Redheads and Bat Ears

August 26, 2018:

Barbara hangs about waiting for Bruce, and instead meets the other red-headed Bat.

The Batcave

It's infamous.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Batman

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Night has fallen over Gotham City, and the Batcave has grown quiet now that the Wayne Manor's colony of bats have flown out into the night. Almost on their heels, the Batman is also out, the infamous Batmobile absent from its spotlit space in the garage. Having hoped to come across Bruce before his nightly patrol, Barbara Gordon arrived just moments too late. She debated between just going out on her own patrol, or waiting around for Bruce to come home. Alfred must have seen her waffling as he casually pointed out that her motorcycle had been returned, but that she should — perhaps — make sure that she was satisfied with the recent repair work. It gave her an excuse to loiter.

So, she's on a stool beside her tactical bike, looking over the patchwork and replaced fiberglass. She really hadn't meant to skid the entire thing into that brick wall in Chinatown, and she was still beating herself up over her miscalculation. With her red hair tied back into a loose braid and still dressed in a loose t-shirt and jeans, the unmasked Batgirl reaches out to rub at the reinforced rubber tire, almost affectionately. "Time to learn how to drive up a wall," she says to the greater cathedral of the cave.

*

Time to learn how to drive up a wall.

"It's a lot easier than it looks."

There's a trick that Batman's learned. Like some minor magic. Showing up, exactly when someone least expects it, to speak exactly when they think they're alone. It's a debatably creepy trick if you think about it too long, and the eternal consternation of certain police commissioners who shall remain nameless, but it's a useful trick all the same. It deepens the myth. Brings power to the symbol. Or just becomes an expectation.

It's also one of the first ones Kate Kane tried to learn on her own when she took up the mantle.

She has to admit, she can see why Bruce likes it.

All this to say: at the tail end of that reassurance, the distinctively black and red figure of the Batwoman emerges from one of the (many, many) shadows drenching the Batcave in its somber ambiance. Dressed to the nines — because she's really just a visitor than a resident in this particular Bat hideaway — her head tilts as white lensed eyes take in the motorcycle curiously. Ruby red lips quirk upward at their left corner in an effortlessly dry smile to match the warm wit of her words.

"The trick is to be nursing a healthy death wish before you go into it."

Batwoman, bringer of expert advice.

*

Startled, Barbara whips her head around to find the source of the voice. Her eyes widen slightly at the sight of the Batwoman. She hadn't expected that, and her expression betrays her surprise as she stares at the black and red figure. The dry smile softens her wary expression a bit, and her brows furrow up together.

She knows of the Batwoman, but there hasn't been a proper family reunion lately that binds everyone together. She's still trying to find time to pester the hell out of Tim now that Damian has been graduated up to Robin. Going solo is always the great first step as a Batman protege; she knows that better than most, but nowhere near as well as Dick Grayson.

"It's on my list of things to master… no point being limited to the horizontal when you can go vertical." Those words are slightly rambled out while Barbara slowly lifts off the stool, turning to face Batwoman, sliding the rag she'd been using to overpolish the chassis off the seat.

*

It's an adjustment, this whole idea of teammates, of family. Such as it is. Kate adopted the symbol because of what it represented rather than what or who was attached to it. And after finding out exactly who was attached to it, well…

Here we are.

So, she takes it one step at a time. She hadn't necessarily been thinking she'd find anyone here beyond Alfred, but Batwoman is nothing if not adaptable. The startled look, the widened eyes, the furrowed brows, all inspire a widening to her smile, her hands coming up palms-forward as if defensively.

"Sorry," she offers, as genuine as it is joking. "Eventually it starts to become a bad habit, doesn't it?"

The sneaking.

As Barbara pushes back up onto her feet, though, her uniform-clad companion makes her way towards the bike in question. She crouches next to it, inspecting it for a moment, red lips pursing in faint appraisal. "Not too bad," she offers, after a moment. She looks back up, Barbara's way. An unfamiliar face. But then, most of the faces here are still unfamiliar. And besides, she can hazard a guess:

"Batgirl, right?" One doesn't have to be a detective to figure that out. So Batwoman just straightens back up onto her feet, and offers a hand.

"I'm not gonna lie: it's going to be a pain in the ass when you start trying. Possibly literally. But it's totally worth it."

