And two weeks later, this story is updated. Been too busy, haven't had internet, that sort of thing. After the last YJ comic this story has become and AU and I couldn't be happier. So for the sake of how I planned this I'm going to say that none of the Dickbabs things in the comic happened.
January 4, 10:47 EST
Jim Gordon had finally agreed to let Barbara get her own place. It had taken hours of begging for him to give in. He had all the reasons in the world why she should still be living with him. She was barely eighteen. Gotham was a very scary place. Two-Face or Joker or any of those psychos could just go knock on her door.
And she was his baby girl. Jim thought that alone was reason enough.
Of course, Barbara had the perfect counter arguments planned for every single reason he offered. She was legally an adult and mentally she had been for a very long time. Her dad put her in self-defense classes as soon as she could walk. She was Batgirl, though she couldn't exactly tell her dad that one. To top it all off, the building she wanted to live in was only a block from the library where she had taken a part time job. It would be safer to walk from there than from where she lived with her father.
And Barbara assured him that she would always be his baby girl, no matter where she lived.
Even the Commissioner couldn't argue with that one.
"You promised you'd let me do this if I graduated early," Barbara reminded her father as they carried boxes of books and movies up the stairs to the third floor.
Jim scoffed. "I didn't think you'd actually go through with it," He mumbled under his breath.
"I'm glad you have so much faith in me, daddy."
"Barbara Gordon, that's not how I meant it and you know it."
She smiled, even though she was walking in front and he couldn't see her. "It was just a joke. But you should've learned your lesson when you said you'd let me go skiing with the Waynes if I got a perfect score on all my exams," She told him sternly. "You taught me to keep my promises a little too well, dad."
"We could use more of that in Gotham," He answered, his tone dry. Jim took his last step up and stopped to look at Barbara. "Now you promise me you'll be safe and take extra precautions at night... or, well, all the time actually."
"I promise." Technically, it wasn't a lie. She had to be very careful when she had the cowl on.
"Good." He honestly smiled at Barbara for the first time that day. They crossed the hall silently and pushed open the door to her new apartment again. "So that's everything from the car, right?" asked Jim while he set the last box down. Barbara just nodded in response.
It was a decent sized apartment. Maybe not the nicest place she could've gotten, but it was cheap and she lived in Gotham. She wasn't looking for 'nice'. There was a pretty big bedroom and living room. The kitchen was a little small for Barbara's tastes, so the closet was the real reason she wanted to place. The bedroom had a large walk-in closet. Most people would've loved the extra space for clothes or shoes or whatever normal people were collecting these days. Barbara had a different idea in mind. Based on her research, she would be able to knock out on of the walls to add a little more space and then hide all of her Batgirl things behind a fake wall. It wasn't quite as safe as having a secret Batcave under her house would be, but she thought it would do until she could afford something a little less risky.
"Well-" Her father's voice interrupted her thoughts. "It's better than my first apartment. And you definitely have more furniture than I did."
"That's probably because I have a better dad." Barbara kissed his cheek. "And a gift card to Ikea."
Jim chuckled at that as he checked his watch and Barbara noticed.
"I know you're running late, dad," she told him. "It won't bother me if you go ahead and leave. Dick and Tim said they'd come by to help." She decided not to tell him that they would be helping her by tearing into the wall.
"How about I just stay and you don't let boys in here ever?"
He put his hands up in surrender. "I know, I know. You're an adult and I trust you," he said in a distinctively defeated voice. "You sure you don't want me to help you unpack? I can call Harvey if I need to."
"I'll be fine," answered Barbara. "Gotham wouldn't last one second without its commissioner anyways."
She knew he needed to leave but she was reluctant to say goodbye. It was definitely going to be weird living by herself for the first time. Jim was the most important person in her life. They had been through so much together. There was still a huge part of her that wanted to tell him she had changed her mind and drag all of her possessions back to their two bedroom house.
Barbara settled for a hug instead.
She held onto her father like it was the last time she would ever see him. And she would've felt guilty for squeezing him so tightly, except she could barely breathe from his grip as well. This was going to be weird for both of them, she had to remind herself. She needed some space, especially for the cowl. Her dad could only buy the "staying at Karen's" excuse so many times.
There was a knock on the doorframe.
"Hey, I saw someone moving in. I wanted to introduce myself. I'm two doors down, so if you-" The voice paused as Barbara hesitantly let go of her father and turned towards the door. "Commissioner?"
"Jason? You live here?" Jim's face turned sour again.
