Sometimes, people like to keep secrets.
Deep, dark secrets.
Locked away, never to be found by anyone, to be taken with them to the grave.
Stephanie Brown had several secrets, obviously, being part of the Costumed Freak Club that ran around Gotham of a night time.
She hid her relationships from her mother, as well as the fact that her father was alive.
Her father didn't know he was a grandfather, and she planned on keeping it that way. She didn't need Arthur Brown messing up another poor little girls life.
Reason number 327 she gave her daughter up for adoption.
Steph also hid physical things. Not just her scars, although that's obvious, but items. Her suits, her gear. Some childhood pictures of her and Arthur. A cassette tape player, and some of his tapes.
You see, as much as Stephanie would like to try to tell everyone, to tell herself that she hated him, that she wanted him dead, when the shady government agent came to tell them he had died, she didn't take it well at all.
All Stephanie ever wanted was to try to help her father. Work out why he was bad. Maybe help him become better
. Become a good person
Digging to the back of her closet, to the cardboard box she kept the tape player and tapes in, settling herself in the corner and putting in Side A of the random mixtape of songs taped from the radio at some point or another, she let herself think back to childhood.
Not the parts she remembered regularly.
Not the yelling and screaming. The bruises and beatings. Not the visits to Blackgate, or the hours locked in the closet for making noise at the wrong time, but being taught to ride a bike, and his sheer panic as she immediately took off down the steepest hill she could find, and her breaking her arm. The one time she got hurt and it wasn't by his hand. That he worried about it and tried to comfort her, tried to fix it. Tried to be a father.
"Everything doesn't have to be about fear. There's room in our line of work for hope, too."
Taking a well worn photo from the box, of a birthday party, she wasn't sure whose it was, her perched on her father's shoulders, Crystal smiling next to them, Steph found herself idly wondering who took the photo, to raise her head and stare at the tape deck as 'The Nutbush'
started playing. Arthur had taught her this dance. She remembered thinking it was super dorky at the time, but now all she could picture was bright orange clad Cluemaster, and bright green Riddler, good old Uncle Eddie, doing the Nutbush.
Falling into a giggling fit, collapsing to the side, holding her ribs, covering her mouth, her shoulder knocking the cassette player, causing a jarring, tearing sound.
Sitting bolt upright, mirth immediately evaporating, jamming the stop button, eyes wide, then eject, letting out a strangled cry seeing the streams of ribbon like tape outside the cassette.
Gingerly trying to salvage the tape, she scowled at herself as her eyes began to prickle.
It was just a tape. Just her dad's tape. Why was she acting like this? It didn't matter. It's not like he was dead or anything. He was still alive. Still trying to kill her.
Clenching her fist around it, hurling it across the bedroom and resting her forehead against her knees as there was the little plastic clutter to the floor, Stephanie sat in silence for a moment.
"Stupid. Stupid tape. Stupid music. Stupid dad. Stupid… everything."
Throwing the photo back into the box, snagged the case for the tape she hurled, stood, crossed to pick up the tape and collected it.
Moving to her wastepaper basket, looking at the mass of magnetic tape and plastic in her hands, she dropped it in on top of torn up, half written essays, along with the case. After a moments pause, she scooped the case back out, took the hand written song listing slip out of it, and dropped the empty shell back in.
Spotify existed, after all. And even if he was a criminal, murderous bastard, her father had decent taste in music.