2019-10-07 - What's The Mission?


Batgirl meets up with Phobos and Orphan to discuss Nightwings … feedback.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon Oct 7 18:12:03 2019
Location: Staten Island

Related Logs


Theme Song



It's late in the evening. It always tend to be when Bats are out. Tonight, a lone Bat waits in the shadows of a building. Waits to be joined by two others.

Oracle had sent the message not long ago. Meet here at this time. They might suspect why they've received the… request.

The Bats cape moves in the breeze, the light catching the yellow lining and the Crimson hue of her hair, marking her as Batgirl. The original one, returned to the streets of Staten Island only a few months ago.

Usually the evening starts in one of two ways for Alexander, after he gets home and divests himself of all the things needed for college. He gets clear of the backpack and the books and the casual clothes. Then it's to get his equipment together, run a gear check to make sure everything is working properly, then to get changed into the uniform he's adopted.
After that's all set he'll wait for either the light tip-tap on the window, or for the OracleApp to signal its request. Either one and he follows after, leaping out the window and rushing across the rooftops. Usually to an elevated train and across the river to Staten Island.
Tonight is no different as he reaches the rendezvous point, landing light upon the rooftop's edge and then slipping into shadows to make his approach to the redhead. Though a scuff of a toe might announce his presence suitably.

Like language, telling time is something Cassandra has some difficulty with but the little icon on her HUD that slowly counts down to her appointment time and flashes to warn her it's getting close serves to keep her on time. A lot of accommodations have been made to try to communicate with the quiet young woman. Still, she struggles.

Which was part of why, after Nightwing's 'talk' the other night, Orphan's been quiet. Of brooding alone. Both to think over what she got from Nightwing and to deal with her frustration with all the things she couldn't parse. Give her a fight with 20-to-one odds any day.

Orphan's not going to ignore a summons though, even if she is in a grouchy mood. She arrives on Alex's heels, slipping silently into his shadow to follow him as he approaches Batgirl. At least she's feeling steady enough to play, seeing how long until Alex notices her.

"Kitty." Batgirl greets the man even before he scuffs his feet. Of course she's been tracking him, or Oracle has, she tracks all of them.

Old habits and in this case good habits.

When Cass arrives, the redhead doesn't give the game away choosing to participate as well.

"I see you met Nightwing. How did that go?" She says to Alex.

Cass has been getting daily messages from the redhead. Telling the younger woman she is loved and how proud Barbara is of her. That miiiight not be helping in the wake of Dicks critique.

For now though, Cass' small dark presence is not noted.

"Batgirl," Alexander's not aware of Cassandra, not at first as he steps forward. A hand lifts to adjust the hang of his mask and then he tilts his head slightly to the side, "Good. He's smart, knows what he's doing. A lot of experience."
Then the silent 'but' hangs there between them as he looks across the way, probably considering whether or not he should voice his reservations. Eventually he hazards on voicing his thoughts. "I don't entirely agree with his observations though in some ways. But I get the feeling he carries a lot of luggage from past associations."
There, that was reasonably fair.

There is a light tap on Alex's shoulder as Orphan slips forward to his side. On the opposite side she tapped of course. Even (former) assassins can be brats.

Cassandra hasn't been replying to Barbara's messages, but that's pretty par for the course. The only time the younger woman uses the system is if something is Important. Which this apparently isn't. To her, at least. She doesn't offer commentary herself on the run-in with Nightwing, though the way she crosses her arms before her might be telling.

Batgirls masked face turns to the younger woman. If Cass was expecting disappointment she's surprised. Even in the suit, Batgirl body language is compassionate and concerned.

« I don't see enough of you, lately. I have to fall back on requests like this. » There's even a slight sense of humour in the gestures.

Barbara didn't need a reply to those messages she's been sending, they were reminders that the woman had a place.

"So 'not well' is what I intuit from that. Want to tell me what you don't agree with, Kitty?"

Cass gets her regard again « You're unhappy with his words. Do you think he called you a failure? » The redhead expects a short answer. Communicating with Cass is like that.

