Title: The Key
by Erin Griffin
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 Gorham, 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.
As I fold a small pair of blue jeans, my eyes often shift to the couch, where my two children are. My daughter, they youngest of the two, is restless, and is tired of watching her older brother try to beat The Legend of Zelda, and is slouched, slowly slipping to the floor. Avery glances at her, and then his attention goes back to the game. "Avie," Gabby says in a familiar sing-song voice, "play with me," she sings. I smile. If I'm right, Avery will also reply in song.
"Not today Gabby," Avery sings back, "I just don't want to play." Gabby crawls on the floor towards him.
"Avie, play with me." Avery ignores her movements.
"Not today Gabby, I just don't want to play." Slower, the little girl inches towards her brother.
"Avie, play... wif... me!" She has gotten more demanding.
"Not today, Gabby. I just... don't... want... to play." Gabby's tone is matched by Avery. Still, Gabby is at his feet, slowly reaching for the cord to Avery's Nintendo controller. I am just about to tell Gabby to leave Avery's game alone when I hear a loud "ROAR! Rrrrrroar! I'munna gitcha!" followed by a high pitched squeal of laughter. The small figure on the screen loses several hearts as the dog-like creatures throw spears at it, but Avery doesn't seem to mind it. I see Gabby on the floor fighting off Avery as he tickles her. Gabby's laughter and Avery's roaring continues-
White. It all fades into some sort of figure... I see her. She's drenched, and she's cold. She's not breathing. I don't feel a pulse. Oh God, wake up! "Please Gabby, wake up! Please. Please! No no no no no no... Wake up Sweetie. Breathe. Please." I can't seem to calm down. Please wake up. Spit out the water- Warm her up. I must A hand is on my shoulder. Who-? No! Don't take me away from her! I can't leave her! I must fight for her. I must! I promised! I promised! Blindly, I throw a telekinetic blast at whoever holds me. They hold on to me no more. I push back her hair so I can see her face better. She's so beautiful. I love her so much. She was so- NO! No 'was'! She's not dead! "Nooooo! Gabby, you're not dead! You hear me? You're not dead! You're not dead! You're- You're... You're not-
The sound of knocking shook me awake. It took me a few seconds to realize that it came from the window. I saw Dinah's blond and rushed to let her in. Not unlike the first time she came over upset, she practically checked me over, then lunged into my arms. I heard her sobbing and I couldn't stop the tears that fell from my own eyes as well. My dream- her dream ran between us as I held her. "I-It was real-" she said, ending the silence between us.
"Shhh... I know. I know," I told her. I continued to whisper other such nonsense and tried to calm the both of us, but it didn't work. We were still scared. I mean, we both saw me die. I glanced at my Betty Boop alarm clock. It was almost two in the morning, but I wasn't tired anymore. Finally, Dinah's tears dried not long after my own had.
"Gabby, it's going to happen. Soon," she said, and a chill ran through my body as it always did when I thought too long on the subject of death.
"How soon?" I asked after a minute or two of silence.
"A day or two, I'm guessing. That is how my dreams are. I get them and they come true, but I never know when, and it always seems anywhere from one to three days later."
"This will probably happen at the Institute when I go. I've been thinking about going there to get my memories back."
"But what if you're right and that is where it is going to happen?!"
"Dinah, I ha-"
"No, don't say you have to, Gabby. You can stay here and you'll be safe."
"Does it work like that? You dream things for a reason. You dreamed about Ms. Gordon's shooting and the murder of Helena's mother, right? It led you to your destiny."
"Yes, but I'm willing to give up whatever greater thing this dream is going to lead me to if you stay alive."
"You can come with me," I told her suddenly. "I'll need you there."
"I will be there, Sweetie. I'm going to be there, and- and I get to see the whole thing." I said nothing to that, and I sensed confusion and panic from her. "Why, Gabby? After what we've seen, why do you still want to go?" I put a hand on her cheek and thought to her, 'Take a look.' Suddenly, I felt her presence in my mind. It was a panic-y feeling within me that added to the uncertainty and fear that I already felt. I concentrated on Mark's words. When she opened her eyes, I nodded slowly and revealed a thought that had tugged at me since she entered my room that night.
"This is my fight, Dinah. I realize that now. I have to fight to get my memories back, and when I die... well, I want to go with those memories where they belong. Besides, Avery died for me. If I loved him and he me as much as my family says, I owe it to him to remember." I looked out the window for a moment, then back at Dinah, who stared off in the direction of my bed. "I can't do it alone. Ineed you there to fight- not for me, but with me if it comes down to it," I said, knowing what she'd say, but I needed to hear it anyway.
"Of course, but Gabby, I can't- I won't watch you die. It goes against everything I've been fighting against the last few weeks." I wanted to say, 'turn your head, then. I won't be offended,' but I knew that couldn't have been wise to say.
Instead, I said, "I understand-"
"No you don't, or you wouldn't go." I was pretty sure that it was the first time Dinah's cold tone was ever directed at me. I stayed silent as we stared each other down. I looked away first.
"I can't make any promises. You know what we both saw."
"I won't watch you die," Dinah said again in a voice that was almost a child-like pout. Under different circumstances, I would have laughed.
"Okay," I whispered after a while, for lack of something better to say.
We entered city limits of Bludhaven at seven minutes to two that afternoon. It was silent the whole way there, and I was so uncomfortable that I was almost wishing for the stare down between Dinah and me. And I thought that was unnerving. I wondered, as we passed cars on the freeway, how many of them belonged to metahumans. In my mind, I pictured the ratio of metahumans being about the same as the ratio for homosexuals. One in ten. Then I wondered how many of those six hundred million metahumans were homosexual. Doing the math, I guessed that it would have had to have been sixty million. Before my thoughts could get much deeper than that, I saw a sign for the Lake Bludhaven exit. I was surprised when my father turned on the signal and got into the lane for that exit. I have heard of the tall tales of Blud (Bood) Lake, as the New Gotham residence called it. There were all sorts of stories about why no one really ever swam there: ghosts of drowned people, chemicals in the water, a secret government training facility, the Loch Ness Monster's spawn... None of it, of course was true, but seeing as there is a little bit of truth in every story, and knowing that the Institute was in this area, it wouldn't be surprising if bits and peices of the stories made up the real one. The popular belief of skeptic and logical locals was that the propery was just privately owned. Three guesses who 'privately owned' it.
In the distance, I saw a large building, but not large enough to really hold a lab, hospital or even buisness, really. It seemed about the size of someone's home, and almost had that look to it. That is, if the shape wasn't so square. The closer I got to it, the more uneasy I felt. I regretted wanting to come, wishing I had agreed with Dinah that I would be safe at home. 'I'm here now. There is no going back. If I die, I hope I'd have gotten those memories first,' I thought to myself. I looked at the digital clock on the dashboard. Two-nineteen. Was Dinah there already or would she be there in the next ten minutes? The thought that she was hiding out somewhere in the trees and the snow, watching our arrival and tracking anyone who might harm us was comforting, and I kept it there in my mind. I saw no signs of the Hummer that the women in the Clocktower drove. I didn't even see any other tracks in the snow next to ours, which was a little unsettling for me. Wasn't anyone there? Was there a secret entrance, or garagenthat people entered through? Did Helena and Dinah somehow find it?
Then suddenly a thought entered my mind and I went still. What if this was a trap? As if to hear my thoughts, my father looked suspitiously at the building. "Something isn't right. I have a bad feeling about this place. Gabby, stay in the car." His 'argue with me and you're grounded for life' tone was there. I looked at the building as well. 'As if,' I thought. I watched as my father got out of the car and looked around, then across the lake. Slowly, he walked up to the porch, and knocked cautiously on the door. A woman opened the door and something was said between them. Then both of them looked back at me, and my father waved. I didn't move. He called out to me, and slowly, I unbuckled my seatbelt and I got out of the car. 'She's so much different from what I know of her. Why was Scott so interested in this girl?' I heard the tall woman ask. This woman was a freaking amazon, I swear. I mean, her and Xena could duke it out, but I doubt this woman would get very far. She was tall, sure, but I doubt she would be that great in a fight of any kind. Then again, nothing is how it seems. I know that now. It accured to me that she said 'Scott' in her mind. Assuming that Sott was Dr. Alder's first name, why would she refer to her father on first name basis? And wouldn't she know why he was so interested in me if she had my memories? Wasn't she a part of Dr. Alder's grand research back in the day?
I walked up to the porch and stood face to shoulder with this woman, who I could only assume was Olyvia. She looked down at me, studying me, then she smiled. I wondered what it was she thought was so amusing about me. Was my fear a joke? I wouldn't put it past them. I still had issues figuring out if the Institute was good or bad. I just had to worry about getting the memories back, then I will do what I could to stop the Insititute from hurting Kelly. That was all I cared about at that point, since I knew nothing else for sure. Get my memories, keep them away from Kelly. Great plan. Note the sarcasm. "So," Olyvia said, stepping to the side and letting us into the building, "are you ready to get your memories back?" She spoke to me as if I were the six year old child that was hypnotized the first time. I didn't know what else to do but nod. I was pretty certain that anything else I could have said would have come out sounding stupid, anyway. She nodded in response, then turned to my father. "I'll go get the paper you signed with my father, and we will get started."
