Title: The Key
by Erin Girffin
Pairing: Gabby/Dinah (eventually)
Summary: As Gabby meets Dinah, she slowly realizes that the new girl is much more than a mystery.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. Maybe later on, I'll introduce someone new, and I own them, but the cool people, I don't.
Author's Note: This is the first really long story I have written since The Slayer of New Gotham, and I am hoping that the muses will be nice to me long enough to let me finish it. I know where this is going so far, so I have a good 4 chapters in me. Enjoy, even though it isn't beta'd.
My life was never something one could call abnormal. Other than the fact that I fell in love with abother girl when I was eleven, everything in my life was- dare I say it- perfect. I had parents that loved me and loved each other. My grades were good. I had friends who were there for me when I never expected them to be. Yeah, things were good. But the winds of change brought a peculiar breeze that burned my body and my soul not that long ago. While the rest of New Gotham High laughed and called her Zipper Girl, I considered her a mystery. Her name, in fact, was Dinah Redmond. She looked and acted that first day as if she walked off of the set of Full House with her blonde hair, bright blue eyes and chipper explanation on where the word 'zipper' was coined, but there was a sadness in her eyes that showed up if anyone ever took the time to look, and I mean truly see her. I did.
I felt bad for her when Kelly had started calling her Zipper Girl, not exactly the best name I've heard, really, but it was just enough to start the rest of the school in calling her that. I wanted to move away from Kelly's table to go talk to her, but she was gone before I came up with a good enough excuse to sit by her, and she'd left her full try on the table. Two and a half periods later, Ms. Gordon's fifth period literature class was interrupted by the door opening, and Dinah being unceremoniously pushed into the room. I didn't see who it was, just the hand as it disconnected with the back of her shirt. "Skip school again and I will surely kick your ass," the owner of the hand said distantly, as if she was already walking down the hall.
As the door closed, Ms. Gordon said, "Thanks, Helena!" Dinah sat down in the empty seat next to mine and didn't say a word for the rest of the day. I went home that night wondering what Dinah was thinking about.
The next time I saw her, she had her head on her knuckles as she looked straight ahead of her, obviously lost in thought. She didn't look my way as I walked towards the empty seat next to her. It wasn't until I'd sat down and started to put my books in order around me that she saw me. She had a look on her face that suggested that I had grown a few heads, but said nothing, instead scooting over an inch or two. I reached out to shake Dinah's hand and to introduced myself properly, but my movement made her jump and move further away from me. When my hand went to the table top, Dinah relaxed. "Sorry," she said, not meeting my eye, "It's nothing against you- I don't even know you. It's just..." she trailed off, but she didn't have to finish her sentance. "I don't like to be touched." I'll never forget the fear I saw in her eyes when she finally looked at me, as if she was somewhat afraid of me. Her comment, uttered in a low voice, got my attention. I was really curious now about where she's been. The only ther person I'd met before then who didn't like to be touched was a rape victom only months before. I nodded.
"I understand completely, and I'm sorry for invading your space like that." Dinah seemed taken aback by my apology, and I gave her a smile to reassure her (hopefully) that my intentions for sitting by her were good.
"S'okay." I tried again.
"My name's Gabby."
"Dinah." Of course, I already knew this, but I didn't say so. Other than the fact that she looked like she could use a friend, I don't know why I spent so much energy in getting her to talk to me. I guess I needed a challenge, and boy was she a challenge if I ever did see one. It was hard to get her to even tell me any of her hobbies, as if she never thought to have any. Eventually, I got her on the subject of movies seen, and I couldn't get her to shut up. Which is a good thing. A couple of weeks of idle chit chat got me almost nowhere when I asked her if she wanted to hang out over the weekend, and she shyly said she'd ask Barbara.
It was then I asked her about her family, and she told me about how she met Ms. Gordon and how she'd come to live with her. She'd run away from her foster parents after an argument, and to New Gotham, where she had family. She met Ms. Gordon, who took her in when Dinah couldn't find her family. Sweet story, but unlikely. I knew even then that there were holes in her tale, but that was the first time she ever really opened up to me, so I saved my questions about her biological parents for another time. As time went by, I noticed that Dinah changed a lot. She got more outgoing. She had gotten some matching jewelry with what looked like birds (or bats depending on the lighting) that she'd touch as she fidgeted... and I've noticed that she fidgeted a lot. She also seemed even more of a mystery as time went on.
I remember the day I really wondered about her past. I was watching TV one Sunday when there was a knock at my door. It was Dinah, and she'd surprised me. Not just because her visit wasn't expected, but she looked as if she had just come from an aerobics class. She wore a light blue jacket over a white tank top and black stretch pants, and there was even some sweat still drying on her temple. She had been crying, and before I could ask her why, she'd launched herself into my arms and I almost fell over. She started to cry in ernest, and all she said in that time was 'She-" Dinah couldn't seem to finish her sentance. At one point, I thought I heard her say 'my mother...' but when I asked her to repeat herself, she looked at me as if I was crazy and told me that she said nothing.
I lied and said, 'Must have been the TV I heard." In my mind, I knew that unless Spongebob Squarepants had Dinah's voice, it had to have been my mysterious friend who had spoken. She stayed a few hours, and I played along when her sudden arrival and crying episode went unspoken. We watched TV and a movie, and in the corner of my eye, I kept a close watch on her. Though she seemed to be better, it felt to me as if the air in the room had changed. It felt as if there was a tension or a static charge all around us. It seemed, also, as if I could pick up what was wrong even if she hadn't said a word. In my mind, it felt like the word 'abandoned' was coming from her, and was repeated softly in my head. Did her mother leave her somewhere when she was younger? Did Dinah remember it? It would make sense. But why would that make her break down and cry now? Did she find her mother? Did her mother find her? These questions ran madly through my mind, along with the word 'abandoned'. I felt strange that whole time.My head seemed to pulsate, and I could feel it. It didn't hurt; it just seemed as if I had a second heartbeat in my left temple. The static in the room had after a while started to hum, and indecipherable whispers surrounded the word 'abandoned'. What is going on?
I walk through a distorted version of an alleyway. It is dark. I look down at a small piece of paper in my hand. There is an address. It is my first day here, and I just witnessed a man's murder. No one would have believed me if I told the truth,so I lied to that cop. He seemed nice, too. The night is getting colder, darker than I ever thought it could. It's creepy, but I've seen worse in people's heads. An odd thought: This doesn't look like a place to hold a party. Am I lost? No, this is as the paper says. Where's Jerry? If I had somewhere to go, I would leave. I hear noise behind me, and I turn to see who's behind me. No one. I am just being stupid. I turn back in front of me, and see Jerry there. I am releived. "Oh god, you scared me. I thought you were-"
"Dangerous?" At his look, relief turns to fear. I try not to show it.
"Kind of a weird place to have a party," I say nervously.
"One thing you you have to learn about New Gotham, Dinah: things aren't always as they seem." This is my queue to run, though something tells me that it is exactly what he wants, a chase. It is my only hope, though, and I make a break for it. He grabs me and pushes me against the wall. That hurt. "Aw, don't be scared Dinah!"
"The lady isn't interested." I know who it is before we turn to glance at her. I've seen her in my dreams. I can only watch as a fight between them begins, and this woman saves me. I honestly never thought I'd find her. I didn't know what happened to her after that night. "You can just say thank you," I snap out of my thoughts when I realize she's speaking to me now. "It wasn't that spectacular." We both know that it was. Finally, I find words I wanted to say since I was nine.
"No, it's... it's you. I saw you in my dream I-" She only gives me a weird look. I wasn't expectig that reaction. To be honest, I didnt know what I expected would happen when I actually found any of the people I saw in my dreams that fateful night when I was nine. I feel my lips moving, but I can't hear what I say next, and the allyway disappears and in its place is a sight I've seen many times in my childhood and on into my early teens. I am in a house I've never seen before in my waking life but feel as if I have lived there forever, and I am standing in the hallway. There are for white doors along the hallway, and all doors are open except for one. I walk down the hallway, as I always had. That door is always closed, and I never paid it any mind. But something is different this time as I walk by it. There was someone in there. I hear whispers. I cannot make out what they are saying, but they are talking. It sounds urgent, but what are they saying, and why do I feel that it is about me? I reach out t open the door, but I am afraid. What if they don't want me to hear it? Are they keeping this secret on purpose? Will I ever find out? Do they plan to tell me? Who are THEY anyway? I stand there, almost frozen in fear. I realize that I only hear one voice, but they are saying many different things all at the same time. Who is it?
"Gabby?" I opened my eyes and saw my mother standing over me. I looked around. It was dark, both of my parents were home, and Dinah was gone. the TV was on an episode of Lassie, and it was at a lower volume than I remember the TV being on before. I had obviously fallen asleep. "We brought home dinner, but you were conked out and we didn't want to wake you up. It's in the oven if you want it." I smiled and stetched.
"Thanks, but I'm going to go sleep in my bed." I gave her a hug before turning off the TV and going to my room. I didn't care about changing. I was already in my 'lounge around the house' clothing. I lay on my back on my queen sized bed and looked up at the rainbow flag tac'd up on my ceiling. That was a very weird dream. It felt so real, the way I- Well, it wasn't even me. I truly felt like I was Dinah, like I knew the woman who saved me. I've never had a dream where I was someone else, at least, never in their perspective. That dream about the hallway, however, I've had before. Many times in fact, but this time it was different. When I usually have that hallway dream, I don't even notice the door that is closed. I would walk right by it as I'm on my way to somewhere else. The fact that there were whispers behind the door suprised me. The fear of opening the door surprised me even more. 'Something's not tight,' I thought. I guess I should have gotten that creepy feeling of forshadowing as I thought tht, but I only covered myself up and went back to sleep.
I didn't see Dinah the next day at school, and that worried me a little.
'Perhaps she's still upset about her mother or whatever it was that had upset her,' I thought as I walked from my last class to the parking lot.
There, I spotted Ms. Gordon and trotted over to her. "Gabby, hi." she said, surprised to see me. I'm pretty sure she was expecting me to question her decision to give me a C on the last paper I handed in, but I was watching TV all weekend, so I knew I deserved the grade I got.
