetly do it." His field glasses are set down next to her following after. "You want to do this, I want to help." Because really, he doesn't want to come across her body in an alley one day or on a morgue slab because noone was there to offer her a hand.

She gives a nod. "I use the accent to fake out enemies," she says mildly. "You can hear the Queens. Les chiens in there can't. And I never confront Brown directly. Just his minions." She tucks the microphone into a backpack that's close at hand, something she can hide under her cape, or into which the cape will easily fold. "I appreciate help. They aren't as dangerous as some — not as dangerous as the sort the Bat usually faces, monsieur, but they are still bad people, and every bit of evil grows as it passes from one to the next."

"Never underestimate your opponent." Nightwing chides gently. "The only thing more dangerous than a trained professional with a gun is the scared fool with one." he points out as he takes in the backpack and her costume. "Make it yourself?" he asks, reaching over to give her shoulder a small tug. Then his attention returns to the house.

"So what's your plan?" he asks her finally. "Another note? You want to disrupt him, but you don't want to face him directly." The corner of his mouth turns a little. "Familiarity or contempt?"

"Both," says L'Aubergine as she rises, tucking the pack beneath her cape. The cape settles back fairly smoothly — clearly she's used to carrying something bulky under there, and knows how to drape it so it hides her gear. "But more the former. Brown is the brain of the group — he plans their jobs, and sends out his men to do the work, and takes his cut when they bring back the proceeds. He's keeping his hands clean — you'll never find his prints at the scene of a crime. But I can bring down his people one by one, either on my own, or by sending others after them." The corner of her mouth twitches upward. "They're getting scared. He can't protect them."

"And you don't trust the police to follow the money trail, or you want to make sure that he has no chance of getting out on a technicality." Nightwin responds as he rises with her smoothly. He considers her for a long moment and then gives a nod. "Then you let me know where to be, and I'll be there.."

Then he grins. "And you can spend more time studying instead of worrying about fighting crime. Especially as midterms are coming up." he says with a small smile in his tone as he turns his attention from her and steps onto the ledge of the roof to take a better look at the Brown family home.

"Midterms were two weeks ago," the girl replies. "I'm not in high school. That doesn't mean I don't have to pull an all-nighter." She grimaces faintly. She's good at physics — she can see how things work in motion. That doesn't mean late nights don't wear on her. "Tuesday night, the bald guy with the big nose — Louie — is running a robbery at Greenwich Street. Here." She finds one of her pieces of construction paper and hands it off. "You'll be able to read it under bright light. I wrote down the details they offered up. Shouldn't be much problem for you to take these guys out." She pauses. "Or just call the police — but he's got a few of them in his pocket, so be careful."

"So your angle in this is just to be an informant?" Nightwing asks with a lift of his domino mask, arching his brow. "Here I was all hopeful to see you in action." his voice carries a hint of a tease to it as he glances aside to her. Glancing down for a moment, the former Boy Wonder nods finally. "I'll pick you up an hour beforehand, that way you have time to prepare and get a bite to eat."

"My angle is to keep out of their line of sight as much as I can," she says. "Some of them know me. They know my voice — and the accent won't fool them, because it doesn't change -that- much. But fine. You want to do this together, we do it together." She ticks off a few items on gloved fingers. "Lucky Louie knows me. I'm not going to talk around him. I tried the gravely voice your boss uses. Works much better for him than for me. I'm just going to play it mute. He's got one guy in his group who never goes anywhere without his shotgun. Probably ought to take him down before he gets a chance to use it. Another of them used to wrestle on the Atlanta pro circuit. You'll know him. About seven feet tall with muscles like Thor. Red hair in a buzz cut. Don't let him grab you." She pauses. "Actually, let me take him on. He doesn't like to hurt girls."

"It's okay, I can't even do the gravley voice." Nightwing admits. And then he smirks. "He's not my boss, just doing this because I wanted to get a feel for your angle in all of this. And I think I have an idea of your stakes in this now." he responds. "And just because someone doesn't like hitting girls doesn't mean they won't." he points out as he starts to step back. "I'll bring the coffee."

"I know," says L'Aubergine. "But he'll hesitate." She lifts the Thermos and drains the last of it before tucking it away. "Coffee is an absolute necessity. Thank you," she agrees. "See you Tuesday." She leaps from the rooftop onto a nearby streetlight, then drops to the roof of a bus as it passes beneath, heading back into the city.

He watches her go for a moment, and shakes his head. "When did I become the codgy old mentor?" Nightwing asks himself before he glances towards the house one more time. And then he waits. For the meeting to be over, and once the gang departs, he finally makes his move. Not to chase after her. No. He crosses the streets and moves sidelong, before finding the roof of the Brown residence. She was too youthful to be the wife. There was one other option, as he moves to check to see.. and when he find's the girl's bedroom, he tests the window to slip within quietly. Time for some late night investigation.

The room is small, the bed tiny — even though L'Aubergine isn't particularly tall, her feet would hang off the end. There are no posters on the walls, and the shelves are bare. There are a few items in the closet and dresser — old clothes that one wouldn't wear except for doing work around the house, most likely. There's little to see of the girl who lived here. Maybe a few golden blonde hairs that weren't captured the last time somebody ran a vacuum through the room.

It isn't the decor that Nightwing is looking at fully. It's the drawers of the desk and dresser. If L'Aubergine is like most girls.. there will be some evidence that he could find. An early scrap of paper with a costume design. A list of possible nicknames. A drawing of her locking up her dad. Or more of that black construction paper.

Not in this room. She shared a house with her archnemesis. Anything she has, any evidence of who she is, has been moved someplace where Arthur Brown can't find it.

After his search, Nightwing sighs and shakes his head. "Not bad, L'Aubergine. Not bad." There's a quick search under the bed and of the closet, but he knows he can't do a proper toss of her room before he heads to the window to leave the house and head off into the night himself.

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