"Thank you," my father said absently. I looked around the room and saw that it looked like maybe the nurse's office in school. There were a couple of cots -both empty, thankfuly- in one corner of the room, a desk, and a few chairs of various confort levels from a folding chair to damn near a Lay-Z-Boy. I was surprised to see a door near the far end of the room, which was where Olyvia disappeared to. She opened the door and went down. Her whole body disappeared, and still I heard many footsteps as she desended the stairs, which made me think that the went into a large room below. I wondered what was underneath the very floors I stood upon, but she returned quickly.
"Now, Scott-" I couldn't take it anymore, I had to ask.
"I'm sorry to interrupt-"
"Gabby!" My father scolded.
"No, go ahead," Olyvia said, looking me in the eye, and I fought to keep her gaze.
"Well, I was wondering why you keep referring to your father on first name basis." Slip of the tounge. She only said Scott once out loud. I don't think she caught that slip, but I'm pretty sure my father did.
"Scott is my foster father. He was a friend of the family, and when my parents were killed, he took me in," she explained. I frowned, and she looked curious. I felt that curiousity.
"Then why do you have his power?" The confusion on her face was almost matched by me. "I mean, I thought that your research was based on metahuman genes, which means it's passed down or something. I'm assuming that in order for a child to have their parents' metahuman power, the parent would have had to die before a crutial growing point in the child, be it puberty or even from infant to toddler." Again, Olyvia studied me. I couldn't hear any thoughts from her, but she was suspitious. She knew that I knew too much, but I was curious.
"You are correct," Olyvia said slowly, deliberately. She was choosing her words carefully as both my father and I waited for her responce. I could tell that now that I had raised the question, he wanted to know as well. 'If Olyvia isn't Dr. Alder's daughter, she couldn't have gotten his powers naturally. If she was already a metahuman before Alder died, she would have already had a different power all together.' I thought, 'Which means she must have injected herself with the metahuman gene, possibly taken from him, after his death. Was it pure luck that she actually got his exact power?' I couldn't stop the thoughts that ran through me, and I know that my father and Olyvia were looking at me. My father never told me anything of metahumans being unique in each power, and I'm assuming that was something Mark wouldn't have shared with the class, so I might have made a mistake in asking them anything at all about it. Still, Olyvia answered my question. "You are correct," she repeated.
"Look," I continued, 'Why don't you just shut up now?' I asked myself, "that is just what I would assume if you're working with an abnormal strand of DNA. Related metahumans, related abilities." This didn't help, but I guess Olyvia decided to play along for some reason.
"Not nessisarily, Gabby. Take your case, for instance. Your father, your grandmother, and you are all related, yet your grandmother's powers are different from your father's and your father's abilities are different from yours." She got me there. I didn't know what to say to that for a second.
"Okay, true, but what about my brother and me? Telepathy and empathy go hand in hand. We're related, and so are our abilities."
"So, your brother is gone, and by your argument, someone in your family will get that power he had?" I nodded, knowing the truth. "And what about Dr. Alder? He had no family, so why not me?"
"We're talking DNA, right? Basic biology," 'not that I am a rocket scientist or anything', I thought dryly to myself. "You share none of his DNA, so how could you get his abilities?"
"If not me then someone else in the metahuman pool, you know. No two metahumans have the same ability. I assume you know that. Someone will have to have his power sometime. I really don't know the answer to your questions, but they are good ones. The research on metahumans is still primative. We're still trying to learn its how's and why's, but like I said, you brought up some really good questions." Was she mocking me? "Now, from what this says," she continued on, tapping the papers in her hand. I directed my attention there, "you were here quite a lot in 1997, which I am assuming means you got a lot of memories with me now. Being new to this, I cannot guarantee you'll get all of your memories back today. I can try, but there was so much ta-"
An alarm sounded around us. It was loud, and I covered my ears. From the secret door that Olyvia had disappeared down came about six guards. Where the hell had they come from? They ran past Olyvia, my father, and me. "What's going on?" Olyvia asked, though her thoughts indicate she knew why the alarm was going off. An intruder in the Insitute. Only one person was expected right then, and that was me. Anyone else was a suspition and therefor should be captured and brought to her... or so her thoughts went.
"Movement outside the building, ma'am. We'll scout the area and bring the intruder back here. Then we'll see what they want." Olyvia looked thoughtful.
"Find it. Chances are, it is wildlife, but," she looked at my father, then at me, "we can't be too careful. Go," She dismissed the guard, who needn't be told twice. Her gaze tried to peirce the heart this time, and I knew I was in trouble. Outside, I heard a shuffling, a few grunts, smacks, a gun shot, then a thud. My heartrate sped up. 'Dinah!' Then there was laughing, and I heard someone think 'Missed me, fool. Learn to shoot that thing before you try to kill me.' Helena. Only Helena would get that cocky. She seemed to be in a good mood for someone who was outnumbered. I started to wring my hands together, and there was a look on Olyvia's face that told me she knew everything, which I knew was a lie. There was another crack and a thud before two of the guards came in holding a body. Beind them, two more guards held an uncontious guard, and the ringleader who had spoken to Olyvia was trailing behind them, looking around them and watching his team's back in case Helena were to attack them. Good guy, he. Wrong team, though.
"Dinah?" my father asked, recognizing the red and slightly bloodied face. When I saw her like that, I wanted to cry, scream, pull some sort of She-Hulk stunt and rip the guards to shreds. Which would have been awesome, but I didn't know how to fight. I didn't like to fight. Physically, anyway. "What on earth are you doing here?" Before anything else could be said, the ringleader, turned and faced Olyvia with a grave look on his face.
"Its a metahuman woman with catlike abilities. She's strong and fast. I called for backup. Juntunen's out there too, ma'am, fighting with the rest of the crew, but his newer powers have evolved, and he too is strong. I don't think my men will last against him." He looked ashamed to admit that.
"Get Mark Juntunen to me. We need to have a chat. As for the cat, leave her. If she tried to break in, kill her friend. For now, leave this one here. We're about to have a little reuinion, looks like." I stared at Dinah, who stirred a little bit. I moved closer to her. "No no, Gabby. Stay where you are." She walked up to Dinah and grabbed her chin. "Friend of yours?" She looked her face up and down. "Nothing extraordinary about her, is there? Oh- That is going to be one nasty shiner."
"Th-That's Gabby's friend from school," my father spoke up, but he still seemed a little shocked and confused by all that was going on, "but I don't understand why she would be here, or even how she knows of this place." He looked over at me. 'Do you?' I looked away from him, but thought, 'Yes'.
"I see," Olyvia said, cutting off our mental conversation, not that I would have added anything to it anyway, "I think... someone here is a liar, don't you agree, Gabby?" She put emphasis on my name at the end. "I think you know much more than you let on, even more than daddy does, don't you? How else would you know so much about metahumans? Did she teach you?" Her head nodded towards Dinah. I shook my head. "Who then?" The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, and I heard a crackling sound, not unlike what I heard right before-
"I did," Which was a lie, technically, but he did teach me more than my father did about metahumans, but our conversation about genes and metahumans with different/similar powers from their family was more Ms. Gordon's doing from the thoughts scattered in her mind.
"Juntunen, nice to see you again." Olyvia's voice got deeper, dangerous, and I felt as if I was standing in front of Xena herself,or maybe Captian Janeway (even though she looked more like an overgrown Seven of Nine).
"Funny," my ex-uncle or whatever quipped, "it's never nice to see you." Olyvia smirked.
"Always the joker, you. How nice of you to drop in and save your family, even though I'm sure they still hate your guts." Looking at my father, this was true.
"What can I say, I am a nice guy. Besides, I know what you're after, and I'm telling you now, that you won't find it with them. I am here to make sure you do what you said you would do and give Gabby her memories back so she can finally live a normal life."
"She's metahuman, there is no normal for her."
"Perhaps not, but she desurves the right to try. We've been making too many decisons for her, and it is time she lived her life."
"Hello, standing right here, thanks." I spoke up, which I really shouldn't have. I guess you have to know that being in a situation like this, it was best to let them forget you were even there, that way you could, I don't know, slip off and save someone or something while they fought over you. Luckily for me, Olyvia was too focused that time on Mark.
"Oh? Tell me Mark-y, what am I, the Big Bad Villian, after?"
"You want the formula to properly isolate metahuman genes without hurting anything else in metahuman children. I know that if you wasted your time going through Gabby's memories, you wouldn't find it there. You're hoping they would pop out at you as you transfer them back to her, or test her until you know for sure that they truly aren't there. I want you to leave her alone." For the most part, Olyvia didn't seem phased by this news.
"Scott took great interest in this girl. I know for a fact that his powers evolved a few years before he died. He not only could take memories, but he could incert them as well." I looked at Olyvia. He could? For a while I thought Mark was lying about that, but hearing it said in such a matter of fact way, I had to know that all this was true. "Who's to say he didn't transfer them to her?"
