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. Seems like every show has a take-off on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Thought it might be nice to see A Christmas Carol BOP Style. Enjoy!
Huntress groaned at the loudness of the voice that called to her. “Dammit, Barbara! Pipe it down, huh?!” Gingerly, she touched the spot where head met concrete and winced in pain.
Huntress covered her ears against the harsh noise. Suddenly, realization dawned on her. It couldn’t be Barbara calling to her – she had turned off her comms. As quickly as she could manage, Helena scrambled from her garbage-laden bed to face the person behind the tormenting voice. But, as she exited the dumpster, struggling to maintain her footing, she realized that the alley was empty.
The voice boomed from behind her. Huntress spun around and promptly fell to one knee, dizzy from the concussion she had given herself tumbling from the roof. Piercing light flooded the alley and Huntress had to shade her eyes from its sting. The light diminished slightly and Huntress was able to make out a single figure, bathed in white light, walking toward her. She crouched as if to spring, but when the figure spoke again, she realized that she knew the voice.
An elderly man approached Huntress, a sad look on his face as Huntress stared incredulously. Huntress’ eyes began to soften and turned back to their vulnerable blue as she gazed upon the man she had loved from infancy to adult. Guy stood somewhat stooped before her, shaking his head. He reached out a hand. Hesitatingly, Helena took it, then hurriedly pulled it back as the icy coldness of it chilled her to the bone.
“How?” It was all she could manage to say.
“So sad,” was Guy’s reply. Guy reached out again and grasped Helena by the shoulders, eliciting a shock-filled gasp as he raised Helena to a standing position. “I’m here to help you.”
Dumbfounded, Helena barely stammered, “To help me?“
Guy nodded. “I’m here to help you remember.” He grasped her hand and pulled her down the alley. Every step brought waves of nausea as Helena struggled against the grip.
“Where are you taking me?” she yelled, then winced at the effort of raising her voice. She stumbled, falling again to her knees. This time, a much younger Guy knelt beside her.
“Here,” he cried in the youthful voice she remembered so well. “Look,” he said, pointing off into the distance.
Helena’s gaze followed his direction and she found herself looking through an apartment window. Glancing around her, she found she was no longer in the alley beside the New Gotham Luxury Hotel, but on the ledge of a building, gazing into the living room window of an apartment. A young child ran into the room, laughing. The sound of the child’s mirth-filled chuckle filled the air as she sprang into a pile of presents stacked neatly beneath a Christmas tree, nestled in a corner of the room. A woman’s voice called out from another room, just beyond Helena’s line of sight. The woman entered the room and Helena sucked in a shocked breath. The vision standing before her was an impossibility.
“M-M-Mom?” she stammered. “No! This isn’t real – it’s a dream!” She reached out and touched the window pane and withdrew her hand in shock as she connected with the cool glass. She spun to face Guy.
“You know where you are,” said a teenage Guy. “You remember what it used to be like?“
He returned his gaze to the window. Following his gaze, Helena was surprised to see a teenager, flowing black hair tied in a ribbon, dressed in a robe and seated beside a strikingly beautiful blonde. As Helena watched, the blonde tipped back her head and laughed heartily at something the young girl said. The youth handed the blonde a box, neatly wrapped in festive paper and swathed in red and green ribbon. The blonde carefully lifted the lid of the box. Suddenly, the woman pulled the teenager into a tight embrace. A single tear rolled down Helena’s cheek as she remembered the gift that she had scraped and saved every penny to give her mother that year. She turned away from the window.
An elderly hand was placed upon her shoulder and she gazed up into the sympathetic features of a much older Guy once more. “You used to love Christmas. You used to be so happy this time of year. Used to look forward to it with eager expectation.”
