Author name: jamjar -- author LiveJournal, author email
Recipient name: SelDear
Requested character(s): Barbara Gordon / Batgirl I
Story title: Ready
Disclaimer: Not mine, and never were.
Spoiler warnings: None, except for early Barbara Gordon storyline
Author's notes: Gen, set very early on in Batgirl's timeline, before Bruce had let her know that he knew who she was.
Acknowledgments: Thanks girl_starfish, ficbyzee and liviapenn for looking it over.
There's a moment when she jumps that's better than flying. It's not falling, except for the way it technically is, because it's all controlled. She's going to stop, swing out and stick the landing exactly when she wants to and there's the grapple, the pull --be ready for it, if you don't want to pull your shoulders out of their sockets-- and four, three, tw--Oof, roof's a little closer than she expected. She hits the roof hard and only just stops herself from making that obvious.
She looks up and into the shadow. She can't see him, but there are only so many shadows big enough to conceal someone Batman's size. "What do I get from the Romanian judges for the dismount?"
"Probably sent back behind the iron curtain until you get it perfect," Robin says. She doesn't jump, but it's always weird when Robin comes out from the shadows. He's too bright to be able to hide as well as he does.
"The heels don't help," Batman says, and that gives her a little warm glow, because she got his location right.
"Anything Catwoman can do..."
"Catwoman has more experience."
She doesn't make eye-contact with Robin, but she can feel the grade-school giggles fighting to get out. And you'd know that from personal experience, right?
"And I'm getting more everyday," she says. She's still new to this, new to having Batman accept her presence there. He's said he's going to train her, but she's pretty sure this means she's still on trial. She's going to ace it, because she can't not do this.
"Catwoman can compensate for the impracticalities in her costume," Batman says. "They don't hinder her."
"And practicality is what people look for in a costume these days?" She says. She puts her hands on her hips, stand straight and casual and yes, taking advantage of the extra inches the heels give. "You know it's not just about what it's got; it's also about how it looks. The psychological edge..."
"I just want to say that I like the heels. The whole costume gets my approval," Robin says. And it's a reminder that the kid is only just young enough to get away with a comment like that, just a few years younger than her.
"You'd be amazed at how much easier they make it to get information out of a suspect," she says. "It's all about pressure at a point."
Robin gives a nice, dramatic shiver and Batman makes no expression, in the way that means he's actually smirking. She's only had to use that technique a couple of times, but she's pretty sure it's a keeper.
"So, is there a reason why we're all on this rooftop, or is this just where the cool kids hang out these days?" She asks.
That's what it all comes down to in the end. "Uh huh. And I'm guessing there's a lot of it out there, which is why you need all three of us to get it."
Batman nods down at the alley. "They probably saw something, without knowing what they saw. My presence can be-- inhibiting."
Prostitution, and it's one of the things that makes her uncomfortable, because she really doesn't know how to deal with it. Drugs, protection rackets, beating up pimps and breaking up the enforcers, that she can do, but this day-to-day, night-to-night grind... It's one of those things that makes her think Barbara Gordon could do as much to help as Batgirl, and that makes her uncomfortable because honestly, she'd rather work as Batgirl. "You think a girl will get a better response?"
"Robin's more effective in this area than I am," Batman says. "The two of you will be working together."
"I figured I could start on Brockley, work my way down," Robin says. He shrugs. "If you've got anyone you know... Or we could tag-team them."
"Probably best." It's a weird little reminder that Robin is used to this, is fairly comfortable with this, younger than her, but more experienced. She fights the urge to ruffle his hair, just to get on some kind of even-footing.
"I'm not threatening, but I'm not a push-over," Robin says. "And I'm naturally charming."
"No kidding," she says. He's gonna break hearts when he grows up, if he ever gets out of the costume and mask long enough to actually meet some nice --or not so nice-- girls. "What are we looking for?"
Batman hands over a handful of picture and some information, before disappearing to interrogate big scary guys. It's something Babs wants to do, but... dammit, if she's more effective down there, then that's where she's got to be.
A little cash, a little conversation. Robin is good at this, non-threatening but not too soft. Babs makes a note of the ones that want to talk, and a plan to come down here again in the next few weeks to establish her own network. Aimee puts her on to Jimmy, and once she gets over the strangeness of talking to a man in fishnets with her father's *name*, she gets a suggestion that they look up town. She memorises faces, catches Robin having some kind of discussion about hand-cuffs with a woman who's tall enough to make Babs wonder if she's a man or some kind of meta, and interrupts when she hears Robin say, "--thinking about getting these zip-strip things, 'cause it doesn't take much to hold most guys down."
"You ever want to sell your old supplies..." The woman ruffles his hair. "Take care, kid."
"I always do," he says.
She shakes her head. "You're too busy taking care of us. We can look after ourselves."
"Everyone needs help sometimes," Babs says. "You, me, the boy in the cloak." She taps one of the photos of the victims. "Them."
The woman nods and looks Babs over. It's like being judged, and Babs is as insecure as the next girl who was still in a training bra when everyone else was debating front-clasps versus back, but not now, not in the costume. Batgirl is cool, and this woman picks it up, because she nods, and says, "I'll keep my eyes open. Now get lost, you're scaring off the customers."
"Take care," Robin says, and nods at Babs.
They head off. She's already trying to decide whether to set up a separate phone, how she can arrange for information drops, how best to store the tips and connections she might get. She could check through any police reports, see if anything useful comes up...
It's her inner librarian, but she can see a nicely organised network on contacts, shelved according to information type and bribe rate. Separate rooms for people in the business, a whole different wing for her Barbara Gordon contacts. Nice little index cards to help her find everything.
She needs to get out more.
