schizoauthoress: (A Spark in the Dark)
[personal profile] schizoauthoress
Title: Angels Fall Without You There
Author: D.L.SchizoAuthoress
Rating: PG
Spoilers: I don't even properly know. Cassandra is in Hong Kong. I allude to Batman and Robin v1 for sure, probably some Red Robin developments and Batman Incorporated.
Prompt: askbox prompt for Cassandra Cain Appreciation Month, "Roller Coaster"
Warnings: none really? The format may be a little confusing.
Word Count: 1813
Summary: Cassandra knows she doesn't like literal rollercoasters. What to do when life becomes a metaphorical one?
Word of the Day: splendiferous, adjective: Magnificent; fine.

Note: I got distracted by a different prompt also given for Cass Cain Month, which is why this one is late. And then I got bitten by multiple plot bunnies. This one was a hard one to get off the ground.

Note II: Medusa, opened in 1999, no longer exists as itself. It was retooled into Bizarro in 2009, but I'm pretty sure the track is the same.

Angels Fall Without You There

Gotham City isn't home anymore, and when Cassandra realizes that, she knows that she has to leave. (Bl├╝dhaven had been home once, but that's one place she can't return to... no one can.) Her brothers had nearly ruined everything in their fight to succeed their father, had made a mockery of what his symbol stood for.

So she'd shoved the costume into Steph's hands, left the name she'd made her own, and packed her bags. As her flight departed from the Gotham City International Airport, the only thing that lightened the weight on her heart was knowing that passing Batgirl on to Stephanie was something that her father had wanted.

Cassandra rode a rollercoaster once.

She has a vague idea of maybe tracking down her mother's family in Japan -- maybe there are cousins or something who can tell her about the mixed-race sisters with the Japanese godfather -- but she can't find anything, not even with Jiro Osamu's help. She ends up in Hong Kong instead, because it's easier for her in the former British colonies, and fewer people give her funny looks for her New Jersey accent.

Steph and Dick and Tim had dragged her along to Six Flags Great Adventure one summer.

It's a lonely life in some respects, but Cass is used to solitude. She'd lived seventeen years with silence in her head, uncluttered by words, and so silence in her home is not a hardship. She corresponds with Alfred by email, and it turns into further practice of reading and writing. A little piece of home while she's far away.

None of the others contact her for a while. The silence from Steph in particular is a hurt that Cass was unprepared for, but one she accepts. After all, she'd told Steph not to follow her.

...And being Batgirl has its demands, as Steph is no doubt discovering.

Steph had talked her into riding Medusa, a floorless rollercoaster with multiple loops.

She misses her family, and logs on to the websites of Gotham City news channels to watch shaky footage of them in action sometimes. (She's very confused by the man who claims to be Red Hood. He moves all wrong, and she wonders what happened to Jason Todd this time. Alfred seems confused by her questions, so Cass drops it.)

Damian is a pleasure to watch, because he's good at what he does, but he's very different from the Robins she has known. Sometimes she thinks she might go back just to challenge him to a fight, just to see what he can do. Every time she's nearly made up her mind to do just that, some new crime in Hong Kong catches her attention, though.

So she stays where she is. Although Hong Kong doesn't need a Batgirl, and she's no longer one anyway, it needs someone.

Cass can be that someone.

Dick had charmed his way into getting them in the first row of the first car for their ride (although they'd had to wait, and Cass got so antsy with the anticipation thick in the air that Tim had to hold her hand).

When he starts contacting her again, Tim's emails come in from all over.

'He's not dead, and I'm going to find him.' It hurts to read -- hurts to remember the loss of their father, and know that Tim hasn't accepted it yet -- but Cass doesn't argue with the assertion. She's a little afraid that he'll stop talking to her if she does.

'If I can help. You ask me.' she types out carefully. It feels good to send.

And who knows? Maybe he's right about this. Maybe Bruce is just lost, not dead.

Cass had felt even more nervous when the over-the-shoulder padded restraints had come down, but Steph had taken hold of her other hand.

She does not contact Barbara.

All four of them screamed their way through the first huge drop and the vertical loop.

Barbara has other things -- other people, other daughters -- to worry about these days. And Cassandra is very busy in Hong Kong.

Very. Busy.

Steph had whooped with excitement and she'd heard Dick laughing as the cars went into a roll that made them feel weightless.

So when she sneaks back into her apartment through the window one night, and her laptop is making the familiar noise that means she has an incoming call on the video chat client, Cass assumes that it's Tim. She's had to maximize windows and peer at this artifact or that for him, to confirm things he already knew anyway. It's kind of funny.

Cass shuts the window and pulls down her mask, then moves across the living room to her desk, flipping the light-switch on as she goes.

It's a shock to see Barbara on the other end of the line. Barbara stares at her too, and then to the room beyond.

"Cass..." Barbara says slowly, "How long have you been in Hong Kong?"

