Disclaimer: All characters are owned by DC comics, and whatever other companies are affiliated with, owned by, or owners of said company. No moneys are gained from this story, as it is only a way of consoling myself from all the screwy people currently writing these characters. Don't sue…you won't get anything, because I don't have anything! And then I'd be forced to stop buying your products, the purchase of which will bring you much more income than suing me will.
Author's Note: Well, hopefully without giving too much away…I'd just like to note, due to recent comic-verse developments…that I was writing this story months ago, and therefore it has nothing to do with said developments! Just wanted everyone to know. Because, like, we wouldn't want to think I was just taking my cue from DC, now, would we? Because…it might seem like I'm doing that after a few chapters…but I'm not! Um…yep. That's all I'm going to say.
Cassandra Cain, cloaked in shadows and shrouded in the mysterious guise of Batgirl, skipped nimbly across a thin wire stretched between two high-rises. Though she knew that Batgirl was supposed to be serious, even frightening, she couldn't quite hold back a giggle as she flipped off the wire and plummeted a few stories before throwing out a line…flying across the city. Her giggle morphed to a full-fledged chortle of glee.
Batgirl had always been her life…well, not always. But it seemed like all that had gone before was simply preparation for her new life. And while she had always thrilled at the challenge, thrived on the hunt, the capture…and, of course, the family she had been accepted into…she seemed to too often forget that it was just plain fun!
But for all that she reveled in being Batgirl most nights, tonight was special. Why? Because for the past month she had been banned from it. Forbidden from going out at night, from seeking to do justice…from living her life. Which would have really torn her up in the past…except that this time she had had company in her misery. Tim Drake, Robin, had also been banned. And so for the past month they had spent the majority of their free time together. Tonight, in celebration of their reinstatement, they had decided to go out on a joint patrol. And now…now it was just a few minutes away from when they'd agreed to meet.
"Ahhh." She let out a contented sigh as she came to rest on a broad ledge. It was going to be a great night, she could just feel it. She paced the ledge for a bit, impatient for Robin to get there… anticipating the adventures to be had. A movement caught her eye and she turned…then frowned. Apparently Robin was not quite as thrilled to be back as she was.
"What?" He glanced at her, shrugging off her question. She frowned beneath her mask. This wasn't like him! Something was wrong, and if he thought that he could hide it from her… "What's wrong?" This time she got a reaction…a slight grin. Why he thought that her question was funny was beyond her…but she would learn. She had been learning a lot about Tim over the last few weeks.
"It's nothing. Well, not nothing, I guess…" he scuffed his boot on the rooftop restlessly. "It's…well, it's my dad. He…well, you know how it's been lately!" And indeed she did…though the details escaped her at the moment. In fact, now that she thought about it, she wasn't sure Tim had ever given her all the particulars. He had come knocking at her door one morning after having a huge fight with his dad. He had needed a place to stay. She had offered him her old cave, but he had returned home shortly. He hadn't spoken about it since, but he had been spending so much time with her and at the Manor…and every time he arrived from his home he was tense and upset.
"Sorry." She patted him awkwardly on the shoulder, unsure how else to give comfort. He shrugged, dropping the attitude and flashing a killer smile her way.
"Nah, I'm the one who should be sorry. This is supposed to be a celebration, right?" And just like that all traces of stress vanished and in their place were the mischievousness and humor that had first drawn her to him. She cocked her head to the side…how did he do that? He wasn't even just pretending to be happy for her sake…at least not as far as she could tell...and since she was known for being able to read a person's thoughts through his body language…well, all she knew was that he seemed to have an amazing recovery capacity.
"So….shall we?" She executed a fancy bow and wave along with her suggestion, earning her an appreciative laugh from Robin. She straightened, grinning, though he wouldn't be able to tell under her mask. It was funny how, even after their adventures against Joker and spending most of their free time for the past month in each other's company, he still seemed surprised when she made joke.
"By all means!" He threw out a line but didn't leap. She laughed and threw out her own cable, and they took the first jump together. It was incredible! The plummeting drop, the soaring climb back up, the wind in their hair…well, the wind in Robin's hair, anyway. After a few minutes of just roof-hopping for the fun of it, Robin pointed at something and they came to rest on a tall tower.
"What?" She peered down where Robin had pointed, not seeing much in the dark alley.
