Disclaimer: I don't own any copyrighted material, including works that belong to the Young Justice cartoon and DC comics.
Notes: Written during the summer time, pre-Invasion hiatus. Triggers: Thoughts of self-harm.
Thank you for all your feedback. I really appreciate all of your comments and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Just an Ordinary Day
"Superman can totally kick Batman's butt," Dick argued, shoving his Superman action figure towards Barbara's face. He had kept his voice down whenever this particular dispute occurred inside the manor, because at the age of thirteen, being the pathological liar he was, had somehow convinced Barbara that it was because Bruce was a hard-core Batman fan, and would've grounded him if he heard what his ward was saying.
She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, right, Dick! Batman has the Joker and Two-Face – if he can take down those guys and Superman has what, Lex Luthor? It's clear that Batman's better!"
Dick stuck his tongue out. "Fine, let's just agree that they're both cool. Besides, they work together like, all the time! Either way, they're both better than you."
Barbara shot her head up. "W-What?"
He got up on his feet and crossed his arms while looking down at her. "Superman and Batman are loyal to their friends, a trait you clearly don't have."
"D-Dick, what are you talking ab–"
"You left me Barbara. You left me to die, and then you killed your own dad."
Suddenly, the boy in front of him grew several feet, his hair also lengthening as well. The black jacket and jeans he was wearing morphed into a skin tight suit, and his eyes were covered by a mask.
"You only know how to run, don't you, Batgirl?" Nightwing growled. "Run and hide and leave us to die."
Batgirl wakes up in a shelter, panting heavily. She turns to the side where a woman in her late thirties had shaken her awake; a worried expression is painted on her face.
"Please be quiet," the woman pleads. "They might still be out there. Shh…."
Batgirl is confused, but then looks down at her arms and legs; her wounds are bandaged, most likely by this woman and the remaining civilians in the shelter with her, but she never thanks them. She doesn't speak at all or make any indication of gratitude and understanding to the people around her. Instead, she tears off her mask so that she can wipe the tears from her eyes.
That night, she dreams the same dream again, of all the boys she had loved and lost in her life: her dad, Dick, and now Nightwing. She had lost them all, because in this war, this struggle to survive, there are no survivors, no matter how much she wants to stay in her oblivious little world. Dick was dead the night of the invasion; her dad's body was now a skeletal corpse, and Nightwing?
Barbara doesn't even have the courage to tell herself otherwise.
Barbara leaves the shelter as soon as she can feel her arms and legs again. She doesn't want to endanger the people there any further with her constant screaming, merely heading back to her camp and tossing everything, including her suit, back into the bag. She doesn't care that her only clothes left are a t-shirt and pants that barely fitted; she'd rather run around naked than wear the cat suit again.
She walks aimlessly in a circle, only using her knife to survive. She kills animals for meat, stops at rivers for water, and sleeps under bridges and in alleyways.
She's clueless as to what to do now. She doesn't have a family to take care of, and there is no specific place she has to go to. She comes across some thieves, and only acts whenever they threaten her, but for the other civilians in danger?
If they can't take care of themselves in a regular mugging, how did they expect to last an alien attack? What's the point in rescuing them when they're going to die anyway?
Barbara does everything in order to survive, but she stops caring to live.
She stares at the sky for hours that day, approximately two or three months after the disappearance of Nightwing. Her eyes wander back and forth, only stopping their movements when she sees the silhouette of some birds fly by – flying far, far away from her.
She plans on cutting her nails that afternoon, and maybe cut her growing hair too now that she has her knife out, but the feeling of metal against her bare skin, the look of the silver next to the tanned arm and greenish veins – everything seems appealing.
Her lips are dehydrated and she can already taste blood in her mouth; it allows her to easily visualize the same blood flowing from her wrists. But every time she is tempted to move her hands, twist the blade against her arm, something would distract her: the cry of a civilian nearby, the chirping of a bird, Dick's voice inside her head.
Abruptly, she launches the knife away from her and drops her arms. She bangs the side of her head against the concrete wall and bites her bottom lip, screaming in pain at the same time as the tears are released from her eyes.
