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Riding In Cars With Bats

As the black vehicle sped through the dimly-lit highways of West Gotham County, Batman's partner was silent. His reputation as a loner notwithstanding, Batman had had several partners over the years, and in his experience, they had rarely been silent.

Unquestionably Dick had been the most talkative. Coming from the loud and boisterous environment of the circus into the imposing demesnes of Wayne Manor had been intimidating to the boy at first, but once he had adapted, it had seemed that the precocious youth had taken it upon himself to fill every silence. It had not escaped his notice that this tendency lessened markedly as the boy had gotten older.

Jason, as he had been in most other things, was more erratic. He could be as talkative as Dick was, but at other times prone to…at the time, Bruce had just thought of them as 'quiet nights'. Now he suspected that they were bouts of depression. Just another way in which he had failed him.

Tim was a good deal more…what was the word, really? Thoughtful? Pensive? Shy? He was less likely than his predecessors to talk just to fill up the silence, but his conversations tended to require a good deal more attention from Bruce. Where Dick or Jason might descend into a chattering monologue that required little more than the occasional acknowledging grunt, or, if it had been Dick, enough awareness to recognize when Dick's discussion of the Knights' game had turned into a fantastic (and utterly false) account of alien abduction, Tim asked questions. And he would wait, patiently, until they were answered.

It wasn't just Robins, either. Barbara hadn't exactly been his partner, but they had worked together often enough. In her Batgirl days, how talkative she was around him depended on exactly one factor: Dick. If she was working with Batman alone, she talked only when she felt she needed to. Add Robin into the mix, however, and the two of them kept up a bantering dialogue for the entire night. Even on stakeouts, it'd be a night of whispers punctuated by the occasional giggle. It used to drive Bruce nuts.

Stephanie hadn't been around for long, but it seemed to Bruce that the young woman was on a mission to usurp Dick's position as most talkative. Cassandra, of course, was the exact opposite. The newest Batgirl put Batman in the unusual position of being the one who did most of the talking. Understandable, once the circumstances were taken into account, but still unusual.

One would think he wouldn't mind the silence, as he preferred to spend the time thinking rather than chattering, but Bruce found himself glancing her way frequently, as if he were verifying that she was still, in fact, in the car. The irrationality of this subconscious action irritated him, and it occurred to him that rather than giving him the time to think, Cassandra's silence was instead diverting his thought process.

So what occupied Batman's mind as they crossed the bridge was trying to decide whether or not he was hindering her growth by allowing her to sit in silence. Even if he was, what was he going to do, chat about the weather? Pretend Bruce Wayne was at a dinner party and babble inanely? He still hadn't come up with a solution by the time he had pulled the Batmobile into the alley, hiding it behind a false facade. Not for the first time, he wondered if he had put the young woman on the right path, or if, like Jason…

As both of them stepped out of the vehicle, Batgirl fixed him with a look. She raised her arm and fired her grapnel upward, the titanium prongs biting into the stone of the gargoyle up above. "It okay," she said in her soft voice, just before she accelerated upwards towards the rooftops.