HAWKGIRL IS DEAD
Summary: The title pretty much sums it up. Post-Starcrossed. (But then, isn't everything I write?)
Midway City Museum
Opening Day of the Thanagarian Invasion Exhibit
The crowds were enormous. Had been all day. The line stretched around the block as people waited to pay their $6 admission fee to get through the door. News crews from around the globe covered the event live, showing off pieces of the collection and interviewing the excited patrons.
Midway City Museum had spent several million dollars putting together the quintessential Thanagarian show, and Jonathan Biggs, the museum curator, grinned from ear to ear. The risky investment and controversial showpiece had paid off. If the dollar totals from the first four hours were to continue, Biggs calculated he'd have the purchase fund replenished within the year. He watched as people pressed forward, toward the exhibit hall. Never before had he witnessed such an interest in history by average citizens. Perhaps in a year or two, he'd pack the exhibit up and take it on the road. Leasing it out to other museums could turn quite a profit.
His attention focused on the crowd in front of him, Biggs didn't notice the commotion behind him until absolute silence fell over the hall. He turned his head, confused as to why the people around him quit talking about his wonderful, expensive displays.
As though parted by a divine hand, the crowd split, creating a clear walkway from the front door straight to the exhibit's showcase piece. Biggs stood in the middle of the path, puzzled by the action.
Then, before him appeared six brightly clothed figures.
News cameras focused on the small group, shutters clicked and reporters spoke softly into their microphones as the group moved forward. The Green Lantern led the procession. A few paces behind followed Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and the Martian Manhunter. Biggs, along with the crowd, said nothing as the heroes passed.
The Lantern reached the tall glass case and stared at its contents for a moment. From where he was standing, Biggs could see the Lantern raise a hand and press it against the glass. It almost looked like the man was supporting his all weight against the display case, as though his legs would no longer hold him up. Lantern's other hand came up as well, but this one covered his face.
Superman stepped forward then, his hand going to the Lantern's shoulder. In the silence of the exhibit hall, the choking sobs were easily heard.
The other heroes bowed their heads as the Lantern's knees finally did give out and he slid to the floor, Superman blocking the spectators' view as the man at his feet said and repeated a name few recognized.
Biggs stared at his prize exhibit and, not for the first time, wondered if he had, indeed, gone too far.
Inside the glass case stood an all-too-familiar form. A non-descript female mannequin was dressed in a replica of Hawkgirl's costume. The model held a mace in its hands and wore Hawkgirl's actual mask. But the most sickening part of the display was the two perfectly preserved, disembodied Thanagarian wings attached to the back of the mannequin.
Hawkgirl was dead and the proof was on display for the world to see.
Virgin Atlantic Airlines Flight 46, Somewhere Over the Atlantic Ocean
Six Months Prior
As museum curator, it wasn't unusual for Jonathan Biggs to take trips across the globe to procure artifacts for display. What was unusual was that on this particular trip Biggs was in the market for more modern relics. Instead of ancient Egyptian mummies or Medieval torture devices, he was going to bid on bits of the latest chapter in human history: The Thanagarian Invasion.
A huge auction was scheduled in London in two day's time. Hundreds of pieces were up for bid and Biggs knew the prices would be hefty. Fortunately, financial donations to the museum had been generous and the purchase account was large. He hoped to come away with several small pieces as well as two or three showcase items.
Biggs removed his thick bifocals and pinched his eyes shut, a great yawn escaping him. He stretched as best he could in the seat, which was made for a man one-third his size, trying not to scatter his paperwork off the tray table. The flight was already four hours old, with three more ahead. He twisted his head, cracking a few vertebrae back into place.
His action turned his attention to his traveling companion. Sarah had the window seat. From the moment the plane took off, she kept her eyes out the window. Even in the darkness over the ocean when nothing could be seen, she continued to stare outside.
He watched her. Her body seemed to lift and sink in harmony with the turbulence they flew through, yet her fingers were white-knuckled on the armrests. Biggs couldn't quite decide if she was terrified of flying or if she was utterly engrossed in the experience.
She hadn't spoken to him since the airport. Not that she ever talked much to anybody. In fact, if he were to be honest with himself, he'd say she almost unnerved him. He tried not to be judgmental about a person's handicaps, but it seemed like Sarah's body was far too broken-down for her young age. She used a cane to walk, as her right leg had a severe limp. Her back was constantly hunched. And she never seemed to be completely balanced on her feet.
