It's not stalking, it's recon

August 28, 2016:

Batman pulls Kara aside for a serious discussion.

Gotham

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tim Drake

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Nighttime is in full effect in Gotham. It's edging towards midnight, with all the terror that can bring to Gotham. But up in a hotel room, Kara Kent is still up, trying to focus on things other than the occasional sounds of sirens, gunshots, and screams that her superhuman hearing can pick up. She's tense, resisting the urge to go out and right the wrongs that threaten to flood this city. Instead, she's sitting crosslegged on her bed, sketchpad on her lap, and trying to get more logo designs finished for her portfolio. Tomorrow, she has her first rounds of interviews with some of Gotham's big graphic design houses and she wants to be overprepared with material. She's not sketching at super-speed, though; the paper wouldn't survive. On the table of the room, there's half-full containers of Chinese food from the dinner that she was almost mugged for earlier tonight.

"You're serious about quitting, aren't you," comes a gravelly rasp, from Kara's window. Batman's there, balanced on the rickety iron without a single thought, and silent as the tomb. Rain splatters his his cloak and cowl, dripping from five-o'clock stubble on his jaw. At least his AR lenses are gone— a glimpse at the human behind the cowl.

"Saw you. Today. With the muggers. You let Spoiler handle them. A week ago you'd have left them on some balcony with no fire escape for the cops to come get later." He stands with his arms folded across his barrel chest, cloak dangling behind him.

There's a microscopic jump when Batman speaks. No normal human would have registered it, but Batman is far from normal. She recovers quickly, though, and sets her sketchpad to the side. "I'm not quitting," she replies. "I'm taking a break. I'm recognizing that there's something wrong and I'm trying to fix the issue instead of ignoring it. The last think anyone wants is a repeat of my performance in Paris." It's been over a year since that happened, but Kara's head wasn't in the game then, and the results were disasterous, almost destroying her as a hero. "I know the rules here, and I promised to abide by them. I've been a little lax on my promise keeping recently, but that's going to be changing too." She looks at the Dark Knight, not really trying to analyze him, becasue that's an impossibility. "Is there something I can help you with? As much as I appreciate the compliment, and I truly do, I can't believe that you took the time to just come give me an 'atta girl'."

"There's a lot of things you can do, but nothing I want your help with," Batman says, answering/not answering her question. Classic Batman.

"You're not the first hero to take a break from the cape, but you're the first one to walk away from that much power and responsibility," Batman gravels, staying on the balcony— not bothered by the raindrops. "You and Clark— Kon, the others. You can literally destroy worlds. And you're abandoning that to find your humanity. I don't like it." He lets that linger in the air.

"But I can respect it." He holds a hand up and squeezes his gloved fingers down to a grain of sand. "That much."

Kara smiles, warm and genuine. "Even that much does mean alot to me," she says. Kara stands up, walking around the room to stratch her legs. "Yes, we have more power than people can imagine. But that means we have responsibilities that people can't imagine. I don't imagine some of the discussions that Clark and I had shortly after I first arrived. How much should we help? Should we release Kryptonian sciences and technologies that could make the world a better place in the right hands, or destroy the human race in the wrong hands? Every action we take, can't be taken back. Genies can't be stuffed back into their bottles, Clark said to me. We can only control if they get released and how." She takes a deep breath, facing Batman. "I know what a destroyed world looks like. I know the chaos that comes with a doomed planet. I'll do whatever I can to prevent that happening on Earth. Even if, *especially* if, it means that I need to take a break to make sure I don't contribute to that possibility of destruction."

Batman's silent a few moments, leaving Kara to wonder if he's just going to walk away. A moment before she inhales to carry on, he speaks.

"Prior to Superman's arrival, the Earth saw only a handful of alien events a year. So rare that governments swept them under the rug. Less than two decades later— they're a daily occurance. Invasions. Refugees. Intergalactic politics. Even the Lantern Corps stations themselves here."

He gestures vaguely at the city behind him. "You get it, now? We went from a galactic backwater to being a center of the galaxy, because one of the only— /last/— Kryptonians crashed here. On /accident/. Imagine what your race could have done if they'd left Krypton in force," he tells Kara. "Or if Clark had been taken in by literally anyone else. The monster he could have become— and we'd still be dependent on him, because he shoved us from the stone age into the modern era in the space of not even a generation."

"We were cavemen in the shadows, huddled against the light. Now we're being forced to confront the fact that literal gods walk among us. That's the battle I'm worried about, Kara. Our soul versus our survival."

