Two weeks later …
Helena’s head dropped down onto the pillow of the plush bed, her arm falling over the side dangling awkwardly. It would’ve been painful if she’d been feeling anything. There was a slight clattering on the floor. It sounded about a hundred million miles away from her.
Her other arm reached across her body lethargically pawing at the arm that was hanging over the bed until she was able to grasp the shoe lace that was tied around her bicep.
She tugged at it, but it didn’t loosen. In fact it tightened a bit.
She sighed at that and let the arm that had been tugging fall across her chest.
It was warm and sunny. She was on a beach tapping a snorkel against her hand impatiently as she leaned against the outside wall of a change room. She was tanned and had white lotion smeared across her nose, though she didn’t want to.
"Come on," she whined looking at the door of the stall. "You’re gorgeous. Let’s go swimming."
"Alright, alright," Selina muttered stepping out of the stall, hopping slightly as her feet touched the hot sand for the first time. Helena laughed and the blonde glared at her daughter. She didn’t have to look down anymore, the girl was almost as tall as her and she was only fourteen. She knew she was going to soon have to start looking up at her own child. It made her smile.
"We’re gonna miss the sting rays," Helena said grasping her mothers hand and dragging her towards the waters edge. "There might be sharks," she continued turning to look at her mother excitedly. "The tour man guy person said there might be sharks too!"
"And this is a good thing?" Selina asked looking at the teenager dubiously. She’d never really been fan of the water, let alone of sharks. In general she and aquatics didn’t get along.
"Not big ones. It’s not like we’re gonna see Jaws," Helena responded rolling her eyes at her mother as she started tugging her towards the beach again. "Little sharks. Tiger sharks. They only have very little teeth. Could take a finger at most."
"That was reassuring," Selina responded sighing. "They don’t actually bite do they?"
"Dunno," Helena responded pulling her mask over her face as they reached the water’s edge. "Twy ar zarks," she continued fitting the snorkel into her mouth.
"What?" the blonde woman asked looking over at her daughter. She had to stop herself from laughing. Helena looked adorable in her snorkel gear. She didn’t want to put hers on. She didn’t think it would look nearly as endearing on a grown woman.
"They are sharks," Helena responded taking the snorkel out of her mouth and dipping it into the salt water before shaking it slightly, before sighing. "You can get a milky drink at the bar and pretend that it’s made of fruit when I walk by if you want," she continued seeing her mother looking at the water dubiously.
"Helena," Selina said her voice warning in a motherly way. "They are made of fruit," she continued smiling a bit. They so weren’t made of fruit and both of them knew it. Helena was just too quick for her. She shook her head. Sometimes she was literally in awe of the girl. She hadn’t known love until she had her child.
"Of course," Helena responded grinning at her mother cheekily. "Don’t worry, I’ll protect you," she said soothingly wrapping her arm around her mothers shoulder as the blonde pulled the mask down over her face. "Awww," she said looking at her mother for the first time. "So cute," she continued trying to pinch her mother’s cheeks.
"Don’t forget that I have pictures of you in the bathtub with a rubber ducky that could resurface at any of your future birthday parties," Selina responded forebodingly pointing at Helena who just laughed at her in response and started to wade into the water.
"Come on, I think I see one," the brunette said excitedly starting to swim out.
Barbara dropped the small metal pick back into the plastic case sitting on her lap and reached behind her stowing it in one of the wheelchair’s holding compartments. One bonus to being on wheels was she didn’t need to carry a purse anymore. Pushing open the door she wheeled in, clamping down on her frustration as she stretched up somewhat uncomfortably to reach the light switch.
"Helena," Barbara whispered softly, closing her eyes momentarily as she spotted a needle lying on the floor.
Bending over the side of the chair, Barbara wrestled for a few moments before finally grasping the needle precariously between two fingers and carefully lifting up. Placing it on the bedside table, she rubbed her ribs where they’d been pressed up against the arm of the chair and sighed. "Could’ve saved some for me," she muttered darkly looking over at Helena.
Undoing the shoelace the girl had tied around her arm, Barbara then reached for her other arm and rolled up the brunette’s sleeves. There weren’t any marks on it. On her other one either except for the one puncture hole.
Barbara sighed somewhat relieved. Between that and the use of the shoelace she was relatively sure Helena was new at this.
Turning her head to the side, Barbara looked over to the desk at the side of the room. More specifically to the phone that was resting on it.
She stared at it for a long moment, and then headed over picking it up.
"Hey Alfred, it’s Barbara. Is Bruce around?" she asked trying to sound chipper and failing miserably to her own ears.
"He’s away I’m afraid to say," came the older man’s reply.
"I see," Barbara responded, any attempt to sound chipper abandoned. Bruce had been away a lot lately. "Could you do me a huge favor?" Barbara pressed on, clamping down on an up swelling of pride that was starting within her. "I need you to bring over some Bat-Off," she went on referring to the chemical compound she had helped Bruce design a few years ago to recover from the effects of being drugged more rapidly than normal. It had some rather nasty after affects, but it was effective, and quite frankly it might do Helena some good to suffer a bit upon returning from Never-Never land.
Barbara rested her head against the back of the chair, her eyes closing to the melodic sounds of Helena puking up everything she had ever eaten into the bathroom toilet. Actually, at the moment she was simply dry heaving having gotten out the contents of her stomach already, but her heaving was rather rhythmic and Barbara was starting to drift off when she heard the bathroom slam shut.
