Pop Tarts and Sunny Delight
By: Erin Griffin
Rating: PG-13 for violence and swearing
Disclaimer: I own a Beanie Baby named Erin like myself. Not something I should be admitting to the public, but if it proves my point that I do NOT own the WB, so be it. I have no money, and I do not own the WB, otherwise Birds of Prey wouldn't have gotten canceled.
Pairing: Helena/Dinah (Switched POV)
Summary: Melanie, Dinah and all of the people at No Man's Land are having horrible nightmares that make them too afraid to go back to sleep. Helena, Barbara, and Dinah struggle to find out what or who is causing the nightmares until help may come their way when Dinah spots an onlooker that may help bring them clues.
Author's Note: I know that the dates of the Journals aren't marked, and I like it that way, but I also understand that it is confusing to know what time of the year it is. Part one takes place in late March-early April. Part two takes place in late August until the very beginning of September. Part three takes place about 2 weeks before Valentines Day up until Valentine's Day. Part four takes place on the night of the 15th of February (same year)/early morning of the 16th until maybe the 20th. Part five takes place between early February until early April.
Part 4 - The Incubus
"No... NO!" I ran from my room and into Dinah's as her mutterings turned into screams and sobs. I took her by her shoulders and gently shook her, then applied more force when she didn't awaken.
"Dinah, wake up! Wake up!" I called. Slowly Dinah's eyes fluttered open, and they looked at me with shock. Then she seemed to know where she was. I kept my hands on her shoulders as if to steady her. She took a moment to catch her breath and then she raked her right hand through her hair to get it out of her eyes.
"I-I'm sorry. It was... just a dream." She said, clearly relieved. I rubbed her shoulders, but I said nothing. "I... Melanie-you... we-" She seemed to rack her brain for a way to explain her dream to me.
"It's okay. You can tell me when you think you are ready. I'll be here." I told her. She nodded in the dark. She took a few deep breaths and I could feel her start to shake a little bit.
"I'm glad." she replied. I sighed a little in relief. This was the third time just tonight that she woke up with sobs or screams of terror. She had refused to go to sleep last night after our huge Mission Impossible rescue, so we stayed up on the roof and then watched a movie. But tonight she's waken up 3 times screaming or crying. She hasn't told me what these dreams were about, but she'd always try to tell me only to be left speechless. I knew by the way she looks at me when she wakes that her dreams involve me in a bad situation. I think Meanie is involved as well. She did just mention her name. "Th- The bomb went off. It actually went off. It was located in that room right next to the window everyone was evacuating from. Melanie was with me most times, but no matter far back in time she took me, I could never get near you to warn you, and the bomb would always go off way too early. One time, right before you woke me this last time, Melanie d- died as well, and I couldn't go back to save you. I tried to go get you out but Alfred had always grabbed me and dragged me out literally kicking and screaming. The last I saw of you was later on after the fire was extinguished and they searched the building. Reece had come up to me and gave me your comset." She shuddered and I felt it.
"It was a dream. I'm here. Melanie's fine... we saved all those people. They are safe. We all are. No one got hurt except for those metas, and no one died last night."
"I just keep wondering what would have happened if Melanie did go with Gibson when I told her to. He was the first one you recognized from the TV. Surely she would have died and we wouldn't have gotten the chance to fix things." I had also thought of that. One little 6 year old child had given us- had given many people a second chance, only because she decided not to listen to Dinah.
"You can keep thinking about what would or wouldn't have happened in that event, but all it would do is drive you crazy. You got a 2nd chance- we both did, to save those people. Maybe, and I do not really believe in the supernatural except for the fact that there are people with extraordinary gifts that we meet and fight everyday, but maybe something told Mel not to follow your instructions. Take that 2nd chance and run with it, because people don't get them very often." I said, not meaning to give her a speech. She wrapped her arms around me and hugged me close.
"I know you're right." Dinah said in a murmur. "Thank you for being here. All three times. I feel like a little kid, but-"
"I would be crying as well with dreams like those. But having them 3 times in one night?! That would just freak me out. Even for someone like Barbara or Bruce it is scary, so don't feel bad." I said to her. I felt her hug me tighter as if to make sure I was actually there. I slipped away only when her grip on me loosened. Only then did I get up, but something told me that Dinah wasn't going back to sleep any time soon. I heard her sigh. "Are you okay now?" I asked in a low voice.
"I- I think so."
"Okay. Try to sleep, and if you start to think about it, you know where to find me." I informed her. I kissed her forehead and walked out of the room. Walking from the dark to the light without changing my eyes first gave me a headache. After awhile, my headache had gone away as I walked out onto the roof of the Clocktower. I watched the full moon for about 20 minutes letting my mind wander before I heard shuffling of feet behind me, telling me that Dinah had started to think about her dreams and couldn't get back to sleep.
"I'm never going back to sleep." she announced. I nodded as she joined me. "So, enough about me, why are you up still?" She wrapped her arms around my waist and put her chin on my shoulder. "I know it wasn't just me that had kept you up. It doesn't take a touch-telepath to see that." She said after she felt me stiffen some.
"It was just odd seeing him." I told her. She lifted her head and looked at me, but I kept my gaze upward at the moon. "It feels as if I will never see him again. It's like... I just get used to being in the family I have and then *BOOM*" I pounded my left hand onto my right, "something happens that... makes revisions to that family. I was comfortable in the family that me and my mom made together. I didn't even mind that there was no dad in the picture as it was for a lot of the other kids I knew. Then Mom died, and Barbara and Alfred became my family. I was adjusting to my mother death... Well, I do not think I will ever fully adjust to that, but I think I was just able to move on with my lives. Then you came into the picture and I had to get used to that. Before we got together that is." In the corner of my eye, Dinah nodded. "Now... I don't know if Bruce is apart of my life. He says he wants to be, but I am not sure. I mean it is nice to have a father figure, but he wasn't there when a child needs their fathers the most. He wasn't there for all of my firsts... first word, first step... none of those, you know? I mean, I'm an adult now." I was surprised that I was telling all of this to Dinah, when in the 7 years I had lived with Barbara I couldn't talk to her. Maybe it was because Barbara wanted so much to help me, which is nice to know someone is there if you need them, but it was almost like silent pressure. Dinah stood where we were and just let me talk, and I knew by the times she looked up at me or nodded that she was listening. A few times I would see a look on her face that debated weather or not she should comment, but her mouth always stayed shut. Finally, I asked, "What do you think?"
"It is not my place to say." She said, looking upward to avoid my eyes.
"I am asking for your opinion, therefore it is your place to say." I watched her debate with herself. "I wanna know what you think." I insisted. She looked over at me at last.
"You may not have had someone to take to the annual father/daughter picnic, but he could be there for support. He is the only one around right now that understands the loss of Selina Kyle because he loved her as much as you did- do- did, oh Hell... I understand and can relate to the fact that your mother is dead and the fact that you want to find the murderer and rip their hearts from their chest, but Bruce Wayne understands the fact that it was her, Selina Kyle." I had never thought of that to tell the truth, and the more I thought about it, the more I knew that Dinah was right. "He can also be there for other things. Like he can give you advice from a man's perspective, a father's perspective. He can teach you things that you have yet to learn either in crime fighting or 'normal' life." She took her arms away from my waist long enough to make quotation marks around the word 'normal'. "There are other firsts that he can be there for, you know. He can walk you down the isle-" I knew she regretted saying the last part as soon as it left her mouth. I looked down at her.
"You planning on marryin' me, kid?" I could see her blush, but then she just smiled at me.
