LinkExchange FORWARD

All the 'Wing's Women
By Marilee Stephens and Louise Freeman Davis
Artwork by Marla K. Fair

Dick and Kory The young woman looked around in surprise. One minute she had been
at her apartment, about to leave to go and babysit Lian. Roy Harper had to go and see a few of his former government colleagues about an old case he had worked on. The next minute, she was standing in what looked to be a Grecian temple, the heavy marble pillars entwined with long strands of ivy, a fountain tinkling in the background. That combined with birdsong and windchimes to form a soothing melody in the air around her.

Looking around, she suddenly spied a young woman sitting at a marble table towards the back of the temple.

"Donna… Over here", the young woman rose and waved her over. Striding slowly over, Donna took in her appearance. Tall, about 6 feet in fact, with curly auburn-red hair that fell to her shoulders and slightly down her back, the woman directed her green gaze upon her in a friendly fashion. Holding out her hand in greeting, she continued, "Sorry about the abruptness, but the Goddess sometimes lets formality fall by the wayside when she gets an idea."

Donna looked at the woman in front of her in consternation. "I'm sorry… But you seem to have me at a disadvantage. Do I know you? Or this 'goddess' you're talking about?"

"Oops… Sorry. Lost my head for a minute there. Not often that I get to meet one of you types face-to-face, though we get to hear about you all from the Goddess all the time. I'm Jane."

Donna had been looking around her surroundings and at the woman in front of her a bit warily. However, since she was here, she thought she should at least find out what was up. And to do that, she needed to know more. "Nice to meet you, Jane. And about this 'goddess'…?"

"Oh, yeah… I forgot. Here." Jane fished into one of the pockets of the dark tailored pants she was wearing along with a ivory silk blouse, and pulled out a small card. Handing it to Donna, she waited as the dark-haired woman in front of her inspected the bit of cardboard.

Donna looked down at what appeared to be a fairly plain business card. The only bit of writing on it was in fancy, gold-embossed script, which read merely "Bat-Titan Goddess".

Donna (a bit stupefied): "Bat-Titan Goddess"?!?

Jane: Yeah… I know… I think it's pretentious too. But she says that she didn't give herself the name, so it's okay.

Donna: "Pretentious"… I guess that's one word for it. Just how does she…

Jane: How does she rate the name? Oh, she knows everything about you
folks… But especially that pal of yours, Nightwing… Or Dick Grayson…

Donna (blinks twice) Pardon? What do Dick Grayson and Nightwing have to do with each other?

Jane: Oh, don't play dumb with me! I know all the secret identity stuff. I even know all your names, Donna Troy-Hinkley-Stacy-Long-Wonder-Girl- Troia-Darkstar…

Donna: OK, OK, I get the point! But what does this have to do with Nightwing?

Jane: Dick. Or, as my friend Lee just tends to call him, "That great piece of…" Well, maybe we shouldn't get into what Lee calls him… She's a bit of a wench, if you know what I mean.

Donna (obviously very stunned and more than a tad confused): I see… I think…

Jane: Anyways… The Goddess, or B-TG as some of us call her… She keeps an eye out on you folks. And frankly, she's a bit concerned about some of the stuff she's been hearing about. So she thought she'd bring you up here for a little talk. Unfortunately, at the last minute, one of your friends must have gotten themselves in a jam, so she asked me to meet with you instead.

Donna: "One of my friends"?

Jane: Yeah… You know. Like I said, she watches out for you. And when one of you get into some sort of sticky situation, she goes to help. Haven't you ever wondered about some of those weird "coincidences" that always seem to occur when you guys are in a real pickle?

Donna (not particularly liking the direction the conversation is taking): Oh, I'm to understand that she's the one that fixes everything for us?

Jane (nonchalantly): Nah… Mostly you guys do that yourselves. She only involves herself very rarely. At least, that's what she tells us. Frankly, I don't buy it. But what can I say? She's the Goddess, I'm the lowly peon.

Donna (somewhat calmer): Okay. I still don't understand why she decided to bring me up here.

Jane: She thought she'd sit down and talk to you… Goddess-to-Goddess…

Donna: Wait a second! I'm not a "goddess" anymore.

Jane: Okay… okay… Goddess-to-former-goddess then. But like I said,
she had to leave. So you and I get to have a chat instead. Come on.
Have a seat. Before the coffee gets cold. Or would you prefer tea?

Donna slowly sits at the chair Jane had indicated. On the table
in front of her are a variety of sandwiches, crackers, cheeses, pate, as
well as fruit, squares, cookies, and pots of coffee, tea and pitchers of
juice and water. Apparently Jane, or this "goddess" of hers, knew
something about putting on a spread.

Jane (sitting as well): Now, I know that things have been a little crazy
for you guys lately…

Donna (pouring herself a glass of juice): Yes, you might say that.

Jane: Yeah… nuts all 'round. But the Goddess has a few areas of real concern. One that she thought you might be a big help with, though, has to do with your friend, Nightwing.

Donna (a concerned expression forming on her face): I don't understand. Is something wrong with Dick?

Jane (a harsh tone entering her pleasant voice): Well, the Goddess thinks
there is. Have to admit, I'm worried too. Though, frankly, I'm not too sure that you're the one that we should be talking about this with.

Donna: Oh… Really? Why not?

Jane: 'Cause, and please don't take this the wrong way, but your life is
a complete mess at the moment. Just who are you today, anyways?

Donna: (stiffly) Troia. I'm back to Troia and I'm sticking with it, for good!

Jane (continuing): Now, now, we've heard that before, haven't we? But the Goddess says that's a problem for another day. One that would take more than a simple chat over a midday snack. Nope, right now the bit she's got between her teeth has to do with Dick and the mess he's making with his private life.

Donna: His private life?

Jane: Yeah. Have you been reading… Oops, sorry… "hearing" about the mess he's been making of his love life recently? Now, don't get me wrong, the boy's obviously too cute for words, so of course he's going to be popular with the ladies. But this is getting beyond ridiculous.

Donna (her eyes narrowing suspiciously): I have no idea what you mean.

Jane: Sure you do. Come on… Remember your reaction in the diner recently after hearing about that… (a disgusted note enters Jane's voice) thing he had with the Huntress. Whoever came up with that idea…

Donna (both curious and cautious): Okay… You're right. That didn't
sound like Dick at all.

Jane (starting to get a bit incensed): Damn straight! It went against every bit of characterization that he had been given in the past…

Donna (now very perplexed): Excuse me?!? So far you've used the terms,
"reading", "whoever came up with that idea", and now, "every bit of characterization"… Just what are you talking about?

Jane (a combination of guilt and "how-do-I-get-myself-out-of-this-one"
covering her face): Ah… Well… You have to understand that I tend to hear about you guys in bits and pieces… From the Goddess. You know. Makes it seem more like hearing about characters in a book, or from a TV show.

