Author's Note: By the time I'm writing this story, news already should have reached everyone that DC Comics have decided to heal Barbara and retake the title of Batgirl. In the process they obviously will just cast aside Stephanie Brown, a move that has enraged many, since by now she has lots of fans and is one of the more interesting characters (much more interesting than Barbara's time as Batgirl, in which her character was as flat as a pizza). I'm writing this not only to reflect how Steph could feel about this but also to vent off my anger. This story could offend Barbara-fans. I have nothing against her as a character, just that stupid new direction DC is taking her.
Please note that I don't yet know the details of what exactly will happen, so in some months, this story obviously will be completely in the realm of speculation.
Stephanie Brown: The Girl who never gives up
Sometimes life was a huge shit sandwich and Everyone would get a bite... And some more than just one.
This, though, was nothing new to Stephanie Brown, while she watched nighttime Gotham City through her window. What was new was the fact that she was at home and doing nothing, instead of being out there to protect the people of Gotham from the crime that still plagued the city, although it was by far not as bad as it had been during her childhood, thanks to the Dark Knight and his allies. An ally of him she had been...
It was as if the universe itself had a grudge against her, she couldn't explain otherwise.
Less than three weeks ago, everyone had felt as if someone had stepped on their graves and it became only more weird when Barry Allen -she still couldn't think of him as Flash, that was for her Wally West- told all of them this story of how one of his enemies had altered history and he had to correct it. He'd added that the rightening of the time line could cause some unintended side-effects.
Unintended side-effects, my ass! she bitterly thought.
She didn't want to remember how exactly it had happened, but only hours later when Barbara had woken up, her years-old bullet wound through her spine had somehow healed and against all logic, her legs showed no sign of muscle degration. It was almost as if she'd never been shot in the first place, although the event clearly had happened and everyone knew of it. Needless to say that Barbara had become almost overwhemingly happy and everyone else as well.
Steph admitted that even she was happy for Barbara no longer being crippled, it would be very unfair to deny her this happiness. However, the things that followed had made her think not so high of the woman.
Barbara had outright damanded under no terms to surrender the title of Batgirl and everything coming with it to her.
Stephanie had been shocked at this demand. Sure, the whole mess with the Order of the Scythe hadn't been the high point of her hero career, but she had in the end managed to bring them to justice and prevent more destruction and death. But this didn't count to Barbara, who used the incident as an excuse to revoke her right to be Batgirl, although her true motive was quite clear - she couldn't resist thetemptation to be Batgirl herself again.
Steph felt betrayed. Barbara had been one of her closest allies and a good friend, and now she was pulling the rug from under her, just to statisfy her own ego. Many nasty words had been exchanged and in the end, Stephanie had thrown her costume into a chasm of the batcave, saying that if Barbara was so eager to be Batgirl, she should make her own, before storming out.
They hadn't talked since.
The hero community of Gotham had reacted mixed to these events.
Bruce himself was useless. He actually only days later had pulled the same stunt on Dick, despite his whole Batman Inc. strategy, saying there could be only one Batman in Gotham. So he was in absolutely no position to give an opinion on the matter. After all, one sitting in a house made of glass shouldn't throw around rocks.
Dick right now had his own problems with his revocation of the Batman title, being usy with re-establishing Nightwing. Also his attraction to Barbara, which for years had been buring only on a low flame thanks to her injury, was now burning bright. No, he didn't have time for poor Stephanie Brown, although at least he understood her anger.
Tim had been supportive. He'd been with her for the first two weeks after that night and given her emotional support. True, he might not be her boyfriend -at least for the moment- but he did care a lot for her. Sadly right now he wasn't in Gotham, being busy with reforming the Titans after the team had ripped itself apart during his absence. He'd openly said that if not for her family life, he'd have invited her to live with them.
Wendy was downright pissed at Barbara. She'd visited her at college and told her how after she'd heard the news, she'd returned to Gotham to confront Barbara before coming to her. The words exchanged were much worse than what Steph would have used and essentially Wendy had called Barbara unbelievably egoistical and if that was how people act when regaining movement of their legs, she'd rather stay a cripple. Since then, Wendy visited her regularly to help her through this difficult time.
The big surprise was Damian. He'd shown up after a week and while he'd stated that he didn't like her, he at least had developed a certain respect for her. While they would propably never get along, he made it clear that he did not like what had happened.
She hadn't yet heard anything from Cassandra, although that was no wonder, considering that she was literally on the other side of the world. It was saddening that she didn't know how to get into contact with her friend, since Tim had lost contact with her after that whole Gates of Gotham affair.
Of course once Barbara-Batgirl started to show up in Gotham, the rumors began.
Steph had never been particularly shy of attention, and instead as Batgirl she'd become one of the more visible sights of the Bat-clan. When pictures of the new Batgirl started to appear, people were confused, also that this new girl didn't seeme to like the attention or avoided working together with the GCPD (little wonder when considering that many there know Barbara personally). Detective Cage even had publically asked what had happened to one of Gotham's upstanding citizens.
