“What have we done, Renee?”
Commissioner Gordon sighed loudly as he stared out his office window at a group of officers leaving the station. The Gotham City police force had changed so much, so fast. His brothers and sisters were now more like storm troopers, forced to walk the streets of Metropolis on foot, wearing heavy armor – all in the name of safety and security.
But it was the citizens he worried about. The police had become an intimidating presence on the streets. And the curfew wasn’t helping to improve their image, either. He turned and stared at the pile of paperwork on his desk, wishing it would all just vanish. He wasn’t in the mood for it at the moment. “This proud city of Gotham…my city…has survived earthquakes, crime waves, supervillains–”
“At least we won’t have that problem anymore, Jim.” Renee Montoya had a hint of contempt in her voice, bordering on sarcasm – not for Gordon, but for the new situation she and the other officers had been forced into. In fact, as she spoke to Gordon, she stood before him wearing now-required black-colored Kevlar body armor.
“The price is too high, Renee. Much too high.” Gordon shook his head sadly as he reached down to his belt, carefully removing his badge and gun. He handed them both to Renee carefully. He looked straight into Renee’s eyes – she saw a seriousness and dedication in them which told her that he knew exactly what he was doing.
“What are you…?”
Gordon held up a hand to stop her. “Innocent citizens’ rights are being violated. Dammit, Renee, we’re their protectors. We’re their role models for justice, for fighting for what’s right. People look to us even more then the super-heroes out there. We have a responsibility…no, a requirement…to put a stop to this. We have to make them feel safe with us again, not frightened of us.”
“You’ll need this.” Renee sighed, looking behind her at the doorway quickly before handing Gordon back his gun. She quickly removed her body armor and tossed it aside and took a deep breath before removing her badge as well. She took a long look at it’s shiny metal surface before tossing it onto Gordon’s desk. “I’m with you. Just say the word, and a lot of the others will be too–”
“Renee, no. I can’t ask you to–”
“I want to. I’ve been crying every night since this started, Jim. I walk around the station and see empty, pained looks from the other officers. The job they once took pride in…to help people…has become a burden to them. Morale is just…gone.”
Gordon bit his lip and nodded. Renee was right, and even he knew that no amount of arguing would convince her otherwise – she was always as stubborn as he was. Gordon took one last look at his and Renee’s badges sitting on his desk. “Tell them that I’m walking. If any of the guys join me, I cannot protect them from retribution. Tell them that…I’m doing what I believe is right.”
As he opened his office door and stepped into the next room, silence fell over it’s occupants. All typing stopped, phone conversations came to an abrupt halt. Everyone was staring at Gordon. At that moment, he realized that somehow, word had gotten out of how upset he was with the city’s situation, and the sudden absence of his badge confirmed that the rumors were true, without a doubt. He knew his officers – by now they had betting pools closing, and a few of them were calling home to hear the comforting voice of a loved one. They knew he was going to walk.
Gordon took a deep breath before crossing through the squad room, with Renee close behind. Not a word was spoken by anyone as they passed through, on their way to the main entrance. He paused for just a second before passing through the door – there was no turning back now. His intentions were clear now…he had to follow through.
He stepped outside into the darkness and turned to face the police station just as Renee walked outside as well. Renee stopped to look at him for a second, and sighed. She knew how painful the decision he just made was. He was essentially abandoning his children – that’s how he felt about the police officers he was responsible for, as well as their families.
As they stood and stared at the police station, it’s door opened again. Once officer stepped out, his badge and gun missing. He didn’t say a word as he stepped outside and walked behind Gordon, nodding as he passed. Then another…and another, with the same silence, the same nod. It was an act of open rebellion by Gotham City’s Finest – in a matter of minutes, every officer in the department stood outside the building, in the street.
Gordon stood for a few seconds, stunned, before saying anything. “I can’t ask you do do this. Please…go back to work, all of you. Think of your families.”
“We do, sir.” One officer stepped forward and shook Gordon’s hand. “We think our kids growing up in a world like this…a world where they learn to be afraid all the time. I…don’t want that for them.”
“Me neither”, another officer volunteered.
The streets became filled with voices as officers began to raise their voices in agreement. With a single act by Jim Gordon, it was decided – the Gotham Police Department would strike…for freedom.
As the sounds in the street died down to a few scattered footsteps, Gordon looked up at the roof of a building across the street from the station. He knew he was being watched…but not by Batman.
