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Much More Subtle

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     Helena hates waiting at stoplights. Such things are a) never a problem when she is in costume giving chase to whoever needs chasing late at night; and b) really detract from the brand new Gallardo Spyder she bought to replace the one she gave away (along with two million dollars) in her last escapade with Q (Renee, the Question). She has no doubt that Batman's quaint British butler would mutter something sardonic about her car being “much more subtle” or something. She doesn't care.

     The light turns green at last, and she shoots forward, reveling in the roar of the engine. She lets her hands drive as she remembers the adventure. Every time she sees Renee, she feels an ache for Vic, the original Q. Her guide, her lover, and her savior. Though at the end of their affair he had thought her damned, she sees his influence in her long, uneven road to her present state.

 

     She's not precisely happy – you can't break bones, constantly resist the temptation to take the easy route of killing over non-lethal vigilante methods, or get tortured regularly and qualify as happy. She rubs her temple in memory of the contusion there from Oolong Island's interrogators, and her skin itches in phantom pain from the scorpion stings. Though she also remembers that for all of Renee's facile acceptance of Helena's ability and willingness to pay enourmous sums of money for justice (well, okay, since she basically lives on the interest of three billion dollars in family mob money, it really was chump change, but it was a bit annoying, dishing out upwards of two million, three hundred fifty thousand and getting only glib remarks from the faceless one), Renee was the one who not only got the waterboarding package from Oolong Hospitality, but also took the burning cross of the Mark of Cain in Helena's place. After Helena knocked her out to take it first, too.

 

     Secretly, she's glad she doesn't have to bear such a burden. Despite having killed in the tangled lines of justice and revenge, she still searches for the clean lines of the former, and that eternal mark on her brow would have constantly pulled her towards the latter. Her friends, Dinah especially, remind her that she's not alone, that she no longer has to try to sleep her way into a group to receive acceptance, love, and mutual support. But the darkness is still there.

 

     Shake, shake. She uses the feeling of her hair on her cheeks and the wind blowing it straight back to pull herself away from that place. Joys, small – like the way the midnight metallic blue of her sparkling new Lambo pleases her much more than the last one's simple metallic blue – and large, like giving some of her more troubled and isolated students rides in the car to give them a taste of the care they don't get at home, give her life meaning. A gift from God, just as Dinah, Babs, and even...

 

     “Hey, Hunt-er, Helena! Where we goin' today? Any chance of dishin' out some dark vengeance?”

 

     Even Charlie, irrepresible teleporter, wannabe Huntress, and all-round-perfectly-codenamed-Misfit, is a source of joy. And as she once again reminds the girl to buckle in, and chuckles at the fact that Charlie's problem has never been reaching to the right to buckle, as her other students, used to a normal car do, but rather to buckle up at all (teleporters rarely see the point of cars, though Charlie does put up with Helena's fascination with exotics as part of her hero-worship), Helena remember more than just the pain from the murder of her parents, the shame of her mafia family, the agony of the life she's chosen.

 

     In this simple moment, sitting in an expensive, beautiful car, with an gangly, freckled, knock-kneed teenager who is infinitely more beautiful than the vehicle, filled with life and love, Helena Bertinelli is happy.

 

     Even stoplights can't take that away.