Technically, she was dead. She had died, rather, and quite painfully at that, but thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, Dr Leslie Thompkins made sure it didn't stay that way.
There was, in her opinion, an unwarranted memorial among the people who had died over those weeks of sheer pandemonium she had quite selfishly caused trying to prove a point, an obituary that was published in the damn newspaper, and was now eternally immortalised in the digital archives, and even a whole grave.
She had visited the memorial, and seen the obituary, but to this point, had avoided looking at the grave itself.
How are you meant to process that? Looking at a headstone with the date you died permanently carved on it, but not really, because you weren't buried and you didn't get dropped in the Lazarus Pit so it's not counted as a real death like Jason, or Damian's was.
It felt real enough to her. Unlike her fellow Dead Robins club members, she still has to deal with the physical ramifications of being tortured to death.
But as she sat there, gripping the steering wheel of the Compact, staring out at the immaculately kept lawns of the cemetery, perfect rows of headstones stretching for eternities, knuckles aching, trying to use the anger of her death being 'invalid'
as a reason to not get out of the car. To sit, steam, and make excuses for herself. To not go see the last marker of her mistakes on this self styled, half assed attempt to come to terms with… something. Her mistakes? Repercussions? Her mortality?
At this point, she really didn't know why she was doing this to herself, but her unusually hard head was what got her a tombstone with her name on it in the first place, and drove a good 80% of her life choices, so it was almost poetic, really that it would bring her to see it.
Letting out a long, slow, almost measured sigh, relinquishing her vise grip on the wheel, to slump back momentarily, pout, catch sight of herself in the rear view mirror and lean into the back seat to fish around for her jacket, run a hand through her loose waves, and step out of the purple Mini Cooper.
Hands deep in her pockets as she wandered through the rows of tombstones, looking for her own name, idly musing over some of the more interesting names that caught her eye as she went, bowing her head in respect as she passed their final resting places.
She was surprised when she finally found the tombstone.
It sat as one of a few atop a small hill in the cemetery, with what would have been a really rather nice view, down to the pond and the weeping willows.
Kneeling down, and lightly tracing her fingers across the lettering that made up the name, her name
, she gingerly picked up the dried, withered wreath of… there was no was for her to tell what they were now, brushing the decaying petals from the glossy surface of the marble head stone, before sinking back on her haunches.
"Everything doesn't have to be about fear. There's room in our line of work for hope, too."
“It’s been a good long time since this young lady had any visitors… two years, I’d say….”
A voice behind her caused her to spring back to standing, and whip around, crushing the dried floral remains in the process, and the owner of the voice to laugh good naturedly.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you… I just, don’t get a lot of live company…”
Letting out a nervous chuckle of her own, Steph looked back to the headstone, and brushed her hands absently on the sides of her legs. Time frame checked out. She ‘came back from the dead’ around then.
“Two years, huh? Do you remember all the… uh.. residents, or-”
Lifting the brim of his hat to scratch at his forehead absently, the older man shook his head slightly.
“This one sticks out… Small funeral, I’d say about fifteen people or so, including myself and the preacher giving his farewell, and Bruce Wayne of all people-”
Stephanie frowned slightly, folding her arms across herself, shifting uncomfortably.
“I can see why that would stick out. Not everyday you find a billionaire walking around the graves, huh?”
With a nod, ushering her in closer and lowering his voice, even though they were the only living souls in sight. Wearily taking the step closer, he continued.
“I found out later that week she was one of the masked vigilantes. They said she was Robin. Can you believe that?!”
Raising her brows to feign surprise, Steph then frowned slightly.
“Did ya ever see Batman or Robin, you know, the one that took over after her, out here?”
To her surprise, he nodded, adjusting his hat.
“Once. The year after she went under, to the day. Mostly saw the scary Batgirl though. A few times.”
Swallowing hard, Steph lowered her rapidly welling eyes to his shoes, nodding, responding thickly.
Awkwardly patting her on the shoulder, he motioned to the grave.
“I didn’t mean to interrupt, though, please, go back to spending time with your friend…”
Giving a watery smile and nod in response, the blonde slowly shuffled back to the head stone, resting her hand on the impeccably carved marble surface and sinking back down. As she looked at the dark reflection of herself in the polished surface, watching the groundskeeper toddle off about his business, a million questions began popping up in her mind. Taking out her phone, she called Crystal. As her mother picked up, without even waiting for a greeting, she fired off the first, burning question.
“Hey, mom? Who paid for my funeral? This is a really nice headstone…”
“Wh-Steph-I- Are you at the cemetary right now?”
> “Mmhm. Who paid for it.”
“I don’t know, Stephie, I went into the funeral home to try to start organising things, and it had already been taken care of. I assumed maybe it was part of that secret government contract your father was a part of…”
“Hm. I dunno about that one… thanks, mom.”
Hanging up before she could respond, the ‘problem being solved’ frown set across Stephs features, she made another call.
This time to Leslie, who picked up on the second ring.
“Hi, no need to panic, just some questions. Question one. Did you pay for my funeral, and question two. How much money did you blow burying an empty casket?”
After a pause, sigh, and some shuffling Steph could only interpret as Leslie moving to her office.
“I’m surprised this hasn’t come up earlier… Yes, I paid for it. And the casket isn't empty. It has the body I showed Bruce.”
Immediately looking down to the grass beneath her feet, Steph was silent for a moment.
“You, uh. You wanna run that by me again, Doc?”
“I got the body of an overdose victim that looked similar enough as a horribly beaten and broken you that would pass as you, showed her on the autopsy table in your place, and she got buried.”
“Under my name. Leslie! What if she has family looking for her! What if she has a kid out there thinking mommy might come home someday?! No! We gotta dig her up. Give her her name back. Get her to her family.”
After a pause, Leslie sighs heavily.
“That’s going to be so much paperwork…”
“You did it, undo it! I’m gonna do my part of being legally alive. I might not be the greatest detective around, but I know a few tricks…”
Ending the call, she spoke to the ground, to the woman in her casket.
“I’m so sorry… I’ll get you your name back, at the very least. But until then, your next visitor won’t be two years down the line, I promise…”
She was back the next day with a small bouquet of Purple Hyacinth to lay at the base of the headstone.