Artemis always seemed to be late to these things. She was late getting up, and late stumbling into the kitchen. Her feet magnetically drawn there by the tantalizing aromas wafting through the hallways. On her way, she almost tripped over a pile of dirty clothes.

Wally. Ugh.

Artemis could hear the sound of forks and knives clinking on ceramic plates as she reached the kitchen; the sound of breakfast in progress. Her stomach rumbled in longing as she stepped in. The Team minus Robin was congregated around the center island like they were having a war council. A war council with waffles.

They acknowledged her entrance with nods and glances, but their eyes were on the girl working the waffle iron.

A stranger. Artemis flinched and reached for a quiver that wasn't there, but M'gann's voice instantly entered her head.

{Artemis, wait!}

Artemis was indignant.

{No, listen,} M'gann thought. {She just showed up here this morning, before the rest of us were even up.}

{Mmm…} Wally thought. {Waffles…}

Zatanna's brow wrinkled. {She knows who we are, Artemis. All of us. Secret Identities and everything.}

Artemis studied the intruder. She was roughly sixteen or so, about Robin's age. Rust colored hair fell in soft waves around her heart shaped face. She looked up at Artemis with big green eyes. A smile lifted the corners of her lips.

"Artemis Crock, right? Have a waffle."

Artemis accepted the steaming plate in silence. She sent her teammates a baffled expression. Zatanna shrugged like, 'I told you so'. Roquelle nodded.

{Be calm,} Kaldur told them. {Wait for her to reveal herself. And her motives.}

{I still don't trust her.} That was Conner.

The waffle iron clamped shut with a hiss. The strange girl looked up and shoved another plate towards Wally. It clinked against the others he'd already licked clean.

"You know," she said, "I know you're all a little confused and everything, but don't you think it's kinda rude to leave me out of a psychic conversation?"

The team looked up, jaws agape. Then, everyone seemed to shout at once.

"Who ARE you?!"

"What?"

"She knows too much!"

"How did you know?"

The girl latched onto that last question. Her eyebrows crept upwards.

"Um…your faces." She waved a hand over hers. "They change when you're thinking at each other. As to who I am, well-"

Just then, Robin staggered into the kitchen. Artemis couldn't see his eyes behind the dark glasses he wore when out of costume. But if she could have, Artemis was sure they would have been angry and narrow.

"What the $ &#* do you think you're doing!?" he shouted at the girl.

The girl smiled hesitantly. "Um…making waffles?"

"You're not wearing glasses or anything! Are you trying to blow your cover?"

The girl's sweet face hardened into a glower that made everyone, even Conner, flinch backwards.

"Wow, Rob," the girl snarked. "Way to stay whelmed."

If it were possible for the jaws to be wider or the eyes to be bigger, then they would have been. It was Wally who finally gulped down his food and spoke first.

"Uhhh…what's going on?"

Robin and the girl seemed to snap out of their glaring contest.

"I'm Barbara," the girl said, "Your new teammate."

"BABS!" Robin shouted.

She flicked a hand at him. "Oh, shut up, Pixie Boots. Batman said I could."

Wally's head was whipping back and forth like he was watching a tennis match. Zatanna giggled and muttered, "Pixie Boots?" Robin's cheeks turned an impressive shade of red.

Barbara smirked as he protested.

"Batman said you could visit." He grit his teeth. "Not that you're joining."

She laughed. "Huh. He told me something completely different. Face it, bird brain. I'm here to stay."

Zatanna was the next to speak up. "It's nice to meet you, Barbara. But, why are you here, and without a mask? I thought you bats were really secretive about your secret identities?"

"Yeah," Conner said, "Why now?"

Robin glared at her, but she answered without hesitation.

"I've been the Bat's partner for about…eleven months now? He figured I was ready to try myself out with team members."

Robin huffed.

"And," she continued, "I don't need to worry about my ID because, technically, I don't exist."

The team stared at her, a little bit shocked. She giggled. "It's true. You can't find me in or on any record. No birth certificates, no medical records. Nothing. It doesn't matter if you see my face because I don't have a secret ID." With this, she glared at Robin.

"Well, whoop-de-doo," Rob snapped, "Doesn't mean you're ready to be one of us. What did you bribe Bats with to get him to let you visit? Info? Obeying all his rules like a good little girl?" He leaned against the counter and glowered. The Team looked on in shock.

"I don't think so. Bats can have any info he wants. So, the only other thing you could possibly bribe him with-"

Barbara slammed the spatula she'd been holding down on the counter. It hit with a loud smack that made the others jump. "Seriously?" she demanded. "Again? You already know that's not what's up. That's disgusting!"

"Prove it," Robin snarled.

"Wanna go?" Barbara shot back. "I can beat your sorry butt any time I want."

The Teams heads whipped back and forth to watch the tennis game of an argument. Kaldur opened his mouth to protest, but shut it when Robin straightened.

