runespoor: steph as robin, somersaulting joyfully, while cass uses a grapplehook to try and catch up (batgirl&robin | flying)
[personal profile] runespoor
Title: Turning up the Turbo
Pairing: Bruce/Steph
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Steph and Bruce bond over Steph's persevering desire to drive the Batmobile.
Notes: takes place when Steph is Robin. I think the summary, in that context, is its own warning. (am I kicked out of the fandom yet?)

Stephanie makes no secret of liking the car.

“You could let me,” she insists, voice strained as she's doing a handstand on the rings. “Just in the Cave.”

“Two minutes more,” he comments.

She takes it for a rebuttal, but she doesn't complain.

*

“It'd be like training,” she argues.

She's making a commendable effort at keeping her voice even, and it's a decent showing of her sounding deliberately reasonable and responsible. The tone she's taking is a touch too reserved – too forced – to have a chance at convincing the Commissioner, though. She sounds new, still.

“You're always going on and on about how much training I need, and I'm just saying, it just doesn't sound careful to me that I shouldn't know how to drive the car at least a little bit.”

“Doesn't it.” He doesn't turn back to face her. The emphatic gesture she makes with her hands reflects on the surface of the computer screen, and she pretends not to have heard his interruption.

“Suppose anything happens – suppose you're wounded, or drugged, and we need to get back to the Cave stat. If I can't drive the car, I couldn't get you here in time!”

“Then it should make you feel better to know I'll leave you the car in my will.”

She pauses. She's wearing the domino, but her frown is very – very – distinct. For an acute second Bruce wishes she were like Tim and he didn't see so much of her expressions. (He's just need to glance away not to see them anymore. It's not a flaw specific to her. But he cannot let it go, for some reason. Cannot deny herself – himself? - the strength of her opinions, of her reactions. Cannot--

She once took off the Spoiler cowl to snarl at him more effectively.)

“I just think it makes sense that I should learn.”

She's very clearly refraining from tacking some other sentence at the end of this – possibly scathing, doubtlessly colourful.

“You can hit the bag,” he tells her.

Steph opens her mouth, then thinks better of it. She flips her hair back behind her shoulder as she walks to the bag, a bright, fair cloud. Her fists are swinging by her sides, and she's balancing on her hips. It makes her more agile on her feet, but not easier to throw down.

The first punch collides with a satisfying smacking sound. Bruce swivels around to observe her. She's circling around the bag as he instructed her, not offering a still target, and not waiting between the punches – not leaving her opponent a chance to strike her back before she moves.

She's smiling with every hit that connects. She likes the bag. Bruce isn't sure if she realizes he means letting her at it as a reward, and he's less sure why he did so, except that he thought she deserves it.

She lowers her hands a fraction too much when she's supposed to be on defence; a flesh-and-blood opponent would be able to punch her in the face. Or try to.

“Hands higher,” he says.

He keeps on watching her.

*

She comes back to it when they're sparring. They haven't done a lot of it. Bruce has been – reluctant isn't the word.

He's been focusing on familiarizing her with other types of training, both physical and intellectual. She's had experience, as far as sparring goes, with Tim and with Batgirl. The simple fact that she's been stopping assaults for years and is still alive and patrolling today is a credit to her abilities.

Until they'd worked through the basics together, the issue of sparring was simply not as urgent.

Anyhow he's asked Batgirl to continue training Stephanie that way. They're used to partnering, and when he puts Steph shadow-boxing, he can see how she's improved. She's always been resourceful, but Batgirl's training had made her a good deal more efficient. Interfering into such a productive partnership sounded counterproductive.

Last time Batgirl came over to train with Stephanie, she waited until Stephanie was gone and came to find him.

She stood in front of him with a frown that made Bruce feel as though he'd been lurking.

(He wasn't; he'd been sitting at the computer since coming back from patrol. Long enough that he knew Stephanie stopped being aware of him; not enough to have quenched his thirst for—for knowledge. He'd wished he could've attended the whole training session, even as he knew it would be damaging to their trust – even as he knew the Cave's cameras recorded every second, and he could watch it later, alone.)

“You. Need to do it,” Batgirl asserted, her hands on her hips.

Lying was never an option where Cassandra was concerned, unless she had as strong an incentive to lie to you back.

(Playing dumb was out of the question. His shoulderblades itched, where he knew behind his back the Case was standing.)

Bruce chose to stay silent. Cassandra too rated actions above words. She might let the conversation end there. Her message had been clear: she might not demand an answer.

“Spar. Together. That's how you'll work. Right?”

There was something like a spark of defiance in her eyes.

She was entirely right.

Abruptly, Bruce stood and strode away from the chair – from her, from the Case.

“Batgirl, don't bother to come here tomorrow. I'll take care of Robin's training.”

Maybe 'reluctance' wasn't so far off the mark.

He's been sparring with Robin every night since then. The biggest flaw in her fighting is that she talks. Chatters. Some of it is shaped like questions, and even if they're rhetorical, there's a place for Bruce to answer. And if she wants an answer, she can be distracted.

So far, her chatting is mostly a distraction for him.

“C'mon, why won't you let me? You'll be right next to me and I'll keep my hands off any red buttons. Even if they're not marked 'ejector seat'!”

She strikes – punching for the crook of the elbow, she puts enough strength in it to make it work – and he steps back, and around – she follows it up with a sweep of the feet he has to jump to avoid.

