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It's Been a Few Years

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

Cass had taken her thinking operation to the roof. The briefcase with the costume sat open infront of her as she contemplated the past few days. She supposed her knees should hurt, but they didn't. Her knees never hurt from being in a crouching position. Maybe she had a condition.

To go back, or to not go back? That was the question.

"Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer," she muttered to herself.

Jason had read Hamlet to her over the course of several days. Those days had been nice; lying around with Jason, nowhere to be and no one to see.

And if she did go back, where would she stay? In the manor? No way, not again in this life or the next. She'd have to get her own apartment. Would she go back to being Black Bat? She could- well, she could move to the East End and concern herself with petty crime. But even then, what would the Family say when they realized that's what she was doing?

What if she stayed here? Would she be Black Bat? No, she couldn't, she wouldn't. It wouldn't be right somehow; to be so far away and still connect herself to them.

Had she redeemed herself? Was two and a half years enough to repay what she'd done?

xXxAMonthLaterxXx

The plane ride wasn't nearly as long as she'd thought. Though, sleeping was a large factor.

Why was she going home? That was a good question.

She contemplated this question on the taxi ride over to the Manor. She figured it was best to get the hardest part over with first.

She texted Tim to let him know she was coming. It's me, I'm home.

She'd barely left the taxi when Tim bursted out of the large door at the front of the manor.

"Cass!" He threw himself in a hug. She let him hug her but she only patted his arm. People liked that sort of thing: some sign that you enjoyed their display of affection.

"When did you get in?" He asked, putting her at arms length.

"An hour ago," she stated.

"What changed your mind?"

Luckily Stephanie hugging the breath out of her got her out of having to answer.

"Cass! I love you! I love your face so much! How have you been?! Tell me!" Cass couldn't answer even if she'd wanted to.

"How did you get to Hong Kong? Why Hong Kong? What did you do while you were there?"

"Let her go Steph," said Tim.

Cass was released and her breath had just started to come back when she answered. "Loooong…Storry…" breathed Cass.

They looked up as Alfred approached, a boy peeking out from behind his legs.

"Welcome back Miss Cain," said Alfred. "I hope your flight was uneventful. Shall I tell Master Bruce you've arrived."

"Yes Alfred," said Tim. "Though, Bruce probably already knows she's here."

Steph and Tim were leading Cass through the door when a small sniff and a scoff was heard.

"Hello Cain," said Damian, with his hands crossed behind his back.

"Hello Damian," said Cass.

"Get out of here you little Demon," said Tim.

Damian narrowed his eyes at Tim.

"You're beginning to treat me as Todd treats you, Drake." With the mention of Jason's name, both Tim and Steph stiffened and looked at Cass as one man (figuratively speaking of course.) "I don't appreciate it."

Cass calmly crouched down to Damian's level. Between the two of them, there had always been a mutual understanding. Former assassin to former assassin. In a way, she and Damian were closer than she would ever be with Tim or Dick.

Cass reached into her bag and pulled out the gift she'd gotten for Damian.

"You got him a knife?!" shrieked Tim.

Damian took the knife out of it's sheath and inspected it.

"Relax Drake, I could maybe break your skin with it, but the effort that that would take wouldn't be worth it," said Damian.

She took the knife back and showed him the hidden compartment in the handle. "Chinese assassins put poison in the handle," she told him.

"So they could kill their target even if they were unsuccessful?" Damian's eye lit up. He collected himself and looked over the knife. "It's tolerable, I suppose. I will find a place to hang it." Damian sauntered off to his room, as Cass stood.

"How come he gets a gift?" asked Steph.

"I have Chinese candy for you and Tim," said Cass.

"He gets a knife and we get candy?"

"Its good candy," said Cass and shrugged.

Before she knew it, she was coerced into dinner with the whole family. Well, Bruce, Dick, and Barbara all showed up. Even Selina came to eat a course (though, Cass was pretty sure Selina had come for Bruce, not her.)

Dick was excited to see her, but Dick was excited about everything. He took several selfies with her and snapchatted all of their friends. Facebook, instagram, twitter, the whole world had to know that the prodigal daughter had returned. Dick almost cried when she gave him a fake pair of nunchucks; hugging her tightly.

"I missed you Cassie," said Dick.

"I missed you too Dick," said Cass.

"We all missed you." Babs looked good. She was seeing a physical trainer and now that Dick had finally given up his fallandering ways, Babs was allowing herself to be happy. Cass was glad to see her mentor again.

"You can stay with me if you need a place to stay," said Babs. "Especially if you don't want to stay at the Manor." She said the last part under her breath.

Bruce acknowledged her, but didn't quite know what to say. Cass could feel his relief for her in his body language, the only language she truly understood.

"I missed you Bruce," said Cass. "I appreciate you accepting me after how I left."

"You mean, of course, the fact that you stole from me," said Bruce.

Cass nodded.

"Stole?" said Dick.

"I needed money," said Cass.

"How much did you take?"

"Two million dollars," said Bruce. Dick nearly choked on the honey sucker Cass had gotten. "You could have just asked."

"You would've stopped me from leaving, " said Cass. "I didn't spend much of it, and I will pay back the rest."

Bruce waved her off. "Welcome home," he stated as he walked down the stairs.

Selina almost purred. "Two million dollars huh?" Cass nodded. "I always knew there was something good about you, kid."

Chapter Text

They retired to the dining room and Alfred cooked one of Cassandra's favorites. The Family prattled on noisily like they always did. Cass smiled sometimes, while the Family laughed all the time.

Babs spoke when there was a break in the converstation.

"We should address the elephant in the room," she said, matter-of-factly. "Is Cass going on patrol tonight?"

All eyes, even Selina's, turned to Bruce.

"No I'm not," said Cass, everyone looked at her. "Not tonight at least."

Cass had dared to hope for a second they were simply a family drawned together by fate, not by evil circumstances. That they were- well, normal, if there was such a thing. Patrol and death didn't exist, all they had was togetherness.

But they all had to leave for patrol around 11, and Cassandra was alone.

Well, except for Barbara.

"Hiya Cass, you're still here?"

Cass leaned on the railing of a raised platform in the Bat Cave, Babs looked up at her. Cass nodded, she steeled her reserve. She couldn't ask, no, it was too desperate, too needy.

"Babs, where's Jason?"

Babs sighed quietly. "Like, his location on the planet or why he didn't come to dinner?"

"Was he even invited?" asked Cass.

"Dick invited him, but he declined."

"There's another girl isn't there." It wasn't really a question.

