AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fic is set in the Batman: The Animated Series continuum, but I haven't seen B: TAS in a while, so forgive me if I screw anything up.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2: This fic also mentions an earlier Teen Titans fic of mine "It's No Joke", but is not really a sequel.
Gotham City was a dark, frightening place, even during the day. At night, it could be positively terrifying. Crime was rampant in the streets, and though the police force, led by the dedicated Commisioner Gordon, tried as best as they could, crime was still a serious problem in Gotham.
Fortunately, a hero unlike any other dwelled within the city. He, like the criminals, roamed the streets at night. Like many of the criminals, he wore a costume to mask his true identity. That was where the similarities ended.
Because Batman, protector of the innocent, champion of the righteous, and savior to the distressed was the greatest hero Gotham had ever known.
And the night was his time.
"Slow night," he mused, half to himself and half to his companion. One who was familiar with the Batman stories would probably be led to think that his companion was Robin, the brave Boy Wonder. But some time ago, Robin had left Batman and Gotham behind to head up the Teen Titans, with Batman's blessing. Batman had a different companion now, someone with strength, skill, courage, and... woman's intuition.
"Looks like we scared the riff-raff away," replied the woman at Batman's side. Actually, she was more girl than woman, and her name, Batgirl, reflected that. Clad in black like her companion Batman, she was far less solemn and serious than the Caped Crusader, and despite being glad that there was no one in trouble that particular night, she still longed for something exciting to do. Ever since she had begun working alongside Batman, she'd noticed that he treated her far more protectively than he did Robin, even though she was two years his senior and demonstrated just as much crime-fighting skill as the Boy Wonder did. She was sure that the only reason Batman was so protective of her was because of her gender. She was a girl, and according to the sentiments of society, girls weren't supposed to fight. Girls were supposed to keep themselves far away from danger and let the big, strong men take care of everything.
This sentiment disgusted Batgirl. She was strong too, just as strong as any man, and she knew she could prove it if she got the chance.
But on this slow, crimeless night, it didn't look like there would be any chances. Batgirl sighed and brushed back her soft, orange hair, which had been blown in front of her face by the night wind. Batman and Batgirl were currently perched on the roof of an eleven-story building, where Batman had been monitoring the streets with his binoculars for the past ten minutes. Every ten minutes, the two crimefighters would move a couple blocks and begin scanning again. It was just about time to make another move.
"Alright, let's head on to the next-"
"Wait, Batman, look!" shouted Batgirl, pointing up into the night sky. There, above the crimefighters' heads as clear as day, was the Batsignal, shining like a beacon into the night. Someone DID need help after all. "It's about time..."
The large spotlight that created the Batsignal was located high atop the Gotham Police Department headquarters. Within three minutes, Batman and Batgirl were on that same roof. Police Commissioner Gordon was waiting for them.
"Commissioner Gordon," said Batman quietly, "what's the news?"
"The news is the Joker," said Gordon, replying in a business-like tone. "He's escaped from Arkham again, and we believe he's planning a series of heists involving some of Gotham's largest banks."
"That's the Joker for you," Batgirl replied, looking straight into the commissioner's eyes. In actuality, Batgirl was Barbara Gordon, the commissioner's daughter, and despite trying to keep a low profile, she couldn't keep her expression from taking on a warm, almost-childlike glow whenever she spoke with him. "Never knows when to quit."
"Has he given any indication which bank he plans to strike?" asked Batman, trying to find out as much about the Joker's future plans as he could. "Anything at all?"
"Well, you know how the Joker likes to taunt the police, but so far, he hasn't given us any leads," replied Gordon. "That's why it's imperative that the two of you get on this case as soon as possible. We've already got much of the force out and around the various banks, but we can always use your help."
"Don't worry, commissioner," Batman said. "I'll find the Joker."
"You'll find the Joker," muttered Batgirl under her breath, not loud enough for her father or Batman to hear.
"Thank you," replied Gordon. "It'll be good to have both of you on the case."
"At least Daddy realizes that I exist,"thought Batgirl, briefly glaring at her caped partner. "You could learn a valuable lesson from him."
Jump City was a complete mistake. Even the Joker, who was as crazy as they came, was able to admit when he was wrong. Now he was back in the 'friendly confines' of Gotham, and was ready to exact some measure of revenge on Batman for having embarassed him a few weeks earlier.