"Who's to say he did?" Mark shot back.
"This is getting childish. I don't have time for this. Gabby, I will return your memories of your brother, but I know the formula is in there somewhere. Once I find it, you may go. Bringing your little Superteen friend here was unneccisary. I am concerned, though, of how she knew of this place." She turned to look at Dinah, who was coming to, rubbing her head. "Dinah, is it? Tell me, how do you know of this place?"
"You don't have to tell her anything, Dinah. She can't make you," I said, which was true... I think. I stared at Olyvia, tired of all this. I had the feeling that Olyvia was lying about the 'oh give me what I want I'll give you what you want and we can all be friends' crap, but what she had in store for me was unknown. I just didn't like the way she looked at Dinah, as if she was thinking about throwing her to the dogs- I mean guards. She took a step towards Dinah, and I didn't like that. 'Don't you dare touch her!' I snapped, throwing the thought at her with so much force that I wished it was one of Dinah's telekinetic blasts. Olyvia stopped in her tracks.
"You're fiesty. I like that," was all she said. Dinah moved, struggling against the guards who held her. The guard on her right hit her in the back of the head, and she fell. I flinchd, but was held in place by Olyvia's glare. Dinah was caught before her body hit the floor again, and that was when Mark made his move. I watched as he turned into an electrical currant and rammed into the guard that was on the right of Dinah, then made his way with the other guard on the left. Just for that, I think I'd forgiven him of any wrong doing he'd done to me. My father stood there, confused. I wanted to yell at him to do something, but what really could he do? Well, we were right there on the lake, he'd have figured something out. I moved towards Dinah, and when Olyvia's guards (back from Helena hunting) made a movement towards me, my father was in motion. He didn't like how close they got to me, and he charged at them.
"Dinah? Dinah are you alright?" I took her hand and looked at her face. She stirred, but said nothing. 'Helena's outside...'
'I know,' I thought back. 'She'll be alright, Dinah.' Dinah slowly seemed to nod. Boy, she was out of it, but I was getting scared. "Come on, let's get you up. We need to get out of here, all of us." I felt my hair being pulled, and I was forced off of Dinah. My eyes watered from the pain, and I think I heard the ripping sound of many hairs being actually pulled out. I let out an embarressing little squeak. Before I had the chance to do anything against the attack, the hand that held on to me suddenly left. When I looked up rubbing my head, Olyvia was sliding against the floor until she hit the wall. I looked over at Dinah, who was lowering her hand. I looked back at Olyvia, and she seemed a little confused by what hit her, literally.
"Come with me, hurry!" Dinah struggled to get up, and I helped her. Together we ran. While I was prepared to go towards the door -unblocked at the moment, so it was our perfect chance- Dinah had other plans. She grabbed my arm and practically swung me in the direction of the fallen scientist like some weird 'dosse doe' sort of dance move. Dinah grabbed my hand, interlocking our fingers, then put her other hand on Olyvia's cheek. I was curious about what she was doing, but then, right as I figured it out, I heard 'Hold on' in my mind, and suddenly, I felt suction in my gut as everything seemed to fade away.
It was pretty dark, wherever we were. I looked around, but all I could see was Dinah, a light from somewhere unknown, and two filing cabnets. One filing cabnets was white, small, and had papers hanging out of it a little bit. It was messy. The other filing cabenet was three times larger, dark brown, and shut except for a drawer at the bottom. I saw a few seconds later, a woman- Olyvia- walking between the two, taking files from the large filing cabnet and putting it into the smaller one, but she was frusterated because she couldn't make it all fit. She didn't seem to see us. "We don't have much time," Dinah said, squeezing my hand in a way to get me moving, "so come on. I have a box, you have a door, and Mr. Alder and this woman must have filing cabnets. Anything to organize their abilities. I assume the bigger one is-was- is...? His." She looked confused for a second as she tried to figure that tense out, then got us moving.
Slowly, I walked with her to the big filing cabnet, which was about a foot taller than either myself or Dinah. It had six drawers marked 'A-E', 'F-J', 'K-O', 'P-S', 'T-V' and 'W-Z'. I reached up and slowly opened the top drawer, and Dinah let go of my hand to grab the files above us. She took out four or five other A names before she got to mine. She handed me the folder (which she had to hold with two hands) that was marked 'Andrews, Gabrielle M.', and I tucked it tightly under my arm before grabbing her hand. I wanted out. She nodded. "Come on, once we're out of her mind, we've gotta move. I do hope this works, and you'll have all of your memories where they belong. You think you'll be okay? It'll all hit you at once. It might be..." I didn't want to think about possibly having a breakdown. Then wasn't the time for it, I knew, but what if? 'Damn you, 'what if'. I won't break down,' I thought firmly.
"I-I don't know, but I will do what I can to keep myself sane enough for us to get out of here."
"Who's laughing?" Pause. "So, you're sure the memories will be there?"
"That was the plan, but I don't know for sure. I hope it doesn't overwhelm you."
"Same here," I agreed.
"Gabby, I know it will be tough, the next few hours -minutes even, but we've got to keep moving, okay? I'll keep you safe, but we've got to keep moving." I nodded. "The plan is to get you to the Hummer. Then I'll go back and for Huntress and your dad, okay?"Again, I nodded.
"Yeah." Everything around us faded, and I saw the scene we'd left. It was almost as if no time at all had passed. Was she really this quick in other people's minds? Mark was beating on a guy I hadn't yet seen, another scientist from the looks of it, and my father had taken a hit from one of the two men who had captured Dinah. My head felt as it had the night Harley Quinn had attacked New Gotham. It started to pound, and images of people, places, events, thoughts, emotions, and dreams flooded through me. It was all there, fresh as if it had just happened, including the day my beloved brother died, the day I killed him. 'Daaaaaaddyyyyy-!'
"Gabby! Come on, we've got to go! I need you to move, let's GO!" A tug on my arm brought me back to where I was standing, and I put a hand to my head as my feet moved in the directions my arm was being pulled. The whispered, "Oh shit," got my attention, and I looked up through the headache, past my reunited memories to see one of theguards who was fighting my uncle leave the fight, and he started chasing after us. Another guy saw this and followed suit. "MOVE!!" Another tug on my arm directed us towards the door. I shivered, having left a warm building. The cold air hit my lungs right away, and I had a little bit of trouble breathing on top of fighting for air as I ran. I heard a loud thud, and my father's voice yelled something at Dinah, but I couldn't seem to hear much of anything clearly and completely. I couldn't seem to do anything but run. My head felt numb. Had I no hat I did hear 'Be safe' from my father and felt a little better, though still slightly fearful. 'I killed Avie... He's got to hate me now...' It only took a few yards of running before I was out of breath, but still I moved, following Dinah where she ran.
Suddenly, I heard a gun shot ring through the air and I yelped. We zig-zagged right first, then left towards the lake shores. Dinah squeezed my hand and I slowly forced myself to look up at her, and not at my feet. "Are you alright?" I fiercely shook my head, then continued to look at my boots as we ran, shaking off the thoughts that were there. The image of Avery wet and unmoving... The image of ME wet and unmoving... How identical. We look so much a like when we drown. No one could say we weren't related. "Gabby!" Things were blurry. I couldn't see. I was crying. Sobbing, actually. Loud, hiccupping sobs, but still I moved where Dinah led me, and I knew where she was leading me. I knew what was to come next. So did she. I could see some of the ice covered water through the tears, the grey of the water next to white of the snow. The grey, I realized a second later when I made a quick, hasty swipe at my eyes, was a rowboat. Another gunshot made Dinah and me both duck.
"He's getting closer," I said, and if I were watching that scene in a move, I would be screaming 'Well, DUH!' at the 'actress' who played me. We knew our choices, but Dinah was the one who said it out loud.
"We're going to have to cross the lake." Just the thought of the water made my spine chill, and it had nothing to do with the snow. Dinah put a hand on my shoulder, letting go of my hand. I looked at her as if she was an Arkam Asylum escapee.
"No, we'll run. We can run, can't we?" Dinah pulled me towards the boat and started to slow down. I felt the panic rise within me.
"Gabby, this way we've got a chance. We make it to the other side of the lake, we can get out of the way. They can't shoot at us over there, see?" As she spoke next, mostly trying to convince me to get into the boat, I saw her use telekinesis to untie the boat and move it closer to the shore so that we could both climb in. I tried not to look at the water. "Come on, Gabby. You've got to get in the boat. They're almost here." Even as she said this, climbing in the boat herself, I heard snapping twigs and crunching snow. I slowly leaned down and felt for the cold metal. I almost backed away from it completely when I felt the movement of the water underneath my hands. "Gabby-"
"Okay..." Gingerly, I climbed in, and Dinah grabbed my shoulders to steady me. Before I was settled on the freezing metal, I was handed an ore and together we started to row the boat, although I wasn't looking at what I was doing. I just kept moving, hoping Dinah could steer the boat on her own. The further away we got from the shore, the more I felt like losing my breakfast in the water. I was afraid. The closer we got to the center of the lake, the more helpless I felt. If I were to fall in, I had less and less of a chance of surviving.
