Title: Happy Endings? Catwoman Returns.
Author: cheerful minion
Category: angst, I�d say
Rating: R for language
Pairing: none
Summary: The title says it all.
Archive: Dear God, no. It�s not worth it.
Disclaimers: I don�t own them. Other people do. Any questions?
Notes: I�ve been playing around with this idea for a while, but recent conversations have given me the inspiration I needed to write it. It�s really rough since I haven�t edited it. This is my idea of what would happen if Selina Kyle were to show up New Gotham tomorrow. No offense is intended to anyone � this is all just my own take on things. But, if you feel the need to flame me for this, go right ahead � I believe in your right of free speech.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

If life were a fairy tale, the story would have gone something like this.

Once upon a time, there was a bright and beautiful princess named Helena Kyle. She lived with her beloved mother in a mansion and didn�t have a care in the world. But evil sometimes comes to those who are good and innocent, and Helena�s mother was killed before her very eyes. That moment forever changed the beautiful princess. She became dark and angry, where before she had been sweetness and light. She lashed out at the world around her, heartbroken that her world had been destroyed when her mother died.

But slowly and surely, one loyal friend won young Helena�s trust. She stood beside the distraught teenager in bad times and in good. And the princess learned about the ways of justice, the ways in which good can overcome evil. And she too decided to fight evil, the way her friend and mentor did. At first, she simply wanted revenge for her own mother�s murder. But as she grew and learned, her quest became about more than revenge. It became a quest for justice and she fought to protect other innocents from the suffering she knew so well.

And then, seven years after her world had changed forever, Helena got word that her mother was still alive. That her mother had faked her own death to protect her daughter from those who wished her harm. That her mother had also decided to fight for justice, returning back to her home once those who had wished to harm her were finally locked behind bars forever. Mother and daughter reunited, joyous at the chance to see each other again. They shared stories about their adventures and soon were best friends once more. They teamed up with Helena�s mentor and friend to continue their fight against evil � and being smart, careful, strong, and brave, they survived all the things that happened to them and lived happily ever after, together again.

The only problem is that life isn�t � and never has been � a fairy tale.

I was there the day Helena got the phone call that caused her entire world to drop out from underneath her. She was with me at the Clocktower, flipping through channels on the television while I scrolled through the Delphi databases. It was just the two of us that day, as Dinah and Gabby were out for an evening of movies and pizza.

I wasn�t really paying attention when she picked up the ringing phone and said, "Yeah, that�s me." While it�s not exactly normal for her to get calls there, since she has her own apartment, it wasn�t entirely unusual either. My mind was mostly on the cross-referencing I was doing to try and pin down the identity of a bank robber who�d been caught on video. I still don�t know what exactly made me look up from what I was doing. Maybe it was that after identifying herself, Helena hadn�t spoken another word. Or maybe the force of her emotions managed to somehow get through to me, though I usually don�t notice things like that.

All I know for sure was that when I looked over to her, she was white as a ghost and she had this look on her face that I still can�t quite find an adequate word for. The closest I can come is to say that she was in anguish � soul wrenching, stomach churning anguish. I�d never seen a look like that on her face. I hope I never do again.

I felt my heart leap into my throat and then she slammed the phone receiver down, shattering the hard plastic of both receiver and cradle. Before I could even process what had happened, she was running for the training room and I could hear her breath coming in harsh gasps. I couldn�t move for probably 30 seconds, just staring in disbelief at the mangled phone, the wires now exposed and the hard plastic shards sticking out at odd angles.

I know that what broke my momentary paralysis (no pun intended, of course) was seeing blood on those sharp shards. Yes, Helena heals faster than a normal human, but I also knew better than anyone that she needed to care for her wounds to help the process along.

Instinctively, I wheeled towards the training room, more scared than I�d been in a long time. That, in and of itself, was worrisome to me. I�d seen Helena in some truly awful moods � had seen her when she nearly killed a man just to try and exorcise her own demons. None of that had scared me the way this did.

I steeled myself when I opened the door. Dealing with her when she was in that sort of dark place was not something to take lightly. I still have a scar from one time when she lashed out at me. But she needed me, I knew she did, and I�d gladly have endured getting another scar if it was the only way to get close to her.

I almost couldn�t believe my eyes when I saw her sitting on the floor, sobbing as though her heart was breaking. It hadn�t been more than two minutes since she�d run into the training room, but in that brief window of time, she�d managed to completely pulverize our strongest, heaviest punching bag. It lay on the floor in pieces, Helena sitting in the middle of it.

I moved as close as I could to where she was, and then set the chair�s brake and maneuvered myself out of the wheelchair and onto the floor. It�s not something I do often, but I knew she needed my arms around her � needed me to be on her level. I don�t usually read emotions all that well, but I thank whatever Gods there are in this universe that I knew what to do for her then.

I half expected her to throw me across the room as soon as I touched her, even though I was moving slowly and cautiously, the way I�d approach a wounded animal. It scared me when not only did she not lash out at me, she didn�t even growl or hiss or make any of her normal get-the-fuck-away-from-me noises. She simply turned and threw herself into my arms, letting me hold her tightly while she sobbed and sobbed.

