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heavy on the heart

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Cassandra is tired and the only thing she wants to do now is leave. Before she does something she will regret. Before regret for what she’s already done will hit her. She wants to leave and take this fragile, fleeting peace of mind with her.

So, of course she can’t have that.

She takes only a few steps before Shiva’s quiet voice drifts to her. “Wait,” her mother whispers, barely audible over the hissing and crackling coming down from the Pit. Cassandra thought she’s lost consciousness. “There’s one more thing… About your brother.”

Pausing, Cassandra slowly turns to her. Hanging off the hook, wounded and defeated, Shiva somehow still manages to seem royal and dangerous, but she also looks her age. Cassandra doesn’t want to dwell on this; she just wants to go, and yet.

“Mad Dog?” she asks, confused.

Shiva chuckles, or that’s what Cassandra thinks she does. “No. I’m not... talking about your father’s rabid failure.” She inhales, her shoulders tremble slightly. “I mean, my son. Your brother.”

“You’re lying,” Cassandra says, her response automatic, even as her eyes take in Shiva’s body language and find no deceit.

“Am I?” Shiva cracks her eyes open for a moment and Cassandra feels like she’s being pierced right to her very core. She doesn’t look away and Shiva sags again, her eyes falling closed; the moment has passed.

“Who is he?” she asks, her hands involuntarily clenching into fists at her sides.

But Shiva only says, “You will find out soon enough… perhaps,” and after that, she’s quiet and unmoving, still.

And even though she knows she wouldn’t get more out of Shiva if the woman didn’t want to share it, leaving feels like a disappointment to Cassandra. So much for any kind of peace.

She should know better; she knows better. What did setting out to find her mother bring? So many people got killed, hurt. She died, again. She fought Shiva, again. Was satisfying her selfish need to learn the truth about her and Cain really worth it? Would she do that again, knowing the price that needs to be paid? Is she ready to pay that kind of a price to seek for another family?

Cassandra isn’t sure. That probably means she should ignore what Shiva told her, she realizes that much. And yet.

Blood changes things, doesn’t it? the memory of her mother’s words taunts her and Cassandra thinks about the brother she never got to meet, about possibilities and chances. She feels a small, careful twinge of hope.

Leave it, a part of her thinks. Let it be.

Well, it’s a shame Cassandra has never been the one to leave things in peace. Especially family matters.

The air in Gotham is different, that’s the first thing she notices when she gets back. There’s no point in going to Bludhaven; she doesn’t think she could stand to look at the wasteland it became after Chemo. Stephanie isn’t here. Barbara’s base of operations changed. So, as uncertain as she may be, Cassandra goes to the only other people that could help her.

Alfred is the one to open the door of Wayne Manor and she doesn’t think she’s seen his face so expressive before. “Miss Cassandra,” he says and his voice sounds surprisingly emotional. “I must admit, I didn’t quite expect to see you here.”

She smiles, but she knows it’s rather sad. “So soon? Or again?”

He looks at her for a moment and Cassandra knows there’s something wrong, different; that something has changed in the time she was away, and it affected Alfred, too. But he’s as polite and firm as ever when he says, “I’m not sure, frankly. But nevertheless, I’m glad to see you, alive and well, as I’d like to presume. Welcome,” he steps aside to let her in.

She hesitates for a moment, for the first time actually stopping to think how much Batman knows about what happened with Mr. Freeze, the League and Shiva. She starts, “Does he…” and doesn’t quite know how to continue.

Alfred saves her from that as he says, “I’m afraid I can’t answer that. Master Bruce isn’t here and won’t be for some time.”

And that’s how she learns that Batman, Robin and Nightwing all departed for a training journey, leaving Gotham under the protection of apparently cured Two-Face.

Whatever Cassandra expected, it wasn’t that. And a feeling of hurt that came with it.

Later, over a cup of tea, in hesitant words and clipped sentences, Cassandra tells Alfred about what happened after she left Gotham. She omits some things or skims over them, especially rather grotesque ones, but the expression on Alfred’s face tells her he’s well-aware of that. She doesn’t want to trouble him; he’s been always kind to her, even if he kept distance at first.

“That certainly was… something,” Alfred comments, once she’s done. His hand on her shoulder feels reassuring. “So, are you sure Shiva didn’t lie? About having another child.”

“Yes,” Cassandra says simply. She thought about it a lot; about how badly Shiva was hurt, drifting on the edge of consciousness, her words deliberately enigmatic, but the message was clear. She was leaving the decision up to Cassandra. Maybe it was another one of her games, maybe not.

“Well then, I’m not sure if you have any starting point, but I’d suggest searching through our database. Considering everything, finding a match may be unlikely, but it’s worth a try.”

Cassandra blinks at him.” That’s… an idea.” She gets up from her chair. “Can we do that now?”

Alfred raises an eyebrow at her. “As quick to act as ever. Are you sure you wouldn’t like to get some sleep first and look into that tomorrow?” She shakes her head; she’s waited long enough, over nineteen years, after all. “Very well, we shall proceed,” the butler announces.

Being in the Cave again and knowing that Batman isn’t around is strange, and it’s only fueled by the fact she’s out of costume, accompanied by Alfred as they descend. It looks… well, not abandoned, as everything is being kept neat, like it’s ready to be used again at any given time, but a lot of things, including the cases, are covered with the sheets.

Alfred takes a blood sample from her; after leaving Nyssa’s compounds, Cassandra considered keeping her trashed suit, thinking there may be some of Shiva’s blood on it. Ultimately, she threw it away, deciding to trust herself and her intuition.

“It may take a while,” Alfred says as he activates a program to run the search. Cassandra is sitting perched in the chair in front of the main computer as he asks, “Would you care for another cup of tea?”

She nods, not taking her eyes away from the screen. Alfred doesn’t get far because there’s a notification sound and Cassandra knows the match was found. She clicks to check it, itching with restlessness and excitement.

Once again today, she’s not prepared for the news, though.

“Oh dear,” Alfred whispers, standing behind the chair and gripping the backrest tightly.

Although words are still mostly foreign to her, she knows she saw that name before. On a gravestone.

“But…” Cassandra stares at the screen, as if words Jason Todd are here to mock her. She feels confused, lost. “I thought… from what Shiva said...” That my brother is alive, she thinks, but can’t quite voice it.