“My God…what have I done?” Gordon didn’t expect an answer to his question – it was more a question for himself then for anyone else. He was surprised when he saw a dark form atop the building stand up, and spread out a cape. He recognized the form as Batgirl as she leapt off the building and sailed down to the street, using her cape as a parachute.
He froze as she approached him slowly and removed two items from her belt – one in her left hand, the other in her right. She pressed the item from her right hand into his palm quickly, and smiled softly before raising her left hand to launch a cable to the top of the police station. He watched as she zipped straight up the side of the building to the roof…and disappeared.
Gordon looked carefully at the device she pressed into his hand – it was some sort of bat-shaped transmitter. He smiled as he understood what she was trying to do. She was offering to protect the city for him during his absence. He laughed a little to himself and turned to face the roof of the police station.
“Just be careful out there…Batgirl.”
“Hmm.” Batman stood over the spot where hours earlier a crowd of police officers and detectives stood, scratching their heads. Gotham City’s Finest had been baffled by the brutal murder of one of their own – Captain Jerald Hall. Batman was willing to look for clues that they might have missed…such as an innocent-looking playing card he found on the sidewalk.
It was no ordinary card – it was made of a heavily laminated and varnished paper, it’s edges sharpened into razor-like blade. He turned the card he held in his hand around to look at the other side – it was a joker card. Batman looked around the street, noticing the crime scene tape still around the front of a small, dilapidated brick building. A quick examination of the scene told him that the man who’s blood still stained the sidewalk in front of that building had been running…from something.
Batman turned his sights on the building itself as he deftly flipped over the crime scene tape, careful not to disturb it. He raced up the steps and through the front door, looking around the entryway carefully. He found just what he expected – more sharpened playing cards wedged into the doorframe.
“We need to turn this place inside out for clues.” Batman didn’t even bother to turn around as Batgirl approached him silently from behind – and yet, somehow he knew exactly who had snuck up on him. Batgirl made a mental note to herself to ask him how he always managed to do that – but as Batman turned around, she knew her question had already been anticipated. “It’s your shampoo. I recognize the smell.”
Batgirl nodded and headed upstairs, leaving the ground floor for Batman to search. She crept along silently, pausing whenever the old wood floor beneath her began to creak. She froze suddenly as she hit the top of the steps – she spotted a wood saw lying on the floor about the same time she heard a cracking wood sound coming from all around her. It was a trap of some sort. Before she had time to jump backward, a small circle fell through the floor with her standing on it, sending her crashing down to the floor below.
She could have kicked herself – she fell for a trap well overused on Saturday morning cartoons. She had to remind herself once again that the building was one of many of Joker’s hideouts, and was bound to have traps that completely defied all logic and reason.
As she sat up, she frowned when she saw Batman leaning over her. His cold eyes told her what he could have said out loud – ‘you should know better’. As long as Batman was in costume, he carried with him an unwavering air of superiority.
More caution this time allowed Batgirl to climb the stairs once again and avoid the second trap – a flamethrower attached to a trip wire. Yet another Saturday morning cartoon device. That’s where she found her first clue – a newspaper open to the rental ads. She knew better then to just reach for it, as she had no doubt that it too was a trap. Instead, she unwound part of one of her cable launchers and threw the hook at the newspaper, using it to drag the paper over to her. She was glad she did as she watched a large steel guillotine blade slide down between two wooden poles in the room, severing her cable in half.
Now that it was closer, she snatched the newspaper and read an ad that was circled in purple marker ink – ‘Apartment available, furnished. Gotham Tower’. As she read, she felt a slight breeze behind her but no sound. She knew it was Batman. It gave her chills – which helped her understand yet another one of his intimidation tactics.
“Good work.” Batman took the newspaper from her hands and headed back down the stairway quickly, expecting her to follow. She ran to catch up to him, until he stepped outside. He turned to face her before climbing into the Batmobile.
Batman nodded in response to Batgirl’s question as he started up the Batmobile. “You’re going in alone. You are to gather clues only, and remain undetected. Do you understand?”
Batgirl nodded. She didn’t know why Batman wanted her to go in alone, or why she was to maintain stealth. But something rare that she heard in Batman’s voice made her accept every word he said without question – she heard fear.
“I want that rent, Mr. Smith! Open the door now! I’m getting the super–” A man in a cheap-looking suit pounded on the door of the penthouse apartment at Gotham Towers. He heard crashing noises from inside, causing him to cringe as his imagination tried to make up for what he couldn’t see.
“Here ya go, Mr. Stevens.” The building super, a short, fat, older man smoking a cigar, handed the man in the cheap suit a large ring weighted down by dozens of keys. “It’s the red one.”