"You know how Jason is, there's always something. If it's not another girl it's a criminal he's obsessed over. And if it's not either of those he sits around and broods about his bloodthirsty vigilante justice and the injustice for children."

Cass was silent. Babs was right.

"How did you two break up anyways?" asked Babs. "He's totally mum."

Cass stayed mute for a second, choosing her words carefully. "I did something stupid, and we fought. Literally."

"What did you do?"

Cass breathed. "I let some thug member rape a girl while Jason and I were staked outside Penguin's club."

Babs was taken aback. "That doesn't sound like you."

Cass shook her head. "We had been staking out the club every other night, all night for two weeks. And on the days we hadn't been, something always went wrong and we failed."

"So that night was a weak moment for you?"

"I didn't realize that it was a rape until Jason went down and killed the man. I thought it was just a mugging."

"I take it Jason didn't believe you when you told him you were tired."

"I don't think so, and he was right. I should've stopped it."

"You're not Superman, Cass."

Cass nodded. "But I'm not Lois Lane either."

Babs nodded. "Neither am I." She turned back to the computer and clacked a few keys. "Jason's latest safe house is at this address." She wrote it down and held it up so Cass could take it. A few awkward seconds passed as Cass crossed the room to take it.

"He's with Dick and Tim right now, he probably won't be back there until maybe 5."

Cass nodded.

"You'll have enough time to get a nap in and put on something nice."

Cass shook her head and smiled.

"My offer of staying the night still stands."

"I got an apartment already," said Cas.

"But is it furnished? Does it have food? Does it have a companion to come home to?"

Cass looked down. Babs was right about the food part at least.

Knowing she'd won, Babs pulled out her apartment keys and held them out for Cass.

xXx

Cass awoke having arms wrapped around her. She was in Bab's apartment, sleeping in the bed. She and Babs had done this before, several times. Dick had never wrapped his arms around Cass and started sucking on her neck before.

She started to move away and Dick muttered how it had been a long night, and how she shouldn't play coy. Cass felt her blood run cold when she felt something buldge against her ass. Her only thoughts were: "Abort! Danger! Fallback!"

She tried to jump out of the bed, but her body was still wrapped in the sheet. The result was her falling out of bed like a log. Her forehead barely missed the nightstand and her legs were trapped in fabric.

"What the f-" breathed Dick.

The door flew open, pulling Cass's hair as she tried to wriggle out of her clothe bonds.

"Oh my god! What happened?" asked Babs. "All I heard was a bang. Dick! Why are you here?"

Cass stood. "He thought I was you, Babs."

Dick's face was red, he seemed at a loss for words at the embarassing situation. "It's been a long night honey."

Babs sighed. "Well, we can't all sleep in the bed."

Cass began pulling on her clothes. "I'll go to my new apartment."

Both Dick and Babs protested.

"Don't leave on my account-" said Dick.

"-Dick can sleep on the couch-" said Babs.

"-You just got home-"

"-He has his own apartment if he wants a nice bed-"

They went on, Cass shook her head. "I have something I've gotta do."

"So you're really gonna?" Babs asked. "You sure?"

"It's a small town, I can't avoid him forever."

"Who?" asked Dick.

"I'll tell you when you're older," said Babs.

"Thanks Babs, your bed's really comfy. I had a few yogurts, sorry," said Cass as she grabbed her backpack, having left the rest of her bags at her apartment.

"No, please, take anything you want. Whatever you don't eat I'm sure Dick will."

"Great, thanks," said Cass and she stole out of the room and the apartment.

xXx

Tonight had not been a good night for Jason. An entire orphanage had been abducted, and some of them had already been killed. Tim and Bruce were working non-stop to find them, and who did it. Dick and Jason were just there to be the muscle.

He stripped down to his wife-beater and underwear, and climbed into bed. He was just falling asleep, just getting comfy when he heard a small noise. A footstep. Jason bolten upright with the pistol he had under his pillow. He shot three rounds through the door and waited. Nothing.

He climbed out of bed and pushed the door open. Nothing, darkness. He descended down a few stairs, and waited again.

"If you're gonna kill me, can you do it in a few hours? I'd like to be well rested for my second date with Death," he announced to the darkness, and climbed the stairs back into his room.

The black shape on his bed made him aim his gun and fire in surprise. The hammer clicked, but nothing else happened. He forgot to reload before he went to bed, he was slipping, that's for sure.

"Jesus! I almost popped one in your head," he said.

"Hello Jason," said Cass. Her legs were crossed and she was sitting on his bed. Jason couldn't help but think of another time where it excited him to see her sittng as she did now.

"What are you doing here?" asked Jason as he sat at the table across from her to clean and load his gun.

"I came to see you."

"Good to see you, bye." So that's why Dick was so adamant he come to the Manor for dinner: to welcome the lost daughter home.

Cass didn't seem to care. "I was in Hong Kong," she said.

"Oh? That's fantastic, never been. It's been great catching up, but I'd like to go to bed, see ya."

Cass stood and crossed over to him. He looked her dead in the eyes. His blue mixed with her brown.

"You're still mad at me," she said.

"I'm abso-fucking-lutely fine with you," said Jason.

"I said I was sorry, Jason."

"I accept your apology, now get out."

Cass just stared at him in silence. Jason stood, towering over her.

"Look Cass, I don't know what you expected when you came over here. Me crying about how I've missed you for the past three years-"

"Two and a half."

"What-the-fuck-ever! It was a long time ago, I'm different, you're different. It's good to see you, glad to know you're home. Hope you drop by again when I'm not ready to blast you're fucking brains out. Now get the fuck out."

Cass stared for a few more minutes, but Jason couldn't take anymore of it. He crossed to the bed and got in, ready to sleep.

"I'm at Green Meadow Towers if you want to visit," said Cass.

"Greatthanksbye," said Jason, keeping his eyes closed.

"Bye Jason." Cass flicked off the light when she left.

Jason tossed and turned for an hour or two, but his thoughts were swimming to frantically. He could tell he wasn't going to be able to fall asleep sober.

xXx

Cass stood in line at the market not far from where she lived. Only the essentials for today: cereal, milk, bread, eggs, lunch meats, condiments, a few frozen dinners, etc. The apartment had come fully furnished, but she didn't trust the sketchy carpet and furniture. She had decided to go shopping for those this after noon, but food came first and foremost in her book.

Jason was right, what had she been expecting when she went to his safe house? Cass decided she didn't really know, she just felt like it was the right thing to do. Meeting Jason just made sense to her.

She tried to clear the air, tried is the key word. She could tell he wasn't happy to see her, nor was he happy to have her in his house when he was supposed to be asleep.

She couldn't tell if he was still mad at her about what had happened.

