DISCLAIMER: Birds of Prey is the property of DC Comics. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FANDOM: DC Universe. Earth 2/Pre-Crisis.
Golden Day, Silver Night
Helena hefted her briefcase and stepped outside her apartment building. She was determined to be on time today at Cranston, Grayson, and Wayne--No, even better, early. Maybe she'd stop for donuts and coffee, just to see the look on Cranston's face.
Hazy morning sunlight greeted her. The early chill and the hope of warmth mixed in the air. She inhaled and said aloud to no one in particular, "Gotham, I love you!"
Gotham didn't yield to the sunny dispositions of herself or Mother Nature. As she rounded a corner she heard voices raised in argument. Someone dragged the darkness into the dawn. And just when she was going to get donuts.
"Harry, I'm tired! I don't want to!"
A man--a pimp, Helena guessed--dragged a young woman by her hair toward an alleyway. He said, "Look, I lost a lot of dough last night."
Helena lurched forward before realizing this was no situation for a lawyer, even an activist one. Was she going to hit him with her briefcase? She ducked behind a car to change clothes and stashed her belongings under the tire. They wouldn't be going anywhere. She jogged toward the altercation.
"Look, Angela," Hank said. "It's safer in daylight anyhow, right?" He shoved Angela, so hard she spun into a parked car.
"What about my kids, Hank? They ain't at school til' 9!"
Huntress stepped into Hank's line of vision, and he recoiled. "Ah, Huntress, Look--" he said.
She smiled grimly. Get a picture in the paper a few times, and all the thugs show respect. Or at least, lip-service. Hank reached behind his back. She tried to prepare herself. Knife? Gun?
"Watch it, Hank," she said.
The roar of an engine came from behind them. Angela screamed. Hank leapt at Huntress. She grappled with him and threw him back. He stumbled. He had a knife, after all, and he brandished it, sneering at Huntress.
"Need help, kid?"
Huntress spun around. "Black Canary. Welcome to the party."
Black Canary grinned. She leaned against her motorcycle, and crossed one ankle over the other. Harry's gaze slid up her fishnet stockings to her black leotard and the mane of blonde hair that cascaded over her shoulders. Huntress stared, too, but lingered on her smile, sardonic and almost cruel with laughter, while Hank stared at her breasts. Still, Huntress felt her palms tingle and blood pool in her just where Hank's probably was.
"Hey, Hank," Black Canary said, crossing her arms over her chest, "What gives? Don't you think we've got better things to do than deal with the likes of you?"
Hank put the knife behind his back. He whimpered, and then said, stuttering, "I was just about to tell Huntress here, really. Someone's messing with the girls! Two cut up just last night. I just thought, you know, daytime would be less of a hardship on the poor things. But they aren't seeing it that way."
"Prostitution in the daylight," Huntress said.
"Guess they don't make pimps take an I.Q. test," Black Canary said.
"Hey!" Hank said. He swallowed and said, "Look, I thought, well, that the guy was one of you."
"One of us?" Huntress glanced at Black Canary.
Black Canary shrugged, and said, "Not me."
"Because, well. Some vigilante in the middle of the night cutting up streetwalkers, right? What am I supposed to think? Maybe you feminist empowered superhero types don't like real working girls." He squinted at Black Canary, and said, "Maybe your outfit is supposed to be ironic or something. Metaphorical. I don't know, right?"
Huntress grabbed Hank's throat, and said, "What we don't like is someone messing with our sisters. Capisce?"
Huntress said, "Look, Hank, you get them off the street, and we will fix the problem, okay?"
"What about lost wages?" Hank asked.
Angela kicked him. He yelped.
"Hank," Black Canary said.
"Right, right." He took off, dragging Angela behind him.
Black Canary frowned. She said, "I hadn't heard of any hooker killings in Gotham lately."
Huntress frowned. She asked, "You called me a kid? I've been in the Justice Society long enough, haven't I?"
Black Canary grinned and squeezed her shoulder. She said, "Just be glad I didn't call you Baby Bat or something."
Huntress folded her arms. "Look, I've got a friend at the D.A.'s office. I'll see what he can make of this. Want to patrol tonight?"
Black Canary said, "Absolutely. I have a friend on the force. Freddy's Pizza, ten o'clock?"
Huntress saluted and went to get her clothes from underneath the car. Black Canary hopped her motorcycle and sped off.
Helena, late for work once again, wondered how she would be able to fight crime with Black Canary so close to her. Vixens shouldn't be superheroes. It was unfairly distracting.
Huntress walked into Freddy's Pizza just before ten o'clock. She'd put in a call to Harry Sims at the district attorney's office, and he'd confirmed rumors of some Jane Does down at city morgue. No indication of what killed them, but it had been pretty ugly. She assumed Black Canary had called her cop friend, Larry Lance, and had gotten a scoop.
