Title: The Key
by Erin Girffin
Pairing: Gabby/Dinah (eventually)
Summary: As Gabby meets Dinah, she slowly realizes that the new girl is much more than a mystery.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. Maybe later on, I'll intorduce someone new, and I own them, but the cool people, I don't.
Author's Note: This is the first really long story I have written since The Slayer of New Gotham, and I am hoping that the muses will be nice to me long enogh 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.
When we got back to school the following Monday, I was relieved. All weekend following the holiday, all I felt from my parents was guilt, remorse, and mournful emotions. I was glad to be in school and away from that. Dinah hadn't come by for our usual drive during the weekend through the city, so I was sort of trapped inside. I left for school over a half an hour early because I couldn't stand the silence of the house. I sat down on the bench next to the flagpole and watched as people trickled in one by one or two by two. I saw Jeremy Fox, who was in my Algebra class last year, and I watched him. His shoe was untied, and he was running towards one of his friends. Should he trip, his pride wouldn't be the only thing hurt. I'm sure I could have simply called out for him to tie his shoe, but what's the point of having special abilities if you're not going to use them?
I kept my head down, my hair falling lightly over my face, and I concentrated on Jeremy's steps. I tried to remember what I had done the night I got Dinah to call me, or at least, I think I had done that. I thought to him as I imagined his running footsteps, 'Jeremy, tie your shoe.'
The poor boy looked spooked, but he stopped running long enough to look down at his feet. He looked around, and after he thought no one was looking at him, he slowly bent to tie his shoe. My hands felt shakey then, and I was glad that I was sitting down. I wasn't sure if I could have stayed upright had I done that while standing, remembering the weak feeling I had when I had summoned Dinah's phone call. I kept my head down as I thought, then slowly brought my shaking hands under my chin. I had to admit, that was pretty cool. Though I know I've already thrown my thoughts out to two people, I thought it was amazing to do it on purpose and see the reaction once I had. I wished I had seen Dinah's face when she felt suddenly that she had to call me right away. Was she scared? For me?
A hand gripped my right shoulder and I must have jumped really high. Up the flagpole. "Hey, easy. I didn't mean to freak you out. Are you okay?" It was Dinah, of course, standing over me with a mischievious grin that said she had, in fact, intended to scare the be-jesus out of me. I nodded.
"Yeah. How was your break?" Dinah shrugged.
"It was pleasent," she said, "Well, once we turned off the smoke detectors and cleared the place of smoke. Shoulda known Helena's a disaster in the kitchen, but did we listen? No. We let her cook some dessert thing her mother used to make, and she put it on too high of a temperature to make it cook faster." I giggled. "What was left of it could be used to draw stick figures on the inside of cave walls." I couldn't help it, I laughed harder at that. Dinah seemed pleased with herself, as if making me laugh was her only goal for that day. "What about your holiday?" she asked me as she sat down on the bench next to me. I turned my head to look at her.
"Really good," I lied, my eyes flickering down, then back to her, hoping she wouldn't know that I was lying to her. "My grandparents on my father's side and my grandpa on my mother's side came up from the west coast and we had a really big feast. It was nice."
"Your grandparents are from the west coast?"
"Yeah, so am I. I lived in San Diego until I was eleven when I moved up here where my uncle Leonard owns a bar." I told her. I saw a look of recognition at the sound of my uncle's name, as if she already knew what I was talking about.
"I never would have guessed you for a California girl. We don't really talk much about our pasts," Dinah surprised me by saying. She sounded almost sad that we didn't, even though it was like an unspoken rule that we don't ask, don't tell about our pasts unless it comes up. At least, that is how I took it ever since Dinah told me about her mother. 'That is partly because I don't remember most of it.' I thought bitterly. Instead, I playfully rolled my eyes.
"I'm not a California girl. I ride subways, not waves. I'm terrified of water. Well, not baths and showers, but you get the idea. I don't think I ever even learned to swim because I was so scared." I told her.
"I'll keep that in mind if there is ever a pop quiz." She said sarcastically, and I stuck my tongue out at her. "Oooh, I'm hurt, I'm scared, I'm going to fall down dead because you, Gabby, have stuck your tongue out at me. Help me... Hellllp.... meee..." Dinah made a display of melting like the Wicked Witch of the West, then stood to her full height. I grinned at her. She stared at me for a second, considering me, or just starting a staring contest that I wasn't sure I was winning or losing. I certainly liked this playfullness that Dinah seemed to add to the day. It made my weekend seem worth bearing. I wondered, though, about the change of mood. What got her so happy? What could I do to keep her mood like this?
"Are you ready to walk to class? It's kind of cold out here." I nodded and slowly stood up. The shakiness was gone and I was glad for that as I walked slowly with Dinah to her class, then went to my own as the warning bell sounded.
Later in our lab class, Dinah and I sat together, whispering and passing notes when we should have been paying attention to what was on the overhead projector. Eventually, we'd forgone the notes all together, and were sitting close enough to hear the whispering between us. I must say, I really liked the intimacy we seemed to share in that space with our heads together and talking. "So, how are things with G-I-N-A?" she asked.
"I told you, nothing's going on between us." I replied.
"Then why is she staring at you?" I looked towards the black board, and sure enough, Gina was staring at me with a smile that clearly said 'You get 'er Tiger.' She quickly looked down and wrote something on her paper. When Dinah was searching in her backpack for something, probably some paper or a pencil or something to make it look like she wasn't being bad and talking to me in class, Gina held up a piece of paper that said 'G+D=?' in big bold lettering. I shook my head and mouthed deliberately, 'Nothing'.
Unfortunately, it was true, but Gina didn't seem to believe me. She wrote furiously, then held it up quickly. 'Then why are you flirting?' I frowned, my look saying that we were not at all flirting. Gina shook her head.
"Making goo-goo eyes at each other..." Dinah whispered playfully in my ear.
I tried not to shudder at the feel of her breath on my skin.
"Just like you were making goo-goo eyes at Matt while he made goo-goo eyes at his CD player..." I whispered back. Dinah laughed silently, and hit me playfully on the shoulder. I hit her back, slightly harder.
"Ow! I barely touched you, and you just socked me in the arm!" She whispered in what I'm sure would have been a whine if she was any louder.
"You're just a wuss. The extra pain was for scaring the shit out of me earlier," I said. She brought her middle and thumb fingers together and flicked me on the thigh. I hissed and rubbed it. "What was that for?"
"Fun," she replied with a grin as I glared at her, but I couldn't help but grin back as a tought occured to me. I raised my right hand as if to flick her on her shoulder but she went to block it, and as she moved both hands upward, I flicked her with my left hand on her thigh just as hard as she had done to me. "Ow!" Dinah squeaked, making the teacher, Mrs. Dean, look up at us just in time to see me lower my hands.
"Gabby, thank you for volunteering to clean Bunson burners after school today."
"Aww, damn it." It wasn't as if I had any plans for after school except for the turkey sandwhich made not so delicately with the rest of the leftovers, and my English assignment, which was to attempt to write a sonnet (I'd already started it last period and it was almost done, so I didn't need to spend a huge amount of time on it), but cleaning Bunson burners that were overused and poorly treated didn't sound like the ending to what shaped up to be a pretty good day. I heard some of the class laugh at my small outburst, and I sighed.
"I'll see you at two forty five, Miss Andrews."
"Okay," I said in a low tone.
I walked from my last class to Dinah's last class, where I usually walked her to the flagpole, to find she had already left. I searched the school a little, from my class to hers, from her locker to mine, to Ms. Gordon's classroom to the flagpole. She wasn't at any of these places. I felt sad that I didn't get to talk to Dinah before serving detention. I walked slowly, dragging myself back to the lab classroom to serve my time. Mrs.
Dean pretty much told me what to clean with and let me have at it. At three o'clock, almost on the dot, the door opened and I looked up to see Dinah in a white t-shirt and jeans with torn and faded hems on the legs. "If I got any cleaning supplies on Helena's clothes, I wouldn't live to attend your little slumber party on Friday night." I smiled.
"You went all the way home, changed clothes and came back?" I asked.
"Well, I couldn't let you take the fall because we were horseplaying. What kind of a friend would I be?"
"I'm touched." I said softly, and I meant it.
"Yeah yeah. So what are we doing?" There was a little bit of color on Dinah's face, and I was surprised to see it. She was blushing! I pretended I didn't see the blush or feel her slight embaressment.
"Uh, cleaner good, but stay away from that cabnet with them." I replied in somewhat a caveman grunt as I pointed towards the back. "Something about kaplowie."
"No more school? No more homework? No more dealing with retards who insist on calling me Zipper Girl like it wasn't SO last month?! I say kaplowie, baby!" Her enthusiasm made me smile.
"As much of a pyro as I can be at times," which was a lie, since I hated fire as much as I feared water, "I'm pretty sure that my twenty dollar a week allowance isn't enough to cover the cost of rebuilding the school, so let's keep the kaplowie to a minimum, shall we?"
"Aww..." I laughed again, and we spent the rest of that time cleaning the Bunson burners in silence.
Dinah called me later that week to inform me that she couldn't stay the night (and possibly the weekend) over that weekend. It was because she had to go to some charity event Ms. Gordon wanted her to attend. She sounded like she didn't really want to go, but in her voice it sounded like she was saying 'duty calls'. I told her that I understood, and she promised to tell me how it went. Not long after that New Gotham went insane, litterally.
Chapter Twelve (A)
As promised, Dinah called and told me about the wacky outfits that some weirdo claimed was fashionable. I listened to her voice, hearing how bored she was, but I got the feeling she was feigning boredom for my benefet, as if her having fun at that charity fashion show would upset me. Sure, I was disappointed that she couldn't stay over, but I was glad that she wasn't as bored to tears as she's made herself sound. It rained on Sunday morning, and I did homework and read. Nothing interesting happened at school the next day, just homework, run a mile, homework, homework, lunch, lab, sing a little song... But when I got home and tried to concentrate on my grammar worksheet, suddenly the buzzing that I had just started to tune out got louder. Something, I knew, was wrong.
I closed my book and sat there, concentrating on the buzzing. Inside the buzzing, I heard something that had both confused me and made my blood run cold. 'Fly away...jump...jump...roof...fly away...' Those three phrases continued, in no particular order, to run through my head, and I felt a pull towards my high school. I left my room, ready with an excuse in case my parents asked me where I was going, but when I looked around, no one was home yet. It was odd, but I wasn't completely worried. Usually, my dad got home anywhere between 3:45 and 5, depended on the traffic, and my mother would be home by about 4. I looked at the clock on the stove. It was 5:15.
'Maybe they had gone out to dinner and would call me in a little bit to tell me they were bringing me a doggie bag.' I suggested to myself. They did that sometimes, and to tell the truth, a take-out box of Chinese didn't sound half bad. As I left the house, the sky was darker, almost complete night, and I walked slowly down the street, not feeling comfortable walking alone.
"YOU!" The sudden shout made me jump. I turned back towards my house and saw Kelly on the main sidewalk as if she had run out of her house just to confont me. She seemed different. Her eyes looked slightly sunken in, she was paler than I remembered, and she looked as if she hadn't eaten in a couple of days. She was looking at me with so much hatred. "I hope you rot in Hell, where your kind belong!"
"My kind?" At first, I thought she was talking about my being gay, but it didn't make any sense to me. Kelly was always cool about that. She never even acted as if I might start hitting on her as other people I know have done. There was a look in her eyes I've never seen before, a glint that made me wonder to myself if she wasn't completely there. She walked closer to me, her pace startling. Kelly pushed me, hard. I tumbled backwards and almost lost my balance.
"You're one of them, those freaks. I know, Gabby. I know what you can do, and it disgusts me." She tried to push me again, and I grabbed at her hands.
I could hear- very faintly- her thought process, and could tell that though she'd said my name, she wasn't screaming at me, per se'. I was just there, but she didn't truly see me as her ex best friend. In her mind, I was HIM, the 'man' who hurt her, abused her in a way that made me sick even then. She wriggled in my grasp and managed to get one of her wrists free. She scratched me on my inner elbow, the only thing she could get to, and it left a nasty red mark. I was getting angry then, when before I was feeling confusion and sympathy. I knew she was crazy, which was so weird because Kelly was always so much smarter than I was, and though she did get a little nervous around some strangers, she wasn't ever someone I considered a future resident at Arkham. This had to be something new, something that must have resulted because of her rape about seven months ago. I thought she was slowly but surely getting over it. Was she having some sort of relapse? Did all of her memories and emotions from that night all come suddenly, and it caused some sort of breakdown? Crazy or not, Kelly knew that I had abilities somehow. "You and your girlfriend both will burn. Burn... Burn..." She repeated this word as she continued to fight me. I let go of her other wrist and she advanced with an ear splitting scream. She ran towards me again. I moved aside a little and pushed her shoulder as she got closer, making her lose some of her momentum. She seemed to trip over her own feet and fell, scraping her hands on the sidewalk. She didn't get up. She just sat there, trying to catch her breath.
"I didn't know until a couple of weeks ago what I truly am, but if your behavior towards me means you knew before I did... What does that make you?"
She thought about what I said, and I watched her face screw into a look of sheer pain. She sniffled and tears came rapidly.
"I'm- I'm TAINTED!! I'm..." She didn't finish her sentance. She wailed and reached out for me. "I... Gabby-" I just stood there watching her, unsure what to do. My heart went out to her- it really did, but I was afraid she would try to attack me again. I slowly bent to help her up. She scrambled to her feet, climbing me as she did so, and I let her lean on me. "He hurt me,"
"I know. You told me." I said in a soothing voice. I saw the man's face in my head, and I had a hard time swallowing. He was a big guy, and he'd gone to our school before he was arrested. He was a senior and had asked Kelly to prom. He didn't dance with her all night, and then when he was taking her home, he suddenly forced himself upon her. He was unbelievably strong... It wasn't until I got home from school later that week and saw the cops at Kelly's house that she told me what had happened. Images came to my mind.
This guy in a letterman's jacket smiling flirtatiously at me and asking me- er, Kelly if I was still on for prom. He seemed so normal, so nice when I had met him. 'One thing you you have to learn about New Gotham, Dinah:
things aren't always as they seem.' I suddenly thought about Dinah's first night here in New Gotham. That sentance that Jerry said echoed through me.
Dinah had almost been attacked as well the first night she was here.
"He- Gabby... It hurt so bad." The tears came as quickly as before. "I hurt you be- because he hurt me. I- I-" She couldn't say anymore.
"Shh... It's okay, Kels," I said, hoping her elementary school nickname would help calm her some. We slowly started to walk towards her house. "It's just a scratch." Instantly after I said that, the image of the Huntress woman holding her arm filled my head, and I felt that guilt. I closed my eyes and the image faded away. I wondered why Dinah was on my mind now. I hoped she was okay, but I had to make sure Kelly was going to be okay first.
"Here's what we're going to do, okay?" Kelly looked up from the ground at me. "We're going to get you home, okay? Respond and tell me you understand."
I told her, speaking as if to a child, which is what I felt she reverted to in her sudden fear and anguish.
"Okay," she said meekly.
"We're going to get you home and we're going to get you into a bath, okay?"
"And we're going to wash you up, and get you into some pajamas, and you're going off to sleep. Does sleep sound good, Kels? Does it? Respond, Kelly." I said again when she remained quiet.
"Okay- yes. Good." She responded almost absently. It scared me. She was looking at me, but then... she wasn't really looking at me. She was almost looking THROUGH me, which was almost creepy. I continued to talk to her.
"You're going to sleep and dream of flowers. Tell me your favorite flower, Kels." Kelly looked at me as if I would supply the answer. "You're favorite flower are roses, right?" She nodded, though she seemed to have stopped listening. "Roses are the state flowers, right Kels?" Her head lulled to the side and rested on me as I was almost dragging her now. "Kelly, I need you to help me. Help me, Kelly. Hold yourself up for a little bit. We're almost home." She was so exhausted. I didn't think her small attack on me would tire her out so much, but I studied her frail form as we walked, her shoes almost dragging on the concrete. I hoisted her up when I felt her dragging more, and slipping down my body a little bit. "Kelly, pick yourself up. I can't hold you. We're almost there. You'll be in bed soon."
"Be- Bed." Kelly said with a far away voice.
"Yes Sweety, bed. Come on." That seemed to get her to move a little more on her own, and the weight was lifted from me a little bit. "That's my girl.
Come on." I urged her again. The rest of the way seemed like blocks away even though I hadn't even crossed the street to get me closer to the school when Kelly had attacked me. A van had pulled into Kelly's driveway and two white/blonde haired boys stepped out, looking our way. They looked at Kelly as if she was evil, almost the same look she had given me only minutes before. She hadn't picked her brothers up from the looks of it, and her parents had to go do it on their way home from work. Kelly's parents (her mother and stepfather) both worked in a law firm in upper Bludhaven, where they'd met, and it was almost 2 hours' drive each way. Her stepdad asked what was wrong, but Kelly clung to me suddenly and didn't say anything. I could only guess that for a second she was seeing him as the 'man' as well.
He looked to me for answers.
"She's not feeling well. I'm just going to get her to bed." I led her up the stairs to the bathroom. When I caught sight of the bathtub, I froze. I could hear the screams and the sound of five or six year old me crying. A tug on my arm made me look at Kelly.