Donna appears somewhat appeased at the woman's explanation, for
which Jane lets out a silent "Phew…" Still, it's obvious to Jane that the other woman isn't totally comfortable with her, and is going to take what she said with a grain of salt.

Jane: Anyways, the whole point is that that is not something that Dick
Grayson would do.

Donna: No… You're right. It isn't like Dick at all to do that, and I told him so.

Jane: And that lame excuse he gave you… Really, who did he think he was kidding? Now, don't get me wrong. He's obviously had relationships in the past… Everyone from Betty Kane…

Donna: Whoa. Dick never gave Bette the time of day in that regard.

Jane: "Betty Kane"… Not "Bette Kane". You know. The original Bat-GirlÑ

Donna: But I thought the original Batgirl was Barbara Gord-

Jane: (continues, ignoring the interruption) Ñnot that Flamebird airhead. Of course he never gave her the time of day. I know that I wouldn't. But that young teen thing he had with Betty Kane, back when she and her Aunt Kathy went as Bat-Girl and Batwoman respectively… Now that was sweet. Of course, she was the one with the obvious crush. In fact, outside of that one kiss on that alien planet that they got stranded on together, I'm not sure he really ever admitted that he might have had a bit of a crush on her too. Well, not what I would call a crush… But at least a little bit of feeling. And it did appear that they were maybe about to die. So who knows? But he obviously liked her somewhat. Still, they were all of what? Thirteen, fourteen at the time? Not anything really too serious.

Donna: I'm afraid you're not making sense. Batgirl was quite a bit older and her name wasÑ

Jane (waves her hand dismissively): Of course, then there was the whole thing with Harlequin, back when she first joined the Teen Titans. I don't think that was really much of a romance either, more just a little bit of flirting. Though Duela did seemed to take it the wrong way back when you guys teamed up with the Titans West team and at one point Betty makes the comment about hooking up with Dick again, now that they were back working together. Nope… She didn't seem very pleased at all.

Jane pauses in her ramblings when she realizes that Donna is simply staring, her mouth agape. Looking up from the cracker she was spreading pate on, she finds Donna eyeing her as if she's been locked in a room with a crazy person. Realizing her mistake, that this Donna wouldn't have a clue as to what she is talking about, she tries to find a way out of her predicament.

Jane (a bit cautious): Okay… I gotta admit something here. See, I know a few things about you guys that you might not be too familiar with.

Donna only gazes back at the contrite young woman with a hard

Jane (continuing): I don't know how recently you talked to Diana…

Donna (sitting straight up): Diana? What's Diana got to do with this?

Jane: Not much… really. It's just that she's recently had the opportunity to learn about some different… realities from the one that you live it. And some of the stuff I just mentioned took place in those realities. Well, the Betty Kane/Bat-Girl stuff that is.

Donna (starting to look around the temple, obviously trying to find a way
out of wherever she was): Look… Jane… or whoever you are… I'm sure your concern is sincere…

Jane (reaching across and laying a hand on Donna's arm): Please… Just hear me out.

Donna (looking down at Jane's hand and then back up at her, obviously debating with herself): All right… But no more of this "alternate reality" stuff…

Jane (having removed her hand with Donna's glare, mutters): Okay… No more alternate realities… Stick to the current DCU… I can do that…

Jane closes her eyes in disgust when she realizes what she just said. Luckily, Donna seems to have missed her last few comments.

Jane (relieved): Yeah, well, getting back to Duela, it was obvious just who she was trying to get the attention of when she first showed up.

Donna (slowly): Just what do you mean by that?

Jane: You know… "The Joker's Daughter", "The Riddler's Daughter", "The Catwoman's Daughter"… All Bat-villains. It's not like she was showing up as "The Weather Wizard's Daughter", or "Black Manta's Daughter", now is it?

Donna: Never thought of it that way. But you're right. In hindsight, I guess she was trying to draw Dick out. Still, if she wanted to get close to Dick, why would she say she was Two-Face's daughter? Considering Dick had such a debilitating phobia of Two-Face for all those years?

Jane:(gritting her teeth) Oh yeah, that is part of your reality now, isn't it? (Under her breath) Drat, drat, drat, stupid Zero Hour. (A bit louder) Well, main point is, Duela's not Harvey Dent's daughter. She's even admitted that. Still, about as close as she got to Dick was maybe just a bit past the flirting stage. No. Cute, but not much there in terms of a real relationship.

Donna: Well, I guess at the time, Dick was still harboring a bit of his crush on Barbara…

Jane: Oh, yeah… The Congresswoman and the College Boy… Wasn't that just a cute scenario? "Look, Robin's got a crush on Batgirl". Frankly, to tell you the truth, I never got any real sense that she returned his affection all that much. Or, at least, not to the same extent. Heck, when she was going over her origin a few years later, she even admitted as much. Seemed much more interested in Bats at that point, in some regards. Definitely seemed the case of the teenager with the crush on the older woman. And the age difference seemed a little much at the time. I mean, when I was 25, 26… Sure, some 18-year-old boys were great to look at, but I don't think I would want to date them… Besides, it really didn't last all that long… Probably a few months, you guys' time.

Jane again looks up and sees Donna eying her warily. It's
obvious that the woman is becoming extremely suspicious of her. She
realizes she's put her foot in her mouth once again.

Donna (in a very soft, very determined tone): What do you mean, "going over her origin?" Alternate realities again?

Jane (in a sheepish tone): Yeah… Sorry… Won't happen again, I promise…

Donna: See that it doesn't. The Barbara Gordon I've heard about is only a few years older than the other original Titans and me. However, I really
don't know the extent of what her and Dick's relationship was back in those days. I do believe it really didn't go much beyond that of a crush though.

Jane (under her breath): yeah… because outside of one story that made Babs out to be some sort of giggling, teeny-bopper cheerleader, it hasn't been shown at all… (Louder) You're right. Definitely crush. More to it than what he had with that other Betty Kane that I was mentioning, but still… His relationship with Lori Elton was as least as deep, if not deeper than whatever that thing he had with Babs back then was.

Donna: Lori Elton? Who?

Jane: Girl he met at Hudson University when he went there. At one point, he did tell Bruce that the relationship was getting fairly serious. But he never did tell her about his activities as Robin, so I really don't know how much of a relationship that they really could have had. And besides, outside of Dick, she had terrible taste in men. Good lord, that guy she was involved with before she met Dick… What was his name… Desmond Mallard?… Who names their kid "Desmond", anyways? Geez, gets one little scar under his eye, and all of a sudden, he's calling himself "Scar", abducting the so-called "beautiful people" and mutilating them to put in a circus-sideshow… Definitely not all there up top, you know…

Donna: "Hudson University"?… Dick was only there for a semester.
How did he have enough time to…

Jane (eyes frantically searching around the room as she realizes that she's make yet another error): Well, it… it was… Let's just say that it happened and leave it at that. Anyways, it was a good thing that she dumped him. While she seemed normal enough, the men she got involved withÑ

Donna: She dumped him?!?

