1965-03-24 - Treasure Hunt: Hey, You're Not My Girlfriend!
Summary: Stephanie and Peter meet another redhead in New York…
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
stephanie-brown hope peter-parker 

Dear Diary: I feel like I'm really hitting the bottom of the barrel here. I'm pretty sure there are no grants to take American college students on Indian safaris in the middle of the semesters.

And yet, here is Stephanie Brown at the New York Public Library, sitting at a large wooden table in the research area, surrounded by heavy tomes describing grants available to college students, and muttering faintly to herself. Here's one from the Indian government for students interested in studying Hindi. Here's one for traveling to the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota.

"Wrong kind of Indian," the blonde girl mutters under her breath. Somebody across the room shushes her. Her head rises and she glares at the shusher.

Peter Parker, student extraordinaire. He's carrying a stack of chemistry books. Sure, they're for study - but he's also looking to up the strength of his webbing formula. As he passes by the table that Steph's leaned over, the young man's brow arches behind his glasses and peeks down at the books. "…trying to find a good curry recipe?" he asks with a small grin as he gestures to the chair next to hers. "Want company?"

The library isn't one of Hope's usual haunts. She's more a woman of action than of thought, and honestly, she considers most of the information here, well…dated. But she hates sitting around the Avengers mansion with nothing to do, or worse, being treated like a kid, so she's wandered out into the world. And at least the library is good for curious minds.

At the moment, the most curious part is obviously the card catalog. She's using it in the wrongest way possible, with a tray pulled as far out as it will go, reaching in to pull out a stack of cards and shuffling curiously through them…moving one behind the other as she finishes looking at it.

Stephanie looks up sharply at Peter, then relaxes. She's spent the last month trying to find a way to India. She even took out a personal ad, seeking wealthy people willing to pay for her trip. "Trying to get off this continent," she says with a sigh. "Hey, Pete. Long time no see." Her attention shifts slightly past the young man, to the redhead shuffling the card catalog. "Man, the librarians are going to hate her."

From across the room, "SHHHHHH!"

Stephanie glares back at the shusher once more. She reaches into her pocket while maintaining eye contact, pulls out a penny, sets it on the table before her.

"Yeah.. been a little busy." Peter admits, though as far as coming up with a reason why? That's the hard part. So we'll stick with 'busy'. It seems to work. As he hears the shuffling of papers, he glances up and follows Stephanie's gaze over to the redhead at the cabinet. And from the back.. well.. "Be right back, there's a story behind this trip of yours."

Standing up, he approaches Hope from behind and slips his hands over her eyes. "Guess who." And that's about when he feels his Spidey-sense go off.

Poor Peter. How's he supposed to tell one redhead from another? Luckily, Hope has been here long enough to pick up a few polite habits. That doesn't mean she's actually overcome her first instincts, though. When Peter creeps up on her, she drops the cards right onto the tray in front of her in favor of grabbing Peter's wrist, stepping to the side, and moving to twist it up behind his back. And then she gets a look at him, frowning slightly. "I have no idea. Do I know you?"

And Peter's playing peek-a-boo with non-MJ redheads. Stephanie frowns at this and returns to her examination of the book of grants without a word. Having broken eye-contact with her personal shusher, the person in question considers this a victory and starts to look all puffed up and proud — until a penny from nowhere strikes them in the ear.

Silently, without taking her eyes off the book, Stephanie puts another penny on the table.

Ow. Ow ow Ow. That is the proper response here as the voice doesn't match the redhead he expected and Peter finds himself twisted around, and the student is spun around and caught. "Erk! Uh, yeah, you're not MJ. Sorry about that!" he manages to squeak as he shuffles a little - but makes no move to try to break Hope's grip. Sometimes, it's better just too.. "Thought you were my girlfriend.. mind letting me go? Please?" he asks with a hopefully pained smile.

And he notices that penny fly across and strike someone, and Stephanie gets a look.

"Well. That's reassuring." Exactly why it's reassuring to Hope is less than clear, but she doesn't offer an explanation. She does at least let go of Peter's wrist, taking a step back and brushing her hands off awkwardly. "Sorry. Little jumpy. On the up side, I didn't throw you," she points out with a crooked smile that's just a little too broad, as if she's supposed to get credit for that. And then she notices the pile of cards on the floor, looking sheepishly around herself. "I feel like that's a bad thing."

Stephanie is busily studying her book of grants. Why would she notice Peter's look? She feels no guilt — the busybody across the room has been obnoxious since she got here, and also, the penny ricocheted off three bookcases and a water fountain before striking the shusher.

