“Uh, Steph? You know I’m fine, right? I don’t need anything.”
“Liar. Everyone needs a girl’s night out on a regular basis.”
“…It’s two in the afternoon.”
“Do you have to nitpick everything I say?”
“Do you ever accept a ‘no’?”
“There are only positives in my vocabulary!”
“I’ll take that as a no.”
Stephanie grinned. Wendy looked like she was fighting the urge to roll her eyes. They continued through racks of clothes, and counters full of jewelry, Stephanie pausing every now and then to hold up a random item for Wendy to inspect. Wendy maneuvered her chair through the wider paths between racks, barely glancing at whatever Stephanie was fawning over.
“You know,” Stephanie confessed after the third turned down T-shirt, “I’m getting the feeling you’re not really into this.”
The corners of Wendy’s lips twitched upward. “Night job honed your observation skills?”
“I do not appreciate the tone.” Stephanie sniffed. “And it did if you must know. The mask is just to look sexy. Skill’s all me.”
“Look, I appreciate this, okay? But I have a lot of work to do. There’s still a grid to set up.” Wendy turned in the direction of the doors. Stephanie ran to intercede.
“And that’s exactly why we’re out here.” She wagged a finger in Wendy’s face. “I am only doing this because I care. Too much work and no play will turn you into Barbara.”
Wendy continued wheeling herself forward. “She’s not that bad.”
Stephanie jogged backwards. “Only because you don’t know her yet. Trust me, Babs is great, but she really needs to—oof!”
“Look out!” Wendy called out a second too late. She managed to brake fast enough to avoid the collision, but Stephanie walked right into the man.
“I take it Babs should start honing your observation skills?” asked Wendy wrily.
“Your comments are unnecessary right now,” Stephanie muttered audibly under her breath. Wendy smiled. “I am so sorry, sir, I—oh hi!”
Incredibly fine Detective Nick smiled hesitantly at her. “Hi. Have we met?”
“Oh. Um…” Behind her, Wendy was hiding the lower half of her face with her hands. Stephanie suspected laughter at her expense. As usual. “I’m sorry, I thought you’re someone I know.”
“And who would that be?” Wendy interjected. That smile was far from innocent.
I cannot chuck a snow globe at her head without being conspicuous. I cannot chuck a snow globe at her head without being conspicuous.
“Oh, just a friend. Now can we—?”
“Your accent’s not from around here, is it?” continued Wendy. “Where are you from?”
Stephanie turned to stare at her friend. Like she wouldn’t know. There was a file on him in their computers.
Nick looked a little weirded out, but he answered her politely. “No, I just recently moved here from Central City.”
“That’s a pretty big change.” Wendy nodded. Stephanie was telepathically screaming at her to shut up. But because she had no telepathy and the universe hated her, Wendy continued. “If you ever need a guide, Steph here,” and she clapped Stephanie cheerfully on the back, “can maneuver Gotham at night.”
If there were any way of subtly kicking Wendy’s spokes, Stephanie would have put a dent in them already.
“Is that right?” Nick smiled at her and Stephanie had to use all of her Batgirl training to keep from grinning stupidly. “Take care when you go out. The streets could be a lot safer.”
“Oh, I know.” Stephanie waved a disarmingly casual hand. “No need to worry. I’m careful.”
“Especially when she’s hanging out with the guy she likes. Looks a lot like you, actually” Wendy added as if in afterthought.
“Wendy!” Stephanie half-squeaked. Almost everyone in the vicinity turned to look at her. Wendy was biting her lower lip and even Nick was trying to hide a smile. Okay. That meant he was amused and not creeped out, right? She really hoped so.
“I’m sorry, Steph,” Wendy apologized. “I couldn’t help it.”
“Yeah, yeah. We’re leaving now.” Stephanie turned to Nick. She was positive she wasn’t red; her color was probably closer to purple. “Again, I’m really sorry for running into you. But hey, at least you got some laughs out of it, right?”
Oh my God, Steph, shut up, she mentally screamed at herself.
“Don’t worry,” Nick replied. “You remind me of someone I know; I’m used to the exuberance.”
“Oh God.” Stephanie buried her face in her hands. Wendy was actually snickering.
“That was a compliment, by the way,” Nick clarified. Not daring to raise her head, Stephanie nodded. She heard Wendy say, “Bye!” and Nick’s footsteps as they receded. Only when she was certain he was gone did she raise her head.
“I only do it because I care,” Wendy paraphrased.
“You realize I’m going to get you for this, right?” Stephanie crossed her arms in front of her chest. “I was going to bring you some of my most excellent waffles.”
“And now I’m condemned to a pitiful waffle-less existence?” the other finished. Wendy really did roll her eyes this time. “Oh dear. However will I survive.”
“In agony without the sweet, sweet taste of crisp, golden waffles,” Stephanie stated emphatically. “And you will know that you only have yourself to blame.”
“I’m sorry, Steph. I just thought you might need some help hooking up when you don’t have the sexy mask to help you out.”
Stephanie stopped walking. Wendy waited. After several tries to come up with a witty and amazing retort, Stephanie finally conceded defeat.
“All of a sudden I understand Bruce’s quest for vengeance.”
“Who wants vengeance?”
“Wendy,” Stephanie threw an arm around her friend’s shoulder, “let’s go home.”
“I thought we were having a girl’s night out.”
“One, you’re being mean to me today. Two, I forgot I have to work on a project at the university later. And three, you’re long overdue for a history lesson.”
“History?” Wendy arched a questioning eyebrow.
“Yep. But worry not, pupil of mine. Professor Brown is here to answer all your doubts. Cruel and unusual punishment at your hands aside.’”
“I really doubt that.”
“Oh, hush up and have a little faith. But first, we’re going to need markers.”
“Yes, young padawan. Markers. Lots and lots of them. You don’t have a problem with Sharpies, do you?”