Author name: Sivi -- author email
Recipient name: Ang Griffen
Requested character(s): Barbara Gordon / Oracle, Indigo I
Story title: Making Friends
Rating: appropriate for all ages
Spoiler warnings: Vague references to the most recent issues of OUTSIDERS; no spoilers for BIRDS OF PREY issues released following "War Games."
Acknowledgments: Thanks to everyone who held my hand and improved this story in one way or another. I would *love* to mention names, but they'd give me away. ;)
part 1: revised plans
"Arsenal. What can I do--"
"Babs, it's me," Dinah interjected. "Don't get mad, but I have some bad news."
"Dinah..." Barbara sighed into the receiver and rubbed her forehead. "Please tell me you're not canceling."
"We're *really* sorry. But Roy doesn't just have the flu like we hoped... unless the flu now comes with red spots."
Barbara let out a surprised burst of laughter. "Oh, you're joking. He has chicken pox?"
"Yeah. He got it from Lian, who got it at school from some other kids..."
"...and, even if he wasn't feeling horrible--we think he's still in the contagious stage, so he's *definitely* not leaving the apartment today."
Barbara twirled the phone cord and sighed again. "Well, I guess that's that, then. We'll have to reschedule for some other time--*again*."
"Oh, be nice. It's not like we asked for this to happen." Dinah paused for a second and then chuckled. "Though, this ought to teach Mr. 'I never even get a cold' to brag about his perfect health."
"I take it you're staying to play nursemaid?"
"Nursemaid, mother..." Dinah laughed. "Poor Roy is taking it twice as hard as Lian is. He looks so pitiful; there's no way I can leave now. I think he'd actually cry." She hesitated and then cleared her throat. "Besides, I don't really feel like tagging along as a fifth wheel with cybernerds--no offense to you or Ted."
"None taken," Barbara said, dryly. "And no, I know you can't come along. I just feel bad about canceling again--Ted was really looking forward to this evening. You know how our lives are. Keeping him away from stress has boiled down to not seeing him much at all."
Barbara could dimly hear voices on the other side of the line and then some rustling.
"Barbara? Hey, it's Roy. Ohhh, I shouldn't have gotten up so fast."
She could hear Dinah's chastising mutter on the background, and she grinned despite herself. "Arsenal. How're you feeling?"
"No need to be so formal. I have burning, itchy red dots all over my body--trust me, there's no way I'm going to be feeling dignified today."
"I guess that answers my question," Barbara said, and then tried to muster up some sympathy instead of more laughter. "It'll get better soon; the first four days are the worst by far."
"Ugh, let's hope that's true. But hey, listen, I have an idea. I know you and your friend were really looking forward to just going out and having some fun with friends. And bowling is really kind of a bust if you just do it with two people, you know? So, since this is essentially my fault, I thought I could talk to my team and see if I can get someone else to fill in for me and Dinah."
"Dinah and me. And, Roy..." Barbara trailed off, and for what felt like the umpteenth time in the past few weeks, wondered if she would ever think of Dick again without wincing.
"Don't worry. I won't ask him. But, just... trust me, okay? I work with good people." Roy coughed, and then there was more static on the line.
"See?" Dinah said, a few seconds later. Barbara could vaguely hear Roy stumbling away from the phone again. "Problem solved. There's no need to change your plans."
Barbara pinched the bridge of her nose. "I just hope that Roy's character judgment has improved since he... well, just in general."
"Aw, c'mon. Have a little faith in him. And, in any case--you talk to *Batman* on a regular basis. That has to have prepared you for conversation with just about anyone, ever."
Barbara chuckled. "Fine. Let's pretend I have faith in Roy."
"There we go," Dinah said, sounding pleased.
"If he can't find anyone after all, call me back soon so I can let Ted know we're postponing again, okay? Otherwise, just give the mystery replacements the address to the bowling alley, and I'll see them there."
"Sure thing. And have fun tonight!" Dinah chirped, and hung up.
Barbara stared at the phone for a few more seconds before wheeling back to her computer. She hesitated for a few minutes and then booted up her vigilante database, letting her mouse hover over the Outsiders file. She bit her lip for a second and then opened up the file. And slowly raised her eyebrows.
