“Just get on.”
She sighed, but climbed behind him onto the bike. With a roar they sped off down the dark street, wind whipping her cloak out behind them. The buzz of the bike underneath her was strange and disconcerting, but less so than the fact that she had to hold onto the man in front of her just to stay on. She carefully held his sides, silently cursing every acceleration that made her hands reflexively clutch him tighter.
“I would have had him,” she couldn’t help saying.
“What?” he called back to her. “You’ll have to speak up.”
“I would have had him,” she repeated over the noise of the wind and the engine. “If you hadn’t interfered, he would be in a nice bundle for the police by now.”
“Sure,” he scoffed. “Whatever you say.”
The buildings whipped by, and Barbara focused on watching the car in front of them. They flew through downtown, hurtling down the streets and skidding around corners as the driver tried to lose them. But eventually he miscalculated; taking a turn too fast, the car slid to the side and slammed into a light post.
The motorcycle screeched to a stop as the man pulled himself unsteadily out of the car and began to run. Barbara leaped off and ran after him, the Boy Wonder at her heels. The criminal was moving quickly, but he was disoriented from the crash, so Barbara was able to catch up with him before he could get away down the alley. Coming up behind him, she jumped up to catch a bar of the fire escape built into the wall of the building and swung forward to kick him in the small of his back and knock him over. Dropping down, Barbara quickly jumped out of the way as the man twisted around and tried to grab her ankles. He scrabbled to his feet and faced her, scowling darkly.
The man swung at her, and Barbara dodged his fists, but one connecting with her stomach knocked her to the ground with a grunt. Rolling back from him, she positioned herself to kick out his legs, watching him approach her and waiting for the right moment…
But one of those spinning ropes the Caped Crusader always used, and the criminal was down again. Robin walked up and held out his hand to Barbara, but she went over to see that the criminal was well tied up.
“I appreciate your help and all,” said Robin carefully, “but you really shouldn’t be coming out here like this. Crime-fighting isn’t a game. You can’t just… take it up.”
“Oh, and you were catching crooks at birth?” The knots finished, Barbara flicked an insect off her shoulder and began to walk away. Robin followed her.
“No, but unlike some people, I know what I’m doing.”
“Is that so? Got a diploma in vigilante-ism, huh?”
“I’ve got training. I’ve also got a record.”
Barbara sighed and turned to face him. “Look, I know you’ve been doing this for a while, and you’ve done all right for yourself. But it didn’t happen overnight. When you started out, you were just some kid in a dumb costume.”
He stiffened. “You got a problem with my costume?”
“You don’t exactly blend in, do you?”
“Here’s what you don’t get,” Robin said. “I didn’t start out like you. I didn’t just decide to put on a costume and start fighting thugs.”
“No,” agreed Barbara, “but he did.”
“You think you’re as good as Batman?”
“No.” Robin smiled smugly, and Barbara continued. “But then, I don’t think I’d want to be a billionaire.”
Robin started. “How—what are you talking about?”
She smiled at him grimly. “You think because I’m a girl I don’t stand a chance out here. Well, I’m no idiot; I know my weaknesses as well as you do. Better. I’m not as strong as you? Fine. I’ll settle for being smarter.”
“Won’t keep you from getting killed when you’re cornered in a fight.”
“Don’t you see, Dick? I don’t plan on getting cornered.”
The Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson, stared at her, face pale behind his mask.
“How did she figure it out?” Barbara asked, imitating his voice. “Who is she, anyway?”
“You’re hysterical.” he told her.
“Give my best to Mr. Wayne,” she replied, turning away from him. “I’ll probably be seeing you around.”
He glared at her back, though not without a little fear. Barbara laughed as she walked away. Smarter, she thought.