19 19: Stupid Sexy Spar

On an otherwise routine night, the Dead End received two visitors. They were unexpected. And they required special attention from me. Mostly because I had them banned on a technicality before they showed up.

Thankfully, the two mystery guests weren't on the permanent ban list. They weren't big names who I'd banned for good reason like the Bat-Who-Laughed or Barbatos. They'd just been caught in the crossfire when I first set up the ban list.

I'd set up the ban list with a few tentative entries, meant to be subject to further review in the future. These were the villains of Gotham who I thought MIGHT cause problems — if they were so inclined. As opposed to the ones who I KNEW would cause problems or disregard the neutrality I offered — mainly Joker and Zsasz, who were both taken care of at the moment.

Of the latter list, the beings who remained were anything but 'street-level'. I was prepared to deal with them if they showed up but I had a feeling they wouldn't. Besides, if they did show up, this whole dimension was in danger. At that point, I had no problem with slipping on the big boy boots and showing them why their narratives weren't welcome in my comfy retirement life — something I didn't even have to do with the Joker because he straight-up WASN'T THAT BIG OF A THREAT.

Of the former… well, Killer Croc and Solomon Grundy had just shown up at my door. They were on the tentative list but I simply hadn't gotten back around to reviewing their preemptive bans.

Croc was 'banned' mainly because I wasn't sure if this version of him was an unrepentant murderous cannibal or a misunderstood monster. Grundy because I wasn't sure how Didi felt about his current undead state of being. Otherwise, I didn't have a problem with him so I was content to let Didi have the final say on his ban.

It seemed I would be reviewing their bans on the fly now though. Two hulking monstrosities in the vague shape of men were trying their best to fit through my front door. At the same time. It was so awkward as to be humorous. Especially as Grundy didn't seem to realize what was wrong and Croc was glaring at him, stuck in the doorframe as Grundy kept futilely trying to walk forward.

The majority of the bar had stopped what they were doing to silently watch the two 'monsters' struggle. I sighed. They wouldn't even be able to get in if they could fit. The only reason my protections hadn't thrown them out yet was because they were technically on the threshold, not past it.

They didn't show up with violence. Their peaceful attitude and the awkwardness they were currently stuck in did wonders toward dismissing them as threats. Enough so that I felt comfortable extending them a hand in peace.

"Come on in, boys," I said after a few moments of consideration.

Mentally, I altered my wards so they wouldn't immediately kick the unlikely pair out on their asses. Physically, I waved a hand. The doorway expanded for a moment, letting both 'monsters' fall through it before immediately shrinking back down.

Grundy didn't even pause. Slowly and purposefully, he got back to his feet and continued toward the bar with a pace of carefully methodical stomps. Croc lay on the floor for a moment, seeming to lament existence itself. Then he got back up and followed Grundy up to the bar.

People cleared out of their path immediately. To be fair, they made for an intimidating sight. Croc was six and a half feet of scales, teeth, claws, and rippling muscles. Grundy was just BIG. He wasn't necessarily muscled. Just an absolute unit of a man, even taller and wider than Croc.

"Hel-… 'Lo…" Grundy said slowly, carefully enunciating his syllables. "Solomon… Grundy… would like… to drink… It would… please… very much… to try a… whiskey sour… Solom-… I… believe I liked it… very much… at one point."

For someone so supposedly 'slow', Grundy was quite talkative. The regulars at the bar cleared a space for the two of them. Grundy continued standing as if he didn't realize the significance of the action, didn't realize he was supposed to sit down. Croc, however, took one of the offered seats, raising a wickedly clawed finger.

"Uh, hi," His tone was surprisingly meek for how menacing and gruff his voice was. "Just water for me. Uh, clean water, please… Anything's fine, really. I'm just really thirsty. I can pay though!"

As if to prove his point, Croc dug into a pocket of the tattered, ripped jeans he wore. They jingled like a full purse as he did. He brought his clenched fist up onto the bar. When he opened it, an embarrassing amount of change fell out to clatter against the bar. If a crocodile could blush, I'm sure Croc would have been luminescent.

"Keep it," I shook my head. "I'm not going to charge you for water."

I slid a glass of water in front of him and he stared at it as if hypnotized for a moment before saying in an uncharacteristically soft voice, "… Thank you."

Grundy stared at the coins that were still scattered on the surface of the bar, "Do I… need… shiny, shiny coins… as well…?"