He, his faithful sidekick Harley Quinn, and six thugs had holed themselves up in a large, drab building that served as a warehouse for storing old comedy novelties, such as Groucho Marx masks and whoopie cushions. That was one reason the Joker picked this particular warehouse. Another reason was its central location in the city, almost an equal distance from each of Gotham's biggest, richest banks. From this new headquarters, the Joker could easily plan and carry out his heists. It would be one of his biggest capers yet.
That is, if old Bats didn't come and screw it up.
"I know it's tough keeping a low profile, Mr. J., but just keep it up a little while longer and we'll be able to rob this whole city blind!" said Harley happily, standing behind the Joker as he sat at a desk toward the back of the warehouse. "And besides, you'll get to take a crack at Batman soon, I know it!"
"It feels like I'm hiding from him, Harley," replied the Joker. Typically when he was about to commit a crime, he'd announce it to the world in some way, whether it was by hijacking a news report, creating a large, hilarious public disturbance, or simply confronting Batman directly on one of his night patrols. Laying low and waiting until a caper was underway to taunt Batman was no fun at all! "I'm not scared of Batman!"
"Maybe we should start tonight," blurted out one of the thugs, clearly not thinking before he spoke. "Uh... if that's alright with you, boss..."
The Joker thought to himself for a moment. Though he said he wasn't scared of Batman, deep down inside, he was, and he knew it. But just sitting in the warehouse all day was quickly getting boring, and the Joker didn't want to wait any longer.
"Of course it's all right!" shouted the Joker, quickly rising to his feet. "Harley, ready our Jokermobile! We've got banks to rob!"
"Right away, Mr. J.!" shouted Harley, running out to the front of the warehouse. There, was a large, purple limosuine, outfitted with gold-plated chrome and a missile launcher designed especially for use against Batman if he happened to show up. Which the Joker was sure would happen. Harley hopped into the driver's seat, while Joker climbed in next to her and Joker's six thugs filled the seats in the back. Harley fired up the ignition, and the Jokermobile speed off into the night, with the Joker laughing the entire time.
As Batman and Batgirl made their way down to the ground floor of the police department headquarters, a recurring thought had been going through Batman's head. He still remembered perfectly the day he'd travelled to Jump City, and exactly what had happened while he was there.
He especially remembered what had happened to Robin and Starfire. Starfire had been kidnapped by the Joker in order to lure Robin into a trap. Had Robin not been so determined to rescue his friend, both he and Starfire likely would've been taken prisoner, and Batman may have had to go in and rescue them both.
He worried about Batgirl. Not just because she was a girl, it was far beyond that. She lacked the experience that Robin had. While Batman had trained Robin closely, and in fact had trained him every day since taking the young boy under his wing, he'd hardly ever gotten the opportunity to train Batgirl. All the moves that Batgirl knew, she learned on her own. Of course she was a fast learner, but despite Batgirl's skill, Batman still lacked confidence in his new partner.
Especially now that the two would be facing the dangerous Joker. Joker was psychotic, sadistic, and a master strategist, and Batman was barely able to bring himself to allow Robin to fight him, let alone Batgirl, who lacked the extensive training Robin possessed.
Batman and Batgirl approached the Batmobile, which was sitting in the large parking lot just outside the police headquarters. Before Batgirl could step inside, Batman began to speak.
"Batgirl, wait," said Batman, slightly hesitating to speak. "I'd like to go after the Joker... alone."
"What?" snapped Batgirl, a bit more incredulously than she'd intended to speak. "Why?"
"I just need to do this alone," continued Batman, climbing into the driver's seat of the Batmobile. "Go back to the cave and-"
Batgirl was hurt. She was offended and angry, and she wasn't going to take being told to sit on the sidelines lying down. She rushed over to the other side of the Batmobile, grabbing the door and preventing Batman from leaving.
"I can do this, Batman," said Batgirl. "I've fought the Joker before!"
"That was when Robin was still here," replied Batman. "That was back when he-"
"Back when he could look out for me?" shouted Batgirl. "Back when he could look after helpless, defenseless little Batgirl, hmm?"
