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New Gotham City (and how Dinah got to Fandom)
"BARBARA!" came the howl from the upstairs balcony of the Clocktower.

Headlines and Heroines

"What?" Barbara Gordon called back to Huntress without looking up from the latest database she was carefully breaking into. Being Oracle meant keeping on top of the latest developments, even if she had to write the new code to crack the decryptions herself.

"Can you hack into the Star and crash their mainframe and their headlines? Now?"

"Another one?"

"This rag says Mom and Bruce hooked up while they were in jail in Singapore!" Helena Kyle came stomping down the stairs, boot-heels hitting the steps with extra emphasis, and tossed the paper at her friend, crossing her arms in exasperation. "And that I was conceived in a prison cell."

Barbara paused, frowning. "I don't think your dad was ever in Singapore at the same time as Catwoman."

"Not the point!" Helena gestured at the paper. "Oh, and that's not all. Check out page 3."

Barbara gave Helena a wary glance, and thumbed to the page of the newspaper, then stopped, staring. "Oh my god."

"I know!"

"This is... this..." Barbara spluttered in outrage, then pointed at the photo of herself, with the caption, BRUCE'S TRAGIC EX? "I am not one of Bruce's discarded mistresses! Where are they getting this crap?"

"You hang out with me. Obviously, we can't just be friends. We're family. Which we are, but not like that. Oh, and the editorial? Thinks we should come out in support of lesbian marriage. So Dinah can say she has two mommies and have it be legal."

Barbara head-desked a couple times, and said in a muffled voice, "This is going to make the next meeting with the school board unbelievably awkward."

"School board, hell. Kafka is going to give me the puppy-dog eyes about 'why I didn't come out to him before this?' and I'm never going to hear the end of it," Helena growled, leaning a hip against Barbara's desk. "I don't need the papers to be feeding into his fantasy life."

Barbara took a deep breath, and sat up straight. "It'll pass. It has to."

"You've been saying that for three weeks, Barbara. Newsflash: it's not passing. Ever since the news broke about who my parents really are, and that I'm not living off the Wayne billions, it just keeps getting worse. I got cornered by the paparazzi at work last night! I nearly broke probation and whacked one with a bottle of whiskey when he started asking about Reese. And they're making it impossible for me to do my real job! You know, fighting Gotham's crime?"

"I know, I know." Barbara rubbed her neck, closing her eyes as she tried to think. "There has to be something we can do to mitigate this. Aside from wholesale wrecking of their servers."

"Why? I like that plan."

Barbara was gathering herself for a retort when her cellphone rang. "Hold that thought." Flipping open the phone, she checked the Caller ID, then the time. "Dinah? Are you on your way home?"

"Hey, Barbara!" Dinah's extra-perky voice came through loud enough for Helena to hear it and frown. "Funny story. Um. Is Helena there?"

"Yes," Barbara said slowly. "Why?"

"Do you think she can get Detective Reese to, um. Oh." A gulp on the other end of the line. "Maybe spring me from jail?"

Helena facepalmed as Barbara pinched the bridge of her nose. "What happened?"

"It was totally the photographer's fault," Dinah said, sounding as self-righteous as only a sixteen-year-old could. "He kept exploding the flash in my face, and wouldn't let me and Gabby get in the cab, and then he asked if I was a freak like everyone else at No Man's Land, and, um." Her voice dropped, "His camera might have broken his nose. Accidentally."

"Dinah!" Barbara and Helena chorused.

"But I took the Fifth! Just like you're supposed to!"

Helena stomped off to grab her purse, and Barbara sighed. "Help's on the way, Dinah. Oh, and you're grounded."

"So not fair! Helena does this all the time!"

"We'll talk about it after she bails you out," Barbara said with emphasis.

"Um. Thanks. Byeee," Dinah said, disconnecting.

Muckraking and Melancholy

The next morning's headlines read:

Helena's Kid Sis in Brawl in Slums!
Dinah: Daughter of Babs & Bruce?
Is Dinah Lance Bruce's Lost Love Child?
Violent Streak Runs in Family: Selena, Helena, Dinah
Another Wayne Troublemaker Makes Her Mark

"Okay, this really can't go on," Barbara said, taking off her glasses and dropping them on her keyboard. "They were stalking Dinah at school this morning, sneaking onto campus as janitors and substitute teachers. She ended up hiding in my classroom closet during her off-period. It's insane. And it's putting a dent in our ability to get anything done about the gangs on the south side."