Helena swiped at the lone tear with annoyance. “That was before…before…It was her favorite – Christmas. Mom used to prepare for it months in advance. She just loved to open presents…loved surprises. I loved to watch her – the Christmas spirit in her was infectious. I couldn’t help but be enveloped in it. She glowed with it. But now…Christmas just…“
Tears fell rapidly now as Helena remembered all of the Christmases she had spent with Selina in her youth. She clenched her fists in anger at having been robbed of her mother at such a young age.
“I HATE IT!” she raged, spinning on Guy and fixing him with a harsh glare. “I HATE EVERYTHING IT STANDS FOR! GO AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE! STOP SHOWING ME THIS! I DON’T WANT TO SEE ANY MORE!“
* * *
Helena woke to find herself curled in a ball inside the dumpster. She sprang to a seated position, only to fall backward once more with the pain the sudden movement induced. She touched a shaky hand to her forehead. She was about to chalk up her strange encounter with the apparition of Guy to a concussion. That is, until the alleyway filled with light, and a young man sprang into the dumpster beside her.
“Get up, Helena! Times-a-wasting!” The young man yanked Helena to her feet.
Helena couldn’t believe her eyes. Standing before her was Frosty, the one time bartender of No Man’s Land. Helena shook her head in disbelief. Frosty had been dead for months now.
“C’mon, we gotta go!” Frosty grabbed Helena’s hand. In his excitement, he lost control of his meta-human powers. Ice formed where his hand met Helena’s. She closed her eyes to the pain. When she opened her eyes, she found herself in the clocktower.
“Do you think Helena will stay out all night?” Dinah asked Barbara as the two stared at the banks of computer monitors.
Barbara sighed and leaned her head in her hands. “I hope not, Dinah,” was the muffled response. She lifted her head. “The snow is really starting to pick up. This is not exactly the sort of weather to be conducting sweeps…especially when part of that entails soaring from one snow-laden, slippery rooftop to another.”
Helena felt a pang of guilt at the look of sincere worry she noted on Barbara’s face. She walked toward her and knelt beside her wheelchair.
“I’m back. Don’t worry. I got banged up some, but I’m okay. No harm, no foul. I’ll stay in now.” Helena reached for Barbara’s hand.
Barbara suddenly shifted her wheelchair to face the balcony and steered toward it. Dinah followed closely behind. She lay a sympathetic hand on Barbara’s tense shoulder.
“I’m sure she’s okay. You know Helena. She’s just pissed and blowing off some steam. As soon as she’s kicked some ass, she’ll come back to bite our heads off some more.” Dinah tried to lighten the mood, but her attempt failed as Barbara sadly scanned the city below.
“Hey! Yo! I’m right here! I’m back! See!” Helena positioned herself directly in front of Barbara and Dinah, but both seemed to stare at a point just past her.
“They can’t see you,” Frosty said.
“Barbara!” Helena reached out for her mentor, but once again, Barbara eluded her grasp, returning to the warmth inside the clocktower. “What the hell?!“
She hastened after Barbara, but Frosty blocked her path.
“Outta my way!” she hissed, menacingly.
“They can’t see or hear you,” Frosty explained. “Look, I’m here to help…”
“Where have I heard that before,” Helena drawled, sarcastically.
“Listen! You need to see this! This is what Christmas is like right now. This is what you’re missing out on!” Frosty’s voice was deep, resonant and commanding. Helena stared at him in wonder at this new side her old friend was revealing.
“Look!” Helena turned to look into the clocktower from her position on the balcony.
Dinah, in an effort to cheer Barbara up, had brought out the Christmas present she had bought that evening. “I…I hope you like it. I…I wanted to get you more, but…well…open it!”
Barbara carefully removed the lid from the box Dinah had handed her and peeled away layer after layer of tissue paper. What she revealed caused Barbara to beam with happiness. Barbara gently lifted her gift out of the box and held it up to the light. Dangling from a silver bracelet was a silver charm in the shape of a bat.
“I know it isn’t much, but…“
Barbara pulled Dinah into a tight embrace, effectively cutting off the teenager’s apology. “Dinah!” She pushed Dinah back and looked her square in the eye as she gushed, “I love it! Thank you!”