Total innocent here. Yup.

She looks up at the pair, is satisfied that Peter has made a mistake and she doesn't have to report him to MJ, and rises to help with the card catalog sorting. "Hey. You're not his girlfriend. He's a dope sometimes, but a good guy. Don't mind him." She starts picking up the cards. "They're supposed to be in order by author, generally," she adds.

"So why are you trying to bail out of America and go to India. Culture exchange? Decided to go Hindi?" Peter asks curiously as he squats down now that he's been released to help out and pushes his glasses back up on his nose. "I'm Peter, the penny pusher is Stephanie." he offers with a small smile towards the redhead. "And yes, from behind, you look well.. a lot like my girlfriend." Even if Stephanie could tell the difference.

"By author? But what if you want to search something by title and don't know who wrote it?" Hope leans down to help with the cards, though she's not the quickest at it. Picking them up is no problem. Sorting them seems to take a little more effort. "I'm Hope, by the way," she introduces herself, nodding to the others before looking back to the cards.

"I pushed no pennies," Stephanie says. "I might have flicked one. Hard." She shrugs. "He was being a jerk." She starts sorting the cards in her hand. "It's nice to meet you, Hope. They sort these things in three or four ways — title, subject, author. I think these are the author cards…" She pauses. "I think."

"Shhhh!" from across the room.

"Pleasure, Hope." Peter starts to respond when he's shushed again. He shrinks down a little, it's part of his charm and faux whispers. "His shhing is louder than our speech." he mutters, before picking up one of the cards. "Hey, here's a card that mentions India travelougues. This in your wheelhouse, Steph?" he asks curiously, handing it over to her.

"Yeah, we heard you," Hope calls back to the shusher, hands on her hips and no effort made to lower her voice. "You got something to say, or are you practicing speaking like a snake?" She doesn't wait for a response, turning back to the others to continue looking through the cards. She quirks a brow at the mention of India, looking between the others. "What are you going to India for?"

Steph takes the card from Peter, grabs a stub of pencil and a slip of paper off the top of the catalog and jots down the Dewey decimal code, then adds it to the stack she's been sorting. "It might be," she says with a sigh. "I'm doing some research for a class, and it would be so much easier to do the research in India. But as much as I'd like to do that, it seems less and less possible." She pauses a moment, "I met somebody last week who said they had a lead for me…"

"No student exchange?" he asks curiously. "I mean, surely there's some family you can stay with for a semester or something." Peter makes his suggestion as he picks up a couple of more cards to sort them out. "So do you attend school, Hope?" he asks curiously. "Don't think I've seen you around here before."

"It's hard to get to India, right?" Why is that something Hope has to ask? "Seems like a long way to go for just a class. No, not me," she adds to Peter. "I mean, there's a school I visit sometimes, but I'm not really much of a student. What do you guys study?" she asks, putting a few of the cards back in the drawer. They're…mostly in order.

"It's… not a long-term project," says Steph, grimacing. "Look, you heard about the Met being attacked last month? I was there. I saw what the bad guys took, and I figured out where they're going." She raises a hand to pinch the bridge of her nose. "So I want to try to find whatever it is they're after -first-. It's probably way too late at this point." She utters a sigh as she leans back against the card catalogs. "Law. Criminal justice. That kind of thing."

"So some bad guys attack the Met. You saw it. Figured out what it was, and you're going after them what, alone?" Peter asks with an arch of his brow. "Look, I know that you're studying law, but come on, isn't this something for the professionals to handle?" As if he has so much room to talk. Shush inner-voice. Taking up one of the last cards, he hands it to Hope to file in. "The sciences. Chemistry, physics, you know.. stuff like that." Fine so he has a lot of classes across the science spectrum. He's a nerd./

"I mean, that's half of a good thought." Hope drops the card the drawer without looking where it belongs. Stopping bad guys is much more interesting than trying to alphabetize things. "The getting to what they're going for first is a good thought. The doing it alone is kind of…less. And, I mean, not to sound like a jerk, but they robbed a museum, right? What're they after, some piece of art or some dusty old relic? Who's it going to hurt who owns something old?"

"Given the world we live in," says Steph, "with magicians and mutants and spider-people and all that, and the fact that the people who attacked the museum were, themselves, superhuman and looking for a relic that'd been hidden in the solid stone belly of a statue of Ganesha… I don't think it's just some random piece of art they're trying to find. I wasn't planning to go it alone, but I haven't had much luck finding people to help me out, so somebody's gotta do something, and it may as well be me!"