"This isn't about you being a girl, this is about experience," said Batman. "Now go back to the Batcave and-"
"Experience? EXPERIENCE?" Batgirl shouted, pulling on the front door of the Batmobile almost hard enough to rip it from its hinges. "I'm just as good as Robin is! In fact, I'm better than he is! You've got to let me prove it! You've got to-"
Without a word, Batman pulled the door free from Batgirl's grasp and slammed it shut. Then, he slammed on the gas pedal and drove quickly out of the parking lot and onto the street. Batgirl clenched her fists in rage, her lip trembling.
"I... I can't believe he'd just leave me like that! Like I'm some kind of child!" Batgirl shouted. She hopped onto her Bat-cycle, which was parked right next to the Batmobile, and sped off. "Fine. If he wants me to go back to the Batcave, where I'm 'safe', then fine. He'll change his mind once he realizes he can't beat the Joker without me."
"Now I'm being foolish,"thought Batgirl as she sped out of the parking lot. "Of course Batman can beat Joker without me... he can beat Joker without Robin, too."
Batgirl sped through the city streets on her motorcycle, still deeply affected by Batman's refusal to let her help him find the Joker. He'd told her it was because of 'experience', but Batgirl knew she had plenty of that. She'd gone on seemingly hundreds of missions with Batman and Robin before, and had even saved their lives several times. It wasn't experience at all. It was because Batman didn't think a girl could handle a psychotic criminal mastermind like the Joker.
"I just want to feel like I'm doing SOMETHING to help this city..."thought Batgirl, her lips curved into a sad frown.
As she sped past 3rd Street, something caught her eye. A bright flash, a brief blur of purple and gold that seemed completely out of the ordinary on this sort of night. She made a u-turn in her Bat-cycle and slowly wheeled down to where she'd noticed the unusual occurance.
When she took a second look, she knew she'd stumbled onto something big. A large gold and purple limosuine was parked right outside the Gotham Mutual Bank, and several large, muscular men were stepping out of it. Batgirl never expected to see the next two people to step out of the car.
"Top of the evening to ya, Mr. J.!" said Harley Quinn as she walked around to the passenger side of the limo and helped the Joker out of his door.
"And a wonderful night to you too, my dear," replied Joker, kissing Harley on the hand. "Shall we?"
"We shall!" giggled Harley, walking arm-in-arm with Joker into the bank, the six thugs following closely behind. Watching from a nearby alley was Batgirl, who gasped in surprise.
"The Joker!" whispered Batgirl, pulling her Batcommunicator from her utility belt. "I should probably call-"
But then, Batgirl got second thoughts. Where her woman's intuition had helped her before, her childlike excitement quickly stepped in to counteract its beneficial effect.
"On second thought," said Batgirl, putting the communicator away, "if I take down Joker and Harley, Batman will never, ever, EVER refuse to take me along again! I'll get the respect I deserve... I'll show him what a girl can do!"
Batgirl quickly shook her head. She reached down to her utility belt.
"What am I thinking?" said Batgirl silently to herself. "I can't take Joker and Harley alone... even Robin isn't headstrong enough to do that... and besides, if I call in Batman, he's got to let me help... I mean, I am already here..."
In Batgirl's mind, two roads were laid out before her. The first road, the wide road clear of obstacles and surrounded by beautiful trees, represented the easy way out: calling Batman and allowing him to help her fight Joker and Harley. The second road, narrow, winding, shrouded with trees and littered with jagged rocks, represented a different path: going into the bank on her own and taking out Joker and Harley, instantly winning Batman's respect. Of course, there was always the risk of embarassing and potentially fatal defeat lurking around the bend. Did that matter to Batgirl?
"I'm not just a child... I'm not just a little girl,"thought Batgirl, her hand moving away from her utility belt for a final time. "And now I've got the perfect way to prove it..."
By now, Harley Quinn and the Joker had been inside the bank for several minutes, along with their six thugs, who were in the vault taking as much money and jewelry as they could. While the thugs were raiding the vault, Joker and Harley had been keeping themselves entertained by terrorizing the security guards stationed to protect the bank's supply of wealth at night. The three security guards, all of them male, were tied together in the center of the room.
"When Batman gets here, you'll be sorry, Joker!" shouted one of the guards. Joker immediately responded by taking a whipped cream pie, seemingly from out of nowhere, and shoving it in the guard's face.
