DISCLAIMER: They aren't mine. Birds of Prey isn't mine, and neither
is Hawkman. Nor Batman. Nor, sadly, is Batgirl. Okay, so really, none
of the DC-related thingy-ma-bobs are mine. And, if you don't like
same gender lovin', don't read this. Oh, and don't sue me. Please.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Hawkgirl is from the new Hawkman comics that just started getting published a year or so ago, not the Justice League cartoon. I'd highly recommend picking up some back issues of the comic if you can, it's frickin' awesome.
ARCHIVING: You want it, you got it. Just lemme know.
I remember hating Carolyn for what she did. I wanted nothing less than to beat her until she was as black as her code name and as blue as her eyes. I remember telling myself that I'd never leave Barbara or Dinah alone like that just because I couldn't handle the responsibility that comes with the superhero package. I remember thinking that they knew the risks just as well as I did, and that if they were okay with it then so was I.
Except, I wasn't; I'm not.
The smell of the air is different here. It's not as dirty as Gotham's, but it's just as salty. I can take a little comfort in the sea wind, can almost pretend I'm still there. If I really try, I can even imagine Barbara's breathing in my ear, her fingers flying over the keys as she wades through the data coming in over the Delphi system. I never thought I'd miss the sound of a keyboard clacking in the background, but I do. I miss it so much it hurts.
God, does crime even exist in this city? I've been perched on the edge of St. Roch's primary hotel, the Regal something-or-other, for most of the night, and I haven't heard so much as a peep relating to any kind of wrongdoing. Heh, I sound like some kind of errant knight. "Wrongdoing." Or really, "errant." Guess Barbara's brains have rubbed off on me, after all. Ew. That's a mental image I didn't need.
There's a shift in the air behind me and my hackles rise. I whirl, my leather creaking, just in time for my jaw to connect solidly with a fist. At least, I think it was a fist. I'm falling too fast to check on that detail. It occurs to me that dying like this is somewhat insulting to my feline DNA. The Reaper and I are going to have some words over this, let me tell you.
Or maybe not. There's a pump of air and my descent slows, then reverses completely as strong hands grab me by my armpits. I can feel my stomach turning over on itself, and I might have to swallow my pride and apologize to my savior after I puke all over him. Or her. I'd have to definitely go with her, because there's no way a man's got pecs this cushioney with arms this strong; it'd just be too weird. Eck, the thought of man-breasts is almost more than my nausea can handle.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
I have to blink furiously to clear the spots from my eyes. Maybe I'm prone to motion sickness - I'm going to have to get that looked into. Suddenly there's ground under my feet, and look, under my hands, too. That's just great. If there's any rule that stays constant throughout this biz, it's that you don't let your enemies see you down. And here I am, crawling around on all fours because I got thrown around a little. That's a sure-fire way to display my prowess at this - not.
"What you should have been doing all along."
The voices are next to me. Turning my head is a bad idea, or so it seems. Now the ground's under my face. Gotta love that. Also gotta love the steel-toed boots next to my nose. If I had to take a guess, I'd say they're about to kick my teeth down my throat.
"Don't you touch her, Carter, or so help me..."
Another set of boots comes into view. They're smaller than the ones by my nose, and I pair them up with the feminine voice. Nice to know my champion is gonna keep with the job description even though I'm not falling to a humiliating end.
"Damnit, Kendra!" The boots in front of me turn to face the female speaker. I can feel the world stop spinning; it's a nice feeling. I've missed it. "You don't even know who she is."
Well, good. At least we're even on that account. The roof I'm on now doesn't belong to the hotel - it's older. I can feel it's age in the texture of the bricks under my palms as I push myself up, bringing my knees under my stomach as I prepare to pounce on the guy that wants my face broken so badly. My entire body is like one of those composite long bows; every muscle is coiled and ready to push me into a barreling slam. All I've got to do is a get a look at this guy so that I don't miss.
I can feel my eyes shifting as I look up to where his voice last came from. His body is turning to face me; he knows I'm about to attack. Wings dust across the roof by his feet and the moon glints briefly off the head of a hawk. It takes everything I've got to uncoil and back down, and the fucker still hits me.
I'm gonna kick his ass, just as soon as I wake up.
The first thing I hear is a groan. It takes me a few minutes to realize it was me, and after that everything's peachy. Painful, but peachy. And I'm going to kill Dinah forever using that word around me; God damned southern expressions. At least I haven't picked up the word "y'all" yet, if it's even considered a word.
