DISCLAIMER: Birds of Prey and its characters are the property of Miller/Tobin Productions, Warner Brothers and DC comics. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: OK so first off the standard disclaimers: Birds of Prey does not belong to me it is the property of people who make far more than I do and are far more creative than me. I am just borrowing their characters for my own whimsical uses and make no profit off this at all.
WARNING: With that out of the way, here's another disclaimer: This story is dark and graphic and deals with some pretty strong subject matter. I wrote this story a few years back when I was in a dark place and what is now the prologue was actually just a one shot I posted on another forum. But everyone wanted to see more, so I ended up writing an entire story. It will eventually have a light at the end of the tunnel…but if angst and character torment is not your thing…well you have been duly warned.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To xfiredancerx[at]gmail.com

Dark Prodigy
By Firedancer


Chapter 11: Silence

The first thing Dinah noticed as she transported into the Watchtower was that the noise in her head immediately diminished to tolerable levels. She couldn't help the choked sob that escaped her throat and J'onn rested a knowing hand on her shoulder.

"Out here, the vastness of space offers us a peace that is hard to find on Earth. It is the main reason why I choose to reside here," he informed her. "The Watchtower is home to several of the League at any given time, but you will find that those who tend to stay the longest are the ones who are the calmest or have natural abilities to shield themselves."

"I haven't had this much quiet since I touched her…not even the drugs…" she broke off, humiliated by her acts of desperation.

"While your choice to resort to illegal means in an effort to seek peace of mind were obviously disappointing, they are understandable," he said, his tone gentle to take the sting out of his rebuke. "Now I'm sure you would like a tour of the facility, and I know there are a few of our residents who are eager to meet you. However it has been a rather long evening for you and I think it would be best if we retire for the night and you can face tomorrow refreshed."

Dinah nodded wearily, as she yawned massively, her body reminding her that it was in desperate need of sleep. J'onn chuckled quietly and led her through the semi-deserted halls of the Watchtower. With the noise level reduced so drastically, Dinah found her mind beginning to shut down even as she trudged after the Martian, every step growing more and more heavy.

The teen vaguely noted several others engaged in various tasks or leisurely activities as they passed by a number of work areas and common rooms. She made a mental note of where the kitchen was, knowing that would be an important place to explore further at a later time. A couple of people passed them, nodding their greetings even as their eyebrows raised at the sudden appearance of the girl on their station.

Dinah could sense the private lines of thought J'onn was directing at each individual, but his control was so fine-tuned that she wasn't able to actually read what he was sending. She drew up short however when they passed a tall blonde man dressed in casual green sweats and black t-shirt. He was tall, with broad shoulders and a chiseled jaw framed by an equally blonde beard and mustache. His eyes were a piercing light blue.

He quirked an eyebrow at her and then looked over at J'onn who was obviously busy communicating with the man telepathically even as he quickly began steering Dinah back down the hall. "Who was that?" she mumbled tiredly, feeling a sense of familiarity that she couldn't quiet place.

"One of the Justice League that you will be introduced to soon. As I said, many of them are eager to meet you. But you my dear are in need of some much needed rest as you can barely stay on your feet" J'onn answered, subtly deflecting her curiosity for the time being.

They finally arrived in front of a plain looking door with funny lettering on it, J'onn showed her the access code and how to gain entry into what was his quarters. As they stepped inside and the doors shut behind them, Dinah's mind was finally filled with completely blessed silence.

Her eyes closed and she sagged to her knees in utter relief. "How..?" she choked out after a few moments.

"I had these quarters specifically built for me and even I have need on occasion for completely silence," he admitted. "My quarters are yours for the duration of your stay and any time you need to have solace from the noise of the world, Dinah Lance."

"Thank you," she whispered, as she looked up at him with tears of gratitude in her eyes.

And then everything caught up with her and she promptly passed out. J'onn smirked a tiny bit, having expected this. A quick mental brush of his calm mind against hers assured him that she was slipping into a deep, healing sleep. He picked her up with ease and carried her over to his bedroom where he removed her boots and then tucked her into bed. He pulled the door to his bedroom closed before settling himself on the low couch that he often used for mediation.

Savoring the peace of his quarters as well, the Martian slipped into a light meditative state, pondering how he would proceed with this youngling, and deal with any potentially volatile issues that might arise in the near future.

He pulled himself out of his meditative state for just a moment as he opened his mind to his closest friend. Kal-El I have a favor to ask that I will explain in greater depth later. Can you please arrange for Oliver to be…occupied off station for the next several days?

He could feel Kal's puzzlement, but J'onn never asked for anything unless it was extremely important and Kal-El never questioned J'onn's judgement in any matters. I will see to it my friend.

My thanks old friend. I will explain further when you return, however I think by then you will understand my request.

J'onn broke off contact at that point and resumed his mediation for the rest of the night, allowing himself to remain just alert enough to assuage Dinah's mind if her dreams began to grow too disturbing for her to rest peacefully. Thankfully, her resilient mind needed only the slightest of nudges which indicated that her healing would progress smoothly.

And if this girl was a pupil of Barbara Gordon, her training would progress just as adeptly.

A soft knock on J'onn's door brought the Martian out of his meditation. He smiled when he reached out to see who was standing outside his door. Allowing entry, he stood to quietly greet Diana.

"The other's have told me that you've been sequestered in here for almost two days with the girl you brought. I figured the two of you could probably use a meal at the very least," she told him as she set the tray she brought in down on the coffee table.

"Your thoughtfulness is as always greatly appreciated Diana," J'onn said genuinely. He gestured for her to sit as he lifted the lid to reveal a few of his preferred foods. "As observant as ever I see," he added with a smile.

"So who is she J'onn? The others said only that you told them telepathically that she's a touch telepath that needed shelter and training immediately and that you would explain later. Seeing as how you of all people don't just bring people up to the Watchtower, you've definitely piqued all of our curiosity a great deal."

J'onn had been pondering what he would tell the others, and who he would entrust with certain information. Given his abilities he had known that Barbara Gordon had taken up the mantle of Oracle. Dick Grayson of course was well aware of this fact, along with Carolyn Lance. Kal, Diana, and Oliver heavily suspected Oracle's true identity, but respected Oracle's wish for anonymity.

But when Barbara contacted him, she had come to accept that her identity would most likely have to be revealed to the League. If Dinah was to travel to the Watchtower, the League's very own base of Operations, they had every right to know who they had amongst their midst. And there was just no way getting around Dinah's connections.

But J'onn had decided that perhaps Oracle's identity could remain relatively secret. He would inform Kal Diana, and Oliver of the full details surrounding the recent events in New Gotham. However, the rest only needed to know the barest of details, and if four of the most senior Leaguers found it acceptable, the rest would follow suite, understanding all too well the need for privacy.

"Diana, do you remember that Carolyn had a daughter some years back?" he asked, knowing she was the only other person in the League to be aware of that knowledge.

Diana's eyes widened. "You mean that's Dinah Lance in there?" Diana whispered in shock.

J'onn nodded. "Dinah is meta-human, like her mother. However, her powers manifested themselves in a considerably different fashion. Dinah's mind functions at a capacity that rivals mine," he informed the Amazon.

"Goddess. How is it that we are only just aware of this now? Did her powers just manifest themselves?"

"Young Dinah's powers have been manifesting themselves steadily throughout her life. It started with precognitive abilities, but progressed into touch telepathy and telekinesis. However, a series of rather recent tragic events have triggered an exponential growth in her powers. The most recent shattered what tenuous control she did possess and resulted in near disastrous situation. Thankfully, her family was able to stop things before they got too out of control. But they were forced to ask for outside help as none of them were capable of helping Dinah."

Diana was mulling over what he was saying. "J'onn….if her mother was Carolyn, who died in that explosion…well who is her family? I know Carolyn gave the girl up for adoption. Where did she end up?"

"Dinah was relinquished into the custody of a family known as the Redmond's. I doubt Carolyn would have allowed the girl to remain in their custody, had she known the abuse the girl would receive during her formative years due to her emerging talents. Dinah witnessed through her dreams, the devastating events that surrounded the night Joker shot Barbara Gordon, and had Selina Kyle murdered in front of her daughter."