"That's what I think of Batman," said the Joker. "By the time he gets here, we'll be long gone!"
"That's right!" said Harley, staring at the youngest of the security guards. He was barely out of high school, and was trembling in fear. "Oh, come on, smile!"
Harley pulled out a gun and shot the poor security guard in the face. However, instead of lethal bullets, the gun shot a bar attached to two metal clips. The clips pulled the man's lips into a smile, and the bar then secured itself behind the man's head.
"Waa id oo oo to muh?" asked the security guard, his voice distorted by the strange device.
"She's trying to help you smile!" said the Joker, slapping the young man hard on the back. "C'mon, be appreciative for once in your miserable-"
Suddenly, a long, metallic cord ensared itself around the Joker's arm and pulled him away from the three security guards, toward the entrance of the bank.
"Hey!" shouted the Joker, taken by surprise as he was dragged across the floor.
"Mr. J., I'm comin' for ya!" shouted Harley, running toward the Joker in an attempt to free him from his current predicament. When the Joker turned around to see who was tugging him, a sneer crossed his face. Batgirl, holding one end of the metallic cord around the Joker's wrist, was standing in the entrance of the bank, a determined look on her face.
"You'd better appreciate your last few minutes of freedom, Joker," said Batgirl, "because I'm taking you back to Arkham."
"Reeeeeeally now?" replied Joker, using his free arm to reach down into his pocket. "You, all by your little old lonesome?"
"That's right," said Batgirl, not realizing that it probably wasn't the best idea to tell the Joker that she was alone. "I'm taking in you and Harley both!"
Suddenly, the Joker pulled two small rubber balls out of his pocket and threw them at Batgirl. They exploded in her face, creating a small cloud of smoke that burned and stung the girl's eyes.
"Aaaaaaah!" Batgirl screamed, releasing the cord that she had been holding and covering her eyes with both of her hands. This was Joker's chance. He spun around and kicked Batgirl's legs out from under her, sending her hurtling to the ground.
"Never send a girl to do a Batman's job, that's what I always say," said Joker, reaching into his pocket again and pulling out three razor-sharp metallic playing cards. He threw them toward the ground, hoping to slice Batgirl to ribbons. However, she was ready. She tumbled out of the way and thrust her legs upward, kicking Joker hard in the face and sending him flying backward.
"I'm just as tough as Batman is, and don't ever forget it!" said Batgirl, leaping up and kicking Joker in the face again. The kick sent Joker stumbling back even more, falling over the bound security guards and into Harley's arms.
"Throw me back in, Harley, I'm not ready to give up the fight!" shouted the Joker. Harley smiled and gently sprayed his face with a bottle of spritzer, which she then wiped off with a blue rag. "Thanks."
Joker got back up and pulled out a long, black pistol with a small replica of his face at the end. He began firing at Batgirl, who barely managed to dodge the bullets as they whizzed past her. As Batgirl ran around to the other side of the bank, Harley Quinn jumped behind her and landed a punch to the side of her face that caused Batgirl to immediately fall to the ground, not expecting an attack from both sides.
"Didn't anybody ever tell the two of you that two-on-one isn't fair?" said Batgirl, looking back and forth to see that Joker and Harley now had her surrounded. "Clown to the left of me, Joker to the right..."
"And there you are, stuck in the middle!" shouted Joker, laughing as he fired his gun straight at Batgirl's head. She smirked and ducked out of the way, much to the horrified Harley's chagrin.
"MISTER J, WATCH OUT!" screamed Harley, holding up a bulletproof whoopie-cushion and wincing as the Joker's shots bounced off.
"Sorry, Harley, it's just that when I'm fighting anyone with 'Bat' in their name, I tend to get a little more aggressive than usual," said Joker, putting his gun away. "Forgive me?"
Harley's reply was cut short by Batgirl's leg slamming into the back of her head, knocking her off-balance and sending the clown girl crashing to the floor.
"Didn't anybody ever tell you that hitting someone from behind isn't fair?" asked Joker, smirking at Batgirl. "Of course, I never was any good at fighting fair."
By now, the Joker's six thugs had emerged from the vault, and as Batgirl stood victoriously over the unconscious Harley Quinn, she didn't notice two men coming up from behind her with a long, thin rope.