Opening her eyes, the redhead watched as Helena shuffled towards the bed holding her stomach and then flung herself down onto the mattress face first, her body shaking minutely.
"I don’t want to talk about it," the brunette mumbled a moment later feeling the redhead’s eyes on her. She felt like baboon ass.
"This was your first time?" Barbara asked though it came out sounding more like a statement.
The brunette didn’t respond and Barbara knew that she was on the money. If Helena had been using before this, she would’ve delighted in throwing the fact that Barbara hadn’t figured it out in the redhead’s face. Despite the cramps she was fighting she probably would’ve even smiled. Pain was all that seemed to get a reaction out of her.
"This isn’t the answer," Barbara went on knowing that Helena was still awake and listening even the girl chose not to acknowledge her.
Helena sneered into her pillow but didn’t respond. It had felt pretty fucking good there for a while. It had felt like her life didn’t suck complete ass, and like she was happy. She’d felt like herself for long moments strung together. She’d remembered what it was like to be happy, and safe and believe in the future and dream. She remembered loving. It had felt pretty fucking good.
It didn’t feel so good now though. She felt like she had just heaved up all of her internal organs. Her head was pounding, her mouth felt like a cotton factory, her stomach was still quivering like her intestines wanted to escape now, she was sweating but cold, and it felt like her ears were bleeding.
Barbara had failed to mention the use of the Bat-Off to her, leaving her undecided as to whether the after affects were worth the high. She didn’t know how people did it unless they were trying to forget something majorly wicked. That little prick she had bought the shit off of by the community center hadn’t said anything about feeling like this after. She thought maybe when she was feeling better she’d stomp on his ass.
"If you use again, we’re going to have a serious problem," Barbara went on a few minutes later running a hand through her hair. "And I will know if you do," she said seriously. "I get that it makes you feel better … for while," the redhead continued, stopping as Helena snorted derisively at her. "I do," Barbara said when it was clear that Helena was done. "Sometimes I really miss my morphine drip … but Helena, we’re on very thin ice here," she pressed on. "It’s not just a matter of drugs are bad. Which they are," Barbara emphasized, "but if anyone finds out about this incident, or if you were to do it again …" Barbara paused sighing. "Helena they’ll take you away from me," she continued her voice cracking with emotion.
"They can’t do that," Helena said looking at Barbara for the first time. She sounded more scared than convinced of what she was saying.
"They can and they would," Barbara replied. "Nobodies very impressed with me at the moment. Apparently my attitude leaves something to be desired. Sufficed to say, nobody thinks that I should be looking after you, and they ARE looking for any reason to take you away. Being a junkie would be a very good reason," Barbara went on gravely. "Hell, I’d hand you over to them myself if that happened. I mean sometimes I’m sure that it’s best for you being here … with me … but other times, I think that maybe they’re right and I’m not …"
"Don’t," Helena said softly, but loud enough for Barbara to stop speaking. She struggled to slip around onto her side so that she could look at the redhead. "Finish that sentence. It’s not you’re fault I’m fucked up," she continued sadly.
"I should be un-fucking you up or something," Barbara responded bunching her eyebrows together as she thought about her sentence. "De-fucking up," she muttered to herself, still looking rather confused.
Helena felt herself actually, genuinely start to laugh at that, but it made her stomach hurt and she stopped before she could get to making audible sounds of amusement.
"First and last," Helena said finally. Barbara had lapsed back into staring at her, apparently having gotten over the semantics of her previous statement. The truth was sometimes Helena felt like the only thing keeping her from going completely fucking bonkers was knowing that Barbara was always just around the corner. It wasn’t like she needed the redhead or anything, but she was there. And she got it. Kind of. Other people didn’t, but Barbara at least tried. She was kinda terrified of what would happen to her if they did take her away. She knew that she hadn’t been quite right since her mothers death, and that … well, she could certainly get herself into more trouble away from Barbara than with her.
"Please, mean that Helena," Barbara said softly, reaching forward and brushing some unruly hair off of the brunette’s forehead. "Get some rest."
Three weeks later …
"WHY!" Helena yelled angrily kicking at Barbara’s coffee table causing it to flip over and sending months old magazines flying in every direction. "Why should I have to fucking go, when you spend all day wheeling around in self pity?" she continued twirling around to face Barbara her finger pointing at the redheaded woman accusingly. "Fuck you, I don’t wanna go and you sure as hell can’t make me!"
Barbara exhaled loudly staring at the brunette as she then proceeded to fling herself onto the couch and look at her crossly with her arms fold across her chest as she slouched into the cushions.
"I’m sorry," Barbara started slowly. "I didn’t mean to make it sound like I was asking for your opinion," she continued wheeling over so that sitting opposite Helena. Her coffee table would’ve been in-between them if it had still been upright. "Just so we’re clear. I wasn’t. You ARE going back to school," she finished.
"Why should I have…" Helena started immediately, standing up once more as she glared at Barbara.
"Because I SAID SO!" the redhead yelled at her without waiting for Helena to finish her sentence. She didn’t need to wait; the girl had been saying the same thing for almost an hour.
