"A Breath of Broken Glass": With the Mirror mocking her through her ear-piece, Batgirl races to one of Gotham City's trains in order to save a man whom the Mirror has marked for death merely for having survived an event miracu
Synopsis for "A Breath of Broken Glass"
With the Mirror mocking her through her ear-piece, Batgirl races to one of Gotham City's trains in order to save a man whom the Mirror has marked for death merely for having survived an event miraculously. Rupert Ansell had fallen onto the train tracks on his morning commute, and had been saved at the last second by a good Samaritan going the opposite direction. The Mirror's MO sees him murdering anybody who seems to have been saved by a miracle, because he doesn't think miracles should be believed in. Batgirl knows better, because the fact that she's standing at all is a miracle.
Banging on the engineer's window, Batgirl determines that the train can't be stopped, and the doors can't be opened. Frustrated, she gets inside by smashing in through one of the windows. Rather than try to find the bomb that the Mirror has planted, she searches for Ruper Ansell himself. When he comes forward, she sends the other passengers out of the car. Understanding the Mirror's method, Batgirl banks on the fact that she is also on his list.
She wraps her arms around Rupert Ansell, knowing that the Mirror can't blow him up without blowing her up too. Batgirl is on the list because she miraculously survived a fall during an encounter with the Brisby Killers. If she dies by explosion, it will thwart the Mirror's plans. However, the Mirror has the upper hand, as he reminds her that the good Samaritan also survived by a miracle. Moments later, the train going in the opposite direction blows with Rupert Ansell's saviour on board. Batgirl saved one man, but allowed another to die.
Two hours later, Det. Mel McKenna tries to convince Commissioner Gordon to let her come back in to work. The Commissioner reminds her that protocol requires her to see a psychologist about her partner's death before she can come back to work. Grumpily, McKenna decides to hold her own investigation into Batgirl, who she blames for her partner's death.
Barbara visits her father at work, and invites him to lunch. She is obviously shaken about her encounter with the Mirror, and the man she allowed to die. Her father sees it, but rather than open up, all she can do is tell him that she misses him. Seeing that she's upset, her father expresses worry that she's taking on too much. She has only just recovered from her injury, and he worries that she will relapse if she works too hard. He can't take lunch with her because of a lead, and Barbara watches him go, wondering if people really see her as that breakable.
That night, Batgirl breaks into the police impound lot, having left her Batcycle outside the hospital the night before. She is interrupted by Nightwing, though she claims to have known he was tailing her the whole time. She invites him onto the back of the bike, and they crash through the fence, speeding through the twilight streets of Gotham.
Though she loathes to admit it, the feeling of Dick's arms around her on that bike makes her feel very good. Parking the bike, Barbara demands to know what Dick is doing there. Awkwardly, he admits that he's checking in on her because he and Batman are worried that she could end up back in the wheelchair if she's not careful - just like her father does. Frustrated, he is forced to simply ask whether she can handle the Mirror on her own. In answer, Barbara kicks his feet out from under him, and rappels off into the night.
She recalls how she and Dick used to chase each other like this even back when they first met - he an acrobat, and she a ballerina. Despite his cockiness back then, his kindness made up for a lot of it - and it became easy to like him. Richard Grayson was the first boy Barbara ever had a crush on who wasn't a scientist. Admittedly, she still feels the way she did during that first crush when she's around him - but it's an admission she can barely make to herself.
When Dick catches up to her, Barbara decides that she's had enough of well-meaning boys, from Dick to Batman - even her father. She will have no more of men trying to protect her when she doesn't want or need it. She says that if men keep on trying to protect her, she would send them back with blackened eyes. She begins physically sparring with Nightwing, offering little quarter, and forcing him to defend himself. Finally, he yells out that the reason that he and Batman have been worried is not because they doubt her, but because they love her. Shocked, Barbara realizes that she has been pushing away those who love her because she craved understanding more than pity; respect more than comfort.
Playing off her realization casually, Barbara states firmly that she has to do this - face this - alone. She cuts off a lock of her hair and places it in Dick's hand, stating that if he can't let her do it alone, then they can't be friends. Reluctant, but understanding, Dick lets her go.
Appearing in "A Breath of Broken Glass"
- Batgirl (Flashback and main story)
- Detective Mel McKenna
- Rupert Ansell
- Alysia (Mentioned only)
- Batman (Mentioned only)
- Red Hood (Mentioned only)
- Barbara would later reconcile with Dick in Nightwing (vol. 3) #4.
- As Batgirl lands on the train, there's a view of the front of the train with graffiti on it. One graffito states "For a good time call the Red Hood".
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