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.
PAIRING: Barbara/Helena

Broken Wings
By Faechick

Chapter Four

I wake up to a numb arm and a loud knocking on the door. Kendra's already halfway to answering it as I peel myself from the cushions that have imprinted their woven pattern into my thighs, back and arms. My muscles hurt. Stretching is a wonderful thing. It's akin to sex and peeing.

"What are you doing here, Carter?" Kendra's annoyed. She's cocked her hips and is looking at the guy behind the door through the foot or so she's opened it. What the hell is he doing here so early? Actually, wait. What time is it?

"It's important, Kendra. Let me in." There's his pompous, asinine voice again. When did I start hating him? Oh, right: round about the time he hit me. Ah, there's the clock. Christ, it's two in the afternoon? "It's about your guest." He hisses the word and Kendra reluctantly steps aside to let him pass.

He gets into the room and looks around, his eyes nearly popping out of his head when he looks at me. What? He's never seen underwear on a woman before? I thought he was supposed to have lived a thousand lives, or some shit like that. Kendra sidles over to me, standing just in front of my elbow in a subconscious stance of protection. How sweet.

"Well?" She demands with one word to hear everything he's got to say. I love it when a woman takes control like that. His eyes are shifting back and forth between the two of us, and I can almost see the cogs in his head. He thinks we did the horizontal mambo. Well, why would I want to deny that mental image to anyone?

"Yeah, what's up Birdboy?" I slide my hand gently across Kendra's shoulders, resting it on the one nearest me. She leans into my touch, a slight smile touching her lips. Interesting. The leaning, that is. "Cat got your tongue?"

His jaw clenches in barely controlled anger; he doesn't like me touching what's his. Well, too bad for him Kendra's her own woman. "There's been an earthquake." He bites the words out. What the hell does an earthquake have to do with me? "Gotham's in ruins."

Oh God. Barbara. Dinah. Alfred. Oh God, oh God, oh God. Kendra's hand is on my arm, she's asking me if I'm all right. I've sunk to the floor. I know this only because my knee is digging into the edge of the paneling, and it hurts in a vague, far off kind of way. If they're hurt, if they're dead... God, no...

Rough hands grab my shoulders and haul me up, shaking me senseless. "Get it together, Huntress. Oracle needs you, and so does Gotham. We're going. Now. Get dressed." He's got a tone to his voice that I can't ignore, even when my insides are melting. He's a born leader, that's for sure. Barbara's command-voice pales in comparison to Hawkman's. And now, I see him as Hawkman. His eyes are glinting angrily at me, but behind them is a righteous fire; he knows who he is, what he does. He knows he's right.

I wish I could say the same.

Kendra has to lead me to her room before I register anything other than the sinking of my gut. The adrenaline is starting, now. I have to get home, I have to know if they're all right. If she's all right. I'm pulling on a pair of pants that aren't mine, and a shirt that doesn't quite fit, but I'm too focused on my thoughts to care.

"I never should have left."

Kendra grunts in response to my comment. "Now's not the time for those kinds of thoughts." She's shoving my boots into my hands, and I sit down next to her on the bed to put them on. We're like a team, doing things together, synchronizing. It feels good to have that again, even for a moment; I hadn't realized I'd missed it. But I'm going back now. I'm going back to the team I left, to the family I abandoned. They need me.

And right now all I can do is pray to God that they still want me.

So, they have a jet. A really nice jet. I can't hear its engine at all as we fly over the East Coast, and aside from the fact that the seatbelt's dig into my shoulders the ride is incredibly comfortable. You know, aside from the pain in my chest. Kendra's setting across from me, her co-pilot seat turned backwards so that she can watch over me. I give her a weak smile every now and then.

Carter's doing his best to ignore me entirely. I don't really blame him. Now, he thinks I'm after his girl, on top of being a run-away superhero. A loser. That's what I am. I'm just a big fat loser. I couldn't take it, so I ran away, and now I'm running back with my tail between my legs. At least, that's probably how it's going to turn out. Me, tail tucked neatly under my feet, my head bowed, begging for forgiveness where it isn't deserved.

