A Girl Could Always Dream
and a Cat Had Nine Lives
FANDOM: Birds of Prey comicverse
DISCLAIMERS: The characters belong to their creators.
SUMMARY: A Girl Could Always Dream and a Cat Had Nine Lives. Or, sometimes a wish can come true after all.
"Canary, do you copy?" Barbara's hands were mere blurs on her keyboard. "Dinah!"
She hadn't heard from her associate in more than five minutes and back then her last message had been something along the lines of, "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore." Accompanied by the muffled sound a heel makes when hitting someone's stomach.
Now there was only silence, and Barbara felt sweat drops forming on her forehead. "Dinah!"
"Quit yelling into my ear. I was busy!" The blond woman's voice finally filled the room.
"Sorry Dinah, I was worried. You scared the shit out of me! Is it too much to ask for accurate status updates?"
Barbara noticed how this was making her more agitated than was good for her. But Oracle couldn't bury her feelings as deep as the Batman could.
Dinah had become more than a 'work colleague' she was a friend, a close friend, sometimes even closer than Dick Grayson. The former Robin the Boy Wonder and her ex-lover was still close, even though Blüdhaven was too far, and he was too busy, to visit on a regular basis. They still talked via intercom and sometimes emailed.
"Oracle?" Dinah sounded irritated.
"Yeah sorry, uhm, what about the status?"
"I'm clear, just watching the blue boys collect my piece of art."
"Ok, then I think we can call it a night." Barbara rubbed the back of her head, before readjusting her spectacles.
"Cool. Want me to come down to exchange presents?" Dinah's voice lit up.
"Huh?" Barbara stopped in mid-motion. Canary's laughter emerged from the speakers. "Don't tell me you forgot it's Christmas Eve!"
Ouch, Barbara thought to herself and rolled her eyes. She had, indeed, forgotten. "Well, I've been busy lately, you know." She trailed off.
"Yeah sure," Canary snickered. "So want me to come around?"
"Nah, I'm sort of tired, let's meet for brunch tomorrow, ok?"
"Sure. So, have a merry Christmas. Good night, Canary out."
"Yeah you too. Oracle out."
Barbara put her monitors on automatic and took off her glasses. Her dad hadn't called her, like he always used to do on Christmas Eve, but then, since Sarah died, he had barely shown signs of holiday spirit.
She was really tired, Barbara had to admit. Time to call it a night, she thought as she slowly turned her chair to wheel away from the Delphi. Just then, a muffled sound came to her. She looked around, and checked the monitors again. The cameras showed nothing, and there was no way to enter the clock tower unseen, except, perhaps the one possibility Dick had discovered some time ago. She had kept it open for him, trusting that no one else had the artistic capability of finding it.
"Dick?" She asked hesitantly, and looked up to the clock face window. And yes, there was a slim figure balancing on the rim. Too slender for Nightwing, but still the features looked familiar.
"Who's there?" Barbara's hands slowly wandered to the wheelchair armrests where she kept her escrima sticks for self-defence.
"Meow..." The figure purred seductively and stood up to reveal Catwoman's exquisite features.
"Catwoman! How did you find me?"
"Oracle, if I'm not mistaken."
Even in the dark, Barbara could see white teeth flash in a grin. Catwoman jumped and three somersaults later, dropped into a graceful crouch right in front of Barbara's chair.
"Long time no see, Barbara."
"Yes. How did you find me, Selina?" Barbara felt her shoulders tense.
"Is that a way to greet a visitor?" Selina wandered the room, looking at the expensive equipment.
"A visitor would have rung the bell."
"Ah," Catwoman waved her off, "to ring a bell, that's so not my style. Plus, would you have opened up?"
Barbara blushed, "I don't think so."
"See?" Selina climbed upon a table and folded her legs under her body. It was obvious she wasn't about to leave. "finding you was pretty easy, you're listed babe, and with my knowledge about you it only took a little observation. And then, you appeared on your balcony in front of the clock. Nice idea by the way, it's so high people don't actually look up. They usually check the clock out, but don't look closely, and even if they would, the edge would shield you from them. But from the building over there, an observant kitty can have quite a view." She pointed in the vague direction of a skyscraper across the street.
Babs nodded, and relaxed. Her fingers let go of the escrima sticks and now rested on the armrests.
"So how is my little Batbabe? I really miss fighting you."
Barbara froze. It had been ages since someone had last called her Batgirl. And Batbabe? Well Selina always had been the only one to call her that. "I'm not Batgirl, not anymore."
"So I've heard, Oracle, and of course, so I see. Must be difficult to swing off a rooftop in that chair."
Barbara felt tears well up at the words. "What do you want? Just to toy around with me like a ball of yarn? Don't you have anything else to do on Christmas than humiliate me?" Barbara felt things breaking loose that she had long thought dead and buried, but this was too much, "Go on, I'm already on the floor, kick me some more. It's not like I can run away." Hot tears streamed down her face, and there was nothing she could do to stop it. She had so hoped to never to see this woman again. Selina ripped open old wounds, deep wounds, and then shovelled salt into them.
