Authors Note: A fic born out of my insane love for all three Batgirls, the fact that I miss Cass a lot, and that I want to see an epic team up of Steph, Cass and Babs. Parsimonia on LJ is my beta for this one, and she did a great job. Thanks, Maddy!
Crisis of Infinite Batgirls
They stood alone as the wind raged around them, colors shifting and earth shaking with every gust. Cassandra, the smallest among them, struggled against being blown off her feet. Only her borderline-unnatural strength and balance were keeping her upright. Stephanie looked sideways at her friend's face which was so screwed up against the wind that even her mask was contorted. She took her hand.
It seemed to have a steadying effect on both of them. It felt for a second like the earth had stopped screaming to allow them to pass. Stephanie looked over at Babs. She was still unnerved at how clear and unburdened her green eyes were, peaking through the bat cowl. She felt even more unnerved when Babs laughed at the gale tossing her wild red hair. The woman grabbed Cassandra's other hand firmly and turned her face toward their goal. Stephanie did the same.
Slowly, surely, they were able to move forward now. With every step they took, the boots of canary yellow, sleek black and gauntleted eggplant landed on the pavement together. Three Batgirls, much alike in dignity…
Every step was sure, and their hands were tightly linked. It seemed like no time before they were upon him.
"Look at this," he said lazily.
"You can't take this away," Steph choked out, aware of how hokey the pronouncement sounded.
"I don't have to," He said, and he sat down in a chair that had not been there before, a look of pleasant anticipation playing across his features. "I'm just going to sit there and watch you do that yourselves." He leaned forward, and for the first time since Steph had known him, he looked truly menacing, impossible shadows playing across the sharply defined planes of his face.
"You three are going to destroy each other."
The world collapsed around them.
"You know," Stephanie said, as she spat out a gob of blood out on the dirty stone floor, "I think this guy may be a bit out of my weight class." She looked up just in time to see a yellow boot whip out of sight.
"Just keep at it," Barbara muttered, her eyes still fixed on the computer screen as she thrust out a hand to help her fallen pupil up. "Other heroes are on their way, and I'm figuring out a way to hack into his machine."
"He disappears the second I punch…he knows everything I can do before I react…He'll appear out of nowhere with every kind of weapon and wallop me at any second!" Stephanie squeaked. She was verging on being a bit hysterical. "It's like trying to fight Cass only with the ability to literally vanish into thin air and a massive arsenal to boot!"
"I'm. Working. On. It," Barbara said through gritted teeth, her face shiny with sweat as she punched the keyboard keys so fast her fingers blurred.
"Why's he in here anyway?" Stephanie babbled. "Why did he just appear out of nowhere to fight us in the batcave?"
"Because he knew we'd stop him," Babs said. "Us or Batman."
"He's a time traveler, Steph. He must know we're going to be a threat to him in the future, and he's trying to prevent it."
"What…but then why…how…that makes my head hurt," Steph sputtered.
"Best not to think about it."
"Why wouldn't he just kill us in our cribs or something then, if he's so all knowing?"
"Because that's incredibly boring," a silky voice echoed throughout the Batcave. "I used to do it all the time. Squishing little skull after little skull…it got soooo monotonous. And sort of distasteful."
Stephanie spun around, staff in hand, every sense on alert, trying to pinpoint the direction of the voice. Oracle was still typing away furiously. Stephanie did not understand her.
"So I thought…why not go at them when they can put up a little bit of a fight? I mean…" And suddenly there was someone whispering in her ear, their breath hot, "it's not like I can lose."
Stephanie spun around to smash her staff into that smug face, but her new villain wasn't there anymore. Instead, there was a laser cannon, pointed right towards her and Barbara.
Steph just barely jumped out of the way, tackling Barbara right out of the wheel chair and sending them both crashing to the ground. She could smell her own singed hair and burnt cape. Time Lapse was gone again.
"This is getting ugly," Babs said succinctly as Steph helped her back into her chair. "Are you sure you can handle this until help arrives? We can try and evacuate…"
"I said he was out of my weight class. I didn't say I couldn't take him," Stephanie said, trying to sound confident.
She handed Barbara back her laptop so her mentor could resume her harried hacking. "But I thought Rip Hunter or someone was supposed to handle these crazies."
"Booster Gold," Babs muttered.
"Wait, what? I thought Booster Gold was a goofball."
"Nnn, It's a cover. He thinks I don't know," Babs said conversationally.
"Well, why isn't he here?"
"Must be preoccupied with something else."
"I am never using his toothpaste again," Steph said. "Agh!"
The Time Lapse had suddenly swooped down from above, apparently in possession of a Legion Flight Ring now. He grabbed Stephanie and threw her headfirst into a cave wall. Her head cracked against the hard rock and the world went dark for a moment. The light intruded again with annoying intensity a second later, along with the sight of the Time Lapse struggling with Babs, who had somehow managed to get across the cave and was now clinging to the villains back with a taser in hand.