"Time to get down to work." She made a face…wondering, not for the first time, if she should have an open mask so that people such as Robin could see her make the face…at his brisk tone. Too much like Batman…albeit too wordy. He jumped down, towards the alley, and she followed swiftly, not wanting to be left behind.
It looked like a mugging, plain and simple. About ten young hoods surrounded a woman, baking her against one of the walls. One young man had hold of her purse and was tugging at it, while the others taunted and jeered and lashed out physically at her. Robin launched himself into the fray without hesitation, but Batgirl held back. Something wasn't right about the scene. She observed for a moment, allowing a momentary distraction to watch Robin take out two thugs at once, and then smiled grimly.
Robin was enjoying this. He had really needed the physical exertion to work off frustrations. Plus, he had to admit that spending time with Cass, whether in her civilian guise or as Batgirl, was a high point of any day. He ducked as two of the gang members rushed him, then twirled, tripping one, sending him head first into the wall of the alley, and catching the other with a kick to the stomach. Another one came at him with a wicked looking knife…Robin just laughed as he disarmed him, leaving him with a rather twisted looking wrist in the process.
It was right about when he was in the middle of bringing down the sixth attacker when he realized Batgirl hadn't joined in the fight. That distracted him long enough for the mugger to land one solid blow…earning the assailant a rather swift retribution which left him nicely unconscious. Robin glanced around, marking the positions of the last four thugs, who seemed to be a bit more intelligent than the first six and weren't as willing to jump him without thought, and searching for his supposed partner. Where was she?
A sudden flurry of movement caught his eye. There she was! But… he frowned and fended off an attack by one of the bolder members of the remaining group. Having easily dealt with that threat he turned back to find the other three had disappeared. He noted their retreating figures at the far end of the alley and considered giving chase, but his attention was drawn back to the odd scuffle to the side.
For some reason, Batgirl was struggling with the woman who had been under attack. He hesitated to intervene, after all, she was Batgirl and could probably maim him in any number of creative ways were he to make her mad…and besides, she could read body language, right? He was sure she had a very good reason to…
"Look out!" her warning came a split second too late as the woman, who had managed to get loose from Batgirl's grasp and pull a strange-looking gun out of her purse, waved it about wildly, aiming it at them as she backed away. Unfortunately one of her assailants was behind her. He had been unconscious, but was waking up, and his moan of pain startled her enough to let loose a barrage of fire. Batgirl managed to duck and weave, her trained eye noting all the places the woman was aiming and managing to dodge all the bullets.
Robin was not so lucky. A searing pain pierced his arm, the force of it knocking him to the ground. As Batgirl charged in and finally disarmed the woman, he thought he saw some kind of dancing lights…pret-ty. His eyes closed, just for a second, really! The next thing he knew was that someone was quite rudely tugging on his arm.
"Uh-huh. And I'm Batman." He blinked open his eyes at that, wondering when Batman's voice had gotten so high, or his figure so…a rough shake brought him back to a more conscious state.
"Hey wha…ow!" the last was brought on by Batgirl ruthlessly probing his wound with one gloved finger. She cocked her head to the side, then nodded decisively. Robin had a sinking feeling that she'd just reached some sort of decision…one he wasn't sure boded well for his future. But instead of inflicting more pain on his poor tortured body, she stood up and fired off a line. He struggled to rise as well, but a sickening feeling in his gut left him unable to do more than flail about.
"Don't." She crouched beside him again, holding the grapple's motor in one hand and slipping her other arm beneath his arms, pulling him tightly against her. Ok. This was…he could live with this. In fact, he could really… before his mind could wander too far into his fantasy Batgirl stood, hauling him roughly to an approximation of standing. "Hold on."
"Wait…" but she was already pulling them upwards towards the rooftops. The sudden movement left him feeling rather nauseated, but they reached their destination without incident. Batgirl propped him up against a short wall on the building's roof, and tugged at his sleeve.
"Let me see." Fearing what may happen to him should she take it into her head to suddenly become a doctor, Robin forced himself to grit his teeth and straighten.
"It's fine. It's just a…"
"Don't say flesh wound." He blinked at the laughter in her voice. He could be dying here, and she was laughing! He was gravely wounded, within an inch from death and… "Stop that."
"Stop what?" Honestly, there was no understanding the girl.
