title: Incidentals: Coming Out
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Cass, Dick, Babs
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: The first of three incidentals pieces that feature Cassandra.
notes: this is the first of three incidentals pieces that feature Cassandra. ::sigh:: oh, Cassandra, why won't you let me write you well? i should warn you right off... i'm not at all convinced i have her unique 'voice' down at all. (hell, most of the canon writers are ignoring her 'unique' voice, and considered her cured! so...) there are several people who do a marvelous job of capturing her. i'm not going to be one of them. so... the cass of this uni should be considered 'alternative', as this is an au story, and i'm invoking au status to cover my mistakes, yet again! ^_^
i'm not sure if Cassandra entered the batclan through no man's land in incidentals, because i don't know if no man's land occurred here. just cuz i'm the writer doesn't mean they tell me everything... but there is one change that i wanted to clarify before launching into the story. Cass does not live with Babs in this uni, she lives in an apartment next door, in the Watchtower, cuz, well, Babs has Angel in this uni, and as much as she trusts Cass, she doesn't trust her in the same apartment as her toddler. ^_^

"You nearly got innocent people killed down there! What did you think you were doing?" Nightwing stood twenty-five stories over bedlam, as the street below was still being flooded in the red, blue, and white lights of the emergency and police vehicles. To make matters worse, the media was out in full force, taping the commotion with the zeal of a flock of scavengers, hungry to claim a corpse. An explosion in a building was always news worthy, but the added 'human interest' angle was that the explosion took place while a vigilante tried to capture the notorious serial killed preying upon the gay population of Gotham.

A story like this made the eyes of the media shimmer with lust.

Batgirl was perched seven feet away from him, scowling behind her full-black mask, the edges of her expression insinuated into the shadow she formed against the smoky-red brick of the wall.

"You were reckless, you ignored obvious evidence, and you targeted all the wrong people! If Oracle hadn't called me up, that explosion would have been a tragedy, and the killer would still be at large. Are you even going to pretend to try to defend yourself?"

She was obviously working up to saying something, her jaw moving as her brow knit together under the kevlar of her cowl. Finally getting her lips and tongue in the proper position, she spat out her only defense. "Faggots!"

Dick took a step back, as if he had been physically struck. "Yeah. So am I. So what?"

Batgirl's whole body reacted, her arms going slack against her body as her legs loosened, her face going blank.

Dick sighed, scraping his gloved hand over his masked eyes.

It had been a while.

The first person he had ever come out to was Babs. She had taken it remarkably well, delirious laughter aside. Still and all, she was hugging him and promising him crazy things like everything was going to be fine before too long.

Coming out to Alfred had been the one of the most difficult things he had done in his youth. And when he had finally stammered out what he needed to say, the older gentleman had merely smiled, reassured him gently that he understood, and offered him cookies.

It had been a critical moment in Dick's relationship with the man he quietly considered to be like his grandfather.

Coming out to Bruce had been irrelevant. They acknowledged each other's sexual nature in a more primitive fashion, although the call he made to Bruce to tell him that he was moving in with Joey would probably technically be considered his coming out, as they had never openly admitted it before.

Coming out to his friends in the Titans came in two spells. Before he came out to the original team, he had agonized over the decision for weeks, conferencing many times with Babs, before he finally blurted it out over pizza. Donna beamed while she explained the term 'queer' to Garth, who smiled shyly once he finally understood. Roy laughed and slapped Dick on the back, making jokes about the showers.

Wally was pensive, and it took many weeks before Dick was able to return to his former camaraderie with him, but after he finally assured Wally that he was not attracted to him, and no, it wasn't because there was anything wrong with him, they were fine.

Coming out to the second team happened pretty much thirty-five seconds after Kory had dropped out of the sky and shoved her tongue down his throat, to 'learn their language.' She had not understood why he could not manifest a sexual interest in her. No matter how many times he, and others, tried to explain, it simply never made sense to her. On her home world, people were just naturally and unabashedly sexual. The idea that you would limit your sexual interests was so completely outside her context of comprehension as to be inscrutable. Fortunately, after one particularly successful shopping spree with Donna, she had accepted it.

Dick remembered the slight smirk Joey had worn after Dick's admission. That smirk was the cause of the 'talk' Dick gave Joey about fraternization within their ranks. That talk had been very well received, by both parties.

It was shortly thereafter that Dick and Joey moved in together.

After that point, there were very few people for Dick to come out to. Jason knew that he was living with Joey, and made crude jokes at every opportunity, but then... Jason and he never got along well, anyway. Tim didn't need to be told; he knew, as part of his reconnaissance in researching him, that Dick and Joey had been lovers. He had told Jean-Paul, but that was mostly to piss him off, as Dick was not overly fond of the blonde bat-replacement.

