4991/Dumplings Trump Mahjong

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Dumplings Trump Mahjong
Date of Scene: 02 February 2021
Location: Hot Dumpling Restaurant
Synopsis: Tim and Steph meet up at Hot Dumplings. Tim notices an injury and hears about the festering demon clawings.
Cast of Characters: Stephanie Brown, Tim Drake

Stephanie Brown has posed:
One of the best things about the restaurant most often known to Stephanie and her friends as 'Hot Dumpling' due to it being the only sign on the place, and in Chinese at that, was that it was cheap. It was exactly the kind of place that a struggling college student could afford.

And while she's sidelined from patrolling by an injury, finding ways to avoid spending too much money becomes a greater necessity. So it is that Stephanie Brown sends out a text to her fellow members of Bruce Wayne's entourage. It's just a picture of the Hot Dumpling sign. It might as well be the Batsignal for how perfectly it conveys a meaning, and also for how likely it is to cause various Robins and friends to come running.

Tim Drake has posed:
The good thing about inviting Tim to 'Hot Dumpling' when you are a struggling college student is that the tab is most likely going to be picked up by someone who can afford it no matter how large the tab gets, and when you have a bunch of people who burn through a normal days worth of calories in just a few hours due to their extra-curricular activities that can add up to a lot.

The familiar sound of Tim's motorcycle pulls up outside in the alley, the young rider emerging into the restaurant moments later carrying his helmet and taking a glance around the hole-in-the-wall to find the young woman that sent out the dumpling signal. Not having much issue finding her, Tim makes his way over towards the table and set his helmet down, "Hey Steph."

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie had waited just inside the restaurant's door, not getting a seat yet as she waited to hear from others whether they would be coming or not. Not that there's very ample seating to start with, but she'd know to pull two tables together if there were going to be enough.

"Tim," she says, breaking out in a bright smile as he steps inside. She reaches out to give him a quick hug. He might notice the stiff way her arm moves, lacking the young woman's normal limberness. After she moves over with him to the table. "Not sure if it'll be just us or not, she says as she takes a seat.

In the back, the Asian men playing mahjong glance up from the game. One nudges another and says in Chinese: "It's the blond girl. She's very silly. I love her," grinning as he looks over towards Stephanie and Tim.

Stephanie spots the grin and gives a big goofy wave that direction. "They always smile and are so friendly. "I think they love us," she says, one of the only members of the team who does not speak Chinese.

Tim Drake has posed:
It doesn't take a genius to see that Stephanie is favoring her arm, but Tim happens to be one anyway. His eyes move down to her arm then back up to her face, "You're hurt." It isn't a question, it is a statement of fact even as he returns the hug lightly. "Are you ok?" he ponders as he takes his own seat, one of the ones facing the front door.

Tim flicks his eyes in the direction of the men playing mahjong and he chuckles, "One of certainly likes you, but is that any surprise? He thinks you are silly. But that just adds to your charm, honestly what is there not to like? I guess the jury is still out on me, though."

"So any reason for this particular meeting, or is this 'just because'?"

Stephanie Brown has posed:
"Silly?" Stephanie repeats, softly if with energy. "Who's silly?" she says, then turns to look back at the Asian man. He grins at her and Stephanie laughs and sticks her tongue out but in an upward angle, making a face which is rather silly, and fun. She takes the seat with Tim then at the table.

"Oh, yeah, I am," she says of his comment that she's hurt. "One of Felix Faust's demons clawed right through my body armor. And it's kind of... I think Leslie used the words 'festering in an unusual way'," Stephanie says, invoking the name of one Doctor Leslie Thompkins, who runs a charitable clinic, but more importantly, is the medical expert that Bruce Wayne turns to when he and Alfred are not up to a medical task.

"I got stabbed a sword-like needle a lot and... hopefully that anti-biotics will do it," she says.

Stephanie picks up a menu. "Just hungry and figured if Bruce won't let me patrol for now, I could see you guys like this," she says. "So what's up with you?"

