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bomb's away

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"How was that?" Steph asks, feeling for loosened teeth with her tongue. Her jaw is swollen (small wonder, with the punches she took) and her shoulder hurts, but other than that, tonight was the first patrol where she came out ahead, really ahead.

"Not bad," Oracle says, voice as calm as ever. "You still telegraph every left-handed move, but you've gotten faster and you still don't stay down for anything."

Steph grins, because praise from Oracle--from Babs--is all too rare, and every time it happens she feels like someone has given her a great shiny gold star. "Am I done for the night, then?"

There's a silence at the other end of the line. "Actually, if you could swing by Jason’s before you head out, that would be great."

"Sure thing," Steph says, and then she's up in the air again, the closest thing to flying she can think of (not counting lifts with superpowered friends). She resists the urge to yell "Wohoooo!" as she swings (she did it once when she was Spoiler; Tim didn't talk to her for a week after that), but she thinks it, and she's not surprised when Oracle laughs at her.

"Do refrain from scaring the population at large." Babs has always been near-telepathic, especially with Steph.

"I will, I will. Promise." A good fight, a chance to take on Scarecrow and really prove herself - oh, it’s a good night.

--

Jason is patching himself up after a night gone bad, Babs providing dry commentary about how he wouldn't have to ice his jaw if he'd just duck faster when the gangsters came up swinging.

He halts at that, grinning at the voice in his ear. "Seriously, duck faster? That's your advice? What happened to the great all-knowing Oracle, who always out-strategizes everyone else? I'm going to have to tell Batman about this, I think."

Babs laughs. “As if you talk to Bruce enough to do that. The extent of your last conversation was, oh, let's see, I've got the recording right here. Expletive-ridden short-answer strategizing on your end and monosyllabic acquiescence on his. Anyway, keep a look out, I sent Steph over.”

“Spoiler?”

“Batgirl.” Barbara is stern over the mic.

“Urgh,” Jason says. “She’s too fucking cheerful.”

“We all deal with post-death syndrome differently,” Babs says breezily. “I want you two to work together on the new Scarecrow thing. Bruce is busy and Dick and Tim don’t do well with him, he reads them too well.” None of them bring up Damien as an option.

“Urghhhhhh,” Jason says, but these days he doesn’t say no to Barbara very often.

--

Steph slides in through the window and takes a second to appreciate Jason at the stove. He’s stirring something - eggs, by the smell - and doesn’t turn around. The bandage around his arm doesn’t really take away from his general, uh, physique.

“You gonna ogle me all night, former Girl Wonder, or are we doing strategy?”

“Strategy,” Steph says firmly, willing the slight blush to go down.

“I’ll help with that,” says Babs’ dry voice in Steph’s ear. She probably (definitely) has a camera that gave her a real good view of what just went down. Steph’s life is very hard and very well surveilled sometimes.

“Well?” Jason says impatiently.

“Keep your shorts on,” Steph says, then pauses. “Oh, I guess you don’t wear those anymore, huh.”

“No, I died,” Jason says, turning around at last, crossing his arms.

“Oh hey, me too!” Steph says. “Twins!”

Needless to say, they don’t get very far that night.

--

They do figure it out eventually, and they take care of it together.

Jason has to hand it to the girl, she can fight, keeping up with him like she’s, well, one of the Wonder Boys. He shouldn’t be surprised, not with Babs training her, but damn.

“Nice!” he yells when she lands a particularly gorgeous move, a round of kicks and punches that fly so fast he’s almost - wait. He’s seen that one before. Only on video, but Steph isn’t even the second Batgirl in Gotham.

“Thanks!” And another round, and they’re going to win soon (good thing he’d remembered the gas masks, fucking Scarecrow). The third-rate thugs are dropping like flies, even though Jason’s sticking to non-lethal moves. Scarecrow himself, well. He’s not here, apparently trusting an alarm system full of fear toxin and the third - no, fourth-rate - thugs he’d left behind to keep watch over the warehouse. But it looks like Steph and Jason have well and truly put paid to the new influx of drugs into Gotham.

Which, of course, is when it all goes to hell.

“They set a bomb!” Steph sounds frantic, and shit, shit. Jason can see it.

“That amount of C4--” If it blows here, this close to the Chinese district, it’ll take out way more people than Jason wants to think about. “Fuck. How long do we have?”

“Five minutes.” She gestures at the timer.

“Not enough time to get Boy Wonder here. The one time he’d be useful, huh.” Steph glares at him.

“What?”

“I’ve got the camera, I can talk you through it,” Babs says over the comm. “Steph has good hands. Sit tight, Jason.”

--

It’s a near thing, in the end. Jason ends up fending off a second wave of thugs, re-injures his arm and gets shot in the leg while Steph does the disarming, not watching as she hears him behind her, but keeping track of the fight with the part of her mind not occupied with painstakingly plucking wires apart.

“Shit, Babs,” she says when she sees Jason. “We need--”

“I’ve got you,” Babs says. “Med evac in five. They’ll take you to his place, patch him up, and leave.”

Oracle has a rotating deck of solutions for emergencies, and Steph is just glad they won’t have to deal with anyone else from their little family tonight. Tonight it’s an actual ambulance, though one taking a late return to the hospital garage, and two medical students who owe Barbara something unspecified. One of them tells Steph to stay with Jason and monitor the concussion, and yeah, Steph can do that.

“Or I could do that,” Babs says mildly.

“I don’t mind,” Steph says, and the weird thing is she doesn’t, even when Jason is grumpier than ever, practically trying to herd her out the door even as he’s listing so hard to one side she could topple him over with a flick of her finger. She tells him so and is rewarded with an even more surly facial expression.

“I don’t need a fucking babysitter,” he says.

“Maybe I like you,” she says, because the truth is sometimes the best way to knock someone over. “Maybe I’m here because I want to be. Think about that.”

Jason blinks. And, Steph realizes, the pink tinge rising on his cheeks is a blush. Jason Todd can blush. How about that.