Helena stared at her severely, her breathes coming fast and hard so that she was literally huffing, as her jaw clenched and unclenched and she bounced on her feet lightly. She had discovered that she liked it when this feeling started to come over her. When her mind clouded over with rage making her head feel light and her body tingle. Because at these moments it was all she was. There nothing else in the world but her and hatred and it made everything so clear.
She’d found a new and better crutch, and it was all natural.
Barbara’s hand shot up immediately catching Helena’s hand around the wrist just before the girls’ fist could connect with her eye.
She looked up into Helena’s eyes then as the girl stared down at her. They were a darker blue, and seemed to have narrowed somewhat. Barbara squinted a bit, she didn’t think they looked quite right, but she couldn’t be sure.
Helena jerked her hand, which was held in Barbara’s surprisingly firm grip.
The hold on her tightened in response.
Barbara squeezed harder, using her thumb to apply some pressure to Helena’s wrist bending it backwards, as she clamped down on the wrist even tighter applying a forward pressure on it.
Helena felt her head clearing as the pain in her arm became more and more clear. She tried to jerk her hand free again, but stopped immediately sucking in a breath as a sharp pain traveled up her arm.
She lifted her foot to kick at Barbara. She didn’t think about the fact that she was aiming for legs that wouldn’t be able to feel it. She couldn’t think.
Barbara bent over in the chair and easily caught Helena’s foot before it connected with her leg, dragging the girl down with her as her arm was yanked.
Helena hopped on her right foot uncertainly trying to keep her balance as the pain in her arm grew exponentially because of the movements she was making to remain standing which tugged on the tendons and increased the pressure she was feeling. Not to mention that her left leg was now starting to throb from being held at such an odd angle.
She looked over at Barbara who was simply still staring at her. She tried to glare at her, but ended up blinking rapidly as she tried to hold back tears. She quickly looked away.
And then she felt herself almost floating, gloriously free of restraint and pain until she landed on the floor, her tailbone connecting hard with the tile of the floor, her hands burning painfully as they slapped against the floor.
"I hate you," Helena muttered viciously glaring at Barbara menacingly as she backed up against the couch, though she remained sitting on the floor, her wounded wrist cradled near her body protectively.
"That’s fine as long as you hate me from school," Barbara responded before sighing wearily and lifting her hand up to her eyes to rub at them.
Helena had lifted herself up onto the couch by the time the redhead looked back over at her.
Helena sat staring at her for a long moment. Barbara was hunched over and pale. She looked tired down to her bones, and her eyes were unusually watery. She looked down into her lap. She missed her mother. She missed her mother every second of every day. She missed her mother down to the very nuclei of her cells. Sometimes when she thought about her, and how she would never see her again, or hear her laugh, or feel her arms wrap around her again, she thought that she was going to physically die from the pain. Everything got really hot and stuffy and it was like someone was sitting on her chest and she couldn’t breath. Sometimes she would close her eyes and just stop trying, but her body always betrayed her and began gasping for breath.
She looked back up and over at Barbara who was still staring at her. She felt so unbearably alone at the moment. She wanted some sort of contact, with some one, to remind her that she really wasn’t, that it wasn’t her who had died and she wasn’t in some sort of hell. She wanted to be weak and give in and bury her head in Barbara’s neck and have someone hold her up for a while cause her own resources were getting kind of shaky. She wanted to feel safe.
She picked up a pillow from the where it was lying by the arm of the couch and threw it at Barbara savagely. Then she curled up in as small a ball as she could and closed her eyes. There was no safe. She’d been padding around in Barbara’s blood on meters away from where she lay now only a month before. So what if Barbara was strong and smart, she’d already proved she could die as much as the next person. What was the point? What was the point of feeling safe if it was just an illusion? It’d just hurt even more when the bubble burst.
"You’re a hypocrite," Helena muttered at Barbara not looking over at her. She could sense the other woman still sitting there looking at her. She wanted to throw something else at her, but it would’ve meant she’d have to move, so she settled for thinking about it.
"Am I?" Barbara asked resting her elbows on the pillow that was now resting in her lap. Her reflexes hadn’t slowed down any. Not that they would be much good except for keeping a traumatized teenager in line.
"You’re allowed to sit around and do nothing but feel sorry for yourself all day long cause you’re legs don’t fucking work anymore, and my Mom is DEAD and I’m supposed to just go to school and fucking deal with it," Helena answered sniffling. She tried to curl herself tighter but she had no more space to remove. "They look at me too. I might not have a chair but they can see I’m not right either! You’re not the only one that got screwed," she finished, her voice barely a whisper.
Barbara didn’t respond to her right away. Truthfully she wasn’t sure what to say. Helena was right. She was a bit of a hypocrite. She’d been offering her advice and spewing platitudes at her from the first time she’d spoken to Helena in the hospital. She’d been saying the same things to Helena that her father had been saying to her, the same things she had thought were crap and didn’t want to hear. Only when she said them to Helena they seemed to be right, to make perfect sense. When it came to Helena. But in her case it was different. Only, as the brunette had pointed out, it really wasn’t. Selina wasn’t coming back anymore than her legs were. The Joker had royally fucked them both up for life.
"You’re right," Barbara said finally. "I’ll work on that."
Helena didn’t respond.