Tim Drake has posed:
Tim let's out a little chuckle as Steph makes faces at the gentlemen playing their game, glancing over at the men and in Mandarin, <<She is honored that you are pleased with her antics, and will continue to do her best to brighten your day with her presence when she is near.>>

The news of Faust changes the young man's demeanor, his face going a bit stoic as he glances back down to her arm again, "Festering is not a good word for Dr. Thompkins to be using Steph, especially not followed by 'in an unusual way'. He looks concerned, glancing from the arm to her face again. "I hope the antibiotics take care of it, but don't take any chances with this. Who knows what those things carry. Personally I'd feel better if you spoke to someone more knowledgeable in demonology just to rule out any possibility of 'supernatural' issues. Anyone tried to get ahold of Constantine? I can talk to Bruce."

Tim is quiet for a moment longer, then reaches for the menu and finally removes his eyes from the young woman in front of him to look over the menu, "Do you need me to translate, or are you just going to point at the pictures like always?" the Red Robin says as his face breaks out into a grin.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie nods her head at Tim's question. "Bruce was there for my exam. He'd rather not risk using, that style of healing. Though if the antibiotics don't seem to handle it, he mentioned Zatanna. Or, Constantine. Though you could see his face react like he'd bitten into a rotten lemon at the latter name, so it was clear who he'd prefer if it comes to that," she says.

Stephanie glances down at her side, suggesting it's there rather than her arm that's the problem. "At least it's kind of... purple. I mean, you know, if you're going to get wounded? Might as well stay in the color scheme?"

She knows that probably isn't a very good joke, so buries her head in the dumplings. "Kind of feeling like something spicy this time," she says as she surveys the menu. "Ok, if you want to pick something that's hot, but not too hot? Spicy, but not TOO spicy."

Tim Drake has posed:
Tim Drake nods at Stephanie's explanation. "I should have known he was already on it. Good, at least that road has already been paved. Did anyone put a timeframe on when we deem this isn't healing right?"

He follow her gaze, realizing his mistake as her eyes move to her side as she speaks of the injury, "That's...a bad joke, Steph," but it does elicit a chuckle from the teen. "That's like 'dad joke' quality."

Closing the menu Tim nods, "Ok then. Seems like it is just going to be us, so I suppose I can order." Tim flags down the server and orders, <<Can we please get some Juicy pork dumplings, hot and spicy pork belly, salt and pepper chicken, onion pancake, and spicy wontons. Thanks you.>> He closes the menu and sets it aside, "Oh, and two cokes."

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie watches, and listens, as Tim places the order. "I really do need to learn that. And, every other language you guys speak. Someday," she says with a shake of her head. "I can fit in at least a couple of language classes as part of my curriculum. Just in the electives that is. Have actually considered language as a major but... ah, knowing only English to start with isn't a great start on it. Plus I'm not sure I'd like doing an interpreter job," she tells him.

Stephanie leans back in her chair, smiling at the woman as she brings the cokes. The old Chinese woman stares at Stephanie for a moment, and then turns to go back behind the counter. "Not sure she likes me as much as the others," Stephanie cracks. "And hey, 'dad joke'? Really that bad?" she asks with a grin.

Turning more series, the blond coed says, "I'm sending Doc Thompkins pictures every 12 hours. And, oh crap, yeah, today I'm supposed to go back in for a checkup."

Tim Drake has posed:
Tim nods to the woman as she brings the sodas, offering a smile. "Maybe, maybe not. Hard to tell, but if I had to wager a guess I would say she is less fond at the very least. Maybe she just doesn't like 'foreigners', or blondes." Tim chuckles, offering up a shrug as he takes a sip from the soda. "I wouldn't worry much about it. I don't see her sneaking back there and adding Thai chilis to the food or anything. You're probably ok."

Tim leans back in his chair, trying to take up a more relaxed position since he is on a 'night off'. "Every 12? Yeah...she's concerned. What has the prognoses been so far? Has there been any improvement, or is it too early to tell?"

"Do you want me to go with you?"

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie glances at her side again, though it's not like doing so can penetrate the sweatshirt she's wearing and the bandage covering the four demonic claw marks. Not that she needs to see it again, having just checked it before leaving. "Well, it doesn't look too much worse at least. Though where... there's a bit of purple that seems to be following a vein. That's a little longer than it was," she says. "And a little more of that on the edges of a few of the others. So, ok maybe that's not a good thing," Stephanie admits.

