Disclaimer: All characters depicted herein, in whatever form, belong to
DC Comics/Time Warner. I do not have permission to use them. I will
not use them for profit. I will not feed them after midnight. I will not get
them wet. I will have them home in time for the next issue of BoP.
Bat-Babies 2: Stocking Stuffers
"It was really sweet of you to come over and help me decorate," Barbara Gordon told Dick Grayson as she tied another red velvet bow.
"Hey, any time," Dick replied, standing on a chair to tack the greens and bows around the windows of the Clock Tower. "You know how much I love Christmas Eve. We used to decorate the trees in the Manor right after Thanksgiving, though. Didn't you wait awfully late?" he asked, referring to the lush evergreen that stood bare in the corner of Barbara's living room.
"No!" Barbara protested, handing him the bow she'd been working on. "It goes up Christmas Eve and comes down New Year's Day. That's the way Daddy and I have always done it."
"The trees at the Manor were always for show anyway," Dick admitted. "Bruce and Alfred and I used to put some more personal stuff on one of them Christmas Eve, when all the parties were over.
"See?" Babs said smugly. "Christmas Eve is the time for it."
"You're right," Dick assured her. "The Mighty Oracle knows all."
Barbara wrinkled her nose delicately. "You can't stay out of the habit for a single night, can you? I do have a name, you know."
"Of course I know," Dick said with a grin, stepping off his chair and leaning down to rub his nose against hers. "And I like it very much." He tilted his head down to kiss her quickly. "I'm all about being Dick Grayson tonight," he informed her cheerfully. "No masks, decel lines or code names for me."
"You say that now," Barbara pointed out, shaking a finger at him.
"You mock my good intentions?"
"It's not the intentions," Barbara said pointedly. "It's what happens to them."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Dick protested primly. "All I know is--"
He was interrupted by the insistent beeping of his communicator. The room fell silent as Barbara shot him a despairing look.
"I don't what you're talking about," she mocked softly, turning away from him.
"Aw, Babs," he started, but the communicator demanded his attention once more. "Hold on." With one more pained glance at the back of Barbara's head, Dick lifted his wrist and spoke. "Can't this wait?"
"Negative," Batman's voice growled from the receiver. "We have a situation in Monolith Square. Get here."
The transmission cut off abruptly.
"Babs," Dick started.
"I know. Go."
"I'm really sorry. I promise, the minute I get back--"
"I know." Babs looked at him over her shoulder and offered a small smile. "Go on. You know how he hates to be kept waiting."
Barbara turned back to her own thoughts as she listened to Dick get dressed in his Nightwing suit and take off through her window. When she heard his heavy boots push away from the metal railing on her balcony, she turned back to the half-decorated tree.
"I guess you'll just have to stay that way," she said sadly. She turned and rolled out of the room, shutting out the lights as she left.
The dark room fell silent.
For about thirty seconds.
"Is she gone?"
"The lights are out, stupid-head."
"Don't call me stupid-head."
Indeed, the tree was a sorry sight. Colored balls and pasty ornaments, bits of gold lace and clusters of beads adorned the bottom half, catching the snippets of moonlight that shone through the gauzy curtains. But above the highest branch Barbara could reach, the tree lay green and dull and tired…and totally empty.
"Poor Babs," Li'l Nightwing mourned, hiking one foot up to the rim of the poinsettia pot and jumping up to grab one of the flimsy stems. He pumped his little stuffed legs back and forth and let go, flying into the couch cushions. WHOMP! "Whoa," he said, rubbing his head as he stumbled for footing in the fluffy cushions. "The tree looks even worse from here."
"I wanna see." Li'l Batgirl followed the Poinsettia Path, but landed neatly on the back of the couch. She cupped her hands around her face and moaned. "Oh, Li'l Nightwing, what are we going to do? The tree's NAKED from halfway up!"
"We're gonna decorate it," Li'l Nightwing announced determinedly. "We're superheroes, aren't we?"
"But it's so…tall," Li'l Batgirl pointed out doubtfully.
"Well, yeah." Li'l Nightwing scratched his head.
"How are we going to get up there?"
A slow smile spread across Li'l Nightwing's face. "Elemtchur-- elementsur--easy. We have GADGETS."
Li'l Batgirl and Li'l Nightwing sat on either side of a long string of colored lights.
"Left over right, then--"
"No, no, no," Li'l Batgirl interrupted, waving her arms. "Right over left, THEN left over right."