"Are you hungry?" Barbara asked. She couldn’t remember the last time either of them had eaten. She shook her head and snorted derisively wondering not for the first time if Helena was really any better off with her. She may have known her from the time she was ten, but she wasn’t exactly family, and she wasn’t exactly stable. How could she tell this kid how to get better, when she couldn’t even figure out how to do it for herself? ‘Physician heal thy self’ she thought to herself disdainfully.
"No," Helena muttered. She was hungry though she realized as she answered. The hollow feeling in her stomach was more than loss, but she didn’t really care.
"I’ll order some pizza," Barbara said heading for the phone. She had a couple other calls to make as well.
"No pineapples," Helena muttered. "And no mushrooms. Or anchovies. Or tomatoes. Or broccoli. Or …"
"Do you wanna order?" Barbara asked looking over at the brunette. She could’ve sworn she felt a smile on her face, but she was so unused to them she wasn’t sure.
"No," Helena said, she was sitting up now, kind of. "I just don’t want any pineapples. Or mushrooms. Or …"
"You can order if you want," Barbara told her tossing the phone at her.
"I tried to punch you in the face," Helena replied though she started pushing buttons anyway. Apparently she had come to the conclusion that physical violence lost one their right to make delivery decisions.
"I’m not taking that as personally as I used to," Barbara responded watching as the girl brought the phone up to her ear.
Helena looked at her curiously for a moment, and then seemed to decide she didn’t really care. She began to order.
"You could’ve just said, ‘I want pepperoni’," Barbara commented as the phone was tossed back over to her.
Helena shrugged. "I’m gonna be behind."
"I’ll help you catch up," Barbara replied simply.
"I should call you Helper B," Helena responded reaching for the remote to the television set. "Helper B, to the rescue," she continued missing as Barbara’s previously mild expression fell.
A Month Later …
Barbara lifted her hand up to her face and removed her glasses placing them on the desk in front of her. She looked up at a round-faced young man with spiky blonde hair and smiled at him.
"Hamlet’s a what?" she asked.
"A jerk and a squirrel pervert," the boy, Jason Crow, responded meeting her gaze.
"Okay," Barbara said nodding at him. "Jerk I can see, but a …" here she paused for a moment. "Squirrel pervert? I don’t get that one," she continued causing the class to chuckle.
"He’s totally gotta thing for Glenn Close, but she’s totally like the guys mother. She’s not even like a hot step-mom, she’s like totally his mother mother. That makes him a squirrel pervert. It’s like that play by that really old Greek guy," Jason responded leaning forward on his desk.
"Oedipus Rex?" Barbara asked.
"That’s the one. Where that guy was ‘I’m gonna kill you Dad’ and killed him. And was then all ‘I’m messed in the head and am gonna marry my mom’ and married his Mom. And then answered some riddles," the boy responded.
Barbara opened her mouth to respond when a knock came from the door at the left side of the classroom.
"Ms. Gordon," said the school’s vice-principle, Mr. McLean, as he stepped just inside the door. "You’re needed in the office."
Barbara looked towards the students assembled in front of her. She’d been weary about actually coming out into the real world again, somewhat traumatized by the attention she had gotten in the weeks following the shooting. So much so, that even after her talk with Helena she had delayed calling the school to enquire about the staff position that had been offered to her before she was shot. She just wasn’t sure if she could do it, if she wanted to do it. But she’d called because she knew she had to at least try.
She had found out that her position had been filled, but that one of the teachers in the English department was going on maternity leave and she could take over her classes if she wanted, before getting her own permanent assignment at the beginning of the next school year.
She’d commented that that was convenient and accepted the offer immediately, even though she had been secretly counting on them having no place for her, thus allowing her to go on with her moping, and brooding and self-pity. But she was now glad that it hadn’t worked out that way now. She discovered that it was the best thing possible for her to have gotten back out and around people. It was good for her, being there, doing something. When she was talking to her classes, or individual students or staff, she felt productive again. Useful. It had done more for her mentally than she had thought possible. Most of the time she now felt almost human.
"I’ll cover your class for you," he said seeing her look. Walking over to her, he bent down low so that he could keep what he was going next private. "It’s about Ms. Kyle. There’s been another incident. She used up her three strikes a long time ago, and usually …well, we understand that she’s been through some …it’s getting difficult to make excuses for her Barbara. She’s not just hurting herself anymore."
"I understand," Barbara said nodding. She’d known, they both had known, that Helena had been steadily working her way towards expulsion since coming back to the school. "I’ll talk to her. It’s been a very difficult …"
"I know," McLean said shaking his head. He’d heard Barbara’s speech before, the redhead was quite good at oratory, but words weren’t enough anymore. "But quite frankly, she’s violent. And the school just can’t have that. No matter what her circumstances may be. It’s a matter of the safety of the other students," he continued standing back up. "What are we reading?" he asked in a normal speaking voice.
"Hamlet," Barbara responded backing away from the desk. "Mr. Crow has some interesting opinions on the subject," she continued wheeling toward the door.
"You nearly broke his jaw," Barbara said sighing as she looked over at the brunette.
"He should’ve kept his fucking mouth shut then," Helena replied crumpling her foam water cup in her hand and tossing it to the side.
"Helena, I know you’re angry, but you can’t do this," Barbara said some frustration coming into her voice. "You can’t just go around hurting other people because it makes you feel better."