I sigh and adjust my position so that the seatbelt doesn't hurt quite so much. "How much longer?" We've been flying for what feels like hours.

"Ten or fifteen minutes, maybe." He doesn't even turn around to say it. Kendra glares at him a little before smiling at me. "It'll be okay, you know? It's going to work out just fine."

I wish I had her confidence.

When we finally make it to Gotham, I vault out of my seat and crowd in between the duo. The city I see below me is nothing like the city I left behind. Only a few buildings remain untouched by the devastation. Fires are everywhere, and I'm sure the smoke hides even more rubble. The bridge that connects Gotham to the mainland is flooded with people. I can see emergency lights of all colors from one end to the other. So many people must be dead by now, I can't even begin to imagine it.

"I think we're going to have to land along the coast and cross the bridge to get into Gotham itself. It doesn't look like there are any open spaces large enough to hold the jet." Carter's already maneuvering towards the Jersey shoreline. I put a hand on his shoulder, and he tenses.

"Drop me off first." I'm begging him silently. He looks at me for a long moment, his eyes searching me. I apologize with my own, willing him to see that I need this. This is my home, I can't wait for him to land. He nods once before banking back towards the nearest level rooftop. I turn towards the cargo door. "Be careful, Huntress."

"Sure thing, Birdboy," I smirk as he glares at me. Suddenly, Kendra wraps her arms around my waist from behind. I stiffen at the unexpected contact.

"Relax. I'm going to drop you off." I do as she asks while the cargo door opens, the wind whipping my hair. I can feel the beak of her helmet resting against my shoulder and I resist the urge to crane my neck around and look at it - I've never actually seen her wearing it before. My stomach begins to drop as Kendra allows us to free fall out into the open sky before opening her wings, catching us on the air like a parachute. She sets me down lightly before beating away. I wave once or twice before turning my attention to the streets below.

I have to will myself not to vomit as I realize I'll have to check all the bodies to make sure none of them are alive.

It's cold in Gotham. I'd forgotten just how cold it could get, and Kendra's clothing is most definitely not made for this kind of weather. I shiver a little as I shift the body in my arms; she's bleeding all over me. The Gotham police have setup check points all around the city for those left alive to put their names down and receive any treatment they might need.

I'm glad that I'm not wearing a uniform; if I were, someone might have alerted Barbara to my presence already. I don't think I could deal with her right now, not while I'm wading through so much death.

"Thank you." The woman I just carried to a checkpoint puts her hand on my arm and squeezes as hard as she can, which isn't very hard at all considering how much blood she's lost. I nod and turn away, heading back out into the alleys and buildings to find more people who need my help. Before I can get too far, I hear someone shouting and I turn around. A medic is running towards me, waving something. I wait for him to get to me.

"Here," he pants, shoving a jacket into my arms. "Put this on. You look like you need it." He turns back to the check point before I can give him my thanks, and I slip the dark blue winter coat on. The letters GCPD adorn the back and the shoulders in bright yellow. Great, now I look like a police officer.

I've been systematically scouring buildings and alleys throughout the lower east side of the city for the past ten hours. Aside from the check point, I haven't seen anyone else trying to help people. But, Gotham's a big city with a lot of ground to cover. I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised. What does legitimately surprise me, though, is that while I've seen signs of vandalism, I have yet to see any vandals.

I have to wonder where they all are. You'd think that at a time like this, there'd be thousands of them scuttering about like rats.

I tense as I hear a woman scream in the distance. It takes me a minute to figure out what direction I need to head, but once I've got her pinpointed in my mind's eye I'm vaulting from wall to wall and roof to roof. The skyline has darkened considerably since my arrival in the city earlier, and now that it's approaching dark I feel more comfortable doing the superhero thing.

It's good to be home, even now.

I round a corner, ready to spring into action, only to find that the action's already over. Five thugs lay sprawled on the pavement, a dark figure looming over them. The woman behind the figure is whimpering, but unharmed. Noting this, I peer into the shadows at the masked hero. Pointed leather adorns a definitely female form and a large yellow bat is emblazoned across her chest.