"Oh Hera, the poor girl."

"Indeed. Dinah was plagued with those nightmares for years, but they were so real to her, she knew they weren't figments of her imagination. It gave her the strength to leave her foster family in search of the two individuals that her dreams focused on. Barbara Gordon and Helena Kyle. It took some convincing, but Barbara finally relented to become Dinah's legal Guardian."

"And given that we all know Barbara trained Helena to become Huntress, I'm guessing that she trained Dinah as well."

J'onn nodded. "She did, and Dinah flourished under Barbara's care and training. Barbara encouraged Dinah to hone her abilities, and for a time she was progressing well. However, when Carolyn traveled to New Gotham, her intentions were a bit more than what she led all of us to believe."

Here Diana smirked knowingly. "She was pissed as Hades, and was bent on getting her daughter out of the Life."

J'onn chuckled. "Very astute. And she nearly succeeded. She wasn't counting on how much stubbornness Dinah had inherited from her however. From what I can tell, mother and daughter mended the break in their bond shortly before Carolyn's unfortunate sacrifice. That was the beginning of Dinah's downfall."

"What pushed her over the edge?"

Here J'onn paused, and took a deep breath, signaling Diana that he was about to reveal something of significance to her. "We are all aware of the events that occurred in New Gotham several months back."

"I take it you are referring to the night Harley Quinn made the city go insane. Thank Goddess Oracle was able to step in and figure out how to break that…." Diana faltered and then paused as her mind began to recall the details and the pieces began to fall into place.

"Huntress brought Quinn down with two others that night. Oracle stopped the signal, but since then we haven't heard from Oracle. Huntress has dropped off the grid, and Kal was disturbed by some of the arrest reports coming in from New Gotham. Apparently, whoever had taken over for Huntress had some rather violent tendencies."

"Diana, what I'm about to reveal to you will most likely come as no surprise. But I'm sure you understand the need to keep this information limited to as few people as possible."

Diana smirked. "I knew that school teacher thing was just a front. I just couldn't see Barbara Gordon willingly sitting on the sidelines, knowing that she was the one who trained Huntress. And for anyone to become Oracle they would have to have access to a large bank account and advanced technology that hasn't even hit the market. There are only a handful of people on the planet with those kind of resources and an even smaller number of people with that kind of intelligence."

J'onn smiled. "Barbara did indeed become Oracle. But Quinn gained access to that knowledge by using Helena, and when she did, she ripped their lives apart," he said, his smile fading quickly as sadness filled his voice. "She hypnotized Helena and sent her after Barbara to kill her. Then she killed Barbara's boyfriend, took over their base of operations, and used Oracle's equipment to harm the very people they fight so hard to protect."

Diana felt her heart ache with that knowledge. "As if they haven't all been through enough? "

J'onn sighed heavily. "Barbara almost crossed the line that night. Helena kept her from killing Quinn, but Dinah realized that it was too dangerous for them now that Quinn was aware of their secret. So she linked telepathically with the woman to wipe her mind with devastating effects."

"Did she go insane?"

"Very nearly. Quinn, while as insane as her homicidal lover, also happened to be a gifted psychiatrist. She had extensive knowledge of the way the human mind works, and in the link, that shared knowledge unknowingly unlocked Dinah's full potential all at once. The result was devastating to say the least as she was able to control nearly everything, except the ability to shut out the noise of humanity in her mind. There have been some other rather distressing developments regarding the health and well being of her family that very nearly pushed her over the edge."

"Is Barbara ok?" Diana asked immediately.

"She is…coping for the time being. But just barely," J'onn admitted. "Helena could not handle the guilt of what she'd allowed to happen to her family and tried to take her life. Her father managed to just barely save her in time, but it is questionable whether she will ever fully recover physically."

"Bruce?" Diana gasped, feeling slightly light headed. No one had heard from him in years. She had a sneaking suspicion J'onn was always aware of Bruce's location, and that Kal most likely knew as well. But no one ever said anything, and she hadn't pushed.

"He has since left New Gotham." At the sudden flash of anger in Diana's eyes, the telepath quickly added. "It was at Barbara's request this time. Helena has held a great deal of animosity for Bruce all these years, and Barbara felt it would be best that he not be around during her recovery."

"What exactly happened to Helena?"

"She has lost her sight."

"Hera," Diana sighed heavily.

"The skilled Dr. Thompson is handling her care personally, so if anyone can help her, it would be Dr. Thompson. Thankfully, her current disability did not hamper her efforts to stop Dinah when she broke into Arkham two nights ago to kill Quinn. She managed to get through to the girl, and after the whole ordeal, Barbara contacted me asking for my assistance, realizing she could no longer aide Dinah."

"Things must have been pretty desperate if Barbara Gordon asked for help." J'onn simply nodded. "So how has the training been going?"

"Actually, Dinah has been asleep this entire time. She has not had a full nights rest in weeks, another factor that was contributing to her mental breakdown, and her mind was beginning to suffer damage from prolonged exposure to the mental noise she was being bombarded with. I have been keeping her nourished with supplemental and hydration injections, but as this time is finally allowing her mind and body to heal, I have been loathe to wake her."

"Two days? Wow. She really must be worn out. When do you anticipate that she will awaken?"

"She has started to show signs of more alertness over the last few hours. She is still soundly sleeping, but it is not the deep state of unconsciousness that it was yesterday. I think she may come out of it within the next eight hours or so."

"I know you need your rest as well J'onn. Meditation will only get you so far, and if I know you, you've been keeping careful watch over her this entire time. And you just got back from that avalanche in France, which means you haven't slept in four days."

"I am fully capable of going for a couple more without-,"

"Yes, yes we all know," Diana interrupted. "But I have a feeling that when she does wake up, you are going to need to be fully alert and ready for anything. So why don't you let me take over for a little while, so you can get a little shuteye yourself. You know I'm the best choice right now since the only other one around that can shield better is Kal and he's off with Oliver breaking in some of the recruits."

Both senior members smirked a bit at that. "I have a feeling that I am going to be in debt to Kal-El for some time to come."

Diana laughed quietly. "I was wondering why he insisted that Ollie go with him this mission. Don't get me wrong, Ollie's a great guy, but he's not exactly one of the best teachers in the League. You asked Kal to take him?"

"I did."

"Any particular reason?"

"Given that I'm inclined to take you up on your offer to keep an eye on Dinah while I catch up on some sleep, I believe I will save the answer for that until later."

"Fair enough. I'm going to go sit with her then and you get some sleep."

J'onn's lips twisted upwards at her authoritative tone. "Yes, your Majesty," he teased as she moved quietly into Dinah's room.

Suddenly, a little relieved that he could get a few hours of sleep himself, he quickly dropped off into a restful slumber.


Chapter 12: Purge

"Thank you Alfred. It was delicious as always," Barbara told the butler as he cleared away the remains of their dinner.

"As always, my pleasure Miss Barbara. Shall I bring the dessert out now or do you ladies wish to wait a little while?"

"I think I need to digest a little bit before I can attempt to eat anything more," Barbara chuckled.

"Me too Al," Helena added quietly.

"Very well, if you require anything just call. I am going to tidy up the kitchen before I retire for the evening."

Barbara smiled at her old friend and then looked across the table at her silent dinner partner. Helena had been extremely quiet over the past week. Not sullen like she'd been before. But she had been very pensive, and the redhead wasn't sure if that was any better.

The most vocal Helena had been all week had been the day Leslie came over for her weekly check-up and began to chew Barbara out for allowing her patient to be injured like she was. Helena had quickly come to her partner's rescue, explaining everything and accepting full blame and Leslie's wrath.

After that, she'd said little to anyone. The brunette merely spent her days lounging out on the balcony, up on her favorite gargoyle, or in her room. Barbara had given Helena her space, but she was afraid that the younger woman would slip back into her deep depression if she didn't speak up soon.

Thankfully, Helena rescued Barbara from trying to figure out how she could delicately break the ice. "Barbara?"

"Yes Hel?"

"I was wondering…," the brunette seemed to lose her resolve and the older woman reached across the table and laid her hand over Helena's.

"It's okay Helena," she encouraged gently. "You know you can ask me anything right?"

