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She's spent a lot of time talking to Stephanie, since they came back. (Came back; from losing life, from taking it.) More time than she's ever talked to anyone. It can be hard, finding the words, but it's always worth it when Steph smiles, or laughs, or nods in understanding.

They're sitting on a rooftop right now, drinking chocolate shakes. Apparently, there's a place that gives them to Spoiler for a discount (she won't take them for free). Steph's mask is pushed up over her nose. Cass just took her cowl off; her reflexes are quick enough to yank it back on if anyone approaches.

There's a lull in conversation, now. They're watching the street below, quiet save for the occasional rushed, wary footsteps.

"Most of them are women." Stephanie's voice is low and frustrated, and Cass glances at her curiosly. Steph gestures below them. "The ones hurrying. Looking behind them. Most of them - " She shakes her head.

She's not wrong. "More to fear," Cass murmurs, brow furrowing. "Not...fair."

"It's not!" She knows Steph would be throwing her hands up, if not for the shake. Years of rage and resentment tense her muscles. "We can't even feel comfortable in daylight, you know? Well - I mean, you don't, you could always take anyone - but I bet you've had guys say gross crap, right?"

Her lips curl as she remembers that dirty little bar, on the way to her destiny, to her mother. That agressive, ruthless entitlement.

"Broke his thumb."

A grin breaks through Stephanie's bitterness. "Good." She leans back on one elbow, somehow still managing to sip her milkshake. "God, I just - it can be hard to feel comfortable in your own skin, as a girl."

As a girl. The words strike her, as her head tilts, and she doesn't say anything for a few moments.

"Cass?"

"I - um." She definitely doesn't have the words for this. "Nothing."

Stephanie peers up at her, clearly concerned, but Cass can see she doesn't want to push. "Okay."

 

It stays with her, though, that moment. She begins to realise things she never has before, remember things in different ways.

She doesn't know what any of it means. A girl is a girl, isn't she? That's what she's always heard, even if she's never felt - the kinship, that Stephanie does. Even if no other girl moves like she does, or boy either.

Cassandra takes the logical course. She goes to ask Oracle.

Something twists in her chest as she passes the place the clock tower used to be. She should have been there, should have saved Barbara's home. It shouldn't have mattered that she was hurting.

But that's behind them, now, and she approaches Barbara's new home with a smile.

Barbara welcomes her inside, brusqueness melting away at the sight of her. The house is small, but very - Barbara, lined with books and maps and schematics.

"So what's on your mind, Cass?" Barbara tosses the question over her shoulder as she makes the tea. She always does, when Cass comes over - the way Alfred taught her, she said.

"I, um." What is on her mind, exactly? "...How do you know if you're a girl?"

Barbara's hands still, and she turns completely to look at Cass. "That's a pretty heavy question."

Cass shrugs haplessly, and Barbara smiles.

"If you don't think you are, Cass, that's fine. There are other things you could be. Heck, I wonder about myself sometimes." Cass's eyes go wide; she can see the sincerity, as Barbara speaks. She's not just saying it to make her feel better.

Barbara shrugs, too, as she turns back to the tea. "It feels - really good, sometimes, people thinking Oracle's a man, or even just - a program. Genderless."

Genderless.

 

She wonders if people see the difference, as she starts to think of herself that way. A few weeks later, she knows they do.

"I'd like you to give Batgirl to Stephanie."

She stares up at Bruce, stunned and a little horrified. Had she done something wrong? Is he punishing - no.

There's no anger, there. No judgement, no condemnation. It's not a command, it's a suggestion.

"Why?"

"I know you and Stephanie are close. You believe in her. I assumed she would be your choice."

"Shouldn't assume. But...yes." Then she crosses her arms, staring up at him expectantly. Bruce sighs, and pulls off his cowl.

"I thought the title might have becomes...constraining, for you. Considering."

Her eyes widen.

"If I'm out of bounds - "

"A little," she replies. But then she grins. "But still...appreciate it." His own smile is rueful, but warm.

"You know I'm...not very good at personal matters."

"No."

He shakes his head, smile lingering. "I would, of course, like you to remain a Bat."

"Have to...think of a new name."

"That, I'll leave up to you."

She smirks up at him.

"You're learning."