by Erin Griffin
Fandom: Birds of Prey
Pairing: None yet, but knowing, me there will be
Rating: So far, PG-13 for violence and scary images
Summary: The women of the Clocktower are on the look out for a lone wolf while at the same time Dinah tries to keep her secret hidden from a very suspicious Gabby.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in this story. I believe the WB/CW, DC comics and whatever do.
Author's Note: First large story since The Key. I doubt it will be as good, but it will hopefully keep me just as busy. PS, no animals were harmed in the making of this story.
It was one of those days New Gotham didn't get too often, or it seemed that way to Dinah. Then again, it was mid-fall when she became one of the people who went bump and clank in its busy night hours. After all of the darkness that had engulfed her and her Clocktower family in the six or seven months she'd been with them, there was sun, and if she was lucky (and after what she had lived through she believed in little else), it wasn't just literal. Dinah vowed to herself that she wouldn't let anything get her down that sunny Saturday afternoon, as it was the first time in over a month she got to hang out with Gabby due to the aftermath of Harley Quin's attack and then Gabby's new babysitting job and urgent need of a car. The two friends walked companionably down the sidewalk after a nice lunch at an Indian restaurant as they slowly made their way to the movie theater to see Gabby's newest 'celebrity wife' on the big screen. "I'm glad you were free this weekend. I would've died of boredom if you weren't," Gabby said as they rounded the corner.
"We planned this weekend for three weeks. If we weren't free, I'd have murdered someone," Dinah replied digging into her pockets for the twenty dollar bill Barbara had given her as an allowance.
"What are you doing?"
"Getting money out for our tickets." Dinah didn't even attempt to hide the added 'What do you think?' in her look.
"I'll pay for it."
"Uh, no. You bought lunch. I'm getting the tickets." Gabby shook her head in her 'No no honey, you've got it all wrong, how cute' way that often irked Dinah.
"Tell you what, you can pay for the refreshments or whatever. Or we can go get ice-cream after the movie, then we can go to Penny's so you can get more of that sexy lipstick you said you wanted more of."
"I can get that next week. Besides, the more you spend on this stuff, the longer it will take you to get that car," Dinah argued.
"It's no big deal. You get refreshments this time, and I will pay for the tickets. Next time it will be your turn." By that time, they had gotten less than a block away from the movie theater.
"And when 'next time' rolls around, you'll be going off to some women's college or something. You'll be so over Eliza Dushku."
"Dunno... She's smokin'. Anyway, if I'll be eighteen, it'll give you enough time to save up for the occasion, now wouldn't it?" Dinah saw Gabby's version of a 'resolve face', as borrowed from her favorite TV show character, Willow Rosenburg. She knew she wasn't winning this argument.
"Great. Its set. Today for you, tomorrow for me."
"RENT," Dinah guessed, and Gabby grinned.
"In the mean time, you can just call me 'daddy'." Dinah's head swerved to the left to gape at her best friend. She couldn't believe she just heard her say that.
"Gabby!" That only earned Dinah an eyebrow wiggle and a huge mischievous grin to replace the earlier one, but neither girl got out a response past that as they saw Kelly up ahead, who had just exited the theater they were about to enter. She hurried past them, bumping roughly into Gabby's shoulder and then disappeared. Dinah caught her friend. "Hey-" Gabby in turn grabbed Dinah's arm to keep her from confronting Kelly. Dinah stopped in her tracks. "First that Zippergirl bullshit, and now she's being a bitch to you? What is with her?"
"I don't know. She's been sort of weird all school year, even before you got here. She had gone off to camp, and I guess she met some new friends, because even in those first couple of weeks, she barely pretended to tolerate me. Then that Zippergirl comment proved to me that she isn't the same girl I knew. You wouldn't believe me, but she never used to be mean. I used to believe there wasn't a mean bone in her body. I knew then that we'd grown apart and that we weren't meant to be friends anymore." Gabby continued to watch the sidewalk after the girl as she spoke, even though Kelly had long since disappeared.
"I'm sorry," Dinah said softly, and Gabby turned to her.
"C'mon. I promised myself that today would be a good day."
"Me too. I just wish I knew what had happened at camp to make her change like that."
"I don't know. She wouldn't talk to anyone about it, we stopped being friends, and it seems as if she's drawn away from everyone. Especially after that night everyone seemed to go crazy. She's always alone. Though we aren't friends anymore, I still worry about her." Dinah nodded and the two blondes finished the last few yards to the movie theater.
"Two adult tickets, please," Gabby said as Dinah stared at a couple of the movie posters. Once inside, Dinah bought Gabby a bottle of water so that she didn't get dehydrated while salivating over Eliza Dushku ("Thanks, you're such a good friend to look after me like that," Gabby had said sarcastically), and a bag of Reeces Pieces, which made Dinah giggle to herself as she thought of Helena's cop 'friend'. Dinah knew, though, that the candy would end up being shared by the time the previews were through.
"Alright 'Daddy', where do you want to sit?" Gabby let out a giggle that caused a couple of people in the seats they passed look at them. "Okay, if you're thinking of the same sexual reference I am, you better knock it off right now."
"Oh god, Dinah." Gabby took the lead and had them sitting almost right in the middle of the seats. Not too far back, not to far in the front. Dinah approved. The two joked around and tried to answer the trivia ("Sixteen Candles", Helena Montana, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape", and Selma Hiyak) before the previews began and they were forced to shut up. Still, Gabby would poke Dinah or hit her knee whenever she wanted her attention long enough to make the appropriate 'I wanna see that' gestures before going back to the movie screen. When the opening credits first started after the studios involved showed their logos, Dinah heard the typing in the background of her comlink get really fast, which was what Barbara had told her she would use as a code to tell her she was needed anytime during the movie. The young superhero couldn't help but think that her good day was about to go bad. She got up quickly and shrugged at Gabby's weird look.
"I'll be right back, and if you eat my candy, I'll kill you."
"Sure hun," she said dismissively. Dinah hurried out of the theater and walked towards the bathroom, where she had pretended to study various upcoming movies' displays.
<Finally. Look, I wouldn't have bothered you, but there's a disturbance, and it's less than two blocks away from your current location. The disturbance seems to be on one-forty-forth and Cathedral Avenue, but I can't get the security cameras in that area online. All I can get is audio. I can hear screams and... and growling?>
"-growling?!" At that, Dinah ran. 'Screaming and growling?' Never good. When she hit one-forty-third and Cathedral, she saw a woman carrying a crying toddler running towards her.
"DON'T GO THAT WAY! WHA-WOLF!" the woman screamed breathlessly. 'Oh my god,' Dinah thought. She had just barely gotten out of the woman's way before she saw a man running towards her. The teen assumed it was the woman's husband. He had what looked like a piece of lumber, but it seemed too small to do an damage without the man getting hurt in the process. He followed the woman without a word to Dinah, and the teen heard the growling before she saw the wolf. It stood at about three feet with white and black fur, icy blue eyes, and nice, large teeth. 'Why grandma...'
"Shit, I gotta play dog catcher now?!" Dinah asked in her panic.
<Stop cussing, Dinah.>
"If you were staring down a wolf right now, you'd be pissing your pants and every cuss word you know would be stumbling out right about now!" Dinah shot back.
<An actual wolf?> Barbara's voice sounded as if the redhead was trying not to panic as well to calm Dinah down.
"YES!" Dinah put her hand out in front of her as the wolf drew closer, and felt a surge of power shoot from her mind, down her arm, and through her fingertips before it left her body in the form of one of her telekinetic blasts. It knocked the wolf back and gave Dinah room to run, hoping in the back of her mind that no one saw that. The two people who had run that way shouting 'wolf' had scared off anyone else near the area. Still, she had hoped that no one in a building looking out the window or someone in a car going past hadn't seen her. If anyone had, she'd be in for a really, really bad day. The wolf looked confused for a split second before Dinah ran deliberately into one of New Gotham's many, many alleyways. That was the only big move she had, really. Distract, then run somewhere secluded and/or dark alley before continuing the beat down.
The wolf followed Dinah as expected, gaining speed as Dinah slowed to round the corner to the alley. Then she felt it, the pain in her lower calf where the wolf bit her right leg. She looked around for something, anything to throw at it with or without her mind. She saw a glass bottle and reached for it before her mind hurled it at the wolf. It shattered against its side, not enough to really hurt it, but enough to startle it, making it release its grip on Dinah's leg. She felt before she saw the blood running down onto her sock, and she knew she would have to cut the day with Gabby short. Either that, or find some way to change pants and socks and make it back to the movie before Gabby got worried. Unlikely. Dinah was also glad that none of her clothes belonged to Helena or her day would have gotten ten times worse. "Oracle, I'm hurt. Bleeding. I can't go back to Gabby like-" Dinah was cut off by the wolf jumping towards her. Startled, she sent another telekinetic blast at it.
<Get out of there when you can!>
"I'm working on it!" The wolf fell back on to its hind legs for a split second before yet another blast knocked it onto its back. It growled at her, looking ready to jump again, but it had begun to shudder violently. The shuddering stopped as soon as it had begun, but as soon as the wolf regained itself, there seemed to be a look of fear in the wolf's eyes before it ran off, leaving Dinah really confused. "Oracle, the wolf ran off."
<How badly are you hurt?>
"I'm okay, I think. My pants are ripped and blood's seeping through. Hurts to walk a little, but should be okay by Monday. I'm just worried about Gabby and where that wolf went." Dinah sighed and muttered, "I can't continue the day like this." Dinah felt herself getting angry. She really wished Helena could've taken care of the wolf that time. Then she wouldn't be limping out of an alleyway bleeding and getting alarmed and curious looks from the people who saw the wolf go past them. "Come pick me up, please."
<Alright. I'll be there. Stay in the shadows near the movie theater, and do your best to keep your leg hidden in case anyone does see you.>
"Hurry." Dinah did as told and waited twenty minutes at the side of the building. "Knowing secret passages throughout the city would come in really handy right now. This has turned out to be a really bad day," Dinah grumbled. When Barbara approached her, the teen said at her guardian's look, "It looks worse than it feels. Can you tell Gabby that the curry messed with my stomach and that you're taking me home? I think I saw her leaving the theater looking for me."
"I'm sorry your day was ruined," she murmured as she inspected Dinah's leg. "Looks like that wolf didn't get your Achilles tendon. That's good. Like you said, you should be okay by the middle of next week at the latest." Dinah refused to respond to that as Barbara used her first aid kit to clean up the blood and put a basic bandage on until they got back to the Clocktower. "I'll let her know. I parked at the end of the block. I'll meet you there." Dinah nodded and watched as Barbara went into the movie theater at the same time Gabby had. She caught Gabby's eye before looking down and walking the other way towards the car. She could faintly hear Barbara's voice, then Gabby's. She could almost hear the sceptical tone when there was a shout of 'Get better, Dinah!' behind her. Dinah didn't want to face Gabby then, so she just raised her hand in acknowledgement. When she got to the jeep, she leaned against it and waited for Barbara to meet up with her. "She didn't believe me."
"I wasn't sure she would. We eat at that curry place all the time. It is our favorite place, and I have gotten the same thing every time we've gone there." Barbara nodded as she unlocked both doors and got in to her side. As Dinah waited for the redhead to get situated and start the car, she buckled her seatbelt and looked out the window. As they passed Gabby, Dinah felt the heavy guilt within her and tried to tell her friend with her eyes that she was sorry. For everything.
After taking a shower, a couple of pain killers, and a nap, Dinah no longer wished to murder the wolf, but she still wanted to know where it came from, where it went, and most importantly, why it shook so violently. She was put on bed rest after they'd gotten back, and Alfred brought her dinner in bed as well as a pencil and paper on a clipboard 'so you can still do your English homework, Miss Dinah', he'd said with his superior look. Not that she minded. It wasn't like she had anything better to do now that her day with Gabby was cancelled.
Dinah's third period English teacher, Mr. Watanabe, wanted them to think about a summery for a short story over the weekend and put it in at least six sentences. That she could do, and she did it in less than ten minutes. She'd decided the day before when she got the assignment that she was going to write a short descriptive story about a jogger. Nothing really huge and involved as far as an actual plot goes, but it'd be enough to fill the required two to five pages later in the week. When she'd finished that, she had to lie back and try to take another nap to make the time go by, though she suspected she would be stuck in bed all day the next day as well. Her mind wouldn't stop thinking about the wolf, and instinct told her that something was different about it, but instinct wasn't in the mood to be specific about it, either. The wolf looked like it may have been sick. Why else would it have shuddered so violently, almost as if it was having a seizure? Did animals even get seizures? She'd have to look it up.
Later that afternoon, Barbara came into the Dinah's room to check up on her. "How do you feel?"
"Like I got bit in the leg by a wild animal?" Dinah guessed sarcastically, which made Barbara give her the Look.
"Alright, alright. I know you're mad about today, and I'm so sorry it had to end after you've been looking forward to it." Dinah sighed.
"It's not your fault. You didn't bite me. This is part of the job, and I chose it. I just don't want to be stuck in bed for the rest of the weekend." Dinah pushed away the odd thought of Barbara shooting from her wheelchair and locking her jaw on her arm, drawing blood.
"You need to keep off of that leg if you want it to heal by Monday."
"I promise I will. I just don't want to be stuck in here all night wondering about that wolf." Barbara thought for a moment before nodding.
"Are you willing to compromise with me?"
"I still want you in bed. You want things to do other than homework. How about I set up a laptop and hook it to the wall? This means you can go online. Now, I want you to do a little bit of a research assignment for me about that wolf you encountered today. I want to know the type of wolf you fought, anything and everything you can find on wolves in general, especially that one, and I want you to write me a page stating hypothesis, any that you might have about the wolf you fought, where it came from, where you'd look for it, if you think it is still a threat-"
"I would think it is still a threat, Barbara. Wolf, remember, not a wild rabbit."
"Either way," she pressed on, "this assignment should keep you busy for a while, but it is your top priority, okay? Finish that, and then- Only then can you goof off and chat or whatever. Sound good?"
"Yeah. That sounds like a fun project." Barbara nodded after she found there was no sarcasm in Dinah's remark, and left the room, coming back a little bit later with the promised laptop and Internet cable, which she hooked into the wall.
"I'll be looking through my databases for anything amiss that may be related to this. I'm also doing a bit of spring cleaning on the Delphi, otherwise I would be doing all of this myself. I'll be checking your page history every so often, so you better be working on that assignment." Dinah nodded and Barbara copied this motion. "Good. If there's anything else you need, Alfred is near by, so you can just yell." Another nod from Dinah, then Barbara wheeled out.
"Oh... kay..." Dinah murmured as she waited for the laptop to start up. She thought of her questions of the wolf. The first one was 'Why was a wolf running around the middle of New Gotham's streets, and where did it come from?' Okay, make that the first two. So, the quest began with Dinah searching the recent news. If the wolf had somehow escaped from a sanctuary or zoo, it'd be known by the news with a look out warning, right? She looked first at the news, then searched for sanctuaries in all the surrounding states. Her search came up short. "If no one is missing a wolf from a safe place, then is it truly wild?" Dinah asked out loud after saving the page that listed wolf sanctuaries and wildlife reserves, which got her looking first for the type of wolf (arctic), then for its habitat. "No, this type of wolf usually lives in like Alaska and Canada. What the hell would it be doing all the way over here? Surely someone would've spotted it and called animal control?" Dinah really had hoped it'd come from a sanctuary. It would have made things really easy. At least then it had a place to go and they'd have medications for whatever sickness the wolf has. 'Could it be,' she wondered, 'that some weird people kept this wolf as an illegal pet and it escaped after suffering some neglect and abuse?' If so, she'd have to take a deeper look on the Delphi if Barbara would let her go near it. She made note of it on her Word document that would soon become her little report for her guardian.
I couple of hours later, she still had no clue as to where her particular wolf had come from, but she had some theories as to where to look for it. Still, she could only put down what she could about wolves and their packs. The only thing she'd come up with for possible sickness in a wild wolf was rabies, but Dinah saw no foaming at the mouth, and the symptoms for it didn't match the behavior of the wolf she fought off. Dinah spent another half an hour typing up her thought process through her searches and what she'd found as a result into organized sentences. She concluded the research by saying she couldn't find anything and was even more curious about the wolf. Other than the small report about the wolf that Reece managed to tuck under the rug, there was no publicity on the attacks, and from what Dinah could tell, no one caught her using her powers and fighting off the wolf in broad daylight. Lucky. Plus, there had been no further sightings, which pulled at Dinah. She wasn't sure how to feel about that. "This is too weird," Dinah muttered. "Where the heck are you? What is wrong with you?" She sighed, looking over her paper one last time with the spell checker, and saved it in a file titled Wolf Research. She saved them again to a disk before she logged into her favorite chat service. Even before any smiles could load up, Gabby was on her.
<cat_bird_thing> Hey Gabby. Sorry about ditching you 2day. I got really sick. Must've been the curry.
<lesbi_friend16> We eat th@ shit all the time. You <3 it.
<cat_bird_thing> Must have disagreed with the Reece's Pieces.
There was a long pause.
<lesbi_friend16> We planned today for weeks and suddenly ur 'sick'? I don't think so. If u'd made other plans and forgot about it, or if u just didn't want 2 hang with me u should've told me instead of being a bitch and lying about it.
Before Dinah could reply, there was another message from Gabby. 'Damn, she's fast,' Dinah thought as she tried to grasp what Gabby was saying. How could she think Dinah didn't want to hang out with her?
<lesbi_friend16> And it wasn't the goddamn candy bc u never even opened it, so grow a pair and call me when ur ready 2 tell me the truth.
Again, Dinah tried to put in a word, to explain or say she was sorry and that she wanted to be there, but Gabby had logged off or gone invisible. "Damn it!!" Dinah shut the laptop and set it somewhat roughly on the side table. She stared at her wrapped leg. Glared at it, really. "I hate being a superhero," she muttered hotly.
"You'll get over it," said a voice she really didn't want to hear at the moment, and that almost cocky tone to it didn't help the situation or her mood at all. Dinah shifted her glare to Helena, who stood at her doorway. "Whooh!" Helena said, looking as if she was about to fall over at Dinah's look.
"Sure, just as soon as I wrap my mind around the fact that being a superhero means I don't get any friends."
"Aw," Helena said, though Dinah knew she was being a brat. "I will be your friend. Just stay away from my leathers and we'll be the best of buddies."
"Oh yeah, my life just got better," Dinah retorted, turning her head to the walls of the room, then gazing at the laptop. She sighed again, teenage angst filling her mind. "Well, I got nothin'. You?"
"I swept the area, and I found nothin', too," Helena said. "Hey," she added seriously, "I'm sorry I wasn't there." Dinah shrugged off her adopted sister's apology, knowing that if Helena could have been there, she would have been. "I still feel badly that-"
"Stop. I don't need a guilt trip from you right now. What I need is to find that wolf before it hurts anyone else and to find a way to may this weekend up to Gabby so she doesn't hate me forever. Your 'woe is me' isn't helping." Helena nodded, looking surprised, and then she slowly walked to Dinah's bed and stretched out next to her, being careful and minding Dinah's leg as she situated herself. She ignored Dinah's look as she grabbed the laptop and opened it, getting it out of sleep mode. Then she handed it to her sister.
"Alright. Tell me everything. Tell me how it all happened, then tell explain your research that Barbara told me about." Dinah did so, telling Helena everything as she remembered it, adding in details she had forgotten previously onto the research paper and saving the changes to both the hard drive and the disk. Helena listened, adding in her usual snarky comment here and there, and the older metahuman told Dinah what she had found on her sweep, which was nothing other than a guy who had been trying to break into a parking meter. Helena suspected that the guy would have gotten away with it, too, if she hadn't scared him so badly. From what it sounded like, there seemed to have been no indication that the wolf was on the move. If it were, Helena would have known. The fact that they were both confused worried the blonde. "Hey, maybe it went into hiding after you knocked it around a little bit," Helena suggested after seeing the crease of worry on Dinah's face. "We'll get it."
"I hope so," Dinah replied, but she didn't sound too convinced.
Dinah didn't see Gabby on Monday morning by the flagpole where they usually met, and she wasn't sure if she expected to, either. Though Dinah had given Gabby a call a couple of times on Sunday, her parents had said she was at church with a friend, and when she called back later, she had spent the rest of the afternoon at said friend's house. Though she had left a message and her contact number both times she called, she had gotten no reply. Obviously, Gabby was still angry with her, and never being on the receiving end of her friend's fury, she was unsure just how long her position on the shit list was going to be, nor exactly how high up there she was.
Another concern of hers was the fact that though Helena had searched all day that Sunday for any signs left of the wolf, dead animal bones and remains, small places of panic- anything, she again came up with nothing. This led the Clocktower family to guess that it was wild and had found a way home (though Dinah highly doubted that, considering what she had found in her research), or its sickness prevented it from leaving its hiding spot, and if it was that bad off, then the wolf had little hope for survival, anyway. Though the wolf was responsible for the limp she still had, she didn't like the thought of the wolf dying out there alone and away from anything familiar, especially if a vet or zookeeper could care for it and then return it to its pack. Not knowing where it had gone made it especially difficult to attempt to save it.
Walking up one step to New Gotham High School's entry doors, Dinah felt a sense of dread as she felt a slight pain in her calf where she'd been bitten. "No..." Dinah moaned, knowing she had many more steps to climb. She looked around instead and used the wheelchair ramp, which didn't help a whole lot, but it was still better than using the stairs. The only class she had with Gabby was art in fifth period, so she had to wait until their shared lunch to know for sure what her best friend thought of her at the moment, though her not showing up at the flagpole gave Dinah a pretty good guess. "Hey Dinah, what happened?" Dinah looked up to see that Matt Kendal was holding the door open for her.
"Thanks. Eh- it's nothing. I tripped over myself when I was running this weekend. I think I'd landed on some glass or something," she lied, then added another, "Thanks" when she passed him.
"No big," he replied, and walked with her down the hall until she got to her locker. "See ya."
"Bye Matt," she called after him. She didn't watch him go with that dreamy look in her eye as she may have had if the incident occurred six months prior, and a part of her found that rather amusing. "How pathetic I was."
"And I see that not much has changed from that." Dinah jumped and moved her locker door in order to see her friend standing before her, eyeing her suspiciously. Dinah tried her best not to look guilty, but she suspected her attempts failed as she swallowed and put her backpack in her locker.
"Hey," she said cautiously, testing the waters. She wasn't sure what to expect, even though Gabby was talking to her.
"Hi." Gabby sighed, and it sounded as if all the fight had left her. "I saw you walking in here with Matt. Limping more like. What happened?" The superhero knew that Gabby was giving her a chance to tell the truth, but she just couldn't. Not all of it, anyway, so she did what she could to get as close as possible.
"I told Matt that I was running and fell on some glass, but that wasn't true." Gabby's look softened a little bit. "My phone was set on vibrate at the theater. My family and you are the only ones who know the number, and I only get calls from them if it was an emergency. So when the phone went off, it had to be an emergency, right? Well, it was Helena. She was pissed that I had borrowed one of her shirts and demanded that I return it because she wanted to wear it to some club or something. If I didn't, she'd beat the shit out of me. So I left the theater to meet up with her to exchange shirts, and on the way, there was this stray dog running loose. It attacked me, and got my leg." Gabby's eyes widened when she heard this. "Look, I didn't want to worry you. I had to call Barbara and get home or to the hospital or something, but I didn't want to make your day a bad day like mine was."
"My day turned bad as soon as you left. Look, we're friends, Dinah. I don't care if it would freak me out. I just want to know the truth. The fact is, when you hide things from me, that is what freaks me out more than anything can. You can tell me anything. Don't lie to me again, okay?"
"Okay," Dinah said, though she knew that she would have to again, just hopefully not that day. "Hey, I tried to call you. To tell you, but you weren't home when I called both times." It was Dinah's turn to silently ask what happened.
"Yeah, it was the strangest thing. Kelly called me and wanted to go to church together. That was how we had originally met, at youth group. We would hang out there and at certain events the church held, but we went to different middle schools, so it was hard to see each other outside of that, though we would try to on the weekends and in the summers. I guess she wanted to see a familiar face when she went because I haven't been going for a while and we are the last of the original group that went when we had both started. She seemed persistent. I had wanted to just stay home and steam about our weekend, but she came over and convinced me, and once we were there, it was just silence between us. And when she was there, she prayed the whole time. I mean, usually, we mess around before we get down to business and pray." Dinah nodded.
"I hope this means you're friends again."
"Doubt it. She's changed so much this year."
"But you went to her house afterwards. That has to be a good sign."
"There was something off about her. She seemed... I don't know... Spacey. Totally out of it when we got back. She seemed okay when I saw her today though, unlike you." The warning bell cut off anything else Dinah was to say. "I'll see you at lunch, Gimpy."
"Hey!" Gabby laughed and was gone. Dinah closed her locker with her three ring binder for Math and English tucked under her arm.
That afternoon, Dinah took a walk around the sidewalks near the Clocktower while Helena went for one last search for the wolf. Even sick, they knew it had to eat. If there was still no signs of it, then the trio would have to give up and go back to working on other things. After an hour, Dinah decided to start walking back. <Dinah? Kid, what's your position?>
"I'm on Masterson Street, heading back to the Clocktower, why?"
<I think I see something heading down Seventeenth. It's fast, Dinah. I can't keep up with it even up top, so be careful if it gets near you.> Dinah walked at a slightly quicker pace to get back, trying her best to ignore the irritation of her leg. She was near where the named streets turned to numbered streets, and wondered how long it would take for her to get to seventeenth avenue. About five minutes later, she saw it, and it saw her. There was what looked like fear in its eyes, not unlike when it had run away on Saturday. It stopped right away when it saw her, and Dinah felt herself tensing up. The wolf's ears went down, as did its tail, tucking between its back legs, and it scrunched down, its belly nearing the sidewalk as it crawled closer.
<Are you alright? What's happening?> she asked at the same time Helena asked,
<I saw it stopping. What's going on?>
"Good dog," Dinah said nervously, then told her mentors what she was seeing.
<It's submissive behavior is rather odd.> Barbara murmured.
<Well, she DID smack it around on last time, so maybe, not being from around here, Dinah showed it who's boss and it thinks Dinah's its alpha or that this territory's hers or something.> Helena's voice had a smirk in it, and Dinah groaned.
"Well, at least it isn't attacking me at the moment, so you got any ideas on what to do?" Dinah stupidly knelt down to somehow show she wasn't going to hurt the wolf, and it quickly scooted passively to her and licked her hand, quickly showing respect before it backed away.
<Aw. Can we keep him?>
"Shut up," Dinah responded somewhat harshly.
<Dinah?> When Barbara spoke, the wolf's ears twitched. <Dinah listen up. No fast movements. I want you to keep the wolf there with you. I just called animal control.>
"I'll try, but if the TK fails, the best I could do is gimp it to death." That earned her a hearty laugh through the coms from Helena.
<Don't worry Kid, I'll give chase.>
"As long as you don't get caught by animal control," Dinah said teasingly.
The wolf looked at odds of what to do, go back the way it had come from or try to pass the girl before it. Both options were unfavourable; it didn't want to attempt either, but the choice was to either go back and be hunted by the feline human who was above her, or go forward and face its alpha. Both were deadly, and it knew that both weren't anything like it had experienced. It knew as well that it had to leave before it began to shake again. The wolf knew nothing of the hunter above it and had escaped the human before it, alpha or not, so its only chance for escape for certain was to go forward. Slowly, it inched forward and Dinah put her hand up in defense.
