Ok, so I wanted to keep going with the main storyline, and I do have it written down, but when I went to flesh it out, I just had this flash of inspiration to do Orihime's origin as Batgirl. I really liked Barbara's zero issue in the new 52, with the police station bit, so I adapted it as the first meeting between Orihime and Batman. For reference, Orihime as Batgirl six years ago looks like she did in season 1 of Bleach. Orihime as Oracle looks like she does in the current story, post timeskip. Same goes for Uryuu as Robin and Nightwing.
As always, I don't own Bleach, nor do I own Batman, so any characters mentioned here are the property of their respective owners.
"Oracle, I don't believe there is a hostage, but I'll see out this farce for the sake of being thorough."
"Okay Nightwing. Just so you know, Batman caught up with Granz and handed him over to the Police, he's on his way to see what Riddler set up for him."
"No problems apprehending him then?"
"No, he was surprisingly subdued about it." Orihime giggled. "I think he was feeling cheated that you being in town is what got him caught, rather than Batman outthinking him."
While Batman and Nightwing were out chasing Riddler, Oracle sat at the Batcave Computer browsing the web for batarangs and other bat paraphernalia. A few years ago, when the public was starting to realise that Batman was more than just an urban legend, anything related to him or the criminals he fought became a hot item in underground auctions and online stores. The most common item to be traded around was batarangs. Batman literally threw them away and sometimes either he or the KCPD would miss them while cleaning up.
The gadgets and tools which are sometimes leftover from fights range from simple guns and clubs to more complicated things like Joker Gas, or one of Penguin's umbrella guns. It was too dangerous to lose track of this stuff, so to counter the problem, the KCPD introduced an exchange program trading money for dangerous weapons. The more dangerous the item, the bigger the reward. The program was sponsored in part by the state and partly by Karakura charity (Kurosaki Inc. is a major contributor) and was considered a success until some people began to try and make money from the program.
Unfortunately for them, the KCPD got wise to what they were doing when they noticed some of the same faces bringing in weapons from fights. To discourage people from trying to make a job of this, Commissioner Inoue started to vary the reward system according to an internal schedule he devised. Some days, gadgets would be worth money, others would get you a coupon for a free meal at a local restaurant or discount at a local store. With no set reward, it became harder to take advantage of the system and some balance was achieved.
The side effect of this was some of those people who used to turn up at the local Police Station began to set their own prices online. Tracking each of these people down individually to reclaim every piece of equipment was time consuming and every person they warned off or arrested would often be replaced the next week. Ichigo wasn't hurting for money, so he asked Orihime to go online every so often to just buy them back. In a way, it was simply paying people to retrieve their stuff for them, and while she was online, Orihime could check for the dangerous items, so Ichigo could go and confiscate them personally.
Speaking of, Orihime had a hit on one the search programs she had running. Checking it out, somebody in suburban Karakura was selling a vial of liquid fear toxin. She clicked the link to read the description.
'Fresh from the evidence locker, this vial of authentic Scarecrow fear toxin is the real deal. The same formula used in Scarecrow's failed attempt to poison the water supply, this object would make a great addition to any collector of Karakura villainy or fun addition to the water cooler next time work stresses you out'
Hmmm, the bit about it being from the evidence locker might be cause for concern, assuming it isn't embellishment to help sell the product. Like any shopping on the internet, sometimes the quality of the item is exaggerated. One time, Ichigo and Renji had burst in on some poor guy with an affro who was selling what turned out to be a water pistol painted silver and definitely not one of Mr Freeze's weapons.
Real or fake, Oracle could delay the sale by casting doubt on the authenticity of the product. Clicking on the comment box she accuses Ikkanzaka07 of lying about his product and implies that his stupidity may be the result of his mother taking substances while she was pregnant. Orihime personally detested trolling, but spending the amount of time she did on the internet, she was very good at replicating it and understood how to best use it to her advantage. Her comment would likely start a petty argument with the seller and hopefully either make people think twice about buying or goad the seller into revealing something useful.
Sitting in her chair, Oracle let out a sigh. There was a time when she would have gone out herself to take care of the problem. While Orihime was a team player and happy to help out however she could, she missed being able to suit up and take the fight to crime.
As a toddler her much older brother Sora took her away from abusive parents in Bounthaven and moved her to Karakura. The two of them were taken in by their aunt Retsu Unohana, a doctor at the Karakura Hospital. Being so young, Orihime barely remembered her parents and instead looked to her aunt as a mother figure during her formative years. Wanting to be just like her Auntie Retsu, Orihime became the overachiever of the family, applying herself to her schoolwork at Karakura Academy and enrolling in every extra-curricular activity she had time for.
