Barbara rolled into the common room of the Clocktower, seeking her prey. The Bat in question was lounging on the couch, bobbing her head to the music presumably emanating from her headphones. Wheeling up behind the couch, Barbara quickly jerked the headphones off and waited the standard two point five seconds until she had Cassandra's undivided attention.
"What was this piece of purple butt-floss doing in my underwear drawer?" she demanded, brandishing a tiny scrap of sparkly purple fabric that was supposed to be a thong.
The amount of material used could double as a single shoelace. For a very small pair of shoes.
"It gift," Cassandra stated succinctly, turning around to face her mentor.
"From who?" Barbara demanded, though she had a sinking feeling she knew who.
Cassandra just pointed to herself. She still never used words when actions would suffice.
Grinding her teeth together – and forcing herself to relax her jaw before she needed orthodontic work – Barbara asked, voice kept carefully level, "Why?"
Face screwing up in that way that Barbara knew meant she was settling in a for a long (for her) bout of talking, Cassandra said, "Nightwing say you sexy."
Barbara blinked. She blushed almost as red as her hair, coughed to cover up her embarrassment, and quickly stuffed the thong in one of the many concealed nooks and crannies on her wheelchair before turning back to face Cassandra. "When was this?" she asked, voice half-strangled in her throat.
"Tuesday," Cassandra said briefly. Then she elaborated, "He ask me for date advice."
Eyes widening, Barbara asked, "He what?" Cassandra was a very sweet girl for all that she'd been raised to be nothing more than an assassin's tool, but what she knew about typical social interaction would barely fill a grenade.
"He say I know you better now," Cassandra said artlessly, and Barbara winced.
Dick had always been her best friend. Even before they'd started dating, even before Batgirl – though not before Robin – they'd been the only two 'real' people their age in Gotham's glitterati. But after their breakup, Dick's leaving Gotham and moving to Bludhaven, and him becoming Nightwing… And then the Joker…
Things hadn't ever been the same between them.
And it was most her fault. Barbara could it admit to herself, if to no one else. Dick had been trying so hard, and she just kept pushing him away.
But she didn't think a pair of purple thong underwear was going to fix everything.
"And then what?" Barbara coaxed, knowing that she'd have to carefully pull every bit of information out of Cassandra before she ever got her answer to the purple pair of panties the new Batgirl had gifted her with.
"I say he like you better," Cassandra replied, with that earnestly serious look on her that meant Barbara could infer that it wasn't that Cassandra didn't like her…
…it was just that Dick had never stopped loving her.
Heart in her throat, Barbara nodded and gestured for Cassandra to continue. Too much more reminiscing, and she'd be bawling like a baby.
Cassandra obliged her with an unusually long (for her) monologue. "He say he love you, always have, and not know how make you understand. I say he should show you, and he say you not let him. He say you push him away, not think anyone could love you now."
And there went the waterworks, thankfully quickly dammed. Barbara knew it was true; she had been pushing Dick away, thinking that he couldn't love the new her as he'd loved the old her. It wasn't just her body; her whole personality had undergone a paradigm shift when the Joker's bullet had ripped away the use of her legs. Blinking back her tears, Barbara croaked out, "And what did you tell him?"
She shrugged. "Show you he know you still have same heart, if not same body or mind."
Barbara found herself touched at the notion – and unable to deny that Cassandra was probably right. She usually was about matters of the heart. Eyes misting over once more, Barbara smiled softly, then frowned.
But this didn't explain the thong underwear. "And then?" Barbara prompted.
"He say you still smart as ever and even sexier," Cassandra replied, which filled in most of the blanks – expect why Dick would be so bold with his feelings to someone he barely knew. The younger Batgirl smirked with patently false innocence. "He not think I hear him."
Barbara snorted. That explained that. Same old (Former) Boy Wonder – his mouth was still two steps ahead of his brain.
"And then he ask me help, and I say yes," Cassandra continued guilelessly. "But then Huntress show up, and we need work, so he not tell me how help."
Which meant Cassandra used her own convoluted thought processes to figure out how she should 'help' – and came up with lingerie? "So you got me these," Barbara finished for her, digging out the pair of purple panties in question and holding them out for inspection. They weren't quite as tasteless as she had feared. Made of some sort of very soft Lycra/cotton blend, they had silver sparkles spangled on them, and on second glance had a bit more material than she'd thought.
Perhaps enough for a pair of shoelaces.
Nodding vigorously, Cassandra explained, "You think you sexy, you think you be loved, you stop pushing Nightwing away."
It all sounded so simple coming from her. Then again, everything sounded simple the way Cassandra phrased it. But…
Cassandra did have a point. If Barbara could ever get over her own insecurities – not that sexy undies would accomplish that – she might be able to let Dick back into her life.
She'd never let him out of her heart.
But Dick could have anyone, and he needed someone who understood his need to fly. Barbara did – always had – but why would he want someone who couldn't fly with him, who'd keep him grounded so they could be together? She'd never fly again – except in her dreams – and how could he accept being caged, even if it was gilded with her love?
Why would he want someone with scars on her heart even deeper than those on her back? Barbara was smart enough to realize that physical attractiveness didn't matter – sex was ninety percent mental, and love was based on mental and emotional compatibility – but without the use of her legs, she now had a very hard time believing anyone could be attracted to her, in any sense.
Barbara didn't think skimpy lingerie was going to help her overcome her insecurities, though it was a sweet, if weird, gesture on Cassandra's part. She'd actually have to do something. Move past her problems, accept that they'd always be there, but refuse to let them rule her life.
Barbara just wasn't sure if she could.
Shaking off her circular thoughts, Barbara realized that Cassandra had taken her headphones back and was once more bobbing her head to the music. There would be no further help from that quarter. Then again, she probably shouldn't rely on someone else to tell her how to fix her love life problems.
Especially someone else who didn't even have a love life.
But she definitely did need to fix things.
That decided, Barbara wheeled herself towards her bedroom. She needed to call Dick and arrange to talk to him. She'd have to make sure they both had several hours free, since she had a feeling it was going to take awhile to get the foundation of their friendship stable once more. And restarting their romantic relationship would definitely take quite a bit of careful work.
But first things first: she needed to try on that thong.
Barbara needed a goal to works towards when she was tempted to give up. Imagining Dick's reaction to the sight of her in those purple panties – and nothing else – was more than enough to bring a smile to her face.
And happiness to her heart.