"Even if they deserve it?" Helena asked.
"It’s not for you to decide whether or not someone deserves to eat through a straw for the next month," Barbara replied placing her hand on Helena’s knee, drawing the girl’s eyes up to hers. That had been one improvement they’d been able to make over the three months Helena had been with her. The brunette no longer reacted violently when she tried to touch her when she was in one of her moods. At least when she – Barbara – tried to touch her. Other people were still putting themselves in mortal danger.
"I can’t help it," Helena said sighing and shifting away from Barbara’s touch. However, even after the redhead removed her hand, Helena could still feel its warmth burning into her leg. She sighed again frustrated.
"You’re going to have to," Barbara said softly. "I’m not going to tell you that I know what you’re going through. Because I don’t. But I do know something about it, about the anger, and the frustration, and the hate. I know that Helena. I’ve felt it. I feel it. But you can’t let it take you over," she continued shaking her head. "Maybe this is my fault …"
"You didn’t kill her," Helena responded as her eyes wondered around the office.
"No, but I … I think I let both of us … wallow too much," Barbara replied. "I know you don’t want to hear this, but one day things are going to get better. What your feeling will, lessen and become manageable though the pain will always be there. But … Helena, I’m running out of favors here … the pity cards are dwindling, and if this happens again they are going to expel you."
"I don’t care," Helena replied looking at her hands now. The knuckles of her right hand hurt a little. She hadn’t formed a proper a fist and had hit him on the bone. She was surprised her hadn’t broken her hand.
"You will, one day," Barbara responded. "Will you at least try?"
"I’ve been trying, and they keep on being fucking idiots," Helena responded her voice rising angrily.
Barbara knew what that meant. Helena had been having a rough time it since coming back. Before Selina had been killed, the girl had been charming and easy going. She’d been popular. Forward of the girl’s basketball team, on the honour roll, and on at least fifteen different pages of the yearbook. She’d been ‘that girl’, the one that everyone wanted to be with, be, or be friend to. And since coming back, it had been painfully obvious to everyone who had known her that that girl they’d known wasn’t the one standing in front of them anymore. She was pitied by the staff, and stared at by the students. It put her on edge, and frustrated her, and in her current state it didn’t take much for irritation to turn into blinding rage. One word, or look that Helena interpreted in a less than favorable way and she was on the attack. The truth was some of the people Helena had gotten into fights with had been out of line, but some of them hadn’t and Helena didn’t seem to be able to differentiate between them, or care that there was difference between someone being out of line and deserving to have the shit beaten out of them. She just wanted to hit people and didn’t really care much to consider it past that.
"You need to learn how to control …" Barbara started.
"I am in control!" Helena yelled standing up violently, sending the chair she had been sitting on flying backwards into a cabinet causing it to shake.
Barbara looked at her straining forward. She could never get close enough to Helena’s face when the girl got like this to see into her eyes. She could only tell that they tended to look strange when she got extremely upset.
A picture frame falling off of the cabinet brought Barbara’s eyes over to it. It was still vibrating a bit. She looked to the spot where the chair had hit and spotted a tiny dent. The chair had to have hit the cabinet extremely hard to do that.
She looked back over at Helena who was balling and un-balling her fists. The secretary had told her that Helena had punched Paul Pounder in the jaw. That hurt, a lot, Barbara knew that for a fact, but Helena was moving her hand with a minimum of discomfort. The teen was strong, and healed fast that was one thing Barbara had been able to discern from the fights she had gotten into. Not for the first time she wondered just much Helena took after her mother.
"Really?" Barbara asked finally looking over at the teen. Helena avoided her eyes.
"Helena," Barbara said. "Helena," she repeated until the girl looked at her. "If I offer to show you some anger management techniques will you let me?"
"What do you mean, breathing Zen shit?" Helena asked distastefully. She didn’t want to fucking learn how to breathe.
"In part," Barbara responded. "But also other avenues to relieve frustration. I’m talking about martial techniques."
"You wanna show me how to do kung fu?" Helena asked incredulously. "You knew kung fu?"
"I know," Barbara said, clamping down on her urge to take Helena’s use of the past tense too personally. She was still dealing with her own sensitivity. "And not kung fu per say, but something like it."
"Wouldn’t that make me more dangerous?" Helena asked somewhat snidely.
"Yes, but it’d teach you control. This is the real world, not the Matrix. To learn takes time and practice, and time and practice require patience and control. If you can learn those, then even with the new skills you’ll have you’ll be less dangerous than you are now," Barbara replied.
"I always wanted to learn kung fu," Helena responded thoughtfully, picking up her chair and sitting back down. "Mom wouldn’t let me. She said that people who knew how to fight do."
"That’s only a problem if they choose the wrong battles," Barbara replied. At one time she would’ve scoffed at the idea of Selina Kyle giving moral advice out, she may have to the woman’s face once or twice, before she’d gotten to know the woman, or at least the person Selina had come to be before her death.
Helena stared at her for a moment. There were aspects of Barbara’s personality that made her wonder. She still hadn’t been able to figure out how a schoolteacher in a wheelchair had been able to beat her up. Though she figured with the redhead knowing kung fu that might explain it. Still, with that question answered, she had to wonder why the fuck Barbara knew kung fu in the first place.
"Okay," Helena said finally. "Let’s do it."