"Oh, boy. This is going to be interesting."
part 2: the three key words to a successful operation are...
"I've done some research," Indigo said, tugging on a new pair of jeans. She was standing in front of the full-length mirror in her room, while Shift was changing behind her.
"Yeah, babe?" Shift tucked his shirt into his pants. "On what? And, damn, this dressing thing is way more complicated than it looks. These buttons are tiny. I think I'll stick to morphing into clothes in the future."
"I searched for information about Barbara Gordon and Ted Kord--the individuals we are expected to engage with tonight. Do I look acceptable in this outfit?" She turned to Shift and pointed at her new pink jeans.
"Very acceptable," Shift said, smiling despite himself. "But, Indy, it's not considered polite to investigate people you're socializing with."
Indigo frowned and then stepped closer to Shift to button up the rest of his shirt. "That's illogical. With the research I have done, I've compiled a list of likely conversation topics. We are therefore much more prepared for tonight's event."
"Yeah, but, hon--the whole idea of a blind date is that you're *not* prepared." Shift straightened his collar. "Besides, we're going bowling. We don't have to talk all that much."
"But I'd *like* to try and have conversations," Indigo said, while walking over to her dresser to get her hairbrush. "You keep saying that Grace is not a good person to model behavior after. From what I have learned of Barbara Gordon, she is a much better example of an average human being."
Shift put on his sunglasses and then paused for a beat. "Okay, that's fair enough, but still... it would've been better if you'd just gotten to know them during our get-together."
"Okay. I will remember that for next time. But--Shift?"
Shift halted in the doorway. "Yeah?"
"Since I already know that Barbara Gordon and Ted Kord are both extremely intelligent examples of the human species, and therefore probably excel at a simple activity like bowling, can I suck *less* tonight than I normally do with you?"
Shift blinked. "Errr..."
Indigo looked at him for a few moments and then lowered her hairbrush. "Oh, Shift. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to insinuate that you are horrible at bowling. I *like* the way you play."
Shift rubbed at his scalp and produced a sheepish grin. "Thanks, honey. And sure, if they're good at the game, you can play better than you do with me."
Indigo joined him in the doorway and beamed. "This is going to be a good first double-date."
part 3: ...preparation, preparation, preparation
"Not even picking me up in the Bug? My, you are a cheap date, Mr. Kord," Barbara said, smiling.
"It's *very* hard to find a good parking space for it downtown." Ted bent down and kissed her cheek. "Besides, it's only impressive the first time you're in it--or so I've been told."
"I think I can settle for regular transportation. Though I hope you're a better driver than Dinah," Barbara said, raising an eyebrow at Ted.
"Since I'm not trying to impress you anymore, I might as well drive like the law-abiding square I am, right?" When Barbara laughed, Ted grinned. "It feels like I haven't seen you in forever. You look great, Barbara."
Barbara blushed and smiled simultaneously. "It's good to see you, too."
"We really should try to match our schedules up more often," Ted said, while patting her on the shoulder. "Shall we? I don't want to keep Dinah and her friend waiting."
"Oh, about that," Barbara said, wheeling towards Ted's car with a small frown. "Dinah's friend came down with... the flu, and so she's babysitting his daughter tonight. But they've arranged for a replacement couple to play with us."
"Also from the biz?" Ted opened up the passenger door and then stepped aside as Barbara maneuvered into the seat.
"Mmhm. Have you heard of the Outsiders?" she asked, fastening her seatbelt and then closing the door.
Ted folded up her wheelchair and put it in the trunk of his car. "Sure. Batman ran a group by that name a while ago, right?"
Barbara chuckled. "That was virtually in a different lifetime, Ted. The current version of the group is being led by Dinah's friend."
"Hey, we can't *all* know everything. But I take it we're joining forces with two of these new Outsiders tonight?" He slipped behind the wheel and started the car, raising an eyebrow at Barbara.
Barbara pinched the bridge of her nose. "Yes. But do me a favor--don't talk about joining forces with anything. It'll probably jinx this entire evening, and I don't *actually* want to find out if I can save the world with the Blackberry I have in my purse."