Dinah kept her hand up, ready to use her power if the wolf were to attack her, but its passive manner sort of took her aback. She had expected it to want to finish what it had started that weekend, to get some sort of revenge and try to finish her, but instead it acted like her dog about to be punished. Part of her really wanted to let it go, but Helena was watching and would question her, not to mention the fact that if provoked, the wolf would go on the attack, if not on her then someone who couldn't protect themselves as well as she could, and Dinah wouldn't have been able to handle that guilt. Suddenly, it shot towards Dinah's side, as if to get past her. Dinah, startled, sent a telekinetic blast its way, but it caught the wolf in its side, which pushed it into the street. The wolf continued on, going back onto the sidewalk and towards Holt Avenue. "Helena?"
<I'm on it.>
<What happened, you lose the wolf?> Barbara asked in a disappointed voice that pissed Dinah off.
"Yeah, it got away. It just ran off, too quick for me to stop it with my powers," the blonde responded, wondering if deep down, or maybe not so deep, she had missed the wolf on purpose. She watched as the wolf got further away, getting smaller and smaller. It stopped suddenly, then, even from how far Dinah was, she saw it hunch down and shake just as it had that Saturday. Dinah's eyes narrowed as the wolf looked up at Helena, who looked ready to jump down on it. It shot off again and Helena followed. Soon they were both out of sight, and Dinah had no choice but to go back to the Clocktower and wait with Barbara for word from Helena.
"You feeling okay?" Barbara asked when Dinah entered the Delphi area ten minutes later.
"Leg's sore, but I'm fine." The redhead motioned for her to sit down, then went back to the monitors.
<I'm still giving chase, Oracle, but the wolf has a good lead on me.> Helena sounded out of breath when she spoke.
"Do what you can. Maybe it will stop again and give you time to catch up to it," Barbara responded.
<Got it.> What followed was the sound of Helena breathing and occasionally grunting as Dinah assumed the feline meta jumped the larger buildings. All they could do was wait. Alfred, who had remained for some reason or another (no one ever asked anymore, as he always had a shrug in his voice as he said 'you girls still need care'), brought Dinah an ice pack, which she accepted gratefully. She unwrapped her bandages to inspect them. The bite was healing well, even without Helena's quick healing power. It should be a scab for the next few days, then a small scar afterwards. <Oracle, I lost it. Nothing here but a night jogger or two. They seem okay, so no wolf sighting here.>
"Damn it," Dinah said, then covered her mouth. Barbara glared at her in the silent warning to watch it. The teen wondered if Barbara was angry with her for losing the wolf again.
"It's not your fault," she said, though she wasn't sure if it was directed at her or at Helena over the comms. "This wolf is fast. Too fast. I don't like it." Barbara fell silent as she looked through the databases. Dinah wasn't sure what she was looking for, but she knew the redhead wasn't finding it.
Twenty-five minutes later, Helena came back looking disgruntled and tired. "I don't like this," she said, repeating Barbara's earlier words. "It was headed straight for New Gotham Park. I get there and nothin'. I almost knocked this girl down along the way in search for it. If she hadn't seen that wolf, then where did it go? I'm not sure what we're dealing with."
"I don't know, a smart wolf? Fast wolf? This is enough to be our top priority. Dinah, I am gonna need a copy of your little report. Everything we have on anything wolf related might help." Barbara said, sounding somewhat hard. Both metahumans knew that if Barbara couldn't figure it out, they were screwed.
Dinah woke up the next morning more than an hour before the alarm clock was set to wake her. Though she tried , she couldn't get in that last hour, and she knew that her life was going to be hell that day. Looking around her room, she eyes stopped at her backpack, where the story summary was. The day before when she'd turned it in, she had gotten a nod from Mr. Watanabe, who then told her that it needed a title. That the right title would make the world of difference to the story, but Dinah couldn't think of anything. Slowly, she got out of bed and moved to the desk. Her rough draft was due that day, and she hadn't done it because of the excitement of the wolf hunt the night before. This gave her an idea, and she took out two fresh pieces of paper from her three ring binder and began to write furiously as the jogger became a wolf, running for something, running away from something, running out of time.
Her hand moved swiftly across the pages, filling the lines with descriptions of 'her' wolf, describing the objects the wolf jumped over, ducked under, swerved around with great agility, the scents and sights in the air, the sound of the wolf's breathing... Dinah was almost convinced she was that wolf. After her second reread of the story, she still couldn't figure out what to use as a title for her story. She tucked her homework into her divider and continued to think as she went into the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. Then she poured a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Slowly, around six forty-five, Helena began to stir while Dinah listened to the sound of running water, which meant that Barbara would be out there and grateful for the coffee within ten minutes. Dinah's mind went from her story to the night before, which wasn't a complicated transition considering the subject matter for both.
After breakfast and coffee, Dinah took her own shower and both her and Barbara headed toward New Gotham High School, where the blonde was glad to see Gabby at the flagpole reading one of the Narnia books while she waited. Grabbing her backpack from the back of the Jeep, she felt eyes on her, but when she looked around, Gabby was engrossed in the book, and no one seemed at all interested in Zippergirl at all. Barbara was transferring herself into her chair, and even if she was watching her, she was trained enough that Dinah wouldn't know it, anyway. No one else was paying her any mind, and yet Dinah still felt as if she was being watched. She shrugged it off and hurried towards the flagpole after throwing a 'see you after school' to her guardian.
"Hey Gimpy. Feel any better today?" Gabby greeted.
"Stop calling me that. It makes me feel like I have to start calling you Ren or something."
"That would be Stimpy, Gimpy," Gabby replied. Dinah rolled her eyes. "Your limp isn't as noticeable today," she murmured, looking Dinah over.
"Yeah, leg feels better today. So, you ready to go inside, or you want to stay out here a little longer?"
"Let's go in." Dinah and Gabby walked to Dinah's locker, then to Gabby's before they walked to Gabby's first period math class, which was right next door to Dinah's first period math class. When Dinah entered the classroom, she saw her seat and sat down. Almost right behind her was Kelly, who took her seat two rows away to the right. As she watched her somewhat bully, Dinah saw she kept her head looking straight ahead, but from where she sat, Dinah knew she was still aware of everything else in her surroundings, but chose not to acknowledge it. Dinah then realized that Kelly hadn't even looked at her much less call her Zipper Girl, when before, she never would have passed up the opportunity to do so. Dinah tried to ignore the part of her (the very, very microscopic part of her) that felt sort of robbed, as if by not calling her by that 'nickname', Kelly was taking something away from her identity. 'Is it possible,' Dinah wondered, 'that I actually miss her calling me Zipper Girl?' Dinah continued to watch Kelly until the bell rang, signaling the start of class.
Two and a half hours later, Dinah walked to Mr. Watanabe's classroom and put her paper in the 'In' bin on her teacher's desk before taking her seat at the furthest row corner next to the door. She watched people pass by, and got a wave from Matt and Barbara during the three minutes she waited for class. Dinah then focused her attention to her teacher, a large Samoan man in his late thirties, early forties at the oldest, who was writing what Dinah knew was the day's five vocabulary words. When the bell rang, Mr. Watanabe looked at his seating chart, then at two girls near the back, who were still whispering. "I warned you two," he said in his usual good natured tone, "so I will have..." He clicked his tongue a couple of times as he scanned the seating chart, "Janel, switch places with Lauren for the rest of the week. If on Monday, you're still little chatter bugs, it will be permanent." Janel, a heavy set African American girl got up, and Dinah heard Dimitri, a guy who made fun of the likes of her, start laughing. Dinah glared at him, which surprisingly caused the boy to shut up. Dinah didn't know the punk girl all that well. No one did, actually, but she knew what it felt like to be teased and to be called a freak when they think you can't hear them. Janel wasn't even a freak. She dressed in black, tattered clothing and often sported a 'don't fuck with me' aura. She could be considered a punk, but she didn't hang out with any of the punk kids in the school, and was often seen alone.
While the class copied down the vocabulary words, Mr. Watanabe looked through his small stack of maybe ten short stories and sighed. He'd hoped for more. "Well, since it is a nice day today, I'm going to reward those who did the assignment by giving them a choice. You can go outside and relax for the period as long as you stay by the window and in my sight, go to the library for computer time, or stay here and have a study period. The rest of you will get this extra time to finish your homework." A hand or two raised. "Yes Jacob?"
"If no one else can hear it, can we listen to music as we worked?" Mr. Watanabe considered this, knowing that a good portion of his students did work well by themselves when working to music.
"Only if you promise to have the assignment done by the end of class. If not, I'm never letting you listen to anything but country again." Jacob nodded as a couple of students groaned at the thought of country music while they tried to work, and even Dinah couldn't suppress her own cringe. "Okay... Melinda, Roland, Danny R. and Dani B., Janel, Becky, Dinah, Dimitri, Scott, Mary, and Leo, you all have a free period. Those of you who wish to leave the classroom, come to me for a pass." Dinah as well as the rest of the students called got up and grabbed their backpacks. Leo, a short freshman, Janel, and who Dinah guessed was Mary, all followed her to Mr. Watanabe's desk for a library pass while the other seven students got a separate pass for the small grassy area near the window. They all stuck together until the seven split for the outdoors, and the other four continued on in a small group, making sure their pass was in view to appease the hallway patrol.
Dinah decided that then would be a great time to look for more information on wolves, which would help both her assignment for school as well as her own personal research for her night life. As she browsed the wildlife section, she saw a couple of books on wolves, one specifically on North American Wolves and one on wolves in general. She sat down at a table near Janel, who looked up at her then at the books she was looking through before she went back to her notebook, which looked to be filled with poetry and doodles of band logos. Dinah hadn't gotten much further than that second page when a folded piece of paper flew over the top of her book, hit her chest, then fell to the table top. Dinah looked up to see Janel watching her, before she set the closed book down and opened the piece of paper.
'If you're doing a research paper on wolves, I can help you. Wolves are my favorite animal.'
Dinah thought the offer through, then shrugged. She dug into her backpack for a mechanical pencil and wrote out her reply: 'My short story is about a wolf. Maybe you can help me. I've searched the Internet already but couldn't find what I need. I know that common sicknesses for a wolf is rabies, but what could be wrong with it if it violently shakes and shudders?' The blonde reached over and set the paper on the edge of the table Janel was at and went back to her book. Five pages later, when Dinah was learning a little bit more about a wolf's position in their pack, the folded piece of paper hit her again, this time on the forehead. Dinah looked at Janel, who giggled, then mouthed 'Sorry.' The blonde opened the piece of paper and again sighed at what she read.
'I can't think of anything that would cause violent shivers in wolves other than seizures, or something else caused by parasites. Please don't kill off the wolf in your story. Please. That's just sad.'
Dinah shook her head, hopefully letting the other girl know that she wasn't planning to, but the African American girl shrugged.
'I don't plan on killing off the wolf, but in the middle of the wolf's run, it shivers. The whole story is just the wolf running, but I am leaving it up to the reader what it is running to or from and why. Same goes for why it stopped and what caused the violent shivers. I just want to know if there is something that would do that to a wolf.'
Dinah set the paper on the edge of Janel's table again and froze when Miss Dominique, the school's librarian, walked by and spotted her. She didn't say anything, but she did raise an eyebrow at them before continuing on towards the computers, where Leo had asked for assistance with his log-in problem. Since they were there on a free period and were being quiet, she couldn't do anything and make it a big deal. She was just a little suspicious as to why they were two tables apart if they were to be passing notes to one another. Since both were good students, she decided to let it go.
Dinah looked back in her book and found that when a wolf had licked her hand, it was a form of respect for its dominant, and felt confused because she was so sure that being in New Gotham and being away form home, it was a lone wolf. She hated the thought that Helena was actually right. Was the wolf trying to form its own pack in New Gotham, since it had roamed too far away from its home? The piece of paper soared through the air again, but was caught by Dimitri, who was walking by. "Love notes?" he whispered, unfolding the note.
"Give it back," Dinah hissed.
"Problem?" asked Miss Dominique, who looked between Dimitri and Dinah.
"No..." Dimitri said, "Dinah dropped this and I was just returning it to her." It was an obvious lie, but no harm was done as he tossed it on the table, hitting Dinah's hand.
"Good lad," the librarian said. "Move along, then. Your good deed is done." Dinah wasn't too mad about the scene, as there was nothing about the note worth hiding. She looked down at what Janel wrote.
'Sounds good. Will you let me read it after you've gotten the final draft back from Mr. W?' Dinah looked up and nodded. Janel smiled, and then they went back to their own projects until Miss Dominique sent them back to class ten minutes before the bell rang.
"Dinah?" Mr. Watanabe motioned for Dinah to come closer. "I just wanted to tell you that I enjoyed reading your story."
"Uh, thank you. I'm still thinking about the title, but I'm not sure it any of my ideas so far really fit." Her teacher smiled.
"Well, keep thinking. I like this. It gives me chills." Dinah smiled back at her teacher.
"Thank you," she said again. With that, she took her rough draft with her to rewrite on the computer, and walked to her science lab class, where she saw Kelly writing on a piece of paper before she realized it was the worksheet they had been given the day before. 'Did I even do it?' she asked herself. She had started it the day before during class, but never finished it. 'Shit!' she thought, angry with herself. She'd been so caught up in the hunt for the wolf that she didn't even do it in the free period she'd gotten. However, when she had dug through her backpack for her worksheet, she sighed when she realized just why she hadn't finished it the day before. On the front were questions about a situation and asking for her hypothesis based on general knowledge on the subject as well as the other information provided by the worksheet. She had filled that part out the day before, and on the back was the instructions for the lab and then a few more questions asking if the lab went as planned, if certain variables had changed how would it have affected its outcome, and a conclusion paragraph. Dinah could tell as she read the instructions for the lab that she'd have to partner up with somebody, a thought that made her wish she could get bitten by that wolf again instead. She didn't have any other friends than Gabby, and she wasn't even in a science class that semester for some reason.
Mrs. Cruz, her science teacher took roll after the bell rang, and gave Adam Yancy a disapproving look when he came in. Luckily for him, she hadn't yet called his name. Then she explained the lab, saying they could choose their lab partner. When Dinah didn't move, nor did Kelly when the class made a mad dash to partner up with friends, Mrs. Cruz looked between them. "Kelly. Dinah. You two partner up. If it was safe to work on the lab alone, I'd let you."
Before Dinah knew it, Kelly sat timidly next to her, but neither girl said anything. As Dinah fired up the Bunsen burner, Kelly put on the gloves and filled the beaker to the desired mark with water. After a while, Dinah met Kelly's eye and noticed for the first time how light they were. 'She doesn't seem to be the type to have eyes so light,' she thought as she looked at the rest of her face, then away. Even as she thought it, she knew it was a silly thought to have. "Look, uh..." Kelly spoke after a good ten minutes of silence between them, "I'm sorry, you know, for being mean to you before." Dinah shrugged it off, though she was a little surprised by this.
"I've been through worse. I don't care," she said, even though she did care, and she felt glad that Kelly was trying to make amends, if only to get them through their lab peacefully.
"You haven't, like... been molested as a child or something have you?" Dinah shot Kelly a searing glare. "I'm just asking," she said defensively.
"Not that it is any of your business," Dinah said coolly, which caused Kelly's gaze to return to the beaker over the fire, "no. Nothing like that. I've just... been through worse. A couple of 'Zippergirl' comments from you is the least of my problems, and frankly, I would have thought a girl like you would have been able to come up with something a little bit better to insult me." Dinah winced as she heard her own words. She didn't mean to be so mean back. Kelly was trying to apologize and she snapped. "I'm sorry-"
"Fine," Kelly said in a small voice. She didn't sound angry, which was different. "Just tell me we're even."
"I harassed you with the Zippergirl comment and you just had your say. Just... Tell me we're even, okay?"
"Okay. We're even." Dinah studied Kelly for a moment, hoping she would look up at her and explain something with her eyes, but she never did, and Dinah was forced to go back to writing down the results of their tests on her work sheet.
That night, Dinah thought about her little 'wolf problem' as she sat down to do her homework after an evening sweeps. Helena had cut it short for Dinah because after jumping a fence to go after a mugger, her pants caught and her wound opened up again, making it mandatory to go back to the Clocktower to get it cleaned and bandaged up again. It wasn't even nine o'clock when she got her leg wrapped up again. She then sat in the Delphi area, listening to the playful banter between Oracle and Huntress as she opened up a Word document for her story. When the banter died down as Helena made her way to the New Gotham/Bludhaven city borders where it was nicer and had less crime, a long low sound could be heard from one of the monitors where various security cameras were mainly on visual with very little sound. Barbara put Helena on standby and opened up the security feed. What Dinah heard next made her gasp. A sorrowful howl sounded. 'Arooooooo-ruh!' It came again and again. Barbara tried to see where it was coming from. "Forth and Hennessey, but Helena can't get there in time."
"It sounds so... lonely, like it's hoping someone, anyone will hear it and join its pack," the blonde said softly.
"If we can get it back to where it came from..." Dinah looked at her document and saw that her story was over halfway typed so far. She clicked the floppy disk icon at the top of the screen, scrolled to the top of the document and typed: 'Crying Wolf, by Dinah Lance'. That was what the howls sounded like to her, crying. A deep set loneliness and sorrow that would take a long time to heal, if it could even be healed at all. There was one final howl that was shaky, as if the wolf had its violent shivers in the middle of it, then there was silence. "Eerie. Helena, I'm back."
<Everything okay over there?>
"Uh, yeah. The wolf was making itself known on the other side of town."
<Really?> There was heavy interest in Helena's voice. She seemed almost disappointed that she wasn't closer to investigate.
"Dinah suggested it was calling out to its pack, but from what we've seen, it is a lone wolf."
<I thought it had claimed Dinah as its alpha. Why didn't she answer the call of the wild?>
"Dinah's here you know, and she's perfecting her look of death at the moment. If you were here right now, you would be a pile of goo."
<'Pile of goo'? Is that the scientific term?>
"No, it is just a term you would understand."
Dinah tuned out whatever reply Barbara had as she went back to typing up her second draft. 'Crying Wolf' seemed to be the perfect title for her story. At first glance, anyone would look at it and assume Dinah was referring to the fairytale about the boy who cried wolf, when she was actually thinking of the pain the wolf was in. It was the perfect play on words. The title now where it belonged on the page, the blonde seemed to have renewed energy for her story, and her typing got a little bit faster as she finished it up and used her spell check to the saved document. Then the sound of the printer spitting out a hard copy of it was heard. When she looked at Barbara, she noticed that it was quiet over the comms. "Where's Helena?"
"She went home for the night." Dinah nodded.
"I'm going to turn in." Barbara returned the blonde's nod, taking a quick glance at the teen's leg before going to the various monitors and putting the Delphi system on standby. Dinah got her printed short story from the printer and then went to her room, bidding her guardian good night.
Kelly sat next to Dinah in the library, looking over their lab worksheet. Dinah could feel Kelly's eyes on her, but she concentrated on the homework, comparing her handwriting to that of the girl next to her. It was scratchy, not quite neat as she had expected from someone like Kelly. The words were written almost carelessly, which was odd to her. Dinah suddenly looked up into familiar eyes and found she couldn't look away. Kelly's eyes were so beautiful, a thought she'd had a thousand times that week, and would continue to think until she died. That hunger was back, and Dinah found herself wanting to kiss Kelly. She leaned in, then pulled away quickly, regaining herself for a split second. When Kelly leaned into her, Dinah couldn't seem to fight it. Their lips met, and Dinah felt that it was exactly as she'd imagined her heart to feel, her lips, everything. As soon as they mutually broke apart, Kelly nudged Dinah's cheek with her nose in an odd but pleasant cuddle-
Dinah sucked in air as she sat up in bed, her heart racing at the speed of light at the very real images her brain had conjured up. Once there, the reminance of the dream stuck to her, replaying over and over as her heart refused to settle down. Her alarm clock said it hadn't even reached four in the morning, and Dinah groaned before laying her head back onto her pillows. She hated the familiar feeling she got whenever she'd had one of her precognitive dreams. It was going to come true, and she didn't want to kiss Kelly of all people, she didn't want to feel the way her dream was making her feel, and most importantly, she didn't want to secretly wish it really would happen. She lie still in bed, but she did not sleep. Her mind relived the dream once more, and she took note of everything from whom all was there to what they were all wearing. When two hours later, her heart still refused to stop twitching, pounding, and swelling within her, Dinah wondered if it was a good enough excuse to stay home from school. Probably, if she was convincing enough, but for how long? Chances are, as soon as she decided it was safe to go back to school, Kelly would find her and kiss her with such... Ugh, but then again, if Dinah skipped school enough and missed those labs, Kelly might be too pissed at her to kiss her, which was a thought that after a moment, Dinah didn't like.
When her alarm clock did go off, Dinah took a shower and met Alfred in the kitchen, where he sat at the table drinking tea, and he peered over the local business section of the newspaper at her. "Good morning, Miss Dinah. Might I say you're looking confused and full of teenaged anxiety this morning."
"You mask it slightly better than Miss Helena does, but I do detect a dimness in your smile today." Dinah sat down across from the butler and picked through the rest of the paper for the comics and classified ads to see who was hiring, what kinds of cars were for sale, and what the current running price on black pug puppies were, not that she wanted one... badly. As she mentally highlighted a bookkeeping job that promised sixteen dollars an hour (compared to the seven-twelve an hour minimum wage), Dinah's mind managed to stray from her dream, and Marmaduke proved to be a distraction as well.
"Good morning all," said a cheery voice from the elevator.
"What's this? Do my eyes and ears deceive me, or is it really Helena Kyle up and walking and thinking in coherent sentences, all before the crack of noon? Can it be- OW!"
"I'll take that as a 'Good morning, dear sister'," the half metahuman said with a wicked grin.
"Sure, but you didn't have to pinch me," Dinah whined.
"Of course I did." There was a tone that sounded like 'that's my job', and Dinah rolled her eyes at that, but then she grinned. This was what she got for wanting Helena to treat her like a sister. She wouldn't trade it for anything.
"Ah, Miss Helena. What might I get going for you this morning?"
"Anything edible." Alfred smirked, then gave a small bow. He turned to Dinah, giving her an expectant look, but Dinah just shook her head politely.
"Nothing for me thanks. I'm not really hungry." She went back to the comics before they suddenly disappeared.
"Alright, what's up?"
"Your caffeine levels," Dinah shot back, reaching for the paper. Helena easily kept the pages out of her reach. 'Will Lucy actually hold the football for Charlie Brown this time or what? I want to know!' she thought to herself, knowing the answer.
"No juice, no pancake or waffle or French toast request, no Reese taunting... Something's wrong and I wanna know what it is right now."
"Oh, right, the taunting. Y'know, I knew I was forgetting something," Dinah said as if she was muttering to herself. When Helena's gaze didn't leave her, she shrugged.
"Nothing's wrong. I'm just not hungry this morning," she repeated.
"Perhaps there might be a connection between the lack of appetite and the look of sheer terror I saw on Miss Dinah's face this morning," Alfred said from the kitchen, which caused the blonde to send a glare in that direction. Again with the pile of goo.
"Bad dream?" Helena asked, her tone serious and concerned. Dinah lowered her gaze to the table.
"Yeah," she admitted, "but it was just a dream, and only that," she added quickly. She wasn't sure if she was convincing her sister or herself. Helena studied her for a little bit longer before she looked down at the glass of milk set in front of her. A plate of toast followed shortly after.
"Ooh food," Helena said, and the subject of the secret Dinah kept was dropped as she took a bite of her breakfast. Dinah stole back the comics, being too quick for her sister as she had been distracted by the food. Helena let out a protest. That was when their guardian entered the room. "Barbara-" she whined, but was cut off by the redhead's hand silencing her.
"Not before my first cup of coffee. After that, I'll be happy to tune the two of you out."
"So mean," Helena said with a pout. Dinah finished off the page of comics she was reading, then pushed it over to her adopted sister. "Thanks." The rest of their morning was pretty peaceful as Dinah read over the horoscopes (' 'Follow my dreams, yeah right,' she thought to herself), and looked over the crossword and word searches. If she filled any of those two in, Barbara would have had a fit. After she pushed the other half of the comics to Helena, she got up to get her backpack from her room.
"I'll be ready to go in about twenty minutes," Barbara told her, and the blonde nodded, acknowledging that she heard her guardian.
Twenty minutes later, when Dinah was able to get her heart rate down some, there was a knock on the blonde's door, and she granted permission to enter. Barbara opened the door and peered at her. "You ready to go?" Dinah nodded, and got off of her made bed. Both women went down the ramp towards the elevator.
"Kid. Think fast!" When she did look up, a shiny silver rectangle was spinning towards her. She knew she wasn't going to catch it, and was surprised when she saw Barbara's hand in front of her suddenly, holding the thrown object. "Nice catch, Barbara," Helena said, awe apparent in her voice. Then she shifted her attention to Dinah as their guardian handed over the silver rectangle, which the teen identified as a packet of Pop tarts. "You'll be thanking me by the time second period starts, trust me."
"Okay... Thanks," Dinah said, which made Helena look at her with her eyebrow raised before the closing of the elevator door blocked the blonde from view.
Dinah didn't see Gabby at the flagpole and wondered if her best friend got mad at her again and forgot to send the memo, or if she was just running a little bit late. She walked up the stairs and to her locker, where she waved at a couple of people as they passed by and said good morning to her, Janel being one of them. She slowly made her way to class after stuffing her backpack into her locker and grabbing her English and math binder. She quickly took a peek inside Gabby's math classroom and saw that her friend's seat was empty, and that she was being a bum and sleeping past her alarm clock again. She sighed and then backtracked a little ways to her own math classroom, taking her usual spot. She gasped when she saw Kelly walk into the classroom a moment later.
It took a moment for Dinah to avert her eyes and force herself to calm down. She noticed that Kelly wasn't wearing any of the things she wore in her dream, and that thought made the butterflies in her stomach stop moving. In Dinah's dream, Kelly had on a faded black t-shirt with The Rolling Stones mouth and tongue on it, jeans, and her hair was down and wet. At the moment, she was wearing a dark gray NGHS sweater, black jeans and her hair was up with chopsticks keeping it in place. Dinah continued her stare down with her desktop until Kelly was seated, then took out the three sheets of mind numbing math she'd done in her various classes throughout the day before, silently wishing the class could hurry up so she could open up her packet of Pop tarts. 'Thank you, Helena,' she thought dryly.
In her English class, Mr. Watanabe took a quick look at Dinah's paper once he saw there was a title at the top, and his eyebrows rose in slight surprise before he grinned. As she got her vocabulary done and worked in the textbook with Janel, she got her paper back with twelve points out of ten. Mr. Watanabe loved giving out one or two extra credit points whenever he could, be it during class when someone raised their hand and answered his tougher questions right, or got the bonus vocabulary word, or when, like Dinah, he liked your answers for homework. Mr. Watanabe really was a cool teacher if you respected him and those around you. Dinah never saw or heard of him getting angry, and hoped to be light-years away if or when he ever did explode. When the bell rang, however, Dinah did everything she could to drag her feet.
Dinah put her binder in her locker and got out the black and white speckled notebook for science. Finally, when she saw she had only a minute left to get up the stairs and to her class, she picked up her pace and made it through the doorway as soon as the bell rang, earning her a knowing smirk from Mrs. Cruz. She hurried to her seat next to Kelly and busied herself by flipping through the pages of her notebook, knowing she didn't need it except for the worksheet tucked inside.
"Hey," Kelly said in greeting. Dinah looked up slowly, catching the former somewhat bully's eye.
"Uh," Dinah shut her eyes as she felt herself blush, "hi." Her leg where the wolf had bit her had started to itch in her nervousness, even though it was healing fairly well. She did what she could to ignore it.
"You alright?" Kelly asked, studying Dinah, who looked away.
"Yeah," she replied softly, "I'm cool." 'Her eyes are so beautiful,' she couldn't help but think.