"No bath. Just bed... please." She said this as if to give a command, then remembered her manners. I could feel that she knew I was scared, even though she didn't exactly know why, and was trying to make it a little easier on me. Plus she was really tired and would have fallen asleep in the bath tub, and there would have been no way for me to get her out of it. I wouldn't have called for her stepdad's help because of what Kelly was thinking about in her state, and we would have been stuck. I nodded, and we walked to her room, and helped her sit down on her bed. Then, I went to close the door.
Before it was latched completely, I turned to see that Kelly had already taken her shirt off.
"Oh-" I said in surprise, seeing her ribs before turning quickly to her dresser. I took out her Care Bears pajama pants and white t-shirt and put them next to her on the bed. Half naked, she took them and started to put them on. She seemed out of it, like in a trance. I helped her get under the covers and sat carefully next to her. Her head was on the pillow looking up at the ceiling; I stared at her for a second. Slowly her head rolled over to look up at me. We stared in silence, and I felt she was struggling to find her words. Any words that would make sense to me.
"Thank... Thank you."
"Hey, what are friends for?" I asked, and she looked away from me after that. Tears were back in her eyes. She was sad and sorry about what had happened between us, not only outside just then, but in our friendship in general, but she couldn't find the words to say anything.
Finally, she said, "I'm sorry-" but I cut her off.
"Hey, hey, hey. Shh... It's okay. It'll be okay. We'll talk in the morning,
or- or after school. We'll talk and we'll figure it out."
"Okay." I spoke to her after that, just talking, telling her jokes, asking if she remembered this or that, images of our childhood together as paired tetherball champions in elementary school, and the 3 hours that we had become a singing duo called the Tetherball Twins (her idea, not mine). She drifted off to sleep, and finally the fear and sadness left her face. I waited until I felt that she was calm before I slowly tucked her in as to not disturb her. I left her room, turning out the lights and slowly closing the door with a soft thud. At the bottom of the steps, I looked at her parents.
"She's okay now. She just... needs to sleep," I told them. They nodded, confused.
"Do you know what happened?" her mother asked.
"No, I don't, but she'll be okay." 'I hope.' I hadn't the heart to bring back the memories of the police being at the house for a couple of hours that one night as they learned that one of the worst things ever to happen to their child took place. I didn't want to tell them that she might have broke down due to thoughts of that night he'd raped her. It was silent there, as I could tell those thoughts came to them anyway. I had to get out of there. I felt bad for wanting to leave them with a problem like that, especially when it involved one of my best friends. "Look, I've got to go, but Kels is asleep. I'll talk to you all later." I felt bad that they wouldn't get any real explaination from me about what happened. I, better than anyone, knew how it felt to be left in the dark, but I, myself didn't know exactly what happened. All I had were guesses and theories.
"Well, thank you for getting her into bed. You're a good friend." She said.
I smiled and tried not to wince at that. After she had said that they showed me out, and I felt the fresh air on my lungs and almost felt relief. Things were okay.
Chapter Twelve (B)
As soon as I made my way to the main portion of the sidewalk, I remembered why I'd left my house to begin with as I heard 'Roof.. fly away... fly away... jump... fly... roof... roof... roof...' I ran to the school this time. The closer I got, the louder this chanting seemed to get. I felt tired after only two blocks, but I kept running. Someone's thinking about jumping from the roof of the high school from what I could tell, but I had to make sure. I saw a figure moving around on the roof of the high school, and I tried to speed up my running. On the ground, a man was running, screaming things like, "Go away! I haven't even seen Forrest Gump!"
Another man chased after the first, yelling, "But Tom, I love you! You're my idol! Tom, come back!" When he saw me, however, he screamed, "Oh my god, Madonna, I'm your biggest fan! My favorite song is 'Like A Prayer'! You're my idol!" I stopped running from him when he gained on me. He, too, stopped running and stood in front of me. "Man, you sing great AND you run fast! Can I have your autograph?" I sighed, looking around.
"Sure, you can- Oh my god, is that David Spade?!" The man looked in the direction I had suddenly pointed and he started running that way, as I'd hoped he would.
"Oh my god, David Spade! I haven't seen anything you've been in, but I'm your biggest fan! You're my idol, man!" The poor guy was chasing a car, and would never catch up to it until it stopped. The weird thing was, he didn't seem to get tired from chasing his 'celebrities'. He wasn't gasping for breath as I was, and he didn't break into any sort fo sweat. It made me wonder if he had abilities as well. I hurried on towards the school, where I saw people breaking windows on cars, wandering around confused, one woman screamed for her baby, and everyone acting bizarre. No one else approached me as I got to the school building, thankfully. There was so much noise. The doors were locked on the school, but every window was completely broken, leaving very small jagged edges on the sides. 'Roof... fly-roof...fly...
jump-jump-jump-fly...' Those thoughts brought me into action. I crawled through a broken window, feeling shards and jagged edges against my legs and arms. As far as I could tell, there was nothing deeper than the scratch Kelly had given me earlier. I ran through the halls. It was a mess inside.
Papers were everywhere; signs and posters were ripped from the walls and scattered carelessly on the floor near where they once hung. Lockers were dented in and/or had words of jibberish spraypainted on them. Windows on the classroom doors had spiderweb shaped cracks, but they weren't completely broken like the windows on the outside of the school. Inside classrooms, chairs and desks were strewn everywhere, most bent and broken. More words of jibberish were written on the black and white boards, and in my lab class, I was shocked to see Bunson burners I'd cleaned only days ago (with Dinah by my side) useless due to the now cut cords.
I ran past it and across the career counsilor Mrs. North, and found she was the culprit breaking the glass. Well, not all of it. She had help from our school mascot, that is, someone in a suit of armor holding a baseball bat made of metal. "Gabby! Help me break all of the windows! The devil can't enter this world if all the glass is broken!" The suit of armor started to scream incoherant thoughts while he waved his baseball bat, not caring about what he hit, as long as he hit SOMETHING. I stayed out of his arm's reach.
"I'd start a revolution if I could get up in the morning!!!" He suddenly screamed. It was the only thing I heard him say that made a lick of sense. I frowned in thought, thinking, 'That would make a really awesome rock song.'
I started to walk away and Mrs. North grabbed my arm, looking at me as if I was betraying her.
"I'm pretty sure there are a couple of windows up on the roof. I am going to go look for them." I told her quickly, shrugging off her hand. Mrs North gasped in realization.
"Oh my goodness! Good thinking, Gabby! I never thought of that. Anything can be a portal to our realm. There," She pointed suddenly behind me, and I turned to see a door that said 'Do not enter. Alarm will sound', and I walked to it. I opened the door despite the sign, and sure enough there was a loud buzzing not unlike that of the fire alarm when we had a fire drill.
"FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE!!" I heard someone, most likely the suit or armor, scream, but the door closed behind me and the sounds of running and screaming muffled. I raced up the stairs and opened the door that was at the top. 'Fly-fly- fly- fly- fly- fly- awaaaaaay...' I saw a girl standing on the ledge looking down. She was shifting from foot to foot.
"Come out. Please. Come out. Come out." I recognized the voice instantly.
"G-Gina?" The girl turned around slowly.
"Nooo," she said playfully. "My name's Margaret Gina Halliwell, but you're close!" Then her eyes widened. "Hey, I know you! You're... that girl... I know?" She ended her sentance sounding confused, as if she really didn't know me.
"Yes, I am that girl you know. Gabrielle Madison Andrews. People call me Gabby." I told her, stepping closer to her. She watched me with a big smile.
"Yes-yes!" she said excitedly. "Gabrielle Madison Andrews. Beautiful name.
I know you well." I could tell that she didn't really, but wanted to be nice. I stopped walking towards her when she leaned over the edge and looked down, bouncing as if to get rid of the cold. It felt as if the air was really chilly, and I wondered why she was in shorts and a hoody. Had she come from track practice? Was she even in track?
"So Margaret," It felt odd calling her that after being used to calling her Gina, " What are you doing up here?" Gina's smile faded completely.
"Gabby, I am trying to get home. My sisters need me. My wings won't come out!" Gina was frusterated. "Something's wrong."
"How do you know that your sisters are in trouble?" Gina watched me for a second, then started to sort of chant.
"Shadows within show your side,
If there's something you must hide.
I do not wish, but fear I must,
Find if this girl is one to trust."
Her eyes closed and she moved her hands towards me. 'Oh no' I thought, 'She thinks she is a Charmed One.' I'd seen so far that night that playing a long seemed to keep people at least harmless, so I pretended that all of what she had just done was real. I nodded. "Wow... Powerful." I said in amazement, hoping it didn't sound sarcastic. She smirked as if to say 'I know.' She stared for a second, then nodded at me.
"When people started to act strange about a couple of hours ago, I tried to call my sisters. Maybe a demon or warlock was behind this."
"That sounds... logical, actually." I said, more to myself than to her. It was better than any explaination I could come up with.
"No one answered the phone, so I got worried. All three of them have cell phones. I called each one, the house phone, P3... nothing. No one answered, and once I got this messege saying the number doesn't exsist. I knew something was wrong then. They must be affected by this demon, so I tried to scry for them. I got nothing. Maybe I'm too far away or maybe-" She didn't finish what she was going to say, and I could feel that the thought of losing her 'sisters' really hurt her. I felt fear and anger at herself. To her, it was real. So real that I couldn't help but feel bad for her. I decided against asking about the Power of Three or even why none of her names started with a P, as were the rules of the show. I was curious about one thing, though.
"I didn't know that the Charmed Ones could fly," I said. Gina shook her head.
"My sisters can't, Gabby, but I can. I am not sure why, exactly. I have wings that are inside the skin on my shoulders, and they carry me just like a bird's, but they just won't- COME OUT!!" She screamed the last part, making me jump.
"Easy! Hey... don't force them. I have a feeling it will hurt like hell if you did that." I said, still playing along. I was getting worried at how close she was to the edge, and I didn't want her to fall. "Come closer to me. We'll do an excersise to try and get your wings out." Gina's look was suspitious. "Your spell proved me trustworthy, and you already told me something that if I weren't, I could tell whoever I am working for, which I am not. I'm just a mortal girl. Come on, I don't bite." She watched me closely as she walked away from the edge. As she got closer to me, I said, "Now, in any book or movie where someone's got special abilities of some sort, their mentors have them meditate- or something like that- to get them in touch with their powers. Pretend I'm your Yoda, and we'll see if that works. Close your eyes." She doesn't. "Look, the more you doubt me, the longer it will take for you to get to your sisters. They need you, like you said, but if you waste what precious time you've got to save them, then consider them dead," I told her. She had this look of horror on her face as if she never expected the harsh words to come from me. I didn't even expect to put it that way, but it got her to close her eyes. From there, I just pretended I knew what I was doing, when all I was really doing was just keeping her with me, that way I knew she couldn't jump, and she would at least be safe. "You said they are on your shoulders?"
"Yes, my shoulder blades." I nodded. I put my hand flat on her shoulder blades, fingers spread apart. I saw that there were two large slits on her back, as if they'd been cut, but it seemed too neat to have been done by Gina's hand.
"Okay. Eyes closed?" She nodded. "Good. Do you feel my hands?" Another nod.
"Okay, concentrate on the feel of my hands." I tried to imagine what it would be like to have wings that were inside the skin like Gina claimed. "Do you feel your wings inside you?"
"All the time."
"Okay... okay." I said as my mind blanked. "Okay, concentrate on your wings. Feel them move slowly... slowly move..." I said. "Now, breathe, and relax everything. Imagine your wing tips reaching upwards towards my hand...
"Gabby, move!" Gina shoved me to the side just as two large beautiful black wings protruded from the shoulder blades through the slits on her jacket.
"Oh my god, it worked! Thanks for your help, Gabby." She ran, and I couldn't stop her movement; it was so quick. She jumped from the roof, and I took a few steps toward the ledge with her name on my lips before she appeared before me, her wings flapping and lifting her higher until we were at eye level, her in the air and me on the rooftop. "I'll tell my whitelighter- who is also soon to be my brother in law- to speak to The Powers That Be on your behalf. May they shine brightly upon you for helping me save my sisters, Gabrielle Madison Andrews." It was then that I snapped my mouth shut. With Gina in the air, there was no way I could stop her from going to San Fransisco, and part of me was tempted to ask her for a ride to San Diego since she was on her way to the West coast. At least then I might have a better chance of finding the Institute. All I could do was give her a warning.
"Margaret, be careful where you fly. People- warlocks will see you and know who you are. Maybe a... a flying Charmed One is the secret weapon your sisters need." Gina thought about this. "At least change into some dark clothing and fly high above the buildings so no one can easily see you."
Gina nodded, and I could only watch as she flew away like she had wanted to all night.
*This chapter brings the story's rating up to PG-13 all because Gabby's got a potty mouth. Bad Gabby.*
Okay, so Gina having wings? Way cool. I stood on the rooftop wondering if I should have said or done something differently. By telling her to fly high above buildings, was I only encouraging her to fly to San Fransisco, where the show 'Charmed' took place? If I hadn't pretended to believe her, would she have attepted to jump as a defence mechanism, hoping her wings would come out in mid-fall? Where would she be in an hour? Two? Would she still be in the state? How fast can she fly? I walked back down the stairs when I felt some snow fall on my cheeks, and I found I wasn't dressed for the occasion. It was quiet in the school now. No one screamed or ran or sang or destroyed things. No one was in the building at all except for me. It was dark and creepy. I almost felt better when people were running amuck and calling me Madonna. I walked home at a quick pace to find the house exactly as I had left it. My notebook was open, my worksheet, unfinished, lay there unmoved on top of my English book.
I walked into the living room and turned on the news. The clock on the wall read twelve minutes to eight. I couldn't have been gone that long, could I? Did it take that long to put Kelly to bed? Did it really take forever to ditch 'celebrity guy' and Mrs. North long enough to try to convince Gina not to jump (which hadn't worked)? Nothing was on TV but a pair of black eyes with golden, unaturally moving swirls. The owner of the eyes spoke, but it was muffled. I turned off the TV."What a crazy day- uh, no pun intended. Where are my parents?" I checked the phone to see if they had tried to call the house, but all I got only a messege from Uncle Leonard who spoke of pixies being after him because he owed them money... or something like that. Then I made a sandwhich in silence. I didn't like being alone in the house. I wasn't used to it. I'm pretty sure my parents stayed with me at home in case I had some sort of relapse and somehow got my memories back, but as far as I know, I never did. The only thing I could think to do as the night replayed in my head was to turn on the proch light in case my parents did get home safely, go to my room, and I began to type.
Monday, November 30, 2002- The whole city went insane. Kelly knows about my abilities, might have that ability to seek out others like us, like me. Heard someone thinking about jumping from the roof. It was Gina. Thought she was a Charmed One out to save her sisters. Has real wings (!!!!) and is also one with abilities.
After I typed that, I sat on my bed and thought about that night, worrying about my parents. Had they also been effected by the craziness? Like Uncle Leonard had? Why wasn't I? I just sat there, back against the wall, watching the minutes on my Betty Boop clock tick away. It was too quiet, but having any music would have distracted me from the clues I had just gotten for this mystery... or maybe these were clues to a whole new mystery- a mini mystery, well, not so mini, if you ask me- that also needed to be solved. Though I watched the clock for what felt like hours, I don't know if I actually saw it most of that time. I sat, I stood, I paced, I lie down, I tossed, I turned... My mind seemed to do the same. 'Mom, Dad, whewre ARE you?' I thought. Finally, I took a lesbian romance novel off of my shelf and began to read. No, not read, stare at the words and watch as they blurred together. 'Thesunwashotwhenshewalkedoutside...' I needed something to keep my mind off of things. It didn't quite work, but I was soon lulled to sleep once I finally could get a handle on the summer day described in the book.
I stand before the door, and I am angry. I grab the doorknob. It is locked, like I knew it would be. My anger becomes almost wild as I turn the knob both ways to force it open. Then I pound on the door, screaming "Let me in! Tell me what you know! Let me in!!" From behind the door, the voices are loud, yet I still only understand,
'No yet, Gabby... Not yet...'
"Why not now?! Let me in! Give me back my memories! Tell me what you know! Tell me why he's sorry! God DAMN it, let me in!" My rage scares me, but I need to open this door.
'Not yet, Gabby, not-'
An urgent knocking scared me out of my sleep, and I was grateful. I could feel my rage still, and just like in my dream, it scared the hell out of me. 'Have I ever been that pissed off?' I wonder to myself. 'Not in my recent memories, the ones I still have.' I thought, answering my own question as I walked through the house towards the front door. The clock on the stove, the only light in the house then, said it was almost fifteen minutes to five a.m. As the rage slowly died down, I stood hesitantly at the front door. I was afraid to open it. It could easily be Uncle Leonard, but because of the fact that he hadn't just opened the door and let himself in, it could have been the police coming to tell me that the craziness had affected them in some way and they were either in jail or dead. I turned on a light and looked through the peep hole. It was Dinah. She had been crying, and even before I opened the door I felt the static, just like the first time I heard the humming, only it was all very strong, and the buzzing again got louder in my head. I closed my eyes trying to get used to the feeling. When I saw her face, she looked as if she had just wiped away a fresh batch of tears.
