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Dinah Lance blondecanary
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New Gotham City, early Monday morning
There had been a nightmare. People vanishing. Dinah walking on a road that lead off a cliff. Falling... She'd woken up as dawn was on the horizon, and left the Clocktower to get coffee, unable to get back to sleep. Recent phone calls hadn't helped. The streets already had early morning commuters on them, the sounds of the city waking up. Espresso from her favorite coffee cart; and a walk to see the sunrise from her favorite Metro stop.

It was the silence that tipped her off. Between sips of espresso, the noise level... dropped. Dinah turned around to see the streets were empty of cars. Empty of people.

She dropped her coffee, and ran for the Clocktower, phone in hand.

[for one]

Karla saw Dinah's number flashing on her screen and didn't even pause before flipping her phone open.

"Is your portal there?" she asked. "Is it time? Where should I meet you? I can be at 'Dite's suite in the Arms in like twenty minutes. Sooner than that if I run. Do you need anything? I can stop by J,GOB's or the Perk if you want. Seriously, Dinah, just say the word..."

She needed to stop babbling and let Dinah get a word in edgewise. But as soon as Karla stopped talking, then Dinah would be free to start. And the sinking feeling in the pit of Karla's stomach wanted desperately to keep that from happening. As long as Dinah wasn't talking, Karla was free to believe they were on their way to the island.

"Karla." The doors to the elevator opened, and Dinah called out, "Helena! Barbara! Alfred! Could you get down here? Now!"

What to say. How to say it. "I don't think that's going to happen."

Barbara wheeled herself out of her room, bleary-eyed, as Helena stumbled out in her pajamas. Alfred came out of the kitchen, wiping his hands- then slowed, his face falling into sad lines as he saw Dinah's face.

She'd known. Somehow, from the moment the phone had rung, she'd just known. But that didn't mean she had to accept it just yet.

"Maybe--maybe I could call?" she tried, voice already thickening. "See if I can't get you bumped? I'll namedrop the Worthingtons and Starks like there's no tomorrow if I have to."

Except doing that would mean getting off the phone with Dinah. And she just--just couldn't.

"With enough nastiness and threats of hexes, we can probably get you a portal in like an hour. Maybe even less."

"Sweetie." Dinah took a breath. "The people are gone. And, I just-- there's no way there's time."

Barbara had her head in her hands. Helena moved forward to hug her, face blank, but her eyes....

"I'm sorry." Her voice cracked. "We should have left sooner. As soon as this started."

Alfred walked over to place a hand on Helena's shoulder, and take Barbara's hand.

"No."

That would work, wouldn't it? Just a flat out denial? Maybe if she said it hard enough, wanted it bad enough, she could just stop it? By sheer force of will?

"Dinah, you pr-promised. That I wouldn't--the board--Dinah, I can't go through pictures of you, of fun times we had together and use it as a memorial! Dinah, I just can't!"

Maybe she could will the Nothing back--if she were Jaenelle. Or even Saetan. But she wasn't. She was just plain old Karla and her big sister was about to be erased from reality.

"Dinah, please..." she whispered, then stopped. What could she possibly ask for that Dinah could grant?

Jaime Francine Katchoo Arthur Merlin Sam-- The names of everyone there was no time to call were going through Dinah's head. There was a reason this was her last call. A reason it was Karla. Because Dinah was leaving her and Karla hated being left and--

Dinah opened the door to the balcony next to the Clock, and Barbara wheeled herself outside, Helena right behind her, then Alfred. She stepped out, and closed the door. Leaned against Barbara, eyes on the horizon, Helena's hand clutched tight.

The city was beautiful, even as it was vanishing.

"You're gonna have to see me in your dreams," Dinah said unsteadily. "You know I won't leave those, right?"


"I know," Karla said, breath catching. "And I have my blanket with the skyline to help me remember." As if every detail wasn't going to be etched into her memory. "Could--could you put me on speakerphone? I want to say goodbye to everyone who's left. You've been my family when I didn't have any and--I need to say goodbye."

Barbara, always calm and collected. So brilliant, like a star. Helena, sexy, funny, sassy--she was who Karla wanted to be when she grew up. Alfred, dear sweet Alfred, the glue that held them all together.

Dinah had to take a second to blink through the tears, to hit the right buttons.

"Karla wants to say..." Her breath hitched. Damnit, keep it together. Alfred's arm was around her shoulders now, and she gulped. "We should say--"

"Miss Karla," Alfred said, taking the lead. "It's been a pleasure, and an honor. Do take care of yourself, won't you?"

"What he said," Helena said, her voice hoarse. She laughed a little. "Not how I thought this would happen, kid. But... thanks for being Dinah's friend. And ours. Family."

Barbara dragged in a long breath, and said softly, "Karla. I wish I could tell you more, I wish we could give you more information..." She paused, growing calmer as tears streaked her cheeks. "I'm glad you're safe. We all are. So please. Don't be sorry that you are."

"This isn't goodbye," Karla said fiercely. "This isn't. Because you know--we've always--" The usual comforts and reassurances were ringing false to her ears. "I'll never forget you. Any of you. So long as I'm here, you'll never be forgotten. I love you all so much--I've learned so much. So much of who I've become if because of you and your love and your kindness. Thank you for the holidays and the silliness. Thank you for the acceptance and the joy--"

Words were getting harder and harder as her tears began falling in earnest.

