by Erin Griffin
Pairing: Carolyn Lance/ Selena Kyle (Catwoman/Black Canary)
Summary: "Was my story my task?" Carolyn is on the first task in order to be reincarnated and is led to a girl who as more in common with her that she'd like to admit. (Carolyn's point of view, first person)
Disclaimer: I own Elizabeth, and I am just saying that now only to piss her off. Anyone you don't recognise is mine, everyone else isn't. You should know this by now.
Author's Note: Fifth in the Afterlife series starting with Love afterlife, Apartment upgrade, Finding is way and Selena's Task. Due to recent events in my real life, the thought of Heaven comforts me, so I am dedicating my weekend to typing this series up.
When I looked up, I saw it was still light out compared to the night of New Gotham time. The sky looked like it was to pour buckets of rain at any given moment. Already, I wanted to say 'forget it' as soon as I saw the building I stood in front of. "An abortion clinic," I said out loud. I looked down at the address, praying that I had orbed to the wrong place, but it was correct. I looked up at the building again, wondering exactly what I had to do. Looking back at the card for a clue, the address had disappeared, and there was only a name on it. "Molly Stites... oooookay... And I'll assume that she's in... here..." The clinic had a sign saying that it was open from eleven until six. Couldn't this task have waited until the next day? Looking in the window, I saw a girl sitting in a chair with her hands folded between her knees. She looked defeated at only eighteen or nineteen years old. This had to have been Molly Stites, a petite African American girl in a black winter coat and jeans. As soon as I opened the door, she looked up at me expectantly. Did she know me already? Was she expecting me?
"Jaqueline?" I looked up suddenly at another African American woman at the desk. She came around to shake my hand. "Thank you for coming on short notice, Miss Peterson. Molly wanted to talk to you before she made her final decision."
"Really?" I asked, surprised, and I was given curious looks.
"You are Molly's school counsellor, aren't you?" the woman gave the girl a stern look, as if she had lied about something, and Molly looked confused as if to say, 'she really is!'.
"Yes, apparently I am," I murmured. Molly looked at me with a question on her face. "I'm sorry, Molly. I've had a bad week, and I certainly didn't expect this call. Come with me." I took on the authorities tone and posture that I hadn't really needed to use over the last decade except for when I had gone back to New Gotham to get Dinah. I looked at the thin woman behind the desk. "Do you have a room we can talk in?" She nodded and pointed to a door down the hall.
"Take your time. I won't leave the building until you're done."
"Thank you," I said, then made the motions for Molly to follow me to the room the woman had pointed to. I snuck one more glance at the piece of paper to find it blank. I had hoped that there would be more later, but part of me knew that from then on I was on my own. As the door closed behind us, I watched Molly as she took the position of a child about to get punished by her parents. Speaking of... "Do your parents know?" Molly shook her head. I had thought not.
"Dad won't care, really. I'm an adult now, but Mom... well... she already hates Brian. When she finds out that he left me, she'll flip, and I don't want to hear no more I told you so's." I nodded.
"So what do you want to do?"
"I don't know. I've been thinking about it. Hard. I don't want to kill the baby, but I just started college last year. And if I give up the baby for adoption, how do I know it will be cared for and loved?" I stayed silent for a little while until the girl started to fidget, well, more than she already was.
"This is a difficult situation, and it does prove that you have given this some thought, but this isn't something that I can decide for you."
"I'm not ASKING you to decide anything. I'm just ASKING you to help me talk this out," she snapped. I stared at her as I thought about this, and her tone changed considerably. "I thought maybe you'd know another way."
"Maybe I'm not the person you should be talking to. I've been down a path similar to this, and it didn't end well for anyone."
"Tell me what happened."
"I think that is breaking a rule or two, Molly."
"Please." I watched her. Was my story my task? Was I to somehow help guide her through this situation by telling her how much of a failure I was as a mother?
"No more of the attitude, alright?"
