Impressions

The tower was quiet when Dick Grayson came out of the elevator. Babs wasn't at her console, so he wandered through the corridors to the gym. The tallest woman he had ever seen opened the door just as he got there.

"I'll talk to you later, Barbara."

"Thanks, Diana. I can't tell you how much it means to me for you to come all the way out here to help me."

"Don't think of it. We girls have to stick together."

The raven-haired beauty looked down at him as she walked past. "Hello," she said politely.

Dick looked at Barbara. "Holy shit, was that Wonder Woman?"

"Pick your jaw up off the floor, Short Pants. Yes, that was Wonder Woman."

"I didn't know you knew her."

"I know everyone."

"Why was she here? Is something major going down? I mean, Wonder Woman, that' s global proportions."

"It's nothing like that. Sometimes she comes to work out with me."

Dick gaped again. "Wonder Woman works out with you?"

"Every once in awhile, yes."

"That's amazing." He walked over and picked up a set of escrima sticks from the mat.

"She's a great work out partner. You can go all out against her and never have to worry about hurting her. If anything, you have to be careful not to hurt yourself hitting her."

Dick grinned, impressed, he twirled the sticks in his hand and then set them back in place on the wall. "Wow, like working out with Superman."

"Actually better. He's so careful. I think it's the chair, or maybe it's just because I'm a woman, but he holds back too much. Diana pushes me further than he does."

"Diana pushes you further...wait, you've actually worked out with Superman?"

Barbara grinned at him.

Dick couldn't disguise the envy even if he'd wanted to. "You are so lucky."

Barbara's smile dimmed. "Yeah. That's me. Lucky."

Dick walked over to her and knelt. "I didn't mean—"

She touched her fingers to his lips. "Don't. You're right. I am lucky. I'm alive. I have about as much function as I can as a paraplegic, and I've made some really good friends."

He reached up and caught her fingers in his. "You forgot the part about dating a really hot guy."

"And I'm dating a really hot guy." She leaned over and kissed him. "I'm going to hit the showers. I'm a mess."

Dick raised an eyebrow. "I like you a mess. Kiss me again."

She complied and the next thing she knew she was slipping from her chair to the floor. It felt good to let go. She laughed as he tossed her shirt to the far end of the room. She followed suit and tossed his to the opposite corner. Her underwear and bra ended up dangling from a practice dummy. It was like old times, a flurry of sensation and need, fun and fast.

She was close, very close when she heard the chime. At first it barely registered. "Daddy!"

Dick stilled inside her and gave her a confused look, one hand still clutching her breast. "What?"

"Get off me."

"Now?" He squeaked.

"Yes, now," she said pushing him none to gently. "Get my clothes."

Dick stood and was assaulted by an immediate head rush. "Oh," he leaned down and rested his palms on his knees.

"Get my clothes!" Barbara shouted. "Get dressed! Where's my chair?"

"I don't—"

"Everyone with access to the tower has a distinct chime, so I know who's here. That's Daddy's chime."

Dick's brain seemed to click on. "Commissioner Gordon?" he said, looking pale.

"Yes, clothes, now!"

"Barbara?" A male voice called out from somewhere within the clock tower. "I was in the area and thought I'd stop by and take you to lunch."

Barbara's voice had an edge of panic. "I'll be out in a minute, Daddy! I'm in the gym."

Dick scrambled to find the right clothes. "Don't tell him that!" he hissed! "Are you cra-"

"That's okay, Sweetheart. I'll come to you."

Dick tossed her shirt to her from across the room.

"No, Daddy, don't—"

The door opened.

"—come in." Barbara clutched the shirt to her. There had been no time to pull it on. Across the room, Dick wrapped his shirt around his waist.

A look of mortified horror crossed the commissioner's face as he took in the scene before him. "I'm sorry. Clearly this is a bad time."

"Daddy wait." Barbara called, but the commissioner was already closing the door behind him.

