With her forehead against her knees, curled in on herself, something cut through the haze of mixed emotions. 'Let them think another one has come back to haunt them.'
Sniffing sharply, she honed in on that thought, on something else to focus on for even a moment.
"What did he mean 'another one back'?"
After a long, almost droning silence in her mind, there was a sudden spark of inspiration.
'The suit in the cave… the Robin between Nightwing and Tim.'
Shaking her head at the crazy, impossible thought, pushing herself to her feet, she started moving towards her bike, no destination in mind, just the need to be moving.
'Why not? Cass killed Shiva and brought her back. You died are here. What even is death at this point, around these people?' "Yeah but – it doesn't make any sense."
Slipping her helmet on over the cowl, something she hadn't missed doing at all, and kicking the engine to life, she started to drive.
'Neither do you. What's your point? Nothing you do, nothing you have ever done, makes any sense. Roll with it.'
With a heavy huffing, she checked out, and just drove, trying to outrun her emotions, the new responsibilities, the bullsh*t theories she was both building and trying to ignore simultaneously.
Stephanie hadn't even realised she had crossed the bridge to Bristol County until she felt the change to the gravel road beneath her tires, far too lost in her own need to escape. Pulling herself back into focus, skidding the bike to a stop, she looked around, frowning.
Her autopilot brain had been taking her to the Cave.
No. Nonono. She had to turn around now.
Or… it was broad daylight. On a Saturday. Middle of the day. Odds were they'd all be out having to fulfill regular, civilian identity duties. She could just… take a peek. For old times sake.
'This is how you get yourself busted. This. Right here. You're an idiot and I hope you get punched in the face for it.'
"Hey! I used to sneak in all the time!"
Dismounting and walking her bike off the gravel road, into the thicket, laying it down and stepping back to the road, looking to see if it was visible from any direction, she tucked her helmet under a bush, stopping to adjust the ill-fitting belts and started continuing her journey on foot, in the shade of the trees beside the road.
'Yeah, sure. If you think you ever got in unspotted, you're deluded…'
Reaching the cave entrance, or at least the one she knew of, Stephanie hesitated, a quick mental image of a laser grid and being shredded to death by beams of instant heat, before she pushed onwards, slowly, hugging the wall.
As she moved inside, she was pleasantly surprised to learn that the lenses of the cowl were functional, adjusting to the dark quickly. Holding down the murmur of surprise, Steph pushed herself to the edge of the entry tunnel, before stopping dead, seeing movement.
On the central platform, bustling around with what she could only assume was the worst cleaning duties in the world was Alfred Pennyworth.
Not quick enough in moving to stifle herself, the Butler's head turned, searching for the soft sound. Eyes passing over her, barely in the shadows, before shaking his head and returning to wiping down the glass on the case he was in the process of cleaning. Stephanie stood frozen, both in shock, and utter confusion.
"Everything doesn't have to be about fear. There's room in our line of work for hope, too." 'He looked right at you. Is – is he going blind? He must be going blind. That's what's happening. Must be.'
After standing motionless while Alfred finished his duties and disappeared back up the stairs she was never allowed up, Steph moved up onto the central platform. If she was here, she might as well get the name of that other Robin. Moving towards the cases that held the suits she stalled, something not quite right, before she looked to the suits in the cases.
'Batgirl. Robin. Another Robin. Both scaley. No skirt. ...I never was Robin. He lied to me…'
Drawing herself in closer to look at the name plated under the suits, she looked up the suits again, before it clicked. What was off finally hit her.
"Holy f*** I'm invisible!"
Clapping her hand over her mouth, looking back towards the stairs for signs of movement she waited. And waited. And waited.
After seeing she was fine, she turned back to her lack of reflection, a bewildered grin she could only feel under the cowl. Waving her arm to confirm she couldn't see herself, she had to refocus. Work out how she did this later. Get the name and get out. Get mad about being lied to on her death bed later.
Running her fingers along the bronze plate, tracing the letters to herself, she looked back up to the first of their kind.
'Alright, Jason. Dead Robin to dead Robin. What do I do? Do I come back to them? Or do I keep doing what I'm doing? ...Maybe asking the first one of us that died for advice isn't the best idea. God what am I even doing.'
Resisting the urge to trash the place in her frustration, knowing it would fall to Alfred, who never really did anything to her to clean it, Stephanie made her leave at a jog. Once back at her bike, she hunkered down against a tree, more emotions added to the pile, with a dash of betrayal added to the mix now.
Again trying to redirect focus, anything but think about feelings, she had to work out how she was invisible. What did she do? She… got off the bike? Then. Fiddled with her belts! The belts!
"Oh, Ozzie, you fishy son of a bitch… you're making me almost like you."
After uncloaking and heading back into Gotham proper, she decided to get to work on the Whale watching.
The internal debate raged while she set up a position on the roof across from the restaurant the Whale had taken up as his base of operations.
Regardless of whether it was for Penguin, or if she was going to turn it over to the Bats, or hell – maybe she'd just start selling information to whoever paid best – she had skills. Why shouldn't she use them for her benefit?
'Because making decisions while you're angry about something else doesn't make for good life decisions. That's how you became Robin and got you in this mess to begin with. Stop. Think. Call Leslie. Be responsible. Be the person you needed when you were younger. Hold it together. One more lie in your life doesn't mean everything needs to fall apart. You knew he was lying. What does it matter.'
"It matters because I thought I mattered. Just for a minute, I thought I mattered…"
Stephanie whispered to herself, lowering the binoculars that had come in one of the belt pouches, trying to reorganise them to a more intuitive state while on her stake out.
'Oh, honey. You never mattered. When are you going to learn?'
"I never learn anything. Not if I can help it."
Sniffing sharply, she shifted her knees, and hunkered down for a long night.