"SHHH!" Peter calls back out towards the Silent Shusher and turns his attention back to Stephanie. "Okay. So you can't just get first class.. or even economy tickets to India. Maybe reach out to one of the heroes that are around, see if they can help? Did you see what the thing was that they took? Maybe what it did?" he shrugs, and looks to Hope. "Usually there's a reason why people hide things in other things that aren't meant to be found. Not always good."

"When it comes to old stuff, a lot of the time the reason is that it's old, and something happened, and people forgot about it," Hope shrugs. That, at least, she has experience with. "The Avengers have a jet thing," she notes, pointing her thumb in the direction of the mansion and the river. "And in theory, an interest in keeping bad things from happening. They're not super great at listening, though. Most of the time."

"Lots of people have jet things and aren't good at listening," Steph says, frustration clear on her face. "I've tried talking to a bunch of people. Somebody told me he knew a guy, and then… well, nothing so far. Anyway, the thing they stole is apparently a key to 'the door to perfect peace.' The enscription in the temple it came from says to follow Ganesha's trunk. And I don't know about you guys, but I'd really rather not let these people get through that door."

"Huh. Key." Peter considers for a moment. "I suppose that's a good point. I can do some research and see what I can come up with. But you know me already - two jobs just to help Aunt May with the rent, plus I just lost my internship with Stark, and all.." he shrugs. "Can't really help with the whole transportation thing."

"I feel like if things worked the way they should, walking through the doorway to perfect peace would make these hypothetically bad guys realize that their evil plans were coming form the wrong sort of place and they'd walk back out better people." Hope sometimes lives up to her name a little too well. "I don't guess either of you can fly a plane? I'm a little better with jetpacks, and I feel like India is too far to take a jetpack."

"I know, Pete. I don't expect you to fly me to India. And I can't fly myself. I was hoping to find somebody interested in Indian temples who'd give me money to go hunt down this thing, but that hasn't worked out so far." To Hope she adds, "I'm a New York City girl. I've never even driven a car." L'Aubergine has, once or twice, but not Stephanie.

"Listen to Miss Fancy Pants with her jetpack." Peter says with a grin, playful, at Hope, as he considers. "Nope. I have a moped, but I don't think that's going to do much to get anyone anywhere." he admits with a small frown. "But if she has access to a plane.." he gestures towards Hope, and all we need is a pilot.. maybe we can hire one, and who knows, take an adventure?"

"I mean, I know a pilot too, but he's not really the sort to take unplanned trips in other people's jets." Hope pauses, brows rising as something else occurs to her. "Or there's Roberto. He's probably got a jet that has a pilot who won't need to be in charge of the whole thing just to go along." She smirks over at Peter, shaking her head. "I tinker. A little bit. Still getting used to some things, though."

"Hey, I tinker too," Steph observes. "Gadget girls unite, right?" She flashes a somewhat tired grin at Hope. "This Roberto guy… think he'd want to go on an international adventure? I mean, I'm sure we can stash him someplace safe while I hunt down the hidden temple."

"We hunt down the hidden temple." Peter points out. "Well. At least you and Hope. I'll just be the sidekick that gets into trouble." he says with a small laugh before he glances at his watch and frowns. "I should get going, I have a couple of things to take care of before work."

"Shockingly enough, not only is he likely to be willing to come along, but he's not actually useless enough to need to be stashed somewhere," Hope grins over at Stephanie, glancing back to Peter when he makes his escape. "He'd probably be willing. I can ask, at least. I mean, even if you're wrong about this, then it's better than sitting around and doing nothing, right?"

"Well then. This is the most promising thing I've heard since I started working on this," Steph says, a combination of relief and exhaustion suffusing her face. "If it helps, tell him he'll have a blonde in his debt." She fluffs her hair. "I'm gonna go put back the grant reference books, but…" Quickly she jots her name and phone number — at the dorm — on a little square of paper and passes it over to Hope. "Keep me posted, okay? It was really nice meeting you, Hope. And good to see you, Pete."

"See, grabbing the wrong redhead does sometimes pay off." Peter tries to put a positive spin on his little accident that happened to introduce Stephanie to Hope. "And I'll see you both around." he promises as he turns to head off, grabbing his bag as he heads for the door.

"You keep trying to spin that," Hope smirks at Peter, taking the number from Stephanie and giving it a look before she nods and stuffs it in a pocket. "I'll let you know. Should be interesting, right?"

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