FIC: Reconfigurations (Birds of Prey)

Feb. 9th, 2009 | 10:09 pm
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(My first story written entirely in Google Docs. I am so in love.)

Title: Reconfigurations
Author: rysler
Fandom: DC Universe, Birds of Prey, 52. Spoilers for 52 (up through Week 38, but minor except for The Thing with Booster). Specifically, this page and this page.
Rating: PG
Summary: A conversation between Oracle and Batwoman of absolutely no significance.
Notes: 1100 words. Merchant of Venice-related quotes from here. I'm claiming Fair Use. You'll...see.


"I think we can help each other," Barbara said.

Many miles away, or as close as the Gotham airport security camera on Barbara's computer screen, Kate Kane paused, one foot inside her limo, one hand on her cell phone.

"Oracle," she said.

Barbara ignored that and said, "I need a good woman in Gotham."

"I'm not a good woman, and I'm not--"

"Waiting by the phone?"

It was in bad taste to contact Kane moments after her lover had abandoned her. Tacky. Dinah would disown her for using those kinds of tactics, but Kane was a hard woman to reach. If Barbara didn't try at Kane's most vulnerable, she might never get her.

Still, watching the play of emotions on Kane's face in the grainy, black and white feed made her feel guilty.

Kane closed her eyes. "I work alone."

"You don't have to."

"I want to."

"I don't have anyone else in Gotham. I'd just be providing support."

"Aren't you supporting Nightwing and his new Wonder Boy?"

"I only work with women."

Kane opened her eyes. "What are you offering?"

"A chance to be a hero?"

"What, and maybe get Batman's autograph? Come on. This is my city."

"I can get Renee Montoya back on the force."

Onscreen, Kane glanced around. All around her was space and air. She ducked into the limousine and slammed the door.

"When she gets back," Barbara added.

"If she gets back. Can you--"

"Help her where she's going? No. I wish I could. I can only help with the police thing." She looked at the picture of her father, cradling her six year old self. She reached out and brushed dust off the frame with her thumb.

"What, do you personally know the commissioner or something? They'll never let her back in the G.C.P.D."

"They would. Detective First Grade. Lieutenant in a year. She'd have her pick of cases. Whatever she wanted to work."

Kane was silent.

Barbara waited her out.

"If she even wanted to go back," Kane finally said.

"If she wanted," Barbara said.

"And I'd be your lap-dog."

"I just want to share information with you. That's all."

"Like where I can find the people I've been looking for?"

"We're going to have to help each other on that." Barbara put her head in her hand.

The world was becoming a complicated place. Information everywhere, except what someone might need to save the world.

"I'll be waiting by the phone," Kane said. She ended the call.

Barbara pushed her chair back, away from the grainy feed of Gotham, toward the glass windows that showed Metropolis.

"Superheroes falling from the sky," she said to herself, and then winced, thinking of Booster.

Tourist camera footage, security camera footage, autopsy photos, computer simulations of the explosion, all showing one man's corpse. Irrevocable information. She thought of Ted. Then she tried to think of things not lost as the sun set over Metropolis.

A city without Superman.

Her phone rang.

"Yeah," she said.

The sky turned from orange to an empty grayish white.

"I just called," Dinah sang through the line, "To say I love you--"

"How's Star City, Dinah?" Barbara interrupted.

"Oh, fabulous. Ollie's actually looking good in the polls. Can you believe that? Him? Maybe there's something in the water. We're in the one city that's not falling apart. Probably because superheroes haven't abandoned it. Except me. But Ollie doesn't--He's doing this lone wolf thing, anyway."


"Look, not that babysitting in Metropolis isn't fun, but that's why I called."

Barbara pinched the earpiece as hard as she could, but she couldn't stave off the inevitable.

"I'm going east. Like, East. I'll be out of touch for a while."

"Where are you going? You're already on leave, and--"

"Can't say."

"How will I--"

"You won't."


Dinah, please.

Dinah said, "I really just called to say that. I mean, I love you. And goodbye."


"You've got Ollie's number."

Barbara swallowed.

Dinah hung up.