"I guess that makes us even, then," replied Batgirl, taking out two of her Bat-a-rangs. "Which is good, because now it's just you and me."
"Not really," said the Joker, a wide grin on his face. Before Batgirl could react, the two men were upon her, seizing her wrists in their grasp and looping rope around them several times. Batgirl let out a loud scream and began to struggle, but within a fraction of a second, the men had her wrists tightly bound. Batgirl looked behind her to see Joker's six thugs now towering over her. Her arms were practically useless now that they were bound, but she could still use her legs, and use them she did, striking out with a kick that struck one of the thugs in the head, knocking him out instantly. But with her wrists bound, Batgirl's kick had sent her off-balance, and one of the other thugs capitalized on the opportunity, grabbing Batgirl's ankle and picking her up from the ground. Another thug seized her other ankle, and as the two men held Batgirl's legs together, another one of Joker's men wrapped more rope around Batgirl's ankles and thighs, quickly rendering useless the young crimefighting girl's legs. They dropped the bound Batgirl unceremoniously to the ground, where she began to struggle mightily for freedom.
"Eight on one is REALLY not fair, Joker," spat Batgirl. "Of course, I never really expected you to fight fair."
"Smart girl," replied the Joker, seizing Batgirl's jaw in his hand. "And I never really expected you to come without Batman. But it looks like his loss is my gain!"
One of Joker's men brought out another rope and tied it around Batgirl's waist, pinning her tightly bound wrists to her back and completely immobilizing her arms. As Batgirl was rendered more and more helpless, a sharp pang of regret quickly overtook her.
"Why did I go after Joker and Harley alone?"Batgirl thought, yelling at herself in her own mind. "Batman was right... I'm not experienced enough to take on the Joker..."
Meanwhile, Harley was finally beginning to stir, and her first waking sight quickly filled her with glee. Batgirl, her arms and legs bound, struggling on the floor with the Joker and his thugs standing over her. Joker, noticing that Harley was awake, picked up the bound Batgirl and held her upright for Harley to see.
"Look, Harley, my dear... the beautiful Batgirl, all trussed up like a prize turkey! And she's all for you!"
"Oh, it's the most wonderful gift I've ever recieved, Mr. J.!" squealed Harley, running over to the Joker, who dropped Batgirl again to the floor so that he could wrap his arms around the ecstatic clown girl.
"It's not like you did anything to earn it," muttered Batgirl, coldly staring up from the floor into Harley's eyes.
"You know, Mr. J... I think something's missing," Harley mused, walking up to Batgirl and pacing around the bound heroine for several seconds. "Oh, wait, I know!"
Harley reached into her pocket and pulled out a large, white cloth. She quickly reached behind Batgirl's head and tied the cloth tightly over the struggling Batgirl's mouth, quickly muffling her angry protests.
"Mmmmmbgh!" Batgirl shrieked as the gag was secured behind her head with a tight knot. Now bound AND gagged, Batgirl was completely helpless and at the Joker and Harley's mercy.
"That's much better, don't you agree, puddin'?" Harley asked, nuzzling up to the Joker's shoulder.
"Ah yes, it seems it's gotten a lot quieter in here now that Batgirl's been silenced," replied the Joker with a chuckle. "Alright, boys, you know what to do! Let's take our spoils and head on home!"
The six thugs picked up the sacks of money and jewels that they'd stolen, while Joker and Harley picked up the bound, gagged, and struggling Batgirl. Batgirl and the loot were all taken to the Jokermobile. Batgirl was buckled into a seat between two of Joker's thugs, while the money was thrown into the very back of the limo. Then, the car sped off down the street, leaving the security guards still tied up inside the bank.
"MMMMMPH! MMMMMPH!" Batgirl shrieked, struggling even though she knew her bonds would be impossible to escape. After several minutes of struggling, she hung her head and sighed through her gag. A single tear began to make its way to the front of her left eye. "Batman... I'm so sorry... I should've done what you told me... whatever happens to you now is going to be all my fault..."
Those thoughts rang out repeatedly through Batgirl's head all the way back to the Joker's hideout.