"When it becomes legal." She joked. The tone of her voice made me wonder how long Dinah thought our relationship would last. To tell the truth, I hadn't thought too much on that either. We just kind of live our life together as it goes on day by day. Something told me that she probably thought that our relationship wouldn't survive much past her 18th birthday. I tried to push thoughts like those out of my head as I heard my cell phone ring. Who'd call at this hour? I asked myself. I felt Dinah reluctantly pull away as I walked inside. I found my phone where I left it, on the table where my journal and the keys to the jeep were as well.
"Hello?" I asked uncertainly into the phone.
"Sorry to wake you at this time, My Sweet, but I need the assistance of Huntress and Canary." I was surprised to find it was Gibson on the other end of the line. I frowned.
"I wasn't asleep; what do you need?"
"I'll explain it to you when you get here. Meet me at No Man's Land and hurry if you can."
"What's the matter? Gibson, what's going on?" I heard a screams and sobs in the background.
"Please hurry. Gotta go, Love." With that, he hung up. I looked at the cell phone in disbelief. Something had to be seriously wrong for him to just hang up like that. I ran out on to the roof.
"Dinah, we have to get to No Man's Land. I think something's wrong with the children." That got her attention.
"Something meta wrong or-"
"He said he needed the assistance of Huntress and Canary, so suit up." I told her, watching her face go from worry to terror.
I don't know why, but I was hoping it'd be a few days before I had to put that damned costume back on, but as Huntress once told me, 'Crime never sleeps, Dinah.' Apparently, neither do I. (Alfred had taken the suit to Wayne Manor on Valentine's Day night and almost magically got all of the stains from the paint off of it, though at times I am sure he made a new one and made a couple of small changes to it.) Huntress and I had gone to wake up Barbara to find she was already awake. She woke up when the phone rang. In her years as Batgirl, I'm sure Batman had called her at all ungodly hours of the morning to go fight crime. Barbara's body is probably programmed to wake up when the telephone rings, no matter where it is. Old habits never die. This made me wonder if I will always go on sweeps or on these missions with Huntress not far away, and always a few steps ahead of me with a plan. If I want to get serious about this superhero gig, I will have to do some of these things alone, whether or not I want to. Huntress is not always going to be there to help me out no matter how much she will want to be.
Barbara Gordon went to the DELPHI monitor system, but all seemed still as she transformed into Oracle. Then Huntress and I ran through the elevator, but before the door closed, Barbara stopped us. "Girls." I pressed the 'door open' button and we both looked at her. "I have something for you." She wheeled herself over to us after she had taken two small boxes from the desk. We opened them after she handed them to us and we saw watches. Knowing Barbara, she wouldn't give us watches right before going on a mission however small this one seemed at first. This had to be some sort of gadget. With her, nothing is how it seems. That was my first lesson about New Gotham and the people who live here. You know what? I was right. "I designed this after Bruce left this morning- or technically yesterday morning. I had been thinking over our rescue mission as I'm sure we all have, and the thought to create this came to mind. Now you two can communicate with each other, as much as I loved being your walkie talkies."
"How cool is that?" Helena asked. "Does it tell time, too, 'cause no cool watch is complete unless it actually tells time." I wasn't sure if she was being sarcastic or if she was trying to be funny.
"Yes, it tells time." Barbara said in her 'very funnny Helena' voice. "This button turns the screen from watch features to the comm device's features. Push it again and it goes back to the watch features. You two should hold your wrist up to your face instead of below it, otherwise you will get a great shot of each others' nose hairs. Now, go save the day... Again." It seemed almost as if we were getting a pep talk from our coach for a great game day.
"Why do I feel like calling you Penny?" Huntress asked me as the elevator got to the main floor.
"Well, Inspect- tra Gadget, that's a hard question to answer." I told her. She looked at me.
"Inspectra Gadget, huh? Well, where's our really intelligent dog?"
"Well, Barbara could-"
"Finish that thought and you're grounded." I heard Oracle say, making Huntress bust out into a fit of laughter. "Also, Huntress... I put a button to call you're bike. It sends a signal through your comlink to the computer, where it automatically puts in your coordinates and the bikes goes there if you stay where you are for a few minutes. If you are on the run, press the button after every block or so, and the bike will just keep going until it has caught up with you." She said all of this in only a couple of breathes.
"Hey, when do I get a funky mode of transportation?" I asked.
"When I feel like designing you one."
"Ooh... Burn kid. Until then you're just gonna have to stick with me." Huntress said as a small roaring came towards us.
"Uh, I'm concerned that some people are going to see Huntress' bike riderless and follow it." I said. There was a pause. "Oracle?"
"Holograms." Oracle said simply.
"How did you get a hologram to hide it from everything around it? Does the bike take the form of the items around it? How does that work? Isn't it complicated?" I asked, rattling off a thousand questions.
"Very." she said, but offered me no explanation. We mounted Huntress' bike after she identified herself.
"You should make it voice activated." I suggested just to liven up the crowd.
"Will do." Barbara said, her mind elsewhere.
"Not very talkative tonight." I said to Huntress as I wrapped my arms around her waist and held on tight.
"I think she's just tired."
"Correction: VERY tired." Oracle corrected. I smiled as the bike took us to No Man's Land. Gibson was waiting outside and stood when the bike slowed to a stop in front of him.
"My my, don't you two look like you stepped out of my fantasies." he greeted us. Helena's walked out of everyone's fantasies, with or without the mask. I thought to myself as I got off of the bike after Helena did.
"What's wrong with the children? Are they alright?" I asked him, getting down to business in the best tough voice I had. I could tell that Huntress wanted to laugh at me, but I didn't care.
"They aren't physically hurt." He informed us. That gave me a sigh of relief before Gibson continued. "Melanie woke up screaming and crying at around one o'clock this morning with nightmares. She hasn't been able to tell me of her dream, but she keeps saying your names, Huntress and Canary. She so far was the most scared of her dreams, so I am assuming it had something to do with wherever you two took her on Valentine's Day. I swear, I didn't even know she was gone until you called me and told me she was with you. She's awakened a count of 5 times now. I went around on a check and found the rest of the children and teens were having problems as well. It appears everyone in the building had nightmares last night, and now no one is willing to go back to bed. It appears that everyone had at least one nightmare last night." Gibson explained.
"Did you get all that, Oracle?" I asked her.
"Yes, Canary, I got all of that." Said the sleepy voice in my ear. "So... all of the children plus you and Gibson had nightmares?"
"It seems as if... like mine, the more I went back to sleep, the worse the dreams got." Gibson continued.
"What did you dream about?" His eyes went scared.
"I'd rather not think or talk about it." He told me in almost a whisper.
"So, no one is willing to talk about their dreams?" Helena asked.
"They seem to want to share their dream with whomever awoke them, but they were too speechless to talk, so it was like they couldn't tell them." Gibson said.
"Let's go inside." Helena suggested. We walked into the building and Gibson turned the statue and we were led into the room I mostly worked at when the teens came to No Man's Land after school. The first thing I see is a small girl sitting on the pool table with a teenager who was trying to get the girl to go to sleep. The child's eyes and hair was damp from tears and sweat from her dream. It hurt me to know that this girl, who was carefree and so happy 36 hours ago, was so scared and unhappy now. Melanie saw us enter the room and jumped off the table.
"I couldn't go backwards!" Melanie said loudly, breaking the silence of the room. She started running to whomever was closest, which was Helena. I looked around to see children and teens on the floor, on the couches and at the stools, covered in blankets and some hot liquids in mugs on their laps. Each and every face my eyes met up with was sleepy, but determined to stay awake. "I couldn't fix the broken people! Everybody went away and I was all alone because I couldn't fix them!" Helena picked up the crying child and started to speak to her in the calm voice I had only heard her use twice before (once with Guy, and the other after my mother died).