“Miss Cassandra.” There’s an edge to Alfred’s voice that makes her glance at him. The man is rigid, visibly shocked by the revelation, but there’s something else to it, too. When he looks at her, it seems like he’s just made an important decision “There’s something else that happened while you were away that I haven’t told you about. And it has to do with Jason.”

Finding someone who doesn’t want to be found isn’t the easiest task there is, but Cassandra seems to be getting some experience in that lately. Jason may be a ghost in more ways than one, but she knows all about ghosts, too.

Find your brother, Alfred told her right before she left, surprising Cassandra with a hug. Get to know him, help him if you can. (And bring him home, is what Alfred didn’t say, and he didn’t have to. Cassandra can read between the lines, but she makes no promises.)

She felt a little bad for leaving Gotham under Dent’s supposed protection, but Alfred assured he keeps a hand on the pulse as well. He also helped her modify her uniform, as Cassandra didn’t want her next appearances to be tied to Batgirl -- she felt like she couldn’t wear the suit now. They got rid of the Bat insignia and altered the cowl, so it looked rather simple. After some deliberation, she also decided to ditch the cape. Except for yellow utility belt, the new suit was almost completely black, clinging to her body like second skin. She sort of liked it that way.

Next weeks provided to be busy, but fruitless. Doing detective work the way Batman taught her, Cassandra was picking up little trails and breadcrumbs, rumors and gossips, some of them explicitly about the Red Hood, some more nondescript, low-profile. Travelling from place to place, following a perhaps nonexistent trail of clues, Cassandra was getting further away from Gotham and Jason’s goal -- if he even had one -- wasn’t clear to her.

And that’s when finally she catches the wind of him, in Detroit, of all places. It confuses her at first, but then she learns that there’s a pretty big drug business going on there, the kind that involves more or less willing kids and prostitutes. It seems relevant to Jason’s interests, so Cassandra decides to lay low and sniff him out. It may take a while, but she’s patient; she’s been at this for some time now.

The first time she actually sees Jason is in broad daylight, as he leaves a run-down coffee shop. He’s wearing a baseball cup and sunglasses; from the way he carries himself Cassandra can tell he has two weapons on him, at the very least. She watches him from across the street, very curious and just a little longing.

Stalking Jason during his night activities is another thing, though.

She half-expects him to burst in hard and knock the drug bosses off balance, the way he did in Gotham with Black Mask’s operation -- and she’s ready to stop him if he takes it too far. But Jason is careful and methodical, testing the ground and loyalties first, collecting information before making a move. Watching from the shadows as he works is fascinating, although it also makes Cassandra uneasy, for more reasons than one. She still doesn’t know how to proceed, now that she’s found him. It’s a fragile matter.

The decision is made for her, in the end.

One night, no warning beforehand, Jason scoops a sniper rifle and goes up on a rooftop across the street from a club where most of the trades take place. His intentions seem pretty clear and as Cassandra wonders how to stop him, she realizes there’s a red dot dancing across her chest right where she’s crouched in the shadows of an alley. She moves on instinct, fast and unpredictable, but the shot is never fired and just as something -- someone -- heavy lands behind her, she realizes it was meant to smoke her out.

“I don’t know who you’re supposed to be,” Jason says, his voice low, a little amused; he isn’t wearing the helmet tonight, “but considering you’ve been stalking me for the last few days, I figured I’d come say hi.”

“A week,” Cassandra says, turning around to face him. There’s a red domino on his face, but she can see him quirk an eyebrow.

“Come again?”

“Been watching you for a week now,” she explains.

Jason snorts, but she can see this fact puts him more on the edge. “Well then, A for effort or whatever.” He gives her an once-over, quick and appraising. “Say, it doesn’t look like you’re carrying any weapons, but a guy most wonder if you came to steal my kill and just fuck up all the hard work I’ve done so far taking apart this drug ring.”

“I don’t kill,” Cassandra states simply. Then she says, “I was looking for you, Jason.”

A knife flying at her is something Cassandra probably should have expected; she dodges as Jason comes to strike at her, moving surprisingly fast. She blocks in time, but there’s a lot of brute force behind it -- he’s much bigger and heavier than she is, and that’s almost enough to knock her off balance at first.

As much as I support your decision, I must warn you, Alfred said back when they were going over video files. Master Jason’s physique is not the only thing that has changed. He is dangerous, many of his actions seemingly unpredictable but actually planned, so much that they put Master Bruce in a pinch more than once. We still don’t know much about the circumstances of his return. I don’t doubt your abilities, Miss Cassandra, but you should be careful.

“Did Talia send you?” Jason spits angrily as he tries to sweep her off her feet. She bounces back easily. “Are you from the League?”

“Am not,” Cassandra replies and holds back a huff as he attacks again, this time with something she thinks is a flame dagger. Some of his moves are foreign to her, but she knows Batman’s training when she sees it. Jason seems to incorporate both elements well, so much so that he almost manages to catch her side with his sharp blade. This fight’s been going on long enough.

Grabbing Jason’s wrist just right and putting a necessary amount of pressure on it, Cassandra says, “You’re good. I’m better.”

And that’s how she ends up pinning her brother down behind a dumpster. So much for making a good first impression.

“I didn’t realize right away, since you’re not wearing any symbol,” Jason says, turning his head to the side, and there’s something red and ugly seething from his voice, “but if you’re not from the League, you must be one of his, huh?”

“Calm down,” Cassandra tells him, though she’s a little irritated herself. “Not here to hurt you.”

“Right, but bring me in, that’s more likely?”

“Not that, either,” she replies, puts a hand over her chest where the Bat symbol would be. “I’m Batgirl,” she announces, ignoring Jason’s snort of, Yeah, I figured. She pulls down the cowl. “My name’s… Cassandra.”

Jason stares at her, his face rather unreadable in the dim lights. He seems somewhat taken aback by the fact she decided to show her face, but it’s body language, his strained muscles that don’t relax, but neither tense more, that tell her what she needs to know -- there’s no recognition. He doesn’t know who she is.

“Well, okay, I’d say, ‘Nice to meet you’, but that’s not really true since I could have done without you coming to mess with my job.” When Cassandra remains silent, Jason finally stops struggling and looks her in the eye -- or at least, that’s what she thinks he does. “Why were you looking for me,” he doesn’t ask, rather, demands to know.

Slowly, Cassandra removes herself from his back and he gets up, grumbling as he brushes dust off his clothes and picks up the weapons. They stand, staring at each other; Cassandra isn’t good at these things, but she thinks they have similar eyebrows and noses. Jason’s features don’t exactly bring Shiva to mind, but there’s something in the way he holds himself, in the line of his shoulders and chin -- she thinks she can see that, the resemblance.