For the past half-hour, Batman had been scouring the city in his Batmobile, searching for any sign of the Joker. He'd visited every one of the banks that the Joker was planning to attack... and the Gotham Mutual was his last stop.
When he arrived, he could already see several police cars stationed outside of it, their lights on.
"Damn," Batman muttered to himself as he parked the Batmobile and walked up to one of the cop cars. "The Joker was here, wasn't he?"
A police officer sitting in the car nodded.
"Tied up three security guards and took all the money in the vault, over fifty million worth," said the officer. "Weren't you here too?"
The officer's question quickly caught Batman off-guard. His mind immediately raced to figure out why the officer would be asking him such a question.
"We found a couple of Bat-a-rangs inside... just thought you'd like to-"
"Batgirl," Batman said to himself, briefly allowing worry to show on his face. "No..."
"What was that?" the officer asked, looking up at Batman. "Were you here, or not?"
"Batgirl was here," said Batman, noticing Batgirl's Bat-cycle parked by the front of the bank as he ran back to the Batmobile. "I told her to go back to the Batcave!"
Batman quickly turned on the radio in the Batmobile and tuned it to the frequency of Batgirl's Bat Communicator.
"Batgirl, come in!" Batman shouted. "Batgirl!"
Inside the Jokermobile, Joker and Harley could hear Batman's voice over Batgirl's communicator. Batgirl heard it as well, and screamed out as loud as she could.
"MMMMMPH! MMMHMMPH! MMMM!" Batgirl screamed before one of the thugs ripped the communicator from Batgirl's utility belt and tossed it out of the car, causing it to hit the ground and shatter into pieces. Another thug grabbed the utility belt around Batgirl's waist and handed it to the Joker.
"You should've given this to me the minute we brought her into the car," said Joker. "I'm very disappointed in you."
"Sorry, boss," replied the thug, nodding his head.
"Batman heard me... now he's coming to get me for sure..."thought Batgirl, not knowing whether to feel relief or dread. "Hurry up, Batman..."
Unfortunately, the only tracking device Batman could use to locate Batgirl was in her communicator, which was destroyed when it was tossed onto the road. That option for finding Batgirl was gone.
Her desperate, muffled cries seemed to be filled with fear and terror, and a feeling of dread quickly overcame the Caped Crusader. He had to find Batgirl, and he had to save her... no matter what the cost. Ever since he'd taken her as his new crimefighting compatriot, she'd become like a daughter to him... and he wasn't going to let her down.
"Alfred," said Batman, calling up Alfred's frequency on the Batmobile's radio, "access the Batcave computer and begin scanning for possible places the Joker could be-"
"Already started an hour ago, sir," said Alfred. "Young Barbara radioed in to me as soon as the two of you left the police headquarters. How is she doing, by the way?"
"Joker and Harley kidnapped her," replied Batman. "That's why it's important that we find the Joker now."
"Oh dear, I do hope she's alright..." said Alfred in a worried tone. "Well, I've already come up with a list of possible locations. I'm sending it to you now, sir."
A list of locations suddenly appeared on the Batmobile's in-car computer. Warehouses, factories, abandoned buildings, anywhere where a criminal mastermind could think of hiding was included on the list.
"There's one particularly interesting location, sir," said Alfred. "It's an old joke shop supply depository on the East Side."
"There are a lot of joke shop depositories in Gotham," said Batman, "what makes this one so-"
"What's particularly interesting about it is its location, sir. It's right in the center of the six largest banks in Gotham, nearly equidistant from all of them. It would be the perfect place to hide out if one were to plan to rob all of them..."
"Then that's where I'm going first," said Batman, hoping that the location Alfred mentioned would be the one where he would find Joker, Harley... and Batgirl. "Hang in there, Barbara..."
Batman reached the warehouse, parking the Batmobile behind the large building and sneaking around the perimeter, hoping to gain entrance though a side window. After a bit of searching, he spotted a potential entrance in the form of a window about fifteen feet off of the ground. He used his grappling hook to swing up to it, then leapt inside and landed on the floor as quietly as he could. Being quite used to leaping from tall heights, the fifteen-foot fall barely affected Batman, who found himself behind a large stack of cardboard boxes. He listened quietly and could hear a faint, muffled whimpering coming from a short distance away. He peered around the boxes and saw, in the center of the room, exactly the person he was looking for.