"Uh... a couple months...?"

"Have you... cleaned? At all?"

Cass takes the seat in front of the desk, blocking out most of the mess. Barbara's eyes meet hers. Cass shrugs, a little awkwardly. "...No?"

"Oh, honey," Barbara says, smiling helplessly and shaking her head. "I'm going to arrange a maid service or something. You can't live like that."

"You care?" Cass asks, more abruptly than she was intending. Hurt flashes on Barbara's face for a moment, but the smile is back in place quickly (smaller than before, less certain).

"I do." Babs touches the screen lightly, like she could reach through and touch Cass. "I know I haven't been the best at showing it sometimes... a lot of times... but I care about you, Cass."

Cass lets her fingertips settle over the images of Babs's own, as if it were only a bit of glass between them, instead of miles and miles and years of hurt. She tries on a smile of her own. "Same to you, Pooh Bear, and twice on Thursdays."

Babs laughs brightly at that, and it feels like something broken just got slotted back into place. They talk until the sun comes up, and for an hour afterward, too.

Tim had never let go of her hand, and Cass was grateful for that.

Tim was right, and Cass is so happy to find that out. Bruce wasn't dead, and now he's back for real.

Tim comes to her for help later, and gives some help of his own. She's a little sorry that she doesn't have more information on Lynx, but that goes away when she unwraps the package he's brought her. Cass stares down at the yellow-outline sigil, the symbol she has been loyal to whether or not she's been wearing it.

"I thought maybe it was time to make it all official," Red Robin tells her hesitantly.

She holds up the suit, shakes it out a little so that the bottom half falls free. She isn't surprised that he doesn't understand. "There is a Batgirl," she says. "Stephanie Brown needs it."

And maybe, just maybe, Cass needed to give it up. To be her own hero, for a while.

They'd been inverted and corkscrewed and dropped and spun, and while it wasn't anything she hadn't already done at the end of a jumpline, Cass felt none of the familiar thrill. There was no freedom in it.

"And what do you need?" he asks, as always her concerned little brother. She gives him a small smile and rolls the suit back up into a squarish-shape, then answers,

"To... just..." she glances down at the packaging and carefully reties the string, "...Be..."

"Fair enough," Tim says. They're quiet again, for a moment, as Cass secures the package behind her back, by fastening one of her white belts over it. "But listen, call yourself Bat-Chick, Knightbat, or Black Robin-- the point is, don't forget... you have family."

Cass reaches out, and pats his cheek fondly. "Thank you," she says, hoping he hears her sincerity. "But family is not always home."

She leaves him on the roof of the skyscraper, not sure that he understands any better, but knowing that he still cares. In his awkward Tim way.

She'd tottered away from the lime green monstrosity of a ride feeling wobbly and strange -- Dick had helped support her until she got her feet firm beneath her again.

(She laughs for five straight minutes when she hears about how Steph slapped Bruce across the face, though. It's so Steph.)

"I don't think I like rollercoasters," Cass admitted to them.

"Really?" Tim asked dryly. "I thought crushing my hand meant you loved them." And they'd all laughed, even Cass.

Babs rejects "Bat-Chick" immediately, when Cass jokingly suggests it as a new codename. Cass sticks her tongue out at Babs and giggles at the horror on her foster mom's face.

"Tim's idea," she says.

Babs twists her mouth in a wry smile and pushes the glasses back up the bridge of her nose. "The Redwing was Tim's idea of cool car, so we're not trusting Tim's taste today."

Cass shrugs. "The Bat?"

"That's a little plain..."

"Black Bat!" Cass declares. ('Black Robin' was a stupid idea, and she doesn't know what the hell Tim was thinking when he suggested it. She's never been a Robin. But this... might work.)

Babs grins. "I like it."

"Oh well," Steph said, "at least you tried it." And that was that. They got Dippin' Dots afterward.

When Bruce is the one on the video chat client a few weeks later, Cass throws her scarf over the screen as soon as she sees his face.

"Cass?! What just...?"

"You never call, you never write," Cass says, faking tears. "You don't even care that I dropped out of college."

There's silence on the other end for a while. "Cass..." Bruce eventually says, "have you ever been to college?"

"No," Cass answers cheerfully, whipping the scarf off the laptop and draping it back over her shoulders as she flops into her chair. "But I think that was the cover story Alfred came up with for why I moved to Hong Kong."

"There have been a few pictures of 'Cassy Wayne' in the gossip pages..." Bruce glances off-screen, maybe at some other display, and raises an eyebrow. "At dance clubs?"

"No one suspects the party girl!" Cass explains.

Bruce smiles, just a little, for just a moment. But she saw it!

"Well, that works out. I've got word someone is moving a new kind of heroin through Hong Kong, and it's probably going to show up on the club scene...."

'Black Bat is on the case!' Cass thinks happily. She feels like she's on solid ground again for the first time in a long time.

*-*-*-*-*
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