And this is it. The finale. The final chapter of the final story of the trilogy. hums the dun Dun DUN!
I'm a bit sad. This is one of my favorite projects. I had the more fun with this than I did on many of my other projects. It was a real experience for me. I hope everyone enjoyed this as much as I did. I'll be writing a short retrospective at the bottom, explaining some of the themes and gags I had going to you. Some of you will recognize them and already know WHY I did them, and some of you are prolly a little oblivious to the nuances, but won't be after this.
Anyways, special thanks to Kerianne and all the other JLU authors who write such great stories and took the time to read this. Y'all are great.
She shut the front door behind her and dropped the small sequined purse on the side table. In the shadows ahead of her, Nathaniel removed his overcoat and dropped it over the armchair, before sprawling himself in the chair itself. She ignored how hooded and guarded his eyes were after tonight's party. Helena placed the small rose on the table beside her purse and wearily walked to the sofa opposite him, slowly sitting herself on the edge. As she leaned back, legs crossed underneath the long skirt, her arms spread out on the back of the sofa, she studied him as he studied her.
Finally, he leaned forward and placed his elbows on his knees, staring at her with an emotion in his eyes Helena didn't recognize. "If I asked you not to go, would you?"
...I'll try to remember you as you were tonight...
"Would you really ask me that?"
Nathaniel nodded. "I would. Would it do any good? If I asked?"
Helena finally recognized that emotion that lurked in the deep irises in his eyes; resignation, a hint of desperation, and mostly love. It hurt her to see them there, knowing what she was going to do. "Would you bargain for me, Nate?"
Helena smiled bitterly. "Would you beg?"
She nodded. "He did, you know. He begged."
"I thought you wouldn't ask."
"I didn't ask. I'm saying. Don't go."
"It's not as easy as that."
Nathaniel hung his head. "It's as easy as just that."
...so strong and beautiful, and defiant through it all...
Helena stood and crossed to him, kneeling and looking into his eyes. "Not for me. I've tried, Nate. I've tried so hard." She could feel tears burning at the corners of her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. She was stronger than that. "I didn't want it anymore. That life. I wanted to change. For you. But I'm standing here and looking around and the only one changing is you."
He shook his head. "I'm not changing."
She smiled. "You are. For me. I thought that you would make me better, but I'm making you worse. My demons are my own, and I don't want to share them like you want to. I'm a vigilante, you're a hero. I tried to be a hero once, hell, twice! It doesn't work for me."
"And him? How does he fit into this?"
Helena stood and moved to the window, where teenagers had broken the streetlights, making everything dark. "He's mine."
"No. You're your own. You were never mine."
"Because I wouldn't beg?"
"Because the thought didn't even cross your mind."
...I think I'll always love you in that memory of us dancing...
Nathaniel stood and crossed to her, wrapping large hands around her arms, forcibly turning her to look at him. "Tell me the real reason. Tell me why. I want to understand. We could be so good together. We could work."
Helena smiled and patted his cheek. "We could. We'd work because one or both of us would compromise, would bend to the other. I love him, and I don't bend, and neither does he. He is who he is."
Nathaniel grit his teeth. "Stop speaking in riddles. Tell me!"
Helena glared at him. "Because I choose to. Because it's what I want. I'm tired of pretending to be someone I'm not." She pushed him back, causing him to stumble. "I like violence. I like hurting criminals. I like meting out my justice with my fists. I think the best way to solve a bad situation is violence. You don't. You don't understand that. You don't understand me."
"I can try."
Helena laughed, and it hurt him to hear it. "I don't want you to."
...in my arms tonight you were the woman I wanted you to be...
Nathaniel stared at her with new eyes, finally realizing that she truly wasn't the sarcastic but nice little schoolteacher he met those months ago. All this time, he'd thought that Huntress was a role, and Helena was always underneath, being true. Nathaniel stared at her, shadowed even by the window, and realized for the first time that Helena was the role, and that Huntress always lurked underneath, tainting all her actions and thoughts. She wasn't who he wanted her to be, and she was refusing to even try.
Picking up his overcoat, Nathaniel left her apartment. He didn't look back.
...the woman I thought I would love...
His apartment building looked the same it had last time she'd been here. Dilapidated in a charming way. There was an air of desperation and depression in this part of Hub City, one that coated everything, from the trees to the buildings to the people. Helena didn't truly like it here, but she had to come.
Even from outside his door, she knew he wasn't home. There was emptiness to the hallway, as if there were no eyes watching. Helena stretched up, reaching for the small light bulb above his doorway, one that hadn't lit up for many years. She slowly unscrewed the bulb, and dashed it against the wall. Inside laid a small metal key. She picked it up and let herself into his apartment.
Shutting the door behind her, she moved across the living room, by memory. A small flick of her fingers on the wall switch had the overhead light coming on. It looked exactly as she remembered.
A pile of old newspapers in the corner, and a wall of files. Not laying about, but meticulously organized onto bookshelves. Somewhere underneath the many crumbled up papers was a Persian Rug worth several thousand dollars. Helena stooped down and picked up one of the crumbled up papers. She pulled it open, and smiled. Dearest Helena, all scratched out. Apparently, he tried hard on those letters.
She stood again, and worked her way to the kitchen, where the vague smell of oleanders wafted from.
...I realize now that I was in love with an idea...
