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 don't know whether Carter is going to tell Barbara I'm here or not. I'm not really sure I care. Except, she's looking for me. She wants me back. It's agonizing as hell, but with a cherry on top. I mean, she must care if she's looking, right? What does that mean for me? Does it mean I should have stayed? Does it mean I should have told her how I felt? God, I hate my life! What did I ever do to deserve this shit? Was being a snotty bitch in high school that big of a sin? I mean, damnit, I was hot back then, it was like, a prerequisite or something that I be a snotty bitch!
"You wanna talk about it?" The question is quiet, and unassuming. Kendra doesn't want to intrude, but wants to offer her shoulder if I need it. Geeze, she's got her own problems, why would she want to bother with mine? "Sometimes it helps..." She trails off and looks away from me, leaning heavily into the back of the couch as she stares out the door to her balcony.
I think maybe we're a lot alike, Kendra and I. We've both got issues with our respective partners (although I think her particular situation is worse than mine), we've both done something we regret, and we've both had something happen to us that made us do what we regret. At least, that's what I've managed to piece together. We act too much alike for that not to be it. You can only be this broody if you've gone through a certain amount of crap...
Maybe I should take her up on this offer to listen thing. I haven't really disclosed much information about myself, and she's been all kinds of supportive and defensive. I mean, I kinda owe it to her, in a way. And besides, she's right, it might make me feel better. "My boyfriend was shot." Her head snaps back around as her eyes find my face, but I'm too busy looking at my hands to return the gaze. So far, I'm not feeling better.
"We were out on our first real date since we started officially 'going out.' He had made reservations at one of the classiest places in Gotham, and was ready to drop around three hundred bucks a head for us that evening." My voice is choking up; no one had ever been willing to spend that kind of money on me before. "Jesse was wearing this suit." I make this motion with my hands, the one that reads "oh my god." "I had never seen him look that good. He'd even made sure I wore ruby earrings, so that I'd match his cufflinks." I chuckle a little at that. He'd been acting like a kid going to prom.
"It was a," I pause, looking for the word. "A wonderful dinner." That was understated. Another pause as I'm trying to decide where to go, what I want to say. "He'd been trying for months to get closer to me, to get inside the shell I make for myself." Kendra nods a little, letting me know she understands what I'm talking about. All of us have that shell; we're like turtles. We're a turtle club. "And little by little, week by week, he'd been doing it. He'd managed to really see me, you know? Just me, just Helena. Not Huntress. Not a 'meta- human freak.' Just plain, old, fucked-up Helena Kyle." I snort, shaking my head derisively. "And once we got past all that shit everyone in Gotham has drilled into them about superhumans being the 'Spawn of Satan,' he didn't care."
I'm sure my voice holds a little awe in it; Jesse hadn't exactly been the most pro-meta person on the planet for a while there. I mean, fuck, he'd called me an "it". But, he got over it. He realized he was wrong, and he admited it. He fucking admited it! Mr. "I-Can-Do-No- Wrong" Reese bit the bullet and apologized. Christ, he even went so far as to say, "Look, you know, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I ever called you an 'it,' or ever suggested that you were less than a person. It was dumb, and I was dumb, and I'm sorry." You should have seen his face - he was actually scared that I'd kick his ass to the curb. Hell, maybe I should have. He'd be alive right now, if I had...
I don't think anyone but another superhero could really understand what I'm talking about, could really get the implications of what I'm saying. To be seen and accepted as a person, as the man or woman, boy or girl, inside of the mask, or the codename - that's what we all want. It's what we wish for when we go to sleep at night. For a lot of us, though, it's hard to open up that much. As for me, Helena Michelle Kyle is not someone I like to show to people. She's got too much baggage, too many bad memories. She's a moody, depressive sulk of a girl. She's a girl who tried to slice her wrists open after her mother died, only to wake up with the wounds all healed and the blood dried in between the bathroom tiles around her.
There are exactly two people who've ever met the real me. Barbara, and Jesse. Barbara hasn't even really seen it, not lately. Jesse, and only Jesse, has seen the most recent incarnation of that scared little kid inside me. "I remember when the walls came down completely. He just held me. He didn't say anything, he didn't give me any of the normal empty words, any of the platitudes most people would've spit out. He just held me to him, rubbing my back as I cried into his shoulder. I woke up the next morning to a warm cup of coffee and a chocolate chip muffin." I snort, wiping away a tear. God, when did I start crying? "I hate muffins, but I ate it anyway, because he'd made such a big fuss about it."
"You hate muffins?" Kendra's tone is incredulous. "How can you hate muffins?" I shrug, smiling a little. I've been asked that many times. "They have all kinds of flavors! You can get any kind of muffin you want! How can you say you hate muffins?"
She's really got a problem with this. That's kind of funny. She must really love her muffins, or something. "I don't know, I just do."