"WHY?!" She rages, slamming her fist against the dirt ground. Why did you all leave me?! She continues to scream in her mind, but the only noise that comes out of her is a whimper. She draws her legs in and wraps her arms around them, tucking into a ball.
There's nothing but the sound of her sobs for many hours after that, and it isn't until she runs out of tears that she hears the noise nearby: the sound of chirping; squeaks at a high pitch that are too innocent sounding to be from a hunting bird. Like a ragdoll, her arms and legs feel loose and limp, but Barbara somehow manages herself up, and she chases after the sound.
When she finds the tree, maybe a mile or two from the next city, it is half burnt off but still is standing tall and alive; she pulls herself up to the branches. There, before her very eyes, is a nest of baby birds, covered in black and grey feathers and eagerly waiting for their mother.
They are baby robins.
The birds flap their newly developed wings, some trying to make their way out of the nest, but they're clearly too young to be leaving the family at that point, and so luckily, none of them had fallen out.
Barbara doesn't know how long she hangs from there, just watching the birds on the next branch over, squawking loudly at their brothers and sisters, but she knows she has to vanish before their mother comes back. Scaling down the tree, Barbara stands at the base and stares at the empty roads.
Sometime after, she continues to wander down the streets, searching back and forth for any signs of life, but it seems like this place is one of the most deserted cities she has been to. The aliens clearly did a good job finishing their dinner here.
It's her appearance in the reflection of a convenient store's glass that stops her from walking any farther. Her hair has grown considerably, now reaching passed her shoulders. She hasn't had her hair that long since freshman year of high school.
Ignoring the bags under her eyes from lack of sleep, and a few faded pink lines marring her face, her skin appears blemish free. She is much taller than she once had been, but the lack of food and constant running left her leaner than before.
Once she's done looking at herself, her eyes shift to the side where many advertisements are losing their stickiness on the glass windows. Her hands reach for one poster in particular. She pushes the corner back so that she can have a full view of everything.
The circus is coming!
Barbara raises a hand to wipe the tears from her eyes, almost laughing at the image of the clowns and acrobats underneath the bolded text. Then, with a muffled sob and a grin, she looks up at the sky, noticing the setting sun.
"Damn it, Dick," she murmurs mid cry. "You're not very subtle, are you?"
Batgirl arrives at the scene just moments after the victim screams. She prevents two attempted rapes, and stops a large brawl out in the corner of the streets near a shelter of women and children. With her cat suit and newly stitched bat symbol on her chest, she heroically goes on patrol in the evening to keep watch for any Kroloteans, and goes ahead to design more weapons – she likes to call them Bat-a-Rangs to suit her heroic identity – with scraps of wire and gun powder.
She even produces some weapons that shock its victims with electricity – the same ones Nightwing had given her. In fact, his words of advice ring through her mind continuously whenever she dons the Batgirl outfit. She trains when she can, and becomes more alert than ever now.
Barbara never had a problem with heights over the years, but still leaps from tall buildings on a nightly basis in order to practice landing on her feet rather than her knees and bottom.
She still isn't sure where she's travelling to exactly, and the memory of her dad and Dick pops up every once in a while, but they no longer make her happy as they used to. Rather, the rush of excitement and knowledge that she saves others are what brings her joy. Whenever she is thanked, or when she sees the happiness printed on someone's face, the heavy feeling in her chest lightens. All the fear bottled up in her body fades away.
Batgirl – Barbara Gordon – begins living again.
"Take the kids and run as far as you can! Don't stop – I don't know if I can take down all of the aliens, but I'll try my best to slow them down. Hurry!" Batgirl instructs a group of survivors.
After the civilians rush off into the distance, she turns to face the group of aliens –the hungry Kroloteans. She throws three of her Bat-a-Rangs at once, each hitting the target and exploding on contact. Before all of the smoke can clear out, Batgirl manages to run far enough away from the creatures, but makes sure she's still in their sight.
When they begin following after her, she leads the aliens into a separate territory – a trap – she had been building for several days.
Ferris Aircraft was one of the buildings she encountered when she arrived to this new city. Although all of the jets were destroyed, there was one helicopter that was untouched deep within the building. It had taken her one and a half days before she had figured out how everything worked, but the most she did with it was pilot it towards the city area.
