BLACK CATS AND WITCHCRAFT
5 Years Later
The sky is dark and cloud ridden, as it always is in Gotham. The air electric with the metallic taste of ozone and smog. Rain is coming. A storm approaches. The warlock breathes in deeply, taking in the subtle scent of burning leaves on the Autumn breeze. He forces a smile.
This is the time of year he's always loved best. It's a time of black cats and witchcraft. Of candy apples, fanciful costumes, and mischievous deeds. A time where he can walk down the streets of Gotham and not be stared at or mocked. A time where he feels like he belongs.
Klarion and his draaga-cat stand upon a lonely hill, beneath an overgrown weeping willow. The little plot of land particularly set aside for the more deceased members of the Wayne family. What once were two headstones, Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Wayne, quickly swelled to three, then four, now five. Jason Todd. Damian Wayne. Kitrina Falcone. All good soldiers. Sons and daughter. They may not have all shared the same blood or name or manner of death, but there's one thing in which they all share for certain. They were all cut down before their time.
This wayward witch abhors coming here and so hasn't bothered in well over five years. Not since they put that empty pine box in the dirt. Such a silly notion, an empty coffin, but Mr. Wayne firmly believed it to be part of the grieving process. To his knowledge, hers isn't the only empty box either. There's always Jason. But that's a story for another day. As for Helena, the heat of the explosion made sure there was nothing left of her. Nothing but her memory and the heartache she left behind.
He had once asked Bruce why they'd written 'Kitrina Falcone' on her headstone. Why they buried her under that false name. The answer was simple enough. Though in truth she was Helena, legally she remained Kitrina. It's what all the world infamously knew her as. At least on paper. Even a false moniker maintains an ounce of truth. She'd gone to school, rented an apartment, accrued debt... A lot goes into making a life for yourself. Even if it's fake. Even if it was all a lie.
Burying his hands in his pockets, Klarion stands on her grave, staring down at the blasted thing. Angry. Remorseful. Defeated. In pain.
He shouldn't have come here, he tells himself, but he has nowhere else to go. At the end of a bottle he found himself here and now can't find himself able to tear himself away. He wanted so badly to see her. To talk to her. Yet the more he stands there and stares down at that cold slab in the ground, the angrier he gets. At himself. At the world. The universe. Her. HIM. Bruce Wayne. The Batman... HE had given up on her, but Klarion never did.
He'd tried his damnedest to resurrect her. To go back in time. To do anything and everything to bring her back. He hadn't another soul to sell otherwise he surely would. And as for chronomancy, the spot where the Falcone's mansion once stood had become a dead zone, both figuratively and literally. Whatever magic she'd possessed at the time of her passing, what charm she had used to render his powers useless against her still dwells within the soil. It's become a fixed spot. Past, present and future. He's incapable of using his abilities to save her.
Klarion flops down in the tall grass, back to the earth and eyes to the sky. Marveling at the dawn through blurred vision. He closes his eyes and feels the kiss of the cool morning air. Dead leaves roll past. A new day approaches.
Perhaps if he concentrates hard enough, he can feel her spirit here with him, lying beside him as he lies on her grave. The wind howls and he swears he can hear whispering through the trees. Hear the memory of her inside his head. Clear as a bell, it's like it was only yesterday.
"Fine. Then I'm just gonna have to start calling you Blue... Blue, Blue, Blue. Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn..." Her tender voice echoes through his mind. "For the record, this puny little human girl knocked you flat on yer ass with just one punch. Guess I'm not so useless after all..."
Gotham always did remind him of home... It will always remind him of her.
"Live like you're dying. Like tomorrow will never come..."
Something wet rolls down his cheek and he swears it's started raining. Upon opening his eyes, he finds that not to be the case. He's begun crying. Something he hasn't done in a good long time. Not since the day fate took her from him. The day all tears dried up and darkness claimed his heart.
"Y'know what, Blue? I'm glad we became friends... No one hurts my friends..."
He'd been struggling ever since. Did a bit of inter-dimensional travel. Teamed with some very bad people. Done some very bad things. Had a bit of fun along the way. All at the expense of others. Whatever he could do to take his mind away from the gnawing emptiness he feels every waking moment. The emptiness she'd left in her wake.
