Birds of Prey: Gabby and Dinah: Part 4
by Melissa Minners
Disclaimer and Other Information: It should be noted that all of the characters and many of the locales in this fan fiction are not mine. They are owned by The WB. This fan fiction is somewhat of an homage to the series, though I have used a little liberty here with events. The story takes place during the Birds of Prey television series and continues through my other fanfics which can be found here. I hope you enjoy.
How much do we know about any given person at any given time? In high school, a person is judged by how many people they know and what crowds those people are associated with. Be seen with the wrong person and you’re pond scum. Never mind if that person were the kindest, most thoughtful person in the world. If they wear the wrong clothes or hang out with the wrong people, they aren’t worth a damn.
I don’t subscribe to that mentality. That makes me something of an anomaly at New Gotham High. I don’t look at the phony exterior. I look for what lies beneath. I’m not interested in how gorgeous you are, or what new fashion you’re sporting, or who you were seen with yesterday. I want to know who you are – what makes you tick – what kind of person you are inside.
Dinah’s nowhere close to being popular, but since she came to New Gotham, I could tell she was someone I wanted to know. There was just something about her – a sense of complete openness and naivety – that drew me toward her. Those same characteristics made her an easy target for the popular kids’ jokes and that drew us even closer. I wasn’t about to let those self-centered fools have at Dinah like lions at the sight of a fresh kill.
Lost to these people was the beautiful soul that lay beneath the frightened mouse exterior. Lost was the complexity beneath each smile or frown. They would never know the loyalty she felt toward those she allowed to get close. I count myself fortunate to be among those allowed into the fortress Dinah’s built for herself.
Sometimes, I find Dinah watching the popular kids at school and I can see the yearning in her eyes. A yearning that mingles with another feeling, fighting for dominance – fear. Dinah longs to belong, but at the same time is afraid to take that step toward belonging. For until recently, everyone Dinah dared allowed to get close to her, hurt her in some way, shape, or form.
After hearing about the way she had suffered at the hands of her foster parents for all those years, I can hardly blame her for wanting to hide behind that impenetrable wall she’d built. I’m still amazed that she had come to trust me so much as to tell me about her ordeal. But I don’t fool myself – our relationship is tenuous at best. One slip and that wall between us would be resurrected anew.
I never wanted that to happen…and for it to almost happen over a boy? Ha! Go figure!
It all started with the dance. Everyone was talking about it. After all, it was the first dance of the school year and all of the popular kids were looking forward to showing off in a large forum. Don’t get me wrong, the popular kids make it their business to be noticed all year round, but it’s kind of hard to be fully seen when everyone is rushing past each other trying to get to the next class. School dances were a virtual fashion show for the popular kids. A place where they could be seen in full regalia – where they can show off their latest outfits, hairstyles, and significant others and size up their competition.
Dinah and I had decided that the school dance would be lame and that we wouldn’t attend. We told ourselves that it wouldn’t be any fun due to the pretentiousness of the whole thing, but in the backs of our heads, we were both probably thinking about the fact that neither of us would have a date for the dance.
And then it happened – had I not seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it. We were in lab preparing for the task most high school kids dread – frog dissection. Dinah was staring across the room as if entranced. So enchanted was she, that she didn’t even notice when the tray containing the frog was dropped unceremoniously on the table in front of her. When I turned to see what had Dinah’s complete and undivided attention, I couldn’t help but tease.
“Matt Kendall, huh? Not bad,” I drawled, grinning like a Cheshire cat.
Dinah let loose an exasperated sigh.
“Am I that transparent?” she asked, her eyes begging me to say no.
“Oh, please,” I teased, rolling my eyes in Matt’s direction. “You are so obviously desperately infatuated.” I couldn’t help but carry it a step further. I gasped as the most perfect idea had come to me. Affecting a most serious look, I announced, “You should ask him to the dance!”
Of course, I knew that Dinah wouldn’t – she was just too shy. There was no way she was going to approach a hot guy and talk to him, much less ask him on a date.
“Oh, but I thought we decided the dance was going to be lame,” Dinah said, making every effort not to look in Matt’s direction.