"You're awake?" The woman's voice again, off to my left. She sounds surprised. A tentative opening of my eyes proves far too painful, and I settle for just assuming she also looks surprised. "Carter hit you pretty hard. I wasn't expecting you to wake up for another day or two."
I snort, following the action up closely with a full-bodied wince. Barbara told me Hawkman was a heavy-hitter, but I never would have guessed just how heavy. It feels like every cell in my body has it's own personal bruise. I hurt so much I can't even feel thankful that I heal faster than a normal person. There's something wet on my brow; I think the girl's wiping my face. That's kinda sweet. If I wasn't so surly, I might say thanks.
"What's your name?" The cloth is gone momentarily, but then it's back. She's moving lower, wiping my jaw and neck. That feels good. "Can't you talk?" She's stopped. Damn.
"Yeah," I croak. Surprise, surprise, that hurts, too. I think my tongue is swollen. "Helena."
She makes a noise in the back of her throat, but starts wiping me down again. I wonder if she's going to give me a complete bath? "I'm Kendra." She wipes neatly across the tops of my breasts, and then the cloth is gone again. Something tells me it's not coming back. "What were you doing on top of the hotel?"
I'd grimace, but I'm not that much of a masochist. Unless she's got a handy morphine drip, her answers are going to be terse and, oh yeah, terse. Now, let's see. What was I doing on top of that hotel? I need a one-word answer, here. Ah, yes, "Sweeping."
Ow. Ow, ow, and fucking ow.
I hate my life.
"I wasn't aware St. Roch's rooftops were that dirty." She's got to be smiling; that tone of voice never happens unless someone's smiling. I really want to know what she looks like. "Or did you mean sweeping of the urban-protector variety?"
Ah, a woman after my own heart. Sadly, I don't have it in me to sweep her off her feet with smooth words, so she's gonna have to settle for a grunt. There, grunt issued. And it didn't hurt that much, so maybe I'll start communicating in them until I'm better. They can call me Neanderthal-girl rather than Huntress, and I could walk around carrying a big club and go about dragging women back to my cave for a little procreation.
Man, that almost sounds appealing.
"So, you're a superhero, then?" She doesn't sound surprised. But then, she's one, too. There's some clanking and sloshing, and then I hear her get up and move away. I guess she's cleaning things up a little for her guest. Not that I can really notice, or anything. But she did ask a question, so I grunt again, in a conciliatory fashion. No need to have a fellow superhero mad at me, especially when they've been so nice up til now.
"Well, okay then. Since you're obviously not well enough to utter phrases, I'll leave you alone." She's off somewhere beyond my feet, now. I didn't hear her move over there, which is a testament to how unwell I really am. "When you wake up, help yourself to whatever's in the fridge."
Heh, my knight in steel-toed boots.
You have absolutely no idea how wonderful a thing peeing really is. I've recently come to believe that there's nothing quite like draining your bladder after you've been holding it for more than ten hours. I might even go so far as to say it's as good as sex. Or at least, most sex. I'd like to think sex with Barbara would be better than peeing.
Not that I've got a chance in hell of having her now... God, it feels like my heart's been ripped out. I used to think that the whole true-love schpeal was a crock of shit, but I know better now. It's a constant ache inside me. I hate it, I hate it so much, but I can't go back! If I do, she might get hurt. She might die. I couldn't take it if someone else I loved died, and I know for a fact that I'd kill myself if she died.
There's movement in the other room. Guess I'd best get myself together. A quick splash of water on my face, a finger of toothpaste and a short gargle later and I'm almost as good as new. Not even a hint of a bruise anywhere. I like that. I really, really like that. Being able to blink without sending my body into spasms of pain is truly something to be thankful for.
Ah, well, now that my bladder is empty I can appreciate the college-girl taste Kendra seems to have as far as decorating is concerned. Mismatched chairs are placed opposite the couch I had been camping on, and a really tiny TV is on the kitchen counter. Guess she doesn't watch anything but the news. The walls are bare, except for a Rolling Stones poster over a bookshelf (which doesn't have many books on it). Wow, she even has goldfish. I had goldfish. I hope Alfred's taking good care of them.
And my knight herself is quite the cutie. She's looking at me without the slightest bit of surprise, for which I commend her. I think if my almost-dead patient was up and at 'em the next day, I'd be pretty shocked. But then again, she is a superhero. A superhero with a really great hair-stylist. I'll have to ask who.