Jane: Yeah… See, a classmate of theirs was shot in class one day, and while Dick ran off to find out who had fired and to change to Robin (though he told her it was to phone the cops) the guy died in Lori's arms. After that, she yelled at Dick for not being there when she needed him, and that he was never there for her. Thing was, she then takes up with the guy that was very involved with the group that was responsible for the shooting anyways… What was his name again? Oh… Yeah… Dave Corby, or as he was known in super-villain mode, The Raven. It was a good thing that Dick got a chance to beat the guy up, as Dick Grayson no less, and walk off to leave Lori by herself… She didn't know a good thing when she had it… Course, the next girl he took up with at college…

Donna: He had time to take up with someone else after that?

Jane (with a "caught in the headlights" look on her face): It was a short one. Really. Jennifer Anne. Nursing student. From a rich family. If I remembered it right, he had been watching her for a while, but didn't really have a chance to make his move until a gang decided to kidnap a bunch of rich kids from campus and hold them for ransom. Because he was trying to talk to her, he basically ignored the guys who tried to get his attention, to grab him… And then had to try as Dick Grayson to stop the guys that did grab her. Of course, due to the whole "having to protect the secret identity" bit, he made a hash of stopping them. Still, as Robin, he did free the hostages, and he used the events to make contact with her as Dick Grayson. Didn't last all that long… And like with Lori, he seemed to spend a lot of time just making sure that she didn't find out that Dick Grayson and Robin were the same person. I think the whole thing just fizzled out when he left college.

Jane looks over at Donna, who appears to being doing some sort of
calculation on her fingers.

Donna: Let me get this straight… You're telling me that Dick apparently had two pretty serious relationships during one 4-month college semester?

Jane (sighing in defeat): Okay… Okay… I admit it… It's that whole "alternate realities" bit again. That Dick Grayson dated Lori Elton during his first year in college, and was dating Jennifer Ann in his second, before he decided to drop out and head back to Gotham…

Donna: Head back to Gotham? Dick never went back to Gotham after he dropped out of college. I think he kicked around for a little while, working solo as Robin, and then he joined me and Kory, Raven, Wally, Vic and Gar in the new Titans team. This "alternate reality" stuff… I thought you said you wouldn't mention it anymore.

Jane: I know what I said. I'm sorry… I can't help it. He might have
had something like those romances when he was at university that first

Donna: I suppose. But please… No more of this stuff…

Jane: I promise… Really I do… Scout's honour…

Donna: Jane, it's pretty obvious that you were never a scout.

Jane: Drat!!! Okay… I swear, okay… Let's leave it at that… Well, okay, one more, and then I'll drop it… I promise. And I don't know… Maybe this one did happen to your Dick Grayson. Did he ever mention a "Dala" to you.

Donna (thinking): No… I don't believe so.

Jane: You sure? Real bloodsucker…

Donna: Jane. That's not very nice. Even if she wasn't the best person…

Jane: No… I mean it… A real blood-sucker. You know… A vampire…

Donna (surprised): Oh. No… I think Dick would have mentioned someone like her to me.

Jane: Yeah… Well… I thought he might have since it happened in the first few months you guys were together in the New Teen Titans. But now that I think about it, I wouldn't really call it a romance. She suckered him as a way of getting to Bats. She and her partner, the Monk, wanted to get at him. The fact that she got close enough to put the bite on Dick and start him on the road to vampire-hood…

Donna (aghast): WHAT?!? Dick was a vampire?!?

Jane (soothingly): No… Not really. Just started. They also manage to
start Bats on that road as well, but he obtained the antidote for himself
and Dick.

Donna: Thank Rhea!

Jane: Yeah… Would have been nasty otherwise. Then, of course, he
finally took up with the right woman.

Donna (again apparently calculating, this time in her head): I take it
you mean Kory.

Jane (beaming): You got that right. Best thing that ever happened to

Donna (tentatively): Yes… For years I thought they were great for each other.

Jane (her voice rising in enthusiasm): You know it. They brought so many good things out in each other…

Donna (a bit sadly): I know… But they also had to live through some horrible stuff.

Jane (eyes narrowing): Yes… They did. But that stuff never seemed to be about what the two of them felt for each other. More about how things around them always seemed to be trying to pull them apart. But what they brought out in each other really helped the other grow as a person. And the fact that they did seemed, for the most part, to ride out all the various storms that were thrown at them… If anything, that would only prove the depth of feeling that they had for each other.

Sure, I admit, in the early days of their relationship, things were a little dicey. Obviously Dick wasn't totally comfortable with his feelings for Kory, as he kept denying them, as Vic pointed out to him when Dick expressed some concern about Kory dating Franklin Crandall.

Donna: He was afraid that whatever he and Kory were starting would affect their teamwork.

Jane:Lame excuse, in my opinion. I thought it was a great moment of growth for him when he admitted to her, when you guys were coming back from your first trip to Tamaran, about how his feelings for her scared him. For a guy that always came off to others as so confident, if your fellow teammates in the early Teen Titans' reactions to him were any indication, letting that degree of uncertainty, that ability to admit that there might be things about him that he didn't even know about himself, show to someone else was a very good move for him.

As he himself said many times, Kory's openness and acceptance of her emotions and the emotions of the people around her got Dick to trust enough to be able to open up to his. I'm not sure he ever got that feeling of being able to trust in his emotions from anyone else before that. Frankly, I always got the feeling that he wouldn't before that not just because of the way that Bats brought him up, but also because he thought you others expected him, as leader, to be "above" that sort of thing.

Donna: Hey! Just hold on there…

Jane: Donna… I'm not saying that a) you meant to do that or b) that it was necessarily the rest of the Titans' fault there… It was how Dick might have perceived the situation. But you have to admit, there were times when you obviously put him in "leader mode"…

Donna: Of course I did… He was our leader. He was the best!

Jane: But think of how confining that must of been for him in some ways. You others always expected him to have the answers. What if he didn't? Would he feel free in telling you that? Especially if he thought that was his primary purpose on the team? And there were times when you made it quite obvious that that's what you did with regards to him…

Donna (evasively): I don't know what you mean.

