Author name: Petra LeMaitre -- author LiveJournal,
author email, author website
Recipient name: shrift
Requested character(s): Shiva Woosan / Lady Shiva
Story title: Diverting Attention
Rating: Appropriate for teens
Spoiler warnings: None, though it follows BATGIRL #59.
Summary: Shiva gives her former students a lesson.
Blüdhaven's most beautiful moments were those around sunset, when the air pollution caught the dying rays and made beauty from filth and fading light. In the gathering dusk, it was hard to see the corruption creeping out into the streets from bars and tenement houses, though assuredly it was there. It was equally hard to see the dark shadows of the town's protectors, cloaked as they were in the colors of shadows.
Their presence was more tangible than visible. Two of them on the same roof, having a brief murmur-and-gesture conversation, bent the life of the city around them. And while they were alert, perceptive little Bat-children, one of them was low enough on the list that Lady Shiva could approach and touch his shoulder. He was fast enough that he touched her fingertips, but no more than that.
Shiva smiled at them, falling so smoothly into their defensive positions, backing each other up. "Dance with me, little bats."
The boy had not yet learned how to hide everything, though the cape was doubtless an effective shield against most opponents. He was tense, though surely he knew that if she had intended to hurt him, he would already be hurt. The girl's eyes and arms lied beautifully -- touch him again, and you will die -- but the lie was too transparent with the bat on her chest and the Robin-boy beside her. "Not here," the girl said.
"Batgirl," the boy said, warning her, but the girl shook her head.
"Not here." And she stepped to the edge of the roof and off.
Shiva smiled at Robin, who gave her a pained look that was not in the least obscured by his mask, and followed the girl down.
The disturbance of their passing led Shiva through the streets, following the flickers of shadow and green, and into the subway. When she reached the track level, she found the boy waiting for her from a high platform. He glowered at her through his whited-out mask eyes, every inch of him furious. "Swear you are not here to kill either of us."
She laughed at his puffed-out red breast. How well named he was in his rage and fear. "Little bird, you could not prevent me."
"It is not my intent to kill either of you, and I have no contract." She swept him a shallow bow. "May I not visit my students and observe the effects of my training?"
He scowled, still, though his feathers calmed somewhat. "I don't trust you."
"Then you are still wise enough to live, and to learn."
He studied her for another moment, perhaps sending photographs of her to a database, in case he should go missing. Though what, exactly, the Batman would do in such a situation -- would be very interesting, and even more costly. It was not the right time to discover the contingencies.
Robin faded off of his perch and into the darkness. She followed his footsteps and the sound of his cape down abandoned tunnels for several kilometers, then through a tighter space. They emerged into a well-lit room, clearly created for the purpose of practicing.
Batgirl, her cowl off, dropped to the mats and into a defensive stance, smooth and beautiful. "What do you want?"
Shiva spread her hands. "It has been some time. Let me see what you have learned since we met last, and let teach each other." Robin's eyes narrowed in his mask, and Shiva smiled at him, which made his frown deepen. "Little bird, you may watch."
"You offered me more than that, once." There was something in the tilt of his head that spoke of defiance and regret.
Shiva raised her eyebrows at him. "And you refused to be my weapon. So you are not, and you do not know what you might. Have you changed your mind?" She extended a hand toward him. "Would you kill for me, little bird, as you would not then?"
He sank back against the wall, finding a shadow and drawing his cape around himself more tightly. "You know the answer to that."
"Then watch, and see what you learn."
Batgirl was waiting when Robin had subsided. She asked, "Is this a fight?"
"Teach," Shiva said. "Learn. I won't ask you to fight me. I see your bat." It might as well have been burned on the girl's heart. Shiva reached up to touch it, and the girl blinked at her and backed away a step.
There was a smile on the girl's face as she braced herself to attack. "Then learn."
From the first fluid kick, Shiva felt the joy of facing a true opponent. The bat might keep her from the final blow, but the final blow was far, far away, and there was such an exchange of twists and blocks before it became a question. Every move anticipated, every attack blocked, every block countered and flowing and careful. After a hundred fights with opponents weak as water, Batgirl was distilled fire.