Barbara recognized the guy as Jason Bard. He had been working at the GCPD for a little over a year. She didn't know a ton about him, other than that he liked flirting with her and her dad liked calling him an idiot. Barbara gave him a small wave.
"Yeah, the landlord's a family friend. You guys moving in?" Jason asked with a smile.
Barbara opened her mouth to correct him, but Jim answered first. "We are. Me, Barbara, and all of my guns."
"Dad.." She called again, rolling her eyes. "It's just me moving in. I work at the library."
"And I'll be only a few blocks away with my guns."
Barbara could only shrug. "That one is true though."
Jason laughed awkwardly, like he couldn't tell whether they were joking or not. She sincerely hoped he realized her dad didn't joke when it came to boys. Barbara watched sympathetically as Jason struggled to find the right thing to say. Luckily he had only just started mumbling before Jim's cell phone began ringing.
"That'll be work," he said. He glanced down at his phone. "Dammit. Barbara, listen, I'll be by again later if I can. And I'll call if I can't. I hate to leave-"
She shook her head. "Don't. You know I understand." She gave him another brief hug and kissed his cheek. "Like I said, I'll be fine."
"Right. Well, come on, Jason," Jim began, searching for his keys. "I'll give you a ride to the station."
Jason looked nervous to correct him as he found the keys and headed for the door. "Uh, actually.. Sir.. I'm supposed to wait around my place today. My partner working on a drug bust and I need to be ready for his call," he explained sheepishly. He was scratching his head. Barbara wondered if that was a nervous habit. "He's right down the road. I can't go too far."
"Oh. I forgot about that. Well then-" Jim glanced at Jason then looked back to Barbara. She glared at him. He needed to start trusting that she could be alone in a room with a male.
She scoffed. "Go, dad, you're wasting time," said Barbara. She waved her hands towards the door. "Batman's only out at night. This is your city during the day."
"Fine, fine. I'm going to leave my sweet little seventeen-"
"Eighteen year old girl in her apartment. By herself. With all the knowledge from those endless self-defense classes that proved she could easily break someone's neck-
"Oh my god, dad."
"And I'll just go. But I'll call.. in five minutes. And every five minutes. From my office with my guns."
Barbara couldn't believe she had to actually push him out the door. "Got it, daddy. Go save Gotham. I'll be fine."
He stole one last hug from her in the hallway. "Right. I love you, Barb. And I really am going to call."
"I love you too." She smiled as he retreated to the stairwell without another word to Jason. Barbara called after him, "Be safe, okay?"
"I don't think he likes me very much," Jason whispered quietly once he was sure the Commissioner wouldn't hear him. "Unless he needs someone to yell at. Then I'm usually his favorite."
Barbara laughed shortly. "I'd apologize for him, but to be totally honest I'd rather him yell at you than me. He at least gets paid for yelling at you." A glance to a clock she had propped up against the wall told her that she needed to get a move on. Dick could show up any minute. "Well, it was nice seeing you. I've got to-"
He interrupted her before she could finish making up an excuse. "Do you want to grab a coffee? I know you just got here.. it's just there's this place down the street. And we could go. Y'know, if you wanted." The impressive part was that Jason said all of it in one very quick breath. She hesitated to think about her answer.
"That's very nice of you, but I've got some unpacking to do. Maybe another time." That sounded polite enough. Coffee did sound good, but she really wanted to finish setting up the apartment before going on patrol later.
"Oh. Okay. Hey, what if I stay and help you unpack?" He glanced around the messy apartment as he started fiddling with the top of the closest cardboard box. "You must have a lot of clothes."
"Books. They're mostly books," Barbara said. She stepped forward to brush his hands away from her things. "And actually I think I'm gonna unpack later." His face lit up and Barbara rushed to think of another excuse before he could. "I'm pretty tired. A nap sounds nice. And I don't need any help with that. But thanks for stopping by!"
The defeated look on his face did make her feel guilty. Still, there were about to be more boxes crowding her new place, and she definitely didn't want him opening those.
"Wally, just stop. It doesn't matter what you try. It's just not going to fit."
"That's what she said."
"I will beat you."
"You know, I totally appreciate Bruce buying me a housewarming gift, and I do need a couch," said Barbara from where she was sitting on a stack of cardboard boxes. "But I really don't think we're getting it through the door. And I'd feel guilty accepting such an expensive present."