"Dinah." I said, surprised she was there so early in the morning, but glad she was okay. She wore a leather jacket that I had never seen on her before, and there was a cut on her hand not unlike the ones I got from the glass in the school. There was a red mark on her eye, and it looked almost like she'd gotten hit in the face a couple of times. There were tiny glass shards in her hair and some on her shoulders that looked almost like diamonds in the porch light. There was a little bit of blood on the shirt inside her jacket, but I couldn't see its source and hoped that it wasn't hers. I also noticed a tiny rip on the right knee of her pants. She looked like she was in quite the scuffle.
"I'm sorry to wake you-"
"No-no, it's okay. The whole city went fuckin' mad, and I've been here most of the night scared. Are you okay? You look like you just got out of a fight." I asked as I let her inside. She didn't answer me for a long time. She was in deep thought, and I could tell she was thinking about Ms. Gordon, and she felt bad for her. She almost pitied her, knowing that Ms. Gordon wouldn't want that pity. "Dinah?" She looked up at me from her gaze on the floor. She swallowed many times, trying to get the right words.
"Yes," she whispered, her voice slightly louder with each word that followed, "it has been... a- a crazy night. Gabby, I can't stay long. I have to get back to the Cl-" She stopped. "The clan. My family. I have to help clean up." I nodded in understanding, and was about to ask if she would like me to help so I could get something to do, but she continued to speak.
"I..." she couldn't seem to look at me, almost as if she didn't have the strength needed. "I just came to see if you were okay, and- and to..." I felt dread. Whatever it was she was going to say to me, it wasn't something she wanted to say. I had an inkling I already knew. "To tell you that-" She looked up at me suddenly, and her eyes glittered with tears yet to be shed.
"Gabby, we can't be friends anymore." Though a split second before that moment I knew what she had to say, I hadn't expected my head and my heart to start pounding painfully at different rhythems. I put my left knuckle to my pounding forhead, and made my elbow squeeze against my chest as a way to try in vane to ease both pains.
"Can..." I couldn't think of what to say. "Why?" I asked in what sounded like a kitten's mew. I walked slowly to the dining room table and sat down in a chair, resuming that position. Dinah knelt on the floor by the chair and looked up at me. I felt a growing sense of grief from the both of us.
"I want you to know... that everything but the way I will always charish the friendship you've shown me the last two months was a lie." I looked down at her from the side of my fist. I was confused by this statement, even though I could feel it was the truth. "There's so much you don't know about me, Gabby. So much has happened- will continue to happen that I cannot tell you about. My life and my mind is so messed up that I'd only continue to hurt and disappoint you. I would rather do it just once, then you can move on and be with friends that can be honest with you, than to reel you into a vicious cycle." I couldn't move or speak, trying my hardest to understand what she was trying to say to me, what she was really meaning by her explaination. She used my knee to help her up, and then she hugged me, her head going over my right shoulder, and both of our right cheeks touched. My fist was about an inch from my face then. "I know you, Gabby," she murmured in my ear, "I know you'll understand and forgive me." Dinah then moved away a little, placed a lingering kiss on my forehead, and stood up completely.
"Someday." She watched me, our eyes meeting, and we stared at each other. Then she walked away from me and let herself out.
For a long time I sat there unable to do anything but hold my head, thinking about everything that had happened. I felt more alone and confused than ever. Everything replayed, and then my mind got to the part that had just happened, I felt tears run down my cheeks. I put my head down on the table and I began to sob, which only made my head and my heart hurt worse.
She stands at the end of the hallway. My heart continues to pound. My head feels numb. She motions for me to go to her. I'm afraid of her leaving me again, so I stand where I am, not moving. She turns and touches the door. My door. I can hear the voices now, even down the hallway, and they are so clear. 'Now Gabby.' At this, I run. "NOW?!" I only take one step, and I am there in front of the door. In front of her. She looks at me with sad eyes.
"I'm so sorry, Gabby," I don't know what to say to her, so I say nothing to that, and turn towards the door. I try the knob, but as always, it is locked. I pound on it only once.
"Stop lying to me!" I scream, feeling that rage come back, "For once in my life, stop lying to me!" A hand is on my shoulder. She looks into my eyes, saying nothing at first.
"I'm so sorry, Gabby." She removes her hand from my shoulder and touches the door again. Then her hand, arm and shoulder all disappear through it, then everything else save her other arm up to her elbow. She motions again for me to follow. I try to grab her hand, but it isn't solid. The door, however, is. I watch as my hand goes through hers, and scrapes against the door. I hear a clicking sound, and I look to see the handle rattling rapidly, the it suddenly stops. Nothing. All is still for a moment, and I am scared to move.
"NOW GABBY!" It is so loud, it scares me and excites me at the same time. I slowly reach for the doorknob again and turn it. It's unlocked! Quickly, I push it open and see all white. Bright white. I have to shield my eyes from it. Suddenly, I hear a scream. "DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDYYYYYYYY!!!"
*Okay, from this point on, I am going to stray a little bit from canon. I didn't want to, but the story wouldn't have progressed as well if the whole city just went back to normal and was peachy keen, nor would it have been a believable story if it had, so in memory of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in which I dedicate this chapter to all the victims and survivors, I hope you like the chapter. ~Erin*
My mouth and throat were dry, my head and heart still ached (but the pain wasn't quite as explosive anymore), and it was quiet when I woke up. Too quiet. There was no ticking of the clock, no sound of movement inside the house or on the sidewalk, and most importantly, no humming, buzzing, whispers or murmurs. After learning about the Institute, it was almost a companion when I wasn't around Dinah, and now that Dinah's gone from my life and my parents were missing, it would've been nice to hear a little humming. It was the classic case of not knowing what you had until it was gone.
I lifted my head and slowly stretched. My neck was stiff, and my hands had fallen asleep. I cracked my neck, and though I winced at the sound, it made my neck feel better. I rested my hands limply on the table and looked at the clock while I waited for the 'pins and needles' feeling to go away. Eleven twenty-four. I stood up, feeling my back crack a little as well. I walked to my room, passing my parents' door and I quickly looked away. I grabbed my blanket from my bed, not caring about the book that fell to the floor. Wrapping the blanket around my shoulders, I went back into the living room. I sat on the couch with my upper body draped over the arm, my feet tucked under me, and I reached for the remote, unsure if I really wanted to know what had happened the night before, or anyone's guess on the matter. Sighing, I pressed the red power button."... says that about sixty-two percent of New Gotham's population was affected by some strange force that caused them to go wild through-out the city. Kevin Trowbridge is with us now on location at Wayne Enterprises' Coorprate Building, Kevin?"
"Yes, I am here in Upper New Gotham where footage was taken of an unknown man who attempted to break into the building." A black and white image of a small young man, maybe twenty-five at the oldest, came on the screen. He was banging on the door, and the camera shook. "No one knows what caused this phenomenon, or why, but the effects of this will have a lasting one on the city. Joan?"
"Thank you Kevin..." I watched as the news went on and on like that for over an hour. Images of missing children, pets, parents and friends flooded the left side of the screen while on the right half, images of all the damage in various neighborhoods. Police, firefighters, EMT, and the media we having a field day. Each minute something was lost, found, just barely survived, everyone's confused and only thirty something percent of the population remembered anything. Those that weren't effected were baffled as to why we weren't. Like me, they watched the madness, and most fled their homes when it got close to them. I was lucky that no one, as insane as they were, had hurt me. They were scarey as hell, but harmless.
Others weren't so lucky. Almost two hundred people so far were found dead, either in their homes, in the homes of strangers, in their cars, or even in the middle of the street. Many seemed to easy to explain, (some ran into the street, and an old couple died in their sleep because of a gas leak), but others were murders with no motives. It was hard to see a lot of what was shown on the screen. Children so much younger than me searching helplessly for their mothers, and instead of offering a hand, the people just stood there filming the whole thing. These children didn't know how to go about finding their parents, when I at least had a cell phone. New Gotham's already high homeless rate grew ten fold in the course of twenty four hours. I could hardly stand to watch anymore, but I made myself. I felt I had to. Something told me that there was a clue somewhere in the news segments.
Through all the death and destruction, there was some good news. By about twelve thirty, the news reports said that groups ranging from five to fifty were being organized that very moment to clean up, mostly in the downtown areas where most of the damage was. There was a speech of sorts made by one of the buisness owners who was donating items from his slightly damaged store, stating that if the city worked together and used teamwork like they had when there was that big earthquake, the it could be rebuilt. 'New Gotham has risen from the ashes before' he'd said, 'and it can easily do so again.'
Inspired by that, people seemed to call in left and right, donating everything from a hundred dollars to blankets to spare anything. Even homes were donated, allowing some of the now homeless people to bunk up until things settle down. Vans were loaded up with brooms, garbage bins and trash bags, ready to go to each of the larger organized cleaning groups. School buses rounded up those who were homeless and brought them to an abandoned building downtown that had once been a school. A thrift store donated clothes and other items. It gave me hope. Humanity wasn't completely out to destroy itself. Most of us just wanted to live a happy normal exsistance. What I saw on the screen not only made my pain seem like a childish tantrum, but it also made me hopeful that if a city in despair can just pick itself up and attempt to run again, then surely I can do the same with my life. It made me want to do something, anything to help in some way.
When I saw that a cleaning crew had been organized at my high school, I got off of the couch and turned the TV off. I went to my room and spread the blanket over my bed, then changed my mind and took it off again. I folded the blanket and set it on the floor. I went to my dresser and rifled through my clothes. I was amazed at how many shirts and pants I still had even from when I lived in San Diego. I never wore them unless it was laundry day, and it was only taking up space. Those went on top of the blanket, folded. I got out a change of clothes and went to the bathroom. Though the water stung as it flowed down my body, I felt as if some of the hot water was washing away some of the night before, the pain and the confusion. I changed into a white T-shirt that said San Diego on it, and jeans, then went to my room to grab the clothes and blanket. I put my hair back in a pink bandana I found in my dresser right before my shower, and I felt I was ready to go.
I left the house (after calling my parents and getting nothing, then leaving them a note to call me in case they got home before I did) with our box of trash bags, our broom and dust pan, and bag of donated items. I don't know why, but doing this made me feel better. It gave me something to do so that I didn't think about Dinah or the fact that my parents hadn't called. Nor did Uncle Leonard. I called his house, but got nothing. It was disconnected or no longer in service, the female operator voice had said, which made me wonder if he unplugged it during his fight with the pixies.
I hadn't walked more than a block, around the area where Kelly and I had our scuffle the night before, when I could hear the people talking and wondering what was going on. As I waited for the white pedestrian symbol, I felt a lot of grief, sadness, anger, confusion, guilt, and a little bit of hope from across the street. I reeled from it a lttle bit. This was new and continuous, when before it would just linger for a moment, then fade. 'Hey, there's Gabby. I'm glad she's okay.' I turned to see Matt Kendall on the other side of the street. He was watching me from his spot on the outside of the crowd.
'What's going to happen next?' I heard someone else think. I've never heard thoughts from this far before. I saw the crosswalk symbol change, and I walked closer. Images and thoughts filled my head, and I shut my eyes to try to single some of them out.
'...gone... It's all gone-' A flash of a car wreck seen the night before- A memory of a kitten for someone's birthday played like a black and white movie. Whoever the memory belonged to, their motto must have been think happy thoughts, or maybe this was just their way of coping-
'Gabby looks so much different with her hair up like that. I like it.' I was not sure who that was from, but I smiled. A picture of a little girl, no older than nine years old with long black hair and dark hazel, almost brown eyes cut through my smile. The grief I felt was so powerful, and somehow farmiliar to me.
'Who was he? I never spoke to him, and now he's dead? That sucks. He looked like such a happy guy...'
'...hope she's okay. Please be okay...'
I carefully walked through the crowd as they seemed to wait for something. A speech of some sort to be given by one fo the faculty. There was a table set up near the flagpole, and I walked up to it, hoping it was a spot to donate things. I was right, and I set my bag down. The girls running the table were juniors. I knew them to be on the softball team last year, but I didn't ever talk to them, though I saw them around all the time. I think one of them even lived a block or two away from me. One of the girls smiled sadly and said their thanks, and I nodded my head. I stood and looked around, listening to thoughts of concern and fear, trying to block out the pictures and scenes in my head. Eventually, someone stood on the donation table, and I was surprised that it held his weight. He called out to us in the crowd.
"I would like to thank you all for coming out this afternoon. Your support is appretiated and very much needed. Many of you- the students- know me as Mr. Nye, 'not to be confused with the Science Guy'. Before we begin splitting up into groups and cleaning, I would like to have a moment of silence for the so far nineteen students and four staff who have unfortunately passed on last night." 'Nineteen students and four staff?! That many?' I thought alarmed, and that was only in the high school. 'Who knew how many children died last night.' I tried to push away the hazel-eyed girl from my head. I heard similar thoughts around me. I hung my head in silence. I heard prayers as Mr. Nye named off the nineteen students. Some of them I knew, and I was shocked to hear they were gone, but I think it was the mention of one faculty member that made my tears come: Mr. Wade Brixton.
Mr. Brixton was found dead that morning next to a Dumpster with one stab wound in his stomach. He, I knew, would be missed by the entire school. He was the type of staff member who everyone knew because he did his best to get to know you. He'd be heard in the halls asking some chick about her new puppy, or a freshman about his classes. I talked to him once or twice, and about a week or two after I met Dinah, he stopped me in the halls and asked me if I heard about the DVD set of Xena coming out soon. I told him I didn't, and he admitted to thinking about me when he had saw it in a magazine. It was impressive that he knew that little about me and still thought of me when the small subject came up. In a place filled with uncertainty like a high school, you needed to know someone gave a damn about you there. That someone was Mr. Brixton. How can someone that cool be dead so young?
After the silence was broken, people were put into groups of ten. I was assigned the sidewalks, since I'd brought my own broom, and I began to sweep the glass near the entrance where I had climbed through the windows the night before. 'Sweep the sidewalk, forget the craziness. Sweep the sidewalk, forget the craziness...' I thought over and over again, but the thoughts, though not so many at once, still came to my head.
I concentrated on the sidewalk and the slowly building pile of glass until I heard, 'I killed him. I killed Wade. I caused all of this damage.' The guilt and grief was so strong with those odd words that I had to look up and search for the source of the thoughts. I just had to. Immediately, I saw Ms. Gordon, Dinah, and the woman known as Huntress in my dream- well, Dinah's memory. I took a step back on instinct as they approached me. All of them were thinking about the night before. None of them were effected by the craziness except for the Huntress woman- the infamous Helena that Dinah spoke about, and as I saw images of my uncle's bar, I knew that she was also 'Kyle', the tenant that lived there. Dinah looked as though she couldn't speak. Not just because of the awkwardness of the night before, but because of the sight she saw before her (sweeping the sidewalk with sad eyes and her hair pulled back, though some of my strands of hair had fallen from the bandana) was so different from the laid back girl with curly blonde hair hugging her shoulders and a friendly, happy shimmer in her eyes. It was as if she, too, had asked, 'Where has our Sunshine Girl gone?' And then there was Ms. Gordon, who's mind seemed to be moving at light-years per second. The whole night replayed in her head like a black and white movie of the forties with the special effects you'd see twenty years from now.
"Oh my god," I said, unable to help it. "It was you- all of you-" I turned to Dinah, "My god, it all makes a lot of sense now..."
"Gabby, what are you talking about, sweetheart?" Barbara asked me. I felt a slight panic from her. She already suspected that I knew something that I shouldn't know. She wasn't sure what exactly, but it scared her. I looked around, then when I saw no one was near, I looked back at them.
"You're the reason all of this happened, and why it didn't get any worse than it already is. You're the reason why Wade Bixrton is dead." All three of the women before me looked startled. It felt as if there was a big chill down all of their spines, and mine was well.
"No I-" Helena started to say, but Ms. Gordon held out her hand and stopped her.
"It was all an accident, Helena. No one blames you," she said. She was lying, Helena and I both knew that. Though Helena was under hypnosis when she ratted out the location of the blueprints of their lair, the Clocktower, I felt a small sense of an accusation and betrayal from my teacher that she would quickly shut away. Still, it was there, if only briefly. Ms. Gordon looked at me and nodded. It was an aplogetic nod that said she knew somewhat what I was thinking and she was trying to work through it.
"I know it was an accident," I said, looking down.
"How... do you know? Any of that?" It was, to my surprise, Helena who asked me that. I was so sure it would be Ms. Gordon who would ask me, or even Dinah. I looked over at Dinah as I thought about whether or not I should tell them. We had more in common than I ever knew, her being a touch telepath, telekinetic, and somewhat a psychic with her dreams, but at this point, my secret was so closely guarded, mostly from my parents, that I was too afraid to tell her.
I turn my gaze to Ms. Gordon, and remembering what she had said to me when I was worried about Dinah when, as I just found out, her mother had died, I said to her, "It's... a long and complicated story." 'One I don't know all the chapters to.' I thought before looking at the ground and resuming my sweeping.