"Okay," Kelly responded, her voice going as soft as Dinah's, and it made the moment feel too intimate, too close. 'It's almost like she- no, she can't know about the dream, could she? Does it still show on my face? Am I really that transparent? What good am I as a superhero if I can't keep my emotions in check?' Dinah tried to quiet her head, but found she couldn't. To Dinah's relief, Kelly looked down at her own lab worksheet. Both only half listened to roll call and squeaked out their names when it got to them. Then they turned on the Bunsen burner. Dinah reached down and absently touched her bitten leg and noticed Kelly's look when she straightened up again. Dinah frowned in concern and confusion.
"What's the matter?"
"I- I think someone tried to cook their lunch on the Bunsen burner after we've used it or something," the other girl said, her voice shaky. "Ugh, smell that?"
"Hmm, a little bit. Do you need to go outside for a sec?"
"No, the quicker we do the lab, the sooner we can turn it off," she said. Dinah caught her eye again and nodded, holding the gaze that time.
"Okay," the meta replied. The dream came to her easily, and that time, she didn't fight the image. It was as if she was more courageous about it then because Kelly wasn't wearing what she was wearing in the dream, so it wouldn't come true that day. She felt the urge to make the dream a reality, but stopped herself. "Well, uh... we better get to work then."
"Right." With that, it got silent between them as they completed the lab together, only speaking when it was a necessity.
At lunch, Dinah was surprised to see Gabby waiting for her at her locker. "Hey," the superhero greeted.
"Hey," Gabby said. "You look like you'd puke if you were to try to eat something right now." Dinah made a small face.
"Actually, I'm starving. I better keep it down or I'm never feeding my stomach ever again," Dinah tried to joke, but Gabby didn't laugh with her. Dinah put her notebook in her locker and then walked with her friend towards the lunch lines, where a scented mixture of beans and cheese and tomatoes assaulted both blondes' noses.
"So what's up with you today?" Gabby asked.
"Uh, I don't know." At her friend's look, Dinah added, "I'm serious. I don't know. It's- It's odd, all of it. I promise on my mother's... grave..." she trailed off. "I promise you I will tell you when I've figured it all out." Gabby sighed, looking slightly annoyed, but let the whole thing drop.
"Looks like burritos and enchiladas today," she said, turning from Dinah.
"Smells like a mess, though," the meta countered, causing her friend to look back at her before they broke into giggles.
Dinah wandered the halls after school that day when her guardian hadn't come to get her at the flagpole like usual. She wanted to make sure it was some teachers' meeting that had suddenly come up and not that Barbara had gone on some Delphi emergency without her again. That would have made her mad. She hesitated when she reached the library and went in. If anyone knew about any sort of meeting, it would have been Miss Dominique. The librarian was the center of all the information regarding teachers and students, and Dinah could almost go as far as to say she was the oracle of the school when Barbara was gone. At the moment, Miss Dominique was just putting on her jacket, and Dinah saw she'd put a lighter in her jeans pocket. She looked up at the teen guiltily. "Hi... Sorry. I'm looking for Bar- Ms. Gordon?" Dinah said uncertainly.
"I haven't seen her."
"There's no teachers' meeting?"
"Not that I know of," Miss Dominique said slowly.
"Okay, thank you."
"You staying? I was gonna go outside for a sec, then lock up for the day. If you want a book, now is the time to get it."
"Yeah, okay. I'll look for a book to read," Dinah agreed, though she wasn't sure what book she would check out. Dinah had never checked out a book from the school library before. She would usually just read them there, then put them back. If she hadn't finished what she was reading or looking up, she would mark her place with a piece of paper, then write a note telling herself the title of the book and roughly where to find it. Dinah walked to the young adult fiction section and saw a lot of fantasy books. She also saw a lot of manga, though pieces of each set were missing- most likely checked out by thirty percent of the male population of the school, as well as about eight or nine percent of fan girls. When she heard the door open, she looked to see who had come in and found she couldn't breathe. There she was. Her, exactly as she was in Dinah's dream. The Rolling Stones T-shirt and jeans. Her hair was wet, and she looked as if she was still catching her breath after running. Was Kelly on the track team?
"Oh." Kelly sounded surprised to see Dinah. "Hi. I'm glad I found you here. I was hoping you'd... go over the lab worksheet with me to make sure we've got the same answers?" Both girls knew that their worksheets were twins, but Dinah wanted so badly to kiss her and to relive the dream that she could only nod. They walked to the table nearest to them and settled in. "I also know that I'll fall behind in math if I don't figure it out soon. What about you?"
"I'm getting it. I've got a good tutor, see. I-I'll help you, but I don't think we have much time today. Miss Dominique said she was locking up for the afternoon as soon as she gets back from her smoke break."
"Are teachers allowed to have smoke breaks?"
"Probably not. You know, to set an example for us young and impressionable folk, but I'm sure that if some of these teachers didn't get their nicotine fix, the student rate would drop considerably by the end of the first semester every year. The mental image of that is actually quite amusing," Dinah explained as Kelly giggled. She was surprised at how she liked the sound, how she could spend every waking hour earning the right to hear it again and- 'Man, I sound like a four dollar romance novel,' she thought to herself. The young superhero reached for Kelly's lab paper as soon as she had set it on the table between them, and was surprised to see her hand writing wasn't as frilly as she thought. There were no heart-dotted i's and loopy p's and q's. Her handwriting was more of a scrawl, kind of hurried and distracted, like Matt's. Only her answers here right and not guesswork like his had been. "Looks okay," Dinah said in a murmur. She could feel Kelly's eyes on her, but had concentrated on the work. She then got that feeling of deja vu. She knew it was to happen soon. Then, she wondered what was taking Miss Dominique so long.
Dinah knew that if she were to look up at Kelly, she wouldn't have been able to look away, but god, she remembered those eyes. It was that thought that made her look up almost against her own will. Kelly was staring at her, her face somewhat amused as if she knew. When Dinah caught her eye, the other girl seemed a little off guard. Dinah saw that Kelly's eyes were a little bit brighter than they had been in her dream, and the hungry urge to kiss her was stronger than it was in her subconscious. She leaned in, then pulled away quickly, feeling fear start to take over her. When Kelly leaned in after her, she let her, just like in her dream. Their lips met, and it was perfect to her, despite it being a girl she was kissing. Her heart raced, and in a way she couldn't quite describe, her whole body itched for more.
After a moment, they mutually broke apart, and Kelly nudged Dinah's cheek with her nose, then left a small kiss on her neck. Kelly's breathing hitched, then she quickly backed out of her chair as if it had caught fire. When she backed up, her chair knocked over, and Kelly winced at the sound it made as it hit the floor. Dinah looked at the other girl, confused and guilty, then watched without a word as Kelly hurried out of the library with a hand over her face. At the door, Kelly passed Miss Dominique, who looked puzzled. Dinah busied herself with both backpacks and slung them over both of her shoulders.
"What was that all about?"
"Uh- She called me Zippergirl, a-and I said something that I shouldn't ha-have... I'm... gonna go apologize to her now. Thank you for letting me stay," she said quickly, thinking on her feet.
"Did you want to get your book checked out?"
"It wasn't here. I will check New Gotham Library System for it. Thanks again. I-I'll let you lock up now. Thanks." She was babbling, but Dinah was actually surprised that through all that babbling, she was able to make out a full sentence or two. She hurried out of the library and tried to see where Kelly had gone, but she didn't see anything. No one was in the hallway, and the halls were usually barren after three o'clock on the dot. She put Kelly's backpack in her locker and continued to look for her guardian, not finding her. She had no choice but to take the subway to the Clocktower, where she saw Helena digging through the cupboards for something edible and snack worthy.
"Yo," she said in a low tone. She tried not to look guilty, but she knew it was something she couldn't pull off. "Where's Barbara?" she asked before Helena could interrogate her on it.
"She didn't tell you? She went to Bludhaven to talk to Dickly about that wolf."
"Why do you call him Dickly? His name is Dick, and I think he's, like, your brother or something."
"As much as you're-" Helena said, then shut her mouth. Dinah's mouth twisted as she tried to hold back the tears that were forming behind her eyes. She knew what the half meta was trying to say, and it wasn't as if she didn't treat her like a sister. She was even closer to Helena than Dick was, but after everything that had happened that day, she wasn't all that good at keeping anything straight, pun or no pun.
"I love you too, Hel," Dinah deadpanned.
"Dinah, I am sorry. I-I meant, he is also adopted into the family." Helena wanted to smack herself. Dinah sighed, and gave her sister a fake smile.
"Well, you don't steal someone's comics in the morning if they weren't your sibling... adopted or not, right?"
"Well, I would, but I would only give them back after a while if it was you," Helena said. Dinah did give an honest laugh at that.
"Good enough." Dinah said. Helena studied the teen.
"Is something wrong?"
"Barbara was my ride and she didn't come and get me. I had to take the subway with money left over from the ruined weekend with Gabby. I wish she would have called or left a note with someone, that's all."
"Yeah, that is very un-Barbara. You got here safely, and that is all that matters."
"So... why would Barbara think that Nightwing would know anything about our wolf? It hasn't moved up there, has it?"
"Not that we know of. I mean, Barbara made a search or two, called Dickly and then that was it."
"Oh." For some reason, Dinah didn't like the fact that Barbara hadn't felt the need to tell her this when she had the most contact with the wolf and had a report underway about it on one of the many laptops kept around the Clocktower. She liked that the wolf was 'hers', her project, her assignment. "Well... I guess I am about to go train-" Dinah said as a way to dismiss herself from the conversation, but it only made Helena a little more interested in the sight before her.
"Ooh, did you just say my favorite 'T' word?" the half meta asked.
"Uh, no. I don't think 'torture' was anywhere in that sentence."
"Training, torture... Same diff. Come on, Kid." Dinah groaned, knowing that if she trained with Helena, she would eventually have the truth beaten out of her. Literally. She had hoped to train alone and beat the shit out of the punching bag until she was too tired to think about Kelly, yet as the training session went on, she realized it was the best one she had done... if you didn't count the day her mother came back and she'd discovered her telekinesis, which Helena didn't. "Alright, Dinah. Before you beat me to death, tell me what's going on."
"We both know I can't beat you," Dinah said as if it was a scientific fact. "You're just being nice." She huffed a few breaths of air and took her stance again, waiting for Helena to take advantage of the fact that she had left her right side wide open.
"Sure you can... when I'm dead. Still... you can talk to me." Helena went to the mini fridge that was there and took out two bottles of water, tossing one to Dinah, who almost missed it and used her TK to get it from the air. "Nice. If only you could have done that with the Pop tarts this morning."
"Thanks. I know. I have just been a space case today."
"Why?" Helena seemed really concerned, and Dinah knew that she would have to tell someone about it. She couldn't get up the courage to tell Gabby, but she did promise she would.
"I... I kissed a girl," Dinah said, her voice lowering. Still, Helena heard her.
"No shit?" Helena asked, as if she was pleasantly surprised. "No wonder you've had that 'deer caught in the headlights' look on your face all day. Look, it's not that big a deal-"
"No, I mean..." Dinah sat down on the floor with her head on her knees as she lowered her water bottle to the floor at her side. When Helena joined her, she looked up again. "It's not that I've kissed a girl that's got me all wiggly right now. Its not like I've never had those gay thoughts like that before. Its who I kissed. We don't even like each other and yet-" Helena put her hand on Dinah's shoulder blade and the blonde calmed down. Then she started from the beginning. She told Helena about the Zippergirl title and then about them being lab partners, and then finally she told her sister about the dream the night before.
"So, it sounds as if maybe she was mean to you to keep you away. I'm a master at that."
"You sound so proud of that, Hel."
"Don't get me wrong, I'm not, but sometimes it is the only way to protect the heart. If they don't know what you feel, nothing can happen, and when nothing happens-"
"You start to complain about how boring your love life is."
"Touché," Helena said.
"Still, you have a point."
"It could be that age old motherly thing, 'They're only doing it because they like you, dear' sort of thing."
"But... If she liked me, then why did she just up and leave? I mean, that kiss was fan-fucking-tastic, and now my chest feels so strange..."
"Maybe she felt the same way, and she didn't want you to see the unmasked desire in her eyes," Helena said in a teasing tone.
"Good God, you sound like a four dollar romance novel," Dinah said, repeating her own thoughts earlier that afternoon. She didn't even try to hide the disgust on her face. Helena laughed in a way that made Dinah think of big burley men about to swig beer.
"Well, you said you've thought about kissing a woman before?"
"Richard Simmons." Helena said quickly.
"Okay, aside from him?"
"Okay okay," Helena said, giving in to the point. "So... who'd you dream about kissing? Was it me? Everyone dreams of kissing me."
"Big head much?" Dinah asked, then looked over at her sister. "Yeah, it was you- but just once or twice and that was a long, long time ago-" she continued defensively before Helena could tease her or get disgusted with her.
"So, what happened?"
"I MET you."
"Har har." Dinah only grinned. "Seriously, don't fret," Helena said, going back to the original subject, as they both had the tendency to get way off topic to the point they forget what the original subject matter was. "I think this Kelly chick is just as scared as you are." Dinah only nodded again before deciding she couldn't put off her homework much longer. She left the training room before Helena could ask how she truly felt about Kelly. That was just something she didn't want to deal with at the moment, especially since Kelly had been the one to run from her, not the other way around. Dinah finally sat down and took out her homework, which was the math and editing the short story once more. She decided to tackle the math just to get it out of the way, then spend the ten or twenty minutes it took going over her paper before Barbara got back. When she had gotten to the second page of her story, however, she saw the note Mr. Watanabe left her.
'Dinah, I love how your original idea of a jogger transformed into a wolf. The idea of a wolf's plight during its run is excellent. Keep up the good work on this.'
There was a mark that Dinah knew well, which meant he added those two points to her extra credit score. Not that she was complaining. It would make up for the two or three vocabulary quizzes she had bombed at the beginning of the semester. There was also an additional note of 'Great title!' next to the extra points, but Dinah wasn't drawn by that. What leapt at her was his first sentence. 'I love how your original idea of a jogger transformed into a wolf...' Transformed... into a...
Dinah got up quickly and left her room, surprised to see Barbara talking to Helena. "Dinah, I am sorry I-"
"S'fine. Look, I have been thinking... Do werewolves exist?" Dinah said cutting off her guardian's apology.
"Not that I know of."
"Didn't think so, but what about a metahuman who can shift into a wolf?"
"I had thought of that briefly, but ran into a problem," Barbara said slowly, seeming to wince as Dinah's look got cross.
"Problem? What problem? Why didn't you tell me?"
"Dinah, when I checked the Metahuman Database, the meta who could shift into a wolf was that girl in the Animal Pack who went by Wolf. Her real name was Mandy Fairbanks. She died in prison the night Harley Quin hypnotized New Gotham. I did the search shortly after your report said you'd come up with nothing, so I had hoped I would find something when I looked in the Database. When I came up with the road blocks, I gave it up and decided it was no use getting your hopes up about something that is a lost cause. I didn't want you to focus on a dead end."
"She had no family? No... illegitimate children-"
"No, Dinah. I checked. Her father and mother split when her and her twin brother were both nine. Her bother had the power of teleportation. He died in a car accident three years ago. Their mother has the power of earthquakes. Their father was not a metahuman, and from what I could tell, that was the reason they had split. I don't think he knew about his wife before they had married. Anyway, Dinah, this wolf isn't her. It is just some lost wolf trying to find its way home."
Dinah didn't want to accept that as an answer. The wolf as a metahuman was the only thing that made sense. "May I still look into it, though? Please?"
"You can't take my word for it?" Dinah only stared at her guardian as if to say 'she who promised to pick me up after school and didn't tell me about this new angle to my assignment, I think not.' "I'll take that as a no. I don't know what you're hoping to find that I didn't, but I will get you her file and anything else I can find on her."
"Go get ready for sweeps, Kid." Helena said suddenly after all that time of being silent about her somewhat-not-really-friend from the Animal Pack being dead. Apparently, she didn't know about that. Reese must not have told her. "After all the butt kicking you did in the training room... You need an outlet." Dinah snorted at the thought of her being like Helena and using thugs as an outlet for her anger, but at the rate she was going, maybe that wasn't such an impossible thought. The blonde did as she was told and went to get her night gear, the closest thing she had to a costume. It was nothing special, just black on black, something she could get blood on that didn't belong to her sister. Then she joined Helena by the Delphi system, bade Barbara a quick 'see you in a few', waved off her 'be careful', and was off.
Dinah came back through the elevator doors tired and sweaty, but otherwise fine. She took a quick shower, then retrieved the promised file on 'Fairbanks, Mandy R.' from Barbara. Then she went to her room and focused on Mandy. That could not have been all. There had to have been a connection somewhere between that Wolf and 'her' wolf. As Barbara had said, Mandy was the girl known as Wolf a couple of months ago. She seemed to have been a fairly new member, joining in late August. At least, that is what Dinah figured from the surveillance photos with her in it, which started on the twenty-forth of August. Before that, she'd had many jobs, mostly temporary positions. She was a waitress for almost a year before her temper got her fired, then she'd gotten a job in office, where she'd been let go for the same reason. The last thing Dinah saw before she fell asleep was an address for somewhere in Bludhaven with no title to it, and Dinah wondered before her eyes closed if that was why Barbara had gone to Dick Greyson. She mentally told herself that she would ask her guardian the next day about it.
Fortunately for Dinah, her dreams weren't remembered the next day, and she slept peacefully until her alarm clock yanked her away from sub consciousness. In fact, for the first full minute upon waking up, she felt pretty chipper. Then she remembered the day before and the wolf, and she hoped things would be resolved soon. As she got ready for the day, she thought about what she'd found in Mandy's file. It seemed there was nothing unusual except for her short temper, which seemed to be explained away by her power. Of course, no one else knew that, really. It seemed to be such a problem that it prevented her from keeping a job, so she had to turn to crime. Dinah joined Helena and Alfred again, and took the packet of Pop tarts that had been slid across the table at her. "Is there a reason why you insist on feeding me Pop tarts?"
"You needed them yesterday, didn't you?" Helena asked.
"I plead the fifth," Dinah said, not willing to admit to Helena that she had been right. Otherwise she would never have heard the end of it, and from the look her sister was giving her, she knew she was in for an 'I told you so' song and dance in a moment. She sighed, and Helena had gotten her answer, anyway. "Yes..." Dinah grumbled, not liking that Helena had not only been right, but she had been right two days in a row. If it turned out that she was right once more about Kelly, she was officially declaring herself a citizen of the Twilight Zone.
"Well, big sister knows best," Helena replied, which seemed to be the only equivalent for the 'I told you so' dance. For the moment, at least. Dinah only nodded and smiled at Alfred in a silent thanks for the apple juice he set before her. It was as if they had tag teamed her that morning to make sure she had breakfast, not that it would've been a problem that morning. She was so hungry she could have eaten anything set in front of her, including the plate and utensils. She just hoped her guardian would hurry up that morning as she gulped her juice and ate her Pop tarts in halves at a time. At the sight of this, Helena's eyebrows rose.
"Hungry?" The only reply the brunette got was Dinah's own eyebrows raising as she finished off her the apple juice. She then went back to her room where she read more on Mandy's family tree as well as the powers they were known to have, and found out that somewhere down the line through marriage, Mandy's family was related to Gibson's. Gotham residences until the end, it seemed. She hastily shoved the contents of the file in with the rest of her schoolwork in her backpack and hurried down the stairs when Barbara shouted up to her that she was leaving for the school in five minutes.
When Dinah and Barbara got to New Gotham High School's parking lot, she didn't see Gabby there again, and sighed. 'She really needs to set her alarm clock a little earlier,' she thought, making her way towards the doors with her guardian, than going separate ways. Dinah turned the combination for her locker and saw a flash of white drop to the floor. The blonde stared at it for a second, then picked it up slowly. It was folded in such a way that a pull tab with the word 'pull' had practically unfolded the whole complex folding job on its own.
I'm sorry I ran out on you after we kissed. I swear it had nothing to do with you. It was perfect. I wish there was a way to explain it to you without looking bad in the end, but I hope our paths meet again like they had in the library.
Dinah was surprised by this note. She hadn't expected to hear from Kelly so quickly. She truthfully wasn't sure what she had expected, but definitely not a note like that. There was no mention of her backpack, which, if Dinah were in her shoes, would have been included in the note. The part that had caught her attention the most was the fact that it seemed Kelly wanted a repeat of the kiss. Dinah was startled out of her thoughts when the note suddenly disappeared from her fingertips and then she saw her friend's face. She tried to grab the paper back, but Gabby was quicker. "This has got to be what you're hiding from me-" Dinah looked at Gabby in horror, especially after Gabby's eyes widened. "You and Kelly kissed-?"
"Say it louder, Gabby. I doubt the rest of the school heard you," Dinah said testily, which caused Gabby's laughing eyes to turn serious.
"Dinah, is this what bothered you yesterday?" Dinah nodded, then grabbed Kelly's backpack after taking what she needed from her own. She motioned for Gabby to follow her before her friend could ask questions about the backpack on her shoulders. The two blondes walked towards the girls' bathroom and Dinah checked the stalls before she began to speak.
"Gabby..." Dinah wasn't sure how she was going to say it, but she had to. Gabby was getting too suspicious of her, and she had to tell her something. At least this would be something she wasn't lying about. "Do you believe in premonitions?"
"Like what Pheobe gets on 'Charmed'?"
"Yeah, I guess so, why?"
"Well... The night before last, I had a dream of kissing Kelly, and I knew it was going to come true. It wasn't- It wasn't even the fact that it was a girl. I was freaking out because it was Kelly," Dinah said, just as she'd told her sister. "That... and because of how I felt when I woke-" Dinah was cut off by the door to the bathroom opening up. Gabby switched gears quickly.
"So, you wanna come over after school?"
"I'll ask Barbara at lunch and let you know in art class, mmkay?" Dinah lead the way out of the bathroom.
"Really?" Gabby stopped walking and turned to look at her friend.
"Yeah," Dinah responded, confused.
"Sorry, I thought you were just playing along back there. I'd really like to learn more about you pr- your dreams. It sounds fascinating. Well, I've gotta scoot. If I'm late again, its detention. See ya." Gabby waved and hurried into her classroom and Dinah walked casually into her own class, even though her chest got tight at the sight of Kelly. Dinah took the long route to her desk, passing Kelly's desk long enough to set the backpack on it and walk away, otherwise not acknowledging Kelly's existence. It might've been easy to do in math, but it'd be damn near impossible to do in their lab class. Dinah figured she'd cross that bridge when she got to it.
It surprised her when her day was otherwise fine. She'd gotten the highest possible score on her story, Barbara said she could hang out with Gabby to make up for not picking her up the day before, and other than her grumbled, "I don't want to talk about it" to Kelly in lab class, the time in the other girls' presence was bearable. They'd worked silently other than the usual shop talk between them until the bell finally rang. Gabby and Dinah had fun speaking in code about Gabby's crush on Gina (which both knew wouldn't be requited, as it seemed Gina was the only one who didn't know that she and Matt were practically an item) before the two friends parted ways again after agreeing to meet up at their usual spot at the flagpole after school.
An hour and fifteen minutes later, Gabby and Dinah started their four block trek to Gabby's. They were almost a block away from the school when Gabby slowed her pace. "Kelly asked me about you," she said casually, and Dinah's face shifted into one of concentration.
"Yeah, after I got out of Spanish class, I ran into her." Gabby said no more than that. Obviously, she wanted Dinah to ask, which would show interest in Kelly. It was a trap, in other words, so Dinah stayed silent, although curiosity was killing her. "Dinah, what happened?" Gabby asked after she realized her friend wasn't going to respond. They hurried along the sidewalk after Dinah motioned that she couldn't talk there. Once in the safety of the Andrews' home, Dinah turned and faced her friend, then dropped her gaze.
"Like I said, I had a dream about Kelly the night before last, and yesterday it came true."
"How often do you have these dreams?" Gabby asked, leading the way to her room, where she unceremoniously dumped her backpack on her floor by the door.
"I started getting them when I was eight or nine years old, and they didn't happen often. The last year or so, I'd average two or three a month, often times in the same week- and no, it isn't in the week I'm menstruating," she added before Gabby could make some sort of comment like that, as the meta knew her friend would. She was right if the look on Gabby's face said anything.
"I think that is so cool. Why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't have any friends in Opal, and you saw how hard it was making friends when I first got here. I didn't want you to think I'm a freak just like everybody else did."
"Hey, I would never think you're a freak. Mysterious? Sure. Eccentric? Hell yeah, but a freak? Never."
"Thanks Gabby. That means more than you'll ever know," Dinah said, her voice serious and almost melancholy.
"Again with the mysteriousness," Gabby said genially. "So... What do you think makes you dream these premonitions? Do you like... touch things and you dream about them that night? Or... Well, once- like a couple months ago- I read this book where this girl got struck by lightning, and ever since, she had this ability to find missing kids if she saw their faces before going to sleep." Gabby was sort of babbling at that moment, and Dinah knew she was a little excited by the idea of having some sort of super power. If only Dinah could tell her about her 'dangerous hobby'. It would have made Gabby talk ten miles a minute, but she couldn't.
"I think I know what book you're talking about. I wish I could do that. It would be more useful, I'll tell you that," Dinah admitted. "So far, I've only had dreams that somehow connected back to me, even if I don't know why when I first wake up. When I was living with my foster family, I had a dream about Helena and Barbara. They seemed to be two completely different people, plus, they were strangers to me, but I knew... I knew even at nine years old that I'd meet them. It was just something in my gut that would tell me whenever I thought of that dream. I knew they were home. Just don't tell Helena I said that."
"What else did you dream?"
"Little stupid stuff. When I was twelve, I knew what my Christmas gift was because I saw a porcelain doll... stuff like that. I think they are triggered by some deep emotion." Dinah looked at her friend and watched as she seemed to let it all sink in a little. She looked thoughtful, and for some reason Dinah couldn't explain, she had a feeling that it couldn't be a good thing in that situation. There was something that burned in Gabby's mind, a question that she so badly wanted to ask, but couldn't find the words until finally, she did.
"Dinah, I have a question for you, and I want you to answer me truthfully. Last night, there was something on the news about a wolf howling not too far from here the night before last. It had me thinking, you know, your leg had you limping pretty badly on Monday, and you just said you get a small cluster of dreams at a time..." Gabby stopped and collected herself. "I think you had a dream about that wolf attack because it was near us at the theater, and... maybe you tried to stop it from hurting someone. I admit to not knowing you as well as I'd like, but from what I do know about you, I could see you doing that. Did you?" Dinah wanted to deny it, to tell Gabby that it really was a dog bite, but the other blonde was already onto her. If she were to deny it, it would have only gotten herself even more tangled in her web of lies, so she only nodded, surprised by her friend's intuitive mind.
"Yes. I hadn't meant to actually encounter it. I mean, even I'm not that dumb. I was going to the side of the building to call animal control or something when I saw it and ran. It was faster."
"I'm sorry I was so harsh with you."
"Hey, it's okay. I'm sorry I've been lying to you. If I had known you were going to be so cool about it, I would have told you sooner."
"They way I see it, your gift and how people would see you after knowing about it is not much different from me being in the closet."
"That sounds about right," Dinah agreed.
"So... speaking of-"
"Hey, I am not in any sort of closet. I never claimed to be straight," Dinah said in her defense.
"You never claimed to be a flaming homo, either. You never gave any hint that you might swing my way when I came out to you."
"Because I don't have to claim to be anything. Why can't I just... be?"
"Nicely said. So, Miss 'Dance-Around-The-Subject-Better-Than-Michael-Flatley'-"
"Riverdance," Gabby supplied.
"Dinah." Gabby's tone took this 'I'm serious' edge, and Dinah couldn't help but laugh.
"Are you okay with everything? The kiss and all?"
"It's not... It's not about sexuality. It's about Kelly. I mean, what the hell?! And then she just... ran off. I just wasn't prepared for the dream and how the kiss made me feel... From Kelly."
