Invicta: Derived from the word "Invict" meaning Invincible; unconquerable.
I don't own Batman.
It was the year nineteen eighty-seven and Gotham City was holding its try outs for the gymnastics branch of Team USA. Those who made it onto the team were headed for the following summer to Berlin where the nineteen eighty-eight Olympics were being held. Eighteen year old Barbara Gordon pulled herself out of a graceful pose, stretching her legs, standing precariously on the balance beam. She sauntered over to the end of the beam before racing across, doing a somersault as her dismount and landing perfectly on the map.
Smiling at the crowd, she reveled in the thunderous applause, darting over to the sidelines, Barbara could hardly hear the words of praise and encouragement her coach was showering her with. Grabbing the towel from her spot on the bench, Barbara plopped down in her seat, her legs muscles cooling the fire from within. She listened to her emcee announce her scores: 9.7, 9.5, 9.5, 9.4, 8.7 and 7.9. She cringed inwardly at that last score. She pushed herself to be the best, no matter what. Both on the balance beam and off. As the music started up again, Barbara and practically the rest of Gotham watched with bated breath as her rival Gemma Lockwood walked over to the balance beam.
Barbara's heart began to sink. So far Gemma's routine proved to be flawless. It would be Gemma who would have the opportunity to go to Berlin and participate in the Olympics, not her. She looked at the towel she held limply in her lap. She tried to be optimistic. 'Well at least there's always that scholarship to Jump City University. Four years of fun in the sun while studying forensics.' A small smirk graced her face. 'And with being three hours away plus many many miles away from Dad, I can be a cop or detective without much grief.'
A resonating gasp from the crowd ripped the crest-fallen red-head from her thoughts. She jerked her head up in time to see Gemma swing her legs onto the balance beam. Had she fallen? Barbara's eyes flickered over to the giant screen showing the slow replay. Indeed, Gemma's ankle had bent, causing her body to overbalance and topple to the floor. Barbara thought she saw Gemma wince, but the gymnast managed to cover it up with a look of concentration as she moved fluidly back onto the equipment. As Gemma continued to perform, her routine became uneven and wobbly. Eventually she forced herself to dismount, the song just barely ending. A dark look crossed her face as she stalked over to the sidelines and sat on the bench a good thirty feet from Barbara's.
The gymnasium was alive with such a loud buzz of talking that it was reminiscent of the hum of an airplane engine. Everyone was most likely talking about Gemma's fall. Out of the corner of her eye, Barbara saw Gemma scowling, annoyed as she tried to shove off the paramedics insisting that she was fine. A tapping sound of a finger on a microphone followed by a high pitched mechanical wail echoed through the gym. Immediately the audience fell silent, everyone grimacing from the sound.
The announcer's voice crackled over the loudspeaker. "The scores for Gemma Johnson are 8.2, 8.2, 8.1, 7.8, 7.4 and 6.2." Barbara's heart went into automatic double time. Her own scores were much higher than Gemma's. She looked to the score board and saw her name in bright white lights at the top of the list. The damp towel was twisted in a death grip as reality hit her. She'd made it. Barbara Gordon was headed for the Olympics.
Café de Lune was alive with a much softer buzz in comparison to the Gotham City arena. Barbara found herself surrounded by her father, best friend Pamela Isely, CEO of Wayne Industries Bruce Wayne, his adopted son Dick Grayson and Dick's girlfriend Kori Anders. Both Barbara and Pamela watched as Dick whispered sweet nothings into Kori's ear making her blush. Pamela nudged Barbara before smirking at the couple and calling out teasingly, "Dick just propose to her already!"
Barbara laughed before adding, "Yeah, I wanna be a bridesmaid Kori!" Said girl turned as red as her ruby locks. Dick shot both teenage girls a glare.
"So when will you two stop being old maids?" He shot back.
Before either girl could come up with a snarky retort, Barbara's father Commissioner Gordon cut in gently, "Now girls ease up on the teasing. Tonight we're here to celebrate Barb's victory on making it to the Olympics not acting like we're in Kindergarten." Barbara rolled her eyes but ceased the teasing. Instead she listened to Pamela make another impassioned speech about the ozone layer and how the industries and monstrous corporate world put the vegetation of the earth in jeopardy. Once again Commissioner Gordon cut in, raising his champagne glass.
"To my daughter Barbara, for making it onto the Olympics teams. Go and explore Berlin, start discovering your life's path and win that gold!"
Barbara blushed and ducked her head at the cheers, idly wrapping a piece of her shoulder-length crimson hair around her finger.