I can feel the walls of the Clock Tower closing in on me as I stand before Barbara. Her eyes are drawn and the line of her mouth grim as she looks at me over the rim of her glasses. She's more beautiful than I remember, and I find myself staring at my boots in an attempt to avoid what I know is coming. "Why did you leave?" Damnit.

"I don't know anymore," I whisper, shifting from one foot to the other. She rolls towards me, stopping just far enough in front of me that I can see the toes of her shoes. She places her hands in her lap, rubbing her palms absentmindedly - she does that sometimes, when she's been moving a lot. She refused to get one of those automatic chairs, which is fine with me since her arms are very well toned because of it. "That's it? You don't know?"

I swallow and look around at anything that isn't her. My eyes fall on the girl I met in the alley. She hasn't taken off the cowl yet, and I can't see her face through this newly designed suit. Barbara's already replaced me. I bite the inside of my lip in an effort not to cry. Whoever this girl is, she's managed to earn enough of Barbara's trust to become the next Batgirl.

That should have been me.

"Look at me, Helena." My eyes snap to hers immediately, a throwback to the days when she acted as my guardian and surrogate mother. "Why did you leave?" There's a finality in those words. If I don't tell her now, I'll never be able to tell her again.

"I couldn't handle it. I couldn't stand the idea that another person I loved might die because of me." My voice cracks and I turn swiftly away from her, running towards the balcony, running away from my feelings. Before I can make it to the door, though, I hear a familiar voice at the elevator.

"Where is she?" Dinah's angry. "Where the fuck is she?" I turn, my eyes undoubtedly red from held-in tears, and face the irate teen. She charges me, and I brace myself for a tackle, but she stops just in front of me and glares. I didn't know she could do that. I'm surprised I haven't winced. "How could you?" Her voice is quiet, but the malice underlying her words hits me in the gut. "How could you do this to us?" I open my mouth to answer her but before I can she slaps me, hard.

Blood trickles down my chin and I turn again, walking slowly to the balcony. I can't handle this right now.

The air outside is crisper than earlier, and a light blanket of snow is beginning to collect on the rooftops and streets. The moon is obscured by a hazy blanket of smoke from the fires that continue to burn throughout the city. I feel a body behind me; it's that new girl. I don't bother to turn around. "Just leave me alone, all right?" She moves away. Thank God.

I can hear Barbara inside, crying softly while Dinah comforts her and bashes me. I don't blame the kid. She's got every right to hate me right now. The Delphi beeps, and Oracle springs to action. "Say that again... Yes... The Clocktower..." I wonder what's going on...?

"Helena!" Oracle barks at me and I turn to look at her through the glass doors. "Your friends are coming over, and they're bringing a visitor." My friends? Oh, right. Carter and Kendra. That's just great. Now I'll have to deal with him, too.

Still, Kendra will be more than welcome...

As the wind outside picks up I realize I can't stay out on the balcony; it wouldn't do for a superhero to catch cold in the middle of a crisis. I reluctantly step inside, almost hugging the walls in an effort to avoid Barbara and Dinah. The blonde watches me, her eyes still blazing, while the red-head simply ignores me. I open the fridge and pull out some Tupperware, trying to find something to fill the hole in my stomach. Chicken sounds good.

I bite into a cold piece of fried chicken as Batgirl the Second walks up to me, reaching into the container to pull out a piece for herself. She reaches up and pulls off the cowl, revealing a well-

tanned Asian face. She smiles at me before devouring half the plank of meat. "Where'd you come from, then?" I wonder aloud.

"I found her." Dinah seems proud of this fact. "She helped me out after the quake. I brought her back here." That couldn't have been more than twenty-four hours ago, and already she's wearing the Bat? I must have blanched. "What? Don't think we should have been able to get on without you?"

"Dinah." Barbara commands the girl's silence easily, which sends the teenager over the edge.