Two Months Later …
"Hey," Barbara said swiping at Helena’s hand as the brunette’s pinky finger swept through her almost spherical blob of ice-cream. "You’ve already got twice as much as me," she continued smiling playfully as Helena lifted her pinky to her mouth and licked the ice cream she’d stolen off.
"Mine’s a different flavor," Helena said simply looking over at Barbara, a faint smile playing on her lips. The redhead had been in an increasingly better mood since she’d started working at the school, and it was rubbing off on her. A little bit. That and the training was actually helping with the aggression problems. A bit. "I wanted to taste yours."
"You know what else would’ve worked?" Barbara asked conversationally as they continued along the park pathway. "Asking," she continued oblivious to Helena’s extended gaze.
"Asking?" Helena asked a bit dumbly as she watched Barbara lick at her ice cream. She was going fast now, like she was scared Helena was going to steal the rest of it. Helena smiled anticipating the inevitable brain freeze that would follow.
"Yeah," Barbara replied looking over at her. "You know, sentences in the form of a question. For example, ‘Barbara could I taste your ice cream?’ would be asking. Or maybe it could’ve gone like this, ‘Oh glorious one, I apologize profusely and will later offer to sacrifice live stock to make up for my transgression, but over looking my inadequacies, do you think that it might be possible for me to perhaps taste of your treat?’" Barbara went on. "Something like that."
"Taste of your treat?" Helena asked. "Maybe," she conceded, "but to me that sounds more like asking for some sweet loving," she added winking at Barbara. "Actually, now that you mention it …"
"I wouldn’t mind a taste," came a low grumbling voice from off to their side.
Barbara stopped suddenly causing Helena to almost bump into her. She reached under the arms of her chair, her fingers touching the cool aluminum of her escrima sticks. She’d been proficient with them and a number of other combat weapons as Batgirl, but after the shooting she’d devoted a lot of time to becoming an expert with them. It was the most efficient type of weapon for someone in her position.
She saw Helena tense beside her as three men came from out of the shadows near a clump of trees.
"Fucktards don’t know who they’re messing with," she heard the brunette mutter tersely her eyes trained on the approaching men.
"No they don’t," Barbara said whipping her sticks out from both sides, a small smile appearing on her face.
However, before the men came within striking distance, a shadow swooped overhead and one of the men went flying, and then another, the third skidding to a stop by Helena’s feet and the wheels of Barbara’s chair.
"Batman," Barbara said looking up. Her eyes narrowed a bit as she spoke. He looked like he was getting ready to leave.
"Barbara," Batman said turning around and taking a step towards them.
"Batman?" Helena asked looking over at Barbara slightly wide-eyed. "You know the Batman?" she asked looking over at him.
"Batman," Batman responded looking at the brunette.
"What?" she asked leaning forward slightly.
"No ‘the’," Batman responded turning his attention away from the girl towards Barbara once more. He could tell that she was staring at him. She always did have the most intense eyes; he used to be able to feel them on him from rooftops away. "Who is she?" he asked his eyes flickering over to Helena who was watching him closely now, assessingly he thought.
"Helena," Barbara responded drawing Bruce’s eyes back over to her. "Helena Kyle."
"Kyle?" He asked curiously. Barbara had to admire how he managed to keep any hint of emotion out of his voice as he spoke, even though his stance shifting, and his eyes rapidly blinking gave him away.
"She’s Selina’s daughter," Barbara answered. "She’s staying with me."
"Daughter?" He asked not quite able to keep the surprise out of his voice this time. He looked at the girl, trying to determine her age. He had never been particularly good at deciphering the ages of young people, but he knew that she couldn’t have been any older than sixteen. It was how much younger than that that concerned him. He would check her birth certificate, he decided. And then continued to look at her curiously.
Barbara watched him, knowing what he was thinking. She had the same reaction when she’d learned about Helena. She’d never actually fought Catwoman, Selina had moved to Paris to have and for a number of years raise her child before Barbara had become Batgirl, but she had had access to the Bat Computer and it’s file of criminal minds. She’d studied all of them, Selina ‘Catwoman’ Kyle’s among them. So, when she’d seen the blonde at Gotham Library she’d recognized her immediately. Of course, she wasn’t able to go running over screaming ‘Catwoman’ at the top of her lungs so she’d merely kept a subtle eye on the woman as she’d gone about carrying out her reading group.
Sufficed to say, she’d been more than a little surprised when Selina Kyle had then walked over to the group of assembled children after the reading was finished and ruffled the hair of a bright eyed little brunette. She’d taken the smiling child’s hand in hers, telling her to come on because they had to find her a baby-sitter. At that, without thinking, without doing much other than reacting, Barbara had been on her feet and standing beside Selina. She’d introduced herself and then offered her services in the babysitting department. She supposed she had been looking for information; an inside track on Catwoman maybe when she’d made the offer. And that’s what she’d gotten; only it hadn’t been what she was bargaining on. Selina had looked down at Helena when Barbara had made her offer, and Helena had looked up at Barbara staring at her very seriously for a moment before looking back over at her mother saying "she’ll do". Selina had laughed heartily at that and then looked over at Barbara warning her that Helena could be a bit rambunctious. Barbara had responded that she was a policeman’s daughter, she knew rambunctious.