"Yeah, money is usually exchanged for goods and services," I explained casually.

He shifted his gaze up to my face, "Ah… I do not have… shiny, shiny coins. I… apologize."

The dead way he said it got a chuckle out of me, "We'll start a tab for you, big fella. That way you just have to worry about paying me back at some point."

"Drinks for cash… Do not do dash… Pay the tab… Or else be sad-b…" Grundy nodded slowly, coming up with a mnemonic rhyme on the spot.

"7/10," I praised. "Simple but I liked the 'sad-b' bit."

"It helps me… remember…" Grundy grunted.

"Seem's like it's working, bud," I nodded. "You're sounding sharp. Sharper than I thought you would."

"I have… begun to remember… Who I was… Who I am… It is… Madness."

"Is that so?" I hummed, examining him closer. "Do you know what you are now?"

"A revenant… The library was… helpful."

"They do tend to be. You know what that means though, right?"

He nodded gravely, "I am… dead. I didn't even… realize."

"Got it in one, big guy. And I'll be honest with you. I had you banned from the bar because of that. I don't know how my partner feels about you. She can give you peace if you wish it. You won't have to linger anymore."

"I… do not understand…"

Didi came over, inserting herself into the conversation. A sense of weight came with her. A sense of importance. It lurked just past the threshold. But even with it shadowing her, Didi looked at Grundy with kindness and understanding in her eyes.

"Hello, Cyrus. Perhaps I can clear things up for you. I'm Death. But you can call me Didi like everyone else."

Despite how slow he spoke, Grundy was surprisingly canny, "I have… wronged you… My existence… It is an affront."

Didi smiled beautifully, at once forgiving and inspiring, "Perhaps at one point, yes. But now? You're changing, Cyrus. Not back to who you once were. Not into an undead abomination of someone who once lived. This is your second chance. A fresh start. Take the name 'Solomon Grundy' and make it your own. You have my blessing."

A certain intangible light seemed to fill the bar with Didi's words. The weight behind her transferred past its already ethereal shadow. It wasn't in any way visible. Just something that had to be felt to be believed as it sunk into Grundy.

Death's blessing. A new birth. One that took place after death a century of unlife. Everyone watching knew they were witnessing something special. But they didn't know what. They couldn't. Only I could see the full extent of what Didi was doing.

The embers of a soul long since passed over to the other side sparked. They were already starting to glow, to flare up into a whole new fire. Didi lovingly cupped them in her hands and blew, helping the process along. As she blew, she breathed the other half of her aspect into Grundy.

It wasn't everything. It was only a start. But it was the start of something special. Something unique. An undead with Death's blessing. A new man with memories of an old one. A beautiful beginning of contrasts.

It was enough. Grundy sat straighter. His skin — gray as concrete — took on a slightly new hue. It wasn't nearly pink. But it was closer to the off-white of bone than the ugly dead color it was before. For a single moment, Grundy's chest rose and fell. It only lasted a single breath. But it was enough. A taste of life for the man who'd forgotten what it felt like.

"I feel… different," Even his voice cleared up slightly, sounding less gravelly even as it stayed as carefully considered as ever.

Didi laughed, sounding like tinkling bells, "I should hope so. If Death's blessing had no effect on you, I might just have to retire. Though, perhaps that wouldn't be so bad. I could spend all my time here, after all."

She eyed me with a sidelong glance. I shook my head, "Please don't. You know who your replacement will be."

"Probably some unholy combination of Nekron and the Life Entity," Didi nodded sadly. "Yes, that wouldn't be pleasant for anyone. I suppose it's a good thing I quite like my role."

"This means you're cool with Grundy being allowed in the bar, right?" I asked.

"Oh, yes. I've taken an interest in his situation. Undeath unraveled by Madness. I simply have to show Delirium when she comes around again."

I hummed, "Hmm, then maybe we should keep him close at hand. Hey, Grundy? How would you like a job?"

Grundy simply stared at me, his expression unreadable. It would have made most normal people flinch. But I couldn't see any malice, offense, or even confusion in his eyes. He looked like he was thinking. It just seemed to take him longer than others to put his thoughts together.

"Employment… is necessary… for money. Money… is necessary… to pay tab… To not be sad-b… I would like… a job."

"Uhm…" Croc spoke up as well. "I wouldn't mind a job either. Nowhere else hires me. For obvious reasons. But if you're hiring Grundy, maybe you'd hire me too…?"