She had learned, since they met last, and so had Shiva. So many fights were over before they began, but not this dance. It was painful, deadly-not deadly, and beautiful. Neither of them was winning; they measured their speed against each other and found equality, but Shiva was tiring a little faster. Her age was telling, as it did not against other opponents. Soon there would be an opening, soon a nervestrike would land. There -- her left arm was weakening, and another ten blocks would be too many. Unconsciousness loomed.
Five more. Three. Two.
"Cass!" the boy said, from the wall, and in that moment Shiva landed her attack of last resort -- a kiss on the girl's maskless lips. With the proper training, it would be nothing, and Shiva would wake from the nervestrike. Without it --
The girl stumbled back a step; the boy gasped. Whatever he had hoped to accomplish, it was not that. Had either of them anticipated it? Gotham was unkind to its protectors, and their mentor quite remiss in his duties, if the occasion had never arisen. They ought to have been receiving fond tributes from all and sundry for their skills. But the shock was evident in the tension of the girl's shoulders.
"Thought you said a fight," she said, frowning at Shiva.
"You said you wouldn't fight me," Shiva said, smiling at her. It was enough time to let her breath even out, but if the girl wanted to spar, she would still win. "I wanted to teach you something."
"What?" the girl asked.
"Batgirl," said Robin, "we should --"
"Little bird." Shiva shook her head. "Not so little as you once were, perhaps, but you still have a great deal to learn."
"Not from you."
She laughed. "Oh? And what do you think of this, little bat?"
The girl touched her lips and glanced from the boy to Shiva. "Why?"
"You haven't learned everything yet." Shiva blew the boy a kiss, and watched him blush. "Your mentor will only teach you so much. This makes you vulnerable."
"And if we let you -- teach us, we'd be vulnerable to you, too." He frowned at her. "Somehow that doesn't sound wise."
"I see. You're still afraid of me."
"I'm wary of you," Robin said. "Should I not be?"
Shiva tilted her head and looked at the girl. "Do you think you could fight me, if you had to?"
The girl's smile was more in the stance of her hips than on her face. There was more there than confidence. "Yes."
"Then what are you afraid of, Robin?" Shiva raised her eyebrows at him for a moment and watched his eyes narrow. Still defensive, and defended by more than his cape. He was supposed to be the easy target, but that smile of Batgirl's underscored Shiva's false assumption.
Then the girl kissed her, lithe grace and soft lips focusing into something approximating adolescent desires. In the time it took Shiva to understand and respond, anyone with moderate skills could have killed her at least once. Batgirl in full form and concentration could have -- incapacitated her severely at least four times. And she knew it, from the laugh in her eyes.
"What are you doing?" Robin's staff cut through the space between them with a swift movement. The boy had no killer's instincts, but his urge to defend the presumably innocent was finely tuned. He gave Shiva a glower surely learned from his mentor. "Don't touch her."
"I'm learning," Batgirl said, touching his shoulder and bearing the force of that glare as he turned to look at her.
"This isn't right."
Shiva sighed, loudly and deliberately, to draw his attention. "Little bird, if you do not use every weapon available to you, then you are not truly fighting."
His face was flushed almost as bright as that cocky tunic, and he shifted on his feet. Ah, the insecurity of the adolescent. His body was wholly uncertain. When he spoke, his words were forceful, as if he had to convince both himself and her. "Sex isn't a weapon."
Shiva laughed at his indignation. "Perhaps you should spar with the Black Canary, if you believe that so strongly. What else are her stockings for? Perhaps you should speak with the young man who wore your colors with his legs bare."
"Don't you dare." He wanted so badly to seem dangerous, dragging his voice low. If she did not know his capacities, she might have some vague worry.
"Robin," said Batgirl, still grinning and bouncing a little on her toes, "we could use this." She touched his cheek, and he flinched. "Or it -- if we don't use it, it uses us."
"It's not that powerful," Robin protested.
"Oh," said Batgirl, and hesitated for a heartbeat. Shiva saw her plan in every muscle before she moved to kiss the boy, who spluttered and pulled away. He was too distracted to anticipate the sweep that knocked his legs out from under him, and he fell with a thud. "I see." Batgirl smiled at him. "Yes. It's useless."