She watched as unseeing blue eyes finally raised and a dark head nod once. Barbara didn't push, just let Helena bide her time to ask what she wanted. "Can you take me to see my mom?"

Barbara blinked. Helena hadn't visited her mother's grave since they'd buried Selina Kyle. "Of course," Barbara responded immediately. When Helena said nothing more, Barbara squeezed her hand and then backed slowly away from the table.

"I'll go get our coats, and let Alfred know that we'll be heading out."

Helena merely nodded and Barbara made her way into the kitchen. "Alfred, I think we'll be skipping dessert tonight. Helena and I are going to go out for a little bit."

Alfred raised an eyebrow, obviously intrigued by that statement. Ever the proper butler however, he didn't pry when Barbara volunteered nothing more. "Very well Miss Barbara. Then as soon as I have finished here I will retire to the Manor for the evening. I will leave the desserts in the refrigerator just in case though. If you require anything else, please do not hesitate to call."

Barbara smiled warmly at him. "I won't Alfred. Thank you for a wonderful dinner, and have a good evening."

"You as well Miss Barbara."

Barbara was almost out the door when she paused. "Alfred, there is one thing," she said looking back over her shoulder.

"Yes Miss Barbara?"

"Do you know the name of a florist in the area that might still be open?"

"Well it is still fairly early Miss Barbara, there are a few I could recommend. May I inquire as to the occasion?" he asked, unable to curb his curiosity completely.

Barbara gave him a sad smile. "Paying my respects to an old friend," was all she said.

It was all the older man's sharp mind needed. "Well in that case, there is a shop on the corner of Fifth and Erringer called 'From the Heart.' They always have a wide selection no matter what time of year. I hear their Tiger Lily's are most exquisite."

Barbara smirked. Leave it to Alfred to have known what Selina's favorite flower was. "I'll be sure to stop by there then. Thank you Alfred."

"My pleasure Miss."

Barbara retrieved jackets for her and Helena since the evenings were fickle enough this time of year to sometimes cool down drastically. She returned to the dining room, and found Helena staring blankly at the wall, her fingers toying nervously with her wine glass.

"You ready?" Barbara asked gently.

Helena drew in a deep breath and then nodded. "Yeah…I think so." She stood, unfolded the cane she'd been learning to use and made her way over to where Barbara sat. Barbara waited for Helena to grasp her chair, but the brunette shook her head.

"I'm actually getting pretty good with this thing," she said lifting the cane. "And the more I do this on my own, the more independent I'll be."

Barbara understood all too much just how important one's independence was after sustaining a crippling injury. She chuckled softly. "Well you certainly don't have to worry about me standing in the way of that. Besides, I've seen you wield escrima sticks."

For the first time in weeks, Helena's lips actually twisted up in a tiny grin. "I'm starting to appreciate that you made me practice blindfolded too. But just remember, you try any of the stunts on me right now that you did back then, I carry a much bigger stick now."

Barbara knew she probably had a goofy smile on her face at the moment, but she didn't care. Helena had not only grinned, she'd also just joked a tiny bit with Barbara. It wasn't much, but it was a definite start. "Come one Hel, let's get out of here. I could use the drive this evening."

The ride to the cemetery was made in comfortable silence. Barbara stopped at the florist that Alfred had directed her to, which was conveniently located only three blocks from the cemetery. Several minutes later, she and Helena were moving slowly towards the marble headstone that marked Selina Kyle's final resting place.

Pulling the two bundles of flowers from her lap, Barbara pressed one into Helena's hands, and then bent over to place her own on the ground in front of the headstone. The redhead brushed her hand over the engraved lettering and sighed. I'm trying Selina she thought silently. You trusted me with your most prized possession, and I'm trying to keep her safe. I will give my life before I let anyone hurt her again. I swear.

Straightening, Barbara reached over to take Helena's hand in her own. "I'm going to go wait over by the Hummer. Take all the time you need Helena," she told the brunette.

Helena nodded, unshed tears shimmering in her eyes. With a final squeeze, Barbara released Helena's hand and headed back towards the Hummer. As soon as Helena knew that her partner was out of earshot, Helena swallowed and drew in a deep breath.

"Hey mom," she began quietly as she laid the flowers at the base of the headstone. "I'm sorry I haven't come to visit you. I just…" her voice caught and the tears trickled free finally. "God I miss you," she admitted finally with a choked sob. It was a few more minutes before she was able to speak again.

"I was so angry after that night. I hated you for leaving me, I hated everyone for trying to tell me it was going to be okay…I hated myself for not being strong enough and fast enough to save you. You always warned me about letting my emotions control me, but my anger and my stubborn pride were all I had left. I just wish I had listened to you. Then maybe I wouldn't have hurt the only people left in this world that I actually give a damn about."

Helena sank to her knees as her grief consumed her finally, and she curled a fist against the cold marble as soul-shaking sobs wracked her body. "Why did you have to go?" she whispered. With nothing but a dark canvas before her eyes, the young woman was helpless to block out the images of that horrific night so many years ago.

Brutal memories came crashing down on her and she relived that night with such vivid detail it was impossible to separate memory from reality. She could feel the rain against her skin. Saw the glint of metal before it sank into her mother's body. Smelled the copper tang of blood. Tasted the saltiness of her tears. The worst were the sounds however. The clatter of the blade as it hit the ground. The final gasping breaths her mother struggled to take in as blood invaded the blonde's lungs.

Selina's daughter had gone feral in those final moments and the girl had heard every bubbling wheeze her mother had made as she struggled to live. It was a brutal death and was torturous for both mother and daughter. When Selina Kyle could no longer fight the inevitable, she whispered her final words of love and then her breath left her in a sick wet gurgle of blood as her heart slowed and then stopped. Helena knew the exact moment her mother had died.

Back at the Hummer, Barbara was torn. She watched as Helena sank to the ground, finally finding release for the grief and pain she had locked away all of these years. The brunette's body shook violently as her sobs could be clearly heard by Barbara. The older woman knew Helena was long overdue in grieving and wanted to hurry back to Helena's side to offer her silent emotional support. But given how private Helena was when it came to facing the demons of her past, Barbara was loathe to do anything hasty that might cause the younger woman to retreat back into herself.

When Helena arched back on her knees, her fists curled tight at her side, and threw her head back in an inhuman scream of pain, grief and rage, Barbara was jolted into action. Before she realized it, she was by Helena's side, pulling the younger woman towards her as the brunette buried her head in Barbara's lap and clung desperately to the older woman.

They sat like that for a long time- Helena venting her grief within Barbara's safe embrace, until the sun had long vanished and the moon was claiming the sky for the night. After she could cry no more, Helena merely continued to hold onto Barbara, the occasional shudder running through her body, before the older woman's soothing hands and voice finally calmed Helena's wracked emotions.

It was well into an hour later that Helena finally released a shaky sigh and pulled back. Sensing that Helena had finally purged the worst of her grief, Barbara brushed a strand of unruly hair back from the brunette's face. "Would you like a few more minutes alone?" she asked. At Helena's nod, she silently withdrew.

Helena ran her fingers along the headstone and sighed. "I know you would have stayed if you could have," she said, her voice nothing more than a hoarse whisper. "But you did right by putting Barbara in charge of me. I think I would have gone down a darker path than you did if it weren't for Barbara. I never thought I could love anyone after I lost you, but she got through to me. Her, and Alfred, and the Kid. I wish…," Helena paused, her voice catching.

"I wish you'd told me about my father. I know why you didn't…I just…,"tears welled again. "I wish things could have been different between us," she admitted. "I don't know if we'll ever be able to bridge the gap now. But I guess it's time I tried isn't it? I'm just glad you decided to leave me with Barbara instead of him."

There was another long pause. "You knew just how much good I could do. You knew and you left me with the one person that could love me as much as you did and could show me how to use my gifts to their fullest potential. And you knew that if I did that, I could protect her in return- because you cared for her as much as I do. I didn't understand that until recently, and I've nearly blown it. But I swear to you mom that I will do everything in my power to keep her safe. I don't know how yet, but I'll find a way to watch over them. I've let you down long enough. I've let everyone down. I promise to change that."