Stevens could have sworn he heard laughing from the other side of the door as he tried to unlock it with the key – it fit just fine, but the lock appeared stuck. “Bob?”
“Hmm…looks like it’s been welded or somethin’.” The super looked closely at the lock with a flashlight. “Yup. It’s welded. I’m gonna have ta get a crowbar–”
The two men paused to watch a small package being pushed through the mail slot, backwards. It was ticking loudly.
“Bob?” Stevens started backing away slowly.
As the two men raced down the stairway, the package continued ticking for another minute before it went off…filling the hallways with the scent of skunk. The neighbors on the lower floors noticed the smell almost immediately, several of them calling the fire department. They all evacuated the building in a matter of minutes.
It would be hours later, after the building had been ventilated and declared safe by the fire department, that the fire investigator managed to gain entry to the penthouse apartment to investigate what had happened. Stevens was almost in tears when he saw that the apartment had been stripped to it’s bare walls. There was one item found in the entire apartment – a small plastic toy clown.
Batgirl held a small plastic clown in the palm of her hand as she headed up the stairway into Gotham towers at around three a.m. She shrugged and tossed it aside. From what she read in the police report, the investigators probably discarded the plastic toy as they left the building. And yet–
She turned around quickly and picked up the small plastic clown, then removed a small knife blade from her belt. She sliced the titanium steel blade through the plastic easily, splitting the toy in half – and just as she expected, there was something inside. It was a note, with a key attached to it. The note said simply, ‘The key to my city’.
Almost silently, she headed inside the building, making short work of picking the entrance lock. She began to slink along the darkened hallway, headed toward the stairs, and eventually the penthouse. Most of the building was in disrepair – evidence of water leaks traced the walls, and the lighting in the hallway was barely adequate to see. The people who lived in the building were fairly poor, people who relied on government and private assistance just to make ends meet. But they were mostly working poor, people who constantly struggled for a better life.
Suddenly, she found herself bathed in light as Apartment 1A opened without warning as she passed its door. Her heart began beating quickly, her first instinct was to run. But as she spotted a heavy-set man with a heavy smell of alcohol on his breath standing unsteadily in the doorway holding a beer, her fear diminished. He was so drunk, he would never even remember seeing her.
“Batgirl, eh?” The man stumbled into the hallway, almost spilling his beer as he took each step. “About time ya did something about…those people. Ya know what I’m talkin’ about, right? They hide in the dark, thinkin’ you can’t see ’em.”
Batgirl shook her head slowly and began walking away from the man. She knew exactly what he meant – but the last thing she needed were more racists to deal with. She left him behind in her mind as she turned to head toward the stairs, and forever leave him to his sorry existence.
“Hey! I’m talkin’ to you!”
That’s when he made a big mistake. He reached out and grabbed the edge of Batgirl’s cape in his fist, only to find his face meeting her leather boot a split second later. She turned around to stand over him, arms folded, as he propped himself up on his elbows and felt his nose with his right hand. His subsequent scream told her that his nose had been cleanly broken.
Feeling a little more satisfied with herself, Batgirl headed toward the stairway quickly, determined to get to the penthouse without interruption this time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so easy. Practically as soon as she entered the stairway, the electricity in the building went out. Batgirl knew she wouldn’t have a problem navigating – she had trained herself to do so in near total darkness. The problem was that people who lived in the building flooded into the hallways to see what had happened.
Batgirl was just about to write off the power outage as coincidence as she continued up the stairway, until she heard a door on the first floor of the stairway open and the man she left with a nosebleed yelling.
“Serves all a’ ya right! That’s what ya get for callin’ Batgirl on me!”
She shook her head and sighed as she realized that the man she had assaulted on the first floor must have been the building’s super – and he was now angry, taking it out on the poor residents of the building. Batgirl turned and headed back down the stairway quickly, but noiselessly. She would straighten him out…one way or the other.
“Wait, wait…everyone just wait a minute!” The mayor of Gotham City wasn’t happy as he stormed into his office, followed by two of his aides, and slammed the door behind him in an effort to keep the press out. “What the heck are we going to do? We have no police in Gotham!”
“Call the governor, sir. We can get the National Guard down here–”
“Fine, do that…we can’t let this city fall into chaos.” The mayor headed back to the door, taking a deep breath as he prepared to open the door and face the press waiting outside. “And while you’re at it, call the prosecutor. I want charges filed against Gordon.”