"All the broken people have been fixed."
"You and Canary got broken too, and I couldn't go backwards! I couldn't be Baby Bird and save the day. And a million men tried to break me too!" she explained as a fresh batch of tears came to her eyes. It broke my heart to hear how frightened she was.
"The million men went to jail. I will never let the million men hurt you. You are my Baby Bird, and we need you to be strong. Unbreakable." Helena said. "All of the people aren't broken anymore. You helped fix the broken people, even Canary and me." Melanie's sobs lessened as she clung to Helena. "You are not alone. The million men are gone now."
"All of them?"
"All of them."
"You're lying." Said a sudden voice. From the look on Melanie's face, I could tell she believed this new voice and what it said.
"Hunter!" Gibson scolded. Then he turned to me. "Hunter was found yesterday sleeping in an alley behind a McDonald's. Nichola, our 'Meta Detector' found him. His power is that he's a living, breathing lie detector test." he explained to me. I nodded.
"I'm just saying-"
"You're not helping, Hunter." Gibson said. The boy, long shaggy blonde hair and brown eyes, looked about my age, maybe younger. He wrapped the blanket closer to him as if he felt a sudden chill, but he said nothing. Gibson went to find more blankets.
"Baby Bird, listen to me." Helena said, bringing my attention back to the child. "You saved the day, and you helped Canary and me fix all of the broken people and put the million men in jail. You are fearless. You are strong. And you are most certainly not alone. Huntress is here, and when Huntress is here, no on will break her Baby Bird." she told the girl. The child's eyes dried and the sobbing ceased. I smiled as I rubbed her back, waiting for the sniffling to stop. Then Helena kissed the child on the forehead.
"I'm never going to sleep." The little girl told us. "Never never." She declared. Huntress looked over at me, for those were almost my exact words.
"Never never?" Helena asked. "That is a very long time. Won't you get sleepy?" she asked Melanie.
"No, not if I keep my eyes like this." She used her finger tips to hold her eyelids open. I smiled.
"Hmmm... I suppose that will work." She murmured. I pointed a finger at the girl and Helena noticed that she had fallen asleep to both of our surprise.
"And you say you're not good with kids." I teased her.
"Shut up, Zippergirl. She said with a smile, telling me she was joking (or at least I think she was). She slowly sat down on the floor just as Gibson got back with the four or so extra blankets. Gibson spread an extra blanket over Hunter, who murmured his gratitude, then handed me Melanie's blanket.
"Baby Bird... No wonder she kept running around with a mask and the apron on backwards, refusing to take it off unless it was time for a bath and bed." Gibson murmured loud enough for me to hear him. I took the blanket from him and spread it over Huntress, myself, and the softly snoring girl. Silence continued in the room.
Huntress and Canary had left for No Man's Land about 3 hours ago. They've checked in (well, Canary always did, since Huntress had a child sleeping on her lap) and they are helping the children at least get comfortable again until morning becomes official, though most of the children and teens are jittery and refuse to do anything but stay where they were. They informed me that they will be back before sun-up, but I told them to take their time, and if it becomes daybreak before they can get to the Clocktower, they can use the tunnels to avoid odd looks from the public. These nightmares the children are having... it seems more than a coincidence. I hope we solve this soon, because at this rate the kids will get sick. Also, because Dinah looked as if she was ready to tear her Canary suit to shreds when she left in it this morning. She hates it, but she'd never admit it out loud as if saying so meant she quit too easily. We'll see what happens.
Melanie woke up at 6 later that morning, seeming happier than the miserable little girl I saw only 2 1/2 hours ago. Dinah and I hadn't fallen asleep in the time we sat un-moving in our positions (except for the few seconds every 45 minutes when Canary checked in with Oracle). When Melanie woke up, she remained still, but I felt her body tense up and relax again. Dinah put a hand on Mel's long brown hair. "Good morning." the child said to her. A smile tugged at the right corner of Dinah's lips.
"Good morning." Dinah replied.
"You sleep too?" Melanie asked her.
"No. I wasn't tired." Dinah said, not wanting to tell the girl that she was too afraid to sleep just like most of the people in the room. I looked around to see a lot of the kids and teens were in the den area of No Man's Land watching an animated movie. Melanie carefully got up, hugged each of us and went to go join the other kids. Then Dinah got up and held out her hand to help me.
"Look, I never thought I'd say this to the two most beautiful crime fighters in New Gotham, but stay for a little while longer. I'll make breakfast, you know?" Gibson said, seeing we were ready to go. Dinah tucked hair behind each ear.
"Rain check?" I asked.
"Yeah, yeah sure." he replied. He took my hand in both of his and shook it, then he did the same with Canary. "Thank you for coming by. Melanie seemed the most freaked out by her dreams." We nodded and said our 'goodbyes' before we left. Then we hopped on the bike and left. Like we had promised Barbara, we were back before sunrise, and we all watched it from the roof.
"Alright, so to recap, all of the children at No Man's Land were having bad dreams, but Melanie was the one who was scared the most?" Barbara murmured.
"Yeah." I replied.
"This is too strange." Barbara continued almost as if she didn't hear my confirmation. "It can't be just a coincidence that all of the children have frightening dreams at the same time..."
"They could have just been reacting to their dinner. I mean, it's Gibson's cooking we're talking about here." Dinah giggled, making me look in her direction, and then a thought came to me and I think Barbara had the same thoughts.
"Yeah but... Did Dinah eat dinner with them last night?" Barbara asked, knowing the answer was 'no'. Dinah and I had gone on sort of a date last night and went to this restaurant that was like an old 50's burger joint.
"Do you think that someone is targeting the subconscious minds of metas?" Dinah asked, breaking the silence.
"But who would do that?" I asked her.
"Another meta maybe?" Barbara asked, shrugging her shoulders.
"Why?" I wondered.
"I don't know." Barbara admitted. I could tell she hated not knowing the all the answers. "I'll check the database, but I doubt I will find anything." she told us. Dinah slowly played with her mask, which she had taken off right after we got onto the elevator. She seemed to want to throw it across New Gotham, but at the same time she seemed to hold onto it tighter. Then, finally, she put it back on. I watched her with curiosity, but I said nothing until she broke the silence.
"I'll do a sweep of the areas around No Man's Land. Perhaps there is something in the air, an electrical current, you know- something that might be affecting them. I refuse to believe that a metahuman would scare children so badly." She announced.
"I'll go with you." I said automatically.
"You have to go to work soon." Barbara reminded me.
"So? I'll take the day off."
"You can't, he'll fire you." Barbara said. I muttered a stream of cuss words under my breath.
"Fine, but be careful. If there is something in the air, then it will affect you too. You have the watch, so call me as soon as you need me." I told her.
She nodded. "I love you." she said in a low voice.
"I love you, too." I replied. I watched her walk back out of the door that took us to the roof and we all followed her to the area of the DELPHI monitor system. I watched her walk into the elevator, then I walked over to Barbara, who was at the DELPHI monitor system looking through the database, typing like mad.
"You look worried." Barbara murmured, not really looking up from her search.
"So do you." I retorted, not wanting to admit that yes, I was worried.
"She hates her mask."
"I hate my mask."
"But you still wear it. You don't have to. Dinah... she feels she has to. I can tell she already wants to hang up her Canary costume and never wear it again, but I think she's forcing herself to put it on. Ever since the mission the night before last, I think she's finally realized that this is not a game, that it isn't as she thought it would be. I think she realizes that sometimes if she hadn't had the help of Baby Bird, she would have to watch the innocent die while she tries to save them. I am not sure how that is going to affect her." I looked at Barbara.