Helena knelt there silently for another minute before she kissed her fingers and brushed them over the engraving. "I love you mom," she breathed. Bending her head, she sucked in a deep breath and released it slowly. And for the first time since her mother's death, she felt a sense of peace settle over her that left her light-headed and dizzy.

Barbara was by her side in an instant. "Hel?" she asked, her voice tight with worry as Helena swayed on her knees unsteadily.

The brunette bent forward placing her hands on the grass as she sucked in deeper breaths, trying to absorb to rush of emotions that were running through her. When she finally lifted her head, Barbara gasped. Tears were streaming down Helena's face again, but she had the most beautiful smile.

"I'm okay Barbara….it's going to be okay," she answered with quiet resolve.

The redhead had uttered those same words countless times over the years, but in the deepest recesses of her heart, she admitted that even she wasn't sure they ever would be. But hearing those words from her younger partner, spoken with such faith and conviction, Barbara finally allowed herself to believe.

Cupping Helena's face in her hands as she wiped gently at the tears, Barbara leaned forward to rest her forehead against the brunette's and closed her eyes. "Let's go home Hel," she said finally, after placing a kiss against the top of Helena's head.

When the younger woman had climbed to her feet, Barbara could see that a huge weight was finally gone from her shoulders. She watched as Helena brushed her hand along the top of the marker one last time. "I promise to visit you more now mom. I love you."

As the Hummer pulled away, a tall figure separated itself from the nearby shadows and slowly approached the grave the women had just left. Bruce Wayne reached out and traced Selina's name and bent his head with a sigh.

Placing his own bouquet of flowers next to Helena's and Barbara's, he whispered the same thing he did every time he visited her grave. "I'm sorry." Then he turned and faded back into the night.


Chapter 13: Embrace

"What's that?" Dinah asked as she studied the seemingly inconspicuous small piece of metal J'onn held up.

"Something Helena's father came up with many years ago. As a safety precaution, Batman developed and keeps in safe storage - the means to stop each and every single super-powered hero, should one of us go rogue or accidentally rampant. This device, when activated, emits a particular harmonic pitch that is inaudible, but generates a type of sound wave that makes it impossible for me to shape shift. If the wearer gets within fifty feet of me and I am in another form, my body will revert back to it's natural state."

"Wow, he's got something for everyone? Barbara never mentioned that," the teen said taking the device from the Martian to study it.

"She is the only person Batman trusted enough to have access to such fail-safe measures. Barbara doesn't know where they are hidden specifically, but stored away in that computer-like mind of hers is a data code that when inputted into either Delphi or the Bat Computer, will give her the locations of such devices. It was a truly ingenious pan on the part of Batman, because not even I can access such information. She has too many data codes floating around in her head for one to make any sense of it."

Dinah chuckled knowingly at that. "Yeah, when she goes in full Oracle programming mode, she projects that code breaking stuff so loudly I can practically see the numbers floating around her head," the teen told him. But then she sobered a bit. "So, um does this mean I should expect him to whip something up to stop me?" Dinah asked a little nervous about that.

"This may already do the trick," J'onn answered. "Batman had to use this on me once, when I lost control of my consciousness to another alien, and we discovered that one of the side effects of the device was that the harmonic frequency also scrambled my telepathic abilities."


"While the experience was...unpleasant...I was thankful afterwards that Batman had had the fore-thought to take such measures as they were able to subdue me and expel the alien parasite that had gained control of my mind and body."

"So it hurts?"

"There are many forms and levels of pain, as you have begun to learn over the course of your training. While we can't hear this device, we can feel it as surely as if we could hear it. The experience is intense, and while not outright painful, it is decidedly uncomfortable and I was left with a mildly persistent headache for several hours after the brief exposure I had to the device."

"Sounds like fun," Dinah said sarcastically, as she reached out to take the small device and inspect it closer. "So I'm guessing you want to try this on me and see is if it works?"

J'onn nodded. "While some of the others took exception to Bruce developing such weapons against us without our knowledge, I think it was a prudent course of action. In his absence, I have taken up charge of making sure the world is safe from any threat that those of us with superpowers possess should another ...situation ever arise again."

"Which seems to happen all too often in this business," Dinah said softly, reflecting on everything that had happened with Quinn. "Well there is no need for you to be exposed to this thing too J'onn Why don't you send in one of the others and then I'll have someone that I can try to read once the device is activated."

J'onn nodded. "That sounds agreeable. Give me a moment and I will see who is available."

Dinah waited for a couple of minutes and then Flash was knocking on the door. She grinned when she saw him, because he alone had been able to make her feel like a kid again. Wally had seen his share of action and death over the years, but he steadfastly clung to that youthful lightheartedness that kept him considerably more jovial, that the rest of the Leaguers. The Flash had the respect of the other League members, but he was also infamous for his practical jokes and quick-if not sometimes corny- wit. Simply put, Wally gave Dinah hope that maybe despite everything she'd been through, she could keep just a bit of her old self.

"Did you bring me any food?" she asked with a grin.

He laughed and held up a small tub of Cookie Dough ice cream and a spoon. "After being cooped up in here with the Martian for the last two days training I figured you were dying for a sugar fix and I've been saving this for you."

"You're the best!" Dinah said in delight as she pounced on him to give him a hug and then claim the treat. She moaned in pure joy after the first bite. "God, we've been at this control thing for so long this whole week, that I haven't had much time for eating anything more than those nutritional bars we've had."

Wally gasped in mock horror. "You mean all you've had this past week are those nasty field ration bars? That is it! You are SO going to have dinner with all of us tonight. Diana and I are actually quite the cooking team. I think we should have a feast in your honor!"

Dinah giggled, blushing. "Wally, you'll use any excuse to have a feast."

"Hey! I can't help it that my metabolism is so high!" he grinned. "Now, what's this secret mission I'm on here?"

"Oh, J'onn didn't tell you?" she asked, surprised. When Wally perched on the edge of the couch and shook his head, Dinah set the ice cream container down as she levitated the small metal device over to her new friend.

He took it and then frowned. "Is this what I think it is?"

"Yeah, J'onn figured it was time to see if it works on me," Dinah said with a sigh of resignation.

"Damn Batman and all his contraptions. I mean I know why he did it, but still...you'd think that with all the technology he's got he could have come up with something not quite as painful for all of us," Wally said with a rueful chuckle.

"So what'd he'd make for you?"

"You wouldn't believe it," Wally said shaking his head. "It had the rest of the League very much in arms and I was none too happy about it at first either. But then after seeing a couple of the others go rogue, I decided it was for the best. One time, after celebrating a nice little victory, I thought I'd had a little too much to drink and passed out. Turns out Batman slipped me something so he could implant a device in my body that can stop me from using the Speed Force- which is where I derive most of my power and abilities from."

"Are you serious?" Dinah gasped, shocked by such a revelation.

"Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction too. Robin and I had been best friends for so long by that point and I was furious that he let Batman do that. But I guess when a person can break the sound barrier, run at the speed of light, and even walk through walls, you have to take some drastic safety precautions before the need arises."

"Maybe, but they should have asked!"

"Probably. But I didn't even know about it until they needed to use it. Talk about energy crash!" But Wally just shrugged and gave her a wry grin.

"Man, that guy really is obsessed isn't he?"

"Batman? Yeah, he had a plan for everything...well almost everything," Wally amended with a sad smile.

So far, most of the League still didn't know Dinah's whole story, and as such, they still referred to certain League members by their code names only. Thanks to some tampering of her records in case anyone got curious enough to look her up, all anyone knew was that she had run away from an abusive foster family after developing some rather powerful telepathic and a telekinetic abilities. They had no idea she was living with Barbara Gordon, or that she herself was out fighting crime on a nightly basis under the mantle of her mother. Dinah knew she would have to change that soon however. These people deserved the truth now that she was more at ease around everyone and with herself. And she could still protect Barbara's dual identity.

"He didn't plan on Joker taking his revenge on the people he cared for the most that night though did he?" she said quietly, thinking back to the nightmares that had haunted her for years of that horrific night.

Wally arched an eyebrow. She trusted him, and decided to start with him. "Wally, you know that I ran away from an abusive foster family, but part of the reason was because I had visions of what had happened that night and I needed to find the two women in that dream. I saw Barbara get shot, and I saw Helena kneeling over her mother's body after she'd been stabbed. That dream plagued me for years, and when I couldn't stand being beaten and locked in a closet because I knew what I saw was real, I left for New Gotham. That was almost two years ago."