"C'mon Barb," Commissioner Gordon pulled out the keys to his sedan. Barbara started to climb into the passenger's side when a hand on her shoulder stopped her. She turned and saw the unmistakable gleam of mischief in Pamela's evergreen eyes. Barbara wondered briefly if she peered any harder would she see the actual gears in her friend's mind brewing up all sorts of plans of nighttime mischief for them to get into.
"Would you rather go home and watch boring old black and white documentaries on a beat up of hunk of junk your old man calls a television set or would you rather go out and paint the town red?" Pamela whispered. Barbara fought a smile against her friend's weak insult toward her father, quickly pulled by the lure of escaping boredom and spending a night in the city underneath a sky that sizzled with stars.
She looked back at her father, leaned halfway into the car and said, "Hey Dad, it's such a nice night out, Pamela and I are going to walk home okay?" Commissioner Gordon frowned. He never really liked Pamela Isely nor did he trust the other red-headed girl. She had a flair of dancing around the rules and tripping the boundaries drawn by the law. Pamela had more experiences with juvie than any other teenager in Gotham Gordon had known. It was admirable, her passion for protecting Mother Nature from over development, however, Commissioner Gordon had never seen her fight in a more negotiable, practical way. He looked his daughter, the spitting image of his late wife in the eye and said, "If there's any trouble I want you to call me right away, understand?"
As Barbara started to nod, Pamela peeked her head in. "Don't worry your head off Commish," she said casually swinging an arm around Barbara's shoulders. "Babs here is in good hands."
Barbara grinned, "Don't worry Dad, I'll call around eleven to check in, alright?" Commissioner Gordon looked at both girls for a moment before nodding.
"Eleven o'clock, sharp," he clarified. Barbara leaned away from the car and agreed. When the car door was shut and her father drove away, Barbara was spun around, blue eyes immediately dazzled by the city lights of Gotham.
"Okay, Kiddo," Pamela said. "The night is young, let's go see when kind of messes…" she paused then continued in a sugary sweet voice, "I mean, good clean fun we can get ourselves into." Barbara laughed as the two friends began to stroll away from the restaurant.
Club Savant was filled with adults moving to the pulse pounding beat. Barbara bit her lip as she and Pamela waited to get in. She leaned in and whispered to her friend, "Are you sure you can get us in?"
Pamela rolled her eyes and whispered back, "Quit being such a Morning Glory and leave it to me."
Barbara smirked, "Drop the flower puns and I will." Pamela scowled at her briefly before sauntering over to two men both around their early twenties. They were tall, with broad muscular chests. One of them had unruly black hair while the other one had a mop of sandy blonde. Both had piercing blue eyes.
"Well hello," the daring red-head purred. She caught the eyes of the brunette. Her voice took on a soft, sweet voice filled with innocence and sadness tainted slightly by seduction. "My best friend and I are spending a night on the town and we're just so bored and lonely." She ran a hand up his chest, a slim finger idly twirling red hair. "Would you and your friend please keep us company?" Pamela had him ensnared within her entrancing emerald gaze, he found himself with no desire to refuse the strange vixen. Just to be safe and seal the deal, Pamela stood on her toes and softly placed her lips against his, pulling away after a few seconds.
"O-o-k-kay…." the man stammered. He became putty in her hands. "We'll keep you company." Pamela glanced past him and winked at Barbara, beckoning her over. Barbara smothered a laugh. Pam always had a knack for enchanting people, something Barbara herself felt that she was too much of a goody-goody to try.
She walked over to Pamela and their two "companions". Once inside the club, she had to fight the urge to roll her eyes at her best friend's shameless flirting with the black-haired male whose name quickly slipped her mind. She faced the sandy-blond, the look in his eyes telling her he wanted to be there as much as she did.
Barbara sighed as the bouncer moved aside the rope to let them into the club. 'And so the endless night of utter boredom and pathetic pick-up lines begins.' Barbara wondered why she let her best friend drag her to Club Savant in the first place. She wasn't much of a flirt, and guys' desperate attempts to "get a girl" annoyed her to no end. Barbara didn't drink either, seeing how it was illegal for her and she knew of the side effects if she overindulged. Besides, she could dance any time and didn't need to be up against a mass of bodies to move so much as a limb.