As soon as he opened the door, the mayor was immediately greeted by dozens of flashing bulbs, and a flood of high intensity lighting. Cameras from every major television station were rolling. Newspaper reporters from cities as far as Metropolis were holding tape recorders and writing furiously. Voices were yelling out questions – people were demanding answers.
In the dark, nearly silent Bat Cave, Bruce Wayne sat leaned back in his chair, watching the circus unfold on a large screen monitor. He watched the mayor stand silently for several minutes, patiently waiting for the roar of activity to stop. Once the noise reduced to a few random camera clicks and whispers, he cleared his throat.
“We will not be held hostage by an illegal strike. We will not leave the citizens of Gotham unprotected. Mark my words…there will be law enforcement in Gotham City. I will take five questions, in random order.”
Bruce raised an eyebrow as he watched the mayor point a man in a cheap-looking suit and glasses to ask the first question. He recognized the man immediately.
“Clark Kent, Daily Planet. Is there any truth to the rumor that the city will be pursuing charges against Commissioner James Gordon due to the strike?”
The mayor glanced at one of his aides, who shook his head. “I’m sorry, Mr. Kent. I can’t comment on that. Next question?”
The monitor in front of Bruce went dark as he suddenly turned it off in disgust. He stood up and paced partway around the room, sighing as he watched Alfred enter with a cup of tea.
“Thank you, Alfred.” Bruce returned to his seat as Alfred removed the cup from the tray he carried and placed it on Bruce’s desk.
Alfred put his tray on the desk as well and leaned over Bruce. “Is something the matter?”
Bruce sighed as he watched the steam slowly rising from his cup of tea. “I just hope Cassandra is having better luck then I am.”
Steam rushed into the stairwell as Batgirl opened the door to the basement. She knew it wasn’t normal – someone had opened all of the boiler’s relief valves. It wasn’t enough that the super turned off the power – he was now working on turning off the heat as well. She took a deep breath and headed into the hot clouds of steam – it wouldn’t be easy, especially for someone wearing leather from head to toe.
“Who’s down here?” A man’s gruff voice boomed through the basement suddenly. She recognized that voice, it was the same man who yelled up the stairway earlier – the building’s super.
Batgirl rolled to the ground quickly, tumbling behind one of the hot boilers. She could hear footsteps moving through the clouds of steam, slowly – and as a shadowed form passed, she could make out that he was holding a metal pipe. She smiled to herself – this man obviously had no idea who he was messing with.
In a moment of arrogance, Batgirl suddenly stepped out from behind the boiler. She knew that the man’s best attempts to hit her with the pipe would fail – she simply ducked out of the way as he made his best effort. But she didn’t anticipate his next move.
The super raised his weapon above a thick iron pipe which ran past the boiler, making a sharp turn downwards to the boiler’s bottom. It was obviously a large gas line – and the man was threatening to break it open. “You understand that, dontcha? Huh?”
He began smiling as he watched Batgirl turn as if to leave – but his joy was short-lived as she spun around, her boot knocking the steel pipe he held to the floor with a ‘clang’. A powerful blow to his nose accompanied by a loud ‘crack’ left pain in it’s wake – even more this time, since his nose had already been broken once by her. He then found his knees collapsing from under him as a quick sweep from one of Batgirl’s feet sent him tumbling onto his back.
“What’re ya gonna do…kill me? You aint got the guts!”
Batgirl smiled mischievously and kneeled down in front of the super, staring at him for a second steadily. He seemed to cower away from her as she reached for him – it was enough. She meant to intimidate him, not hurt him.
She rose to her feet quickly and headed toward the electrical circuit box on the wall at the far end of the basement. As she opened the door and turned all of the switches back on, she could practically hear the cheers of the residents upstairs.
But as she saw a shadow descend upon behind her from behind, she knew she had forgotten something. It was something very important about the building, the original purpose she had come. Unfortunately, before she remembered…it came to find her.
Batgirl felt her sight black out as she felt a sudden blow to the back of her head. Consciousness slipped away from Batgirl quickly…and she could swear that she heard laughter.
“Barbara, I asked you here to tell you that…I may be going away for a while.”
“Dad–” Barbara Gordon rolled her wheelchair quickly around her father’s furniture, easily catching up to him as he stepped into the kitchen. He had re-arranged his furniture after her…accident, anticipating a visit from her. “They wouldn’t dare file charges against you.”