Wally stood up, his eyes sharpening. "So...you're saying..."

"That I know all about the Bat Family," Dinah supplied. "Huntress actually rescued me that first night in New Gotham, and was able to lead me back to Barbara. Barbara took me in, and allowed Huntress to train me."

"So you're the new partner huh? We'd heard rumors that Helena had been working with someone. Dick never talks much about her though since Helena has a major beef with anyone associated with the name Wayne."

"Considering that her father, the great and mighty Batman, abandoned her when she needed him the most, I don't blame her." Wally blinked at the vicious protectiveness in Dinah's tone, and she looked down and cleared her throat. "Sorry. It's just that when you work close enough with someone for awhile and you have the abilities I do, well you really get to know them. Bruce hurt her almost as much as her mother's murderer did."

"So how is Barbara these days?" Wally said, deciding to let the matter slide and changing topics.

"A little worse for the wear," Dinah admitted. "Helena and I were trying to track down the new mastermind of the criminal underworld in New Gotham. Turned out that Harley Quinn was posing as someone and was able to get close to Helena. She did what she does best and wreaked havoc on New Gotham and our family in general. Barbara's boyfriend was killed, Helena nearly killed Barbara, and well...everything just went to hell after that," Dinah said quietly.

Wally sank onto the sofa. "Oh my god!" he breathed in shock. "How come we never heard of this?"

"You know how this family is Wally. They play their cards very close to their chests until they are forced. Besides, Barbara's retired from being Batgirl, and Helena doesn't have any contact with the League or the rest of her family for that matter. Not even Dick knew about things until after they had gotten really bad. Now we're all just trying to recover from everything."

"Jesus. Poor Barbara! As if she hasn't been through enough," Wally said angrily.

"Well, if it's any consolation, I made that bitch pay for what she did to us. It's not something I'm proud of now, but she won't be bothering anyone ever again. But that's why I'm here. The night Quinn attacked, something happened and it was like all the blocks on my abilities were released all at once. I've been on overload for months now, unable to control my powers, and I started to snap. I broke into Arkham to kill Quinn, and Helena managed to stop me just in time, but when I got home Barbara realized that it was time for me to get help before I completely lost it."

"Wow...so what did you do to Quinn?"

"I wiped her mind free of all the bad that she had become. All that is left is the Harleen Quinzell that she was before she got wrapped up with the Joker."

"Wow...you can do that?"

"J'onn says I have the most powerful telepathic abilities that he has ever come across."

"Damn! No wonder you two have been working so hard this week. I can't imagine what it would be like to have my abilities and not be able to control them. I'd be wreaking some havoc of my own to be sure," he said with a chuckle.

And once again, Dinah was reminded why she liked this man so much. His easy-going nature allowed him to take everything in stride. "So what's your codename?" he asked grinning at her.

"Black Canary."

The frown was back. "That was-,"

"My adoptive name is Dinah Redmond, but my birth name is Dinah Lance. My mom was Carolyn Lance."

"Oh wow! Carolyn had a kid?" he asked in complete shock. Then anger suddenly flashed across his face. "Wait a minute? She gave you up and let those people treat you like that?"

Dinah gave him a sad smile. "My mom led a dangerous life and she did what she thought was right to protect me. And she thought the Redmond's would take good care of me. They did a good job...until my powers started manifesting themselves. My foster father suddenly became a religious zealot when that started however, and was bound and determined to 'chase the devil that possessed me out by any means necessary'. My mom never knew what was going on."

"Yeah, but she would have if she had at least checked up on you!"

"She did finally, and that's when she came to New Gotham. She wasn't happy when she found out I was working with Catwoman's daughter, even if Barbara was taking care of me now and had given me her blessing. We had this huge fight, but then the mob got her and...it really sucks to be trying to make up a lifetime of apologies and explanations when you only have moments to live," Dinah said looking away as tears started to form in her eyes.

Wally was crouching in front of her chair, sympathy and compassion in his eyes. "You were there when that warehouse exploded?"

Dinah nodded. "That bastard Hawk managed to survive, and we never found any bodies, so I keep hoping...but I think deep down I know she'll never come back this time."

"Well in this biz kid, unless you have a body or proof of a body, never give up," he told her as he squeezed her hands. He truly felt that too. He had no idea that no body had ever been found and Dinah could see from his memories that Carolyn was a slippery force to be reckoned with. She'd come out of more deadly situations than Wally could count, and he'd begun to believe she was pretty much invincible.

"I'll keep that in mind," she told him with a small thankful smile.

"Geez kid, you really know how to surprise a guy! Here we all thought you were just some powerful young stray pup that J'onn had picked up. Didn't even know Barbara had taken in another lost soul! I can't believe she's still teaching high school. With her brains she could be doing so much more!"

Dinah had to fight the smirk that threatened to give her away. "She really loves her job, and while she may have hung up her mantle, she still likes to keep Helena and I on our toes. You can take the woman out of the fight, but you can't take the fight out of the woman."

"That sounds more like the Barbara I know!" Wally laughed. "You know I think I'll pop in and say hi the next time I'm out for a run."

"Just make sure you call ahead of time. She hates surprises and right now things are a bit rough. It might be a little hard for people from her past life to just drop in on her."

"I'll be sure to ring her up first. Alright, let's say we get this experiment done with so I can go sweet talk Diana into helping me cook up some proper food for you. I'm sure the others would love to hear your story!"

"Yeah it would be nice to take a break tonight and relax. I haven't been able to talk much with the others and it's really cool to be up here with like...the most famous superheroes of all time."

"Yeap," Wally said puffing his chest out in an exaggerated manner as he looks at his nail and then rubbed them on the front on his shirt. "I am pretty amazing aren't I?"

Dinah dissolved into laughter and Wally mock pouted. "Why is that always the reaction I get whenever I say that?" he lamented.

Dinah just giggled and then poked him telepathically. "Come on, let's get this over with. Oh by the way...as soon as you turn that on, I'm supposed to try and read your mind, so do the guess a number game or something for me."

"Gotcha. Here goes."

Wally had moved to the far side of the room and pressed the small activation button. The result was instantaneous. Dinah's entire equilibrium was thrown off and she swayed in her seat as an intense buzzing noise filled her mind drowning out everything. There was no way for her to find her balance in the noise and sensations that flooded her mind and she quickly asked for Wally to turn off the device.

He was at her side in an instant, a concerned hand steadying her. "You okay there Dinah?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine," she answered as she fought a small wave of nausea. "That thing really packs a punch though. Felt like someone was turning my head into Jello." Inwardly, Dinah was groaning because she knew Barbara would want to hook her up to the med-lab computer and run some tests on her while exposed to the device to see how it affected her on a physical level.

After a couple of minutes, the room stopped spinning, and the buzzing in her head began to subside. Thankfully, as her mind began to reassert itself, the ache began to subside until it was barely noticeable. A couple of Tylenol and some food would probably cure her of any lingering after effects.

"Well, that was fun," she said sarcastically. "I think I've definitely earned that meal tonight."

Wally grinned and clapped her on the shoulder. "Excellent! Let me go tell the Martian the coast is clear and round up Diana."

"Cool! Maybe I'll come help you guys. Alfred has been teaching me how to cook since I seem to be the only one who can go near the stove without it spontaneously combusting," Dinah grinned.

"Oh ho! You mean brainy Batgirl can't cook?"

"Let's just say we have learned not to let Barbara anywhere near an open flame. Helena has even forbidden her from use of the toaster as well. Of course, that's the only thing Helena seems to be able to use herself," the blond snickered.

"Good thing Alfred still hangs around then to help keep you ladies stocked and well-fed. Alright Dinah, I'll see you in a little bit."

"Thanks Wally," Dinah said sincerely, her gratitude carrying on several levels.

Wally ruffled her hair. "Any time Kid. And don't sweat the past okay? We all have our moments that we aren't proud of, but we're only human Dinah. What matters is you that recognize where things went wrong and work to fix those mistakes. Your mom would be proud of you- never doubt that."