I turned to give him a considering look up and down. It must have looked odd for just a simple look from me to have this massive, menacing crocodile man fidgeting in his seat. But I felt safe to say my worries about this version of him were completely unfounded. This version was Croc the 'misunderstood monster', not Croc the 'murderous cannibal'. Honestly, he seemed like a sweetheart.

"Yeah, I think I can find a place for you too, Croc," I finally nodded firmly, my decision made.

Croc deflated all at once as if all the bones went out of him, "Oh, thank God… I'm so tired of digging through the sewers and dumpsters for scraps. This is the first clean, filtered water I've had since getting out of Arkham."

"Where will… we be… working?" Grundy asked. "I would like to know… if I need… to get any… certifications. Also… do you provide… employee benefits…?"

"Oh, yeah… Damn, I'd kill for dental," Croc muttered, mostly to himself.

I couldn't help but laugh, "Don't worry, I'll take care of you boys. Dental, medical, vacation days, and PTO, if you need anything, don't hesitate to ask. As for where you'll be working… Have either of you heard of my little Colosseum project yet?"

They shook their heads and I grinned. Honestly, this was perfect timing. I was just about finished with the Colosseum of Crime — the neutral ground arena that was meant to be used to settle gangland disputes in Gotham. It was the solution we decided on at that eventful parlay.

While not a perfect solution, it was pretty damn good to police the lawless section of society. A system based on wagers and something approaching honor. These people — the gangs, villains, and crime families — didn't respond well to strict legal oversight. They were the ones society had failed. And through that failure, they began to prefer taking their lives into their own hands.

The Colosseum of Crime allowed for just that. A place for the darker parts of society to settle their issues and disputes with each other without involving innocent bystanders or nosy busybodies. As it turns out, even criminals didn't like collateral damage. Most of them still had a conscience and certain lines were still seen as 'too far'. Innocent casualties brought all too much attention to them. Honestly, the whole thing was just unproductive and better off avoided.

In that way, the Colosseum was a godsend. A space where personal violence was king in a relatively safe and contained way. There would be rules but not enough to make the whole thing feel stifling.

It was just what the Dead End was missing. Not just for the city's gangs and villain population. Even just the guys and gals who got into arguments and whatnot inside the bar would benefit. They didn't have to 'take things outside' anymore. Not when there was a safe and sanctioned way for them to throw hands with each other.

I dedicated a good portion of my free time to constructing the Colosseum. But once it was done, I was planning on mostly wiping my hands of the whole project. I didn't have the time nor the desire to run it 24/7. So hiring a pair of big guys to act as enforcers and referees was perfect for me.

Though it was physically connected to the Dead End, the Colosseum of Crime wasn't as simple as a refurbished basement or anything like that. I'd carved out a little space between the layers of reality and set it aside for my purposes. From there, it was connected to an empty stairway in the bar that led down to nowhere.

I liked the theatrics of having someone walk into pure darkness to get to where they wanted to go. Hopefully, it would be enough for those petty impulsive people to rethink their course of action. If not, I made sure to include an automated medical station so they wouldn't have to face permanent consequences for their poor decisions. No accidental deaths would stain my hands.

For the arena itself, I took inspiration from a pastime from one of my past lives. Something that was known in that universe as 'Rating Games'. It was something done by a species of Devils who were obsessed with personal power, both a means of entertainment and a method of social mobility.

The Rating Game formula was an interesting take on combat for entertainment but I didn't borrow anything other than the arena they took place in. While I was in that life, I'd been something of a mage. The spells and enchantments used in the Rating Games caught my attention at one point and I spent a while studying them.

Ajuka Beelzebub — the creator of Rating Games — might have been a literal Devil but the man was also a genius the likes of whom I'd rarely met before or since. His Evil Pieces and the Rating Games that spawned from them were masterpieces of magic.

My Colosseum borrowed heavily from the enchantments that made the Rating Game arena so special. The 'playing field' was configurable. Just about anything could be changed however the fighters decided. It could become anything from a small one-on-one arena to a field that armies could fight upon, with environments up to and including the void of space.

I made sure to add my own twist to the enchantments though. Mostly for safety reasons. In a Rating Game, the fighters were kept safe from most forms of damage past a certain point. There was, however, an unavoidable exception when it came to instant kill attacks.