She rolls her eyes, sighing as though I've committed some horrible atrocity against the human race by hating muffins. Hell, maybe I have. Readjusting herself on the couch she looks at me, somewhat apologetically, and waves her hand. "I'm sorry, please, go on."
"Well," I say, taking a deep breath as I prepare to go back to that night. "When dinner ended, he took me to the park. He said he wanted to take a walk to where this little bridge was and have a glass of champagne before taking me home." And we'd both known what he meant by "taking me home." Despite what Dinah or Barbara or, well, anyone else, might have thought, he and I had most definately not opened that door in our relationship yet. "We got there, and he pulled a bottle of champagne from behind a bush; he must have prepared everything before picking me up that evening. There were even two champagne glasses wrapped in a cloth, to keep the dirt and leaves out of them."
"I," I stumble over the next sentence. There's a frog in my throat. It's like I'm there again, living it over. "We danced after sharing the champagne. There wasn't any music, so he hummed while he held me." I'm gasping for air. "If he hadn't been making any noise, if we'd just been dancing, I would have heard him. I would have been able to do something." It's my fault.
I'm shaking, now. Arms are encircling me, pulling me into a soft shoulder as I sob. "There was just so much blood." It splattered across my face and arms. I remember it in slow motion: his glass hit ground - he'd been holding it - followed shortly by mine, there was a rush of air following the bullet's impact, and he exhaled with the force of it. Then he was on the ground, and blood - his blood - was pooling into the grooves of the bridge.
I've been sobbing uncontrollably, but she doesn't seem to notice. She's rocking me, rubbing the back of my neck in slow, soothing circles. My lungs are heaving with the effort to breathe, I'm crying so hard. There was just so much blood, and it's all over me. "It's everywhere." I can still see it. "There was just so much blood..."
Where am I? I remember being in Kendra's living room, in one of her chairs, telling her about Jesse. Now I'm here... In her bed! What the hell? I push myself away from her, but our legs are tangled together. She's a heavy sleeper, and doesn't even twitch as I cause the bed to shake with my movements. I'm mostly naked. She's mostly naked. Did we do anything? The room doesn't smell like sex, but...
No, we couldn't have. She wouldn't take advantage of me like that, she's too... I don't know what, but she's too something. I just can't see her using my grief to get into my pants. Damn fine pants they may be, but they're not open! Granted, I'm not actually wearing any right now, but the concept's the same... Right? Fuck it, I'm going back to sleep. She can help me deal with this in the morning.
I twist my legs out from between hers and roll onto my back. The light of the moon is shining diagonally through her blinds, hitting my nose and chin as it travels down my chest and accentuates my lack of a shirt; thank God I always wear tastefully utilitarian bras. The city outside is relatively quiet. It's nothing like Gotham. Maybe that's why I can't seem to get a full night's sleep unless I've been knocked around. Too used to the noise of a big, industrial city, I guess.
I swallow for probably the twentieth time since I woke up. Do I always swallow this much? How many times a day does the average person swallow? I bet Barbara'd know. Jesus, there I go again. Now I'm all focused on my fucking swallowing and I won't be able to get to sleep because of it. It's like when you focus on your breathing. You know, how often to you inhale? Like right now. And now... And now... And n- oh for fuck's sake!
I vault out of the bed, rushing into the kitchen. I don't know if Kendra woke up or not, and I don't really care. I just want some milk. And maybe a poptart, if she has any. Man, that'd be the best. Her fridge is pretty bare, or so it would seem upon cursory inspection. Your standard "single chick with little free time" stuff: milk, a pack of butter, some beer, some Coke - although I understand they call all kinds of soda "Coke" down here, fuckin' crazy southerners - and some left-over Chinese food. At least the milk's not bad.
I pour myself a nice, tall glass and down half of it before refilling it and putting the carton away. I can feel it sliding down my pipes into my stomach, coating my insides with that nice, thick, cold feeling that's exceptionally welcome against the southern heat. "You gonna buy me another half-gallon?" I jump a little as Kendra stalks sleepily into the room. I must be really out of it, not to have heard her. She's making more noise than an elephant in a china closet. "I'm pretty sure you just drank most of it."
"Uh." I swallow, trying to get rid of the thickness in my mouth. "Yeah, sure. No problem." I take another drink, mostly to avoid conversation. I have no wish to have the "Did we have sex?" conversation right now. Especially not when she's bending over to get something from under the counter and I can see almost everything. I should really not be looking at this. Really, I should just turn my head the other way and stop getting myself all riled up. Oh God, did I just use the term "riled up"? I'm going to kill Dinah!
