Author’s note: Sensitive readers may want to skip this. It is intense, a little bloody, and brushes up against the hint of the possibility of there once having been sexual violence.
In the graphic novels, The Crow wasn’t a single individual – there were at least nine individuals novelized. The concept was simply of a creature motivated in equal measure by love and revenge. I took a crow other than Draven as my subject here. The Crow is the focus in this piece, Batman serving mostly as a setting to foil her rage. I’m sorry if that’s blasphemy to you.
Written in Pain
I ran my hands through hair that was sticky and clotted with blood. Then the doors burst open, and men rushed in. When they saw the ruined bodies tied to several support columns, some of them cursed or readied their guns. Some stared in shock. Several vomited.
“What the hell are you waiting for!? Kill that crazy chick!”
I picked up the lead pipe, caked with flesh, brain, and bone, and spread my arms. “Kill me?” I gave him a come-hither look. Given the mess, it was a grotesque mockery of flirtation. “You once thought me beautiful.”
The man who called for my death hesitated, looking at me strangely. He was realizing who I was, though he didn’t believe it yet. I ran my hands over my sides, my chest, staring into his eyes where the fear was beginning to manifest. “You remember, don’t you sweetheart? You’re one of the ones who–”
The gunshots weren’t that loud. Through-and-through, it didn’t even make me sway on my feet. The man who’d fired was already lowering his gun, thinking it was over. I whipped the lead pipe across the room, reveling in the satisfying crunch of bone. “That is no way to treat a lady.” Another shot cracked, louder, a higher caliber. My shoulder swung back under the impact. Another shot, and another. I stumbled, but it was only gunfire. The men moved forward, all their guns focused on me, when glass broke somewhere above me.
That wasn’t part of the plan.
I looked up and saw a black and yellow blur swinging through the air. Three men were down before he touched the ground. He dodged gunfire by evading the point of aim, his fists and feet lashing out. I watched him single-handedly take down every man present, and when he was done, he began tying them up.
So this was Batman. I let the pipe in my hand lower, and drag on the floor as I approached, the lead surface singing its grating song as it ground against the concrete. “That man . . . his pain . . . it belongs to me.”
He looked up at me, meeting my eyes through his mask. “Caitlin Pierce.” My eyes narrowed. “That’s right, I know your name. There are records of a body, someone was buried. Who died so you could seek your revenge?”
I smiled, lowering my head and looked through my eyelashes at him, knowing that his primal human instincts would be recognizing both the sexual gesture, and the horror of the blood and gore staining me from head to toe. “Oh sweetie . . . you don’t know.”
“Know what?” He gave no sign, as he tightened the ropes on my prey – my prey – but I could tell it bothered him, not understanding. The guns were still scattered around, but I had seen him fight. I wouldn’t reach one before he could react.
I fluttered my lashes, droplets of blood spattering from them. I drew the long knife from my belt and held it to my chest. It was already stained, responsible for many of the bodies strewn about. With the bottomless strength I had been gifted with, I– “NO! WAIT!” –drove it through my breastbone.
I was still just long enough for him to wonder, then I met his eyes, and winked. “I died. They put me in the dirt. It took me hours to claw through the wood and dig my way out. Revenge brought me back–” I lowered my voice to something between a purr and a growl, something almost provocative, almost hateful. “–and revenge will. not. be. denied.”
He stood, done with the bindings, watching me. He was looking for a sign of weakness, some sign that I was feeling the knife. I gave none. “Caitlin, I don’t understand what happened to you . . . but what you want is murder. Revenge isn’t going to change anything. It’s selfish.”
My blood ran cold – or at least, I felt the sensation that people mean when they say those words. “Selfish?” I stiffened and stared at him, aware that my eyes must be wild. I trembled with sudden rage, and somewhere I felt a sliver of fear at the intensity of it.
“You think I do this for myself? You think I care that I died? That I am blackening my soul because of what they did to me before they killed me?” He stepped back, putting a hand on some gadget on his belt. It took me a moment to realize that I had stepped toward him in rage.
“Who then? You lived alone. You had no husband, not even a serious boyfriend. Who are you avenging?”
I put my hands on my stomach, and sadness welled up. It didn’t quell the anger. They mixed into a unique well of misery, and tears of loss shared space with the most hateful glare I’d ever felt on my face. “He! Killed! My! Child! She never saw the sun, never knew anything in life but her mother’s pain!”
A hysterical edge had taken over my voice, but the constant emptiness I had felt since I woke ached, and I didn’t struggle to control it. “I will carve the name ‘Amanda’ into the flesh of his heart! I will memorialize her in his pain!”
He lowered his head. I could tell he would mourn for my Amanda. I could also tell he wasn’t going to bend. “I can’t let you have him.”
I took the hilt of the knife and pulled it out of my chest. “I have carved her name into eight hearts with this. Give me his pain, or I will teach your heart how to spell her name, next.” He stood firm, motionless.
I hesitated, and opened my heart and my feelings, using my despair as a weapon. I let my pain wrack my soul and my face, let myself truly feel it. The tears came effortlessly, pink with mixed blood. “Please. This one man, and I’m done. He deserves to die, you know he does. He needs to die. I need to do it.”
He didn’t move, didn’t blink. Damn his iron principles. Damn his willpower. “No.”
I sealed my suffering back into the darkness that I nurtured and cultivated it in. The tears stopped, my face cleared, and I focused on hardening my heart so that I could kill a good man.