Catwoman turned her face away, for she didn't want to see the tears. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
Barbara dried her tears, thankful that Catwoman gave her this few seconds of privacy, but still growled, "what?!" Anger thick in her voice.
Catwoman turned back to her, and slowly removed her cowl. "I'm sorry." Her fingers combed back her pitch black hair and looked straight into Barbara's eyes.
Babs sighed in resignation that they weren't going to get anywhere with this line of conversation. "Coffee?"
Selina nodded, thankful for the change of topic. She followed Barbara into the actual apartment and into the kitchen, where there was semi-fresh coffee.
"Nice cup," Selina smiled as she noticed the huge bat symbol on her barrowed mug.
"Sugar or milk?"
"Milk please. I'm sweet by nature." Selina grinned.
Babs leaned back to get a better look at her company. "It's been a long time."
Selina blushed and realized that she couldn't pussyfoot around. "I wasn't in town when it happened, so I didn't read the papers. Months later someone told me."
Barbara of course knew what Selina was referring to. She held up her hand to stop her. "Selina..."
"No, please, let me finish." Selina gently cut her off. "Since then, I couldn't find the courage to come here."
"Then why today?"
"I don't know, exactly. Perhaps just to tell you that I'm sorry."
Barbara silently sipped her coffee. "Who told you?"
"The Dark Knight himself."
"How did he find out about us?" Selina had regained her cat-like self, and watched Babs from the corner of her eye.
"I don't know. I wasn't sure he found out till now, but it must have been obvious, as I never brought you down even though I had many opportunities."
"Ha! Many. As if! I could have escaped any time I wanted!"
Both shared a laugh as the memories floated back, the fighting, the hunting across rooftops and the nights in nameless motels they had shared afterwards.
Selina grew serious again. "I remember when he told me. I was casing a villa, and suddenly he appears behind me, with all his caped crusader routine..."
"Stop it, Selina, I don't want to hear it, that's past, we're past."
"Why did he tell me?"
Barbara had no clue, and said as much. "I suppose he thought you had a right to know. He always respected you, still does. Even though we always stood on different sides, you kept his code, you never killed. And like me, he knows the true Selina Kyle."
"Pfft. The true Selina. That's mumbo jumbo, and you know it. I always have been and always will be a thief."
"Yes." Barbara had acknowledged years ago, that there was no use in trying to change the Catwoman. And she had tried, oh god how she had tried!
"Why is there no Christmas decorations?"
"Huh?" Barbara was startled by the fast change of topic, she had forgotten how it was to talk to Selina. Her mind matched the speed and flexibility of her body.
"I don't know if I even own decorations."
"But you should. It would let some Christmas mood into your heart." Selina smiled knowingly.
Barbara led them into the living room, where she moved from her wheelchair onto a comfortable sofa. She noticed Selina's eyes resting on her, from the corner of her eyes she could see the expression in them, pity, dolefulness...
Selina watched her former lover heave herself onto the sofa, how she lifted her legs up one after another her hands tightly gripping her calves. She felt a sting in her heart, for this was the true reason why she hadn't come here after the Joker shot Barbara. She didn't want to see her like this. And the ironic part was, still the Joker didn't know he shot Batgirl. He did it to drive her father insane, not to end her crime fighting career.
"Don't look at me that way." Barbara's harsh tone pulled her back from her thoughts.
"Don't be. I don't need your pity."
"Yes, sorry. It's just..." Selina's voice trailed off.
"Let it go." Babs grabbed her coffee and effectively ended the conversation.
Catwoman smiled into her own cup. Babs had grown up. She was right that she wasn't Batgirl anymore, no more crazy risks and stunts. She was Oracle now, the shadowy mastermind behind crime fighting. And it was good this way, if she had remained batgirl, Selina was sure that she would have been killed on patrol one day. But she was still Barbara.
"Do you miss it?"
"What? Running and jumping on the roofs?"
"Not really, I only miss kicking your ass," Babs grinned.
"Sure, as if you ever could!" Selina put on her Cheshire cat grin. "Do you have any more coffee?"
Selina stood up and fetched Barbara's cup as well. Why am I so comfortable around her? Barbara asked herself. There is still chemistry between us. But what kind? She shook off her thoughts, as Selina re-entered the room.
She put the cups down. "How's your dad?"
"Okay I guess. He misses his wife."
"So I've heard. I suppose it's for the best you don't bring him my condolences."
"Yeah, you're probably right."
Slowly, the situation was becoming awkward. Barbara didn't really know what to expect now. "Selina what to you want?"
Selina bent her head, to hide from Barbara's gaze. "Not much, just wanted to be here."
"No one should be alone on Christmas Eve."
"I wanted to be alone."
"No you didn't. Even Bruce visits his parents. Can't we be on the same side, just one evening?"
This wasn't all about Barbara. Without her, Selina would have been alone too, even at a Christmas party with hundreds of people, Selina would have been alone. Barbara nodded in silent understanding.
So they sat there, sharing a comfortable silence for a long while, like two old friends, both lost in their memories.