*

The apology is met with a small laugh, and she pats the saddle of the bike in an almost unconscious gesture — like tapping on a desk. Something to do with hands that always need to be active, always need to be engaged. Barbara can never just rest in her own body, each moment needing movement — or a threat of movement. "Yeah, it does. I find myself having to purposefully make noise when in my everyday life."

Then she rocks back, giving Kate some space to look over the bike. She shoves the rag into her back pocket, letting half of it hang down her thigh. "Not as high-tech as the Batmobile, but not as much actual real estate to shove toys into."

The hazarded guess is met with a simple chin-nod. "And you're Batwoman."

Introductions out of the way, Barbara rests her hand on the handlebar nearest her. She tilts her head, curiosity impossible to squash. "What do you use? Grapplers and line as an anchor?" Her mouth thins, smile turning wane. "Would have been nice to go vertical when that ghost hunter and her crazy wolf was tearing up the East End. When they don't follow the rules of physics, got to wonder why we should."

*

And you're Batwoman.

"What gave it away?"

Voice effortlessly droll, Kate serves as a cool contrast to Barbara's constant movement. Stoic is not quite the right word — measured might be best to describe how she comports herself, a (relatively) calm stillness to the tap of fingers and twitch of body language that carries the other redhead from moment to moment.

Calling her a calm person, too, might be misrepresenting things a bit. But at least she presents it well.

"I've always preferred the bike," she admits, as she rests gloved fingertips on the seat of the thing. "Less protection and not as easy to tech out, but a lot more maneuverability. I can live with the danger if it means my greatest nemesis isn't tight corners or congested traffic."

Plus, of course, they're just more fun. Even the soldier can admit that.

The question comes, though, and the black-and-red-swathed vigilante's shoulders quirk upward. "You can't go wrong with the classics," is her answer, her the white eyes of her mask tilting down toward the bike once more. "There's a few fancier alternatives out there but that's the most reliable, I've found. A little rough getting the hang of, but it pays off." A second passes by. She considers Barbara's words with the faint set of her jaw, brows furrowing behind the mask.

"… I heard about that," she says, after a moment. "As if this city wasn't crazy enough already. How'd that end up shaking out? Any leads yet?"

*

The effortless droll has Barbara smiling a bit more easily. She shrugs a shoulder. "Only so many redheads running around in bat ears." Then the woman starts to laugh, amused. "After all, I'm one of them."

Then she leans into the bike's front, knowing the kickstand will support the weight. She looks up at the talk of the classics, and she finds herself smiling again. "Might see what I can do. It would definitely help me out in tight situations, being able to get to the rooftops." Then it's just stunt work.

The talk of the hunter causes Barbara to huff out a breath, crossing her arms a bit. "No. I mean, this isn't something I can research into understanding… I don't have much… beyond that the ghost is targeting people who are already pretty sick to begin with." She looks up to Kate, frowning deeper. "I've been keeping my ear to the ground, but… not many people want to admit to seeing ghosts and wolves running around." No matter how weird Gotham is.

*

With the quirk of a ruby smirk decorating dangerously pale features, one can only imagine the arched brow that must surely be completing Batwoman's look as she bookends their repartee with an easy, "A fine pair of detectives, we make."

Red-wrapped fingers drift off the cushioning of the motorcycle's seat as Batwoman turns away from it. Her footfalls echo in the cavernous acoustics of the Batman's sanctuary as she simply… soaks it all in. She hasn't been here that often. It's still a thing that provokes a sense of wonder in just how theatric it all is. But that's just like Bruce, isn't it?

"If you want a helping hand with that, just give me a call. Can't promise I'm the easiest teacher to work with, but it'll get the job done. If you live through it, anyway." And that matter-of-fact tone of voice and the presence of a mask make it that much harder to tell if the older redhead is joking or not — at least, until a small smile settles at her lips. Joking. Probably joking.

Or maybe it's one of those 'joking-but-not-really' things.

It's as subjects turn, though, that the smile fades, and her expression grows a bit more thoughtful — such as it can, anyway. Her arms crossing at her midsection, her frown mirrors Barbara's own as she looks back her way. "Everyone's got their limit, before they start hitting that wall of denial," she muses quietly. But her thoughts turn to Barbara's words. Targeting people who wee already sick…

"Maybe I have something you could help me with, though."