"Fine! I'm going back out there then. You can sit around here and wait for whoever it is that's coming, if you want to." She grabs her jacket and heads towards the lift. It opens just as she's about to press the button. "So who is it tha-" She stops, and that alone is enough to make me curious. I move into the main section of the tower to see who it is that's caught her tongue.

I drop what's left of my chicken onto the floor.

"Excuse us," Carter says gently, moving Dinah to the side as he steps off the lift. His helmet glints in the florescent light. Kendra follows him. But I'm not really paying attention to them. I'm focused, instead, on the figure behind them.

"Hello Barbara." The Dark Knight nods solemnly at his protege before turning to eye me. "Helena."

My mouth works, but no sound comes out. I want to scream at him, to hit him, to hug him. I want to cry and ask him how he could have left me like he did, how he could have left Barbara. But looking at him now, looking into his eyes, I know. He left for the same reasons I did. He left to protect us.

"Hi. Dad." The word comes out stiffly - I've never used it before. The corners of his mouth crook upwards ever so slightly as Carter's jaw hits the floor. Kendra's isn't too far behind, I'd wager, but she'll recover faster.

"Enough pleasantries. What's our status?" He takes command quickly, his cape flowing behind him as he walks up the dais to the Delphi to stand behind Oracle. It takes her a minute to respond; I'd wager she's as lost in this situation as I am. "So far, we've been dealing with making sure those who need medical assistance make it to check points, but from recent reports we might have a lot more to worry about soon. Arkham's security systems were compromised during the quake; the prisoners have escaped."

The Joker is free.

"So how do we go about this?" Hawkman stands next to Batman, his arms folded across his chest. "Do we need to call in reinforcements?"

Barbara shakes her head. "I don't think so. They've split themselves up, and none of them have the power they did before the quake. They're likely all scrambling for territory and arms."

"So one at a time, then?" Kendra's leaning heavily against one of the support beams. I'm braced against the side in front of her. "We start with a list and check them off one by one?"

This time, Barbara nods. "I think that would be best. But, I'd rather if you all split up. Each of you can take down one target before moving on to another one. You'll all take communicators with you so that I can coordinate."

"How are you going to do that, exactly?" I can't believe I'm sticking my neck out into the conversation like this. "What are you using to gather your information? Gotham's in ruins. Aren't all your resources, too?"

She looks at me coolly for a moment before responding. "Yes, for the most part. But I have my means." I nod. "Now, the list of targets. Who wants to take Two-Face?"

"I'll handle him." Carter steps forward to take the offered communicator. "Any idea where he is?" Barbara shakes her head.

"Check the lower east side, near City Hall." Batman's voice is low and commanding. He sounds like a thunderstorm. I'm still having a hard time believing he's actually here.

"Right." Carter nods, heading towards the balconey. "I'll keep in touch, then."

"Poison Ivy?" Barbara calls out the next name on the list.

"I'll take her." Kendra steps forward and moves to follow Carter. "I'm guessing the parks and gardens would be the best places to start." Barbara nods, and so does Batman.

"Be careful," I say. She turns around to look at me before removing her helmet - which looks very sharp on her, if I do say so myself - and walking back towards me. She places a kiss on my cheek. "You too, Huntress." She's gone before I can process the incident. Barbara's looking at me, and I can feel my face flaming under her gaze. It doesn't help that my dad's doing the same thing...

"All right." Barbara sounds like she's under duress. "The Penguin?" Dinah nods and moves to the elevator. "I want you to take Batgirl with you." Dinah starts to protest, but for some reason thinks better of it. The two enter the lift together. "We'll check the zoo. Sound good?" Batman nods at the teen. She blushes as the elevator doors close.

"The Joker?" Barbara says this name more softly than the others.

"He's mine." Batman and I speak in unison. We look at each other, glaring with the same fire. It occurs to me that we're standing the same way, too. Like father, like daughter, I suppose.

"Take him together. I'd feel safer that way." He and I both turn to look at her.

She's scared. I can see it in her eyes and the way she's rubbing her thumb and forefinger together. She's scared that he's going to take one of us away from her again. I can't stop myself as I rush towards her, my hands entwining into hers. "Barbara, you won't lose me to him. I promise. Dad, either. I'll make sure of it."