Jane: Yes… You do. Look how you reacted to having Jason Todd come on a mission with you. Because he was in the Robin costume, you automatically made him "the leader" in your mind. Subconsciously, but you did. It's how you saw Dick. And then, when you guys finally did rescue him and Raven from Brother Blood, you immediately made to hand the leadership role back to him, when he probably really wasn't in any sort of shape to have it given back…

Donna (holding up a hand to stop Jane): Whoa! And just how do you know
all this stuff?

Jane (startled): Let's just say that I do and leave it at that. But I don't think Kory made him think he always had to be the "leader". In fact, she indicated that she knew how uncomfortable he sometimes felt in that leadership role. How hard it was on him sometimes. Not that he wasn't proud of being the Titans' leader, but that it did put "performance pressures" on him that he might have on occasion found hard to live up to. It must have been nice to have someone around that he could talk about those pressures with. Someone that mightn't have made him feel that he was letting them down by admitting them. And I think Kory gave him that security to do that. And it was obvious that Dick, even if he didn't want to admit it, relied on Kory's strength a lot during that whole bit when he was trying to decide what to do with his life. Remember when he gave up being Robin?

Donna: Yes, I do… I was alternately sad, as a part, a very important part of my life, was changing, and happy, because I knew that this was a very important move for him…

Jane (impatiently): Yeah… Yeah… I was thunderstruck at the idea of Dick Grayson not being Robin either… Gave me a whole stomach full of nervous butterflies, I tell you. But I thought it was a great moment when, after Kory offered to help Dick with his costume, he turned to her and said, "You have helped, more than you know… But not more than you will know." It was so nice to see him acknowledging that he had needed help with his life… That he couldn't be so totally self-sufficient. He even admitted later that even when he had been an ass to her, she hadn't left him. That when he was trying to deny everything he was and to drive all the people he cared about out of his life, she stood by him and wouldn't leave.

Donna: When… When did he say that?

Jane: When he was finally deciding to take up the Nightwing name and costume. Oh, yeah… I guess you probably didn't hear about that. No… Kory was very good for him. Because she put him first in her life, when I'm not sure anyone else ever had.

Donna: Don't you think that's being a bit unfair?

Jane: Not really… Bruce and Alfred loved him, but Bruce put his life as Batman first in a lot of ways, and Alfred had to deal with that whole side of both of their lives. And not to knock you Titans, but you all had your own lives as well. Not that you didn't all care a lot about him… But a good example, at least to me, of the difference between how Kory dealt with him and how you others dealt with him was a comparison of the talks the two of you had with him during that whole mess with Scarapelli. Frankly, Donna, you seemed to be much more concerned with how what you guys were up to was going to affect the team…

Donna (interrupting): I was… What Dick was having us do… While not illegal… Well, I just wasn't comfortable with it.

Jane: Hey, I understand. Dick was being a bit of a hard line during that case. What happened with Adrian Chase and his family's death had obviously deeply affected him. But when Kory confronted him, she wanted to know how he was doing… Not how the whole thing was going to affect the team. That's what I meant…

Donna (a bit subdued): Okay… I see what you mean. But I did have other things going on in my life at the time… Like my wedding.

Jane: Hey, I understand completely. And don't get me wrong. For a while, at the beginning of their relationship, I do think Kory was acting a bit like… how did you put it… like she was "in love with being in love". That was obvious by some of the statements she had made herself when she first came to earth. And the fact that she fell for that Crandall guy so hard, and made the play for Dick so early on. But I can easily understand why she acted that way.

Donna (in saddened tone): Yes… Every time I think about some of the things that she had told me that happened to her in the years before she came to Earth. The fact that she even survived…

Jane: Yes, and especially when you think about how she had been raised prior to that. Here was a girl who was basically told to live by her emotions and make judgements about people based on their emotions. Then to be shoved into a scenario where the only emotions that could have been present were all negative. As a slave, I'm sure she must have been treated with disgust at times, indifference at others… Treated like a piece of property instead of a living being. And then as she grew older, apparently as an object of lust, with no real emotion behind it for her as a person. That emotional abuse on top of the physical abuse she would have suffered… I don't think I could have handled out, let alone come out of it with as positive an outlook on life as she has.

Donna: No… Whatever Kory is, she's a very strong-willed person…

Jane: Yep… But it also makes it easier to understand why she would have wanted to connect with someone on an emotional level as quickly as she apparently did. Still, while her and Dick's relationship might have started out as more just seeking to be loved by anyone, I think it got past that very quickly.

Donna: Maybe, but as I said earlier, it also brought them both a lot of pain. And I know that they both had to work hard to keep it together at

Jane: True… It did. Some people would say that anything worth having is only worth having if you have to work for it, or overcome pain for it. And every time they did, it made the relationship stronger, and in my mind, at least, them as persons stronger. I mean, after that whole mess with Karras and that stupid marriage of state…

Donna: I know… After that, well, I was sure it was over for them, even though I knew how much they still loved each other. I remember thinking when we went to Zandia that one time that I really hoped that when we found Dick, he would at least listen to Kory. But he had been so hurt when I went to visit him after he and Joey had gotten back from Tamaran.

Jane: And you didn't help matters there, Donna…

Donna (a bit indignantly): Hey… I know he was hurting, but he didn't have to take it out on me

Jane: Donna… You threw him through a wall.

Donna: Just a small one. Okay… okay… We both got a bit carried away. Still, he didn't have to just sidestep the issue the way that he did and turn it into something else.

Jane: Yeah, I think he did. He didn't know how to deal with his feelings at the time. He couldn't let them out them. So he channelled them in ways that were ultimately destructive to himself. But, regardless of that, I think that the whole experience helped them both grow as people.

Donna: Why would you say that?

Jane: Well, for one thing, when Dick did realize that Kory had only done what she had done because she had been raised to believe that she had a duty to her people… Had already sacrified years of her life for that duty, no less, when she was sold into slavery… He realized that some things can't always be taken in a totally black-and-white scenario, much as we all would like them to be. Sometimes, as he himself said, "different people have different standards", and that you have to look at what's more important in the long run. And Kory realized that she had to look at more than just the surface appearance of a situation. She learned it when she finally realized that what Dick and you others had been telling her about killing her enemies and such was finally making sense to her.

Donna: That trip to South Africa she had, right after she got back, was a real eye-opener for her, I think.

Jane: Agreed. But also when she admitted to herself and to him that she should have stood up to her father with regards to his ordering her into marriage. I think she learned that you can't just put a band-aid on a situation, as her marriage to Karras was supposed to do. Not when there are obvious underlying problems that have to be solved as well, such as her people's general unrest with her father's leadership. I think she really grew up a lot around that time. That talk you had on the beach during that fashion shoot, after your confrontation with Raven about Eric Forrester, emphasized that for me. Only thing I could never figure out was why a society that was supposed to be ruled by emotions would even have such a "non-emotional" concept as a marriage of state. To me, that went against everything that had ever been stated about Tamaran.