"Hey," she says. God, hey. What the hell is it with southerners and their damn shortened expressions?
"Hey." Great, now I'm doing it. I swear Dinah's gonna wish she'd never heard of South Carolina. Course, she probably already does...
"How do you feel? Are you hungry?" I could really get used to this kind of concern. I smile my patented sloppy grin and nod a little, slinking my form down to lean on her kitchen counter as I peer interestedly at the gold fish. "Do you not talk, or am I
so charming that I catch your tongue?"
Oh, nice mental image. But, she's frustrated, and really cute with the frustration at that. Her short russet hair's all spiky around her face, in that kind of "I just rolled out of bed" way, and she's got her hands on her hips and they're canted just so... "Nah, I actually talk a lot. I guess I didn't want you to kick me out because I said something stupid." Um, okay. When did I start telling the truth like that? You know, without even thinking about it.
She smirks and walks towards the door, picking up a coat that's been laying on one of the chairs. "You like Cajun food?"
She's not really giving me a choice with that question. I mean, we are in Louisiana. So I mumble, "Yeah, I guess." Man, I'm sooo suave. And would you look at that sarcasm?
"Great, there's a cheap fast-food place down the block. And we can get you some clean clothes while we're out, unless you've got a room someplace...?"
All I can do is look down at my clothes and take in the fact that they're ruined. My favorite outfit is completely ruined. God damnit all to fucking hell. The jacket is ripped down the side in a manner that would make a repair all too noticeable, and the shirt's collar is fraying. My pants are okay, except for the fact that the color has been removed thanks to my introduction to that last rooftop I was on. My shoes are the only thing not scuffed up. Which is something, I suppose.
I blink and look up at her. Oh, right, do I have a room? "Nope, no room. I had a bag, though. Unless you or Hawkman picked it up, it's probably still on the hotel's roof."
Her mouth works in a way that lets me know I've confused her. Yay for me. Finally she just looks at me, her brown eyes piercing into mine. I feel like I'm being sized up for the kill, except that it's not pushing any of my usual buttons. Which is really weird, when I think about it. Eventually she gets her voice to work again. "You know who we are?"
"Uh, well, he's kinda a member of the Justice League, and all that." But she knows this, of course. "And, well, not too many grown men run around dressed up as birds of prey." She knows that, too. "You kinda have to learn to put two and two together in this business, you know?" She grunts at me. "But, no, I don't know who 'we' are. Just him. Who're you?"
"Hawkgirl." she smirks, and walks out the door.
Well, that makes sense, I guess. Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Two peas in a pod, from what Barbara told me about them. And yet, they were arguing like crazy up on that rooftop, if I remember correctly. What's up with that? I got the impression that they were destined to love one another for all eternity and to never argue and be all fuzzy with some warm feelings on top for good measure. You know, true cuddle-love. At least until Hath-Set kills them both and they get reincarnated and do it all over again.
Guess I'll have to ask whenever I catch up with her.
Kendra eats like Jesse. She shovels food in her mouth, starts to chew, and then takes a drink of her sweet tea (I swear, they had to make the word unsweet up for the south) as she continues to masticate (heh, masticate). Then she swallows the whole mix, and does it again. I never understood that. Why take a drink in the middle of chewing? It destroys the taste of the food.
I think the thing that gets to me most is that I would never have noticed that about her if Jesse were still alive. Watching her eat is almost painful. It reminds me of the few lunches he and I shared together, before the Joker took another person away from me. Before I wiped that mother fucking smile all over the asphalt and made damn fucking sure he was locked up for good in Arkham. Before I left.
"So I take it you're from up north?" She's talking around her food. Jesse did that, too. "I mean, most southerners don't wear leather this time of year."
I grimace and slide around a little in my seat, faintly aroused, but mostly irritated, by the sweat that's causing my pants to cling to me. "Yeah. I'm from Gotham." Her eyebrows are up in her hair. If she wasn't chewing tea-food I'm sure her jaw would've dropped. "No, I don't know Batman." I head her off before she gets started. And it's true enough; I've never actually met father dearest. Mostly, I just don't want to go there.
She's finally swallowed the evil concoction. "Were you, uh, in the business there?" She almost said it. She almost asked if I had been a superhero there. I'd have laughed until my gut busted open if she'd let that one slip in the middle of a busy restaurant. I nod, snickering and taking another bite of bourbon chicken. It's really, really good. "Why'd you leave?"