At last, she says, “I’m your sister.”

Jason is very still for a moment before he laughs. It’s jagged and all wrong. “Why am I even surprised B can’t stop picking up every kid he finds,” he muses, his tone mocking.

Cassandra knows her expression darkens for a moment, she can’t help it. “That’s... not it,” she says, shaking her head. Don’t think about that now. “I’m your… half-sister. By blood. Shiva is our mother.”

The sky doesn’t fall down, the earth doesn’t open up, but as Jason only says, “Bullshit,” it feels a little like that.

“What--” Cassandra starts, but then he’s looming over her, deliberately getting into her space.

“I don’t know what game you’re playing, but count me out. Maybe you’re Shiva’s, considering those freaky skills you’ve got, but my biological mother was buried six feet under the ground after selling me out to the Joker.”

His voice is different now -- it’s burning with ice-cold anger, barely contained rage. If Cassandra were someone else, she’d take a step or two back. Instead, she looks Jason in the face, feeling like there are miles and miles between any kind of understanding, connection they could have.

“I did blood tests,” she tries and the line between determination and hopelessness has never felt so thin. “Can do them again, if you don’t believe--”

“I don’t care,” Jason says coldly, takes a step back. “I’m no one’s son and no one’s brother. You better get the hell off my case. I’m not gonna ask nicely twice. Next time, I’ll shoot.”

He drops something -- a smoke bomb, Cassandra realizes belatedly, as she coughs and shields her face. When the smoke clears, Jason is gone, leaving her with a bitter aftertaste in her mouth.

Cassandra supposes she shouldn’t be surprised; Alfred warned her and it’s not like her people skills are that great to begin with. Maybe if she’d acted in a different way, said something else, something more, it’d have gone better -- or maybe not. Thinking back to Jason’s reactions, what he proclaimed with his words and gave away with body language, there’s a rift between the two, an echoing dissonance. Cassandra isn’t sure if he really does not care about family or is it simply what he tries to convince himself of. What she mostly reads from his is so much anger and so much pain.

Whatever turbulent emotions Jason may harbor, they don’t seem to affect his next steps. Because of their confrontation that night, he didn’t go through with killing his target and so far he hasn’t made any lethal move. Cassandra wonders if it’s because he’s altered his initial plan or he’s just waiting for her to leave -- which is not happening any soon; she can be pretty stubborn, too. She continues to observe him while she’s out patrolling the streets of this peculiar city, but she keeps her distance.

One early evening almost a week later, Cassandra comes back to a small room in a third-rate hotel she’s been staying in to find a note stuck to the window frame with a knife. Of course, she knows it’s from Jason; she frowns at mysterious words scribbled in a surprisingly decent handwriting. She keeps the note anyway.

Running the rooftops of the city this night, she hears about some trouble stirring up at the club. When Cassandra gets there, she’s not shocked to see that Jason, in a full Red Hood getup this time, is picking his way through a crowd of thugs trying to stop him as he, almost without a care in the world, shoots them, mostly knees and shoulders. However, Cassandra isn’t here to watch.

“Don’t kill anyone,” she announces, dropping down on one of the men trying to get behind Jason with a baseball bat.

“Last I checked, I wasn’t asking for your input,” Jason comments bluntly, loading a new clip into his gun. “Actually, I told you to get out. I even left you a fucking note on the window today, haven’t you seen it?”

“Can’t read,” Cassandra replies, dodging a half-rate punch and throwing her own, a better one.

She hears Jason snort. “‘Can’t read’,” he repeats, incredulous, shots a lanky man right in a kneecap, if the scream is anything to go by. “What’s that supposed to mean? You’re fucking with me, aren’t you?”

Cassandra scrunches up her nose, not that he can see her. “No. Cain never taught me,” she explains, wonders when the police is coming, if ever.

“Cain? As in--” Jason crouches to avoid a machete. “Fucking Detroit,” he mutters under his breath, whipping a guy in the head with the pistol. The next one, he punches in the solar plexus. Just after that he seems to take a glance at her. “David Cain? The assassin?”

“Yes. He’s my father,” she admits, knocking out two thugs with each other’s heads. She looks around, a little disappointed to find they’ve already disarmed everyone.

“Oh. Well. Now I feel like an asshole.” He holsters his guns, bends down to check time on a cheap watch on one of the men’s wrists. “We better move a little further away.”

“Why?” Cassandra asks, suddenly wary.

“You will see any moment now.”

“What did you--”

She doesn’t finish, though; there’s a loud explosion and the club goes up. Cassandra turns away from the rain of glass and shards, rather feeling than seeing the fire. Next to her, Jason takes off his helmet and slowly lights a cigarette.

It was a pleasure to burn,” he says quietly. Cassandra thinks it’s probably a quote from something, but she doesn’t have time for that now.

“Why,” she demands, striding to him and pointing to the burning building.

Jason shrugs. “I find blowing things up therapeutic.”

“But… what about people!” Cassandra isn’t quite shouting, but it’s close. “What if they were there?” Then, Cassandra realizes she doesn’t actually know what happened to the drug bosses. “Was someone there?”

Jason watches her, the cigarette hanging between his fingers. “And if there was, what would you do?”

It’s not something Cassandra has to think about twice. She moves, quick as ever, but takes only two or three steps before Jason grabs her arm. “Jesus, hang on! No one was inside, okay?” She casts him a mildly dubious look and he scowls, lets go of her. “I couldn’t care less for scumbags who use others, but I had to check if there were any kids or working girls inside. It’s a weeknight, so there weren’t many people to scare outside to begin with.” He smiles wryly. “I’ve apprehended actual big players before the evening fell, if you’re wondering.”

Cassandra looks at him for a moment longer and nods. “I believe you.”

“Huh, just like that?” He shakes his head. “You really would have run right into that mess if there was even the lowest of lowlifes there, wouldn’t you? God, you’re so much like him.”

“Every life is important,” she answers resolutely.

“Wish everyone shared the sentiment,” Jason comments, without missing a beat. “Sadly, since they don’t, neither can I.” He grinds the cigarette under his heel. “Well, my job here is done. Time to get moving again.”

“Can we… talk? Before you leave?” Cassandra asks.

Jason looks at her from the corner of his eye, eventually sighing. “Ah, hell, whatever. Do you know that twenty-four seven bar on the corner of Harlow? It’s literally a few blocks from the police station,” he adds. She makes a gesture that should convey, I will find it. He smiles crookedly. “Meet you there in an hour. Don’t forget to change clothes.”