"You're on, Bratgirl. Training room. Now."

Barbara smirked. "Hand to hand. No gadgets."

"Fine."

Robin and the strange girl turned and stepped out of the kitchen. The Team gazed at each other with differing levels of worry. Wally laughed and swallowed down one more waffle.

"'Kay," he said, grinning, "Now this is something I gotta see!"

Robin almost got her with a flying spin kick, but Barbara hit the deck and swept her body around to trip him up on his landing.

The gathered Team members watched in shock as Robin stumbled. Unfortunately, he always recovered quickly. She jabbed at his chest, his side, his solar plexus. He dodged, kicked, and flipped easily, landing a punch to the side of her head. She took the hit, using the force behind it to roll, flipping up behind Robin and putting him in a headlock.

On the sidelines, jaws dropped.

"C'mon, man! She's a girl!" Wally pumped a fist in the air, and shoved a protein bar into his mouth.

Robin bellowed and his body contorted forward. Barbara recognized the play immediately, and let herself be flipped over her partner's head. Instead of letting herself be pinned to the ground, she curved her body and pulled Robin down along with her. He grunted as he hit the floor, and as she tried to get to her feet, he grabbed her ankle and pulled. She almost landed on top of him, but he was able to roll out of the way. As soon as her head hit the floor, she brought her feet up…right into his nose.

"Gah!" Robin pulled back, one hand over his face. When he pulled it away, it came back bloody. Behind his glasses, Robin's eyes narrowed in rage. Barbara leapt to her feet, face to face with her partner.

"This mean I win?" She asked with a smile.

Robin sent her to the floor with a right hook to the jaw.

Blood dribbled from her lips as she got a good look at the training room floor.

"Oh, boy wonder," she snarled, "That was a big mistake…"

"Team." Batman's voice crackled over the loudspeaker. "Suit up and report to the mission briefing room."

There was a groan from Wally.

"Now." Batman said.

The team had five minutes to change into costumes and report to Batman. That was more than enough time for Barbara. Many times, during emergency alerts in Gotham, she had about a minute to change. Sometimes two. One memorable evening, she'd been given a full thirty-four seconds to suit up.

Today, it helped that her suit was lighter than she was used to. Normally, her standard patrol outfit consisted of tough, bulletproof armor and a thick fireproof cape. Perfect for protection in gang fights or against psychopathic maniacs.

But Batman had agreed that she needed something a little more lightweight for stealth missions. It was the same costume, just without a lot of the armor plating. Thinner cape. A Kevlar cowl that was a little more lightweight.

As soon as she'd slithered into the costume, Barbara felt twice as confident. She'd acted like it in front of her teammates, her new teammates, but that's all it had been. An act.

And they were all amazing! The boys were cute. And the girls were cool too. Artemis was a tough character, Roquelle was friendly, M'gann was a sweetheart. Something about Zatanna made Barbara's jaw clench, but she was nice enough. All around, the Team was well balanced and close-knit. Barbara only hoped that Batgirl would be able to fit into all of it somewhere.

It was a shame that she had to work with Dick. The guy was just so…infuriating. And arrogant. Every condescending word that came out of his mouth made her feel like an idiot. He was stubborn, and sexist, and proud, and…

He made her heart flutter every time she saw him. She hated that. Most of all.

She navigated her way to the mission room, her heels tapping softly on the tile floor. As predicted, she was one of the first there. Robin and Batman were having a heated but quiet argument by the main console. Not surprising.

"-completely irresponsible -"

"-egged me on! She-"

"-teammate whether you like-"

"-can't believe you'd do this to me!"

"Robin-"

Batgirl stepped into the room and cleared her throat and the two vigilantes looked up. "The mission?" she asked.

Batman nodded, narrowing his eyes at her, but told her to wait for the others. She took her place next to her fellow Gothamites, and was pleased to see that Robin's nose was a bit crooked. He caught her staring and glowered.

Slowly, the Team filed in.

Connor and Kaldur were silent, like they were at a funeral. Artemis shot her an encouraging smile, which she returned.

"Oh my gosh!" M'gann cried. "I love your costume!" She and Roquelle hovered around her, asking about the cape, what lipstick she used, etc. Barbara heard Wally whisper to Rob,

"Dude! You didn't tell me she was hot!"

Batgirl tried very hard not to smirk at the boy wonder, who was turning an angry shade of red.

"Aqualad," Batman said slowly. "Would you care to define the word 'decorum' for me?"

The Atlantean's brow furrowed. "I believe it means conformity to a standardized and specific state of conduct. Civility. With all due respect, Batman, why are you asking me? Do you not already know?"

Wally let out a surprised snicker, which Batman silenced with a sharp look.

Beside Barbara, Robin glowered, gritting his teeth.

"Because," Batman said, his voice low, "While I know the definition, my protégés clearly do not."