Orihime was not only smart, she had the grace, flexibility and balance of a world-class dancer or gymnast and could have gone on to Olympic competition, were it not for puberty. On top of this, her aunt and brother insisted she take martial art classes (She did grow up in a pre-Batman Karakura) where Orihime met her best friend Tatsuki, who she would years later learn to be the daughter of the feared Mob Boss Arisawa.
All these natural talents gave her the potential to become a great hero, but she never had the desire to be one. Orihime had wanted to be a Doctor like her Auntie until one night, when she visited her brother at the Police Station.
Six years ago. Karakura Central Police Headquaters.
Sixteen-year-old Orihime Inoue walked into the lobby of the KCPD building and asked the receptionist to see her brother, the newly promoted Commissioner. Sora had been promoted the week before and tasked with handling the Batman. It was a controversial promotion, considering his age and the fact he was Pro-Batman, but City Hall wanted it taken care of, whatever the outcome. To that end, Sora had been trying to get the attention of Batman, so he could come in and they could discuss working together. By this point in time, Batman had been operating for the past three years and was cementing his fearsome reputation in Karakura.
The receptionist waved her through with a smile, offering to take her coat. Orihime was the darling of the KCPD and had been since her brother started working there. Everyone looked out for her like their own little sister. After depositing her coat, she made her way to the stairs. In her own world, she almost didn't notice Ichigo Kurosaki coming down them. She bumped into him and had to catch herself, reaching out and grabbing Ichigo by the arm.
"Hey, careful there Hime."
"Oh, Ichigo, wha-what are you doing here."
Orihime's face flushed as she cursed herself for the stutter. She knew that Ichigo went for confident, worldly women and if she wanted him to stop seeing her as a child, she needed to act like a mature lady. With that in mind, she wished she'd chosen something a bit more sophisticated to wear today. Her purple 'Hey Chappy' T-shirt probably wasn't helping her cause.
"Catching up with Grimmy. I needed some legal advice for a thing at work, and corporate lawyers are so boring, so I decided to drop by on the way home. I'm guessing you're here to see Sora." Ichigo replied, gesturing to the brown paper bag in her hand.
"Yes, he works so hard he forgets to eat sometimes." Orihime giggled.
"I'll bet. So, can I have my arm back?"
Orihime had been valiantly fighting down her blush for the last 20 seconds, but Ichigo's casual comment brought it back, redder than before. She decided to push through and pretend it wasn't there. She let go of Ichigo's arm and started playing with her hair in what she hoped was a suitably flirty manor.
"Well, have a good evening Ichigo, I won't keep you much longer. Are you coming for dinner next week? Aunt Retsu said she invited everyone over."
"Sure, as long as nothing comes up. Bye Hime."
Ichigo pulled her in for a quick, half-hearted hug with one arm, then flashed her a smile on his way to the door.
Orihime watched him go with a frown on her face. The smile he just gave her felt forced. Restsu Unohana was a friend of the Kurosaki family; she had worked with Ichigo's father and was still friends with their butler Mr Ukitake. So when Unohana went to visit, Orihime was sometimes brought along. She vaguely remembered what Ichigo was like before his parent's deaths. The two of them had played together; Ichigo was kind to a shy and awkward girl, which made an impression on young Orihime.
The years following his parent's death, Ichigo had been less interested in spending time with her, so Orihime usually played with his little sisters whenever she came to visit. Being older now, she understood why he seemed different, more serious whenever she saw him. Around the time she was ten, Ichigo disappeared, Mr Ukitake telling them he had gone abroad to do some studying at a foreign but prestigious boarding school. While she missed him, kids were resilient, so Orihime spent more time with the twins and other friends, but she never forgot him.
One day, about three and a half years later, she heard through the news that he was back. Poor Orihime was unprepared for how handsome and mature he was when she next saw him. She was tongue-tied and red-faced, but Ichigo had taken it in stride, sparing her feelings with kind words and easy smiles. Back then, Orihime was just developing her crush on him, so she never noticed how forced it seemed. But as the next few years passed and her schoolgirl crush settled into a young woman's attraction, she began to notice how he seemed to go through the motions whenever social obligation was around, like before.