She didn't know if she'd ever know.

Chapter Text

Jason woke several hours after Cass left with a small hangover. Really just a headache. He hadn't drank much, but it was still enough to make him regret drinking so much. He'd been trying to cut back. Save his liver a little, plus he'd heard about how alcohol before bed can reduce the time in REM sleep.

He guessed he was getting self-conscious in his old age. Because that's what he felt: old. Old and tired.

He never felt the same as he did two and a half years ago, though, he never admitted this particular fact to himself. He just slowly built a bridge over the chasm in his heart and told himself life had always been like this. Life had always sucked for Jason. The presence (or lack of) of a certain former-Batgirl in his life did not change this fact.

He lay back in his bed and stretched. It was around 1, he should get some breakfast. Then work out a little. Jason had two options for working out. They were: staying in the safe house and training the old fashioned way (sit-ups, push-ups, ect.) Or he could go to the Manor and use the personal gym there. If he trained in the safe house, he couldn't get the work out he wanted. But there were all kinds of cons to working out at the manor. Like Tim might be there, or Steph, or Dick. Certainly Bruce would have one or all of them watching him like a hawk. Jason could (dis)agree to disagree with a lot of points that Bruce had, but he wasn't about to blow up his house. Not today anyway.

Or worse, what if Cass was there?

He shuddered to think what his libido would do if he saw her train. She had always been silently sensual, almost like she was trying to drive him wild just from stretching.

If there was one thing he had tried not to notice the night before was that she had not changed physically. Maybe a bit plumper, but not overly so. A little weight suited her, especially with how skinny she'd been when she left

Maybe he would brave the Manor gym after all.

xXx

Dick fiddled with his collar as he stood in front of Jason's door. Why was he doing this?

"Because Jason deserves to know."

How will he react?

"Don't know."

Great...

Dick knocked decisively. "Jason, it's Dick, I know you're in there."

Silence. An inkling doubt blossomed in Dick's stomach: "What if he isn't here?"

"Jason, we need to talk," he said.

More silence. He looked stupid talking to a door.

"Jason it's about Cass."

Silence, before Jason opened the door and pulled Dick in. Dick gasped at being pulled, and stumbled slightly.

As he regained his balance, Jason glowered at him. "Spit it out before I shoot you in the fucking head," he spat at Dick.

"She's gone," said Dick.

"What?!"

"Cass-"

"Shut up about her, I never want to see her or speak to her ever again."

"Well-"

"What makes you think you can just come here and talk to me about her, huh? What gave you the goddamn-"

"Jason will you shut up!" Jason did. "Thank you. Cass is missing. She has been for almost a week now."

Jason just stood and stared at him.

"She bought a plane ticket for Peru, but there's no evidence that she even boarded the plane," Dick continued. "Nothing's missing from her apartment. She didn't leave a note or anything. She's just gone."

Jason slowly sank into a chair behind him.

"Jason-" said Dick. "Please say something."

Jason closed his eyes. "Get out Dick."

"Jason-"

Jason gripped the chair, his knuckles white, face red. "I said get out!"

Dick sighed and left, shutting the door behind him. He called Babs, maybe she would know what to do.

xXx

Cass had thought about going back to the manor...maybe swim or meditate in the garden. But decided solitude was the best medicine at the moment. Tim has visited her with a Japanese Peace Lily as a house warming gift.

"I've been tending to one for about six months or so," he said. "Oxygenates the room, helps you think. It's needs are simple."

Cass thanked him, pretty sure it would die like everything else she'd ever tried to take care of.

He told her about last night's patrol and the orphanage that had been abducted. "Yeah, Dick has been a real help. Jason too, I guess." He stared at her, gauging her reaction.

Cass tried to play it cool. "That's good."

"Babs told us that you went to see him. But not how it went."

Cass tightened her grip on the mug of tea she'd made. She took a sip, soothing. "Because she doesn't know how it went," she said cryptically.

There was a short pause. Cass could almost hear Tim's thoughts as he debated whether or not to ask the question he obviously wanted to ask. She wasn't going to say anything unless he asked.

"How- Christ. How did it go?" asked Tim.

"Fine," said Cass. She sipped her tea and took a long time to swallow. "We talked a little."

"Oh?"

"It was right after patrol and he was tired."

Tim nodded, not sure what to say now. Luckily he didn't have to, as his phone rang.

"That's Bruce," he said. He picked up. Cass took his mug and hers to the kitchen. If Bruce called, Tim would probably be leaving. She dumped the tea out and braced her hands against the sink.

She allowed herself one second to be overwhelmed. Her life had been flipped upside down, and for what? Was she really redeemed for her actions?

Tim took longer on the phone than Cass would've thought. But she didn't complain. She washed and dried the mugs in the time it took for Tim to finish.

His face appeared from around the corner.

"Hey, um, Cass?" he said, tentatively. She raised one eyebrow.

"Can you- uh, do me a big favor?"

She raised the eyebrow higher.

"Bruce needs me to be at the manor, and, would you be willing to, uh, come along?"

She raised her chin with her eyebrow.

"Thing is- Jason's there."

Cass understood. Bruce always felt like Jason needed a babysitter, but was almost always unwilling to do it himself. Tim didn't want to do it for obvious reasons.

"What about Steph?" asked Cass.

Tim shook his head. "She's busy. And Bruce can't reach Babs or Dick."

"Can't Bruce do it himself?"

"He's at work."

Cass shook her head. Bruce was always "doing something" when it came to Jason. "What would I even do while I was there?"

Tim smiled like he'd won. "Whatever you want. It sounds like Jason's just there to work out. So just come and meditate or something. Do whatever you want."

Cass sighed. For Tim, she would do almost anything. A hour or so of meditation or yoga wouldn't kill her, even if Jason was there.

"Go ahead of me, I'll change and be there in ten minutes."

Tim clasped his hands together. "Thank you, thank you so much Cass." He left soon after, thanking her for the tea and giving short instructions for the peace lily.

Cass couldn't help but wonder what she'd gotten herself into.

Chapter Text

Jason was lifting weights when Tim arrived on the scene. Jason made it his business to judge Tim whenever he was near.

"'Morning," said Tim, slightly more pleasantly than Jason would've liked.

"It's 2:30," said Jason.

Time shrugged, he started stretching.

"Who shoved a bluebird in you?" asked Jason.

Tim shrugged, and continued with his stretches.

"Did you get laid last night?"

Tim's face went red. "That's none of your business," he said.

"Was it the blonde or that guy?"

"What g- There is no guy!"

"What's his name...?" Jason snapped his fingers as if trying to remember something from years ago. "Carter? Carson?"