Two and a half hours later, I was sitting on the bench next to the school's flagpole as they brought down the old flag, which was ripped to shreds the night before. We had put up a new one as a way to symbolize the strength of the city. It pretty much was a way of saying 'you can try to knock us down, but we will always get up again and fight.' It was a messege to that Harley Quinn lady, though I am sure I was the only person there who knew that. I wondered if the city would be so optimistic if they didn't have the nightly shadows that save them from more despair. Ms. Gordon and her two 'daughters'
had left to go help clean up in other areas on the city, but not before telling me not to run off after this get together was over. I was tempted to ask her where she thought I'd run off to other than my house, but I said nothing, nor did I move other than to sweep the sidewalk as if she hadn't said anything.
I didn't know what would happen next. Other than being curious and scared about what I knew, none of them spoke to me after that. Dinah wanted to.
Boy, did she want to, but she felt that nothing she said to me would help the situation right then, not with her family there, and I felt the same. I thought about the many things I saw in Ms. Gordon, Helena, and Dinah's minds. There was so much grief and guilt that it was hard to think of anything else. Ms. Gordon thought the most, and scenes and images had flooded my head when I was near her. It was hard to believe she was a school teacher by day, and a crime stopping vigilante by night. Helena and Dinah too, but they don't wear masks like Barbara did as Batgirl. It was through her thoughts I learned the most. I knew the truth about how she'd come to care for both Helena and Dinah, and how she'd gotten into her wheelchair. I knew the truth about both Helena and Dinah's mothers, the missing peices that Dinah couldn't tell me. I knew, if only a little bit, about Batman, the three Robins, Batgirl, Black Canary (Dinah's mother), Catwoman (Helena's mother), Joker, and Harley Quinn. I knew all of this simply because Barbara thinks too much. I watched and listened as people started to leave. I helped load the van with cleaning supplies and donated items as something else to do to keep me there a little bit longer. Soon I was one of the only ones left, and I sat at the bench waiting, watching the flag as it waved in the wind, now chilly. I stuffed my hands in my pockets to keep them warm and waited. For what, I didn't really know. It was slowly getting colder, and I could tell it was thinking about snowing again. It had snowed last night, but it wasn't enough to stick. Eventually, I gave up the waiting game and started to walk home, broom over my right shoulder, and dust pan in my left hand.
The Hummer Dinah drove when we went for rides those few times was in front of my house. As I approached, three doors opened, and Helena and Dinah both got out. Despite Ms. Gordon's protests, Dinah got her wheelchair and put it to the driver's side of the vehicle, and my teacher got out of her seat and crawled into the chair. I looked at them as they waited for me to reach them. I at first didn't say anything, but when I realized that a sentance from me was what they were waiting for, I said, "I waited at the school. You told me not to leave."
"I told you she heard you." Helena said in her 'I'm right, you're wrong, admit it, and never argue with me again' tone of voice, looking at Dinah but speaking to Barbara. I nodded. I looked at the door and then back at them.
"Do you want to come inside?" I asked, already knowing the answer. It was cold outside, and us talking about having abilities in the middle of the sidewalk would just be stupid. It was a really awkward moment, in case you couldn't tell. Not everyone can say that their Lit teacher, who is paralyzed from the waist down, was a crime fighter when she wasn't grading half assed essays on A Cider House Rules. Thinking of the wheelchair made me feel dumb because of the stairs in front of the house, but Helena had gently and effortlessly picked up Ms. Gordon as if it was second nature, and gave Dinah a curt nod towards the front door, signalling my ex best friend to move the wheelchair to the top step. I felt Ms. Gordon's annoyance, embaressment, and slight helplessness as she was placed back in her chair. I slowly opened the door and held it for my three guests.
The door had just barely closed when I felt the slight panic again. "Gabby, we need to know whatever it is you know about last night, and more importantly, how you know about it." All three of them stared at me, putting me on the spot. It made it harder to think of a way to tell them.
"I wasn't trying to be a smartass... Well," I smiled sheepishly, "not completely, when I told you it was a long and complicated story. I don't know where to start, but-" I thought about my saved untitled document. "A couple of months ago I was sitting on my couch watching TV when Dinah had come over..." I told them about the static, the dream I had of Helena/Huntress and Dinah's first meeting, and some of the instances where my abilities changed in any way, including my theory that since Dinah was near me when the changes occured, she might have had something to do with my abilities. I left out anything about the Institute, as that did not concern them as far as I saw, and I said nothing about Gina or what happened the night before. Though I didn't lie about anything in my story, I could tell my guests knew I was holding back.
"You heard right," Ms. Gordon said once I was finished, "you are a metahuman like Dinah and Helena." I nodded. I had figured as much when I saw the term in their minds.
"That's it?" I looked over at Dinah, who seemed shocked and somewhat hurt when it seemed that my English teacher was about to launch into a speech or explaination of some sort. "No strapping her to your meta detector that measures nueral whosit-whatsits?"
"My- uh- 'meta detector' got destroyed last night in the fight. Besides Dinah, she probably already knows everything I'm about to tell her, having already seen so much." She looked from Dinah to me. Then she looked back at Dinah. 'I sense a change in you.' I looked down at the table as I heard that thought from Ms. Gordon, perposely directed at me. Was she testing me to see if I really could hear thoughts, or was she concerned about the dramatic change in my attitude lately? 'It feels like you don't care anymore about anything.' I didn't respond in any way, mostly because I didn't know how to.
Maybe I didn't care anymore. I cared a great deal about my parents, and was scared to the core about their disappearance, but they were keeping secrets from me. Secrets the rest of my family was all in on, and I was unsure how I felt. Hell, even late Grandma Cook knew! (And she was right, damn her. She was right about me being queer and she was right about me being like my
father.) I cared about Kelly, my first best friend (that I can remember), but she'd gotten scared of me and of Dinah, and turned her back on me. Dinah too, had gotten scared of herself and left me. So maybe I didn't care....
And maybe Santa Clause is real and it was the dingo that ate my baby. Who the hell was I trying to kid? I can't even fool myself. If I didn't care, then why was I hurting so bad? Exactly. I cared, possibly too much, but who cared about me? Oh, I'm sure they all did at one point, and feel that they did even then, but why must we hurt the ones we care about?
I looked up at Ms. Gordon suddenly. "You don't have to worry about me telling anyone. Who would I tell? Exposing you would mean exposing me, and I just can't do that." Ms. Gordon nodded, surprised at my almost curt manner.
I was tired. Frankly, I wanted them to leave. I wanted to go to my room and wallow in my own self pity and not think about those who just lost everything hours ago. I wanted to cry until I had no more tears left, no more pain to cry over. I knew I would be in that room for a long time, but it didn't matter. With the school slightly destroyed, I had the time.
My three guests remained quiet until Ms. Gordon said, "Then I guess we won't keep you much longer, Gabby. If you have questions..." she trailed off as she searched her pockets for paper. I walked to the where the phone was and took a peice of Precious Moments sticky stationary paper and a pen before walking back to them. "If you have any questions about metahumans or... anything, this is the number to reach me." Oh, I had questions alright. Nothing but. I knew vaguely just about everything that dealt with metahumans and the nightly lifestyle of the women before me, but none of it completely made sense to me.
"I saw something about a- a 'Metahuman Database'." I said slowly, deliberately. Ms. Gordon watched me, as did Dinah and Helena to see what I was going to ask her. "Where do you get the information to form a list like that... or- or can you even tell me?"
"They've been gone long enough that I think I can tell you. Before many people realize they have metahuman strengths, they have hospital records stating that they have unique blood samples that was taken. I took note of the people with 'abnormal' blood, and put them in automatically. If something happens and Helena ran into a metahuman that isn't listed, I would add them as well. My biggest source is from an organization that was destroyed a few years ago that was working on testing metahuman children to study them. There is no real name for this organization, but those who have been there or work there refer to it as the Institute-"
"What?" I didn't meant to say that out loud, and certainly not in that 'you've got to be kidding me' tone of voice.
"Gabby? Do you know about the Institute?" I was still for a moment. 'Do I tell them?' I thought to myself. Dinah looked as if she wanted to grab my arm and tell me it was okay. They already knew about me, knew what I could do, and they knew about the Institute. They might even know how to get to the Bludhaven branch. I nodded slowly, but I felt a wave of fear wash over me. 'What if Barbara wants to talk to my parents about it now?'
"Yeah, I know a- about the Institute. I know because I was taken there as a kid." I shook my head as if to tell them they'll get no more than that from me. How can I tell them what I don't even know?
My three guests readied themselves to leave, and as Helena helped Ms.
Gordon down the steps, Dinah turned around, walked back in the house, closed the door behind her, and walked up to the chair I sat in (the same chair I was in the night before). To rid myself of bad memories before they came to me, I quickly stood up and faced her. We just stood there, staring at eachother and not speaking. The silence made me uncomfortable, but Dinah seemed almost used to it, as if she'd just learned to stay silent like this for long periods of time. Her eyes almost mirrored my own; sadness and grief was evident there. It was as if she tried so hard to hide her thoughts, for they were fainter than the other thoughts I heard that day. Still, I heard from her, 'I almost don't know you. I've never seen you like this... so sad.
You're so beautiful when you smile.' My chest felt heavy at that. After another moment or so, Dinah asked "Are we ever going to talk?" I shrugged.
"What more is there to say?" 'I'm sorry.' Dinah suggested in her mind, and I shrugged again.
"I understand now what my mother went through ten years ago when she gave me up. She didn't want to give me to the Redmonds, but to protect me from those who wanted to hurt her in the worst way possible, she did what she thought was best. And I... Gabby, I hated her. I cursed her every single time I was forced to stay in that closet until I lied and told them that what I saw wasn't real." I said nothing as I saw flashes of her memories with the Redmonds, almost as if she was giving them to me on purpose, a visual to go along with the story. I felt myself get angry at the cruelty they showed Dinah at such a young age, and it made me wonder why she hadn't turned out as dangerous as Kelly thought she was at first. "Last night,"
Dinah continued, making me look at her and pay attention the her story, "as you know, a woman Helena trusted had caused the damage you helped clean up today. She took over the Clocktower when Wade was there. He and Barbara were dating, and things were getting serious, but for the longest time, he didn't have a clue about who Barbara really was until a few nights ago... when I was at that fashion show. Then, with him knowing everything, Barbara was so happy. I mean, those emerald eyes made jewelry jealous..." Dinah's face seemed far away as if savoring the memory of a happy Ms. Gordon as if she will never see that sight ever again, but then her face hardened, and I felt the anger and pain before she started to speak again, "until Harley came, and Wade was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. She- She kissed him while he was under hypnosis- the power she had stolen. That had to be the only way Wade would betray Barbara or even want to gravitate towards that bitch. She kissed him- tainted him... and then she stabbed him, gloating about it later to my guardian and friend." I watched as one tear, then two and three fell from her cheeks. "She loved him, Gabby. Barbara loved Wade so much, and I-" 'love YOU so much...'
I couldn't breathe, yet still I asked, stunned, "You- you love me?" My mind heart, and body all felt ready to do cartwheels. Dinah looked shocked. I'm pretty sure that was supposed to be one of those secrets she meant to take with her to the grave. She was still and silent for a few seconds, then she nodded, stiffly almost.
"You're the only person who ever seemed to give a damn about me without me being forced upon you. You came to me, forced yourself into my life instead of the other way around. You made me want to see you out of school." She stopped talking and I heard, 'She can't know about this. What am I doing?
This goes against what I'd done last night.' I understood all too well what it all meant. Regardless of whether or not I felt the same (and I did! I did, damn it!), she wouldn't let anything come of it. She was afraid that I'd share the same fate as Mr. Brixton. Understandable. Comepletely, but my heart didn't seem to think so as I felt it rattle my rib cage. I also knew that no matter what did or didn't happen, that even if we went back to being friends, that friendship would never be the same. "So yes, Gabby," she said, snapping me out of my thoughts after a few seconds of silence, "I do love you. A lot more than I should. But I can't." I nodded, and looked at the floor.
"So where do we stand?" I finally asked. I heard a sigh.
"I honestly don't know," she said. "I want to be your friend. Hell, I want to be more than that, but it was the mistake that got Wade killed, and I can't- I won't do that to you."
"I want to stay friends with you Dinah," I said to her. "I just don't think our friendship will ever be the same. Not just because we're both metahuman and don't have to hide from eachother, but also because of what you just told me. I'd rather have that awkwardness added than to not have that friendship at all." I watched her as she took it in, and I felt a question from her. 'Does she feel the same?' I heard. I debated on whether I should tell her. Would it make any difference in her decision to stay with me or leave? Had she known last night, would it have? I felt hope a little while later. 'I don't want to lose her. She's too precious to me.' She didn't realize I could hear everything, but I didn't say anything to her.
"Then I guess I'll see you around then?" she asked me. "At school?"
"Or before then, if you'd like. I have no clue when our school's going to re-open, but because the biggest damage was just the broken windows, I don't see why it won't open before the new year." Dinah nodded.
"Definately," She looked back at the door, and faintly, I heard, 'What the hell is keeing her so long?' from an impatient Helena, and 'Please work something out. I know you don't want to lose her.' from Barbara, and it was hard to tell who that was directed to, me or her. I smiled.
"It sounds as if Helena's getting impatient out there," I told her. "We're getting together sometime soon, at least to exchange gifts. Call me," I said, letting her know without saying that this shouldn't keep us from at least trying to go back to normal, that I still wanted to see her around even though she had given me space to back out.
"I will. See you, Gabby." She turned and walked out the door, and I followed her. As she walked down the steps, I watched her blonde hair gently swish side to side. 'For the record, Dinah,' I thought to her, feeling my whole body get shaky, but feeling as if I must say this to her, if only with my mind, 'I love you, too.' At this, Dinah seemed almost as weak in the knees as I felt as I held on to the door for support. I watched her get into the Hummer and the three women drove away. My eyes were filled with longing, as were Dinah's when she looked back at me. I stood there, possibly looking like a fool, and waited for the shaky feeling to stop. I clung to the door as if it was my lifeline. Had I let go, I would have fallen to the floor like a heap of Gabby that would have to have been scooped up with a shovel.
It took me longer than I had hoped to recover. I wondered why this was. Was it because my body still felt weak at the mere thought that Dinah felt the same? Was it because the thought I had sent was filled with so much emotion it took a lot from me? I don't know why the last couple of times I had sent out messeges it made me so weak, when it hardly seemed to phase me when I sent one to my father. I was on my bed then, so I don't know. Maybe I didn't feel it as much because I was already lying down and my body had recovered before I had to move again. I just don't know.
Even with the weakness in my body, I still felt like doing cartwheels and jumping around, bouncing off the walls like Daffy Duck screaming 'whoohoo!'
until I had no voice and wouldn't be able to talk for days. Finally, I sat down at the table again, too tired to make it to the couch or my own bed. I was unsure now what to do. My parents were still gone, and I was starting to feel that fear I felt the night before when there was a knock at my door and thought it might be police. Uncle Leonard's phone was out, and I needed to get a hold of him somehow. Maybe he knew where my parents had gone. He lived on the other side of the city, but the subway was down. 'Hadn't I once summoned a phone call from Dinah? Maybe I could try to get my uncle to call me.' I thought to myself. I lay my head down on the table and imagined Leonard waking up from last night, even though it was nearing four in the afternoon. 'Uncle Leonard, please call me and let me know if you're alright.' I felt so dizzy after that. No exploding headaches, but there was the lightheaded feeling. I was glad I was sitting down. Maybe using telepathy on two people in a short amount of time was a bad idea, but if my uncle were to respond, it would have been worth it.
"Stay still Dinah," Barbara says as I fidget with the cables and wait for our que. Why couldn't we just get this over with, save Helena, and go home- Oh yeah, our home isn't there anymore, and certainly not left the way we had it only hours ago. Barbara insists it's all about timing, that we have to get Helena's therapist off guard. She was the one who had engineered Guy, my somewhat nephew, I just know it. 'I hope for Helena's sake you're standing next to Selina, watching over her now, guiding her.' I feel anger, and Barbara senses it. She puts a hand upon one of mine. "Be strong Dinah. I need you to help me get Helena out of there safely. Don't get lost in anger, Dinah. Think of something else. Something that you know is worth fighting for." She's raising my hopes to fight like I had at the school for her.
"Something worth fighting for..." My best friend's face comes to mind easily, and I hold on to it. 'I'll protect you from this madness like you protect me from the Zipper Girl title. I'll fight for you because I know you're worth fighting for.' I feel my heart swell as it had when I'd seen Gabby sitting alone on the bench by the flagpole, her head on her knuckles and a long curtain of curly blonde hair shielding her face from the world. 'She's so beautiful,' I thought then, and I couldn't stop myself from hoping that she was thinking of me, that I occupied her mind half as much as she's been occupying mine as of late. I have come to an easy conclusion in the last week that I love her. 'I love Gabby Andrews. She's worth fighting for, and so is love. Barbara loved Wade, and that love was taken away from her. I won't let that happen to me,' I think as I stares at Barbara. 'I will help take back the Clocktower. This is the only place I can ever call home. We'll fight. We'll defeat Harley Quinn and her hypnotized police goons. We'll get Helena and Alfred and Gibson, and then I must go to her, see if she's okay. I must... I can't have her fall to the hands of someone like Harley Quinn, I can't. I'll have to leave our friendship behind. I don't want to. Mom, was this right here why you had to give me up? If I die tonight, will you be there? No, I won't die tonight. I have to fight and win. I have to go to her. Being in your boots now, Mom, I forgive you. Truly, I forgive you.' My face goes slack, and my eyes burn into one of determination, and the scared girl I was seconds ago disappears.
