Author's Notey: This is a teeny something that I was inspired to write for a loooong time at acquiring Batman: Gotham Knights #6 (hence THIS fanfic's title). It can't compare to other peeps I know (and YOU know who you are too, must I name you all?) and I think they could totally write a better one like this, but this is my shot at it. *sigh* I should have written this BEFORE while it was in my mind! But I was stupid, and now I'm even more so because of… Never mind, enough complaining! On with the show!
This… This is about how much Barbara and Bruce effect one another. Tah-dah!
Legalities: Oracle and the big guy belong to you-know-who (although I wish they belonged to me-know-who!). And so are the flashbacks I have in here.
Rating: We have a G!! (Or PG, but no more!)
'I shouldn't have been so rude. He's right, I was wrong… But how do I SAY I'm sorry…?'
"…You don't think family's not IMPORTANT to him? Especially NOW, after losing his WIFE? What makes you think he'd be more concerned with them than with YOU?" Batman asked.
Barbara Gordon spun to him angrily in her apartment/headquarters, an accusing finger jolting towards him.
"What makes me THINK that? YOU! You make me think that! You who raised somebody else's kid, too, except that as wildly devoted as he's been to you all this time--YOU'VE been so preoccupied with your DEAD PARENTS that you've barely acknowledged he's THERE! You have this whole family that isn't REAL to you because they're not blood!"
"That's not FAIR. It's inaccurate. And it has nothing to do with JIM."
"Barbara, honey?" Jim Gordon asked, trying to catch her attention.
"Hmm?" she asked, gazing from her pizza. "What?"
"I asked you a question, sweetie," he said, his tone somewhat humored. "But you spaced on me."
"I-I'm sorry, dad, I… I'm just thinking," she said.
"About what?" he asked, interested. "Anyone or anything in particular? Or is it a wide-spread subject?"
Barbara grinned slightly at his kind tone. She shook her head.
"Doesn't matter now, dad. Let's just talk, hmm? What is it you said before?"
Jim shrugged and watched some kids run past them in the Pizzeria.
"There should be speeding laws for anyone under nine," he commented.
Barbara laughed and shook her head. "I had asked," Jim continued, "About what you've been up to lately. Anything in particular?"
"Nah," she said. She lifted a slice of pizza from the plate. "Just my usual computer drug-smuggling and such."
It was Jim's turn to laugh as he watched her bite into her pizza.
"Mmmhmm," he said, chuckling. "I'd almost believe that, IF I didn't know better." Barbara set the pizza slice down and her face dropped sadly, her eyes trailing away. Jim leaned in, concerned. "Barb…? Come on, honey, if you need to talk…?"
"I… Dad… I just don't know. Can I ask you for some advice…?"
"Of course! You know I'll help you the best I can."
"Well, see… I was talking to this… FRIEND of mine. A really close friend. Someone who I've been through some really rough-waters with… And I said something so incredibly STUPID and I feel… so bad, because right after he showed this… This compassion towards me that I hadn't expected. Like…" She trailed off, searching for the word. Jim watched her, but not pushing for an answer. Finally, it came to her and her emerald eyes locked on him. "Like we were best friends."
"Well, Barbara… That seems pretty severe. And whoever this man is, he's obviously willing to stick with you until the end. I'm not saying that you shouldn't say anything, and I'm not saying I don't have an answer… I think you all ready *know* the answer."
Barbara closed her eyes. Hard as it was, her head slowly moved up and down.
"If only I could call him…"
Watching from the shadows as two thugs were hauled away and their almost-victim was tended to be a lady cop, Batman tried to keep his mind focused on the present. But over and over he continuously replayed the argument/conversation he and Barbara Gordon had in her apartment. Over and over, all it was in his mind was:
'She's wrong. I DO care, and I always have. But like every parent, I couldn't always be there for them. I regret it, but it was unavoidable…'
As the cop cars pulled away and the scene cleared, Batman attempted once again to clear his thoughts. He threw out a line and made his way upward to a building top. Standing on the edge, he looked around the city in his view. But everything he saw washed him back into another flashback. Rubbing his eyes, he looked up at the night sky.
"I'm sorry I wasn't there all the time. But I *tried*!" he whispered to no one in particular.
Barbara's words hurt him more than he had shown earlier at the apartment, and he couldn't shake the lament and distress of wrongs he never possibly could have righted. It wasn't fair what Barbara had said, but the more and more the conversation played in his mind, the more accurate and painful it became.