She went off to slouch against a wall, hoping the night would pass by quickly and she could go home. She watched the blond boy sidle up to the bar, a carefree smile alighting his face upon seeing the female bartender. She stared at the walls, the pulsing music setting the beat for the colorful lights. She smirked as she let the beat settle over her, highly doubting that her coach would let her use this music for her mat routine. A tap on her shoulder caused her to jump, inwardly chagrining a bit for losing herself in her thoughts. She turned to see the sandy blond haired guy had returned from the bar and was now leaning against the wall and looking at her.
She sighed, not one for much small talk or flirtations and said, "Can I help you?"
"Just wondering why you bothered to crash the club scene if you're standing here brooding," he said casually. A look of mock horror crossed his green eyes. "Don't tell me you're one of those goody goodies whose phone is itching to either call Daddy or her so called 'macho' star quarterback boyfriend to come rescue her."
Barbara laughed. She turned to fully look at him. "First of all, those 'macho' star quarterbacks couldn't keep up with me on an intellectual or emotional level. Second of all, do I look like a cheerleader to you? And third of all," she added in an extra sugary voice, "I won't tell your daddy if you won't tell mine."
The guy snickered. "Do you realize how many clichés were in that statement of yours? I mean, I was a quarterback in high school and my grade point average was three point eight thank you very much. And another thing, my best friend was the head cheerleader and her boyfriend, now fiancé was on the mathletes team." He paused. "So let me guess, your little flirty friend over there dragged you here just like my friend did right?"
Barbara grimaced and nodded. "I guess you can say I'm 'Miss Anti-Socialite."
"Does Miss Anti-Socialite' have a name?"
"It's Barbara," she answered. She then arched an eyebrow. "But then why bother telling you?" She began circling him like a vulture. "I doubt we'll see each other after this. Even if we did get sloppily drunk, stumbled back to your place and slept together, something tells me we still wouldn't see each other so names are just bothersome."
The guy burst out laughing. "Well, Barbara. I hate to break it to you, but that wasn't my plan, I just wanted to know your name. I'm the designated driver so I can't get hammered. Though I wouldn't be surprised if my brother brought home a wasted bimbo anyway. And something tells me that because of what you just said you've either seen too many soap operas or you're seriously jaded. Which is it?"
Barbara grinned. "A bit of both, I guess. Besides, do you really want to wake up with the barrel of my father's gun in your face?" He paled slightly. "I didn't think so. And what is your name, O wise one?"
"And my name is Pamela!" Both Barbara and Jason jumped as the red-head casually slung an arm around her best friend's neck. She looked Jason in the eye and said, "Babs here had a wonderful time flirting with you. Don't call her, she call you." She winked at the now startled boy and towed Barbara towards the bar.
"I wasn't flirting," Barbara said. "We were talking."
"You were flirting," Pamela affirmed. "Either way, talking or flirting, I think that's the longest conversation with a guy you've ever had."
"And how would you know?" Barbara asked cheekily. "Perhaps I just don't tell you everything about my social life."
Pam mocked gasped. "What is this? The fabulous Red duo going their separate ways?"
"Never Pam," Barbara quickly added, "So I guess you grew tired of your tool?"
"Ah, I danced with at least five other guys," she settled onto a barstool. "And maybe a girl."
Barbara threw her a doubtful look. "There's no way the guys would let you get away from them."
Pamela chuckled. "True true." She signaled the bar tender. "One scotch on the rocks for me and one rum with Coke for my friend here please."
"Pam!" Barbara hissed one the bartender was out of earshot. "We can't drink! We're not legal!"
Her friend rolled her eyes. "Fortunately, this club isn't too keen on rule following, and I can hold my liquor quite nicely. Come on Babs, live a little and take a risk! I won't let anything happen to you."
Barbara bit her lip as she looked warily at the drink that was placed in front of her. She glanced at Pam out of the corner of her eye. "There's no way the Olympic committee could find out about this, right?"
"Are they doing drug tests within the next twenty four hours?" Barbara shook her head.
Pamela scanned the area. "I don't see any camera shots so I think Gotham's little Girl Scout is in the clear."
Barbara rolled her eyes and sipped at her drink. She grimaced, but wanting to prove that she was bold, drank more. Within seconds she had completely thrown back her drink and showed Pamela she couldn't hold her liquor for she had bounced over to Jason was and dancing with her body extremely close to his. How very un-Barbara like. She noticed Jason was being careful not to overstep his boundaries. Huh, who knew there were gentlemen in an atmosphere like this? Then she thought dryly, Either he is truly that genuine or my best friend 'just happened' to mention her father's line of work or that he at least owns a firearm. She watched the two dance for a few more fast paced numbers before noting that the clock above the entrance read 11:45 pm. Muttering a stream of curses under her breath, Pamela hopped off the barstool and ventured off to find a pay phone while trying to keep an eye on Barbara.