"Ready?" She has been watching me this whole time, and when she sees that, she knows I have made up my mind. I have to go to her.
"Yes." I say. 'As ready as I will ever be.' She takes a deep breath.
"Good, because I think it's our que to make our surprise entrance." I nod. It's time to fight-
I opened my eyes to find that I was on the couch, not at the table where I had fallen asleep. A blanket that I had on my bed was spread over me, and I was using a couple of sheets from the linen closet as a pillow. Slowly, I sat up. Uncle Leonard was sitting at the table reading the paper. He stared at me for a second, then smiled. "How do you feel?"
"Better," I told him, and that must have been the first time I believed my own words in a long time.
"Good. You hungry?" I nodded, almost eagerly. The sandwhich the night before felt as if it was consumed centuries ago. I started to get up, but Uncle Leonard motioned for me not to move. He got up and went to the kitchen, and he clanked and banged for a moment, then I heard water running, which reminded me of my thirst. Seconds later, I saw him emerge with a tray loaded with a thick sandwhich, a bowl of chunky chicken noodle soup, a glass of water with only one ice cube in it the way I like it, and two white asprine tablets. How did he know that my head slightly hurt? Another thing I noticed: I could tell he was thinking very hard about something, but I didn't get a flash of anything. It was silent in his head. Not quite silent, really. It was like... well if you were in your own room but could still hear the TV faintly on the other side of the house. I could hear it was on, but not what show was playing... or something like that. I knew he was thinking, but it was indistinct "When you were about seven, you used to have dreams. Weird assed dreams. Your mother told me you would talk in your sleep, say the weirdest things... Things you wouldn't say unless you knew the secrets of those around at the moments you were dreaming. Sometimes- not always- you would wake up with a headache." I watched him as he spoke. He'd set the tray on the coffe table, and as he was telling me this, he was pushing the table closer to me.
"Anyway," he continued, "I had this strange dream that woke me up, and instead of the images I usually get, all I could see was darkness, then I heard an urgent cry from you for help. I got up and hitch-hiked from the bar to here. When I got here, it was almost four in the afternoon. I don't know what time you'd fallen asleep, so I left you alone after I moved you to the couch. Laying at the table like that couldn't have been comfortable." He made a face, and I smiled. "At about nine forty-five or so, you started to talk in your sleep. You kept saying things like 'We must fight', or- Once you said, 'I'll fight for you'." I thought about the wonderful things Dinah had thought before going in to fight for her home, and blushed. "Who were you dreaming about?" I wanted to give him two replies, but neither one of them fit Dinah's title in my life. 'Best friend' didn't quite cut it anymore, as our love for eachother transended friendship, and we weren't in a relationship, nor would we be anytime soon from the sounds of it, so the term 'girlfriend' couldn't be used, either.
"Someone special in my life, why?" Uncle Leonard looked away for a second, and then back at me.
"Gabby, when you did that- and I shouldn't even be telling you this much, so listen up 'cause I won't repeat this- When you did that, have the dreams and all, you were just getting used to your powers. Yes, Gabby. You were a mind reader. You would dream someone's memory by night and by day you'd hear thoughts as clearly as if they'd been spoken to you instead." He wanted to ask me something, but didn't seem to know where to start. "Are they back, Gabby?" I stared at him, surprised at what he was telling me. I had my powers as a kid? I took the glass of water off of the tray set on the coffee table and looked at it, then took a drink. I drank it all down in a few gulps, not stopping long enough to take the asprine like I had originally wanted to. Uncle Leonard knew I was trying to busy myself so that I didn't have to say anything right away, and knew that he could take this action as a yes. He took the glass from me and went to refill it.
When I'd drank all off that glass too, my uncle said, "Jesus Gabby, you want me to just get you a pitcher?" He was exasperated, almost angry, but when I looked at him, he seemed amused. Before I could set the glass down, he took it from me and went to refill it yet again. He brought back the promised pitcher this time and a second glass for himself. He filled them both up and it was silent as I ate, thinking about what he'd just said. Did I have my powers before they brought me to the Institute? Did they take them away? In about ten minutes, both the sandwhich and the bowl of soup was nothing more than a pleasent memory. We were quiet still as we waited. After a while, my uncle said, "I lied."
"About the Institute?" He seemed surprised, but he nodded. I looked down at my hands, which I had rested in my lap.
"Yes. I lied about not knowing anything."
"I know. I think everyone in this family knew something about it but me. It wasn't until my abilities showed up that I knew such a place exsisted." 'Unfortunately, it is destroyed now, but maybe if I could get a name or two of someone who worked there I could get a hold of someone who had dealt with me, the person who took my memory from me.'
"What do you know about it?" he asked me, fixing me with a stare that said it was important for me to tell him what I knew.
"If I told you, would you fill in the rest?"
"I made a promise to your parents-"
"Then what difference does it make, what I know?" I almost snapped. Uncle Leonard seemed taken aback by this. "I'm tired of all the secrets. I keep hearing snippets of this mystery over the Institute, but I just want to konw what happened when I was five or six that resulted in my going there and getting my memory erased." Uncle Leonard probably didn't think I knew that much about the Institute, just the fact that I knew I went there, and that it was the reson for blank spots in my memory. No, not just blank spots, almost all of my childhood before the age of nine. I wasn't going to let him know that because of Ms. Gordon's Metahuman Database I knew going to the Institue heavily had something to do with my abilities. What I didn't know was why they started taking me there. An event happened then I was five or six Why would I still be going there to that doctor five years later when I was ten or and I went to the 'doctors' in the Institute. That didn't make sense though. eleven? 'I hate this. Just when I think it's almost over, I have to go and think. When will this mystery end?' I thought to myself. More silence after that. Why was it so hard to talk to him?
The phone rang, saving either of us from the silence. My uncle went to go get it. "Hello? Jason?" I looked up at that. 'Daddy?' I felt relief wash over me just knowing that my father was on the other line, which meant that he was okay... I hoped. "This is Leonard. Don't worry, no one broke into your house and answered the phone... Where are you?" There was a silence. "That far? Really? Uh-huh. Yeah, she's here. She's okay, just tired. It's been a rough twenty-four hours. What's that? Yeah, she's still awake. Just woke up, actually. I don't know, you ask her. Alright... okay. OKAY Jason, I get it. Sure, hold on." He came over with the phone and said, "Talk to your father before I strangle him with this phone."
"It's a cordless, and you're not close enough to strangle him with it." He smiled as I grabbed the phone from him. "Hey Dad."
"Gabby, are you alright?"
"It's been... interesting, but I'm not hurt. I was scared, but I feel better now that Uncle Leonard got here." It was the truth. Now that I wasn't alone in the house, and now that things were cleared up between Dinah and me, and now that my father's voice was on the other end of the phone, I felt a whole lot better.
"Good, good. I'm sorry we weren't there. Your mother and I... ended up in a place we never expected to be."
In the background, I heard, "Jason, stop beating around the bush and tell her where we are. She'll get a kick out of it."
"Dad, where are you?"
"Like... Like Las Vegas, Nevada?" There was a short pause.
"Exactly... like Las Vegas, Nevada," my father admitted, and I could hear his embaressment. "Your mom and I woke up not long ago in the motel room. We- uh, got married last night." I looked over at my uncle's laughing eyes as I'm sure he knew why my mouth was hanging wide open.
"Well, and here I am without my toaster for the bridal shower," I joked, and I could hear Uncle Leonard's snort.
"Gabby, this isn't funny. We don't remember how we ended up here, though some things are slowly coming back."
"Dad, the whole city went nuts last night. People are blaming the full moon, lunar/solar alignments, the water- anything. I've seen worse. I'm just glad that you weren't one of the ones who went missing last night. You're safe, in holy matramony once again, and I couldn't be happier or more relieved," I told him, not meaing to give him a speech. There was somewhat another pause, as if he wanted to add something, but didn't.
"We'll be on the next flight to New York. Hang tight with Leonard, okay?"
"Your mother wants to talk to you."
"Ok-" There were sounds on the other end of the phone as it sounded like my mother took the phone from my father.
"You okay, Honey?"
"Yeah, Uncle Leonard's with me." I pretty much told her some of the things that happened. My mother asked me if 'my new friend' was okay. I told her that she seemed to be. A bit spooked like me and thousands of other people, but okay. We talked for a little while longer, our conversation longer than the one with my father, and I teased her about being hurt that I wasn't the flower girl at their wedding, and asked if it was an Elvis impersonator or a drag queen Marilyn Monroe who married them.
"Oh shush!" After my laughter subsided, she said, "I'll- we'll call you when we know our itinerary, and we'll be home soon."
"Don't end the honeymoon on my account. Now that I know you're okay and where you are, you can spend a couple of days alone if you want to. I'll be here."
"Oh no, sweetheart," my mother said. I was suprised that she sounded almost disgusted by the thought, as if she would rather be home. "We really need to get home. We have to talk, the three of us when we get there." I frowned, worried.
"Nothing good ever comes from those words, Mom."
"I know... I know, but it can't be talked about over the phone, otherwise I would just come out and say it." I felt somewhat scared, but somewhat curious. Were they finally going to tell me the truth? After what I knew already and what I've heard about Dinah, did I WANT to know? Well, of course I wanted to know. Someone out there had my memories, and a big piece of the puzzle. If they could take it away, maybe they can put it back. I have thought if this before. If my parents finally decide to tell me after they've worked so hard to keep it from me, I wanted to know why they had decided that now was the time to tell me. What changed? Was it because my dad knew I had my abilities now, and wanted to tell me so he could help me use them? Was it because they were afraid of me hearing it not from the horse's mouth? Were they afraid that my abilities will tell me anyway, so they wanted to tell me before I figured it out on my own, which for the most part I already have (I think)? Did they guess that I already knew most of the truth? Hell, with the way I was acting towards and around them, they had to have thought something. When my dad guessed that my abilites had come... well, BACK from what Uncle Leonard had said, he could have told my mother and they could have come to the decision to tell me. Maybe they hadn't come to this decision until after what happened at Thanksgiving. "Gabby?" I must have been silent for too long.
"Yeah, Mom. We'll talk when you two get home," I said trying so hard not to cringe.
"Okay. I want to talk to your uncle." I gave him the phone after my 'I love you', and sank into the sheets used as pillows.
"Hey Linda. Yeah. We'll be okay. Be safe. Bye." Uncle Leonard hung up the phone and chuckled.
"They didn't sound too happy to be remarried," I said, shifting a little bit.
"I'm sure it's just because of their confusion. That, and I'm sure the whole fiasco cost them a fortune." I nodded.
"They want to talk when they get home. No one wants to hear that," I said.
"I've come to dread those words myself," Uncle Leonard agreed.
"I'm starting to," came my reply.
"Are you still hungry? I know there's still some more soup in the kitchen." I shook my head with a small smile. "Okay." He sat down on the chair next to the couch and stared at me for a second. "So, tell me about this 'someone special' in your life," he said, using his fingers to show quotation marks around the 'someone special' part. He was looking as if he was about to get comfortable in the chair as he prepared to listen to me talk for a long period of time.
"Well, it's all kind of complicated. We've been friends for two months, and I started to like her maybe... a month and a half ago," I explained. I told him that I wasn't sure what will happen to our friendship now that she'd told me that she loved me, and that I told her that I loved her in return. I left out the part about her being a metahuman like me. I also failed to mention that Dinah was scared to be in love with me, to be in a relationship other than friendship because she was scared that she would somehow indirectly get me killed.
"What's she like then?" Then, I felt the impatience from him, and I heard 'Is she purposly avoiding the question or am I not just asking her correctly?' "What's her name?"
"Dinah," I said. I grinned as I thought of Dinah's beautiful face. "Her name is Dinah, and she's sweet, shy most of the time, mysterious..." I got lost in thought a little bit.
"Beautiful," I agreed, nodding my head.
"Lesbian?" At this, I frowned in thought.
"I don't know." Uncle Leonard frowned as well. For a split second we looked alike, but only for a nanosecond.
"How could you not know? If she loves you too, then I'm sure she's got to be at least bisexual."
"I just.. don't know. I thought for sure a couple of weeks ago that she was straight, and I was just biding my time, waiting for my feelings to go away. Now, she could be confused about all of this which might be why we can't be together. Either that, or she's one of the many who feel that love shouldn't be defined or labled with race or orientation, that love is love no matter what." My uncle nodded, his brow softening. "She's scared, Uncle Leonard. She doesn't want to get hurt. I know that life has hurt her a lot already." I heard from him, 'And life's hurt you a lot already too. You just don't-' His thoughts were cut off, and suddenly some old song from the sixties overrode whatever it was his thoughts were going to reveal. I stared at him, and after fifteen or so seconds, he looked down. "Uncle Leonard, what bought me to the Institute? What happened?"
"Your parents chose for things to be this way, Gabby. It is not my place to say anything. Trust me, your parents will tell you when they think you're ready- it might even be when they get home, but for right now, drop it. As much as I want to... I just can't tell you." His eyes landed on everything in the room but me. He couldn't look at me, and his mind was trying desperately to think of anything but whatever it was that brought me to the Institute. I watched him for a little while longer, then sighed as I looked at the blankets.
"This is not a subject I can just drop and talk about the weather. I can't just turn away and pretend it never happened. That would require me KNOWING what happened in order to pretend it never did." Again, I sighed and rolled my eyes in anger when Uncle Leonard had no response to that. I threw the blanket off of me and stood up slowly, unsure if it would make me dizzy. When I was completely on my feet, I said, "I'm going to my room-"
"Gabby, don't run from me."
"I can't believe you expect me to stay in here with you knowing what you know- knowing how inportant it is to me and who I am. I trusted you, Uncle Leonard, all of you. I felt you all were good at keeping me safe, but who are you really trying to protect now? Me or yourselves?" I shook my head and closed my eyes in a slow blink. "Come get me if my parents get home in the next few hours. You can do that, can't you?" I could tell he was angry at what I'd said, and I admit it was mean, but I didn't care. It wasn't just him I was angry at, but he was the only one there, poor guy.
"Gabby-" he said in a warning tone, but I cut him off before he could say anything or I lost my nerve.
"Don't. Don't speak to me if you cannot tell me the truth." Thankfully, he said nothing else, and I made my escape to my room. If he had, I don't know if I would have been able to answer him. I left him there in our living room. I felt trapped in my room. If I felt I wanted to escape later by going for a walk or something, I would have to face him, and after what I had just said, I knew I couldn't do that. I lay across my bed, missing the warmth my body heat and the couch linens had worked together to provide me. My bed felt cold in comparison. I felt my anger slowly leave me when I started to fantasize that Dinah was in a long flowing dress. In my mind, her hair was the way I'd seen it when she was trying to impress Matt, her lips had a shimmer to them due to gloss, and her eyelashes had mascera on them, making her eyes look brighter. Despite my deathly fear of water, I knew that I could drown in those pools. In this fantasy, I was taller, and she looked up at me with so much love in her eyes. I was wearing a black tuxedo with a light blue cumberbun and tie. There was a matching colored mask over my eyes and nose, but there was no disguising who I was with her, or my love for her. I told her in my mind that she was so beautiful, and she said to me, 'I am beautiful only because you love me, Gabby.'
I made my mind lose the image after that. My chest had tightened and started to ache, not at all unlike it had when Dinah tried to end our friendship. My heart started to pound, and I put my hand on my chest to feel it thud against my fingers. "Tell me what you want from me and I'll do it," I whispered to no one in particular. "Tell me what to do to find the truth." I knew the best way to get the truth would be to talk to my parents. I was so afraid of telling them everything and getting nothing in return. Maybe telling them everything might get me everything in return. Maybe I will ask them, as I had asked Uncle Leonard, if they would supply the rest if I told them what I knew. I was no longer afraid of going to the Institute, in fact, I was convinced that going to the Institute would have been the one course of action to take then, had it not been destroyed. As I drifted off to sleep, I thought about finding the doctor who could have taken my memories and the hope in finding him again and gaining my memories back made me smile.
The lights were off. Maybe I should turn back and try again, and I think if I hadn't taken the last subway for the night, I would have, but I don't. This is important. I have to talk to them. I don't wan't to wake her up by knocking on the front door, so I go around to their bedroom window and tap on it using the code my sister and I invented when we were kids. 'Knock knock pause knock'. 'Are you awake?' I waited. Then I heard, 'knock knock knock knock pause knock knock'. If I remember correctly, that means 'You just woke me up.' I then see my sister open the window. "Lenny, what are you doing here, and why haven't you used the front door?" she asks.
"Is Gabby asleep?" Linda looks almost scared.
"Yes. Lenny, is she okay?" I look around.
"Wake up Jason, and we'll go for a drive. We have to talk, it's important, and we can't be overheard," I say. Linda nods, then looks towards the door, as if to look through it. I know she's checking on my neice to make sure she was, in fact, sleeping. "She'll be fine, just go!" I walk back around the house and ten minutes or so later, my older sister and brother in law exit the house, closing the door so delicately that Gabby couldn't have heard it even in dead silence of her room. The two almost matched; I almost gagged. In this act, this 'everything is peachy keen and the world is nothing but butterflies and rainbows and kittens' act that they've been playing the last five or six years especially, I often wonder if they sometimes believe it when they say 'I love you' to eachother when they'd each hold one of Gabby's hands and walk through the mall or something like a happy normal family. They have been living this lie for her benifet, when I know that this family is far from happy OR normal, and all of this was an act, a TV reality show that Gabby didn't know she was the star of.