'What I'd do for a chance as she has been given…' he thought to himself. 'No matter the situation, to know I had a living father…'
He blew away the concept, all ready knowing very well in his situation it was impossible. The scenario itself was ridiculous to match him. But again, the words cycled through his head at a maddening pace. When a familiar voice cut through with a welcoming 'Hello', the emotional turmoil died down. He turned to see Robin standing there, watching him with a concerned look.
"Batman…?" he asked.
"Getting more prominent on the streets now that you're on vacation?" Batman asked.
He turned away again and Robin walked over beside him.
"More like Dad's giving me a LIFE these days because I'm on vacation."
"So that means I'll be seeing more of you, correct?"
"Yes, that is correct," he said like a robot.
Batman looked at him strangely, and then away again.
"While you've been out, have you spotted Oracle at all?"
"I haven't been to her apartment, if that's--"
"No, she went out with her father. Did you spot either of them?"
"No, I didn't. How come?"
Batman shook his head and threw out a line again for a higher building.
"Never mind. Let's go find some criminal activity."
He swung off for that building. Robin processed what he just said and mouthed it to himself. Shaking his head, he fired a line towards the other building to follow.
After a gentle hug and sweet goodbyes, Barbara and Jim parted. She headed back to her "computer central", still racked with guilt over what she had said. For a time she mused how much it seemed to effect her, and she really began to wonder… If it was hurting her so much for saying, how much was it paining him?
Rapping her fingers on the edges of the keyboard before her, she tried to think of what to do. She didn't want to face him, but apologizing through wires and speakers wouldn't mean a thing. Taking in a long, deep breath, she began to slowly type into a connection with him.
"Figures!" Robin yelled over gunfire as he ran. "First night back on the town with you and already there's a jewelry heist!"
He jumped behind a counter and covered his head as bullets rammed through above him. Batman slung out a batarang at the men firing at Robin as he held one man with his other hand. He looked at the man he held and grinned--just enough to get the man worried. Holding the man by neck and belt, Batman literally threw him across the store into the two men. They landed in a heap on the floor, bags of jewelry scattering. Robin peeked over the counter and grinned.
"One day I'm gonna be big and strong like you!" he quipped.
Batman stared at him as he walked from his cover.
"That's it, I'm banishing you from hanging out with Nightwing."
Robin knew that was a joke, but Batman's cold shoulder didn't help reinforce it. That was his way of telling Robin to tie up the baddies and meet him elsewhere. Robin pulled a rope and batcuffs, running over to the men as they tried to recover.
"Careful, guys! Remember, police brutality doesn't exist. Even though *I* strongly implement it!"
Batman leaned back into a wall in the shadows of the building and let out a long sigh. He appreciated the light humor Robin had, but it still wasn't penetrating the once again growing pain in his mind. He pushed off the wall to leave, when the intercom in his cowl came on.
"…Batman…?" Oracle asked quietly.
"What's the problem, Oracle?" he asked stiffly.
"Nothing… Outside of here. Can I… Can I talk to you?"
His voice was assuming a one-word response system. Barbara HATED when he did that.
"Because… It's something I have to say to YOU. To… the other you."
She heard his cape move as he obviously began to walk.
"I know you're angry, but I--"
"Batman, please just--"
"I said no."
"For God's sake, Bruce!! Give me a chance!" she screamed. No response came in, but she knew the link was still on. "Bruce… Please just hear me out!"
Batman closed his eyes and held in his breath. After hearing her ragged breaths, he slowly spoke.
"Perhaps… I should be the one talking. What you said was cruel. Truth as it may be, it wasn't necessary for the subject."
"I *know* that. And it isn't the truth. I was wrong. I know it! And… And…" She trailed off and sighed loudly in frustration. "Please come to my apartment so I can say this to your face!"
The link was cut just then and Barbara cried out in anger. She slammed a fist into the keyboard and pushed away from the entire system. Exasperated, she hunched over and breathed deeply to control her emotions. For over thirty minutes she fought to control tears, because she never knew who would call or come in, and she needed to maintain a "robotic persona". Everything that night was coming down to a emotional overload for her. So upset, she hadn't even noticed how much time had passed. Slowly she turned to get something to drink to calm her nerves, but stopped.
Bruce Wayne stood there in the batsuit, but his cowl and cape to the side. His arms were crossed and he was staring at her, but not his usual glare. It was giving her the floor to talk, and she knew it without him saying anything.