It's a lot of bravado, but it seems to be working. She brings her hand up to my cheek. "You'd better come back to me, Helena. I haven't finished yelling at you, yet." She smiles crookedly and I grin at her.

"Yes ma'am."

I patrolled with Dinah, occasionally, after she earned her wings. But that was never this intense. He's like liquid night, creeping from rooftop to rooftop, down and around falling buildings, over rubble, across snow - barely leaving any tracks at all. I'm in total awe of him, and he's my fucking dad.

We haven't said anything to each other since we left the Clock Tower. I'm not sure what to say to him, really, and I'm pretty sure he hasn't a clue how to behave in front of a daughter that's gotten all grown up without him. He senses my distress, I think, because he stops to look at me. We stand there, face to face, his cape billowing in the wind. "I wanted to apologize."

The growl of his voice rolls into my stomach and stays there, making me wonder what it would have been like to have him tell me stories at night. His eyes are boring into me, like Barbara's or Carter's, or even Kendra's. Guess it's a superhero thing. "I-" How do I respond to an apology of this magnitude? "I forgive you, okay? I did it, too. It'd be hypocritical of me to hate you for it." I look away, my face flaming.

Suddenly there's a hand on my shoulder and he's right next to me, towering over me by a foot and a half - not including the bat ears. "It's hard, Helena. But you were better than I was at it. You came back sooner." I scoff at him. He's warm, even in the middle of a northern snow storm. "I only came back because of the quake - just like you."

So there you have it. Father and daughter, together at last, wallowing in their own special brand of self-pity. Kind of romantic, I guess, in a totally non-romantic kind of way. Can "romantic" be used like that? Christ, I didn't know it was possible to dig myself into a hole in my own thoughts...

He's led me to the docks. They're in horrible shape - the wooden platforms themselves broken or sunken and several of the warehouses burning or burnt. I can hear people shouting, but I can't place them here. Apparently, dad can.

We creep unseen on to the top of the building, splitting up with each of us on one side of the main skylight, our bodies flat against the roof. Inside, dozens of men and women are cheering as the Joker beats a young woman with the back of his hand. I tense, preparing to jump through the window to save her. He stops me. "No, wait. We can't just rush in like that." Even as a whisper, his voice holds power.

"Are you crazy? He's going to beat her to death - he's not going to stop!"

"I think I know better than you what the Joker is capable of, Helena." His voice is cold. He's not joking, and that pisses me off.

"Don't you dare act like a fucking righteous bastard with me, you sorry sack of shit! He killed my mother!"

It takes everything in me to keep my voice down to a normal level. He stands, staring at me as he pulls a batarang from his belt. As he throws it through the window, he says, "We'll discuss this later, and I'll tell you all about Jason." Who's Jason?

The batarang slams into the Joker's wrist, and I can hear it snap as I follow dad down into the chaos. The bastard's screaming, and with him so are his dozens of minions. They're rushing us both, but dad's almost at the Joker. He's going to get him; I'm not going to have any chance at all.

Thoughts of my lost vengeance fuel my punches as I wade into the mob.

I don't remember most of the fight. I know I broke a number of jaws, and that I snapped at least one neck, but other than that I can't recall details. Except for one: the Joker shot him in the gut.

All I could think as I watched it happen was that it should have been me up there getting shot - it should have been me taking that bullet. I'd let Barbara down. I'd promised her and yet it was happening again. I'm a failure.

Someone's screaming, maybe it's me, and I'm running towards the Joker. He's laughing, his twisted face hideous and taunting. He turns towards me, pointing the gun at me. I can't dodge it, I don't have the space or the time. Something in front of me catches my eye and I lean down quickly, scooping it up and throwing it.

The gun goes off.

There's a pain in my shoulder as the laughter stops. The Joker slumps to the ground, red spurting from his neck. I spin around, my left arm dangling uselessly at my side, expecting to have to fight off the remainder of the mob. They're just staring at me, or at his body - they're frozen.