"Connor!" said Tim. "And we don't-" Tim made a few exasperated noises at Jason. The former just smirked. His work. for the moment, was done.

He was still basking in his smugness when his worst nightmare walked through the door. Cass had yoga pants on and nothing but a sports bra. He felt his blood run cold, then extremely hot. He put the weights down to catch his breath for a moment.

She didn't pay any attention to him. Tim, however, did.

"Hey Cass," said Tim. Cass nodded at him. "Fancy seeing you here."

Cass stared at Tim for a moment, then began to stretch. For a split second, her eyes flicked to their corners to look at Jason.

Jason occupied himself with his weights. Don't look at her ass. Don't look at her ass. Don't look at her ass. Dang it.

"So," said Tim. "How's the new apartment?"

Cass kept stretching, not pausing in her answer. "The same as it was when you were there a half hour ago." She turned a yoga DVD on, turning off Jason's show.

He grunted. "I was watching that!" He put his weights down.

Cass raised an eyebrow, and pointed to the other TV across the room.

"I can't see my show from way over there."

"Then move," was Cass's curt reply.

"I was here first," he said through gritted teeth.

Cass ignored him, flipping through the menu to her preferred workout.

Jason narrowed his eyes. "Excuse me! I'm talking to you!" He crossed the room as he spoke. Tim's eyes went wide.

"And I'm not listening," said Cass, not looking at him.

Jason growled at her, balling his fists.

"Whoa guys," said Tim. He tried to put himself between the two of them. "You know, we've all been working hard. How about we all go get lemonade or something?"

Jason pushed Tim out of the way. "What are you doing here?" He pointed at Cass.

"Working out," she said.

"No, I mean, what're you doing in Gotham?"

"Jason-" said Tim. Cass pushed Tim away.

"Where else should I be?" she said, narrowing her eyes.

"Hong Kong seemed like a good place. But fucking Timbuktu would've worked," said Jason. "You think you can waltz back here, and have everything be exactly the same. Ha! After what you did? Fat chance!"

Cass's body went perfectly still, her eyes narrowed to slits. Tim could feel the anger radiating off her. "You're one to talk about coming back," her voice was perfectly still.

Jason didn't say anything, he just grabbed the front of Cass's tank top and pulled her so close they touched foreheads. His hot, angry breath covered her face.

"Say that one more time," he said through gritted teeth.

"If you want to fight me Jason, all you had to do was say so."

"What's going on here?!" Dick crossed the room and began pulling at Jason's shoulders. "What's going on?" he asked again.

Jason let Cass go, and crossed the room to his duffle bag. He put on his coat and left without a word.

Cass sunk to the floor and sat with her legs outstretched and knees bent. She leaned her head on her knee.

Babs wheeled herself in, having heard all the commotion as well as saw Jason leave.

"What's going on?" she said.

"Apparently they can't be in a room together without fighting," said Tim.

Cass snapped her head up and looked at him. "You're the one who asked me to be here!"

"I know, and I'm sorry," he said. "I thought I'd be the one he's go after."

Babs groaned. "He's angry at Cass for leaving," she said. Everyone looked at her incredulously. "Subconsciously he feels like she abandoned him."

"Why would he feel like that?" asked Dick.

Babs rolled her eyes. "Because he's still in love with her!"

xXx

Jason spent the next hour in his favorite diner. He stared at the menu without ordering anything until the waitress threatened to kick him out. He ordered and she left.

He felt-...numb. No, not numb. So many emotions flooded through his veins that he shook and his knees bounced if he wasn't careful. But then he would get these spurts of nothingness, of absolute calm. Then the dread and sadness would kick in. So he would let his guard down and let the emotions flood him.

Cass.

That was the only clear thought in his head.

Cass.

She was back, she was beautiful, she was single, she lived alone. She left without telling him, didn't even say goodbye. She was gone for two years. And there'd been others for him. Well, not truly, but she didn't have to know that. And what if there'd been someone else for her in Hong Kong?

But here she was; two years gone by and she hadn't seemed to change. He wondered if he'd changed at all.

After the diner he went back to the safe house. He showered and went back to bed. When he closed his eyes, all he could see was Cass in the weightroom looking back at him.

Chapter Text

The most striking difference between Hong Kong and Gotham was the weather. Not the number of people, not the different languages, none of that. The feeling of the city was the same: a whole lot of people crammed into a relatively small area. No, the most striking difference to Cass was the weather. Particularly the cold, Cass's least favorite state of being. She liked to be warm, curled up in the comfort of her bed. Napping in the sunlight on the couch with a blanket. Cups of tea and slippers. Warmth, not heat, was the best part of living.

She supposed that was her favorite physical aspect of Jason. He was always warm. With her cheek pressed against his chest, clothed or not, and a blanket thrown over her. Man, she could've slept through days like that.

Now a days she groped half asleep in bed for a warm companion. When she found none, her lazy eyes opened to the sight of sun streaming in the window.

She should get a cat.

No, that'd be a bad idea. Cats shed, and they could be problematic. Plus cats needed to be taken care of. If she couldn't even keep a plant alive, how was she supposed to take care of an animal?

Slippers on, shuffling to kitchenette. Fridge open, she shivered. Cold: the worst state of being.

Breakfast, shower, fresh clothes. She wrapped a towel around her head and slipped on flip flops. Though Cain had forced her to walk barefoot on hot coals without flinching, she still felt best with a cushiony surface beneath her feet.

She slumped on the couch and turned on the TV. She propped her feet on the coffee table, one ankle crossing over the other. Supernatural marathon today, that sounded good.

She was debating breaking into the cans of pop when there was a knock at the door.

Three curt knocks, approximately half a second long each. She waited a moment, they didn't knock again. She could only estimate what this meant. Taking the towel off her head, she went to the door and opened it.

xXx

Babs'd had a pretty uneventful morning herself. Though, not alone. They'd had an agreement that if Dick was going to stay the night, use hot water, and eat her food, he had to come up with the meals. So he made her scrambled eggs with ham that morning. Not her favorite, but she wasn't going to split hairs when she had something to talk with him about.

Dick pecked her cheek and slid the plate in front of her. He sat across from her with his own food.

"Now, what about Cass and Jason?" said Babs as she ate her eggs.

Dick shrugged as he ate his leftover pizza. "What do you suggest? Jason isn't about to just forgive her," he said.

"He will, we've just got to figure out how."

Dick shook his head. "Why's he being such a dickhead about this whole thing?"

Babs raised an eyebrow. "Because he feels she's in the wrong, but, at the same time, knows it's wrong to feel that way."