Later that night, she’d found herself in the Kyle penthouse. A place she’d ended up spending more than a few evenings over the next three years until Helena turned fourteen and deemed herself old enough to stay home alone. They hadn’t seen much of each other after that. During those years however, though she hadn’t found out much about Catwoman, but she’d learned a lot about Selina Kyle the mother and the unexpected had happened, she came to respect a criminal … a former criminal at least. They’d come to respect each other and Selina had entrusted her with the most important thing in her life. Her daughter.
"You knew my mother?" Helena asked breaking Barbara and Bruce a like out of their musings.
"We met," Bruce responded still carefully looking at the girl.
"Good," Helena said meeting his gaze. "Is he dead?"
"Who?" Bruce asked slightly thrown by the question and the intensity with which it was asked. He could see Selina in this girl, and also something else.
"The fucker that killed my mother," Helena responded. "Did you find him? Have you killed him right back yet?"
"Helena," Barbara said warningly. She wasn’t particularly surprised by the girl’s question, but that didn’t mean she was going to let it slide. Helena and talk about killing didn’t sit right with her.
"No," Helena said testily looking over at Barbara before turning to stare at Batman again. "It’s his fault anyway, isn’t it?" she accused looking over at him. "If he hadn’t let that green haired psycho get away from him in the first place, you’d still have your legs and my mother would still be alive," she continued stepping toward the masked man. "They said on the news," she went on, her lip curling with distaste. "They said the knife that killed her had the Joker’s logo on it," she went on still advancing on him.
Bruce’s jaw clenched at the girls words. Not because he was offended by them, but because he believed them to be true himself. He would take her anger because he deserved it. He should’ve seen the Joker to his cell in Arkham, he should have made sure he was locked away and the key was tossed. But he hadn’t, and Barbara had been shot and Selina had been killed. It was his fault. It was all his fault.
"I have to go," he said finally, looking at Barbara. His voice was rough, too rough. Barbara didn’t like the sound of it.
"Batman," she said. But it was too late; he’d vanished into the darkness. She turned to face Helena who stood, back ramrod straight, staring into the darkness Bruce had vanished into. She reminded Barbara a little of him at that moment, so still yet full of fire.
"He’s a coward," Helena said decisively turning away from the darkness to face Barbara.
"It takes more courage not to kill," Barbara replied softly.
Helena snorted derisively at that, her lip curling up slightly. "His courage killed my mother and is letting her killer walk free," she responded, her nostrils flaring slightly. "Fuck him."
"Helena," Barbara started to say reaching for the girl, but she stepped out of her reach.
"No lectures," Helena ground out spinning on her heel. She started back towards the park exit.
Barbara sighed and turned around, catching up to her once Helena slowed her pace upon realizing that Barbara wasn’t going to try and talk to her, at least at the moment. And together they headed home in silence.
Two days Later …
Helena’s left hand rested against the frame of the window as she stood before it staring out at the Gotham skyline as darkness descended upon it. Half of her face was covered in shadow, the other stark and rigid against the black. She stood still, too still. There was an unnaturalness to it. She was forcing herself not to move. She didn’t even want to blink.
Barbara could feel the energy rolling off of the brunette in waves. Traveling towards her, causing the air to crackle with energy.
Barbara stared at her, captivated. She had so much power and passion that it was almost overwhelming. Not only for Helena herself but also for everyone around her. Helena was the type of person that drew you into her world, not the other way around.
Barbara had felt that kind of intense, crushing energy only once before. It was more focused, less random and fragile in that case, but was of the same character nonetheless. She’d felt it from Bruce, and not for the first time since returning home from the park two nights ago, Barbara wondered to herself.
She’d dug out Helena’s birth certificate after the brunette had gone to sleep. Thinking maybe she’d made a mistake in the math, but staring at it in the pale light of her bedroom she realized that she hadn’t. At least not according to the paper in front of her. Helena, it said, had been born in Paris on September 1st. Twelve months after Selina Kyle had left Gotham.
But still, Barbara couldn’t let go of the idea that had begun to form in her mind after seeing Bruce and Helena beside each other. It had begun to germinate and grow, constantly occupying her thoughts.
"Helena!" Barbara yelled a moment later, having been jarred out of her thoughts by a loud crash.
She looked across the room to see the brunette holding a lamp in her hands by its base as she swung it repeatedly at the wall in front of her. The shade had contorted and compressed, bending back, and Barbara’s voice was almost overshadowed by the sound of the bulb shattering into tiny pieces as it connected with the wall.
"Helena!" Barbara yelled again approaching the brunette.
This time Helena seemed to hear her, and stopped her movements. The lamp hanging over her shoulder ready to be struck down against the wall against, her shoulders rising and falling with her rapid breathes.
Helena turned her head so that she could see Barbara out the corner of her eye. Her chest hurt and her eyes burned. Her mind covered in a cloudy, red haze. She closed her eyes, trying to steady her breathing, but stopped seconds later, her jaw clenching and her nostrils flaring as the rage washed over her again.
She brought the lamp down again. And again. And again. She could see his cowled face where she struck the wall with it. She could see her mother’s cold, bloody body where she struck it. She could see the back of a trench coated figured, and brought it down on that too trying to crush the memories out of her. And then when the metal, had bent and twisted and would bow to her fury no longer, she twirled around hurling it into the room behind her carelessly.