To Barbara, it looks like Alexander just sort of tilts his head very slightly, then looks in the proper direction for Cassandra, smirking the while. But Cass, when she does things like this, there's no tricking her. She can see the subtle tension as his mind registers the presence of another, and then can perceive when he tries to play it off and act all cool. But behind that mask he's smirking at her… and likely expects that smirk to be returned.
But then once again his attention is fully on Batgirl as she addresses him. That military-like precision of his, the focus, the professionalism might be surprising to some to see it coming from someone so young. Though he owes it to his upbringing assuredly.
"Nightwing feels everyone should be an all around expert on all facets of what he perceives to be the mission. A generalist in essence. I believe there is room for specialization as not all weapons or tools are proper choices for all tasks." There's a pause then he says, "Ultimately it is good to acquire skills, but that is not to say that there is only one avenue of acceptable application of force. Nightwing wishes for us to become fully capable as himself or… whom he looks to. But that doesn't demean the efforts of what is done in the interim."

Cassandra is so good at what she does, and so able to take care of herself, it's easy to forget that she's still a teenaged girl and that likely contributes to the broody moods and how wrapped up she can be in her own issues. Admittedly, hers *are* much larger than not having the right top to wear or not getting a smile from the boy she likes. But they still dominate her thoughts, despite the support she gets from Barbara and Alexander.

When Batgirl teases her, Cassandra signs back, and the looseness of the motions indicating a teasing in return. "« You need to get better at spotting. »"

Finding a piece of equipment, Cassandra puts a hand on it to boost herself up to sit on it, giving herself a perch as Barbara and Alexander talk. Her hooded and cowled head turns towards the former at the question. "« He did. I failed. »" Which is frustrating for her. She took out the bad guys, damnit!

Alex's answer gets a tilt of Batgirl head, a movement emphasised by the ears on her hood. "An interesting assessment which raises more questions. What do you… perceive… the mission to be?"

Batgirl echoes Alex's words back to him.

« Perhaps I do, at That. Still, I'd like to see you more. » The redhead responds before shaking her head slowly to Cass. It doesn't surprise her the dark haired woman has taken that interpretation. « He said your mission was a failure, not you. Do you understand the difference? »

Alexander signs toward them both, just a few quick signs. « He said we failed. I don't agree. We had different goals. That's all. » Though his attention shifts back towards Batgirl and he says levelly. "He was hoping to follow up on the situation, get to the reasons behind the conflict we interfered in. He was wanting to handle the higher level issue…"
Then he turns to look at Orphan and he signs, « We were just trying to stop the fight »
Only then does he look back toward Batgirl and he asks, "The mission, Batgirl. Or my mission?"

A strategist Cassandra is not. Even in a fight, she doesn't think or plan, she just wades in and she can read the flow so well it might *look* like she's planned it out, but that's quite the opposite.

When Batgirl asks if she knows the difference between the mission being a failure and Cassandra herself, Barbara just gets a frown of confusion. A tightness across Cassandra's shoulders. The answer is easy to intuit. To Cass, she *is* the mission.

Orphan doesn't try to argue why the mission should be considered a success. If Nightwing feels it wasn't, then it wasn't. Her hands flutter briefly, as though she's going to say something, but finally fall silent. Perhaps not having the words.

"As far as you're concerned, Kitty, there's only one mission. The one that you choose to accept and follow. You were trying to stop the fight, you did. You might not have thought about the bigger picture when you did. Is it a failing? Perhaps. But who's failing is it? Yours or … mine? If you wish to expand the parameters of your mission, we can teach you, but that's a decision you have to make."

The hooded face turns to Cass, the younger woman might imagine Barbara's green eyes intent on her. « You did what you set out to achieve. Any failure beyond that is mine. I have not been a good mentor. »

"I'm not going to ask you to stop what you're doing. Sometimes the micro-level needs to be addressed before the macro. I'm sure Nightwing showed you how to search the bodies. We will do more on assessing situations later.

There's a twitch to Batgirls shoulder, the urge to provide physical comfort to Cass is strong but she doesn't.

"Now, I have something for you, Kitty." « Something you might find of interest as well »

A video projects from Batgirls suit, it's one Alex will recognise though perhaps not from perspective. He's the eight year boy who's standing with his father, they're talking…

"You asked Oracle to dig for information, Kitty. They did. They found this in the archives."