Orihime wanted to help him. Despite her sometimes childishness, she was very mature for her age and was smart enough to conclude that his 'playboy antics' and other typical young, rich man behaviour were his way of trying to fill a hole in his heart, as he had never really gotten over the loss of his family. Later on, she would learn that Ichigo worked through his grief in a different way to what she initially thought, but for now, she was determined to heal his heart.
Thinking all these thoughts had caused her to zone out again, and she nearly bumped into someone else. This person was much less friendly than the man she bumped into earlier.
"Why hello Miss, you're looking lovely this evening"
Orihime looked up into the pasty-white and painfully thin face of Acidwire. A hollow that grew up an orphan, not even he knew his real name, so everyone just called him his street name. A higher level drug dealer, the KCPD brought him in on the hope he would be willing to roll on some of his fellow dealers and do some damage to the less legitimate side of Penguin's operations.
"Move along ass-hat." Officer Ikkaku pushed him forward.
Acidwire complied and began to walk forward, turning around to lick his lips at Orihime. This earned him another shove from Ikkaku.
"Sorry about that Hime. The dirtbag promised to talk about his jobs for Penguin. So far he's just wasted our time."
Orihime turned around and smiled at her brother. The KCPD had been frustrated for years by how they couldn't link Penguin to the illegal things they knew he was doing but couldn't conclusively prove. She looked him up and down and decided she didn't like how tired he looked.
"Sora, have you slept yet?" She scolded.
"I'm fine, but I'll be a lot better once I can nail down this Batman guy."
They started walking over to Sora's office. On the way, Orihime noticed that one of the rooms she passed had a model of what they thought Batman looked like. On the wall, there was a whiteboard covered in writing and to the right, there stood a mannequin. The dummy had been put in a Kevlar vest and had a cape around its neck with a black domino mask on its face. The mask had some black spikes attached to the top on the left and right side. In the dummy's hand, it held a batarang, something Orihime would soon become very familiar with.
As they walked by the door to the room, the power went out. Three seconds later, the back-up power came on, turning every second light on and rebooting the security systems, leaving non-essential systems off to conserve the little power the police generator could output.
Sora wasn't an idiot. Turning off any power in Karakura was not cheap. With all the criminal activity in Karakura, the power company had some of the best security the city had to offer. That means someone was bribed to let this happen. Evidently, Acidwire was more important than they realised if Louisenbairn was worried enough to go this far.
His first priority was keeping Orihime safe. He quickly opened the door to the briefing room where he and some senior officers had been brainstorming about Batman.
"Stay in here until I come get you. Put that body armour on and hide under the desk or something. I'll be back once this is sorted. I love you Hime."
"Love you too Sora."
Sora dashed off to track down Acidwire and Orihime locked the door behind her. She walked quickly over to the Kevlar vest and up close; she noticed it was dark grey with a bat symbol painted in black on the chest.
She took the vest off the dummy and put it on. It was a little tight on the upper torso, but otherwise fitted alright. After that, she found herself staring at the mask and cape. Orihime had heard the stories and the rumours; she'd snuck a look at the reports and despite herself, she was slightly fascinated by the idea of Batman. She'd daydreamed once or twice what it would be like to be a costumed vigilante, and deciding to indulge herself, she put the cape and mask on.
Most people would have been concerned by the possibility that criminals were assaulting a police station they were stuck in, but Orihime saw an opportunity to indulge in a daydream of hers. Not that she was blasé about the danger she could be in, she simply had supreme confidence in her brother's ability to handle the situation.
Grabbing the batarang, she walked over to a window. The lighting was just right for her to see a reflection. She drew the cape around her and was quite happy she had chosen her grey jeans today, matching the dark colours of the cape and body armour. She struck a pose and giggled at how silly she looked.
Orihime whirled around, her eyes widened as she took in the sight of the broken door on the floor and Acidwire walking towards her menacingly.
"Oh, hey there little girl. Looks like I caught you playing dress-up."
There was a sick smile on his thin face as he brandished the kitchen knife he'd stolen from somewhere.
Orihime froze for one whole second, before her training kicked in. Without thinking, she flung the batarang in her hand. Through natural instinct, she got the balance and angle right, nailing Acidwire in the hand, breaking his middle three knuckles and shocking his hand into dropping the knife.
Taking advantage of the distraction she charged forward jumping from roughly a metre out and leading with her foot. She impacted on his chest, pushing him out into the hall, where he flew back until he hit a wall. Orihime deliberately chose to kick him, knowing her boots and forward momentum would do more damage than her bare hands. With his bony face, punching him would have hurt her more. She stood up from the crouch she landed in and looked for an exit.