*

Barbara cannot rein it back before the laughter spills forth, and she's catches it behind her hand as she presses the palm into her mouth. She shakes her head ruefully. "I was taught by Batman… if you're here, you've figured out that he's not the easiest teacher either. I'm just a damn fine student." The bit of ego there is delivered casually. "I'll let you know though."

She's about to step back when Kate offers something, and it draws her slightly forward again. "Always up for helping a fellow Bat," she says, gesturing for Kate to go on.

*

There's something to be said about the strength of blood, there, as Barbara talks about the Batman's teaching style. But Kate restrains it down to a knowing look that could well mean she knows exactly what the other redhead is talking about. "He's got 'unrelenting' down to an art form, that's for sure." She might have taken up the symbol separate from Batman and his training, but…

Well. In certain ways, she and Bruce are too alike for their own good.

"Alan Masterson and his son Alex, of Masterson Arms." She moves on to the next subject without so much as missing a beat as Barbara gives that go ahead, leaning herself into the back of the motorcycle as she speaks. "Threw a fancy party to re-launch their brand, more or less. One of those reintroduction to society functions. Saving face." She gestures mildly with the swivel of her right wrist. "Apparently they'd just got back from a hunting excursion, and something definitely happened during it. Something Masterson the Elder doesn't really want people knowing about. The kid, he looked… spooked. And drunk. Very drunk. The kind of drunk you get to forget something." That, she would know. She's seen that kind of look before.

Behind her mask, Kate's brows twist inward. Her lips forge themselves into a slow-going frown. "Kid seems to think the two of them are marked for death. Maybe it's nothing, maybe he just had too much to drink. Maybe it's just coincidence…"

… or maybe it's a lead.

"I need to find out just what the Mastersons were really doing out there, and just what happened." She cants her head Barbara's way, voice once more layered in that wry undercurrent. "How much do you like hunting, Batgirl?"

For a given variety of the word 'hunt.'

*

Unrelenting, Kate says.

"You've experienced that side of him, too?"

It is all said with the kind of teasing that only true affection can yield. They call it the Bat Family for many reasons, and one of that is the absolute loyalty they feel for each other. Bruce is good at instilling that.

When Kate starts to give her the details, Barbara sinks down slightly on her bike to listen. She keeps her arms crossed at her chest, hip resting against the stable machine. She frowns slightly when Kate gets to the bit about being marked for death. She's heard something like that before, something from the hunter herself. It sends an uncomfortable chill up her spine.

How much do you like hunting?

"Hunting is what bats do best," Barbara quips back. "Mastersons. I'll start there. There will be travel records at the least, and that's a good place to start." She pushes up off the bike, threading the rag out from her back pocket.

"I'll drop a message through the Family channels once I got something for you."

*

You've experienced that side of him, too?

"You could say that."

Planting palms against the comfortably cushioning of the bike's seat, Batwoman pushes herself from her impromptu perch once her offer — her request — is laid out. The pale vigilante turns herself halfway towards Barbara as she lays out the groundwork for her search. A simple nod, an offered, "Appreciated," and she turns to start to make her way out… before she hesitates, if only for a second.

Trust doesn't come easy to people like her. People like them. Like Bruce. She's kept herself at a comfortable remove from most of the rest of the Bats since she started because it was easier to work on her own, with her father, and not get wrapped up in the complications and the responsibility of the other side of the coin. Her lips press together thinly. The smart move would be to just leave it at that and walk out, she tells herself.

But if she means to be a part of this — if Bruce trusts her to be a part of this — she ought to try, too.

So, before she goes, she turns. "… One more thing." She takes hold of that perfectly-encompassing cowl. Pulls it free to expose pale features and the shorter head of red hair beneath that tactical wig.

"You can call me Kate off the field. Unless you've got a fondness for the name Batwoman."

So Kate Kane can give her farewells, instead of Batwoman.

A teasing brow quirks. And Kate lifts her hand as she turns once more, to start fastening that cowl anew as she goes.

"'Til next time, Batgirl."

*

Barbara straightens up slightly when the older woman turns back toward her. The reveal of Kate's features draws a small, but serious smile on her lips. Revealing one's identity like that is big, and Barbara knows it.

"Barbara," she returns, and then nods, stepping up closer to her bike as she watches Kate go. "'Till next time," she returns, this time a bit softer.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License