Lapse yelped as she shocked him, but didn't drop like any normal human would–or any normal superhuman, seeing as this was Babs's special taser. Apparently, the garish yellow suit the thin man wore wasn't just for violating standards of good taste. The man bucked Babs off his back and turned on her, snarling.
Steph attempted a leap to the rescue, but he spun and kicked her in the face. She felt a tooth dislodge as the world turned upside down again. And then…he was gone. Why did he keep doing that?
"You okay?" Babs called to Stephanie. When Steph nodded, Babs grumbled "For the life of me, I don't know what's taking Dinah so long."
Before Stephanie could make a move to help her, she had dragged herself over to her fallen laptop and resumed furious typing. Stephanie walked wearily over and crouched down.
After a minute of silence, Stephanie said "Okay, unless you seriously do think you're going to hack into a time machine in the next two seconds…"
"Got it," Babs cried triumphantly.
"Wait, what?" Steph sputtered. "How did you just hack into a time machine?"
"It's connected to a network of computers he keeps stashed in each era… all of them from the twenty fifth century. Very advanced stuff…but not enough to stop me," Babs clucked.
"I'm not sure you're even human at this point," Batgirl said, shaking her head. "Why did he let you hack into his stuff though? Wouldn't he see you were going to do that being an all knowing time-traveller?"
"By attacking us he created a divergent timeline, so no. It's a complicated science. The point is, when he comes in range, I'm going to be able to mess with his tech a little–not much, but it should give you enough time to–"
"Sorry I had to step out, ladies," The Time Lapse appeared in front of them, smiling smoothly. "I had some untimely business to take care of, and I thought you could use a break anyhow. Shall we pick up where we left off?"
"Let's," said Barbara sweetly, and she pressed a key down hard.
The square gray box Time Lapse wore on his shiny belt made an unpleasant grinding sound and crackled with electricity. The villain yelped and stumbled back.
"NOW, Steph!" Babs cried.
"With pleasure," Steph snarled. She leapt for the man only to smack painfully into solid air. He had thrown up a forcefield.
"You bitch! My machine!" Lapse sputtered.
"You can't use it for your little trysts now," Babs said triumphantly. "Hell, I doubt it would last through more than three more uses, and even then you'll risk breaking down the timestream. You might as well throw down that force field. We're done here."
The villain looked like he wanted to stamp his foot and throw a tantrum. With fists balled and eyes bulging, he took a step towards Barbara, but Steph leapt in front of her. Lapse stopped abruptly, and then suddenly, a terrible grin appeared on his face.
"Three more uses, eh? I think I'll only need one. Killing someone in their crib may be boring, but if I can make sure no Batgirl ever exists? I'll make an exception," he nodded at Barbara with mock politeness.
"You idiot, that thing is damaged!" Barbara snapped, wheeling forward. "Youtry to travel now, you risk time breaking down!"
"It's a risk I'm willing to take if it means never having to see another bratty batbitch again," Lapse sneered. He grabbed his time box and began punching keys. "One crib strangling coming up…"
For what felt like the thousandth time that night, Stephanie leaped forward to tackle her nemesis. But unlike the other nine hundred and ninety nine times, this time she actually made contact. Time Lapse had thrown down his force field to concentrate on his time travel, and Steph showed him what a grave error that was by slamming him to the ground.
The air began crackle and buzz around them like it was charged with electricity. It pressed down on them like it was solid, and colors began to shift around them…
"Get…Off…" Time Lapse spat, but they were both already twisting and bending around themselves, and Stephanie could hear the damaged machine whining as it struggled to complete its task. She could feel pressure on her skull, like something was trying to rip out her brain.
The last thing she heard was Oracle screaming her name.
Stephanie slammed onto the ground face first, getting a nose full of wet grass and hard packed dirt to round out the experience. It took her a few seconds of disorientation for her to realize the impact had smashed her nose.
"Fuh!" she yelped, snapping painfully into a sitting position. She touched her face gingerly. The nose was not broken, just badly bruised and bleeding. She tipped back her head and pinched it carefully, trying to remember how she had gotten here. The Time Lapse…had his malfunctioning machine taken her here? But she didn't see him around here, there was only a flat horizon and acres of dewy field. Did that mean she was stranded in some unknown era?
"Please let it be post-corset," she moaned, looking around desperately for a clue to where she was.
She got one, in the form of a petite woman hurtling directly into her.
Her back hit the ground with a solid thunk as small hands pinned down her shoulders, and she was looking up into nothing but reflective brown eyes.
"You…can't. You…can't be her," her assailant murmured, hands gently tracing Stephanie's face like she was reading Braille. "But…you are." Her lips quivered slightly as she said it.