The Birds and the Bats:

Same as it Ever Was

by 'rith


Cautions: A bad word or two.
Disclaimer: Characters copyright DC Comics. Continuity: Post Green Arrow #12. (And mainly written before the freakshow that was #13. Kevin Smith, you're not as funny as you think you are; besides which, Dinah HAS MORE CLASS than to bring Ollie back to JSA headquarters, where they might run into Pieter. So I figured they went back to Gotham. ) Let's all pretend Bruce Wayne: Psycho Hosebeast isn't happening concurrently, mmm-kay?



Rooftop swinging had never really been her thing, but Gotham had a great skyline for it. Obviously. All those gargoyles and gothic protrusions to anchor your line. Sometimes, the rush of wind as you flew stories-high above the street was just the thing to clear your head.

Sometimes it didn't work at all.

Dinah Lance dropped down onto the nearest flat ledge, letting the jumpline coil back neatly onto her belt. It *wasn't* helping. She knew that Ollie was waiting for her, waiting for an answer, and here all she wanted to do was run.

And what did *that* say?

She could have foreseen it. She should have, knowing her own nature. Dinah had never needed tea leaves or tarot cards to tell her what she'd always known. Oliver Queen, the man she'd loved beyond reason for years, had proven himself a louse and a cheater, check. Ollie died saving Metropolis like a good hero should, check. Ollie managed to get himself resurrected and she'd agreed to have dinner with him, swearing that would be *all*, and one brief but adrenaline-filled encounter with a villain later and they had ended up in bed, screwing like crazed weasels.

Check.

It was incredibly depressing to be so predictable.

Ordinarily this was about the point that she might have called Babs and gone over to the Clocktower for a late-night session of bitching and ice cream therapy. But she didn't think she could handle Barbara's simultaneously smug and pitying looks, not tonight. Even if Babs refrained from saying, 'I told you so', she'd be thinking it. Inevitably. Dinah had enough of that going on in her own head.

Sweet. God, it had been sweet. All the old feelings rising to the surface as if the bad years in-between hadn't happened, Ollie playing her body like his favorite instrument. Playing her heart, too, reminding her how good it had been between them once. Swearing that this was a new start, a second chance, that he didn't want anything more than to make things right between them.

Dinah believed him. She could see it in his face; Ollie wasn't THAT good a liar, never had been. He meant every word of it.

But. But, but, but. She wasn't the same person she'd been years ago, back during their old lives together. He *knew* that; he'd been with her, stuck by her, through the worst of it. Even when things had started to go sour, he'd *had* a second chance, and a third, and more. Finally she'd had enough, and that'd been the end of it. But while he'd been gone, while he'd been... dead... she'd mourned him and moved on. Finally cast off the image of being Oliver's girlfriend, or even Oliver's ex, and gotten on with her life.

Now...if things could be like they once were, if Ollie could keep his promises, wouldn't it be petty of her to keep punishing him for past mistakes? As heroes they were supposed to believe in redemption; hadn't he earned it?

Dinah still loved him. She'd always love him. That wasn't even in question. She smiled a little, thinking of the rhyme: "When it was good, it was very very good..."

...and when it was bad, it was horrid. Lies and betrayal and endless fights. None of which kept her from recalling the best times as well, when they had lived and worked together, lovers deeply in love with their lives and each other.

She'd wanted to bear his children, once. It hadn't been possible then. Now....

The thump on the rooftop behind her couldn't be anything less than a deliberate announcement. Dinah turned, not caring that he would see the marks of tears on her face. "Haven't you got anything better to do?"

Batman stood some feet away, respecting her space. His voice carried easily to her. "If I'm intruding, I'll go."

Dinah shrugged, too tired to register surprise. "Your city." And because that reminded her of the Rules of Gotham: "Oliver's not interested in playing vigilante here. He'll be heading out to Star City soon."

"And you?"

So many layers in that uninflected question. Did he care? WHY did he care? Because she was Barbara's partner? Because for whatever reason, he tolerated her presence in his city? And how the *hell* did he manage to convey such disapproval in that emotionless tone?

"You never liked him," she fired out, accusing.

The reply came back evenly, filled with cutting truth. "I never liked how he hurt you."

It stung too much to hear it in that overly calm tone. Pure spite and nothing more made her spit, "Because you're the very model of how to have a healthy relationship, in OR out of costume."

He took it stoically, without the slightest shift in expression under the cowl. She sighed and scrubbed at her face.

"Sorry, Bruce. That was a shitty thing to say."

"You're not wrong," he said quietly. "Maybe that's why I recognize...a dysfunctional relationship...when I see one."

She laughed without humor and dropped down to sit on the edge, legs dangling over the side. "'Dysfunctional.' Yeah, there's a word. But it wasn't always. I keep wondering if this wasn't meant to happen. God, what are the odds? Ollie came back like he was, years ago, before things really went nuts. I got dropped in a Lazarus Pit and feel ten years younger. Both of us have been restored to... I don't know. A state of grace?" She stared out sightlessly over the Gotham skyline. "I can't decide if it's a chance to do things right this time, or just an opportunity to make the same mistakes."

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Batman crouching a few feet away on the edge. This time she hadn't heard him move. After a long moment he spoke again, voice shading more to Bruce than Bat.

"Do you trust him?"

The question she hadn't been willing to consider. The only thing that mattered, really.

"...I don't know."

Batman shifted minutely on the ledge. "I--" A significant pause. "I understand. What that's like."

Far off in the distance--or maybe right under their feet, given the bizarre Gotham acoustics--police sirens howled. He tensed. She nodded. "Yeah," she said, "go."

He was already moving, jumpline flashing out to catch a gargoyle, flying into the dark. If he'd needed a hand, he would have said. Or not. Likely he'd been monitoring the police radio band anyway, stopping at her rooftop on his way elsewhere. Time enough for-- what? a word between colleagues. As much emotional revelation as Bruce was capable of, at least while wearing that cowl.

Dinah knew enough from Barbara to guess at the source of it. He'd been thinking of Talia al-Ghul, maybe, or Catwoman. Either way: women that he supposedly loved, but couldn't trust. How completely, horribly ironic that she and Bruce might have *this* in common. Especially given her tendency to mock him, carefully out of earshot, on the state of his personal life and relationships.

Except. Ollie wasn't a super-villain. Her trust issues with him had nothing to do with anything as easy as, say, a megalomaniac relative's attempts to destroy the world, or a streak of kleptomania. Merely his own thoughtless behavior and wandering eye.

He meant what he'd said: he had every intention of keeping his promises.

He'd meant it before, too.

Still. If he could...

If.

She didn't have to decide today, or tomorrow. Ollie would head off to Star City to reestablish himself there; he'd already made it clear that he wasn't going to pressure her to come with him. He seemed to understand that she had a life here. And to his credit, he knew enough not to assume that one night meant they were *together* again.

But he clearly expected that she would be with him again, even if he had to wait for days or months or--years? Did he have that much patience? But it didn't matter, because if nothing else she owed it to him to tell him either way, and she wasn't going to make him wait that long to find out.

She'd tell him as soon as she figured it out for herself.



{end}






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