I eliminated that exception. With Didi's permission, I put Death on pause in the Colosseum. Anything that would have resulted in death would count as a loss but not an actual loss of life. Ajuka's enchantments already did a pretty good job of teleporting the fighters out of fatal damage. I just went that extra step to make sure they wouldn't fail at preventing events outside their power.

All in all, I was satisfied with my efforts. I'd likely have to make some adjustments as the Colosseum was put into practice. I wasn't perfect. But as it was, the Colosseum was just about ready to open.

Vicki had already asked me about filming some of the fights that took place there. For once, I was hesitant to indulge her ambitions. At least, when it came to the usual fights the arena would be used for. I felt that the gangland disagreements probably shouldn't be broadcast to the public.

Maybe I'd allow showcases or exhibitions though. Get a few villains and heroes together to put on friendly spars that were purely for entertainment. That much seemed like fair game. Just not criminal disputes and deathmatches between Gotham's gangs, even if no one would fully die from them.

The exhibition idea seemed like it would be much more palatable than gangland grudge matches. And of course, I hadn't forgotten that I owed Barbara a spar of our own. I doubt that one will be broadcast but it was a good way to christen the Colosseum before it officially opened.

Croc got my attention, asking for clarification, "You're not going to, uh, make us fight… are you?"

"No," I shook my head. "That would be a waste of your talents. I'm going to put the two of you in charge of the arena itself. You'll be my overseers and peacekeepers. Referees who make sure everything is run fairly with a side of bouncing, basically."

"I think I can do that…" Croc nodded slowly.

"I would like… a whistle," Grundy requested.

I laughed, "I'll do you one better, buddy. How do you feel about a whole uniform?"

"That is… acceptable."

I couldn't help but grin. They seemed like good people to have working for me. They'd certainly keep even the gangs on the straight and narrow. Also… Croc and Grundy would look hilarious in striped ref shirts with little whistles hanging around their necks.


"Hey, Farm-Girl. Long time, no talk. We should connect and catch up. I have so many things to tell you and maybe vent about. A lot has happened. Love, Babs."

Barbara mumbled to herself under her breath as she wrote the text and hit send without hesitation. Then she left Kara's reply for later.

It was about time she got around to texting her Kryptonian friend. Especially now that she was more sure than ever that Sean was a good choice for Kara's romantic life — as non-existent as said romantic life was at the moment.

She also just missed her friend. She missed fighting crime with Supergirl and she missed the simple, silly, girly talks they had when they weren't 'working'. They'd drifted apart slightly during her time as Oracle.

It wasn't Kara's fault. If anything, it was Barbara's. She was dealing with all sorts of feelings of inferiority, uselessness, and self-loathing at the time. It wasn't easy to be paralyzed from the waist down for years, to feel like everything you worked toward was lost to you.

Still, she knew Kara. And she wouldn't have turned her back on Barbara for something so petty. Kara was probably worried about her and giving her space. So Barbara easily decided to extend a hand to her friend now that she was doing better.

Hopefully, they could rekindle their friendship. Knowing the utter cinnamon roll Kara was, Barbara had no doubts on that front. She'd have to be careful when they met up again. Kara was likely to try and crush her ribs on accident with the hug she would give her.

That was all to be worried about later though. Barbara had a calendar to keep. A d-date… Sean said his little Colosseum project was finished. He'd invited her over to christen it with that spar he'd promised her.

Barbara knew what she was doing. This might not have been a traditional date but it was their first together. She was prepared to treat it as such. Just, instead of dinner and a movie, they'd be sparring. Flirting through fighting. She wasn't Cass — someone who spoke body language more easily than English — but Barbara thought she could handle that much.

Part of her was thrilled that Sean was still interested in her. Another part was perplexed. Were Harley, Ivy, and even Death not enough for him?

… No. No, they really weren't. Not from what Harley was telling her on the not-so-low. The jester couldn't help but wax poetic, going on and on about 'Gothboy', his 'Gothboy D', and the 'mind-breaking sex' they had together. She wasn't even subtle in trying to get Barbara to join them. Not like Ivy was. She at least kept things mostly appropriate for polite conversation.

But it seemed that they were in on the game together. Not surprising. It certainly sounded like they needed all the help they could get.

