I Was Lost
Roleplaying Log: I Was Lost
IC Details

FLASHBACK: September 27, 2018. After the boat on Pier 41 explodes, Barbara is dropped off into the care of Alfred by Luke Cage. Someone else hears her S.O.S., however, and Nightwing shows up to confront Barbara on her recklessness… and to help her anchor herself back into who she is.

Other Characters Referenced: Frank Castle, Luke Cage, Owen Mercer, Batman, Alfred Pennyworth, Tim Drake, Dinah Lance
IC Date: December 15, 2018
IC Location: Bat Family Safehouse, Red Hook, Gotham
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 15 Dec 2018 20:28
Rating & Warnings: R (language)
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: None
Associated Plots

September 27, 2018

Just an hour ago, a boat exploded out in the harbor. It took GCPD less than ten minutes to show up to the burning wreckage of the container ship, and another ten minutes to find the zip-tied men that had been gathered up around the dock. No one is talking, there's no story to tell, and the wreckage of the boat is just the start of a long night for the police officers of Gotham City.

On the opposite end of the downtown island, Barbara Gordon is getting a stern earful from Alfred Pennyworth in one of the Bat Family safehouses while he very firmly press down a triple-thick bandage over the fresh puncture wound from the shrapnel. A call had come through on Barbara's SOS line from some unknown caller that the Batgirl had been hurt and she needed some medical attention. Fast. Alfred gave the caller coordinates to drop her off so he could in turn pick her up.

The woman is trying very hard not to squirm while he staunches the bleeding and continues his admonishments. He doesn't mean it, not really, but Barbara has not exactly been playing it safe nor smart lately.

She's told firmly to hold this and do not bloody well move, and Alfred is moving off to get supplies so he can staple her up, because stitches just aren't going to do. She is not dressed in her Batgirl suit, but instead in black motocross pants and a sports bra, with the motocross jacket and t-shirt she had been wearing completely torn to shreds. She looks ragged and tired as she waits for Alfred to show back up again.

* * *

It's Nightwing that drops in, rather than Dick, at least as the getup goes. And that's literally, as the 'dropping' part goes, as he comes in through the rooftop access, a testament to just how heavily the neighborhood is swarming with police, even across the island - or maybe to the fact that he's still not sure of the situation and is taking precisely zero chances. He arrives as fast as is humanly possible for someone who didn't happen to be within quick reach of the Batplane, and when he shows, Dick looks prepared for just about anything, armed and ready for a fight. It reads in his stalking posture, the tension in his jaw. Even at the safehouse, her SOS hits too close to home for him not to be on edge, worried and a little angry.

"Alfred?" The faithful family protector not being /immediately/ in sight doesn't do much to calm him. "Babs where are-"

It takes just a moment to spot her, where he promptly rushes over. The combativeness drops, melting into concern as he rushes to her side. "Are you alright?"

To his credit, that's the first thing out of his mouth directly to her, although the rest quickly falls into into more familiar patterns and instincts, particularly as the passage of moments gives him time to read the situation: largely superficial injuries, and half-done bandages suggesting that Mr. Pennyworth has gotten there ahead of him.

And so: "What the hell happened?! It looks likes a warzone out there." It wouldn't be right to call his intotnation panicked, as they're all trained better than that, but there's a sense of much more visceral alarm. As bad as Gotham is, this all seems to come out of nowhere, and if the bats as a collective hate anything, it's surprises. Doubly, triply so where it comes to the person who will /always/ be his little sister.

"What happened out there? Why aren't you in your gear? Why didn't you call sooner?" Yep, all the careful rules about not trampling on her independence are out the window, right now, the furthest thing from his mind.

* * *

The sight of Nightwing does not immediately relax her, but instead has her twice as stressed. She opens her mouth several times to try to get a word in, but Dick is hitting all the high points — or low points as the case may be. She just decides to hold her lips together tightly until he's finished. When he's finally gotten the whole string out, and there's a bit of silence between them, the redhead releases a sharp exhale that deflates her shoulders a bit.

"I'm alright."

It's an important start to the conversation. Then she is pulling herself upright, defiantly going against Alfred's words as she tries to sit up enough to really fix Nightwing with her steady blue eyes. "I… I was working a case." It doesn't sound very convincing. Just a few hours ago, her apartment had been shot up, and now she's looking like she may have been right in the blast at the docks. Because, she was.

"I got… I got wind of a drug shipment coming in to Gotham Harbor. I went down there with some vigilantes from New York City who have been tracking this Blacksmith guy." There's something missing there, information being held back. But she is not Bruce Wayne. The omissions are too glaringly obvious, particularly around these two.

"I'm sorry, Dick." Those are at least genuine. "I couldn't call you in. Bruce would have disowned me if I did."

* * *

"'With some vigilantes from New York'?" The echo is an accusation.