"How can I help?" I asked her softly.
"I don't think you can this time." she said, typing more information into the computer. I looked down and fought the tear that came to my eyes. I'd eat cow dung before I'd let Barbara see me cry right then. She suddenly turned to me after a few minutes of silence. "You said that after your pep talk with Melanie, she had gone back to sleep and didn't have anymore nightmares."
"She had nothing left to be afraid of. Her fears dissolved, so her nightmares went away. Maybe if we did the same with some of the other kids, the dreams will go away for everyone. But first... we have to find a way to get them to tell us what it was that they dreamed, otherwise they will not go back to sleep and I think they will get sick." Barbara told me.
I walked onto Metahuman street and circled the block in what little shadow of the day there was. I didn't want people to see me walking around like 'an overgrown trick or treater', as Helena had once put it. I used the tunnels from what I remembered from when I went with Bruce Wayne to his Manor, then I hid mostly on the roof tops, looking down on the streets and sidewalks. I jumped from the building I was on, the small 3 story building of No Man's Land, to the ground. I landed in the alleyway just as I heard my name. "Dinah?" I looked around for Helena to find she wasn't there. Then I heard, "Your watch, Dinah." I had totally forgotten about it's other feature, since it looked like a normal watch. I walked further into the alleyway and pressed the button that changed the watch screen. I saw her perfect face immediately. "Hey." she said.
"You find anything?" Helena asked me, looking concerned. I shook my head.
"Nothing. Gibson is going crazy because he says my circling the block so many times in broad daylight is worse than watching somebody pace." I told her. "What about you?" I asked her.
"I am in the bar right now, in the ladies' room, but I had to report to you. Barbara thinks she has an idea, but it greatly involves you." she said hesitantly.
"What is it?"
"You're going to have to go poking through a lot of minds. She thinks the nightmares all have a common theme, which is either abandonment or failure... maybe even both. Barbara says that those are the themes both of your dreams had in common, and she wouldn't be surprised if most of the other kids dreamed those things as well. Barbara wants you to go see what they dreamed about, and hopefully they'll want to tell you now." I nodded.
"I will see what I can do."
"Try your best to convince them it was only a dream, which will be an easier task when you talk to the teens, but the children might not be able to tell. It might be hard for some, like if Hunter dreamed that everyone is untrustworthy because they all lie. It is going to be hard to convince him that not everyone lies all the time."
"Damn." I muttered, because I had a feeling that that was exactly what Hunter dreamed about. "Like I said, I'll see what I can do."
"Talk to you later, Penny."
"Bye Inspectra Gadget." she laughed.
"Love you." My heart skipped a beat.
"Love you too."
"Later." I saw her index finger come towards the screen, then the screen shattered before I turned it back to the watch features. I saw that it was 10:30 AM on a Sunday. Most likely the kids will still be watching the movie that was on when we left, since it seemed to have just started then, and it was a series of cartoons. If that was over, then most likely they would have put another movie in. I walked out of the alley and stopped in my tracks as I looked across the street. In the apartment buildings was a woman watching me. The look on her face was thoughtful. Oh man. She probably thinks I am crazy for wearing this garb. If she sees me again and asks, I'll say I work for the costume shop a mile away and am going to a birthday party for some little girl. I thought as I quickly ducked into No Man's Land. I waited until the customer that Henry, one of the teens with a bizarre power (he makes bubbles in his hands, and makes soap come from his finger tips. Useful for making a bad guy slip and fall. I once witnessed this.), was helping to leave, then I slipped out of the shadow and I moved the statue.
"Canary, finally you stop patrolling the streets of Metahuman street." I took off my gloves and held out my hand. Gibson took a step backwards.
"Do you trust me?" I asked him.
"Give me your hand. Let me see what you dreamed."
"Please Gibson..." He sighed and grabbed my hand. Instantly, I saw that Gibson was over 100 years old rocking in a chair by himself. After a few seconds of this, the old man starts to cry. He's alone. He's lived his life not knowing what it was like to be loved in return. A dream of... I couldn't tell if this was abandonment or failure. Most likely failure. Not being good enough... I broke the connection as a tear fell down my cheek. "You know that is not true."
"Yeah, but it still hurts to think about it, and it is embarrassing to talk about." I nodded. I patted his shoulder.
"You know the whole speech. There's someone out there for everyone... You are only 24, Gib. You have plenty of time." I told him. "You're not a bad guy, and someone will see that as clear as day." I said. He smiled.
"Thanks, Dinah." he said. I walked over to the other kids who were watching cartoons while some of the older kids played pool and read books. I went around, talking to some of the kids, whom knew what I was going to do and allowed me to do it because they already trusted me, but other kids I had to trick into touching me. (2 or three of the little boys thought it was a game to not touch me because I had cooties.) Eventually, I had entered the heads of all of the kids except for the 6 that didn't trust me, and I respected that they didn't want me to see what was in their minds. Some of the kids didn't believe the words that reassured them, especially Hunter, whom did dream that everyone couldn't be trusted. I told Gibson before I left to call me in the morning with a report. He said he will do that.
I think that Barbara had something going with the idea that all of the children had dreams with the same themes. Everyone had dreams of not being able to stop a death, killing someone with their own powers because they couldn't control it, or relived the different varieties of abuse they were put through in their lives. I came out of each head crying. Poor Nichola... I never knew. She did the same I did, I ran away to find others like us, but she could find them faster than I could. She ran away from a stepfather that abused her both physically and sexually all the time. No wonder she didn't want me to enter her head. I sort of wish I didn't just touch her without permission. That was what her stepfather did, and that is why she hates being touched at all. I do not know when Helena will get back from the Dark Horse Bar, but I hope it will be soon. Of course, I will not go into detail of what I saw, but I will report that I helped (hopefully) 80% of the people in No Man's Land, and that Barbara was right about the theme idea. Hopefully, even the most disturbed sleeper will fall asleep peacefully. Even me.
When I saw the elevator door open, Dinah was at a computer doing research for school it seemed, but then I saw she was at a site about sexual assault and how to help a victim. "Dinah?!" I asked alarmed. She closed the link quickly and snapped her notebook shut. "Is everything alright?"
"Yeah, I just wanted to..." but she didn't let herself finish.
"You saw someone get...?"
"Sort of." She admitted.
"In someone's head." I stated. She nodded.
"I wasn't even supposed to know, and I feel so awful about it. So I want to help them if I can. I hope you understand that I cannot tell you anymore about it unless I am told it is okay." She said to me. I nodded my head.
"Of course. I just hope they are okay."
"I think they are getting better." She put the notebook in her backpack and then zipped it up.
"Wade called, and they are out getting coffee." Dinah said, looking up from her backpack. "She said she'd be back by 7."
"Barbara was right, all of the kids I saw the minds of had dreams of abandonment, failure and unloved." she told me as I walked over to her and kissed her.
"Are you tired? 'Cause you've been runnin' through my mind all day."
"So cheap, so... Well, it's been done, and yet I am completely won over." Dinah teased me. We laughed before her lips claimed mine.
I talked to Wade today over coffee. I wish I could just tell him why I have been avoiding him. I want a relationship with him, but his mother is right. I have nothing to offer him but the lies of my past and present. I cannot see myself being with him if I cannot tell him about Batgirl and Oracle, Canary and Huntress, Batman and Joker... about metahumans in general. I just can't do that to him. I love him, as much as I hate to admit that because it may be dangerous for him. I do. I arrived home from the coffee house earlier than I thought I would, and saw Helena and Dinah kissing. I always seem to have that type of timing. I do not mind their little make out sessions, but I wish they did that elsewhere. Well, they were home alone, so I guess that is better than doing that in front of me. Better end this, otherwise they are going to tear up the kitchen.