Donna: You know… You're right. I never thought of it like that. Still, I know that Dick did have a lot of concerns about the whole situation. He was obviously still uncomfortable with the whole thing.

Jane: Don't blame him in the slightest. On the surface, I would be uncomfortable too. Still, I think he realized that the only really important part of the whole mess was the underlying emotions involved. Kory didn't love Karras… Care for him, sure… Love… no. She loved Dick. In the end, isn't that all of us really want. To be loved by someone unconditionally. That's what Kory gave Dick.

Donna: But maybe not always what Dick gave Kory.

Jane (pondering): No… But in some ways I think Kory needed that. She had lived by one set of principles for so long, one that she had been taught as a child and, with what happened to her as a teenager, hadn't had the chance to determine for herself as she grew older if they were always the right principles to live by. Dick made her challenge those principles… To really look below the surface of a situation. You can't always take things at face value. She needed to learn that. She needed to be challenged. It helped her grow too. And Dick did love and trust her… As he said when he came home from helping Roy retrieve Lian in England. That it was important for him to be with someone he loved and trusted. Kory gave him that.

Though, apparently he doesn't need that anymore, if he's willing to jump into bed for a "quickie" with a woman he neither loves or trusts… Heck, he didn't even give Huntress his name. This from a guy that told Roy that he couldn't make love to a woman that he wasn't in love with. (Jane's voice develops a huffy tone): I'd really love to know where that Dick Grayson went… Cause the current one isn't worthy enough to shine his shoes. Of course, the current one doesn't have the love of someone like Kory to back him up. If only that stupid matter with the Wildebeest Society and then that Team Titans fiasco hadn't happened…

Donna (wearily): Rhea… What a mess that was. With everything going on, from the Wildebeests kidnapping most of the Titans, to that mess with Diana and the various pantheons of gods, to Lord Chaos… I still can't believe Bobby might have grown up to be him… A murderous world dictator… Not my son… Not my baby…

Donna quietly starts sobbing into her hands. Jane swiftly moves
around the table and pulls her into an embrace. After a few minutes, she
reaches into her pocket and pulls out a couple of kleenexes.

Donna (mopping her face): I'm… I'm sorry about that. It just hits me sometimes.

Jane: I know… I know… No need to apologize. Take all the time you need.

After a few more quiet minutes…

Donna (quietly): I'm sorry… Where were we again?

Jane (also softly): Talking about what happened with the Wildebeests and then the Team Titans. But if you rather not?…

Donna (sitting up a bit straighter): No, no… I'm okay now…

Jane: Well, I really only wanted to say that that was when everything started to fall about, wasn't it? With the Titans, and with Dick and Kory.

Donna: Yes… Everything… Everything changed after that.

Jane (a dangerous gleam entering her eye): I know… And everyone started acting like completely different than how they had acted before. It wasn't even subtle… As a couple of friends of mine would say, a lot of you became "pod-people".

Donna: Listen… It was a hard time…

Jane: I know it was a hard time. But some of the stunts a few people
started pulling around that time were just ludicrous. Like that whole
mess with Mirage… (hissing) the little slut!!!

Donna (protesting): Hey! Miri had a hard life…

Jane (taken aback): And Kory didn't? Does having a hard life somehow
atone for what Mirage did? I don't think so.

Donna: Okay… She was wrong to impersonate Kory… To sleep with Dick…

Jane (insensed): Yeah, well… She was a little… witch… But it wasn't her that I had the problem with in terms of being true to themselves. I still can't believe that Dick Grayson, supposedly at the time the World's Second Greatest Detective, though whether he could still lay claim to that title now… the way he's been acting… is debatable, didn't pick up on the fact that it wasn't Kory. This was a man who questioned everything. Who, when something didn't sit right, would look into it. He could pick out when a total stranger wasn't acting the way that they were supposed to, but not the woman he had spent several years of his life with? Even in bed? Kory had every right to be P.O. 'ed at him…

Donna: Hey! We had just had what was probably the worst time in our lives up to that point occur. Everyone was acting a little out of sorts at the time. Kory wasn't acting anything like she normally did either.

Jane: No, but at least she might have had an excuse, if what I think
happened then did happen.

Donna: What?

Jane: I think Raven's "good soul" must have entered Kory's body right after the whole explosion when you guys were escaping from Azarath. Why else would she have been more affected than the rest of you? And why else would she start acting remote? That's not Kory at all. In fact, it was her change in behaviour that gave me the one slightest rationale for Dick being an idiot. Only because he had been so concerned for Kory and the rest of the Titans during the days and weeks when they were kidnapped, and then to have Kory start acting like she didn't want to be around him all that much… I suppose he might have taken the change in "her" mood, when Mirage started impersonating her, with relief. But it shouldn't have lasted more than a few hours. And when he's shown to be concerned about this apparent change in attitude, the way that he was… Then, if he was acting in any way, shape or form like he had in the past, that should have put him on immediate "red alert". That would have the Dick Grayson whose exploits I have been following for years.

Donna (dropping her forehead to rest in one hand): All right. You've proved your point. But it happened…

Jane (infuriated, an angry sheen of wetness coating her eyes): My point
is that it shouldn't have happened. Not if they were acting at all like the people they were shown to be, right at the core of them. For a time, it looked like they might have been able to turn it around… I mean, when I heard how Dick told Kory when he proposed that he was a one-woman man and she was that woman, I felt that the real Dick was at least coming back a bit. But what a disaster that wedding turned out to be!

Donna: Please… Let's not go there. It was a mistake. It wasn't right
for them at the time.

Jane: You're probably right. But again, it was outside forces that were to ruin every thing. And not just the bit with Dark Raven busting in and killing the minister. Not when it's later revealed that it was "Good Raven's" soul that… how was it put? "awakened" the need in Kory to undergo that Tamaranean ritual. That it was "Good Raven's" soul that gave her the desire to return to Tamaran. Hell, for all we know, it was Good Raven who "gave" Kory the desire to marry what's-his-name, Tamarean Husband #2. Since she was apparently calling the shots otherwise.

Donna (standing up at the table): Raven did what she had to do to protect
herself and the Earth from Trigon coming back! You can't blame her for that.

Jane: To tell you the truth, I don't. But it wasn't fair to Kory, now was it? She used Kory. Y'know, back when Raven first got her emotions, and convinced herself she was in love with Dick, it was Kory who understood, and helped her through that. This really wasn't a very nice payback! It might have been for a good purpose, but she still used her. And I think it caused Kory to do a lot of things that she wouldn't normally have done, if she had been herself.

Donna (slowly lowering herself back into her seat): What do you mean?