"What the hell are they doing?" I heard one of the guards ask another, but I couldn't hear Guard Number Two's answer.
"They're leaving the shore," Dinah narrated, "I think they're on their way to the other side, or they went back to Olyvia Alder."
"Goo-Good. Now we can go back. We're not far out by now, are we?" I asked.
" 'Bout halfway." I was startled to hear that.
"It's not that big of a lake for one, and I had a TK boost here and there." When Dinah got quiet, I braved things enough to open my eyes. The thoughts and memories quieted down a little bit, but the echoes were still there. When I saw a stick in the water and ripples, I looked at Dinah, then shut my eyes again. "You can keep your eyes closed if you need to, Sweeie. It might make what I have to say to you easier if you're not looking at me when I say it."
"Dinah?" I asked when I felt her stop rowing. Somewhere in all of the memories, I felt fear and helplessness that wasn't my own from long ago.
"Hold on, Gabby. I want to tell you now... I love you Gabby." My heart should have lept five yards in the air, but I frowned instead.
"That sounded too much like 'goodbye' to me. I don't like it." She grabbed my hands and the ore on my lap fell to the floor of the boat next to my feet. I could feel her dread.
"I feel it. I feel it's close to that time in my dream, and this may be the only chance I get to say it." I imagined in my mind, her shaking her head with a sort of fearful plea on her face, begging me to understand.
"No," I said, fighting off the fear and panic that wanted so desperately to show, "this isn't. I'm not dying today, Dinah. I'm not." 'De Nile's not just a river in Egypt,' I thought to myself.
"How can you be so sure-" I knew that she was going to say, 'You saw it too, Gabby,' but I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to die in the water like Avery had. I didn't want to die at all that day.
"Because I know you will save me," I blurted. Both of us looked over where the building was when we heard a scream, a male scream. I hoped it wasn't my father that was in pain. Then the water beneith us began to move in a jerky motion and I, too, screamed. 'This is it. Oh God, this is it,' I thought, holding on to the sides desperately. Waves slapped against the boat, throwing the both of us around inside it. With each way it moved, I leaned in the opposite direction in hopes of keeping the boat upright.
"The boat's gonna tip over. No matter what, Gabby, hold on to me!" Dinah yelled over the slapping water.
"Okay!" I yelled back. I didn't hear what else she might have said, if anything. All I could hear after that were my own screams and the echoing scream of 'Daddy!' in my head as the water splashed us about before finally, the boat tipped over.
I felt numb all over as I tried to keep my head above the water. I saw Dinah at my side and her arm was around my waist, trying to help me. I knew she was using her telekinesis to keep us both above the water, and I briefly wondered if she was exhausted from using it all day so far. When I had my head above the water for more than ten seconds, I saw that the water was moving in a zig-zag motion starting from the very center of the lake, where we were, so we were getting the worst of it. Knowing that water doesn't move like that naturally, I knew that my father was doing this. He must not have known that we were in the water. I looked at the building to see if I could spot him, but all I saw was a bright white light. Mark must have been kicking serious can. I felt a large wave slap against the both of our bodies, and my middle felt colder in Dinah's absense. 'Dinah?' I thought to her, but I couldn't see her.
"Gabby! Where are you?!" I searched for her, but saw only the row boat. I moved towards it, or tried, but couldn't seem to keep my head above the water. It didn't help that I had on a heavy coat. I know I panicked. Another wave covered me, and I went under again, only this time, I couldn't seem to get to the surface. I couldn't breathe, and my lungs burned for the need of oxygen. I don't know how much time passed, but my vision seemed to darken. I thought I saw a pale movement above me. Dinah? The boat? I couldn't see exactly what it was, I just tried to reach for it. Hell, I would have grabbed for a shark if I thought it would pull me to the surface before it ate me. There was a bright whiteness, and then nothing.
The next thing I saw confused me. A man stood over me; worry was in his eyes. He was young, but seemed old at the same time. Wise. After a moment of staring at this figure, frowning at him, a name escaped my lips that shouldn't have. "Avie?" The young man smiled, glad that I knew him. "You're older," I stated. He nodded in agreement. "But, you're also gone. Dead." My brother's smile faded, and I wished I hadn't said that. Then a thought occured to me. "Am I? Am I dead?" Avery's head moved from side to side in a gesture that said 'More or less'. "Well... Are you taking me with you-" I heard a familiar female scream.
"-Noooo! Gabby, you're not dead! You hear me-?" I looked at Avery, paniced, then back at Dinah, who held the upper half of my body, which was lifeless. It was the creepiest thing I'd ever see. I wanted to be with her. "You're not dead!" I looked back at Avery, who was also staring at Dinah as if to decide something. "You're not dead!" He smiled sadly, placed a kiss on my forehead, and stepped back. Finally, he spoke.
"Not yet, Gabby. Not yet." I knew that voice, those words. I'd heard them before when my abilities evolved. It was Avery's echoed voice I heard guiding me and my abilities that night. He guided me then towards Dinah; I hadn't even noticed that we were knee deep in the water. I was too distracted by Avery's presence.
"Will you come back, big brother? When it is truly my time to go, will you be there?"
"I'm sorry-" Avery put a cold, wet finger to my lips and shook his head. Nothing to apologize for. All is forgiven. Nothing to forgive. Nothing was said, but I knew that he understood that it was all an accident and that he blamed no one for any of it. What a guy. I really wished I could have had more time with him. Now, I remember him and that day, so I felt blessed. Avery stepped back and motioned towards my body, and I started walking towards it. I felt a pull.
I opened my eyes and saw Dinah. Her eyes were red and her whole body was soaked, not that she seemed to notice. I tried to breathe in but ended up coughing up half of my lung instead. "Gabby! Oh my god!" I couldn't help the few tears that fell down my face when I heard Dinah's sobs as she wrapped her arms around my neck. I saw Helena on her butt in the snow beind her, and I assumed that she was the victim of the telekinetic blast in our dream. She stood up, and I saw the quick movement of a tear being wiped from her eyes. That touched me. I wrapped my arms around Dinah, and felt her shivering. I shivered as well.
"I knew you'd save me."
"You did, trust me," I said, rubbing her back. I moved away for a second and coughed some water up. Yummy. Something in the water caught my eye. A small toy sail boat- the one lost, then recovered the day Avery died- floated about fifteen feet from the lake's shore, then- I kid you not- it vanished. Just like that.
"Jason! Move the water. I need more power!" I understand what he's trying to say to me. Move the water to make an electrical currant. It's a great plan, really. I have to admit that I want to leave himthere, but I can't. He helped save Gabby, and I can't really hate him right now. I have to help him now in payment. I don't want to owe him anything. The last I saw of the girls, they were running along the lake shore, so they'd be safe if I just moved the water from the middle of the lake, and make no huge waves. I wonder where that woman is, the one who came here with Gabby's friend. Did she go after Gabby and Dinah to make sure they were okay? I hope so, I think someone saw them leave and ran after them. I need someone to protect them while I fight here. I need to fight. They won't hurt the one child I have left. I already let Avery down, and this time, I will die before they hurt Gabby-
"Daddy?" I mumbled. I slowly opened my eyes, It was dark, and slowly, I heard beeping. It was a steady beep, and I looked over at the monitor. Huh. I was in a hospital. "Daddy?" I said again, since no one seemed to hear the squeak of a voice I had. Then I heard movement, and there beside me was blonde. Dinah. I love you. "Dinah? Where's Daddy?" I asked. Not Dad, but Daddy. That was what I knew him as. Part of me was still six, the part of me that came back. 'What time is it?' I asked, probably to myself, yet Dinah still answered.
"Your father went to a hotel in town. Barbara and Helena are there too, waiting for you to be ready to go home. You've been asleep for about seven hours. A good sleep. So you feel better?" I shrugged, but my head hurt. It wasn't pounding like it had been, but there were so many people and places that I saw in my mind. I frowned and my eyes squinted.
"How are you?" I asked her.
"Better, but I am glad that you're awake." I nodded. I shivered, and Dinah tucked my feet in a little more and then put another blanket over them. Much better.
"Dinah, do you believe in ghosts?"
"After the life I've lived so far, I think it would be hard not to believe in things. Why do you ask?"
"Because I saw him."
"Yes, my Avie. I remember him now. He was so... Good. He was good to me, always. He never played with other people if they don't let me come along. He stuck up for me, spoke for me and knew what I couldn't say and said it for me. He was my only friend before he died, and I never had a friend after he died until I moved to New Gotham. We fought sometimes, but that is normal. I... I can't believe I forgot him." I wiped my eyes of sleep and the on-coming tears.
"Maybe... When it mattered, you DIDN'T forget him. You may not have known his face, but there are other things about him you remembered perfectly enough that you were able to pass it on to other people." Dinah took my hand, and I felt my heart pick up speed. I love you.
"What do you mean?"
