Disclaimer: As usual, I am ownership-challenged of the characters used in this story. They belong to DC/Time Warner. I am making NO MONEY off this story, which is a damn shame, because I actually did a sorry amount of research. June 11 belongs to Phoenix.
Three Sidekicks, Two Cakes and a Single Candle
The sound of boots on a roof. Three steps before they're gone. The faint hiss of a line thrown, the whip of it wrapping around a gargoyle. The rush of air in ears fitted with a receiver. A pregnant pause. The ever-so-soft scrape of a weight settling on the windowpane.
"Come on in, Robin," Barbara Gordon, the all-seeing Oracle, called as the boy crimefighter's fist cocked to tap on her window.
Outside, Robin rolled his eyes and shook his head, reaching down to slide the window up and slip inside the Clocktower apartment.
"How'd you know I was coming?" he asked resignedly.
"Easy." Barbara nodded at her vast computer array. "You started running silent around Midtown. Plus, I added pressure monitors to my windowsills and you're not as heavy as Batman or Nightwing."
"Spiffy," Robin said dryly. He hopped up on her worktable and picked at the edge of his mask.
"So what brings you slumming?" Barbara asked cheerfully, leaning back in her chair.
"Batgirl around?" Robin asked, glancing around the room.
"Nope. Off playing Evil Creepy Night Thing with Bruce. Did you come to visit her?" Barbara laid the back of her hand across her forehead. "I'm just not exciting enough to warrant my own midnight superhero encounters anymore?"
"Ha." Robin smiled and peeled back his mask, spirit gum marring his face. "No one can compete with you. I just didn't want her to overhear our chat."
"Oh really?" Barbara raised an eyebrow, intrigued. "Are you keeping secrets from our favorite masked maiden?" She studied Robin's features as she asked. "Thanks for showing me your face."
Tim Drake shrugged. "Hey, you figured out my name. That was the whole point of the game."
"It was a game only with me," Barbara pointed out wisely. "And I still appreciate it. Now, what's the deal with Batgirl? Are you scoping her out for Superboy? I won't tell, but I have it on good authority—"
"Whoa!" Tim shook his head. "Too Much Information. I'm not here for Kon."
"Hmm." Barbara tapped her mouth with a pen. "So many possibilities, so little patience. Spill, Boy Wonder."
"Do you know when her birthday is?"
Barbara stared at him. "I never thought about it," she said slowly. "I don't imagine she knows herself."
"She doesn't," Tim clarified. "At Bruce's last party, she said that birthdays were stupid and that she didn't have one. I thought that, y'know, it might be nice if we, y'know…" His voice grew quieter and trailed off under Barbara's intense gaze.
"You want to give her a birthday?" she asked, still frowning at Tim.
"Well. Well, yes. I just don't know what day," he said defensively. "I was hoping you could help." He checked the window over his shoulder. "She's not coming back any time soon, is she?"
Barbara's face darkened. "She doesn't live her anymore," she explained shortly.
"She doesn't?" Tim frowned. "She used to live here, right?"
"She went into a government agency without her costume."
"She…without…oy vey." If Tim hadn't already been sitting, he would have had to sit down. His secret identity was one of the most sacred things he had. "What did Bruce do?"
"Fixed her up in her own cave. One of the ones he used in No Man's Land."
"Wow." Tim shook his head. "That sucks." She had to live in one of those caves? All by herself? But then, inspiration struck. "Do you know which one? We could throw her a surprise party."
Barbara considered this. "That's not a bad idea," she mused, "as long as everyone goes in uniform. We could do that. Any ideas on the day?"
Tim grimaced. "The day she ran away from Cain?"
"Any guesses on what that might be?"
"Not a one. How about the day she came to Gotham?"
Barbara raised an eyebrow."
"Um, the day she became Batgirl?"
Barbara pondered this. "Possibly." She twirled a pen through her fingertips. "It was in the fall," she murmured. "October."
"October?" Tim hesitated. His eyes met Barbara's.
"Or, you could just pick a day next week," she suggested with a smile.
Tim returned the smile. "I like that idea," he said. "I like it a lot."
"So. This is the CassandraCave. Tres spiffy."
"Shut up, Kon," Robin grumbled, staggering under the weight of an ice-filled cooler as Superboy stood in the middle of Cassandra's cave, hands on hips, appraising the place.
"Hey, just checking out the digs," Kon defended, raising both palms. "Did you need help with that, Robbie?"
"No." With a mighty grunt, Robin heaved the chest onto the nearest stone slab. "But you did finish blowing up the balloons, right?"
"Huh?" Kon was busily cataloging the contents of the so-called CassandraCave with his eyes. "Oh, uh, no. I got Wondy to help me out there."
"Yeah. And Ciss is doing the streamers. How come you invited her?"