He grinned and produced a handheld computer from his own pocket. "You know what they say about great minds..."
"Ted, tell me that's *not* a Palm Pilot," she said, snatching for it and staring at it with dismay.
Ted laughed. "Of course not. I just kept the Palm case. What's inside is a Kord Industries original: next-gen processor, full color touch screen, and of course some... specialized additions that people like you and me would get a real kick out of."
Barbara whistled and handed it back to him. "You'll have to show me what it can do at some point."
"Oh, definitely," Ted said, pulling out of the parking space. "I can give you a little demo at the bowling alley. I programmed a formula into this baby that calculates the exact speed and trajectory at which to release a bowling ball to ensure maximum strike possibility, taking player physique and ball weight into account."
She stared at him. "Really?"
Ted grinned. "Nah. C'mon, you know how I spend my spare time. I barely had time to finish modifying the Palm casing on this thing. Charmed has been *really* good this year."
part 4: getting to know each other
"So let me get this straight. One more time. You are *not* actually a Metamorpho clone," Ted said, leaning forward and peering at Shift intently. Barbara, who had for the most part been able to follow the story the first time Shift told it, nursed her Coke quietly.
"Nope," Shift said, sliding one arm around Indigo and pulling her towards his side. "More abilities, different personality... hotter girlfriend."
Indigo smiled at him adoringly and then turned to Ted. "Perhaps an analogy will assist you in processing this information? Think of an apple tree. It is a single entity that produces branches, leaves, and eventually, will send seeds flying in the wind. From those seeds, a new apple tree will eventually grow--and while it looks similar to the original tree, it is not the same." She looked at Ted patiently, clearly waiting for him to give some sign that he had gotten the message.
Ted chuckled and raised his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay--understood. Are all beings from your time this poetic?"
Shift laughed. "I doubt it. She's been watching a lot of Animal Planet lately."
Indigo turned to Shift and frowned. "Are you saying you believe it is impossible that I am naturally poetic?"
Barbara bit her lip to not start giggling while Shift blanched. "No, of course not, honey. I'm just saying, the apple... thing probably came from all those freaking nature programs you've been taping."
Ted cleared his throat and looked at Indigo again. "So, okay, without getting pegged immediately as a sci-fi nerd--what *are* you, exactly?"
Indigo smiled at him. "I like your direct approach, Ted."
"I get that a lot," Ted said, smiling back. Barbara nearly spat out a mouthful of soda.
"I do not actually recall my origins, or the specifications under which I was originally created. However, S.T.A.R. has designated me a synthetic humanoid from 2,000 years in the future."
Barbara whistled softly. "So what you're actually saying is that they have *no idea* what you are."
"Correct," Indigo said, sounding pleased. "The computer did not lie when it indicated you are of above-average intelligence, Barbara."
Barbara blushed, to her own surprise, and muttered a 'thanks'.
"But, hang on. Just so we're clear," Ted said, scratching at his cheek. "They don't know what you are. Yet they managed to... well, uh. I don't want to be rude, so tell me if there's a better term, but... they managed to reprogram you anyway?"
Shift put his beer back down, and squeezed Indigo's shoulder. "The short answer is, she's kinda like those homicidal Superman-bots that S.T.A.R. had in lock-up a while ago. The not-so-short answer is that she actually more or less *told them* how to rebuild her."
"Wow," Barbara and Ted said in unison and then looked at each other sheepishly.
"A common reaction," Indigo said, taking a sip of her strawberry Kool-aid. "But, let's talk about something other than me. Barbara--I understand your father was the Gotham City police commissioner?"
Barbara smiled. "Yes, he was. For many long years."
Indigo beamed. "I've studied his career record. He possesses all the qualities a good cop should have." She lowered her eyes, and Barbara swore she was coloring mildly. "I... admire him greatly. If you could get his signature for me, I would be very... grateful?" she said, looking at Shift for confirmation. When he nodded, Indigo turned back to Barbara with a hopeful look on her face.
"You want... his autograph?" Barbara asked, looking at Ted for clarification. Ted shrugged at her.
"She's a really big NYPD Blue fan," Shift provided, squeezing Indy's shoulder.