“Oh, I’m changin’ the forecast, the dance is lookin’ up,” I said, wagging my eyebrows and flashing Dinah a grin. I was having too much fun watching Dinah’s reaction to all of this. “Due to the possible slow dance potential between you and the hottest guy in school? Ha! Carpe Diem!!”
I never expected what came next. Dinah actually looked like she was considering the idea. Then suddenly, she grinned and asked me to switch lab partners with her. I couldn’t believe it – shy, naïve Dinah Redmond was going to make a play for Matt Kendall – I was in shock.
“Initiative,” she said as she headed toward Matt’s table, “it’s the fine line between satisfaction and regret.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. Then it hit me – not only was Dinah doing something truly uncharacteristic for her, but I was being presented with a great opportunity. Dinah couldn’t have known it, but this was shaping up to be a real win / win situation. Matt Kendall’s lab partner was the truly hot Gina Falcone. Score! I rushed over to snag Gina and explain how we would be swapping partners.
Of course, things didn’t start off easy. Dinah told me later that Matt barely knew her name. The entire time they were working on dissecting their frog, Matt listened to the latest Mighty Toms CD, barely even speaking to Dinah. But I saw a spark of something in Dinah’s eyes; something I hadn’t seen there before – hope. She was not going to accept defeat this time.
I have to say that I was really proud of her. Knowing from experience, going after what you want –especially when what you want is a hot someone – is a very daunting task, but Dinah was not going to give up that easily. I did what any good friend would do – I cheered her on whole-heartedly.
On the way home, we discussed the plan of attack. Dinah wanted to catch his attention…make him notice her like he noticed Gina. Who wouldn’t notice Gina? I mean, let’s face it, she had looks, she had style, and she had a way of entering a room that made everyone take notice. We decided to take a page from Gina’s book and step it up a notch.
The next day, Matt’s eyes were definitely not on the lab assignment. Instead, they were glued on Dinah as she entered the room – a confident, smiling, ready to take on the world Dinah. Looking hot in a form-fitting off the shoulder number, a leather skirt with a strategically placed slit, high-heeled black boots, matching accessories, make-up, and sporting a walk that made people stop and take notice, Dinah definitely got the reaction she was looking for. Matt dropped everything he was doing and just stared, mouth agape. Hell, I dropped everything I was doing and stared. This was a Dinah I had never seen before. As I watched her walk over to Matt, I couldn’t help but grin. If Dinah had mustered enough confidence to come to school looking like that, God knows what Matt Kendall was in for next!
As I watched from across the room, Matt’s shocked look turned into a huge smile. And suddenly, just like that, Matt remembered Dinah’s name and started up a conversation with her as if they were old buddies. At least, that’s what it looked like from where I stood. Both of them were sporting huge grins, and true to her word, Dinah was not backing down. Flirtation was in high gear on that side of the lab.
Dinah turned my way and smiled and I knew she had achieved her goal. I threw her a wink and quickly moved my attention back to my lab partner, Gina, who also happened to be going to the dance. Yeah, I thought, this dance really is looking up!
The night of the dance had arrived and Dinah didn’t exactly have a formal date to the dance, but Matt had asked her if she was going. He had said that he was planning on checking it out and bugging if it turned out to be lame. He also added that it might not be too lame if Dinah showed up. After such a confident performance at school the day before, the old Dinah had resurfaced, and she was a nervous wreck.
“What the hell am I going to wear?!” she cried in despair. “I don’t have anything I would even consider wearing to a dance!”
“Whoa! Take it easy, Dinah. Where did you get the clothes you wore to class yesterday?” I had already taken a guess at that one, so I wasn’t too surprised at Dinah’s response.
“I raided Helena’s closet!! And she was totally pissed! She’s been in a rotten mood lately and I’d rather not risk incurring even more wrath by staging another raid.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. Dinah had already told me of Helena’s possessiveness when it came to clothes.
“Looks like it’s time to hit Barbara up for some cash. After all, you do want to impress Matt, and what you wore to class today is gonna be pretty hard to top,” I said, wagging my brows.
Dinah went from looking freaked out to looking sullen. “Yeah, I’ve been meaning to talk to Barbara,” she said in a detached manner. “Okay, I’m going home. If I can’t find something there, maybe Barbara’ll take me shopping. I’ll call you as soon as I know what I’m wearing.”
