A Piece of Me
I don't own the Titans.
Sunlight filtered into Miss Woodley's third grade class; the room was further brightened by the children's excitement. Scattered on their desks was a vast amount of art supplies; markers, piles of construction paper, dried flowers, safety scissors, glue sticks and glitter.
"All right class!" Miss Woodley sang, clapping her hands. The students sat up straighter in their seats; eagerly awaiting to dive into whatever messy project they were expected to complete.
"Today we are going to make presents to give our mothers for Mother's Day which is this Sunday. Unleash your creative juices and make whatever you wish! Remember to share and be careful with the scissors. Begin!"
As soon as the final instruction had been spoken; an excited, chaotic scene erupted. Kids began to scramble for their favorite color of construction paper—white being the most coveted as it was the easiest to use and all colors showed up the best. A fight over the scented markers and the left-handed safety scissors ensued. A little brown-haired girl named Brittany cried out, "Miss Woodley! Tommy's eating the glue again!"
A collective gasp of "Ew!" resounded throughout the entire classroom.
"Thomas," Miss Woodley said sternly. "Put down the glue stick."
"But it tastes so good," He said while pouting.
All of the children seemed to be enjoying themselves; eagerly picturing their mothers' happy expressions upon receiving the gifts. Yet one little girl appeared to be quite melancholy. Eight-year-old Lian Harper was slumped in her seat; arms crossed, black bangs hanging over her eyes, a stormy look on her face. Lian flat out refused to participate in this activity. Lian's best friend Chelsie Manning noticed her anger and asked, "Lian, aren't you going to make something for your mommy?"
"No!" Lian cried, slumping farther in her seat.
Seeing one of her star pupils acting moody; Miss Woodley went over to Lian. Kneeling on the ground in front of her desk and in a gentle voice asked, "Lian, why aren't you making anything for your mother?"
"I don't want to!" Came her stubborn reply.
Sighing, Miss Woodley said, "Well, I can't force you to do anything you don't want to do. If you want to Sweetie, you can go over to the Bookworm Corner and read for a while."
Lian nodded and bounded over to an area that had beanbag chairs, bookshelves and a large worm curled over a book; wire-rimmed glasses perched crookedly on his nose. Lian picked up a book of fairytales, flopped onto a baby blue beanbag chair and began to read.
At two-thirty, Roy Harper, Lian's father, casually strolled into Miss Woodley's classroom awaiting his daughter as she packed up her things and slipped on her jacket. A hand touched his shoulder and Roy turned to face Miss Woodley, a question in her brown eyes. "Mr. Harper, I was just wondering," she began. "Is everything all right with you and Mrs. Harper?"
Even though Roy didn't have a wife, he knew that the teacher was talking about Lian's mother. What Miss Woodley didn't know, is that Lian's mother was in fact the infamous terrorist Cheshire, currently residing in prison. Smoothly Roy replied, "Yes, everything is fine between my wife and me, why do you ask?"
"I ask because Lian seemed quite adamant in not participating in making a gift for Mother's Day." Hesitantly, she continued, "I don't mean to pry Mr. Harper but, are you and your wife planning on divorce?"
Roy let out a laugh. "No, our marriage is doing well, Miss Woodley. What I believe to be the problem is the fact that Jade's job is extremely time consuming and is constantly taking her away from home. Jade does call and send postcards along with new toys; but my guess is that Lian feels neglected and doesn't truly have her mother's love." He gave the teacher a charming smile. "Don't worry, Miss Woodley, I'll have a talk with both my girls." Roy turned to where Lian was shoving the book she had signed out for the weekend into her Tinkerbell backpack and called to her, "Come on Honey! Let's go home."
"Daddy!" Lian cried as she launched herself into her father's arms; thrilled by the fact that it was truly her father taking her home and not her baby-sitter Chanda.
Seated comfortably in the backseat of Roy's Mustang; her seatbelt secured across her chest and lap, Lian waited for her father to get in on the driver's side before asking a question. Once the ignition started, Lian opened her mouth.
"Daddy?" He looked at her through the rear-view mirror.
"Are you going to stay home this weekend or am I going to have to watch tomorrow's cartoons with Chanda?"
Roy grinned. "And since when have I ever missed a four hour marathon of Saturday morning cartoons?"
"Never, Daddy." Lian spoke loyally. "But Daddy, lately you've been leaving at night every night these past few weeks and I miss you a lot and I'm scared that…" She trailed off, looking down at her folded hands, slightly ashamed for doubting her father.
Roy remained silent. He knew that his work as Arsenal, leader of the Outsiders and sometimes assistant of the Teen Titans was dangerous work and it terrified his daughter that dying was part of the job of a superhero and God forbid, something should happen to him while her mother was still in jail, she would be all alone.