"That good, huh?" Gabby's tone made it hard for Dinah to fight off the blush that suddenly covered her cheeks.
"It was- It was- ...Yeah." Gabby grinned. "Gabby..." Dinah couldn't believe she was about to say it out loud, but she had to or she would burst. "She's got the most beautiful blue eyes. I mean, me an' you, yeah, but hers are just- wow!" At Gabby's thoughtful look, which turned into somewhat of a frown, Dinah asked, "What? What's the matter?"
"Kelly has green eyes."
"Every time I've seen her, her eyes were blue. Especially yesterday."
"Maybe they're contacts, but I know her eyes are green."
"Why would Kelly wear contacts? They didn't look like contacts to me," Dinah protested.
"She could be wearing them for fashion. I think they were a bluish color at church... I can't remember. But still, a fashion thing, like the black eyes on that Toad guy in that X-Men movie, or yellow vampire eyes on Buffy. Maybe there are other colors and designs. I wouldn't know."
"But-" Gabby put a hand on Dinah's upper arm, then looked around her room in a quick visual sweep. She then ducked under her bed, looking almost like she was swimming under water, and with the clothes that surrounded her, she might as well have been using a power kick just to move herself in all of it. When she crawled back out, her rump was wiggling as she tried to keep her grip on whatever it was that was in her hands.
"That was so much easier to do before I got boobs," Gabby claimed a little loudly, and Dinah was glad that no one else was in the house at the time, or that Gabby hadn't said that at school.
"I'm sure it would have been easier if you'd clean your room more than once a decade," Dinah said sarcastically.
"Haha, shut up." Like the mature teenager she was, Dinah stuck her tongue out at her friend. "So," Gabby said, getting them back on track, "you still don't believe me? I've got this postcard thing Kelly sent me this summer. Her eyes are clearly seen in it. That's how I'm so sure they're green. They sparkle in this picture." Dinah sat next to Gabby on her bed as she looked through her little shoe box of pictures and letters. On the very top was a picture of her friend with Kelly when they were about ten or eleven. Gabby pulled out a pink hand made postcard from under that photo. It was made with squiggles, stickers, a picture pasted on to it, and a message next to the address and stamp on the back. Indeed, Kelly's green eyes were sparkling, but that wasn't what had made Dinah gasp. What shocked the teen superhero was the young woman Kelly posed with in the picture. The woman's eyes were the iciest shade she'd ever seen.
Gabby ran after Dinah screaming her name, not that Dinah heard her. "What the hell?!" Gabby screamed after her. The teen was starting to feel as if she was in some movie-oke of My Best Friend's Wedding. Dinah turned to her friend and let her catch up.
"We've got to find Kelly, Gabby. It's really important."
"Why? What's wrong?" Gabby felt bewildered. Their quiet afternoon was disrupted once again, and Dinah wasn't talking at the moment.
"I'll explain later," Dinah said a little bit distracted as she looked around for some unseen person.
"Later. Always later," Gabby grumbled. "You explain it to me now!" Gabby snapped. Dinah couldn't keep her own annoyance out of her voice or off of her face.
"I don't have time to explain it right now. We have to find Kelly, and if my suspicions are right, she's going to need you now more than she ever did in youth group. So let's go!" Dinah had put emphasis on the last two words before storming off again. Gabby huffed, but the determination on her friend's face made her steps quicken, plus, she didn't like the sound of what Dinah had just said. "God, she must feel so alone..." Dinah said to herself, then Gabby was sure Dinah was talking to someone else, not her. Gabby wondered for a fraction of a second if Dinah had completely flipped and gone mental. If it involved Kelly somehow, Gabby had to go along and see where it all lead, and if it didn't... "Please, just look Huntress... I'd ask her if she weren't in the shower- BECAUSE I THINK I FOUND OUR WOLF!" Dinah's shout startled Gabby. She didn't remember seeing Dinah so short fused, but this seemed really important to her. She didn't dare try to speak to her then, and continued to trail after her.
"Damn," Gabby whispered to herself.
"I'm not gonna beg. Hel- this is so not the time. Damn it! I'm going offline if you're not gonna help me!" Dinah finally said, looking as if she wanted to scream. "Thank you," she said curtly. "Look, One-Forty-Forth and Cathedral... Seventeenth and Masterson... Forth and Hennessey. Give me something in common- Yes, especially Forth and Hennessey, where the howling was. What's near there? Specific? Like... is there... a... prison?" Dinah laughed, and Gabby was sure that startled her more than the frustrated yell she'd heard a moment before. "Great, I mean... It was what I was hoping for. I'll see you later.... If Gabby gets 'later', then so do you. Promise. Stand by." Dinah finally looked at Gabby.
"Later," Dinah said, trying not to laugh at Gabby's frown. Dinah then stopped walking again and turned to her friend.
"Does the name Mandy Fairbanks ring a bell?"
"No, not really. Should it?"
"I was hoping it would. She was in the picture with Kelly on your post card. Did you see what color her eyes were?"
"Yeah, they were like this light... blue." Gabby trailed off as she seemed to see something try to click in her mind. "Dinah?"
"It is a long and complicated story, and you have to believe me when I say that I think she is the reason Kelly's been so changed this year." There was what sounded like a gunshot followed by a howl of pain and vicious barking, which made Dinah start to run in that direction. Gabby hesitated, then followed her. Three blocks away, the barking was the loudest, and both blondes saw the white and black wolf that had become so familiar to Dinah. It hobbled along on its back paws and right front paw. Blood was spilling out of its left shoulder. There was no one around, and Dinah swallowed as she saw the sight. "Kelly," Dinah said, which made Gabby search around for her friend.
The wolf's ears perked when it heard Dinah's voice, and it made its way to them, Dinah meeting it halfway. Gabby watched in horror and some awe as her friend dropped to her knees and the wolf collapsed into her like a deleted scene from Old Yeller or something. Then something happened that Gabby would have never guessed. The fur of the wolf seemed to melt into naked pink skin. The body was suddenly not that of the wolf, but that of her best friend, who was still whimpering and shivering. Most importantly, she was still bleeding. Gabby's feet began to move before she really knew what was going on as Dinah tried to keep Kelly warm, and Gabby took off her jacket, wrapping it around Kelly's middle to cover her back and buttocks. "Kelly," Gabby said, trying to keep the horror out of her voice, "what happened to you?"
"I... I'm being hunted," she whispered.
"What? By who?"
"I don't... know. I can't see them, but I knew they were there."
"But-" Gabby couldn't figure out just what to say past that. An unseen attacker? Her best friend, a werewolf? And Dinah knew? Dinah's psychic? Can she be in some weird dream? Did she fall asleep in sixth period again?
"We've got to get her somewhere safe," Dinah said.
"Like the hospital," Gabby replied.
"The person who's hunting her might still be out there."
"I don't know, if they were out to kill Kelly, don't you think they would have taken another shot in the time it took us to get to her?"
"She fought them off, but still, you've got a point. That does seem strange, but Gabby, we've got to get her out of here. I don't like the thought of an unseen attacker." 'Yep, Dinah's definitely psychic,' Gabby thought, 'and my best friend is definitely a bleeding werewolf. Did Mandy bite her and change her?'
"So what do we do?"
"We'll take her to my place for now. Barbara- Ms. Gordon knows how to patch this up really well." Dinah hadn't just meant the wound.
"Why not the hospital?"
"Her power to shift into a wolf must still be pretty new. If she gets scared or frustrated or angry, she'll shift again and the same thing might happen to her that happened to Mandy Fairbanks." It was somewhat a lie. Exactly what happened to Mandy and how she died was really anyone's guess, and Dinah's was that Mandy had shifted in the middle of her time in Lala Harley Land and scared someone in the prison, who killed her, supposedly out of self defense, but only Mandy would really know. At the name, Kelly shifted painfully to look at Dinah.
"How- How do you know about that?"
"Shh shh," Dinah soothed. "We'll all talk about that when you are better. We'll fill in all the blanks." Dinah then turned slightly with Kelly still in her arms and touched her earpiece. "Huntress, you still there?"
<Yeah Kid. What's the what?>
"I'm going to need a car over here. Tell Barbara she's got a patient on the way and not to get too mad at me for what I'm about to do."
<Oh man...> Helena moaned, knowing Dinah's words couldn't mean anything good. <Okay then. Where about on 7th and Hennessey are you?>
"We're just out on the sidewalk. You can't miss us. And tell whomever's coming to hurry."
<Alfred's on his way. Hang tight.>
"Thank you. Canary out," she added, though it was pointless to say her codename at the moment. It just made her feel better to sound authorities and Barbara-like in a situation that had put her insides to a panic. She couldn't show it or Gabby would freak out, and nothing would get done.
"That was the plan," Dinah said before she turned the mic off. She focused her attention on Kelly, who looked to be fighting off another shift. Her shivering got a little violent, and her breathing became shallower. She was wide eyed, and Dinah was about ten seconds from a freak out. She had to say or do something.
"Dinah," Gabby said, her own voice quivering with panic, "I think she's going into shock if she isn't already there. What do we do?" Okay, that really wasn't helping. Dinah took in a deep breath. 'WWBD? What Would Barbara Demand?' Dinah wondered.
"We've got to stop the bleeding the best we can." Before Dinah could finish that sentence, Gabby was putting both hands over the wound, doing her best to ignore how much blood covered them in the process. "Good. Keep that until help gets there. Maybe put a little bit more of your upper body directly over her-"
"Uhng!" Kelly shouted in pain as Gabby did as she was told.
"Shh, Kelly, I am so sorry!" Gabby said. "Is this helping?"
"I think so. I know this hurts Kelly, but we have to stop the bleeding." Dinah looked down at the girl in her arms, then back to Gabby. "Keep that up," she said again, then looked back down at Kelly. "Kelly. Kelly listen to me. We're gonna get you somewhere safe." Kelly didn't respond. 'Oh no. Don't die. Please...'
A few minutes later, a car Dinah didn't even know belonged to them stopped before the girls, and Dinah was surprised (though she shouldn't have been) to see that not only was Alfred there, but Barbara was as well. "Let's get her in here," Barbara said, but it was unnecessary, as Dinah was already helping Alfred gently get her off of the ground.
"Is it safe to move her?" Gabby asked.
"I think so," the blonde meta said, though Dinah herself wasn't quite sure, "I mean, it's only the shoulder, nothing uberly serious-"
"She just got shot and is going into shock!"
"And you yelling at me isn't going to help us any!" Dinah said back.
"She's right," Alfred said gently, then got a firm arm around Kelly's waist. This made Dinah bump the injured shoulder causing the brown haired girl cry out in pain once more.
"Oh god, Kelly!" Gabby said involuntarily, then shut her mouth quickly. She tried so hard not to panic or throw up and did a good job of it so far. She had never seen someone get badly hurt before.
"I'm so sorry," Dinah said. The wolf meta was a little wobbly on her feet, but Dinah could tell that Kelly was trying hard to help them out. They managed to get her into the car, and as soon as the girls were all situated, Barbara crawled over to the wounded metahuman and began to swab around the bullet wound. She looked up suddenly, checking the surroundings.
"What? What's the matter?" Dinah asked, watching her guardian look everywhere around them, especially out the window.
"Nothing. I thought I felt someone nearby," the redhead responded automatically. Alfred opened the glove box and handed both Dinah and Gabby a pair of blind folds.
"If you would," he said.
"But-" Gabby protested, looking completely bewildered.
"It's alright, Gabby-" Barbara cut in at the same time Dinah said,
"We need to get Kelly to a safe place, but in order to keep that place safe, you can't know where exactly it is, alright? I promise you, you won't have to wear them longer than necessary, but you've got to trust me." Gabby nodded. What else could she do? She then slowly put the blindfold on. Dinah tried to ignore the blood on her friend's hands and the blood she'd left on the blindfold once it was on. The blonde meta then put the other blindfold on Kelly, saying exactly what she had said to Gabby in murmurs to soothe her. It seemed to be working, and Barbara found herself impressed by her teen ward, knowing how scared Dinah was.
"Wh-Why can't we take her to the hospital?" Gabby asked, though she had already asked it several times. Apparently, Gabby didn't exactly buy the 'she'll shift or something' excuse. Dinah looked at Barbara, who nodded.
"Gabby, the- well... The doctors can detect in her blood what turns her into a wolf," she said lamely as she shrugged. She was glad that Gabby couldn't see it. How does one go about explaining all that without explaining ALL THAT?
"It's in the blood?" Gabby asked, looking as if she was trying to see through the blindfold at Dinah. Up until then, Gabby was certain that Kelly had been bitten by a werewolf, namely that Mandy chick, and had been turned or something. Dinah put a hand on her shoulder to reassure her.
"I don't know much about it, Gabby. Known metahumans have been born or created without much information on the how's or the whys. It could be a matter of using more than just ten percent of your brain, or it could be a lucky combination of genes you were born with, or, like in your favorite show, it could be an outside force that somehow changed someone." Dinah was surprised to find that explaining these things calmed her down quite a bit as Barbara worked on Kelly.
"Early on, there were... tons of odd occurrences that had caused a change in genetic coding. Naturally, some of them had children, my mother was born with hers and passed it on to me-"
"You're talking about the odd robberies, the people who claim to be saved by some flying bat person..." Barbara smirked. "They had odd genes or something in their blood that caused them to be these meta something humans?" Gabby asked.
"Close enough," Dinah said.
"I really wish that this was all some elaborate practical joke you were playing on me," Gabby said in a small frightened voice. This was too much at once. Dinah slowly took Gabby's hand and when Barbara was busy moving the blindfold long enough to check Kelly's pupils, she spelled out 'U will know, promise,' before placing the hand back on Gabby's knee. Gabby wasn't sure just what she had gotten herself into when she had said she wanted to know what Dinah was hiding. Dinah, however, knew that Barbara was going to brutally murder her for doing what she had decided needed to be done. Gabby need to understand, and the only way she could do that was if she knew everything. She just didn't know how to break the news that, 'Hey, I'm a superhero' to the only person she could ever call a friend. Gabby got the message and nodded, and felt around for Kelly. Dinah guided Gabby's hand to Kelly's cheek, and Kelly's head moved a little as if to look at Gabby. The friends seemed to communicate something to each other without a sound.
It was then that Dinah understood how Gabby must have been feeling when she and Kelly knew what was going on and being left out of the loop. As Dinah watched the friends give a sense of comfort to each other silently, she felt left out. Theirs was a friendship deeper than anything she had ever experienced. It was as deep as Helena and Barbara's friendship. As deep as Alfred and Bruce Wayne's even. People had shunned Dinah and she them before she could develop such a friendship. She knew that her decision to take them both to the Clocktower was a good one. Kelly needed someone to understand, and Gabby needed to understand. She just hoped this decision wasn't something that was going to turn around and bite her in the ass as hard as Kelly had bitten her in the calf.
It took another half an hour to get Kelly into the room used for such emergencies. Dinah was lucky enough to never need to use the room. Once Kelly was where Barbara wanted her, Dinah took off both blindfolds and put some of Kelly's hair back. "Gabby and I will be right outside the door, okay?" Kelly swallowed and gave the faintest of nods. Dinah was so relieved that Kelly had stayed conscious though the whole thing. If she hadn't been, Dinah would have gone into complete freak out mode. Dinah motioned for Gabby to follow her. Just outside the door was Helena holding some sweats. She held them out to Gabby, who took them questioningly. "We're gonna need to wash up in a bit. There was..." Dinah tried not to obviously stare at Gabby's shirt, which the other blonde noticed, "... quite a bit of blood." Gabby seemed to just notice this and looked down at herself, inspecting her hands. Dinah could hear her breathing increase. "Oh dear," she murmured, then touched Gabby's shoulders. "Shh. It's okay Gabby. We're all okay."
Another ten minutes had Gabby in the shower and her clothes in the washing machine, though how much can be done for them was something unknown, even from Alfred, though he said he'd try. Dinah was torn. She wanted to be there for Gabby when she got out of the shower, but she had just promised Kelly that she would be right outside her door. If only she had the ability to clone herself... Helena offered to guard the door to the room Kelly was in and yell to her if she was needed before Gabby got out of the shower, but that was something she doubted. Like a British guard, Dinah stood in front of Gabby's door with no emotion on her face. Her mind raced as she waited for her scared friend. She took almost a half an hour, but still Dinah didn't move. At the same time the water stopped, Helena had come to see how things were going. "You okay Kid?"
"Yeah. I know Kelly will be okay. Gabby's gonna be alright, but Barbara's gonna have my hide when this is said and done."
"She'll understand and get over it. It wasn't like you took them here after school for an MTV fest. Kelly was going into shock and you didn't know what else to do," Helena said, which eased some of Dinah's fears. "So... which one is our wolf?"
"Kelly," Dinah answered, surprised Helena couldn't tell with her extra senses.
"Kelly? The way Gabby's acting, I thought it might've been her."
"No, but she helped me figure it out." In murmurs, Dinah told Helena about the coincidence of the camp, and the picture of Kelly with different colored eyes.
"That would mean that they are related somehow or they did drugs together."
"What? Kelly's not a drug user, Hel." Dinah said defensively.
"How else can they have the same metahuman power?"
"I don't know, some blood ritual? A 'my blood is your blood' sort of Wiccan bond?"
"Do Wiccan's do that?" Helena asked.
"How should I know?!" Dinah snapped.
"Hey, I'm just-" Helena was about to say, but Dinah calmed down and cut her off.
"I'm sorry I implied that your girlfriend did drugs." The sisters were quiet for a little while until Helena spoke up again. "I meant to tell you originally that Barbara's bandaged her up, and if her wolf power is anything like my power, she should be completely healed by Tuesday at the latest." At that, Dinah nodded, then turned around when she heard the click of the bathroom door behind her. Gabby stepped out shyly and Dinah gave her an encouraging smile.
"Feel better?" Dinah asked, and Gabby nodded.
"What a night," the girl said.
"Yeah." Dinah was silent for a moment and Helena copied Gabby's sigh.
"Kelly's all patched up now, just so you know. I think she's sleeping now, so if you want to stay here tonight, maybe you should call your parents and convince them that the Thursday line-up has somehow become homework that you and Dinah and Kelly all have to work on, and that... that... Oh hell, I can't even lie right now, even hypothetically." Dinah knew it wasn't true because Helena could lie herself out of punishment even with the hand stuck in the cookie jar, but it had the desired effect, as Gabby gave a small giggle. Then the other blonde got out her cell phone and dialed her speed dial home phone number.
"Mom? Yeah, it's me. I know... I know. I was going to be there with Dinah, but when she started helping me with math she suggested we go to her house to study with Ms. Gordon. Yeah, I had her last year. Dinah? She's her... niece? I think? Yeah. So anyway, I was wondering if I could spend the night tonight to give us more time- I know it's a school night, but-" There was a pause on the other line and Dinah and Helena watched the exchange, both thinking that Gabby was a better liar than they thought. 'Had Gabby ever lied to me? Lord knows I've lied to her, but that was different. I had a good reason to.' Dinah thought. "Yes, okay. Two chores this weekend? Name 'em." Gabby sighed. "Weeding and the garage. Got it. Thanks. Love you too. Bye." When Gabby put the phone with the rest of her belongings taken from her pockets before her pants were into the washing machine, Dinah and Gabby locked eyes. " S'Okay. You're coming over to help me clean out the garage on Saturday," she said, leaving no room for argument.
"Yeah." A look passed between the three young women as they all seemed to ask 'What now?'
"So... Are you hungry?" Helena asked, though to whom it was unclear, as the half meta was looking at the floor.
"Yeah," Gabby said slowly, "I am."
"Me too," Dinah added. Gabby looked at her friend.
"I was going to ask yo to stay for dinner, but... Well..."
"Yeah," Dinah said, understanding what Gabby was trying to say. The three women went to the kitchen area, and Gabby tried not to stare too hard at any one thing. She felt she'd get in trouble if she looked out the window for a clue as to where in New Gotham she was. "I hope I can make something for dinner," Dinah said, more as something to fill the silence than anything. They found when they got to the kitchen that Alfred was straining noodles in the sink with his usual towel over his left shoulder. Then he went back to the stove and stirred two different pots.
"Hey Mr. P. Whatcha got goin'?" Helena asked.
"Ah, Miss Helena. I am just about finished with shrimp fettuccini, salad and garlic bread, as well as homemade chicken noodle soup to heat up for your friend, Miss Dinah, when she wakes."
"You're the best, Alfred," Helena said, leaning in to kiss the butler on the cheek. Alfred's eyebrows rose, but he otherwise did not look up from what he was doing.
"I take it you're peckish if you're giving me praise," Alfred said, which made Dinah laugh and Gabby smile at the look Helena had on her face. Still, after a small argument over whether or not Alfred needed help (which resulted in the butler promising starvation- also known as not buying the week's supply of Pop tarts and peanut butter- if she didn't leave his kitchen), Helena and the blondes sat down while Alfred served them. Ten minutes after that, Barbara joined them, giving Gabby a few serious looks as they ate. Then, while the dishes were being cleared away, nobody moved, and the redhead was the first to speak.
"Kelly's doing a lot better than I thought she would by now. Her healing rate surpasses yours," she said, looking at Helena, who seemed slightly surprised as well. Then Barbara shifted her attention between Dinah and Gabby, who was already feeling uneasy and started to fidget. "Something tells me you know what you're doing. If you want to tell them, I won't stop you. Just... be careful." At this, Gabby looked at Dinah as if to ask what her former English teacher was talking about, but the meta teen didn't meet her friend's eye, as she was too busy looking at her guardian. They didn't look away, and Helena made a show of eating her salad to show she was out of it, whatever 'it' was. Gabby noticed a promise in Dinah's eyes and a plea in Ms. Gordon's. Suddenly, Dinah sighed and nodded, breaking their silent communication. Her eyes then finally found Gabby's.
"When Kelly wakes up," Dinah said, her eyes shifting over to Helena and then back to her friend, "We'll talk." Gabby could only nod.
Twenty minutes later, Dinah took the three comforters offered by Alfred and took them to the room Kelly had been in all night, where she spread one of the biggest ones on the floor, then gave one to Gabby and wrapping the other one around herself. Two pillows were thrown at her head when the teen was in the process of laying down, which caused Gabby to giggle at the look of death on her face. Then the two blondes settled down to sleep after slight bickering between the sisters and after Helena turned out the lights for them.
A small puff of air and the presence of something really close to her, touching her made Gabby open her eyes. At first, the girl was confused as to why she was on the floor, then she remembered that she was at Dinah's, wherever the heck that was. The blonde saw Dinah in front of her, and she was still asleep, but she still felt the air next to her face. She slowly looked towards the ceiling, where a pair of icy blue eyes stared down at her as the snout continued to sniff at her. "Kelly?" At the sound of her name, the wolf slowly moved to settle herself on the comforter next to Gabby and seemed to guard them. Gabby slowly sat up, and in what little light the room offered, looked at Kelly's shoulder. The gunshot wound wasn't bleeding, and it looked to be scabbed over, as if it had happed a week ago. Gabby didn't understand at the moment why she was so calm about sharing her comforter with her best friend the wolf. She should've been afraid, forgetting that the wolf was Kelly, but both were calm. The blonde slowly rest her head on her pillow, watching the ice of the wolf as Kelly's eyes closed, and she started falling asleep too.
Dinah woke up a couple of hours later to the sound of Gabby's voice, a soft giggle that made the superhero roll over to face her friend. Gabby was watching Kelly, whom had shifted into a wolf at some point in the night. The wolf was on her back, sprawled out with her paws in the air and tongue hanging out of her mouth as she slept. Dinah couldn't believe this was the same wolf who bit her in the calf earlier in the week, the same wolf who searched frantically for its pack (so she'd thought). "Someone's comfortable," Dinah said with a smile, and Gabby looked over at her. Kelly's ears twitched and the eyes opened a little bit. "Good morning," Dinah said to both of her friends. Kelly rolled over and stood up, slowly walked to Dinah, and licked her nose before going to the bed. Dinah looked at Gabby as she laughed again, then the curly haired blonde went silent as Kelly shifted into her human form. Both blondes quickly looked away, registering her nakedness.
"I'm never gonna get used to that," Gabby said. Kelly smiled a little grimly.
"Neither am I," she said, which surprised both blondes. "So, I'm guessing you two want to know what's up?"
"Yeah," Gabby said at once, causing Dinah to frown.
"Not unless you're ready," Dinah said.
"No, Dinah. I think I've waited long enough. My best friend is a wolf, and I am not exactly sure, but I think my other best friend who's kind of psychic lives inside the city's clocktower. You said we'd all talk as soon as Kelly woke up, and I want to see some jaws flappin'." In a smaller voice, she said, "Don't back out of that promise now." It seemed to Dinah that Gabby was trying not to show some of the desperation she was feeling, yet it could still be heard in her voice. Gabby, for all her forcefulness and strong willed demeanor, was scared. Scared that she would remain in the dark about all of this, especially when there was a danger out there trying to hurt her best friend, and had almost succeeded.
"It's okay," Kelly said as she dressed, cutting off Dinah's argument. "You've seen me in both forms now. I can't... not owe you an explanation." Kelly pulled her shirt she'd wore the night before over her head with one hand, slowly putting it over her wound. Dinah was about to tell her that Barbara would need access to her shoulder but decided against it. "I want you to know, Gabby... that you'll always be my best friend. I didn't want the wolf I become to hurt you, but after last night and earlier this morning, I've come to know that I never would. Even in my wild consciousness, I knew that you were... part of my pack, I guess. You were someone to protect at all costs. Kin, family." Dinah was just as surprised as Gabby to hear this, but she felt pleased as if the words were directed at her as well. "I'm not sure exactly where to begin to tell you this. It all is so weird. I mean, one day I am normal, and the next day... I am this."
"Well, you changed at camp. It happened there, didn't it?" Gabby asked, and no one in the room needed to know what 'it' was. Kelly's eyes became sad as the memories of that passing summer came to her.
"Yes," she said in almost a whisper. "I was going to be a councilor in training, remember? It was a paid training, but only a couple bucks an hour on top of the half off the camp fees." Kelly looked at Dinah, pinning her as she had a few times before with her eyes. "I met Mandy there."
"Mandy..." Gabby murmured, looking at Dinah as well. "Mandy Fairbanks from last night?" she asked, and Dinah nodded.
"The camp was in Bludhaven, then?" Dinah asked, knowing the answer already. Kelly nodded. "Go on," she said, and Kelly nodded again.
"Yes, Mandy Fairbanks. She didn't really have any set job there at the camp. She kinda did a little bit everything. Whatever needed done, she did. She helped out in the kitchen, she cleaned up after activities, she played substitute councilor if one needed a little bit of time or wanted to go off and go horseback riding or whatever... She looked after us female CIT's and slept in the cabin with us, not having anywhere else to be. I had a huge crush on her. There was something wild about her that attracted me to her, but she never knew my name except to call it in the morning after breakfast. I don't remember exactly how I found out about her. Sometimes... It feels as if my life before the wolf doesn't quite exist. I... I think she had left the cabin, and I heard her returning. I saw her shifting back. I bugged her about it, convinced it wasn't a dream no matter what she kept saying. After all, I am a born citizen of Gotham. I knew about the special people around the city, but I had never met one. Finally, she got so mad at me, her eyes got almost clear, and her face changed. She didn't mean it, but it was the proof I needed that I was right. She couldn't deny it to me anymore. With that secret between us, we became closer until I just couldn't stop myself from kissing her." Kelly stopped for a moment before she whispered, "I thought she might've felt the same for me as I had for her, but now I will never know."
"Kelly?" Not knowing what happened to Mandy, Gabby felt a little bit of fear about what was to come in Kelly's story.
