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And Here You Are Living

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“Tigress! TIGRESS!” Batgirl yelled over the coms.

“Aw, ain’t that sweet?” Harley Quinn’s falsely saccharine spoke using Tigress’s com. “You wanna see your blonde friend again. I want those Bat Boys responsible for my puddin’s death, you hear?”

“That’s not going to happen, Harley,” Batgirl responded, fingers moving rapidly across her keyboards to check the current roster of Young Justice. Superboy, Miss Martian, and Beast Boy were all in the Tower, but M’gann was still benched and in recovery from helping Jason, and Barbara wasn’t about to send a new hero into Gotham. That just left Superboy.

There was a shuffling sound from the other end of the com. “Oh sweetie,” Harley crooned. “We both know how you hero types work. I’ll even save you the detective work. I’ll be at the docks. Pier 6. See you soon!”

Static filled the com. Harley must have broken it. Annoyed, Batgirl focused on solving the problem. There was no way Artemis would die doing a favor for Barbara. Her shoulder still needed a week of recovery, but she could push it if necessary. The entire Bat Clan still needed recovery time. Harley Quinn may be unpredictable, but she wasn’t as dangerous as the Joker. Well, at least not normally. Who knew what that brainless besotted fanatic would do, now that her puddin was dead. A shiver ran over Barbara’s arms. How had Dr. Quinzel ever fall for that madman?

Batgirl called Superboy over the coms and placed an emergency alert on the Flash’s channel. There was no way Wally would forgive her if he wasn’t notified.

“No metas in Gotham,” Batman growled over her coms.

Hot fiery anger like lava through her veins erupted. Her fingers curled into her palms and the nails dug into the palm of her hands. Forcefully, she unclenched her fingers. When she spoke, her force was ice. “I’m sorry. Who invited Wonder Woman to patrol over the summer?”

The flooding of the anger reminded her that Bruce had promised to take care of Gotham while she adjusted to leader of YJ – except the man did not handle the city at all.

“No metas in Gotham,” he repeated in a deeper growl.

The lava erupted. “Screw you, Bruce! I’m not going to lose my best friend because you’re an arrogant, hypocritical prick.”

She threw her headset onto the table and muted all communication from the BatCave. Superboy entered the room flanked by Miss Martian on top of a Beast Boy, who had chosen the shape of a rhinoceros. M’gann still hadn’t gained all her strength back. She tired easily, and Barbara missed the martian’s soothing voice in her head.

“What’s going on?” Garfield asked as M’gann slid off his back and he transformed into his preferred monkey form.

“There’s a situation in Gotham. Superboy –”

A burst of uncontrolled air told her Wally had arrived.

“What’s going on? Is Artemis okay? Where is she?” The words rushed out of Wally’s mouth fast. The skin around his lips was even whiter than normal. His mask hiding just how badly his freckles must be standing out against pale flesh.

“Tigress,” the word emphasized to help the temporary Flash gather his composure. “has been captured by Harley Quinn, who broke out of Arkham Asylum a few hours ago.”

“A few hours! Why am I just now hearing about this?”

“Tigress was just captured. We didn’t know about the escape until recently. Harley covered her tracks well,” Batgirl replied, frustrated. She had set up the damn surveillance coding herself. Harley shouldn’t have been able to fool her system, and yet, she had. Damn infernal woman.

“What’s the plan?” Superboy asked. His arms tight against his side, ready for a fight. Flash stood next to him, vibrating with his eagerness to leave, but Wally was no longer a fifteen-year-old new superhero. He wouldn’t dash off without hearing the plan, even if his whole body registered with his desire to do just that. Barbara could relate. No matter her desire to join the boys on the field, she couldn’t endanger Artemis’s life with her own carelessness. And like it or not, her shoulder was in no shape to take on Harley Quinn and her damn hammer.

“She’s at Pier 6 at the Gotham Harbor. Superboy, I need you to create a distraction, so Flash can dash in and grab Tigress. We will deal with whatever plan Harley thinks she’s hashing as soon as Tigress has been removed from danger,” Batgirl commanded the team.

“But I want to help too!” cried Beast Boy.

Red hair flashed in her vision as she shook her head. “No Beast Boy. I’m sorry. We don’t have enough information, and you’ve never handled a Gotham villain before.”

M’gann placed a hand on Garfield’s shoulder. “Gar, the best way we can help right now is staying safe.”

Beast Boy hung his head in a nod that he never quite finished. The speakers announced that Superboy and Flash had departed. Leaving M’gann to comfort Garfield, Barbara pulled her headset over her ears. She didn’t unmute the BatCave, but she did inform Batman of the plan. Hopefully the man would stay out of it.

The sound of gunshots immediately flooded her ears. She searched the docks for security footage, but any cameras had been shot or destroyed earlier, leaving Barbara blind. She could only hear through Superboy’s and Flash’s coms. It sounded like way too many guns. How had Harley Quinn gathered that many goons without anyone noticing? Or was the whole thing some elaborate trap? Joker had always been fond of those – maybe he had left some of his schemes behind for revenge.