"Cops are a very appropriate subject for me to study in my attempts to learn more about the correct set of moral values I should ascribe to in this time period. Sipowitz and his boys in blue have taught me much," Indigo explained, linking hands with Shift under the table.
Barbara folded her hands together on her lap and smiled. "Well, I think my dad will be very flattered by your request, Indigo. I'll see what I can do."
"Excellent," Indigo replied, and then smiled at both Barbara and Ted. "Shall we bowl now? My fingers itch."
"Really?" Ted looked at Indigo's hands. "Crazy. I can't believe they wouldn't get rid of useless conditions like *itching* in programming as advanced as yours."
Indigo smiled. "It is an expression, Ted." She stood up from their table booth and extended her hand to Ted. "You should consider sitting by me while we wait for our turns. It appears that I can teach you *much* about the various uses of language."
Ted shot Barbara an amused look and then got up. "Indeed it does, Indy. Lead the way."
Barbara turned her wheelchair around smoothly and then fell in line with Shift. "Is she always this..."
"Incredibly cute? Oh yeah. You should see her bedroom--stuffed animals everywhere." Shift bent down. "And by the way, she totally heard you. Incredibly advanced hearing," he added, grinning.
As if on cue, Indigo turned around and waved at them.
Barbara laughed and then tilted her head while peering at Indigo speculatively. "It's very hard to believe that she caused so much carnage. I mean, look at her now."
Shift paused in his steps and turned to face Barbara with a slightly more serious expression. "Hey, she may be adorable, but that doesn't mean that you should ever underestimate the kind of shit she's physically capable of."
"Duly noted," Barbara said, and then looked up at Shift with an impish smile. "It wouldn't be the first time that power came in an... unexpected package."
Shift quickly glanced at her wheelchair and then grinned. "So are you telling me you're going to kick our asses?"
"That's an understatement," Barbara said, winking.
part 5: on winning and alien supermodels
"You know, I get the feeling she's just humoring us," Ted said, shooting Barbara a look. "I mean, she's a creation of freaking cybernetic genius. Yet somehow, only three strikes. I'm not buying it."
Barbara laughed. "Maybe her language tutoring is distracting her."
"Shut up, Barb," Ted said amicably, while reaching for his soda.
"Besides, I think we could take 'em even if she was playing better." Barbara looked over to where Shift was preparing to throw with a distinct glint in her eyes.
"You know, don't take this wrong the way, but you can be *very* intimidating sometimes," Ted said after a slight pause, and then took a sip.
"Don't be silly. What's wrong with a bit of healthy competition?" Barbara grabbed for his Coke and took a large gulp of it.
"Nothing! Nothing at all." Ted paused. "As long as we're winning, anyway."
Barbara laughed and handed Ted his drink back. "I'm going to call Roy and thank him. And not just for not inviting Kory. That would've been..." She shook her head.
Ted blinked. "Kory? As in... Kory Anders, the supermodel?"
"Supermodel, superhero, alien princess...," Barbara supplied, dryly.
"Seriously? Dinah's buddy knows Kory Anders?" Ted looked positively thrilled.
"She's the latest addition to their team."
"That is *awesome*. Wow."
Barbara just stared at him.
"Oh, come on. You're not interested in meeting a famous superhero supermodel?" Ted looked at her and then shook his head. "You women are all *weird*."
"Actually, Mr. President of the Kory Fanclub, I'm *fine* with meeting superhero supermodels. It's my ex-boyfriend's ex-fiancée I could do without meeting," Barbara pointedly replied, and then narrowed her eyes as Shift knocked over seven pins on his first attempt.
"Oy. That *would* change things." Ted cleared his throat and then grinned at her sheepishly. "I stand corrected--you, at least, are a sensible woman."
"Nice save, Kord." Barbara rolled her eyes, but then smiled as Indigo returned to their seats with ice-cream sundaes for Shift and herself.
After taking another sip of his drink, Ted handed it back to Barbara. "Kory Anders. Wow." He paused for a moment and then smiled. "It's probably about time to get rid of that pin-up of her that Booster hung up in the Bug, huh. I mean, she's not even modeling anymore. That thing is *old*."