It honestly made Barbara nervous. Excited. Oh so excited. But nervous as well. From Harley's accounts, there was a good chance Barbara would die of dehydration if she faced — fucked — Sean alone. Which sounded like just the thing she needed after a three-year dry spell. It also made the harem-type relationship make more sense and imposed the wisdom of getting Kara involved into Barbara's mind.

That… That was going to be fun. Potentially dangerous too. Mainly because of Superman's reaction when he found out Barbara and Sean were 'corrupting' his baby cousin. Kara was notoriously innocent and naive when it came to things of a sexual nature. Barbara was about 90 percent sure she still thought kissing led to babies.

That belief was something that shouldn't have been possible. Barbara knew Ma and Pa Kent had explained the birds and the bees to Kara. Yet Barbara was still pretty confident that's what Kara thought. When it came to intimacy and sex, Kara was practically a saint. And not the Mary Magdalene kind.

Honestly, Barbara had a hunch that Kara was using her apparent purity to mask quite a bit of sexual desire. Maybe even from herself. No one was THAT pure. All she knew for sure though was that Kara deserved a chance at pleasure and Barbara would need all the help she could get when it came to Sean.

Barbara took a fortifying breath. This was fine. No problem yet. It wasn't like she was just going to jump right into the thick of it. This was a scouting mission. A scouting date…

Yeah, she was just being properly prepared. She wasn't about to jump out of her panties and throw all caution to the wind, right? The fact that said panties were absolutely scandalous at the moment was just a precaution, of course. It wasn't an indication of intent.

So what if they were also practically soaked through already?! That wasn't Barbara's fault! And it certainly didn't say anything about how stupidly sexy Sean was. Or how definitely not thirsty Barbara was.

It was a perfectly natural bodily response to excitement and nervousness. Nothing more. Anyone who said differently was a liar. A big, stupid, sexy liar… Dammit, Sean would totally say differently.

Sean smirked at her. That stupid, sexy smirk that she hated and loved in equal measure. He always had a way of getting her blood flowing, her heart pumping, and better left unmentioned parts of her body 'responding'.

"Ready?" He asked.

Barbara blinked. Huh? When did…? Oh, was she really that distracted by her thoughts? Looking back on the previous few moments, she'd been on complete autopilot. She'd even greeted Sean and they'd made a bit of small talk as they adjourned to the arena. Coincidentally, that was when her denial and 'stupid sexy' thoughts started.

She shook her head clear, "Yeah, I'm ready. Are we doing this with any rules? No offense, Sean, but can you even fight?"

Sean chuckled, "I know a thing or two. Physical violence is a language that carries over between realities."

"Cass will be ecstatic to hear that," Barbara deadpanned. "But I was asking if you could hope to match me. Not to brag, but I'm pretty damn good at what I do. Especially after you healed me and made me a Goddamn super soldier."

She glared at him slightly with her last sentence. He just grinned unrepentantly, "I'm not apologizing. It may have been an accident initially but I've grown rather fond of you, Barbara. I'm more than happy to be able to contribute toward keeping you safe in your line of work."

Though her glare was fiery, her cheeks weren't far behind, "Stop dodging my question."

"I think I'll be able to hold my own," Sean laughed, brushing off his shoulders in an arrogant way that Barbara knew was just for show. "I've been trained in several different martial arts over the years. I'm no slouch when it comes to purely physical combat, even if it has been a while since I focused solely on it."

"Hmm, we'll see," Barbara hummed, trying to play off her blush by completely ignoring it. "I'm planning on putting you through the wringer, even if we are keeping this to a friendly spar. I wanna see what you can do, Sean. Show me~"

She purposefully put a bit of a teasing, taunting lilt into her request. Considering the return of Sean's stupid sexy smirk, he caught it. Barbara ruthlessly squashed down on the fluttering butterflies it inspired in her stomach. She shook herself loose, bouncing on the balls of her feet and letting her nervous, excited jitters roll through her as she settled into a ready stance.

Sean did the same across from her, "I'll keep myself to about your level. No magic. No other abilities. Just me, you, and our physical bodies~"

"I won't go easy on you just because you're hot, Sean," Barbara said, her voice growing focused and serious despite her words.

Damn stupid sexy smirk, "I'm counting on it."

No, play it cool. You can do this, Barbara! "Well, I'd hate to ruin such a pretty face but you asked for it…!"

She coiled like a snake and sprung into action. A right feint threatened Sean's guard before Barbara slipped inside of it. She turned, planted her foot, and prepared to throw Sean over her shoulder.