Dinah’s smile lit up the room. Barbara steered away from the teenager and toward the Christmas tree. Reaching down, she deftly plucked a present from the stack and steered back toward Dinah.
“Here. You get to open one, too!”
Dinah tore at the wrapping paper and squealed with delight as she held up a leather outfit identical to one in Helena’s closet.
“Now you don’t have to brave Helena’s wrath by rummaging through her things,” Barbara laughed. Helena laughed as well, as Dinah jumped up and down and rushed to give Barbara a bear-hug.
“I’m gonna go try this on,” Dinah yelled, running off toward her room.
As soon as Dinah was out of the room, Barbara’s smile faded. She gazed once more toward the balcony, watching the snow fall, worry once again wrinkling her brow.
Helena spun around to face Frosty, prepared to throttle him within an inch of his afterlife if he didn’t allow her to let Barbara know she was alright.
* * *
Frosty was gone. Helena was in the alley once more, but she was most certainly not alone. Standing before her was a menacing figure shrouded in black. Helena struggled to make out the features beneath the black cowl, but could see nothing but darkness under the hood.
Though every ounce of her screamed that she should flee this menacing creature, she stayed put. In as surly an attitude as she could muster, she drawled, “And what the hell do YOU want?!”
The mysterious figure uttered not a sound, but gestured behind her with a hand so spindly it resembled decayed bone. Helena slowly turned, certain she was not going to like what she saw. Suddenly, she found herself staring directly into the face of a man she had hated all of her adult life. It was the face of the man she blamed for her mother’s death. Bruce Wayne stood before her, but he stared through her, speaking to someone across the room.
“You did all you could, Alfred. Their fates were sealed the moment Joker was set free. Nothing could have been done.”
Helena could hear the grief in Alfred’s shaking voice as he refuted her father’s words. Bruce Wayne placed an arm around Alfred and steered him from the room. A figure appeared in the shadows, dark and foreboding. Moving slowly, deliberately, the figure passed out into the night. Helena followed at a distance. On they walked until they came upon a piece of Wayne property that Helena had never before visited. It was a small cemetery.
A feeling of dread filled Helena as she continued to follow the mysterious stranger. Finally, the dark figure ended its journey. From where Helena watched, the figure now seemed less foreboding. Its posture had changed from a menacing being to that of a defeated one. Bowed and broken, the figure fell to its knees before two newly dug graves. Helena could hear cries so wretched in nature that they caused her to shiver. The figure reached out a hand to touch the headstone of one of the graves. Then, abruptly, it leapt up and fled into the darkness of the cold night, barley leaving a trace of its presence behind in the new-fallen snow.
Curiosity urged Helena forward, but fear held her back. She jumped as the cowled menace lay its cold, spindly, bone-like hand on her shoulder and propelled her forward. Fear gripped her tightly and she shivered in its embrace. She tried to halt her footsteps, but the cowled figure pushed her onward until she stood before the same graves as the mysterious stranger had knelt before moments ago. The cowled figure shoved Helena to her knees before the graves. Helena bowed her head, refusing to look at the headstones. A spindly hand yanked her head back by the hair, revealing the horrific etchings on the nearest headstone: Dinah Lance 1986 – 2013 May she rest in peace.
Helena shrank back in horror, instinctively knowing that the second headstone bore Barbara’s name. Realization hit her like a tidal wave. The stricken figure she had followed out here was her own. Dinah’s and Barbara’s deaths were on her head. Somehow she had caused this!
In the distance, she heard a maniacal cackle that chilled her to the bone. She sprang to her feet and ran toward it as fast as her legs could carry her. Suddenly, Helena found herself standing before a recently dug ditch. Two blurred figures dragged a broken body toward it and roughly shoved it inside.