Jane (obviously not in a good mood, as angry tears start to spill from
her eyes): C'mon, Donna… She left without even saying "good-bye" to Dick. What was that? That wasn't anything Kory would do normally. She confronted problems, she didn't run away from them. And that was what she did here. The fact that Dick didn't follow her to try and find out what was wrong, even though he knew that she obviously wasn't herself, if their
meeting in the Amazon was anything to go by, didn't put him in the best light either. When there's a mystery, of which this could qualify, he would look into it. Instead, he let her walk out of his life and apparently forgot all about her! I don't bloody think so! Frankly, the whole episode had a staged quality to it, as none of the people involved acted anything like they acted in the past! It was bloody pathetic!!

With that, Jane picks a coffee mug and throws it at the closest
pillar, upon which it shatters.

Donna (somewhat taken aback): Ummmm…

Jane (a bit more subdued than she had been for the few minutes prior):
Sorry… I have a bit of a temper…

Donna: No… You don't say… (Hands Jane a glass of juice.) Here, just drink this and try to calm down.

Jane: I'll try. I'm sorry, I just get so emotional about all this. But look at what happened to Dick's love life since Kory left. One disaster after another!

Donna: Well, let's see. The first girl he dated after Kory was Miggie Webster.

Jane: Aiiiieeee! Don't even mention that name! "Miggie?" "Miggie?" What kind of woman goes by that name? Face it, that's even worse than "Desmond!"

Donna: Now, that's really pretty shallow, Jane. You mustn't judge a person just on her name.

Jane: Oh yeah? So why do you keep changing yours?

Donna glares at her fiercely, then looks away.

Jane: Anyway, I don't think its fair to call what he did with her "dating." "Rescued," perhaps. And trust me, the last thing Dick needs from a woman is a perpetual victim. He doesn't need his own Silver Age Lois Lane.

Donna: Pardon? Silver Age? And what does the Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter from the Daily Planet have to do with this?

Jane: Oh, never mind. Back to the subject at hand. The "creature-with-that- name" was all wrong for him.

Donna: He did seem to care about her. Even when he went off to Europe to re-investigate his parents' murders, he kept in touch…

Jane: Yeah, because he was dumb enough to leave his stupid cell phone on when he's on a stealth mission! Face it, Dick was acting like he'd lost about 70 IQ points then. So, the creature-with-that-name calls him up, blowing his cover in the process, because she's getting beat up, and what does he do? He tries to call back! For what, I ask you? So he can say, "Hello, Miggie. Sorry, we must have been cut off. Can I speak to the person beating you up, please? Thanks. Hey! Hey, you! Stop beating Miggie up, you hear me? OK, hon, that should take care of it! Bye! See you when I get back."

Donna: All right. Calling Batman or Robin and sending them over to her apartment would probably have made more sense…

Jane: Darn straight it would've. Even Alfred could have called 911 for her. Then maybe the pathetic creature wouldn't have gone and shot her father later.

Donna: That did sort of put a damper on their relationship's future, didn't it? Though I would have thought he would have had a bit more compassion for her. I know Dick opposes killing, but clearly she was a troubled young woman, only trying to protect herself.

Jane: You can't base a relationship on pity, Donna. The fact that he didn't stand by her after he discovered she'd killed Daddy Dearest, to me, indicates that his feelings for her couldn't have been that real to begin with. Best forget about her, and that whole miserable mini-series, if you want my opinion!

Donna: Excuse me, did you just say "mini-series?"

Jane: (Again looking nervous.)Oh, no, that's not what I said… Uh… "Mission." It was a miserable mission. Yeah, that's it. OK, so who's next on Dick's list of women?

Donna: Emily Washburn.

Jane: Ah, yes. The beautiful young woman he suspected of murdering a string of wealthy young husbands. A modern day "black widow." How special! So what does he do to solve the crimes? He marries her! Yet another example of Dick Grayson just not acting like himself. C'mon, since when does the World's Second Greatest Detective have to resort to that?

Donna: Now, now, it wasn't a real marriage. I admit, I thought it was weird that he would get married so suddenly, without inviting any of the Titans. And I knew something was fishy about it when he asked me to burn the marriage license.

Jane: Ok, he didn't think it was real, but Emily sure as heck did! It really was horrible the way he toyed with not only her affections, but those of her son.

Donna: He honestly though she was a murderess, Jane. He was trying to solve a crime. And he did sleep on the couch…

Jane: Why? Out of honor? Or was he just afraid she'd knife him in his sleep?

Donna: More importantly, he offered to do the right thing in the end, when he realized she was innocent. He said he'd stay with her and her son, and try to work things out. That, I think, was Dick's gentlemanly nature coming through.

Jane: Well, perhaps there was that. But, thankfully, she was smart enough not to take him up on it. As Emily quite correctly pointed out, he was keeping secrets from her. Really really big secrets. You can't have a relationship with that kind of baggage, and she was smart enough to recognize it. So was Dick, once. Which is what makes his fling with the Huntress so impossible to believe. I mean, he doesn't even what her to know his real name

Donna: Yeah, Dick told me all about that unfortunate liason. He does seem to have come up with a lot of poor excuses for it. But maybe what Oracle said to him was right. Maybe, these days, whenever anyone's remotely nice to him he just has this need to…

Jane: With all due respect, Donna, that's hogwash! Utter hogwash!

Donna: As you said, he's not quite the same person he was when he was with Kory and the Titans. But we all change…

Jane: Look, even assuming we can forget about his years with Kory, where it seemed she truly was the one woman for him. A pretty asinine move to forget about that big a chunk of your life, if you ask me, but I'll grant it, for now. We were just compiling a list of women who've "been nice" to Dick since he left the Titans. We've already mentioned Emily and MiÑ. Uhm, MiÑ

Donna: Miggie.

Jane. Yeah, her. (Counting on her fingers) Apart from that we have his landlady Clancy, you, OracÑ

Donna: Wait a second! Me? What do you mean, me?

Jane: I mean you, Donna Troy-Hinkley-Stacy-Long-Wonder-Girl- Troia-Darkstar!

Donna: That's just plain "Troia" to you, miss!

Jane: Yeah, for the next five minutes, anyway. Point is, there are those out there that consider you a perfect match for Dick Grayson.

Donna: Oh, that's ridiculous. He's one of my oldest friends.

Jane: And, because of that, you don't have to keep secrets from each other. Dick said once, he could very easily have fallen in love with you, back in the early days.

Donna: But he didn't. Trust me, if that were ever going to happen, it would have happened a long time ago. Dick's like a brother to me. He gave me away at my wedding, for Chronus' sake.

Jane: Oh, don't get me wrong. I think you a Dick have a marvelous relationship, and I'd hate to see that change. Still, I should tell you, Dick recently had a dream showing his idealized sort of life, if he were free from current responsibilities, and in it, you were his wife.

