Disclaimer: I own none of these characters and series, they all belong to DC Comics. Also, this story contains mild femslash (aka girl on girl romance) so if that offends you, I'd suggest skipping it.

Oracle and the Network

Prelude 1.0

Metropolis... it was considered by some the city of the future, but for Barbara Gordon it was the past. Here she had moved the Birds of Prey from Gotham, here she had discovered the heroine Misfit and here she had suffered one of her greatest failures. A madwoman had stolen a experimental weapon and fled, the Birds of Prey in chase until a accident lead to the detonation of the device. Her agents had faced her fury over their mistakes then she had faced Superman himself, the hero scolding her pointedly.

'And I let him run me off,' Barbara admitted, the redhead pushing her wheelchair into the elevator in their hotel base, rising up to her former home. She rolled along the halls then back to where her base of operations for Oracle had been.

Her confidence shaken Oracle lad the Birds through one error after another, moving them to Platinum Flats, fighting a criminal society with too little research, challenging a empowered Calculator and even facing the Joker in a rematch. All in all the last several months had not been her best, and her friends had suffered for it.

'But no more,' Oracle thought as she rolled back out into the apartment's open areas. In a day or less the equipment would be arriving, ordered through blinds and false identities, the best in computer and surveillance technology. In a few more days Oracle would be back on line....

The sound was like that of a rushing wind, but amplified by a thousand. He appeared in the room in a blur of red and blue, a imposing figure with black hair and eyes that were surprisingly kind. "Mrs. Gordon," Superman nodded.

"Mr. Kent," Barbara answered pointedly, deciding to take the offensive from the start.

Superman jerked a little, his eyes widening. "How did you...?" he started.

"You know my methods," Barbara quoted Conan Doyle with a smile. "Security cameras are a wonderful thing, especially coupled with the right computer systems."

"Understood," Superman nodded jerkilly. He frowned at her, "I understood you were leaving Metropolis for good."

"And now I'm back," Barbara answered calmly, "I look forward to working with you."

Superman crossed his arms as he stared down at her, "This is my city and...."

Barbara raised her eyebrows as she asked, "Did you borrow that line from Batman?" Cruelly she added, "Or from Luthor?"

That made Superman close his mouth with a snap. The tall, impossibly powered hero looked hesitant for a moment, his blue eyes dimmed just a little as he studied Barbara.

"That might have been a low blow," Barbara conceded. She turned her wheelchair and rolled toward the patio window, unlatching it and rolling outside. Superman followed her out as Barbara said, "I respect you immensely, and I'm well aware of your powers."

"But...?" Superman asked, sensing where she was going.

"You can't be everywhere," Barbara said simply. "You have responsibilities to the Justice League, not to mention responding to different disasters around the world. You might recall the Battle for Metropolis?"

Superman winced at that. During a battle involving a teen aged copy of himself Superman had been pulled away from the city long enough that a invasion of super criminals could happen. Only a ragtag group of heroes organized by Oracle herself was able to slow the villains until he could arrive.

Meeting her eyes Superman asked, "The last time you were here, people died. Can you promise me it won't happen again?"

"No," Barbara told him frankly, "and I'd be lying if I did. What I can promise is that I'll do everything I can to see that doesn't happen again."

Superman still didn't look happy, but on the other hand he wasn't arguing anymore either. "I'll be keeping an eye on you," he warned as he rose up into the air and was gone.

"That doesn't scare me much," Barbara murmured as she turned the chair around and rolled back inside. 'I'll need to get some furnature in here too,' she mused, 'and start calling people.' She suspected Helena would gloat and say I told you so, but Babs could live with that.

"Geeze, he didn't look happy," the redheaded teen noted as she stuck her head around the corner and gave Babs a grin.

"Charlie, what have I told you about listening in to conversations?" Babs frowned.

Charlotte 'Charlie' Gage-Radcliffe smiled back as she offered, "Don't get caught at it?"

"That, too," Babs laughed.

Since Charlie was a orphan Babs had unofficially took the girl under her wing, helping to train her and preparing her to be a operative. That had gone badly wrong on their last case in Metropolis, and Babs had taken her anger out on the girl. Not Babs was training the girl more slowly, and not sending her out into the field until she was ready once more.

"I'm glad we're back," the casually dressed redhead added, her jeans and long sleeved shirt giving her a quirky style. "Are we getting the band back together?"

"I think so," Babs said firmly, "once we get this place in shape, anyway."

"Good," Charlie said before adding, "are you still going to call us the Birds of Prey?"

"Huh?" Babs looked at her in surprise.

Charlie shrugged, "I mean, with Black Canary gone there's not even a bird in the field team any more...."

Babs nodded reluctantly, "I'll have to think about it."

To be continued....

Notes: This is my reaction, more or less, to the end of Birds of Prey and Babs leaving to mope, pretty much. It seemed to me completely out of character for her to shut the team down the way she did and abandon her teammates, not to mention leaving Charlie without a family or a home. The intro was originally going to be shorter, but I wanted to work the full Superman/Babs talk in there as well as work in all the back story.