Dick raised his eyebrows. "How do you know?"

She eyed him knowingly. "Through personal experience with a similar situation."

Dick thought back and then winced as he remembered. "That was a long time ago, and I've made up for it. Haven't I?"

Babs sighed. "Anyway, we've got to get them back together. I've already spoken with Steph-"

"Wait, wait, wait, who is 'we?'"

"Everybody."

"Who is everybody?"

Babs rolled her eyes. "You, me, Tim, Steph, Alfred, maybe Bruce even."

"I highly doubt Bruce is going to help when Jason is involved."

"He might. It would be to his advantage."

Dick raised his eyebrow again. "How would Jason and Cass's relationship be to Bruce's advantage?"

"They'd be together while on patrol and off. That way Bruce wouldn't have to worry about having you, Tim, or Steph watching him when Bruce isn't."

Dick nodded. "Ok, but Bruce hasn't reinstated Cass on patrol yet."

Babs chewed on her lip. She had forgotten that detail. "Do you think he would reinstate her just for that reason?"

Dick scoffed and shrugged. He itched the back of his neck. "You're guess is as good as mine, Babs. I think he'd be just as likely to kick Jason off patrol. The only reason he doesn't is because Jason would just go out anyway."

"Well, doesn't Jason kill less when he's with Cass?"

"He doesn't kill much these days, he knows Bruce'll tear him a new one."

"Still," Barbara felt a new argument bubbling in the back of her mind. "He's less violent when she's around. So that's why Bruce should let her back on."

Dick nodded. "But you're assuming two things, Babs." He held up one finger, "One, that Bruce will reinstate Cass as Jason's babysitter." He raised a second finger, "Two, that Jason and Cass will just magically work it out."

Babs held up her index finger. "I was getting to that. We need a plan of attack. Call Tim and Steph, we need a war council."

Dick sighed. Babs raised her eyebrow. "What," she said. "Don't you want Jason and Cass to get back together?"

"Of course I do," said Dick. "I just don't know how it's going to work."

"We don't even know if it'll work," said Babs, laying her hand on his. "But we should at least try."

xXx

Bruce'd like to pretend he hadn't spent the night at Selina's. He met up with her on patrol and the rest can be left up to the imagination. In the morning he went back to the manor.

No work today, he decided. He descended the secret entrance to the BatCave, and started analyzing his data from the night before. Nothing too unusual, except the elevated amount of gang activity. But the amount wasn't what concerned him, it was the location.

Most gangs functioned in the East End, with only the big crime bosses like Falcone and the Black Mask venturing into the inner city. Even then, that was more akin to the Mafia or a crime ring than a gang. Yet there was a lot of gang activity on the North side of of town. This was confusing because the North side wasn't rich or poor. Middle class working citizens lived there with their spouses and 2.5 kids. A lot of students lived in the North East part because of the cheap housing, but the gang activity was definitely centered in the North.

He could already tell that this was going to take more than one patrol.

Chapter Text

Cassandra steeled her resolve as she was invited back into Wayne Manor. Alfred took her coat, and brought her Cherry Vanilla Coke, her favorite. Alfred was a saint, everyone knew that. Class sincerely hoped the gods would grant immortality unto him, because no one in the Bat Family would survive without him.

She had come to see Bruce, however. Luckily he was taking a day off from the office and was working on Bat things.

He didn't turn around when she stepped behind him. He sat in the humongous chair at the console in the Batcave. He knew she was there, she knew that shift in his seat.

"Yes Cassandra?" he asked in his deep droll.

"I've come to ask you something," she said.

"What?"

"I would like to take up being Black Bat once more."

Bruce turned in his chair and looked at her.

"No," he said.

"Why not?"

"You returning will cause trouble in the team."

"You're talking about Jason."

"Naturally."

"So he's more valuable than I am."

"No."

"Then why is his cooperation more important than my presence."

"We need Jason."

"Why?"

"If he goes back to being a vigilante-"

"We're all vigilantes."

"-he'll cause more trouble than he's worth. It's best to keep him on the team."

"Then what's stopping me from becoming a 'vigilante,' as you say?"

"You won't."

"Why not?"

"Because I'm not kicking you off the team forever Cassandra. You're too good a fighter to keep on the bench. You've only been back for a month, let's give it one more month."

Cassandra narrowed her eyes at Bruce. "How do I know that in a month you won't say 'Wait another month' and so on?"

"You don't." Bruce turned back to his work.

"I would pull my own weight," said Cass. She clenched her fists at her sides. "I'm ready now to fight."

"You are ready," said Bruce without turning around. "But the team isn't ready for you."

Cass bowed her head and bit her lip to fight back the tears. She turned on her heels and marched back into the living room of the Manor. No one was around so she sat on the couch and rubbed the tears from her eyes. This was not the time or the place to cry. She was angry and frustrated. She hadn't come back to Gotham to sit around.

"Hey." Tim had crept quietly into the room, and now leaned against the doorframe looking at Cass. "What's up?"

"I shouldn't have come back."

"What do you mean?"

"I didn't come back to stay at home and water a rubber plant. I came to fight!" She stood in her reverie. "That's what I trained to do! That's what I was born to do!"

"Calm down Cass!" Tim said. "No is saying you can't fight."

"Bruce is! He values that brute in the helmet's feelings over my abilities, over my talents! I should've stayed in Hong Kong, at least there I was useful."

She went to the closet and grabbed her coat from the hanger.

"C'mon Cass, calm down," said Tim as Cass angrily jammed her arms into the sleeves. "Don't leave, at least let me take you home."

"I'd prefer to walk," said Cass and she slammed the door behind her.

xXx

Jason leaned over the balcony that overlooked the door. He watched as Tim scratched his head, muttered about Cass, and walked away. Jason waited until Tim was far enough away, then he descended the stairs to the Batcave.

"Jason, what do you need?" asked Bruce.

"You're a real bastard, you know that right?" asked Jason.

"I'm sure you feel I deserve that."

"Damn right I feel you deserve that."

"If you just came to insult me I suggest you leave now."

Jason shrugged his shoulders and left the Batcave. He had come to use the gym and he was looking forwards to one hell of a workout.

xXx

Cass lay in her bed several hours later. During her training she had spent several hours motionless in various uncomfortable positions. This was very comfortable, but she still remained motionless.

Beside her lay the black and yellow costume Tim had given her in Hong Kong. This was how she felt living in Gotham. So close to the life she'd had before, to Black Bat. Yet, she could only lay there and look at her costume.

Tim had called and she had apologized. She explained the conversation with Bruce, and Tim said he would do what he could to persuade him. In the meantime, another night of watching TV, cleaning, meditating, and being bored out of her mind.

