Disclaimer: None of the characters depicted herein belong to me. They belong to DC/Time Warner and I am not making any money from them. I am having way too much fun with them, though. Apologies for any Dr. Mid-Nite continuity errors. Slight spoilers for BoP #26.

Love Stinks
By Smitty

"I've got a mission for you."

"NO!"

Barbara Gordon blinked. Never before had she gotten such vehement opposition from her leading operative.

"No?" she questioned cautiously.

"No," Dinah Laurel Lance reaffirmed. "Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and I have a date."

"Maybe you can reschedule," Babs suggested brightly. "This won't take too long and maybe if--"

"No."

"No?"

"Absotively, posilutely no."

"What if I promised you'd get back in time for your date?"

Dinah paused. "Promised?"

"What time is it?"

"I'm supposed to meet him for dinner at the Riverside Radisson at eight. Speaking of dates, what happened to you and the Spandex Stud?"

Babs choked on her hot chocolate.

"You coming down with something?"

"No, Dinah." Babs shook her head and set her drink aside. "The 'Spandex Stud' as you so elegantly tagged him, has to work."

"Batman doesn't even give him V-Day off?"

"He doesn't work for Batman."

"Could have fooled me. So what's the verdict? Do I get back in time? I bought a new dress, Babs. It's red. It's short. It's breathtakingly chic. If I don't get to wear this dress, you're a dead woman."

"I'll get you back in time," Babs promised. "I need you to get to El Frio."

"The Cold One? My Spanish is rusty but that implies cold weather gear, doesn't it?"

"Your Spanish is good, but El Frio is a tiny little banana republic in South America."

"Great," Dinah replied. "So if I do miss my dinner date, at least I'll get some shopping in."

"Shopping?" Babs asked blankly.

"Shopping, Banana Republic…never mind."

Babs heard a sigh over the line and smiled to herself. "There's a coup in progress. I can get you in by noon, their time. That's eleven here. So you have nine hours to stop the coup and get back in time for dinner. No problem."

"Right. No problem."

"Oracle! We have a problem!"

"What is it, BC?"

"You didn't tell me these guys had half the Soviet's Union's old stuff!"

"Former Soviet Union. And when you say old stuff…"

"Tanks! Kalishnakovs! Armor! Grenade launchers!"

"They probably got it out of a catalogue," Babs soothed. "Besides, the tanks are such pieces of crap that when you fire, the spent shell goes whizzing around the interior and-"

"It takes a sledgehammer to change gears, I know, but these things only need to work once!"

"Ok, ok, I'm working on some satellite--"

"Oh, never mind." Dinah ignored Babs' technobabble in her ear and leapt from her reconnaissance position onto the back of the revolutionist who had just started to exit the tank. She kneed him in the kidney and laid him out with a punch to the jaw.

She heard shouting in Spanish below and crouched behind the turret, waiting for another head to poke up from the hatch. She knocked that man out with a swift kick to the temple and his weapon clattered on the top of the tank. Dinah snatched it up and dropped into the tank, ready to take on anyone inside.

The tank was empty.

"Hmm. Stupid and undermanned," she said with satisfaction. Her attention went to the tank's controls. "Hey Oracle? You got a sledgehammer?"

"I'm really sorry."

"I know."

"I really, honestly thought it wouldn't take so long."

"I know." The wind whipped at Dinah's hair and brought goosebumps to her bare legs as she watched Gotham come into view. The nice pilot had offered to take her home, once she'd offered to commandeer his puddlehopper. Lucky for her, he had a parachute in the back.

"On the plus side, you're only fifteen minutes late."

"Great, well, at least I'm going to get to dinner," Dinah muttered.

She jumped.

"I'm really sorry about that," Babs sighed in her ear.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Dinah yanked her cord and bounced as her parachute deployed and caught the brisk February wind. "I didn't get to wear my new dress," she shouted to make sure her voice carried to the transmitter. "You owe me for that."

"I owe you," Babs agreed.

"And I want that in writing." Dinah angled herself left, aiming for the open second-floor deck. During the summer it was a wonderful place to eat and watch the yachts float by, but in the middle of winter, it was deserted. She hit with a thud, running several steps into the clutch of tables and shrugged her pack off.

"I don't suppose you could--" Babs sighed as she heard a splash. "Never mind," she told the fish and the algae.

"I'm gone, girlfriend. Find someone else's date to horn in on," was the last thing she heard before the transmitter necklace joined the earrings in the Sprang River.

Dinah strolled into the main dining room, glancing around for her date.

Aha! With a smile she headed over to the good doctor. He was dressed up--a dark suit with a white shirt and red tie and handkerchief.

"Excuse me, miss?"

"Yes?" Dinah looked up into the disapproving face of the maître d'. He was nattily dressed in a full tuxedo with tails.

"I'm afraid we have a dress code as this establishment and it does not include gymnastics attire," he informed her snootily.

Dinah stared him straight in the eye. "I just restored democracy in a small country in South America," she informed him. "I'm cold, I'm tired, I'm hungry and I have something I'd much rather be wearing. So why don't you shove your dress code back up your…tails…and bring me a steak?"

"Look, Brucie," Honey Covington insisted, tugging on her date's arm. "That woman's wearing a leotard and boots! Have you ever seen such a thing?"

"Not often enough," her companion replied under his breath.

"Protein is good for restoring strength," Dr. Pieter Cross interrupted, taking Dinah's arm and escorting her to their table. "I'll be having the Portobello mushroom dinner and we'll have a bottle of your best merlot to go with it." He wasn't wearing his goggles, but he managed to hold her chair with a grace most seeing men could not manage. "You look lovely, tonight." He let his hand slip from her elbow to her wrist and he lifted her hand for a kiss.