"Hi Ms. Gordon. Do you know what's up with Dinah? She seemed so unhappy yesterday, and today, she's not in school.' My teacher watched me for a second, noting my concern, and in my head I felt a deep sadness that I somehow knew Dinah was feeling. I don't now how, exactly, but in my gut I knew Dinah needed someone to lean on. My teacher sighed.
"Dinah got some bad news, and she'll be gone from school a few days." I nodded, feeling sad that I couldn't be there for my new friend. What bad news did she get? Why would she be gone so long because of it? I hope her mother's okay. I hope her mother didn't die or something- That is the only thing that would keep me from school for so long.' I thought. I looked down at Ms. Gordon, wishing I knew what more to say.
"Tell Dinah she can come over any time, and that she's not alone. Tell her I'm here for her." Ms. Gordon smiled sadly, but she nodded.
"I'll pass on the messege, Gabby. Thank you."
"Thank you, too." That earned me an odd look, and I waved before turning to walk home. At the crosswalk nearest the school, I saw Kelly. To be honest, ever since I befriended Dinah, I sort of left Kelly behind. She'd decided she didn't like Dinah. 'She's too weird' Kelly'd said, and never made any effort to talk to her. I walked slowly up to the crosswalk next to her. She looked up at me, then turned her body to fully face me.
"Where's your girlfriend?" She asked, her voice not unkind, when she saw there was no one near enough to hear her. Of all of my friends, Kelly was the only one who knew about my sexuality, and she was really good about keeping that a secret at school. Though I am not ashamed of being a lesbian, I don't feel that it's all of New Gotham High's buisess what my sex life, or lack there of, was like. I was relieved that Kelly was still keeping that a secret.
"She's at home, I guess, and she's not my girlfriend." I said, crossing the street when the white pedestrian symbol showed. Kelly looked at me after she reached the other side of the street. She seemed a little nervous. Like the day before with Dinah, I felt it, as if she didn't need to say it, I just felt she was nervous. 'This is so weird' I thought to myself when I recognised this feeling, 'I was never this receptive to this sort of thing.'
We were silent for most of the first block, and I too, got a little nervous.
"Listen, I'm sorry about my behavior lately, Gabster," she said, using a nickname I haven't heard since we played tetherball on the playground in the sixth grade. This made me look up at her with curiousity. "I know I've been a bitch since the day she got here, and I feel bad- I really do- but there is something about her... She scares me, Gabby. She's got this look about her, an aura that says she's dangerous." Kelly looked at me and nodded her head as if to reinforce her words. "And I know that you're deturmined to be friends with her. I'm not sure if it's because you like her or what, but I'm afraid to go near her."
"Dinah's not dangerous, and I don't want to stop being her friend because you're scared of her. I don't want to stop being your friend either. You're the first person to befriend me when my family first moved here."
"And I don't want to stop being your friend, either. We survived middle school and the first year of high school together... But I can't be your friend when you're with Zipper Girl. I don't want to be a dumb broad who makes you chose between me or her. We're neighbors. When we're both free, open the gate and let yorself in." By this time, we'd gotten to my house about 3 blocks away and were standing in front of the driveway.
"Her name is Dinah, and there's no reason to be afraid of her." I said, trying in vain to change Kelly's mind about my new friend. Kelly only shrugged, and I frowned in thought, not liking what she is truly saying to me. "Then we're no longer friends in school?" I asked, knowing that this would be the only time I would get to really see Dinah because I don't know her phone number or Ms. Gordon's adress. Again, a shrug from Kelly which was starting to frusterate me. "Okay then... I guess I'll call you." I felt a little bit angry with her for not wanting to give Dinah a chance. I mean, for Pete's sake, she wouldn't even say her name! Kelly only nodded once more and walked to the next house over and let herself inside. I knew that she'd set her backpack down, leave the house again, and walk down the street the other way to pick up her twin younger bothers from the elementary school. I used to go with her, and had even thought of going today, but something stopped me from offering.
Kelly was nervous around me the whole walk home, almost as if she feared that I would tell Dinah what she'd said. I wouldn't of course, but it made me sad that she almost feared me as well. Has the whole world gone insane?
Is there a full moon that I don't know about? And what is up with the humming? I knew the answer to that last question and didn't like it. The truth is, the humming has been there, low and constant since the night before. I could almost tune it out, but when I was alone with myself like I was then, walking slowly up my driveway while digging out my keys, it never seemed to stop. It drove me crazy... er. Who knows, maybe it isn't the rest of the world that's gone twacky. Maybe it's just me. If that's the case, then something is terribly wrong. I'm too young to be locked away in Arkham, claiming to hear my new friend's voice. And the dreams... Those dreams. Did that actually happen to Dinah? That can't be. The woman who saved me had farel eyes like a cat, and she moved so quickly and gracefully... like the Huntress she claimed to be. At the same time, it wouldn't be the first time someone's claimed to have been saved by a mysterious rescuer cloaked in darkness. They were all over the news, people with extraordinary powers, some used for good, others... But I- Well, Dinah- claimed to have seen this person in HER dream. It felt as if this figure, this woman was why I- I mean
Dinah- was in New Gotham.
It doesn't quite make sense. If this actually happned, then why am I dreaming about it? If it didn't... then why did it feel so real? What did I really know of Dinah? That she prefurred Madagascar to Finding Nemo? That she bawls like a baby whenever she sees A Walk To Remember? What does that tell me? For all I know, Kelly could be right, and Dinah could be dangerous.
If not Dinah herself, then her past. Why else would she run away to a creep old city like New Gotham and feel at home? 'That doesn't seem right, either,' I thought, 'Dinah is just a shy girl from Zippertown USA looking for acceptance. I better than anyone know what that was like, having uprooted and moved from San Diego when I was eleven.'
I shook my head and walked inside my house. I checked the messeges just in case my mom or dad called with instructions for the night. No one but a telemarketer called. Something about life insurance. I then took out my lab homework, shaking my head at Matt's semi-readable handwriting. We were supposed to do a worksheet on the lab we'd done, and while I was doing the physical work of the lab, Matt was supposed to be taking notes and filling out the worksheet, only, it didn't quite happen that way. He didn't write out any specifics of the lab, so I told him I would write out the answers at home and have him do the lab experiment later in the week while I took the notes. I didn't want to fall behind in science or I will never catch up, and having a lab partner like Matt wasn't helping any.
I guess couldn't complain too much about it, really. It gave me somthing to do so that my mind wouldn't go insane with questions and thoughts. From the kitchen table where I had my homework sprawled out, I saw Kelly through the window. She no longer had her backpack on, and she seemed lost in thought. I had more questions about her behavior in the back of my mind, but I really needed to do my homework before my mind got too distracted, so I looked back down at my lab homework and began to work.
No strange dream that night or any other that week. The humming seemed to lessen, or I've been able to tune it out better, I'm not sure which.
Everyday after school I'd take a detour to Ms. Gordon's class to deliver Dinah's lab homework, since it was the only class we shared besides Ms.
Gordon's. Part of me hoped that my teacher would tell me more about whatever it was that got Dinah so upset it got her out of school for so long, but Ms.
Gordon let nothing slip, and I was getting even more worried. With Kelly refusing to hang out with me within New Gotham High School's walls, the week was a long and lonely one, filled with questions that needed to be answered.
Finally on Friday afternoon, I walked up to Ms. Gordon's classroom as I'd done the rest of the week. This time, unlike the rest of the week, I had come emptyhanded. Before I could say anything, I heard "Miss Andrews, why am I not surprised?"
I turned to see Ms. Gordon in the back of the room, reaching up to mess with one of the posters that had fallen. I walked over and held up the top right corner. Without a word, she handed me the yellow tac, and I went to work putting the poster back in place. "Look-" I started to say, but my teacher cut me off.
"Gabby, I want you to know that I appretiate your concern for Dinah. The last few days have been very rough on her. What happened is a long and complicated story, but she is very strong, and I'm sure she'll bounce back from this."
"Ms. Gordon, at this point, I don't care about the details of what happened. Sure, I'm curious, but more than that, I just want to know if she's okay, and I want to hear it from her." To my surprise, she laughed. It was a small chuckle that ended as soon as it had started, but still it was enough to make me wonder what I'd said that was so funny. My teacher then looked at me. She studied me for a moment, then said, "What happened to Dinah... I have a feeling things will get worse before it gets better, and she's going to need someone to be there for her. You're a nice, strong willed girl, and Dinah needs that in a friend." From the look on her face, there was a messege, a moral, a hint of some sort in her words, I just knew it, but what exactly she was saying beyond 'Stand by her, Gabby, she needs you', I wasn't sure exactly what it was.
I nodded my head and unstrapped my backpack long enough to grab at a notebook I used to write notes to Kelly during class (tell no one). The fact that it was now useless to me was not lost on me. I searched for my favorite blue pen and wrote down my cell phone number. "You know, in case she wants to tell me this 'long and complicated story'... Or anything." I said. "I'd call her but..." 'I don't know anything about her, let alone her phone number.' Ms. Gordon smiled and I put my backpack on again. Awkwardly, I left her classroom with nothing more to say.
Nothing to do. I was bored senseless, and it didn't help at all that Dinah had been on my mind all night. I lay on my bed listening to Tegan and Sara, letting my mind go crazy with worry. Millions of 'what ifs' were going from bad to worse in point five seconds. Just when the worst thought entered my mind ('What if she got so depressed she commits suicide?') came to me unexpectedly, I walked quickly to the window of my room and looked outside.
I looked up at the star that could be seen from my window (or maybe that was a satalite...) and closed my eyes tighty. I imagined Dinah sitting on a couch, and thought of myself 'Please Dinah... call me.' I felt my head slightly pound, and I opened my eyes as the humming stopped for a second, and in my mind, an echo of my thoughts sounded. Right away, the humming returned, and I was able to tune it out quickly. I felt odd, weak almost. I leaned against the window for a calculated three or four minutes, and then slowly went back to my bed. Before I could sit down, however, I heard the familiar chorus line to Seal's 'Crazy', which I thought was perfect timing considering the direction my thoughts at that moment. I picked my cellphone off of my desk, where it was charging, and pressed the talk button. "Hello?"
I said tentatively, since it was well after midnight, and the phone number display said 'Private Number'.