“Ha, funny,” Cassandra deadpans. “Your helmet is stupid, by the way.”

She takes off as Jason snorts loudly.

The restaurant is almost empty when Cassandra gets there; there are only two middle-aged men by the counter, an older woman in the corner and Jason, who strategically chose a table giving him the best view of an entrance. There’s a big duffel bag laying next to him and as Cassandra slides into a seat across, she notices a bit of stubble on his face.

“Don’t stare, I didn’t have time to shave recently,” he comments drily. “Also, you’re late.”

“No, you were early,” she retorts. It’s after four in the morning now, so it’s early either way. “And I’m hungry.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say no to food as well.” He raises a hand and, after a moment, a waitress comes over. “Cheeseburger and fries, please.”

“Same for me,” Cassandra says, and adds, “Big fries.”

The girl chuckles. “Duly noted, coming right away.”

Just then, Cassandra notices a pencil and a newspaper laying on the table in front of Jason. She peers at it curiously. “Oh,” she breathes, a bit surprised. “It’s a… crossword. Right?”

“Yeah,” Jason says, glances at it. “I was getting bored waiting for you, so I picked it up.” He lets her take it and she can feel his attentive look. “So you can’t read. Write as well?” She nods, scribbling idly at the margin of the paper. “You speak pretty okay, though.”

“Started after I came to Gotham,” Cassandra replies. “It’s still hard. Have a lot to learn.”

Jason makes a noncommittal hmm sound in reply. “Say, your fighting skills are top-notch, but there’s something else to it, isn’t there? I can tell from the way you act.”

She considers him for a moment, a little reluctant to share it because she isn’t sure how will he react. “I can read… body language,” she says eventually. “What someone’s going to do, I see it before they do it. Or before they know it, even.”

He whistles quietly. “That sure is something.”

Cassandra shrugs; she doesn’t think she could explain what it actually means to her. Movement is like a language of its own, the first connection between her and the world.

“I can tell you’re… nervous? Tense,” she says then. “But less than the other night.”

Jason looks like he’s wondering whether to comment on that or ignore it. He shakes his head; a streak of white falling on his forehead catches Cassandra’s eye, not for the first time. “You… caught off me guard, the first time,” he states slowly, like it pains him to share that. “I took many things into consideration and expected a lot of scenarios, but a sister?” He gestures between them. “Not really.”

“You... believe me?” she asks carefully.

“That’s not what I said,” he protests, giving her a wry look. “You’re a persistent one, I give you that. And weird. But I’m willing to give you... the benefit of the doubt, I guess. If that makes you feel better.”

That’s when their orders come in and Cassandra digs into her cheeseburger, just a little bit happier than she was moments before. This is a start; that’s something she can work with. A few moments later, Jason snorts and she looks at him, curious.

“Does B know about this? I can’t imagine he’s happy.”

Cassandra frowns, unsure whether Jason knows that Batman left Gotham, and replies vaguely, “He doesn’t.” At Jason’s raised eyebrow, she adds, “It’s just… Shiva told me I have a brother, the last time I… saw her. So I did tests.”

Hearing that, he looks almost pensive. “The World’s Greatest Detective hasn’t figured it out himself, huh? Well, that’s just sad.”

Slowly chewing on her fry, Cassandra says quietly, “Alfred knows.” She watches him pause, staring into his plate with a blank expression. “He misses you. Said he finally perfected the curry you like.”

She half-expects him to get angry, the way he had when she mentioned Bruce, but he surprises her again. “Alfred’s curry was really something,” he says with a wistful smile and chuckles. “He’d so not approve of us eating this.” He gestures to their food.

“Yes,” she agrees with a small grin.

When they’re done, Jason fumbles with an ashtray and lights a cigarette. She frowns, but he just smirks at her from behind a curtain of smoke, so she lets it be; it doesn’t bother her as much as it’s simply unhealthy for him. Save for the staff, they’re the only ones at the bar.

Cassandra is pretty content with silence right now, so it surprises her when Jason starts talking quietly. “I trained with many teachers before coming back to Gotham. Shiva, too.” He scratches his cheek. “In all honesty, I wasn’t keen on the idea because it brought certain unpleasant memories, but… my caretaker insisted.” That, he says with a twist to his mouth, somehow both amused and bitter. “Shiva and I trained for not even two days before she ditched me without giving a plausible explanation. In a middle of a Vietnamese jungle.” He pursues his lips. “That pissed me off.”

You will find out soon enough, Shiva told her back then and in this moment, Cassandra’s intuition tells her that Shiva knew or, more likely, realized who Jason actually was. She doesn’t have any way to prove that, but she knows just a little about how her mother’s brain works.

It may annoy or upset Jason to share that now, so instead, she says, “We’re in Detroit.”

He blinks at her and stubs out the cigarette. “Gee, thank you, all this time I thought we were in Miami,” he comments sarcastically.

She lightly kicks him in the shin under the table and continues, “This is where Shiva and Cain met.”

“Wait, really?” Jason frowns, taken aback.

“Yes. He killed her older sister. To make her… stop holding back.”

He shakes his head. “It’s too late to talk about your fucked up parents. Or too early, I’m not sure.” He reaches into a pocket and puts some money on the table. “Well, kicking ass and taking names with you wasn’t half-bad, but I gotta scram. Places to be, criminals to beat the shit out of.”

Cassandra finds it fascinating, the way Jason speaks; one moment, he sounds fancy and educated, the next one, it’s all street talk. She wonders how many languages he knows.

“Where do you go now?” she asks.

“None of your business,” Jason snaps. She just looks at him until he adds reluctantly, “Out of the country, that’s all I’m gonna tell you.”

“Hm,” she says. Deciding quickly, she pulls out her new phone and taps a few keys before shoving it into Jason’s face. “My number. Save it.”

“You can’t text,” he notices drily.

“There are… apps for that. Speaking to writing. And emojis. Call me,” she insists.

They stare at each other for a long moment and he relents, picking up a pencil with an exaggerated annoyance and writing down her number. He rips off that piece of paper and puts it into his pocket.

“Don’t do too stupid things,” Cassandra says when Jason stands up and swings his duffel across his back.

“Can’t promise that,” he replies, giving her a mock salute. “Goodbye, sis.”

“Not forever,” she calls after him.