"Liar," she smiled back at him. "You're not wearing your glasses."

"But you had that tone to your voice--the one where your eyes snap and your nose wrinkles and everyone around you runs in fear. It's a very attractive look for you."

"Pieter," Dinah said, leaning closer to him, "flattery will get you everywhere. Keep it up."

Unfortunately, his next words were lost in the sound of breaking wood and glass. Dinah looked toward the entrance and Pieter pulled a pair of goggles from his inner jacket pocket--the goggles that allowed him to see as Dr. Mid-Nite.

"Oh no," Dinah sighed, leaning her forehead against her fingers. "I thought we nuked him months ago."

"There is the one I seek! The Black Canary!"

"Old boyfriend?" Dr. Mid-Nite asked without humor.

"He certainly seems to think so."

Bane crashed through the restaurant, throwing tables and patrons this way and that.

"The woman is mine!" he announced. Waiters scurried to get out of his way.

"I think this is a me thing," Dinah explained to Dr. Mid-Nite. "Hold on a sec, I'll take care of it."

"What you face, we face together, Black Canary," Pieter announced.

"No, no, don't do the chivalrous thing this time. Just let me take care of him," Dinah sighed.

"You! Pitiful man! You are not man enough for my Songbird!"

"Oh no, not the nicknames," Dinah groaned.

"Are you talking to me?" Dr. Mid-Nite asked.

"No, he's not, don't listen to him."

"Yes, I speak to you! Insolent fool who treads on my turf!"

"I think there's going to be a fight!" Honey exclaimed.

"Now might be a good time to get out of here."

The couple joined the other people running for a safe haven.

"Hey, I'm not your turf--"

"The lady is here with me. I'll thank you to leave her alone."

"Shh!" Dinah commanded her date angrily. "You're just going to make him mad."

"You will be squashed beneath my tread! The woman is mine!"

"The woman is her own. And she's chosen to be here with me, tonight!" Something slipped into Dr. Mid-Nite's hand. A blackout bomb, no doubt.

"Ok, ok, look," she started, trying to settle thing. "How about--"

"I have brought chocolates!" Bane announced, offering her a large, heart-shaped box. "And flowers. Such things are appropriate for courting rituals, are they not? And what have you brought her, little man?"

"I was trying to buy her dinner," Dr. Mid-Nite responded, obviously annoyed. "And don't call me little man!" The blackout bomb hit Bane squarely in the chest, making him bellow as Dr. Mid-Nite rushed him.

"No, no, not a good idea," Dinah groaned. She thrust the heel of her hand to Bane's chin as he tossed Dr. Mid-Nite across the room. She jumped and aimed a spin kick for his head, but missed when Bane moved to block Dr. Mid-Nite's tackle. Bane lunged after the doctor and the tussle crashed through the glass doors to the deck. Dinah ran after them, using the railing as a fulcrum to drive both boots into Bane's lower back. The behemoth dropped Dr. Mid-Nite, who wiped his bleeding mouth on a torn suit sleeve and produced the strobe-light device that would temporarily blind the larger man.

"The Canary is mine," Bane insisted.

"Over my dead body," Dr. Mid-Nite snarled.

"This is ridiculous," Dinah muttered to herself, disgusted by the display of Alpha-Maleness being acted out before her. Crossing her arms, she leaned on the wooden railing surrounding the second-floor deck. They weren't even fighting, she noted. Just…posturing. She glanced back at the water. It was dark and looked cold. She glanced back at the two men warring for her attention. She glanced back at the water. Surreptitiously, she hitched herself onto the railing. She glanced down again. Looked cold. She glanced back at the two men. Pieter looked like he was about to let loose with more blackout bombs. She jumped.

At some point in the 1.4 second drop, she decided that jumping was probably a bad idea.

When she hit the water, she knew it was.

Still, she considered, spitting out briny river water, in forty-five minutes she'd be safe and warm in her apartment with a pint of rocky road. Maybe her two testosterone-crazed suitors would notice she was gone by then. The crash of cutlery and glass and what might have been a table bouncing echoed above her. Then again, maybe they wouldn't.

The water was freezing, but strong, sure strokes took her the short distance to the dock in only a few minutes.

"Need a hand?"

Dinah lifted her head and instantly switched from crawl to treading water.

A dark glove hung in front of her and she followed its line up to the arm and finally the cowl of its owner.

"Batman?" she asked incredulously, lifting her hand automatically.

He hauled her out of the water in one smooth lift and brought her to stand next to him on the small wooden pier. His attention immediately shifted to something over her head. She turned to follow his gaze and saw Bane threatening Dr. Mid-Nite with an upturned table.

"Looks like fun," Batman rasped.

"Great," responded Dinah flatly. "Fun for you, maybe. Not me. Not no way, not no how. I am through with that kind of 'fun' for tonight. I'm going home, I'm going to take a shower, I'm going to get a hot cup of tea and--"

"Wait."

Something iron grasped her wrist and she immediately grabbed the forearm and started to turn into a basic judo throw when the grip loosened. Loosened, but didn't let go.

"That's a shame. I was going to ask if you wanted to patrol with me." Batman let his eyes slip over the skyline of his city.

"I thought you didn't like outsiders operating in your city," Dinah countered.

The corner of Batman's mouth quirked. "I don't." His hand was still on her wrist.

"Oh," Dinah said softly, understanding immediately.

"So?"

Her smile was nearly lost against the grim visage. "Count me in!"

As the comfortable chatter of their bickering scattered through the night, a very special archer pulled back his bow and let fly his arrow.

The End

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