Jim Gordon smiled his daughter as he removed a soft drink from the refrigerator. Barbara almost rolled over him as he attempted to remove a frying pan from next to the stove – she insisted on doing the cooking when she visited. He had to smile…she was irrepressible. In spite of an injury that would cause most of her peers, and his, to simply give up, she had become just as skilled in a wheelchair as she was on foot as Batgirl.
“The fact is, Barbara, that this strike is illegal. It’s not endorsed by the union, even if they are supporting me. I gave the city absolutely no negotiation time–”
“But you’re doing what’s right–” Barbara froze, staring steadily at her dad as both of their eyes turned sad. She knew very well that what was right was often not the law. It was one thing she learned over and over again during her time working alongside Batman.
“I know…I know it’s right.” Jim leaned against the counter and sighed, placing the soft drink can next to him as he felt his grip on it weakening. “With all my heart, I know. That’s why no matter what happens…I can’t back down. I’m willing to go to jail for this, Barbara.”
“I understand, dad.”
Jim smiled again as he looked at Barbara. She did understand – she was no stranger to bending the rules to do what was right. “For someone like me, Barbara…the law is my life. And here I am–”
“Dad, if you end up in jail–” Barbara smiled at Jim and nudged him with her elbow as she passed in her wheelchair. “I’ll break you out myself.”
Jim laughed as he reached out to hug his daughter. “You do that, Barbara. You do that.”
Batgirl woke up abruptly and looked around, still dizzy from the blow she took to the back of her head. She realized quickly that she was lying on the floor of a small bathroom somewhere. A really disgusting bathroom.
She leapt to her feet quickly, in spite of the dizziness she felt – she panicked for a moment as she realized that there were literally dozens of roaches parading around the floor around her. Finding a perch off of the floor was out of the question – the overfilled toilet and bathtub were covered with some kind of grease and were too slippery, and the sink actually contained more roaches then the floor did. There was no ceiling in the room, just open rafters and wood from the floor above – and the walls had holes in them.
The door, as she guessed, was locked and barricaded, and something was propped against the outside of the door to prevent her from forcing it open. There was no window. She sighed, and began looking around the bathroom for clues as to where she was. That’s when she noticed that there was something in the murky water in the toilet and tub.
She leaned a little bit closer, not too close, but still couldn’t see anything. Luckily, there was a discarded handle from an old plunger – which she used to poke carefully through the murky water. She felt something large and very solid which was blocking the toilet drain.
Against her better judgement, Batgirl used the stick to push the object up along the wall of the toilet. As she did, she could see it take form – it was a badly decomposed human head, belonging to a woman who had obviously been killed only a short time ago. She jumped back suddenly – lifting the head had caused the water to suddenly drain out of the toilet, leaving the head, and it’s accompanying pungent odor, exposed.
She backed up against the opposite wall as she watched the several dozen roaches present in the room congregating toward the toilet – now that the murky water was gone, they were free to dine on the head’s rotting flesh. Batgirl glanced at the bathtub for a moment, afraid of what she might find in there. But she had a pretty good theory – that it was most likely the rest of the woman who’s head was in the toilet.
Batgirl jumped again as she door to the bathroom suddenly opened. Standing in the doorway was the Joker, holding a gun. She began to shake her head slowly – this had to be a nightmare.
“Ah, you’re awake.” Joker waved past him, inviting Batgirl to leave the bathroom. She took him up on his offer quickly, racing past him to the exit door of the next room – only to find that it was locked as well. “I would have simply locked you in a closet, but I figured…what if you had to use the head?”
As the Joker began laughing hysterically at his own joke, Batgirl kicked the door, hard, to try and force it open. She succeeded only in breaking a small hole in the door – immediately discovering that there was a loud, angry dog on the other side.
“Feathers, be quiet!”
Joker’s threat was immediately followed by two rounds fired in the dog’s direction. After the first two rounds missed, Batgirl watched him take aim again – he was going to kill that dog. Acting both on fear and instinct, she launched herself at the Joker, both of her feet making contact with his chest. As she tumbled away from him, she was sure she had knocked him to the ground – and more importantly, caused him to drop his gun.
Correction – one of his guns. As she quickly found out, the Joker was well-armed. As soon as she had knocked him to the ground, he simply drew another gun and fired at the dog again. He missed, but this time she could breathe a sigh of relief as the dog ran down the hall.
“Feathers and I play with guns all the time.” Joker paced around the room, looking out the window briefly into the darkness before turning his attention back to Batgirl. “Oh, don’t worry. I don’t plan to kill you. You’re Batty’s invitation to my penthouse party. Girls, dogs, rodents…what more could you want in a party?”