When all else fails, scream like a maniac.

"Well? Which one of you wants the next piece of me? Huh? Come on!" They trade looks amongst themselves. Some of them are already running, and the rest soon follow. I'm still screaming at their backs when it registers that Barbara's yelling in my ear.

"Huntress! Huntress!" I stop screaming at the mob that's no longer there. "Yeah. I'm- I'm here, Oracle." I hear her sigh in relief on the other end.

"Are you all right? Why can't I get ahold of Batman?"

How do I tell her this?

"He's sh- He's shot, Oracle. The Joker shot him."

"Oh God!" It sounds like her stomach's dropped a thousand feet. "I should have been in contact with you. I should have been paying more attention. I shouldn't have worried about Dinah so much. I should ha-"

"Oracle!" I snap at her over the communicator. "Snap out of it and get an ambulance as near to the docks as you can. I'm gonna strip him of his uniform. Huntress out." I can hear her fingers flying over the keys as I run to his body, feeling for a pulse. It's strong.

Why am I not surprised?

I watch nervously as the medics run towards him and the girl. So far, none of them have bothered checking the immediate area for anything - specifically, his suit. I hid it inside one of the crates at the back of the warehouse. As far as the doctors are concerned, Bruce Wayne was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I wince as someone prods my shoulder. "Ow!"

"Sorry. You need to get to the ambulance. They'll take you to Gotham County General Hospital and get that bullet out of you." The girl who's smiling at me couldn't be any older than twenty. I nod and shuffle over to the door and outside, gripping an offered hand in order to get myself into the vehicle. They load dad in beside me. He's been patched and stuck with tubes. The IV is dripping away.

"Huntress, is everything all right? I know you're not alone but give me a sign..." Barbara's desperate for knowledge on the other end of the line. I grip dad's hand and play to the other people in the back of the ambulance. "It's gonna be okay. Everything's gonna be fine, dad."

"Dad?" The driver turns around, his eyebrows a thousand miles above his head. "Isn't that Bruce Wayne?"

"Yeah. He's my dad." I smile, a real and true smile.

For once in my life I feel like things might actually turn out okay.

I had to tell the police some story about how Batman had saved us by swooping down through the skylight of the warehouse and single-

handedly defeating the whole of the Joker's mob, and killing the Joker himself. Thankfully, they believed me. It's not too hard to act traumatized when your shoulder's in severe pain and your dad's lying in intensive care.

Barbara has extricated herself from the Clock Tower and is sitting beside me in his room. Dinah, Batgirl, Carter and Kendra are all back in Gotham City, continuing to help people. They've got backup, now, though. The rest of the Justice League showed up as Batgirl hand delivered the Penguin to the Gotham City police. Needless to say, the Bat symbol is going to be very prominent in the newspapers for a while.

I shift a little in my chair and let out a disgruntled noise. Barbara's mouth curls upwards. "I missed you." It was really quiet, and I almost didn't catch it. She missed me? She missed me! Hell yeah! Oh, I guess I should respond to that... "Me too."

"You missed yourself?" The smile's full blown now. We're already back to bantering. That's a good sign.

"Well sure, I mean, I've got mad skillz. Who wouldn't miss me?" I crack a grin at her and throw my good arm up in an all encompassing gesture.

Her face drops back into serious-Barbara mode. "Don't you ever leave me again." I swallow and nod a little. I don't have anything to say to that. I've already apologized. Another would just come off as insincere. "I couldn't live through it again, Helena. Do you understand? Don't you ever leave me again."

It really sucks that she's sitting on my left. It means I have to move somehow to touch her. I opt for the full body touch, rather than moving so my hand's on hers. It's been a long time since I've done this; it feels good to lay my head in her lap again. The last time was after the first anniversary of mom's death... She's stroking my hair, now. My face is wet.

Damnit. I didn't mean to start crying.

"Helena." Oh God, she's crying too. "Why did you leave like that? Why?"

Because I love you more desperately than anything else in my entire life.

She gasps. Um. Did I say that out loud?

The End

Continued in Book Two

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