"But why can't--"
"Because that's the way it's S'POSED to go!" she insisted.
"Ok, ok," Li'l Nightwing conceded. He passed the end of the string of lights to Li'l Batgirl who tucked it under the length of the string in front of her and passed it back to him. Li'l Nightwing passed the end back under the wire and let Li'l Batgirl fold it over the top. They each tugged on one side, tightening the square knot. Li'l Nightwing crawled to his feet and looked up at the tree. It looked awfully big. And awfully far away.
Li'l Batgirl watched Li'l Nightwing watch the distance from the top of the couch to the tree. He twisted the cord nervously between his thumbs and the rest of his hands and gazed up at the tree. She made a decision.
SMACK! Li'l Nightwing's eyes widened as Li'l Batgirl gave him a big kiss on the cheek.
"For luck," she explained sweetly.
Li'l Nightwing grinned and swung the light cord around his head like a lasso. With a mighty heave, he sent the string of lights flying towards the tree. The loop they had tied hooked over the top of the tree and the two tiny toys jumped up and down in glee.
"Ok, now you want to jump toward the window," Li'l Batgirl said matter-of-factly. "Because you want to swing around the tree and land on the mantel again."
"Ok." Li'l Nightwing took a deep breath and held it, squeezing his eyes shut and hopping off the end of the sofa back. He swung through the air, the lights catching on the tree branches, but lost control of his turn as he approached the mantel. "Uh-oh!" he cried as he careened into the poinsettia plant, bounced off a nutcracker, and tumbled against a small gift bag propped up, front and center. Li'l Nightwing and the gift bag went tumbling off the edge, in freefall toward the floor.
It took a moment, but Li'l Nightwing soon realized that he hadn't made that particular noise. Cautiously, he lifted some spilled tissue paper. Then he lifted some more.
"Whoo! What a ride!"
Li'l Nightwing looked up to see…another doll looking down at him. It was a girl doll, with a turquoise leotard and bright yellow yarn for hair, pulled into two braids next to her face.
"What is it?" Li'l Batgirl called down from her perch on the back of the couch. "Are you--oh!" She quickly vaulted down to the floor to examine the new beanie in town.
"Hi! I'm Li'l Batgirl," she announced, sticking out her hand. "I like your boots!"
"Thanks! I'm Li'l Canary, but you can call me Dinah! I like your ears!"
"Thanks! Did Babs make you to give to Dinah for Christmas?"
"She sure did!" Li'l BC looked around and kicked futilely at her packaging. "I guess I'll need to be back up there by morning, huh?"
"Maybe even before," Li'l Nightwing cut in, annoyed at being ignored. "In case Nightwing comes back."
"Hey," Li'l Batgirl said thoughtfully. "We're trying to decorate the tree. Babs can't reach all the way up and Nightwing had to go help grumpy ol' Batman. You wanna help?"
"Sure!" Li'l BC answered brightly. "I'd love to help! I used to be a florist so I know all about designing things."
"Really? Wow! That's great. The first thing we need to do is…"
Li'l Nightwing kicked a piece of tissue paper out of his way and crossed his arms as best he could, considering he didn't have elbow joints. He frowned at the two girl toys, who had linked arms and were chattering eagerly about Li'l BC's plans for the tree.
"One…two…three!" Li'l Batgirl and Li'l BC jumped off the mantel, each holding one end of a strip of garland. They tackled the tree, swinging the garland around in pretty stripes.
Li'l Nightwing sat on the floor, legs straight out in front of him, back against Li'l BC's gift bag.
"Banzai!" Li'l Batgirl let go of the makeshift catapult, flinging the bright Christmas ball into the air.
"Got it!" Li'l BC, up in the tree, managed to cushion the ball's landing in the tree, and hooked it over a branch. "Another one?"
"I should do it," Li'l Nightwing reasoned, swaggering up behind her. "I'm a boy and boys are stronger than girls and I can make it fly higher."
"It's science," Li'l Batgirl explained, loading another ball into the cup. "It has cranks and gears. And leverage and stuff. So stronger isn't better."
"We should swing around on the cord for the mini-blinds," Li'l Batgirl suggested. "Then we can just throw the tinsel onto the tree."
"I'm the best swinger," Li'l Nightwing boasted. "I should do that."
"I was gonna teach Dinah how to swing," Li'l Batgirl started.