Like water, Sean seemed to fall through her fingers. Barbara found that she couldn't keep track of him as he slipped away. She certainly kept track of the light boop he placed on her nose though.

She growled. He laughed. And then he flipped away. Quite literally flipped. His sudden nimbleness gave Barbara some pause. She didn't expect him to move like Dick. But he did. Perhaps even more agilely with the way he seemed to pause in mid-air to grin at her.

"What the Hell was that?!"

"Not used to fighting people who know how to dodge, Babs~?"

"THAT was not a dodge. That was you showing off."

"Perhaps. Did it look cool?"

"… Yes."


"Shut up…"

Barbara closed the distance again. Her fists lashed out, probing his defenses. Sean bobbed and weaved. He danced around her strikes. Once or twice, she made him physically deflect but most of his dodges were so fluid he didn't have to.

He sighed as he pushed a punch to the side, "Man, it's been so long since I moved like this."

"You don't seem very rusty," Barbara observed casually.

Neither of them was feeling very pressed even as they moved at speeds that would have boggled the normal human mind. Sean ducked. Barbara swung a roundhouse kick over his head. This was still merely the beginning.

Their little 'warmup' kicked up a bit of dust in the small, packed-dirt arena Sean had summoned up with the Colosseum's enchantments. Barbara kept probing Sean's defense, carefully watching each time he danced out of the way. He moved like a master, someone who was well-used to this level of combat.

She struck out with fist and foot. Nothing seemed able to touch Sean. An elbow strike was pushed wide. For a moment, Barbara found herself pushed up against Sean as he pulled her into him and sent her spinning away like a dancer.

All the while, he grinned an infectious grin. Barbara couldn't help but match it. It was rare to find someone able to stand toe to toe with her outside the Bat Family. She was having fun. With that realization, she kicked the spar up a gear.

A quick snap of her leg should have planted her heel firmly in Sean's chest. He leaped at the last moment. Impossibly, he seemed to alight on her outstretched leg. Then he was leaping again, up and over her head.

Barbara tracked him as he flipped and twirled above her. He went vertical, upside down. They stared at each other as time seemed to slow to a crawl. They were face to face as if Sean was standing the wrong way around on thin air.

Barbara couldn't stop her eyes from darting to Sean's lips and the stupid sexy smirk that rested there. The moment passed just as quickly as it came. Sean continued his parabolic arc. Barbara turned on a dime, lashing back out with the same leg that he'd 'perched' upon.

For the first time in the spar, Sean made an attack of his own. Only it wasn't directed at Barbara. His kick hit thin air on purpose. Against everything Barbara knew about physics, the kick was enough to change Sean's trajectory. He flowed around Barbara's strike, landing neatly as if he was doing the two-step instead of an acrobatic move that would have made Dick blush.

"Okay, bullshit!"

"Quite. You should have seen my reaction the first time an old friend pulled that move on me."

"No, bullshit! That's impossible!"

Even with her exclamation, Barbara didn't stay idle for a single moment. She was already moving again. She swept for his legs. Sean somehow twirled away from the sweeping strike, stepping over and around it while still never leaving her range. He was impossible to pin down.

She closed to box with hits that would have dropped men twice her size. Not even Cass was this tricky to fight. Oh, she would just love this. She knew enough to say that Cass would have already stripped naked and jumped Sean if she had been in Barbara's position. Barbara almost wished she could be that forward.

Even at this closer distance, Sean didn't have any trouble ducking Barbara's punches. And she'd just about stopped holding back by now. Her arms were nothing but flashes of fists. Yet Sean was always just out of reach. With that infuriatingly attractive — stupid sexy — smirk never leaving his kissable — stupid sexy — lips.

"Don't you know, Babs~?" Sean teased. "In a fight, Anything Goes."

He leaped away from her like he was backpedaling up an invisible staircase. Mid-air, he started a flip that quite literally didn't make sense. Yet Sean did the impossible as easily as he breathed.

"That's not an excuse to break the laws of physics!" Barbara shouted. Despite herself, she could feel the grin that was stretching across her face.

"Oh? Why not?"

"Don't fucking start, Sean!"

"You should try it sometime. It's a lot of fun."

"I'm going to beat some sense into you! You're going to follow simple logic like the rest of us and you're going to like it!"

"No thank you. Why would I limit myself to what's 'logical' and 'possible'?"