"Gabby, you are one of the rare people I know of who will do anything to protect people, except physically fight. I know that you have an instinct to protect people... maybe that came from your brother. He did everything he could to make you happy and to protect you. You've been the same way with me, walking with me in school and stopping the Zipper Girl comments. It sounds like Avery was an amazing person, just like you. I think he was there in you the whole time. Something like that is really hard to forget, no matter how you lost those memories." She squeezed my hand and then her other hand went in my hair. I love you. I thought about that, and after realizing that it was Avery's voice I heard the night my powers evolved, I really wasn't in much of a postion to argue Dinah's words. I just didn't want to. She was right, and I knew that.
"I wonder-" I stopped my thought process, feeling stupid. Dinah's hand in my hair stopped moving as she looked into my eyes. I love you, I love you, I love you.
"You wonder?" she promted.
"Well, I had such... strong reactions to the memory of Avery when I was ten. I wonder sometimes why I didn't break down."
"If it makes you feel better, you did have a rough few moments after we got the memories back for you, but you handled it about as well as anyone in your situation- and it is a unique situtation that you shouldn't have been put into in the first place- could have handled it. You're as strong as the rest of us. I think if you didn't crack up or break down completely during Harley Quinn's attack on New Gotham, then you could withstand just about anything."
"Not the sight of you hurting," I said softly.
"At least you didn't have to see- scratch that, you DID have to see someone you loved die... But Gabby, I held you, and you were so cold." I saw a tear form in her eye. 'I'm here now.' "I know you are, and I am thankful."
"I came back for you. Avery was there, and he was ready to take me with him, but I heard you screaming. Dinah, I knew you'd save me." She was silent, and I knew there was something big going on in her head, but all I could focus on were those sad blue eyes as the fear I felt slowly faded away. I wasn't sure if she actually believed me when I said that. She was thinking about something, but she wasn't ready to actually think about it. We were so silent, and I was feeling a heaviness in my chest that I only felt when Dinah was around me, when she stared as she did in my eyes. I love you so much. I wanted to say it, to think it to her, but I sensed that now wasn't exactly the time for it, so I thought it to myself. Who knows, maybe my eyes said it a million times and then some.
We were silent, and it felt as if some of Mark's electrical currents were passing between us. I wanted so badly to kiss her. I saw her lean into me, and her lips touched mine. It was so soft, her kiss was, that I thought for a second that she wasn't even kissing me. It was as if she was so afraid of my not being real, alive. I moved to sit up a little bit, pressing my lips a little bit firmer on hers. 'I'm here. I love you, Dinah.' I thought to her. I felt her love in return. My heart pounded. When we parted, my hand went to her cheek, and I saw her tear, the one that treatened so many times to fall, finally slide down her cheek.
"Thank you for coming back to me," she whispered. My index and middle finger went to her eyes and wiped the tear away. "I was so scared that you wouldn't, and..." I felt tears form in my own eyes. "And there was so much I wanted to say to you. Millions of more times I wanted to say how much... I love you. Not just that one time on the boat." The hand in my hair went to the back of my neck, and our foreheads touched.
Her touch quieted what fears I felt. The thoughts of Avie ceased. I knew he forgave me, that he didn't even feel the need to in the first place. I felt loved by her, my family (including Avie), myself. I felt I needed nothing else in life, really, and I felt at peace, even with the maddening beeping of the monitors next to my head.
Dinah and I spent the following day in the Bludhaven hospital, me still in the bed, and Dinah at my side the whole time. It was romantic, actually. She even read to me. Okay, so it was a newspaper artical about a bunch of 'mysterious noise around Blood Lake', but her voice was soothing, so I never really heard much of the artical. If she put her mind to it, she could easily be a singer. I think the only thing wrong with me then was the fact that I still had chills for various reasons: the sight of my lifeless body when Avie came to get me, the lake, the snow, the thought of Olyvia still made my spine tingle a little bit. I had no clue what happened to her, or anyone else in the fight the day before. Part of me wondered and wondered on about it, and another part was right in figuring that I didn't really need to know. I was catching a cold though, which wasn't as bad of an aftermath than I thought. I was expecting water still in the lungs and all that, but I think my dad took the water out. I am not sure, I don't think I was fully awake on the way to the hospital, or if I was, all I saw was Dinah.
My father came by in the early afternoon and signed release papers for me (since the doctors only could tell me to keep warm), and I went home, Dinah joining Helena and Barbara back at the Clocktower, and me going back to my own house. I felt so tired, emotionally as well as physically and mentally, which is why I didn't argue when my father carried me into the house and into my bedroom, then covering me with every spare blanket besides my own that he could find. Then he, too, read to me. I felt as if he needed to do this for me, take care of me, and I was too tired to not let him. I felt six again, only Avie didn't join him in the voices, and his choice in stories to read was actually one of the lesbian love stories in a collection on my shelf. It was a lucky guess, but the story was one of my favorites in the collection, about two friends who were always there for eachother, but never really realizing that they were so much more to eachother than just friends. They were soulmates. Guess who I thought about during that story...
He gave me the book after that to read, kissed me on the head, and said, 'Get well'. Uncle Leonard came by with a stack of 'Strangers in Paradise' comics. I had never before heard of it, but reading the first one, I was laughing my ass off, and I couldn't stop reading them until I'd finished the sixth and final one Uncle Leonard had bought. He, of course, played Mother Hen in the day time, and then my father came home and took that role from him. Both of them made sure that for the following two or three days, the only place I went was to the bathroom and back to bed. Uncle Leonard was cool, though. He would turn a blind eye when I checked the Xena messege boards and printed out a few pages of fanfiction to read in bed, but spend any more than fifteen or twenty minutes (once for a half an hour, but that was because the phone rang and I snuck on then), and he was on my case again.
It took two days for my head to not feel so clogged up, and my nose stopped stuffing up the third. On the forth day, my chest felt as if there was something still in there, but otherwise I was fine. No Dinah. Not sure if that was her desision or if she was banned for a few of days while I rested. I think my father was scared of her a little bit. When I asked, he just sort of shifted uncomfortably in his chair by my bed, and did not say a word, then after a while, he'd told me a story of the Institute, what happened when we left. It was pretty much what happened in the dream and what I had already guessed, but it was cool hearing about their teamwork and how afterwards they sort of made up, but dad's still pissed at him. At least, he's not banned from this family like before (mom and him had decided that the first night when I was still in the hospital), but whether or not I call him Uncle Mark is to this day up in the air. You see, Uncle Leonard and him talked sometimes, and I have a feeling that it was more than just checking up on me. I really did hope that they would get together again. It would do a lot of good for the both of them, and you can tell that their love ran deeper than anyone else I had ever known of. Even, (dare I say it) sometimes deeper than my love for Dinah.
A couple of days after I was down to using only my own blankets, and after all of the books on my shelf had been read again and Uncle Leonard and my father got tired of my questions about Dinah, they let her come over. I was surprised to see not only my best friend, but also Helena and Ms. Gordon as well. That must have been a hard one to explain. Why was my English teacher and some girl (the same 'cat' at the Insistute) there? As Helena and Ms. Gordon spoke to my dad and mom, telling them some story or another about why they were in Bludhaven (hopefully something better than online baking and happening to be in the area), Dinah came into my room while I was reading the new book Uncle Leonard had bought me to fill three or four hours of my time. "Whatcha readin'?" she asked from my doorway. She looked shy. I lifted up my book to her and showed her the cover. She came inside my room and closed the door before taking the steps needed to see the cover properly. " 'The Other Woman', huh? Sounds racey."
"You'd think so, but it's not. Not really. There's no infidelity, which is that I thought at first," I told her, reaching for the torn peice of fanfiction printer paper I had been using as a bookmark and put the book almost carelessly on the floor. It was a book I had read from the library a while back, but it had been a year or so ago. I remembered the storyline and how it ended.
"You finish it?"
"Almost, but I've read it before."
"How'd you like it?" She asked, trying to make conversation. It wasn't really hard, as I was already about to rant about it anyway, had she asked about it or not.
"Didn't," I said, looking down at it almost in disgust. I am glad that Uncle Leonard bought the book, and it really was a sweet story, but it just ended in a way that I didn't like."
"You didn't like it?" Dinah asked as if it was impossible for a lesbian to hate a lesbian book. "Why not?"
"It just ended weird. Girl is a real estate agent, not looking for love, right?"
"Riiiight...?" Dinah said slowly, not knowing where exactly I was going with it all.
"So she sees another girl, falls for her, though she doesn't know that it's-you know- in love, in love. But she spends all of the rest of the book fighting her feelings for this girl for one reason or another, when suddenly she stops fighting. Like that, she's done, and she goes to the girl and they live happily ever after. I'm sitting there the last time I read it thinking 'That's it? She just takes her back like that with hardly a good reason for it all? And the other chick, she just stops fighting something that has been obvious since page fourteen or something? How REO Speedwagon is that?' " Dinah looked a little confused by my last line, whereas before she was amused by my ranting.
"REO Speedwagon. Old eighties band with a song about- well, exactly what I am talking about."