Frustrated, she searched again for nearby cameras. She found one two blocks away. A small security camera for a convenience store showed only the front entrance to the store. She wanted to ask for a status report but knew better than to risk distracting the team when they were clearly in combat.

A grunt of pain echoed over the coms, followed by several curses.

“Superboy is down,” Flash said, edges of panic laced in his voice. “I repeat. Superboy is down.”

That didn’t make any sense. There was no way Harley Quinn would have expected a Kryptotian, let alone have access to kryptonite.

“How?”

“Damn psycho laced her hammer with kryptonite.” A soft gasp behind Batgirl told her that M’gann had heard the comments. “I’m bringing him back now.”

“Understood.” Batgirl turned her attention to the other occupants in the room. “Make sure Superboy gets to an infirmary. Find a flyer to get him closer to the sun.” Both Garfield and M’gann rushed to obey. “And tell Flash to see me before he rushes off again!” She called over her shoulder at the pair.

Barbara rotated her shoulders. Once. Twice. There wasn’t a ton of pain, but it was stiff. As long as she minimized the use of her right arm, she would be fine. Of course, if she took a hit to her right arm… it could be disastrous. The last thing Batgirl wanted was to create a need for another rescue.

“What happened?” She demanded as soon as the wind announced Flash’s presence.

“She said she was expecting a different Boy Scout, and she was saving something for him.” Wally ran a trembling hand through his hair, knocking the cowl off his head. “Superboy was whacked with the hammer and stabbed with a kryptonite knife.” His feet moved so rapidly that Barbara wasn’t sure how the man appeared to be standing still. He swore again. “And I couldn’t grab Artemis. She’s attached to an f-ing bomb. I couldn’t move her without setting it off!” Another curse.

“How much movement does she have in her hands?” Batgirl asked as a plan formed in her mind.

“Plenty. She’s not exactly chained.” Wally paused. His vexation clear. “Harley’s got her on some sorta pressure switch. If Artemis moves off of it…”

“You can’t just replace her weight with something else?”

“I could, but I didn’t have enough time to see how sensitive the damn switch is. We could easily blow the place sky high,” Wally grumbled, pacing.

Barbara threw open the top drawer of her desk and pulled out two tiny devices. “Okay. Then give these to Tigress. If she is close enough to the bomb or the pressure switch, I can guide her in disarming them.” Batgirl searched the fear, trying to mask itself as anger on her friend’s face. “Can you distract Harley and her goons long enough for us to work?”

Wally nodded once and left the Watch Tower again, leaving Batgirl blind once again – hopefully, not for much longer.

In under a minute, Flash had placed the camera she had given him above Artemis and the bomb, so that Batgirl could finally see or, at least, see a section of the warehouse. Tigress stood perfectly immobile without chains or rope. Her hands clenched at her side in irritation. No doubt she was watching her fiancé fighting off henchmen, while she remained trapped. Neither Barbara or Artemis did well with being the damsel in distress.

“How are you doing?” Batgirl questioned through the com Flash had given Tigress.

“Peachy,” the other girl growled. “Please tell me you can disarm this thing.”

“Yeah, just give me a minute to analyze it.” Batgirl focused the camera to give her a better view of the camera and the bomb. The explosives were only a few feet behind Tigress. “Can you move at all without setting off the switch.”

“Only my left foot is on the switch. I can move my upper body, but if too much pressure is released…” Tigress allowed her sentence to remain unfinished.

“Okay, okay,” Batgirl reassured her. “I have an idea, but you’re not going to like.”

If Tigress didn’t have her mask on, Barbara was sure she would have seen the other girl roll her eyes. “I haven’t enjoyed anything about tonight.”

Batgirl ignored her complaint. “If you can do a backbend and transition yourself into a bridge pose, you should be able to reach the components to disarm the explosives.”

Tigress minutely stiffened before replying too casually, “You just had to bring that yoga class up.”

“Hey!” Barbara teased lightly, false humor cheering the air. “I thought you’d be good at yoga!”

“Yeah, yeah, next time take Nightwing, and leave me out of it.” Tigress shook her head a moment. “Okay, what do I do.”

Batgirl swallowed, wishing she could hold onto levity the way Dick did in crucial moments, but every muscle in her body tightened against her will. “Like in that class, you have to concentrate on spreading your weight. Push into the ground with your feet, so the pressure switch doesn’t deactivate.”

Tigress agreed and followed Batgirl’s instructions as she slowly moved her right foot to be hip width apart from her left and even slower, bent backwards at the waist. Time moved in slow motion while she waited for her friend to touch both her hands onto the ground onto a bridge pose and let out a breath she had been unaware she had been holding.

“I don’t know how long I can hold this, so what’s the plan?” Tigress breathed through the com.

“You’re going to have to pry open that compartment, so I can get a better read on the bomb.”

