I commenced moving towards the elevators once more, when Chris stopped and turned on her heels. I turned back as well, and called out to her as she went back towards the hotel room door. Or more appropriately doorway, since the actual door was resting against a bed and just a wee bit smelling of burnt wood.
"What are you doing, we have to start looking," I said, and she looked back at me, a little sheepish.
"I forgot my gloves, and my mask," she said.
I dismissed her with a wave of my hand. "Don't worry about it. It's not like anyone will recognise you, right? At least not as Chris."
She nodded, and came back towards me. "You have a point, I guess. And it's a little more comfortable not having my hair all scrunched down under that thing, or my hands trapped inside those things. Not that being trapped in these is much better."
Chris looked at her hands, in some ways for the first time, and I could see things were sinking in, now that we'd had a chance to breathe. I could feel the edges of panic nibbling around the corners of my brain as well, and didn't want to stand around for too long, and give it a chance to take hold.
"Hey, we - and by we, I clearly mean you - aren't trapped yet. There's a Phoenix out there, somewhere. Has to be, and we'll find her. And hopefully she's not in the mood to devour suns, but rather in a more sunny disposition."
Even my attempts at reassuring her were starting to feel tired. I had no clue if things would be ok ever again, but I had to hold onto that slim sliver of hope dangling before me like the carrot on a stick, and just keep racing towards it. Better to keep my mind on that, and try and fix things, rather than sit back and watch everything fall apart anyways.
Despite that, she still held onto the crumb of hope I'd laid out there, and we returned to the lobby downstairs. I could still hear fighting in the distance, and from below in the other lobbies. Too many of the people had come dressed as creatures, and their base instincts had taken over, much like the zombies next door. With only the minds of animals, at best, they were giving others a hard time. And with people of a more unpleasant nature still roaming around as well, looking for those to take advantage of the situation, it was no wonder that things had yet to die down yet.
The shooting gallery that the seating area had been turned into by the Stormtroopers and COBRA soldiers had been vacated, either due to a lack of bullets, or interest. The smoke was long since departed, but the entire space was shot to ribbons, and the walls looking like Swiss cheese from the bullet holes. Pieces of wood scattered across the floor, splinters everywhere, and bits of stuffing from chairs and couches sprayed around like small tufts of snow atop wodden mountains. Nary a body lay anywhere, though. As I expected, they remained true to their costumes, and couldn't hit a thing they meant to hit. At least I didn't have any more dead bodies on my conscience.
I snapped a few photos of the aftermath, and when I looked back at Chris, she was distracted and looking in the direction of where we had left the Joker. I could sense she wanted to make sure he was still chained up, or maybe punch him again for good measure by the mix of nervous and fear floating across her face.
With her distracted for the moment, I adjusted my camera, and grabbed a few pictures of Chris in her new form, staring off across the destruction, and her hands resting on her hips. The first flash didn't even faze her, but the second made her blink, and jump. Her face shifted to fear over all, and I knew she was thinking back to that first bright light that Batgirl would have seen today, when she became real.
"What are you doing," she shouted, and pulled her cape around her body, trying to cover up and hide from the eye of my camera lens.
I smiled and lowered the camera after snapping another shot of her wrapped up in the cape. "I have just spent the day with a pretty redhead, who is actually talking to me, I need evidence. No one will believe me when I get home."
Her jaw hung low at the thought of the pictures being seen by others, but clearly the other half of her wanting to be seen at the same time.
She protested, "You can't show anyone those photos! I don't want anyone to know this happened, or see me as a girl!"
"Says the person who dressed up as one of their own free will."
Chris stammered and stared, her mouth flapping while she sought out words to throw back at me.
"That was different," was the best she could come up with.
"That was by choice, that was having fun! This, now...this is me, really me! I've been changed! I want this fixed, and I want to forget this ever happened."
She grabbed for the camera, and I pulled it away, and over my shoulder, almost choking myself in the process with the neck strap. Chris didn't make any other attempts for it, and I lowered it somewhat, but still kept it held close to my right shoulder.
"I'm sorry, but you look really good in that costume, that body, and I wanted a memento of the day, some good memories to go against all the bodies I seem to be leaving in my wake. So, I'm taking happy memories of the curvy babe I hung out with, who may or may not be Chris if people ask me later." I concluded my speech by turning my nose up into the air and giving a bit of a harumph.
My words had gotten through to that part of Chris' brain with Barbara Gordon in residence, or just the part of her brain that could use a good compliment or two that didn't include a grope on the rear as an added bonus.