He narrowed his eyes at his two young partners, and the rest of the Team turned to take in Robin's slightly off-kilter nose, and the purple bruise forming at the corner of Batgirl's mouth.

"If you don't mind, Batman," Robin snarled through his teeth, "I think we'd all like to know what the mission is."

Batman nodded, and pulled up a giant holoscreen with a hollow ping. "We've had a disruption in the Quaraci desert. Queen Bee's forces have been aided by a psychic, which leads us to believe that it is the work of Psimon. Your mission is to infiltrate Queen Bee's military compound and gather intel." Batman's eyes travelled around the room.

"Reconnaissance only. Do not engage."

The Team seemed to deflate a little, but Barbara's feeling of confidence only grew. Reconnaissance? She could definitely do that.

She only hoped that she wouldn't mess it up.

"Robin. Miss Martian. Aqualad. You're on Alpha."

The three of them nodded.

"Kid Flash. Zatanna. And…" Barbara's mentor's eyes met hers. "Batgirl. Beta."

Batgirl gaped. Didn't new team members usually get assigned to Gamma? Was Batman trying to turn the rest of the Team against her? Even now, she could see Roquelle, Superboy and Artemis frowning in confusion. And, was that a little bit of anger?

"The rest of you will be Gamma. That is all."

The team relaxed as Batman left the room, and all eyes turned on her.

"Beta." Robin said, like it was an insult. Batgirl bit the side of her cheek. It was still tender from the fight.

The rest were silent as they boarded the bioship, but Barbara was almost sure she heard someone mutter, "Teacher's pet."

The sharp crackle in Barbara's forehead told her that the mental link was online. M'gann tried to explain how it worked to her, but she accidently cut the Martian off, saying that she already knew. It was a face palm worthy moment, especially as she saw Miss Martian glower at her. The rest of the team reacted pretty much the same way. Connor clenched his fists.

{Great, so if you already know, then you can shut the-}

{Superboy} Robin's and Aqualad's voices sounded in her head at the same instant. Batgirl sent an inquisitive glance Dick's way, but he only narrowed his eyes in response. There was a nonverbal language between them and Batman, and Barbara could decipher Dick's expression right away.

'Don't read too much into it, Bratgirl.'

But there was an undertone. It was almost like he was protecting her. In the past, she'd made a few inferences pertaining to metas and nonmetas; if a nonmeta showed weakness, then metas would lose respect for that nonmeta. It definitely explained why Batman had so much sway in the League. But it meant that there was also a lot of pressure for the bats to keep up the appearance of superiority, like the way a nerd in high school asserted his dominance by being smarter and more calculating than, say, the football team. Show weakness, and they'd eat that little nerd alive.

Batgirl realized that Robin had less cause to worry than she did; he already had friends on the football team. But she did not.

{So,} she thought, {I thought that Psimon was catatonic. What is he doing in Quarac?}

Artemis turned to face her. {Psimon's a nasty customer. He's tricked his way out of situations like this before.}

{Agreed,} Kaldur said, {There may be some other psychic working in Biyalia, but we can not be so sure that it is not him.}

Batgirl nodded and pulled up her wrist computer. She checked the weather in Biyalia, the news, and her messages. There was one from Batman.

[I'm sorry about the rocky introductions. Go and do well. -B]

Short and to the point with just a little hint of sentimentality. That was her mentor, for you.

{Alright, Team. We're, um…we're over the drop zone.} Mgann's voice was quiet and hesitant. Barbara kicked herself.

A hole opened in the bottom of the bioship, and everyone hopped out, going into a twenty-foot dive. Batgirl hit the sandy dunes and rolled like a tumbleweed. As soon as they finished shaking the sand out if their suits, everyone deferred to Robin.

{Alright.} he thought. {Gamma, take the south side. Alpha, come with me. And Beta.} Robin glowered at Batgirl. {Try not to screw up.}

{Dude!} Wally protested.

{I wasn't talking about you, KF. Okay, Team. Split up.}

Robin led the Alphas to the North, leaving Barbara, Wally, and Zatanna standing confused in the sand.

"Sooo…" Wally said, "Where do we go now?"

Zatanna was watching Batgirl expectantly.

"Right," Barbara said. "I'm sorry if we've gotten off on the wrong foot, you guys."

"Oh, you didn't, beautiful." Wally shot her a flirtatious glance. Zatanna playfully hit him on the shoulder.

"You won us over with your amazing waffles, believe me." She smiled. "But seriously, Kid Flash and I will follow your lead. Batman must have his reasons for putting you on Beta."

Batgirl did her best to return the smile. "Okay. Alpha's headed North, Gamma's taken the south end. I think we should go West."

"Go West all the way, babe," Wally said, winking.

"Heh. Right. And guys?"

They looked at her expectantly.

She smiled tentatively. "Thanks."