When Cass expresses herself, frowns, and there's that tension in he form, it's clear she affects Alexander as well. He looks sidelong toward her, blue eyes hazing and his brow furrowing a little. He takes a deep breath and pushes a gauntlet through his hair, then turns his attention back toward Batgirl.
Only for her to key that projection to life from her suit, the imagery surprising him. At first he just looks at it with confusion, not recognizing it due to the format perhaps? Or having not seen it before.
It's grainy, security camera footage assuredly from years ago. The man who is Alexander's father is there clearly, yet there's no sound. He's tall as Cassandra remembers him, grim of aspect and dark of visage. It's in what looks like… the back kitchen of some restaurant. There is chrome and steel and metal around, tools and cooking implements. But there is also the eight year old boy with the golden hair who is looking up seriously at the older man.
Their body language is stern, each clearly presenting a front to the other in some ways. Masking their feelings with well-practiced ease. But it's clear to Cassandra as if it were plain as day. The boy wants to please his father, and so must be strong. The father must make the boy strong, though he fears for his son.
Some words are shared, back and forth. Then just out of frame behind the boy several figures begin to come into view. Asian men, much shorter than Ares, but crouched low and moving somewhat stealthily as they stalk the youth, moving from counter to counter. Each has a tanto or a karambit in their hand as they move in.
The God of War moves toward the door and says something that sees to shake young Alexander. He stops by it, then simply flicks the lights off. Darkness engulfs the scene.
There is movement. It can be seen in the shadows. Quick and wild at times. Light flares off of a steel pot briefly. More movement. It's a total of thirty eight seconds of darkness…
The lights come on and Alexander is there in the room clasping a stolen bloodied blade in his hand, bleeding from a wound across his neck though shallow. A shell-shocked look is in his eyes as the Yakuza lie around him in various states of injury and bloodied wounds. Though there is one that lies still. Very very still.
Ares returns, walking over the bodies, the fallen men, stepping clear of them. It's clear. He's proud of his son.
The video stops.

As one might say, Cassandra is not the hugging type. With her father there was little in the way of comforting touches. Instead most of her memories of touch involve pain, to the point that she doesn't even consider most minor injuries to be of any consequence. Certainly when she's squared off against the other Bats in training type scenarios, she can be a bit 'rougher' than others in what she considers acceptable hits.

Barbara's assumption of blame doesn't get an argument from Cassandra, at least not in words. But her disagreement is there in the set of her body for those that know her. She's still in that sort of broody mode when Batgirl brings up the video, and Cassandra focuses on that.

Seeing Ares alone is enough to make Cassandra stiffen a bit. She's not a fan of the God of War, without even knowing, really, what he is. She watches intently, the lack of sound of little concern to her. When the lights go out, she slips down from her perch and her footsteps bring her quietly closer to the display.

It's when the lights come up and the scene is unveiled that the dip in the line of her shoulders is seen. Mute evidence of a sadness that even if she could talk, goes beyond words. She glances over to Alexander when Ares comes back into view, and her attention is pulled back in a bit of a snap. It's Ares that does it. Seeing him so proud. It's like seeing her own father. So happy. Arms open.

The darkly clad Orphan scrambles away, ripping off her cowl and pushing back her hood. A few stumbling steps away and her knees hit the rooftop, followed by her hands. The sound of her breath, sawing in and out is so much the louder for her silence.

Under the cowl, Batgirl winces, her face a rictus of pain as she watches. She makes no comment though.

She's ready however, when Cass moves, following the younger woman to drop by her knees in front of her. This time she doesn't hesitate but wraps an around Cass's shoulder, not drawing her in but giving her contact to try and ground her.

"I'm sorry, Alex. I'm sorry … that it happened." She can't fathom a parent that would do that. It doesn't sound in her tone, it can't because of the modulator, but her body language screams it to Cass.

Batgirl, there's a disturbance at the museum. Oracle chooses right now to interrupt.

« Talk to him. Then come talk to me. You know where to find me. » That's the last she says to Cass as she straightens.

"I think you'll be able to help her better than I. You know how to find me."

And with that the redheaded Bat disappears.