"We started dating- kinda. I mean, we'd kiss. Once after we almost got caught, Mandy ended it. I'm still a minor and she was twenty-four. She said she'd try again in two or three years when I was of age, you know? I didn't believe her, and she wanted me to know she was serious, so she proved it. I didn't think she would, but she did. We did kind of a blood bond. She said-" Kelly swallowed. "She said with my blood in her veins, there was no way she could forget me, and I believed her..." The brown haired girl swallowed and fought back more tears, right before she sighed. Gabby stood up long enough to go to her best friend and put a gentle arm around Kelly's shoulders, watching for the wound. "Thanks Gabster," she said gratefully.
"I changed that night. My mind got all of these violent thoughts and I dreamed of hunting. When I woke up, I could smell... everything. I heard everything. I was in such a bad mood, and I wanted to kill a couple of the other CIT's for breathing too loud. I never told Mandy, but she knew. She could smell the change in my own scent. She was so surprised when she found out just what made my scent different. She'd never known anyone to have a power similar to hers, though she had heard the murmurings in New Gotham of the cat women that ran around at night, one a thief and one a...." Kelly looking at Dinah again. "One, your sister."
"Yes," Dinah said softly.
"Anyway... She did what she could to show me how to dull the senses, but it seemed as if part of me didn't want me to. She seemed to be a little more interested in me after I developed that power. She couldn't seem to keep her hands off of me, not that I complained any, it was what I wanted. She and I got caught. Another CIT saw us kissing and told the head director. I got kicked out of the CIT program and went to live with my aunt in upper Bludhaven. Mandy got fired, and she never told me where she went. I didn't know where she lived. When I got home, though, her 'Dear Jenny' letter was waiting for me. The more I felt my senses get better, the more I thought about camp and Mandy, and the more I thought of all of that, the angrier I became. I thought about hunting all the time, especially when I saw squirrels. It was disgusting. I mean, I used to be a vegetarian and now I eat my steaks rare. My temper was horrible. I got in trouble all the time. The only thing that made any sense to me was running the track in PE. I never got tired, but I never thought about anything. I always wanted to tell you, Gabby, but how do you tell your best friend that you're a freak?"
"Exactly as you are now," Gabby said, and Kelly nodded.
"Even if you did manage to believe me, Gabby, would you have stayed by my side as my friend, knowing that I hunt? That I... kill?" At this, Gabby stayed silent as she thought this through. Then she gave her friend a hug.
"I don't know." Gabby admitted. Dinah began to fold up the bedding on the floor after feeling a little bit fidgety at the scene before her.
"I didn't want to get angry at you for something stupid. I didn't want you to have to put up with my temper, so I left you, and I'm so... sorry." Kelly said. Gabby was silent for another moment.
"Well, put me in your shoes, and I would do the same thing."
"Mandy had just hurt me so badly, turned me... into that, and I felt so shameful. Then the new girl comes," Kelly said, shifting her gaze to Dinah, who stilled her movements. "I could tell right off that something was different about you, Dinah. I sensed it. You were so similar to Mandy in that way. You both have the same way about you. Must be the powers. Maybe I'm that way now, but then, I saw you. I felt that same pull to you that I felt for Mandy, and I just couldn't have that. I couldn't let you hurt me too, so I called you the first name that came to my mind then. And you were right, I could have come up with something better, but I panicked. You were right there, and I had to push you off before Gabby could invite you to sit with us. It worked. After that, it was easier to taunt you when you and Gabby became friends. I would sometimes convince myself that you had taken her from me instead of what really happened. But then, you remember when the whole city went completely bat shit?" Dinah grinned at the phrase, considering the irony of Kelly's words.
"Yeah, too well," Dinah said.
"It was so odd," Gabby added in. "I locked the doors and hid in my parents' room until the next day when they came back."
"That night, I could smell blood everywhere. It almost drove me into some sort of frenzy. Then, at around midnight, it felt like someone was squeezing my brain and my entire body. I heard a howl so far off, and I knew it was her. I knew right then that Mandy had died that night. Suddenly there was pain everywhere. I don't remember anything else, but I was naked in my back yard the next I knew, and I choked on a feather." Kelly's 'ick' face made Gabby giggle, even though she knew she shouldn't have. "I think something happened with my family in that time. They knew about me, and I think like with you, Gabby, the wolf I became knew they were my pack and didn't harm them, but that didn't stop my baby brothers from fearing me. The same thing happened again a couple of days later. The pain was so bad, it was almost as if I left myself as the wolf took control, but that scared me. I only let it do that twice, once because I couldn't fight it, and once because I didn't know how. Then, I could see. I- I was there and I would try to move a muscle, but like a coma patient, I couldn't.
"That day I fought you, Dinah, I had gained control of the wolf. I only meant to run home and force myself to shift back. I even had snarled at people to get them out of my way, but you stopped me, and the wolf's instincts kicked in to defend itself. I'm glad you beat me up a little with your force fields. I fought the wolf from the inside, forcing myself to shift. I wasn't planning on revealing myself to you. I knew from the past that if the wolf felt as if it was going to shift back, it would stop whatever it was doing and find a place to hide, preferably my house. The wolf understood that it had to be alone to complete the shift. It worked, and it was because of you I learned how to control that part of me better."
"Wait, Dinah has force fields too?!"
"I'll explain," Dinah said calmly, "after Kelly's done."
"You better," Gabby warned. Dinah only nodded, and looked at Kelly expectantly.
"It got harder to fight off my attraction to you after that. I was grateful to you for freeing me, and the wolf part of me saw you as the alpha."
"Glad you both approved," Dinah said to lighten the mood a little bit. Kelly smirked.
"I would've shifted in the library, but I knew I wouldn't have hurt you. It was Miss Dominique I was worried about. If she thought I was to hurt you and tried to defend you or something, and I was at the same time trying to protect you as my alpha, she would have gotten hurt. That was why I ran off after I kissed you."
"Whoo whoo!" Gabby teased when Dinah colored a little bit.
"Shush," Dinah said, looking away from both of her friends.
"So, Kelly?" Gabby asked, which caused Dinah to look again at her friend. "What about the howling?"
"Stress relief, I think," Kelly said.
"Why were you out and about last night if you can control this wolf now, and why do you think you're being hunted?" 'Very good questions,' Dinah thought.
"I was on my way home from the track field. I was headed towards the subway when I felt someone watching me. I switched course and went another way. I was still being watched. There were too many people around me to know who, but they were watching me, and as I got to your part of town, I knew I was being followed. Then it was weird, like one second I felt that presence following me, then suddenly there were two presences watching me. I got scared, and it caused me to shift. I heard a click, then a grunt right before the gunshot. The pain in my shoulder where I was shot wasn't as bad as the pain of the first couple of shifts, but it still hurt like a bitch. I felt myself being touched, and I barked to scare them off. It worked, I think. One of the presences was gone, and only the first one remained. I only wanted to get home. The wolf in me took over for a second, and I let it. It then heard you, and I heard you, and I told the wolf to go to you. It's like the wolf loses it's control over me if you call it by my name. And... now I am here."
"You don't know who did this?" Gabby's voice was angry, but not at the wolf metahuman.
"No, there were two people there, and I couldn't tell which presence shot me," Kelly replied. "Their scents are familiar to me, like I should know them, but maybe I only smelled them those times I had blacked out. I keep wondering if in those times I was blacked out as the wolf I had hurt someone and those people want revenge for what I have done."
"We'll get on it," Dinah said, and Kelly nodded, lost in thought.
"They're like me- us, I think." It was a softly spoken statement, and Dinah had to agree. It seemed too weird to be something normal people could do, and the thoughts of the possible metahuman gifts that could do what those two had done made Dinah frown, for it just didn't quite make sense. Dinah's eyes then landed on Gabby.
"How are you taking all this?"
"Better than I probably should be," Gabby replied.
"Good." Dinah went to sit on the other side of Gabby on the bed.
"Yeah," Gabby said with a sigh. There was a silence as everything seemed to sink in for the two blondes before Gabby suddenly hit Dinah's leg. The smack echoed slightly in the room.
"Don't you dare say you didn't deserve that! Why didn't you tell me about your force fields?!"
"Gabby, they aren't force fields, exactly. I don't know what they are, but Helena calls them my telekinetic blasts, and it sounded cool, so the title stuck," Dinah said, rubbing her leg firmly to get rid of the stinging. Gabby almost didn't hit like a girl, and Dinah bit back her butch comment to save herself from being hit again. Dinah told her friends everything from her first dream at age nine to the adventures she had while in New Gotham to the night Harley Quin attacked New Gotham. "I sometimes pretend it is the same thing that caused my mother's Canary Cry mixed with my own telekinesis, because I didn't start those until after my mom died. All it does is knock people over."
"But it is so useful. It saved you from me." Kelly said, and Dinah could hear the bitterness in her voice.
"Don't put it like that. We're even, okay? We really are," Dinah said, referring to the odd statement Kelly had made earlier in the week when they'd become lab partners. Now Gabby was really lost. She looked around the room and saw the light coming in through the window. She knew they had to get going.
"Hey um... shouldn't we be getting our happy asses to school?" she asked, looking at Kelly.
"I feel good," the wolf metahuman said. She took her shirt off, and the scab that was her bullet wound seemed considerably smaller.
"Good god," Dinah said excitedly," Helena's gonna be so jealous to know just how quickly you heal." She didn't know why the thought of this excited her so much. Kelly smiled a small smile at her, and Dinah returned it.
"So we're off to school then? All of us?" Gabby asked again, and Dinah nodded.
"We'll have to get through the Barbara security first, then drive to your houses for backpacks- Kelly, you've got to check in with parents and tell them we kidnapped you for a Brad Pitt-athon or George Cloony or... something."
"Her mom wouldn't believe that-" Gabby started to say.
"But the way my family has been acting towards me, I wonder if they were relieved I was gone all night." Kelly cut in.
"Hey hey," Gabby said, rubbing her best friend's back. "Tell your mom that we had an Angelina Jolie-athon. Would she believe that?"
"As much as she would believe the Brad Pitt-athon. She'd believe a Johnny Depp-athon, though."
"Great, we got it. Let's go," Gabby said, getting off of the bed.
"Why are you so eager to get to school?" Dinah asked.
"No offence to you two, but school is something a little more... what I know."
"More normal, you mean?" Dinah asked. At Gabby's look of slight shame, Dinah said, "I guess I could understand that. Sometimes I crave normal."
"We all do, whether we're... not normal or... not." Kelly said. Gabby sighed, feeling a little down suddenly. She regretted what she had said, when she had seen the look passed between her two friends when Kelly had said that. Both of them were so different they were alike, and that made Gabby, the only 'normal' one there, an outsider to their world. The closest she could be to understanding them is their 'closet' scenarios, but she knew it still made her the third wheel, as she came out of the closet and they never could. Not about that. Not without dangerous consequences. She had to face it though. In comparison, her life would be so much better than theirs, even if she got caught up in the superhero lifestyle, knowing their secrets and being a target for enemies. She'd seen the movies. She knew how it went. Secrets such as theirs fast become burdens, and it wouldn't be long before the misery settled in. Still, Dinah had a way to be content with it. She didn't seem to hate her gifts as Kelly did. Maybe she had gone through that stage, and now used her gifts to protect people. Once Kelly got to that stage- if Kelly ever got to that stage and also became a protector of the city, would there be a place for a 'normal' girl like her?
"Besides, whoever is hunting you needs to know that you're not down for the count and that you're not an easy kill. It'll make them think twice before they try again," Dinah said, her gaze shifting between her two friends.
"Yeah, you've got backup now, and we'll help you. Dinah with her telekinetic blasts of force field doom, and me... with my.... um... I'll find some rocks, but you're not the lone wolf in this, okay?" Kelly smiled, and she looked like there were tears forming. "Almighty, so enough with the after school special. Time to go!" Gabby said loudly, turning away from her friends and walking out of the room. She poked her head back in about ten seconds later. "Uh, where's the bathroom again?"
Over an hour and half later, all three girls were stood outside the doors to New Gotham High school. Barbara argued the point that she didn't feel comfortable taking her to school and had offered Kelly a ride home instead, but after showing her the dime sized scab on her shoulder, the redhead couldn't say anything more, as there was nothing more she could do for the girl. Dinah also retold her argument about proving to the hunter that Kelly wasn't and easy target, and was surprised when even Helena backed her up on that. If there was anything Barbara hated the most, it was being out numbered and/or proven wrong. Kelly looked around slowly to make sure she was safe. People where everywhere, and as usual for that week, there were too many scents to take in, but there was a familiar mixture in the air that came her way when the wind shifted just right. She frowned, and Gabby noticed it. "You okay?"
"I think so. It's different."
"What's different?" Gabby asked her, shifting so that she was facing her best friend.
"I... I don't know. I can almost single out who smells like what. I couldn't do that before."
"You think because you went through this huge ordeal of being... you know..." Gabby lowered her voice, "shot, everything has changed for you? You know, perspective and such?"
"Maybe," Kelly said, "but somehow, I don't think that is all. I think I smell them. The ones who were there last night. They're near."
"Holy shit, dude!" Gabby said, and Dinah elbowed her to quiet her.
"So... what do they smell like?" Dinah asked.
"Ew, why do you want to know that?" Gabby asked with an 'ick' face.
"To see if maybe their is a specific gender to them, or if there's a scent that is only in certain areas around town. Like the more earthy they smell, the further south of Gotham they live, which is where the wooded areas are, and if they smell more like mould and ash, then we know they live closer to the north east of Gotham, where a lot of that area hadn't been built over, and is what remains of the earthquake. Stuff like that," Dinah explained patiently.
"The nose knows," Gabby said.
"Just... everything is different. Scents. Gabby, you're even different. I think you're the most different."
"No offence, Kels, but don't tell me something like that. That is just weird."
"Does all this bother you, Gabby?"
"No, but all this talk about scents, and you smelling me... it is just a little weird right now, okay?"
"Alright, I won't talk about your scent anymore, but I need for you to understand that my sense of smell is the one thing about this... this... power I can rely on," Kelly said. Knowing Kelly's struggle with this part of her, which she separates from herself as well as includes in who she is, Gabby knew how hard it was for her to admit she needed any part of her new self.
"I can understand that," Gabby said. To sort of make amends for being a little bit of a punk, she asked, "So... um... it's different. You smell people individually now?"
"Yes, faintly. That was what I meant to say," Kelly said. "It was all jumbled before- and yesterday. Now I smell everyone, but I think I have to get close to them to know who belongs to each smell. Like... I think if you two were to get lost in the crowd, I'd find you by scent alone, but anyone else, I don't think so." Gabby tried not to look uncomfortable as the topic of her scent came up again, and Kelly looked a little sheepish. "Sorry," she said. "What I meant to say in a round about sort of way, is I think they are near, but I don't know still who they are."
"This is great though. If you get near to them, you think you will know who they are?"
"We need to tell Barbara. We sort of left her out of a lot of this, but I think she needs to know just what is going on and what we are doing. That way, we will also have a backup with a back up plan," Dinah said. The warning bell rang and all three girls sighed, though Gabby's was the only one with some amount of relief in it.
"I'll save a seat for us at lunch," Gabby said as they walked to each other's lockers and the to the joined math rooms. Though they had a seating chart, Kelly sat next to Dinah, and they remained in silence for those two minutes. Kelly really wanted to talk about that kiss, but she knew that Dinah didn't want to touch that topic, so she settled for just being near the blonde. If she were honest with herself, Gabby was absolutely right. Since she had gotten shot, everything seemed different to her. Things she never noticed before, and things she wanted to say were on the tip of her tongue when before, she could fight herself so easily to keep it all at bay. The truth was, she wanted to spend the rest of her life cuddling with Dinah, and that made her uneasy. Didn't she just a couple of months ago want to spend the rest of her life with Mandy? Was it the wolf she became wanting to take a mate? Or did she just have a thing for blondes? No, if that was merely the case, she would have been all over Gabby as well or instead.
Still, she couldn't help wanting to be near Dinah, and since she had gotten shot, she wanted to tell Dinah that she wanted to be with her. Part of her felt as if it was a race against time. She didn't want to die without the blonde next to her knowing how she felt. The question was, how did Dinah feel? Kelly felt the presence of someone coming towards them before she looked up to see Victoria, the girl who's seat she had taken for that short time. She now knew what Victoria smelled like. Luckily, she smelled like jasmine and a hint of soot. She wasn't her shooter. Kelly gave Dinah a parting glance and saw the look of 'don't go' pass quickly in the other girl's eyes before she nodded back.
Later, in Dinah's English class, Dinah got a page with her updated grade on it. Her story raised her grade from a C to a low B, and she wanted to do a little dance. She then took her story out and looked it over again. After that class, she handed the story to Janel on her way out, then went to her next class.
The cafeteria was packed, as it was personal pizza day, and Dinah saw that Gabby and Kelly had beaten her there. Kelly looked a little uneasy if not a little fearful, and Gabby looked as if she was trying to solve a textbook worth of trigonometry mentally. It was an almost constant look she'd been sporting all day, but she hadn't said much other than her piece about the topic of scent weirding her out. Dinah knew that there was a lot to think about, and she had seen that Gabby knows which questions to ask, so it would be interesting to see what she comes up with if she got the courage to ask them. It was an unspoken rule to not talk about anything from the night before inside the school's walls, but there was also that tension between the three friends, and they all knew they'd never be the same again knowing what they knew about each other. Dinah had hoped that was a good thing. Maybe it all just needed time.
Dinah said hello to her friends before she got in line with Kelly, and Gabby played with her packages she'd gotten from the vending machines and the school store. None of it had any nutritional value to it, but then, what in that school worth eating did? Dinah stood as close behind Kelly as possible without touching her, and Kelly leaned in so that they were. Kelly could feel Dinah's breath on the back of her neck, then the blonde's nose in her hair. Kelly took a step forward to fill in the gap in the line in front of her, but Dinah followed, then moved away. Kelly missed her touch and wanted to bury her nose in her neck and kiss Dinah's worry lines away. 'Damn it, why are you distancing yourself from me?' the wolf metahuman asked in her mind.
Back at the table, Gabby drummed on the table she'd saved and saw a girl she had seen around (mostly in detention, tell no one), but had never talked to approach her, which was odd until she said, "Have you seen Dinah? I'd like to give this back to her, and I know she hangs out with you." Gabby smiled and pointed at the lunch line, where Dinah and Kelly grabbed trays and a small carton of chocolate milk. Then she took the papers from the girl.
"So, what is this?" she asked, even as she read over the title.
"It's Dinah's short story for our English class. She was writing hers on a wolf, and since that's my favorite animal, she let me read it once it was finished and graded."
"Neat!" Gabby said. "You want to sit with us?"
"Nah, can't. Got a- uh, game of Clue with Miss Dominique in th library. Can't break the date or I'll lose my four day winning streak. And yes, I know how much of a loser I sound," the large framed girl said, and Gabby laughed.
"You don't sound losery to me. Have fun with your game."
"Yeah. I'll see you around." Gabby watched as the African American girl left, then jumped as two trays clanked onto the table top. She saw Dinah pick up her final draft as she sat, but Kelly still stood, watching Janel until she was completely out of sight. She waited another moment before she slowly sat down at last. Gabby's focused frown was back on her face.
The three girl made their way down to Ms. Gordon's English class room, where the redhead was known to have her lunch everyday. During the Zippergirl term, Dinah spent almost two weeks eating lunch with Barbara until Gabby started speaking to her and told her to meet her for lunch one day. As usual, Barbara sat at her desk with an apple and a Subway sandwich. When she saw them, she put her sandwich back in its wrapping and wiped her mouth with the napkin. "Ladies, what can I do for you?"
"Hey Ms. Gordon," Gabby said.
"Hey Ms. Gordon," Kelly echoed. Barbara nodded, then looked at the three as she waited for an answer.
"Uh, Barbara, this morning before school, Kelly could smell the two people who were there last night when she was shot."
"Did you get the feeling of which one actually pulled the trigger?" the redhead asked.
"One of them was close to me because they touched me, but the other one was farther away. I'm pretty sure the one who was far away was the one who shot me."
"Okay," Barbara said, going to her computer.
"Ms. Gordon?" Gabby asked tentatively, looking around the room, then avoided eye contact with her ex English teacher, who made her nervous since the night before at dinner.
"Do you think that... they're two meta... humans? One with invisible powers and one who could teleport, like that blue guy in X-Men?"
"Invisible, yes," Dinah responded, "but the person who had the ability to teleport is dead."
"How do you know?"
"It was... Nathaniel Fairbanks who had that power," Barbara said.
"Mandy's brother?" Kelly asked. She had heard Mandy once or twice mention a brother, but she didn't know he too had certain powers, or if he had, she thought they would have been like hers. Barbara and Dinah both nodded.
"Wow, okay. Um..." Gabby was silent for a moment, then she looked up again. "Wait," she said, then looked around again to make sure no one was in range to hear her. "You said that this... power to be metahuman was in the blood."
"Sure," Dinah agreed, wondering but somewhat knowing where her friend may have been going with this.
"When your adopted sister's mother died, didn't she get those powers? And you, you said your telekinetic blasts were liked a bit of your mother's Canary Cry mixed with your own telekinesis. And Kelly, you had Mandy's exact blood in you, so you get her exact power. I'll bet is Mandy had never died, she would've kept the shift and you would've been a little more like Helena- human with that animalistic personality, but since she did die, you got the shift, almost like next of kin. So, couldn't someone else in the Fairbanks bloodline, even a cousin or something have gotten Nathan's power, just as Kelly got Mandy's?"
"It is definitely possible," Barbara said, looking at Gabby in amazement.
"She's been doing that all week," Dinah told the redhead.
"Doing what?" Gabby asked, which made Kelly giggle. "What?" the curly blonde repeated, looking around the room in slight bewilderment.
"Alright. I'll look through the Metahuman Databases, but I must warn you that I only know about their powers if they've been used before in public, mostly in aid of a crime, and if they are students here, I don't know if I'll find them."
"Okay. Well, at least now we'll know kind of what we're looking for. Definitely worth looking over Mandy's family tree again," Dinah said, and Barbara nodded. There was silence until a student came in five minutes early for their junior class required English.
"Anything else?" Barbara asked, looking pointedly at Dinah.
"Can I go over to Gabby's tomorrow?"
"I forgot about that," Gabby said, referring to the housework she had to do that weekend, and explained it to the redhead.
"Well, if that's the case... yes. You'll just spend Sunday doing homework." Dinah nodded, and Barbara looked at Kelly. "You going home after school?" Kelly took in a deep breath and let it out.
"I should. My parents..." she hesitated before she started speaking in a low tone so the other student in the room didn't hear her. "My parents may fear me, but I am still their daughter. They might get worried if I stay gone too long from the house."
"Alright," Barbara said again. "I'll see you after school Dinah." the blonde metahuman looked sceptical for a moment, which caused Barbara to add, "I mean it." Dinah shrugged, and the three teen girls made their way through the halls towards Kelly's social studies class, then Dinah and Gabby hurried to their art class.
Both blondes loved art class on Fridays, as Mrs. Thome allowed them to do whatever they wanted (within reason) as long as it got done by the end of that period. Gabby and Dinah often chose to draw, or on the rare occasion, make a collage. As Gabby got out two pieces of big, thick drawing paper, Dinah got two of the charcoal pencils, and they got to work immediately. At least, Gabby got to work immediately. Dinah drew a blank (pun intended) as soon as she sat down. Gabby, on the other hand, focused on her work as if lost in a trance. She always got this way when she drew, and Dinah knew better than to speak to her. The week before, she drew a faerie dancing on a stump, which symbolized her playful mood (Gabby always drew faeries when she was happy or excited). She had been eager for their weekend at the time, as they had just gotten through talking about it before she had drawn then. The point of the Friday Free Reign was to create in that moment an image to reflect how you feel. Dinah had drawn a Jack O' Lantern with a question mark for a face the week before, but now she felt so much, she didn't even know which to put to paper. Then, she started to doodle, making boxes mostly, until slowly a hairy something beast was drawn coming out of one of the boxes. Hearts, birds, question marks, the number seventeen, lips and a ghostly shadow followed. Ten minutes later, Dinah looked over to see what Gabby had been focused on and saw a crying girl under a full moon. The moon was complete, the girl was just about done, and Gabby was at the moment drawing threes around the unfinished girl, making it look like she was in a forest clearing.
Suddenly Gabby stopped drawing, stared at the page, then started to erase some of the girl's face in order to change the angle of her nose. She started to draw the girl's lips, which were curled in an 'o' shape. Above it, she wrote out broken letters indicating the howls. Looking hard at the girl in the picture, Dinah saw that the girl was wearing one of Helena's favorite shirts (and Dinah's favorite to borrow), and Dinah cold see that the girl Gabby drew was her.
Though Dinah asked many times why Gabby drew what she had, her friend would only shrugged and said, "It was what I felt like drawing at the time. You can have it once its graded if it'll make you feel better." Before Dinah could respond and tell her that no, it wouldn't have made her feel better, the bell rang, and the two had to part in order to be on time for their last class. Dinah wanted to scream. She wished she didn't feel so scared and lovely and confused all at the same time. She couldn't concentrate in her last class, but being a Friday no one could. The teacher gave in and let them leave ten minutes early. Remembering that Kelly had PE and knowing that students had to do the Knight Run on Fridays, which was either a mile around the track or sometimes an obstacle run around the school, Dinah made her way to the track field after grabbing her stuff from her locker, hoping that Kelly was still there. She wasn't disappointed.
While the rest of the class watched and said stuff like "Man, look at her go. She's like the Energizer Bunny," (to which a couple of guys laughed and wondered about her stamina in bed), Kelly ran the track at a good speed and rhythm. Dinah watched as she made her way to the bleachers. She knew that Kelly had sensed her when the brown haired girl's steps faltered and she looked up from the track in front of her. When Kelly spotted Dinah, she made her way around and jogged towards the bleachers. Dinah could tell that some of Kelly's classmates were waiting for a confrontation with the Zippergirl name thrown in somewhere, and were probably confused when there was silence between them as Kelly sat down next to her.
"Hey," Kelly said softly, taking in a deep breath, though she didn't seem all that winded. Dinah tried to ignore the closeness and turned a little face Kelly, accidentally bumping knees with the wolf metahuman.
"Hey," Dinah replied shyly. "How many do you think you did out there?"
"Didn't count," Kelly grunted as the two of them fell back into silence. They heard the bell signaling the end of class and the other kids scattered. Dinah and Kelly watched them leave and then Kelly purposely bumped Dinah's knee to get her attention. "Dinah, are we ever gonna talk about Wednesday?" Translation: 'Are we ever going to talk about that kiss?'.
"We kissed and you ran away from me. I mean, now I know why, but... All this time I thought you hated me when..."
"I know," Kelly cut in. "Look, if you don't feel the same way-"
"It's not that, okay? It's not that at all- I'm just... scared," Dinah admitted, tucking strands of hair behind her left ear nervously.
"Of- Of... Everything, I don't know. Of what may happen. I don't want-" 'what happened to Wade to happen to you,' she thought. "-to lose you before anything could come of this," she said instead.
"Are you talking about the person- or people who are hunting me?" Kelly asked.
"Yes, kind of."
"I've been thinking about that a lot too. I mean, Jesus, I was shot yesterday, not that anyone could tell now. Thank God for metahuman powers," Kelly said, her tone a little lighter.
"Power to the freaks," Dinah added, and Kelly smiled grimly.
"Yeah. If the people who are hunting me are related to Mandy, I must have done something stupid in the time I shifted and that wolf was in control."
"And you don't remember it?"
"Nothing. I dream of hunting a lot and wonder sometimes if that was what I did, but I won't know for sure." Dinah sat back a little bit as she thought of this. She took in a deep breath and let it out before she met Kelly's eye for the first time in many minutes.