Well, that's the million dollar question, isn't it? Why did I leave? There are so many ways to answer that, and I don't want to give her any of them. I just want to pretend she didn't ask. Except, she's looking at me with those eyes again - like she's gonna pierce right through my soul by just looking at me - and I know I can't just ignore it, or tell her it's none of her business. I mean, I could tell her it's none of her business, but I'd feel like I was being cheap, or something. Like I was copping out.
"I couldn't take it there anymore." Well, that's a good answer. It doesn't reveal anything, and it doesn't sound like I'm copping out. It just sounds like I hate the city, or something. Maybe she'll think I was too stressed there. Gotham's notorious for being the worst city in the States when it comes to crime. Except maybe for Blüdhaven. I don't envy Dickie at all...
"Hn," she grunts. She kinda sounds Japanese when she does that. They grunt that way. I know because Barbara dragged me to a gala once, as her "escort," and I had to listen to her chatter in the language. It's amazing how she can learn things like that without even really having to try. I always kinda wanted to learn another language, just so I could talk to her in it. Or maybe learn one she doesn't know. Like Klingon. Hell, that'd be a reason to go to California...
Oh fuck, she's about to ask me something else. I'm tired of this getting questioned thing. Quick, Helena! Before she opens her mouth around that next mouthful of food! Uh, um, oh: "What was up with you and birdman last night? I thought you guys weren't supposed to argue, or something. I mean, aren't you soul mates, or whatever?" Thank you, God. I even managed to sound uninterested. I win!
She's looking at me with a smile on her face that I can only classify as "bemused." I'm pretty sure she's not the type of person who enjoys being interrogated; neither am I. Betcha I hit on a sore spot with that question. She takes another swig of tea to buy herself some time, but eventually she answers. "We've been having a difference of opinion lately about how to do the job."
Damn, can I sympathize with that. Barbara and I never really saw eye-to-eye on the issue, either. But she had other points in her favor, so I never really let that tarnish my attraction to her. I wonder what Hawkgirl's stance was? "So what was your take on it?" I still sound only mildly entertained by the conversation. I've really got to thank Alfred for suggesting I take those acting classes in high school.
"Look before you leap," she says, and I nearly spit my drink out my nose. She really doesn't seem like the type. I'd have pegged her to be more like me: beat down first, ask questions after they're unconcious. "He sees things in black or white. There is no gray, in his world." She's frowning with all the muscles in her face and neck. I guess he must not've liked something she did. "You're right or you're wrong. Period."
Her fists are almost white, now. If I could think of something to debunk the anger, I'd've done it already. But, just as suddenly as she flared, she cools. Her hands go limp and she sighs, her body relaxing into the back of her chair. There's a weight to her now that wasn't there before, or maybe I just didn't notice it. Being wrapped up in your own shit can make you blind to the shit of others. Maybe that should be my life's quote.
"Guess it was a big arguement, huh?" I take it fairly easy on her with my next question. Yes or no? She needn't bother elaborating.
There, see, that wasn't too bad. But her shoulders have fallen just a little more, and it looks like she's trying not to cry. Damnit, Helena, you're such a fucking moron. I think it's time to get the hell outta here. "Let's go get my clothes, okay?"
I've got to say, I finally understand why Barbara used to make those little noises every time I'd hang around the clock tower and brood. I mean, I know I give off angst-riddled vibes, but Kendra's got it covered in a way I could only dream about. Our trek up the hotel to get my bag was, to say the least, tense, and now that we're back in her apartment building it's like she's closed off even more. I guess this place equals "time-to-be-alone-and-angry" for her.
The elevator dings us onto the fourth floor, and I have to hold back an intense sigh of relief. The cramped space was beginning to move in on me; I've never been very good with tight quarters. Minor claustrophobia, I guess. Must have something to do with my feline DNA. Prowling, and all that jazz. My apartment back in Gotham was twice the size of Kendra's. Daddy's money was good for some things...
There's a guy leaning against the frame of her door. I can describe him with exactly two words: strong jaw. His hair is combed back and looks like it's fresh from the wash, which makes it darker than I think it really is. I'd say he's a sandy brown, but I could be wrong. His eyes are ice blue. It's kinda creepy, the way he's looking at Kendra, his arms folded across his chest and this big scowl across his face. I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume this is Hawkman.