Roy gripped the steering wheel a bit tighter. But that wasn't going to happen on his watch. He wasn't about to put Lian through what he went through as a child. Roy looked at his little girl via the rear-view mirror once again and gave her a reassuring smile. "Don't worry Lian. I'm staying home for a while. Nightwing has things covered and will call if he needs me."
At this, Lian looked up and smiled. "Okay Daddy. But why can't Uncle Richard just call Grandpa if he needs help?"
Roy nearly lost control of the car at Lian's innocent question. He chuckled. "Probably because Green Arrow will cause more trouble rather than help. And I'm okay if you call Oliver 'Grandpa' in secret, but something tells me he'll go into shock and Dinah won't ever let him live it down."
Lian nodded. "Yes, Daddy." Then, "but what if I call Dinah 'Grandma'? You always say they seem like a married couple."
Roy had never been more grateful for a red light as he had been that moment, allowing himself a few minutes for laughter.
At home, Lian practically bounced over to the couch with her borrowed book in hand. Yet something out of the corner of her eye caused her to stop in her tracks. It was a small silver picture frame; perhaps 5x7, the subject was her mother. Jade had her long black hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her almond shaped eyes were sparkling and a small, yet sweet smile graced her face. Lian ran a small hand over the glass, remembering how she once took her rage at her mother out on the picture frame.
Lian had learned her mother, Cheshire, had bombed an entire country. That was yesterday. In anger and embarrassment, the little girl stormed over to where her mother's picture stood on a small table. Lian picked it up and flung it, screaming, "Bad Mommy!" The picture crashed into the wall and the glass shattered.
"Lian! What are you doing?!" Chanda had cried.
Sinking to the floor and hanging her head in shame, Lian had whispered, "My mommy is Cheshire."
Lian's hand froze as she heard her father come up from behind. "I'm glad I didn't make any holes in the picture."
Roy smiled as he knelt beside his daughter, gently placing a warm hand on her shoulder. "No, Mommy certainly isn't very pretty as Swiss cheese." Lian didn't reply; she just fiddled with a strand of her black hair.
Roy frowned slightly as he lifted his daughter into his lap. "Listen, Lian. We need to talk." Lian looked up at her father with her large liquid black eyes and waited for him to speak. "I hear Miss Woodley gave you kids the chance to make presents for Mother's Day at school today. I also heard that you didn't want to make one for Mommy. Want to tell me why?"
Lian crossed her arms, a scowl working its way onto her face. "I'm still mad at her."
"Is it because she bombed Quarac?"
"Lian," Roy sighed. "That was three months ago."
"But Daddy!" Lian protested. "That doesn't make it right! Many people died because of her!"
Roy mentally rolled his eyes. Leave it to his own eight-year-old daughter to instruct him on the ways of right and wrong. What was that phrase Starfire used so much while stressed? Oh that's right. Dear X'hal…
"Lian, Sweetie; as wrong as Mommy was, that doesn't mean you should stay mad at her forever."
"I won't stay mad at her forever, Daddy. Just until Monday." Lian confirmed this statement with a nod.
"Lian," Roy began sternly, something he rarely did. "Now that's not fair. I understand you're angry, but please don't punish your mother any further by ignoring her on Mother's Day. She's always going to be a part of you, you know."
"You sound like Tarzan." She replied while wrinkling her nose. This caused her father to start singing a horrible rendition of Phil Collins's "You'll be in my heart".
"Agh! Daddy stop!" Lian had her hands pressed tightly over her ears, her eyes screwed shut.
"Okay, okay," Roy complied through laughter. "So, are you going to do something for your mom? You only have two days."
Lian bit her lip. "I don't know what to do."
Roy looked thoughtful. "I think I do." He whispered his plan to her. She giggled and nodded her agreement.
Jade Ngyuen a.k.a the infamous terrorist Cheshire; was sitting in her cell at Strigoi-Moroi Prison, a prestigious jail with the most stringent security system in the nation. Jade was mindlessly staring out the window barely noticing the cardinal as she awaited the guard to take her to the phone and call Lian. Only women were allowed to call home today and Jade was surprised to see how many mothers there were within the prison that had to leave their families behind.
Jade snorted lightly. Hold on a second. Although Roy Harper, or Arsenal, rather, was the father of Lian; Jade only considered her daughter to be her family.
Jade let that statement sink in before rolling her dark eyes and sighing. "All right, All right." She thought. "I suppose in a way, that Roy is my family too. Good Lord Cheshire. Has prison made you go soft, or is it being a mother?"
She continued to stare out the window when the sound of boots headed for her cell made her head snap toward the door. Jade hoped that it was the guard who would take her to the phone so she could call Lian. She frowned slightly that instead she met the masked eyes of Arsenal.