"Uh- Gabby?" I knew immediately who it was, even though her voice was slightly lower, and it sounded shaky, as if she was keeping some sort of emotion in check.
"This is Dinah. Barbara gave me your cell number, and I meant to call you earlier, but I had to pick up my sister, and we didn't get home until about twenty minutes ago. I hope I didn't wake you up." I looked at my Betty Boop alarm clock even though I knew already what time it was. I turned my stereo down then went to lay back on my bed.
"No, you didn't wake me. I couldn't sleep, so I'm glad you decided to call me now." Understatement of the century.
"I didn' think you would be. I remember you saying once that your bed time is around one or two in the morning. Besides that... This may sound weird, but I was going to call you tomorrow, but just now, I had this feeling that I had to call you, that it was important I call you now instead of tomorrow." I felt my body freeze. Had I somehow done that?
"That doesn't sound weird at all," I said. 'Considering who I'm talking to and the week I've been having.' I thought. "So, why did you have to go pick up your sister. I didn't even know you had a sister."
"I don't. Not really. She sort of adopted me when Barbara took me in.
Reluctantly, but yeah. She went to a party downtown, and since she doesn't like to drive, she called Barbara to go get her when it started to suck, and because she figured I needed some fresh air, she sent me," she explained.
"Oh," was all I could think to say at first. There was awkward silence after that. 'How do I ask her where she's been?' "How are you?" 'I guess that's the way to start.' There was a short silence and I was almost certain she wasn't going to talk to me about this past week, but after about a twenty second wait, she sighed sadly.
"Well, worse than Sunday afternoon," 'Worse?' I thought, remembering the force she'd used to hold on to me. 'What could possibly be worse than that?!' "but better than early Monday morning." Which led to my only conclusion that whatever happened to Dinah occured Sunday night.
"I'm sure Ms. Gordon is at the point where she wouldn't want to see me after school hours. She wouldn't tell me what happened, but she told me that it's been a really rough week,"
"I'm surprised she's told you that much." Dinah said, which made me frown.
There was more silence. I didn't know what to say, since I was too afraid to ask what happened on Sunday night, or worse, ask and be left with a lot of riddles in place of answers I'd been originally looking for, so I stayed on the phone, silent. I knew I was just burning my cell phone minutes, but that didn't matter to me then. This may sound weird, but just the sound of her breathing on the other end soothed me. At least I knew she was there and I didn't need to worry, but I still wouldn't be satisfied until I saw her at school or-
"Hey, you wanna go see a movie tomorrow? I think that romantic comedy you were talking about came out today, so we can catch a matinee of that." I said, staring at the wall. I figured if she liked movies so much, then maybe going to one might help cheer her up.
"I don't know. I'll ask Barbara."
"You do that. I think it'll be fun. Whatever you want to see, popcorn,
candy... it's on me." "You don't have to-" I cut her off.
"I want to," I said, and it was the absolute truth. "Look, maybe going out for an afternoon will cheer you up a little. It's not going to reverse whatever happened, but maybe it will somehow help you get through it. And-"
I wasn't sure if I should have said this, but thinking back it may have been what hooked her into going with me to begin with. "And to be honest with you, this would be just as much for my benifet as it would be for yours."
Silence, oh how I hate thee. Let me count thy ways...
"Okay. I'll ask Barbara, but I'm sure she'll say yes. Only on one condition though," she paused, and I was ready to defend myself and tell her I wouldn't say a word about Sunday night, but she spoke again before I could, "I pay for lunch either before or after the movie." I couldn't keep the grin off of my face.
I stood in front of the high school's flagpole, where Dinah and I had agreed she'd meet me. My mother was going to drive us to the movie theater on her way ro run errands, and I was to call her after the movie with further plans. Not long after I got there, I saw Dinah running towards me.
"I'm not late, am I?" she called from the other side of the school's parking lot. I shook my head.
"No, you're right on time!" I yelled back. Dinah seemed almost excited about hanging out with me, and that made me feel even better about the outing. Both of us walked over to the black Sedan when I gestured towards it, and got inside. My mother looked back at us, giving me a look I knew all too well. She was waiting expecantly for an introduction. "Dinah, this is my mother, Mom, this is Dinah." They shook hands briefly.
"So you're Dinah. It is a pleasure to meet you." My mother started the car and drove us to the movie theater. She waved quickly before backing out of the parking lot. As we stood in line, I asked, "So did you want to see On the Bus, or Underworld?"
"Uh, On the Bus, I think." Dinah replied, then, "I guess we can go see that, since Helena wants to see that." I nodded and paid for the tickets, some popcorn, and two small drinks. I must say, I felt very butch then.
The movie started out average enough. All the main characters were intorduced in the beginning, then each person's dilema and thus creating the perfect reasoning for the man and woman to meet up, but from there, I don't know what happened. Oh, I'm sure they found out eachother's secrets, fell in love anyway, got together somehow, lived happily ever after and had beautiful Hollywood children with perfect teeth, but my mind had stopped focusing on the movie by that point. You see, at about the half hour mark, Dinah had reached into the popcorn bucket which I had settled on my right knee, and her palm brushed against my knuckles, which were curled around the lid. I suppose it would have been the perfect cliche' moment if my whole body hadn't tingled slightly in a nonsexual way, or if the humming- that damn humming!- hadn't gone up a notch in volume, drowning out the indecipherable whispering and making it almost impossible to concentrate on anything else. I kept my eyes on the screen as Dinah quickly took her hand completely from the popcorn bucket. In the corner of my eye, I saw her looking at me, but I couldn't tell in the dark theater what her expression was.
I pretended to be engrossed in the movie. If I freaked out and she found me weird, she would never open up to me and trust me with her secrets.
Something else: I felt that it wasn't Dinah that needed this friendship, it was me. It was then I remembered Ms. Gordon's words, hearing them very faintly within the humming. It felt as if Ms. Gordon knew something that niether Dinah or I would dare to figure out, but what could that be?
Dinah's shoe nudged mine, and I was startled out of my thoughts. I noticed that the movie was over then, and the credits rolled as some female with a beautiful singing voice went on about unexpected love. I looked over at her.
"You okay?" I nodded with a weak smile, doing a very good impression, if I'm not mistaken, of her.
"Yeah I'm fine." She didn't beleive me, but let it slide. Hell, I doubt the villiage idiot would've believed me then. Dinah must have gotten a glimpse of what it was like talking to her.
"Come one, you've got to call your mom and tell her I'm treating you to lunch." She looked at her watch as the lights were fully coming on. "Or and early dinner for me." I nodded and called my mother, who wasn't at her phone, and left a messege. We walked about four blocks to an old fifties and sixties style burger joint you'd see on Happy Days.
"Ooh, I want a broiled chunk of a cows ass surrounded by carbohydrates, tortured spuds dipped in grease, and carbonated caffine with a slight lime flavor added to it." I said as Dinah and I found a booth to sit at. Dinah looked as if she was trying to figure out what I had just said.
"So... You want a burger, fries and Sprite?" I nodded.
"Why couldn't you just say that?"
"S'not as fun."
"Also not as gross sounding." I only grinned at her slightly disgusted look, and to my surprise, she smiled back at me with a look that said 'You're weird'. Instead, she said, "I'm glad you drug me out of the house. I think... I think it was what I needed to start the healing process- and god, I sound like Barbara." My grin lessened into a sad, sympathetic smile. She watched me for a second as if she debated on saying the next sentance to me.
"I've been thinking a lot about my mother lately. She brought me to my foster parents when I was six, but I remember so much about her, most of all, the day she left me with the Redmonds. I- I guess some memories came back when... she did, only to leave me again." Her eyes locked onto mine as she spoke, and I was intent on hearing her story, humming be damned. "She came back on Sunday, and she wanted me to go with her. I was so hurt, I couldn't stand to be there. I just left. The only place I knew to go was to you... Your house. Thank you, by the way, for that."
"You're welcome anytime." I said earnestly. Dinah looked down then at the table as she tucked hair behind her right ear, and the bat/bird earring showed.
"I left when you had fallen asleep and went back to my mother. I told her that as unconventional as it may seem, everything I've gained here in New Gotham was what I'd always wanted. I had friends- or a friend, who truly cared for me, as you'd proved this last week, and Barbara and even Helena loved me in their own ways... It was so hard to tell her no, that she'd missed out on us being a family when she gave me up ten years ago. So, she left again on Sunday night, and I know I will never see her again." She was silent after that, and I was almost too afraid to ask her my next question for fear of her clamming up again. Almost.
"Do you know why she gave you up? Did you ask her before she left?" It probably wasn't the best time to to ask, or even the best way to word it, but with this sort of thing, what/when is? Dinah nodded.
"She said that I'd showed no signs of being..." If I had seen her lips move at all at that point after the word being, I would have sworn to every higher being that she'd said the word(?) 'metahuman', but Dinah didn't move her lips. Still I heard the term 'metahuman' from somewhere, and it lingered in my mind. No matter what it may mean, it made me shiver with the unexpected cold sensation that traveled up and down my spine. "Like her." I watched as Dinah fought so hard to keep tears from falling, but blast them, they fell anyway. I reached over towards the jukebox shaped napkin holder and grabbed a napkin before handing it to her. She took it with slight gratitude before wiping her tears. "I can't help but wonder if- If I had done something- anything... If I had only shown some sign that I was like her after all, maybe she wouldn't have left me with- with... them." Tears fell slowly, one by one, and despite her sadness, I couldn't help but look at her and think 'You're so beautiful, Dinah'. And she was- is.
Heartbreakingly so. I watched her as she wiped more tears away. "I'm sorry I-"
"We are not supposed to become our parents, Dinah. We are to grow and learn with their guidance and advice, but in the long run, we become our own person. You mother must have had a far greater reason to leave you somewhere else, ot she would have kept a close watch on you and never gave you up at all." More tears fell and Dinah nodded.
"Thank you." She let out a small, almost forced laugh as our food came.
"There's your chunk of cow ass." I clapped my hands in mock excitement.
The conversation ended after that, and our food was eaten in silence. While Dinah paid for the meal, I called my mother again and told her where we were. I stressed my 'I love you' at the end of the call. She came and got us about fifteen minutes later, and we dropped Dinah off at the high school.