By the time she was through, her eyes were nearly swollen shut and she was trembling. And then she told me that the call was from her mother. Her mother was alive.

When she was a teenager, in those first terrible months after her mother�s murder, she�d often fantasized about that very thing. She�d lie in bed with me, spinning tales where she imagined her mother hadn�t really died � that she�d gone into hiding. At first, I was worried about her tendency to imagine that scenario, thinking that perhaps she was losing her sanity. But one very expensive psychologist later, I learned that it was a coping technique, a way of gradually easing around to accepting the loss when the mind was ready to handle the information.

I didn�t quite believe that at first. But I watched as Helena let go of that fantasy, as she accepted the reality that her mother wasn�t coming back.

And now, the stuff of her fantasies was apparently the truth. Selina had faked her own death and gone into hiding to protect her daughter from the people who were after her. I listened as Helena told me she thought it was some kind of sick hoax, until the woman on the phone started saying things that no one in the world could have known except her mother. And then she told me that her mother wanted to meet her and become a part of her life once again.

When I heard those words, I expected to see any number of emotions on Helena�s face. The only one I saw was one I hadn�t expected. Revulsion.

Figuring she was too tired and overwrought to deal with anything else right then, I got her up and into bed. I put the Delphi on emergency standby, bandaged Helena�s hand from where she�d smashed the phone, and then slid into bed with her and held her until she finally fell asleep.

The next day, she didn�t want to talk about it.

Truthfully, I wasn�t sure what to think about it all myself. So I let it go, figuring Helena and I would talk about it when she�d had time to really get her head around the news.

Two months later, I finally had to bring it up. I didn�t want to, but she�d been getting reckless on sweeps and had called in sick to work so many times that she�d gotten fired. And while I wasn�t exactly sorry she�d stopped tending bar, I also knew that her behavior was not stemming from choices she�d made consciously, but issues she was avoiding.

I had the speech all prepared � all the words rehearsed. I planned to tell her that she needed to talk to her mother, to at least see her and touch her and hear the full story of why she�d disappeared. But then Helena dropped a bomb on me.

Seems she�d already been to see her mother. Once a week for the last seven weeks. I couldn�t help but be stunned; because I had thought her behavior was a sign of avoidance. Clearly I�d been misreading her, because she wasn�t avoiding the issue, not at all. What she was doing was trying to work through her anger.

We must have talked for four hours. Or rather, she talked and I listened. And I found out that Helena Kyle was not happy to have her mother suddenly reappear and want to be a part of her life. She felt like her mother had betrayed her, not just for faking her own death, but for not sending her some kind of sign to let her know things would be ok.

I could understand that. I would have felt the same way in her shoes. She told me that she�d been trying very hard to reconcile with her mother, but that she couldn�t get past her feelings about being betrayed. She wanted to love her mother again, but she could barely stand to be near her, knowing what she did now about the woman�s character. There�s nothing noble about causing a person such aching, deep suffering for no reason. Selina could claim until the cows came home that she�d done what she did to protect Helena. The fact of the matter was that she could have found another way to do so. She did what she did partly to protect her child, but partly to regain her own freedom. Had she really been focused solely on Helena�s welfare, she never would have hurt Helena by making her mourn her mother�s death, especially when it was a lie.

There was a lull in the conversation � and I knew I didn�t know what to say. They never covered situations like this in the Superhero Training Manual. To this day, I still don�t know where the words came from, but I remember asking her what she wanted in all this. I told her not to think about what her mother wanted, but about what she wanted. She paused for several minutes, and I could tell that this was really what had been eating away at her, the indecision about what she should do.

"I want her to go back to her life and let me go back to mine. The day she decided that letting me go through hell was a price she could pay for freedom was the day she killed off the mother I adored. Her body is still alive, but her heart and soul aren�t the same as they were before."

I just looked at her for the longest time. Everything she�d said was true. So I told her that she shouldn�t feel obligated to spend time with her mother. I told her that the person she�d become since her mother left her life was a person she should be proud of. And I told her that it was Selina�s loss, not hers, that things had turned out the way they did. Her mother had made her choice, now she had to accept the consequences of that choice.

The look of relief on her face was priceless.

In some ways, I wish I could have been there when Helena told her mother to leave and not come back. In other ways, I�m glad I wasn�t. Helena was so pale and withdrawn when she came back from the meeting, that I thought she�d changed her mind or that she�d started blaming herself for a situation she�d done nothing to create.

Then she told me that her mother hadn�t seemed all that broken up about the ultimatum. That in fact, her mother had only planned to be in New Gotham for a few months. She had some job lined up in Europe and had just come back because she was a bit at loose ends after her last assignment ended.

Which left us both with the same questions. Why come back at all? Why disrupt her daughter�s life yet again, when she wasn�t going to be around to pick up the pieces? Why not just stay in hiding and leave well enough alone?

To this day, we still don�t have any answers.

I never thought I�d see the day when Helena Kyle hated the mother she�d idolized and adored.

Then again, I guess it just proves that fairy tale endings are only in stories.

The end

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