"Yes," Kara says after a while. "Yes. If Krypton had been evacuated en masse and we arrived here, we would have taken over. Is that what you want to hear?" And Kara actually looks apologetic and ashamed with that admission. "We were certainly arrogant enough to assume that humanity needed firm guidance, children in need of a parent. We were arrogant enough to ignore the warning signs of our own doom. And yes, what if Clark had crashed in Russia? Or Bosnia? Or any country where despair and tyranny exist hand in hand." She looks righ at Batman now, definately analysing him now. "What if he crashed near Gotham? Was found by a young doctor and his wife, with their young son, out for a drive in the country? What kind of man would he have become if he had your life? And I don't mean that as a bad thing in any way imaginable."

She takes a deep breath. "My point is, that I understand the 'what ifs?', There's the possibility that for every what if you can ask, there's a universe where it happened. But, we can't really know unless we travel there. All we can deal with is what happened, here. And for whatever reason, whether blind chance or karma or fate or destiny or anything else you would care to claim, things happened how they did. We were the only survivors of Krypton. Clark landed first and was found by two wonderful humans. He was instilled by them with the moral code to be a protector and guardian, not a conqueror and ruler. A man who would protect his adopted people against even his own race, should any appear and threaten Earth. A man who would inspire his lost cousin to do the same." Another pause, and Kara's posture is less rigid, more relaxed. "Maybe you know this and maybe you don't. But I always find it worth repeating and rembering myself. The symbol of the House of El, the S shield…that's the Kryptonian word for 'Hope'. And the motto of the House of El is 'El Myera'. 'Stronger Together'." Kara smiles. "I believe in all that. And when I think of the insane, incalculable odds of a man like Kal-El existing, here…there has to be a greater plan, a greater force; one that is looking out for Earth."

"You haven't wrapped your head around this:," Batman gravels at Kara. "It's risk."

"This is the human condition. It's something Clark will never understand."

"You and Clark— Power Girl, the others. You're immortal." He holds a hand up to stop Kara's inevitable response. "Not literally. I can count the grey hairs on Clark's temple. I can see the lines in Power Girl's face. You'll be active long after I'm old," he rasps.

"You aliens— the otherworlders who come here— risk is a choice for you. You have to look long and hard for something that can really hurt you or kill you. So your life is lived on your terms. But for them— for the people," he says, pointing at movement in the windows across the street. "Getting out of bed poses a risk. Sleeping is a risk. Crossing the street is a risk."

"You and Tim. It was cute for a while. But you'll never understand Tim until you understand risk like he does. Tim's brave because he takes on insane risks. But what makes him human? Learning how to live with those risks outside his control."

The name of Tim being used like that does sting Kara, and she closes her eyes, taking a deep breath. "Tim's not under my control," she says quietly. "Not that I would want him to be. But what happened between us…what I did to him…seeing that I took some measure of hope away from him…that hurt me enough to shatter my world. To make me loose hope and faith in myself. Opening yourself up to someone, that's a risk in itself." Again Kara sighs and she sits back on the bed, less than gracefully. "I've only been on Earth for a handfull of years. For the first 16 years of my existence, five times longer than I've been on Earth, I was every bit as human as you or Tim, in terms of mortality. Yes, Krypton had reduced risk. BUt there were still injuries, still accidents, still death. For 16 years, I was no more 'special' than that girl that stopped that mugging today. Probably less special than her, really, becasue I doubt I would have had the courage to do what she did if there were a need for it on Krypton. For 16 years, I was just as human as them." Here, she points out at the sleeping city of Gotham.@r@r"I told Tim, that if it would make things between him and I better, I'd gladly give up all my powers. I'd go back to being normal in a heartbeat, without regrets." There's a pause. "Maybe I'd choose to do what that girl does; what you and Tim do. I'd like to think that the desire to help others, to protect others, would still be in me even if I was a normal human. But still, I'm more used to being a normal girl than being Supergirl. Kara Kent, artist is who I am in my heart. Supergirl is who I am because of the responsibilities that comes with the power I've been granted."

"Tim does what he does despite having no metahuman talents. No X-genes, no cosmic powers, no special heritage. He's human. He's an exceptional human, but… human."

He eyes Kara, something lurking in the corner of his eyes at her admission of vulnerability. At her desire for normalcy. "You're still thinking about yourself, Kara. The real question to ask yourself isn't what you would give up to get what you want. It's what you'll give up to give /others/ what they need."

"That's something Tim understands. Maybe someday, you'll get it, too." There's a pause, as if Batman's weighing more words.

But when Kara looks up again…

…he's gone.

And Batman's gone. Kara's sitting down, eyes moist, and she sighs. "You're wrong," she says quietly. Maybe he's still here, maybe he isn't, but Kara feels the need to put into words what's in he heart. "I wouldn't give up everything for me…."

Kara's eyes close and she lowers her head. "I'd sacrifice everything to save Tim from what he's turning into."

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