“Uh, okay,” I said looking at my watch. “Better make it soon. The dance is only a few short hours away.”
Dinah went from sullen to freaked out in an instant. “Don’t remind me!”
As I watched her hurry down the street, I wondered what she was so worried about. The way Matt was looking at her all day today, she could probably show up in a paper sack and he’d still be fawning over her.
Dinah called me a couple of hours later to report that, as luck would have it, Alfred had already selected the perfect outfit for the dance. I was skeptical at first. I wondered at the fashion sense a butler might have, but Dinah assured me that Alfred had a sixth sense about such things. She said it was like he had read her mind and knew exactly what she would have wanted to wear.
As for myself, I planned to go in a sleek black number I’d been saving for a special occasion. Dinah wasn’t the only one looking to make a lasting impression tonight. Gina Falcone was going to be at that dance tonight. I wasn’t quite sure yet whether Gina was into other girls, but in case she was, I wanted her to keep me in mind.
Dinah arranged to meet me at the school about an hour after the start of the dance. No one ever wanted to be the first one to arrive at any school function. Of course, the fact that everyone showing up just a tad late to ensure that they weren’t the first ones there pretty much ensured that everyone showed up at the same time. True to her word, Dinah was stunningly attired in a stunning peasant-like dress which perfectly contrasted to the blonde in her hair. The necklace she wore drew attention to the plunging neckline of the dress.
Yup, I remember thinking, she definitely topped that other number nicely. Matt is gonna be floored.
As we made our entrance - looking exceptionally hot, I might add – I spotted Matt Kendall across the room.
“Guess who’s headed our way,” I said, giving Dinah a shove in the right direction to prevent her from letting her shyness take over and steer her somewhere else.
I noticed Gina standing in a corner of the room, just outside the entrance to the gym and made a beeline in that direction. Gina and I were already hitting it off fairly well when Matt made his way over to us – minus Dinah. Even worse, Gina had started to become fidgety when Matt appeared, displaying an obvious attraction toward him.
Well, I thought, he is an attractive piece of eye candy.
No sooner had I had this thought when I was surprised to hear Matt asking me if I wanted to dance. As Matt started to steer me toward the dance floor, I glanced back at Dinah, a look of complete confusion on my face. Dinah just stood there, in the middle of the hallway, looking defeated. As I entered the gym, I spotted Dinah heading for the exit.
I immediately felt guilty for accepting Matt’s offer to dance and begged off, heading out of the gym to search for Dinah. I didn’t find her and got stopped again in the hallway by Gina. It seemed that she was more inclined to talk to me than Matt and was happy I’d broken away. Before I had another chance to look for Dinah, a group of cops burst in through the front doors, making there way down the hall at a fast pace. Gina and I tried to follow, but were immediately stopped at the double doors by a pair of officers who had been left behind to secure the area.
The teachers immediately declared the dance over and we were all herded out into the night, without a word about what exactly had taken place to cause all the excitement. As luck would have it, Gina didn’t live far from me and we shared a cab ride home. When the cab dropped us off, we made our way to our respective buildings. I made a beeline for the phone the minute I entered the apartment, but all I could get was Dinah’s answering machine. I would have to wait until the next day to find out what had happened to cause a meltdown between her and Matt.
I headed off to school the next morning with some trepidation. I wondered if the reason Dinah hadn’t picked up the phone the night before, was because she was mad at me for accepting Matt’s offer to dance. I wondered about that. I mean, Matt was definitely not my type. Why would Dinah be upset with me? The dance would have meant nothing.
When I finally did run into Dinah as we made our way into New Gotham High’s front entrance, Dinah was all smiles, as if nothing had happened the night before. Dinah had a habit of doing that – pretending everything was fine, when you just knew that something was bothering her. I knew I should probably give her some space, but I didn’t want this thing to hang over us forever. Friendships had been ruined over much less. I decided to bring up the furor after the dance last night and see what her reaction would be.
“Did you hear what happened last night? There was some sort of fight.”
Dinah played down the excitement, joking that it was all caused by some teachers getting over-beveraged and going bezerk. We both laughed, but Dinah’s laughter was over quickly
“S-so…what happened with you and Matt?” she asked. She looked me in the eye and I could tell she was afraid to hear the answer. The mood had turned from light to serious in a second.