Barbara pulled her shirt on. "Toss me my pants and help me here."

Dick raced to her side with her pants and underwear.

"No time for that," she said indicating the bra and panties. "Help me into these," she said stretching forward to slip the sweatpants over her feet.

He lifted her easily and she pulled on the pants. He set her into the chair. In the interest of speed she didn't complain about his assistance, was thankful for it even. She was rolling out of the room in a flash.

"Daddy!"

She found him waiting by the elevator.

"Don't go," she said softly.

He looked at her. "I thought my days of walking in on you and your boyfriends were over, Barbara."

She scowled at him. "Why? Because I'm in a wheelchair now?"

"No. Because at your age, I would think you would have sense enough to lock a door now and then."

"Daddy, I wasn't expecting anyone."

"What do you have against having sex in your bedroom, Barbara. I would never just walk into your bedroom whether the door was locked or not, but one expects to be able to walk into a gym."

Barbara dropped her eyes. "I'm sorry."

"And when did you start seeing Dick Grayson again? I thought that was over ages ago."

"It's a recent thing."

"Recent thing? What does that mean? Are you having a relationship or are you just sleeping together?"

"Daddy..."

"Wasn't that the problem last time, no commitment."

"That wasn't his fault, Dad."

"Sure."

"It wasn't. I was no more ready than he was."

"And now."

"Well, we're just—"

"More serious," Dick said from behind her. He was wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt that he kept at the tower. "Before we were so young, a lot's happened since then."

Barbara's jaw dropped. She was going to say 'we're taking it one day at a time.'

"Look, sir, I'm sorry about this. Give us a few minutes to get showered and changed and I'll take us all out to lunch."

Jim Gordon scrubbed a hand down his face. "I don't think so, Grayson. Not today." The elevator chimed and the doors slid open. The commissioner stepped inside. "I'll call you later this week, Barbara."

Barbara sat for a long moment looking at the closed elevator doors. How could she have been so stupid?

Dick stepped behind her and rested his palms on her shoulders. "I'm really sorry that happened."

"Not half as sorry as I am."

"Babs—"

"Don't. I'm going to take a shower." She rolled toward her bedroom. He followed her.

"Barbara, don't be like this." He sat down on the edge of her bed.

"Don't be like what?"

"Don't shut me out."

"I'm not shutting you out, what do you want me to say? I've just embarrassed my father. Again." She ran her fingers through her hair. "Jesus, all I've ever been is an embarrassment to him."

"What're you talking about?" Dick couldn't believe she thought that.

"He thinks I'm a slut. He's probably always thought that. God knows I haven't given him much reason to think otherwise."

"Barbara—"

"Dick, he doesn't know I was Batgirl. So what he does know is that I was out at all hours of the night, sneaking in and out all the time. He caught me once when I was still in high school in the tree house with my boyfriend. He knows about the beach trip after you graduated from high school. God, he was so appalled." She dropped her voice in a fair imitation of Commissioner Gordon, "He's just a boy Barbara, you used to baby-sit him for Christ's sake, what were you thinking?" She dropped her face into her hands. "God, and Jason, he hated Jason. Couldn't stand me dating a private investigator, especially one that used to be a cop."

"Babs, he loves you. I know he loves you."

She looked up at him, tears threatening to spill over. "I know that. He kept me in the divorce. He didn't have to. It's not like I'm his real daughter. He could have sent me to live somewhere else, but he didn't and all I've done is disappoint him."

"How can you say that? You were the youngest person to ever direct the Gotham Central Library."

"He never wanted me to be a librarian. He wanted me to be a lawyer."

"But you are a lawyer."

"Only recently, and I'm not sure I even told him."

"What about being a congresswoman?"

"Only for two years. I didn't even run for a second term."

"Someone tried to kill you in office."

She snorted. "That just gave me an excuse not to run. I wasn't afraid to stay, I was just bored."

