Barbara felt like she was going in slow motion.
She shouldn't have felt that bad.
She should've been a million miles high.
She was at her senior year prom.
She'd really made it through four years of classes, declining to leap to a year more fitting to her intelligence because she really wanted to develop her emotions as well as her intellect.
She'd lived through all the laughter and tears, all the dates, all the friends gained and lost, all the parties, all the problems and bumps built into the Gotham City educational system.
And she'd done it all spending almost every evening as a masked vigilante.
By any computation, there should've been an accomplishment to this. An award of some type. But no special acknowledgement was coming.
She should've at least really loved her dress.
It was her gown, one she saved for and bought for herself.
The one she would've dreamed of all through her teens if she'd known it'd even been in the stores earlier than two months ago.
It was showing enough skin to be exciting, simple enough to be finished, the blue cloth lightly caressing her skin but failing to reveal all of her.
The split ran daringly up her right thigh (open enough to let her get in a good kick) and though the top half more than covered her breasts, it was just snug enough to let everyone recognize she had some.
No, it wasn't her clothes.
It was her.
Quiet little Barbara Gordon, only as confident as she had to be, bookish as she could be, intellect first, beauty after.
And that wasn't enough for her any longer.
She was more than the teenage girl who got a makeover in a high school video.
She was Batgirl.
The snug, sexy uniform.
The bold, flirty conversation.
The boots in bright yellow when she did all her missions at night.
That girl—she could have any man she wanted and do the whole football team as well.
And Barbara adored Dick Grayson; at least, she was trying hard enough to give it a real chance of turning into love, to write Mrs. Barbara Grayson in her notebook when she wasn't working the nights as Batgirl.
But he wasn't even in the city—gone away for a family emergency.
She understood that.
It wasn't like her dual career left her an opportunity to criticize.
But he wasn't there for her tonight, and Batgirl wasn't the sort of lady who got stood up.
Not at her high school's senior prom.
Not for a family crisis when the guy appeared to have one every couple of weeks.
Family crisis—what did that mean, anyway? He didn't have that large of a family, did he?
It wasn't as though he was one of the Teen Titans, headed off to fight a rampaging beast somewhere off in a foreign place.
If he was, Barbara would have a few words to say about permitting barely-dressed orange aliens on the crew.
God, she wanted to tear her gown off.
It felt suffocating, but it wasn't supportive enough at the same time.
Her outfit on the other hand was like another skin.
It let her climb around, race, skip. Even fly if she so chose.
The formal gown just let her be traded by the boys who'd come alone that night, giving charity dances to a few poor wallflowers who couldn't find any dates.
And she couldn't stop seeing the small revolts.
The other kids for whom this wasn't enough.
The pairs sneaking off the floor, the smog rolling out of the bathroom, the drinks being loaded up with vodka.
She ran outside to get some fresh oxygen.
The night air was crisp, the evening was viciously dark even at seven, and the only movement outside was the patrol vehicles rounding the square.
Below here, with the high-rises the only backdrop... it'd stopped seeming natural a lifetime ago.
The Bat-signal was the only thing that resembled any part of her current life.
She didn't wait long to tear her gown off her body in the back of her car, dropping it on the floor mat like discarded gift wrap, finally feeling alive. Free!