How the Witch Canary Got Her Prize (1)

by 'rith

From Birds of Prey #65: Lady Shiva offered to take Black Canary as an apprentice. Dinah muses:

"It's a dangerous question. If a criminal offered you a power ring, or if a murderer offered you immortality, would you take it? If a great gift was offered by a bad source, would you have the willpower to say no? Could you reject it out of hand...or would you, just for a moment...

"...would you be tempted?"

She imagines herself as the beneficiary of Shiva's teachings, dark and violent and carrying trophies of her victories on her belt: the Penguin's monocle, Catwoman's goggle eyepiece, Brother Blood's skull mask...and a flap of the Joker's scalp.

Glimpse into an AU for Smitty, on the occasion of her well-deserved promotion.


Her combined JLA/JSA ident card granted her access. The last time she'd be able to use it, most likely, but the work she accomplished here would be worth its loss.

The guard led her through the twisting, sweating maze of concrete walls. "He's been in complete seclusion, doesn't even get outside with the rest of the frea--inmates." He glanced at her, glanced away. "No visitors 'cept for the Bat, and he ain't been by in months."

She kept her silence. A far cry from the days when easy banter, even casual flirting, shaped her approach. But she had learned a better way. The guard, perhaps well trained by the occasional appearance of darkly cloaked vigilantes, subsided into docile muteness.

Her visit here encompassed nothing so conventional as a test. Any necessary 'testing' had been accomplished before her apprenticeship began. All that remained was to put teaching into practice. She could imagine no better first quarry than this one.

The cell lay in the deepest part of the structure. They passed checkpoints, the attendant at each marking off their passage on a clipboard, walkie-talkies radioing messages to the next gate. She noted the route, knowing these same guards might attempt to impede her departure. They would fail.

She had taken Shiva's instruction, but she was not Shiva. They would, most likely, live.

The final gate slid aside. "End of the corridor," her escort volunteered, apparently not wishing to travel the distance himself. She understood, and even approved. The prisoner's own captors had added a sizeable number to his list of victims.

Her footfalls did not echo as she crossed the short passage.

The heavy door with its narrow window swung open as she approached, triggered by the guard waiting behind her. She stepped through the doorway and saw him: gaunt yet still unspeakably compelling in his white bindings, the terror of his presence only slightly diminished by the restraints.

The prisoner looked up, lank green hair falling across a pallid forehead, face split in a grotesque rictus grin. "Well, hey," he giggled, voice gone hoarse with disuse, "thought everyone'd forgotten.... Got a Bat in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

She continued to stare at him. He continued his cackling. "New look for you. Taking your name to heart, black bird?"

"You hurt my friend," the Witch Canary replied softly, and drew her knife.

In his mad eyes, the first glimmer of what might have been fear.

{the beginning}

(and no, I don't mean to write any others. ;)

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