The kitchen was almost spotless compared to the living room. He'd never been able to stand messes in here, where he ate. The flower smell was coming from the fresh oleanders he bought at the corner florist every morning when he came back from his run. One morning, not long after their first "date", he'd done indecent things to her with one of those oleanders. Fond memories.
Helena opened the fridge and removed one of the beers nestled in his door. She popped it open, and sidled around the kitchen island, thoughtlessly strumming her fingers on the white tile counter. She sat down on one of the chairs at his table, and kicked her feet onto the table.
Was she really making the right decision? Coming here? Abandoning all progress she'd made? What about Nathaniel? She'd hurt him, she knew, and she couldn't really find it in her to truly care beyond a vague guilty feeling. Of course, this really just proved once and for all that she wasn't a good person, and would most likely never truly be one.
Finishing the beer, she set it on the table, knowing that leaving it there would drive him crazy. It was almost three a.m. by her reckoning, and she cracked her back as she stood. She was so tired, her body screaming for sleep, her mind craving dreams as a way to escape this oh so stressful situation.
...that wasn't fair to you...
Helena smiled and made her way to his bedroom, the last place she had to search looking for him, though she knew that if he had been here, he'd have confronted her by now.
His bedroom was perhaps the most chaotic place of his apartment, being the only place where he didn't really work. There were clothes on the floor, on the chairs, and on the ceiling fan. His bed was a mass of rumpled burgundy, and his closet door was broken, and had been for as long as she could remember.
Helena idly started to bend over and pick up the dirty clothes, throwing them in the direction of where a laundry basket most likely was. She didn't pay much attention, and before she knew it, she'd cleaned up all the dirty clothes from his room. There was a five foot high pile of them in the corner.
She stood, her back aching from being bent over so much, and sat down heavily onto the side of the bed. It was almost pitch black in his room, but she didn't mind. Her head was aching so much she doubted she could handle the light.
His sheets smelled of him, a mixture of his own unique scent and, ironically, Obsession for Men. Helena laid back and reveled in that scent, something she'd dreamed of for weeks. His bed was so soft that before she knew it, she'd curled up in those darks sheets in that dark room, and fell asleep.
...I recognize everything I've done wrong, and I don't blame you anymore...
Hours later, almost dawn, and the sound of the front door opening had her eyes opening. She was so groggy that that was about all she could do. It took her a few minutes to even become aware of where she was, and by the time she did, he was in the doorway. She turned over, gazing into the shadows where he stood, and said nothing.
He reached up and removed the mask he'd worn twenty-four hours a day since she'd left, as if by not having his own face to look into, he wouldn't have to face his own failure. Victor Sage, the Question, removed that mask and tossed it aside. He removed the blazer he wore and moved to the side of the bed where she lay half-asleep.
With trembling hands, he touched her cheek. She smiled. "Where ya been?"
She nodded, turned her face into his hand, her eyes already falling back into sleep. Vic watched as she drifted off, then crawled in beside her, relishing the feel of her back in his bed and his life. He didn't need explanations, he was the Question. He didn't want explanations, because she was his Huntress. Between the two of them, words were un-needed.
Finally, he smiled and slept again, and for the first time in weeks, nay, months, he dreamed.
Helena smiled in her sleep, for he'd forgotten to take off his fedora and the feather tickled her nose.
...I think part of me will always love you, but I'm happy knowing that you're happy.
Wow, this is one good trilogy, if I do say so myself, and I do.
Now, some of you may wonder why for the triangle I chose to do Question/Huntress/Captain Atom. Well, it's easily explained. Captain Atom is smexy. And Southern. Both very important factors with me. Yes. That's the reason. It was mostly an attraction on my part to him that made me choose him. I could also see how Helena would be attracted to him. So straight-laced and polite. She'd want to rattle him and shake him up. She'd delight in the destruction she'd wrought in his psyche.
Why Huntress? Because I love her. She'd one of the most flawed but fun to play with characters. She's not a hero, and I hope she never becomes one. She's unapologetically a vigilante, letting her emotions rule her. I wanted to see what would happen if her "never forgive, never forget" mentality strayed over into her love life. She's not a forgiving woman, even if the morality behind the actions were good. I put her in a situation where she would have to doubt herself and those around her, and I wanted to make her react how she almost certainly would. Finally, I wanted her to learn forgiveness, but never enough to corrupt her character. After all, Huntress cares most for Huntress.
Ah, Question. Sweet Question. I loves him. 'Nuff said.
Now, why a trilogy? Because such a good story can't be told in just one story. We have to stretch it out, make y'all sweat. Mostly, because I really wanted to have a prequel in there, one where Huntress was in Captain Atom's position. See the differences in how they react? Their motives are identical in the prequel and this sequel. They both want love, and they don't care if their loves are already in love. Huntress accepted the truth, and didn't care. Atom chose to ignore it, and hope for the best. In the end, everyone ended up hurt or where they should be.
Why the Shakespearian titles? Because what are comics if not melodramas of both comedic and dramatic suspense? Who better to allude to?
Why the "I" chapters? Honestly, I have no idea. It just happened. I could tell some bullshit story about how Huntress is all about herself and that's the connection to the "I" but it's not. It was random. Completely.
The chapter title here? It's probably the basic definition for everyone's motive in this story. Let's hope some of you figure out what it means.
And that's it. This is the end.
Not of the universe I've created here, but of this story. It's complete. Makes a girl sad.