She's wearing the suit. She's always more likely to use her feet more when she's in costume. She'll flip and vault, and his cameras have stolen some display od splendidly useless acrobatics on the rooftops of Gotham over the years, and in the Cave itself.

If she trains casual, in sweatpants and a tanktop (Bruce had Alfred buy some in her size; Cassandra's things are too small for her), she'll concentrate on her upper-body strength, fists and elbows. She'll almost never kick – until she's on the ground. Then she fights as dirty as she can, ferocious and wild. A bruiser, or a street kid.

Bruce has the mark of her teeth in the side of his hand, where she bit him once.

“Seriously, why not!”

“All right,” he says.

“Huh. Seriously?!” In a completely different tone of voice. Surprise slows her down, and Bruce trips her up.

He has her on the ground, her arms trapped under the weight of her own body, before she has the time to shake herself. For perhaps the first time, she's not fighting back. It's—unusual.

“You let yourself be distracted.”

Under him, he can feel her shifting. He tenses, waiting for the struggle, but it doesn't come.

In fact, Robin is grinning, her hair spread around her like a blond pillow.

“Yeah. But I get to drive the Batmobile.”

She shifts again. Bruce isn't moving, for some--

He moves. Away, giving her enough room to stand up so they can start again.

She only sits up, hair tousled, and cocks her head at him.

Bruce swallows.

“Yes. You do.”

She lets out a restrained whoop, by Robin's standards, and rolls back and flips to her feet again.

“Okay, I'm good! Let's go.”

*

The caress Stephanie steals along the side of the car before she goes home stays with him.

*

She doesn't have as much experience as she bragged, but Bruce has spent two hours this afternoon adjusting the sensitivity levels of the car's mechanisms to something she can control, on the one hand, and react to, on the other.

He takes her on the open road, because no matter what she argued, the Cave is too cramped to be appropriate for driving lessons.

Though it's more a test drive; Stephanie already knows how to drive.

She's not half-bad at it, either. She simply isn't used to the engine, the resistance in the steering wheel, how fast the car reacts to her every order, but in a short time she'll be—

Yes. It was silly to pretend she wasn't going to keep on being allowed to drive the Batmobile, even after this one ride.

He checks her for most of the drive (it is the most powerful car on the Eastern seaboard; maybe they should've started with the plane), keeping her from going too fast, but when at the end of the drive, he lets her go a little, get the taste of the car's speed she's had sparkles in her eyes for (far, far above the speed limit), he can hear her purr in time with the motor.

By the time they drive back and she stops the enging, Steph is flushed and breathless.

“Whoo! That was fucking awesome. I mean really, really—fucking great.” She's babbling. “You—You have to let me do this again. Sometime. Tomorrow. I'll train harder – I can come right after school, it'll save time and I can do my homework here. Mom's only eating dinner at home like twice a week, they changed her shifts again, so it's not like she'll wonder where I'm gone. I just—anything.”

She stops, and laughs nervously. “Okay, babbling done and under control. No need to loom at me, Boss, I'm done.” She sighs happily, one last time, and makes to open the compartment.

Batman's glove closes on her wrist before she does.

Her lips part, and she turns toward him, expecting--

“You're a good driver.”

“Huh. Thanks.”

He lets go off her wrist; this is an uncomfortable scene. Sincerity often is.

Bridled sincerity even more so.

For a moment, she makes no move to open the compartment.

Then she shifts. He has the time to see it coming, the way she puts her knee on the seat. She leans toward him, slowly. Slowly enough that he knows it's deliberate; he knows she's giving him time to stop her. Or to bolt.

She lifts her hand, her face gets closer to his.

She kisses him, chapped lips against his. He has the time to feel her tongue flicking, and he jerks back.

“Is this going to be a pattern? I thought we'd done the you-want-me-you-don't-want-me dance.”

Her words, annoyed though they are, give him his senses back.

“Robin.”

She grimaces. Her hand, he notices, is still resting against his neck.

“I knew I should've done this when I wasn't wearing the suit. But it gave me courage, y'know? Otherwise I wasn't sure I'd dare.”

“Stephanie.” Her name curves the corners of her lips up. “This is unnecessary.”

It's the perfect opening for sarcasm, Bruce knows, but he has nothing to offer her but earnestness. She's his partner; maybe they didn't come together as swiftly, as easily as his other partnerships, but their relationships needs trust.

“I know,” she retorts. “You think I'd be here if it wasn't? I know we've had our issues, but give me some credit.” Her smile slides crooked, till it's a smirk. “I can't be the first to make you an offer.”

Jason's smirk, suddenly so similar, flits ghost-like through Batman's mind. It is neither here nor there, but it distracts him a moment, just long enough that he's startled when Steph settles into his lap.

Either she's getting better at reading his moods or she's absolutely fearless; she only accompanies her insolence with an engaging grin.

“Come on. I drove the car, it's only right if we christen it properly, right?”

“That's a fallacy,” he says. Banters back.

Stephanie's widening smile says she knows his giving into the banter means he's giving into the rest of it. Robins.

“Sure. But it's still true.”

This time he's the one to kiss her.

*

At one point an elbow collides with the dashboard, and the horn toots, a thundering honk echoing in the Cave.

They both jump. Stephanie laughs against his neck.
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Runespoor

October 2014

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