"Not exactly the person I was hoping I would see," Jade began, "But at least you're more personable than the guards."
Arsenal hid a smirk as he said, "Hi Cheshire."
She gave a slight inclination of her head. "Hello, Roy. What brings you to my cell?"
Arsenal handed her a small purple bag. "This is a Mother's day present from Lian. She did all of the work herself."
Jade took the bag and looked at in surprise. She certainly hadn't been expecting this.
Jade glanced up at Arsenal only to find that he had already left. She rolled her eyes. "Only if you're friends with Batman's protégé."
Jade knelt on the floor and opened the purple bag. Inside was a white rectangular box about the size of a box of Kleenex. She carefully removed the lid and found herself staring at a bunch of turned over puzzle pieces. Curious, Jade picked up a puzzle piece and turned it over. On the smooth side was a hand-drawn picture of a snowman.
Her curiosity piqued, Jade dumped out the remaining puzzle pieces and tossed the white box aside. She turned over several more pieces. One had a bunny drawn on it while another had a fairy. There was one with a cloud and one with a small stack of books.
Jade began to put together the puzzle; each piece with a new hand-drawn illustration. But the puzzle pieces didn't have a running theme. Just what was Lian trying to tell her? Then Jade came across a very unusual puzzle piece. Instead of looking like a typical puzzle piece; which was usually similar to a square, this puzzle piece lying in her hand looked more like a triangle. That's when the answer hit her. This puzzle was supposed to be in the shape of a heart!
Jade quickly assembled the rest of the heart. So each picture was supposed to be something that Lian loved. Jade smiled as she gazed at the rest of the heart. She recalled her conversations with Lian over the phone and the many letters that she exchanged as she remembered Lian excitedly telling her about the book about fairies that she just completed and the snowman that she and Roy had just made; the time Lian had gone to the beach with both the Titans and Outsiders and how she had nearly given the new Robin, Tim, a heart-attack when she had disappeared from his watch while truth she just had to use the restroom.
As Jade reminisced, she realized something was wrong with her gift. Two puzzle pieces were missing. She reached for the bag that the box had come in. Upon further investigation, Jade noticed a white envelope standing against the side. She pulled it out. There, scrawled on the front in slightly messy handwriting was the word, "Mommy". Jade turned the envelope around and slit open the flap. The letter slid out and as she unfolded it, another puzzle piece fell out. Looking up at her were Roy's twinkling blue eyes. Smiling, she placed it into the position and read the letter.
Happy Mother's Day!
Before I explain my gift to you, I just want to say I'm sorry for being so angry with you…
Jade smirked wryly at her daughter's letter. She had a feeling Lian wouldn't be too pleased if she learned that her mother had bombed Quarac.
But I still love you.
This puzzle has different pictures that are representations of my heart. (Daddy taught me that word!) The last piece I hid in the envelope. Don't finish reading this until you complete the puzzle!
Jade heeded her daughter's words and shook the envelope vigorously until the final piece fell out. Setting down the envelope, Jade flipped over the puzzle piece and gasped at what she saw. The picture on the puzzle piece was Jade herself. She recognized her long black hair and the dark eyes that stared up at her. There was a serene smile a marker had drawn on her face.
Jade picked up the letter and read Lian's final words.
What I am trying to tell you Mommy is that you will always be a part of me—or today, a piece of me! And that you will always be in my heart, no matter what bad things Cheshire does.
I love you Mommy!
Have a great Mother's Day!
Jade smiled and struggled not to cry as she put her tiny portrait next to Roy's. She failed however, as a single tear slid down her face and splashed onto the snowman giving it a slightly melted appearance.
"Let's go Cheshire," a guard's voice came, ruining Jade's sentimental moment. "It's your turn for the phone. Since it's Mother's Day and you have a child; we're being generous and giving you twenty minutes to talk instead of the usual ten." Jade gave her gift a quick glance before she stood up and walked over to her door.
The guard frowned at her. "Were you crying Cheshire?"
Jade stared evenly at him and replied in a cool voice, "Does it look like I was crying to you?"
The guard merely smirked before turning his back on the criminal and began walking toward the phone. Jade strode behind him with her head held high; her air that she usually possessed when Cheshire about her. When she reached the phones, Jade sat down at one of the consoles, reached for the receiver and quickly tapped in the number for the Harper residence.
"Harper residence, this is Lian speaking." Jade smiled at her daughter's courtesy.
"Hi Lian-sweetie." An excited voice answered her.
"Hi Mommy! Happy Mother's Day!"
Okay, this has been my first time writing for both Cheshire and Lian. I hope I did a satisfactory job. And I don't own Tarzan, the Mustang manufacturer or Kleenex.