She resolved that tonight, she would go out. Surely there was a movie she was willing to suffer through. In the least, she would eat a real dinner and not frozen dinners, again.

As she stretched and sat up, she wished, yet again, that she had a cat. Cass hated cats, but at least it would be another beating heart in the apartment. She looked at the costume, but didn't put it away.

She grabbed her coat and bag, and walked out of her apartment. Tonight was not the night to regret.

xXx

The boss had said tonight was the night. The night they had prepared for. Everyone got in position. Everything was set up just like the boss said.

There were so many people standing around. It was a pity they'd all have to die.

xXx

In the center of the Northside was a quasi-Time Square spot. Though there was less neon and screens, several buildings and streets converged into one large space. Cass was among the several thousand people walking the North Square tonight. She was planning to see a movie at the movie over at the Cineplex. They had the best popcorn and cheap refills.

Though it was only 7:30, the sun had already set on a cold January night. Snow was piled in places, but was not falling tonight. Cass was contemplating wether it would snow when the movie was over when the street lights and signs went out.

Though Cass herself was calm, immediately several women screamed at the top of their lungs. Cass was bearded off the sidewalk and into the street. Several cars had turned their lights on, but it wasn't enough to see. Cass gritted her teeth as the sound of honking and bodies hitting objects meant some cars had hit people.

People were yelling and screaming for the lights to turn back on and to go home. Cass could feel the tension and the panic as she stood stock still in the middle of the street. Several people hit her as she stood, but she did not fall. People were on their cellphones but no one could get a signal. The Square was utter pandemonium.

Just as suddenly as they had gone off, the lights turned back on. Collectively, everyone sighed in relief. Until they saw what had occurred in the blackness. Every street was blocked off by concrete blocks and men with guns standing in front of them. More men with guns were herding more people out of the surrounding buildings. Everyone looked as the few screens in the Square flickered to life to show an image of a man. When he smiled and moved, they all knew it was a video.

"Citizens of Gotham," he said, raising his arms. "It's good to finally be in front of you."

"Who's that?" people asked.

"He looks familiar."

"He's got nice hair."

"Will he save us?"

"Where's Batman when you need him?"

"I'm sure you have many questions," said the man on the TV. "But there's really only one thing you need to know." The camera zoomed out to show the man standing on a rooftop with a bound and gagged man next to him. "This man is the executive director of Oz Corp., a local 'environmentally friendly' group." The man's smile grew wider. "I picked him off the street at random."

The man pulled a gun from his waist, raised it, and shot the bound man in the head. Everyone gasped, and people started screaming again.

The man on screen waved his had and two men picked up the executive director of Oz Corp.'s body. They dragged him off camera. "I will be selecting one of you from the crowd every hour. You will meet the same fate," he said as the men did this. The camera zoomed in closer to the man, and his expression turned serious. "You may ask 'But why are you doing this?' or 'Who are you?' Oh my dears." His smile widened. "Wouldn't you like to know?"

The screen went black.

Chapter Text

For Barbra, the night had started out so dull. The boys and Steph had already gone out, so she and Alfred were left in the Batcave once again. Alfred had just brought tea for them both when he pointed out the monster.

"Ms. Gordon, you should call the Master," he said.

Babs looked at the screen and felt her blood run cold. Red alerts everywhere over the Northern part of Gotham.

"Batman," she said over the intercom. "We've got trouble in the Northside."

xXx

Cass was trying to stay calm. She stood in the middle of the sidewalk; people pushed her as they tried to run. No one was getting anywhere, however.

Cass surveyed her surroundings and came to several conclusions. A) Getting back to her apartment would be a fruitless attempt. B) They had jammed Cell reception so reaching Batman would be out of the question. C) She would not be seeing a movie tonight. D) She definitely should've just stayed home.

Anarchy had erupted in the square. Men fighting and women screaming, while Cass patiently stood and observed.

Her eye was drawn to a particular woman being roughhoused by two men. They were grabbing at her clothes and laughing at her. The woman was crying and trying to get away, but the men kept grabbing her back. Cass, didn't know why, but she felt a certain sympathy for this woman. She walked forwards, and stepped between the men and the woman.

"Hey girlie, what's the big idea?" asked one.

"Do you wanna have some fun too?" asked the other, leering at her.

"Leave her alone," said Cass. "Move along."

"Kid, get out of here," said the woman. "They'll kill you."

"Yeah listen to her," said the first, much larger and hairier than the other.

"We wouldn't want to hurt such a pretty little girl," said the other, reaching his hand out to touch her.

Without changing her expression, Cass grabbed the man's hand and twisted it in the opposite direction. The man squealed in pain, and backed off. The first man reached out to grab her, but Cass kicked his hand away. This seemed only to aggravate them both.

Soon they were in an all-out brawl. It wasn't much of a fight, honestly. Cass had had worse from half-wit goons. Soon the men were spitting fire at her, but running away.

She looked down at the woman who was still on the ground.

"Thank you," she said.

"Find a safe place to-"

"Look out!" she cried.

Cass felt strong arms wrap around her and a cloth press to her mouth. She kicked and pushed, and managed to get herself free. But whatever she had inhaled was some strong stuff. Not to mention there were more of them than of her. She was overpowered, and felt her limbs being bound as her vision faded into blackness.

xXx

Batman, Red Robin, and Nightwing met up with Robin and Batgirl at the outskirts of the Northside. Red Hood was already there, waiting for them. Batman gave them what he knew.

"The square is blocked off from the rest of the city," he said. "Goons and roadblocks have accomplished this. Whoever is doing this is picking random citizens and killing them one per hour."

"Yes but what do they want?" asked Nightwing.

"He doesn't say," said Batman. "Oracle is looking into it."

"It's been chaos," said Red Hood. "Everyone's fighting and panicking."

"We should spread out and look at-" Batman was cut off by the screens once again turning on. The smiling man returned to view, still smiling.

"Well, well, it's time for another one of you to die," he said. "This one wasn't really random, sorry. She stood out amongst the lot of you. Now you'll get to see how great she really is."

The camera zoomed out and showed a kneeling woman with something over her head. The man pulled it off and held up her face to the camera. Her eyes were still closed and her mouth was open.

Stephanie was the only one to react audibly at first.

"Cass!" she gasped.

"How'd they even get her?" asked Red Robin.

"He does have more goons than is really necessary," said Robin.

"Is she dead already?" asked Batgirl.

The man grabbed Cass by the hair and shook her to wake her up. She winced and called out, still only half-conscious. She lazily opened her eyes and blinked.