I walked over to the kitchen as the smell of something good escaped from it. She was standing over a frying pan and was cooking hamburger meat. From the grated cheese, lettuce, and refried bean can on the counter next to her, I was guessing she was making tacos. Dinah did that sometimes. You know, just start cooking because she's hungry, so she'll make enough for everyone. Right then, she was putting taco seasoning in the frying pan with the hamburger. "Need help?" I asked her. She shrugged, mixing the contents of the frying pan.
"If you wanna."
"What do you need me to do?"
"You can either cut up the lettuce, which might be a mistake letting you near a knife... or you can start making the refried beans." She told me. I nodded. "So, you get bored... or what?"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"You don't want to help in the kitchen unless you are bored or VERY hungry." Dinah said, turning on the oven and getting out the taco shells. I smiled.
"I'm just very hungry." I told her playfully. "Actually, I just wanted to spend time with you, is that a crime?"
"Yes. The sentence is 30 years in my arms." She joked.
"I can get used to that." I told her. I kissed her neck softly before I picked up the knife and started chopping the lettuce.
"Something smells good in here." Barbara said, wheeling herself into the kitchen area as well. "Hmmm, something strange is going on if Helena is in the kitchen, cooking!" She teased.
"Har har har!" I said sarcastically.
"What's the occasion?" Barbara asked.
"I'm hungry." Dinah replied, shrugging.
"Well, that is as good of an occasion as any." Barbara said, getting out the dinner plates and started to set the table. About 10 minutes later, all three of us were sitting down talking about everything non-meta and having a nice evening together.
"I failed you." I heard her voice say in the next room. I lie in the dark, waiting for sleep to take over my body only to find that fear had done that first. I took my blankets off of me and walked over to the wall. "I didn't know..." I put on a robe over my pajamas, since I couldn't find my coat to keep me warm, and walked over to Helena's room. I knocked slightly.
"Come in." I walked in and saw her light was on. She was sitting on her bed with a picture frame in her hands. I had seen this picture many times before. It was of Selina Kyle and her daughter at the beach, taken, I'm guessing, by Barbara. I didn't know what to say to Helena. "Are you okay? You have another dream?" she asked me. I wanted to actually ask her the same thing.
"I didn't sleep." I said simply. It was a lie. I had fallen asleep for a few minutes, but a dream awoke me. "What about you?"
"I did, some. I had a bad dream, but I'm okay now." I wanted to ask Helena what her dream was about when I saw her get up. She took me in her arms and held on for dear life. "I was in a grave yard. I was surrounded by graves. Selina Kyle: murder. Alfred Pennyworth: heart attack. Barbara Gordon: breast cancer. Dinah Redmond: motorcycle accident. Melanie Fey... murder. The list goes on."
"Oh," I breathed.
"I'm glad it was only a dream." She said to me. She backed away a little and then she came back and kissed me hungrily, as if this was the last time she'd get to do so. As if she would never see me again, and if that was the last thing she did, so be it... The kiss left me dazed as almost all of them did; she just had that affect on me. When she broke away from the kiss, she grabbed my hand and we sat down on her bed and stayed in silence. "I know how you felt last night, waking up from a dream so bad, and no matter what somebody said to you, it didn't help it go away." She said in a murmur, but the previous silence made her words get heard clearly. "I'm sorry."
"For what?" I asked.
"I'm sorry I couldn't help you make the nightmares go away, Dinah." She said.
"It isn't your job to do so, Helena. Nightmares based on what we do are like battle scars. They are a reminder of how I helped all of those people even if I got hurt in the process, and that makes a hero." I told her.
"You're too much of a hero." was all she said back to me, but she offered me no explanation for her words as she was by then asleep.
I woke up the next morning when Helena shifted. Her head, which was on my shoulder, lifted and she looked over at me as my eyes opened. I looked over at Helena's alarm clock, since my watch was in my room on top of my desk. It was 9 in the morning. "Oh shit." I said. I was about to get up when Helena put a firm hold on my shoulder.
"Barbara came in and said you could stay home today since you were burning up... And because she knew that we both went to sleep late with the dreams bothering us. I don't think either of us had bad dreams after you came into my room last night." she said. She was right. If I had a dream at all, it was forgotten. Helena shifted her weight so she was now laying down, and she propped her head onto her elbow (as it dug into her mattress) while looking up at me. "So what do you wanna do today, Sunny D?"
"Slee-hee-heep." I whined. She giggled, making the whole bed shake a little. "Maybe watch TV later." I murmured. "And then go to No Man's Land to check on the kids, and see if they had any more bad dreams." I said sleepily.
"But right now we sleep." I said as I leaned my head back against the wall that was used as a pillow before.
Dinah and I had a pretty relaxing day. I don't have to go to the Dark Horse Bar until 6 tonight, so I will be going with Dinah to No Man's Land until then. I want to see how Baby Bird is doing. Work sucks, but if it gets me paid, then I shall do it. Ugh! Dinah right now is doing homework, then I will make lunch, then we will leave for No Man's Land. The dream I had last night sucked, but luckily I was awaken from it after a few minutes. Then Dinah came into my room and slept there. Something tells me that I wont be having that dream again in the near future. I'm going to go make us some Top Ramen.
I finished doing my science homework just as I heard Helena knock at my door. "Come on in!" I called.
"Can't. Open the door." she called back. I got a look on my face that wondered what Helena was up to. When I opened the door I saw Helena had a tray with sandwiches and bowls of Top Ramen.
"My, are you becoming quite the chef." I commented as she set the tray on my desk. I had cleared it when I saw her. Then she took a sandwich off of the plate and I did the same. "Grilled cheese, and it's not burnt. I'm impressed." I said with surprise.
"Shut up, or next time I'm lacing your soup with Cyanide." She said between bites. I put both hands on my cheeks.
"You wouldn't." I said in mock shock.
"Try me." I laughed and she finished devouring her sandwich, then moved on to the bowl of Top Ramen. "Have you ever had dreams this bad before?" She asked me suddenly.
"Well, you know about the one I had 8 and a half years ago. You were there. But I had a dream when I was 12 of a woman getting raped and beaten." I told her, remembering that night when the Redmonds got angry with me for letting it get to me. They had at first thought I was telling lies, but lies like that wouldn't scare someone that badly if they knew it wasn't true. Then, they just pretended I never said anything as they helped me get back to bed. "The next day, there was a body found on the playground of the elementary school I had gone to. The man who did it was the janitor, but I was the only one who knew that, and he never got caught. He scared the bejeezes out of me whenever I saw him. I used to avoid him, but I think he knew what I was doing and always watched me when he saw me. I always used another route to the hallway or the playground if I saw him. Luckily, that was the last year I had to go the elementary school." I explained.
"That's horrible." Helena said. I nodded, looking down at my sandwich for a second. "Why did you not tell someone?"
"No one would have believed me. No one did when I dreamed about you and Barbara. It was just better that I never said anything." She nodded this time.
"Once, I had a dream that I was stuck inside my mother's head. This dream happened a few days after she died and 2 days after her funeral. It was like I was her, in a coma. And I could hear all the people around me and sometimes it was like I could see them lifting me into the casket and closing the door and then opening it again when the funeral was there, and I think I even saw myself leaning over my mother crying for her. It was as if she hadn't died, but she couldn't open her eyes and say 'I'm not dead, people'. I kept trying to get out because in the dream all I felt while I was in there was fear, and I couldn't wake up, just like my mother couldn't." she told me. I ate silently while she talked, my eyes widening or tearing up at some parts of her dream.