As the video progresses Alexander stands tall. Stern. Affecting that unassailable countenance he holds when brought to task, when being judged by those around him. The tendons in his jaw clenches as he endures. For that is what he does so often. He endures. The memory of what happened comes back to him before he sees it fully on the image.
For an instant he shoots an almost accusing glance Batgirl's way, but then he catches himself and shakes his head slightly, lowering his eyes and aiming that anger inwards. She makes her apology and his lips part slightly, a hand almost lifts as if to wave it off.
But it's when Cassandra collapses that he feels his heart wrench. That he feels such a tear in his chest. That he feels such shame. The young man in the black suit looks after Batgirl as she departs, his blue eyes following her as if to do otherwise might be too painful.
And then they are alone, leaving them together there on that old and grimy rooftop. With this between them now.
She'll hear the faint crunch of the gravel under his boots. Likely will she hear him draw a breath and hold it. She might not see him extend a hand toward her shoulder… but then stop himself. He has no place nor right to try and… make that connection now. It's up to her.
And when she finally does look at him, she can /see/ him. Others would see just a figure standing there, trying to be strong. But she can just see the shame. The _fear_ in him. As he imagines what she must think of him.

Some part of Cassandra knows that she should be standing. That she should be offering Alex some sort of sympathy. Reassurance. But all she can see is the blood on her own hands. Her own father with that same set of his shoulders. The proud lift of his head. When Batgirl comes to Cassandra to offer comfort, there's that flinch away, though she doesn't pull away and as Batgirl has to leave, Cassandra shifts, falling down to a sitting position with none of her usual grace.

As the crunch of gravel heralds his approach, she lifts her head, looking up at him from where she sits. Her eyes are shiny. Bright. Unshed tears making her vision swim but in a glance, she sees the remnants of that anger and the rise of fear that threatens to choke him. Her breath still comes in hard gulps, like she's avoiding being sick. When she signs, her hands tremble. "« Why? »"

The young Olympian looks down at her, and his eyebrows come together trembling as he tries to maintain a steady and controlled facade. But before her eyes he fails as she can see every feeling that passes through his mind. He looks at her, seemingly taking on the weight of everything, as if it were all his fault. As if he was what she most loathed and dreaded in some ways.
As if she knew now that really… he was unworthy of her.
He takes a deep breath to steady himself and he looks after where Batgirl had rushed off to, as if she might be back to offer some insight. Some wisdom.
Then he looks back to her and lifts his hands to sign simply, "« He is my father. »" As if that explained everything.

Cassandra pushes up to her feet in a flash of angry movement. It puts her right in front of him, close enough he scarcely needs to reach to brush the rough material of her costume.

"No!" Her voice is rough from lack of use, but the words are sharp in the silence between them. But that's the extent of what she can say. Her gestures are sharp. Angry. "« Not you. HIM. »" Her fingers tighten down into fists, ASL not sufficient for her to give voice to the feelings within. "« Father. Protect. »" Her already cryptic signing is reduced to single words. "« No. Hurt. »"

Cassandra rocks back on her heels, stumbling back a step and those tears slip free, sliding down over her cheeks and she turns away. There's the access door to the roof, the brick walls rising up around the stair tower, and she curls one hand into a fist and brings her arm back, driving it into the unyielding surface with a short, sharp yell, the blow sending a spiderweb pattern of cracks through the surface.

She lashes out, cracking her fist into the wall, and it has such an impact that the cracks cause a faint cascade of powdered mortar and brick to fall in a faint cloud. For a time she's likely left there, to feel her pain, her anger…
But then he is there behind her, his strong arms around her gently as he tries to draw her back. Draw her back not just from the wall, but from the pain and the heart-rending sadness that torments her. Back into his arms and his embrace as he tries to hold onto her, to hold her close with his head next to hers.
There is a struggle, briefly as she almost tries to shake him off. But he holds… just holds on.
For a time it's silence. The pounding of his heart felt against her, the slow controlled breathing… though at times, just small moments… she can feel his breath catch as if something threatened to break free into what could be a sob. But he holds on so. To her and himself as well.
Then he half turns her to face him and then half steps around to be in front of her. Trying to find her eyes with his own. She can see all of that fear, the shame… but perhaps she can see that those stem from the love he feels for her.
He holds up his hands and tries to tell her, "« He was training me. Trying…to prepare me for my family. Please don't hate me.»"

