Birds of Prey: Necessary Deception
by Melissa Minners
Disclaimer and Other Information: It should be noted that all of the characters and many of the locales in this fan fiction are not mine. They are owned by The WB. This fan fiction is somewhat of an homage to the series, though I have used a little liberty here with events. The story takes place during the Birds of Prey television series and is meant as a companion piece to Feat of Clay. I hope you enjoy.
God, what have I done?
I sit staring at the Delphi praying Helena will contact me, but the call never comes. She was so angry when she left. She was furious with me for not having told her about Clayface. She couldn’t understand how I could keep the identity of her mother’s killer a secret from her.
But how could I tell her? What purpose would that serve?
Helena just doesn’t understand! She doesn’t know the hell I went through – how many sleepless nights I endured thinking about what I should do.
Up until seven years ago, Helena led such a happy life. She knew nothing of grief, nothing of anger or pain. Selina always saw to it that all Helena knew was happiness. Selina’s love for Helena knew no bounds. She’d even quit her life as cat-burglar extraordinaire – had hung up her Catwoman costume for good once Helena was born – vowing never to return to that life for Helena’s sake.
I marveled at that, wondering then what I would do if that time ever came for me. Would I be able to walk away from the life of Batgirl – give up the mantel I’d struggled so long to attain? I never had the chance to answer that question. Instead, I had it snatched from me by the Joker.
And on that same night, poor Helena learned what it was like to have everything she held dear stripped away. On that night, seven years ago, Helena experienced a pain like no other. She watched helplessly as a man stabbed her mother and ran off into the night. Held Selina in her arms as her life’s blood drained from her body. Begged for someone to stop the murderer as he escaped. Sobbed in tortured grief as she watched the life ebb from the woman who was the very center of her existence.
We’d both lost so much on that night, our lives changed forever in seconds. I was feeling sorry for myself, wallowing in self-pity when I was reminded about Selina’s murder. I realized then that Helena must be feeling the same way I was at the time. I felt so lost, so alone. Oh, I had plenty of people – family and friends both – surrounding me, but no one really understood the loss. And Helena – she had no one.
I’d been making inquiries about her, when she suddenly showed up at my front door. She’d run away from foster care and somehow ended up at my apartment. One look at her tear-streaked face and I knew I couldn’t turn her away. She slept on my couch that night – a fitful sleep, filled with nightmares in which she revisited the night of her mother’s murder again and again.
That one night turned into a week, then a month as I made arrangements to become Helena’s guardian. During the day, Helena was a handful. She was no longer the gentle, carefree teenager Selina Kyle had raised. Innocence had been stolen from her the night Selina was killed. It’s replacement: anger, resentment, rebelliousness. She was in constant trouble in school – when she bothered to go to school, that is. And outside of school, she was even worse. On more than one occasion, I had to use my father’s influence to get her out of jams with New Gotham’s Finest.
But every night, Helena revisited the same nightmare. And while I sat beside her, stroking her hair and whispering soothing words, holding her as she sobbed, I vowed to find out who the mysterious knife-wielding murderer was. It was he – a murderer hired by the Joker – who had destroyed Helena’s life and taken away her innocence.
The process of becoming Helena’s guardian was long and tedious and involved the revelation of a secret – one I’d kept since Helena’s birth. Telling Helena who her biological father was – it was a terrifying task and not one that I took lightly. Meanwhile, Helena had grown restless and sullen. Angry at the way her mother’s case was handled, she made it her business to taunt every New Gotham police officer she came in contact with. I tried to channel her anger into other things, such as martial arts. That was when I made a discovery that would change both of our lives – one that rushed my decision to tell Helena the truth - the whole truth about her father.
I discovered that she had developed metahuman abilities – heightened agility, increased strength, increased night vision, and more. All of which, she had been hiding from me. As if things hadn’t been disastrous enough, Helena now thought she was some sort of freak. But that didn’t stop her from using those powers to get what she wanted. And that scared me. I worried that she might follow the wrong path. She was already having trouble with the law. I thought that if she knew her father was not only Millionaire Playboy Bruce Wayne, but heroic crime fighter Batman, it would change things. After all, Batman was my mentor – had taught me everything I knew about vigilante crime fighting.
But telling Helena did not have the desired effect. Instead, Helena left in a huff, seeking out her father’s mansion and trying to contact him. She wanted his help in finding her mother’s killer and when that help didn’t come, it only succeeded in pushing her closer to the line between good and evil. If she crossed that line, I feared I’d never get her back.
Meanwhile, as Oracle, I searched the criminal underworld through my cyber-connections and was greeted with dozens of rumors as to who might have taken up on Joker’s offer. Only one seemed to stand out – Clayface. It was a feasible concept actually. Clayface had always had a major crush on Selina and she had always rebuffed him none-too-gently. He also had the means to commit the murder and “disappear”. All he had to do was present one face during the murder, another while escaping, and yet another once he was clear of the scene. It made too much sense. I made it my top priority to discover whether those rumors were true.
In the meantime, I had to make a decision about Helena. Since visiting her father’s mansion and having her hopes dashed, Helena’s attitude had become steadily worse. She was staying out late, lying to me about where she had been. I feared her resentment toward Batman was fueling her actions. She now hated Batman so much, I was afraid she would become all that Batman was not just to spite him.