"Leonard, tell us what this is about," Jason tells me as soon as he's close enough to be heard at a murmur.
"Not here. Let's go for a drive. If we hurry, we can make it to New Gotham Park before it closes for the night, talk, and be back here before Gabby notices anything's amiss." They nod, and we take all pile into their car. It's not far to the Park, and we get out and sit at one of the picnic tables filled with various grafetti. 'Batman will return' is what one of them says on the table near where I sit. Another says, 'Batman will save us'. The marks are cut deep, and I knew it took this person a lot of time, patience and possibly a lot of strength in the hands. It is dark in the Park, and even I don't like it. "Look," I say to them, wanting to get it all over with quickly so what we could get out of there, "Gabby came over earlier today. She asked me about metahumans, and seemed to show great interest in them. I've never seen her bat an eye when they were talked about on the news, but today when I called them freaks, she looked pained. I'm thinking her powers are coming back." Jason looks at my sister and she nods. He leans into me as if he doesn't want anything else in the silent park to overhear us.
"We've been thinking the same thing," he says, and I frown in confusion. If they've been thinking that she's gotten her powers back, then why didn't they tell the rest of us? Why haven't they done anything? "Linda had been out with her and her new friend Deana-"
"Dinah, Jason," Linda corrects, and I look at her. Helena has a sister named Dinah. She comes to the bar on occasion, but I've only seen her once or twice. Could this be the same girl? They are about the same age.
"Right..." Jason corrects himself. "Dinah. She'd been out to a movie, and while they were gone, the new doctors in the remade Institute called. It scared me. After what happened last time..." He won't look at me at that, and I'm glad. I don't want to think about the last time they were all in that god-awful place. "It scared me," he says again, "and I snapped at Gabby, and she got mad at me, understandably. The next day- I swear to god I heard her voice in my head like when she was younger. She asked me what she had inherited from me, making me wonder if she knew about the metahuman gene passed down in my family. I tried to use my mind to get through to her, but she couldn't hear me."
"What did you say to her, Jason?" I ask.
"Only if she could hear me."
"I think we should tell her the truth. If she's got her powers again, then she's going to hear one of us thinking about it. The Institute- all of it. It'll be harder for her to deal with it, figuring out on her own, than if we'd just told her." I say, though Gabby knows about the Institute. I'm not sure how much she knows, though, but I can assume that whatever she does know, she got it from Jason.
"How many times are we going to go through this, Leonard-"
"As many times as it takes for you to tell your daughter- who isn't stupid and would probably figure it all out anyway- the truth. Tell her the truth, Jason! You owe her that much after all that's been done to her," I say, knowing I am out of line. Knowing that I should apologise. I've had enough of this charade now that Gabby is sixteen. She's old enough to understand what had happened and why. It is then my sister speaks up.
"Jason isn't the only one responsible for this, Lenny. We raised our children together." She's soft with her words, and I know she is right. I say nothing more for a long time.
"It's only a matter of time," I stand up after that cryptic sentance, then say, "I've always wondered how you were able to keep Gabby in blissful ignorance about her past. Surely she's tried to think back on something and see all of the blank spots."
"Dr. Hubert took care of that a long time ago." It didn't make sense.
"But I thought-"
"I know." Jason cut me off. "I know. It doesn't. A lot of this doesn't. Something is going on here that I can't figure out, and you're right, we do need to talk to Gabby about it all, but not now. I've told Linda that she's happy."
"She is? What about the moping and the seclusiveness... you call that happy, Jason? Gabby was a freaking ray of sunshine a while ago. She needs to know what is going on."
"And she will. She will..."
"We might tell her soon. We've agreed on that. If she shows anymore signs of the powers she had as a child, we will sit her down and talk to her. We'll tell her everything." Linda says, her voice breaking us up. I stay silent as I think this over. That is a fair compromise. If she shows any signs. Maybe I can hint that to her somehow. Maybe she will find out and her fears will subside, and they can truly be happy family again. Not like-
"Another thing I am worried about... I think she has his powers," I say. "I told her that I didn't know much about- about metahumans and she looked me in the eyes and she knew- KNEW I was lying through my teeth. Either I am getting bad at this, you guys, or she could feel it. She's never looked right at me after I said a lie and tell me with her eyes that I am a liar. He always did that."
"I've noticed that, too. She watches us like a hawk. She might have even gotten the empathy power before the thoughts," Jason murmurs.
"If you're still not going to say anything for a long time, then I suggest you keep your thoughts to yourself. Who knows how developed these powers are. Who knows what she can or can't hear." Both of them nod, and I watch them as they both stand up and face me-
There was a knock on my door. "Gabby!" It was my uncle. I looked at the clock. I was ten in the morning. Had I slept nineteen hours, give or take? Had those thoughts taken that much out of me?
"Yeah, come in," I called out to him. My door opened slowly and my uncle poked his head inside to see if it was safe to enter.
Not knowing for sure, he had to ask instead, "You still angry with me?" I shook my head, thinking to myself that this scene looked like the one a few weeks ago when my father had tried to send me a mental messege that I had ignored.
"I wouldn't have let you in if I was, Uncle Leonard. You were just caught in the middle, playing the double agent," I said, my voice evidence of the grogginess I still felt. I moved my blanket off of my legs and regretted the action as soon as I did. I saw the frosty weather outside the partially closed curtains and wanted nothing more than to lay in my warm bed and hyberate until winter was over. I never wanted to leave, I felt then, not even to see Dinah. In fact, Dinah could join me... with clothes on of course... if she REALLY wanted to keep them on, that is.
Before my mind could fall any deeper into the gutter, my uncle said, I wanted to let you know that your friend Kelly is here. She's waiting by the door for you. You want me to just let 'er into the room?" I nodded, surprising myself with how nervous I felt. I wondered if she started to remember some things about the night New Gotham went a little batty... no pun intended considering it was a nemisis of Batman and Batgirl's that was to blame... Anyway, I wondered what she would say to me, knowing what she knew and being sane enough to process that information.
"Okay," he said, and left, just like that. I think I made him uncomfortable to be near me, and I felt like the biggest bitch in the world. Uncle Leonard was on my side... half the time, and though I had acknowledged this to him, I never did say I was sorry for what I'd said to him the night before, and knew that I should. I heard him say "Come in," to my friend, and a moment later, I saw her frame in my doorway, her body bundled up despite only coming over from next door.
"Hey," she said softly, holding and messing with the object in her hand. I couldn't see it due to her big gloves, but when she walked further into the room, I noticed it was a CD case. When she saw me eying it curiously, she handed it to me, and I noticed that it was my Ace of Base CD, the one with the song The Sign, which Kelly had fallen in love with at the time she'd borrowed it from me. I hadn't seen this in ages. "I came across this when I was cleaning my room. See, got nothing else to do since I am grounded for not getting the boys the other day," She was nervous, and so was I. I tried to make things less awkward for the both of us by making things light between us, and wasn't sure if it worked.
"Though I would've loved to have gotten that CD, oh... three years ago, that isn't why you've come over, was it?" Kelly smiled at my teasing tone.
"No, it wasn't, to tell the truth. I came over to apologise for how I've been to you. I was a snot, and when I was at my worst, you let me cling to you and tuck me into bed!" She shook her head. "You had every right to leave me there sobbing like an idiot. I deserved it."
"I take it you remember everything?" I asked.
"It's coming back slowly but surely. How come you weren't affected by that craziness?" I shrugged. I didn't know exactly. My only guess was that I hadn't watched the TV when she, that Harley Quin lady, was on it with those creepy black eyes, but I couldn't say this to Kelly, as she didn't know the who and the why of that night like I did.
"I don't know Kelly, but that night was scary. I hope something like that never happens again."
"Same here," she agreed. She stared at me and my nerves came back some, or it increased, whatever. I could hear the words she'd shouted at me. She was thinking about that night. "You aren't curious?"
"About why I wasn't affected? Hell yeah, I'm curious," I said, but I knew what she was really talking about.
"No," she said with an eyeroll, "I meant, 'Aren't you curious about why I said what I had'?"
"I would think it was quite obvious why you said what you had said to me. You knew about my abilities somehow- Dinah's too, and didn't like it. Didn't like what it meant for you, and you hated it- Don't look at me like that," I said when she seemed shocked at what I told her, as if she didn't expect for me to know, "It's natural to hate your metahuman abilities, I would guess, like some people I've read about who hate being gay or something. It's weird, but I've come to terms with it."
"What, your powers or your sexuality?" I gave her a playfull glare, if such a thing can be pulled off. If anything, she knew that my look couldn't really kill.
"No, doofus." Kelly had laughing eyes for a minute, but then looked down.
"You're right, thought. It feels like I'm in the closet with it or something, you know? My patents don't know about it, or if they do, they play dumb better than some of the guys at our school."
"Mine don't know either, but they suspect it. Only my uncle knows for sure and he just found out."
"Yours is genetic, isn't it? I know your dad..."
"Yes, my dad is also different, I think." I told her. Kelly's voice went softer, and she never looked back up at me when she spoke.
"I am not like you, Gabby. You powers are genetic. Mine aren't." I frowned. I knew through Ms. Gordon that some metahumans aquired their abilities through other means, but the most common way was through genetics, blood work, and lab explosions (you'd be surprised at how many of those there used to be way back in the day, and later, those who had children simply passed on the gene). "You weren't here yet when this happened, but when I was really young, like 7 or something, I had been diagnosed with Childhood Acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL). At the time, they had treatments, but it wasn't quite curable like it is now. I was given an experimental drug treatment as a last resort before a bone marrow transplant, and... well, it worked for me, a lot better than my doctor had hoped.
"It wasn't long after I got out of the hospital that I started to get this weird feeling down the back of my neck, like a ghost or something was running their fingers along it, and making me almost shiver or run away in fear. You know, or both. When Chris was being nice to me, and almost courting me within school grounds, I resisted him because he made me feel that way, too. When he... when it... happened, I saw his arm stretch around the car to grab at me again. I knew from then on what it all meant. I could feel what those people who made me edgy- Chris, Mr. Fangi, Gina Halliwell just to name a few- could do. I knew even what they would be able to do once their powers evolved. I knew the moment Dinah entered that lab class that she had those powers. She's the only person I'd seen who had more than just one spacific power, and when you started to be friends with her, I saw that you did, too. I saw your telepathy and empathy. I saw it, and I was so scared that you'd read my thoughts and know about me. I would talk to you, but I knew it wasn't quite the same. I could tell you didn't know, exactly, but the change in you was clear." I was quiet for some time after that, at first not sure if her story was finished or not, but then I nodded.
"Like I told you that night, it wasn't as if I've been at it all my life. It was still really new- it IS still really new. I was only picking up one or two words hear and there, and it was all just a constant humming in my head."
"That would drive me nuts!" I laughed at her look of almost horror.
"It did! It was a confusing time for me, as it must have been for you. I didn't know until after I had gotten my abilities that it came from my dad, which, now that I think about it... You never acted weird around him," I said, but Kelly was nodding her head.
"I never stayed over that first year we were friends if he was there, and I always hid behind you, remember?" I nodded. "I mean, that all changed after a while. I got used to his presence, and your dad was nice to me- a lot nicer than mine, and he always included me in stuff as if I was your sister or something." At the word 'sister', my mind reeled, thinking about the memory I had dreamed of the night before. I kept hearing 'his powers' and 'our children', the phrases running amock in my mind. I shoved them all aside and tried to listen to my friend's words.
"So, now that we know this of eachother, are we still friends? I mean truly?" Kelly nodded. "And when school starts again, Kels, will you try to play nice with Dinah?" No responce, at least, not at first.
"She's powerful, Gabby. When her powers evolve to their highest state, there's no stopping her." I was surprised by this, and tried to imagine Dinah destroying the world with one thought, her mind sending the world into tumoil after making the earth's core bubble to the surface and burning everyone alive and remaking the world to her liking, all molton-y and hardened by the icy air she made by moving all the- Okay, so I couldn't see it. None of it. I just couldn't imagine Dinah being dangerous. But then again, there was the matter of that man I saw in Dinah's head and the pure unchained rage that came with them. She wanted that man dead, and part of me thinks she really would have killed him, too. At the same time, she wouldn't have wasted time on chitchat with the man, either, thus hesitating long enough for Helena to talk her, or rather force her out of killing him, so yay! No evil Dinah!
"She may be powerful, but luckily, she's on our side," I said. I couldn't tell her more than that, and I'd felt guilty for giving that much away, if only slighty. It wasn't my place to tell her a secret that wasn't even mine, hinted or not. "She's just a teenaged girl trying to find her place in life with her powers, just like you or me. If we don't turn our backs on her now, then she'll have no reason to want to ... " I lowered my voice in my best Darth Vader (which I found out, wasn't very good at all), "join The Dark Side, Luke," I returned to my normal voice, "because she will be loved and will have no reason to want to." Kelly nodded.
"She hasn't done anything
to me, and she didn't deserve the welcome I gave her when she first got here.
I'll be good," she vowed. I nodded again. We talked for a while after that, and
I told her about what I had done to Jeremy Fox and how spooked he was. Kelly
told me about a couple of teachers who were metahuman, and was surprised to hear
that our vice prinipal, Mr. Warner, could turn into a black dog like Sirius
Black from the Harry Potter books. Then she told me about some of the students,
and when she mentioned Gina again, I pretended I didn't already know. 'She
doesn't even know what weapons those wings will be later.' At Kelly's thought, I
looked up at her. She knew I heard her. "I now she isn't dangerous now, nor is
Dinah, but the people they could become may be dangerous. But you're right
Gabster, if we're good to them now, they won't be. Dangerous, that is."
"What about you or me?"
"What ABOUT you or me?" Kelly echoed.
"People tend to think about the truth or have a small feeling of guilt when they lie. I could use it to my advantage, and what I do with that knowledge could be dangerous. And you, you could loan your powers to someone who is searching for someone with- say, a fire ability, which they'd use to destroy buildings and such. What I'm saying is, no matter what our abilities are, we could all find a way to turn it into something dangerous."
"I know you're right, Gabby, but I'm still scared. When I was-"
"Please don't say it. It gives me the creeps," I pleaded.
"That's how I feel," Kelly said, and I nodded.
"I know. Whenever you mention it or talk about it, I feel what you felt then, and I see him in my head. His strength was... and the fact that his limbs could stretch... the fact that he used it to hurt you... I understand now why you were so afraid of people like us." Never thought I would say that to Kelly, but it was the truth. I looked down at the floor. My cell phone, sitting quietly on my charger, started to ring, and I ignored it.
"Aren't you going to answer that?" I shook my head.
"I have company. It would be rude," I replied as it rang for a second time. Kelly stood up and walked towards my charger.
"What if it is your parents?" I hadn't thought of that. "Besides," she added, tossing my phone to me, and I caught it with both hands, "I've got to get going anyway. I'm sort of grounded for not picking up the boys. My parents weren't sure what had happened to me, and I couldn't tell them I simply went crazy, so they said I have to stay in the house for a couple of weeks. Not that I would want to go anywhere with the weather the way it is... I should leave." I nodded, and she left with a wave before the third ring was finished.
"Bye." On the forth ring, I flipped open my phone to see it wasn't my parents, or even the 'Private Number' I got whenever Dinah called me. The area code told me that the caller was in New Gotham, and the first three numbers were the same as the first three numbers of my home phone, telling me that the caller was close. "Hello?" I said slowly, hoping it wasn't a telemarketer.
"Gabby? This is Gina."
"Gina, are you okay? Where are you?"
"Yes, I'm okay. I luckily never left New Gotham. After I spoke to you, I took your advice and went home to change into darker clothes. My mom was there, and tricked me into believing she was one of The Powers That Be, told me that the Book of Shadows- their spell book-"
"Yeah, I knew that-" I said, but she kept going as if to not hear me.
" -was in our basement for safekeeping from whomever was responsable for the madness that night. She locked me in there until I fell asleep. I woke up with my wings out. It wasn't until late last night that I started to remember what happened. I remember now that you were there with me that night trying to get me from the roof. I know you thought I was a jumper, and that my wings weren't real. You were trying to save my life. I wanted to thank you for that. For playing along and not telling me I was crazy. For letting me be stupid and giving me a helpful warning when you knew it was the only thing you could do. If you hadn't told me to go home first, who know what would have happened to me." She stopped talking after a second, and I felt as if I couldn't say anything. What was going on? First Kelly, now Gina? Did everyone know what happened to them that night? Was that why Uncle Leonard had come to me and my parents had called last night? "I also wanted to thank you for not telling anyone about my wings."
"They're beautiful. You have no clue how many times I wished I could just fly away."
"At this point, they can barely carry me a mile, let alone take me to San Fransisco. I'm only good at gliding, and even that I can't do because this city doesn't sleep long enough for me to go unnoticed with them. I truly must have been crazy to think I could save my 'sisters' with them." I laughed.