"You're good at that," Babs says to Robin. Good enough to make her aware of how awkward she was, even with the costume giving her that extra little boost.
He shrugs. "I've been doing it longer. And like I said, I don't come off as vulnerable, and I'm not a threat." He grins. "It helps that we keep most of the nastier elements out of the district. Let the ladies do their job in relative safety."
She blinks. "That's very-- pragmatic."
He grins and flips himself up a fire-escape, quick succession of tumbles straight up that make her think he must have been trained as a gymnast or something since birth, before stopping at the top and looking down at her. "What else are you gonna do? I like to save the cracking of heads for, you know, killers and drug-dealers and people that are out to destroy the world. Or at least Gotham."
"...You did that just to make me look bad, right?" She says, pulling herself up on to the fore-escape and taking a more pedestrian route up to the top.
"Never mind. Oh!" She looks up, because there's a familiar signal hitting the sky. "You think we should...?"
"We can head over there at least." Robin grins, and she can feel the smile on her own face. "The Commissioner's pretty cool. I like to give him and Batman time to chat, you know. Catch up on what's in their lives, complain about the lack of funding and villains today." He puts one hand to his mouth and stage-whispers, "Batman doesn't make friends easily." Before jumping on to a neighbouring building.
She widens her eyes, puts one hand to her chest and matches his pace across the rooftops. "No! Really? I'm shocked. You mean some people are put off by that whole deliberately creepy, creature of the night thing?" She hesitates. "What about Superman? Because I've heard that they worked together."
"I think they're friends, but honestly, I think Batman gets a little freaked out by the whole milk and cookies and sunshine routine. He's more comfortable with shadowy figures." A grapple on to the next building and a wave at a woman on a balcony and a perfect landing from Babs. She's a little bit faster than him, maybe, longer legs giving her an edge on the flat, even if he manages the jumps and swings with a little more flare. "Also, he doesn't like Superman, or anyone else, in his town. Which sucks, because Superman brings the best cookies. Homemade and everything."
She blinks. "Really? I'm... strangely unsurprised." She can feel her mouth stretch out into a wide grin, and knows it probably looks stupid with her costume, but-Superman! She's working with Batman and talking with Robin about Superman! It's her life, and she's actually doing the stuff she used to pretend she thought she might get to do, while secretly knowing better.
"Here." Robin stops. "We've got a good view, but we won't interrupt them. You've got binoculars or something, right? Can you lip-read?"
"Not yet," she says. She frowns. If that's the regular meeting spot, maybe she should put some bugs down... Or maybe not, since it's probably swept regularly by paranoid cops and vigilantes. She wonders what Batman uses, if she can get some of those for herself.
Robin's got out a pair of binoculars and is looking. "Something about an Arkham escape. Batman has his back to me and-Scarecrow? Scarecrow with help from the Joker, probably still in town and..." he shakes his head. "Both got their backs to me. I think it was Scarecrow and the Joker, but it might have been Two-Face."
That's another thing on her list of talents to acquire. Maybe there's a book on it somewhere. It seems like the more she does this, the more she finds out she needs to do, needs to be. She thinks that might get wearing at some point, but right now it's exhilarating. Be all that you can be, and then more.
She can start with remembering binoculars for next time. She has a pretty good view, but she's too far away to make out the details. She should be able to fill them in my memory, but...
There have been a few moments when she's looked at Jim Gordon and been aware that he's not only the Jim Gordon she knows, the one that's her dad in every way that matters and maybe one way that doesn't. He's Commissioner Gordon, he's a cop, he's... a man that has arrested the Two-Face, has been attacked by the Joker, has known this side for longer than she has. She's the one in the costume, but he's the one that knows about *this*, even if he doesn't know about her.
It's just weird looking at her dad and Batman. She can't see what they're saying, but she can read their body language. Dad has that work-stress in his shoulders, but she can see how comfortable he is with Batman. There's a familiarity in the way they stand that hits something in her.
She's going to have that. That level of familiarity and trust, where he knows how good she is, exactly what she's done and can do and will do, and that she can go out and do her job and make things better. She doesn't have it yet, because she's not good enough yet, but she will be. She'll have that closeness, that familiarity, and more, because she'll be in the inside, with Batman and Robin and Superman (and Catwoman, The Scare-Crow, Two-Face...) and she'll be a part of it.
"He's going to train me," Babs says. She smiles. "I'm too good for him not to."
Robin looks at her, surprised. "He already is. What did you think that was back there?"
"Work." Which was naïve of her, in retrospect, because it mostly showed her that she wasn't good enough yet, but she could be.
Robin shrugs. "Yeah, that too. It's always work and it's always training and practise, you know?"
"I'm starting to." She looks over at Batman on the other roof. "I though it'd be more... how to throw a batarang, that kind of thing." Barbara Gordon has always been the one gathering knowledge, organising and putting each bit of information in the right place. This was going to be about the other stuff. Not just recording the crime, reading about it in some police report and seeing pictures in the paper, but being there, adrenaline rush and punch kick and then it's one paragraph on some beat-cop's report, not a front-page, headline tragedy.
Except this is about knowing where to be and what to do, too, and she's as new to that as she is to the actual fight.
"I think he likes you," Robin says. "I think he thinks you have potential. Otherwise he wouldn't let you hang around. Just..." Another shrug. "It never stops. There's nothing in the world I'd rather be doing than this, and no one in the world I'd rather be doing it with than him, but he doesn't let you take it easy, ever. You can have fun, but it's still..." He gives a helpless smile.
Babs nods and lets her own smile match his.
It wouldn't be this much fun if it was easy.
Reference images taken from a panel in BATMAN FAMILY (1976 series) #5
and the cover of the BATGIRL: YEAR ONE trade paperback.
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