For most people, they'd probably have broken their hand doing that. And Cassandra still might have injured herself. Then again, she's really good at punching things and the gloves she wears are designed to protect them. It definitely wasn't without pain, though.

The way she's glaring at that wall, she might be getting ready to hit it again when Alex comes up behind her to put his arms around her. She gives that half-hearted attempt to shrug him off, but when he wraps his arms, himself, about her she finally goes still. Cassandra's gulping breathes move into sobs, tears still streaming from her eyes. If he wasn't holding her she'd probably sink back down to the roof, her legs not wanting to hold her up. And then her arms wrap around his, clinging to him for those long, quiet moments until he turns her around.

She wipes at her eyes, trying to clear the tears so she can see him and not just the swimming image of him. Her mouth firms as he talks, even as she sniffles. "« You were a child! Death. It made him… Happy. »"

Only belatedly does she realize his last words. "« Not. Your. Fault. »" On the heels of that, she goes still. Confusion creeps into her tortured expression and she looks down at her own hands, turning them palms-up.

Alexander's answer is to try and keep the hair out of her eyes, to gently brush away the tears as if that would help her feel better. As if the sight of her pain was enough to cause him such woe that he had to do this. The way his own blue irises flit back and forth looking into her own is almost frantic as if seeking some way to reach her.
He takes another deep breath and holds it, as she tells him those words. Tells him it is not his fault. And when she freezes, when she holds shock still. He takes her in his arms again, holding her close and running his fingers gently through her hair then touching his lips there as if trying to take that pain away.
They hold each other, longer than before. Then he tries to find her eyes again. He says at first, "I love you."
Then he signs it again, that very simple series of movements, "« I love you. »" And then he adds, "« I want to be better. For you. »"
And if Batgirl had asked him he would have answered with something akin to that. As that is his mission.

Cassandra's own 'words' echoes in her mind. That Alex isn't at fault. Because by that same measure, she shouldn't be at fault, either. Right? But it's still there. The guilt. It's a weight on her heart that is always there.

She's still like that, still and quiet as Alex wipes at her cheeks and holds her close. She leans her weight into him, sobs slowly easing back to soft, shuddery breaths.

When Alex pushes back so he can meet her eyes and talk to her, her nose is a bit red and she sniffles at him. His words has her brow furrowing, confusion creeping in again and she shakes her head. "« Not me. »" The pain in her eyes grows sharper then, but she doesn't have the words to elaborate, so she just repeats. "« Not me. »"

"Only you," Alex says softly, his hand making the same motion in sign language though it's nothing more than just a wave of his hand to the side and then pointing at her. He searches her eyes, seeing her start to lose herself in that guilt, that self-incrimination. And he is… without further words, for they are never enough between them. She understands the language of action, of movement, of the body.
And so he instead just closes that distance between them and kisses her. Soft. Lips finding hers, breath sharing, his fingers drifting through her hair. It is a kiss that lingers, eyes closed, heads turned just so that they can find each other perfectly as he holds her against him.
She can feel the hammering of his heart, the warmth of him so near, the pounding of pulse shared in time. His breath catches, exhales slowly, his lips parting to draw her lower lip between his as he tries to reach her. There's even a faint touch more as the kiss deepens so.

That quiet but firm insistence, even in the face of Cassandra's objections leaves her looking lost. She's never had someone so intent, so focused on her before. Except her father, and that was a far, far cry from Alexander.

Even though she's watching him, intent upon him, his kiss seems to take her by surprise. The indrawn catch of her breath breathes him in and she's clinging to him as he deepens it. Gloved hands follow his, sliding into his short hair and she's pressed back until her spine meets the cracked brick with Alex against the front of her.

This isn't the chaste kiss they've shared before, and it only takes a moment for her to learn from him and respond. Shock and guilt and sadness are, for the moment, washed away in a rush of something warm and effervescent. One of her hands slips down between them, covering his heart as they break apart and her dark eyes meet his from mere inches away, lips still parted and breath quick.

Quietly, he speaks and signs to her as he stands there before her and he tells her simply… "« If you can forgive me. Then please forgive yourself. » He caresses her cheek with one hand, his eyes holding hers as for a time they just stand there in silence. Looking in each others' eyes.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License