Dinah managed a shaky smile through her tears as his emotions truly backed up what he was saying. "Thanks," she whispered.

He left her then and Dinah walked over to the window to stare out at the Earth as it slowly rotated by. It was most definitely the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen, and the view brought some peace in the wake of her small emotional turmoil.

J'onn came in to find her still standing by the window and immediately sensed her sadness. He walked over to her and settled a hand on her shoulder. "She was an amazing woman your mother. It is a shame you and she never got the chance to really know each other, because I think you would have had a lot to offer each other."

"Did you know my mom well?"

J'onn opened his mind to Dinah, allowing her to see all that he had to share. Dinah saw her mom as J'onn did, a woman who was fierce, loyal, stubborn, imperfect, and passionate about her work. The Martian had great admiration and respect for Black Canary as a crime fighter, and for Carolyn Lance as a woman.

Dinah finally broke from the link some time later with a choked sob. "Thank you...no one has ever been able to show me so much about my mom." And then she finally allowed herself to grieve for the loss of the woman she had spent her whole life wanting to see again.

Feeling that he was perhaps not the best person to comfort a grieving teenager, J'onn summoned Diana who came swiftly and took over care of the sobbing young woman in his arms. The Martian gave the Princess a look of gratitude and then quietly withdrew.

It was nearly a half hour later when Dinah's sobs had calmed into tiny hiccups and then sniffles as she felt the anger finally seep out of her body leaving only the lingering sadness. Diana fetched her a wet cloth and dabbed at her cheeks and forehead, whispering soothingly to the younger woman as she continued to offer her support.

Finally, Dinah looked up and managed a tiny smile as she sucked in a steadying breath. She looked around shyly, noting that J'onn was nowhere to be seen. Diana chuckled. "J'onn is a remarkable teacher and the most patient of us all. But he does not cope well with emotional situations. He usually leaves that to those of us with more...maternal instincts."

"I appreciate everything all of you are doing for me. This power...all the anger that I let take hold of me...it scares me what I could do. But what I did to Quinn...I don't ever want to be that person again."

Diana brushed some of Dinah's blond hair back. "Dinah, many of us possess abilities and powers that we scare ourselves with sometimes. It is a burden each of us must bear, knowing that someone could always come up with a way to turn us into a weapon of mass destruction. And many have tried and succeeded to a degree on several occasions. But that is why we are always here for each other. You believe in your heart that your powers are to be used to help better mankind...to protect it. We will always be here to help keep you on that path, even if someone else tries to use your strengths against you."

"Do you think...do you think that Barbara and Helena will ever trust me again?" Dinah asked hesitantly.

"Family will always believe in you even when all other hope has been lost Dinah. If they didn't have faith that you could come through this, they wouldn't have turned to J'onn for help. I think when you return home, you will see that your lives will have finally begun to return to normal."

"God I hope so. I never thought I would just want to go back to school and have a normal life like the rest of the other kids. I know that I'll never be just like them, but honestly? All I want for the rest of the year is to worry about finals, finding a date for prom, and graduating."

"I think that all of you could use to step away from this Life for awhile and focus on what makes this fight so important to you. We can only carry on the crusade if we have that fixed firmly in our minds and hearts. Now, what say we go finish making you a proper dinner. I'm sure Wally has eaten half of what I laid out already and if we don't go rescue the rest of the food there will be nothing left to cook."

Tucking a stand of hair behind her ear, Dinah gave a tiny grin and nodded as her stomach rumbled in agreement with that suggestion.


Chapter 14: Confessions

Dinner was turning out to be a very festive affair for the evening. Everyone had been dying to get to know the young woman that J'onn had brought into their midst, and no one had been able to get much out of the few League members that had had any real contact with her.

Dinah, for her part, was happy to finally meet some of the people she'd heard or read all about, and had quickly recovered from her breakdown earlier. Her teenage curiosity resurfaced with a vengeance and she was firing question after question off to the various heroes that were gathered around the table. Diana, J'onn and Wally all traded a satisfied look, relieved to see teenage resilience hard at work in their new young friend.

Currently, Kyle Rayner aka the Green Lantern, was showing off some of the tricks his ring could do, and Dinah was testing her powers subtly against it, causing J'onn to smirk a tiny bit when the teen found it difficult to manipulate anything created by the power of the ring.

Once the flexing of super muscles were over, the conversation turned back to Dinah and J'onn sat back to see how the teen would field the questions. The first was of course a natural lead into perking everyone's interest up immediately. "So Dinah, where are you from?" Hawkgirl asked over a bite of her dinner.

"Originally I'm from a small hick town in the middle of nowhere called Opal. But I've been in New Gotham the last year and a half now."

"New Gotham you say? Well that's an interesting city to wind up in. What drew you there?" Kyle asked casually.

"The first of my abilities developed when I was very young. It was precognition, and I had these reoccurring nightmares. They were of the events that happened the night the Joker took down Batgirl and Catwoman. I saw everything that happened and couldn't get them out of my mind. When I realized my foster family would never accept me for who I was and the powers I had, I ran away to find Barbara and Helena. Barbara took me in and became my legal guardian. Helena wasn't so big on the idea because she felt I would cramp her style as Huntress."

Kyle smirked and shook his head. "Yeah that sounds like her. She's as territorial as her old man, but far more reckless if you ask me. I can't believe she holds that city down on her own like she has these past few years."

"Barbara managed to talk her into training me as a partner. To her, I'm the junior sidekick, but we've been doing pretty good as a team this past year...until Quinn set up shop and all hell broke loose."

"What has Barbara been up to all this time anyway? You can't tell me all she does is teach." Plastic Man asked.

"Teaching is pretty demanding of her time. But she still does some R&D stuff for Wayne Industries on the side. Testing geek and tech stuff for them." Dinah answered with an innocent look and disinterested shrug.

Diana had to take a sip of her drink to hide her grin. None of the others had any idea that Barbara was Oracle and Dinah wasn't giving anything away. "So I take it you were there to help bring Harley down? I heard that was quite a mess. I know Huntress is very independent, but if you ever need help Dinah, don't hesitate to ask. We're always here to help each other out."

"Yeah, well I think we're going to take a break from the whole vigilante gig. Huntress may actually be out of the game now. She was badly injured in the fallout of that nightmare, and I don't know if she'll ever recover fully enough to hit the streets again."

That brought stunned silence to the table. "What happened?" Kyle finally asked.

Dinah shifted in her seat and pushed the remains of her dinner around. "Quinn really messed with all of our heads that night. She hypnotized Helena, gained control of some high tech computer equipment Barbara was testing, killed her boyfriend and then set Helena out to kill her own family. Thankfully Barbara was able to get through to her before she did that, and Helena took Quinn down. Then Oracle stepped in and managed to undo what Quinn had done to the rest of the city. But there was an...incident not too long after that, and Helena's lost her vision. I came into contact with Quinn's mind and it unlocked my full potential all at once and I didn't know how to control it. Barbara finally thought it best for J'onn to help me."

"So J'onn is your Master Yoda eh?" Wally asked, steering the conversation to a less emotional subject.

"And how is your young padawan faring J'onn?"

A few at the table chuckled at the joke, absorbing the information they'd been given and allowing the change in subject. It was clear Dinah was still healing from a major trauma and were respectful of the need for her to heal. Dinah was grateful for their willingness to let the matter rest for now.

"Most excellent. Dinah just needed some gentle guidance, and practice. The Watchtower has allowed her the chance to finally rest from the 'noise' she was being bombarded with back on Earth, and to develop a natural shielding. I think continued exposure in small groups here on a free and regular basis now will help to strengthen those shields. Another week or two and she will be ready to start traveling back to Earth for periods of time to start exercising her mental control until shielding is a natural part of her telepathic abilities."

"So what's your codename?"

Wally chuckled, and was rewarded with a raised eyebrow from Kyle. "Make sure you aren't eating anything when she tells you because I was shocked as all hell when she told me." Flash smirked.

Dinah blushed a little and tucked her hair behind her ear nervously. "I um, took my mom's codename after she died last year. My mom was Black Canary."

That caused quite a stir from the small group. "I was not aware that Carolyn had a daughter." Hawkgirl commented, from where she had been listening carefully the whole time.