"You were bored in congress?"

"There's not a lot of rush to legislating."

Dick raised his eyebrows.

"At least not the kind of rush I was looking for. He thinks I'm a quitter. Not to mention, if I wasn't so reckless I wouldn't be in this chair."

"What? That's ridiculous!"

"I didn't even look through the peephole, Dick. I just opened the door to The Joker without even bothering to look. With that kind of sense it's amazing no one shot me sooner."

"Barbara, I don't think you not opening the door would have stopped The Joker for long."

"No, but it would have given us the extra seconds to prepare to maybe escape or at least to fight. Anything would have been better than just laying there bleeding."

Dick curled his hands around hers. "Don't do this to yourself." He slipped his arms around her waist and pulled her toward him. "Please don't."

"I—"

He touched his fingers to her lips, pressed harder until she opened her mouth and softly ran her tongue over his fingertips. "You're all wound up."

She nodded and sucked on his fingers.

"Let me unwind you."

He moved his hands down to the hem of her sweatshirt and began to push it up. His mouth went to her breast as he tossed the sweatshirt to the floor.

She got her elbows under her and rubbed her forehead against his hair. "All I want, is to wrap my legs around you," she whispered, "and I can't."

"It doesn't matter," he whispered back, his fingers curling around the waistband of her pants.

"It does to me."

He answered her by pulling her pants off and dropping them to the floor. He moved back up on the bed and settled himself between her legs. "I love you." He pulled her knees up and slipped inside.

Barbara hissed at the sensation.

"I loved you as Batgirl," Dick continued, thrusting.

Barbara closed her eyes, not sure she could hear this.

"I love you as Oracle." He thrust again. "I love Barbara." Thrust. "I love Babs." Thrust. "My love has been there since I was nine-years-old, it will always be there."

Barbara arched her back up. "Yes," she sighed.

He began nibbling at the sensitive skin beneath her earlobe. "I can't get enough of you. It was always you, no matter what else has happened, no matter who else we've been with, it's always been you." He wrapped his arms around her and rolled them over, landing her on top. He slid her knees further up his sides and then moved his fingers between her legs. "Come with me."

She looked down at him. Took in his dark olive skin, his pale blue eyes, his thick, black hair. He was beautiful and he loved her so completely that it made her feel safe and insecure all at the same time. How could she ever hope to be worthy of that kind of devotion? But, for the moment, she decided to borrow the courage of his convictions, and let herself go.

Barbara woke at midnight expecting to find a note from Dick saying he'd returned to the 'Haven' and he'd see her soon. Instead she found him softly snoring beside her.

"Dick?"

He opened his eyes. "Hey."

"Shouldn't you be doling out vigilante justice about now?"

"Are you kicking me out?"

"No, of course not, I'm just surprised you're still here."

He ran his fingers through his hair. "Well, I thought we'd do something different."

"What?"

"Something we've never really done."

"What?"

Dick rolled over to face her and pulled her close to him. "Sleep together."

She smiled at him. He was right. Working nights meant sleeping mornings, so most of their time together involved stolen afternoons before going on patrol. When they were younger it had been something fast and hot before heading home. "Okay, but I really need to get up by 2:00am, that's when Dinah's plane lands."

"Fine, I'll head home then and kick a little butt before sunrise."

Barbara leaned over and set her clock, then turned back and settled in his arms. Sleeping together, she thought, a girl could get used to this.

True to her word, Barbara woke at 2:00 and sent Dick on his way before contacting Dinah. She worked through the morning answering several calls for the JLA before finally hitting the shower around 6:00. She had a bowl of cereal and watched the news until 8:00 when she called her Dad.

"Hello?"

"Daddy, it's Barbara."

"When a woman starts a sentence with the word 'daddy' I know it's you, sweetheart."

Barbara blushed. Great, you've started the conversation with something stupid. Good job. "Look, I thought we could have that lunch date today."

