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It's Been a Few Years

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To Cass, Hong Kong was no different than Gotham. She'd been to big cities besides the Dark Knight's city; New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, as well as several of the big cities in Europe. Hong Kong was no different, except for the amount of people and the language spoken. Picking up Mandarin hadn't been as hard as she thought. Cain, her father, had spoken in many languages to her; Mandarin had been one of them. She figured she'd adapted pretty well, if she did say so herself.

She attended the local university, and shared a tiny apartment with three other girls. Xiang, Li, and Nuo were all amicable. They attended the same university, and split the rent between the four of them. The sleeping situation wasn't the greatest, but Cass had had worse. She slept on the couch in their living room/dining room/kitchen, Xiang and Nuo slept in the twin bed in the bedroom, and Li at the foot of said twin bed. Cass had offered to have Li sleep in the living room with her, but she preferred the bedroom.

This was one of the many signs of Li's real profession. While making dinner one day, Xiang looked over at Cass and whispered: "Now that you've been here a few weeks, its time you were told about the joke."

"Joke?" asked Cass.

Xiang nodded. "Li, Nuo and I think she's a prostitute."

Cass blinked once. She didn't really buy it, but the evidence Xiang presented did prove her point. Li did have a job, which she claimed was in a restaurant. However, Xiang had never heard of said restaurant, neither had Nuo or anyone they had talked to. She only took up shifts at night, oftentimes leaving in the middle of the night, and getting back after the three of them had left for class. She had one trunk full of clothing that she always kept locked.

" She keeps her toys and outfits in there," said Xiang.

If she did bring men to the apartment, she only did it when Xiang, Nuo, and Cass weren't there. There had been several times where Xiang and Nuo had made their bed, only to find it disheveled when they returned to the apartment. There had been several accounts when older men had come to the apartment asking after Li. They all asked after her place of work, and they always seemed to come calling when Li wasn't there to explain their presence.

"Has anyone talked to her?" asked Cass.

"No, I mean, how would that go? 'Hello Li, are you a prostitute?'" Xiang laughed. "It's funnier as a joke."

Cass smiled for good measure. "Funny joke," she said.

Cass, for one, couldn't judge Li on her odd behavior.

Her feet pounded against the roof, though, her breathing was calm and collected. The wind whipped past her as she hopped from roof to roof. She became perfectly still, perching on the edge of the roof overlooking the streets below.

She'd tried to stay away from vigilante justice, believe her. It drew attention to her, and that was something she really couldn't afford to have. She'd come here to rethink her life, not to become what she had left behind. Originally she had felt so guilty the first few times she had gone out patrolling. She saw the faces of the people she loved in the alleys beneath her, their wide, brilliant eyes filled with fear. She was their tormentor, she caused this fear. They wanted to run, they wanted her to stop.

No, no that's not who she was here. After saving several people from muggers, rapists, and murders, she found her spirit lifted. She was only helping, there wasn't anyone she had to answer to, no reputation to uphold, nothing. She didn't even have a name for herself. She just helped people.

In this, she became closer to deciding where to go from here.

It was one of these nights when her past caught up to her.

A soft thump echoed from behind her. She hadn't seen this person in 2 years, but some memories never faded. She kept perfectly still. He may regard her as a statue of some sort; it wasn't the first time she'd been mistaken for such a thing.

She should've known better.

"Cass I know you're there."

Go away.

"Cass, I didn't come here for the food or the weather, please. It's been a long day."

Your day's been long? Poor baby…

"Cassandra, please. I just want to talk, that's it."

She rose softly, and turned. Tim's red uniform with black cape was still visible in the faded light.

"Hi Cass."

She nodded towards him.

"It's been a few years," he said.

She pulled the strip of cloth over her mouth down. "Why are you here?"

"Just like I said: to talk."

"How did you find me?"

"It was hard, and complicated, but I guess, in the end, I know you better than you think I do."

"How long have you been looking?"

"A while."

There was silence between the two of them.

"Who knows you're here?" asked Cass.

"Well, they all know I'm here, but only Babs and Steph know the real reason," said Tim. "Knowing Bruce, he probably knows, but he didn't stop me."

"You want me to come back."

"Yes," he breathed out.

"I won't."

He sighed and scratched the back of his neck. "Cass, will you at least consider-"

"No."

"Cass, please-"

"No."

"We all miss you. Nobody blames you for what happened. We all understand-"

"Who's 'we'?"

"Everybody," said Tim confused.

Cass remained silent.

"Bruce and Dick and Babs and Steph, and I miss you Cass. We all want you to come home."

Cass looked away.

"…Jason?" her words were barely discernible above the muted noises of the city.

"He misses you too Cass. I know you two didn't end well, but he misses you too."

She scoffed at him . "I don't believe you."

"Regardless, come home, please."

Cass stared off at the Hong Kong skyline. Across the way was the deep harbor. Neon lights and lanterns were the only illuminations at this late hour. The skyscrapers towered over them. She should answer Tim. She should tell him that she missed him too, but this wasn't about personal feelings. This was about redemption. And even if it wasn't, this was her decision. Her entire life had been decided up to the point when she left Gotham. She was her own woman now, and nobody else's.

Instead she leaped off the building and onto the next one. She ran, her feet thumping and her heart pounding in her ears. Tim was chasing her, she knew it. She had the advantage on him, not only physically, but she knew the terrain. She had the home field advantage, and she grasped it with both hands. She took him around tricky turns and precarious jumps.

An hour later she slipped in the window of her apartment, and burrowed under the covers. She didn't bother hiding her outfit, which was comprised of black athletic pants, a black shirt, and a broom handle she had fashioned into a quarter stave. The broom handle was stuck under the couch and she drifted off.

She'd never been much of a dreamer. That is, she never really dreamed, and if she did, she never remembered them.

Tim would find her; there was no question about that. But maybe she could elude him if she didn't go out at night.

xXxXThreedayslaterXxXx

Class had been abysmal, as always. The teachers always spoke so fast, and she could only write so fast. At least exams would be in another month, and then she could put the awful classes she'd had to take behind her.

She stopped at the door, her key poised to be put in the lock. Giggling. She unlocked the door and came in.

Nuo jumped up and grasped her hand.

"Heng! Heng! Your friend is the funniest person I've ever met," she said, giggling.

Cass stood in the middle of the room, looking at Tim. He was sat on the couch, surrounded by Xiang, Li, and Nuo. He was laughing and talking in almost perfect Mandarin.

"Hello Heng," he said. She nodded at him. "I'm sorry for not calling first."

Li was getting touchy, Nuo was blushing, and Xiang was laughing her loud laugh.

"Will the three of you leave us alone please?" asked Cass.

"What?" asked Li.

Xiang got the hint. "C'mon, I'll buy us something."

The three of them ushered out.

"Heng?" asked Tim.

"Cassandra is a bit European."

"A bit."

"I told you, I'm not going."

He held up his hand. "I know, it's your decision. Listen, if you're going to stay here, at least take this." He pulled a brief case from behind him. "If you're going to fight crime, you could at least do it the way you used to." He left the briefcase on the couch, and stood. "I'm headed back to Gotham this afternoon. It was good to see you Cass."

He started to move away, but Cass's hand caught his arm. They wrapped their arms around each other in a hug.

"I've missed you Cass," he said.

She merely squeezed him tighter. They separated and Tim backed out the door. Cass stared at the door for a few lingering minutes before crossing to the couch. She opened the briefcase and felt tears well up in her eyes.

It was her Black Bat costume.