And So It Began
Steph didn’t even really know her, but no one could get into gymnastics without hearing about Barbara Gordon, three-time state champion. So when the nightly news showed that the Joker had gotten out again, and this time he’d shot Commissioner Gordon and his daughter, well, Steph thought she should visit her.
Gymnastics had had a bigger impact on her life than either of her parents.
So, armed with a scraggly bouquet of daises and some orangeish trumpet-like flowers from the neighborhood excuse for a park, Steph showed up at Wayne Memorial one Saturday morning without a clue what she was going to say aside from ‘Get Well Soon.’
When she said it, Barbara just snorted. “Not fucking likely, kid.”
She bristled, and thought about arguing the ‘kid’ remark, but she saw how hollow Barbara’s eyes were, and what did she mean? “What do you mean?” she asked, dropping down to sit on the edge of Barbara’s bed.
Barbara was quiet for long moments, long enough for Steph to start wondering if she was ever going to get an answer, or if Barbara just wanted her to lean. Finally, Barbara took a deep breath, visibly steeling herself, and said, “I’m never going to walk again. Ever.”
“I’m sorry,” Steph managed to say at last, because what else could she say? Barbara was a gymnast – was, literally – and now she wasn’t anymore, could never be again.
“Yeah, me too,” Barbara said, and her laugh was painful, but not painful enough to distract Steph from the tears in her eyes, and Steph had to hug her.
It took a while, but Barbara hugged her back. And if she cried a bit on Steph’s shoulder, well, Steph could keep a secret.
Steph started coming to visit Barbara after school. Not every day, but whenever she got a chance. They’d talk about things; school, how boys of any age were stupid, the differences between having a druggie lush for a mother versus no mother at all.
Steph let Barbara bring up anything having to do with gymnastics or her father. When she finally mentioned Jim Gordon’s recovery, Steph smiled. She didn’t feel like she should mention that her father was probably going to get out of Blackgate again soon; what was the point?
Then Babs asked, “So, what about your dad?”
Steph shrugged unconcernedly and looked away. “He’s a crook. Calls himself the Cluemaster. He’s currently up the river.” She’d long ago gotten over the resigned disgust she felt with her father, but she never liked how people acted when they found out.
Barbara looked at her, and the look in her eyes…Steph didn’t recognize it. But that meant it wasn’t pity or revulsion, so she didn’t worry much. “You don’t like it, do you?”
Snorting, Steph folded her arms over her chest. “No fucking shit.”
Babs looked at her for a minute, as if sizing her up. “If you could do something about it, would you?”
Steph frowned. “Like what?”
That was how it all began.
“You ready?” Oracle said in her ear, that mechanized voice that to Steph would always sound like Babs when she was pissed.
“Yeah,” Steph replied.
“Then fly, Batgirl.” A pause, then Babs said, “And, if you think you’re up for it, he’s at 4th and Mulberry.”
“I’m up for anything tonight, Oracle.” Steph grinned, shot out her line, and took off.
She landed in a crouch on the administration building of the Mulberry Treetrops apartment complex, looking for him. She didn’t see him, but she didn’t feel like she was alone.
“And who are you supposed to be?” If Steph hadn’t been warned, she probably would have done something supremely silly and girly, like scream when he dropped down in front of her, larger than life.
Instead, she just smirked, put her hands on her hips, and took a good long look at him. He looked even dorkier than she’d pictured, those green booties and the man-panties; the body that filled out the uniform wasn’t a little boy, though even without the heels on the boots, she was at least two inches taller than him. “I’m Batgirl…Robin.”
Tim continues taking his pictures. One night he sees Spoiler, and decides to follow her as well. One night he sees her being overwhelmed by thugs, and throws rocks to distract them, and thus ‘rescues’ her. She decides he’d ‘make a cute sidekick’ and so they work together, with him as her ‘Oracle’ via short-range radios.
No Man’s Land happens much the same, only Tim hooks up with Steph during it, and makes sure she’s okay. On his way out, back to his parents, he runs into Cass. (By this time, Barbara has retired from being Batgirl, which was what she was planning on right before she got shot. That obviously never happened here, since the Joker is dead. She’s become Oracle, however, an idea given form after she sees how clueless Jason is about hacking, and about how often Steph uses her comm on patrol). Cass stays with Tim and family for a few weeks (before ending up with Babs), but she keeps sneaking out at night to go help Spoiler. Eventually, Spoiler and Cass (now called Shadow, because she shadows Spoiler and hides in them as well) run into Robin.
And a new generation of Bats is born.
Soon after, Jason gets fired a la Dick, and becomes Renegade (since Flamebird was already taken, and dude, Jason thinks, gay much?). Tim is their Oracle, going by…uh…well, ‘The Shadow’ knows everything, so he goes by that, piping information directly into Cass’ ear so it appears as if she knows everything, thus keeping his secret identity.
Dick feels a little jealous, but Jason points out that he still has the Titans. Not the Teen Titans, however, as the third version forms from Young Justice, only Steph and Jason were members, and now they and Cass drive Gar and Vic crazy because they're technically not affiliated with any ‘Clan’ outside of the Birds of Prey. Finally Vic, desperate, asks Oracle for help, and she sends Tim (who works with/for her, mostly concentrating on solo heroes and, of course, his Bats) in to get some socialization, keep his team in line. It works, sort of.