There was a pause on the other end of the line. "I don't know, Barbara, I've got a lot going on today."

"Please, I just want an hour. You pick the time and place."

"I tell you what. I'll get take out Thai and bring it to the tower."

"That sounds good."

"I'll see you around noon then."

As Barbara hung up the phone, she sighed. Great, he's coming by the tower. That means he doesn't want to have this conversation in a public place. Shit, he's going to yell.

She spent the rest of the morning working out and soaking in the whirlpool, which was good for circulation. She took two more calls from the JLA, one from the Suicide Squad and she checked in with Dinah. It took a half an hour to pick out an outfit for lunch. She wanted to look conservative, but not too conservative. She wanted to appear apologetic without looking guilty. She finally settled on black pants and a dark green turtleneck sweater.

At 12:15, her father's distinctive chime sounded. She met him at the elevator. He hugged her, but then was silent as they made their way to the kitchen. Barbara busied herself getting plates and glasses as he set the Thai food out on the table. It wasn't until she had rolled over and taken her place at the table that he spoke.

"So, Dick Grayson. Do you really think that's such a good idea?"

"Dick is great guy, Dad." She piled Pad Thai on both their plates and opened the box of spring rolls.

"How great can he be when he was raised by Bruce Wayne?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Bruce is a wonderful philanthropist, Barbara, but he's hardly a good roll model for a boy. He's a terrible womanizer, you know that."

"Dick isn't Bruce."

"In my experience, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

"Dick didn't fall from Bruce's tree. His last name is Grayson, remember?"

Her father pushed a fork into his noodles. "I don't see what you see in him. I mean, he's rich and good looking, but what is he besides that?"

Barbara set her fork down. "I can't believe you think I'm that shallow."

"I didn't say you were shallow. But let's face it, Barbara, you started sleeping with him when he was still a boy. You're telling me that was because you had so much in common."

"We did actually. And he was not a boy. 18, he was 18."

"So tell me, what exactly does a 24 year-old librarian have in common with a recent high school graduate?"

Barbara opened her mouth, but no words came out. We both wore costumes to hide our identities as we fought crime side-by-side. We were both desperate for Bruce's approval, for your approval. There were so many near misses, the intensity of our time together couldn't be matched by any other relationship.

"That's what I thought, absolutely nothing. And now here he is again. Loafing around while you work, doing God knows what."

"What? What do you have against my work?"

"Nothing, except I don't have the slightest clue what you do or who you work for, but I know there's a tremendous amount of money flowing through this tower, Barbara."

"What are you implying?"

"Who do you work for?"

"I work for a lot of different organizations."

"Name them, hell name just one of them."

Barbara glared at him.

"That's what I thought. What are you mixed up in here, Barbara?"

Barbara sighed, this was going even worse than she'd expected. "I'm not doing anything wrong, Dad."

"Then why can't you tell me what you do?"

"Most of what I do is ultra top secret."

"How did you manage to get clearance for that, and since when does government work pay for the kind of toys and gadgets you have around here?"

"I work some for Wayne Enterprises. Okay. Are you happy?"

"Bruce Wayne pays for all this and what? Grayson gets the payoff."

Barbara gritted her teeth. "Look at me, Dad. I'm hardly anyone's reward anymore."

"I didn't—"

"Oh, no, you want to have it out about this, let's have it out."

"Barbara—"

"I know you think Dick and I shouldn't have been together when we were younger. I know you disapprove of that. Fine, you disapprove. I can't change that. But surely you recognize at this point that he could hardly be in it for the sex."

Jim Gordon's face went scarlet. Barbara wasn't sure if it was rage or embarrassment or both. "Well, clearly you're having sex."

"Yes, but let me tell you, it's not like in the old days."

"Barbara, please."

"What? You brought it up. You're the one dumb enough to imply that Dick might be in it for the sex. Well, that might have been true back then, but it sure as hell isn't true now."

