Author’s Note: Thanks to Debbie and Medie, for their constant encouragement, and LaCasta for the beta. I think, but am not 100% sure, that the diamond I used in the graphic is in fact the Canary Diamond. It seemed appropriate. *g*
She is a diamond in their dull grey lives
And that’s the hardest kind of stone
It usually survives…
–“She is a Diamond,” Evita
I never wanted this for Dinah. Yeah, I was jealous that suddenly here was her mom, alive and well and wanting to be a part of her life again. I resented the hell out of the fact that she judged me and my worthiness to be a part of her daughter’s life based on the actions of my mother…my mother that I adored and who never left me by choice. What right did she have to say I was a bad influence on Dinah when she’d abandoned her of her own free will?
But that doesn’t mean I wanted her dead. And it sure doesn’t mean I wanted her daughter to have to watch her die, like I did with my mom.
We didn’t need to have that in common.
I like Dinah. I don’t like to admit it all the time, and it took me a while for her to grow on me, but I genuinely do like the kid. She’s strong, confident, stubborn…a lot like me, only softer. Or at least she was. Now, I don’t know. My mother’s murder hardened me. It brought out a side of me that Barbara doesn’t like to acknowledge exists, but it does. A side of me that doesn’t always want to be a hero, that doesn’t always want to do the right thing. A side I fight with every day of my life, like I told Guy.
I’d give anything to take back that night, to become again the girl I was before it happened. I would’ve given anything to stop history from repeating itself with this kid who’s starting to become like a sister to me.
Barbara tries to say, sometimes, that it’s a good thing I’m hard. Of course, this is the same Barbara who lives most of the time in denial of that hardness. The same Barbara who feels the need to constantly remind me that we’re the good guys, we don’t kill people–although honestly, sometimes the only reason I even suggest anything else is just to jerk her chain. But she says I’m hard like a diamond: tough and beautiful and almost impossible to cut.
What she doesn’t realizes is that she’s not describing me, she’s describing herself. She’s the one who’s strong and full of light. I’m dark and cold and hard in a brittle way, destined to break because I’m too stubborn to bend. But then…maybe I am a diamond. Because if I remember right, for all their hardness, diamonds are deceptively brittle too. All I know is I sure don’t feel like one.
Dinah doesn’t need that. She doesn’t need to be hard like me. I don’t want her to be.
But now all I can do is wait, and watch, and hope she somehow comes through this fire with fewer scars than my personal furnace left on me…
I hope she comes out a diamond.
I never knew I could hurt this much. I thought the worst pain I could ever feel was when Mom left me with no explanation. Left me to the not-so-tender mercies of the Redmonds. My own mother abandoned me–how could anything ever cut deeper?
I couldn’t imagine losing her again just after I found her. If that cut like a knife in my heart, then this cuts like a diamond. Sharper than even glass, and harder.
We studied that, in school, years ago. How there was no stone on earth harder than a diamond. Nothing that could cut one except another diamond. It didn’t take a huge leap in logic after that, and after cutting my hand on a piece of glass once, to figure out how much a cut from a diamond would hurt.
My mother was like a diamond. I see that now. I always believed she was so hard, so cold. But looking into her eyes as she said she was proud of me…I realized there were so many facets just sparkling with light that I’d never seen. And now I never will. I’ll never be able to explore just how beautiful she was. All I see, all I feel is the pain of her absence.
Is this how Helena felt? Is this why it’s so hard for her to trust anyone, to let anyone close? Or was the hurt even worse for her…she, who had known and loved her mother every day of her life, even if she never knew her father. How did she get through it without breaking?
I wanted so much to be like her. From the moment Barbara first told me the story of the Black Canary, I idolized the very mother I’d hated for eleven long years. I looked up to her legend almost as much as I admire Helena.
That’s what made it so hard to accept that they were one and the same. But now…now that I understand…now that I want her to stay, she’s gone. She’s dead. And you can’t come back from being dead.
I thought diamonds were supposed to be forever.
Sometimes I wish that I had never told Carolyn about Helena. About how her mother’s death shaped her, strengthened her. I wish I’d never told her that as much as I would love to go back and change the night Selina died for Helena’s sake, I couldn’t bring myself to regret what it made her. Because as much as she hates to admit it, it made her strong enough to stop being a child and start being a hero.
Just like it did with Bruce.
Oh, I’m not as naïve as Helena thinks I am. I know it scarred her too. I know she still harbors a hatred for the man who killed her mother that is so black it could swallow her whole if she’d let it. But what she doesn’t realize is that the same event that gave her that hate made her strong enough to resist it. A mountain came to rest on her shoulders that night, but the pressure created a diamond.
I just wish I’d never spoken or breathed a word of that to Carolyn. I wanted her to see Helena as more than just the daughter of Catwoman. But part of me knows her too well. Well enough to know how far she would go for someone she loved.
Dinah hasn’t been able to talk much, yet, about that night, but Helena told me what Carolyn said to her when she believed she was dying. She finally accepted who her daughter had chosen to become, and was proud of her for it. But what Dinah doesn’t know is that acceptance wouldn’t have killed her mother’s fierce protective instincts.
It would have made her desperate to give her child the strength she needs to be the hero she wants to be. Too desperate to see there is no greater strength a human being can have than a loving family. For it is a tensile strength like gold, not the hard unmoving strength of a stone, even a gemstone.
That’s what I can’t tell Helena. That’s the fear I don’t dare even entertain in Dinah’s presence. That Carolyn could have–and quite possibly would have–thrown away the only second chance she may ever have with a daughter who is just starting to learn to love her.
All for want of a diamond.
Take a lump of coal, apply enough heat, time and pressure, and you end up with a diamond. The wrong amount of any of the three, and you still have a lump of coal. Dark and brittle and quickly reduced to ash.
I know she’ll never forgive me for what I’ve done. She’ll never be able to forgive me for leaving again, for letting her believe I was dead. But I had to do it. When she came after me that night, I saw myself in her eyes. The girl who’d discovered she had a gift and was determined to use it for good, damn the consequences. And I knew I’d never be able to sway her. I knew she’d found her destiny.
There was only one thing left that I could do to protect her. I had to make her strong enough to survive the life she’d chosen. She had been my weakness, all those years ago, the one thing I couldn’t risk for the cause. I couldn’t let myself be hers.
My daughter is beautiful, but as long as she knows I’m alive, she’s brittle. Breakable. So even though it broke my heart, I put her into the fire, trusting that Barbara and, yes, even Helena will be there to see that she emerges whole and strong like a gem, not charred and scattered like ash.
It’s the only gift I have left to give.
Sooner or later, she’ll find out. I know she will. Because now that I know she’s here, I won’t be able to stay away for long. And when that day comes, I won’t earn her trust again. I’ve lost her forever just as surely as if I were dead.
But if I have to lose my daughter to save her, so be it.
That’s the price of a diamond.