She'd gotten a nap and a quick workout, and had showered before putting on the costume again. Freddy was happy to see a vigilante anytime, it was good for business, so a pepperoni pizza was on its way to the table before she even had time to stash her crossbow.
"Pizza, I love you," Huntress said.
Black Canary strode in, grinning, and slid into the booth. "Hey, Huntress," she said.
"Canary. Hope you like pepperoni."
"Sure do. Gotham-style pizza. It's what my dad brought home at least once a week. But what did you find out?"
Huntress filled her in. Black Canary nodded and chewed and drank half a pitcher of Diet Coke.
"So, which of us is bait?" Black Canary asked.
Huntress looked her over.
Black Canary sighed and said, "Oh right. Maybe I should wear a disguise. I mean, another disguise."
"I think you're already a pretty attractive mark," Huntress said, and found herself blushing. Too much Diet Coke? Too much staring at long, stocking-clad legs? A lawyer with a crush on a superhero was not a good thing. She tried to recover by saying, "You know, for a girl."
Black Canary grinned, and said, "Thanks, kid. I've been at this a long time. You know, if I'd ended up a police officer like I wanted, I would have ended up in Vice. I've come so far. Thanks, women's lib!"
Huntress covered her laughter with her hand. She said, "I never have this much fun at the law firm."
"Lawyers," Black Canary said, and snorted. She pulled out some bills for the pizza and said, "Let's go."
Black Canary took up residence on the street corner vacated by Hank. Huntress perched on a rooftop above, tranquilizer darts loaded and ready. Black Canary gave her the thumbs up. Huntress settled into wait.
Shadows moved across the sidewalk as clouds passed in front of the crescent moon. No other girls or pimps worked that side of the street. The drug dealers had all gone home. Homeless people occasionally shuffled by, but Black Canary had no tricks for anyone who wouldn't pay.
Every half hour or so, a car would stop. Black Canary would tempt the driver and send him on his way if he didn't try and kill her.
Black Canary, standing in the lamplight so that her hair shone and the blues of her jacket and the thin black webs on her legs made her look exotic. Huntress watched until her mouth went dry. Black Canary was just her crime-fighting buddy, a friend of her parents, someone to chew the fat with at JSA meetings. But usually they were fighting monsters or nuclear extermination. Working on their home-turf, on a small case in the middle of the night felt intimate. She tried to imagine what block Black Canary had grown up on, while Helena did prep school and the Wayne mansion.
Did Black Canary think about things like that? Huntress thought of the men she usually dated, like Harry. They were cool, collected, a little oafish. Maybe a little like her brother, Dick. Black Canary was more like her mother, strong and playful and deadly. And yet, something else entirely, too. Huntress couldn't quite put her finger on the potion, she just knew she was intoxicated.
A black sedan pulled up and a man got out and whistled at Black Canary. "Hey, there, little fox," he called.
Black Canary glanced at him, and then back at her fingernails.
"Not safe to be on the streets at night. How about I take you some place warm?"
"All night?" Black Canary asked.
Huntress tightened her grip on her crossbow. The man walked around the front of the car and toward Black Canary. He said, "Yeah."
"You show me and I'll let you know."
"Now listen here--" he said, and Black Canary straightened up.
She said, "You listen," and then, "He's got a knife!"
Huntress fired. The man went down. She leapt off the roof. Black Canary was searching his pockets by the time she arrived at sidewalk level.
"No cash," Black Canary said. "Guess we know his intentions."
"Let's bag him and tag him and call the boys in blue," Huntress said.
Black Canary nodded. She glanced down the street. "That was anti-climactic," she said.
"And the night, so young," Huntress said. Her heart beat rapidly. Usually a surge in energy would lead to other surges, but without even a good fight, Huntress felt frustrated. Sweat trickled down the back of her neck.
"Good job, Gotham girl," Black Canary said.
They left the man hogtied and walked down the street.
Huntress checked her watch. She said, "One A.M. The girls can go back to work. Goody. I feel like there is so much I can do as a lawyer. And there's so much I can do kicking ass. But I don't know what to do about getting the girls off the street in the first place."
Black Canary hugged Huntress and said, "I hear you, Huntress. I don't know, either. This is our city. It should be--better."
Huntress asked, "What do you do, when you get that feeling, in the pit of your stomach, that the world is going to hell with or without you?"
"I get on the bike and take a ride out of the city. I feel the wind in my hair and I let civilization disappear from view. Or, well, I get laid," Black Canary said. She asked, "What about you?"
"I visit my mother's grave," Huntress said.
"Dark," Black Canary said.
Huntress said, "But the second thing, that could work, too."
Black Canary regarded her and said, drawling the word, "Yeah."
"My place is just a couple blocks from here. That's how I got involved in the first place," Huntress said. She wasn't quite sure what she was saying, or where the confidence was coming from, but her sense of adventure was keen and the night was young, and everyone took their shot at Black Canary.
Black Canary said, "Yeah."
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