"Maybe you will. Do you trust me?" Kelly didn't hesitate to nod, which touched the blonde. "Okay, take my hand." As soon as their fingers intertwined, Dinah was sucked into a vision. It was wild. More wild than the inside of Helena's mind, and Dinah knew she was where she wanted to be. She felt the wolf's reasoning which led to Dinah being the alpha, and forced the images to go further back in time. All she could get was once flash of an image. A man on the floor shielding his face. He had short raven hair and tanned skin. From the wolf's visual perspective, the wolf was on top of him, growling. Dinah gasped as she came back, and saw the horror on Kelly's face as their hands dropped. The wolf meta jumped up as she had that Wednesday after their shared kiss and backed up a few steps, almost tripping over the bench.
"I can't believe I did that," she said. She looked as if she was about to be sick, as if there was blood still in her mouth.
"If you were there in control, you wouldn't have," Dinah said. "You aren't a monster, Kelly." The brown haired girl turned away from Dinah and sighed sadly, as if she wanted to say 'Yes I am. You just don't understand'. Kelly wanted to believe the pretty blonde, but she had seen what she'd done, what she had imagined herself doing to people on more than a couple of occasions. She hastily wiped away threatening tears and started to walk away. "Come on," she said, not looking back, "we should go get my things from the locker room and then go get Gabby before she gets pissed and walks home without us."
"Yeah," Dinah said, deciding to leave it be for that moment and trotted after Kelly. The two girls went to the locker room and grabbed Kelly's change of clothes and then after she changed, they went to the flagpole. Gabby wasn't alone. She was talking to Janel, and seemed quite pleased with the slightly embarrassed look on the African American girl's face. Dinah smiled as she watched them together. "Somebody's got a crush," she said in a sing song voice as they neared them.
"Why not? She's cool."
"Hm," Kelly grunted, which caused Dinah to look at her.
"Uh-huh," Dinah said skeptically before she finished the walk to her friends.
"Hey Dinah," Janel said first. She handed the blonde the two pieces of paper that had the story on it.
"If you want, you can have that. I have another copy at home on the computer."
"Sure," Dinah replied as she saw the smile come back to Janel's face.
"Thanks! I really do like this story. The way you describe the night sounds is wonderfully creepy, yet I can't help but feel sorry for the wolf."
"Thank you," Dinah said, trying not to blush. She never saw herself as much of a writer, and figured that in her life the only thing she'd be any good at would've been the crime fighting. If she hadn't met up with Kelly the wolf, she wouldn't have had a clue for her story. She saw the smirk on Gabby's face and didn't need to be a touch telepath to know what her friend was thinking. 'I know why you can describe the night so well,' she seemed say to her before her attention shifted back to Janel.
"Are you gonna get in trouble for missing you detention?" Gabby asked, and Janel only shrugged.
"Probably. Be glad you're not in there today. Its getting more and more crowded and it hasn't yet occurred to them to hold detention in the theater or the cafeteria." Gabby nodded.
"You should get in there, then. You don't want to be stuck there longer than you already have to be," Gabby advised, "trust me."
"Okay, I guess I will see you... around?" Janel asked, unsure.
"You bet." Gabby said.
"Nice talking to you again, and Dinah, thanks."
"No problem. I'm glad you like it," Dinah said, watching Janel walk towards the door to the school. As she passed Kelly, the two of them stared at each other, but didn't say a word.
"What's wrong with you?" Gabby asked Kelly when finally she moved towards them.
"I'm sorry. Call me paranoid, but she makes me nervous. I think she always had, even before I became a rabid dog."
"Don't talk about yourself like that," Gabby said sharply.
"Oh but it's true," Kelly countered, her tone a sarcastic honey.
"No its not!"
"I hurt people Gabby!" Kelly said, her voice getting louder.
"Was it you or was it the wolf-"
"I AM THE WOLF!"
"HEY!"" Dinah said, stepping between her friends. She looked sternly at Kelly and said, "No one, especially your hunter really needs to know that, now apologize to your best friend."
"I'm sorry Gabster," Kelly said in a smaller voice. When Dinah remembered her role as a somewhat alpha, she winced, knowing that was why Kelly was so quick to obey her command.
"S'okay. Mind telling me what brought that on?" Gabby asked. In low murmurs, Dinah told Gabby what had happed on the bleachers and what they both had seen in the mind's eye of the wolf.
"I really did hurt someone. I don't know how badly, but I bet they didn't limp away like Dinah had," Kelly said at the end of it. "No wonder they want me dead." Gabby looked at Kelly sympathetically.
"Well, maybe you and Dinah can draw the scene. Maybe there is a picture on the mantle place or a view from the window that will help identify where you, the wolf had been that day and who you might have hurt. From there, we may know who might want to kill you. Afterwards, I know a simple 'I'm sorry' won't quite cut it, but I know you, Kels. I know you'll find a way to balance it all out."
"You're so amazing Gabby! I think I did see a picture of a baby on one of the walls. I will have to draw it to the best of my ability- Kelly you too, and we can give it to Barbara for a facial scan as well as an age manipulation. If we figure out who the baby is or was, then we'll have them. We'll know who lives there like you said!"
"And it would be even easier since we're already pretty sure that this meta...human is in Mandy's family," Gabby added, and Dinah nodded.
"We'll take care of this," Dinah said again to reassure her friends. "We will figure this out and hunt the hunter, so to speak."
"Come on Kels, I'll take you to the subway station."
"Alone? Gabby, you have nothing to protect you should something happen."
"Yeah, but there's safety in numbers," Gabby argued.
"You're right. I'll get a hold of Barbara. I just don't like the thought of us going anywhere three or less tonight." Dinah gave her friends a signal saying to hold on and she contacted Barbara on her comm. After a couple of more minutes, plans were set for the next day and Dinah found herself in the driver's seat of the car and taking her friends to where they needed to be. Finally, she made her way to the Clocktower, where Dinah set to work drawing the scene.
When at ten that Saturday morning Dinah still couldn't figure out who the baby in the picture on the mantle was, she set off to Gabby's house feeling frustrated. She got a ride with Helena, who was going to spend the day shopping, and agreed on a six o'clock time for Dinah to get back. If they were to be any later, she was to get a ride from Gabby's parents or take the subway. Dinah then understood Gabby's desperate need of a car. Right away, she saw the garage door open once the Hummer pulled up to the sidewalk, and she knew which chore they were tackling first. She got out of the car, waved to Helena, then joined Gabby and Kelly. Gabby was untangling Christmas lights and putting them in labeled boxes and Kelly was sniffing the air, then following the scent. Dinah wasn't sure what she was looking for, but she seemed to be finding it. Then she had her face twisted as she put a pair of kitchen gloves on and ducked behind a small stack of boxes labeled 'comic books and records'. "Hey Dinah," Kelly greeted without looking up from her task, then said, "Gabby, hand me the garbage bags."
"Why, what are you throwing away?"
"You've got a dead mouse," Kelly said. Dinah thought that someone like Kelly would have shrieked and gotten grossed out over something like that (and even she couldn't hide a grimace), but Kelly was calm as if talking about the weather. Then again, she could have hunted mice in the time she shifted.
"Ew! Get it outta here!" Gabby said.
"Well, hand me the garbage bags," Kelly shot back, rolling her eyes.
"I ain't going anywhere near that mouse!" Gabby told her, and Dinah almost saw her friend's arms cross over her chest.
"What can it do to you? It's dead-"
"I'll get the bag for you," Dinah said before they could start arguing. She grabbed the box of small white bags and handed one to Kelly. The wolf metahuman had the small brown body by its tail and wrapped it delicately with the trash bag.
"Throw those gloves out," Gabby ordered, and Kelly nodded. She then went inside after throwing both the mouse and the gloves away, and Dinah could hear the water running seconds later.
"Okay, so what'm I doing?" Dinah asked once things settled down a bit. She watched as Gabby wrapped duct tape around the string of lights she just wound, and placed it in the box.
"I've got some of my dad's tools to sort of organize and put away, since he doesn't use most of them, and then I think I will work on cleaning that grease spot that nearly killed me twenty minutes ago. You can take over the lights, and Kelly can clean up where that mouse was. She made an exaggerated shuddering motion at the mention of the mouse, then moved away so that Dinah could take her spot. Gabby then went over to the boom box that had up until that moment been playing at a low volume, and turned the music up. Dinah tried not to groan or she knew her friend would turn it up louder. Gabby's favorite radio station was the one created by the Disney channel, and most of those songs were bouncy preteens singing remakes from all the movies. Since no one touched Gabby's radio without pulling back a nub, Dinah and Kelly had no choice but to endure the slow torture.
Once Kelly got back into the garage, the three teens worked in silence until some prepubescent kids started up in the remake to Beauty and the Beast, which was Gabby's all time favorite song, so she sang along. With Gabby's voice blending in, the song actually wasn't half bad, but Dinah refused to admit to that. Gabby's singing voice was just good enough to make any crappy song better. After her song was over, Gabby said to fill the silence, "So... Last night I had this dream where we were a TV show. Well, you were, Dinah. I was in it for like an episode and had an appearance another, and Kelly had only one line."
"Lemme guess, 'Hey, it's Zippergirl!'," Kelly said.
"How'd you know?"
"Because you talk in your sleep."
"Oh... Well, anyway, the show only lasted for like twelve or thirteen episodes, but I started up a website called Gotham Nightmare where people sent me stories based off of it."
"You always did have strange dreams, Gabby," Kelly said, not looking up from her task of cleaning behind the boxes where the mouse had been.
"Yeah, I should like write some of them out. I'd make some kick ass indie movies or comic books." At this Dinah looked at Gabby, their eyes locking.
"You are good at drawing," Dinah said with a little bit of a glare, "even if you don't explain them." This earned her a hard look, but Dinah's own glare didn't leave.
"What'm I missing out on, or do I even wanna get involved," Kelly asked, her eyes switching back and forth between her friends.
"Dinah's mad because I drew her in art class and won't tell her what she wants to hear."
"Oh?" Dinah asked, "and what do you think I want to hear Gabby?"
"You want to hear some big thing, some deep emotional metaphor when I don't have one. I was thinking about you and Kelly and Janel and your house... That is what it came down to in the end of it all, okay?" Gabby's eyes shifted to Kelly, then back at Dinah before continuing their stare down.
"Okay, whatever." Dinah pushed past Gabby, grabbing someone's garden gloves on her way out of the garage without giving either Kelly or Gabby another glance. Kelly watched Dinah round the corner to the yard.
"What did you draw, Gabby?" the wolf meta asked her, and Gabby looked down. Then she rolled her eyes as if annoyed with herself before she met Kelly's icy blues.
"I drew her under the moon, crying and... howling."
"Yes, like you."
"Whatever it is, she doesn't need me to tell her why. She probably already knows, and that is what is upsetting her so much about it." There was another short silence as they continued their tasks. Kelly then helped Gabby move the hose and moved everything around the grease spot so it would get wet, then Gabby went to work cleaning it. After most of its slickness was gone, and after she'd put the tools away, Gabby was satisfied with the work done in the garage. She asked Kelly if she would start making lunch while she went to talk to Dinah. Kelly nodded and Gabby grabbed the other pair of garden gloves.
Dinah was yanking at a clump of weeds with her telekinesis as she grabbed at another with her gloved hands. Having never seen Dinah's powers in action, Gabby thought this was cool to watch before she remembered why she was there. "You're not, like, the wolf or anything. I just... I never knew before just why you looked so sad sometimes. So much on your plate at seventeen... Its enough to drive anyone crazy." The superhero said nothing. Gabby knelt, and with her own gloved hands, began to pull weeds in the static-y area the weeds seemed to pull themselves. "Dinah, are you afraid that it'll hurt more giving your heart to Kelly and this hunter succeeds in hurting her?"
"That's up there," Dinah responded curtly.
"Give me the rest of the list and we'll mark them off one by one," Gabby said, and Dinah was unsure if it was a sarcastic comment or not.
"Okay. First off, Kelly's got a whole lot more on her plate than I do right now. I have done the identity confusion thing with my powers. Two, she's part wolf now, whether she likes it or not, and in my research I found out that wolves mate for life."
"Wow, now that's commitment."
"One I'd be willing to make," Dinah admitted with a blush at Gabby's look. "There's still that fact that she still has all those issues over Mandy. Then there's those issues with herself, her family, us, school... Trust me, once the summer camp thing happened, school was the last thing on her mind, but it is still an addition to the stack. Being with me, dealing with me and my fucked up life after school, that is too much to ask of anyone, and if Kelly hadn't gotten shot... If Kelly didn't need you, I wouldn't have dragged you into any of this, either."
"I don't think that would've been an option. If you had continued to do that disappearing act of yours, one of those times I would have followed you and probably found out, anyway. As for Kelly, I don't think Mandy is on her mind so much anymore."
"That is where you are wrong, Gabby. When Mandy said they would never forget each other with their swapped blood in their veins, she was right. Mandy will always be there in the back of her mind every time she shifts... Every time she feels like a monster, a beast? Mandy will be right there."
"If she's with you, Dinah," Gabby argued, "maybe you will be in the front of her mind every time she controls the shift, or every time she helps someone with her power. If you stay with her whenMandy left her-"
"I will. You know I will." Dinah was quiet for a split second before she finished softly, "I always will, but not as her lover." The weeds that had been pulling from the ground throughout the conversation suddenly dropped, and the movement to Gabby's right stilled.
"That. That is why I drew what I did," Gabby said just as softly. She took off her gardening gloves and stared at her friend. "Come inside. We'll finish this after lunch." Dinah wasn't sure if Gabby meant the weeds or their conversation, but she nodded and took off her gloves as well. The superhero could smell tomato soup and felt the stirring in her stomach that said she was grateful for the break. Gabby got up and walked into the house, dusting off her knees and looking around as if to make sure no one just saw her do that.
It would be an understatement to say that there was a tension in the room while the three girls ate the tomato soup and ham sandwiches Kelly had made. They remained in silence as they served themselves, then started eating. All three of them thought about the conversation between Dinah and Gabby, the wolf meta having heard everything from inside the house. It was a time like that when Kelly wished she didn't have the heightened senses, but at the same time, she was glad she knew what floated through Dinah's mind. She didn't like the finality in which she spoke to Gabby, the certainty that there could be nothing between them. Kelly looked at her plate, wondering why she made herself a sandwich, yet she stared at it, daring herself to eat it. Part of her, the part she always denied seemed to salivate, while the so called human part of her was disgusted by the thought of it, especially after disposing of that dead mouse. 'How can you eat that?' the old Kelly seemed to ask the new one. 'Why would you want to?' But Kelly hunted many times before. At least this ham was cooked.
Before Kelly could continue along that road, she was startled when Gabby suddenly said loudly, "Mm!", which would have been 'Oh', or 'I know!' had her mouth not been full. The curly haired blonde chewed quickly and drank down her Dr. Pepper. "You guys, I've got it!" she cried excitedly.
"What?" Kelly asked, picking up her ham sandwich. Slowly, she took a bite, and seemed unsure if it was the most repulsive thing she'd ever eaten or if her mouth was in heaven.
'That's right, she's a vegetarian. Or she used to be, and now she's eating meat. Better than squirrels, though,' Dinah thought when she saw this on the other girl's face. She knew it was another thing Kelly would have to fight with the wolf over.
"I've been thinking-"
"Oooh, did it hurt?" Dinah broke in.
"Heh heh- Shut up." Gabby said back, but it wasn't harsh, and Dinah grinned without saying anything more.
"As I was saying, you guys, I think I've got it. I was thinking about that teleporter. I thought it'd be hard to catch them if they could just pop in and out like that unless it is a new power, and if they are students, it is a great possibility that it might be. In that case, we may have an extra second or two in which to respond, so I thought about this and I've got it. The collar!" Gabby was so excited that she'd be jumping up and down, running around and wagging her tail if she were a Chihuahua.
"What collar?" Kelly asked, but Dinah needed no clarification, and her spine went cold.
"That collar Dinah told us about that was put on her mother to stop her Cry? Yeah. If the teleporter gives us that extra second, it'll be enough for either Dinah or her sister Helena- who is so fast with her power- to put it on them and they can't teleport out!"
"That's an excellent idea, Gabby, it really is-"
"But I got that collar off with my telekinesis and it dropped to the ground. It never occurred to me to grab it for future uses. Lord knows it would have been useful for so much since then." Dinah made a mental list of all of the such instances where that collar would've come in handy. 'Clayface and son, Harley Quin, Cam...' "It got caught in the explosion at the warehouse. Otherwise I'd be all for that idea."
"But..." Gabby seemed a little dejected, and she wanted to say something that would've opened a large can of worms and most definitely hurt her friend. 'Your mother's killer survives the explosion with a face lift, yet the super hero Black Canary died? I don't think so.' Instead, Gabby thought about this for a second more. "Maybe... Maybe- It's a long shot, but if no one has messed with that warehouse since that explosion, we could- I don't know- look for even a fragment of that collar to see if Ms. Gordon can recreate it. If she made that thing for her spine and that weird thing to break down that Chameleon Guy's power, she'll be able to figure something out for that collar, right?"
"Jesus, Gabby!" Kelly broke in in exasperation.
"What?!" the curly blonde asked, wondering what she could have said to offend her friend, though she didn't know what.
"Do New Gotham a favor and become a detective," Kelly said, which made Dinah laugh.
"Yeah. It'll work too. Just act like a blonde and then slam 'em." Dinah added in. Gabby joined in the laughter. When they calmed, Dinah looked at her friend and considered what she was suggesting with her plan. "Seriously... It is definitely worth a shot. The warehouse was owned by Al Hawk's goons, and after Reese got them out of there, it's been pretty dead... No... No pun intended, I guess." Dinah took in a deep breath. "Anyway, it should be empty. We can check it out, and if it is there, we can get it to Barbara like you said. The worst that could happen would be that the collar is charred to hell, but at least we tried. That really is a brilliant idea, Gabby." Dinah couldn't help but get a little excited by the thought of it all. It broke the tension between the friends now that something was being done against the hunter.
Gabby nodded, determined to be right about this. "Good. So we go to the warehouse after we eat, and then we'll see how it goes."
"Yeah," Kelly added, pushing her sandwich away from her. She stared at it, then grabbed it again for another bite. The look on her face made it hard for Dinah to hold back a laugh, but she felt bad for the wolf meta as well. If Gabby wasn't there, she would've pulled Kelly into her and told her that she wasn't a monster. Not to her. She would have felt odd making any moves in Gabby's presence. She knew that Gabby would support them in a relationship, but it still made her uncomfortable to do anything.
The three teens' meal seemed to go by faster, as they were excited to get down to the warehouse. All of them had their own reasons for wanting to go. Of course, there was that universal reason of protecting Kelly, but Dinah wanted to get down there to maybe say goodbye and finally let go of the pain and anger of the past with and without her mother. Gabby wanted to prove herself right about this. She wanted to do something for her friends so that they will need her despite the fact that she's normal. Maybe she would become a detective. Maybe she could be that cop friend of the vigilante that help out in their own ways. Maybe then they can't move on without her and leave her behind. Gabby hoped she could begin her detective work at the warehouse, not only with the collar, but with any clues that may lead to the Black Canary still being alive. Kelly hoped that if this collar idea worked, then her hunter will be caught, whether or not she deserved to be killed by their hands. She hoped that maybe once that was over, things with Dinah might actually happen, because more than her normality, she found she wanted to be with Dinah more, and that thought scared her.
Wordlessly, the three teens left the Andrews' house and started towards the subway station, where they would get to the warehouse in less than twenty minutes. The air was a little bit colder, as it was still in the snowy season of New Gotham, and Dinah couldn't stop the shivers that came to her. Gabby looked between her two friends as she walked a little bit behind them. "Hey Kelly," she said, making the wolf metahuman turn to look at her, walking slowly backwards, "if you've got Mandy's blood in you and this hunter is somehow related to the Fairbanks family, does that mean you're somewhat related who whomever's trying to kill you?" At Kelly glare, Gabby said "What? It's an honest question."
"I am no more related to the Fairbanks family than I am related to you," Kelly said, her voice clipped. She then turned to continue walking forward.
"Alright, but the irony of that would be through the roof." Kelly was about to respond but stopped when she saw the group of boys walking towards them. She recognized them from school, but couldn't put a name to any of them.
"Mmmm, Zippergirl's lookin' hot." One of them said, which caused Kelly to glare at him as well. Dinah saw the tension in Kelly's muscles, and slowly reached out to grab her arm. When Dinah looked up after restraining Kelly, she saw who had spoken.
"You're not welcome to look, Demitri," Dinah replied, her grip getting tighter. "Kelly!" she hissed, and the brown haired girl calmed down, but not by much. Gabby, however was having a blast watching the display.
"I don't think you want to piss her off right now. I already did that, and I think she's looking for a reason to hurt someone."
"No, she's not like that," Dinah said. The three boys looked at the girls again, then continued on.
"Come on, I promised my brother I'd meet him at that collectibles shop. He's still trying to find that underground comic about that bat guy. You remember him? I was only eight or something when he disappeared..." Dinah watched them walk away.
"You can let go of me now," Kelly said softly, looking down at the ground. She couldn't believe she almost went after them like that. It wasn't like she had any sort of rights to Dinah, but she was so angry. "Damn it," she muttered. Dinah held onto her for a second longer than necessary and looked at Kelly, concerned. Kelly said nothing else and started walking faster. Dinah could only look after her, and as Gabby passed by her, she touched her forearm.
"S'okay. Give her a bit."
They reached the warehouse with no further incident if you didn't count the 'interesting' passengers on the subway, which the girls didn't. Dinah slowed down once she saw the street the warehouse was on, not sure if she wanted to go inside. She took in a deep breath and let it out. Kelly and Gabby followed. It was dark inside the warehouse, with only a few holes in the walls where the small windows had once been letting in any light. "So many people have been here," Kelly said softly.
"Homeless people?" Gabby asked just as softly.
"Homeless people, cops, firefighters, workers, teenagers looking for a fort... Damn. If its here, it'll be hard to find," Dinah said.
"I'll..." Kelly swallowed and looked guilty. "I'll shift. Maybe I will catch your earlier scent and see if the pieces are near there." Kelly looked at Dinah as if to silently ask for the okay. Dinah didn't care about the alpha role as she nodded.
"Alright. Gabby and I will look around. Anything that looks like a metallic collar let me know. We may catch pieces of barrel, but..."
"Cool, I'll be over here, you go over there and Balto can-"
"-sniff around that area for your and possibly Helena's earlier scents."
"Don't call me Balto," Kelly murmured sulkily, her face already morphing into its canine counterpart. What followed was a small growly noise as the wolf walked away sniffing.
"Gabby, stop," Dinah said gently. Gabby nodded and then turned to her area of the warehouse, and Dinah looked around in the opposite direction.
Like they had been at Gabby's house, the girls were silent except for the occasional 'Is this it?' from Gabby. Dinah looked around for the collar but could only seem to see grey and black except for a blanket that had obviously come in after the explosion. "Dinah," Gabby called after a few moments of digging, "is this what's left of that ropey pulley thing?" Dinah stood up and walked over to where Gabby's voice was heard. She looked at what Gabby had been pointing at, and then stared at the charred remains of the violent contraption. Slowly, she nodded. "Maybe... I know it'll be hard, but maybe you should be the one to look around here for it. You're the only one who could identify it even if it's burnt to hell." Dinah nodded again, knowing her friend was right.
"You're right," Dinah said. She crawled to the floor of the warehouse as she heard the padded sounds of Kelly's paws. The next thing she knew, she was nose to nose with the black and white wolf. "Hi," Dinah said, and Kelly bent to start sniffing around with her, as the young superhero felt around some more. She started in the area she remembered her mother standing tall even though the air was being forced from her lungs. She saw semi-circle and picked it up. She tried to forced the images of that night away, but they kept coming. She felt along its curve with her index finger, and closed her eyes.
"Is... that it?" Gabby asked in a hushed voice.
"Yeah, part of it." Dinah replied. She felt the fur before she saw Kelly again, sniffing at the semi-circle before she sniffed around for some other pieces. A couple of times, she pawed at the ash, and Dinah would find another small piece. Suddenly, she started up in a sneezing fit, which caused Dinah to place a hand on Kelly's back. "It's okay. We've got about three-fourths of it now. Thank you." Kelly butt her head into Dinah shoulder, and Gabby got up.
"Where are your clothes, Kelly?" The wolf motioned with her head in the direction she had been before joining Dinah in her search, and Gabby went to go retrieve them.
"Wow, this is more than I thought I would find," Dinah said softly, looking at the pieces of the collar in awe. Gabby came back and held Kelly's sweater up, and Dinah turned away.
"So you didn't think it'd be here?" Gabby asked, looking over the sweater to check up on Kelly.
"Quit watching me shift," Kelly grumbled in her half-growl.
"But it's so cool."
"Look away," Kelly ordered gruffly.
"Fine." Gabby huffed, looking back at Dinah.
"I didn't want to get my hopes up," Dinah replied when she saw Gabby looking at her expectantly.
"So you came to humor me?"
"Not exactly. It was a possibility. If we hadn't checked it out or at least had Helena do it, the 'what ifs' would've driven me crazy." Gabby nodded.
"Need that," Kelly said, grabbing the sweater, and Dinah pointedly looked away even though her back was already turned.
"Come on. We need to get out of this ash. I'm getting thirsty. How about we go to that corner store we passed and get something to drink." Gabby suggested.
"Sure." The teens hurried out of the warehouse, all looking guilty for breaking in, but none of them regretted it. Having been right about this and knowing that things would be okay from then on, Gabby seemed to almost skip down the sidewalk ahead of her friends. Dinah and Kelly walked side by side behind her, smiling at her version of an 'I told you so' dance. Once or twice Dinah's hand would bump into Kelly's and feeling bold, Kelly hooked her pinky with Dinah's. The blonde didn't respond negatively, and they continued to walk down the sidewalk linked. Dinah forced out thoughts of Gabby as being like 'their' cub as she walked with Kelly. Kelly felt better for being in contact with Dinah, but she wanted to sigh with frustration. She knew that until something happened with her hunter, nothing could happen with Dinah.
"Hey, what do you love puppies want? What kind of pop?" Gabby called to them from the entrance to the corner store.
"Sprite!" Kelly called back, wisely choosing to ignore the 'love puppy' comment. Dinah didn't seem phased by it either, so Kelly mentally shrugged it off.
"Sprite's fine for me too," Dinah said. Gabby smiled and disappeared inside. "As if she needs more sugar," Dinah murmured, which caused Kelly to laugh.
"Eh, let her have her moment," Kelly said as they approached the store themselves. "This is her way of coping, I think. Make jokes and be all over the place. That's her thing. She was like that when her grandmother passed a couple of years ago. This is really tough on her."
"I know." Dinah said. She stood next to the wall and leaned against it. Kelly stood by her side and waited in silence.
Gabby looked at her two friends from the window and smiled. If they were to date anyone, she'd prefer they dated each other. Then she started to think about Janel. She'd had a good time chatting with her the day before, and she saw a rainbow wristband sneak out from under her long black sleeve when she played with her earring while she spoke. Maybe (after Dinah and Kelly have figured things out) she could ask Janel out on a date and the four of them could double date sometimes. That would also mean that Kelly would have to get over whatever it was about Janel that make her nervous. She came out of the store a couple of minutes later and Dinah immediately handed her a five dollar bill. "Keep your money," the curly haired blonde said. Gabby could have sworn Dinah growled, which made her smirk for some reason.
"Take the money. Please. If only for future gas money."
"Alright, if it means it to you. After the car, taxes, insurance and tabs, I'll need it." She looked at Kelly and took in a deep breath. "I'm glad... So glad that we're getting somewhere with all of this." There, the one thing that no one wanted to say was now said, but all of them had been thinking it. She looked at the digital clock on the bank down the block before it flashed to showing it being 43 degrees. "I would love to continue playing Nancy Drew with you guys, but I have to baby-sit. I missed out on a night already this weekend, and if I miss this one, I'm afraid they'll find another sitter."