Donna: You have got to be kidding.

Jane: Nope. Of course, you cheated on him with Roy Harper. I'm more inclined to think that the dream-marriage was symbolic, a personification of his years with the Titans… You were, after all the only one who was part of every Titans team Dick ever led.

Donna: So me having an affair with Roy, that would symbolize the hurt Dick felt when the Titans asked Roy to replace him as leader?

Jane: Right! (Pause) Just what were you people thinking of anyway?

Donna: Well, as you said, none of us were acting quite right back then.

Jane: Anyway, don't worry. I'm sure that's the reason Scarecrow's fear-gas induced that particular image, not any subconscious longings on Dick's part for you.

Donna: Wait, just a darn minute! It took fear-gas to make Dick dream of marrying me? Me as his wife was a part of his worse nightmare?

Jane: Easy, Donna, easy…

Donna: (Clearly miffed.) I mean, I can't picture Dick and me involved like that either, but I don't think I'd be that bad for him…

Jane: It was a symbol, Donna, just a symbol. Now, back to the list of women who are "nice" to Dick. Currently.

Donna: Right. Well, as you said, there's Bridget Clancy, his landlady. They've gone out a few times, and she clearly finds him quite attractive.

Jane: Who doesn't, these days? OK, OK, she's not bad, I suppose. I see no sign he returns her feelings, though. Enjoys her company, perhaps, but that's all.

Donna: He did buy the building to save it from destruction after the quake. And gave her a sizable raise to manage it.

Jane: That was to more protect his crimefighting base in BlŸdhaven than as any special gift to her. Besides, he did it anonymously. Again, there he goes with all the secrecy. He's never even told her that he's the ward and heir of millionaire Bruce Wayne, much less anything about his life as Nightwing.

Donna: And I understand that's created a few problems for them, with him disappearing suddenly, when Nightwing's duties disrupt their plans together. She's clearly been ticked at that and is not likely to put up with that sort of thing much longer.

Jane: Right. She's always listening to his excuses for sudden departures. Very Silver Age Lois Lane again.

Donna: Just what do you mean by that?

Jane: Ahem: Sorry. Anyway, I think we can agree there's little chance for a serious relationship blooming there, at least as things stand now. Ok, now, next I was going to say Oracle. Though I don't think he should get involved with her that way, either.

Donna: Well, she's someone with whom he can be entirely open, about his dual life, anyway. And things have changed since he was a kid. The age difference really isn't that important now.

Jane: He clearly got over his boyish "crush" long ago. So, we're supposed to believe she's attracted to him now? Well, fine. Let's just tell all those adolescent hormone packages out there panting over Cindy Crawford that all they have to do is wait it out a few years and all their fantasies will be fulfilled!

Donna: Jane, that's not a fair comparison and you know it. Their friendship was always closer than that. And it's hardly surprising if she doesn't see Dick as a little boy anymore. I think it's very possible she could have developed feeling for him, now that he's grown up. From what Dick's told me, when she hears about him going out with anyone else, she acts, well, almost jealous. She went to great pains to see that she he and Emily were booked in separate rooms for their honeymoon, for instance.

Jane: (scornful) True…

Donna: She about had a conniption fit when Dick called her from the Huntress's place and was clearly, uh, unclothed.

Jane: Oh, don't mention that woman to me!

Donna: Whatever you may think of her, she's convinced Dick and Barbara are madly in love with each other and just don't know it yet.

Jane: Oh, spare me! I don't want to hear the Huntress's opinion on any aspect of Dick's love life! Please!

Donna: It could be rather sweet. Dick's a big enough man not to be hung up over her disability, I think. And they do spend New Year's Eve together every year.

Jane: So we've been told. What was that token of affection he brought her last year? Roses? Chocolates? Diamonds? No… It was a road sign! That's what I'd expect from my beloved, for sure! What young girl doesn't fall asleep every night of her life, dreaming of that special someone who's going to burst into her life, bearing gifts of glorious road signs?

Donna: Now, Jane, it was a private joke… Something about an "Old Lane Sign." Dick always was a punster, remember.

Jane (sarcastically): Oh give me a bloody break! It's just too perfect, isn't it? Instead of "Robin has a crush on Batgirl", it's now "the old Robin's
in love with the old Batgirl". Doesn't impress me in the slightest! There's absolutely not one thing that either of them brings to the relationship that the other doesn't already have. There's absolutely no passion in the pairing that I can see at all. And all his time with Kory showed out Dick had learned enough about himself to know and accept his emotions and yet he can't see to do that here. What is he, 15 again? Again on his hormones with that… woman and apparently clueless about anything deeper…

Donna: You're really not being fair to Dick here, Jane. He's been through a rough time…

Jane (sneering): Sure, and instead of actually dealing with any of the feelings those "rough times" should of engendered in him, he conveniently forgets all about them. Definitely not the Dick Grayson I know. How many times has he rehashed all the mess with his "rough times" with Bruce? Can't seem to forget that part of his old life, now can he? And of course, we have to hook him up now with someone who's an integral part of the Bat-universe, don't we? Even when it would bring absolutely nothing to either character. It would just be so cute, wouldn't it? Can't admit that he might have had a life and connections away from that O'Neill editorial domain. And yetÑ"

Donna: Hold it! What's the "O'Neill editorial domain?"

Jane: (ignores interruption) -Dick can't seem to spare a single moment to at least somewhat grieve for what might have been! Ooo… When I think about how he's being portrayed recently, I get so mad…

Donna is about to about to break into Jane's ramblings, again, to ask what she means by "portrayed," but Jane picks up the porcelain teapot and heaves it at the fountain. Even as the teapot shatters, a buzzing fills the air. Jane stands stock still for a second, then reaches down into a purse located by her feet and pulls out a cell phone.

Jane (angrily barking into the phone): What?!?

Donna watches as Jane listens attentively to the phone,
a solemn look spreading over her face.

Jane (defensively): I've only broken one coffee mug and the teapot.

Another few moments of silence.

Jane: No… I'm not going to keep a lid on my temper. Mari, if you don't like it, you should have come up here and sat in on this chat. But you were too busy with that stupid thesis. So, no, I'm not going to take your "suggestion" and calm down. I don't want to.

A few more moments.

Jane (calmer): All right, already… Stop acting like my conscience, Mari… It doesn't suit you. And tell Lee that no, she is as nice in real life as she appears in the… as the Goddess made her out to be. Lee's such a cynic…

Jane clicks off the cell phone and turns back to Donna.

Jane: Sorry about that. Mari always seems to somehow know when my temper is getting the best of me. It gets really annoying sometimes…

Donna (warily): A friend of yours?