“Right, right,” he throws over his shoulder and disappears outside. Cassandra stares at the door long after he’s gone.

As asked, she doesn’t follow him after that and eventually comes back to Gotham. Alfred welcomes her back warmly, even if he must be disappointed and sad about the fact Jason didn’t come with her. He handles it well, though.

“Miss Cassandra,” he says as he’s slicing peppers for lunch and she perches on the far counter, still tangled up in the mess of words and emotions, “don’t be so hard on yourself. Master Jason needs help, yes, but I feel he also needs time. Forcing your presence on him and making him do anything would most likely backfire spectacularly and destroy whatever progress you’ve made. You reached out to him and gave him means to reach back, and we should wait for him to do just that.”

It’s easier said than done, though. Cassandra can’t contact him herself and trying to track him this time might be useless, if he decided to stay clear of the radar. She doesn’t know if he wants to contact her. Maybe he’s going to, maybe not. Waiting is hard.

For now, she’s staying at the Manor, patrolling and helping Alfred out. And, after prompting from the butler, she starts taking classes to learn how to write and read. It’s hard, though she’s glad to be doing it finally. It’s almost enough of a distraction, almost, but in the back of her mind, she’s still thinking about Jason.

So when, weeks later, she’s out on a patrol and her phone buzzes in a compartment of her utility belt, Cassandra almost falls off a gargoyle in the hurry to check it. The only person who would text her is Alfred, anyway, but she’s got a hunch.

It’s an unknown number and the application reads out loud, [Ughhh i hate australia].

She sends back a question mark, a kangaroo emoji and a sun emoji.

[The heat is terrible but getting shot sucks more], Jason writes back.

Cassandra frowns and taps new emojis: gun, face with head-bandage and bed.

[Nah bolt from a crossbow went thru my thigh and it hurts like a bitch. Still not sure if it wasn’t poisoned], Jason sends. Her frown only deepens, but a new message follows this one.

[Btw this is a burner phone so don’t save this number].

Considering that, Cassandra decides it won’t hurt to call. Jason picks up almost immediately.

“I knew I shouldn’t have texted you,” he grumbles, but without much heat to it.

She hums. “Why did you?”

He sighs deeply. “Folks at this shady clinic didn’t give me any fancy drugs and told me to try sleep it off instead, but do I trust them not to murder me in my sleep? No. So I gotta kill the time.”

Cassandra is still worried, but she chooses to play along. “How’s Australia?”

“Sand, spiders, snakes and shitty weapon dealers,” he replies, a bit irritated. There’s some noise in the background and she hears Jason scoff. “Apparently, they take offense about all of these.”

“Hm. Need a hand with any of these?” she asks, and means it.

“No, as soon as I’m good to go, I’m getting the hell out of here,” he declares. “What’s up in Gotham?”

And Cassandra knows what he means, but she can’t help but reply, “Me. For example.”

Jason makes a choking sound she realizes is him holding back laughter. “Okay, I set myself up for this one. I can hear the wind blowing around you. You must be pretty high up, huh?”

“Yes,” she confirms. Glancing down, not afraid at all, she continues, “Gotham is… alright tonight. Slow night, I think.”

“Which probably means shit is about to hit a fan, sooner or later,” Jason mutters. Then, he says, “You didn’t tell me B and birdies flew the town.”

So he knows after all.

“It’s not really a secret now,” she replies. “And I wasn’t sure what you’d do.”

“Because I’m unstable, right?” he asks, his voice sharp and mocking.

“Are you really?”

After a beat of silence, Jason clicks his tongue. “I don’t have time in my plans for Gotham right now, anyway.” Cassandra takes it for what it is; an evasion. “Wanna tell me something else? I feel like I’m gonna cut my own leg.”

“You’re so dramatic,” Cassandra tells him. And then, in a different voice, “'tis but a scratch.”

It takes a moment, but this time Jason is laughing openly. “Has Alfred been showing you Monty Python recently?” he asks once he catches a breath.

“Yes. It’s… interesting to learn from,” she says, smiling.

“Certainly is.” Cassandra can hear some commotion on the other side. “Alright, they’re glaring at me and about to start yelling for disobeying doctor’s orders, so I guess they don’t want me dead. Gotta go.”

“Don’t be a stranger,” Cassandra reminds him.

“I try,” Jason replies drily, but not unkindly, and hangs up.

After that, they start texting back and forth, about the most trivial things sometimes. Calls happen, too; they’re short and kind of awkward, but gradually, it gets better. Jason opens up rather slowly, but no so reluctantly as at first; she learns about his training routine, money he spends on weapons or books and his notorious bad eating habits. One time even, as she’s exercising, Alfred comes in the middle of Jason’s monologue about how annoying it is to make stitches on himself. He politely agrees and gives some advice; Jason goes quiet at that, just after a moment finding it in himself to reply to Alfred before he scrambles out some weak excuse and hangs up. It’s not because he’s angry, she can tell, but rather because it made him emotional.

All in all, Jason rarely goes into details about what he’s actually up to vigilante-wise, so Cassandra doesn’t know that much. Every once in awhile, she asks him, “Did you kill anyone?” and he almost always replies with, “Don’t ask questions you don’t wanna hear the answers to”, so there’s that. He’s prone to snapping and sulking; she wouldn’t call him moody, but there are times when the strangest things set him off and he doesn’t call nor pick up her calls for a week or so. Sometimes it’s Jason’s paranoia, sometimes it’s the flashbacks, but very often, the insecurities he hides instead of handling. It’s so plain to see.

Considering all that, it comes as a surprise to Cassandra when Jason calls her and asks for help. Well, he doesn’t use those words exactly; as he puts it, he “might have gotten in over his head” trying to take apart a human trafficking ring near Washington and he could “use a hand in finishing it”. He claims it’s not a very pressing matter which leads to Cassandra getting on a first flight available and arriving mere hours after the call, which turns out to be a good decision as she shows up just in time to save Jason from being dismembered.

“Stupid,” she tells him later, when they’re sitting on a rooftop and watching the police arrest criminals and take care of victims. Damage control, Jason calls it. She dabs at an ugly cut on his cheek with a piece of disinfected gauze and he hisses. “Should know better.”

“I underestimated the situation, okay? I already told you that,” Jason grumbles, rubbing a hand over his ribcage and wincing. She hopes none of his ribs are actually broken. “Thank you for coming. I’m glad we got this resolved.” He nods to the street down below.