“Tssk, tssk, tssk, what a shame,” a female voice uttered from the shadows. “Poor girl. Never needed anyone. Never wanted anyone to get too close. Hating the world. Look what it got you, sweetheart! You lived alone….and you died alone. Such a sad ending to such a sad life.” The woman stepped out of the shadows and Helena clenched her fists as Harley Quinn stopped beside the impromptu grave. “Poor, sad Helena Kyle,” she said as she dropped a black rose into the grave and turned to walk away.
Helena’s eyes went wide with shock. “NO!” She lunged at Harley, but instead found herself falling…falling into the ditch custom-dug for her, a single black rose falling beside her.
* * *
“NO!!” Helena shot up from the mound of garbage in the dumpster. Snow fell away from her body as she took in her surroundings. She was back in the alley…back in the dumpster…but the sky was no longer tinged with the darkness of night. The sun was just rising over the horizon. She felt the back of her head and found a large bump crusted with dried blood.
“A dream…it was all a dream.” But something in Helena told her it was more than just a dream…much more. Ignoring the pain from her aching limbs, Helena sprang from the dumpster. She ran out into the street and nearly collided with Detective Jesse Reese.
“Oh my God! Reese! Oh God!”
“Helena?” Concern clouded Jesse’s features as he took in Helena’s condition. “Are you okay?”
“No time for questions! I need your help! I have to get them gifts! I never bought them any gifts! What a royal jackass I’ve been. Reese, you have to help me!…“
Reese barely had time to express his confusion before Helena was dragging him through the snow-covered streets, rattling on about the gifts she needed and how they were going to get them to the clocktower.
* * *
Barbara jumped at the sound of the elevator doors opening. She had fallen asleep at the computer station, willing Helena to turn on her comms. Turning to face the elevator, Barbara’s jaw dropped in shock. Standing before her, dressed in a Miss Claus outfit was Helena Kyle, a red bag slung over her shoulder. Beside her was a bewildered Jesse Reese, struggling to balance a load of gifts stacked in his arms.
“HO HO HO!!! Merry Christmas, Barbara!” Helena exclaimed.
Dinah stumbled out of her room, rubbing her eyes. “What the hell?”
Helena dropped her bag and rushed to the teen, grabbing her by the shoulders and spinning her around. “It’s Christmas, kiddo! Aren’t you excited?!!”
Dinah gaped at Helena as she ran toward her mentor and encircled her in her arms. Helena planted a huge kiss on Barbara’s cheek, then turned toward Jesse.
“C’mon, elf! Give out the gifts already!”
Barbara, once she got over the initial shock, reached out to snare Helena’s arm. “Helena?“
Helena knelt beside Barbara, a look of sincerity in her eyes. “I’m sorry, Barbara. I’m sorry I’ve been such a bitch toward you two. Christmas used to mean so much to me and…somehow…I lost that…that meaning…It was taken away from me….But it’s back now, and nothing is ever gonna drive it away again. Christmas is a time that should be spent with your family. It’s a time when you realize just how lucky you are to have loving and caring people in your life. And it’s a time when you let those people know just how much you appreciate them and all they do…how much you love them. How could I have forgotten?”
Barbara pulled Helena into her arms, and Dinah rushed over to join the embrace. Alfred joined the group with a tray of hot chocolate and Christmas cookies, as Jesse doled out the presents they had left I.O.U.’s for in the local department store (dropping the Wayne name here and there did have it’s advantages).
The group laughed and talked and sang Christmas carols as they opened gifts. Finally, exhausted, they all lay in heaps upon various pieces of furniture, awaiting the Christmas dinner Alfred was preparing. Helena glanced over toward the balcony. A shimmering vision of a strikingly beautiful blonde woman smiled at Helena from behind the glass doors. Helena smiled back, silently mouthing the words “I love you. Mom” before the apparition disappeared. Jesse touched Helena’s shoulder and she turned to snuggle in his embrace, at peace with herself and the world. Christmas had finally arrived for Helena Kyle and she planned on keeping that feeling alive for as long as meta-humanly possible.