"'Cause-! 'Cause-! Argh, that's just how things work!"

"Only if you expect them to. I'd rather not tie myself down like that. I'm something of a free spirit."

"You're about to be REALLY free of spirit when I catch you!"

Barbara dashed after him. What started as a spar turned into a game of cat and mouse. As if it wasn't that from the start… If anything, Barbara felt more like the mouse even though she was the one currently chasing.

Sean was toying with her. Normally, she might have been just a bit peeved by that realization. With Sean though, she just found herself excited.

Mostly because of everything she already knew about him. Sean was just 'LIKE THAT™', doing laughably ludicrous things and drawing her into his pace so Barbara had no choice but to live in the moment.

Maybe Cass had the right idea. This was one Hell of a way to do foreplay. Her heart was racing. Her face hurt from smiling so much. Her whole body tingled, set alight with the kind of excitement that left her stomach fluttering.

Paradoxically, the impossible things Sean was doing helped to put Barbara at ease. Normally, her mind would have been furiously working up counters and documenting everything she saw. Here and now, though, Barbara could just let herself go to the moment.

Because this was Sean. Someone who molded impossibility like clay. He ran a bar that was routinely filled with heroes and villains alike and kept the peace even then. He told stories from other worlds and lives. He killed the Joker and made sure he would stay dead this time. He might as well have been married to Death herself, for goodness sake!

He was already beyond their understanding. Beyond their need and desire to prepare. Barbara didn't have to give in to the infamous Bat paranoia when she was with him. Because — not only were his motives transparent and potentially beneficial — he was WAY above her paygrade.

Some may have found that worrying. Having met Sean, Barbara found it almost comforting. Even when she was in costume, she didn't have to be on the clock with Sean. He challenged what she thought was possible and Barbara was thankful for it. It meant she never knew what to expect next.

Not so subtly thrilled by the prospect, Barbara chased after Sean. The wide smile on her face said it all. Still, she shouted, playing up her anger. Barbara thought she made a pretty good straight man to Sean's wise guy.

"Make sense, damn you! No! No, that's bullshit! That's not how gravity fucking works!"

"I'll let you in on a little secret, Babs~… I don't care."

"Oh, Hell no! That's-! That's illegal! It's my duty to-! Hahaha~! My duty to stop you!" Barbara cracked halfway through her declaration.

Sean laughed with her. In a flash, he dashed toward Barbara, seemingly unconstrained by gravity. It was like he floated in mid-air, running on nothing. Barbara squeaked and the rest of her angry act broke down into giggles.

He swept her into his arms. The first instinctive punch was ignored with a tilt of his head. Then Barbara had to cling to Sean as he seemed to take off and fly. A single leap took him higher than what should have been humanly possible.

The suddenness of it all took Barbara for a ride. Between one blink and the next, the ground grew so far away. And when she expected to fall, she and Sean stayed up. Just floating leisurely like two leaves on the wind.

"Wait, can you just fly?!" Barbara asked slightly shrilly. "Have you just been messing with me this entire spar?!"

Sean chuckled, "No, this isn't flight. I mean, I could probably work something out for that, even in this body and reality. But this is all possible without the power for self-propelled flight."

Barbara deadpanned at him, "Bullshit. Just. Bullshit."

"I've already told you how I'm doing all of this," Sean said, amusement dancing across his features. "Anything Goes."

Barbara made a noise somewhere between a huff and a laugh, "That doesn't actually explain all that much, Sean."

Thankfully for her sanity, he elaborated, "It's a discipline of martial arts. Just… probably not the kind of martial arts you're familiar with. You know those Chinese martial arts films where someone flies through the air by kicking as if that does anything?"

"Yeeeeaaaahhhh…?" Barbara said skeptically, already kind of seeing where he was going with this.

"Yeah, that's possible. Or at least, it was possible where I learned this martial art and I seem to be able to transition my skills with it here."


"It's Anything Goes. Of course, it's bullshit."

Barbara doubted it was as simple as he was making it out to be. She looked down, noticing that they were still a good half dozen meters above the ground and didn't seem to be falling at all. She could see Sean's legs shifting ever so slightly as if he was walking with easy strides that would take him to see the world on his own terms, in his own time.

Did it make sense? No, of course, it didn't. This was Sean they were talking about. When he said 'martial arts', he might as well have been talking about magic. There was no way she could apply something like this technique to Krav Maga or Muay Thai.