She watches the wires that are all laid out onto the ground carefully, surrounding a thick mesh of net she and the townspeople had found. Batgirl jumps over them as she runs. She climbs to the door of the helicopter, entering the cockpit. Her eyes are fixed forward out of the window as she presses onto the controls she memorized. The arrows along the meters begin shifting back and forth and a loud whirling noise starts to buzz around her.
"Come on, come on," she prays and breathes a sigh of relief when the buttons on the panel begin to flash; she can hear the propellers start up.
Looking back down on ground level, she waits until the majority of the aliens are within the circle and onto the net. In the exact moment the aliens step over the wired mesh, she pulls onto the lever sitting by her legs as hard as she can.
All at once, the mines laid out explode and run electricity. The corners of the net fly up along with the copter she is sitting in, lugging the trapped creatures with her; they cry out in anguish, screaming in an incomprehensible language.
Batgirl adjusts the collective-pitch leverage, and can feel gravity pushing her down as the aircraft goes up. She can't hear the aliens anymore, but with a glance outside the window, can tell they are still trapped within the net – some have stopped moving since the electric shock.
She flies up as high as she can and when she's at a proper altitude, in the middle of an empty, desert area, she presses onto a button. It beeps and the helicopter budges upwards slightly as it releases the load.
From her position, she can see all of the aliens crashing onto the dry land, but her victory doesn't last for very long.
Before she knows it, another – louder – propeller is heard and a shadow blocks her vision. Next to her helicopter is another giant spacecraft and Batgirl can only let out a muffled cry at the sight of all the aliens in that ship.
It releases a missile.
Instantly, Batgirl shuts her eyes and remains still, waiting for the explosion.
However, she feels no pain. Slowly (and hesitantly) lifting her eyelids back up, she looks around. All she sees are the mountainous field that make up the area. Her helicopter has shut itself off, and up in the sky isn't just the one alien's spaceship, but another one – a different one.
She hopes that whoever it is, controlling that red-orange ship, is nicer than the Kroloteans.
"Are you okay?"
Batgirl doesn't answer, and steps away from the green skinned girl with red hair. One hand reaches into her belt, and she grazes her Bat-a-Rang with her thumb, preparing to use it if necessary.
The female alien however, strangely in a humanoid form that doesn't resemble the Kroloteans whatsoever, looks apologetic and holds out her arm. "W-Wait, you don't have to be afraid. I'm not one of them!" She says, but it doesn't change Batgirl's readying position.
"She's right, you know. Martians are the furthest thing away from those creepy Kroloteans!"
Batgirl's eyes widen and she looks up at the source of the voice. There, in the middle of the air, is a floating blonde girl in a black tank and red pants.
She never adjusts her position though, still eyeing the newcomers suspiciously when suddenly, a buzzing noise circles her head. The bee heads straight for the two other girls and enlarges itself, revealing a dark skinned girl with a yellow and black outfit.
"We were supposed to be here over half an hour ago, but someone was taking longer than necessary flirting with Jaime," the third girl says, leering over towards the blonde.
"I wasn't flirting, Karen!"
Batgirl straightens herself up and takes her hand out of her belt – she never lets go of her exploding disc, however.
With this move, the green girl smiles.
"I'm Miss Martian," she introduces herself. "I'm the leader of our squad."
"And I'm Wonder Girl! Or you can call me Cassie!" the blonde says enthusiastically, landing nearby. "That was so cool with the helicopter back there by the way!"
"Bumble Bee," the tallest member of the group greets, grinning.
Batgirl hesitates for a moment, but then softens her stance. "Hi…I'm Batgirl."
Their reaction isn't what she is expecting. Cassie, for one, squeals at the name and turns to her friends – clearly they know something Batgirl doesn't.
Miss Martian is the one who speaks though. "You must be the girl Nightwing was talking about –he's been searching for you, you know?"
Batgirl gasps, almost letting the explosive drop from her hands. She places it back into her belt for safekeeping and manages to breathe out her words in happiness: "He's alive?"
Bumble Bee nods. "Mhm, his brothers are pretty adamant about him staying alive. They don't let nobody mess with their big bro."
Miss Martian then claps her hands together at a thought. "Hey, you should come with us! He'll be so excited to see you."