"Yeah, not a lot of people knew. Mom thought it would be safest for me that way, and that's why she gave me up for adoption. I never really understood it until the mob came after her as soon as she showed up in New Gotham to find me."

"Wow...I can't believe she had a kid out there all this time and we never knew about it!" Kyle said, completely floored.

Once again, Hawkgirl was quiet yet very observing of things. Kendra took in Dinah's fair coloring, light eyes, and strong jaw and started to wonder. "Does Ollie know you're Carolyn's daughter?"

Dinah was the only one to notice J'onn suddenly shift at the turn the conversation had taken. "Who?"

"Oliver Queen," J'onn answered mildly. "He is of the few you met when you first arrived. He has been out on assignment with Kal-El this past week, but will be due back shortly. He was a close acquaintance of your mother's many years ago."

Strangely enough, Dinah was having difficulty reading people, and suddenly felt lightheaded. She blinked a couple of times and reached for the edge of the table as the room spun slowly. "Whoa! Hey there, you okay Dinah?" Wally asked, being the closest to her and moving to steady her.

"Yeah...it's just been a really long day I guess, and maybe testing that device was a little much for me."

Diana was on her feet after a look from J'onn and was helping Dinah from her chair. "Let's get you into bed for the night young lady."

As soon as they were out of the room Kendra turned on J'onn. "You did that on purpose didn't you? How can you do that to her when she's just been through so much?"

"Dinah is still learning control Kendra, all of your thoughts are like an open book to her right now and your line of deduction could have led to an...awkward situation."

"Oh my god," Kendra gasped. "He really is her father isn't he?"

"Yes, he is. But I had to respect Carolyn's wishes that he not know until it became absolutely necessary. She did not wish to endanger her daughter by having her associated with members of the League. Given the path that Dinah has chosen for herself now, there is no need to keep such secrets from either of them. However, even you can see that she has been in a delicate state of mind emotionally as of late. I did not think this was the appropriate time or place for her to find out who her father was," J'onn answered stiffly.

Kendra backed down immediately. "You're right. I wasn't thinking about that and I'm sorry. But surely you realize that trying to keep this a secret from them both won't last for much longer?"

"I have spoken with Kal and Diana about this matter as they have been helping me keep both parties distracted. Tomorrow, I will be sitting down with them to explain things. I think we should all be supportive of how volatile and...emotional things might be for them over the coming days and offer our support in any way we can."

"Of course," Kendra said with a firm nod.

"If you will excuse me, I should make sure she is resting okay."

Oliver Queen stood in the locker room of the Watchtower and began stripping off his gear. "So you want to tell me what this whole little mission was really about?" he asked his friend finally.

Clark looked over at him, trying to look innocent. "What do you mean Ollie?"

"Seriously, Clark. You are so lousy at hiding things why do you try?" Ollie chuckled. "Now fess up. Why did you drag me out on a training mission when it's common knowledge that I'm the least likely person to be breaking these kids in."

Clark hesitated and then shook his head. "J'onn asked me to take you Oliver," he admitted.

"Why would he do that?"

"It's not really for me to say my friend, but you know he would never ask of such a thing unless he felt it was important. And he will be explaining everything to you soon, so I think you should save your questions for him, because not even I know the whole story," Clark added, cutting of any questions Oliver had for him.

"This have anything to do with that girl he brought back?"

"It does," Clark answered truthfully. "He needed me to get all of the initiates off the station and he asked me to take you specifically. Like I said, he'll explain everything soon. Now let's get cleaned up and see if Wally left us any food."

Trusting that Clark was telling the truth and J'onn would explain what the hell was going on soon, Oliver let he matter rest for the time being. He laughed at Clark's hopeful comment. "Wishful thinking boy scout. You'll probably be zipping down to Earth for take-out."

"At least I have heat vision to keep it warm."

"Yeah, yeah, show-off. I get to pick tonight because I am not eating any more of that healthy wholesome stuff you're always getting."

Two hours later, J'onn answered the quiet knock on his door, expecting the visit from the tall blond man now in front of him. Stepping out into the hall, J'onn motioned for Oliver to follow him as they headed towards the quiet of the observation room. At this hour, it would be empty and allow them some privacy.

"I hear your mission went well Oliver. My commendations to you for doing an outstanding job in a task that is not normally your strong suit."

"Yes, well it seems I didn't have much of a choice now did I?" Oliver said with a raised eyebrow. "Clark's right, I know you'd never do anything like that unless you had a good reason. But I'd really like to hear why you wanted me off station right after you brought that girl up here."

"Oliver, do you know who she is or anything surrounding why she was brought up here?"

The Green Arrow shook his head. "From the brief look of things, I'm assuming she must have some pretty strong psychic talents and that things might have gotten a bit out of hand for you to suddenly bring her up here with little warning. She looked pretty frazzled. But I have no idea who she is. Should I?"

"Oliver, I know you were not aware of this fact, and I wasn't in agreement with her choice to keep this secret from you, but I had to abide by her wishes. Carolyn had a child- a daughter many years ago- and gave her up for adoption because she had no desire to see any threat or harm come to her child. The young woman I brought up here last week is Dinah Lance, Carolyn's daughter."

Oliver felt like he'd been sucker punched. "She had a kid and never said anything? Who's the father?"

J'onn paused long enough for Oliver to realize he needed to brace himself. "You are, Oliver. Dinah is your daughter," J'onn told him quietly.

Oliver sank onto a nearby seat and stared blankly at the floor. "Oh my god," he whispered in shock. "I have a kid and she never told me?" The anger finally kicked in. "How could she keep something like this from me? Where has Dinah been all this time?"

"She left Dinah into the care of a family she felt would care for Dinah and keep her safe. But Dinah came under the care of Barbara Gordon almost two years ago. She has done an admirable job training and guiding Dinah through some difficult times in her life, but Dinah's talents far surpass her mother's and she needed...special help from me. Unfortunately she has just been through an emotionally traumatic year, culminating with a brutal attack on her family from Harley Quinn. When Barbara asked for my help I felt it was necessary to give her a chance to rest and heal before being subjected to another emotional shock."

"Does she know who I am?"

"No. Dinah knew very little about her own mother, and knew absolutely nothing about her father. I was the only one who knew, but Kendra was quick to see the resemblance at dinner tonight. It was a topic I had to quickly divert away from, because I felt it was only fair for you to go to Dinah and tell her who you are."

"I have a kid," Oliver said again, resuming his floor staring. After a few minutes he looked back up at J'onn. "Do you think she'll even want me in her life? I mean, what kind of man will she think I am for not being there her whole life. Hell, I didn't even know I got Carolyn pregnant! How could she hide this from me?"

"Again, I understood her reasons, but I did not agree with them. However, the decision was hers alone to make and there was nothing I could do to persuade her to think otherwise."

Oliver sighed heavily. "I can't even begin to imagine the silent burdens you carry on all our behalf, my friend."

"It is a burden your own daughter carries as well, Oliver. She has psychic abilities as powerful as my own...perhaps even surpassing mine. And I do not think you will have to fear rejection of her love for you. She has been witness to the rift and regret between Helena and her own father. Dinah has sworn to herself that should she ever learn of her father's identity, though she has not held much hope for that with the passing of her mother, she would harbor no resentment towards him."

"I want to see her J'onn."

"Today was a tiring day for her Oliver and she is sleeping soundly now. Allow Dinah her rest for the night, and I will see to it that she rises early and will call you as soon as she has finished her breakfast."

"Okay. So the others know about this?"

"They didn't until Kendra started putting the pieces together at dinner this evening. But you have everyone's full support in this matter my friend. Never doubt that."

"Thanks J'onn. I...wow...I still can't believe I'm a father."

"I'm sure the concept will take some adjusting to for both of you, I will inform Barbara Gordon of the developments, but I should warn you that Dinah is a firm fixture of Barbara and Helena's life now and none of the three of them will give that up. Carolyn went to New Gotham to reclaim her daughter, not to fight the mob. While Barbara initially backed down in the face of Carolyn's maternal rights, however undeserved they may have been by that time, Dinah had dug her heels in and was not going to let her mother take her from the family she had made for herself with Barbara and Helena."