"Look," said the man. "You're on TV."

xXx

Cass quickly regained her senses, realizing quickly what was happening. This is what she gets for helping out.

But Batman would save her. Wouldn't he? Her mind screamed "No," but she felt her traitorous heart beat wildly with hope. So many emotions flooded her, but she kept her straight face.

"What's your name miss?" asked the man, shoving a microphone in her face.

Cass remained stoically silent, only looking at the camera. The man shook her violently, but she kept her eyes fixed on the camera.

"Alright then," he said. "Maybe if you won't tell us your name, you'll give us some last words. Say goodbye Missy."

The microphone was once again pressed into her face and she winced. She formulated the words in her brain to make sure she would get them right.

"Jason," she said. "If you're watching this, please know that I'm sorry."

The man laughed at her. "So sentimental, so sweet. Is he your sweetheart?"

Cass only looked at the camera.

"Throw her over the side," he said.

The goons dragged her over to the side of the roof and perched her on the edge. Cass closed her eyes and felt the air surround her body as they pushed her off. At least she would die having known she made her peace. She did her best to keep her eyes towards the night sky. She would die looking at stars.

Chapter Text

As soon as Batman saw that Cass was the next intended victim, he began searching for the origin of the feed. Oracle went on it, triangulating Cass's position. By the time she'd found it, the Man had uttered those faithful words, "Throw her over the side."

Bruce pointed to the building in question. "She's on the Greyjoy Corp. building, there!" he shouted.

They all turned in time to see a bundle being pushed to the edge and tipped off. All in unison, they shot out grappling hooks and swooped down to save her. But only one of them could grab her first.

xXx

Cass had resigned herself to death when she felt the wind knocked out of her from being grabbed. She barely heard what everyone was screaming at her, or felt that they even landed. Her bonds were cut and she felt her lungs expand from being restricted.

"Are you ok?!" her savior screamed at her. Stephanie's warm, blue eyes were now bright with excitement and fear, and they bore into Cass' brown ones.

After a few short breathes, Cass held her thumb up in an affirmative. Stephanie grabbed Cass in a tight embrace, once again knocking the wind out of her. Cass breathed heavily and wrapped her arms around Stephanie, stroking her hair.

"I thought you were going to die," said Steph.

"I'm alright, Batgirl," said Cass.

"This wouldn't have happened if Bruce had just let you come with us."

"I'm with you now aren't I?"

"Steph," said Dick, just now joining them on the roof. "Let her breathe, she needs to sit down. Her adrenaline must be out of control."

Indeed, Cass was shaking ever so slightly. She sat on the roof of the building Steph had landed on.

"Where is everyone else?" she asked.

"We all grappled out to grab you," said Steph. "But I caught you." She was practically beaming.

"As soon as we saw that Steph grabbed you," said Dick. "The rest of them landed and immediately went out to get them."

"Even Ja- Red Hood?"

"He was the first out there," said Steph.

"But he didn't grab me," said Cass.

"No, but he was the first on top of the Greyjoy building."

Cass could breathe easier now, but she was still shaking. "Thank you for saving me, Steph," she said.

"You're welcome, Cass. I'm your friend."

"So am I," said Dick, putting his hands on his hips. "Even though I didn't save you."

"You two should go," said Cass.

"Batgirl, you go," said Dick. "I think Batman wants you on the north side of the square."

"What about you?" asked Steph.

"I'll take Cass home and then find you. She doesn't live too far away."

Steph nodded and went off.

"I'll need some help grappling," said Cass. "But, other than that, I can get there."

She and Dick raced across the rooftops. He as Nightwing, and, if she didn't think too hard, she was Black Bat again. Dick helped her grapple onto her roof, and bid her goodnight.

"I'll do what I can to get Jason to come and talk to you tomorrow," he said. "But I make no guarantees."

Cass nodded. "Thanks Nightwing, goodnight."

"Goodnight, random citizen," he said, jokingly, and bounded away.

Cass itched so badly to join him, to jump into the fray. But she was also tired and in much need of a shower. She could still feel the affects of whatever drug they used on her, making her somewhat groggy. Her adrenaline had spiked once more, meaning it was going to crash at some point. At least breathing was much easier now, though, she was sure Steph had inadvertently bruised one of Cass' ribs.

Despite all that, she was fine. No broken bones or blood, no concussion or anything of the sort. Jason definitely would've just gone and helped (well, "helped"). But she wasn't Jason. She may still be crazy about him, but at least she wasn't crazy like him. She was slightly worried about the after affects of that drug, obviously her captors hadn't cared how it affected their victims in a long term sense. Hopefully she could sleep it off. So that's what she decided to do.

xXx

Jason panted as he leaned against the side of the roof. He was bruised and bloody, but that was more than the goons he'd just taken down. They were definitely going to be needing a trip to the hospital.

"Where's the main boss?" he asked.

Bruce was looking out over the square, his back to Jason. "He got away," Bruce said. "He called off the roadblocks however, now the police and rescue are getting through." He turned and looked at Jason, leaning against the roof. "I'm going to talk to Gordon, I'll send EMTs and police up here for the goons. You should make yourself scarce."

Jason nodded. "Whereto?"

"Do a sweep of the East End. Call if you find anything, then just go home." And, just like that, Bruce jumped down to find Commissioner Gordon.

Jason followed suit, but towards the East End. All he could think about was the moment Cass was tipped over the edge. In that moment, his entire world stopped and she was the only thing in motion, plummeting towards the sidewalk. In his haste to grab her, he missed his target, and his heart almost stopped dead. He saw Batgirl grab her and land on the nearest building. That was all he needed for a kick start. He grappled and jumped on the Greyjoy building. He didn't really notice much of anything except the anger he felt for these men.

And now he was patrolling the East End. No doubt looking for their mysterious criminal. Jason doubted he would find anything. This guy was probably halfway to Canada by now.

He did stop a few muggings and even made sure a woman made it inside without being disturbed. Other than that, not much was happening. The hours slipped by quickly, and, as if suddenly, the first rays of sunlight penetrated the deep blue sky.

Jason was tired. But no matter how tired he was, he knew he couldn't go home and to bed. If he did, he would lose all resolve to what he was planing on doing.

Cass' apartment building was...nice. For a Northside student housing building at least. The only problem was that he didn't know what floor she was on, or which apartment. He almost left when he heard a buzzing in his ear.

"She's in apartment 1423 on the 14th floor," Babs spoke in his ear. She had, no doubt, tracked his position.

He grunted. "Thanks Oracle," he muttered. "Not a word of this to Nightwing."