Batgirl was tied to a wooden chair, held there by ropes tied around her shoulders and chest. The rest of her bonds, the ones around her wrists, ankles, and thighs, were independent of the chair, but still managed to hold her tightly down to the chair itself. She had a thick cloth tied around her mouth, forming a quite effective gag. Quietly, Batman snuck over to the chair. As Batman drew close, Batgirl turned her head.
"Mmmmph!" screamed Batgirl, immediately turning away as she saw Batman's face, guilt and shame quickly washing over her. "Please, don't look at me..."
Batman could tell that his young apprentice was ashamed of what she'd done, and though he was a bit annoyed at Batgirl for disobeying his orders, he was far more worried about what might happen to her if she wasn't rescued quickly.
But before Batman could reassure the girl, several sharpened metal cards ripped across his arms and face, causing him to cry out in pain.
"Welcome, Batman... welcome to the last day of the rest of your life!"
Suddenly, Joker leapt down from one of the stacks of cardboard boxes, kicking Batman in the head and knocking him backward. Harley jumped down as well, followed by all six of Joker's thugs.
"Mmmmmmph!" Batgirl screamed, looking around and realizing that Batman was heavily outnumbered. "What have I done?"
The six thugs quickly rushed Batman. However, Batman was ready. striking two of the men with a single kick, then slamming his fist forward to catch another one of the men in the stomach. As Batman got ready to throw another punch, however, he was grabbed from behind by one of the thugs, who was able to hold Batman in place as another man put on a set of brass knuckles.
"I'm gonna enjoy this, said the thug, pulling back and preparing to strike Batman in the face. Batman broke free at the last second, however, and the thug's fist barreled straight into his partner's face, knocking him out instantly. Batman quickly grabbed the last two still-conscious thugs and bashed their heads together, knocking both of them out.
"Thank God,"thought Batgirl, breathing a sigh of relief through her gag. But her relief was short-lived, as a red punching glove slammed into the side of Batman's face, knocking him to the ground. "MMMMM-MMMMN! BATMAN!"
"K.O.ed, baby!" shouted Harley Quinn, holding a punching-glove weapon in one hand and pumping her fist with the other. As Batman tried to stand, Joker viciously kicked him in the side, rolling Batman over onto his stomach.
"Unnnnh..." moaned Batman, grimacing in pain from the hard kick as well as the wounds caused by the sharpened cards.
"Awww, is the poor Batman gonna give up?" mocked the Joker, kicking Batman in the side again and laughing as the Caped Crusader groaned in pain.
"MMMMMMMMMMMMPH! MMM MMM HMMBGH MMMMMPH!" screamed Batgirl, her eyes filling with tears. She struggled furiously at her bonds, straining harder than she'd ever strained in her life. "Please, please come loose... something, please come loose..."
As Batgirl struggled, the bonds holding her shoulders to the chair began to give way. Meanwhile, Joker was continuing to taunt Batman. He placed a pie on the floor and shoved Batman's face in it, then stomped on Batman's head, pressing his face into the pie with his foot.
"Harley, take out a stopwatch and start it," said Joker. "I'm going to try and see if we can set the world record for longest time breathing whipped cream! I wonder how long Batman can last?"
"I dunno, Mr. J., but I'm sure it's not very long!" said Harley Quinn, holding Batman's arms against his back.
"Oh, I dunno, Harley... he is Batman after all," said Joker. "In fact-"
Suddenly, two booted feet slammed straight into the back of Joker's head, knocking him flat on his face on the ground. Harley shrieked, looking up to see who had kicked the Joker. Her eyes widened to the size of saucers when she realized who was the culprit.
Batgirl, her wrists still tied together to her back, her thighs and ankles still bound tight, and her mouth still gagged with the white cloth, was just beginning to squirm to a standing position. She'd freed herself from the chair, hopped over to the Joker, and struck him with a dropkick that would make Rey Mysterio jealous.
"You're tied up, you're helpless!" shouted Harley, running at Batgirl with fists flying. "I'll show you..."