"I'm just hoping I don't have those dreams again, even if they never come true." I said as I put the fork and spoon down on the tray, full. I looked at my watch. 2:44.
"Me too." she agreed.
Dinah and I started walking to No Man's Land, when 2 or 3 blocks away from there, Sunny D asked if there was a back way she could take. I tried to ask her why, but she wouldn't tell me. She just kept asking and asking until I showed her the way most of the regular 21 and over crowd entered the place. That was when she told me of a woman in a window that saw her as Canary in the middle of the morning the day before. "She seems like a big observer, and she might somehow find that the masked girl she saw the day before acts the same as I do, telling her that we are one and the same." She whispered to me as we walked in the entrance.
"Okay, I believe you." We walked into the children's haven of the area. There we saw Gibson reading a book to 4 year old Patric. He was pointing to the pictures and saying how he knew where Waldo was, even though that wasn't the book Gibson was reading to him. "Hey Gibson, finally find someone with the same reading level as you?" I teased. Gibson gave me a look that sarcastically said "Ha ha."
"Good afternoon ladies. I tried to call you this morning, but the phone wasn't on, so I couldn't leave a message. I wanted to let you know that all of the kids you touched still had nightmares, but not as many or as bad as they were the night before. Everyone you didn't touch still had really horrible nightmares. Only Melanie was fine last night. No nightmares, in fact she dreamed about getting a kitten for her birthday." I frowned. I was sure that Dinah's touch and talk will help the kids get better dreams the next night. I looked down at my feet in thought.
"What about you Gibson, and don't lie to me." I asked him.
"Better, but still had a nightmare. I was able to sleep until I heard one of the kids wake up crying." I nodded.
"Oracle, you in yet?" Dinah whispered into her comset.
"Just got in. What's the matter?" Barbara asked.
"We have a problem. None of the kids got a better night's sleep. Well, maybe a little better, but they still have nightmares. I was sure that they would get some sleep last night without problems. It seems only Melanie had a good night." Dinah reported.
"Only Melanie?" Barbara asked.
"Well, Helena and I had an okay night of sleep after a small mishap." She said.
"What did you two do?"
"Well, um... Helena hugged me after she told me her dream, and then we both fell asleep while I sat with her on her bed." I heard she was choosing her words carefully since Gibson was near and he could hear every word.
"Were you touching each other?"
"Her head was on my shoulder, why?" Dinah asked.
"Weren't you holding onto Melanie while she was sleeping?"
"Helena was, yeah.
"That must be it. If someone was touching you while you were falling asleep, it left you with no doubts that you weren't alone, and so it took away your fears of abandonment, and some failure, if you dreamed that you couldn't save the one who was near you. You dreamed that Helena was killed, so when she was there with you, you knew that it wasn't real and your fears were taken away. So how do we do this for these other children if most of them have had such a rough life and wouldn't trust someone touching them?" I saw Dinah's eyes search the room.
"I don't know." I said. "They trust Gibson, otherwise they wouldn't be living here with him. Maybe he can do something. But how are we going to stay with all of the children while they slept?" I asked Oracle.
"Do some of the children trust each other?"
"Well, the younger kids trust me." Dinah said. "But there were a couple who don't like to be touched, nor do they like some of the other kids. Other than that, they like and trust each other." She pointed out. I frowned as I thought about what else to do.
"I just wish I knew what was causing these kids to have the nightmares to begin with." Oracle said. "I am no longer sure if it is even a person causing this."
"What about that woman?" I asked Dinah.
"Why would she have anything to do with this?"
"We can ask her if she's seen anything suspicious lately. You said she was an observer. Maybe she saw that there was a person who looked like they don't belong around here." Dinah nodded, but she looked afraid to do or say anything.
"I'll have to go to her as Canary though." I heard her say. "That was how she saw me first." I nodded. I pressed the button on my bike and waited for a few minutes.
"I will give you a ride home to change, then I have to go." I said to her. She nodded. Another mission to do alone. She hated it.
I walked to the apartments, hidden mostly by the shadows of the sunset. I knocked on the door of the woman's apartment. She answered the door, and was surprised to see it was me. "I am sorry about my appearance ma'am, but I believe you have seen me before." I said to her, lowering my voice a little so she wouldn't recognize it later if she were to ever see Dinah. "I just came to ask you a few questions."
"Who are you?" the woman, dark brown hair and green eyes and using a cane to answer the door, asked. She looked partially scared and partially amused that I looked like I should be entertaining people at a comic book convention.
"You can call me Canary." I said to her. She looked at me suspiciously. "I just want to ask you about the building across the street from this apartment. I saw you watching the building yesterday, and I was hoping you'd be able to tell me if someone suspicious was wandering around there in the last 3 days."
"Come on in. I'm heating the whole city." I nodded and took a step inside. She closed the door behind me and walked towards her kitchen. I stood right next to the door and after a minute of silence, I dared to take another step forward. "What do you need to know, Partridge?" I let the comment about my name go.
"I need to know if someone has been looking suspicious to you. You seemed like an observer when you were watching me."
"I am somewhat I guess, and yes..." she searched the kitchen for a couple of mugs as if to make coffee or tea. I hoped this meant that she had seen them, whomever or whatever it was that gave these children nightmares. "Now that you mention it, I have seen some suspicious beings around here lately." I watched her as she had her back to me. Suddenly, she had a gun pointed at me. I froze. "And you are looking right at her." She stood up straight and walked toward me. She had a little bit of a limp, but she seemed too angry with me for noticing. "You will not cure them."
"What?!" I asked alarmed.
"Those nightmares give me strength! Those meta freaks have enough nightmares in one night that most regular people have in a year!" I glared at her. She walked towards me as I walked backwards until walls left me with no where to go. She laughed. "Well, Birdie, where are you going to go now?" I heard her cock the gun. Then there was a bang. I felt nothing as I flinched, then I felt a shower of dust settle upon me, and I felt my head get dizzy.
Dinah's been gone for over 2 hours without checking in with either Helena or myself. I am starting to get worried, but I do not know what to do. Maybe she's still talking to the woman who might have seen something suspicious. It is 8:15. I contacted Helena and she said she hasn't gotten word from her either. Perhaps she went to No Man's Land. I will wait for a few moments, then I will call Gibson.
When I came to, I saw I was in the semi-darkness. I realized I only woke up because the woman had slapped me into consciousness. "Not yet. You have many good nightmares indeed. But I do not need them yet. You are afraid of many things. I will use you. Since you have lessened my supply from the meta children, you will have to pay." she was saying, mostly to herself.
"What have you done to those children?" I asked hotly.
"I did the same thing I just did to you. I poured this powder over uh, No Man's Land, is it?" she asked.
"You spy on it enough to know the name." I said with acid on my tongue. She looked as if she wanted to hit me again.
"You think you know how you get rid of those nightmares, but you don't. Touching people isn't going to get rid of anything!"
"How'd you know that we were trying to help the children that way?"
"You told me. I can get anyone to do what I want them to while they are asleep, for I am The Incubus. I can twist your fears into as much of a reality I want, and people would do anything to have me rid them of their fears. While you slept we made a bargain. You got taken from your nightmare and I got all the information I needed." She said proudly.
"The Incubus...? And you think my name is crappy." I said.