"I think that Dinah is obviously old enough to make decisions like that on her own. Carolyn was always pig-headed when it came to some things and she was a fool to try and force Dinah to come with her after not being around all those years. I just want to get to know my daughter, J'onn. Who she chooses to live with and what she chooses to do with her life is her decision, not mine. But I would like to spend time with her...see the life she's made for herself. And it would be good to see Barbara again."

"I'm sure our former comrade would enjoy your company as well Oliver. Go and rest on what you've learned and prepare yourself for tomorrow. The others will be busying themselves so that the two of you can have some privacy tomorrow."

"Thank you J'onn."

The Martian moved to leave Oliver in some peace to think everything over when Oliver called out to him before he exited. J'onn paused at the door as Oliver stood. "Actually, I'd like to be the one to speak with Barbara. I'm sure she's going to want to be kept in the loop as to what's going on up here and I think maybe it would be best if she and I dealt with this together. She knows Dinah better than almost anyone else right?"

"Indeed she does, and I think she would greatly appreciate your approach to this matter. I believe it is still early enough in New Gotham for you to reach her."

"I was thinking maybe we should talk about this face-to-face," Oliver said shaking his head.

J'onn hesitated. "Perhaps you should call ahead to make sure a visit would be welcome. They have all been through a great deal recently and Huntress is healing from critical injuries. They may not receive visitors well right now."

"Oh," Oliver said, as unaware of recent events in New Gotham as the rest were. "Okay, I guess I'll call then. I take it you have a means of contacting her?"

J'onn nodded. "Barbara tests a number of high tech computers for Wayne Industries in her spare time. Just type in her name and the computer will pull up the connection for you. Please send her my greetings and assure her that things are going well with Dinah. She may even be able to return home for a short visit within the next week."

"I suppose you are going to leave it to Dinah or Barbara to tell me exactly what's been going on?"

"I feel that the story is theirs to tell Oliver. I am merely Dinah's mentor and protector right now."

"Protector? From what?"

"From herself Oliver," J'onn answered with a hint of sadness.

"Jesus," the blonde haired man whispered, realizing that whatever Dinah had gotten herself into, it had taken a heavy toll on her. "I guess I'm going to be owing you a huge debt of gratitude for helping my daughter out when this is all over with huh?"

"Dinah is the daughter of two very dear friends who have saved my own life on more than one occasion. I do this out of gratitude to you and Carolyn for all that you have both done for me in the past. It is what friends do."

Oliver strode across the room and said nothing as he simply set a hand on J'onn's shoulder for a brief moment, knowing that the Martian could clearly read what he was feeling. Then the Green Arrow squared his shoulders and prepared to speak with an old friend.

Helena sighed as Barbara shifted next to her on the couch where they'd been relaxing for the past hour.

"Can't you just ignore it? I mean it's not like I can just hop off the balcony and go bust up a mugging or something anymore." the brunette winced slightly at the hurt and resentment in her voice.

Barbara ignored it, knowing all too well the raw emotions that Helena was having to cope with. "I have the Delphi police monitoring turned off Hel. The only thing I have running right now are debugging programs and the communications system. It's a call from the Watchtower."

"Oh," Helena said, quickly sitting up straighter so that Barbara could maneuver off the couch better.

Barbara made the smooth transfer and was up the ramp a few moments later slipping her glasses on as Helena carefully made her way to the edge of the ramp and leaned against the railing.

Barbara typed in a command and then rapidly typed in a few more to reduce the image being projected on her end when Oliver Queen's face came up and not J'onn's. "Oliver!" Barbara greeted, rolling back a bit to block the view of any extra equipment still within the picture. "This is a pleasant surprise...I hope," she added warily.

Helena's head was cocked to the side. "Oliver?" she muttered confused.

Oliver was smiling openly and he chuckled. "Relax Barbara, Dinah is doing fine. J'onn sends his regards and says Dinah might be ready for a field trip home possibly within a week. I have no idea what is really going on to be honest. But something has come up that I think you and I should speak about, and I was hoping to come visit you. J'onn said that Huntress was hurt pretty badly though and that I should call first." Here Olivers face creased with worry. "Barbara is everything okay with you ladies? What on Earth happened and is everyone going to be alright?"

Barbara sighed heavily her eyes sliding in Helena's direction for a moment. "I think with time we will be okay Oliver. As for what happened? Well Quinn got the best of us even after she was locked up. The situation has been taken care of however and we are all recovering as best we can," Barbara answered evasively.

Oliver noted how vague the answer was and felt that there was a huge piece of the puzzle being hidden here. "I see. Well I realize this might be a bad time, but I really think we should talk in person about this matter."

"I suppose you could come by tomorrow-,"

"I need to see you tonight Barbara. It involves Dinah, and given her telepathic abilities I think it's important that you and I discuss this now."

"Oliver...what are you not telling me here?"

The blonde smirked at her for a moment. "I think I could be asking the same of you Barbara." The smile faded replaced by a serious expression. "Barbara, I just found out that I'm Dinah's father. Can I please come down so we can talk? I promise to keep this short and I also promise I'm not going to pull a Carolyn. But I want to be on the same page as you before I speak with Dinah in the morning. This really can't wait."

Helena had straightened the moment she'd heard Oliver's revelation and hadn't heard a sound from Barbara in the moments thereafter. She quickly moved up the ramp, blindly fumbling for her partner's shoulder.

"Red?" she whispered concerned, her sensitive hearing telling her that Barbara hadn't even taken a breath yet.

"Jesus Christ, Helena!" Oliver gasped as the battered looking young woman finally came into view.

Unseeing eyes turned somewhat in the direction of the camera and he got a better look at the injuries that should have healed long ago for someone with her abilities. He'd only briefly met the young meta-human some years back when visiting Barbara after the shooting, but he'd read Helena's file and was well aware of her natural abilities. She'd obviously pushed her body well past it's capability to heal rapidly.

The exclamation seemed to break Barbara from her daze and she sucked in a deep breath and then smiled wryly as she patted Helena's hand. "It's okay. I should have known I guess. Oliver, have the computer lock onto the coordinates I'm sending to you now and we'll be waiting for you."

"Thank you Barbara."

The redhead killed the connection and rolled back a bit more as she stared at the blank screen for a minute. "So...you really think he's her dad?" Helena finally asked.

"Oliver and Carolyn had a long standing on and off again relationship for many years. I think in the back of my mind I always knew once I found out who Dinah's birth mother was. But I never wanted to pry and well..." Barbara's sentence faded off.

"After seeing how well I reacted to such news you were afraid to have Dinah go through the same thing?" Helena ventured perceptively.

"Perhaps," Barbara admitted.

"So we heading to the Manor or something?"

"No Hel. If he is her father, he no doubt wants to have a share in her life now. This is a part of her life, and I trust Oliver to be discreet. Besides, for now, Oracle is offline until we figure out what we can and want to do. There's a very good chance that Oracle will be retiring as well."

Helena gripped Barbara's shoulder tightly. "No Red. Don't give up yet. There is still a lot of good that Oracle can do in this world. We'll discuss this when Dinah is home, and all of us are back to normal, but not now."

"I know," Barbara sighed, reaching up to thread her fingers with Helena's. "Now let's go down to meet Ollie. He should be here in a minute."

"He still have that silly looking blond goatee thing going?" Helena asked with a tiny snicker.

"Yes, and he still wears something green even though he's out of uniform," Barbara added with a chuckle.

"Well it's good to know some things will never change. At least it looks like I won't be having to fend of a distrustful parent this time. I was about ready to show Carolyn what cats did to canary's when they'd had enough."

Barbara suddenly had a ridiculous image in her head of two cartoon animals going at it with Helena's and Carolyn's heads super-imposed over the image. It had her laughing for a few moments, leaving Helena to stand there with an arched eyebrow, and a satisfied smirk.

It was a rare thing for any of them to laugh lately, but it was becoming a little easier each day and Helena counted every single laugh a silent victory. Suddenly, a low hum filled the Clocktower and both women turned to face their visitor, the mood instantly growing serious once more. How would Oliver handle everything? And would he stick to his word and not try to take Dinah away from them?

One thought alone kept the majority of Helena's nervousness at bay: As if anyone could make Dinah do anything against her wishes now.

Part 15

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