She follows his line of sight, watching two young girls sitting in one of the ambulances, sharing a blanket as they let the paramedics check their vitals. Cassandra’s heart thuds painfully in her chest. “Me too,” she agrees quietly. “And it’s okay to ask for help.”

Jason snarls, suddenly defensive and uncomfortable. She guides his chin so she can look him in the eyes. “You can ask for my help. I will come, little brother.”

He doesn’t expect to hear that; she can tell he was about to brush her off or downplay her words, but the way he looks at her, wide-eyed and maybe trembling just a little, tells her a lot.

“Yeah, whatever, Cass,” he replies with no heat at all and ducks his head to rest it on the arms crossed over his knees. That, more than anything, displays that he’s far more exhausted than he’s been letting on.

“You called me Cass,” she says after a moment, dropping her hands back to her lap.

Jason gives her a sidelong glance. “Something wrong with that?”

“No, it’s just…” The thing is, Jason never called her Cass and he rarely uses her full name as it is, usually opting for Batgirl or even Cain early on. Not many people call her Cass; in fact, at this moment, no one does. “It’s what Stephanie used to call me,” she finishes, suddenly overwhelmed with sadness.

She can hear Jason take a sharp breath at that. He ends up having a coughing fit, probably because of smoke inhalation earlier. “You mean Stephanie Brown?” he asks once the coughing ceases.

Cassandra nods. “She was Spoiler. And Robin, for a little while.”

“I know,” he says with calm he’s definitely not feeling, if the way his jaw clenches is something to go by. “You know, that’s one of the things I want to give Bruce hell for. It’s like he learnt nothing from what happened to me.”

“He tried to make her quit,” she says and Jason snorts, but there’s no amusement in it.

“Well, not hard enough, apparently. And then he couldn’t save her,” he says. It’s a ruthless statement, one that knocks the breath out of Cassandra. Jason glances at her and winces. “Sorry, I just… I’m still so fucking mad at him. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being angry.” He scrubs a hand over his eyes and Cassandra thinks about his too-green irises.

“Pit angry? Or just angry?” she asks quietly.

Jason shoots her a look, but his fingers twitch. “Blaming all my anger and instability on the Pit would be easy, wouldn’t it,” he comments flatly. “But some ugly parts are just me, I guess.”

Cassandra considers it for a moment and decides to share something she hasn’t before. “I was in the Pit, too.”

Next to her, Jason goes still. “You took a dip in one of Ra’s’ Pits?”

“Nyssa’s Pit, actually. After I died.”

“You died?”

“Twice.” She gives a half-shrug. “But both times were short. Didn’t stuck.”

“‘Didn’t stuck’,” Jason repeats under his breath, once again sounding angry. Cassandra frowns; she heard him say that about his own death a couple of times. “You’re unbelievable. That’s precisely what I was talking about regarding Bruce, you know?”

Cassandra watches him carefully as she asks. “Do you really hate him?”

Jason snarls. “Did you miss as I was dragging him six ways to Sunday?”

“No. You’re angry, I know. And hurt.” She taps his hand briefly. “But do you hate him?”

Jason’s shoulder raise, but his gaze skits to the side. “I don’t want to talk about him any longer,” he says, getting up. “Want to grab something to eat?”


They sometimes work together, but never in Gotham; Jason stubbornly stays away from the city. Maybe it’s a good thing -- Cassandra knows he’ll have to come back there eventually and it should be on his own terms. As for people who tend to work alone, they make a pretty good team, she thinks; they’re efficient and quick, but never sloppy -- Jason is too methodical for that. After wrapping up a case, they often eat together and if Jason is in good mood, he indulges her and they either read or write. Sometimes even, if he feels comfortable enough, Jason talks about his past; how Catherine used to dance with him before she got bad, how he got in fights with stray cats on the streets before realizing he should befriend them, how freaked out Bruce and Alfred were the first time he sort of ran away. Very rarely he speaks of his death, resurrection and what came after and Cassandra doesn’t pressure him; maybe she should, but it would do no good.

All in all, she thinks they’re slowly getting somewhere better, somewhere closer, until one of the things up in the air drops.

It’s the case that does it, she supposes; Cassandra knows Jason’s feelings run especially strong when it comes to well-being of children and women. She has seen him crouch down and comfort little kids, speaking to them in a voice much softer and kinder than usually, has seen prostitutes involuntarily relax in his presence and give him information as Cassandra herself chooses to hang back. Jason is good with people, she thinks, but she has also seen him shatter perps’ kneecaps and collarbones without flinching. She knows what he did in Gotham, has an inkling to how he does work just by himself, but he doesn’t kill when they’re together.

Didn’t kill, she corrects herself once she finds him in the back of an abandoned train station, standing over a body of a rapist they’ve been tracking for a week. She quickly moves to check, but it’s needless; a bullet right between the eyes. She turns to look at Jason.

“He didn’t try to run away or fight,” she says.

“No,” Jason replies, his voice cold. He holsters his gun.

“It was…” What’s the word? “ execution.”

“Yes,” he confirms, sounding detached. It rubs Cassandra the wrong way.

She stands up. “Why?” she asks, clenching her fists. “He’d have been locked up. For years. Rest of his life, probably.”

“‘Probably’,” Jason sneers, his voice finally gaining some emotion. It’s contempt. Rage. “It isn’t good enough, Cass, not for the ones like him. There’s just one way to take care of those reptiles.”

Cassandra flinches, feeling like his words physically struck her. “But I thought…”

“What? I think I’ve made my stance on certain cases pretty clear. Did you think you cured me from pulling the trigger on scumbags by reading through Pride and Prejudice together and breakfasts in the middle of the night in some run-down bars?” Jason is getting louder, winding himself up as he goes, she can tell.

“That’s not it,” she snaps, starting to get angry, too, but he doesn’t hear her, or just chooses to ignore her.

“Maybe you hoped I’m going to stop killing and start playing nice, and by the time Bruce comes back from wherever the fuck he’s now, you could show how you changed me for better and he’d be so touched and grateful--”

Cassandra punches him. She’s angry, yes, but not so much so that she wouldn’t think clearly; she doesn’t use her full strength, just enough to knock Jason down and shut him up. Her knuckles ache, blood seeping through the material of her uniform, dripping down as she breathes heavily, staring at the cracked side of Jason’s helmet.

How dare he say that, even think that she’d be doing all of this just because--

“You still held back on me,” Jason comments, a bit hard to understand, but sounding like he’s smirking. “Thinking I wouldn’t handle you?” He gets up and chuckles, takes off the helmet to spit out. She can tell he’s going to have a nasty bruise in a few hours. “You’re probably right.”