"That's fair. You can get in through an open service door on the roof. You can probably use the elevator, the night guard is usually asleep by now."

"How do you know so much?"

"Cass."

Jason grunted once more, as he made his way to the roof.

"I know I don't need to tell you both to stay safe. But-"

"GoodNIGHT Oracle!" said Jason as he turned his communicator off. Just as Babs said, the door was unlocked. The elevator music was maddening. Too catchy, too icky. But he rode down to the 14th floor.

He stopped in front of Cass' door. What if she wasn't awake? He knocked tentatively. When she didn't answer right away, he started to walk back to the elevator.

"Jason." That voice made him stop and turn back around. Whenever he saw her after a long period of absence, he was always surprised at how small she really was. He guessed he just has her built up in his mind.

He spun his helmet in his hand, nervously.

"Hey Cass," he said.

"Did- did Dick send you?"

Jason furrowed his brow. "No, did Dick say I was coming?"

"He said he would try to make you come."

"Oh." Silence for a moment. "Well, I came because I wanted to."

"Why?"

Jason looked around at the ceiling, the floor.

"I don't know," he said, almost too quiet to hear.

"Come inside," Cass said.

Jason followed her. They sat on the furniture across from each other.

"I have tea," said Cass. "No beer, I'm afraid. Um, water. Cherry vanilla coke."

"Tea, for something hot."

Cass stepped out to her kitchenette and began making the tea. Jason tapped his leg in agitation. He honestly didn't even know why he was here. To apologize? For what? To say what he really felt? And what did he feel exactly?

He stood, still agitated. "Cass, I'm just going to go, sorry to-"

"No!" Cass spoke firmly as she ran up to him, a mug with a half steeped tea bag in hand.

"What Cass?" asked Jason. "What do you want? Why am I here?"

Cass set the mug on a nearby table and softly pushed Jason back on the couch, sitting next to him. Jason couldn't look into her eyes, but she kept them fixed on him.

"I'm sorry Jason," she said.

"For what?"

"For that night two years ago. For leaving without saying goodbye. For everything Jason."

Jason squared his jaw. "And you want me to forgive you?"

"I know you have."

"And how do you know that?"

"You wouldn't be here if you hadn't forgiven me."

She was right about that. Cass usually was. Jason looked at her, so many things, so many words to be said.

"I thought you were going to die tonight," he settled for.

"So did I," she said. "I was ready to."

"I wasn't ready."

"Well, I'm alive."

He wondered if they could both feel what wasn't said. He didn't want to be the one to say it, but he couldn't tell if she didn't want to say it, or she didn't know.

"Do you want to sleep here?" she asked. "You seem very tired."

Jason looked around, this isn't where he wanted this to go.

"You can use my shower."

"There's one more thing I need to say before I do anything," he said.

"What is it Jason?"

He didn't want to sound sappy and gross when he told her. He wanted it to be out already. He wanted this part over with.

"I- Cass-"

Cass nodded. Jason shook his head.

"Oh, fuck it," he said. He grabbed Cass around the waist and kissed her, almost violently. Instead of pulling away, she responded in kind, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. They fell back against the couch. After they parted, he kept giving her small, soft kisses, not wanting to be separated.

He looked down at her, arms still around each other. She nodded, seeming to understand exactly what he was trying to say.

"I'd love that shower if you could join me," he said, smirking.

"Not today," she said. "I need to go out and get you clothes."

"Forget the clothes," he said, running his fingers under the hem of her shirt.

"No," she said. "Go shower, I'll go grab you some clothes, you can sleep in the bed."

Jason, reluctantly, started to get up, not before kissing her again. He held her close, but she wormed out of his grip to put on her coat and shoes.

"I forgot you like to touch me a lot," she said.

"I'll need to remind you then."

"Everything you have said thus far, is an innuendo." Cass wrapped the scarf around her neck.

Jason pulled off his jacket and shrugged. "It's been a while," he said.

"Since what?" she asked.

"Since I had sex with anyone, much less you."

Cass raised one eyebrow as she opened the door. "I'll think about it."

"About what."

"About breaking you out of your slump," she said as she closed the door behind her.

Chapter Text

Cass was back in Hong Kong. Xiang and Li were there, and so was Damian. They were eating noodles, and speaking in Mandarin. But Cass could not understand what they were saying.

She fell backwards through the floor and woke up. She was at Jason's, and she'd had a weird dream. That was it. Cass almost never remembered her dreams, and the ones she did were almost always weird as fuck. This one was no exception.

Jason rolled over and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her back into the bed, and the warmth. She loved the warmth, she loved him. But patrol was soon, and she needed to run back to her apartment to get her costume on.

They'd spent the day together in bed. They'd eaten the stale cereal Jason had, and drank beer. Jason read to her from The Scarlet Pimpernel, one of his favorites. Then they'd napped, and she had just woken up.

A couple of layabouts is what they had become. Jason was neglecting working out to be with her. So she would have to drag him to the gym tomorrow. Maybe they would try a local gym instead of the manor, she'd have to see what he'd be up for.

She wriggled out of Jason's arms and slapped his hands away when they reached for her again. She pulled on her clothes, then her coat and boots. She left Jason in the bed with his limbs sprawled out and a kiss on his forehead.

xXx

Jason was already at the rendezvous spot when she arrived. Cass had nearly forgotten how to maneuver with a cape strapped to her back, but she made do.

"You're late," said Jason, and turned to her. His helmet was off and she could see his smirk. "You're first day back and you're late."

She leaned on the side of the roof, looking out. "What's going on tonight?" she asked.

"It's pretty quiet," said Jason. Cass noticed he'd inched closer to her, but knew he wouldn't try anything physical. When they were on patrol, working was all that mattered.

"Bad night to return to," said Cass.

"Or maybe they know you're back," said Jason. "They're afraid."

"More of you than me."

"You two are so gross," said a voice behind them, and they turned as one man (figuratively). Batgirl was there, staring at them, arms crossed over her chest and hip cocked to one side. Her tone had been disgusted, but she was smiling.

"Welcome back, Black Bat," she said, and crossed the roof to give Cass a hug.

Cass let her and patted her back. Stephanie was too sentimental, but Cass did not complain. There was far too little innocence in the world.

Batgirl left them, so Cass and Jason were on their own.

"How does it feel to be back?" Jason asked.

Cass considered her answer for a moment. "Like everything is right," she finally said.

They both looked down as Oracle hailed them on their intercoms.

"There's a situation over on the East End near the docks," Babs said.

Jason and Cass both extended their grappling guns and fired. As the swung towards the danger, Cass couldn't help but feeling elated at the chance to finally do what she was born to do.