When I got home, I went to my room and sat down on my bed, trying to put some of the peices together. It made more sense than anything else about Dinah, and I knew from the look in her eyes that she was telling the truth.
When my father came home about two hours later, he used the rest of the sunlight as one of the last opperatunities of the year to barbeque. Both my mother and I could tell something was bothering him, though. Even without this new... thing I seem to have, I would have been able to just look at his face and mannerisms and know something was wrong. We left him alone on the back deck, but when we sat down to eat, we couldn't keep it quiet anymore.
"Jason," my mother said softly when my father hadn't touched his food after saying grace, "are you alright?" She touched his shoulder, and I could feel the tension from across the dinner table.
"We'll talk later," my father grunted curtly, not looking up. '...precious daughter...' Again, like at the restaurant, I didn't see his lips move, yet I still heard it from him. I frowned. Nothing else was said until the table was cleared. Only then did my father say, "Gabby, go to your room. Let your mom and I talk."
"Is it about me? Look, I've got the right to know if it's-"
"Just do as I say, Gabrielle!" Just the tone of his voice was enough to make me jump, but the use of my full name let me know that this was serious.
Without another word, I left the room, and the door hadn't even closed all the way before I heard him say, 'Linda, they called today."
"The Institute. In San Diego." There was a gasp from my mother. I closed the door until it was open only a crack.
"What did they want?"
"They wanted us to go to their branch in Bludhaven to check up on Gabby. We moved away from San Diego to get her away from all the testing, and they follow us here, anyway." His voice was harsh, angry.
"What if its wise? What if now is the time to check her again?"
"She hasn't shown any signs of it yet, so she is fine. She'll be fine.
Besides, we've done what they suggested. It's over."
"James, you know better than I do that it's not over. It's going to show up, and we've got to check to make sure it's not just hidden. And..." My mother tailed off.
"I think we should tell her." I heard footsteps. I think my father was pacing.
"We can't do that. She's finally happy in New Gotham. She's got friends, her grade are excellent, and- we can't."
"What about when she goes off to college? What about that, James? She'll be happy there, with other lesbians to talk to as well, and all of a sudden-
BAM!- it happens, and she doesn't know what's going on, or even a way to keep it under control-"
"Shh, she'll hear you." My dad lowered his voice, but I could still hear it. Barely. "We'll tell her before that. I won't keep it from her most of her life like my mother did to me. I just want her to be happy NOW."
"But telling her just months before her 18th birthday may not be enough time for her. She will need to process the information and do what she can to control it..." I couldn't listen to anymore. 'What's going on? Am I sick?
Is that why there is all that humming? Do I have a weird brain tumor thing?'
I asked myself. I was getting scared. My father seemed to be fine, since he was talking as if he had whatever it is that I might have. Something I got genetically from him. I looked over at the other side of the room, where my computer was on stand by.
Each search for any Institure came up blank. The name would always be more to the title, never just 'The Institute'. Well, if you don't count the pig farm in Kentucky somehwere. 'That's odd.' I thought, "You'd think that they'd have a website if they have more than one branch.' I tried looking under hospitals, institutes, even labratories. Nothing. The strangest part of all of this: I didn't remember any tests. I didn't remember any Institute before we moved away from San Diego. In fact, I thought we had moved to New Gotham because that was where Uncle Leonard lived, and they wanted me near him because he's a homosexual as well. I tried to think back to when I was ten and eleven. Nope, I don't remember any sort of tests being taken. I don't even remember going to any doctors. Even now, I don't remember going to see any doctors since I've lived in New Gotham. I never had the need to go. I thought more and more about my childhood. Something wasn't fitting. I kept coming up with blanks. Like, I could think of an entire school day, then, after I left school it would all be a blank.
Something caught my attention when I thought through various memories. I remembered many times when I would get angry or upset over something, usually homework of some sort, and my mother would insist I calm down. I remembered a look upon her face that I hadn't noticed before: fear. It seemed almost as if they were afraid of stressing me out. Did they move me to New Gotham so that I won't fall apart due to stress? What would that stress trigger, some sort of brain... thing? I looked back at the computer screen. I was too afraid to look up anything along the lines of brain tumors and the like, but something still made me go to dogpile and look up 'metahuman'. The only thing I got in responce to my search request was 'did you mean 'Metal human'?' No, of course I didn't mean metal human. It was such an odd term I heard from Dinah that I couldn't have gotten it wrong.
The strong sense of excitement I had in the restaurant at that term made me curious as to what it meant. Looking in the dictionary I grabbed from my bookshelf, there was no such word as meta human, but the term meta alone meant 'a change or alteration' something to do with a change in or of developement, so I could only guess that this meant a change of my being if I was one of these metahumans. No shit, Sherlock. Why do you think I was freaking out so bad?
Nothing else interested me about the search on metahumans or anything regarding the brain, as I was too much into my thoughts to be, so I shut the computer down and lay on my bed, almost paralyzed with fear. The fact that I didn't know what was wrong with me scared me, and the fact that my parents seemed to know more than I did and weren't going to tell me about it worried me as well. Does it all mean I am just some altered human? And what/where is this Institute? If I couldn't get the address online, then maybe I could find it in the phonebook. I doubted it. I mean, if you can't find it on the internet, then apperently it doesn't exsist, and that, too worried me. I don't know, a lot of things had been worrying me lately, bringing on the stress that my parents had been apperently trying to avoid. As I thought about the Institute and brain tumors and metahumans and Dinah, my eyes slowly fought to stay open, and I knew I was about to fall asleep.
Music of my youth, music in which the radio station refurred to as 'oldies', a term that always made me cringe, plays on the radio station as I drive slowly through the school zone of the neighborhood. Children ages six to twelve stream out of the school's doors and walk every whichway, eager to get home to their after school snacks and cartoons. I park our newest addition to the Andrews family, the brand new Sedan and watch the children of all shapes and sizes walk to their school buses or to the sidewalk. My hands grip the steering wheel as I try not to think of where I am going next, where I must bring my daughter. I try not to think about the fact that the doctor would make sure she won't remember any of it, either. It is for the best. Right, Andrews, keep telling yourself that if it'll ease the guilt. It doesn't. It never does.
I shake my head as I see my daughter, my healthy looking, beautiful daughter who looks more like her mother everyday, walk out of the school and wait by the plants at the front. I open the door. "Gabby!" I wave my hand as she looks up and around, then she runs towards me.
"How was your day?" Her blonde curls bobbed as she moves her head from side to side, thinking of her answer.
"It was okay. Miranda kept pulling my hair, though."
"Did you tell the teacher?" I ask her distractedly as I start the car again and slowly manuever us out of the parking lot.
"No, she never believes me. She's always saying I have an over active imagination, like the time I swore I heard Jimmy say that she was fat." I shake my head.
"Well, maybe he did say that, but you shouldn't have repeated it."
"I won't. Where are we going?" I knew she'd ask me as soon as she saw that we weren't going right on the main road towards our two bedroom condominium, but left towards the tollway, yet still her innocent quesion caught me off guard. I hadn't told her about taking any of her time away from her afternoon.
"We're going to the doctor today." I tell her. That, at least, is the truth. Of sorts.
"But I'm not sick. I feel fine." She got an uneasy look, and I'd bet half of my life she doesn't even know why she's so scared.
"I know you're not sick sweetheart. This is a check up to make sure you don't get sick." She seems to accept this. Thankfully. I don't know how many more times I can tell her that lie, even if she doesn't know we've had conversations similar to this one many times before-
The scene inside the car fades slowly into white, then the sight of the hallway is before me. The hallway seems so much longer than I remember it. I hear voices from the door before I can even see it. 'Should we tell her?' It was the only one phrase, a question that echoed down the hallway before I can even get to the door. Slowly, no matter how quickly I walk towards it, I inch my way towards it. 'Should we tell her?' Finally, I reached out, unafraid this time. I try the doorknob. Locked. I feel like an outsider. Why won't they let me in?
"Booboo bee doo, boop!" My Betty Boop alarm clock went off at my set time of six o'clock in the morning, but it was Sunday, and no cartoons were worth getting up for. I turned off my alarm and shifted to my side. First my new friend and now my dad. I knew this dream, at least, actually happened. I remembered the day Miranda kept pulling my hair, and I remembered being in love with her despite (or perhaps because of) it, but I didn't, as my father suspected, remember getting into the car with my father. In fact, right when the school bell rang that day, my mind went blank when I searched for the rest of the memory.
Sunday was long and lazy. Not once did I give any thought to school work, and I didn't join the land of the living until my father had knocked on my door at around ten and was surprised to see that I was awake. I had been for the last four hours, lost in thought. Because of the conversation I'd overheard (not to mention the dream I had) the night before, I didn't rise to my father's bribe of banana pancakes, my favorite breakfast food. Nor did I even look up at my door as it'd opened, revealing my father's tall frame.
"You going to eat?" he asked me. It was then that I looked up at him slowly.
My father was a lanky guy, and he made my five foot nine and a half inch hight seem almost drawfish. He peered in and watched me. I looked into eyes much like those I see in the mirror each day, and the humming almost ceased momentarily as I thought 'I have your eyes. What else have I inherited from you?' I didn't dare say it, I was too afraid, but the thought must have showed up on my face, for guilt, and almost remorse showed up on his. He couldn't look me in the eye, and taking my silence as a 'no', he left my room, closing the door securely behind him.
He came back when my alarm clock said it was near two in the afternoon. He knocked, but entered before I could give any sort of reply. My father took a couple of steps into the room, closed the door behind him, and stared at me as if to think about something really deeply. '...hear me?' I made a face unintentionally that showed I was concentrating on a sound. '..hear...me?'
My father closed his eyes, almost tightly. I watched him, slightly confused, and suddenly the silence was broken by 'Gabby... can... you hear me?' My eyes widened, and on instinct, I forced my face to go neutral as if to show my father (when his eyes opened and fixed themselves hopefully on me) that I hadn't heard anything. But I had. I know it came from him, and his lips never moved. I watched as he thought that to me. I knew he wanted me to respond, but I couldn't. What if by responding, he'd take me back to that Institute? "Are you still not speaking to me?" he asked, walking over to my desk. He scooted my desk chair closer to the bed where I had ben reading Substitute for Love by Karin Kallmaker.