Sarah was relatively new to the museum, but was an absolute whiz at restoring ancient artifacts and decoding foreign and dead languages. She would be incredibly helpful in deciding which Thanagarian trinkets could be repaired and reading what any Thanagarian documents contained. Thus, she was picked to accompany him on the buying excursion. Though she was reluctant to leave her dark corner in the museum's attic, Biggs' promise of overtime pay persuaded her to join him.
Deciding that four hours of silence was enough, Biggs pushed aside his apprehension and tried to spark a conversation. "So, Sarah," he began companionly, "tell me about yourself. We hardly know each other, yet you've worked for me for over three months."
A few moments passed, and she didn't look at him. She instead cautiously reached her arm up and back. She rubbed at her shoulder, a look of pain crossing her features for the briefest second. It was a move Biggs had seen her make many, many times since she first started at the museum.
She blinked, then turned to him, a blank expression on her face. "Not much to tell," she said.
Biggs smiled broadly, hoping to draw her out of her shell. "Come on, you've got to have some history. Family? Previous job? College? Pets? Something interesting that happened when you were a kid?"
She stared at him, a few wisps of her short brown hair falling across her face when she shook her head.
Biggs reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his wallet. He flipped it open, revealing the smiling faces of several different people. If she wouldn't talk, he would. "That's my youngest son, William. He's in college now. Those two are my daughter, Julie, and her husband Wally." Sarah blinked and Biggs continued. "That's me, obviously, and my wife Marion. And that's my oldest son and his family." He pointed out each member of the family. "Billy is six, Brittany is four, my daughter-in-law Stephanie and my son John Junior."
Biggs refolded his wallet and again smiled at his employee. Her brown eyes seemed almost haunted behind her glasses. His smile faltered as he realized he might have accidentally opened an old wound of some sort. "Did you lose someone?" he questioned sympathetically.
Sarah's eyes focused on his, and for a brief second, he thought she might lash out at him. But the fury she had at his invasive question immediately burnt itself out and her face returned to its usual expressionless state.
"Yes," she said, turning her gaze back out the window.
Biggs swallowed and shifted in his seat. Smalltalk was overrated, he concluded, resolving to spend the rest of the flight in silence.
Weston Brothers Auction House, London
Two Days Later
Biggs thought the auction was going positively swimmingly, as the English would say. He'd spent well over five million of the museum's funds already on Sarah's recommendations.
Thanagarian weapons, both working and non-working, armor, masks, pieces of the Justice League Watchtower and the Thanagarian's shield generator and chunks of glass that were once Gobi desert sand were all going to be boxed up and shipped back to the United States. Biggs was practically salivating at the ideas he had for the displays.
"We have only two more pieces," the auctioneer announced. "These two were just added and all funds will be paid to the private collector who is selling them, Doctor Victor Zett."
Biggs instantly recognized the doctor's name. Doctor Zett was notorious for coming up with one-of-a-kind pieces that he sold for outrageous sums. People were never quite sure how he got his hands on so many rare items, but he was definitely a man with connections. Every item he'd ever offered for sale was authenticated as the real McCoy. And over the years, Biggs had purchased several items at auction provided by the good doctor.
"I think we can get whatever it is he's selling," Biggs told his assistant happily, having done some quick calculations to figure the remaining balance of his purchase fund.
"First up." The auctioneer motioned for the item to be brought in. "Many of you will recognize this helmet as the one worn by former Justice League member Hawkgirl." A mutter ran through the crowd, but the auctioneer continued. "I can assure you that the item has been authenticated. The bidding starts at $100,000."
The price was driven up to $536,000, with Biggs taking home yet another piece of history. He elbowed his assistant and smiled. "That one will make a great key piece!"
"Our last item of the day is rather disturbing," the auctioneer warned. Again he motioned for the item to be brought in. A man with a two-wheeler rolled in a tall tarp-covered box. "Again, this item has been authenticated." The tarp was removed and inside the air-tight glass box rested two huge feather-covered wings. Dried blood stained the gray feathers where body once met wing.
Beside him, Biggs' assistant retched. "You okay, Sarah?" he asked, only to see her make a dash from the room, her hand over her mouth. Biggs raised an eyebrow. Good thing he never asked her to clean the mummies.
"Bidding begins at $500,000."
Biggs eventually went home with a pair of Thanagarian wings as the centerpiece of his collection.
The Office of Doctor Victor Zett
Six Months Prior to the Auction
One of the first things Hawkgirl did when she arrived on earth was compile a list of unscrupulous medical practitioners and commit it to memory. Should the day ever arise that she needed undocumented treatment, she would be prepared.