She clears her throat. "I don't know, maybe Thai chili is just what it needs? I mean nothing from hell is actually hotter, right?" she kids, making light of the injury. Though Tim might catch something in her demeanor or eyes, that she knows it could be serious.

"If you want to tag along, nothing better to do, sure," Stephanie tells him. "Though if it's just to see me get stabbed with a needle that a medieval knight could have carried into battle and struck fear in the hearts of his enemies, then I'll be disappointed in you, Timothy Drake," she says, crossing her arms over her chest and giving him a mock glare for something he didn't do.

Tim Drake has posed:
Tim starts to frown again as Stephanie starts to describe the wound, and that frown deepens as she continues to explain the changes that are occurring to it. "Maybe we should get our food to go..." he wonders aloud as he looks from her to the door. "I don't like what I am hearing, Steph."

His mood slowly deteriorating from happy to neutral on the way to grim the young man picks up his coke again and takes a sip, "I don't think Thai chilis are the cure to magical infections. I doubt even the amount of capsaicin in a Carolina Reaper would do the trick, though that would be damn amusing to watch. I wonder how long you could last...I should get Jason to eat one."

"I'm just offering for support. If you would rather me not be there to see you cower at the sight of the needle from hell, I won't go. I promise I won't even make fun of you for it."

Stephanie Brown has posed:
A soft grin is flashed over the table at Tim. About then the woman brings out their food, setting it down before them. She tells Tim in Chinese, << Here you are. Strapping boy like you needs to eat up. >> He gets a smile. She turns to Stephanie, who gets a flat look, before the woman heads back to the counter. Stephanie lets out an exasperated sigh that blows some stray blond hairs away from her face.

"If you want to come, sure. I'm sure it's not that bad though," she tells him. "Hopefully I won't need more jabs with the TBAN," she tells him as she plates one of the dumplings. She glances up at, likely spotting a look at the acronym. "The Big Ass Needle," she explains.

Tim Drake has posed:
Tim Drake glances at the woman as she addresses him, and smiles up to her with a nod. <<Thank you,>> chuckling again at the flat look that is given to Stephanie. "Yeah, I don't know what she doesn't like about you, but...it's certainly you."

Tim starts to plate his own dumplings, dipping one into the tray of black vinegar and popping it into his mouth.

He eyes her skeptically, "You know I am not buying that, right? I know you Steph, I've known you a long time. You don't have to put up a front with me. If I'm concerned, you have to be even if your peppy demeanor refuses to show it." He takes the chopsticks to another dumpling and pops it into his mouth, "Careful of those. I think she actually did put Thai chili in them..."

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie was just a little too fast in getting her first bite of the dumpling. Like the bike messenger in Pearl Harbor who delivered the warning that the Japanese might attack, while the base commander is standing looking at the smoke rising from the base, Tim's warning arrives just a touch too late.

"Oh. Oh man. Oh god," Stephanie says, going for her coke and drinking it quickly. The woman at the counter turns away, her smile hidden. She actually doesn't hate Steph, but has fun pulling the girl's chain since she doesn't understand Chinese.

Stephanie is better after a few moments, suggesting it's not a Thai chili but at least something hot. "I mean, wow, that's good," she quips, her face red from the heat of the dumpling. "Maybe I'll go for the one that is only rated two alarm fire," she says, getting a different one.

She clears her throat, as the elderly woman brings her another Coke. "Thank you," Stephanie says, flashing her an extra warm, friendly smile. << You are welcome. >> the woman says in Chinese, returning to the counter. "I'll stop by after we eat," she says with a nod.

Tim Drake has posed:
Tim grabs another dumpling with his chopsticks and pops it into his mouth before using the chopsticks as pointers, pointing directly at Steph. "Don't think I am dumb enough to notice you are avoiding how you are really feeling about this, because I am not. However, what I am is a friend and a friend know when to shut the hell up. So, consider this me being a friend as I drop it and realize just how hard it is for me to do so."

He sighs, leaning back into his chair again and popping another of the spicy dumplings into his mouth. "I'm still going to go with you to Leslie's though. Your stuck with me till then at least. On that I am not taking no for an answer."