"Fine! Go play with Di-nah! I don't care!"
And with that, Li'l Nightwing stomped off.
Li'l Batgirl and Li'l BC exchanged worried glances.
Li'l Nightwing sat in the alcove by the fireplace set, trying very hard not to cry. Crying got him all wet and soggy and sogginess was hard to explain. Plus, it made his stuffing lumpy.
Li'l Batgirl wanted to be friends with Li'l BC and not with him. But they'd been friends forever and ever, he thought sadly. He didn't want things to change. He felt another attack of the sniffles coming on and prepared to hold back a barrage of tears when he felt a pokepokepoke at his shoulder. He scrubbed a careless hand across his eyes and peered back over his shoulder.
"What do you want?" he asked rudely of Li'l Batgirl. Li'l BC was peering at him from behind her red-headed friend.
Li'l Batgirl brought something big and bright and shiny from behind her back.
"We want you to put on the star."
"It looks really nice."
"You did a great job."
"We ALL did a great job," Li'l Batgirl corrected. "You got the star SO straight! And thanks, D. We 'preciate the extra hand!"
"I'd better get back in my bag before someone finds me out," Li'l BC said. She looked right at Li'l Nightwing. "Can you help me out?"
Li'l Nightwing beamed. "Sure I can!"
Together, they stuffed the bag full of tissue paper, but try as they might, they couldn't get it back on the shelf.
"Well," Li'l Nightwing said, "what if we just leave the bag on its side like it fell, and D can lay inside?"
"Yeah!" Li'l BC scrambled inside the bag and peeked out one last time. "Thanks for letting me help, guys! It was the most fun EVER!" Her little blonde pigtails disappeared into the tissue paper, leaving Li'l Nightwing and Li'l Batgirl alone.
"You were being silly," Li'l Batgirl informed him.
"I know," he admitted, scuffing his boot along the carpet.
"But we're ok now, right?"
"Yup! And…" Li'l Nightwing smiled. "We made a new friend."
"We sure did!" Li'l Batgirl agreed. "But…" she poked him in the chest, "…just remember whose boyfriend you are!" She leaned closer to him and just when she was about to kiss him…
Dick Grayson came in Barbara's balcony window, peeling off his mask. He rolled his stiff neck around, hoping to stretch out the kinks before finishing up the tree.
The tree? He stepped closer, looking at it in wonder. The whole thing was decorated, all the way to the star on the top. His foot brushed something as he moved to examine the lights, and he looked down to see Barbara's little dolls and a gift bag lying on the floor.
"Must've fallen down," he muttered to himself, returning all three to the mantel before turning his attention back to the tree.
"It's me, Babs," he answered as Barbara rolled through the door, escrima sticks at the ready.
"Dick?" The light snapped on and Barbara gasped at the beauty of the tree. "Dick! You came back and finished up for me! How did you--" She didn't finish her sentence, just smiled and pulled him down for a kiss.
"I didn't finish it," Dick burst out, before he thought. "I thought you did!"
"You thought I--no." Together, they looked back at the tree, puzzled, then at each other.
"You don't believe in…"
"No," they agreed together.
"Why Dinah, thank you," Barbara exclaimed. "I've always wanted a…one of these," she finished, turning the gift over in her hand.
"It's a mouse cozy," Dinah explained excitedly, oblivious to Babs' slip of the tongue. "You see, you slip it over your mouse, so when it's cold out, your hand doesn't have to grab a cold mouse. Nifty, huh?"
"Well, thank you, Dinah. I really appreciate it. Now, here, open yours!" Barbara passed her friend a familiar little gift bag.
As Dinah tore into her present, two sets of button eyes peered down from the mantel.
"Move over," one whispered under the cover of tearing tissue paper. The request was accompanied by a punch to a soft side. "I can't see!"
"You can't see? I'm the one stuffed behind the poinsettia!"
"Ooh!" Dinah squealed. "It's me! Look! It's a little me!" She jumped up and threw her arms around Barbara, before dancing away to held up her new doll and sit it with the two suddenly floppy toys on the mantel. "Look, my doll can come over and play with your little dolls and when I take it home…" Dinah paused to take a deep breath, abandoning Li'l Batgirl and Li'l Nightwing to brandish her little alter ego at Babs. "…I think it'll go great next to the Batman action figure I found the other day. Don't you think?"
Li'l BC's hand closed and she waved her thumb at the two horrified beanies above.