“Nothing. We danced. Ya’ know, I don’t even know why he asked me.”
Dinah looked away.
“It’s pretty obvious. He must like you,” she said, staring straight ahead. She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, something I’ve noticed she does whenever she’s nervous or upset about something.
It was then that I realized that Dinah didn’t know. She had no clue that I was gay. At first, I was surprised. Then I realized that the subject had never really come up between us before. I had just assumed that she knew without ever actually coming out and saying so. She just had never picked up any of the signs.
Now came the difficult task – how to tell Dinah without completely shocking her. I wanted her to know that I wasn’t after Matt, but at the same time, I wasn’t quite sure how she would react to my explanation as to why. I decided to use the coy approach.
“Okay, well don’t stress, ‘cause the feeling’s definitely not mutual.”
The look on Dinah’s face was of pure shock, as if I had just told her something outrageous like the sky was falling.
“He’s sweet. He’s just…not my type.”
Dinah was completely floored by that and she made certain to voice her incredulity at my statement, ticking off the reasons why I should be attracted to Matt on her fingers.
“Gabby, he’s a cool, sensitive, extremely easy on the eyes…he’s everyone’s type.”
I realized that the coy route just wasn’t going to work. I stopped and turned Dinah to face me.
“Dinah, you know when I agreed to switch lab partners?”
“I didn’t just do it for you.”
She so wasn’t getting it – “Yeah, but Matt’s lab partner was that girl Gina.”
I nodded at her, a grin on my face, willing her to understand what I was trying to tell her without me having to blurt it out right there in the hallway.
Her eyes grew wide with surprise as the realization hit her.
I just nodded and smiled.
“Oh!” – that apparently was all the comment Dinah could force out at the moment.
“She rocks,” I said, then tossed Dinah a wink as I turned to walk back toward my first period class. Dinah spotted Matt walking down the hall and headed off in that direction.
And I sat down in the classroom wondering what Dinah’s reaction to her newly-made discovery about me was going to be once the shock wore off. The more I thought about it, the more worried I got. Although Dinah’s initial reaction was one of surprise and not repulsion, one could never really tell what a little time to mull over the idea would bring. Dinah came from a small town, one where folks were not very tolerant about people who were…different.
There was some hope on that front though. Dinah knew what it was like to be in my shoes. She had suffered at the hands of her stepparents just because she was different from them…how so, she never really fully explained, but that really didn’t matter at the moment. Dinah did not take kindly to intolerance and I suspected that she was someone who could keep an open mind.
But what if she felt betrayed? I hadn’t told her something important about myself…something that maybe she felt she should have known before sleeping over at my place. Not that I had made any moves on her, but what if she started thinking that I had only become friends with her so that I could make a move on her? I was driving myself crazy thinking about all the scenarios that could be popping into Dinah’s head.
Of course, it didn’t help matters much when lunchtime arrived and Matt asked Dinah to come sit with him at his table. She glanced over at me, smiled and walked off with Matt. Fortunately, just as Matt was whisking Dinah away toward his table, Gina walked in and steered me toward hers. The distraction was welcome, but it wore off the minute lunch period ended.
It was the end of the day when I finally got the opportunity to talk to Dinah again. By then, I had turned myself into a nervous wreck. I decided to keep my mouth shut for once and let Dinah steer the conversation. She launched right into a discussion of what had happened with Matt in the hallway earlier and didn’t even stop for a breath before continuing on to what happened in the lunchroom.
Dinah’s excitement was infectious and some of the tension that had me wound up tighter than a rubber band started to ease away. I realized that things were still cool with us. By the time we had arrived at my apartment, I had completely relaxed. We started talking about Gina, and Dinah seemed neither repulsed nor shocked at my candor. She did admit to being a bit surprised by my revelation. However, that revelation had done nothing to weaken the bonds of our friendship.
James Fenimore Cooper once said, “Friendship that flows from the heart cannot be frozen by adversity, as the water that flows from the spring cannot congeal in winter.” It was nice to discover that this adage held true for our friendship. That night at the dance could have spelled disaster for a new found friendship. Instead, it only served to make the bonds stronger.