Barbara bit her lip. Her shoulders shook, but she managed not to lose control of herself. The computer monitor beckoned. She ignored it, and the skyline, in favor of rolling toward the kitchen. She had no reason to be bitter. Kane had said goodbye to Renee, and Oliver to Dinah. The hero business was a lonely one.

Still, just once--

Helena appeared in the doorway, with a stack of papers in one arm and a Cheetos bag dangling from her fingers.

Barbara wiped at her cheeks.

"Help me grade papers?" Helena asked.

"What're they on?"

"The Merchant of Venice. And you won't believe how bad they are."

"I can't believe you let high school students read The Merchant of Venice."

"You can't believe it? Their parents had fits signing the permission slips. It's great."


"Look, half the kids are trying to get their hands on Everyman, the other half are trying to get their hands on crack. I thought this would get their attention."

"Did it work?"

"When we watched the movie in class, they made me rewind the part where the boys kissed."

Barbara rolled her eyes.

Helena dropped half the papers in Barbara's lap, and then dumped some Cheetos on top.

Barbara picked up a paper, shook it free of crumbs, and read out-loud, "The Merchant of Venice is excellent in it's way of describing the characters. The emotion is spread out thoroughly like warm butter on hot toast."

Helena smiled. "Brightens up your day, doesn't it?"

"Kind of."

"If we finish early, I can go patrolling. Metropolis is extra fun since half the infrastructure burned on New Years."

"You love looters more than anyone I know."

Helena said, "I understand them, I want to be like them, and yet I still beat them up. It's--perfect."

Barbara gave in and ate a Cheeto.

Helena looked at her expectantly.

"Oh." Barbara cleared her throat and read on. "The tragedy in The Merchant of Venice is believable and almost true in a sense of my opinion in relating to greed, human desire, and most important let not forget, anguish."

"Let not forget," Helena said.

Barbara said, "Stay in tonight. Let the kids play in the city."

"Thinking of retiring, Barbara?"

"Every night."

Helena shook her head. She settled on the floor, her back against the window, and picked up a paper. "Let us discuss the love that dare not speak its name."

"Dare we?" Barbara said.

Helena grinned.

They worked on papers well into the night, listening to radio transmissions, suffering at the work they had to do, but staying together.

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Comments {6}

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From: anonymous
Date: Feb. 10th, 2009 - 03:16 am

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From: rysler
Date: Feb. 10th, 2009 - 03:38 am

Thank you! I wasn't even sure what I was writing, but I had to write it. I haven't finished 52 yet, but it's exceeding all of my expectations. And when Rucka's writing me gay porn, my expectations are high.

I'm loving Kane despite myself. And one frame in 37 issues of Babs, and two pages of Dinah, and that's all I need.

I'm so happy you read. :) So, so happy.

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From: katarik
Date: Feb. 10th, 2009 - 04:43 pm

Helena, of course they made you rewind the part where the boys kissed. That's practically the canon.

I kind of want to give Babs a hug, and I *really* want to give Kate a hug, and oh, Babs, using Renee like that is not fair. That is just not cricket.

But it will work.

This is a lovely missing-year piece.

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From: rysler
Date: Feb. 11th, 2009 - 03:11 am

Thank you!! I'm so glad you read. And used the phrase "That is just not cricket."

Barbara has always been a little bit evil.

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From: anonymous
Date: Feb. 13th, 2009 - 04:44 pm

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From: rysler
Date: Feb. 14th, 2009 - 01:53 am

Thank you! I love your very appropriate icon. :)

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From: mrswoman
Date: Mar. 31st, 2009 - 10:33 pm

Sorry it's taken me so long to respond to this piece but I'm kind of glad I waited because, tonight I really had time to read it, and I loved it :)

Tonight it really worked for me, for some reason it really brought BoP back to me - Dinah/Babs angst, Helena/Babs friendship, Renee/Kate angst and Babs as Oracle - and for that, I can only thank you.

Thank you.

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From: rysler
Date: Apr. 6th, 2009 - 01:21 pm

Hey! Thank you so much. I'm happy to hear from you.

I haven't been around the Birds much, but I am glad it's always there for me when I come back.

And I wrote another one!

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