"Someday they might," I told her, hoping I sounded as encouraging as the statement was meant to be. "Hell, you might be able to bring me to San Diego on your way there."
"I doubt that. I couldn't carry you."
"You calling me fat?" I asked playfully, knowing she implied nothing of the sort. I heard a laugh on the other end.
"Of course not. I'm calling myself a weakling. Anyway, we should get together before the school gets rebuilt," she suggested.
"Sure. We could hang out soon."
"That sounds great." She gave me her number, which was the number displayed on my phone when she had called.
"By the way," I said, "how did you get this number?" There was a pause.
"Don't get mad-"
"Which means, that is exactly what I'm going to do, isn't it?"
"Maybe. I ran into your girlfriend and told her I needed to talk to you- It was the truth, and I asked if she knew how to get ahold of you. You aren't listed in the phone book. Anyway, Dinah gave me this number," she explained.
"Oh, that is nothing to get mad about, and Dinah's not my girlfriend" I added absently, thinking 'No matter how much I wish it were true.' I could almost see Gina's eyebrow raise, something that I was getting used to seeing from her, but I didn't want to go back into the subject of Dinah with her. I wasn't about to tell her that Dinah knew of my feelings for her and that she returned them. She would only ask why we weren't-in her own words- 'screwing eachother's brains out'. "So," I said, changing the subject, "your parents know that you're a me- different?" I didn't want to use the term 'metahuman' because I didn't want her to suspect that I knew what happened that night and that I knew a lot more than I should about people with abilities.
"Oh yeah. She's known since I was born. At birth, I had them out, and she was so proud of them. She might have known before I was born becau-" she stopped talking abruptly.
"Hmm?" I prompted.
"You know about me already, and you didn't tell anyone, so I trust you. My mother. I got it from my mother. She can turn into a crow, but she doesn't do it often. Only when she knows I am up to no good."
"All of your family different?"
"It's just me and my mother. As soon as my dad saw the wings, he left the hospital. I guess my mother never told him... " She sounded sad about not knowing her father, but she seemed to to brighten a little after that. "Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for not telling anyone and not freaking out on me. In fact, your calmness about this whole thing- even now, sort of worries me. It feels as if we're talking about the weather."
"I've always heard about the people with abilities on the news and I thought it would be neat if I had any, especially flying like you have."
No..." Gina said slowly, "I remember trying to stay hidden. I remember that you acted as if you were looking for me. I saw that much on your face when I first turned around. I felt in my head a sense of urgency as if you knew I was there and knew what I was planning to do and wanted to stop it. I don't know... it felt like you sent those fears to me, which is why I hadn't just run from you and jumped anyway." I stayed silent for a minute.
"It is only fair that I tell you everything..." I said, then hesitated. "I'm a- a telepath, I guess... Man, I don't think I have ever said that out loud before. Feels good," I admitted.
"Like, you read minds and stuff?"
"Yes... and stuff," I repeated playfully.
"I never would have guessed that about you Gabby."
"What about you? I thought it was the craziness that made you think you had wings. I mean, come on, some guy thought I was Madonna that night!"
"Man, and to think we sat next to eachother and all we found to talk about was Charmed and Xena."
"It's not like I would've talked about that where I could be overheard, anyway. 'Sides, when we had started to become friends a bit, I was barely getting anything, thoughts and such, from people," I told her, though I thought about how our friendship might be after this. I heard a female voice in the background, but I couldn't hear what exactly she said. It sounded almost like a warning.
"I've got to go. Mom needs to do some buiness online, and needs the phone. I'll see you at school?" she asked as if we didn't share a class together.
"Talk to you later, then."
"Bye Gabby." I put my phone back on its charger even though it was fully charged. I just put it there so I didn't forget where I placed it later. I sat on my bed for a moment and thought things over.
"Hm," I said as I got up again a couple of minutes later, and I went out into the living room where Uncle Leonard was watching a movie. Some old western on the AMC channel. I felt that he was bored, but he didn't seem to know what to do to get rid of that boredom.
"Uncle Leaonard, do you remember what happed two nights ago, the things you did?" I could almost see him cringe, but he nodded.
"Yeah, I was stupid," he said in somewhat of a grunt, "Why?"
"I was talking to Kelly. I ran into her that night, and I just talked to another friend I had been with that night as well... They both remember what they had done that night, but not until only last night."
"Yeah, same here. I started to remember right when I got here. I got the urgent sense that you needed me here, and I right when I got here, I was listening to your messeges in case you got a call from Linda 'n' Jason, and I heard the messege I left. I was such an idiot, and I'm sorry if I scared you, Gabby," he said, shifting his gaze from the TV to me as I stood by the couch. I nodded and thought a little bit more, then looked at him. He'd been watching me.
"Is it okay if I went to Dinah's? I have to talk to her," I said. My uncle's eyes narrowed susptiously, then shifted to somewhat concern.
"Are you okay? You're asking some weird questions again." Uncle Leonard didn't seem concerned about the questions themselves or even the motives, just the fact that it seemed so sudden that I wanted to leave the house after hearing his answers to them. "Did something happen to you that night? Last night?" he asked.
"Something like that."
"I don't care where you go," he said after a minute. I could feel he wanted to press me more about why I wanted to leave and what I wanted to talk to Dinah about, but he felt as well that he didn't desurve to get anything from me when he couldn't tell me what my family was up to with the Institute. He didn't think that in actual words, but I felt it, the curiousity, the concern, the slight fear, and anger at himself. "You're old enough to go where you please and to understand the consequences of your actions. Just call if you're going to be later than eleven."
"I don't think I will be gone that long," I assured him. "I have to take a shower since I haven't done that yet, and I've got to call her to see if it's okay." He nodded, and as I went back in the direction of my room, he turned back to the western.
I called the number Ms. Gordon had given me the day before, and heard her authorative voice after the second ring. "Hello Gabby. Got a question already?"
"I'll always have questions, Ms. Gordon, but I am calling because I have a theory of sorts- guesses really, about something that I just heard, and I wanted to discuss it with you. I cannot do that over the phone because my uncle is in the next room. Would it be okay if we all met somewhere- Helena too?" I asked, not sure what she would say to that.
"Is that Gabby?" I heard my friend say faintly as if she was right there, but faded.
"Am I on speakerphone or something?" I asked.
"No, your voice is being transmitted through the Delphi, which is the number you called," Ms Gordon explained to me.
"The Delphi has its own phone number?"
"It has many, I heard Dinah speak up.
"Hey, it does everything else, it might as well be a phone, too." Dinah said.
"Anyway," my teacher said, cutting of anything that I might have had to say to that, "yes, you can come over, but Helena won't be here. She disappeared after we talked to you yesterday, and she didn't go back to her place, so I don't konw where she is."
"Can't you just track her down with your comm signals or whatever?" I heard Dinah laugh in the background, as if I suggested that maybe Helena went shoe shopping all night.
"I would, but I think Helena need some time alone." I don't know why I nodded to that when I knew Ms. Gordon and my friend wouldn't be able to see it.
"I'll come get you in an hour. I just got finished training, and I need a shower," Dinah said.
"Same here, except for the 'just got out of training' part. An hour sounds great," I told her. Dinah laughed again. She seemed to be in a good mood then, which was odd considering what had happened a couple of nights before.
"Alright then, we'll see you in a bit," Ms Gordon said, and after saying our goodbyes, I hung up. 'I will not think about Dinah in the shower, I will not think about Dinah in the shower, I will not think about Dinah in the shower... Damn it.'
Forty-five minutes later, I was sitting next to Uncle Leonard on the couch with my feet on his lap. When I had put them there, he gave me a glare, but didn't push them off. The same western was on, and the main showdown was over, the main character was wounded but vicrtorious, and the prize woman was in his arms as he winced in pain because of the bullet wouind in his side. I waited for the doorbell to ring or a knock on the door as I only halfway payed attention to the woman swooning. Next to me, I sensed a sadness, and I looked over just in time to see my uncle wiping a tear from his eye, and a grief and longing was so strong within him as he watched the couple on the screen share a passionate kiss. An image of Mark, I assumed, popped into my head, and I looked at my uncle. Mark was Uncle Leonard's first and only lover (as far as I knew). He wasn't like anything I had ever imagined when Leonard told me stories of him. In the image I saw of Mark in my uncle's mind, Mark was a bear of a man, with balding brown hair and green eyes, a husky build, but he was still handsome in his own way.
I studied my uncle's face for a second. In what little memories I had, I don't think I had ever seen him like this. He quickly wiped his left eye, the eye the offending tear fell from. "Did he die, Uncle Leonard?" I asked, not meaing to sound so small, as if I was eleven again, sitting on the floor and listening to his stories of coming aout and being with Mark. I didn't remember Uncle Leonard ever telling me what happened to him, and I knew I asked many millions of times, but he wouldn't answer me. He would only say that it didn't end well. After that, he would go into another story I liked, the story of the day he met my dad, which had always made me laugh and forget about Mark.
Uncle Leonard shook his head. "He... chose his work over me," he said. He took the remote control from the coffee table as I slid my legs off of him and let them slowly rest on the floor. He turned the TV off as I looked down at my knees, trying to picture what kind of work Mark had done that would make him leave my uncle, or make my uncle leave him. "Now, I don't want none of that pitying crap. I don't need it." I looked up at him and smiled, but it didn't reach my eyes.
"There's the bitter old man I know and love," I said fondly, scooting close enough to him so I could rest my head on his left shoulder while my right hand went around his back to his right shoulder in a partial hug.
"A straight person? Where?" I asked, pretending to look around. Uncle Leonard smiled. I felt the static. She was there. I sat up and stood.
"Dinah's here," I said.
"How do you know?" Leonard asked, looking startled. I shrugged with a smirk as the doorbell rang.
"She thinks loudly." I replied, walking quickly to get the door, but held myself down a bit. I felt excited, but knew I shouldn't be. After all, this wasn't a date or anything. I was just going to see the residents of the Clocktower for a buisness meeting of sorts. Why was my heart pounding like it had the night before? Uncle Leonard stood up then as well, and I sensed curiosity. He wondered what kind of girl would make me so crazy for her. I opened the door and saw the shy girl in front of me. "Hey," I said, letting her inside. "I've got to get my shoes, coat and gloves. I'll be right back- Oh! Dinah, this is my uncle, Leonard Cook. Uncle Leonard, this is Dinah Redmond."
"Lance, actually. I took back my mother's name recently," Dinah said, and I nodded as my friend said, "It was nice to see you again, Mr. Cook." 'So they HAD met already once before.' I thought.
"Oh please! Call me Leonard. Mr. Cook is my father, and I am not that far over the hill yet."
"Yeah, I think you've still got an hour or two," I added in. That earned me a glare, and I grinned. Uncle Leonard pointed to my room.
"Go get your stuff or you're grounded until your parents get home. It was an empty threat, but I still laughed and walked away, knowing that my friend and uncle weren't going to start some sort of showdown like in the western. I grabbed the items I said I would and walked back to the others in the walkway.
When I got back, I heard Dinah saying, "I'll be sure to let her know. 'Doubt she'd care at this point, though."
"She better care. It's her job," Uncle Leonard said. Dinah smiled at him, then at me. My chest tightened up again, and I played with the buttons on my coat, taking longer than nessisary to do them up in order keep Dinah from seeing my face. Dinah, too, seemed shy suddenly now that Uncle Leonard wasn't there to distract her from me. She seemed shy as well.
"Hey, are you ready to go?" I nodded. 'I can tell she likes you a lot,' I heard from Uncle Leonard. I turned to him.
"I'll be back by seven at the very latest, and if not, I'll call," I told him, though I doubted I would be gone that long. He nodded, and as the two of us left. I heard, 'If you marry her, I'll kill you. I don't want to be related to Kyle in any way shape or form.' I laughed as I closed the door behind me, and Dinah looked at me with an odd expression. "Sorry" I said, "funny thought." Sensing no lies from me, she gave me her 'you're weird' look, and we continued on towards the Hummer. After we both got in and strapped in, I watched as Dinah started the car and messed with the radio, adjusting the volume, and then she looked at me before making the car leave the curb. At first, the tension in the car was so thick that if you were to try to cut through it with a knife, you'd break the knife.
"Gabby," She said at the same time I started to say her name. We stopped and giggled. "Go ahead." I took in some air.
"Last night, I dreampt of my uncle's memory. He was thinking about me and one night he had tried to convince my parents to tell me the truth about whatever they've been hiding." I thought about the three main adults in my life as they all sat around the picnic tables in New Gotham Park. "I heard them talk about my abilities, and he said, 'I think she has his power.'" I looked at her for a second, then looked at the road in front of us. "I already knew that the metahuman gene was through my father- that wasn't who he was talking about, though, I don't think..."
"Why do you think that?"
"Because my mother said at one point, 'We raised our children together.' Not 'child' as in one, but 'children' as in two..." At this, Dinah looked at me with concern on her face, and I knew that she knew what I was getting at. I stared at the side of my friend's face as she looked back at the road. I was silent for a moment. "I don't know much about this part of me, Dinah, or about the Institute. All I have are the memories of others that I dream of, and the conclusions I can draw drom them." I told her what I did know about the Institute, not caring that I gave everything away. "I didn't want to say anything because-
"You didn't want to explain yourself to us," Dinah said. I smiled.
"That, and I didn't have much to tell, still don't, but from the clues I got, I was able to get this: I have a brother, or I HAD a brother but he died. The only reason why my memory would be blank now is if this brother died when I was five or six, and I saw what had happened and I went into some sort of shock that would have hurt myself or others. I mean, I was very young, and who knows? Maybe I did have them erased at the Institute. My grandfather had in one of the memories said that I had gone to a 'so called doctor', and he could have meant the people there." I looked out the window in front of me, and Dinah thought this over.
"Okay, so if your memory of your brother was erased to help you, then why go back there five years later?"
"I don't know. That does seem weird. I wish I knew. Maybe something happened. I had some sort of relapse or my powers had come to me, and they worked with me then on my powers. My uncle told me last night that I've had my powers before, but I didn't for the last five years at least. That was how my uncle was able to block his own thoughts from me, because he knew about my powers and had learned to keep his thoughts from me when I had them the first time arouns." We were silent and in thought.
"Well, the Institute was a big organization based almost soly on metahuman child developement." I nodded, and Dinah looked at me after the song on the radio ended. I think it was a Heart song aksing if the person they were singing to wanted someone to care about them. "So, you have something you need to discuss with my family and me?" Dinah asked. I nodded.
"I will talk to you all about it at the same time so that I won't have to say it twice. It will be easier." I looked over at her again a few minutes later when I saw that we were driving slowy and carefully on the backroads. It seemed as if Dinah had driven us in a large circle around the city, then was driving us inwards towards the Clocktower. "Hey, speaking of abilities, I've been meaning to ask you some questions about yours." Dinah looked at me then back tro the road, but not before I caught sight of her raised eyebrow.
"Well, you're a touch telepath, right?"
"Yup, last I checked."
"You've touched me many times over the course of our friendship. We've hugged, thumbwrestled and swatted at eachother when we playfought... Didn't you see anything? At all? I mean, you seemed to not have a clue about my being a metahuman," 'Nor did you know about my feelings for you until yesterday,' I thought.
"Yeah, I saw stuff. When we first touched, all I ever saw was a door. Then later I'd hear whispering, but I could never tell what was said, but always saw the door. It was odd that I saw that from you everytime we touched because I couldn't control my powers. For some reason, it always made me feel safe with you. I guess that was why I ran to you the day my mother came back. I knew you wouldn't know what was going on, but still you'd try to understand, and you did. After the fiasco with Al Hawk- like, that next school day, you'd touched me on accident, and I got images of that night. I mean, it felt like they were bouncing back and forth between us. I wasn't sure if you had gotten them or not or if my powers were evolving or being screwy, but from what you told us yesterday, I know now that you had. Later in that class, I tried to touch you again to see what would happen, but I saw nothing."
"Litterally nothing, Gabby. No childhood memories, no door, nothing. It was as if there was supposed to be something there, but wasn't there anymore, which makes me wonder if your memories were taken from you, not repressed. See, if your memories were repressed, I have a feeling something would have triggered your brain to snap when your powers started to come back. If your powers had reawakened, don't you think your memories of your bother would have as well? So, if they were merely taken from you, then it had to have been a metahuman who had done it. Possibly someone who works- worked for the Institute." I stared at her. 'Works? Does this mean the Institute wasn't destroyed after all?'
"I was hoping somehting a long those lines. Then we could look up this metahuman from that Database to see if they are still in San Diego and I can go to them to get my memories back." Though I was getting excited by the thought that someone most definately had my powers out there, I was also a little scared. Not exactly scared, but worried, really. I didn't know if my parents would want me to get those memories back after they worked so hard to pretend it all didn't happen.
"I don't know, Gabby, I don't have a good feeling about that." Dinah shook her head as she said this. About five minutes after that, which I was silent thinking it all over, we were at the Clocktower, but Dinah didn't slow down or stop until we were about two blocks away from it. There was a garage door that said BLOCKED. It was part of a run down building that looked as if its only visters in the last twenty years were of the long tailed furry kind. Dinah pressed a button I hadn't noticed that was right next to the eject button on the car's radio, and the door opened. We rode along what seemed to be a tunnel, and it dipped sownwards towards the Clocktower. Talk about good parking.