"Who're you watching?" Kelly asked.
"Caleb and Mackenzie."
"I don't envy you one bit," Kelly said with a laugh.
"Why, they bad kids?" Dinah asked.
"Nah, not bad, just hyper all the time. I swear they load them up with sugar and then release them on me. It'd explain why they go out all the time and pay me fifteen bucks an hour to watch them."
"Fifteen bucks an hour?! I was getting like four or five bucks an hour." Dinah said incredulously.
"You were like thirteen or fourteen and living in Opal Missouri," Gabby explained.
"Touché'," Dinah replied.
"So... Anyway, I am watching them the rest of the weekend. Are you going to church this weekend?" Gabby asked Kelly.
"Yeah, I've been gone too long. You wanna come, Dinah?"
At that, Dinah made a face. "Uh.. Church has never really been my... thing," Dinah replied slowly. "Besides, Barbara said that Sunday was my homework day, since I was helping Gabby clean."
"No big. You wanna come help me watch the twin terrors?"
"I thought you said they weren't that bad," Dinah said, which earned a wink.
"Yeah, I'll come. I must tell my mom where I am though, if only to let her know where I'll be."
"Cool. I think we should get going though. We can stop by my house and grab my cell phone from its charger, call your mom and leave a note for mine." The three teens walked together back to the subway station, where Gabby and Kelly took the R train while Dinah took the G train back to the Clocktower. On the way home, Dinah contacted Helena through the comms to tell her that a lift home wouldn't be needed.
Barbara stared at the screens in front of her as many faces flashed on each one. Dinah slowly exited the elevator and took a seat in the computer chair used on the rare occasion when Dinah or Helena babysat the Delphi in Barbara's absence. She walked towards her guardian, biting her lip at what she had to say, the long overdue conversation that she will have to bring up. When her guardian turned to look at her, Dinah said, "Barbara, we need to talk."
Once Dinah began to speak, she found she couldn't stop. She told her guardian about all of the theories and thoughts shared between herself and her friends. Dinah continued, describing the trip to the warehouse, to which the telekinetic took out the pieces of the collar and slid over to Barbara. The redhead stayed silent through all of this, inspecting the metal as Dinah finished speaking. An eyebrow rose. "You say this was Gabby's idea?" Barbara asked. She didn't even try to hide her surprise.
"Yeah. I never would've guessed she'd be so smart about this," Dinah admitted. "I mean, she ain't no dummy, but she doesn't seem the type to be more than average at anything. She doesn't seem to care whether or not she's more than ordinary, either." Barbara cringed at the bad grammar, then stared once more at the collar. Dinah watched her guardian's hands and waited impatiently for the verdict.
"Neither did I," Barbara said, "She's got a 2.3 GPA right now. If she is smart like this, then why are her grades low?"
"After seeing her room and sleeping habits, I'd say disorganization and laziness," Dinah said with a shrug. This earned a smile from Barbara. "So... is it too messed up to even tinker with?"
"No, I can work with this, I think."
"I know, no guarantees, but it was worth a shot. It was better than waiting around Gabby's house like sitting ducks. It's better than waiting for Kelly to die," the blonde finished in a whisper.
Barbara smiled sympathetically before she said, "I'll see what I can do." Dinah got up from her chair and hugged her guardian, relief evident in her whole posture.
"Thank you so much," Dinah said within a sigh. Barbara patted the blonde's shoulder blade and then watched as Dinah stood to her full height.
"Why don't you go change for sweeps, and I'll take a better look at this." Barbara suggested. Dinah nodded and left the room.
Dinah and Helena walked side by side down Northfield Boulevard, both silently enjoying the other's company when the steady rhythm of typing in their ear stopped abruptly. Then the clicking in both metahumans' ears became quicker. <Huntress, down the block and to the left. You get that?>
"Get what?" Helena asked, obviously confused.
<I just saw movement in security camera four of the outside of Boulder Gym. You don't sense anything?>
"No, the only thing I sense is me and Dinah-" Helena said and the teen meta could tell that her sister was about to go into a bit of a panic.
"Dinah and me," the blonde corrected. Helena stuck out her tongue, which served as the small distraction Dinah was hoping for.
<Check out the scene. If you couldn't detect the person->
"Who's to say its a person? It could've been a cat or something." Helena argued.
"Maybe," Dinah cut in before Oracle could speak, "but you're like a cat and cats love you. You would've sensed it and it you a long time ago. You would've had a kitty love fest by now." Helena's face started out as a glare, then turned into a somewhat mischievous feature, and Dinah felt the sudden need to mutter 'Uh oh'.
"Says you, little alpha. Have you and your girlfriend adopted Gabby as your cub yet?" Helena asked. Dinah remembered her thoughts from earlier that day and turned her head in order to keep Helena from seeing her blush. The older woman laughed before draping her arm around her sister's shoulders.
<You're a little too calm about all of this, Huntress,> Oracle said in her 'focus people' tone of voice. <I have to agree with Dinah on this one- except for that last part. If you haven't detected who or whatever I saw on the cameras, I'm a little nervous,> she continued.
"I'll go check out the scene like you said," Huntress replied, moving her arm from Dinah's shoulders. "Kid, you go-"
"No Huntress," Dinah said as a thought came to her, "I'd bet the Wayne fortune that if it was a 'who' that Oracle saw, then they were involved in Kelly's shooting. If you can't detect them, then you don't stand a chance against them alone."
"Alright, D. Alright," Helena said with a nod. Dinah was surprised. Helena never backed down from any of the blonde's arguments, as she usually made some smart remark and tossed them aside as if it was no big deal. Either that, or she would agree and make it sound like it was her idea all along. Helena signaled for Dinah to follow her, and the younger girl did so silently. They heard no other noise other than Dinah's occasional shuffling. Then the two sisters stopped at the end of the street where the security camera was. Helena waved at it and immediately, both metahumans heard a sigh over the comms.
<Grow up, Huntress.>
"Not a chance. I'm a Toys 'R' Us kid, Oracle."
<Don't I know it. Alright, I want you two back here as soon as possible.>
"Copy," the two sisters said in unison, which caused them to look at each other strangely.
"That's just creepy. Knock it off," Helena said.
"Oh please," Dinah scoffed.
"You're the telepath. You figure it out. You were in my head, so get out 's'all I'm sayin'."
"To mimic Oracle, 'Grow up, Huntress',"
"Make me." For good measure, Helena pulled down her bottom left eyelid and let her tongue hang out. "Nyah!"
"Is that an anime thing? 'Cause I swear that's worse." Dinah quieted when she heard movement a little ways down the street. "Tell me you heard that," she whispered.
"Yeah, I heard it, but I can't feel it."
"No wind," Dinah said, "I'm getting creeped out. 'S'like ghosts or something."
"Ghosts aren't real." Helena informed her sister.
"You turn into a part cat, I have TK blasts, my-um- crush morphs into a wolf, and you're telling me ghosts aren't real?" Dinah asked incredulously.
"I'm callin' bullshi-"
<DINAH!> Oracle barked, and Helena giggled. <I see no one's taking me seriously tonight. No point staying out. Dinah. get back. Helena... Do whatever.>
"What happened to 'both of you get back, blah blah something or other'?"
<With this mood you're in, you'll be of no help what so ever, so come back, go home, I don't care either way.>
"I love you too, Oracle."
<Oh, and Dinah, forgive me for what I'm about to do.> Barbara said as if Helena hadn't spoken. With that, the line went dead, and Dinah groaned.
"How rude," Helena said, knowing that Barbara could probably still hear her. "Not even a 'I love you too,'."
"She's gonna kill me, isn't she?" Dinah asked in somewhat of a whine.
"I don't know, but her parting line sure didn't sound pleasant," Helena replied.
"Please come back with me."
"No sir. If she's gonna kill you, you'll just use me as your sexy human shield."
"Fine," Dinah said, feeling nervous.
"Hey Kid, if she's got something' up her sleeve, it's gotta be something' to help your girlfriend."
"Yeah, I know. See ya," Dinah said, and took a few steps before Helena trotted after her.
"What?" Dinah asked, sounding a little impatient. Helena looked as if she sobered up a little from whatever high she'd been on, and the sudden serious look didn't help the creepiness factor of the rest of the night so far.
"I have a plan, come on." With that, the women made their way back to the Clocktower in somewhat of a hurry. After a few minutes of a somewhat spy game with Helena, Dinah put a hand on her hip. Though she was glad that she wasn't going to face whatever was going to be thrown at her alone, she wasn't sure anymore if it was Helena she wanted guiding her. She wasn't sure what got her sister so weird that night. Helena gestured to her, telling her (she thought) that she needed to be ready with a TK blast while Helena got ready to pounce. Both knew that they couldn't outsmart Barbara, but they hoped to make whatever she'd planned not hurt as much.
Dinah stood, legs apart in a defensive stance. She wasn't sure what to expect and hoped her posture would prepare her for just about anything. Helena jumped the hand rail and used the strength in her arms and legs to keep her pressed against the elevator ceiling. When at last the doors opened, Barbara was there about ten feet away. She threw the birdarang at the teen, and on reflex Dinah sent back a telekinetic blast, which was so strong it knocked the birdarang back at Barbara (which got her in the face) and sent her guardian's wheelchair rolling backwards several feet. Dinah stood in shock for a spit second before Barbara spoke. "That was good. Really..." She wiped blood from her nose and lip. "Really good." Dinah shot out of the elevator then.
"Ohmygod Barbara! I'm so suh-egh!" The teen felt something around her neck and she immediately panicked. She tried to send out another telekinetic blast to her attacker, but her arm felt so heavy and she felt sluggish.
"You're getting better, Dinah, but you still let your guard down too quickly."
"I'm terribly sorry, Miss Dinah," Alfred said from behind her, then to Helena, "You can come down now. She only has the one."
"I don't think so," Helena said, but it had no force to it, and she jumped down anyway. "I take it you figured it out?"
"Unfortunately, no. Though the pieces Dinah gave me helped, I had to use the prototype I'd worked on no long after Carolyn died instead. All I did to it was put in a sedative. She'll be okay if not a little... hung over in the mooring." To this, Helena nodded.
"I'll get her to bed. Can I have that when you're done making them?"
"You know... Maybe the Hawk collar had a sedative too, only it slowed the active meta particles in the blood or something. I don't know," Helena suggested.
"Ex...actly," Barbara replied slowly in a thoughtful tone. "When you're done getting her to bed, I want you back here to be my labcat."
"Oh, now I'm of help," she muttered, then, "Had to open my big mouth and try to sound smart."
"You are smart, Hel. You just don't want people to know that."
"It confuses people when I suddenly know more than them."
"Sure." Barbara thought it best to just agree with Helena. It was rare for Helena to be in such a good mood, and she hoped it would stay, however, she was a pain in the butt to deal with like this. Barbara wondered if that was a good balance, take the weird with the good of Helena's moods.
Helena lifted her sister easily and waited until Dinah wrapped herself around her like a koala. Then the two metahumans went up to Dinah's room, where Helena gently lay her down on the bed. "Try 'n' get some sleep. I, on the other hand, look to be in for a long night with Big Red downstairs."
"Lay off... the... catnip," Dinah said, drowsy. Helena smiled and flickered off the light before going to join their guardian. Dinah fell asleep not long after that.
Dinah's first movement upon waking up was to put her hands over her ears as a yell floated up to her room. A moment later, she heard Helena scream "GET THIS THING OFF-A ME!!" At that Dinah shakily got out of bed, shielding her eyes. If this was how it felt to be hung over, she was never drinking alcohol. Ever. Holding on to the rails, she felt more than she saw her way down to the Delphi area, where the panicked yells were coming from. The scene before her was certainly the sight to see. Helena was crawling on the floor slowly, scratching to remove the collar, while Barbara tried to get close enough to do just that. If Helena wasn't so scared, Dinah would've laughed. Instead, she focused on the collar, just as she had that fateful night her mom died, only this time it was a whole lot easier.
"Thanks Kid," Helena said after a moment. She then crawled over to her, then climbed up her sister until she was standing, almost hiding behind Dinah as she glared in Barbara's direction. "Don't give her none 'o' yer blood. She'll use it for evil," she warned.
"I take it you figured it all out?" Dinah repeated her sister's words from the night before as she let Helena lean on her. How she was able to hold herself up, let alone Helena was beyond her. She was feeling better, but she wasn't yet at one hundred percent.
"Yeah, I got it. Helena, I'm sorry," Barbara said, trying to get the feral metahuman in her view.
"Tell that to my retreating back. Dinah, help me to your room," Helena said. Dinah looked at Barbara questioningly.
"Go. I'll talk to you later," Barbara said, looking at the collar. She seemed to contemplate something else. Dinah had to use all of her strength to hold Helena up.
"You way a ton," Dinah grunted.
"You're just weak," Helena retorted.
"You whine more than an ally cat," the teen shot back.
"Yeah? Well, you're full meta," Helena said, and Dinah grinned.
"Burn," Dinah replied, practically throwing Helena onto her bed. "No, I won't tuck you in, and no, I won't read you a bed time story."
"Would you get me a glass of water?" Helena asked, and Dinah wasn't sure if she was being snarky or not. The teen paused.
"Maybe," she said, "but only if you say please."
"Can't you force me to say how great 'n' pretty you are like a normal annoying little sister?"
"I'm not a normal sister, I already know how great 'n' pretty I am, and getting a please from you is a greater task than tackling Mt. Everest. So...?" Dinah said, looking at her sister expectantly. Helena sighed with a mock eye roll.
"Dinah, my wonderful kid sister, the Bain of my-"
"Cut to the chase," Dinah said, though she was already at the bedroom door.
"May I please have a glass of water?"
"Certainly, Miss Helena," said a new voice that made Dinah jump.
"Damn, I'm good," Dinah said as soon as she recovered.
"I hear you and Miss Helena both could use some tea," the butler said in his kind voice. Dinah nodded and moved so he could walk further into the room. On Alfred's tray was not only two mugs of tea, but also two tall glasses with water in them. Once he put the tray on Dinah's bedside table, he took out a small bottle of aspirin and set it next to the contents on the tray.
"I will never love a man more than I love you, Alfred," Helena told him, and Dinah agreed, though considering who she was currently in love with, she wondered just how much of a compliment that would be to the butler. Still, she appreciated the fact that he knew them well enough to know just what is needed, and when its needed.
As Alfred made his leave and the sisters took the aspirin with their tea, both felt a lot better. Then Dinah left Helena to sleep while she went downstairs with the book she had to write a report on or Mr. Watanabe's class. Barbara had already taken apart the collar that had been around Helena's neck and tinkered with it further while Dinah took a seat at the same table and read in a companionable silence. Then, at around noon, Barbara left the room and didn't return for over two hours. Dinah wasn't sure if she left the Clocktower completely or if she'd gone to bed at the time, but she came back looking a little excited. "Here," she said, putting the collar on the table. There was a small patch of metal that had been added to it. Dinah just stared at it. "Speak into it."
"I've put a voice activation chip inside, so it will release the sedative when you want it to. But I need you to train it first. This one is yours."
"Oh wow!" Dinah was more than impressed and she felt hopeful again. After a minute or two of reading her book out loud, the orange-ish light Dinah saw turned green.
"Choose a command, like 'on' or 'activate' and say that a few times," Barbara said. Dinah did as she was told and the collar shot out a small needle-like spike, which emitted a small spray.
"Damn," Dinah said in a low tone.
"Dinah," Barbara said, her voice in a warning, "if I have to speak to you again about swearing in the near future, I will ground you 'till summer."
"Okay okay. I'm sorry."
"I mean it."
"Okay, I believe you've got a book report due. How's your math?"
"Page one twenty five through one twenty eight. Let's get radical with radicals, whoo!" Dinah said sarcastically.
"Are you going to need any help?"
"I think I will do okay if I treat them like letter variables."
"Just remember the rules when you do that," Barbara said, "but either way, let me know if you get frustrated with it and need my help."
"Will do." Dinah went back to the laptop, where she started her book report, which was easier than she thought, seeing as all of the themes and ironies were laid out before the reader. The hardest part was coming up with the symbolism. She couldn't figure out what the boat meant to the rest of the story. No one seemed to drift anywhere, figuratively or literally. Still, she lulled through it, and then sat, thinking about the story Crying Wolf, which led her to think about Gabby and Kelly and everything that happened with them so far. She pictured them in Gabby's cluttered room talking about Caleb and Mackenzie, or about church, camp, or Mandy, both comfortable together like they used to be before... 'Before I showed up,' she couldn't help thinking, but it was silly. Kelly had been the one to put the strain on their friendship after camp, which happened before she even ran away from Opal. Still, she was glad that Gabby knew everything now. It made things so much easier for all of them, even if she's acting weird now. She hoped that Kelly was right, that Gabby would soon calm down and start acting like she used to. It'll take some time though, she knew.
That night, Dinah and Helena lay on Dinah's bed, Helena still lounging after the morning she had, and the teen looking though the Fairbanks family's files. Suddenly she sat up, jostling her sister. "Oy!" Helena called as Dinah jumped up. "Hey! What'd you find?"
"I gotta talk to Barbara," was all Dinah said in return. Helena harrumphed at that and turned over on her side. She was still groggy, and wondered just how long that sedative would affect her. The only plus to the whole thing was that it made her sister happy to know that there was more of a shot against her girlfriend's hunter. It'd do them some good to finally catch someone for that. Dinah practically ran down the ramp and stopped next to Barbara. "May I do a search on the Delphi?"
"Why? On what?"
"The aunt of Mandy's. There's a document that mentions a couple of appointments in a clinic in Bludhaven. A... North Haven Wellness Center, mostly a women's clinic. She was there in June of 1985. I wonder if they deal with or dealt with abortions. Even if they did, there's no mention of anything like that. Perhaps... Perhaps she did have a child, one she gave up for adoption." Dinah explained excitedly.
"Good theory, I mean, that'd link your shooter back to Mandy, her brother being a telepath and everything, but I don't think Mandy's aunt had a metahuman power."
"You may not know because she may not have used it in public before, o-or her power is too small to put on your radar," Dinah argued.
"Touché'," was all Barbara said at first. "Still... if its adoption we'll be looking into, it'll be tough, especially if she's never named them, and most mothers don't. But I like what you've come up with." Barbara saw a small frown appear on Dinah's face.
"You already came up with it, though, didn't you?" Dinah asked.
"Well, yes, but the last time I said that, you figured out who the wolf was anyway, so this time I left it to you."
"What if I never figured it out?"
"You would've figured it out."
"But what if I hadn't, though? And the attacker made their move?"
"You would have figured it out," Barbara said again. "I would have pushed a few hints your way, but you would have figured it out."
"Okay," Dinah said slowly. She wasn't so sure.
"I've got a lead," Barbara said, sensing the route Dinah's thoughts were sure to take her. "I found the agency she ended up bring the baby to. Problem is, I don't know the sex or the exact birth date, since we don't know how far along she was when she went to North Haven. Adoptions take a while for me to look up, anyway, but I searched from June 1985 to June 1986 just to be sure, and I've got a list of all of the children who go to New Gotham High. Its a total of twelve kids, three of which are already on the Metahuman Database. None of them can teleport or go invisible. One of them can manipulate plants though."
"Like Poison Ivy?"
"Almost. As far as I know, its like having one wicked green thumb." Barbara watched Dinah before wheeling over to her. "You are doing... so well. Your trust in your instincts are key, you do what you can to find some sort of answer, never settling for 'I don't know'. The way you kept calm for your friends and took control of the situation even though I know how scared you were. I'm proud of you. I didn't realize at first how important it was for Gabby and Kelly to know about these things until yesterday. It seems you are all doing better because of it. When you're an old maid like me, you'll be a wiz at all of this."
"You're hardly an old maid, Barbara."
"Still, no one's thinking any less of you because I got there first, okay?"
"You are doing your best to protect Kelly and find her shooter. I can't expect more than that from anyone."
"Thank you," Dinah said softly. She looked at her guardian, inspecting her face. Barbara was about to ask her what was the matter when the teen asked, "Have you slept at all in the last 48 hours?"
"No," the redhead admitted almost sheepishly, though she didn't know why, "I was fixing the collar so it could be done by Monday."
"As much as I appreciate that, Barbara, you need to get some sleep. Tomorrow's a school day for you, too." Dinah put a hand on her guardian's shoulder and squeezed lightly.
"I've been saying that all morning," Alfred said, making Dinah jump.
"You really need to stop doing that," Dinah grumbled, which only earned her a look of innocence from the butler as usual whenever the matter of his silent approaches came up.
"Alright alright, I'm going. I'll put the Delphi on standby. Everything should be okay, but if anything beeps, come get me. And if that TV's on without that paper-"
"Fine. Goodnight, then."
"Goodnight Barbara," Dinah replied.
"Goodnight Big Red!" Helena called cheerfully from Dinah's room, her ire at Barbara apparently gone.
Dinah stood at the edge of the parking lot, watching her guardian make it inside the building of New Gotham High. Then she walked around the building to the flagpole, where she saw Kelly immediately. "I swear to God, Gabby, you call me Balto one more time-"
"You'll what? Howl me to death?" Gabby asked with a challenging look.
"Oh that's it!" Kelly leaped at her friend, who gave a small squeak before running away. Dinah approached, and Gabby tried to hide behind her.
"Ah! Time out!" Gabby called. "Dinah's here." Kelly stopped moving for a split second, then suddenly grabbed Gabby's sides. "No! No! Please!" she gasped out between hysterical giggles. "I take it back!"
"Good," Kelly said, then, "Hey Dinah."
"Heya," Dinah replied, "I come baring gifts." The blonde metahuman dug into her backpack. When she showed her friends what was in her hands, Gabby gasped again for a different reason.
"She did it!"
"She did," Dinah replied. When she'd gotten up that morning, she found Barbara polishing what looked like the last of five replicas of the collar that caused so much commotion in the Clocktower that weekend. Judging by the coffee pot on a tray next to her work station, the redhead had gotten up at around two or three in the morning, which made Dinah worry. "And we've got a possible link between the one or both of the shooters and the Fairbanks family. Kelly, did you get a drawing of the man's house done?" Dinah asked, which earned her a head shake. "We'll need to get that, and soon."
"So it's been a good weekend all around," Gabby said.
"Really? What happened with you two?" Dinah asked.
"My wound is completely gone. I changed to go to bed at Gabby's on Saturday night and there was nothing there. No scar or anything."
"You were giving some serious horsey and piggy back rides, so we should've known then that you were better," Gabby added in.
"On top of that, my family's not afraid of me anymore. I went home to get some clothes to take to Gabby's that same night, and my brothers saw Gabby. They love her to pieces, though I can't imagine why," she said, shooting her friend a look. "Anyway, when they saw she wasn't afraid of me, they started to ask questions about my power. They had me prove it, and I had to play fetch in order for Westley to warm up to me again. He'd always wanted a dog, so it was easy to sort of bait him. When my mom saw them playing with me, she had me come inside. She said she didn't know what happened to me or why, that she couldn't handle it, but she said she should've been there for me."
"That's so good to hear, Kelly," Dinah said with a soft smile. "I can't imagine how it was for you those last few weeks after you shifted for the first time. How alone you must have felt after you pushed Gabby away," she said. "You're..." she began to say, but didn't continue. Kelly felt her chest get tight as she watched Dinah's face.
"So..." Gabby said slowly to break the silence, "I guess now Vern 'n' Westley's older sister has become the family pet," she quipped.
"Shut up Gabby," Kelly said absently, then looked at her. She launched at Gabby again just for fun. Gabby shot out of Kelly's reach. Kelly and Gabby ran around the flagpole. Kelly would often grab the back of Gabby's shirt, then let go, just to sort of tell her friend that she'd been caught and that she needed to run faster. It seemed almost impossible, seeing as Kelly was fast and could literally run all day.
Suddenly, Gabby slipped on a patch of frosty grass and fell, hitting the sidewalk hard. "Gabby! Are you okay?"
"I'm sorry Gabster," Kelly said as she practically picked her friend off of the ground.
"We shouldn't have been horse playing," Gabby said, pulling up her pants, then her sweater sleeve. There, Dinah saw a red patch of skin where it'd been scraped. Gabby hissed.
"Let's get you to the nurse's office. Looks bad," Dinah suggested.
"Yeah," Kelly said, her face scrunching up. She could smell Gabby's blood and felt the struggle from the wolf within her. It wanted to do something. Her 'kin' was hurt, but the human side knew it wasn't serious, even if she herself wasn't at fault.
The three teens made their way inside to the nurse and watched as Gabby got cleaned up with a gauze on her elbow. Then she was given instructions on how to clean it before going to bed so that it wouldn't reopen in the night. Dinah knew all of that, and she reminded herself to show Gabby again later. Knowing her, she'd crash and forget all about it. The three teens then made the rounds to their lockers before separating at their math doors.
At lunch, Gabby and Dinah met up in the hallway on their way into the cafeteria. They followed the sea of people down the hallway, almost like floating down a steady current of water. Suddenly, they heard a slam, and both blondes turned towards the sound. "You think I'm scared of you?" It was Dimitri. He had his side to a row of lockers and faced Janel.
"Stay out of my way, I'm warning you," the African American said steely, and Dinah almost felt shivers.
"What're you gonna do, Fatty? Sit on me? You'd have to catch me first, and the only way you could do that is if I tied a Twinkie around my neck."
"That's hurt my feelings if I hadn't heard it a thousand times. There is such a thing as originality, but perhaps that's a word you just wouldn't understand, being too many syllables and all."
"Shut the fuck up, bitch," Dimitri growled, and Janel smirked almost evilly. It was apparent Dimitri wasn't used to this, and he wasn't exactly sure what to say now. As Dinah watched the scene, she was speechless. She'd never seen Janel this way before, so sure, so in your face. Usually, she took the shots or flipped people off and kept walking. This was new. Janel pounded on the locker next to Dimitri's head, and he flinched. "Yeah. That's what I thought," Janel said, then walked away. Dimitri glared after her, and no one was sure if he was more angry at her or at himself for flinching. Then he left in almost the opposite direction.
"Wow, that was intense." Gabby said after a shocked silence was broken by murmurs.
"I know," Dinah had to agree, frowning slightly in thought.
"I'mma go talk to her. See what that was all about."
"Yeah, I'll go meet up with Kelly. I'm starting to understand why she got weird around Janel. I like her, but damn, I'm just glad I'm not Dimitri right now."
"Poor guy got told, and in front of his peers. Well... I'll catch up with you later. See you after school if not near the end of lunch."
"Bye Dinah," Gabby replied with a wave, then fought her way against the current of students eager for food, chasing after Janel. Gabby was on her way to the library, where Dinah knew Janel often hung out during lunch. The telekinetic then went to the cafeteria, where she saw Kelly right away. She had two corndogs on her tray, next to a large amount of curly fries and two cartons of milk.
"Hey," Kelly said right off the bat as she inspected her corndogs. "You know, even if I never was a vegetarian, these are still gross."
"Yeah, I think corndogs bring new meaning to 'Monday Surprise'. Hey, you reckon the surprise is a Monday where they get rid of everything because we actually want it?" Dinah asked, which made Kelly giggle.
"Hey, have you seen Gabby on your way in?"
"Yeah, she went to talk to Janel. She'd been in an argument with that kid from Saturday, Dimitri. Remember him?" Dinah asked, and Kelly nodded. Dinah sat next to the wolf metahuman as she whispered what happened. This made Kelly frown, just like it had Dinah.
"She threatened him?" she asked.
"Kinda. It was scary. It makes sense to me now, why you're iffy when you're near her."
"Dinah," Kelly said, putting down the curly fry she had broken up, "about that..." She stared at the corndogs on the tray, then up at Dinah. "I didn't know how to tell you, 'cause both of you like her, and I thought I was just being paranoid."