"Fighting feelings for someone, then not wanting to fight those feelings anymore?" Dinah asked, trying to keep up.
"Well..." Dinah thought about this for a second, wrapping her brain around it, and because I had long ago since the hospital closed my door, I couldn't hear what it was exactly she was thinking, but I felt her slight confusion still. "Sometimes, that is how it happens, you know? Sometimes, one just gets tired of fighting, or they just forget all together all the many reasons why they were fighting so hard to begin with." I stared at her for a second as I thought about that. It was still REO Speedwagon, but I still accepted that as an answer. Didn't mean I liked the book's ending any better, though.
"Alright, fine, but what is the other character supposed to say to all that? I mean, there was some hurt in all this soul searching and fighting off feelings and whatnot, and then suddenly they are back. Does the first character even have the right to ask for the second character's love after all that?"
"You tell me." That statement, spoken without hesitation, startled me a little bit. I was taken off guard a little by that. I shrugged.
"I don't know. I've... Well, I've never really been in that position of having to take someone ba-"
"What if... right now... you are? What would you, as the second character, say?" My heart leaped in anticipation.
"Are you saying," I gulped a little bit, "what I think you're saying, Dinah?" She stared at me; our eyes met. Then she slowly nodded after heavy consideration. "Well, uh..." I knew that what I was about to say was going to be as corny as hell, but, "you never have to ask for my love but, uh... 'Come here'." Dinah frowned, probably not at all expecting that answer from me, and I smiled at her slight confusion. "Come here," I said again in a soft demand. She took the remaining steps to my bedside and stared down at me. 'Kiss me', I thought to her when I reached for her hand and she'd taken it. She leaned in and when her lips met mine, I felt joy, not just from her but from myself as well. When she pulled away, she looked into my eyes, and smiled. I couldn't help it, I grinned like a doofus back at her.
"Then that is your answer. 'Come here' is what the second character is supposed to say."
"Works for me," I said, continuing to grin like an idiot, but then I asked her seriously, "But why did you stop fighting? I know why you were fighing 'us' to begin with. Why stop?" Dinah didn't say anything at first, her eyes roaming from my face to the floor, then I saw the start of tears. I put a hand on her cheek like I had in the hospital and caught the first tear with my thumb. I knew then the answer to my questions. She had mentioned them in the hospital, and I felt the same, but I let her speak.
"The night I had that dream, Barara and I were talking about Wade. At first, I thought that was why I had the dream; I thought I had summoned it somehow with thoughts and questions about Wade and stuff, but I always knew that it was real. Barbara told me that when he died, she was filled with regret. She didn't go into what she regretted, but I'd assumed she meant that she regretted not getting a chance to say goodbye to him. Then I had that dream, and I wanted to make sure I said to you what Barbara couldn't say to Wade... what I couldn't say to my mother." Dinah swallowed her imaginary brick and went on. "I saw you die, Gabby. I tried, but I couldn't get you to start breathing, and when I felt your heart stop beating, all I could think about were the words left unsaid- the billions of times I wanted to say 'I love you' but couldn't, the days and nights you wouldn't be with me- holding me. I regretted it all, and I knew then exactly what Barbara had meant... just when it was too late." My hand left her cheek when more tears fell, too many to catch, and I pulled her to me.
"I'm here now, Sweetie-" I started to say.
"Nothing sort of a freaking miracle, be it your brother or whatever..." We both knew it was true. I'm sure every lifeguard textbook says I shouldn't have even the ability to function normally, that I should've been brain damaged. I felt the opposite, actually. Instead of my mind being empty, unable to think, I felt full of thought, and I felt complete.
"Yes, I know," I said.
"I love you so much, Gabby," she whispered. I felt her breath on my neck and I knew my pulse raced, as cliche'd as that sounded.
"I love you, too. Always."
DecideAbout twenty minutes later, as Dinah and I lay above the covers and in each other's arms in silence, there was a knock at my door. It wasn't the slow soft knock of my mother or the knock three times, then enter sort of knock of my father. It wasn't even the loud rapping on the door mimicked only by policemen, as was the knock of Uncle Leonard. This knock was sharp enough to demand entrance, yet it was at a speed that added 'please' to that demand. As if to know my thoughts, Dinah said, "That's gotta be Barbara. I'd know that knock anywhere." I nodded as Dinah sat up, my arm sliding down her side until it landed on the bed. I, too, sat up as I granted entrance to my room. It was indeed Ms. Gordon. She wheeled in with a small smile on her face.
"Hey, I was wondering if I could speak to Gabby alone for a minute." My teacher looked at Dinah as she spoke, asking without words if she'd said all she needed to say. Dinah nodded, kissed me quickly (which I think did, but didn't surprise Ms. Gordon), and practically jumped off of the bed. I watched her leave, and then looked expectantly at Ms. Gordon. I knew she was blocking off her thoughts. I could feel that, even if my door wasn't open. I also knew that blocking off her thoughts was hard for her. "I'm sorry it took us a bit to see you after the hospital stay. Your uncle's been keeping close watch on you, and wouldn't back down no matter how persistent Dinah got. You knowing someone connected to Helena didn't really help matters. Her going to Bludhaven instead of to work sort of made things worse as well." Which I thought was a little weird. If she was there in Bludhaven kicking ass to help me out and to help save me, then I would be so happy that I'd give Helena a paid leave, had I been in Uncle Leonard's place. I wondered if Uncle Leonard was just used to rolling is eyes in Helena's general direction and letting her do her own thing as long as she didn't skip too many work days in a row. Still, I wondered...
"He's always been like that, and I'm sure it got worse after the whole Institute incident. My poor father still doesn't know why Dinah was there, by the way. I could only tell him that she's a metahuman and that I told her I was coming to the Institute, which wasn't a lie. He'd already known about her being a metahuman after he saw her throw a telekinetic blast at Helena there after I-" I stopped for a second, "died."
"Feels weird to say that, doesn't it?" I nodded. "I know that feeling," she added.
"You do? When?"
"I flat-lined twice, once on the way to the hospital after my shooting, and once during surgery. It scared the hell out of Helena." We were silent for a minute, and I imagined young Helena looking worried, and I'd known from past images and thoughts from Ms. Gordon that if she hadn't had to take care of Helena, she would have completely given up, which was a scary thought. "Look," my teacher said suddenly, and I jumped, "I want to thank you." I looked at her, confused.
"Helena came to me the day before you went to the Institute and we finally sat down and talked about that night the Clocktower was attacked. She told me that you went to see her and said something that really made her think, so I want to thank you for that."
"Oh," I said, then, "Well, I guess we're even because Dinah and I are... well, I think together now because of something you'd said to her... So I guess we're even." I repeated. "But that doesn't get you off the hook for lying to me about the Institute- the whole organization- being destroyed when it wasn't." Ms. Gordon smiled- smiled! I knew that she wasn't feeling the least bit guilty. Maybe a bit smug, but nope, no guilt there.
"I was wondering when you were going to bring that up. I'm sorry, I was just-"
"Reassuring myself, actually," my teacher replied. When I didn't respond, she continued, "I wanted to make sure you weren't about to visit the Institute blind. I wasn't sure if you had some sort of plan thought up to go back, and if you did, I knew you might get hurt. I needed to keep you safe. I wasn't sure who was on what side, or even what all was going on there, and I needed to keep you out of it for a little while. You had already passed any test I had given you."
"But why? Why were you testing me?" I was curious the most about that. "Ever since the day my powers had started and Dinah had that absence in school, I've felt as if everything you've said to me- and the way you'd look at me suggested you were saying loads more than you actually were."
"Well... I was. I'm starting from the beginning, alright? That way I don't confuse you or myself. I've had the Metahuman Database as long as I've had the Delphi system. That was six and a half years ago that I got it. Scanning the Database so many times over the following five years, I'd recognized many names when I heard it. Last year on my roster for my class, I saw your name along with Kelly's and knew you were both metahuman. I had known Kelly's story of how she got her powers. It was there on the Database." This made me a little mad. She had known this whole time that Kelly had been... altered? And she hadn't said or done anything? Thinking on it, I wondered exactly what one could have done. I mean, it was done, Kelly had the powers, and I assumed that the best thing to do would havebeen to leave her alone and wait to see if the Institute would try to get to her, and then take some sort of action, but what?
"However," Ms. Gordon said, breaking me away from my thoughts, "all metahumans I've ever encountered had a certain air about them when meeting them, as if they carry the world on their shoulders. You didn't act that way. Kelly did a little bit, but mostly she stayed away from anyone I knew who was metahuman. I usually keep an eye on the metahuman students, but because you acted like a normal teenage girl, eventually you slipped through the cracks and I didn't have an extra need to worry about you." Ms. Gordon looked around the room before her eyes landed on me. "Then you became friends with Dinah, and I was curious to see if you were really metahuman, and if you were, Dinah would've picked up on it and told me. Nothing. Nothing came up, but she spoke of you often, even if she didn't really speak to you. I knew then that anyone who could get to someone like Dinah- who has no reason to trust anyone- must be special. I liked how persistent you were with me, making sure Dinah was okay after Carolyn died, and how afterwards you walked her to and from classes if you could so she knew she wasn't alone... I'm babbling, sorry."