As he sat down, I said, "I just don't know what to say." Then, wanting to anger him enough to forget his mental messege to me, I continued sarcastically, "Its not everyday my father yells at me for no apparent reason." Instead of anger, I got a calm responce. I was not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
"Touche'. I'm sorry about that. I just had to talk to your mother about some financial matters that had just popped up. They made me frusterated, and I took some of it out on you. I'm sorry." Had I not heard my parents'
conversation, I might have believed my father's lie, played nice, and forgave him. Instead, I only nodded and played nice.
"I guess I understand that." I told him, putting my book on my bed, mere centimeters away from my left butt cheek. "Is everything okay? I asked, putting on my innosence.
"I talked to your mother, and we worked something out. It'll take a couple of years, but we'll figure it out." Again, I nodded, unsure what else to say. "Look," my father said, startling me, "I want you to know that I'm here if you want or need to talk about anything. No matter how strange it may seem. Don't be afraid to come to me - your mother too. We're here for you."
I just stared at him blankly.
"Okay daddy," I said, and that was it. My father looked as if he wanted to say more, but had decided against it. He stood up with a short nod, and slowly left the room. I sat there stunned. I knew then that I wasn't sick. I was different, but I wasn't sick. It was then that I remembered the almost untold legends of this city, and the secrets the older generation of Gotham City and New Gotham kept. What if I was one of them? Well, not the ones what run around in costume saving the place every couple of nights, but the ones that are just there. The ones that hide the unsual things they can do. What if it wasn't a brain thing, but real telepathy? I don't know how or why, but my parents did, and they sure as heck weren't going to tell me anything. It would make sense. More sense, actually, than my theory of being sick. I couldn't just push back the thought that I was even more of a freak. I'm a lesbian with telepathic abilities that my parents probably tested me for as a kid. Nothing showed up then, though they knew I had it. No doubt, my dad knew it had surfaced or something, and that may have been what he was hinting at. Would they have told me everything they were hiding from me had I told them about this first? Maybe, but I was too afraid of going back to that 'Institute', where, I'm pretty sure (after having that 'dream' about my dad and putting some of the pieces, what little I had, together) they had erased my memory of doing these 'tests'. It made me feel uneasy about the possible reasoning for erasing one's memories. Sure, I had this... thing that you only read about or saw on TV, so I can see why they'd want to learn the how or why, but I was no one's lab mouse.
My body jumped when I heard the doorbell ring. I looked over at the clock.
My father hadn't left my room more than 5 minutes before that. "GABBY!
YOU'VE GOT COMPANY!" I got up, not sure who it would be, but hoping it was Kelly coming to tell me she was sorry. It was Dinah, and I smiled when I saw her.
"Hey. I was hoping you'd be up for a ride. I got the car today, so I am just roaming around the city a bit." I shrugged, then turned to look at my dad, who had answered the door.
"This is Dinah, Dad." I told him, and he nodded.
"Yes, we met. Go have fun, but be back before it gets dark."
"I guess that's a 'yes' then." I said. I didn't worry about a coat or anything but what I had with me. I was ready to leave the house. I followed Dinah to the street where there was a nice H2 Hummer. How she could get to dive such an expensive car was beyond me, and what puzzled me more was how Barbara could afford a car like that on a teacher's salary. Rumor had it, she was the daughter of the old commisioner, but even so, I don't think they made THAT much money. I got in, and Dinah started the car.
"Pick the station." Dinah said once we were about 2 blocks away from my house, and one block away from the school.
"Uh, 91.1 FM" I replied.
"Ooh, an 80's girl, huh? I knew I liked you for a reason." She turned the radio on and I saw that it was already set there. A song I recognised from the movie 'Dirty Dancing' was on at the moment. We were silent for a few minutes as Dinah found some of the city's backroads and we just cruised. I had to admit that it was quite nice. Dinah looked as if she was concentrating on the road, but I felt the static in the car, and it felt to me as if she was thinking very hard, wondering if she should ask me something and initiate something.
After a while I asked, "Do you need to talk about something?" Dinah looked over at me in surprise as if she'd been caught, then she shrugged.
"Actually, I have this feeling that you do." This took me completely off guard. I shook my head.
"I could tell when I came to your house today that you weren't...
yourself." 'I haven't been myself for over a week now.' "If you don't want to talk about it, I understand, considering where we've been the last week."
"I got scared last night after we hung out, that's all. I've been doing a lot of thinking and I scared myself. I feel a lot better now." I told her.
"It was just my stupid imagination or something." Dinah nodded, and we continued on in silence. Watching the scenery was actually beautiful as the brown and yellow leaves swirled in the wind, and the sun shone almost without heat down on us. The radio station continued to play the songs I listened to on my computer most of the time, and Dinah and I stayed in a companionable silence throughout the whole drive. An hour and a half later, we were back in front of my house, and Dinah had turned the car off.
"Thanks for riding along with me. I know it was boring, but I needed the company."
"Hey, it wasn't boring. It was better than sitting at my computer trying to write and outline for a paper I have written on Christopher Columbus, one I have written every year for the past 3 years. Hell, I should dig up one of those and turn it in to save me the trouble... Besides, I liked it." I leaned forward intending to give her a hug, and forgot at the last second about her not liking to be touched. She had hugged me anyway, somewhat awkwardly, and I got out of the car. She waved to me before starting the car up and driving away. It was then I knew my life had just gotten that much more difficult, for it was then that I knew I had developed a crush on my new friend.
There was a huge change between Dinah and me whenever we hung out after that. She smiled more, which was always wonderful to see. She was getting through the disappearance of her mother. I found myself blushing almost constantly when I was near her, though I tried not to show it. Though I got a clue about the mystery that is my now best friend, it was one of those clues you only understand the meaning of at the end of the mystery when the other ninty eight percent of it had been solved. It seemed then that aspects of my life that were so simple mere weeks ago had become a bunch of mini mysteries all tangled into one, all of them waiting to be solved. One thing that wasn't a mystery however, was my growing attraction or Dinah. She would mention a lot of guys that she found cute, so I knew she was straight, a fact I already guessed. Knowing that didn't help the slight envy I felt for every guy she referred to as a 'hottie'. I felt I was breaking a really important lesbian commandment by falling for a straight girl, but it wasn't like I had a choice in the matter. When she spoke of such guys, I would just nod my head and never contribute. I'm sure Dinah assumed I just didn't like anyone at the moment, or I was picky about the guys I crushed on.
I couldn't, though, believe my eyes when I got to my lab class about a week after learning about the Institute. The first thing I saw was my friend looking at Matt Kendall of all people. Matt Kendall, my dunderheaded lab partner who rarely had a clue as to what time and day it is, let alone the fact that a good sixty percent of New Gotham High's sophmore class had a mad crush on him. I'm sure that even if he did know, he'd be too busy listening to some underground, Old Gotham rock band that no one will ever hear of to really care. 'Oh God, of all people why HIM?' Truth be told, I'd have thought the same about any of the guys Dinah tended to drool shamelessly over, having known most of them since pre-middle school.
I walked to the empty seat Dinah had put her backpack in as a way to save it for me, and I watched her as she continued to stare. As I sat down, I said (mustering up everything so that I didn't reveal any disgust in my voice or on my face), "Matt Kendall, huh? Not bad." Sure, not bad at all.
She could have fallen for some scaley guy with yellow teeth, but at least he'd contribute to a conversation. 'Okay okay.' I chastized myself for continuing to be mean to Matt in my mind and not to his face where he could defend himself. Dinah looked at me sheepishly.
"Am I that transparent?" 'You can't see through windows as clearly.' I thought.
"Please," I scoffed, "you're obviously infatuated." The next words were spoken only because I wanted to play the role of the encouraging best friend, and play it wll enough to earn Oscars.... an Emmy perhaps. "Hey, maybe you should ask him to the dance."
"I thought we agreed the dance would be lame."
"Oh, I'm changing the forcast. The dance is looking up due to the possible slow dance potential between you and the hottest guy in school. Carpe Diem."
I knew that I was just putting myself through Hell, but I didn't know what else to do. I couldn't just be selfish and say 'Yes Dinah, stay with me during the dance and watch Xena reruns with me.', as was the original game plan for the next night.
"Right. Do me a favor. Switch me lab partners." She said. It was like a dream come true. No Matt? No extra homework? Better grades?
"Seriously?" She didn't answer me, instead she got up and moved towards where I would have gone in the next five minutes after role call. I felt almost bad for pawning Matt off to Dinah so easily, but Dinah's partner was a girl known for getting her labs right. She was known more as 'The Charmed One' rather than her actual name, Gina Halliwell, and she tended to like sitting closer to the blackboard. When I walked up to her she was taking notes from the said blackboard. We were going to dissect frogs that day, the one lab that most guys had waited all semester for, and some girls, myself included, dreaded. I sat next to her and said, "Dinah and I switched lab partners, if you don't mind. Only for this lab, mind you, but yeah." Gina looked up at me and nodded.
"Sure, I don't mind. May I ask why, though?" I only gestured in their general direction. "Oh, she likes him too?"
"Yup." I replied, trying not to watch Dinah's failed attempt to flirt with Matt.
"Don't what?" I asked, not sure what she meant at first, but then my face changed. "Oh! Spare me," I said, but stopped, remembering that I wasn't going to be mean, and certainly not out loud. So I sat and said nothing e;se as the bell rang and our teacher handed out a worksheet on the frog's anatomy, and we began to work.
"So, did you score a date to the dance?" I asked after school that same day. The class after lab science for me was video production, and it was in a smaller classroom across the school, so I had to leave right as that bell rang so I wouldn't be late. I couldn't ask Dinah after class, but we met up at the flagpole when school ended, and I waited with Dinah for Ms. Gordon.
Dinah shook her head.
"No, but we had a conversation of sorts. Called me Donna, though." She sounded a little deflated from that.
"He did?" Despite what me, myself, and I had agreed earlier, I couldn't help but think 'He's more of an idiot than I thought! How can anyone look at a girl like Dinah and forget her name?!' "Don't worry about it," I said instead, "He'll get to know you better, and your name will be all he'll be able to say." At least... that was how it was with me... Dinah smiled at th idea.