"Why not?" Robin asked, hefting a case of soda cans to the table and tossing them into the cooler one at a time.
"Well, you were so psycho about the secret ID thing and she's not exactly going to be playing dressup anymore. Unless you know something I don't." Kon scratched his head and watched Tim pitch cans into the cooler. "Which wouldn't be out of the ordinary," he muttered under his breath.
"She knows who we all are," Robin reasoned. "And Cass isn't exactly in a position to go broadcasting anyone's secret ID. 'Sides," he mumbled. "I'm not passing up a chance to for her to hang out with us."
"Yeah, I'm sure," Superboy teased. "Or else you want her around to protect you from Cass."
"I don't need protecting from Cass."
"Oh? She need protecting from you?"
"Shut up, Kon."
"You're not the boss of me."
"Yeah? Did you do anything I asked for this party?"
"I made the little hot dog thingies."
"Cripes." Robin slapped one gloved palm over his eyes. "I'm developing a migraine."
"Well, take some Excedrin Rob, because you've got guests."
"Oh look," Nightwing commented, looking around from his vantage point at the mouth of the cave. "It's Young Justice." He scratched the back of his head and glanced dubiously at the foil-covered platter in his hand. "Oracle sent, um, a cake. She said to hide it until Batgirl blows out the candles and then switch--"
"Yo." Black Canary appeared behind Nightwing, slinging an arm around his neck. "What's that?" She peered over Nightwing's shoulder at the substitute pastry. "That's not a cake, is it? Babs knew I was going to make a cake." She nodded proudly at her own foil-covered slab.
"Of course it's not a cake," Nightwing lied, quickly throwing the platter away from himself.
Impulse plucked it out of the air on a lap toward the entrance of the cave to tack up a "Happy Birthday" sign.
"Here, take this," he hissed to Wonder Girl, who was mixing punch at the food table near the back of the cave. "Switch it with Black Canary's cake before we have to eat any!" He left the cake under the table and went on another lap.
"Hi Nightwing, hi BC," Robin greeted the adult superheroes distractedly. "I think we're almost ready to go on this--"
Behind him, Cassandra's computer chirped. Robin turned and made a few keystrokes. Oracle's face appeared on the screen instantly.
"Greetings, Boy Wonder," the computerized voice said. "Preparations complete?"
"Just about," Robin told her. "Young Justice is here, and so are Nightwing and Black Canary. I guess we're just missing--"
"You're missing no one," Oracle interrupted.
"I didn't invite him," she continued. "You know what he would have said."
Actually, Robin couldn't imagine what Batman might have said, but was relatively sure he wouldn't want to know anyway.
"Still," he reasoned, "if he finds out--"
Robin suddenly realized that the surrounding chatter had died, leaving his words to echo clearly through the cave.
"If he finds out what?"
Some days, Robin realized, it just didn't pay to be the junior sidekick. He turned around slowly, lifting his head to look Batman in the eye.
The Dark Knight stood in the entrance of the cave, his arms crossed, with Spoiler standing beside him.
"Uh-oh," Impulse announced.
"Way to go, Master of the Obvious," Kon commented.
"He just walked in, didn't he?" Oracle asked from the console.
"You better believe it," Black Canary answered matter-of-factly.
Secret took one look at Spoiler and hid herself in Robin's can of Zesti.
Batman surveyed the room, watching younger superheroes drop their eyes under his penetrating gaze. Nightwing was at the food table, scarfing up the little hot dog rolls. Typical. Black Canary was leaning up against the computer console with a smirk on her pretty face. No use trying to intimidate her. He glared up at the computer even though he knew that was probably a useless gesture, too. That left one person.
"What," he rasped at Robin, "is going on here?"
"It's…a birthday party," Robin admitted. "For Batgirl."
"Batgirl doesn't have a birthday."
"I know. I sorta…wanted to give her one."
"If you're going to blame anyone, Batman, blame me," Oracle offered.
"Later." Batman turned his attention back to Robin. "So this is a deliberate breach of security. Did you think of the danger of having so many others know the location of Batgirl's lair?"
"I--I--no." Robin set his jaw and stood his ground. Batman was right. It had been a hasty decision, one driven by emotion. He hadn't thought it through.
"Oh, calm down," Black Canary suggested. "It's not as if she lives here."
Batman turned his glare to her and even Robin and Superboy looked at her curiously.
"She…doesn't live here, does she?" BC asked, glancing around.
"Welcome to the CassandraCave!"
Batman turned murderous eyes on the ever-cheerful Superboy.
Superboy suddenly recalled his single workout with Batman and pledged to take a vow of silence if he survived the day.
"Ok, ok, wait a minute." Black Canary held up her hands and squinted at the Dark Knight. "Let me get this right." She pushed away from the computer console and ambled toward Batman in a deceptively casual way. "You've got this kid, she's what, sixteen, seventeen, right?"