Harley threw a roundhouse punch at Batgirl, who simply hopped out of the way to evade it. Another punch came Batgirl's way, and again, she was able to hop out of the way, even with her legs completely bound. Harley tried kicking Batgirl in the head, but she simply ducked out of the way. Then, she leapt up, sweeping her bound legs around and striking Harley in the side, sending her tumbling backward. Batgirl landed on her bound feet, a bit wobbly for a second or two, but well-balanced soon afterward. Without a second's pause, she hopped over to the Joker, who'd just gotten up from Batgirl's dropkick a few seconds ago. This time, Batgirl headbutted him in the chest, then did a leaping somersault, her two bound feet striking Joker squarely in the chin. Joker fell to the ground, and Batgirl didn't give him a moment's rest, landing on her feet, then falling back, pressing up off the ground with her bound wrists and spinning her two legs around, striking Joker in the stomach as he fell. Joker landed next to Harley in a crumpled heap, clutching his stomach in pain.
"Mmph... mmph... mmph..." Batgirl muffled upon climbing back to a standing position. Loosely translated, she was probably trying to say 'Had enough?'.
"How can I be losing to a bound and gagged teenage girl?" Joker shouted, berating himself as he climbed to his feet. Enraged, he took out his gun and began firing madly at the bound Batgirl, who dodged the bullets easily as she hopped toward him. But finally, as Batgirl got within five feet of the Joker, her luck ran out. A bullet grazed her shoulder. The bullet left merely a minor flesh wound, but it was enough to take Batgirl completly out of her rhythm. Her bound legs fell out from under her, and she collapsed to the ground, falling flat on her face.
"Mmmmpgh!" Batgirl cried, letting out a muffled shriek of pain as her gagged face slammed into the hard, warehouse floor. The Joker quickly ran over to Batgirl and pressed his gun to the back of her head.
"No one embarasses the Joker and lives to tell about it," said the Joker in an unusually cold tone. "No one."
Batgirl squinted her eyes closed, waiting for the end.
Both Joker and Batgirl, it seemed, had forgotten about Batman.
A Batcable wrapped around Joker's shoulders, causing him to immediately drop his gun and let out a cry of surprise as he was pulled backward and quickly bound with the cable to an unconscious Harley Quinn.
"I don't consider it an embarassment to lose a fight against Batgirl, even if she's tied up," said Batman, smiling briefly. A frown quickly returned to his face. "I DO consider it an embarassment to attack anyone who's tied up. You're a disgrace, Joker."
Batgirl squirmed to her feet and looked over at Batman, her eyes wide and sparkling. Finally, she and Batman were safe, and the Joker and Harley were caught. She couldn't help but feel overjoyed, despite still being bound and gagged.
"Need any help?" asked Batman, walking over and offering to untie the bound and gagged Batgirl. "Actually, I'm wondering whether or not I should untie you. You seem to fight better like that..."
The rare joke from Batman caused Batgirl to groan. She narrowed her eyes at Batman, then quickly scanned the room for her utility belt. Seeing it sitting on a crate a few yards away, she hopped over to it, turned around, used her bound hands to retrieve a Bat-a-rang, and quickly cut herself free. Once the ropes around her wrists were cut, she untied her legs and removed her gag.
"Batman, I..." Batgirl looked toward the ground again, her shame at disobeying Batman returning almost immediately after she was untied. "I never should've tried to stop Joker and Harley on my own... you were right... I-"
Batman walked over to Batgirl and put his hand on her shoulder. His smile said everything that needed to be said.
"Not that I condone what you did, but... I probably would've done exactly the same thing," said Batman, looking right into Batgirl's eyes. "Except with one difference."
"What's that?" asked Batgirl.
"Unlike you, I definitely wouldn't have been able to beat Joker and Harley after I got myself tied up," replied Batman. "You've got a lot more experience than I thought."
"Yeah, well... that was probably just adrenaline coming from seeing you in trouble," said Batgirl. "Something else inside me took over, and I just... I just-"
"You did well," said Batman, walking over to the Batmobile with Batgirl in order to radio the police to pick up the criminals. "You did really well."
Batgirl was safe, Batman was safe, and Joker, Harley, and their gang were going back to jail. But, thought Batgirl, something far more important had been achieved.
"I'm not just a little girl anymore..."thought Batgirl, taking one last look at the warehouse as she climbed into the Batmobile. "Then again, since first putting on this costume... I don't think I ever was."