"Thanks." I smiled back at her and tried not to show any other thing but encouragement. I nodded past her, then stepped away from Dinah when I saw Ms. gordon come up to us.
"Hello Gabby," she greeted pleasently.
"Hey." I smiled at her quickly. I could feel that Ms. Gordon wanted to ask me something, perhaps if I have forgotten what we had talked about a couple weeks ago.
"Are you ready to go? You said you'd help me clean the basement today." She shot Dinah a knowing look as if to say, 'Remember?'
"Oh! Ugh, okay. I've gotta go. I'll call you." Dinah said all of this quickly.
"Sounds like a plan. I'll see you both tomorrow." I told her.
"Bye Gabby," Ms. Gordon said.
"Bye," Binah echoed. I waved at them both, then turned towards my house just as our family car pulled up beside me near the crosswalk. My father was inside, and he rolled down the window as I walked up to it.
"Hey Sweety. How come you're still at school? It is almost three thirty.
School let out an hour ago."
"I was waiting with Dinah for her guardian, who's one of the teachers." I explained. "She was waiting to get a ride from her." My father just nodded to that, then patted the passenger seat beside him.
"Come on, I'll give you a ride home." Instantly, the image of my eleven year old self popped into my head, and I took two steps back.
"It's only three blocks, dad. I think I'll walk." My father looked slightly taken aback and slightly hurt by this.
"It'll only take a couple of minutes to get home," he said. It felt odd to me that I was treating him like a stranger with candy instead of the man who inspired my first word.
"That's alright dad, I'll meet you at home."
"Alright Sweety." He hesitated. "I'll see you at home." The window was then rolled up and I watched the car go in the direction of my house. I followed it at a leisurly pace, lost in thought. My father was onto me. I wasn't sure about what he knew or suspected, but he knew something, I was sure of it. He might be biding his time and/or was waiting for me to say something first, but that wasn't going to happen until I knew what was going on first.
The next morning, Dinah called my cell phone and told me she would be late and not to wait up for her before school, so I felt weird because I was alone in the morning. I saw Kelly, and she saw me, met my gaze, then looked down. I shook my head and continued on my way to my first class. I went to lab class later that day still unsure of why Dinah was late, but just before the bell rang, in came the devil herself. She looked good. Not at all like the Dinah I knew, but some evil twin who looked really, REALLY good in that shirt. Of course, had I been a Tex Avery cartoon (my favorite cartoon, not because of the shows themselves, but the name was what made me start watching them... it just sounded like a cool name), my tongue would have rolled out like her red carpet, my eyes would have grown ten times their normal size and shaped into red hearts, and my lips would have curled into an 'o' shape while hanging six inches from my face as I whistled and howled.
That didn't happen, but that doesn't mean that wasn't how I felt. Lust almost completely filled me, and I felt just as dumbstruck as Matt (as well as half of the rest of the guys in that class) looked. She glanced my way as she flipped her hair over her shoulder (something I have never seen her do before), and I did my best to smile an encouraging smile. I watched as she continued towards Matt, the lucky bastard, and they started to talk. She had paper in her hands, and showed them to Matt, who seemed excited. Something else was said, and by the way she looked back at me in this 'did you hear that' manner, I assumed he asked her about the dance. I winked at her, hoping it didn't look as suggestive as it felt.
"Is it her?" A voice to my right made me snap out of my thoughts and look toward the speaker, who was Gina. She gave a small nod in the direction I was staring. "It's not Matt or any other guy you like. It's her, isn't it?"
I just stared at her.
"No," I lied. Well, it was not really a lie. It wasn't her I liked... I think... I think it was her I loved. Gina only smiled.
"Hey, it's okay. I'm not going to say anything. Besides, its not like people don't already know."
"Know what?" I asked, somewhat worried.
"Well, they don't know, but to them, anyone who hasn't dated in such and such amount of time is either a) really ugly, b) snobby, or c) gay. Seeing as you're not ugly, and I've never seen you act snobby towards anyone, I assumed you were the last one. So, am I right?" I sighed, feeling slightly embaressed, but I gave the tiniest of nods.
"Screw what they say." I said.
"How long have you liked her?
"I don't know, a week? A month ago when I first met her? I just wanted to get to know her. The more I found out about her, the more I wanted to know still." I told her. 'And now I 'm stuck watching her be happy with someone else.' I thought.
"You know, I've seen you two together this last month. You're such a good friend to her, yelling at those who still call her 'Zipper Girl' and making sure she's not walking alont most of the day. Not even my best friends of ten years have done that for me. Maybe she'll see how good you are to her and want more than friendship from you."
"Man, that's a wonderful thought, Gina, but there are a couple of flaws to that theory: we're both female and she's straight." Gina smiled.
"It's the age of experimentation. You never know, she might start questioning..."
"Are you always this optimistic?" I asked.
"Yep!" She smiled, genuinly happy, and I saw a small glint in her eye. I wished I could go back to being like that.
"So what about you?" I asked, trying to take the heat away from me.
"What do you mean?"
"You're never seen with anyone as far as I know, you're definately not ugly or snobby, so can I consider you option c?" I asked.
"I am what many would call 'really confused'." I couldn't help the laugh that came from me after that statement. We then got to work using our text book to go over our answers from the dissection the day before. We'd gotten all but one question right, and the two of us worked well together as we talked about her love of Charmed and my love of Xena reruns all because of the shared names.
One thing that bothered me was the fact that my now second biggest secret was being kept from Dinah, yet Gina, a girl I had just gotten to know, knew about it. How was I to get to know more about my best friend and be there for her when I myself was holding back? I wanted to come out to her, but the timing was never right. Sometimes, it was because when we spoke, it was at school and I didn't want to be overheard. Sometimes it would be that we would be in the middle of such a good conversation that I would forget.
Everytime, though it was because I was too afraid of her then taking that information that I'm gay and figuring out my true feeling for her. Though the fact that I'm a lesbian might not phase her, the fact that I was in love with her almost certainly will. The timing might have been right then, though. Her mind was busy with Matt and the dance. Maybe in between slow songs when Matt and Dinah would be returing to the sidelines, I can explain to her why I wasn't dancing with anyone. I'd tell her then as soon as I got her away from the groups for a minute. Who knows, if she takes the fact that I'm a lesbian well, I will think about possibly telling her about the last few weeks truthfully.
As it turned out, nothing happened the way I'd hoped it would. Dinah had changed out of her vixen outfit, as I had come to call it, and looked more like my best friend and love interest. I smiled as I waited for her at our usual spot at the flagpole, and together we walked inside. The first thing I saw upon getting inside was a banmer that said 'Big Dance Tonight'. Looking around, the second thing I saw was Matt. "Guess who's headed our way." I said in almost a teasing tone. Then, I pushed her towards him. I stood and watched as she spoke to him, and something happened that I didn't expect:
Matt's face turned from his usual casual look to upset. What did Dinah say?
Suddenly, he walked up to me.
"How you doing?" he asked. I just didn't know what to say. I wanted to ask what she said to him, but I wanted to hear it from Dinah.
"Pretty good," I replied on autopilot.
"Want to go dance?"
"Sure." As soon as that confused word left my mouth, I regretted it. Matt lead me to the dance hall, and I try to convay the messege to Dinah that I didn't know what was going on by shaking my head. Dinah shrugged, hurt, and I felt as if my heart would rip apart my entire chest. I hurt her. I never meant to hurt her. I should have tried to give some sort of excuse, like I was waiting for someone, but the whole thing caught me completely off guard.
'Now I'm about to lose her over a guy I can hardly tolerate longer than I have to.' That wasn't really true. Clueless as he was, Matt was a sweet guy, and not bad as a dancer. If I wasn't craving to be in Dinah's arms as the slower pop beat of some boyband played, I might have enjoyed the dance on friendly terms. It was all mere jealousy that made me think the things I had, and though I felt bad, at times I knew I wouldn't take them back, and I didn't care if that made me a bad person. It was easy to see why he had a lot of the girls in my class drooling over him, though. When the song was over, Matt and I moved apart, and as a new song started, we still stood there, still. "Thanks for the dance," I said after a moment.
"No problem. I just hope my dancing with you doesn't mess with your friendship with Dinah. I know you're close, even though she just got here.
Look, I needed to ask you something, but didn't know how to word it, so I used that dance as time to find the right way to ask... Gabby, do you ever feel static electricity when you're with Dinah?" My mind immediately went to the night the humming had started. Since then the static I've felt hadn't lessened, and had, in fact, increased at the movie theater.
"No," I lied, and Matt nodded.
"Oh," He sounded disappointed. "Well, thanks Gabby," he said. "I kinda miss having you as a lab partner." I smiled.
"Only 'cause I gave you the answers." At that, Matt chuckled.
"That wasn't the only reason... but it helped." I laughed almost without any humor in it. "See you around."
That night, I couldn't sleep. 'What if she hates me now? What if she doesn't want to speak to me ever again?' I almost dreaded going to school the next morning. As it turned out, I needn't have worried. She waited for me at the flagpole and she looked like she too, hadn't slept the night before. She stood up from the bench next to the flagpole as I slowly, tentatively approached her. She said nothing as she entered my personal space, and I braced myself for her anger, for the slap in the face I felt I deserved. Instead, she wrapped her arms around me and hugged me. "I'm so glad you're my best friend."
I felt relief, not only from me, but from Dinah as well. If anything, she felt it more than I did. 'Poor Helena,' I heard in my mind. It felt as if Helena had lost her best friend, which made Dinah think heavily about our friendship, just as hearing about Dinah's flawed relationship with her mother made me appretiate my relationship with mine... that is, before I overheard about the Institute. "I'm glad you're my best friend, too. Are we okay? When you didn't call me last night, I was sure you'd never speak to me agian." We broke apart and started walking into the building. It was silent between us until we started walking down the hall.
"Yeah... We're definately okay, Gabby. I would never stop being friends with someone over some guy." I felt better now that I knew she didn't hate me. I brushed past a couple of girls who were talking about the dance.