"Oh, the pin-up that *Booster* hung up, huh?" Barbara said, shooting him a wryly amused look and finishing the Coke.
Ted blinked at her. "C'mon, Barbara. You know I'm not into that kind of thing."
Barbara just stared at him. Shift knocked down another two pins and jogged back over to high-five Indy.
Ted got up and rubbed his hands together. "No, I'm completely serious. Booster bought the pin-up. I, on the other hand, designed some Kory Anders wallpaper for his computer."
Barbara laughed. "Ted Kord: geek first, man later."
"You say that as though it's a bad thing," Ted said, grinning, as he walked over to the ramp to get a ball.
part 6: on superheroics and true love
"You having a good time, honey?" Shift asked, slipping back into his seat next to Indy, and drawing her into a hug.
Indy leant back into his arms and nodded. "Ted and Barbara are very friendly. And while I always enjoy bowling with you, it's interesting to bowl with two other individuals for a change."
"I'm glad." Shift chuckled as Ted nearly forgot to let go of the ball but managed to knock down nine pins with that throw regardless. "It's hard to imagine him as a mask."
Indigo smiled, tilting her head. "Not entirely. From what I have learnt of Ted Kord in the short time I have known him, he is both brave and intelligent. His heart condition hampers his field abilities but not his spirit."
"Heart condition, huh? Yikes. Is that why he didn't want a sundae?" Shift rubbed at his chin. "Man, that's rough. First flying around in your scientific gadget and fighting crime, and then being on a strict diet and having *bowling* as the highlight of your activity roster."
Indy slapped at his fingers. "There is *nothing* wrong with bowling, Shift. But I know what you mean. I can't imagine having my physical capabilities restricted in such a way."
"Hm. Probably not something you ever have to worry about, though," Shift mused, and then kissed Indy's hair.
"That is probably true," Indy agreed, and then smiled. "In any event, Barbara and Ted are very lucky to have each other."
Shift discreetly looked at Barbara's wheelchair and hugged Indy a little tighter. "Yeah. I guess they understand each other well. That and, well, they're both huge nerds. Cool nerds, but... nerds."
Indy smiled wider. "I was referring to the deep feelings they have for each other."
"What--you mean romantic feelings?" Shift pulled back a little and looked at Indigo. "Get out. They just look like good friends to me."
"I will not 'get out.'" Indigo's eyes narrowed a little and she looked at Barbara, who was watching and laughing at Ted. "Barbara's heart rate increases by 3.57 percent every time she looks at Ted; 7.89 percent every time he touches her." She turned and kissed Shift's cheek. "It is quite similar to how my body responds to being close to you."
Shift laughed. "Man, you are so *handy* to have around." He patted her leg and smiled. "So what about Ted? Heart rate jumps as well?"
"Yes," Indy said, clapping as Ted knocked over the last pin. "There is also the other, more obvious fact that he has not stopped staring at Barbara all evening long." She got up and kissed Shift on the lips. "I project that by the end of this evening he will 'make his move.' The chances her being receptive, based on her behavior this evening, are..." She paused for a few seconds. "...87.35 percent." She smiled at Shift. "Let us cross our fingers for them, okay?"
Shift grinned. "Okay, babe. But *after* you go kick some ass."
part 7: exit, stage right
"I had a wonderful evening," Barbara said, smiling at both Indigo and Shift. They were waiting on the sidewalk outside of the bowling alley while Ted went to go fetch his car. "I know Ted did, too."
Indigo smiled back and then bent down and kissed Barbara on the cheek. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Barbara. I am happy for you and Ted that you won tonight. And I will add you to my AIM buddy list when I get home."
Barbara laughed. "Please do. We'll see each other often--I'm *rarely* not online."
Shift took Barbara's hand and kissed it smoothly. "Great meeting you, Barbara. If you ever want a tour of our digs, just give us a call, okay?"
"Thanks, Shift," Barbara said, blushing a little, as Ted pulled up and honked.
"Allow me," Shift said, and then extended his arm to make a small ramp for her to wheel off. Barbara blinked, but took advantage of the offer, as Indigo opened up the car door. Shift folded up the wheelchair and deposited it on the back seat and then took a few steps back until he was standing next to Indigo and could wrap his arm around her shoulders.