He had needed to tell Helena, only because she seemed to think that by draping herself over him, she could distract him from her murderous vigilantism.

There was no one in the 'haven that he really felt he needed to tell, except Clancy, who just laughed that she gathered that from the company he brought home late at night, but the fact that he was amazingly gorgeous just sealed the deal for her. After all, all attractive men were gay.

In general, he had remarkable luck with coming out. People tended to be accepting, and over all, he had encountered little open hostility.

He should have known it couldn't last forever.

Cassandra sat on the outcropping of bricks with her knees held up against her chest and her cape billowing out over them, so that she looked like a bat-puppet, with only the hollows in the cowl formed by her wide open eyes and her pointy ears visible above the flow of cape.

Dick patiently explained that he was, in fact, gay, and that shouldn't affect her opinion of him, as it didn't change anything.

He let that sink in a little before launching into the more difficult part.

"Cassandra... You have to make a choice, right now. Because when you were trusted with that shield, you were given a responsibility. To stand up for anyone being victimized. We're not judges, Cass. We don't have the right, or the authority, to decide who deserves justice and who doesn't. If a mobster is being targeted, we help. If a drug dealer is being threatened, we help. We have to help everyone, or else we're just as bad as the people we put away. We can't choose, and say, she looks like a good person, we'll help her, or he looks like an upstanding citizen, we'll help him. Ultimately, I don't care what your personal feelings are towards gays. It doesn't matter. It only matters that when someone is in trouble, no matter what color they are or who they may be sleeping with, we're there to help them. You can't wear that costume and operate in this town unless you are willing to do that. Do you understand?"

There was a tense moment when Cass seemingly wasn't reacting at all. Internally, Dick sighed. He knew she was a trusted team member, but he still got frustrated when he couldn't be sure he was communicating with her.

Eventually, she stirred, obviously forming some sort of response. She unfolded her legs, and reached out with one hand, pointing at him. With great effort, she finally picked the one word, "Sick?"

It took a moment before Dick recognized that she was asking a question. Shaking his head, he swallowed his bitterness, and reminded himself that Cain probably didn't consider political correctness as a necessary part of her training. "No, Cass, I'm not sick. Not all gay men are. Being gay doesn't equal being sick. There's nothing about being gay that would make anyone more susceptible to infection than any other person. No matter what, it all depends how careful and how lucky you are. Straight people get HIV just as easily as gay people do."

Cass nodded slowly, rising to her feet as she apparently came to a decision. Hanging her head before him, she grudged out, "Sorry."

He wasn't sure what she was apologizing for, but he accepted it with a pat on her shoulder. "Just... remember what we talked about. It's important."

She nodded.

He flew back to the Tower with her, sneaking into Babs' place as he left her to go to her own apartment. He pulled off the mask as he walked through the kitchen, heading to the back room with the computers, where Oracle ruled.

By the glow of the multiple monitors, he could see Babs' intense expression as she worked off of three separate stations, and he could see the tiny bundle curled up on the blanket behind her.

"She wanted to watch tv, and I guess I lost track of the time. Dinah was in over her head, and I was patching into multiple government satellites, relaying info and cracking three different security systems... It was a busy night." Her eyes never left the screens as she talked and typed.

Dick smiled, lifting the small toddler, her fine black curls snaking over her face. "That's ok. She probably liked it better that way anyway."

There was a pause, which Dick used to cuddle his chikni, brushing the curls away from her eyes the way he brushed his own curls away from his eyes.

"How's Cass?"

Dick took a second to think before he spoke. "Were you listening?"

"Of course."

"How did I do?"

"Well," she admitted, only slightly grudgingly. "Better than I would have if she said faggot to me."

Dick nodded, thinking. "Do you really trust her?"

She paused in typing, her fingers poised over the keys, ready. "Absolutely."

Dick nodded, brushing a finger down Angel's chubby, soft cheek. "Why?"

"I'm not sure." Babs considered the question as she typed in code. "I think... well, she saved my father's life. But... that wouldn't be enough, really. I think... she reminds me of you, actually, when you were that age." She paused again, her fingers phantom typing an inch above the keys. "She has the same anger, underneath, and the same need. To prove herself, to get out from under her mentor."

Dick snorted quietly. "Our mentors were wildly different beasts."

"Perhaps," Babs answered enigmatically. "But remember, Bruce trained with Cain for a while. They have... commonalities."

Dick considered. "Like me when I was seventeen... I ask you again, do you trust her?"

Babs actually turned to smile at him. "I do."

He nodded, turning to put Angel to bed. "All right, then."