It's not even just the sense of omission that sets Dick off, because the whole thing comes off as… well, /off/. None of the details are even in the vicinity of right. Because while teamups are a thing, absolutely, teamups in civilian clothes? Unmasked? Nope, nope, nope. There's no scenario where that makes any kind of logical sense for him. And sure, he does some out-of-costume law enforcement… with a badge and a gun. Why should Barbara Gordon, admittedly fetching but otherwise mild-mannered /Librarian/ be going out with anyone, near any kind of criminal anything? She shouldn't be getting cats out of trees.

"Babs, come on. Secret identity, remember? Crime fighting style heavily based in preparation and equipment? You're not this careless or stupid."

It's only the apology that finally puts an end to the barrage on his part, or at least, makes him take a breath. Dick's running on adrenaline, and even the relief of seeing her in one piece doesn't instantly overwrite the physiological effects stress and anxiety, the wages of worry over the worst of what his imagination conjured.

Well, he starts to calm down, but then the last bit sets him off again.

"What? Jesus Babs, who cares? Fuck Batman, if it's your goddamn life on the line. So he disowns you, so the hell what? We're not children." Here he reaches up, pulling off his mask. "It's me Babs. Do you think I'm here to spy on you? I'm /worried/. I saw the report on the shooting, but from you? Nothing. And now this, and an SOS? Do you know what was running through my head?"

There, finally, there's a crack in the anger as it gives way to the raw concern behind his usual stoicism. "What the hell is all of this? Just, just talk to me. Tell me what's happening, and what I can do."

* * *

You're not this careless or stupid. What a stinging barb that is. She actually winces, flinching back from Dick all-to-obviously with a sharp blink of her blue eyes. She's quiet through his steadying breath, the way he kind of settles into it. For a moment, at least.

Then he's on it again, and all Barbara can do is grasp for his hand and squeeze it, hard. Pain, worry, exhaustion is all transmitted through that shaking grip. When Dick takes off his mask, all she's left with is looking into the familiar face of someone she cares for very, very much who is very, very worried, if not a bit angry at her. Tears prick at her eyes briefly, and all that guard around her drops.

"I've been helping Frank Castle." The words come out a bit choked. Then she waves a hand at him, dismissing what she knows will be the first accusation. Frank Castle kills people, murders them out right. "I didn't kill anyone." She sniffs a bit, breathing out a heavy breath that sinks her back into the slightly elevated table. "It's why I keep making trips back to New York. Bruce knows, and he tried to get me to hand everything I knew over to Daredevil and the Defenders crew. But I just couldn't shake it."

She looks up at him with an exhausted breath. "I just wanted to help him, Dick. I investigated things for him, gave him information. I found out that the man in charge of the hit on his family was this drug dealer… this Blacksmith guy." She chews wearily at her lower lip. "I didn't go as Batgirl because… I… didn't want to be Batgirl, not in that moment." It is such a hard confession for Babs, who has loved if not worshipped the mere idea of being Batgirl and being part of the Family. "I was on the boat to get evidence, to be there so I could, maybe in the moment, talk Frank out of killing the man, so we could really get answers… but he wasn't there. Some guy with a rocket launcher," she pauses to look at Dick seriously, "a goddamn rocket launcher shot the boat and it exploded."

* * *

Ask and ye shall receive? Dick gets his answer. She knows he won't like it, and she's right. But he demanded this, that she explain rather than conceal. As angry as he was before, frustrated at the situation, that feeling has already given way, broken into worry and concern. In turn, as much as some part of him /wants/ to get mad, to lecture and berate her, he doesn't find much ground to stand on. And not only in the rhetorical sense: he just doesn't have the heart for it.

Still, he's left looking a bit lost for words, confused and grasping at the incomprehensible.

"You're…" If he had the energy for it, maybe this could be something harsh. Instead, he just wonders: "Why?"

With the question hanging, Dick is left standing, staring, sort of blankly listening to her explanation. Reaching up, he rubs his temple. "Alright. OK. So, fine. I, I think I get it. It isn't… all of us have lost people, all of us around you. And he's no different." At least, that's the quickest route he finds to shove this into some logically coherent framework. "Right? And I get that you want to help him, get him to stop." That's at least an anchor he can seize on. "But you have to realize…"

Of course, Dick can't just /endorse/ the whole thing.

"I mean, have you seen the files on this guy?" Rhetorical, no doubt. "Dozens of bodies. Everything we have, the profiles… he's seriously off the deep end, you have to see that. Not just breaking the rules, but shooting them into little itty bitty pieces." He can't not say it, not highlight the code they supposedly uphold. "Now getting on the case, maybe there's a chance there, to close it. Close it so he stops. Is that what you're trying to do? Help him finish? But what happens if you do that, and he doesn't? Babs you have to see- this is a guy I'm gonna end up on the other side of, sooner or later."