Jane: Yeah… A really bothersome one. But she's right in the fact that getting angry is not going to help. Still… the bit with Oracle… I don't know, it just seems wrong to me somehow. Now, any other potential love interests out there?

Donna: Well, since we were speaking of crushes, Argent has a bit of ono on Dick, I think. But that probably shouldn't count.

Jane: Certainly not. She's a kid. Even if Dick was somehow impressed with her "spoiled-brat-trying-to-make-good" spiel, which he wouldn't be, it'd be a class-A felony in most states if he touched her. Forget about it, even Dick's morals haven't sunk that low. Yet. Although between Emily and the Huntress he came pretty darnÑ

Donna: (hastily interjecting) He can give Toni good training, I'm sure. That's part of the reason I nominated her for membership on the new Titans team.

Jane: So they'll be working together. Oh, dandy! He'd better keep her at arm's length, then, if he knows what's good for him. And tell him to put some good strong locks on the men's shower room in the Tower.

But there we have it. All the women who've "been nice' to Dick since he and Kory parted ways: Argent, Oracle, Clancy, you, Emily, and the creature-with-that-name. Did he sleep with any of them?

Donna: (cautiously) Noooo…

Jane: Exactly! Did we see any sign that he wanted to sleep with any of them?

Donna: Noooo…

Jane: Of course not! He even went to unbelievable lengths to avoid it in Emily's case! I mean, what better way for a newlywed to blow his cover than to sleep on the frinkin' couch? If he had such intensive "needs" why not a quick roll in the hay with her? He coulda justified it the same way he did the marriage… All just part of the case…

Donna: Dick wouldn't do that!

Jane: Don't you think I don't know that? That's my point! The Dick Grayson I've followed for years wouldn't have "done" the Huntress either! But he did!

Donna: I really think you should calm down. It was one night…

Jane: From a man who's never resorted to a one-night stand, in any reality! So why now? Why her? Why the Huntress? A women he clearly doesn't trust, of whom he obviously doesn't approve! A couple of kisses and suddenly, bang, there he is, in her bed, clothes strewn everywhere, making lame excuses to Oracle about how long it's been since heÑ

Donna: (covering her ears) This is really more that I need to hear, thank you!

Jane: She as much as admitted she used him… How could he be dumb enough to let that happen? It goes against everything he stands for! Everything he always was! Or everything I always thought he was…Oh, Dick…

Jane collapses on the table, burying her head in her folded arms and sobbing loudly. Donna stands by with the issues, patting Jane's arm consolingly. When the outburst continues for several minutes, Donna glances anxiously at her watch, as if wondering if Roy is waiting.
Finally, Jane raises her head and sniffles.

Jane: Sorry…

Donna: It's OK, you take as long as you need, too…

Jane: Thanks…

To Donna's dismay, Jane re-buries her head and weeps for an additional 15 minutes. Finally, she composes herself and sits up again.

Donna: Jane, I'm sorry you're taking this so hard. If it's any consolation, Dick knew it was a mistake, almost immediately. He woke up with a nightmare of Batman strangling him over it. If I symbolize the Titans in his dreams, maybe Batman is his conscience? And he's admitted to everyone it was dumb: me, Robin, even the Huntress herself. I think he feels as badly about what happened as you do.

Jane eyes her in tearful disbelief.

Donna: OK, maybe not quite that bad. But he does regret it, I'm sure. We all make mistakes.

Jane: I know, I know. (She emits one final sniff) I've heard all about you and Kyle, too.

Donna bristles momentarily, but lets that pass without comment.

Jane: But that's not important right now. What matters is that he has a chance to get his life back on track now. I mean, Kory's back! Dick nominated her for membership in the Titans, and she's even staying with him until the new Tower's built. They have a chance to patch things up!

Donna: Jane, I hate to say this, but I'm not sure that's in the cards. Dick made it quite clear that she's sleeping on the couch.

Jane: Him and those stupid couches! Donna, this is where you come in. You're the best friend either of them's ever had. The Goddess wants you to help them find their way back to each other.

Donna: Me? I'm not sure it's my place to interfere.

Jane: Normally I'd agree, but these are desperate times. Kory asked you to look after Dick when she left, right?

Donna: Yes…

Jane: And we've just gone over how much he's completely loused up his love life since then, right?

Donna: Are you blaming me for that?

Jane: Well, I don't call this "looking after him," O Great Den Mother.

Donna: (Incensed) You know, I've had one or two minor problems of my own since then, and didn't see Dick rushing to my side, oh, say, for instance, when my son died! Or when I got erased from history! Or when Dark Angel abducted me and my brain was barbecued and all my memories lost. It was Wally West who brought me back, not my so-called "best friend!" Who are you to blame me for his screw-ups?

Jane: Donna, Donna, I'm sorry, that didn't come out the way it should have. Please forgive me, I know you've gone through Hell. Literally. But Dick and Kory need you now. You have to admit, she made him happier than he's ver been since.

Donna: True, but it also caused them both a lot of pain.

Jane: Yes… But as I said, that was always due to other factors. Not what was actually felt between the two of them. And the way things are now, they could start fresh. It would be good for both of them. You have to help.

Donna: What would you have me do?

Jane: Just talk to them, Donna. Point out a few simple facts of life, just as we've discussed here today.

Donna: Can I skip the alternate reality parts? I just found out I have several hundred alternate realities of my own to deal with; I don't want to mess with anyone else's.

Jane: Sure. Forget they ever happened. Oh, yeah, you've done that already. No problem, then.

Donna: (regards Jane warily for a long minute, then nods.) All right, then, I'll try, for both their sakes. (Glances at her watch.) Uh, is it OK if I go, now? Roy's depending on me to take care of Lian, and..

Jane: That's fine. Perfect timing, as a matter of fact, because my two colleagues will be here soon. We have comics to review, after all!

Donna: Comics? You read comic books?

Jane (standing hastily and speaking nervously): "Comics"… As in "Comic books"? No… No… Of course not. We review the acts of "comics"… As in stand-up comics… You know… Jerry Seinfeld… Tim Allen… Those types of comics. Today, we're looking at greats from the past… Like Lenny Bruce… Those types. Comic books? Yee-ah… Right… Of course not. (pausing as Donna eyes her in disbelief) It was great to meet you, Donna, and best of luck!

Donna: (nodding warily) You too, Jane. Give my regards to your, uh, "Goddess."

Donna rises as well, and the two women shake hands. Jane pulls out a cell phone and presses a button.

Jane: Jane to B-TG, come in, Goddess. (There is a burst of static) Mission accomplished, your highness!

A melodious tone fills the air, and Donna Troy vanishes.

Jane: (clicking shut her cell phone and placing it into her bag.) …I hope…

All characters are ™ DC Comics
This story is © 1999 by Marilee Stephens and Louise Freeman Davis.