Batgirl guessed he meant that he wanted to lure Batman to rescue her – only to fall into some kind of trap. She eyed the window behind Joker carefully – maybe she did have the chance for escape. Only she realized that Joker had removed all of the cable launchers on her belt, so her chances of surviving a dive out the window were slim.
“Ah-ah. I wouldn’t go jumping out that window without a net.”
Joker suddenly grabbed Batgirl by the back of the neck and shoved her back into the bathroom. She had to use nearly all of her agility and strength to avoid falling into the murky water in the bathtub. She tensed as she watched Joker enter the small room with her.
Batgirl suddenly found herself with a rare chance as the Joker began doubling over with laughter at his own joke. She gripped his hair in her hand tightly and slammed his head into the wall, before tripping him to cause him to easily lose his balance and fall on the slippery tile floor. Her muscles tensed as she eyed the window in the next room. It was time to go.
“Some people just can’t take a joke. Which is fine…I have a serious side too, you know.”
As Batgirl raced for the window, she took one quick look back. She just had to see what Joker meant – no matter how frightening he was to be around, anyone who met him had to admit that his behavior was a curiosity. But then again…curiosity is what killed the cat.
She remembered that the Joker was carrying a pistol. She was ready for that, even several of them. But there was no way she could have possibly prepared for this. As she raced for the window, she watched the Joker light a stick of dynamite, hold it in his mouth, and run toward the window right behind her.
For the first time since she began working alongside Batman, she closed her eyes as she sailed through the glass window, and began plummeting. Her eyes remained closed as she held her arms stiff at her sides, the edges of her cape in her hands, just as Batman trained her to do when jumping without equipment – it would slow her down, lesson the impact, he said.
But he never imagined explosives figuring into the equation…and neither did she. Batgirl could feel an immense heat and pressure behind her, pain filled her head from her ears. It was the most painful experience she ever felt, to feel her body pushed to it’s limits, to be tossed helplessly through the air.
She thought it would never end…but it did. The unyielding ground pounded her mercilessly as she landed in the small strip of grass alongside the apartment building, the pain she felt from the impact was almost refreshing after encountering that explosion. She opened her eyes quickly to see that the Joker was calmly gliding to a landing on a building across the street – he was wearing a parachute all along.
Everything seemed so serene and quiet as flashing lights began to approach quickly. Red and white for ambulance, red for fire company, and blue for police. She guessed that meant there were a few officers working in spite of the strike.
It was so quiet. Much, much too quiet. Batgirl sat up abruptly to be met with severe dizziness, convincing her that she would be unable to rise to her feet. She turned around quickly as she saw a shadow behind her – it was Batman. He was saying something, but she didn’t understand him for some reason.
As Batman lifted her and carried her toward the Batmobile, she glanced at the approaching emergency vehicles again. They should be loud, ear piercing – but she heard only silence. She looked at Batman, he was still talking, yet she couldn’t hear. Panic hit her quickly as she realized what had happened – the explosion had taken away her hearing. She was now deaf.
Bruce sat in a nearly darkened office, the only source of light in the room being his computer screen. It cast a blue, eerie glow across the room, reflecting his mood. His hands were still shaking from the moment when he discovered Cassandra’s hearing loss. Like with all cases of hearing loss, only time would tell just how permanent it was.
Cassandra held out bravely in telling her…only it became obvious after Alfred asked what she wanted for dinner, and she didn’t seem to understand. She just nodded cheerfully, trying to cover up the fact that she didn’t understand a word.
At that moment, Bruce remembered the smell of explosives in the area where he found Cassandra, and noticed small amounts of damage that could have been easily discounted as vandalism. He immediately insisted on testing Cassandra’s hearing in spite of her resistance.
“I’ve been looking after Cassandra for almost a year now. I thought she would be an excellent Batgirl. She was an excellent Batgirl…or maybe she still is. I don’t know anymore.”
Bruce leaned forward at his desk, leaning his elbows on the surface, placing his face in his hands. He asked Alfred to make sure he would not be disturbed for any reason – he didn’t want anyone to see him like this.
“I have no one to blame for what happened but myself. I sent her out there. I put her in danger when she was clearly not ready. I almost…almost got her killed. And if she would have been killed–”
He tossed aside the microphone and ran his fingers through his hair nervously, before abruptly shoving his computer monitor off of his desk. The sound of crashing glass didn’t appease him the slightest bit.
“Dear God…I can never forgive myself. Not this time. Not ever.”