Tigress grumbled something under her breath as she transitioned herself to balance on her left arm. There was a five count as Tigress guaranteed her position would not set off this new bomb. Then, she pulled a small object out of her right sleeve. Villains always did forget to double check for devices sewn into one’s uniform.

The metal siding popped off, clanging loudly as it hit the floor. Tigress turned her head. No doubt to see if anyone would interrupt her work. Batgirl focused on the wires arming the explosives. It didn’t look too difficult to defuse – but then again, this was Harley Quinn. There were probably trick wires throughout the mess of tangled electronics.

Absorbed in her task, Batgirl failed to notice that Tigress had returned to a standing position. “We have a problem,” Tigress stated, voice too neutral to be calm. “Nightwing is here.”

WHAT?!

Frantically, Batgirl grabbed the headset she had discarded earlier and unmuted the Cave.

“What is Nightwing doing near combat?” She all but screeched into the line.

“Perhaps, if you had not neglected to unmute the communication lines earlier, you would have had the information at an early time.” Alfred’s voice was scathing.

Breathing deeply, Batgirl forced out an apology. “Why is he here?”

“Nightwing took the Batmobile while Batman was attempting to reach you,” Alfred continued. His tone enough to freeze rushing rivers. You did not endanger his charges and forget about it.

Barbara bit back another apology. “What’s his plan?”

“I do not know. I do know that your ninja followed after him on his bike.”

Refusing to groan at the abysmal failure this mission was turning out to be, Batgirl patched herself into the Bat Clan’s coms.

“Hey Harley, I heard you were looking for me.” Nightwing’s voice dripped with flirtatious desire.

Of course, Barbara couldn’t see Nightwing since he, Harley, and Flash were all out of range of her camera. Tigress, however, stood straight up, watching the proceedings.

“Flash, what’s your status?”

“Two more guards.” A whooshing sound through the com and then, “There done.” A second later, he was in the same frame as Tigress. “Found something for you, sweetheart.” He placed her crossbow into her hands. “Couldn’t find any bolts though.”

Tigress strapped it onto her back. “You are such a tease.”

Flash grinned incorrigibly. “Let’s see if I can disarm this. Um, Batgirl. I'm gonna need some help."

Over the coms, Nightwing continued flirting with Harley. “Come on, Harls,” Dick purred. “You know your life was better before Joker. Think of how much better it could be.”

Disgusted with the idiot her heart had a crush on, Batgirl ignored him. As long as he kept Harley distracted, it wouldn’t matter.

"You need to cut the middle two wires at exactly the same time."

“There done!” Flash announced, and Tigress pulled her foot off the pressure switch. Nothing happened. Tigress and Flash gripped onto one another.

Harley Quinn laughed uncontrollably. Batgirl’s stomach churned. Joker or Harley laughing never meant anything good for anyone.

“Harley, this isn’t a trap. I swear,” Nightwing pleaded. His voice took on a desperate tone that it had lacked before. The coms weren’t sensitive enough to catch Harley’s reply, but Batgirl could still her laughing. Barbara wished she had access to another camera.

“Status report,” she demanded.

“Um…Nightwing tried to offer Harley a deal, and then a small ninja attacked her,” Flash informed her.

Tigress swayed a little on her feet.

“Woah, Babe, you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Tigress hissed.

“She took a hit from Harley’s hammer, probable concussion. I’ll call the police. Get to medical.”

Before Artemis had a chance to protest, Wally scooped her up and dashed off the view of the camera. Two seconds later, the speakers announced their arrival through the Zeta tube.

“Nightwing and uh Ninja, the police are on their way. It’s time to go,” Batgirl instructed.

“Call them off,” Nightwing growled.

Barbara blanched. He couldn’t possibly be… “No.”

Sirens wailed through the calm. Blue and red lights flickered in the small square her camera could see.

“Dammit!” Nightwing howled. Meanwhile, Harley Quinn laughed and laughed. A few seconds later, Dick responded again. “Ninja and I are headed to the Cave.”

Batgirl threw off her headset and pushed her chair away from her computers. That entire mission had been a failure. Superboy had encountered Kryptonite; Tigress needed medical attention, and who the hell knew what was going on with Dick? That man was a damn nuisance who was going to get himself and others killed. Barbara wanted to hit him hard enough to knock some damn sense in his head.

Her elbow rested against the arm of her computer chair, and she brought her right hand to rub small circles at her temple. This mission was her failure. First, she allowed her anger to influence her decisions. Then, she proceeded without having enough information. Batgirl hadn’t instructed them to case the building first. She assumed Flash and Superboy would work like she, Nightwing, and Robin did. That assumption had nearly cost several lives tonight.

It was even more disturbing to know that Harley had been on the loose hours before either she or Batman had heard about it. Not to mention, how blind she had been on this mission. Clearly, the team needed someone to step away from the individual situations and pull away and look at the bigger picture. They needed someone not only on coms for a coordinated attack when Miss Martian was unavailable, but they also needed someone with eyes on everyone.

One thing was absolutely sure, even if she had to hack every camera in the city of Gotham, Barbara Gordon would never be blind again.