The way he's standing, and the shape of his chin, bring back another flash of Jesse. Just before his death, he'd come to see me after work. He'd been leaning against my door in exactly the same way, holding a bottle of wine and a bouquet of roses. I've never been the sentimental type, but it almost made me cry. He'd been the one person besides Barbara who'd bothered to understand me; he'd been one of the few people in my life that cared. And just like another person, just like mom, I'd been unable to save him. I'd been splattered with his blood before it had even registered that a gun had been fired. I hadn't been able to save him.
"Kendra." Hell yeah, that's Hawkman, ten points for me. He's standing up, straightening his shirt, which is a pretty pale blue that doesn't match his eyes at all, and holding his chin up at that perfect "I know everything" height. Fucker.
She sighs, setting her jaw and looking away from him, her hand on her hip and her stance screaming "leave me the hell alone." I'll give her this though, when she looks him in the eye he flinches and looks down. It's so obvious who wears the pants in this outfit. "What do you want, Carter?"
He casts a glance my way, indicating that he wants to talk to her alone. Like hell. Something about this situation makes me want to step in front of Kendra, to take all the damage his words are gonna hold for her. And that's fucking weird, if you ask me. "We need to talk."
Throwing her hands up and opening the door, she shoulders past him without a second thought. I smirk and follow her inside, shoving him with my elbow as I pass. I'm a petty, vindictive bitch. "Fine, what do you want to talk about?" She sounds pretty put out. I'm somewhat impressed that he's still here. Guess it makes sense, though. Hawkman should have balls.
I turn to glare at him, my eyes narrowing. He has the nerve to make it sound like I'm the one with the problem? He hit me, unless I'm mistaken. Kendra comes to my defense, in a subtle kind of way. "What about her?"
"Who is she?" Jesus Christ, is he for real? He sounds like he's got a right to know. What is it with these guys and being up on the high horse?
"Why," she says nonchalantly. "She's the worlds greatest cat-burglar here for a tryst with the worlds greatest Hawkgirl." It's really hard not to laugh at the look on his face. He thought, at first, that she was serious, and then he realized she was being a sarcastic wench. And it's also really ironic that she called me a cat-burglar, considering what mom's old job used to be... "Why do you care, Carter? You gonna hall her away to jail for sitting on top of a hotel?" There's a sneer in her voice, but her back is to both him and me so I can't tell if it's on her face, too.
"She shouldn't have been up there; why would she be up there unless it was for something underhanded? She's wearing black leather, Kendra!" I suppose that's some kind of point, in his twisted mind. "People don't go around sitting on hotel rooftops dressed in black leather unless they're up to something!" Well, okay, so that is a valid point in anyone's mind...
"Really? What about Black Canary?" I blink. Wasn't she into fishnets and latex? "Or Troia?" Who? "They're superheroes, Carter, just like you, just like me, and just like Helena."
He scoffs. "And I suppose she told you she was a superhero?" Well, yeah, but not in so many words. "Why do you believe her?"
"She hasn't given me any reason not to!" Damn right I haven't; I'm not stupid.
"And just what would she have to do? Stab you in the back? Kick your face in? Steal your harness?" His voice has gone up several octaves, but it's still deeper than mine could ever be. Harness? "You can't just trust people like her!"
"Like me?" I'm pissed, now. "You're the one that punched my tongue down my throat, asshole. I didn't do a damn thing to you! If you'd've been paying more attention, maybe you would've noticed that I was backing down right before you introduced me to unconsciousness!" There's confusion written all over his face. "I could have had you tossed off that roof before you could have even thought about raising a fist, but I didn't. Why not?" He's still staring at me with that glazed over look people get when their synapses are misfiring. "Because you're Hawkman! You're one of us!"
"Us?" He's beginning to put it together, and his voice is laced in suspicion.
"One of the good guys! A superhero!" I'm waiving my arms around for emphasis. I doubt it's really helping. "I've had more than enough opportunities to kick your balls up your ass in the past few minutes, but I haven't. Why? Because we're on the same side!" I really need to learn to argue more persuasively. Even I know that what I'm saying is lame.
"If you're a superhero, what's your code name?" He's crossed his arms, and is looking at me expectantly.
The real question is, if I give him my code name, will he check up one me? If he checks up on me, Oracle will hear about it, and since Oracle and Barbara are one, I'd be screwed. I could make up a false name, but I'm not that good under pressure. Fuck me. "Huntress."
His jaw drops just a little. Guess he's heard of me, or something. "Oracle's Huntress?" The way he says it sends a chill down my spine. Has something happened to Barbara? I nod a little, not wanting to give too much more away with my words. He's biting back something, mulling over his next sentence. "She's been looking for you."
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