Dick dropped his side of the couch and Wally followed suit. They hadn't been able to get the sofa an inch into the apartment. The door just wasn't wide enough. "I'm sorry, Babs. We'll take this back and pick you out something else. Something smaller."
"We could call Zatanna," Artemis suggested, not really paying attention to what was going on between the others. She was stretched out on the floor looking through one of the many boxes filled with books. She distractedly pulled one out. "Why do you have a book about Captain America?"
Barbara jumped up quickly and grabbed the book from Artemis. "And then we could try to explain to my new neighbors why a couch magically vanished from the hallway and reappeared into my apartment," she replied while jamming the book back into the box. "Besides, that couch is real leather, right? It would look weird with all my other cheap furniture that's not even real wood."
Artemis smiled over the top of a magazine, but Wally and Dick looked extremely awkward as they stood in the doorway.
"That was a joke. I know I'm not a billionaire. You can laugh." They both let out fake, very hollow laughs. "Stop being awkward and make yourselves useful. I have three Ikea book shelves to put together." The boys moved the couch out of the doorway and made their way into the apartment.
"Just leave the door open," said Dick as he pushed some boxes to the side with his foot. "We'll try to navigate it back down the stairwell when we leave."
Wally nodded. "Get an apartment on the first floor next time."
"Roof access," Barbara and Artemis said together. Their eyes met and they grinned. "We're pretty good at this no powers thing," added the blonde. "Can I look at these?" She had found the box with the 'photos' label on it.
"Sure." Barbara shrugged and turned to Wally and Dick. "Here. Both of you take one of these book shelves. There are screwdrivers in-" She pointed. "That box." Dick grudgingly pulled one of the Ikea boxes towards him and sat on the floor.
Wally just groaned. "Y'know, I could get this done a lot faster if-"
"The door," said Barbara, Artemis, and Dick.
"You have got to stop doing that. It's freaky."
The room was quiet for the next several minutes, but it wasn't an uncomfortable silence. It was actually quite appreciative since Wally had been running his mouth all morning. Barbara had only been excepting Dick to come over and help. It was an extremely nice surprise when Wally and Artemis showed up right behind him. Barbara and Artemis fell into an easy friendship only hours after meeting. Their personalities had enough similarities and differences to keep them from truly annoying each. With Wally, on the other hand, it had taken much longer for Barbara to consider him a friend. Dick had seemed to think she and Wally would click instantly since they were gingers. Barbara was happy to assure him that was totally wrong.
She didn't get to see the two as often since they left the team. Barbara was busy with school and missions and Gotham and training and coming up with excuses to feed her father. Wally and Artemis were usually as busy as she was, even though she didn't know what they were up to. She hadn't had the time to visit their place in California a single time since they had moved in there. That thought made Barbara's stomach twist with guilt. They had willingly given up a Monday to help her set up her apartment and she had never even considered doing the same for them.
"Hey look, she also has a Captain America shirt!"
Barbara whipped around at Wally's voice. He was sitting by a stack of boxes. The top one marked 'clothes' was open, and the guilty feeling vanished in an instant. "Don't go through those! You're supposed to be working on the bookcase!"
He shrugged. "I'm fast. I already finished it. And I'm just trying to find your underwear." Barbara groaned while Dick and Artemis laughed. "Why Captain America anyways? He's just a glorified Superman."
"He is not!" She snapped, sounding a lot angrier than she wanted to. "He's a solider, he's human. They gave them the serum for his heart. Not his abilities. And-"
"And Chris Evans played him in the movies," Artemis teased. "That's why she really likes him."
"Oh, come on," Wally groaned. "Those movies are so old."
Barbara couldn't resist rolling her eyes. They weren't even four years old and those movies would always be amazing anyways, regardless of their age. And it wasn't like she only liked Captain America because of Chris Evans. She really did think-
"I warned you that couch wasn't going to fit," called a voice from the hallway. A half-second later Alfred and Tim appeared in the door, their arms filled with more boxes. "My gift is a bit more practical. I've brought lasagna and a few of your favorite recipes."
Dick frowned as he glanced towards the door. "You didn't give me any recipes when I moved out!"
"Miss Barbara has never set my kitchen on fire," Alfred sighed.
The bookshelves were finished, though they were still empty, and Alfred had generously offered to take the couch back to the store. There was finally enough time and privacy for them to set up the closet.
And by "them" she meant Dick. She and Artemis were in deep conversation on the end of her bed. Tim had taken the blonde's previous place at her books. Wally was on his second helping of lasagna. So really they were all doing things of utmost importance.