When we came to a stop, we got out and I followed Dinah to an elevator door, where she pressed a button that I hadn't seen until it lit up. The inside looked like a normal everyday elevator, but there were no buttons inside. It was as if there was only one place for the elevator to go, and that was to the top. And a long way it was to the top. When I saw the sight of the inside of the Clocktower though, the long climb seemed worth it. I saw so many monitors, all on, all doing something. Ms. Gordon was typing something at one monitor, then wheeled to the other, not getting lost on which monitor had what information. It was facinating to watch. I wished I could be like that, that organized, that smart, that cool. Ms. Gordon finished typing about eighty words per minutes on the monitor she was at before she wheeled away from it and looked at us. I was still admiring what looked like security monitors over the schools and the large buisnesses. "Man, if you can't do a proper Google search on this baby, then you've paid too much, Ms. Gordon." I said.
"You can call me Barbara, Gabby."
"Not while you're still my teacher, I can't." I told her. She smiled.
"I can respect that," she replied. Helena walked in from the loft, and I watched her walk down the ramp and stand by the Delphi. She briefly read what was on the monitor Ms. Gordon had just left, and then she looked away, obviously not sure what she ahd just read.
"Took you two long enough. What did you do, drive to Maine and back?" Helena, ever the patient one, asked.
"No, we took the scenic route around the city liked we used to do before everything... got messed up. We needed to talk." Dinah replied and I nodded. It was the truth. I looked at Helena and smiled a small smile.
"I'm glad you could make it here," I said.
"I wanted to hear what you had to say about that night. Maybe you've some up with something that none of us had thought about."
"I doubt it. You three are great. I just wanted to make sure you could be here because I think it has to do with you in a way, too. Not personally, but... Well..." I trailed off and decided to start from the beginning and go from there. "I wanted to share my theiry about the night before last that may or may not affect the city again. You sure know how to pick your enemies-"
"We don't 'pick' them," Helena said in a curt tone, "They chose to do bad in this city, just as we chose to protect it and to do good." Her stance was a defencive one, and Dinah put a hand on her arm.
"I'm sorry. That didn't come out right. All I meant was that when someone wants to do some damage, they sure know how to go about doing it."
"What do you mean?" Dinah asked, moving her hand from Helena's arm and standing a little closer to me.
"I was telling you in the Hummer about some of the guesses I had about my past. I have a guess or two about that night as well. A couple of friends of mine, and my uncle were all affected by the craziness that happened that night. I had run across them, except for my uncle, but he had called. My parents, too were affected, but they left the city and couldn't go back to normal when you all made things right again. The thing is, I am asuming you all told people to forget about that night, and they all did, happily going back to their lives, not knowing what they may or may not have done. My friend Kelly and I got into... a fight that night, and I ran into another friend of mine, who thought she was a TV show character. My uncle Leonard was screaming about pixies. And parents went off to Las Vegas and got married again. Yesterday, none of them seemed to remember anything until about last night, which may be why my uncle came to me last night and parents had called me and told me where they were. I got a call from both of my friends today who were apologetic about what was said and done." I tried so hard not to look at Helena with my next sentance, but I knew that Helena would also agree. "They all remembered what had happened, what they did and what they said, so here is what I think: I think that since Harley Quinn had stolen the powers from someone, she hadn't had the time to learn to use them to the extent that the person who originally had them had, if that makes any sense. The man who was born with the abilities might have been able to hold the hypnosis for days, years if he really wanted to. Harley Quin wouldn't have had the time to gain that much control over those powers, so she might have been able to keep her hold on the city for only a full day even if you didn't stop her. Even your countering her damage with a hypnosis of your own didn't last more that twenty four hours. It has been more than that time, and now people everywhere are going to start to remember." I said. I looked at Helena then, and I felt the grief, which was so much stronger than the day before. I wanted to tell her that it wasn't something she had control over, but I doubt she wanted to hear my pitying words, since she didn't know me that well. Plus, she wouldn't have believed me anyway. She wouldn't have even believed Ms. Gordon, and they'd been friends/family for years.
"That makes a lot of sense, actually. I hadn't quite thought of that," my teacher admitted, and I knew she was somewhat embarressed to admit that.
"Not to sound stupid, but how will this affect the whole city, like you said?" My friend seemed lost, though I knew she had an inkling about where this was all going. She wanted to make sure she was right in her own guesses.
"Just think about it, Dinah," Helena started off, "people all over the city went crazy, and who know what all they've done. Close to three hundred people were mysteriously murdered without a motive, and I'm sure not all of those poeple had the same murderer. People who were the muderers ('like me') remember everything. In their crazed minds, they may have had a reason for what they did, but that doesn't mean the blood wasn't already shed." I looked at Ms. Gordon, then back to Dinah as she thought about this.
"Man, this is brutal," Dinah said, and we were still for a while. Helena and Ms. Gordon were thinking about eacher, wondering when they'll ever get to sit down and talk about the last few nights, but neither of them wanted to approach the subject. 'Now, the time to talk is now.' I thought about them both in my line of view and pretended that I had said this to them instead of thought it. I felt my knees give out and I fell; my hands barely caught me in time and kept my face from slamming against the floor. "Gabby! Are you okay?" Dinah knealt beside me and attempted to help me up, but my legs refused to carry my weight. 'Note to self," I thought, "never do that again.' She grabbed my arm and wrapped it around her neck, and to my surprise, Helena was on my other side.
"I'm sorry," I said shakily, not sure what else to say, 'that's never happened to me before." I was a little scared.
"It's happened to me once," Dinah told me in a calm voice that helped me calm myself. I took some deep breaths and listened to her voice in my ear. "I had used my telekinesis to pick up something heavier than what I was used to. You must have done something to over-excert your powers. You'll be fine in a few minutes." My head moved to look at Helena and I let my gaze shift from her to Ms. Gordon. They both looked at me, then at eachother. They got the hint that I had sent the messege to the both of them. I had hoped that since Dinah was touching me she had gotten in on the silent conversation as well. My friend looked at her adopted sister and I felt the static on my right side, and it felt almost like another hand holding me up. "I've got her, Helena."
"Yeah, I'm sure. Come on, Sweetie."
As we walked up the ramp, or rather, as Dinah halfway dragged me up the ramp, I heard, "If what Gabby says is true, then you must remember... everything. I can't begin to imagine what that must be doing to you..." We entered what I assumed was Dinah's bedroom. There was a twin sized bed with light blue sheets and a stars/moon comforter and pillowcases that matched the sheets. There was a small bed-side table that had a lamp, a small notebook, an alarm clock, three pens, and a black scrunchy. She had a desk, small, but it looked as it it served its purpose, as there were two large text books out, one open to about the halfway mark. There was a framed picture of a blonde woman in her late twenties, early thirties at the oldest, with her arm around the neck of a gorilla statue at the zoo as if she was wrestling it, and standing on the other side of the gorilla was a girl about five years old, laughing. I knew this was Dinah and her mother, but to be honest, I couldn't see too much of a resemblance other than the blonde hair. Like me, she must take more after her father, who/wherever he may be. I noticed that the glass on the frame was shattered. What happened to it? Did she drop it? Did she throw somehting at it with her telekinesis? Did someone come into her room when the Clocktower was invaded and destroy it? I wondered who had taken the photo. Was it her father? Ms. Gordon? Some stranger at the zoo?
Dinah sat me on her bed and pulled her chair over so that when she sat in it we were face to face. I looked briefly at the picture again, noting that the girl in the picture was so much different from the girl in front of me. "Gabby," I looked up at her, seeing concern in her eyes. "I want to tell you something that not even Barbara or Helena know. I'd wait for another time since you're in this state and you've already got a lot to digest, but I think it'll help you control your powers. You see... I don't think my powers started when I was nine. That was just when the dream of Helena and Barbara came to me, and so that is just when I told them it had. Before that, the dreams I had were fuzzy, blurry, but I could still feel the presense of who was there. It was like my version of the whispers and humming you experienced when your powers started to show." I nodded.
"I have dreams like that sometimes," I said, and Dinah smiled before continuing.
"I taught myself to picture my my powers as something else and use that item to determine whether or not I want to have those dreams. I did this not long after I had dreams of Helena and Barbara. I kept dreaming of them, night after night. I saw Helena in the hospital, waiting for Barbara to wake up, her hands loosly folded on her knees and her head down, hoping and pleading for Barbara to regain consiousness. I dreampt of Barbara going in for a surgery and telling Helena that she will wake up and be okay... I didn't like the dreams because I didn't know who these women were or where I could find them. Everytime I would dream of them, I longed to be with them. So much, sometimes, that I cried for hours. They don't even know about that first dream that brought me to New Gotham. They don't know that I went looking for them. They were the family I told you I was looking for after the fight with my foster parents." I watched her, and she stared at me. "I was hoping that I could help you control your powers enough to strengthen them so that this," she motioned my legs, "won't happen again. And you won't having people's thoughts chattering constantly in your head."
"I can't help it, and I don't like it. It feels like an invasion of privacy. I feel guilty everytime I hear something I am not supposed to." I looked down. I couldn't help but think about the thoughts of the people at the high school as I cleaned up. I didn't like seeing that so many people were afraid and I could feel it just as much as they could. Suddenly Dinah's hand touched my cheek, then the hand moved down under my chin, gently forcing me to look at her. Without saying a word, I heard, 'Would you like me to help you change that?' "More than ever," I said, too afraid to answer with my mind. I wasn't sure if that would make things worse or not.
Dinah's mind started to race- not as quickly as Ms. Gordon's, but fast enough. She touched my hand, and I felt her presense in my head. I am not sure what she would see, since the last time she saw into my head and I wasn't thinking about a door, she saw her own thoughts bounced back at her. Dinah never did learn how to control when she saw into people's minds when she touched them, which was why she had reacted to me that first day the way she had. As for the dreams, she knew to control them, so she rarely had them anymore. She admitted in her mind that the dreams scared her. I didn't blame her. Sometimes the dreams/memories worried me too. When she wanted to go into someone's mind on purpose, however, she would imagine her mind as her hand, and someone else's mind as a box, a pretty box her mother once owned when Dinah lived with her, and Dinah had always loved it. The box had a latch on it, and if she wanted to see within someone, she would open the latch, but sometimes, I guess, that latch was always open on some people and she could always see inside them. If she is used to being around someone, say Helena, Ms. Gordon or myself, she forces the latch to shut, but it doesn't always stay shut. "Yours is a box, mine is a door." I said. Dinah nodded, relieved I understood. I saw Dinah's white box close and I no longer felt her presense in my head.
She smiled affectionately at me, her eyes glittering as they had in my fantasy the night before. How I wanted to take possession of her lips then, grab her body and force it on top of me as our tounges danced together in an erotic tango. I realized then that I'd been reading too many lesbian romance novels. "Close your eyes," she said then, "and concentrate on my voice." In her mind, I heard my favorite song, 'A Song For A Winter's Night' by Sarah McLaughlin. How approproate it was, considering how I felt for Dinah and the fact that the snow was actually falling slightly when we were out on the road. The song was thought so loud that anything else in her mind was drowned out. "You hear the song, don't you?" I nodded.
"I'm surprised you know as much of the song as you do," I said to her.
"I have the CD it's on," She replied. "Now shush and concentrate on the song for a minute, then imagine your door." It had a nice ring to it, 'my door' did, and I felt almost possessive as if it were a toy I didn't want to share with the other kids. Not that it was something anyone could take from me, but it gave me something I could take control of. This door, my door, my abilities. I may not have my memories, but I have this ability, and I wanted to appretiate what I had. I nodded with my eyes still closed, and heard the song clearly before I saw my door come into view behind my eyelids. Before she said anything, I knew what she wanted of me, and I imagined myself reaching out for the my door, pulling the door handle it towards me as it closed, but not latching. I was afraid that if I latched it shut, the door would lock again from the inside and the my abilities would fade back into whispers and murmurs. Though I hated imposing on other people's thoughts, I like sending thoughts out to people. Maybe that part of my abilities could someday save someone, another- a real jumper. "Close the door, Gabby," Dinah said softly, though it still made me jump. I didn't know what to do. I kept my hand on the door, not wanting to do anything else with it. It was safe, closed only this much. Closing the door this far proved I had control of my abilities, and I won't lose them. I was willing to compromise. "Close it all the way, Gabby." Dinah urged as in my mind the song faded, but I could still hear some of the harmonies of the song. "I promise it is okay. Close the door." I concentrated on the image of my hand and closed the door completely, hearing it click shut. The song was gone.
My mind felt somewhat fuzzy, almost as it felt whenever I was passing a lou sound and then going into silence. My ears felt as if they were ringing. I did it. I can control this. The people at the Insitute may have my memories, but they don't have my abilities. I do, and I have control now. It felt so great. Of course, I knew that was only the beginning of it, but blocking out thoughts whenever made me feel incredible. I could let people think what they wanted. I didn't need to know all of their dirty little secrets. I sighed in relief.
Suddenly there was a warmth upon my lips, warmth form her sweet lips. My eyes shot open in surprise as my mind registered the fact that Dinah was kissing me. Then I shut my eyes again, concentrating instead on the feel of her lips. I felt nothing from her, but I wanted to. Was she, too, surprised by this bold move? Had she been waiting long to make it, or was it a spur of the moment thing for her? As my left hand palmed the side of her neck and my fingers curled around to the back of it, I felt Dinah shiver, and I felt victorious knowing I made her feel that way. Our kiss, though nice, was a little sloppy and a lot of guess work, but it wasn't like I had anything to comapre it to, my last and only kiss before her being a peck on the lips that had lasted only a fraction of a second before Miranda backed away and slapped me. I am not sure if Dinah ever kissed anyone before me, but it seemed as if the answer to that was no. There was no way I was going to embaress myself by attempting to use my tounge, so I stuck to the basics of kissing, and Dinah wasn't in a hurry to change that. It was still enjoyable in its own way. I wanted to know what she was thinking. She had an unfair advantage as I felt her in my head for a brief moment. She was touching me, so she knew that I was almost melting under her tounch. Was I doing something wrong? Was I doing something right? Is she okay with this, even though she had initiated the kiss? Did this mean she was saying yes? To us? I pictured myself opening the door again only a crack, hoping that whatever I heard would be faint. '...DOING?! This is wrong.'
To her, it wasn't wrong as in 'I'm kissing a girl, it's a sin and I'm going to Hell now'. No, to her it was wrong as in 'I just told her no and now I'm kissing her and confusing her'. It was enough to make me loosen my grip on the back of her neck and force myself to end the kiss, as much as my whole body didn't want to. Dinah stood up and walked to the other side of her room as if she'd been burned. "I'm sorry Gabby-"
"Are you?" I asked looked at her, trying in vain to reign in the hurt in my voice.
"No- Yes- I mean-" Dinah took a deep breath. "I don't regrett that I kissed you. I regret that I kissed you and still say we can't. I don't want to mislead you." I didn't know what I wanted to say. I couldn't seem to open my mouth to speak. Finally, when I could open my mouth, I felt as if there was no air leaving my throat.
After a minute of silence I said, "I would gladly stand by your side- I would anyway no matter what- I just can't seem to walk away from you- I would gladly stand by your side and wait for the day you'd turn to me and say 'yes Gabby'... But if you're so sure that the answer would always be no..." My voice lowered at the painful thought, and I swallowed, "then I wouldn't be able to handle it if you were to kiss me again."
"I'm sorry, Gabby. I really am," Dinah said again. Slowly I test my legs to see if they would hold my body as I shood. 'So far so good,' I thought as I stood and felt sturdy.
"You know, I think you should take me home."
"No, please don't go Gabby," Dinah said as she turned to me, a plea was evident there. "I wish you could understand-"
"I do understand. That's the thing. We have so much in common now, and the attraction between us is so strong it could only make sense to be together. I understand that you're trying to protect me by not being with me. I get it. I do, but this hurts," I said, empasizing the last two words.
"Yes, I know," Dinah said quietly, "but it has to be this way. Yes, we have a lot on common. You're right about that. We're both telepathic metahumans, we've got shady if not dark pasts, hell we're both blonde haired, blue eyes beauties who are smart enough to rise above the stereotype, but we have one difference that is the most important to me: you don't risk your life for the city like I do, Gabby. You don't make dangerous enemies. Your life, compared to mine, is peaceful, and I'd like to keep it that way."
"I guess you and my parents both," I muttered, knowing that she'd hear me. "Now look at it. I think, if possible, it has gotten worse because they tried so hard to make it all go away. This, too, will backfire on us. Look, I don't want to argue with you about it. I know I can't win this, anyway. I understand why you're doing this. I think every hero in history has done the whole 'I love you but can't be with you to protect us both' routine."
"The fact that we can't be together doesn't change how I feel about you," Dinah said, her voice low and almost in a whisper. I knew how she felt about me. I knew because even without my abilities, I could see it in her eyes just then. I didn't say anything, but my mind was screaming at her, telling her that our feelings for eachother were useless if nothing can be done about them. That they would just be a waste of time and space within us. I didn't want to be with anyone else, but I didn't want to feel this loneliness, either. Dinah didn't want our relationship to be strained like this, but she didn't want to watch me die, as she knew she eventually would. We were stuck.