“I don’t want to fight you,” Cassandra says.

“Well, that’s a shame because we’re certainly not suited to working in a team. And other than those, I don’t really see a point in us hanging together,” Jason says and leaves her on the run-down station with dead body.

This time, she lets him go.


“You’re a hard person to get hold of, Batgirl.”

Cassandra zips the last unconscious thug with a line and turns around. Even in a dim moonlight, it’s impossible to mistake Deathstroke for someone else, as he stands relaxed on a rooftop, just a few feet away from her. She didn’t hear him approach and she doesn’t like that.

“Why are you here?” she asks, distrustful, ready for a fight.

“You’ve been popping in and out of Gotham those last few months,” Deathstroke continues, ignoring her. He isn’t wearing the mask and his blue eye seems to pierce through her. “Recently though, I noticed you’re sticking to the city. I would guess pressing matters you had to attend to are no longer relevant?” he asks politely, but to Cassandra’s ears, it sounds vile.

She needs to remind herself Slade doesn’t know anything and even if he did it, she shouldn’t let it get to her. “Not your business,” she tells him. “What do you want?”

Deathstroke shrugs. “Just wondering, why are you still doing this?” He jerks his chin to the tied criminal. “I thought by leaving Gotham to Harvey Dent, out of all people, Batman made it pretty clear just how much he trusts you to protect this city.”

Cassandra’s stomach churns, but she remains silent. Slade smirks.

“Struck a nerve, didn’t I? You must have wondered about that yourself.” He cocks his head to the side. “I think it’s because he knows who you are. A killer. Trying to change, but still.” He takes a step into her direction. “I, however, accept you for who you truly are, Cassandra.”

“Stay where you are,” she warns sharply

Deathstroke puts his hands up in the air. “I’m not here to fight you. Just to remind you that there are other possibilities, choices, places. You don’t need to limit yourself to being here.” He gestures to the city around them. “Even if you’d like to be the one to become his successor, do you really think he’d pass the mantle to you?” His grin turns sharp, predatory. Challenging. “However, you could easily take it and I’m sure he knows it.”

Cassandra feels like her mind is trying to keep up with Slade’s words and failing; they’re turning and spinning around in her brain, like quiet whispers, ugly thoughts feeding on insecurities and desires that still feel relatively fresh. However, she’d spent quite a lot of time around Jason and if there’s something she learned from that, it’s that words are both a blessing and a curse. A weapon that can be easily used against someone.

“Not interested,” she tells Slade, keeping it short and simple. And because she suddenly remembers a movie she watched with Jason once, she intones, “Liar liar, pants on fire. Get lost.”

Deathstroke chuckles. “Well then. You can find me if you’d like to.”

Cassandra shakes her head and turns around, walking over to the edge of the rooftop, ready to dive back into the night and bury Slade’s words deep down. Before she has a chance to do so, though, there’s a sudden burst of noise behind her. She whips back around.

In the matter of seconds between then and now, Red Hood getup appeared out of nowhere and engaged Deathstroke in a fight. The mercenary’s sword clashes against Jason’s gun, the blade moving dangerously close to Jason’s wrist before he bends it and moves out of the way. He falls back, ruthlessly firing from his other pistol, but Deathstroke just slices bullets as they come his way, only two grazing his arm and side.

“I heard some things about you, Red, and I admit I was curious,” Slade says conversationally, watching as a wound on his shoulder closes. “But you aren’t really anything special, are you?”

“Come and try me, asshole,” Jason sneers cheekily.

“Ja-- Hood,” Cassandra calls, at the same time as Deathstroke says, “Since you’re so eager, kid.”

Cassandra is fast, but not fast enough; Deathstroke’s moves are efficient, lethal. He knocks Jason down and drives his sword through Jason’s right leg. He shouts and Cassandra kicks into Deathstroke’s side just in time to push him back as he raises the sword again.

“I really wasn’t looking for a fight, but, well, since it came to me…” Slade drawls out, amused.

Cassandra ignores him, crouching next to Jason. “Bastard got this one up on me,” he pants and she clearly sees red seeping from his thigh. “It’s near my old crossbow wound. What a luck.”

“Stay still,” she says, pressing his fingers into the wound as she tears a part of her cape to do a makeshift tourniquet. “What are you doing here? Why did you attack him?”

At that, Jason snaps his attention back to Deathstroke. “What was in that shot you tried to give her?” he asks, his voice hard, not betraying how labored his breathing is right now. “What kind of fucked up game are you playing now?”

“What shot?” Cassandra asks, feeling uneasy.

Jason points to the ground and Cassandra thinks she can see the remains of glass and some liquid substance.

“It’s a job, but it’s also personal,” Deathstroke says, his face darkening for a moment. He points his sword at them. “But she’s a part of it. You’re not. Step back or I finish you off right here, Red.”

Jason barks a laugh at that and struggles to stand up. He bats away Cassandra’s steadying hands and reloads his gun. His voice is steel and sharp as he says, “Stay away from my sister, Slade. You and whoever the fuck you work with.”

Cassandra’s breath catches in her throat. She thinks back to the last time she and Jason met, that disastrous case with the rapist, and how she didn’t expect to see him any soon, maybe not ever again. She doesn’t know if he came to Gotham specifically tailing Deathstroke or to meet up with her. But here he was, standing up for her. Her brother.

Deathstroke is still before he raises his eyebrows. “Your sister you say? That’s interesting. From which family are you supposed to be?”

“Not your damn business,” Jason spits and Cassandra knows standing is becoming hard for him. He’s in no condition to fight, not with someone like Deathstroke.

“I’m gonna take him,” Cassandra says quietly.

Jason shakes his head. “Don’t be stupid. You’re good, but he’s been at this a long time. Plus, a healing factor. He’s one tough son of bitch.”

“So you thought you could take him one on one?”

“I didn’t, obviously, I just had to do something--”

“Okay, hushed arguing time is over,” Deathstroke says and advances at them.

Cassandra is ready for him, but a cloud of smoke coming out of nowhere surprises her; immediately after, there’s a flash of bright light, Deathstroke’s broken off cursing and the sound of one body barreling into another. Next to her, Jason calls, “Hey--!” as someone grabs him.

“We better get moving,” a woman’s voice addresses Cassandra and she doesn’t question it.