"Has anyone ever told you you look like Barnabas Collins? ... I like your suit. The red lining really brings out your eyes..."
Klarion had opened his heart to her, had given his soul. He'd cared for her. Loved her like no other.
"Why are you so good to me?"
And now she's gone.
"Cats got nine lives. Hell, so do I..."
She's gone and she isn't coming back.
"I bet you say that to all the girls..."
The warlock rolls over from back to belly. He props himself up on his hands and knees, staring down at the green earth below. Digging his clawed hands into the grass, he forms a fist around the blades. Anger consumes him. He shakes with rage.
"You really make a lousy drunk..."
He needs so badly to vent this frustration. To let loose. To blame someone or something for his pain.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it..."
Red magic surges through him, leaking down into his fingertips. He begins tearing at the ground, black nails raking through the dirt, ripping out great big chunks of earth and tossing it all around him. He hasn't even a plan, no direction as he claws and digs deeper, the earth splintering and rumbling beneath him as he does so. The sky finally opens and rain pours down. Still, he continues. Only the sound of the thundering rain masking his feral howls and cries of torment.
"You're a real animal, y'know..."
He becomes more and more hysteric, frantic as he comes upon the coffin. Panting, he clears what little dirt mars its shining surface. Rain patters against it, mixing with the tears dripping from the tip of his nose. Wet bangs cling to his face, covering his eyes as he stares down at the thing. A sob escapes him. She isn't inside, he knows. It's empty. Like him. The thought only infuriates him further. He wants it to go away. To just make the pain all go away... A primal roar bellows through him. With a single eldritch blast of red, ethereal light, he blasts the damned thing to splinters. Like a lighting bolt from the heavens above.
"Why didn't we do this sooner?"
His chest heaves. That should have made him feel better, but doesn't. Standing there amongst the ruins, he calms himself. It doesn't change anything. She's still dead and he's still alone. He still feels empty and tortured. Now add disgusted with himself for desecrating her memorial. Standing up, he runs his fingers through his hair, moving the bangs from his eyes as he looks up to spot Teekl staring down at him from the ledge of broken ground above. Eyes move a half tick to the left to find a certain dark and brooding shadow hovering over him as well. With narrowed eyes, hard lines and a deep frown, his face is anything but inviting.
The Batman extends an arm forward, reaching down into the hole to offer Klarion his hand. The warlock accepts and is hoisted back up to the surface.
The rain slows to a drizzle as the two men stand atop the gloomy hill, neither saying anything to one another. Klarion's eyes remain on the muddy ground. Ashamed at himself and his outburst. A bitter hate towards the masked man beside him.
"Feel better?" Batman groans.
With a sneer, Klarion glares over at him. Bruce removes his cowl.
"It's been, what? Five, six years now?" Bruce asks, trying to be friendly. Something he's neither comfortable with nor good at. "What have you been up to?"
The witch's hard glare remains. He doesn't answer, just continues staring. Bruce sighs and continues with his one way conversation.
"You know, my door is always open to you. If you ever need to talk-"
"YOU GAVE UP ON HER." Klarion finally shouts. He can hold his temper no longer. All emotion bubbling its way to the surface. "With all your power and resources and SUPER friends, you could have-"
"No." Bruce interjects sternly. After a moment of silence to let Klarion settle, he continues. His voice softens as he motions towards the graves before them. "Look at all these headstones. You think I don't know loss? That I don't mourn? Each and every one I wondered what I could have done different to have changed the outcome. If only I had been a little quicker. A little smarter. A little better. How I'd beat myself up. How I would force myself to relive it. To believe it was all my fault they'd perished. It took me a very long time to realize that no matter what I could have done, there's no changing it. She's gone, Klarion. You have to accept that and move forward. You can't change what you can't control. Best you can do is work towards the future. Make each and every day count. Consider yourself blessed with what you still have. Learn from your mistakes and make sure it never happens again."
The hardness in his eyes leaves him. Klarion turns his gaze once more to the ground.
"I just miss her so much..." He says softly, nearly breaking back into tears.
"Me too." Bruce returns.
"Does the pain ever go away?"
They return to silence. Only the soft patter of the rain hitting the cold earth is to be heard for miles all around. One of the perks to Wayne manor being so set back from the rest of the hustle and bustle of the big city. One can truly hear themselves think.