It is a testament to the nature of the Bat-Life when 'rocket launcher vs. boat' isn't the stand out line in all of that. Of course, it does provoke Dick to point out, "Which is precisely why you can't treat this like some off-hours side-gig. If it's important to you, the case, /him/ even?" Because Dick just can't help passing judgement on any possible Barbara beaus, so he won't even rule that out: "Then fine. I can get behind that. But this part-time Batgirl thing, /that/ worries me."

* * *

Defying Alfred is Barbara's last big move in this moment — this fragile moment between the two eldest of the Batlings. She's supposed to be waiting for him to come back to staple her up, and instead she is turning slightly on the medical bed so she can face Dick more readily.

"Dick, I supplied the file on this guy." She tightens her lips, mouth in a line. "I've read it. I wrote it." Then she ducks her head a bit, still pressing the hand and bandage it bears tighter into the gut wound that has slowed to just a seeping annoyance and deep pain.

Then she breathes out a slow breath, and her smile becomes a bit more fragile. "I can't help him finish… not the way he would like me to." She ducks her head slightly, particularly when Dick points out her possible feelings for Frank, and her shoulders shift uneasily. Then she looks up to meet his eyes, her blues steady.

"I lost myself, Dick." A grimace hits her lips as she shifts uncomfortably. "I lost myself." Even Owen Mercer was wise enough to point that out to her, and that has its own weight of discomfort.

Seeing him, seeing how this impacts him, hurts a lot more than any disappointment from Bruce. So, it prompts a soft, and deeply earnest, "I'm sorry."

* * *

"Well, that's kind of my point." Sometimes it's hard for Dick to not be a little of a… him, though he tries his best to not sound like he's rubbing anything in here, just stressing what (in his mind, at least) ought to be very obvious. "Whoever these people are? You can catch them, you can take them down. I know what you can do, and that's not the part that scares me or upsets me. Sure, some guys tried to blast you with a rocket launcher but let's be fair, is that any worse than a freeze gun or Joker toxin? We've signed up for that kind of risk."

It really is saying something, to hammer in just how meaningless the boat incident itself is to him, in this.

"The problem is you can take them down, the right way, and it won't be enough for him. So what, do you help him anyway, even though you know how it ends in his mind? Do you… pull a fast one on him, get them in cuffs before he can put them in the ground, and deny this psycho his closure? Then what?" Dick spreads his hands, as if really opening the space to her to fill with an answer, any answer.

But her eyes catch his and take it all down a little. He breathes out, slowly. Maybe there's a bit of Bruce's Tibetan meditative technique there, trying to will away his anger. After all, it isn't as if he really thinks it helps, or enjoys yelling at her. "We've all been there, we all make mistakes. And we haven't lost you for good, right?"

After that, he straightens up, squares his shoulders. "Now the part you're probably not going to like: This is fucked up, but now it's family business so it's all of our problem. Still your case, so you make the call: how do we fix it?"

* * *

What is perhaps the most infuriating about Dick's words is that she's already heard them… because she's said them… to herself. She knows what she's doing is not okay. She is aware of that, and it's crystal clear to her no matter how she turns it, tilts it, tries to change the angle. She slides slowly off the medical bed, feeling the weight move through her as she settles onto her feet. Again, Alfred is going to be beyond angry at her for being up at all, but why not add just one more.

She steps up to Dick, and she reconnects with him with a simple, bare hand settling on his forearm. It stabilizes her in a variety of ways, but mostly physically because she is sure she's got some major blood-loss going on and the world feels a bit lopsided.

"Some of this I have to do on my own, Dick, but… together?" Her blue eyes meet his. "We make sure that now that Frank is done — " or he will be. Barbara knows where Frank is likely to go next — "that he doesn't bring that violence into Gotham. And I…" Her throat tightens. "I find a way to get my head back on straight." A name pops in her head: Dinah. She's going to need to go see Dinah.

"But, right now… can you just stay… until Alfred's done?" Her mouth tightens. "I'm sorry… that I worried you."

* * *

"You have your life, I get that, and you have your cases and your causes too," Dick allows, and not patronizingly. One of the biggest steps for him, in his post-Titans days, is stepping beyond being the guy in charge to the guy encouraging those who come after him to take on that role themselves. And if Tim can do it, there's no doubt she can. "I'm not asking you to give up any of the independence of your op. I just need to know that you're not /thinking/ solo. The distress call can't be the last resort. When you /need/ backup- and I know you recognize when you do, because you're smarter than all of us and not half as big an ego -when you need it, you ask. Me, Bruce, Tim," or as if he's in her head: "Dinah if you can't stand the testosterone. OK?"

And with that, well, he's said what he needs to say. The hand on his arm gets covered with the other one of his, and squeezed a little.

"Wait until he's done?" Dick cocks his head and then gives her an 'are you kidding me?' look, albeit one that lacks any of the angst or frustration of similar confused expressions mere minutes earlier. "If you think I'm not taking you home tonight, you really have lost it. Alfred will probably want to feed you, too. Just face it, you're even for a night of worried, fussy pampering, whether you like it or not."

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