Eventually, she just shook her head and huffed, "Whatever. Just hold me, you impossible idiot."


Burying her face in his shoulder — he smelled nice —, Barbara thankfully didn't have to see that stupid sexy smirk again. If she did, she likely wouldn't be able to stop herself from kissing him. Not when she was so wound up — both frustrated and excited as Sean always seemed to do to her.

Damn stupid sexy smirk. Damn stupid sexy spar. Damn stupid sexy Sean…

"You'll teach me how to do this, right?" Barbara asked, barely a mumble against Sean's shoulder.

"You want to learn Anything Goes?" By the tone of his voice, Sean was surprised by her request.

"Gee, do I want to freaking fly?" Barbara snarked so sarcastically she could have cut steel. "I don't know, I'll have to think on that one."

"Okay, that's a fair shot," Sean chuckled. "But sure, I can teach you Anything Goes. Anyone who might object kind of doesn't exist in this reality. Good thing too, that. The chaos Ranma and Genma would cause here would make a good few heroes go spare."

Barbara smiled, "Including Batman?"

"Oh, especially Batman. He'd call more bullshit than you did when they showed off their version of martial arts. Then immediately set himself to learning it. And then we'd get an Anything Goes Bat flying around the city. Which is a terrifying thought. Ranma would probably enjoy the worthy opponents though."

"I'm more worried about Dick learning what you can do than Bruce. He would become utterly impossible to fight. He's slippery enough without breaking the laws of physics. And don't even get me started on what it would do to his bits and jokes…"

"Agree never to tell either of them?"

"Agreed. Let's save the bullshit martial arts flight for us girlies," Barbara giggled.

"There is no way in Hell you can convince me to teach this to Harley," Sean deadpanned.

Barbara paled suddenly, "Oh, God… She'd be even worse than Dick!"

Sean nodded sagely, "It would be a catastrophe of epic proportions. Actually, now that I say it out loud…"

"Sean. Sean, no!"

"Hahaha~! You'll never stop me, do-gooder~!"

"SeAAANN~! EEP~!" He spun them both in mid-air as he cackled. Barbara found herself laughing and squealing in equal measure. As always, he swept her up into his pace. And as she was coming to realize, Barbara didn't mind that aspect of him all that much…


Kara Zor-El eyed the text that had shown up on her phone and smiled. It was a nice smile. Sweet as sugar. Bright enough to light up a room. Pretty in a simple, classical way like a sunflower. Ma Kent said it was Kara's best feature.

She wore it freely. Kara was never one to brood needlessly. It seemed to be a quality that ran in her family. Kal had his moments but he was generally a happy, confident, and all-around pleasant person.

Kara had 'moments' of her own. There were things in her past that were — quite frankly — tragic. But she didn't let them stop her from living in the moment and enjoying the life she now had.

Kara had a family who loved her. The Kents welcomed her like Ma Kent had birthed her herself. And even if she disagreed and grew frustrated with how overprotective Kal could be, she knew he loved her too.

She had powers that many would kill for. HAD killed for. She didn't think being a Krypotian made her all that special. She was just another girl. One who could fly and shoot laser beams from her eyes, sure, but that didn't make her above the everyday problems that other young women experienced.

And she had friends to keep her company. Friends who grounded her, made her laugh, and smile, and shared their lives with her.

Starfire — Koriand'r — was always a hoot and Kara felt a bond of commonality with the other alien girl who had made Earth her home. Wonder Woman — Diana — was a healthy mentor figure and someone Kara was proud to call a friend. Miss Martian — M'gann — was a sweetheart and something of a rock for Kara to confide in when she needed to.

And Batgirl — Barbara —, the person who texted her and inspired her current smile… Well, they'd drifted apart recently. Kara knew it wasn't her fault but a small part of her couldn't help but worry. She wished she could do more for her friend.

But now, Barbara had taken the initiative to reach out to Kara on her own! Yes! Kara knew just how to fix whatever was bothering Barbara. Ma Kent said nothing was more important and powerful than being there for your friends and family.

And Ma was wise. Her advice hadn't led Kara astray yet. Kara had waited patiently for Barbara to feel ready to ask her friend for help. She knew pressing too hard could often do more harm than good. But now that Barbara had reached out, Kara knew whatever was bothering her could be fixed with a bit of girl talk and a good Kent hug.

Kara would be taking her friend back, thank you very much!

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