"I've done bad things." Klarion confesses quietly, breaking the silence.
"Haven't we all?" The old man returns.
Bruce looks over at the drenched and torn young man. He can't help but remember back to a time when he was still so very much a boy. A boy that would grow to almost become family. And a time when he would have come to call him 'son'. But that time is gone now. It ended with her life.
"Look, Klarion." Bruce continues. "If Helena taught us anything, it's that you can't dwell on the past. If you do, it'll eat away at you, consuming all that's good and leaving only vengeance and hate. You have to move past that. Stop tormenting yourself. You say you've done bad things? Then do something positive. Make up for your mistakes. Stop living WITH her ghost and start living FOR her memory. Make her proud." He looks over at the young man. "What do you think she would say if she saw you like this? Acting like a fool all in her name?"
Klarion forces a chuckle.
"I'm pretty sure she'd kick my ass."
Bruce offers a rare grin. He pats the warlock on the shoulder with a fatherly hand.
"Go home. Get some rest. And take some advise from this old man." He says warmly before adding. "You know, they're never really gone as long as we keep them in our hearts."
For the first time in a very long time, Klarion actually feels something besides remorse and despair. Something positive. Hope perhaps. Talking with his old friend has actually done some good. It's put him back on track. Given him a purpose. A direction in life. He knows exactly what's to be done next. It's time to stop hiding in the shadows. It's time to be the leader he was born to be. It's time to finally bring his people back into the light. It's what she would have wanted. The sort of life he had planned with her until her passing detoured him ever so greatly. It's time to do what needs doing. No more distractions. This time he'll make her proud.
Klarion motions to leave before stopping in his steps, noticing the mess he's made.
"Don't worry about it. I got it." Bruce replies. "I'll see you around, alright?"
The warlock nods.
"Come along, Teekl."
Folding his arms across his chest, Bruce watches as Klarion fades from sight before he too makes his way back home.
The manor's quiet, as it always is. Bare feet pad heavily against limestone steps as Bruce makes his way up from the cave and into his homestead above. That old grandfather clock in the den chimes on the hour. He listens to the steady rhythm of the pendulum as he passes. Out of his batsuit and into something a bit more domestic and comfortable, he runs a towel through his hair, shaking out the dampness of the rain.
A knock at the door catches his attention. Alfred sets down his sterling tea tray to go answer it, but Bruce holds a hand up to tell the old man not to bother. He's got this.
He surmises it's the warlock, back to apologize for his actions or perhaps just needing to talk some more. Hand reaching for the latch, he takes hold and pulls the heavy thing open.
"Look, don't worry about the mess." Bruce begins. "I thought I told you to..."
His voice trails. Words die in his throat.
A crash sounds from behind. The clatter of a tea tray falling to the ground.
Wide eyed, Bruce stands there, mouth agape trying to form words. It feels as if the ground has fallen out from under him. Like his heart's in his throat. He's seen much in all his life as the Dark Knight, but none like this. No amount of training, nothing could have possibly prepared him for such a sight.
In his doorway stands a drowned cat, shivering from the cold. Though she doesn't appear helpless, in fact, she's anything but. She looks up at him, peering through the long, raven-black hair sticking to her face in tangled strands with those effervescent green eyes of hers. Those eyes that he could never forget because they look so much like her mothers. Strong. Defiant. Eyes of fire, she stares back at him. Hard. Piercing right through his soul.
5 years later. YJ style! YEHAW! LOL
Well I hope you all enjoyed. It started out as a simple idea and then as things tend to do, ran wild! (6 SEASONS AND A MOVIE! :P) I hope you all continue on with me, cuz while Kitrina's story is done and buried, Helena's is JUST beginning! The end is the beginning is the end... Or maybe it's the beginning is the end is the beginning... In either case, please stick around for the next installment to be entitled "The Power of Three." So mote it be! Until then, please send me your love, your hate, your wit and your spit. Make sure to sign in so that I can reply back to your reviews. I do love talking with you all. On that note, thank you so much to everyone who's followed and faved and reviewed. You all truly kept me going with this opus and I love you all very very much! Especially you, Jem Fukuyama & booklover1598. Until next time, XOXO