"I'd be careful what you say to me. I can use what I know against you whenever I want. You don't know what you have or haven't told me." That shut me up. Crap. Crap crap crap. I wriggled my hands to find they were bound. I hate being bound, but unlike the last time I was, I stayed calm and left the bounds alone. I was more worried about touching the button that made contact with Helena. I was surprised that was still on my wrist since The Incubus had seen me talking to it the day before. "So Dinah... let's see what you are afraid of, what your nightmares are made from." She blew more of that dust on me and I was out immediately.
I walked away from the bar filled with drunken losers who were trying to hit on me and into the ladies' room to find Dinah's watch was set to the screen and she seemed to have tried to get to me, but I must not have heard it. I saw shifting and saw her hands were tied wherever she was. There was screaming. "No! Helena no! I promise I will do better. Please stay." Dinah pleaded. I scowled. Then there was laughing.
"All this fear for a girl?!" said a raspy but feminine voice. "I shouldn't complain, I feel better already. I feel as I used to. Before the explosion. You are going to make The Incubus very strong, Helena Kyle. Whomever you are, you produce the best type of fear." I tried to figure out where Dinah was. Of course, the only place she was planning to go! I ran out of the bathroom and I put my index finger to my comlink.
"Barbara, I found out where Dinah is. She's in trouble." I found Jimmy Gerner, another bartender in the bar and said, "Hey, can you watch the bar for a couple of hours? I have a family emergency. Dinah's hurt." Jimmy was the one who had let Dinah into the bar when Dinah had told him she was my sister. He nodded.
"Sure. I hope she's okay."
"Me too." I said as I patted his shoulder. Then I left. "Thanks." I called over my shoulder. I ran outside to find my bike was already waiting in the nearest alley, where I had called for it to go. I said my name and hopped on. Destination: No Man's Land. I rode with my head buzzing. Dinah was, I'm guessing, sleeping. The Incubus? Sounds both ridiculous and dangerous. I know Dinah didn't just fall asleep in the stranger's home. This woman had to be who was making the metas at No Man's Land have the nightmares. "Oracle, can you look through the database for a woman who calls herself The Incubus? The one who rented apartment D53 across the street from No Man's Land?"
"I can look. What is going on?"
"I think Dinah's been captured by her."
"I'll see what I can pick up." The other end went dead as I got off of the bike. I jumped the stairs and bust down the door.
"Ah, I have company. And you must be Huntress, otherwise known as Helena Kyle. How nice of you to finally join the party." The woman untied Dinah and looked her in the eyes, which were drooped some. "You know what you have been told. She is not your girlfriend any longer. She loves another now. You know of whom I speak." Dinah's eyes darkened. Who was she speaking of? Dinah's head whipped to look at me and then she went to life, fighting me. I blocked all of her attacks, but barely. Damn, she was getting good.
"Dinah! It's me, Helena!"
"I know who you are." She said coldly as she tried to punch me. I ducked as fast as I could, and even then I barely escaped it. Where'd she learn to fight so quickly? Maybe skills get better when under hypnosis.
"I am not going to fight you!"
"Then that is your first mistake." She said automatically, as if this was rehearsed. She continued to fight me as The Incubus put powder into a gun. What the Hell are you doing? I asked her silently as I did a back flip to avoid Dinah's kick.
"Once you take off that mask, Parrot, she will not want anything to do with you. You will be of no use to her." The Incubus told Dinah. Dinah's face scrunched up, and her stare became more fierce. Her fighting got quicker. She was soon out of breath, but she didn't stop. When The Incubus' back was turned, I grabbed Dinah and kissed her. She fought me when I had grabbed her hand and brought her to me, but as soon as my lips claimed hers, she stopped fighting for a second. When I took my lips away from hers, she got a dazed look on her face, then she resumed fighting stance. Shit, I thought 'The Canary Kiss' would work this time. I thought.
"That might have worked when I was weaker, but you will not get out of this with one kiss." Dinah said fiercely. Then I saw something unexpected that made relief wash over me. She winked quickly. Ah, 'The Canary Kiss', works every time... The Incubus pointed her gun at the two of us and I put my hands up.
"Huntress? I found her. Heather Ferellini, 49. She used to be a scientist in a sleep ward of the hospitals in Gotham City when she was caught in an explosion from an experiment. It appears she was working on a sleeping solution. Apparently, she got out alive, but she weakened easily." I knew Dinah was hearing this, but was pretending to be hypnotized for The Incubus. "Well, she has been out of work for 11 years on disability." But why would she be using- I wasn't able to finish my thoughts as Dinah started kicking and punching again with less force.
"You-! She's going to whoop you good, and it will be all your fault!"
"I'm tired." Dinah said with a low tone, faking hypnotism.
"Then go to sleep!" The gun was pointed at Dinah but she used her powers to take the gun from her and point it at her.
"I don't do naps." She said. I felt the room drop a few degrees just at the tone of her voice. Dinah threw the gun against the room, and the dust came out when it hit the wall. "Where is the rest of it?" She asked.
"Why would I tell you?" Dinah walked closer to The Incubus and looked her in the eyes. I have only seen her this angry twice before, and both times was when she wanted vengeance for her mother, Black Canary's death... when she had tried to kill Al Hawk.
"Because if you don't tell me, I will use what's left in that gun and we will take a peek at what scares you." Apparently, this woman had a lot to be afraid of, so she pointed to the door closest to her. I opened it up and saw that there was allot of this powder in Heather's room, in barrels near her bed. "Where do you get the materials to make this powder? I don't think all of it is legal." I heard Dinah ask. The woman didn't say anything. Ropes went around The Incubus' ankles and wrists by Dinah's powers. "Sorry to hear that." She picked the woman up over her shoulders, took her to the bottom of the stairs, and put her on the ground there. Then she went back into the apartment and got her cane. She threw it at her feet. "The police will be here shortly." she said coldly. I watched her walk away. Then suddenly she turned to look at me, and waited as I hurried after her.
"Wow, you are dangerous when you're pissed." I told her.
"Well, she pissed me off." She replied, looking up at the sky really quickly. It was then that I realized she was fighting back tears. "She kept trying to convince me that the dream I had right before I hung out with you last night was real. I knew in the back of my mind that it wasn't, and I think I fought it for a while before she said just the right thing to make me snap."
"What exactly did you dream about?" I asked her.
"I had told you that I didn't want to be Canary anymore, and then you just walked away, angry with me. You said that you needed me as Canary and that you couldn't fight crime without me, and if I was going to leave the crime fighting scene then I better leave you as well." I frowned. She inspected me with her eyes. "I'm sorry if I left any bruises or anything."
"Ha! You? I can whoop you in the training room any day." I boasted.
"We'll see." was all she had said. It sounded like a challenge to me.
"You haven't learned from the last time, have you?" Dinah seemed to take the time to think it over, then she smiled, nodding.
"Yeah, yeah you're right." she said.
"I wouldn't hurt you though. Ever... Dinah, were you afraid that once you took off the mask and became just Dinah that I would love you less? You know, not that 'just Dinah' is less of a lovable person..."
"No, I was afraid that if I took off my mask, everything I worked for, every person I tried to prove wrong will suddenly be right. I tried to prove to you that I could make it as a superhero, but if I quit now, I will seem like a child who doesn't want to play Cowboys and Indians anymore because he fell down and got a scrap on their knee. If I quit, my mother would have been right, that I wasn't suited for this role. Also, I was afraid that one day soon this fire we have, or the fire we... had will suddenly snuff out, and we will outgrow each other because one of us wants more, or one of us wants less. I'm afraid that our relationship will be strictly business, and then nothing at all if I decide Canary can't take it anymore because Dinah is scared..." My heart sped up as I heard some of what I had worried over, and some of what she was scared of.