"Plus, we've got a butler who can sew a kickass costume, and you look like you'll need one," Cassie mentions, pointing out at the wears and tears of Batgirl's outfit. "Plus, his cookies are to die for – not literally though!"
Batgirl nods weakly, unsure of exactly what they said; her mind has stopped focusing at the thought of Nightwing. She can already see him grinning in front of her, hear his laugh and feel his hand grabbing for hers.
She shoots her head back up in surprise, and stutters. "Uh…"
Miss Martian giggles and gives Batgirl a look that indicates she knew what the human was thinking. "Come on, we'll take you to the base. It's not too far from here actually."
Batgirl nods and follows the three heroes in front of her. She can only hear her chest though, more so than anything. It's louder than any of the girls' voices and faster than Batgirl's footsteps. She secretly hopes that none of the girls would turn at that moment and see her ridiculous facial expression, because she knows for a fact that it's wearing a stupid grin.
She's going to see Nightwing.
"Don't worry, Batgirl, she's really friendly," Miss Martian says, petting her Bio-ship. She smiles reassuringly and boards onto it.
Never in Batgirl's entire life did she think she would ever get onto an alien ship willingly. However, with a securing look on Bumble Bee's and Wonder Girl's faces, she follows after Miss Martian and is seat belted into a spot.
They arrive at a mountain after two hours of flight. Batgirl stares at it curiously, like a child at an amusement park, bewildered by all of the exotic looking rides. She continues to follow the three other girls towards the one entrance of the cave, blanketed with mold and all sorts of vegetation – they had to press a serious of buttons before the machine would allow her inside.
Needless to say, Batgirl is still in shock, especially by the number of people present. Not to mention all of the different costumes they are wearing. There has to be around two dozen heroes occupying the mountain.
The atmosphere feels warm – it feels like home. Everyone is talking to each other, sitting down on broken couches or leaning up against the charcoal burnt walls. The lights flicker once or twice since her arrival, but remains lit for the younger costumed heroes to play with their cards.
Some of them turn and nod at Batgirl, accepting her arrival and greeting her for the first time, but they stay in their own territory. No one wants to crowd around her, seeming to respect her personal space and it is clear to Batgirl that she would have to approach them herself, or find a better time to introduce herself.
Almost immediately, she catches sight of Red Robin, now older than when she last saw him. Another figure catches her eye though, a young boy with a scowl on his face – he is wearing a Robin costume, but with a green mask – and is arguing with Red Robin. The leader of the Outlaws – the one with the red helmet – approaches them and after taking off his headgear, overpowers both Red Robin's and Robin's voice with his own screaming; all three begin a verbal spar and the scene, though a little strange, reminds Batgirl of a sibling rivalry.
But her eyes continue to dance wildly around the cave. She searches for the familiar blue bird, but can never help herself but stop every once in a while.
"Billy," she mutters. A sigh of relief escapes her lips at the sight of the young teenager from the night at the dumpster a year ago, laughing away with a different – greener and more animalistic – boy.
And at the sound of a baby's laughter, she turns to see the redheaded man, the same one who held a gun to her head, sitting on top of the counter. Arsenal has a toddler in his arm (she looks approximately two or three years old), and is flexing his new, prosthetic arm. He's talking to a dark skinned, tattooed man with webbed hands while bouncing the girl up and down on his knee.
"Alright, time to eat, Lian," he says to her.
Batgirl feels her stomach drop and her chest twist in nostalgia. She wants to run over to them, and pull the toddler into her arms and thank her for everything she'd given Barbara, but her feet keep trailing behind Miss Martian.
Lian would have to come later, she tells herself.
Before Batgirl arrives at the doorway, she can see the Flash (with his mask off, revealing a head of bright, red hair) waving at her, and the woman in his arms–Artemis–doing the same. Batgirl grins in return and gives them a weak wave, still too shocked to do anything strongly.
"He's inside," Miss Martian suddenly speaks up, making Batgirl jump in surprise.
The human nods and hesitantly walks pass the Martian and into the adjacent room. She catches a glimpse of a calendar, pinned up on the wall. All the passed days are X-ed off, indicating which day it is that day.