When Ted and Barbara were both settled, Indigo waved at them. "Drive safely. Don't forget to fasten your seatbelts!" she said, smiling brightly.
Barbara managed to hold in her laughter until they turned around the corner.
"You know *all* the interesting people," Ted said, also chuckling.
"Well, *now* I do." Barbara grinned, but then her lips softened into a smile. "They are truly darling together, though. Not to mention ridiculously well adjusted, considering their relative backgrounds."
"It's inspiring, isn't it? I manage to screw up relationships with normal people from our own timeline. Yet these kids somehow found a way to connect despite a whole multitude of cultural and other differences. Clearly, I'm doing something wrong."
"It's not just you." Barbara sighed as they stopped for a red light. "It would be nice if I could pinpoint a particular reason for my lack of dating success, though--so I could at least *consider* changing it."
"Well, I can't speak for you, but spending all my spare time behind a computer *may* explain why I'm single. Just maybe," Ted said, quirking his eyebrow.
Barbara chuckled. "God, I hope that's not it. If that's truly detrimental to a normal relationship, I don't think I'll be having one this lifetime."
Ted tilted his head and peered up at the light. "Eh, I don't know. I'm still holding out some hope that eventually, somewhere, someone will just appreciate me for being an out-of-shape geek with a lot of cool gadgets."
"Mmm," Barbara said, and rested her head against window. "Wouldn't that be nice."
They were silent for a few minutes, and then Ted cleared his throat and tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. "Y'know... I've always been very impressed by your training room."
Barbara blinked, and turned to look at him. "Hm?"
"Yeah. The virtual reality program in it alone is just... woo boy," he said, looking at her briefly. "And then we're not even talking about the basic Delphi cabling. That's the kind of stuff that most professional nerds dream of." He whistled and then tapped the wheel again.
Barbara paused for a few seconds, and then leaned closer. "You know what?"
"Um..." Ted said, looking intently at the traffic light.
"I can't speak for anyone else, but *I* think the Bug only gets *more* impressive upon repeat viewings," Barbara said, then tugged on his collar until she could kiss him squarely on the mouth. After a few seconds, she pulled away and half-smiled at a stunned Ted. "How about you give me a private demonstration of what that new PDA of yours does?"
Ted blinked rapidly for a few seconds. "Um... are you saying what I think you're saying? Because... hell, yes. I mean, you name the time and the place, and on the off chance that you actually want a demonstration, if you give me a few weeks I could probably make one for you so we could hotlink and..."
"Shut up," Barbara said, and kissed him again.
part 8: nightcapping
"We should bowl in a partnership capacity more often," Indigo said, brushing her hair quickly and then turning off the light on her dresser. "Next time we go, we should invite another pair to join us."
Shift chuckled from where he lounged on her bed. "Y'know, we could just not go bowling, for a change."
Indigo turned off the lights and slipped into bed with him. "Interesting. I have been curious about Grace's former site of employment. Could we go there sometime?"
"Hmm, maybe. We'll see," Shift said, wrapping his arms around her and closing his eyes. "But in any case, I completely agree that it was definitely fun to hang out with another, er, almost-couple."
"I agree," Indy said, covering his arm with her own. "And so I think we should ask Nightwing and Arsenal to join us on our next 'double date.'"
Shift froze for a moment, and then sat up. "...you're *kidding*, right?"
Indigo turned and grinned at him, her eyes a bright pink in the dark. "Yes! I 'got you.'"
Shift shook his head, and then laughed. "Honey, you are developing a really sadistic sense of humor."
"Is that bad?" she asked with a slight frown.
"Nah," he said, lying down next to her again. "I like everything about you. You know that."
"Good, because I like everything about you, too." Indigo cuddled back into his arms and closed her eyes. "Goodnight. Sleep well, Shift."
"Night, Indy," Shift replied, kissing her hair before shifting his legs into a blanket to cover them both.
Reference images taken from: page 14 of BIRDS OF PREY #19; page 8 of OUTSIDERS v.3 #7; the cover of FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE #1;page 6 of OUTSIDERS v.3 #8; and BIRDS OF PREY #25.
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