Batman inclined his head.
"Ok, and she doesn't speak because she was trained to be some kind of Super-Wheaties athlete, right?"
Batman nodded again.
"And you're making her spend her days all alone in a dark, dank, smelly underground cave? Hello? Look how you turned out!"
"Oooh, bus-TED," someone female crowed from the other side of the room.
"I will not debate my training methods with you, Black Canary," Batman said stiffly.
"Who's debating? I'm saying they rank right up there with your people skills as crappy."
Batman took a step forward and everyone in the cave held their collective breaths as they waited for a scalding dressing-down that never came.
Instead, the heightened silence magnified the single, deliberate footstep and the hesitant, awkward voice asking,
Cassandra Cain stood in the entryway of her cave, head cocked to the side in an inquisitive gesture.
"Happy Birthday!" Ten pairs of eyes shifted to an exuberant Kon-El. "What? That's why we're here, isn't it?"
"Of course it is," Dinah confirmed. "Happy Birthday, Cass."
Careful to keep their voices too low for Batman to isolate from the cacophony, the rest of the crowd in the cave began directing wishes for a happy birthday to an increasingly confused Batgirl.
"Wait, I don't get it," Spoiler interrupted.
"What's there not to get?" Superboy asked. "My little buddy here is lacking in a known birth date so Robbie decided to play the white knight and give her one. I hear there's cake 'round here, somewhere," he added, surreptitiously scoping out the snack table as Batman approached. "Let me go find some."
"Party?" Batgirl repeated. "For…me?" She turned questioning eyes on Batman.
Everyone in the room held their breath.
"Yes," Batman said after a long pause. "For you."
There was another moment of silence as Batgirl looked at everyone in the room before throwing herself at Robin in a hug that nearly crushed his ribs.
"I, um, I--uh." Robin blushed and groped around her arms to his utility belt. He extracted a piece of paper and straightened up, subtly shaking Cassandra loose. She released him, but hovered by him as he read from the scrap. "I hereby declare June 11th, Batgirl's birthday. She shares this birthday with famous people such as Jacques Cousteau, Vince Lombardi, Joe Montana, Gene Wilder, Chad Everett, Nelson Mandela and Adrienne Barbeau."
Batgirl looked mystified, but attentive.
"On this date in 1184 BC, the Greek army captured Troy. On this date in 1776, the Continental Congress appointed John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston to draft a declaration of independence in 1776. In 1920, the Republican Party nominated Warren G. Harding for president. In 1969, David Bowie released 'Space Oddity' the Best Song Known to Man Not Written by Paul Simon." Tim paused to take a deep breath as the rest of Young Justice exchanged puzzled glances with Dinah. "On this day in 1979, John Wayne died of cancer and in 1982, the movie E.T. was released. And in one of those years, Batgirl was born and this is the date we've decided to celebrate."
Applause broke out and Robin had time to exhale a sigh of relief before Batgirl tackled him in another tight hug.
"Um, excuse me," Spoiler interrupted, tapping Batgirl on the shoulder. "But you're kind of hanging on my--"
Cassandra's lightning-fast reflexes had Spoiler pinned to a wall quicker than she could execute a three snap Zorro.
"Right, um, thanks," Spoiler muttered, sliding gingerly out of Batgirl's grasp and turning to Batman.
"Hi!" A brightly smiling Wonder Girl offered Spoiler and Batman each a piece of cake. "Cake?" She shoved a plate towards each of them and flew off to distribute more baked goods.
Spoiler frowned at the cake. It was chocolate. Chocolate was good for solving guy problems. She dug in enthusiastically.
Across the room, Cissie King-Jones and Bart Allen leaned on the cave wall beside the food table, watching.
"I'm not so sure we should have done that," Cissie was saying. "It's funny, but a little mean, don't you think?"
"Mean? Why would it be mean?" Impulse demanded. "We gave them cake!"
"We gave them Black Canary's cake," Cissie replied glumly. "I've heard stories."
"Oh, how bad can it be?" Bart asked, waving an expansive hand. "I mean ok, so maybe it's kinda yucky but that's not gonna hurt them. It's just cake."
"Yeah, I guess," Cissie said, her eyes fixed across the room.
"See? Spoiler looks all excited! It must not be so bad after all!"
"I don't know," Cissie said slowly. "It kinda looks like…"
The general cry rose from the entrance of the cave.
"What happened?" Oracle demanded, out of range to see the action.
"Spoiler just ralphed on Batman's cape," Superboy informed her. "Do we have this on video?"
"Aw, geez," Tim groaned. "Batgirl, I'm sorry about this, I--"
He cut himself off when he saw that Cassandra was beaming, a grin splitting her face from ear to ear.
"Best birthday EVER!!!"
Random birthday facts found at the following sites: