Disclaimer: All characters mentioned here are property of DC, even if they don't treat them right or really deserve to play with them at the moment. Well, they own everyone except Z (and her team). She's mine...all mine!!! Mwahahahaha!
Dedication: This is all for you, D. Enjoy!
The Way We Weren't or, How to Change the World
by Zorra Del Cielo
"There. It's her again, I'm sure of it."
"I really don't know what you're talking about."
"Over by the bookstore. The girl in the purple sweater. I saw her in Chicago and the last two stops before that. She's following us, and I intend to find out why."
"Wait! Wait a second. Are you sure? She doesn't look familiar to me, and..."
"Do I or do I not have photographic vision, Dinah? Of course I'm sure!" Dinah Lance, also known as Black Canary, sighed and removed her hand from her friend's, Barbara Gordon, also known as Oracle, arm.
"I just hope you know what you're doing." The two women were seated at a sunny outdoor café in a small tourist town in Colorado. Their recent travels had left them ready for a break, so they had stopped here at a nice ski resort. Being summer, there wasn't any ski action to be found, but the ton was busy nonetheless. The shops and mountain scenery apparently attracted tourists year round.
"Of course I do, I'm... well drat. She disappeared." Dinah paid for their drinks and stood as Babs searched the immediate vicinity.
"Come on, forget it. Let's go back to the hotel...I want to check out the gym facilities." Babs nodded reluctantly. All the way back to their rooms she was silent, pondering the appearance and disappearance of the young woman. They were being followed, she just knew it, and was more than a little miffed at the fact that Dinah seemed oblivious to the danger. As they arrived at the resort, she made up her mind.
"You go on ahead, Dinah. I want to check something out on the computer." Dinah shook her head but agreed. Babs wheeled herself up to the third floor where two suites had been rented to them for the duration of their vacation. She and Dinah were sharing one while Helena Bertinelli (Huntress) and Zinda Blake (Lady Black Hawk) occupied the other. She let herself in, only to find Helena reclining in one of the plush armchairs near the fireplace (sans fire, of course).
"What are you doing here?" She didn't mean for the words to come out as testily as they did, or at least that's what she told herself. The brunette shrugged carelessly.
"I got a call...I need to go back to Gotham, an emergency faculty meeting, and I wanted to let you know." Warning bells went off in Bab's head. An emergency faculty meeting? Far fetched, but if Helena felt the need to lie, well, who was she to argue?
"Um, ok." Helena rose, tossing the racy novel she had been reading onto the coffee table. She walked out without a backwards glance, and Babs shook her head. Was it something in the air? Everyone seemed so...out of it today. She shrugged it off and rolled over to where she had stored her computer. She may have deleted all the files on her hard drives at the clock tower, but she had backups on a number of laptops stashed away in secret locations. She pulled her current computer out of it's case and began dissecting information about their mysterious stalker.
Meanwhile, in a secret location beneath the very same resort, a meeting was taking place. A young woman stood in front of a group of about twenty people, give or take a few, apparently briefing them on some sort of mission.
"Ok, we have made contact and nearly all the players are in position. X, what is our status on the arachnid?"
"We're having a little trouble locking her down, Z. Her behavior is too erratic to predict her location from one minute to the next."
"We'll have to tap in to a centralized network, then. K, how's your team coming with the information systems?"
"She's good, I'll give you that, but our slicers should be able to crack her system within the next eighteen to twenty-four hours."
"That's our timetable then. Anyone have a problem with that? Yes, D?"
"Not really a problem, Z, but my team was wondering about the other anomaly...are we planning on taking them both out?"
"Good question, D. Because of her proximity to the target, we'll have to play that one by ear...if the opportunity arises, though, take it. Any other questions? What about operation 'Reattach'? How are we coming on that?"
"We are ready and at standby, Z. We just await the word."
"Good job T, C. And transport? Tell me we have the prototype, please."
"Yep. And with enough left over for a nice compensation package, too."
"All right. You all have your assignments? Good. Let's get to it."
"Well, the gym's a bust...they have some nice machines, but nothing really challenging. How about you...find anything about our mystery woman?" Dinah dropped a shopping bag from the gift store downstairs onto the floor by the door as she came in. Babs was lying on her stomach on one of the large beds, frowning ominously at her computer.
"Nothing. Not. A. Thing. After three hours of work, I haven't been able to come up with a single hint as to her identity."
"Well, it's not like you have fingerprints or DNA or even a name to go by, right?" Babs made a face. "What? You don't, do you?"
"Barbara, what did you do?"
"Nothing! Well, not nothing. Ok. I went down to the bookstore to try and find something along those lines, a fingerprint or strand of hair, or something. While I didn't find any of that, I did see her again! And I might have, well, managed to pmphsphmuwnpf." The last part was mumbled so quickly that there was no hope of decoding it.
"I beg your pardon?" Babs sighed.
"I picked her pocket. Well, actually I blackmailed a teen to do it." At Dinah's look of astonishment she rushed on. "I caught him trying to lift my wallet and then I saw her, so I told him to bring me her wallet and I wouldn't turn him in."
"Babs! You're contributing to the deliquency of a minor!"
"Well, I know, but I couldn't think of another way! Anyway, it didn't help. All her ids, her credit cards, everything comes up a blank. I don't know how she did it... even a fake id should have some evidence of it, but these are really well made. I think we may be dealing with a larger organization." Dinah nodded.
"Could be...should we clue in Zinda and Helena?"
"Oh, that reminds me. Helena left."
"Yeah, she said she had an 'emergency faculty meeting'. I'm starting to wonder if she is somehow involved in all this." Dinah didn't answer, but looked out the window at the beautiful view. "But, yeah, we probably should tell Zinda. It may be time for us to leave anyway."
"Why? If we're being tailed, why not take them out here?" Babs glanced down at her screen again...something just wasn't right about all this, but she couldn't put her finger on just what was wrong.
"... I don't know. I'm just not comfortable with the situation. We need to get on more familiar turf." Dinah shrugged and moved towards her dresser.
"Guess I better get packed then, huh?"
"I'll go tell Zinda to get the jet ready."
An hour later they were on their way. They had decided to head to New York, current residence of Roy Harper. His daughter Lian was Dinah's godchild, and Dinah hadn't seen her in a while. She had suggested that they find a way for her to visit. Since Bab's had abandoned Gotham, the Birds really had no permanent headquarters. So they were agreeable to traveling to New York.
Throughout the trip Barbara continued her search for the strange young woman. Her credit cards and ids had been issued to a Mackenzie Smith, but no record of the name appeared anywhere. That in itself was enough to trigger warning signals in Babs' mind, since the name should have been common enough to bring up matches that weren't the girl she was searching for. Somehow the records of all people of that name had been suppressed, and she intended to find out why and how.
About an hour into the flight Zinda keyed the seatbelt sign and opened the intercom channel.
"We're going to encounter some massive turbulence here in a few minutes, I suggest you strap yourselves in." Babs and Dinah exchanged a surprised glance...the weather had seemed quite sunny and clear up until that point. There had been no indication that they should run into trouble. They had barely gotten themselves belted in and their loose items stowed before the plane began to shake. Slightly at first, a mere vibration, it soon grew to a rattle. Within minutes the whole jet was thumping and bumping, swinging to and fro like it was caught in the mouth of a giant dog. A giant dog intent on shaking them to death.
"Wha-a-a-a-t-t-s-s g-go-o-in-n-n-n-gg on-n?" Babs could hardly get the words out, so bad was the tumult. The view out the window, which had been so blue only moments before, was a solid pitch-black. The plane twisted suddenly, spinning into a spiral and then looping back upwards. It shook for a moment, as if it would stall, then began a nose-dive. Apparently Zinda was as good as she claimed, though, because the inevitable crash never came. Instead the plane lurched up abruptly and steadied out in a calm cruise. Moments later they could feel the bump of wheels on solid ground as the plane touched down. Babs glanced out the window and frowned in confusion. She hit the intercom.
"Zinda, what's going on? Where are we?" They had landed at an airstrip, but it wasn't in New York City. In fact, it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. Zinda didn't answer, and Babs felt a cold shiver run up her spine. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong. "Zinda?" Dinah unbuckled and stood, peering out the window.
"I'm going to go see what's out there. You check on Zinda." Babs nodded, unstrapping her wheelchair, as well as herself, and pulling herself from the airplane's seat into her chair. She wheeled her way to the cockpit, only to find it empty. She shivered again, and backtracked, following Dinah out of the plane.
Dinah was already on the ground, looking at something in or near the airfield's tower. Whatever she saw was hidden from Babs' view, so she had to wait for the platform to lower her to the ground.
"We have a welcoming committee." Dinah nodded towards the tower as Babs rolled up next to her. Sure enough a rather large group of people was waiting under the awning over the entrance to the building. As if prodded by some unseen signal the group moved forward. As they neared the jet they spread out, forming an impenetrable wall of bodies so that the two women were trapped. They stopped a few yards away and one woman broke away from the group. It was the same woman from the bookstore.
"I told you so." Babs muttered under her breath. Dinah simply nodded, waiting. The woman, younger than Babs by a few years, at least, approached them with a small, strange smile on her face.
"Barbara Gordon. And Dinah Lance, too! I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be meeting you, face to face." Babs tensed, not sure she liked the tone of the girl's voice. It had an edgy quality to it...borderline fanatical.
"And you would be....?" she challenged.
"Oh, forgive me. You have my cards, I believe...though I doubt you'd believe me if I told you that was my real name. Of course, I'd be lying, so you'd be right. But you can call me Z, for now."
"Just Z. Like the letter. We're rather odd that way, here in our little group."
"You only have one letter for a name?"
"Some of us. Those who are at the top level. We must be careful to protect our secret identities, you see." This was said with some humor, producing a few laughs from the group members, as if it were some sort of inside joke. Of course, considering the way they had approached them, Babs guessed it was fair to say that her own secret id, Dinah's wasn't really all that secret, was blown.
"How did you erase all mention of your name from the 'net?"
"I didn't. I just erased it from your computer and made sure you couldn't find it again." Bab's glowered at the young woman, trying to cover her shock.
"You hacked my system?" She nodded calmly. Babs nearly growled. "What do you want?"
"All in good time. Sorry, Babs, can't reveal all the plot devices at once, now, can we?" Barbara didn't know what to make of the young woman's speech. Her attitude was actually borderline friendly, relaxed...she knew she was in control of the situation, but wasn't obviously hostile. Babs wondered why Dinah was so unusually quiet. She glanced at her friend. Dinah simply stood there, leaning back against the plane with her hands folded in front of her.
"Ok. Fine. How about 'revealing' what you did to our pilot."
"Oh, we didn't 'do' anything to her. Miss Blake simply had better things to do." She glanced to one side as a brand new jet with all kinds of high-tech equipment, obvious even from a distance, took off from another runway. Barbara stared at Z, shocked. Had they bought Zinda off? She hadn't thought it possible...the other woman was a hero, not a mercenary! Z touched her ear, a gesture Babs was familiar with...she had spent too many hours with a communicator of her own, speaking to people with earpieces who often had to maneuver in just such a manner to hear her clearly. The girl nodded, then looked back at her group.
"Everything is in place." The group cheered and Dinah straightened suddenly. Babs readied herself, reaching for her escrima sticks. She never had a chance. Halfway there her wrist was seized in an inflexible grasp. With her training she could have easily broken the bond, or flipped her assailent...done some sort of damage, but shock held her still. For her captor was none other than Dinah herself!
"Sorry, Babs...I know you won't believe me, but it's for you own good." She moved swiftly, then, executing a nerve strike before Barbara could gather her wits, rendering her unconscious. Z looked at Dinah solemnly.
"Thank you. I know how hard this must be for you."
"I just hope you know what you're doing."
"I do to, Dinah...I do too."
The first thing she noticed was the smell. There was a pleasant odor, one that made her think of Christmas, with spice and the hint of something baking. She blinked her eyes open, and realized that the smell came from a half-dozen candles scattered around the room. The room itself was simply, yet tastefully, furnished, with a dark blue loveseat sprinkled with a flower pattern on one end and an antique armoire on the other. A small bookshelf held a varied collection of novels, textbooks, and cookbooks. She realized, with a start, that she was lying on a bed in the middle of the room. Yet she was not tied, and the door stood wide open.
As she struggled upright she caught a glimpse through that open door. She could make out the figure of a person, in what looked like a nice kitchen, preparing something in an electric mixer. Her stomach rumbled, and she mentally hushed it, not wanting her kidnapper to realize she was awake. Pushed herself to the edge of the bed, prearing to slide off, when the figure turned.
"Oh! Wait, let me... here." She disappeared for a second, then reappeared with Babs' wheelchair. She maneuvered it into a position where Babs could pull herself in, then stood back and waited. Babs regarded the girl suspiciously, but decided that she would have a better chance of escape in the chair than out of it.