"So did you hear what happened at the dance last night? Apperently, there was a fight or something." I never heard about that. I went home right after the dance with Matt when I couldn't find Dinah. I had just heard this from the girls I almost bumped into, and was using that as a way to start a conversation that wasn't completey about Matt.
"Oh yeah. You know, I heard a couple of the staff got a little over beveraged and, uh, went berserk or something." I felt guilt. She was lying to me. The thought of Mr. Brixton, the councelor, and Mr. Garret, the drama teacher, getting shit-faced and duking it out was funny to me, though.
"Oh god," I said with a slight laugh.
"So what happened with you and Matt last night?" I shook my head, wishing with everything that she hadn't brought it up.
"Nothing. We danced. I don't even know why he asked me."
"It's pretty obvious. He must like you."
"Okay, well, don't stress 'cause the feeling's definately not mutual. He's sweet, he's just... not my type." 'You are,' my head screamed, but I didn't move a muscle to indicate that I was thinking anything like that. It seemed as though Dinah would have believed that the sky was brick red instead of what I had just told her.
"Gabby. He's cool, sensitive, extremely easy on the eyes... He's everyone's type." It was then that the oppratunity to come out to Dinah fell at my feet, and I struggled to find a good way to tell her. I stopped walking as I thought of what to say.
"Dinah... you know when I agreed to switch lab partners?"
"I didn't do it just for you." It was sort of a lie, but at the same time, I hadn't done it just so she can lust after Matt close up. I needed a good grade. Dinah seemed slightly confused, with good reason.
"Yeah, but my lab partner was that girl, Gina." I didn't say anything, but it was enough for Dinah to catch my drift after I just stared at her for a second. "Oh," she said, to my surprise, with a smile. It wasn't exactly the truth. She knew by then that I was a lesbian, but it wasn't Gina I liked. I was content to let Dinah think so, though.
"She rocks," I winked at her and walked away before she could form any sort of reaction, bad or good, and I sat next to Gina. It was a small lie, the fact that I liked her as more than friendship material, but not about the fact that she rocks.
"Hey Gabby." She must have seen my face, with some relief and some fear still upon it. "You okay?" I shook my head.
"I told her." I said, and she looked a little surprised.
"You did?" I nodded. "What'd she say?"
"Well, I told her I'm you-know-what," I explained. In whispers, I told Gina the way I'd told Dinah. "So, I hope you don't mind. I only implied that I have a crush on you, not that it could go anywhere."
"I'm honored to play your love interest, but Gabby, you've got to tell her sometime." I nodded, not saying anything more.
After that close call, life went somewhat back to normal. I pretended to admire my love interest from afar as Dinah and I became lab partners when in truth, I was closer to her than ever. I eventually told Dinah that though Gina was beautiful (and don't get me wrong, Gina was very beautiful, but Dinah just had something... more), she was straight, and nothing could happen between us. It was another lie that I felt bad about telling, but if she only knew... I'd rather love Dinah at a distance and be in agony everyday because of it than to tell her, have her react badly, lose her and be in agony, anyway. I could only hope that a) she loved me back in secret, or b) my feelings for her would fade away and I moved on.
Until then though, I had to pretend I was a normal teenage girl who definately didn't hear other people's thoughts on occasion. Normality, it seemed, got farther away from me the more I was with Dinah. Just when I thought I had gotten the hang of all the whispers and humming, I'd touch Dinah or she'd touch me, and my heart would pound and the humming turned to buzzing. I'd gotten used to the buzzing, and I'd accidentally touched her one day to get a beaker in lab class, and I started to get flashes. At least, I got some from her. I saw a balding caucasian man in about his early fifties, which I suddenly felt hatred for. Same balding man sitting on a bed and talking on a phone. Rage, fury. Fear on this man's face. Slight satisfaction. The woman known as Huntress in a previous dream. Annyoance, rage, and betrayal. A knife in the wall besides Huntress, Huntress holding her arm. Guilt. Just as quickly as we had touched, both of us snapped our arms away. I again reached for the beaker as if nothing happened.
That was the first time that had happened, if you don't count the images in those dreams. It happened once more that day, and Dinah seemed freaked out.
Did I give off some sort of signal when I received messeges from her? Did she get them? I wasn't exactly sure, but by this point, I had only one theory regarding my abilities: Maybe being near Dinah was what brought on the stress that made my new abilities show up. But then, the humming started a little while before my crush on her began. Could it be that the whole reason I befriended Dinah in the first place was to be near her, and I hadn't even realized it as the begining of my crush on her?
After school that same day, I waited at the flagpole, but Dinah didn't show up. Usually she waited with me there until Ms. Gordon took her home, so I felt weird about being there by myself. I actually felt weird about being anywhere in that school by myself anymore. I waited a good twenty minutes though, before I started walking, not in the direction of my house, but towards the subway.
I paid my fare and waited for the subway to get there and take me to the other side of the city. After about a three or four block walk from the subway, I saw the building I was looking for, the Dark Horse Bar. The lights were off, and it was dark, chairs were up on tables, stools were on the bar, and the place was extremely clean. Not at all like the rough and tumble biker bars you see on TV. Uncle Leonard was a clean freak, not to mention he loved his bar like it was his baby, so he wouldn't let it go to ruins. He'd rather die. I saw two doors on each side of the bar. The door to the right lead to an apartment that belonged to a tenant who worked at the bar to pay for rent, and the door to the door to the left lead to Uncle Leonard's place. I walked through the door to the left and up the stairs. To my right from the top of the stairs was a rust colored door, and I knocked, not sure if he'd be home. If he was, he'd be asleep until about five, when he'd start to open the bar. I hadn't called first, so he could have been off running errands for the bar.
The door opened slowly a crack, and right above the chain lock, my uncle's eyes looked suspitiously at me before he realized who I was. "Gabby?" He closed the door long enough to unlock the chain, then opened it wider for me to enter. "What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to talk to you." I said, walking over to the couch. I realized that I didn't even give him a hello hug, that I had walked right past him, and I am sure he knew something was really wrong at that action alone.
"Are you okay?" I nodded, sitting down.
"Yeah, I'm okay." I told him. "I just needed to ask you about some stuff."
I watched as my uncle went to his refridgerator and brought out a can and a bottle. Corona Light for him and Root Beer for me, as was the norm when visiting my uncle. I took the soda gratefully, and he sat next to me on the couchturning his body so that he leaned his back against the arm, and he faced me. He waited for me to continue. "I was wondering about some of the people who go to your bar. Have you ever had to break up a fight and one of them did something... unusual?" I asked. At this, my uncle's eyebrows rose.
"What kind of question is that?" he asked.
"Of COURSE they do unusual stuff. They're drunk." I shook my head and took a drink of my soda.
"No, I'm talking about... well, I heard that when Bruce Wayne left New Gotham about 3 years after the 'quake that tore apart Gotham City, the crime rate went up, and the suspects weren't the usual crooks. These were even more dangerous, the-"
"Freaks." I winced as if he's slapped me playfully on a sunburned shoulder.
"Yeah, I've heard of 'em, hell, even saw a few crazy things happen the last couple of years, but it ain't my cutomers that worry me, it's Kyle. Hot as hell, brings customers back on nights she works, but piss her off... She's good for busness, but she sometimes scares the hell out of me." Uncle Leonard stared at me. "What are you really getting at? Why the sudden interest?" From his tone, I could tell he already knew the answer to his questions, but wanted to hear it from me. I hesitated.
"Promise me it stays in this apartment, what I have to say." His eyes narrowed.
"Gabby..." Uncle Leonard's tone was mostly 'Just tell me already!' with a hint of 'Are you SURE you're okay?'.
"Please Uncle Leonard, please promise me." My uncle remained silent, and I waited. Finally he nodded.
"As long as you're not hurt or hurting someone else, I promise not to tell your mother. I'm sure it'll cause some sibling rivalry, but a promise is a promise." He then stopped talking as he continued to watch me.
"What do you know about the Institute? My parents brought me there a lot when I was ten or eleven, but stopped. They then moved me across the country, I was told, to be near you... but that was a lie."
"I honestly don't know anything more than that." Guilt. He was lying. He seemed to go pale as he saw the look on my face and knew that I didn't believe him. He glanced at the clock on his VCR, then back at me. "It's nearing five o'clock. Kyle should be here in the next half hour, so I should start opening the bar. We've got to set up some reunion party or something."
I nodded, and set my can on the counter.
"You're not going to tell my parents that I know about the Institute, right?"
"I made a promise, Gabby. They won't hear anything from me. Tell Linda I'm coming over for Thanksgiving next week, and that your grandpa'll be there too." I sighed. I hated when he spoke to me as if I was still the eleven year old that idolixed him so long ago. I still do a little bit, but when I was eleven, I thought he was about two steps down from God because he was like me. Now, I am older and though I do like spending time with him and hearing his coming out story, I don't sit lay on the floor with my legs up in the air anticipating the story of his first love, Brian, even though the story had a tragic ending. Sometimes I wonder if he expects me to beg him for the story of how he met Brian. The last couple of years he hadn't really spoken down to me like I was small again, but he did now, possibly because I shook him up about the Institute.
"Okay. Bye Uncle Leonard," I said as I walked out of the apartment. He waved, and I could still feel his guilt for lying to me. As I stood (holding on to the railing above my head) in the crowded subway, I thought about what he'd said about the unique people of this city and how I was one of them. My father too, I think. I thought about my family here in New Gotham. I felt I couldn't trust my parents anymore, and now Uncle Leonard wasn't making my new found paranoya any better. I never rode in the Sedan after that day I had the dream about my father and me going to a place I could never remeber.
Maybe it was some sort of treatment that I got after each 'test' that made me forget.
The only person I felt safe with was Dinah, and even with her secrets she knew nothing about the Institute. As much as I sometimes felt nervous around Dinah because of my feelings for her, it was always relaxing to take a ride with her. I'd forget for a little while that I'm different. We were always in a comofrtable silence except for on two occasions. One was when 'Eternal Flame' by the Bangles came on, followed 'We Belong' by Pat Benatar (Ah.
Eighties chick rock, you gotta love it), and we sang along with the music (not well, mind you). The second time was when I had asked Dinah if she would like to come over and spend the night two weeks from then, which was the week after Thanksgiving. It was the only time I could think of where we'd both be free. She said she would love to, and seemed excited about staying over. So if I could've just gotten through the next two weeks, I had something to look forward to.