"What?" Dinah asked.
"Dinah, the reason I get so weird around Janel is because..." Kelly sighed. "Well, because she has no scent."
"She has no scent?"
"I wasn't sure at first because that first time, in here, we were all here and there were so many other people around us, but then after school that day I couldn't smell anything but us, Gabby, you 'n' me." Kelly lowered her voice further. "And she acts so casual. I mean, aside from just now. She doesn't act like you and Mandy did, like you had something to do, something to hide. Then again, Janel is slightly emo, and she never stuck out or did much to nab attention from people until now, either, so really, who could've known before?"
"That's true," Dinah agreed. She reached over and grabbed a couple of fries from Kelly's tray. "So what do we do about this information?" She ate the fries. They were spicier than she expected, but it made them good.
"Nothing we really can do at this point but to tell Ms. Gordon, look on her metahuman list-"
"You think she might be a metahuman?"
"How else can she show up with no scent?" Kelly shrugged. Dinah had to admit that she had a point.
"Maybe she was there the other night during sweeps." Dinah murmured, more to herself. Kelly stayed quiet as Dinah thought about this. "It still doesn't make that much sense. Janel didn't show any hints of hating you. And she said her favorite animal was the wolf."
"That could just be a cover up, the wolf thing."
"Maybe." Dinah said again. She then contacted Helena (who had the day off from the bar) on her comm set. She told her sister what she and Kelly had just talked about, then told the older metahuman to look her up and do a search on her.
After that bit of excitement died down, Kelly and Dinah ate in mostly silence. When the warning bell rang, the two metahumans walked side by side until they reached Kelly choir class. There was a short pause before Kelly leaned in and kissed Dinah, a move so quick, so gentle that Dinah couldn't protest or anything, even if she wanted to. Dinah's arm wrapped around Kelly's waist and they stood together until they heard a catcall behind them. She didn't know the girl, but saw her around. She was a year older than them and was on the volleyball team, but neither girl knew her name. "See you after school, Zippergirl," Kelly said with a playful wink, then backed out of Dinah's hold.
"Yeah. Later Balto," she whispered back so that the girl with the catcalls couldn't hear her, yet Kelly could. She laughed at Kelly's eye roll, then hurried off to class. She was late, but holding Kelly was worth whatever infraction she'd receive.
The day wore on for Dinah as her mind raced. She knew that it was definitely possible for Janel to be a metahuman, but what connection could she have to the man in Kelly's memory? Sure, he was dark, but the baby in the picture was a white baby. Could that baby have been the baby Mandy's aunt put up for adoption? Could that man have been Janel's father? If the man was Janel's father, then who was the baby? Were they foster siblings? Who the hell was it? It seemed far fetched for Janel and Demitri to be in the same home together. Even without the metahuman powers, they would have killed each other a long time ago.
Dinah almost didn't see Gabby at her locker trying to put her collar in one of her pockets. "This is so cool, but Ms. Gordon must not have been thinking about convenience for these."
"She'd been up for 48 hours, living off of who knows how much coffee while trying to follow through with your plan so that our dear friend doesn't get hurt again. Cut her a little slack," Dinah said a little too defensively.
"Don't think for a second I'm not grateful, but where do I stash this thing until I need it?" Gabby asked. It was a good question, but Dinah immediately had an answer.
"Is it voice trained yet?" she asked in return.
"No, too many people around."
"For now, put it on. If no one's trained it, there's no risk of activating it on yourself. Either way, I doubt it does much to you, as it was designed to weaken metahumans," Dinah told her. Gabby nodded and did just that. Dinah noticed that a small orange light had turned on in the process. "The training light is on, Gabby."
"Yeah." Gabby thought about this for a second.
"I'll leave it," Gabby said, watching as Dinah grabbed the rest of her things from her locker. Together as they walked outside, they lowered their voices. "I'm going to see if it'll be trainable to your voice too, maybe Kelly's if she gets here in time. Maybe it'll work, just in case something happens to me and I can't activate it."
"I'm not sure it'll work that way," Dinah said.
"I'll try it," Gabby replied. "Hey Kelly," she said. Dinah tried not to look in search for the wolf metahuman. Not that she had to, really, as Kelly was at their side a second later.
"Somebody claim you as their bitch or something?" the wolf metahuman asked, gesturing towards Gabby's collar.
"You know, I could zing you right back for that one," Gabby told her best friend as her gaze pointedly shifted between Kelly and Dinah, "but I won't. 'Cause I'm nice."
"Yeah whatever." Kelly seemed completely unconcerned with Gabby's statement and looked at Dinah for a second before looking away.
"So, how's Janel? Did you find her?" Dinah asked, setting her backpack down as soon as they reached the flagpole so she could adjust the straps.
"Yeah," Gabby confirmed with a frown. "She wasn't like she was on Friday, or any other time I seen 'er. She was always so sweet 'n' funny..." The curly haired blonde trailed off, and Dinah saw the beginnings of a blush creep up on her face. "Today she was kinda rude. Kept saying 'no regrets'." Gabby got redder, and Kelly looked at her strangely.
"Did she kiss you?" Kelly asked, and Gabby looked away.
"How do you know that?" Dinah asked, then said, "The lights off, Gabby. Say your operative word."
"Like 'on' or 'activate'," she replied, repeating her guardian.
"Oh, ok," Gabby said. She muttered to herself the word 'activate' a few times.
"She has somewhat the same look she had on her face after Valerie kissed her in the 8th grade and she told me she might be gay." Dinah nodded, then she thought about Janel, a frown forming on her face. "Dinah?"
"What I wanna know, is 'no regrets' about what? Sticking up to Demitri? Of kissing you? Or of something else?" she asked, more to herself than to her friends as they began to walk down the sidewalk. They headed in the direction of the subway station, as she was ready to finally go home. "It's almost as if she's-"
"Oh no," Kelly said, starting to look around.
"Kelly?" Gabby asked. "What's the matter?"
"I feel someone, the same as before. We're being followed. Just like before."
"Kelly, you've got to calm down," Gabby said at the same time Dinah said, "We've got to make sure."
"Let's duck back towards Gabby's place like before and see if they do the same as before," she suggested. "You're okay, Kelly. We're here now."
"Yeah," Gabby added in, "I'm game." Then, "Shit." Dinah followed Gabby's gaze and saw that Kelly had shifted without either of them noticing. She quickly looked around. Luckily, the school and the street was empty, but she still scrambled to get Kelly's clothes at the same time Gabby reached for the wolf's backpack. "Walk between us, Kels. It'll be harder for you to be discovered at a passing glance. At worst, someone will think you are our dog." Kelly did as Gabby told her to, and they hurried down the street, Kelly getting more and more scared if the whining was any indication. "It's okay," Gabby said.
"Yeah Kelly, we'll get you home. You're okay. You're okay," Dinah soothed, picking up the pace. She didn't like how scared Kelly was. Sure she'd healed quickly, but still... Getting shot at was a scary thing, and the fact that the hunter was back was even scarier. Dinah felt a slight pressure on her calf. Oddly, it was the same calf Kelly had bitten a week ago. "You're okay." There was another whimper from Kelly. Dinah touched Kelly's head, and didn't know what else she could say.
<Kid? You alright? Your pulse 'n' BP are jumpin',> came Helena's sleepy voice over the Delphi.
"Call the police- No, wait, call Reece. Kelly's hunter has come back for seconds, I think."
<Will do. Be careful though. Remember, last time there were two people there, and don't forget about that presence during sweeps the other night.>
There was another click, then an odd noise in Dinah's ear. <Dinah, this is Oracle tranceiving through the computer at my desk. Can you hear me?>
"Yeah Oracle, I can hear you."
<Good. You need to listen to what I am about to tell you. Mandy's aunt went to North Haven to initially have an abortion but had changed her mind and gave him up for adoption instead.>
"Him," Dinah repeated softly.
<I found a couple of people from my initial list and looked into all of them.> Dinah listened to Oracle as the air started t feel slightly charged. Kelly tried to press harder into Dinah's leg and even Gabby looked around, meaning she could feel it, too. She was on guard, as was Dinah, but they saw no one. Then they all heard a pop. <Get this, one child, Paul D. McDowell was the only person I couldn't find much information on until I did a search in the elementary school's records and found out that the D stands for->
"You're Dimitri, right?" Gabby asked as a figure emerged from behind a tree. He held a hunting rifle in his hands.
"I'm only after the wolf. I'll spare you if you give her to me."
"You're outta your goddamned mind if you thought that was actually gonna work," Gabby said, inching closer to Kelly even though Demitri had his gun aimed at her now.
"Don't do anything stupid," Dinah said, though no one knew if she was talking to Gabby or Demitri.
"Can't talk. We have company. Please tell me that Reece is on his way,"
<Reece is on his way. Be careful.>
"Thank you." Though Gabby was somewhat used to Dinah's one sided conversations, and Kelly could hear what was being said on Barbara's end of the conversation, Demitri stared at Dinah as if she was crazy.
"I'm only here for the wolf," Dimitri said again. He looked past Dinah at Kelly. "Isn't that right, dear cousin?" His tone was less than friendly when using the endearment.
"So you know about Mandy, do ya?" Gabby asked, and Dinah looked at her friend as she tried to block Kelly from Demitri's view. The blonde metahuman hoped Gabby wouldn't reveal who the wolf really was, which wasn't really a problem.
Demitri closed his eyes and seemed to concentrate really hard. Then he disappeared. He reappeared next to Gabby and pushed her with one arm before taking aim. Gabby stood up just when Dinah raised her hand to shoot a telekinetic blast at the guy. Gabby had a somewhat evil glint in her eye as she slowly unclasped the collar around her neck. Once it was off, she looked at Dinah, then her eyes shifted to the telekinetic's hand. "Do it," she said, which caused Demitri to look behind him at Gabby.
"Gabby-" Dinah protested, but the other blonde cut her off.
"DO IT!" Gabby yelled. Dinah winced and raised her hand a little higher. She felt the small amount of static run though her arm and outward towards her friend and her enemy. She watched, horrified as Gabby went flying through the air with Demitri. Both of them went over a gate and slammed against each side of a small house. Inside it, a dog started barking. Dinah searched for any signs of people being home, but saw no one. Dinah wanted to run to her friend to see if she was okay, but remembered Saturday night and Barbara telling her that she let her guard down to quickly.
Gabby stirred before Demitri did, and Dinah was relieved until she saw the deep cut above her friend's right eye. Dinah heard movement behind her and put out her arms. "Kelly stay back," she said quickly, then looked again at Gabby, who was again on her feet. She was woozy, and it took a second for her to get the collar on Demitri before he could do more than groan in pain. Dinah waited another couple of seconds, realizing that Gabby's eyes went out of focus for a second, and then she flopped to ground. "ACTIVATE!" Dinah called. She was unsure if it would work, as Dinah never said the operative word into this collar, but she held her breath. It took a moment for Demitri to realize what had happened to him. He closed his eyes again, and Dinah knew he was trying to flee or to get next to Kelly again, but couldn't.
"What- What'd you do to me?!" he asked, his eyes going wide. He scrambled to his feet, but he was slow at it. He then took aim. The shot was louder than Dinah had anticipated, and as her ears rang, she looked around frantically.
"KELLY!" she called.
"Kelly?" Demitri asked. He slumped against the side of the house with a look of deep confusion on his face, and his eyes closed, the sedative having taken full effect. Dinah looked over at Gabby once more to see if she was going to be okay, and saw that she was trying to stand up again. She turned to Kelly, who was crouched down low and still, as if a little kid hiding under the bed during a thunderstorm.
"Kelly, did he-?" Dinah stopped talking as she neared the wolf. She could hear labored breathing that came from neither of them. Dinah, wide eyed, looked to the space before her, then to Kelly, who raised her snout to sniff the air. By the look on her face, Dinah could tell Kelly was just as confused. The breathing slowed, and then there was a grunt. Then, Dinah felt the slight shift of clothes and air before there was a thud.
On the ground, a small pool of blood appeared before, slowly, so did Janel.
"Janel?" Dinah heard behind her. Gabby stumbled towards them. "Janel! Oh god, not again, please!" Gabby fell to her knees beside the African American girl, who clutched the side of her stomach, and put her hands firmly over Janel's, applying pressure. "Move your hand so I can stop the blood."
"S'over," Janel said with a wheeze, but she allowed Gabby to move her hand, anyway. She cried out after sucking in a shallow breath when Gabby's complete upper body hovered over her.
"Please God please..." Gabby prayed, repeating those words and others similar to it as Dinah slowly took the bloodied hand Gabby had just moved from the wound into her own.
"Why? Why?" Dinah asked. She couldn't find any other words, nor could she fight the tears that came, as she knew that Janel wasn't as lucky as Kelly had been. Janel winced, or maybe she'd attempted to smile. Dinah wasn't completely sure.
"I couldn't- let him- kill the wolf- from... your story," Janel said as she fought for air. Her head lolled to her other side to look at Kelly, who inched closer, her nose quickly moving around black hair and Janel's shoulder. "That would have been... Saaaah...d." Dinah's eyes shifted quickly from Janel's face to the wound, then back again. She wondered where the hell Huntress was as she tried to still Janel's other hand, which seemed to be reaching into her pocket. She only managed to pull out what looked like a piece of paper. Even from where she knelt, she could see Gabby's name next to the bloody fingerprint Janel left on it as it fell to the sidewalk next to Gabby's knees.
Kelly began to whine in a panicked way Dinah hadn't heard before. There was a small clinking sound, almost as if someone had dropped a nickel, and Dinah tried to locate the sound. On the sidewalk next to where Gabby hovered over Janel's wound, Dinah saw a red and silver bullet. Had Demitri thought she was an actual werewolf and used pure silver? Dinah looked at Gabby bewildered as she heard Janel's breathing calm a little bit. Gabby's eyes were tightly closed and she didn't seem to know what was going on. What caused Dinah to gasp, however, was the small white/blue glow under the tiny cup Gabby's hands made. "Gabby, whatever you're doing-" Dinah felt herself getting sucked into a place she never intended to be. She was in Janel's mind.
::It was dark except for the moon above them, and right away, Dinah felt the urgency, the sense of running away, running out of time. There, Dinah heard breathing in the distance. Not one, but two figures emerged from the trees before her. One of them was Janel, only she looked different. Gone were the black clothes and make up. She had straight, soft looking hair and a smile on her face that told the world she was happy. She wore a bluish purple shirt that had flowing fabric on the arms, and dark blue pants. Jeans perhaps? It was too dark, and she was too far for Dinah to really see, but Janel looked almost like a butterfly. She looked free, except for the sense of fear, the knowledge that time has run out for her. Still, Janel kept running, and Dinah saw her hand squeeze the hand of the figure at her side.
It was Gabby, who looked stunning. Her hair was a couple of inches longer, put back a little with a purple hair band. The curls in her hair were looser, and it flew behind her. Gabby wore a baby blue tank top and black jeans, an ensemble Dinah knew she really owned. As the two passed, Dinah realized just how similar the scene was to her story Crying Wolf, only with people. The log they jumped over was there, as was the branch they ducked under, the chill of the air, the fog of breath, the sounds of footfalls and breathing... It was all there. Mr. Watanabe and Barbara would've had a field day with the ironies and symbolisms the scene presented. Janel locked eyes with Dinah as they passed by her, and just after her shock, a look of embarrassment appeared. Dinah's smile was warm and reassuring. "Thank you," was all Dinah knew to say, and Janel nodded as a response as she kept running. To where, no one knew. Gabby said something, but again, they were too far away for her to hear. Dinah did hear the happy chuckle from Janel float through the night as she looked over at Gabby with some sort of response. Then all Dinah saw was blackness. ::
As soon as Dinah opened her eyes, she felt both Janel's pulse and lips, knowing what she wouldn't find. She looked at Gabby, whom had her eyes locked on her, Dinah assumed, the whole time. It was on her face, that knowledge of Dinah's next sentence. "She's gone," Dinah confirmed softly as a tear fell.
Though Gabby knew it, she still said, "No." There was a silence until Dinah heard the shift of clothes, and she knew that Helena was there with Reece.
"Who's she?" Reece asked. There was the sound of bones cracking, a sound Dinah and Gabby were used to now.
"She was the bravest person I will never know," Kelly said, her voice broken. She huddled between Gabby and Dinah to hide her nakedness as Reece turned away, but otherwise, there were no movements, everyone unsure of just what to do.
"I... I need to call this in," Reece said finally to cut the silence, then walked away as he took his cell phone from his pocket. Gabby finally sat back, where she noticed the paper with her name on it. Dinah looked down at Janel's bullet wound, then at her friend.
"It looks like it has been cauterized," Dinah said, and after looking at the wound, Gabby looked confused.
"What? What does that mean?"
"You know when Xena gets an arrow or a deep wound and she takes a poker from the fire and puts it in the wound?" Dinah asked. Gabby looked sick, but she nodded. "It's a quick way to stop the bleeding."
"But how could that be?" Helena asked. Dinah didn't speak until Gabby looked to her for an answer.
"Your hands... They were glowing this... This light blue color," she told her.
"Impossible," Gabby immediately said. She didn't like what her friend was possibly implying, especially because it couldn't be true.
"The bullet came out of the wound and the wound itself was cauterized," Dinah pressed gently.
"I was praying," Gabby said far too quickly. "Praise God," she added for effect.
"Where's your cut, Gabby? The one over your eye? I saw it there when I threw you against that house. It's not there now. Hardly any blood, either."
"There was no cut on my forehead," Gabby lied, "and the blood belongs to Dumbass over there." She gestured at Demitri.
"No Gabby," Kelly said. Gabby looked at Kelly as if to plead for her to just shut up. "I remember a shift in your scent after the first time. You scent must've meant... When I was with you, I'll bet that was when my bullet wound healed up so fast."
"You're eh- mega-human. Like Helena, you heal quickly. I-Its part of who you are, deal with it." Gabby said quickly. Everyone there could tell she was fishing.
"It's part of who YOU are," Dinah countered.
"You lie," Gabby said, her words getting forceful.
"No lie, Gabby. You can heal-"
"Shut up. Shut UP!!" Gabby stood up and Dinah did, too. Gabby put a hand over her ears and her eyes closed tightly. A tear slid slowly down her cheek. Kelly looked as if she as about to break up the friends when Helena put a hand on her shoulder and thrust her leather duster at her.
"I'll want this back."
"Of course," Kelly said. She didn't like its feline scent, even if the owner of the duster was nice enough. She hurried to where her clothes were, but kept watch on the two blondes. With Kelly out from between them, Dinah used what reflexes she had to grab Gabby's arm, pulling the hand away from her ear. She was too fast and strong for Gabby, and before the curly haired knew it, her shirt sleeve was pulled up and her bandage was gone. Gabby prepared herself for the worst, but only felt Dinah's finger where the scrape had been. It was gone.
"Show me your scrape. We all saw it there. You felt it when it happened. Where is it? It'd still be there if you couldn't heal-" Dinah was cut off when Gabby slapped Dinah's hand away, the movement startling her. The other hand left her ear as she stood up straighter. Even Kelly had never seen her so angry as the blondes faced off.
"I can't heal shit!" Gabby hissed, her eyes a blaze. She then swallowed as she kept back more tears.
"Say it enough times and maybe we'll believe you. And heck, maybe you'll believe it, too," Dinah shot back. "You tried to heal Janel, Gabby. I know that's why you're so angry right now. And I know you know I'm right. You felt that energy flow through your body until it had nowhere else to go but out through your hands... Didn't you?" At this, all the fight left the curly haired blonde, and more tears fell.
"And then it just- It stopped. And then you- You stopped moving, and... so did she." Dinah moved so that Gabby was in her arms.
"No one can blame you for trying."
"I healed myself- I know that's why I couldn't heal her all the way. I healed myself. Like some- LIKE SOME SELFISH COW!" Gabby sobbed. "How could I-"
"Gabby stop! That won't do anything," Kelly called. She hopped into her pants and walked over to her two blonde friends. Helena shifted from one foot to the other as she watched the scene, watched around them for anyone coming, and then looked to Reece, who slowly walked back. "You gotta know that you were only protecting yourself when you healed your own wounds. Self preservation is one of any species' basic instincts. You couldn't stop yourself from doing that- even if you tried." Kelly placed a hand on Gabby's shoulder as the blondes continued to embrace. She rubbed up and down to soothe her best friend's sobbing the best she could. "Besides," Kelly continued on, her voice softer, "if you were too hurt to do anything, there would've been no way you could even try to heal Janel."
"Before a few minutes ago, you didn't know what you could do. No one expected you to heal Janel. Just being there in her last moments meant everything to her. I should know. You were the last thing she saw. She died happy," Dinah said, not sure just how much comfort this would bring Gabby (if any at all), but she had to at least know that. Gabby stepped back and stared at Janel's body, and her tears fell silently. Everyone was still until the coroner came and Demetri was taken into custody. The rest of the afternoon was spent creating a story for the police reports.
I never thought I'd write a letter like this, and I never thought a letter like this would have a recipient, but I know that you'll want to know why. Why was this fat chick you hardly know at the right place at the right time, and how the hell was she invisible? Maybe you know the answers to the second question: The same way your friend Kelly could become an Arctic Wolf and Dinah could beat up this huge gorilla of a man without touching him when no one else but her hot friend was looking. We're all some sort of new wave of human evolution, or perhaps I've seen X-men way too many times. Thing is, there are people out there who have powers. I don't know why or how many. I don't know how, either. I just know that ever since New Gotham fell apart that night in February, I have seen more of us. Have you watched the news lately? There are more odd occurrences, and two months ago, I became one of them. I have always been one of many, a dismissed face in the crowd until someone like Demitri singles me out to torture me, but one day I woke up and no one saw or heard me. I thought I died in my sleep like Professor Binns, but whatever happened must have faded, because suddenly I was being yelled at for skipping first and second period when I was there the whole time. That was pretty funny, actually. I told them exactly what happened in class that day, and left them speechless. It was all so weird though. Over a couple of days, I figured out what I could do and how to control it. Of course, my dad doesn't know. I'm already a disappointment for the way I dress and being bisexual. I don't know what to call my ability. It seems to be more than mere invisibility. It's like I can go completely undetected. Unless I want to be, I guess. No heat sensors, motion detection, no sent. Five bucks says that is why Kelly looks at me like that. My dogs look at me like that, too.
Anyway, I was invisible one day not long after my powers really started to get weird, when I heard a growl. And then I saw the wolf. And Demitri. I watched him watch this wolf as if he knew her, and I thought it was odd. Then again, a lot of things happened. How could I find anything odd anymore? I could just tell that he was thinking something bad. Last week, I saw him again, popping in and out. After my shock at seeing him teleport, I searched for the wolf. I had then seen the wolf again. I had no time to do anything else but follow after him. He was after the wolf, I could tell, and I couldn't let him. I just couldn't. After I pushed at Demitri, I tried to calm the wolf, but she jerked away from me. I followed her again to see where she was from. It was hurt, and I wanted to help it still. Call me crazy. I didn't know what else I could have done for her, but imagine my surprise when I saw her shudder, then morph into Kelly Masterson. And then Dinah Lance was all butch and in charge, and then Ms. Gordon was there. For the first time since my powers began, someone looked right at me. It freaked me out so bad that I booked it, but I knew people like Demitri didn't quit.
Gabby, I don't know why I didn't just call the police, or why I didn't tell you guys, warn you somehow and tell you that I was there. I know Kelly knew by the way she looked at me, but she never pointed any fingers. What could I say to any of you? Even if you knew what type of person I was, how does one start that sort of conversation? Dinah was the closest I've had to a friend in a long time, and I have had a crush on you since forever, and I didn't want to mess up whatever we all could've become, if anything. I really wanted to hang with you guys. I saw how tight you three were, and I wanted to be a part of that, as silly as that might be.
Like the wolf in Dinah's story, we're running out of time. After years of being tormented by Demitri, I know him well enough to know he won't quit while he's behind. He's pissed at Kelly for something, and though I've trailed him since the last shooting, it is still unclear to me why. He'll try again and I'll be there when he does. Which is why I decided to write you this letter. I was lucky last time, but luck often runs out just when you need it the most. I can't stare down a gun and expect to not get shot. I may have super powers, but I'm not Superman. That would be cool, though.
In case I don't make it, I want you to know that I don't regret kissing you. I regret not doing it again. I regret not showing that punkass sooner, but in the end I guess he got me, huh? I'm sorry I was rude to you, Gabby. I really am. I hope you don' think anything bad of me. You're always nice to me, even in detention, and I wasn't very nice to you in return. I was just so mad, but not at you. I don't know how to describe it. I knew I was about to practically commit suicide. I knew it, and I guess I didn't want to let you too close to me in case I changed my mind for selfish reasons. I have to protect Kelly. Seeing as no one else knows, I have to. Know that you're the perfect girl. Tell Dinah and Kelly to just get over it. Thank you for being you, and thank you for making these last few weeks in and out of detention bearable.
Ce La Vie Babe,
Gabby tucked the note in her pocket and stood at Janel's tombstone. The visits had been a weekly tradition for the past month or so. Gabby would stand and read the letter quietly, the three of them would lay down a flower for Janel, and then as soon as Gabby was ready, they would leave. Since the day Janel died, the weather had gotten better, but that was about all. The girls found out Demitri's story, that he'd met his birth mother after he teleported for the first time to see what else he may have inherited from the Fairbanks family. He was told about his cousins, and when Kelly had attacked his adopted dad and left him in the hospital for weeks, he assumed it was Mandy and sought revenge. Demitri was to go to court to determine his fate for the murder of Janel. Reece had to cut him a deal, that he'd get a reduced sentence for his silence. Otherwise it was life in prison or life in Arkham. Dinah didn't know what his new punishment was, and she never asked.
Gabby continued to deny her gifts, and no one pushed the issue, even after Helena got hurt during sweeps the same night Gabby slept over and the feline woman mysteriously got better days before she normally would have, or when Gabby's hands began to glow that white/blue glow when some kid on crutches walked by them in school. She'd just stuffed her hands in her pockets and quickly walked on. Dinah didn't say anything then, as she saw the look, the guilt that flashed on Gabby's face for just a second. She seemed to ask herself why she could heal everyone but Janel, the one person she needed to heal.
" 'Thank you for being you'," Gabby quoted, setting her flower on top of Janel's tombstone, then she turned to her friends. Kelly and Dinah took turns placing their flowers next to Gabby's, Kelly with a kiss and a 'thank you', Dinah with a whispered 'Rest in Peace'. Then Gabby did something that neither of the other girls expected. She took both of their hands and put them together, Kelly's on top of Dinah's. She kept her hands on both of theirs as Kelly and Dinah exchanged a look. "I could have easily fallen in love with Janel, but I didn't have that chance. You two do. We all know how precious life is... And how short it is. If there's any happiness to be had in this life, then grab it." Gabby squeezed their hands as she looked Kelly in the eye. "Twice she gave you another chance at like, at happiness, but what good is her sacrifice if you don't appreciate it?"
"I do-" Kelly tried to say.
"So figure it out. Please."
" 'Thank you for being you,' but you're not being you now," Dinah said softly. She expected Gabby to get angry with her again, but she didn't this time.
"Yeah, but I will." She let go of Kelly and Dinah's hands and began to walk away. "That's all I can give you, Dinah," she said without looking back, and the other blonde was confused as to what exactly Gabby meant. Dinah wanted to say something, to tell Gabby that she trumps Dinah in the 'mysterious and cryptic' department, but she couldn't. As Gabby neared the entrance to New Gotham Cemetery, Kelly and Dinah's eyes met. In unison, they nodded and their fingers interlocked. Both girls' hearts beat slightly faster, but they ignored it as they, too, headed out of the cemetery.
"Hey Gabby, wait up!"