Author name: K. M. Petravich -- author
LiveJournal, author email
Recipient name: sevenall
Requested character(s): Barbara Gordon / Oracle
Story title: The Things They Know
The Things They Know
"[W]hat you think you know doesn't necessarily have much to do with reality."
—Life as a House
It's amazing, they say, how much she can do still. How much she's adapted. And most the time it irks her, but she smiles and nods anyway and thanks them for noticing.
Babs always was polite.
Which, actually, isn't true — she was polite when her temper wasn't flaring, or with people she'd just met, for the most part — but she'll argue it anyway.
It's amazing, they say, that her father isn't over-protective of her.
Which makes Babs laugh, because her father, well. He's not quite broken — he, like her, is too stubborn to be broken for long — but he's lost his wife, quit his job, and even now, when he looks at her, she knows he thinks he failed her too. There's a stage, after grief, after over-protection, after cynicism, that doesn't quite have a name. That's where Jim Gordon lives, and knowing that keeps her more aware of him, does more to make her take care of herself, than anything else he could possibly do.
She rather thinks he knows it, too.
It's amazing, they say, that she hasn't found a nice boy yet — or a nice girl, Barbara, dear, which makes her choke on her water and spray it across the table — even considering, well, you know. Which makes her clench the glass all that much tighter, even as she smiles, tightly.
Babs found a nice boy, once. He taught her to fly, and to laugh, and to escape all sorts of deathtraps.
The thing about robins, like all birds, is that they're not meant to be bound to the ground, or the wheels. Robins have to fly free. You can't domesticate one.
Or maybe you can, if you're willing to risk the pain of knowing it might not work, but that's one of the things that Barbara doesn't think about.
It's amazing, they say, that she stays in Gotham, even after the incident, which is what they like to call the shooting these days.
Babs just calls it the day a bastard shot a bullet through her spine.
And, really, she doesn't know why she stays. It's not for love of the city, that's for certain. She's grown to hate it, over the years. Grown to see the shadowed places too clearly, while having to squint at the light.
She could leave, she knows. And maybe someday she will. Part of her, a large part, hopes so.
But there are things stronger than love. Love dies. Promises break. But loyalty, true loyalty, doesn't.
Even if it's to some place — or someone — you've begun to hate.
It's amazing, they say, that you've stayed so upbeat. They wait for the reply, and Babs thinks.
She remembers flying. Remembers the snap of the cord under her hand, the way it jerks when you hit the bottom of the swing.
She remembers the adrenaline rushes, the feel of kevlar against her skin and the sting of cracked ribs.
She remembers sharing her bed with a man who still smiled like he was ten, who joked even when she was in a foul mood.
Babs remembers a lot.
But she also just knows. Knows the feeling of power that comes from the smaller victories, now. Knows her body can be completely broken, her life snatched away, and she can rebuild it. Knows that what doesn't kill her may not really make her stronger, but it won't make her weaker, either. Because she won't let it.
And that's the thing about oracles. They know all things, as soon as they're willing to let themselves.
Batgirl remembers. Oracle smiles.
Babs says, "Yeah, it is amazing, isn't it?"
Reference image taken from from BIRDS OF PREY #40.
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