Disclaimer: None of the included characters belong to me. DC Comics
and Time Warner pull their strings. No harm is intended in the use of
these copyrighted characters. No money is being made off this adventure.
Don't sue me, I'm (er, I was) a poor college student.
"Whoa!" Dinah Laurel Lance, the Black Canary, one half of the intrepid Birds of Prey international intrigue team, dove to the ground as a SCUZ missile whizzed less than an inch over her head. "Watch the hair!"
"Everything ok over there, Dinah?"
All Barbara Gordon heard over her headset was inarticulate grumbling as, halfway around the world, Dinah ran as fast as she could to escape the effects of the missile's deadly impact.
Dinah hit the dirt and curled into a ball, covering her head with her arms. The missile detonated, blowing debris in a clear arc over Dinah's defensive form with a deafening roar.
Back in Gotham, Babs winced and yanked off her headset. A little warning might have been nice, she thought grumpily as she held the device away from her until the noise lessened to where she couldn't hear it at arm's length. Then, she cautiously brought it closer and finally settled it back on her ears.
"Dinah?" she asked tentatively.
"Geez, Oracle," her operative grumbled. "This is a really lousy birthday present."
"I'm sorry," Babs told her contritely. "I didn't know. Next year I'll be sure to mark today on my calendar, so all the extremist factions know better than to overthrow their parent governments on your birthday."
"Good." Dinah sounded pouty.
Babs sighed. "Dinah, I'm reading a lot of firepower in the congressional building. Please be careful. I'd hate for you to become Swiss cheese on your birthday."
"Lovely time for you to get a sense of humor, Oracle," Dinah growled, jogging through the back alleys toward the government buildings.
"Sorry. So how old are you now, anyway?" Babs asked, propping her cheek on her hand.
"Twenty-nine," Dinah informed her. "I'm letting myself in the backdoor. These people have lousy security," she added, averting her eyes from the bodies of the guards.
"You are NOT," Babs asserted, choking back a laugh. "You were 29 last year. AND the year before that."
"Look," Dinah hissed, disarming a gunman from behind and chopping him on the back of the neck, letting him slide unconscious to the floor. "I was 29 the year before that year, too. Don't argue with a women carrying a Kalishnakov."
"Aye, aye, Ma'am," Babs joked, turning on the stove to heat milk for hot chocolate.
Dinah slunk through the shadows of the new building, built less than ten years ago, when the newly democratic government took control. The lights had been expunged when the terrorists had cut the power. Dinah edged around the corner and recognized the sound of whimpering politicians and harsh foreign words yelled to intimidate.
"They're in the Central Hall," Dinah whispered, referring to the gathering room where the assembled representatives were being held hostage. "Do you have a back way in?"
Barbara pulled up the blueprints of the building on her computer. She had anticipated BC's request and had the information on hand. "Yeah," she said, after staring at the diagram for a minute. "There's an access tube in the hallway between the president pro temp's office and the Hall. It looks like a janitor's closet, but there's a ladder that goes up to the lighting. You can come in through the ceiling."
"Won't that be a killer entrance," Dinah quipped. She was already slipping down the correct hallway and trying the doorknobs. "Whoops. Someone's office." Finally, her hand turned the right door, and she was up the ladder in a flash. She picked her way across the narrow struts between the ceiling tiles, glad she'd worn the cold-weather uniform with the leggings. She heard voices below her and carefully lifted a plaster panel and set it aside. "Hey, that floor is a long way down," she hissed to Babs.
"You must be in the dome," Babs said, checking the schematic. "Just…get something to break your fall."
"Or someone," Dinah muttered. "Here goes nothing." She fired several rounds at a decorative curtain, bringing it down on several of the terrorists, and dropped from the ceiling. She aimed her heel for the spot right between the nearest terrorist's shoulder blades and brought him down under her. She slammed the butt of the machine gun she still held into the stomach of the next one, and dove behind one of the speaking platforms as the remaining gunmen fired their weapons in her direction. "Uh," she grunted as she sprawled on her stomach. "Ok, fine. Going off-line," she quietly told Babs, before switching off her transmitter.