"You must have gotten it from Dinah. Get her going and she sometimes doesn't stop." Ms. Gordon chuckled softly.
"Actually, we both babbled when we are uncomfortable before we ever met eachother." I raised my eyebrows at this, but didn't ask why she was uncomfortable, even though I was burning with curiosity. Ms. Gordon, I knew from past experiences, was one to cause the uncomfortable atmosphere. She wasn't one to get uncomfortable herself, unless there was something about me that was unnerving to her. Was she afraid to tell me this? If so, why? "My point is, I admired that in you, and after Carolyn died... well, there came some thoughts and questions of my own mortality. I've questioned it all many times, but having cheated death twice seven years ago, I guess I'd gotten a little cocky. The great-late- Black Canary died, and being my age give or take a couple of years, I knew that if I were to die that young, no one would be there for Helena and Dinah." It was then I knew where she was going with all of that, and I couldn't believe it. "I saw how you were-are, and if you were a metahuman, and if you proved trustworthy with our secret, which I knew sooner rather than later you'd learn, then maybe... Maybe that person could be you. As it turned out..."
"Take your place as Oracle?" I asked softly, my mouth hardly able to work at that point, I was so surprised. "But I am not a fighter, a-and I am not even half as smart as you. I could never be."
"Gabby, listen to me. I'll agree with you if it'll make you feel better. It's true, you aren't a fighter. Violence isn't in your nature, but," she added, "from what I have seen and heard, you are a protector and a survivor, and that is just as important. As for smarts, everyone is a genius in their own right, and after seeing you next to the Delphi, well... I think it's calling your name. Besides, Helena listened to you, Gabby. That alone speaks volumes." I thought about this. Me, at the Delphi? The mental image of me wearing glasses at the Delphi wasn't bad, actually. My mental image looked hot in glasses. I just didn't know if I could handle sending Helena and Dinah to places we all knew were dangerous just to steal some top secret government computer disk that contained a copy of the Metahuman Database, which would've been used to recruit metahumans into the Army as a special force fighting unit... or something. What if I made a call that was wrong and it cost both of them their lives?
Ms. Gordon's hand on my shoulder brought me back in focus. "You don't have to decide today, tomorrow, or even this month or the next. Take as long as you need to about it, okay? It's a big decision, and I'd expect nothing less from you. Call when you need to, and no matter what you decide, you're welcome at the Clocktower anytime- and if you want, I'll still show you around the Delphi. You know... just in case." I nodded slowly, and Ms. Gordon patted my shoulder before that hand left. "I think it's time we left. I sort of kept Helena hanging with details of our story. Maybe Dinah helped her out. I'm glad to see that you're doing better, though." I smiled and watched her leave. I picked up 'The Other Woman' again. Dinah came back in for a quick hug, kiss, and 'we'll talk later' before she left. I sighed at how empty my room got, and then went back to the book, rolling my eyes at certain parts of it. I'm sure then would have been the perfect time to think over what Ms. Gordon had said to me, but I just couldn't then. I decided that a good (or not so good) book was needed then.
I didn't actually talk to my father until after dinner that night. I asked if he'd come to my room for a minute because we needed to talk. When he heard that, he practically threw the bills he was paying on the desk and followed me down the hall. After I'd gotten comfortable on my bed and after my father had pulled the desk chair up beside it, I said, "Dad, I know we haven't talked about the Institute since the day we all went, but I want to." My father knew this. I'd bet anything he was waiting for me to bring it all up. "I want you to know that I wasn't afraid of you after Avery died. Not of your powers, anyway, like you thought." At this, he looked up at me, and I didn't have to be a telepath to know what he was asking me in his mind. 'Why did you run from me every time I tried to reach out to you?' he seemed to say with his eyes. "I knew what I had done almost immediately after it had become clear to me that my big brother was gone. I knew it was my fault. I know now that you didn't blame me for his death even though you'd known as well, but back then, I was so sure that you did blame me. I kept seeing it over and over because you thought about it so much, and I thought you hated me. I thought you would just look at me, remember what I'd done, and- I don't know- punish me somehow." My father shook is head at this while I continued to talk. "I know it wasn't true, but when I was six and so guilty, that was what I believed. When I was ten, all I had of Avery was what I could remember when those memories suddenly came back, and they were so strong that again, I felt you were going to punish me. It was then as if I was still six." We were silent after that, but my father shook his head again.
"No, I knew what you had done. I knew it was all an accident, but only Mark and Dr. Alder knew that we were both to blame. I just let everyone believe that it was all me to try and save you from everything. Jesus, Gabby, you were six. You probably hadn't done that before." I knew he was talking about the mental speech and I looked at him as images, fresh, clear images of my big brother surrounded my thoughts.
"Yes, I had. It was a game Avery and I played. He would figure out what I was thinking about, and he'd be right just from my emotions. If I was giddy, I thought about Barbies, if I was sad, I thought about Tape the Hamster, and so on."
"Oh, Tape. I forgot about him." I smiled a small smile, wondering if Tape the Hamster was the reason I could never have pets. I'd always wanted a cat, but my parents said no and never gave a clear reason. I gave up at age twelve. By then, I didn't want a pet anymore. I didn't care. I had Kelly. Not that she was a pet, but she was a companion. "Anyway... Avery tried the game with me. I guess he thought I wouldn't be able to do it too, but I'd known everything he thought. Never anyone else as far as I can remember, but always just him. A few times, I had said stuff to him in his mind, never knowing if he heard me or not."
"Yeah," I agreed. More silence.
"Gabby, can I ask you about your friend? Why was she there? I know she's a metahuman, but how did she know about the Institute?"
"She's got friends in high places," I told him. 'If I say 'yes' to Ms. Gordon, I'd be that friend,' I thought to myself suddenly.
"I see," my dad said slowly, "and what about the other one?"
"I thought her name was Huntress-" He stopped talking and looked at me. "They're a little young to be vigilante's like Batman," was all he said a moment later.
"How long have you known all this?"
"Are you... with them?"
"No..." I said slowly. "Dad, you've kept secrets for ten years. I am not saying that to guilt trip you- Okay a little trip, but I just need to you keep this one, please."
"Safe," he said quickly. "Another question."
"What was Olyvia going on about at the Institute? Why was she so interested in your memories? Mark said something about that while he was there, but I still don't understand."
"Do you know anything about Mark and Dr. Alder's main research?"
"Something about splitting the metahuman gene or extracting it or something."
"Metahumans have an extra healing aspect to their genetic coding, and they wanted to use that to create medicines to cure cancers and whatnot. They succeeded in doing that, but it made the patient into a metahuman, so they set out to find a way to isolate the healing factor from the gene, which at first made the metahuman sick. Dr. Alder may have found away to isolate the gene without the metahuman getting sick and turning the patient into a metahuman... but he didn't want to test his theories and possibly kill more metahuman children. So the story goes that he at first wanted to use me as a substitute to restoring memories, but then when that failed and he'd learned to transfer as well as take thoughts, he wanted to put the theories and whatnot into my memories somewhere." I stopped there and my face went blank for a second as a thought occurred to me.
"Why didn't he want to pass on the theories to his daughter?"
"I'm not completely sure. I think she was on a different side then, maybe still. Maybe he thought she would try out the theories against his wishes or something. Since I am no doctor or scientist, I would have had no desire to try out his theories or even understand them, so they would have been safe with someone like me."
"And do you think she was right in you now having them?" I was silent for moment, then nodded.
"I think... maybe somewhere in my memories, I do. I think he hid them in a way that it would take an inside joke for me to get it, which was why Olyvia wasn't able to find them if they are there... Dad, I have images from when I'd gone to the Institute as a patient, and he'd say some weird things. Stuff like, 'Think of this, think of numbers. I had a dog named Milo. Think of your favorite book'."
"What did it all mean?"
"Each time I was there, right before he'd erase my memory of the day, he'd tell me to think of those things, remember?" My father nodded. "I, at first, thought he was just trying to ease my fears before he erased my memories, but this was happening- it started four months after we started to see him. He was leaving me clues. All of those things had to do with The Phantom Tollbooth. I just figured this all out just now, so I don't know if I am right about all of this. I am going to have to go through my memories to see if it might be there somewhere in the pages of the book."
"That almost made sense. So you think he hid it inside the memory of you rereading The Phantom Tollbooth?" I took a deep breath.
"Yeah, but I don't think he ever got to telling me a clue for the page, or even if he ever got around to giving me the theories at all."
"Try the inside cover. Maybe it isn't as hard as he wanted you to think it would be." I nodded, and thought about that for a little bit, but I didn't go into the memory. I wanted to wait until I was alone to do that. I stared at my father, knowing that one more thing needed to be said, and I was right when I told Helena that it was going to be a lot harder than it sounded. I needed to say it though, and he needed to hear it. I knew this as well as I knew that my brother was dead, and I loved him with all my heart. I think I knew this better than I knew my own name. I knew that if I didn't say any of the things I needed to say, our family will not fully heal from the last decade. Not that it ever will, but more holes that could be filled wouldn't be. So, I opened my mouth and began to speak.