Stuffing as many coins as she could into the pay phone, Pamela quickly rattled off an excuse to an irate Commissioner Gordon that she and Barbara had gone to see a movie and became so engrossed in the plot that they forgot about the time. When he wanted to speak to Barbara, Pamela hastily said that she was in the bathroom at the moment but would be home within the hour. She slammed the receiver onto the hook and muttered that the Commissioner needed to "take a pill."
Pamela sidled her way through the crowd to the still dancing Jason and Barbara. She realized that a slow song was being played as she noted the two swaying the way a couple would. Sighing, Pamela put a hand on Jason's arm and said, "Sorry Romeo, but it's time for me to take Daddy's Little Princess home before he puts together the pieces of my lie and busts this scene."
"Do you need a ride home?" Jason asked, a little disappointed to let Barbara go.
"Nah," Pamela replied. "I've got my own set of wheels." She quickly flashed a set of keys before gently removing her friend's elbow from his grasp. She then steered Barbara toward the exit as fast as she could.
"You don't have a car," Barbara accused woozily as the two walked through the parking lot. Pamela hoped her accusation meant that Barbara was regaining some of her coherency and would appear sober to her father's piercing eyes.
"Of course I don't," Pamela said nonchalantly. "I relieved one of my dancing partners of his keys knowing both of us were strapped for cash and couldn't get a taxi."
"Jason would've given us a ride home," Barbara pointed out.
Pamela snorted. "Tch. Translation, I would've been driving and the two of you would've been making out heavily in the backseat." She moaned lightly then said in a falsetto. "Oh Jason!"
A beat. "Maybe. And I don't sound like that."
Pamela snickered as she guided Barbara over to a slightly rusted and dented pick up truck.
"How do you know this car is his?" Barbara asked as she hopped into the passenger seat and shut the door.
The other red head rolled her eyes. "The guy was pretty much crooning to me all of the 'fun' we could have in his 'baby'." She looked about ready to gag as she finished her sentence. She saw Barbara fumbling with the seatbelt and helped her lock it into place. "Now don't worry your pretty little head about a thing. We'll be home before Daddy dearest can reach his cruiser."
She gunned the engine and smoothly peeled out of the parking lot. Five minutes into the ride toward the Gordon residence, Barbara had a hand clamped over her mouth and was looking pale. "Want me to pull over?" Pamela asked. Barbara shook her head, but placed her other hand over her mouth as well. Pamela frowned and flipped the turn signal, but Barbara was adamant.
"No, just get me home please." She took a deep breath and asked shakily, "H-how do you plan on my father not noticing our 'hot' ride?"
Pamela shrugged, "I'll park this bucket of bolts a few blocks away and walk with you the rest of the way, no big deal."
It was silent in the car until Barbara's alcoholic persona came surging back with a vengeance. She ripped off her top and rolled down the window, whooping as she flung it onto the face of a man, laughing hysterically as his ticked off girlfriend began cursing her out.
"And here I thought you were sobering up," Pamela groaned as Barbara ducked her head back inside the truck. Barbara's snickers intensified as Pamela sighed.
Pamela briefly closed her eyes and shook her head. When her emerald eyes flickered back up to the traffic ahead of them, she saw the light at the intersection go from green to red, hardly pausing on yellow. "Oh no!" She exclaimed, slamming on the break. The truck still sped at close to forty miles an hour, slightly above the speed limit. Panic began to fill her senses as she continued to pound on the brake with no change in velocity. "Fuck! This thing is jammed!" Her eyes went wide with horror as the truck suddenly glanced off the bumper of a taxi and began spinning beyond the intersection.
Barbara herself was slammed back into sobriety as the car spun into the darkness. She gasped as blinding headlights came into her field of vision. "PAMELA!!!" She screamed. Her best friend was too stunned to speak, the only sounds reaching her ears was the shriek of rubber ripping through blacktop. Within seconds it was followed by shattering glass and the sick crunch of metal crumpling metal.
Whoa, this felt intense. To me, anyway. Yeah, I know they seem out of character, I'll work on that. Advice is welcome. More disclaimers: I don't own the Girl Scouts or the Coke brand. I sure don't own any rum. And no, the owner of Pam's "hot" car is NOT Cyborg from Teen Titans, which I do not own, but rather he is some random drunken perv. Yes, I know I stuck Kory aka Starfire from Teen Titans and she technically doesn't belong in this universe, but go with it please.