The day came several months after she left the Justice League. Having spent the better part of six months in hiding, she made the mistake of crossing a wooded area during deer hunting season. A hunter spotted her and -- being the loyal Earthling he was -- promptly shot her.
The bullet lodged in her leg, but she was able to fly away and hide. The hunter never caught up to her.
Two days later, Hawkgirl's leg was badly infected. As her fever rose to a near-deadly level, she reluctantly ventured out her hiding place under cover of darkness and made her way to the nearest doctor on her mental list.
Delirious, she stumbled into the back door of his office and thus started her relationship with "good" Doctor Victor Zett. He removed the bullet, closed the wound, pumped her full of penicillin and waited for her to recover before presenting her with his "bill."
Payment was her helmet.
Zett's private office was filled with mementos from other unsavory clients. Everything from guns to books lined his shelves and every available space on the floor. Hawkgirl watched as he deposited her helmet onto a dummy head then encased the whole thing in glass.
"If you ever need anything else, you know where to find me," Zett told her.
It wasn't a week later when she was attacked by a knife-wielding man bent on exacting revenge for his son's death at the hands of a Thanagarian. Weakened by her recovery from the gunshot, Hawkgirl was barely able to fend him off and render him unconscious.
The gaping wound in her belly led her back to Zett almost immediately. Again, he stitched her up and provided medication. And again he waited for her to recover before he presented her with his "bill."
Bent over the surgical table, she could only close her eyes and force herself to imagine John as Zett took her from behind fast and hard.
"Why don't you just ditch the wings?" he asked as he zipped up. "Save you a lot of grief, if you ask me."
Hawkgirl pulled her pants back up and turned on him. "Why don't you ditch your dick?"
Zett chuckled. "Point taken." He tucked his shirt in. "If you need anything else, you know where to find me."
Three weeks later, after thinking long and hard about what Zett suggested, Hawkgirl returned to him. The logic of his suggestion, though repulsive, made sense. The wings on her back made her a target to every lunatic with a weapon. Looking like a human would make her existence far less violent. Besides, it wasn't as though she could freely fly anymore, nor was she of any use as a hero.
Hawkgirl died on Zett's operating table that day.
Midway City Museum
Three Days After the Grand Opening of the Thanagarian Invasion Exhibit
Thousands of guests still packed the museum. The incident with the Justice League obviously didn't dampen anybody's blood lust. They still flocked to the Hawkgirl case on a daily basis.
Jonathan Biggs, however, had locked himself in his office after the first day, no longer proud of his expensive trinkets. The world's greatest heroes had bowed in respect to their fallen former colleague, yet everyone else practically danced on her grave. It made him quite literally sick. If he didn't have obligations to the board of directors and the purchase fund, he would have pulled the Hawkgirl display from the gallery.
"Mr. Biggs?" a timid voice questioned from the other side of his closed office door. "There's somebody here to see you."
"Not now, Michelle," he told the intern.
The door to his office crashed open, barely staying on its hinges. Biggs nearly jumped out of his skin.
"Yes, now," the Green Lantern growled.
Biggs, who was not a tall man anyway, looked up from his seated position behind his desk at the hulking man looming over him. The Lantern's eyes scared him. They were they an unearthly green and reflected a malice that chilled his blood. This was not the same man who collapsed to the floor of his museum a few days earlier. This was a man out for vengeance.
"Why?" was all the Lantern asked in a low tone.
Biggs swallowed. There was no good answer to the question. At the time, it seemed like the perfect thing to do to draw a crowd. It certainly worked in that respect. The moral question was one Biggs wrestled with early on, but eventually dismissed. He now wished he'd thought more about it.
The Lantern placed his palms on Biggs' desk and leaned forward ominously. "Answer my question."
"I, uh..." Biggs stammered.
The glowing eyes narrowed. "Why did you create that display?"
"I didn't," Biggs said before thinking.
Lantern seemed genuinely surprised by the response. "Then who?"
Biggs' thoughts turned to his quiet, handicapped employee three floors above them. Sarah was the one who suggested the concept. She was the one who put together the costume and familiar props. She was the one who convinced him that a world that wanted revenge would devour solid evidence of Hawkgirl's demise. It was her project from the time the artifacts arrived in Midway City.
Apparently not answering fast enough, Biggs was hoisted up by his tie, energy from the Lantern's Power Ring holding him suspended, his feet dangling just over his chair.