"Bruce--! Oh… God…" She shook off her surprise, ready to get down to the point. "Bruce, I'm--" The words got stuck in her throat, and it took all her might to push them out, "--sorry! I shouldn't have said it… Dick, and Jason, both of them. They were and still ARE lucky to have you. VERY lucky. I just…"
"Oh, you were right. The more and more I thought about what you said, I realized more and more that you were right."
"I wasn't right, though!"
"It was unfair, and not completely accurate, but enough so that you became right."
"Bruce, I didn't… You shouldn't be blaming yourself!"
Bruce picked up his cape and cowl and shook his head, waving a hand towards her passively at the subject.
"Be happy you brought my wrongs to my attention. I had almost gotten over them," he said.
Barbara hated the guilt-trip phrases more than the one-word persona. At least one had something to say after a one-word response! Barbara watched him slide on the two garments and head away. Anger filled her eyes and she pushed after him, slamming her feet plates into the backs of his legs. He spun to her, just to have a hand grip his belt and pull him closer. Barbara slapped him hard--all of that within two seconds.
"You stop it!" she screamed, tears forming.
He backed off and stared at her. He was shocked at the whole situation, not expecting it.
"Don't talk! You just shut up and listen to someone in your life, you hear me?! You're egotistical and so bloody selfish it's not even comprehensible! You never listen and you take everything so personally!!! And that's why we love you because without you we wouldn't be where we are now and people would be dead and we wouldn't have you for a friend…"
A weak smile came across her face. Batman just stared at her, not coldly, not discriminatingly, and not even blankly. It was more of a confused look over everything she said and the way she said it. She continued to smile at him, gulping back emotions. He inhaled to speak, but she held up a hand to stop him.
"No words. Not yet. I'm not done. It's just, Bruce… I've realized something." Batman, not being allowed to speak, just raised an eyebrow visibly under the cowl. "I said something… Something very wrong that I shouldn't have, and it hurt you, and I felt guilty. That SAYS something, you know. It says we're closer than allies."
"I've never considered you just an ally, Barbara," Batman said.
"You… haven't…?" she asked, surprised he admitted it.
"You love the closest thing I have to a son. You constantly stay on-line, grabbing information for us and have a warm mug of anything that we could ever want. Earlier tonight, you entrusted me with something I don't think you've ever told anyone. Why tell someone you don't consider a friend? If not a BEST friend?"
"But, you said Dad--"
"Jim Gordon is my best friend, as is his daughter. I *do* have friends, Barbara. Very few, but enough to know that they are, in fact, friends. I rarely let anyone in close enough to burn me the way you did tonight. I've always considered you a friend. But… when you were Batgirl, I never took into consideration of just TALKING with you. And by the time I was ready… You shut me and everyone else who cared out."
Barbara's eyes welled with tears again as she stared at him. She turned away, chair and all, to hide the sentiment forming. A gentle flap was behind her, and she was certain he was gone. Reaching for the wheels on her chair, she felt a warm hand wrap around her wrist. She looked at the bare fingers of Batman's hand, the glove missing, and then to his face. He slowly knelt down, gently moving his hand so he could wrap his fingers around hers.
"Jim isn't the only one you have, Barbara. I'd like to honestly think we could act more than allies someday… Like friends. *Real* friends."
She laughed weakly and wiped her eyes from under the glasses. She playfully shoved at him with her free hand.
"I'd like to think of my friends as people in suits," she said.
"Maybe another day," he said.
Leaning in, he kissed her forehead gently. Her eyes shut and she breathed out raggedly.
"Going away so soon?" she whispered.
Pulling away with the utmost courtesy, he rose to his feet. However, he continued to hold her hand with a comforting and firm clasp.
"There's things to do," he said. "People to "save", as you say."
He turned to leave, but she gripped his hand tighter, making him turn to her once again. A moment of staring at each other in a silent moment passed. Both were amazed that their gazes had turned from hard and icy to warm and welcoming. Barbara took in a breath to speak and she squeezed his hand to emphasize what she had to say.
"You act as if you're a one-man army, Bruce. You're wrong to think you're all you have."
His fingers unwound from hers and he stroked her cheek gently. He gazed down at her, his face sober, yet indebted at those words. All he could manage was a gentle whisper…
Barbara watched with a child-like fascination as he disappeared into the shadows. For one moment, she reached out the way he went, the tears fading.
"You're welcome… My friend."
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