Well, Happy freaking Thanksgiving to me. If I hadn't withdrawn almost completely from my parents, it would have been quite nice. My grandparents on my father's side came up from Bend, Oregon, where they'd retired, my grandfather on my mother's side (her and Uncle Leonard's father) came with Uncle Leonard, who'd gotten him from the airport. My grandma on my mother's side passed away when I was nine (though I don't remember her much), but we said a prayer for her during grace. After that, an awkward silence followed, me watching my family members one by one, and I couldn't help but wonder if the rest of them knew about the Institute. If they did, I wouldn't have known what to think or how to feel. I looked over at Uncle Leonard, who watched me. Come to think of it, they all watched me, thinking something along the lines of 'What happened to the happy sunshine girl we all know so well?'. At least, that was Grandma Andrews' thought. "Happy Sunshine Girl's gone bye-bye," I muttered.
"What was that, Gabby?" My father was staring at me as he waited for me to reply.
Thining quickly, I said, "Oh, I siad 'Hope I can save room for the pie'."
I'm such a crappy liar.
"Yes, this food is very good, Linda," my dad replied. At this, an echo of 'Very Good', and 'mmhmm', and 'you've outdone yourself' came from around the table, which started a conversation, although forced, about recipes that lasted a good half an hour. I was relieved that no one had heard what I'd truly said, or saw that I'd barely eaten much at all, let alone enough to have to remind myself to save room for pie.
A little while later, after the pumpkin pie was served and eaten, and after the table was cleared and the kitchen was cleaned using teamwork on the Andrews's side, my mother and Uncle Leonard sat at the table with a couple of cups of coffee while the rest of us sat in the living room. The TV was on the local news, and there were three women on the screen. "... if you have any information on these missing women, please call the number on the screen. As of this point in the investigation, police are unable to confirm or deniy if these disappearances are related." A couple of other things were in the news that didn't interest me, stock reports, a win for the New Gotham Knights, 'ooh, chance of rain on tuesday', but that was it. On the floor by the couch where I was sitting, I watched the news, but didn't listen to much after the weather. My eyelids drew heavy thanks to the turkey I ate.
I sit next to my wife of thirty one years as she speaks of the serman our preacher gave this morning, and how it has made her feel this week. We'd just dropped our only granddaughter, Gabrielle, back at her house. She for some reason wanted to go to church today but her parents had both come down with a cold and they couldn't take her. Being in town to care for the six year old while they were in bed, we went to the church we had attended before we moved a few cities away last year. they'd insisted that they were well enough to go back to caring for Gabby, so we were on our way back to our home further out of the city. Going to church was like bringing back some good memories, and I know Maureen thought so too. As she tells me about seeing various people and the year's worth of gossip they had to share, I listen and incert the appropriate 'hm', 'ah', and 'I see' when and wherever was needed, but then she ways something that makes me glance over at her.
"Gabby, that child. You know what she asked me after the service, Ben?" She doesn't wait for my reply, as I knew she wouldn't. "She asked me why the preacher wanted to die. I swear- I looked at her and I said, 'Sweety, he doesn't want to die', but she insisted that he does. She's going to grow up queerer than a three dollar bill, Ben- She's going to be either a man hating lesbian or a freak like her father-"
"Enough." I say loudly to her. "Now what happened last year was an accident. That little girl has already been through enough, and I doubt after Jason and Gabby goin' to that so called 'doctor', it'll get any better before it's all said and done. So you just play nice, Maureen, for the child. She doesn't remember anything, and for some reason they want to keep it that way."
"To keep her as daddy's little girl. He's only doing it so she doesn't hate him the rest of her life."
"I said 'enough'. This didn't happen."
"Must be the Andrews' family motto," she shot back. I only sigh and pray silently for Gabby's happiness-
The scene fades white, then slowly a newspaper headline screams up at me:
'Local preacher commits suicide after sevices; Community baffled'. I gasp as the scene fades white again. I am standing right in front of the closed door. I can almost see what is behind it, but the people and objects in it are all blurry, then all I see is the door itself. I reach out for the doorknob. I am shocked to find it wet, slippery. I don't get a firm grip on it. A name is called from beyond the door, a name I know, but don't. Then someone screams as a child starts to cry. As I... start to cry.
A couple of fingers gently touched my right cheek and I opened my eyes almost in panic. "Shh-shh-shh!" I saw my father's left hand then, his index and middle fingers glistening. I felt a droplet run down both sides sides of my face, and one drop went into my ear. I had dropped my head back and it rested on the cushion next to where my grandmother had sat. My mouth was open, and I hoped I hadn't drooled ot snored. I raised my head and felt a pain in my neck as the tears changed direction and ran their proper course down my cheeks. All eyes were on me, but I didn't care. I was confused by these tears as much as I almost welcomed them. It was almost as if I needed to cry as a release.
My father, who was knelt beside me, held me then in a hug. I almost recoiled at his touch, but didn't. I wanted him to protect me, but felt he couldn't. Like I knew he'd fail me if I let him try. "I'm sorry-" I started to say.
"No, I'm sorry, Gabby," he said in a way that only I could hear him, "I'm so sorry." It seemed as if that was exactly what I needed to hear, but what exactly was he sorry for? Bringing me to the Institute? I'd like an apology for that too, but it wasn't why I was crying. These were tears of grief, complete and utter loss that I had never known, not even when Grandma Cook died. Grandma Cook was right. I did grow up to be queerer than a three dollar bill. And she was right on both occasions, except for the man hating portion. I knew that my father had some idea of why I was crying... I knew that he was also truly sorry for it as well. Now, if only could figure out what it was all about.
Not long after that, the night quieted down. There was some football game that was on, and I read a book as Uncle Leonard, my father, and both grandfathers sat down to watch it. I could feel none of their minds were actually on the game, but it gave a distraction from what had happened. I could feel that my family was looking at me in the corner of their eye, trying to figure out just what had happened, only my dad seeming to really know. At eight that night, everyone said goodbye, and the house got quiet.
It seemed that though my grandparents on my father's side had agreed to stay with us over night, then fly back to Bend the next day, they decided to get a motel for the night instead, and I could feel that it was because of me.
They thought it was best that I rested and got over what happened that night, and I felt bad and stupid. "Is there something you want to talk about, Gabby?" It was my mother who spoke, her voice soft. I shook my head.
There was really nothing to say past what my father had said, and that only confused me further. I was close to asking what happened when I was five or six, but I'd only get more lies and silences, so I thought 'Why bother?'. I took my book and went into my sanctuary, my room, where I'd wanted to go since right after dinner. It would have been rude to my family, and since I didn't get to see them much after we'd lived in New Gotham, I wanted to spend as much time as I could with them, secrets or not.
I sat down at my desk and opened a writing program and began to make a list, a timeline of sorts, of when things changed for me. I theorized that everything started around the time Dinah got to New Gotham. Or at least, everything that became significant started with her around. I figured that she'd brought on a slight emotional stress when I worried about her so much, and when I felt the protectiveness come over me once we'd become friends.
The only thing was, the actual day of the beginning of the humming, I don't think I was in any emotional stress. Before Dinah'd come over, I was just bored. Same thing in the theater when the volume of the humming increased. I wasn't in any real stress, in fact what stress I was under was relieved when Dinah had agreed to the movie outing. I wasn't in any stress at all, but- But Dinah was.
I continued to type up dates and events as I remembered them, and it looked something like this:
Tuesday, October 1st, 2002- Dinah Redmond's first day of school, obtains title Zipper Girl
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2002-Introduce myself to Dinah
Sunday, October 20th, 2002- Dinah comes over, humming/whispering started, dream of Dinah's memory (?)
Monday, October 21st- Friday October 25, 2002- Dinah's gone from school, worried sick all week
Friday October 25th, 2002- Ms. Gordon tells me to stick by Dinah because she needs me, Kelly stops being my friend because of my growing friendship with Dinah, says Dinah's dangerous, sent a mental messege to Dinah for her to call me (?), she calls, and I invite her to a movie
Saturday, October 26th, 2002- Go to movies with Dinah, humming gets louder, learn about mother, hear word 'metahuman', Dad acts strange that night, tells me to go to my room, overhear about the Institute, research word 'metahuman', dream of my father's memory
Sunday, October 27th, 2002- Send mental messege to my father about genes (?), Dad sends mental messege to me as a test and I ignore it, I realize I have real telepathy, Dinah takes me for a drive, feels I needed to talk, which I did but couldn't tell her
Wednesday, November 6th, 2002- Dinah obviously has a crush on Matt Kendall, despite my jealousy, nothing triggers my powers or affects them in any way
Thursday, November 7th, 2002- Sexy Dinah walks into class, despite being struck dumb, nothing happened regarding my powers. That night, Matt Kendall asks me about static and Dinah, the same thing I felt the night the humming started, fear of Dinah's rejection of our friendship doesn't affect my powers
Friday November 8th, 2002- Dinah's not mad at me about Matt, I sense something happened between her sister and her sister's best friend, we're cool, hear 'Poor Helena'
Tuesday, November 19th, 2002- Touch Dinah on accident, saw flashes of memories and emotions. Dinah wanted to kill someone but was stopped (??!!), go see Uncle Leonard about the Institute, he lies to me and forces me to go home. He's heard of people with special powers, I'm not the only one (!) (Should I go talk to this Kyle chick?)
Thursday November 28th, 2002 (Thanksgiving)- Heard 'Where's our little sunshine girl gone?' dream of Grandpa Cook's memory, wake up crying, feel that my father failed me or is going to fail me, he says he's sorry as if he knew what I had a dream about.
It felt as if a lot of the confusion and stress I felt upon first getting signs of this ability went away, and writing things down seemed to make things better. Not easier, really, but better. No longer bottled up until I would burst. Mr. Zeros and Ones will hold on to my secrets. It was as if writing down the clues so far made the mystery not as hard to solve, Sure, there was a lot to it, but I'm sure it will all connect together somehow, and I felt that Dinah had played a big role in this mystery that is me, and creepier still, I felt much more has yet to some, much more that Dinah will be a part of.