"Who made the display?" Lantern repeated.
Biggs struggled to catch his breath. His fingers clawed at his neck. "S...Sarah," he hissed. Guilt washed over him almost immediately after the word left his lips. He was a weak-willed man. He always suspected it in the past, but it was confirmed as he gave up his helpless employee to the super-powered man.
"Where is this Sarah?" Lantern questioned.
Biggs' eyes watered and his face took on a slightly blue hue. He waved a finger in the air, pointing upward. "Fourth floor," he gasped, wishing the man would snap his neck and be done with it. Maybe then he'd be able to keep his tongue in check.
Lantern released his hold, dropping Biggs back to his seat with a hard thud. The curator sucked in air then started coughing. He never saw Lantern leave the office, but the flutter of papers indicated his departure.
The top floor of the museum, known oddly as The Dungeon, was a dark maze of off-display items from every conceivable era of Earth's history. Sarah's office, if one would call an over-piled desk an office, was stuffed back in the darkest corner.
As usual, Sarah sat at that desk, hunched over a pile of circuits and bits of metal. Her back ached from the position. But then, her back always ached, so it didn't really matter. Magnifying eyepieces were attached to her regular glasses and she toiled with tiny screwdrivers and tweezers on a Thanagarian electrical sword.
She hadn't been downstairs to see the people mobbing her displays, but Michelle and Biggs had told her about them. It was nice that her work was appreciated. It was even more satisfying to know the world knew its greatest traitor was dead.
In the distance, she heard a door open. Generally, no one disturbed her. Often they were simply looking for some old relic and never acknowledged her presence in the attic at all. She preferred it that way.
Inexplicably, a chill ran through her. It was one of the many things wrong with her these days, one more thing to get used to. She stopped working long enough to pull her sweater tighter around herself. Absently, she also reached around and rubbed her shoulder. Sighing, she returned to her task by sticking the miniature tools back inside the hilt of the sword and continuing to fiddle with the interior parts.
Her head was down, but she felt the presence of the other person now in her work area. She didn't have the time or the inclination to engage in conversation with people, so she didn't bother to look up. Most people got the hint fairly quickly and would leave her alone.
This person, however, wasn't responding properly to her unwelcoming attitude. The silent stand off continued as Sarah inserted a few circuits into the sword and screwed them into place, never raising her head. She hoped he'd leave soon. She hated having an audience while she worked. Actually, she hated having an audience for anything.
"You created the Hawkgirl exhibit," the voice accused.
Behind her lenses, Sarah's eyes widened. Her hands fisted around her tools. And with much effort, she kept her head down, her brown hair obscuring her face.
"So?" she croaked, thankful that her voice was hoarse from lack of use.
"I want to know why," Lantern stated.
Sarah swiveled her stool around so her back was to the hero. Her right hand reached out and grabbed her cane. Stiffly, she rose from her seat and took a moment to coordinate her balance. She knew the Lantern was watching her every move, expecting an answer. Limping, she made her way to a cabinet at the back wall and pretended to search for something of vital importance.
"Had to be done," she tried, her voice still gravelly and too low.
Much to her dismay, she heard him move around her desk and approach her. She felt his iron grip on her upper arm and he swung her around roughly.
Sarah nearly lost her balance in the turn, but Lantern held her upright. She didn't raise her face, but rather kept her eyes on their feet, which looked incredibly huge since she still wore the magnifying lenses over her regular glasses.
"I want that display removed," Lantern stated, the threat in his voice clear.
"No," Sarah answered flatly, finally raising her face to his.
She saw Lantern start to say something, when his jaw seemed to come loose. Shocked recognition washed over his expression.
"Oh, my God," he exhaled. Cautiously, his hands rose to her glasses and slid them off her ears.
For the first time in over a year she saw the face of the man she once loved. Still loved...no matter how hard she tried to forget him. He looked different, as did she. But his changes were for the better, while hers were definitely for the worse.
John fingered her short brown hair and gazed worriedly into her brown-by-contacts eyes. She saw him swallow hard as his hands slipped slowly from her hair to travel down her back. He quite obviously encountered no wings. She heard his breath hitch and watched as his eyes filled with tears.
"Hawkgirl is dead, John," she said. "I killed her."
Author's Note: I was inspired by the recent fics I've read where Hawkgirl manages to disguise her wings by using one type of cloaking device or another. Since I tend to skew dark in my stories anyway, I figured I'd go for the ultimate in "wing hiding" technology...amputation.