"I also want you to know..." My father concentrated his energy on keeping his foot from tapping the floor nervously. "I want you to know that I've got my memories and my abilities back. I know everything that happened, and... Dad, I love you." My father said nothing, but looked down into his lap, and then his hands folded together. A second later, I saw a tear drop on his knuckle, then another, and then another. His shoulders shook and this scared the daylights out of me. His thoughts were many, as if it was the one thing he'd hoped for me to say, and now that I'd said it, he couldn't believe it after so many years of needing those words and not getting them. I swung my legs around and wrapped my arms around his neck, and his head rested heavily on my shoulder. "I love you, Dad." I said again, this time in a whisper.
Six months later, I found myself in the heart of San Diego standing in front of a tombstone that read 'Avery Jason Andrews: 1982-1992. We Love You, Avie'. I wiped my eyes and then looked around the cemetery and spotted my girlfriend talking to one of the statues, looking at the name, then up at the bronze face of the woman figure. I shook my head. I swear, I can never take her anywhere. I was actually surprised when Mom told me that she'd gotten four plane tickets. When I asked about Uncle Leonard, she said the forth ticket was for Dinah. "Hey Big Brother. It's been a crazy decade for us all. I'm sorry I didn't remember you for so long, even though Dinah- the weirdo over there-" I pointed in Dinah's direction, "says that I did in a way. I guess I couldn't handle the fact that I was at fault, not just Dad. The rest of the family still don't know what I had done, so it is our secret." I watched Dinah, who was at that point knocking on the statue's head and then listening to see if anything was there.
"You know, at first, I thought SHE was the key to my powers, but- Look at her! Seriously... I wonder if somehow it was the both of you together in some odd way, but when I heard you speak at the Institute the day I... stopped, I knew you were there guiding my powers a little it at least. Dad said you knew me well, even in my first few days of life. You must have known that I wouldn't have been able to handle the truth until now. It was almost as if you were making the decision for me, or maybe you just knew that at nine and six, I wouldn't know how to go about moving on after that, and my life wouldn't have been as good as it was. Either way... thank you for being there when I died, and I am sorry you came all that way from Heaven for nothing... Oh, I got you a present." I dug into my pocket, and came out with a keychain of the same boat that Avery and I had gotten on our six/tenth birthday. "Sorry it's not the real one, Avie. I am going to keep that one, but this one is like the real thing... only it doesn't float... or maybe it does, I haven't actually tested it. Hey! Did you know that after school ended- the week after- Dinah made me go get swimming lessons? I think she just wants to see me in a swim suit, but I actually did okay! I mean, maybe next time- and I think there will be a next time- I will actually get in the water, but baby steps, baby steps." I stopped talking after that.
I suppose it would be unfair to go this far in the story and not tell you what all happened in the following six months after my big adventure in the Institute. Honestly? It was all almost boring in comparison. I mean, Dinah and I had our six month anniversary, because she's actually counting. Christmas was spent doing the regular Christmas-y stuff. School started again on January fourth, and everyone was so far behind, but the teachers were more so. So (much to my delight), while the teachers stayed at school until six to rearrange their curriculum a bit, Kelly came to my house (eventhough she couldn't stay long because of the twins) and the four of us- Kelly, Gina, Dinah and I- would do homework and/or watch TV until Ms. Gordon came to get Dinah. Then I would walk the four or five blocks to Gina's house to drop her off. It was cool to have all of us together as a group. It felt like a secret club, a 'no non-metahumans or boys allowed' type of club. We usually would talk about what it was like growing up with our abilities, but I couldn't say anything. I went with the storyline that I was a late bloomer, which was a truth of sorts. No one really needed to hear my long and complicated story when Sailor Moon was on the Cartoon Network in a couple of minutes. And yes, we all still watched that show. I told Kelly and Gina about Avery, but told the hypnosis story when it came down to how I found out about it all. I knew that it was all hard to believe, but hey, Gina was born with wings, and Kelly was cured of cancer to find out that her medication had some wacky side effects. Plus, we live in New Gotham. We all just ended up using that as a universal reasoning for anything unusual in our lives. 'Yeah, there's a black hole in the middle of Grey Avenue, but its okay. We live in New Gotham.'
As for Dr. Alder's theories, that's all they were. I found them, as we had suspected, on the inside cover of The Phantom Tollbooth, but they were only his theories and hypothesis. I'm sure that Mark or Olyvia could have come up with these conclusions, but there was a long string of a formula that he had there as well. I didn't understand it, but I'm sure that any of the above mentioned or Ms. Gordon would be able to figure it out. I wrote it all down anyway and gave it to Ms. Gordon. She was able to break it down into simpler terms for Helena, Dinah and me, but in case of emergency, I will not disclose that here. After Ms. Gordon had me type up the theories on a document on the Delphi (which was a way to get me used to being in front of it and working on it to see how it felt), she put it all away in a room somewhere hidden in the Clocktower. She wouldn't tell me where she placed it. She wouldn't even tell Helena or Dinah. I don't even think Alfred (the very nice gentlemen who used to work with Batman/Bruce Wayne) knew where she put them, and that really made me curious.
"You'll know all when you see all," was what she'd told me when I wondered where she'd hidden them. I liked the sound of her 'when'. It felt definite, but not a pressured one. I told the tombstone all of that then, even though I'm sure he was there at the time, laughing at my 'you're so mean' face, the one that made my ex- teacher smirk at me in return.
"So, school's out and Ms. Gordon is no longer my teacher. It would just feel weird to speak to her on first name basis, but at the same time, if she were to be my mentor-if I said 'yes' to her, of course- then it would be just as awkward to call her Ms. Gordon all the time. It would be too formal for her role in my life. I think it bothers her that though she tried to compromise with me, telling me that I could call her Barbara when I am not in school, I still don't call her that. I can't help it. She was my teacher last year, and it is programmed into my brain as if I am Borg. I mean- Oh dear lord. Dinah! Leave the statue alone and let the poor woman rest in peace!" I called to my girlfriend. She stopped in mid-climb, grinning at me sheepishly. She knew she had been caught. "Come here!" I waved her over, wondering if there was a reason she had a... thing about statues. I wondered if it started from her mother, with that gorilla wrestling picture I saw of them at the zoo. She made her way to me and I turned back at the tombstone. "What I don't understand is why me? Not to go Nancy Carrigon on you or anything, but really, why me? Why did he choose me and not someone else when his other plan to use me failed? What did he hope I would accomplish for him? Surely he didn't know where my life would bring me, so how was he to know that I possibly COULD do something with those theories? Did he think I would keep his secret, die with these theories still there in my head? I just know this, Avie: I said that this was my fight. I want to know who's on our side, and what the Institute is really trying to accomplish by all of this... Which is why I am telling Ms. Gordon- Barbara... I'm going to tell her that I want to start learning my way around the Delphi. I want to keep an eye on them."
"Does this mean you're saying 'yes'? You're going to be the new Oracle?" Dinah asked as she got to my side.
"Not for many years yet, but yeah. I want to make sure you return to me," I said to her, my voice dropping to almost a whisper. I almost didn't want her to hear me, but I knew that she did all the same.
"Wild horses couldn't keep me away." My eyebrow rose.
"But weird statues could?" I teased her.
"Hey, I can't help it. I like statues." She wrapped her arms around me, and held me. "But I like you the best-est."
"Why Dinah, what horrid grammar you have,"
"All the better to make you cringe, my dear," she replied, and I saw an image of me at the Delphi, hot in my glasses (that I do not wear, I might add) cringing as Dinah started speaking horrible slang, me not understanding a word of it. I felt Dinah's presence in my mind and she chuckled at our shared thought.
"You're right; you would look hot in glasses."
"Wouldn't I, though? I mean, small black frames like Ms. Gordon's? Hotness, I swear."
"Mmhmm..." I smiled. This was where I wanted to be. Well, not in a cemetery next to my brother's grave- You know what? Scratch that last sentence. What I meant was, this was where the story stopped- No, not stopped, began. Sure, there were (at the time) many more questions left unanswered (namely 'what the hell was my grandmother's ability?'), but I'm sure we'd have figured them out in time. I knew that a story like this couldn't go unwritten. I guess part of me was afraid of forgetting, just like I had forgotten Avery for a full decade. Olyvia's still out there somewhere. Who's to say we won't meet up again? If we do, I want to make sure I remember who I was before and after all this happened, so I wrote it down. It's taken six notebooks, two pens, three days, one sleepless night (involving a full pot of coffee shared between Dinah and me), and four boxes of tissue to write it all out, but it is written. Maybe 'when I know all', I can set this in the same spot Dr. Scott Alder's theories were put. So I guess I stop the story here, with some cheesy ending sentence or two, so here goes: You know, months ago, I thought my life was nothing one could call abnormal, but now, with my memories back and with Dinah and my family truly at my side, I wouldn't have it any other way.