Images played out in Selina's inner eye, how she first met Barbara, or more specifically, Batgirl. The slim red head, dressed in cape and cowl, had appeared on the roof of a museum she just had left through her 'private entry'. They had fought hard, and Batgirl's cowboy fighting methods had startled her. She was so used to the gloomy Batman that she actually made herself an easy mark for the young woman, so fast and strong. Of course, Batgirl could never match her own speed, for she was the Catwoman, by nature and by name.
She had tricked her that first time, and many more times after that. But, Selina had to admit, over time, the girl grew in her role and became more antagonist than victim.
They circled each other for months before they finally talked to each other, not only exchanged the usual puns. Turns out Batgirl had traced some bad guy, the same punk she had tracked down, for other reasons of course. But they agreed to fight together. Batgirl nailed the bad guy, and she got the art collection. Of course Babs hadn't been amused, and stood her up a few nights later. When they did finally come together their fighting changed intent, cumulating in a fiery kiss. It was the beginning of their first night together, both wearing their masks the whole time. It took at least another month before they revealed their identities, both with the promise to keep the others secret.
No matter what had happened afterwards, they both had kept to their word, and Selina knew they always would.
Oracle would keep the promise Batgirl once made.
They would always stand on opposite sides of the law, they would always be Catwoman and Oracle, and that was the reason why Selina and Barbara would never have a future.
But a girl could dream, and a cat had nine lives.
Barbara watched Selina closely. Her costume had changed, from that violet silky thing with a tail to a more robust black leather suit without the tail and some more pouches for technical equipment. Times had changed now, a cat burglar had to be a good hacker as well. She could nearly see what Selina was thinking, the smile that played around her lips told more than a thousand words. Back then on the roofs. It felt like another life for Barbara. In many respects, it was indeed another life, or at least certainly a different one. "I do miss it."
"Huh? Sorry, what?"
"I do miss it, you asked earlier if I miss it, to run the roof tops."
Selina nodded. "I could take you out with me..." she trailed off.
"No thanks. Dick let me to use the trapeze sometimes, but it's not the same. I miss it, but I don't regret not being Batgirl anymore."
"You grew out of it?"
"In a way, perhaps. Or perhaps I just readjusted and refocused." Barbara paused to sip her semi-warm coffee. "It isn't important to me anymore. I still bring down the bad guys that's what counts for me." Selina grimaced and Babs had to smile, "Scared?"
"Redheads always gave me the creeps," Selina muttered and emptied her cup while Barbara just chuckled.
"I am not listed."
"Huh?" Selina played dumb.
"You said you found me because I was listed. I'm not and you know it." Barbara looked her straight in the eye.
"Yes. Remember, after the Quake, they were trying to get order into NML and I helped Canary and Huntress? One of the rare occasions when we were nearly on the same side." Selina smiled at the pleasant memory. "You had this Asian girl bring me your communicator. I would know your voice everywhere, even through that voice modulation device you used. And when I asked about Batgirl, your answer that she had 'retired' was a little too harsh."
"But that still doesn't answer how you found me. There's no way you could have tracked me down via the net. Even Blockbuster tried."
"Poor Roland, I heard he had a bad accident up in Blüdhaven. He was always a little rough around the edges, but surely loved his mum." She grinned. "No, it was like I said, I saw you from the building across the street. It was pure luck. I was there on business and checked out the clock tower as possible means of exit, when I saw the shock of red hair. So I used my binoculars, and saw you. Batman hadn't told me much about your status, but as months passed and Batgirl still hadn't re-surfaced, I knew it had to have been a fatal wound." Selina felt a lump in her throat and Barbara nodded.
"Oh god! Don't turn all Oracle on me. I figured it would be safer not to go in, when I was so close to your hideout. Too many good guys around. And you know Black Canary and I don't get along well. Must be some kind of bird, cat thing," She grinned again. "So why do you have no decorations?"
"Why should I? I barely have visitors, so no one would see them anyway."
"You would, Babs." Selina smiled fondly. "What about wonder boy? He moved to Blüdhaven, right?"
"Yes, we're still friends."
"I see. Is there someone new?"
Barbara raised an eyebrow. "Pardon me?"
"Then there's no one pissed off when I do this." Selina stood up and slowly approached Babs. She bent down and passionately kissed her.
When Barbara awoke the next morning, she was alone again. There were no traces that someone had even been here. Making a quick round through her apartment, she confirmed that Delphi was working properly, and nothing was missing, except... her Batman mug was gone. Barbara sighed heavily. She had nearly believed she had dreamed that whole night, but now she was sure that Selina had been here. Pulling her robe close around her body, Barbara rolled out onto the balcony, and stopped dead in her tracks, unable to believe her own eyes. There stood a small Christmas tree, completely decorated, with lights and everything. A present and a note were underneath it and she fetched both.
"Meow" was all the note said. She unwrapped the box and opened it, and found a necklace with a small pendant, a cat holding a small bat symbol. There was another note. "I bought it. All by the book."
Barbara smiled, and put on the necklace.
A girl could always dream, and a cat had nine lives.