DISCLAIMER: I don't own/work with anything Birds Of Prey related, and I only wish I owned Dina Meyer; who really, doesn't even appear in this piece. This is nonprofit and for fun cause I'm cool like that. *cheeky grin*
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This could possibly be considered an alternate reality peice, maybe. I think. I'm not sure. It just kinda came to me. Please excuse the horrible writing, I don't know the meaning of the word 'beta reader' and beginnings are always bumpy for me. *crosses fingers* It'll get better? Any comments/constructive critisms/praises/blue teddy bears are more than welcome.

By Lil

Chapter 1

Helena Kyle loved the streets of New Gotham. From the time she was fourteen, Merchant's Square was her favorite haunt. There was always something there to distract her. There was such a studied chaos about the Square. It was exactly what she had needed at the time. No one knew who she was, no one treated her like glass. Since she'd first begun walking the streets of New Gotham, natives had treated her the same way everyone else was treated. Brusquely, without reservation or compassion. This was exactly what she needed, though she never knew. This was home.

Today the streets were crowded, dirty and noisy. The smell of cigarettes and exhaust permeated the air, merchants could be heard vending their wares, vying for the attention of wandering customers. Children that should have been in school wound through the crowds, dodging hands and laughing all the while.

Helena had stopped at Big Mike's stall, and was looking through the fresh fruits when a flash at the corner of her eye distracted her. Tilting her head to the side, the brunette let her focus relax. People, objects blurred into meaningless colors. Noises, shapes enveloped her, swirled around her and then receded into the background. It was as if time had somehow slowed; except for one small, grubby hand. Helena couldn't see the body and face attached to the hand that was currently reaching into another man's inner coat pocket. Swiftly a brown leather billfold was pulled out; only to be returned a moment later, noticeably lighter. She blinked and the world snapped back into focus. Just a street urchin, doing what they did best. Not a threat. Dropping a few coins on Big Mike's counter, Helena picked up a plum for now and a peach for later. Tucking the peach into her pocket, she nodded her thanks to the man and slowly meandered off. Here and there, she was aware of pickpockets moving through the crowds, though she paid them no heed. They were harmless, and had only tried to mess with her once, when she'd still been wet behind the ears.

"Hey, Helena!" a musical voice called.

The brunette turned around lazily, and her violet-blue eyes found the woman calling her. It was Cam, a longtime friend of hers. Tall, slim and blonde, Cam ran one of the many jewelry stalls that specialized in `exotic' pieces. "Hey, Cam. What's shakin?"

"I've sot some tight new shit, come take a look." The woman shook her shaggy blonde hair out of her eyes and grinned invitingly.

"Yeah?" Helena drifted closer. Cam was known for her amber, amethyst and jade pieces; Helena was known for her weakness for them. Her gaze wandered over the token pieces in the front; the ones designed for the casual buyer, and began looking through the things closer to Cam. There in the back corner, was a tree, of gold and amethyst. The base was an unadulterated purple stone, about the size of her fist. On the stone stood the gold, drawn into a hundred small wires and twisted to form a willow tree. On the end of each tiny branch was a single polished amethyst. The vibrant purple made a pleasing contrast to the gold. Helena's lips cureved upward. It reminded her of Dinah. "How much for the tree?"

Cam's response was quick, said with a straight face. "Six."

"Pssh. Two."


"Two-twenty five."

Green eyes rolled. "Four."

"Three." Helena's eyes narrowed, and she stared hard at Cam, lips pursed.

"Three seventy five."

"Three twenty five and I'm *not* going any higher."

Cam blew out a breath, a pained look on her face. "Done." She grabbed a box from underneath the counter and placed the tree in there carefully. "Shit, Hel. Dawn's gonna kill me when she finds out I let it go for a lousy three hundred!"

Helena smiled briefly at the mention of Cam's partner, a diminutive Hispanic woman with more fire than most knew what to do with. It was a good match, she was happy for them. "Don't tell her, then." She pulled out her wallet and counted out the money, throwing it on the table and receiving the tree.

She stayed a little while longer, chatting with Cam. They had just started talking about Mayor Humphrey's big crack down on drugs when she felt someone come up behind her. Part of Helena kept talking, while the other part of her prepared for a potential attack. She felt a hand creep lightly near her back pocket, where she kept her wallet, before catching the straying hand in hers. Her iron grip closed around a tiny wrist and her ice blue gaze zeroed in on startled brown eyes.

Her prey was tiny, bordering on the malnourished. She couldn't have been more than twelve years old, she wore a ragged red tee shirt that stood out in startling contrast to her mocha colored skin. Threadbare blue jeans with holes everywhere and sneakers so dirty the original color was lost underneath the scuff marks. Her shoelaces were frayed, though tied neatly in a bow. An unruly black mop sat on her head, tied back with what looked like a rubber band. Her features were thin, bird-like, and Helena could tell she was valiantly fighting the fear that coursed through her viens.

She was the kid Helena had seen earlier. The one that had lifted that guy's cash. ~Damn,~ Helena mused, ~Kid's got a set of brass ones.~

"Didn't anyone ever teach you that stealing is wrong?" Helena's voice came out, silky smooth.

This time the child couldn't stop her eyes from widening. She knew that tone, though it was different with every person. "Didn't anyone ever teach *you* that holding people against their will is wrong?" She snapped back.

"Yes, as a matter of fact they did." Helena's grip still didn't relax, but the kid had had enough. Swinging their joined wrists in the air, she ducked under her own arm until Helena's arm was twisted behind her back. Automatically, Helena's grip relaxed enough for the kid to wiggle free from. Once she did, she was off like a shot. Helena stifled a curse as she briefly thought about giving chase to the girl.

But she hadn't stolen anthing from her. And Helena was pretty sure she's just scared the wrath of god into that child, so really, what would getting winded accomplish? Resignedly, she straightened and shook her head. With a wave to Cam, who witnessed it all without being fazed, she continued through the Square, firmly putting the episode from her mind.

To Be Continued

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