Then, she sees a dark figure operating a large computer; he stops moving when he notices her step in.
"Uh, hi?" He says, unsure as to who it was.
She claps her hand over her mouth – she can't help it – and begins to cry.
The room is then lit as Nightwing steps over towards her, equally surprised at the sight of her. He stands there with a smile, waiting for Batgirl to end her sobs. He doesn't speak until only her shoulders are left shaking slightly.
"So you finally came," Nightwing starts with a chuckle. "I was beginning to worry you didn't accept my offer."
Batgirl reaches out her hand and punches him in the arm lightly. "I would've gotten here earlier if you had given me the directions, Wing-Nut," she says, half sniffling and half laughing. She lifts her hand again to dry her face, only stopping when Nightwing cups her face in his own hand, wiping the tears with his thumb and pushing the strands of loose hair away from her face.
"I'm glad you're alright," he starts. "I was really worried that the Kroloteans got to you."
"You were worried? You were the one that got taken."
He chuckles and after a moment of silence, suggests: "How about dinner? I think we have some fried Kroloteans left."
Batgirl nods contently, still wiping her wet cheeks. "Sure," she says, and begins to turn her body when in the corner of her eye, she sees Nightwing stretch his arms and pull off his mask.
"Great, I've been meaning to take a break for a – Batgirl? Is something wrong?"
But she doesn't respond. She can't respond. The sight of Nightwing without his mask, the bright blue eyes penetrating through the room, staring directly at her… Her mouth drops open, allowing oxygen to enter her body as her nose forgets how to breathe. Her lower jaw quivers and her eyes feel moisture again.
She wants to extend her arm, to reach out and place her palm against his cheek, but her body refuses to move, and the only thing she can do was stare back at his eyes.
Batgirl doesn't know if she is flushed – if the colour of her skin matches the colour of her hair – or if she is crying again. She is thankful that her knees don't give in, that she doesn't drop to the ground, because she wants to remain eye level with the man in front of her.
Her throat is the first to surrender though, and she squeaks. Batgirl closes her mouth and she presses her lips together.
Heavy on the dis, she thinks, laughing at herself now. The voice that said it in her head begins putting together jig-saw pieces, forming an image of a young, thirteen year old boy, and connecting it with that of the man in front of her.
She beams and laughs out loud.
Dick's eyes widen and then his brows tilt in confusion. He moves his head to the side, and studies Batgirl questionably. "How did you–"
Batgirl swiftly tears off her mask, and begs that she is just as recognizable after puberty as he is to her.
Dick gives a small chuckle, shaking his head in disbelief. He combs his fingers through his hair at the turn of events and says with a tone of recognition, "Barbara Gordon…" The laughter continues to rumble through his throat.
She sniffs, and ignores the ache in her cheeks from smiling so much. Within an instant, she wraps her arms around the Kevlar protected body, squeezing it as tightly as she can; she doesn't want to let go. Digging her face into his chest, she is welcomed in his arms and in perfect silence, stays in that position for what felt like hours, but was probably only a short amount of time.
"We have a lot to catch up on," he says, breath tickling her skin.
They part, and Barbara can't help but laugh again. She drops her arms and pinches her thigh, making sure that this isn't a dream, but then he speaks, and his voice is enough to confirm that yes, this isn't a delusion, or a fantasy–this is real.
"Coming, Babs?" He asks, using the name that hasn't been used in eight years.
It feels perfect coming from him, it sounds safe and warm and easily erases every horrible, painful feeling Barbara had suffered through. Babs: the name that is used by one person in the entire world who is alive and living and right before her very eyes.
Barbara smiles. "Of course I am, Hunk Wonder."
He grins widely at the nickname, and Barbara laughs along with him. He reaches for her hand, intertwining his fingers with hers.
Barbara Gordon and Richard Grayson had met on a Monday, at exactly 8:17 in the evening. She was the daughter of the commissioner, and he was a boy from the circus. It was believed that fate had brought them together.
And after so long, it was the boy that had kept her alive, and it was the girl who refused to give up on him. It might have been fate that brought the girl and the boy together, but the thing that reunited them in the end? That was hope.
They had met on a Monday.
Today is a Tuesday.