"Huntress, Canary. Report." Oracle said right as I was about to respond to Dinah's words. I rolled my eyes quickly.
"Dinah's safe. We'll explain later." I told her. I looked over at Dinah, and for the first time in a long time I actually stared into her eyes for longer than a couple of seconds. I could tell Dinah wanted to break the contact, but she did nothing, and neither did I. I tried to tell her at first all that I had been feeling and thinking, but Dinah's a touch telepath, and I am not, so what she saw in my eyes was a mystery to me. So I said, "Hey, you want to go get something to eat? I'm starving."
"Can we go see the children first? I just want to make sure." I nodded. We crossed the street, my arm on her shoulder and her arm around my waist, and was greeted by a scene of sleeping people everywhere. Well, everywhere except for in one bed (all of the beds were made on the floor so everyone could be there to touch for comfort) where Hunter lay. We saw all the teens huddled in one area, holding hands or touching feet for comfort, and in the rocking chairs Nichola and Gibson were holding children, their heads touching (Nichola and Gibon's, not the children's heads). It was actually a cute scene if Hunter were also to be asleep, then it would have meant everything was truly fine. Dinah walked over to him and crouched. "How are you feeling, Hunter?" Dinah whispered.
"I can't sleep."
"I see that. Anything wrong?" She asked.
"For a lie detector, you sure are lousy at it." She said playfully. Hunter shifted in the dark. Then I saw his figure sit up.
"Is everything okay now?" he asked. "People can sleep now. Does that mean it is over, the nightmares?"
"Everyone has nightmares, but these last 2 or 3 nights were nightmares created by someone. We fixed that part."
"I believe you." Hunter said to Dinah. Then he lay back down and one of the kids, about 12 years old, shifted her feet so one was now draped over his leg. Hunter didn't seem to mind it as he drifted off to sleep. Dinah took my hand and lead me back to the room where Gibson and Nichola were with the children. She took out an envelope from her belt. The envelope was so small it made a dollar look big. She placed the envelope on the desk next to Nichola's class ring and her watch. We then walked out of the building and I called for my bike, which was across the street. We rode to Sparkies, a coffee shop on the rougher side of town that I like to go to after work to sober up. Dinah and I talked about our relationship along with other things like why The Incubus was giving the children nightmares. (It turns out that after the explosion, Heather found that the powder found at the site of the explosion put people to sleep, making her research and experimenting finished. Then she found out that the powder also had something else in it that gave them nightmares, and with the added meta powers she was stronger by taking the fears of the meta kids at No Man's Land and intensified them. She had, in a way, hypnotized them to dreaming their own fears. The fears made her stronger, that was her power... sucking in the fears and use it as her own strength.) Then afterwards we just sort of walked off our meal.
On the physical level, our relationship is so-so, but on the emotional level we are 110% there. We are so there, it scares me sometimes. I don't think I have EVER let anyone so close to me, yet at the same time she has been held at arm's length. If I let her any closer, she will surely disappear, and that would kill me.
You know, talking with Helena is always interesting, but this one was emotionally exhausting. She pretty much wanted to tell me what she had been feeling about where we were, and where she'd wanted it to go. I told her about what Gabby had said to me at the Valentine's Day Dance. Each word sounded like a whiney girl telling her husband 'When we are at home you don't know how to keep your hands off of me, but in public you won't give me a second glance...'. I told her what I felt about where we were and where I'd like to see 'us' go. Neither of us mentioned a timeline of any sort. I guess we'll have to see where the road takes us. It was a nice talk none the less. At least I know that Helena doesn't want to let me go yet, and that she truly loves me. I feel stupid for doubting that. I no longer feel like Dinah Redmond. I don't even feel like Dinah Lance. Not the Dinah Lance or Redmond the people I used to know knew I was. I am different inside. My heart has been ripped out and placed back in more times that I can count, yet it still beats, and it is still beautiful, scars and all. If other knives carve into it, like the deaths of those few left around me, will it still beat? Or will it let itself bleed to death? Morbid thoughts are comforting right now. Okay, maybe not. Later.
There was a knock at my door, and since Alfred was gone because he retired, and Helena was back at work at the Dark Horse Bar, I knew my only visitor was Barbara. I turned around to find I was right. "Are you alright?" She asked me. I smiled and nodded.
"Yes, I'm fine." I told her, which was the truth. She came in more and stopped right in front of my bed where I was sitting. I watched her as she seemed to think of something to say. Actually, I think she knew what she wanted to say to me, just not how to word it.
"Dinah, how do you feel about being a superhero? Be honest." She asked me.
"I never realized how dangerous it is. I guess I thought it would be a purse snatcher here, a bank robbery there, a drunken loser on Main street... You know, nothing more than I can handle. But there were the crazy geniuses, meta crime lords, and... just things I cannot seem to handle on my own." I admitted. "There are many things that scare me, and I didn't think I'd have to face and fight all of those fears in one mission." I told her, walking over to my closet and opening the door. I stared at my alter ego, Canary, hanging there lifeless. And she will remain lifeless until I get the call from Oracle saying I have to go change in the phone booth.
"It's tough. I think I felt the same way when I first became Batgirl."
"The thing is, I'm used to saving people now. If I stopped now, someone will get murdered just that night and I will feel guilty because I could have stopped that murder. I feel I need to be out there, not just for them, but for myself as well, so I am sort of torn." I explained to Barbara. She nodded. She's been there, she knows what I'm talking about. I watched as the Canary costume seemed to tell me to put it on and set her free so she can save the innocent. I softly touched the sleeve of the suit and remembered the looks of relief that came from the 90 or more people we saved on Valentine's Day, and I knew that the nightmares have been worth it.
"I think after you get a little more of a routine going for Dinah, then the unroutinely stops in you day will not seem as bad." I shook my head.
"I think there is no such thing as a routine in this lifestyle, but I will keep Canary alive as long as their are those out there who need her." I said.
"Just keep in mind that there are people in this world that need Dinah Lance as well." Barbara patted my knee and smiled warmly.
"Like me." A new but unforgotten voice was heard at my doorway. I looked up as Barbara turned around to face Helena. She was red in the face from jumping the rooftops at her full speed. Her hair was messed up, but for once she didn't seem to mind. She walked in at the same time Barbara slipped out as silently as her chair would allow her, but since this chair was all beefed up, it was very silent. She had closed the door behind her. Helena walked to my side at once and touched my hair. I took my hand away from the suit's sleeve and picked up the mask that sat next to the gloves.
"It amazes me how this one piece of leather separates two entities, yet tames them at the same time. It enrages me and protects me, saves me and hurts me. I need it, but I don't. People need it, but I don't, yet I am the one who has it all the time. I'm trapped. I want to do the right thing for both myself and in general, but what is the right thing?" I let my mind wander as I put the mask away.
"Come on." she said. She led me to my bed and we both got under the covers. We lay in silence before Helena's soft breathing told me she's fallen asleep. I smiled as I turned off the lights with my mind.
'Good night, Dinah.'
Good night Canary.
'I mean no harm.'
'I want to do good.'
I know. You do.
'I don't want to hurt you.'
You save people.
'But I can't save you.'
That's life. I felt Helena's head get closer to me, and I put my chin on her forehead as she went still. I smiled softly, a small tug at the right corner of my lips. That's life. I'll take what I can- this moment and hopefully others like it- and run with it. I slowly shrugged. What else can I do?
|Part Five||Erin Griffin||Birds Of Prey||Main Index|