Stephanie sighed. Maybe with time the wounds would heal and Barbara would realize how she'd acted. But right now, she was still delirious with again being Batgirl.
She wondered how she managed to attract stuff like that. Growing up with a drug-addicted mother and a criminal father and various shit during her childhood, including a near-rape by her piano teacher. Then after finally becoming Spoiler, she got pushed around by the older heroes and Bruce baited her with being Robin but neve rhad meant it serious, just a ruse to lure back Tim. And she tried to forget what Black Mask had done to her, including nearly getting a power drill into her head. And after a time playing dead and returning, Bruce again managed to fuck up her relationship with Tim. And now jsut when she'd established herself as Batgirl, this happened.
Looking up and again out of the window, her view suddenly got blocked by a red-and-yellow S-shield. "Oh, hello Kara, I... What are you wearing?"
There was do doubt this was Kara Zor-El, Supergirl and one of her friends. But she looked different. While the cape and upper shirt looked familiar enough -although the shield was a little re-designed- instead of a bare midriff and the skirt and shorts combination she was used to, Kara was wearing something that more looked like a leotard with sleeves, a lot like the one Power Girl was wearing. And her boots just looked plain uncomfortable.
"You noticed? I felt like a change. What do you think?" she asked, twirling around to show off her new costume.
Steph tried hard not to sound too sceptical. "Nice, but I prefered your old look."
Seeing that her friend was not in the best of moods, Kara floated into her room. "You are still angry over what she did?"
Of course they had talked about it and Kara had given her a shoulder to cry on. "How would you feel if someone takes away you ability to make a difference and you then are forced to just sit by and watch?" She dropped onto her bed. "I feel so damn useless."
Kara knew that her friend right now needed a hug and while she did so, also gave her some encouraging words. "Even if I should lose my powers, I wouldn't stop to do the right thing... She took Batgirl away from you, but all that makes a true hero is still in there." She pointed at Steph's heart.
Stephanie hadn't expected these words of wisdom. "You only say that to lighten me up."
"Partially. It isn't you to sulk around. But I really mean it, you can still make a difference, even without being Batgirl," Kara told her, while holding her close.
Yep, Kara was indeed a good friend. And a smart friend at that, otherwise she'd have never made it into the kryptonian science guild.
Half an hour later she said goodbye to Kara. It had been good to talk with a friend who understood your problem and gave you encouraging words.
Looking under her bed, she finally fished out that box she'd almost forgotten about. It was true that she'd been a hero long before becoming Batgirl, although everyone had repeatedly told her they associate Spoiler with 'Rookie', thus why she actually was happy to get rid of being Spoiler. Looking at the costume, she wondered why she should any longer give a damn on what others judged her to be.
Kara's words had finally made her realize how stupid it was to sit there and sulk, which was totally against her otherwise positive outlook on life, when she still had everything needed to make a difference. She didn't need to be Batgirl to do that. Yet, she wouldn't repeat the errors of the past. Back then she'd been too impulsive and never thought about the consequences of her actions while trying to get approval. She'd become more experienced and mature than that.
However, she'd be damned if she became such a sour toad as Bruce while doing the right thing. She vowed to never end up like him.
Looking again at the Spoiler suit, she could see that some of it was by now embarrassingly outdated, but she knew enough people in the hero community by now who she could butter up for some improvements and equipment. Wendy propably also would be all too happy to help her, even if only to show the others the finger.
She looked determined at the mask of Spoiler.
...two weeks later...
The scum in this area of Gotham became concerned.
They'd thought themselves safe, since normally the bats never bothered with this area and mostly concentrated on the big hotspots. That had been different once, with the junior bat and his eggplant-colored companion, but these days were long past and the suburbs and outer districts of Gotham City belonged to them.
At least it had been that way.
But recently someone had started to throw a wench into their activities. The cops usually found their customers beaten up and cuffed, ready for transport together with all the incriminating evidence. The most bizarre aspect were downright funny notes the police found, in which the unknown viligante gave a short report peppered with humor. The police found it hilarious, the criminals not so much.
A criminal such as Betty here. She thought herself to be a tough gal, trying to keep up with the men in terms of how much of criminal scrum she could be. Right now she was busy with running. After getting cash from a shopowner at gunpoint, she'd left the store, only to have a thrown projectile hit the gun out of her hand. That usually meant bat-activity and a need to flee.
Running into a dark side alley, she felt safe and tried to regain her breath.
"Really, pointing a gun at a shopowner? How much more clichè can you get?" came suddenly a playful female voice from the darkness.
Betty looked looked around, but didn't see anything... until suddenly two gloved hands grabbed her by the collar and she looked right into a grey mask with white lenses, partially covered by an eggplant-colored hood. The lack of any visible facial features only served to make whoever that was more frightening to her.
"Who are you?" she gasped.
The stranger pulled her close and looked her directly into the eyes. "I'm Spoiler!"
Betty then knew nothing more, when she fainted.