"If I might suggest something, Miss Barbara?" Alfred said, setting down a tea tray with a little plate of sandwiches. He pointed to a brochure nestled next to the sugar bowl. "Since the cat is now, metaphorically speaking, out of the bag? Perhaps it's better to hide the fledgling fighter somewhere the vultures can't find her."

Barbara picked it up, then frowned. "A boarding school? I don't know, Alfred. I can't see Dinah agreeing to this."

"A specialized academy for the social and educational development for unique young persons," Alfred responded. "Well out of range of prying photographers, on a private island with other young people like herself."

"Affluent or more than, quote troubled unquote, with attitude problems?" Barbara bit her lower lip. "Let me think about it."

"Think about what?" Helena asked, entering the room and striding over to grab three mini-sandwiches. "Mmmm. Yummy, Alfred."

"Sending Dinah away for the rest of the school year." Barbara shook her head. "With the upcoming trials of Harley Quinn's henchmen, this might not be a bad idea. And some of Al Hawke's men are still out there, holding grudges. This wouldn't be so problematic if it weren't for the press. You can ditch them much more easily, but Dinah has to be at school." Barbara sighed. "But Maryland?"

"Wait, what? No no no. That's too far away," Helena objected.

"It's one hour by Wayne Enterprises helicopter," Alfred said, unruffled by Helena's subsequent glare. "If you would only agree to use it."

"She'll be the new kid, she'll hate that, she's got friends here--"

"Who's got friends where?" Dinah asked as she came in, slumping down on the couch and kicking her backpack to the side. She picked up one sandwich and nibbled at it.

"You have friends here," Helena said, folding her arms. "So you wouldn't want to leave, right?"

Dinah chewed, and shrugged, not looking up. "Sure."

"Dinah? What's wrong?" Barbara moved her chair forward, studying Dinah with concern.

"Matt broke up with me. He's sick of the reporters following us all over the place, they freak him out." She picked at the crust on her sandwich, then shoved the whole thing in her mouth. "Only until everything calms down, he said. But I don't think he meant it."

Helena grimaced. "That brat."

"Dinah, I'm sorry," Barbara said, reaching out to squeeze her arm.

"S'okay." Dinah swallowed and forced a smile. "We weren't really serious, I just... anyway." She looked up at Barbara, her expression conflicted. "I don't want to leave you guys in the lurch. You need me to help out with fighting the bad guys. I can't just take off."

Helena looked from Alfred's raised eyebrows to Barbara's worried face, and rolled her eyes. "Sure you can. It's not like it's a nine-to-five job. I've got Reese for back-up now. And let's face it, you can't do the job when you're being followed every damn place."

"I can too!"

"Without going to jail or getting your picture in the papers?" Barbara asked pointedly, and seeing Dinah's dismay, shook her head. "Dinah. We would miss you terribly. But it would only be for one semester. By then, the press will have given up, we'll have some of the worst of Harley's old crew behind bars, and it'll be safer for you to help out again." She tilted her head. "Think about it?"

"Okay." Dinah took another sandwich, and picked up her backpack. "I'll think about it."

Goodbyes and Good Luck

"Remember to write," Barbara said, handing Dinah her upgraded laptop as the private jet powered up. Helena had relented on using the millions if it meant they could arrange for Dinah to leave town without being ambushed by the press.

"Call!" Helena ordered her, handing her a new cell phone. "I want to hear about the boarding school guys. Hopefully they won't be as lame as Matt."

"And do try to eat well," Alfred added, handing over a small cooler full of sandwiches and drinks. "A little something for the trip."

Dinah clutched all the last-minute presents to herself, then dropped it all to hug Barbara and Helena, and then Alfred. "I love you guys. Do not get hurt while I'm gone, and call if you do need me, and if I can come home early, I'm going to! Okay?"

"Okay," Barbara said, smoothing Dinah's hair back. "Get going. You're going to have fun, and learn, and then come back when the press has someone else to trail."

Dinah hugged Barbara again, and took a breath, then slapped Helena a high-five. "See you guys in four months!"

And if Dinah cried on the jet as New Gotham receded away, the on-flight stewards were nice enough to just give her a box of Kleenex and an orange juice to deal with it.

[NFI due to distance and all that. *impatiently waits for tomorrow*]

[[*dies a lot* GOD, that's BEAUTIFUL.]]

[imnotallgirl and I had way, way too much fun figuring this stuff out :> ]