Legs extended in front of her, flat against the table, she had her arms wrapped under her thighs, chest against the top of them. Hands pressed on her shoulder blades lightly and she grunted slightly, a wince threatening to form on her face. Once the hands lifted, she unwrapped herself, and slowly sat up, hands running up her legs to her knees as she pushed on them lightly.
“Good. Good… your flexibility is returning Steph. You’ll be as good as new soon enough.”
Doctor Leslie Thompkins smiled lightly at her. Returning the smile, Stephanie started stretching her arms up over her head, twisting at the waist from side to side slowly.
“Well, I’ve been doing the exercise you set me… they help. Are you sure there’s nothing you can do about the nerve damage? I almost burnt my whole butt off setting a shower the other day… it felt fine to my hand…”
She flexes her right hand a few times, looking at it. Doctor Thompkins lightly took her hand in both hers and ran her fingers over the palm, pressing on the inside of the joints slowly, shaking her head.
“Sorry kiddo… until we get better access to equipment that doesn't get stolen by any two bit thug in Gotham and the medical advancements get approved you’re just going to have to try to be careful.”
Leslie paused for a moment.
“Have you been seeing that other doctor I referred you to?”
Averting her eyes, Stephanie cleared her throat slightly before shaking her head.
“No… I can’t afford the hourly rate, and I don’t wanna ask Mom…”
“What about Br-”
Steph snaps, lifting her head.
“He doesn’t know about any of this. He doesn’t need to either….”
Putting her hands on her hips, Leslie scowled, disappointment and anger etched on her tired face.
“This is how you got into this mess, Stephanie. Blind worship of the Bat.”
“It’s not like that at all!”
Stephanie stands up, frowning.
“It’s all I’m good at, Leslie. I was bad at school, I can’t even pick a major at college. I’m good at this.”
Leslie softened slightly, putting her hands on Stephanie's shoulders.
“Look. I understand that’s how you feel, but I’m sure it’s not true. I’m sure you’re good at other things…”
Steph shakes her head and drops her gaze.
“I was good at piano…. but…”
She raises her hands and wiggles her fingers slightly, the pinky fingers on both hands hardly moving at all.
“That’s not really possible anymore…”
Sighing Steph broke away, scooping up her bag on the way to the door.
“I’ll see you next week, Doc….”
Opening the door and stepping out, she was gone before Doctor Thompkins could say a word. Now out on the streets of Gotham, Stephanie quickly took in the street, noting changes between her entering her appointment and now, and moved on. She walked the few, long blocks home, entered the building and moved to her floor. Two doors away from her own she stopped to slip off her shoes and tucked them under her arm, knowing her mother still had a few hours of sleep before she was off for the graveyard shift at the hospital. Unlocking the door and sliding in quietly, she gently clicked the door closed, crossed the living room and headed to her bedroom, tucking the back pack under the desk, and slumping onto her bed, stifling a groan into her pillow. It wasn’t long before she was asleep, face turned to the side, her breathing slow and steady.
"Everything doesn't have to be about fear. There's room in our line of work for hope, too."
She was in a dark room, the sound of water dripping couldn’t muffle the sounds of yelling or gunshots she guessed to be a few blocks away. Her arms chained above her head, on some form of piping. She knew bouncing her body weight could break it, but when she last tried, it made so much noise that he came back. That he broke her fingers and shoved a blade into her side. She didn’t want that again. Closing her eyes, her head dropped forward, and she shifted slightly. Every part of her was sore. Her ribs felt broken, from beatings, warm blood slowly ran down her side. Her shoulders felt like they were separating. Her feet blistered and scarred, and she was sure bones were broken. Her fingers. Oh her fingers. She kept trying to move them to stop them from setting in place. Biting down on her lower lip she stifled a scream as best she could, as her fingers moved slightly. The heavy door that was the only way into the room swung open with a loud crashing, and in he walked. White suit and black mask, she stopped moving and raised her eyes to look at him, her face stern.
“Little birdy still won’t sing. We haven’t got any more time to deal with you. I’ll be sure to tell the Bat you never gave his name, even when I killed you…”
He sliced her down from the pipe, and hitting the ground she screamed slightly, curling up with a sob. Pushing her flat into her back with his foot, Black Mask stared down at her, his foot on her chest.
“Night night, Birdy.”
His pistol drawn, he leveled it at her head, and pulled the trigger. Closing her eyes, she was deafened, the bullet making contact with her skull. Snapping awake, Stephanie put her hand to her head, her fingers meeting the raised scar along the top right of her skull, hidden by her hair. Sniffling, she realised she was crying. Moving to the bathroom, her hand still on her scar, she started the water for the shower, and leant on the sink, slowly flexing her toes on the floor. She knew Leslie was right, and she knew she owed her her very life. She was shot in the head, and tortured for almost a week. She was lucky to even be having these nightmares. Undressing she stepped into the shower, and winced slightly at the heat. After a moment of fiddling with the taps, she just held her face under the stream, closing her eyes. It wasn’t long before she heard her mother moving around. Turning off the water Steph cleared her throat slightly and grabbed a towel, before cracking the door open.
“Sorry if I woke you…”
Her mother laughed and moved to the door, patting her cheek.
“Not a problem kiddo… I was getting up anyway. I’ll be off soon, you stay out of trouble, alright? Dinner is in the fridge.”
Steph smiled and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“Always, mom. You know me. Never in trouble.”
Listening for her mother to leave she dried, moved to her room and dressed in her Batsuit, slipping out the window. It wasn’t long before she was on a rooftop, joined by the huge form of Batman.
“You’re out early, Batgirl…”
He grumbled, to which she turned and grinned at him.
“You know me, Bats, life of the party… and the party can’t start til I walk in.”