"Are you hungry? I could..."
"Stop. Just stop. What do you people want with me!?" Z hesitated, then heaved a deep sigh.
"I should have known you wouldn't forgive me that easily. Dinah was right, you know. This is for your own good."
"What is? Kidnapping me and taking me to...where am I, by the way?" Z blinked at her.
"..." Babs studied the younger girl's face. "You kidnapped me an brought me to Gotham?" She nodded and Babs sputtered for a moment. "For heavens sake...Why?!"
"You belong here. Honestly, Babs, all this running around the world, it's quite unbecoming of you, and unfair, really. They need you here, the Bat family, and the JLA, and...well how are they supposed to get ahold of you if you're off on some secret mission? As for the rest of why you're here, I can't tell you yet, I have to wait for the, um, acquisitions team to get back."
"Right. Sure. You do that." She reached for the communicator she had hidden in a secret compartment in the side of the wheelchair.
"It won't work. Dinah already told us about that." Babs sighed. Betrayed by her best friend. What was going on? "Come on, I've got some chicken in the oven, and I'm finishing up a cheesecake...they're going to be hungry. You probably are too. I can explain some of what's going on while we wait." She probably shouldn't eat anything Z gave her, after all, she was being held prisoner and it could be poisoned or something...then again, if the other woman would eat it first...and her stomach was becoming insistent...
"All right." Z gave her a huge grin, as if she'd been told Superman was coming to dinner, and led her out into the main area. It looked like they were in a small apartment, about right for a girl of Z's apparent age, not too expensive, but not run down either. She glanced out the window, feeling a surprising tightness in her chest as she made out familiar landmarks in the Gotham skyline.
"Here you go. The others should be here shortly."
"So, what is all this about?" Z hesitated, then shrugged.
"Well, you're not going to believe me, but what the heck. I guess the main thing you need to know right now is that none of this is real."
"I beg your pardon?"
"None of it. You're not real, Gotham's not real...you are all figments of someone's imagination. Figments that got put onto paper and brought to life."
"I know, it sounds crazy. Hey, I'm finding it hard to believe myself...now that I'm here. But you and Gotham and your whole universe is just a lot of ink of the pages of some, usually, very nice comic books."
"You're saying I'm a comic book character? Great, you couldn't even let me be a heroine in a novel....it had to be a comic book." Her voice was sarcastic, and her whole demeanor said that she wasn't buying a bit of the story. Z smiled weakly.
"I don't make the rules...I just buy the comic books...which is what leads us here, actually. You see, unfortunately the writers seem to have had a collective aneurysm in recent months. So I put together a specialized team to make things right again."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, let's see..." there was a beeping from the vicinity of her living room. "Ah, well, here's the next part of our operations." She stood and moved to the computer that was set up to one side of the living room. Even though Z was obviously a candidate for Arkham, Babs couldn't resist following her. She told herself it was just to see if she could use the computer to get some help.
Z opened her Instant Messenger and clicked on a blinking icon. A message file popped up ("Here, Z, the bug is squashed") with a video attachment. She opened it, barely restraining her glee. Babs watched with a fascinated horror as the video began to play. It was short, swift, and to the point. Tarantula was running down the street, chasing down some street thug, when a bus appeared out of nowhere and slammed into her. Babs gaped at the video, not sure whether she should believe it, and reevaluating her assessment of the threat level of her captor. Z sighed, then looked over at Babs.
"I know. You think I'm a horrible awful person, verdad?" Though she had no accent, and didn't look foreign, Babs had a feeling the word had been a slip, a mistake. There was some strong emotion working in the young woman, one that would easily make for slipping into a native tongue. Of course, then again, it could have been calculated to give just that impression. "I'm not, really." She seemed so earnest.
"You killed Tarantula...you just killed her. And you don't want me to think poorly of you?"
"You don't understand. We didn't kill her...she wasn't real! Didn't you see the bus? It appeared and disappeared...it was a plot device. See? I would never ever kill someone in real life! Heck, I don't even like to kill people off in my stories! But she was screwing up Dick's life!!!!". The words built up until the last part was nearly a scream. Babs was taken aback.
"What? What do you mean?!" Z took a deep breath, muttering under her breath something that sounded like, "Calmate...no sabe todos sobre esa. No se la digas." Babs waited, running the words through her head, trying to figure out what it was she didn't know about Tarantula.
"Listen...Tarantula was bad news from the start, and she's dragged Dick into it. There isn't anything we can do, unfortunately, about Haley's Circus, or Dick's apartment...that whole series of events...as much as we'd like to erase them, is kinda history now. But we don't have to let her stick around and get him into more trouble." That could explain a lot...Babs had suspected Tarantula had killed Blockbuster, though she had, in fact, asked Nightwing to help clear her. And if Dick had been involved from the start...
Z had turned back to the computer and was typing in some message to a person labeled "D". Babs couldn't catch the whole message, but she did read, "...IS GONE. TAKE CARE OF THE OTHER ONE."
"Wait! Even if Tarantula was doing all that, you can't just kill someone for that! You go through the proper channels! We don't kill, that's the first rule!" Z shot her a dirty look.
"No duh. That's why I love superheroes. But as much as I'd like to be, I'm not a hero. I'm a normal every-day girl with a computer and a bone to pick. You're still thinking real world, Babs. This is our world, now, and we're fixing everything that DC writers messed up!"
An hour later Huntress, too, was dead. If Tarantula's death had been a plot device, Huntress' was nothing short of unbelievable. She had run across a gang, one with colors she didn't recognize, harassing some nuns. The fact that the nuns had with them a car full of plainly labeled TNT didn't seem to register. She had fired a warning shot with her crossbow at the gang leader, but the bolt had ricocheted off a stone wall, just happened to spark when it hit, and caused the whole load of TNT to explode. The nuns, of course, were unharmed. The gang disappeared into the alleys, never to bee seen again. In what had to have been an incredibly ironic twist of fate, the nuns had come to that spot to preach abstinence.
"Why? Why? Why?"
"Why are you doing this!?" Z glanced over at Barbara.
"I told you. Come on...you can't say you still don't believe me! You honestly think that all just happened?! By itself!?" She sighed. "Just be grateful that Starfire is in L.A." Babs blinked in sudden realization.
"You're...you're...all these women have had..." Z grinned.
"You catch on quick, don'tcha?" There was a thump outside and Z jumped up, a grin on her face. "Finally!" The door opened and two figures dragged a struggling third into the apartment. "You're late, C...and what happened to T's eye?" Babs' mouth dropped open as the figures came into the light.
"He got punched." Cassandra Cain, current Batgirl, nodded at the hooded figure she had helped haul in.
"He punched him?! Whatever for?!" The other kidnapper, Timothy Drake, Robin III, grinned through his black eye.
"He didn't want to come with us." Z glowered at them.
"Well, we might not have told him where we were going..."
"Or who we were..." Z rubbed her forehead, feeling a migraine coming on.
"Let me get this straight...you just kidnapped him and didn't tell him who you were or where you were going?" They nodded. "I ask you again...why?"
"More fun." Cassandra kept her face straight, but Tim had to giggle a little. The kidnappee had ceased his struggles when Cassandra had first spoken. Z shook her head and moved over to untie the sack they had placed unceremoniously over his head.
"You two, go on...get back out on patrol or something." They turned to leave, but Babs wheeled her chair into their path. They had the grace to look abashed, but, with a glance over their shoulders confirming that their prisoner was about to be set free, they couldn't waste any time explaining.
"Sorry, we'll explain later!" Tim was nice enough to call out as he crawled out the window. Cass simply flipped over Babs' chair and went back out the door. Babs started to follow, thinking this was her chance to escape but the voice from behind her stopped her.
"Babs? Who are you? What's going on?" She glanced back and sighed. Glaring at Z she came back into the room. She cleared her throat a little nervously...she hadn't really spoken to Dick much since she had broken up with him. She had heard that he was having trouble, but hadn't realized how bad he had had it until Z had told her earlier in the day.
"Sorry you got dragged into this. I..." she broke off, staring at Z who was trying to edge her way to her computer. Babs narrowed her eyes as she remembered the last time the girl had gotten on. "Stop right there." Z pouted, but stopped. She sat down on the couch, watching the two of them in fascination, as if they were the feature film at a drive in.
"What's going on? I was on my way to the manor...and these two people...was that Tim...and Cassandra?" Babs nodded reluctantly.
"I think I may have been saddled with my very own Mxylptlk."
"But my name's easier to say." Z beamed. Babs rolled her eyes.
"And a lot harder to get rid of." She said pointedly.
"Will you two kiss and make up if I leave?" Babs buried her face in her hands. Dick's face had been following the exchange interestedly, back and forth like a tennis match, but at that he stopped and looked enquiringly at Barbara. He looked at Z and she seemed to know his thoughts. Giving him a little half smile she got up and went into the kitchen.
"Babs, what's going on?" She shook her head, unable to answer. "Come on, you can tell me."
"I don't know! She showed up and they got Zinda and Dinah..."
"What do you mean?" The concern in his voice made her look up.
"No, they're ok, I think...but they got to them somehow...made them think that what they were doing is right! It's not!" Dick sat down on the couch next to her chair.
"She...they...they killed Tarantula. And Huntress." His face registered surprise, shock...but not much devastation. Babs tried to squelch the tiny feeling of triumph that he hadn't cared about them that much, anyway.
"Oh for...! Look, if it'll make you happy I'll bring the stupid bit...grr. I'll bring them back...they'll just have to live in...in...Siberia...forever." Z had come out of the kitchen to eavesdrop on the couple. At her words, though, a dozen or so people popped into the apartment out of thin air, most of them voicing loud protests at the thought of the resurrection of either woman.
"Hold it...HOLD IT! I admit, I don't want them around either. Huntress's costume sucks, she really has no purpose other than to annoy us, and she doesn't mind killing...all in all, a complete nuisance to the Bat-clan. And, of course, I agree, Tarantula just needs to die. Well, needed to die...but still. But look at it this way, we bring them back, Babs gets to get over her little heart attack, we can send them to Siberia or Timbuktu, or someplace and strand them there...they'll probably end up killing each other within a week. Plus, we can torture them with all kinds of creepy-crawlies or monsters or something in the meantime."
"Send them back in time! Make them wear corsets!" This was voiced by the agent K. Other voices rose again with ideas of the horrible things they could do to their nemeses. Z nodded.
"You guys go plan, do your stuff." They disappeared again and Z turned to glare at Babs. "There. Happy?" An alarm went off and she groaned. "Great, now I've burned my cookies!" She stalked back to the kitchen leaving Dick and Barbara to stare after her in bewilderment.
"You think we should stop them? It sounded like they were coming up with some pretty bad ideas for Huntress and Tarantula." He considered then flashed her a lopsided grin.
"Nah. Never liked Tarantula. Come to think of it, haven't really been too fond of Huntress all these years either." Babs raised an eyebrow in disbelief. He blushed. "Hey, that didn't count...it was one time!" She grunted, not convinced.
"If you're going to try to give me some line about not really ever loving any of those women because you were always in love with me, I'll warn you right now: it won't work." He shrugged.
"Hey, to hear Z tell it we are just the victims of some author's poor handiwork. I can't be held accountable for past mistakes!"
"Oh yeah? Well, well..." she sputtered to a halt, unable to think up a smart comeback. "Well bad writing in the past or not, you're in the real world now, mister." No, that wasn't right...they were still in the fictional world...but it seemed real to them, so...
"So I have to take control of my own actions, then?" She nodded. "What about you?"
"What about me?"
"Well, your excuse for breaking up with me was kind of flimsy, don't you think?" She blinked.
"I mean, I am really amazed and proud of the way you've overcome...um...everything. You said I was stuck living in the past, but I think you're the one who's trapped in history. I understand that there are painful subjects, but you can't simply pretend our past didn't happen. Just because you're the way you are now doesn't mean the way you were didn't exist. If you deny your past you have no chance for a future. We have some great memories. I think we could have a great many more if you'd just let us." She tried to turn away, feeling the dampness on her cheek, but his hand came up and captured her chin.
"Dick, I..." he silenced her with a kiss. She stiffened, fighting the feelings welling up inside her. Then, unbidden, came the memory of the circus...how Dick had given her the ability to fly again. He hadn't let her fall then, and she found her well-constructed defenses crumble as she realized she could trust him not to let her fall now.
As she wrapped her arms around his neck, deepening the kiss, neither one heard the deep, contented sigh from the other room. The walls began to fade, changing and rearranging themselves. Had they been paying attention they would have recognized the old clock tower, rebuilt through the work of Z's strange powers.
Somewhere a young woman sat at a computer and smiled. All was now right with the world. At least, it was right in Dick and Babs' world...there was still the issue of Tim's dad...oh, and she had a friend who might like to see a costume change for Catwoman...and there were plenty of problems she could address in the Titans' lives...and...