Arena

Welcome to the 2022 April A to Z Challenge! Each day (minus Sundays) in the month of April will feature a short work of fiction based on a random word beginning with the corresponding letter of the day. Those random words will be provided by various friends and family members throughout the month. Today’s word, arena, was provided by my mother, Teresa. Ha… Mother Teresa…

“This isn’t what I had in mind when I suggested a date night,” said Barbara as she leaned forward, resting her elbows on the ledge of the arena’s roof.

To her left, Barbara’s on again/off again love interest stared intently into the gathering crowd below them. Risking a slight glance, she noticed his smirk in response to the idea of a date.

“When was the last time either of us actually took a night off?” he asked, still watching the people as they moved toward the north entrance of the Gotham Arena. “This is the closest thing to a date we get.”

Batgirl couldn’t help but roll her eyes, despite knowing that Nightwing was right. That was the problem with a never-ending battle against crime. It never ended. But at least she got paired with him for tonight’s stake out. This was the best case scenario as far as she was concerned. Red Robin was stuck with Red Hood over on the west entrance while Batman and Robin kept an eye on the southern arena gate.

“Maybe Penguin and his goons will show up early and we’ll have time to catch the third period.”

Nightwing finally turned to look at her. “You don’t even like hockey.”

“I think you’re confusing me with Starfire,” said Barbara, getting a dig at another of Dick’s exes.

“I’m not even gonna dignify that with a response.”

She laughed, “He said in response…”

Then, over their coms, “Cut the chatter, you two.”

“Sorry, Dad,” Batgirl said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

She returned her gaze to the crowd of people anticipating tonight’s game. Still no sign of Penguin or his flunkies. Batgirl took a deep breath and sighed.

Under the cowl, she was Barbara Gordon, a junior at Gotham University and the daughter of Gotham P.D.’s Commissioner James Gordon. Of course, if he had any idea that she spent many of her nights dressed as a bat, that would put a quick end to her vigilante career. She was certain he would not approve, despite his close partnership with the Batman over the years.

In fact, the commissioner was thrilled the day he found out that his little girl aspired to be a librarian. In his eyes, that kept her about as far away from law enforcement as was possible. And it was true, Barbara loved working in the university library and considered it a worthy career path. But shelving books and organizing the reference section could never compete with the thrill of leaping from rooftop to rooftop and taking on some of the most notorious criminals Gotham City had to offer.

Breaking radio silence, Batgirl asked, “Are we sure this is happening?”

Silence.

Barbara knew that Bruce did not like to be questioned. Normally, it’s not something she would do. But in the time since they’d all arrived and taken their posts, there had been no sign that anything sinister was happening. It seemed to just be a quiet night at the hockey game. At the rate things were going, there promised to be more fights between the players inside the arena than between the Bat-family and the bad guys outside the arena. Because… what bad guys?

“I’m with Babs,” said Red Hood. “It’s dead on this side. I say we call it a night.”

The last thing Barbara wanted was for Jason Todd to back her up. She elbowed Dick, giving him the signal to chime in.

“Not so fast,” said Nightwing. “I’ve got suspicious movement at the edge of Arena Drive.”

“No you don’t,” replied Batgirl as she raised a small pair of binoculars to her eyes. “Oh… crap…” She noticed the unmistakable shape of one of Penguins telltale umbrellas. “That guy really needs a new gimmick.”

Nightwing laughed before putting his game face back on. “Everyone converge on the north entrance.”

“Fine,” said Barbara, pulling a line from her utility belt and preparing to swing down to street level, “but you owe me a hockey game, Grayson.”

Leaping off the ledge, Dick yelled back, “You don’t even like hockey!”

These characters are not my own. Batman and all related characters are the property of DC Comics. This is a work of fan fiction and is just for fun. Please don’t sue me.

Feature Photo by Seth Hoffman on Unsplash

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