"You're stressed out, and I understand that. But I'm here to help you in whatever way I can." I continued to watch her, then I sighed. "Before... I was a councillor, I had a high stress job. I was in no shape to have children, even if I wanted them. My lifestyle wouldn't have agreed wit it. Yet still, I got pregnant. I decided after a long time to keep her. I think it was the overdose of pickles and peanut butter." Molly made a face, and I smiled. "She was beautiful, even if she did make me eat that stuff. We were happy as a fatherless family for a while until aspects of my job interfered. It made me realize just how wrong my decision to keep her had been. She was six years old when I packed up her things and left her with a foster family in the middle of nowhere, hoping on my life that she would be safe. Apparently, as my daughter grew up, she became different, something none of us expected, and she became like me. More like me than I wanted. The family I left her with started to treat her cruelly because of it." I stopped, watching Molly's face. I knew she was worried about her leaving her baby with the likes of the Redmonds. "I hadn't known they'd be that way to her. She's better now. She's in better control over who she is and has a better sense of self than I ever really did, but she had to run away from that family in order to achieve that. As fate or luck would have it, she was taken in by a friend of mine from- uh- high school. Dinah- my daughter- says she wants to also do the job I had left. At first I didn't like it, but now... I know she'll be better at it than I ever was. Anyway, I thought I was protecting her, but she's now doing the exact same thing I tried to hide her from. So... basically, I lost my daughter for ten years and missed out on so much for no reason at all." I had never really thought of the situation that way until then. 'How's that for irony?' I thought. "So, then I- well, left again. She didn't need me. I was just a reminder of the pain she had gone trough the last ten years. And now... I'm here." I didn't know what else to say.
"Wow. It sounds like you at first didn't want kids, but once she was born, instincts kicked in and you fell in love.
"But... You could still be in her life. She's what, six when you left her and you lost her for ten years... She can't be older than me, you're too young for a child in her twenties."
"She's almost seventeen, yes."
"This was recently. It's not too late-"
"We're here talking about you and your baby, not me and mine. All I want now, after ten years of pain, is for her to be happy, and I know for a fact that she is happier now that she's learned to live without me. Now, about you... Have you thought about keeping the child more than having the abortion?"
"Yes, I think I might take care of her. At least then I'd know she was safe and loved and I won't have to wonder all the time."
"If keeping this baby is something you want to do, you can still continue your classes, take your maternity leave, then go back. You could take your classes online, or I'm sure that there's a childcare somewhere in or near the campus that you can drop your child off for a few hours while you studied or went to class. You don't have to make your decision right away, but Molly, it does have to be soon. Do some research, make some phone calls, and most importantly, talk to your mother. Sure, she'll have a bit of a fit, but you would too if this child did the same thing twenty years from now. You may not know this, but mothers are usually the best people to talk to about children." Molly nodded, then reached her arms out. I stepped up to her and let her arms embrace me.
"Thank you, Miss Peterson. I knew I could talk to you." I patted her back, and then stepped away.
"Come on, we should let the woman who works here lock up so she can go home. I bet there's a good dinner waiting for me at home as well, and you've got a long journey ahead of you." Together, we walked outside, and I saw the effect the wind had on both the trees and the young woman next to me, but I didn't feel it. It was strange to me. There I was, expecting the need to hug my coat closer to me, but I didn't feel anything other than loss and confusion, emotions I thought would have left me after I'd died. I suddenly needed Selena. As I watched Molly drive away, I thought of Dinah, and the many things I missed in her development. She should have gotten my motherly words, not Molly, but then, I think Molly needed them more than Dinah ever would. Dinah's a smart girl (not that Molly wasn't), and I ruined it. I walked down the street and around the corner, and only then did I let a tear fall.
"It wasn't a sacrifice made in vain, or without love, Carolyn." Startled, I looked up at the voice, knowing who it belonged to, and wishing it was someone else. Wise brown eyes that didn't match the seven year old body, looked up at me. "You did what you thought was right, and it WILL work out for the best. Trust me. Trust Him. Come on, now. Your task is complete, and Selena's waiting for you." Elizabeth reached up and I took her hand. The world faded and my heavenly neighborhood was in view before I saw our home.
"Thank you, Elizabeth." The girl smiled, then stepped aside as Selena's arms surrounded me.
"I'm sorry I didn't come for you myself, but I had to let you finish your task. I felt your longing for me, and I'm here now. I love you, Carolyn, and I'm here," she whispered. I let my tears continue to fall.
"Selena, I don't think I want to go. I want to stay here." Was the great late Black Canary whining? I asked myself in my mind. "It hurts down there. Too much pain," I said, but looking into Selena's eyes, I knew that she wanted to live again and in order to to that I had to help her with the last task. I knew this would make Selena happy, so I decided that that was the only reason I was doing that. I nod, though no question was being said. I didn't want to be on Earth again, but heaven would be lonely without Selena.