"I know you hear this all the time, but I do wish you would come back. Eleven people on the team and only four of us are girls."
"How am I supposed to go to Stanford during the day and fight crime at night?"
"Don't even try to use that excuse. I took AP classes, trained with Batman, fought in Gotham, fought with the team, and managed to keep my detective dad in the dark. It's possible."
"You don't count though. You're good at everything."
"Yeah, I also have a photographic memory. That makes the school stuff way less impressive."
"Right. So you can't.. do you hear that beeping? What is that?"
Barbara sat up, head turning towards the closet. "It's Dick."
"No, it's Dick Grayson's cell phone. The cell phone he uses for the team," She rushed. She started to ask him what the news was, but she noticed the concentration on his face. Dick was staring intently at the phone. She knew better than to ask. He couldn't be interrupted when he was working out plans for the team in his head.
"It was Mal," Dick answered, several minutes later.
Barbara, who had lazily started braiding Artemis's hair after the first couple minutes, froze. She was always nervous when the team contacted him. Living in Gotham taught you to expect the worst.
And losing one of your partners was something you could never get over.
"We've got locations of some Krolotean hideouts," he explained. Barbara let herself relax a little. "We're going after them."
"When?" Tim asked, now standing in the doorway to the living room.
"Tonight. Now," said Dick, ushering them towards the door. "Oh wait, Babs, can I talk to you real quick before we leave?" He asked hurriedly before she could follow Artemis out her room. She raised her eyebrows, but nodded. He pushed the door shut. "Do you think Tim's ready to lead a team?"
Barbara just stared at him. "I.. what?"
"Come on, hotshot," he told her. "You were the one going on and on about how perfectly you could've put the teams together. Tim leading Alpha. What do you think?"
Had he really never led a team? Barbara was sure he had, but she couldn't think of a single time. Of course, he was only fourteen. It made more sense that he hadn't. Tim always seemed so much older than he really was. Barbara had to remind herself that he was barely a teenager.
"Yeah," she answered after a moment. "I think he's ready."
"Next question. Who should I send with him?" Dick's reply was too quick, a little too cultivated. It was easy to know what he was doing. But why not humor him?
She mentally went through the list of team members. "Jaime for sure. He's good. He'll listen to Tim. And maybe Karen, as a back-up leader just in case. She'd-"
Dick stopped her. "I was going to send Karen with you, but-"
"Forget that then. I want Karen," she countered. Barbara was pretty sure teaming up with Karen would do more for herself than Tim. "Um.. maybe La'gaan?"
"Good. I thought La'gaan too." She was a little surprised Dick was agreeing with her. "His impulsiveness would work in a crisis. Anyone else?"
"I would offer myself." Barbara shrugged. "Though it sounds like a bunch of missions. Can you spare anyone else?"
He shook his head but didn't offer any explanation. "So you realize," he started. There was that smirk again. "That if this mission goes badly I get to blame it all on you, right?"
Barbara raised an eyebrow. Dick was so predictable sometimes. "I'm the hotshot, remember?" she scoffed. "I know the game. I invented the game."
A silence fell over them as they stared each other down. It was getting late. Barbara knew they needed to leave. She just wasn't going to be the first one to look away or say something. It had turned into yet another childish game. But something felt different. There was a tension Barbara didn't recognize, and it was throwing her off. She couldn't do it. His gaze was felt too deep. She was seconds away from averting her eyes, but Wally's voice came from the next room.
"I thought the Captain America stuff was bad. But you have Batman panties."
Barbara's head whipped away from Dick and towards the closed door. "They're Batgirl panties, actually," She yelled. "You can tell because the bat is shaped a little-" Barbara realized what she was saying and yanked the door open. "Stop going through my things, Wally!"
Artemis smiled as she snatched the undergarments out of Wally's hands. "Stop being creepy. You're only allowed to touch my panties."
Tim was very clearly trying to pretend like he couldn't hear any of the conversation, since he focusing so intensely on the carpet. Barbara couldn't suppress a grin, and she saw that Dick seemed to have noticed Tim's awkwardness too. "Yeah, so we really need to go. The sooner the better." Barbara nodded encouragingly to back him up as they headed towards the door.
"Hey, B," Artemis called. "If you want me and Wally can finish setting everything up and lock the door when we're done."
Barbara gave a tired half shrug. "You don't have to do that."
"It's not a problem," the blonde insisted.
"It kinda is though," Barbara grimaced. "I'm not leaving Wally to go through anymore of my boxes."