He put his hand over his eyes, a particularly odd gesture for a boy in a mask. It hid none of his frustrations. "This isn't the right time to talk about this."
"When were you going to teach her what you don't know?" Shiva asked him, watching his cheeks go pink again.
He stood up and swathed himself in his cape. "This isn't how anyone should learn about -- about sex."
Batgirl folded her arms and tried her own version of the glare. "What I don't know -- it makes me vulnerable." She scowled. "I don't want that."
"You shouldn't learn this from her!" Robin waved a hand at Shiva. He was exposed from a dozen angles, all too obvious to the trained eye.
Batgirl pinned his arms to his sides, making it look effortless, and kissed him again. "Will you teach me?"
"No!" If the boy went any redder, he might begin to burst capillaries in his face.
"I want to learn." Batgirl spun him away from herself and bowed to Shiva. "Will you teach me?"
"That was my intent." Shiva kissed her cheek. "Play-fight with me, little bat?"
The boy interrupted again, more of a mother hen than any Robin had a right to be. "Don't touch her."
Shiva smiled at him to watch him tense. "Will you stop me?"
He had his staff ready, his stance -- flawed, but serviceable. If she wanted to knock him over, it would not be much more difficult than it was when she first met him. He had trained, but not enough to be a true threat. "I'll try."
"Robin, you're in the way." Batgirl poked him in the arm. "Stop."
He shook his head and held his ground. "She shouldn't touch you."
"How sweet," Shiva said. "A knight in shining armor. Just what you need, little bat."
"I want to learn," Batgirl insisted.
"Not like this." Robin frowned at her. It would have been too easy to knock him unconscious, though the prospect was distinctly tempting. "Not from her." He shivered. "If you want to learn this -- we'll find someone else to learn from. Or we'll learn from each other. I promise, Batgirl. But not from Shiva."
"You can't teach her what you don't know, little bird."
The taunting brought out the noble martyr, shining even through the white lenses of his mask. "I know you can beat me. You'll have to do it before I'll let you touch her.
If Batgirl's eyes hadn't narrowed, Shiva would have accepted this simple, easy condition and knocked the boy unconscious. But the balance was too delicate to disturb it with that level of violence. Shiva smiled instead. "Then I won't touch her, little bird. But you can."
"No. I won't do it."
Shiva laughed. "Why not? She is only your nest-mate. Kiss her. Fight her." She let her smile deepen. "If you will not let me, then be my hands, and do it for me."
He shook his head. "I can't."
Batgirl touched his cheek. "Kiss me." Robin hesitated a moment longer, then kissed her gently. She laughed and tripped him with two swift movements, sending him falling to the mat. "No. Kiss me." She unfastened his belt with deft fingers and held his hands above his head to kiss him again. By the time she let him breathe, he was bright red.
"Oh. God." He was shivering, and she was beaming at him, bright-eyed and pleased. "Are you sure?"
Batgirl laughed. "Yes." She peeled off her uniform tunic and tossed it aside, rolling her shoulders to loosen them. "It's all right." She leaned over to kiss him again.
Shiva used her distraction to catch hold of both her hands and hold her in place with an arm around her torso. "This is a dangerous game."
"Stop," the boy protested, and Shiva smiled at him.
"Little bird, she would be dead now if I wanted her so." She felt the girl tremble, then relax, and pushed aside her reinforced bra. "I was making my point." She kissed the girl's cheek. "Don't let your guard down, little bat. Not even in this."
"You're insane," the boy said, sitting up.
"This is important." Batgirl kissed him, and he subsided. When Shiva let her go and aimed a kick at her side, the girl caught her foot and twisted it aside.
"Better. But you are not the only one vulnerable here."
Robin gasped. "Don't!" Whether he was protesting the implicit threat or Batgirl's deft hand removing his underthings, the complaint was unwarranted.
Shiva sighed. "You will learn more if you do not let him speak." She nodded once and kissed him again, making him whimper and squirm. They were not the motions of a boy trying to escape, and that was sufficient. Shiva aimed a nervestrike at his leg, and Batgirl blocked it offhandedly. "Yes. You are learning."
