A/N:Ahhh!! The prodigal daughter returns!!
I'm sorry. I got distracted with other endeavors and kinda abandoned my crossover piece de resistance. This chapter isn't saying much, but I owe most of the ideas largely to SpawnGuy, who suggested that I throw in some more characters here and there, just to spice things up.
Good idea. Thank you much.
And a big cyber-hug (or high-five, whatever you're more comfortable with) to Super Tinfoil Man Part 2 (odd name, by the way), TDG3RD, and my pseudo-beta SpawnGuy. Your reviews are so revered I put them on a pedastal and read them for a couple of days to make my ego happy.
Thanks, as always. And enjoy the chapter. :)
Barbara loves Metropolis.
She would never tell Bruce this (because they all know he can't stand this town – can't stand the cleanliness and cheeriness of it) but every single time Barbara comes here it's like the curtains have been lifted and a hallelujah chorus starts up.
The job will follow Barbara wherever she goes – that's a given – but today that reality doesn't even really bother her. She's on vacation. She's in a pretty place.
And at this moment in time, there's nothing that can fuck up Barbara's day --
"...That'll be twenty-nine seventy-six, ma'am."
– except maybe eye-gouging prices.
Barbara restrains from wincing full-out as she reaches into her purse for the money, giving a polite smile to the man behind the counter and thumbing through the black-hole that calls itself her bag.
One minute, two angry grunts and pained smiles later, she has the cash (always cash, no credit-cards or traceable creatures for Barb when she's out of city) on the counter and her bag of souvenirs in hand.
The clerk gives her another smile and thanks her. Barbara does the same before spinning around and wheeling out through the door, nodding to the couple that politely stands aside for her to get through.
It should be a very uneventful and tourist-y experience for Barb today; she has a map of the city laid out in her flat (the apartment is courtesy of Wayne Enterprises: Metropolis) and little thumb-tacks marking her desired destinations. Dad should be here in about an hour to meet her down near Midlane, and later they'll have dinner with the cousins who live out in Suburbia.
Barbara smiles as the sun warms her face and a young couple with two giggling toddlers race by. The parents give her a happy, carefree look and though Barb only wishes she could mirror the same expression on her own face, but she does nod. And say good-morning
They respond in kind, and yet again, Barbara is hit by a, "god, I love this place" feeling.
Sure, Gotham is her homeland, her turf and her birthplace, but there is something hugely refreshing about being in a city where people make eye-contact and (instead of pulling out a knife/threatening/leering/frowning) say hello, or smile with their teeth, or don't stare at Barbara in the wheelchair with wide, uncomprehending eyes.
A part of Barb will always be in Gotham, but Metropolis certainly has her by the hand and won't let go.
This thought keeps running through her head (though happily, un-winded and muscles not burning from the workout) as she goes back to the flat and wheels her way to the elevator, waiting. It takes a break when she pushes her way into the elevator and suddenly she's looking at Gothamites again – with their hard, flinty eyes and suspicious gazes – but when she lands on her floor and pauses in the hallway, the thought is back again, cheerfully jogging its brainy-lungs out.
Barbara rests her thumb on the fingerprint scanner and tenses as the light flashes green. She struggles with the door for a minute, bumping her wheels on the frame and clipping the sides.
And then she remembers.
It's automatic. Press the button.
Barbara forgets: the flat is decked out and they even have a handicap door for her. There's really no need for her to fight her way through a door (pushing and shoving and angrily cursing under her breath), because people already knew that they would have a gimp in their midst and made the necessary adjustments.
It angers Barbara (to always be a pain to people, to block the way and not be able to do nearly as many things as she used to) but at the same time she's grateful.
Pride's a good thing, but it is incredibly important to know when to back down.
Barbara does this as she gingerly wheels her way through the automatic door and comes to a stop on the wood floor, watching the light stream in from outside.
It's beautiful. It's gorgeous. It's –
"Helluva lot prettier than Gotham, isn't it?"
She can't help it. The voice coming from nowhere combined with the fact that she was just very vulnerable and completely caught unawares combines into a muffled shriek.
The voice laughs.
And then suddenly materializes into Dick, rising up from the living room sofa with a good-sized bruise over his left eye.
He'd been laying on the couch the entire time. Just sitting there, in her flat, beyond her view, waiting for her to wheel in so he could scare the shit out of her.
Barbara's not in the mood to physically come over there and whack him, so she does the next best thing and glares.
He takes it in kind, smiling broadly (and what a great, if lopsided smile it is) and walking over to greet her, a hand held out in a placating gesture.
Barbara continues to glare, and clutches her sticks (hidden underneath her seat, no one knows about them except, you know, the Bat Clan) at her side openly.
It's a warning to Bird-boy. If he's smart, he'll take it.
"What are you doing here?" she asks, voice low.
Dick notices the threat, wisely taking two (he should take three) steps back and trying to ooze as much charm as possible.
"I thought I'd just drop by and say hello, all-seeing one," he says as he discreetly moves backwards.
Barb doesn't buy it. And they both know that.
"Mine ears detect bullshit, Bird-Boy." she says, nudging the wheel forward four centimeters and fingering the sticks. "Maybe you should try again."
Mexican stand-off of the eyes. Blue meets blue and neither are willing to back down.
Dick takes another step backwards and collapses awkwardly onto the couch, face folded into anxiety and body posture nervous.
Barbara pursues, but she does so carefully, wheeling around to a position where she can see him and have easy access to the knives in the coffee table.
And then waits.
"I need help," Dick says after a moment's pause.
"I'm on vacation," Barb replies. "Clearly, we are at an impasse."
His brow furrows, set-off by this comment, and then Dick opens his mouth to speak.
Barbara cuts him off before a word can even leave his lips.
"Look, I'm on vacation. What ever shit you've gotten yourself into – "
"I got the shit beat out of me, Babs dearest." Dick interrupts her, and then suddenly Barb notices not only the bruise on his eye, but the scratches and cuts trailing up and down his face and neck and probably under his shirt.
The rage she felt a second ago vanishes.
"A mugging went totally bad."
She instantly thinks superhuman baddie from hell.
He shakes his head.
"No. Just your average-Joe who somehow received meta speed and reflexes."
In that split-moment realization Barbara understands that they're all connected. What she thought was just in Gotham suddenly is in New York. And what she thought was just in New York is suddenly in Bludhaven. And what she thought was just in Bludhaven probably is just in Metropolis and oh, god she's getting to old for this shi –
Barb glares at him.
"Um..." and then Dick shifts on the sofa, popping his neck and exhaling audibly, "where's Bruce?"
The sticks roll out from under her seat and clatter to the floor.
"Damn," Barbara Gordon says.