"You…are not dying." He gaped at her and she laughed again. "'Tis merely a flesh wound!" she mimicked one of the movies they had watched together over their forced hiatus. "Was a joke." She sighed, obviously fed up with the Brainless Wonder.
"Humph." She shook her head at his wordless grouch and tugged at his sleeve again.
"Let me see!" He sighed and allowed her to pull up the sleeve and examine his wound. She poked at it again, eliciting a startled "ow!" from him, and then sat back. He craned his neck, trying to see how bad it really was. Unfortunately, his neck was not built to twist that way.
"So…how bad is it?"
"Not bad. Healing already." Ri-ight. Sure. What-ever! If she was hiding it from him it must be horrible! Maybe he was dying! Maybe the gun had had some kind of poisonous bullet or…
"Ow! Hey! What was that for?" He rubbed the back of his head petulantly.
"Stupid Robin." She shook her head at him in disgust. "It's not a bad wound. It is healing. You don't believe me…wait!" She snapped her fingers, obviously much struck by her idea. She dug around in her utility belt until she triumphantly pulled out… a makeup compact?
"Since when do you wear makeup? And why would you carry it on patrol?" She poised as if to smack him again, and he held up his hands in surrender.
"Black Canary gave it to me. Don't use it. Had to put it somewhere." She opened it up and disgustedly flicked the little bits of powder off her glove. "See!" She held it up for him to observe, and he had to give her credit…it was a good idea. She scooted around so that she could position the compact's mirror in a way that would allow him to examine his own shoulder.
"Hm." It wasn't as bad as he'd feared…the pain from it had been deceiving. It was truly just a flesh wound…or…wait, what was… "What's that?" He reached to poke at the object, but Batgirl's hand shot out, latching onto his wrist.
"Why not?" He tugged on his hand, wanting it back. The gash not only hurt…it itched!
"That's not…not a normal bullet." He leveled a glare at her.
"Excuse me? And how would you even know…"
"'Cause." There was a terseness in her voice that hadn't been there before and he winced.
"Gee, Ca…um, I mean…I didn't mean…." She put her hand over his mouth, cutting him off.
"Stop." She sighed. "I've been shot enough to know, ok? It's not normal. You are healing…too fast. And…you passed out."
"I did not!" She just looked at him until he broke eye contact and kind of shrugged. "Ok, maybe I did."
"It's ok. Something's on it."
"How do you…"
"I saw it, ok? The gun she had…was…weird. The bullets that came out, were…wrong. Coated with something. I think…I think she was taking it somewhere. Those guys just accidentally found her and attacked." Robin thought about that for a second. It would explain his strange reaction…he'd been hurt a lot worse before, without the wimpy fainting effect.
But if it was a chemical reaction he probably should get to the cave, or even Leslie's, to be checked out. Joker's chemical concoctions were still too fresh in his mind to discount them. Though he wasn't feeling any effects now. Maybe it was just temporary.
"All right. So…"
"You should go back." Was that a tone of disappointment he heard in her voice? They were sitting rather closer to each other than absolutely necessary…she hadn't moved away from him after showing him his wound. He considered taking advantage of the situation to try to advance their relationship…they hadn't even ever kissed…but thought better of it. Batgirl could kick his butt if he did something she didn't like…and since he was currently rather incapacitated…well, let's just say he figured he'd save it for a time he may be able to defend himself.
"Yeah…I guess." Batgirl pushed herself to her feet, reaching down to help him up as well. He stood, experiencing a little bit of vertigo at the sudden change in elevation, but it quickly passed. He turned as if to leave but her hand on his arm stopped him. He glanced back inquiringly.
"I'll come too." He shook his head and shrugged. He didn't really want her to see his weakness, but then again, she'd already witnessed him passing out from a mere bullet wound. He hoped they could find something in the cave's lab to prove her theory that the bullet was strange…that that was why he'd reacted the way he did. He considered arguing, but as he peered over the side of the building he had the distinct feeling that the world was turning upside down. He closed his eyes, fighting the nausea that washed over him. Maybe it would be a good idea for her to accompany him.
"Uh. Ok." He agreed. She patted his arm somewhat awkwardly, then pulled out a line.
"Come on. It's not so bad." He gave her a look, but she just laughed. He sighed, pulling out his own line and firing it into the night. He was sure he was going to regret this.
To be continued…