Barbara watched the almost graceful arc of the lamp as it flew across the room, clattering to a stop, half on the floor of the living room and half on the couch.
Barbara turned back around to face the brunette, a deeply unhappy sigh escaping from her throat as she focused her eyes on Helena.
Helena turned away from her. Her heart rate was decreasing, and her mind clearing. She knew what she had done, and was ashamed now. Barbara was giving her that look. That disapproving, disappointed, disillusioned and disbelieving look that she always got on her face when Helena lost her temper like that. The redhead would stare at her, shaming her silently, judging her. The look disgraced and angered her, and she was torn between wanting to apologize and make Barbara’s eyes warm and heartening again and wanting to move a few steps to the left, pick up the wooden chair that sat there and hit something else with it.
She looked down at her feet shaking slightly.
"You still feel like hitting something?" Barbara asked having seen Helena’s sideways glance and the violent shivers the brunette was just barely controlling.
"I always feel like hitting something," Helena responded, her voice bitter with honesty.
"That’s why we have the training room," Barbara responded coming closer to Helena now. She reached for the brunette’s hand taking it into hers softly. "I set it up so that you could…"
"It’s not the same," Helena said interrupting Barbara. Her eyes fluttered closed momentarily at Barbara’s touch, and then opened again so that she could look at the redhead. Her thumb stroked over Barbara’s hand. She didn’t feel like hitting anything at that moment. She felt calm, and warm.
"The same as what?" Barbara asked softly, taking her hand out of Helena’s to brush a strand of hair off of her face now that the brunette seemed to be calming a bit.
"As breaking something," Helena replied, her tone frustrated and uneasy once more. When Barbara had broken her hold she had taken the calm away with her warmth. "Hearing it shatter, feeling it bend and fracture," she continued her voice rising in pitch. "It’s not hitting something, it’s destroying it," she finished gesturing emphatically, her voice rising shrilly with fervor before dropping off leaving the room in silence.
"You’re burning up," Barbara said seriously, looking over at Helena once she had calmed down a bit once more. She felt like she spent half of her time waiting for Helena to calm down and the other half watching her key up. "You keep this up and the only thing you’ll be destroying is yourself," she went on. "You’re being indulgent, Helena," she said her voice rising sharply having seen the brunette roll her eyes at her previous statement. "Anger can be a part of you, but it shouldn’t be you. It’s becoming you Helena, and that should worry you. It sure as hell worries me."
"I’ll fucking buy you a new lamp, you don’t need to go metaphysical on me," Helena responded looking away from Barbara. That look was there again only there was something more to it. Barbara didn’t just look disappointed or upset. She looked scared.
"Helena you cannot afford to be out of control!" Barbara replied sharply drawing the brunette’s eyes over to her. "I know you’re hurt, and you have every right to be. Hurt, angry, resentful. Whatever your feeling you’re entitled to it, but this," Barbara said waving at the shattered pieces of glass and plastic on the floor. "Has got to end. You can’t just walk around throwing temper tantrums whenever you want because it makes you feel better!"
"Why not?" Helena asked contemptuously.
"Because you’ve got something special and terrible inside of you," Barbara responded, her tone less confrontational now. Helena didn’t respond well to negative tones. "Power," she said softly though her voice carried a resonance that made it sound louder, made it seem to take up the room. "And with that comes responsibility whether you want it or not. You have the ability to hurt, and break and destroy. You have the capacity to do to others what has been done to you. It is NOT a potential that you want to realize," Barbara continued seeing Helena shift under the weight of her gaze and her words. "I …" she started again, but stopped when she realized she didn’t know what to say. She saw the potential for greatness in this girl, but also a capacity for darkness. It was the latter promise that she didn’t quite know how to deal with. She knew anger, and passion, and power, but the mechanism to control it, and focus her talents towards positive ends had never been something she had to work for. She leaned towards the light naturally and only walked in the dark to attain her ends. But Helena was different, her immediate response to anything, and sometimes it seemed everything, was violent and raw. Always so emotional and passionate, Helena was, she felt everything so very deeply. She was trying to help Helena control it, but at times like these she felt like she was failing. Failing very miserably. So much anger and she had no place to direct it.
Barbara brought her hand up to her face and rubbed at her eyes tiredly.
Helena stood silently watching as Barbara wrestled with herself internally, her own head ringing with the redhead’s previous speech. Barbara was scared. Scared of her. Of her anger, and her temper and what it could do. The concern and understanding Barbara had shown her every time she raged had also been tinged with apprehension and anxiety.
"I wouldn’t hurt any …" Helena started to say softly, shuffling uncomfortably on her feet. But she was forced to stop as she realized that she would hurt. She had hurt. And she hadn’t been terribly concerned with it beyond her own feelings of vindication and momentary pleasure. She’d provoked fights at schools, knowing she could win them. She’d kicked when the other person was down because she could. She could feel the power coursing through her. It had a heady taste that suited her well.
She sank to the floor sitting cross-legged a meter away from Barbara and didn’t say anything else.
"You can control it," Barbara said, her voice soft as she looked at the brunette.
Helena nodded, but didn’t speak. She wasn’t so sure she could anymore than she had been able to stop herself from breathing. She barely remembered what it was like to walk around with Drop John on her back bathing her in shadow.
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