They detour down and away before coming to a stop in a nondescript alley. Jason, breathing heavily as he leans against a dumpster, asks, “And who the hell are you, lady?”

The woman is wearing a black suit with red insignia and lining under a cape; her hair is fiercely red as well, face hidden behind a mask. Cassandra hasn’t met her before, but she’s heard rumors.

“Batwoman,” she replies simply, giving them a short nod. “I have an idea who you’re, but I don’t know what you did to bring Deathstroke the Terminator on yourselves.”

“Just the way life is, I guess,” Jason replies noncommittally. “You didn’t kill him, did you?”

Batwoman chuckles. “I hardly think getting him from surprise by momentarily blinding him and knocking down from a ten-store building is going to kill him. Nice guns,” she adds, eyeing the weapons Jason’s got on himself, “but your wound is less so.” She turns to Cassandra. “You should lay low for a while. Figure what is this about.” She tosses something to Cassandra and she catches it easily; it’s keys. “I’ve got a spare bike stashed around here. Take it.”

“You’re being awfully helpful,” Jason notices, not hiding his distrust.

“Because I know what it’s like to be in a pinch,” Batwoman replies without missing a beat. Then, surprisingly, she grins, flashing white and sharp teeth. “Besides, even if he is not around right now, I figure helping out another cape is a given.”

Even though Jason doesn't seem convinced, Cassandra decides she rather likes this Batwoman.

Jason is reluctant to go to the Cave, but it’s the best equipped place they have an access to; getting in, Cassandra gets Jason straight to the medical bay. In the dim, artificial lights, he’s looking pale and there’s sweat on his face; she knows he’s been gritting his teeth and bearing the pain quietly, but it must hurt.

“You should run the tests on the liquid,” is what Jason tells her first, opening one of his pockets and pulling out some shards in a small, plastic bag.

“When did you--?” Cassandra asks, surprised. He shoots her a crooked but tired smile.

“I have my ways,” he replies. “There’s not much, but maybe enough to sample the substance.”

“Later,” she says, already cutting through the fabric of his pants to have a better look at the cut Deathstroke’s sword made. She frowns. “Not that deep, but messy,” she tells him.

“Figures,” Jason mutters, throwing an arm over his face as he goes boneless on the counter.

Cassandra moves to get necessary things, but pauses for a moment. “Painkillers?” she asks.

Jason inhales slowly and shakes his head. She thinks it says a lot about them, that he lets her help him, trusts her not to hurt him. It’s such a step-up from where they started many months ago, when she remembers that.

“Didn’t think you’d come to Gotham,” Cassandra says quietly as she finishes clearing the wound. “After we... fought the last time.”

“I…” Jason starts and sighs, removes his arm. “I’m not sorry for killing that guy. I don’t agree with B’s golden rule, not anymore, not after... everything.” He licks his lips. “But I get it’s important to you. I can respect that. So it was shitty of me to kill while we were on a case together.”

It’s not ideal, but Cassandra takes what she can get. She briefly squeezes Jason’s hand. “Sorry for punching you.”

Jason laughs at that. “It’s okay, I deserved that, for the shit I said. I wanted to rile you up, to get you angry.”

Gathering her thoughts, Cassandra starts, “I didn’t do all of… this for Bruce. I know that you don’t really hate him, that you miss him. And I know he does, too.” She shushes Jason as he opens his mouth to argue, probably. She thinks about Bruce at Jason’s (empty) grave, wishing him happy birthday, talking about him. She knows things Alfred told her. “I wish you could… reconcile. But looking for you, getting to know you… I did it for myself. Because I wanted to meet you.” She pauses and adds, “Thank you for coming tonight, little brother.”

Jason blinks at her a few times and turns his head away without a word. Cassandra gets to working on stitches, mindful of Jason’s still relatively fresh scar from the crossbow incident.

When Jason starts speaking later, his voice is a little choked. “You know, in those lasts moments, before the bomb went off… Sheila was frantically talking, apologizing to me, and at one point she said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not really your mother’.” She can him exhale shakily. “I did not remember that one detail for a very long time after coming back and when I finally did, I wasn’t sure if I hadn’t imagined that. And then you came.” He chuckles. “Telling me that you’re my sister, that Shiva is our mother. It… freaked me out. I have a bad history with family matters.”

Cassandra remembers finding out that Cain is actually her father, a bumpy search for her mother which in turn led her to sitting here in the Batcave with a brother who had died and came back.

“I do, too,” she replies.

It’s not normal, she knows that much, not perfect.

“But I’m glad you’re here.”

But it’s hers, for better and worse.

Just a moment later, Cassandra hears something and she turns around abruptly. She’s actually not surprised to see Alfred, even if he’s in a robe and holding a shotgun.

“Miss Cassandra,” he says, slowing putting away the weapon. “You tripped some alarms while getting in.”

“Ah,” she realizes. “Sorry. Was in a rush.”

Next to her, she can hear Jason take a sharp breath. Alfred steps closer.

“Master Jason,” the butler says mildly, multitude of emotions behind those two words.

Jason is tense all over, but he turns his head and opens his eyes. “Hey, Alfred,” he greets, trying to sound cheeky and failing completely.

Alfred doesn’t seem to mind; he drinks in the sight of Jason and, with a jolt, Cassandra realizes it’s been almost a year since they knew Jason is alive, but it’s the first time Alfred actually got to see him in person.

“Trouble seems to follow you as always, lad,” Alfred says, a light scolding. He glances at Cassandra, who’s holding a needle and a thread. “I will take it from here, if you don’t mind.”

She hands him the tools, happy to oblige and give them some semblance of privacy. Carefully, Cassandra goes about extracting a sample from the shards and starts running tests. It makes her uneasy, the fact that Deathstroke wanted to inject her with something; she wonders if it has to do with Ravager somehow. And the fact he’s working with somebody concerns her; her gut is pointing to Cain, even though he’s still locked up in Blackgate. More than that, she lets herself wonder about Shiva, too, for the first time in a long time. There are so many questions here.

Cassandra could perhaps eavesdrop on what Alfred and Jason are talking about, but it’s not her place to do so. As she spins around in the chair, however, she catches sight of the butler sitting on the table next to her brother as the two of them hug tightly, fiercely.

Despite everything that happened tonight, Cassandra feels warmth blossom in her chest. She’s glad that all those months ago, she decided to do the unreasonable and act upon Shiva’s words. At least this one time, it wasn’t the end and if Cassandra has something to say in the matter, this is barely a beginning.