Her face softened, and she let her cape fall back down freely. "Really? I look good? You mean it, even knowing what happened, who I am?"
I gave a shrug. "You're still my friend. And regardless of how you started, I can't deny that you are at this moment a decently proportioned and pleasing to the eye female."
That familiar red tint grew in her cheeks again, and just as quick, it had faded away again, as she regained her composure. Part of me was telling the rest to stop flirting with her, despite being the aforementioned pretty redhead, it was still a very male Chris somewhere underneath the soft, outer package.
"Show me," she asked, and came around by my shoulder.
I knew we didn't really have time to waste on such things, but I had sparked her curiosity, and it was better to let her have a moment and accept her new self for the time being, and get back to work.
Holding up my camera, I brought up the picture. She squinted and rubbed her eyes. I had tilted the camera to get a long, full shot of her staring off, and the device had twisted it around on the screen, making it even smaller on an already small display.
"Ok, so that's a bad example," I explained. "Unless you are impressed by a teeny charcoal form with canary highlights."
"No, not really. But now you've got me all curious. Ooh!"
Before I could stop her, she had taken off at a brisk pace, running along with ease in her boots, not even a trip or a stumble visible.
I watched for a moment, then moved to keep up, unable to manage to close the gap made by the much fitter young woman sprinting ahead of me.
She ran through a section of the destroyed seating area battlefield, and down around the corner past the restaurant and the pile of dead Kryptonians and into a small hallway and into the ladies restroom.
I stopped at the doorway, which is more than Chris did as he ran in, and when I looked around and consider that there's really no one around to care, I followed her in.
She was staring at a mirror taking up the entire wall above a counter of about three sinks, and her hands resting atop the rosy, marble textured shelf. This was the first time she had really seen herself, aside from the dim reflection in the window of our room, and even then she had her mask on, and there were a few cracks in the window from whatever had happened earlier.
The same face I'd been seeing all day was now looking back at itself. I stood there not making a sound and just watched as she reached up and gave her nose a squeeze, and poked at her cheeks. She turned her face from side to side, looking at every new feature.
After awhile, I held up my camera and snapped another photo of her, again pulling her out of her daze with a jump.
I grinned mischievously. "Sorry, you just looked so cute there staring at yourself."
"Shush. You're right though. I am pretty cute. I wouldn't even know that was me, if not for me being in here. I don't even look like anyone in particular, just...me. Whoever that is. Just some redheaded girl. I almost feel weird calling myself Chris."
"Yeah, well, I'm not quite ready to call you Babs yet. So for now, let us be fortunate that someone had the good fortune of naming you with a name that's pretty gender neutral. I would feel really weird if your name was something like Dave, or Logan."
She turned and stuck her tongue out at me, and didn't turn back to the mirror, but I could see her eyes flick towards it as we continued to talk, trying to catch glimpses of her new self.
"Anyways, that's enough time of me being vain. Do you have any ideas on how to find this mythical Phoenix of yours, Martin?"
I leaned back against the restroom wall with a heavy sigh. "Truth be told, I don't have the slightest clue. In all my running around today, I have not seen any giant blasts of flame that even remotely looked like a bird. The closest I've come is the dragon shooting the helicopter, and that's not very close at all."
"So, you know what needs to be done, but you have no idea where to start?"
"Not a one, really. At the rate we're going, we'd probably end up finding a regular old Jean Grey before we found a Phoenix. And without the ability to rearrange molecules like building blocks on the scale of a cosmic entity, I doubt anything else will do much good. A Phoenix is really our best hope, I think."
Chris listened and gave a nod, "And you get to see a hot redhead in a Phoenix costume."
"I can neither confirm nor deny your suspicion of any ulterior motives on my part. And besides, she could be someone very ill-suited to wearing spandex, there's plenty of them around."
My friend arched a thin, red eyebrow at me, and said, "If the spell can turn a GUY into what you've got standing before you, I'm sure it can make some gal with a few extra pounds look the part of Jean Grey, and make you very happy."
"Hmm, your point is valid, and I accept your theory. Now, let's go find some proof of it, before Pikachu electrcutes someone, or Darth Vader finds the wrong person's lack of faith disturbing."
We left the restroom and returned to the lobby and through to the place we had been, heading down the escalator and moved a level down to the main entryway once more.
"And again I ask, what is your plan?"
"I thought we'd just start asking random people if they've seen a Phoenix."
Without even looking, I could sense Chris was rolling her blue eyes at the comment. "Oh yeah, great plan."