And so, I decided to bring her into the life – to channel that anger, that energy, into something positive. It was a decision that was right for both of us. It gave Helena an outlet for her aggression and me a chance to get back to crime fighting again. At first, she hated it – taking up her father’s mantel was not something she wanted. She despised him. In fact, I think the only reason she agreed to my suggestion was that she saw the enormous opportunity fighting crime presented for kicking ass. And once she began fighting crime, Helena found it was something she was good at. The only problem I could see was that she brought too much anger into the job. I had to keep reminding her that as crime fighting vigilantes, we brought people to justice, but we didn’t kill. It was the one rule we argued over constantly – the one rule I had to keep repeating.
About three months into Helena’s crime-fighting career, I had the answer to my questions surrounding Selina’s attack. Clayface had indeed murdered Selina. I had the answer to Helena’s questions right there on the Delphi Monitor screen, but dare I tell her? The past three months, I’d watched her take her anger at the world out on various criminals. Depending on the crime, Helena – or rather, Huntress – exacted a heavy toll on the criminal. Murderers received the worst treatment, unknowingly paying the price for the crime committed on her mother. What would she do to the man who had actually killed Selina? So far, I’d been able to stop Helena before she had killed any of her prey. Would I be able to stop her from exacting the ultimate revenge on the man who had murdered her mother? I had no such faith in my abilities.
Helena had so much rage still bottled up inside of her at that time. There was just no way I could prevent her from crossing that line. And once Helena crossed that line, there would be no turning back. I’d lose her forever. I couldn’t let that happen. I cared about her too much. Helena had become more than just a charge to me, more than just a protégé. She had found her way into my heart a long time ago, but now – her pain, her agony…I felt it as if it were my own. I couldn’t let Helena take that road – the road to vengeance; the road that would lead to her destruction.
And so, after days of agonizing over the decision, I finally decided to keep what I knew a secret. And shortly after making my decision, Clayface was arrested and sent to Arkham. I thought it had ended there. I was wrong.
I never knew about Clayface’s son. And I certainly never expected Helena to ever meet Clayface, much less talk with him. When she first suggested going to see him, I was apprehensive. Oh hell, I was downright scared! But I couldn’t let that fear show, so I hinted at it not being a good idea, hoping she’d agree. I should have known Helena wouldn’t listen. But I couldn’t have known the game Clayface would play with her.
That sadistic bastard! When Helena told me how Clayface kept bringing up Selina, I cringed in anticipation of what he might have said. But Helena’s demeanor was one of curiosity, not anger, and I realized that he was only toying with her. I never expected Helena to find it necessary to return to Arkham. And although I feared what Clayface might tell her, I never imagined just how cold, calculating and sadistic he really was.
When she returned to the Clocktower, Helena was filled with barely suppressed rage. She wanted Clayface to pay for what he’d done to Selina – she wanted vengeance. It was just as I feared, though I must say I was thankful for the security glass that surrounded Clayface. Had she gotten through, she might very well have killed him then and there. I tried, rather unsuccessfully to calm her down, to reason with her. And suddenly she knew – she looked in my eyes and knew. The hurt I saw in those eyes…God! I had betrayed her – the one person she trusted completely had lied to her. The pain and anguish at her discovery was quickly erased by the anger at having been lied to, her eyes turning from a shocked and sorrowful blue to the cat-like Huntress eyes.
I played it close to the hilt. I hated lying to her, but what could I do? I had to try to talk some reason into her. She was talking about revenge – exacting vengeance for Selina’s death. My greatest fear was about to become a reality. I had to do something to persuade Helena that killing Clayface would not make the pain of Selina’s death go away. But I can’t kid myself – it wasn’t only fear that guided my actions in that moment. There was also a certain amount of anger and jealousy there as well. Anger at the fact that after all I had taught her, after all we had been through, Helena was still just as apt to exact the ultimate revenge as she was when I first took her in. The jealousy – that took me by surprise. I never expected to be jealous of Selina – of the hold she had on Helena still. Thinking back on that, I could kick myself. Could I honestly have believed that I had replaced Selina as Helena’s mother? The idea was preposterous, yet I realize now that was exactly what I had thought.
And it was with a mix of those emotions that I attempted to talk Helena out of doing anything rash. As she confronted me in my betrayal, I committed the worst mistake I ever could. I spoke clinically, analytically – reasoning how it made no sense to tell Helena about the Clayface rumors (I still couldn’t exactly own up to knowing the truth) now that Clayface was locked up in Arkham. In short, I sounded cold and unfeeling, even to my own ears. And it didn’t surprise me one bit when Helena stormed out of the Clocktower.
And now I sit here praying she’s safe, hoping against hope that she’ll contact me before doing anything rash. I’ve already triangulated her signal. I know where Helena is. But it’s her voice I desperately need to hear. I would try to contact her, but Im afraid that if I try, she may turn off the comms and I won’t be able to track her then.
Oh, why hadn’t I told her the true reason behind my decision?! I had only been trying to protect her from him, from herself. But she’s never going to understand that now. All she’s ever going to see is how she had allowed herself to trust me only to discover that I would betray her like everyone else.
Helena, talk to me please!