"Understood," Barbara answered and pulled off her headset, in case the transmitter got turned back on, accidentally.
Dinah pulled an electronic Canary Cry from a pouch on her hip. She hesitated for a second, knowing she was about to throw it into a crowd of innocents.
"Just remember that they're politicians, Dinah," Babs' voice echoed in her ears.
Dinah grinned, knowing her best friend could read her mind, even so many miles away. She flicked the switch with her thumb and tossed the little toy over her head, into the crowd. The deafening cry rendered everyone useless, doubled over with their hands stuffed in their ears. With everyone subdued, it took Dinah no time at all to round up the anarchists and turn them over to the local authorities.
"Can I come home now?" she whined to Barbara, wrapped in a blanket, as a Marine handed her a cup of hot coffee.
"Sure can, BC," Babs told her. "And you can even go first class. And I'll have all the attendants sing Happy Birthday to you."
Stupid keys. Dinah finally found the right one and shoved it in the lock of her apartment door. Surprisingly, it turned without a problem.
"Good," she muttered, glad she wasn't going to have to get the superintendent to let her into her apartment. She was so often gone for so long that the tumblers had a tendency to stick after a month or two. She slung her bag across the room and dumped her pile of mail unceremoniously on the table just inside the door before reaching for the light switch.
Dinah blinked. The JSA was in her living room. As was most of the JLA. And a Titan or two.
"Gramma Canary!" And Lian.
"Happy Birthday, Dinah," Oracle said in her ear.
"You staged a terrorist coup to get me out of the house?" Dinah asked, scooping up Lian as the little girl ran to her with a big balloon.
"Nah," Babs grinned. "I just called in a favor to get the date changed."
Dinah laughed and shook her head. "Why aren't you here?"
"I have to remain aloof and mysterious. I'll call you tonight and we can talk about Nightwing's butt."
"Damn fine, that thing is," Dinah asserted happily. "Get with you later, chica."
"Happy Birthday, Junior," Wildcat said, handing her a glass of champagne and kissing her on the cheek. "You didn't think we'd forget about you, did you?"
"You, Uncle Ted? Never!"
"Come back to Daddy, princess." Roy Harper, the Titan known as Arsenal, reached for his daughter and Dinah passed her over. "Another year older, Dinah," he teased her, cheerfully.
"Another year wiser than you," she reminded him, aiming an elbow for his ribcage, which he ducked easily. He easily hoisted Lian to his shoulders and winked at Dinah. "We're going on a cookie search. Happy Birthday, BC."
"Thanks, Roy," she replied, smiling into her champagne class as other friends came over to offer her birthday wishes.
Barbara smiled as she listened to the sounds of the party. There was no denying that Dinah was the darling of the superhero set, and Barbara was sorry she couldn't be there to watch. A secret identity was a secret identity, though, and such things had to be protected. Maybe next time she could pretend to be Dinah's neighbor from down the hall...
"Well, looky here," Dinah drawled, wandering over to the man who was making his area the darkest corner in the room. "It's Tall, Dark, and Batty. You do realize this is a party, right? Fun? Happiness? All that positive emotion stuff?"
"I lost a bet," Batman informed her, gruffly.
Dinah's eyes widened. "Coming to a party is your punishment for losing a bet?" she asked, suppressing a laugh with a drink of champagne. "What was the bet?"
Batman cleared his throat and made a sound rather like a growl.
"I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that," Dinah prodded, leaning her head closer. "But then, my caveman-ese is a little rusty."
"I bet Clark that you'd kick off before party time, just so we'd have to have a big group mourning thing."
Dinah stared at his poker face, her mouth slightly open and her champagne forgotten.
Batman inclined his head. "But I lost. So I brought cookies."
Silently, Batman held out a plate of chocolate chip.
"Did you make these?" Dinah asked, taking one and examining it, closely. He didn't answer, so she bit off a small piece. "Whoa! No way did you make these!" she said, shoving the rest of the cookie into her mouth. It was homemade to be sure, but the image of Batman, decked out in apron and fish-shaped oven mitt, was impossible to stomach.
The corner of his mouth quirked, as he leaned down to kiss her cheek. "Happy Birthday, Dinah."