He sighs, one of those long drawn out sighs that is almost like someone trying to hit a reset button and looks over to Steph with a smile, "So other than the obvious, how have you been?"

Stephanie Brown has posed:
The new dumpling is more more to Stephanie's liking. Enough it might give her a bit of scalp sweat before it's done, but not turning her face red. She tells Tim in a lighthearted voice, "Yeah, well, I'm tough. I about told Doc to rub some dirt on it and I'd walk it off and be fine. But Bruce and Alfred were both there with her. And frankly the triple scowling that would have resulted was more than I was ready to take on."

She takes another bite of the dumpling. "Oh gawd I needed this," she says, speaking to her hunger. "Ok, you can come. I'm sure I'll be fine though. Immune system just needed a little boost is all," she says.

The blond coed gives a small shrug then. "Not too much. Staying above water in my classes. A mix of C's and B's so far. Dreading next semester a bit. Have Chemistry then," she says. "And still need to figure out a major." She sighs at the last part.

Tim Drake has posed:
Tim Drake stares at her from across the table, the muscles in his jaw tightening as he grits his teeth to prevent himself from speaking as his hand moves up to pinch the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger. He take another deep breath, and then another as he swallows the words that fight to emerge from his throat before managing to just nod back at her with a forced smile. Sometimes being a friend is hard.

He reaches out, snagging another dumpling and popping it into his mouth. Full mouth means he can't talk, right? Easier to let things go if you can't say anything. By the time he finishes chewing and swallows, he is able to keep his jaw from clenching tight.

"You know if you need help I'll help tutor you, right? All you have to do is ask...and it isn't like we don't have access to a chem lab that you can use to study off hours."

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie stirs her dumpling around on her plate with the chopsticks. "Yeah, that class is actually one that I know has some usefulness for me, no matter what other major I end up working on," she says. "Barbara ran me through just a little bit. Mixing a few things for equipment. And, trying to follow the why and how of it was pretty rough. I mean, following the set of instructions, muy bueno. But understanding why those steps? Oof. So that's why I'm kind of dreading it," she says.

She looks up to smile over at Tim. "I'd appreciate it. I kind of hate to ask you guys for too much of that kind of help," she admits. Says the girl who went it alone for so long as Spoiler. Though, if one is fair, she did accept a bit of help from Tim. Replacing her smoke bombs from the fireworks stand with smoke pellets now and then. Other equipment support.

Tim Drake has posed:
Tim Drake shrugs his shoulder as he reaches out to take a sip of his coke as he returns the smile. "You didn't ask, I offered," Tim says matter-of-factly.", "All you do is choose to accept it. I'm sure between the two of us we can get your through the course...but don't expect me to be doing your homework for you. Backrubs, temple rubs, and moral support sure but I draw the line at doing the homework. Otherwise you won't learn anything...and no trying to get the computer to do it for you either."

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie gives a wry smile and laugh. "Yeah, I haven't tried to get the computer to do more than normal stuff. I'm pretty sure Barbara has it rigged to lock me out if I ask it to write a paper on the positives and negatives of Trickle Down Economics," she tells Tim.

The young woman gets another bite of dumpling, sighing and savoring the flavor. "I'm pretty lucky how things turned out," she says. "Mom had promised she'd find a way to pay for school if I promised I'd go and graduate. But we were looking at community college. Until I got the scholarships."

The can of Coke is picked up and a sip taken. "I know it had to be Bruce or Barbara. I can't imagine I earned them. I even looked into it, but far as I can tell it's this couple who funded the scholarship, and there were records of it going back eight years. Which I couldn't find any sign they weren't real." She gives a soft smile. "But, I know how strapped mom would have been to make it happen, and I wouldn't have time for, other stuff, if I was working to pay for school. Just, yeah. I'm lucky," she says, smiling over at Tim.

Tim Drake has posed:
"If she hasn't, you better believe I will," Tim says with a grin.

"Maybe you honestly earned it? We could dig into it together and probably get to the bottom of it eventually. Do you really want to know if it was Bruce? I'd like to think that maybe he isn't pulling some invisible strings to make that kind of things happen. You know how he is with the merits of hard work. I honestly don't know if he would offer that kind of handout, even by hiding it behind some couple. But if you really want to know, I can just flat out ask him."