She stands up, holding a bag of marshmellows proudly, like it's some kind of prize. She rips into them and pulls out a handfull, offering me the bag while she stuffs her face. That's just so attractive, I might have to kiss her. No, really, I mean that. Really. Okay, so not really... She looks like a chipmunk. What was that one chipmunk's name? Gidget? The female with all the gadge- Gadget! That's her name! She had all those little machines and was in love with Chip, or Dale, or something... Right, marshmellows.
It's crazy, how sexy she looks now that she's swallowed the handfull that was in her mouth. She's got this half-asleep smile on her face as she's holding the bag out to me, wearing nothing but a blue, long- sleeved, button-up shirt and a pair of really sexy panties. Of course, I can't see the panties right now, but I got an eyeful a few seconds ago. Or minutes. Could be either. Hmm... Marshmellows do sound like a good idea, now that I've had time to think about it.
I grab a handfull and start popping them in my mouth, chewing them one at a time, unlike Kendra. She goes back to munching, herself, and seems to be focused on something internal. She doesn't seem, sad, per se, but kinda... Weighed down. Something must've hit her between the "I just woke up" stage and the "I'm eating marshmellows" realization. Downing the last of my milk, I clear my throat as I move next to her to put the glass in the sink. "Need to talk about something?" After yesterday, listening's the least I could do.
"Uh, not really," she says, shifting from her left foot to her right and looking away from me. She's got this tiny grimace on her face. "Just the same old shit, y'know?"
Yeah, I know. "Doesn't mean you don't need to talk about it." Or want to.
She kinda smiles at me, and shakes her head. Her eyes are hidden by her bangs, which have lost all their styling gel, and all I can see is the dimples the grin makes in her cheeks. Cute. "I just can't stop being angry at Carter, is all." Yeah, well, I can feel that. I'm gonna just let her talk for a bit, stay quiet and listen. Questions'd make it seem like I'm nosey, which I'm not. Curiosity will not kill this cat. "I mean, I can see things from his perspective, so I understand what he's upset about, but-" Her whole body moves with her hands as they fly up in a gesture of frustration. "It's like he can't see things from mine!"
I grunt my understanding and stretch a little so that my hip bumps up against hers. I totally didn't mean to do that, and now I'm uncomfortably aware of what I'm not wearing. You know. Clothes. I pray to God my voice doesn't crack with the sudden rush of heat I feel, and that my underwear hides it, too. "What, exactly, doesn't he see from your perspective?" I cock my head a little, to make me less threatening. She doesn't have to tell me, and I don't want to give her the impression that she does.
She gets really quiet really sudden. I mean, quiet, quiet. Her entire body is still. Not stiff, though. Just still. It's kinda creepy, seeing someone else do that. "I-" She stops. I'm about to open my mouth and tell her she doesn't have to elaborate when she says, "I killed someone." Oh. Oh. Shit.
"A cop." Oh. Oh shit. "But he deserved it." She turns to me, and there's a righteous fire in her eyes that shields a shitload of pain. "He killed my parents." Well, yeah, okay, not gonna deny that that warrants some pain. "After he raped my mother." I blink. I think I blink. I don't know that I can move right now. I'm in shock. I mean, I know that shit happens, but, Christ.
She turns away from me, wrapping her arms around herself as a shield. I shake my head to clear it and push away from the counter. "I'm sorry." It's not really adequate. "I don't blame you." That's a little better, isn't it? I hope so. Man, I don't know how to take this. I mean, the Joker killed Jesse. Killed my mom. He even paralyzed Barbara, the woman I fucking love and I didn't kill him. How do I handle this? "Why?" Did I just ask that?
She whirls. "Why? Why what? Why did I kill him? He raped my mother and then killed her and my father! Why wouldn't I?" She's almost yelling. She's almost about to crack. I put my hands on her shoulders and pull her to me, mimicing the embrace she wrapped me in last night. I rock her a little, and rub up and down on the small of her back. "Why what?" It's a whisper in my ear.
"Why did you kill him? Why not turn him in? Why not let the authorities take care of it?" I say it as soothingly as possible; I don't want to set her off again. But, I've got to know. What made her go that far?
"There was no evidence to convict him." It sounds weak to me, and I'm sure she's thinking the same thing. "He came after me, first. He wanted me dead because I shot his partner." What? She's killed not one, but two cops? "I was only eight when that happened." She's crying now. Eight? "They'd pulled my mom and I over, and they were gonna rape her." She hiccups. "And then they were gonna rape me." Those mother fuckers. People like them shouldn't be cops. "I grabbed one of their guns when they went to hold my mom down, and it went off. I didn't mean to! God, I didn't mean to!"
Jesus, this was not what I expected when I asked if she needed to talk about something. She's sobbing heavily into the crook of my neck. If I had a shirt on, it'd be soaked. I shift a little and maneuver her towards the couch. I have a feeling we're going to be in this position for a while, and I'd prefer to be cried on while sitting.
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