"This isn't fair," Robin complained breathlessly.
"Little bat --"
"No. I mean --" He closed his eyes for a moment. "She's not distracted enough. Not really."
"And you are learning. Distract her." Shiva ran a hand down the girl's back, feeling her muscles tense as Robin began to tease her. Shiva tried to pinch a nerve, and Batgirl knocked it away, but the reaction was slightly slower than it would have been before. Shiva chuckled. "Little bird, you are efficient."
His answering laugh was cut short by his own gasp. "If you'd respond, Batgirl, I could --"
"She is responding." Shiva watched the muscles in her thighs tremble. "Do you expect moans from her?"
Robin shook his head and tangled his gauntleted fingers in Batgirl's hair, pulling her down for another kiss. "Is it all right?"
The girl laughed and shifted against his hand, rocking her hips. "Yes. More."
"Reckless," Shiva said. "You leave yourselves undefended." The next strike at the boy's calf landed, and might have broken his leg if she had used more force. As it was, he cried out against Batgirl's mouth and kicked out blindly. "You could be in great danger."
Batgirl threw her head back, eyes shut, face far too bland for one in the throes of orgasm. "We're not," she said, and smiled at Shiva. "They know you're here. You won't hurt us." She kissed Robin's forehead and stroked him faster. "This is safe." He whimpered and arched into her hand, exhibiting his lack of control as his face reflected his pleasure.
"You trust me?" Shiva asked, and the girl smiled at her a moment longer before kissing Robin. Shiva threw a punch at her arm, which the girl blocked without pausing for breath. "You should not trust me."
"I don't," Batgirl said. "But I can learn from you."
Robin cleared his throat. "Let me up?"
"Why should she?" Shiva aimed a solid kick at his head that brought the girl into a flip, fending her off. "Ah, little bat, do you trust him at your back?"
"Yes." One blow became five, ten, a flurry and a dance. "The lesson is over."
"You were not teaching me."
The girl's smile narrowed and her next blow landed, numbing Shiva's forearm. "Wasn't I?"
Shiva backed away. "Perhaps. Do you want me gone?"
"Batgirl?" Robin asked.
Batgirl's smile became sharper. "Yes. Go."
"She won't be able to find her way out," Robin objected, getting to his feet.
"Don't worry, little bird. I have been worse places than this." Shiva shivered involuntarily at the light in Batgirl's eyes. It was only a lie. Certainly a lie. She would not kill.
"Go." Another kick, another block, another blow landed to the calf, and Shiva stumbled -- and they were into the tunnels, where the shadows were thick and the bat on the girl's chest was hidden. "Stay out of this city."
"You don't know everything yet," Shiva said, hoping to give her pause.
"I will find you. When you have more to teach." That blow connected to her side, the next hit her collarbone, fracturing it. Shiva turned away, trying to flee without the appearance of flight. The girl was only pulling her blows enough to make it clear that she could do more damage easily.
These were her tunnels, and her darkness. It would not be an even fight, and the odds were bad. "Ungrateful little bat," Shiva said from a safer distance. "Do you treat your other mentors this way?"
"He will see. He will be here." Batgirl followed her, black on black, more than invisible in the dark. "Leave."
Shiva laughed and the echoes mocked her hollowly. "I'm not afraid of him."
Batgirl's answering laughter was richer, filling the abandoned subway tunnel. "No? He will be angry."
"Why should he be?" Shiva reached a fork of tunnels and chose one blindly. "I hardly touched you."
"He will be. Go." The sound of her footsteps stopped. The sound of her breathing stopped.
"You have much to learn," Shiva said, but there was no answer. She could hear nothing but her own heartbeat, unreasonably fast -- the girl wore a bat; she would not kill -- and her breathing, shallow and frightened. With those calmed, she started down the tunnel she had chosen, trying to find her way to the city surface again.
Reference images taken from BATGIRL #25 and the ROBIN: FLYING SOLO trade (reprints ROBIN #1-6 and SHOWCASE '94 #5-6).
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