Fandom: Batgirl, Misc. DCU
Characters: Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown, peripheral Bruce Wayne.
Summary: She thought this legacy was hers to pass down.
He doesn’t retract the black lenses that cover his eyes when he looks at her, when he says, “After I leave--after I die, I want you to give the cowl to Stephanie.”
She gazes back at him but doesn’t speak, unsure if someone has infiltrated her mind again, tinkered with it and destroyed her understanding of the spoken word. He keeps watching, and her stomach starts to churn with the realization that she’s heard right; she’s not needed any longer.
He will wait until she answers, she knows. She manages a small nod.
She makes herself stand straight and as tall as possible while he explains his vague plans about being global, about making the entire world a safer place.
She wants to give voice to every emotion in her head, let them spill forth into the night air in a hot, angry wave. She wants to shout at him, she wants to scream how wrong he is and why. But her hands are ice and her stomach won’t stop aching. She’s desperate for the words she can’t find.
Sometimes, she hates her silence the most. She hates the way her tongue trips over consonants still, the way vowels stick in her throat when her feelings overwhelm her, the way her sentences waver and halt, the way that she would sound tentative instead of angry.
She doesn’t say anything.
Finally, he leaves, and she’s left staring out over the empty plains of Gotham’s roofscape. There’s no moon tonight, and the smoke and lights choke the stars out of the sky.
She wonders if he told her while she was in cowl so he wouldn’t have to see the words written on her face.
She likes working with Stephanie Brown. Fighting in tandem comes easily for them now, each knowing where the other will throw a punch or a kick.
When she ducks, she likes hearing that gentle rush of air as the other girl sails over her to tackle a criminal. She likes the constant stream of chatter, the quips and the questions and the comfort and the support and the words that Stephanie never seems to run out of. She likes the quiet sometimes, when they perch side by side atop Gotham’s oldest library in the northeast quarter, watching the sky pinken over the city’s cramped suburbs. She likes seeing the hint of purple at the corner of her eye.
The Spoiler’s costume is a worn thing, each hole carefully patched, every tear painstakingly mended. She can picture her friend locked in her small bedroom, sprawled across her bed, and propped on pillows, not even noticing the way the yellowing crochet on her pillowcase leaves marks on her elbows as she sews.
She’ll miss her.
Stephanie’s curiosity is apparent when she first sees the cowl being torn off, but her emotions are never hard to read. Her friend has never been afraid of people seeing her anger, her tears, or her smiles.
She wonders if he trusted Stephanie more because of this.
In the rain, the black fabric scrapes and leaves her skin feeling raw as she peels it back. There’s a moment after she slips out of the suit, when it’s dangling wet and limp in her hands, where she can’t bring herself to go on, to say what she needs to say to her friend. The world seems to fade around her, and all she can think about is whether she will still be once she’s given this up.
She gently lays it down, and leaves.
She hears Stephanie calling her name, voice getting higher and thinner as first worry, then panic sets in. It gets easier to ignore as she gains more distance and the rain begins to come down harder.
She makes her way to Gotham’s docks, prepared for her passage to Hong Kong. Alfred had offered her tickets, passports, money, all of which she had refused. She had known that when the time came, she would want to be alone.
She’s sitting in the hold, her back to the rusted wall, when it sinks in that she’s no longer Batgirl, that she doesn’t know who she is anymore.
She wrenches off her shoes and wet socks, and begins to massage her numb feet. Her eyes sting, and she knows she can’t blame it on the rain anymore.