"I just don't understand—"

"Why we're together. How about maybe he loves me and maybe I love him back. Is it so hard for you to believe that someone might just love me?"

He reached across the table and grabbed her hand. "Of course, it's not hard for me to believe someone loves you. I love you. You're a wonderful girl."

"I'm a wonderful girl?" She was incredulous. "A minute ago I was probably involved in something nefarious and obviously a slut."

"I never said that."

"How else am I supposed to take your tacit disapproval, Dad?"

"I don't understand why you can't just be honest with me? I'm your father, or at least I raised you as my daughter."

Barbara sighed. "Of course, you're my father. But I don't know what you want me to be honest about."

"Why not start with Batgirl."

"What?"

"Batgirl?"

"What about her?"

"You're her."

"Dad, I'm in a wheelchair. I'm not that talented."

"Not the current Batgirl, the other one, the first one."

"Why—"

"Don't lie to me. Don't dance around it. Just tell me, were you or weren't you?"

Barbara ran a hand through her hair and stared at him.

"Let me make it easier for you. Bruce Wayne is Batman. I don't have proof, but as sure as I'm sitting here, I'm sure he's Batman."

"But—"

"And Grayson, Grayson was Robin."

"Daddy."

"Actually, he was the one I figured out first. I mean, come on, Barbara, blue eyes and curly black hair aren't a common combination. You, of course, had sense enough to stay away from me, but the first time I saw a decent picture of Batgirl, I knew it was you."

"I—"

"Yes or no, Barbara, were you Batgirl?"

She looked at him. She would tell him her secret in a minute, but implicate Bruce and Dick in the process, even if he suspected the truth, she wasn't sure she could do that.

He seemed to know what she was thinking. "I've known these secrets for years, Barbara. If I haven't divulged them before now, I'm not going to. Just for once though, I'd like to hear you say it. I'd like to know for sure that all those nights you slipped out weren't just to go party with your friends. I want to know for sure that all those bruises weren't from bad boyfriend choices. I want to know that there was a good reason you went to that park after you were injured and learned to fight with sticks from that crazy man. Just once, Barbara, tell me the truth."

She reached across the table and touched his cheek. "Yes," she said softly.

"Thank you."

A familiar chime echoed through the tower.

She sighed. "That's Dick now."

"You weren't expecting him?"

"No."

"I should go."

"Daddy—"

He smiled at her. "You have my blessing. Due to new information, your relationship is cast in a whole new light."

"Please don't—"

"I never would."

"Thank you."

"Barbara?" Dick's voice came from the elevator lobby.

"I'm in the kitchen."

Dick came in carrying a huge assemblage of red roses. "Hey, I—hello, sir."

"Hello, son."

"I didn't realize you were here. I didn't mean to intrude. I should have called first."

"You're not intruding." Jim Gordon smiled. "Besides, you shouldn't have to call before coming to see your best girl. Should he, Barbara?"

Barbara grinned. "No, he's welcome anytime."

Dick looked confused. "These are for you," he said, holding the flowers out to Barbara.

"Well, I'm going to head on out. That paperwork isn't going to do itself." He stuck his hand out and Dick shook it. Her father leaned over and kissed, Barbara's forehead. "You kids have a good afternoon. I can see myself out."

Dick stared open mouthed at the old man walking away. "What just happened here?"

Barbara brought the flowers to her nose. "Daddy and I worked things out."

"I should say so. He smiled at me, and I think he called me 'son.'"

Barbara grinned. "He did." She set the flowers on the kitchen counter.

Dick leaned against the counter, clearly flabbergasted. "Wow, and to think I just came by to take you to lunch."

Barbara indicated all the untouched Thai food on the kitchen table. "Actually, there's plenty of food here."

"Thai, I can live with that."

She smiled at him and they made their way over to the table. For the first time since they'd gotten back together, Barbara dared to allow herself the indulgence of thinking it just might work out between them.

11