Temporarily stunned, Acidwire recovered quickly and re-evaluated his target. Once his eyes focused on her, Orihime knew her window for escape had closed.
"You'll pay for that bitch!"
"Here." Spoke a deep voice from her left.
As Orihime eyes flicked to the left to take in the potential new threat, she reacted on instinct, catching the police baton thrown to her. Acidwire was waiting for a distraction, but had once again underestimated his opponent who'd never stopped watching him, her natural situational awareness warning her of the impending attack.
Orihime swung her left arm and connected with Acidwire's face. She brought her arm back in a devastating backhand, then swung her hand in an under-armed arc, impacting him in the stomach with the rounded tip and doubling him over. Taking a step back, she dropped the baton, put both her hands on his shoulders, balanced herself on her left foot and drove upwards with her right knee. The knockout blow connected with Acidwire's face breaking his nose and rattling his brain hard enough to rob him of consciousness.
Orihime took a step back and let out a breath. She assumed that the person who threw the baton wouldn't have helped her if he meant her harm. She'd been so focused on Acidwire when she saw the baton flying over to her, she didn't even register who threw it. She assumed one of the precinct cops had helped her out, though thinking about it now, she thought it was weird he didn't get involved in the fight. Turning to her left to thank the man, she froze in her tracks when she saw who it was.
Steeped in one of the shadows made by the sparse lighting, the Batman seemed to tower over her. The adrenalin in her system had a second surge as her eyes widened to take in the imposing sight he presented. Her immediate impression of him was of a living shadow. She fully understood why the hollows were terrified of him.
His hands flashed out again and on reflex, Orihime caught the standard issue handcuffs he'd obviously grabbed from one of the desks. She looked at them for a moment before she realised he meant for her to use them on the criminal. She bent down by Acidwire and pulled his hands behind his back, securing them together. She looked up and saw he wasn't in the same spot anymore.
She heard a sound behind her, and turned around to see him tucking the batarang she used into his belt. Now that the immediate danger had passed, Orihime became more aware of the sound of gunfire coming from the other side of the building. Batman started walking toward it, and Orihime watched him go, unsure whether she should say something or not. Opening the door into the next hallway, Batman paused, looking over his shoulder at her. Orihime held his gaze.
"Nice costume." He said, in his deep Bat-voice.
Orihime nodded dumbly in response to the compliment. She blinked and he was gone.
Months later, when she was more comfortable around Ichigo, she would question him about this night. She would even tease him about his 'dramatics.' But for now, Orihime was intensely aware that she had just stood in the presence of the Dark Knight.
She went through the rest of the night in a slight daze. She nodded automatically in response to her brother's questions, recounting what happened in clinical detail. Once he was assured she was ok, Orihime went home, escorted by Sargent Zaraki. Her aunt was working at the hospital so she had the place to herself. She put her clothes in the wash, showered, put some comfy pants on to go with her pyjama top and sat in front of the TV with her favourite dessert. Red bean paste on ice cream helped her think. She watched the news with detachment, while she snacked on her treat and considered the last few hours. Going over her encounter with Batman again, she realised something very important.
He was just a man, flesh and blood, like the rest of us.
Having said that, he was also obviously a very dangerous man. One who had trained his body to the peak of human fitness. The athlete in her recognised the power he held in his body. She also remembered the multi-pouched belt he was wearing. The way he tucked the batarang into one of the pockets, she assumed he kept a bunch of tech in there.
Suddenly feeling very tired, Orihime decided to finish her snack and go to bed. That night, she dreamed of being a vigilante again, but this time, her costume had much darker colours and her chest sported a bat symbol. A seed had been planted that night, and two weeks later, it would begin to grow when she browsed for grappling hooks online.
This origin arc is like Toshiro's, it's going to be broken up into two parts. The next chapter will show the first meeting of Batgirl and Batman, and I'm planning to introduce two other characters to my little DC/Anime universe.
On another note, one of the interesting things about the New 52 (The current canon if anyone reading this doesn't follow) is it went back to Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, with her recovering from being shot by Joker. I'm in two minds as to whether I want to do that or not, because I really like the Barbara Gordon Batgirl, and wouldn't mind giving Orihime some non-flashback action, but I've also been considering making Karin the next Batgirl. If anybody reading this has an opinion, I wouldn't mind hearing it, I don't promise I'll go with what you advise, but I like to talk about my ideas out loud. Thanks for reading.