"I wish you could be here with me," she admitted. "I just want my family to be safe."

"Us too," Dinah said, her throat clogged. The fog, dust, the whatever, the soft soft fuzz of going out was getting closer. Only a couple blocks away. "Us too. Tell everyone...." She laughed, then shook her head. "Well. You know. They know." She inhaled again, then whispered, "Remember Jak and Priestly for me, okay?"

"O-of course I will," Karla promised. "Dinah--I just want to say--I can't ever, ever thank you enough. You've been my friend ever since the beginning. You helped me get over being afraid and taught me so much about everything. I'm a better friend--a better Queen--a better person because of you and your friendship. You mean everything to me."

She couldn't believe this way goodbye. Couldn't.

"Being your friend--getting to say I knew you, even if no one else remembers what that means--it'll be an honor I treasure above almost everything else. I love you, big sister. I always will."

Damnit, Karla. Damnit. Dinah didn't deserve that, she hadn't saved anyone, she was letting Karla down, she was letting Priestly down... No. No, she couldn't let that be the last thing Karla would remember of her.

"It was worth it. Best prezzie I got from Fandom. Getting to be your big s-sister. You're going to be a kickass Queen." Ghanima Raven Ronan Warren oh god who am I forgetting, I know I'm forgetting someone, Mr. Rogers is Lacey gone Firekeeper Blind Seer Jen Tahiri Dru Kennedy where are you... Too many memories, of Karla being the voice of reason, being the voice of insanity, unicorns and dragons and magic and love and help and giggling insanely and-- "Live. That's all I want you to do. Okay? Don't, you don't have to beat this. Just survive it. Please."

Only half a block now. "I have to go, sweetie. I love you."

Edited at 2011-11-28 09:34 pm (UTC)

"What?" Karla yelped. "No! Don't hang up! No, Dinah, I want to be there until the end! I don't want you to have to go alone."

Yes, she had her family, but she wouldn't have Karla. Surely Dinah would see that she had to be there? Had to stand with them until the very last second? That Karla couldn't let go until there was no other choice?

"No, Dinah, Dinah please, don't make me let you go before I have to!"

Dinah's chest actually hurt from this. She couldn't see the bottom of the Clocktower now, and only half of that was from tears. She wrapped an arm around Barbara, leaned into Alfred. Didn't let go of Helena's hand.

"What, just to listen to me breathing?" she tried to joke. Not funny. Not funny at all. "Hey. I meant to tell you, I talked to Roy, his world's - fading too. Tell Jaime not his fault. Talked to Momoko..." C'mon c'mon there had to be something to say that wouldn't sound like good-bye. "First dibs on the pillows in your brain."

Karla bit her lower lip so hard it bled. She had to be strong. If Dinah could stare death or--whatever--in the face, then Karla could let her go before it claimed her. She realized belatedly that maybe Dinah was asking because it was easier for her, not out of concern for Karla.

"I will," she promised. "I'll talk to everyone. I'll tell everyone. And when we figure out how to fix this, I'm coming to camp out at your dorm for a week. And--and I'm bringing Momoko to Sceval, you'll want to come along for that...And I'll save the best pillows for you. But you and Priestly have to sh-share them, okay? Bring Helena and Barbara and Alfred, too."

Then the hardest thing Karla'd ever had to say. "Bye, Dinah. I love you. I'll see you soon."

If only in her dreams.

"No good-byes." Priestly had said that a long while ago. Kept his word, too. "Just see you. Love you." A breath. "Later."

Dinah clicked off. Hugged everyone close, warmth still around her.

Time to face whatever was coming. Dinah opened her eyes, as the Nothing moved in...

A Room At The Arms Hotel, Just About That Time...

You'd think the solid feeling of safety and home that had hit Francine like a tsunami when she and Katchoo stepped out of their final portal and onto Fandom Island late last night would at least stick around until morning, but no. Not once she'd closed her eyes.

The darkness of the hotel room slipped quietly into the darkness of sleep, and from there into another sort of darkness altogether. Black thunderheads of absence on the horizon like they'd seen on tv in St. Louis, but this time it wasn't the Arch they were rolling toward, it was the jagged skyline of New Gotham. This time, it wasn't Katchoo's hand she clutched way too tightly as they waited for the first flicker of a portal; it was Dinah's.

And then, like water, like smoke, like air, nothing, it wasn't. Francine woke up to the sound of her own voice shouting Dinah's name, nails dug so hard into her palm that even after the third time she'd listened to the message telling her there was no such phone number, the flesh still stung.

Re: A Room At The Arms Hotel, Just About That Time...

Katchoo couldn't sleep through that. There was just no way.

She didn't have to ask, either, once she sat up and caught the telltale glow of Francine's phone screen; nightmare versions of Claire's last message had been playing behind her eyes, asleep or awake, since she'd listened to that voicemail. She'd tried to call back a few times, with basically the same results. Hearing Dinah's name now . . .

That made the giant fist clenching around her stomach squeeze a little harder and throw in a sharp twist just to up the ante.

Gritting her teeth and holding in blue streak she could swear at whatever the hell this was erasing worlds, she slid her arms silently around Francine and held on tight.

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