DISCLAIMER: These people belong to DC Comics. I just fantasize about them.
CONTINUITY: No way, no how. Not on your life. Uh-uh.
NOTES: Fanfic100 #39, Taste and Psych30 #20, Learned Helplessness. This is for MsCongeniality.
It was, Babs noted with approval, a very nice restaurant: fancy, but still someplace that looked comfortable to eat. She was even more pleased to note that her companion had done his homework and the restaurant had a conveniently placed wheelchair ramp, plenty of space between the tables, and nobody even blinked when she rolled in.
The waiter showed them to a table near the window, where the second chair had already been whisked away before they arrived. She smiled benevolently at Ted and he grinned back.
Menus and drink orders taken care of, the waiter melted away. Babs took a deep breath and savored the quiet murmurs of the other diners, noting the utter lack of any computer fans whirring or heroes whining. The tables were even the right distance apart that they could discuss whatever they chose.
"Very nice," she said over the top of her menu.
Ted beamed. "I haven't had a chance to eat here, but I'm told it's quite good. Especially the lamb."
"I like lamb," she said, scanning the menu. Anything that didn't come in a takeout carton sounded like a swell idea.
"I think I'm going to have the coq au vin," he said, putting the menu down. "So, what's new?"
"Not much," Babs said with a shrug. "My associates cause me grief. The big guy demands perfection, BC whines about her ex. The usual. You?"
She missed his response as the comm she'd automatically left in her ear beeped. When she scowled, Ted looked confused. "Not you," she said with a sigh. "I told Tim I wasn't to be disturbed while he was babysitting."
"Go on," Ted said with a sigh.
Babs tapped the comm lightly and fixed her expression on Ted so any bystander would think she was speaking to him. "Kid," she said, voice low and tight, "unless Big Blue and the green guy are rampaging through Metropolis, I strongly suggest you go away."
There was a moment of silence. "Uh...never mind?" Tim's hesitant voice said.
"Very good choice." She clicked the comm off again.
Ted rubbed his mouth, obviously trying not to laugh.
"Don't even think about it," she said, pointing an admonishing finger at him.
"Me?" he asked, expression a perfect parody of innocence.
He nodded. "I'll take that as a compliment, then."
Babs blinked, shaking her head and hiding her own laughter.
The waiter appeared at that point and they placed their orders. Within a minute, appropriate silverware was whisked into place along with their soup. Babs sighed happily. "Good help is so hard to find," she said.
He started to laugh. Although she couldn't hear anything, Babs saw his automatic hand twitch toward his jacket pocket and the way he froze in indecision.
She waved a hand. "See who it is."
He ducked his head, pulling the phone partway out of his pocket. "Oh, Damoto. He can wait. It's never an emergency with him. They probably ran out of paperclips." Stuffing the phone back, he smiled in relief.
"So, I heard Kord Industries was working on lightweight rechargeable batteries for hybrid and electric cars," Babs said. "That would be a moneymaker."
"Yes!" He sat up straight, eyes gleaming with scientific fervor. "It would be a great ecological accomplishment. And we're close, too."
Babs nodded in the appropriate places as he told her all about it. To be honest, she had no particular interest in lightweight rechargeable batteries, or any batteries, but she purely loved when Ted talked about science, because he forgot to be nervous and he forgot to feel like a second-rate hero.
An insistent and very specific beep on her comm finally dragged her attention away and she felt her hands clenching around her salad fork. Damn the man. Goddamn the man. With an apologetic glance at Ted, she tapped the comm. "Bruce. What part of 'leave me the hell alone tonight' did you not understand?"
She could practically feel his glare. "That's Batman over the comms."
"Call me on my night off and I'll damn well call you Tinkerbell if I want."
"I mean it. Your kid is manning the phones for me and I can't think of anything you might need that he can't get you almost as fast as me. And if you tell him I said that, I'll kill you."
Ted had given up trying to look like he wasn't listening, and he was doubled over the table gasping for breath.
She rolled her eyes as Bruce growled. "Oh please," she said, "I haven't been intimidated by you since I was 17. Now," her voice turned sickly sweet, "you can either contact young Timmy or I'll get back to you in the morning. Your choice."
There was no response except the click of her comm as he finally got the message and went away. Ted caught his breath and gave her thumbs up.
Babs took a deep breath to regain her previous calm and then, with impeccable timing, the food arrived.
Babs decided she was in a well-deserved heaven. The garlic wafted up from her lamb, along with the delicate scent of some herb she could probably identify if she'd ever had a minute of time to cook.
Ted smiled at her, lifting his glass of water in salute. "To us," he said. "And a much-needed rest."
She swallowed and lifted her glass in a hand that was not shaking, damn it. "To us."
After a token sip of water, they both lifted fork and knife, having had as much emotion as either could handle right now. Babs put a fork full of lamb in her mouth and moaned quietly.
"Oh god," she said, cutting off another piece, "it's better than good. It's almost better than chocolate."
"Wow!" He laughed at her. "You'd better save me a piece, then."
"Maybe." She peered over the top of her glasses in the way that always got Ted's attention. "If you make it worth my while."
His voice deepened. "I think that can be arranged."
Without taking her eyes off him, Babs lifted her fork toward her mouth.
Something light-colored flashed by the window in her peripheral vision. A bird, she thought firmly. Definitely a...large...shiny...bird. Okay, maybe a helicopter. Hovering outside the window. With arms that waved furiously at them.
Ted buried his face in his hands and his shoulders shook. Babs politely didn't ask if he was laughing or crying. However..."Has Booster actually heard of this concept we call a 'secret identity'?"
"In theory," he said, voice muffled by his hands. "I think the part of his brain wired for publicity tends to override it, though."
"Everyone is staring out the window," she said with a heavy sigh. "We'd better do so as well."
Ted peeked over the top of his fingers. "I'm afraid to," he said.
Slowly turning her head, Babs looked at the wildly gesticulating Booster Gold who seemed to be engaging in some kind of semaphores now. "I have no idea what he's trying to tell us, but I just know I'm not going to like it."
Ted looked. "Uh oh."
"I think I know what he's trying to tell us."
That was when a car fell through the roof, followed by a giant snake and Superman.
Babs sighed. "Did you know Copperhead broke out of prison last week?"
"Mmm." Ted drummed his fingers on the table and watched people run screaming from the room.
"Looks like Superman and Booster have this under control."
"Wanna go back to my place and order pizza?"