Three weeks later…
"Hello?" Barbara said distractedly into the receiver, cradling the phone on her shoulder as she slipped her finger under the flap of the envelope and began to tear the paper. She’d been waiting on this for days.
"I know I taught you to answer a phone better than that," came Jim Gordon’s voice.
"Kids," Barbara replied smiling as she slipped a few pieces of paper out of the envelope. "I just got the results," she continued slipping her glasses on. "Thanks again Dad, I can’t tell you how grateful I am," she said as she glanced over the medical jargon that covered the page looking for a particular phrase.
"You can try over dinner on Friday," Jim responded in a good-natured tone. Barbara seemed to be getting back to herself, which delighted him immensely. "You’re just lucky I’ve still got some friends in low places," he continued. "I don’t suppose you’re going to tell what this is about now," he went on leadingly.
Barbara bent closer to the piece of paper resting on the desk before her, staring at it hard for long moments. It was a perfect genetic match.
"Dad," she said slowly, still staring at the page. "I’m gonna have to call you back," she said her voice picking up speed, touched with an undercurrent of excitement. "Talk to you later, love you, bye," she finished so fast the words almost blurred together as she hung up.
Immediately clicking the phone back on she punched in the number to Wayne manner, as large smile slowly working its way across her face as she her heart pounded in her chest. When she’d called and asked Alfred to get a sample of Bruce’s hair for her three weeks before, she hadn’t allowed herself to speculate too heavily about what she might find out. She hadn’t even been sure if she’d be able to find anything out, since the lab in the Batcave wouldn’t have been at her disposal for this particular task and a private lab would’ve been too expensive. But her father, after releasing series after series of exasperated sighs – she now knew where she had gotten it from – had finally relented to seeing what he could do about getting a paternity test done on the fine pieces of hair she had slipped to him in small plastic baggies one day over lunch.
But now she had the results. It was no longer speculation, Bruce WAS Helena’s father. Selina had had Helena’s birth certificate altered, or forged completely. She’d probably done it herself. She had after all been the best at what she did, which was lie, cheat and steal.
As the phone rang, Barbara wondered why, in the back of her mind. Why Selina had gone to the trouble of keeping the truth from Bruce? But it was only at the back of her mind. She had a more pressing matter to attend to. She had to …
"Alfred, it’s Barbara," she said her words coming out rushed. "I need to talk to Bruce it’s extremely important. Is he home?"
"I’m afraid to say Miss," Alfred started sounding strangely rattled. "That he’s gone."
"I’ll try his cell," Barbara said then. "You don’t know if he’s in a meeting do you?"
"Miss," Alfred responded rather gravely. "I’m afraid … I didn’t make myself clear. Master Bruce is gone … from Gotham. He’s left … everything. No forwarding address, no … he’s gone Miss Gordon, just gone," he finished.
"He can’t be," Barbara said, her brain refusing to process what Alfred just told her. She knew that Bruce had been having a hard time, since the night the docks went up in flames, but to up and leave without a word was something else entirely. "I need to talk to him. Alfred that hair sample you got for me, it confirmed it. Helena’s his daughter. I have to get a hold of him. He …"
"He’s unreachable," Alfred responded, though his voice wasn’t devoid of surprise at hearing what Barbara had just revealed. "I’ve tried, so has Master Dick, I was actually on my way to contact you when … well," Alfred finished with a sigh.
"Gone?" Barbara asked, staring ahead of her absolutely shell-shocked. "How could he just leave?"
"I don’t know Miss Gordon," Alfred responded. "I don’t believe he really felt like he had been here for months anyway, not since …the night of your accident and Ms. Kyle’s death."
"But …" Barbara started to say. "I see," she continued taking a deep breath to calm her nerves. "I’ll …bye," she finished clicking the off button weakly before letting the phone slide out of her hand to clatter noisily onto the desk.
Bruce was gone.
Two Days Later …
Barbara jerked awake blinking rapidly as her heart thumped in her chest. At first she was uncertain what had woken her so suddenly, but then she became aware of it. There was something different about her room. Something was off in the darkness. It was almost as if …
"Helena," she said softly, spotting a figure slumped against her bedroom door.
"Looks like you were having a rough night," Helena said softly looking in Barbara’s direction when the redhead spoke. The truth was she was a bit surprised to hear Barbara’s voice. She’d been sitting there watching the older woman toss and turn for a good half hour before she herself had faded out a little bit, not quite asleep, but not quite awake either. "Actually, just having a rough time with everything lately," she went on not taking her eyes off of the redhead.
Barbara had been rather preoccupied and upset for the past couple of days.
"It’s nothing," Barbara responded quietly. "I’ve just had a lot on my mind," she continued running a hand through her hair.
"A bad a lot?" Helena asked shifting slightly. She hadn’t wanted to move before when Barbara was asleep for fear of waking her up, but her leg had fallen asleep and now that the redhead was awake there was no reason to be uncomfortable anymore.
"A complex a lot," Barbara replied with a sigh.
"Are you sorry you agreed to let me stay with you?" Helena asked shifting again, removing her gaze from Barbara’s for the first time since the redhead had awoken. She’d gotten into another fight a couple days before - it hadn’t been as bad as the others, she was learning how to control herself when she started to get out of control - and Barbara hadn’t even bothered to lecture her, or sigh with frustration. She’d just sent her to her room, and grounded her for the rest of the week. And then she’d been really distant ever since. Helena wondered if Barbara was getting tired her. She hoped not, she was starting to be able to feel things besides anger and irritation again, good things, and she felt them with, or maybe for Barbara. She didn’t want to lose that, or the redhead.
"No," Barbara responded immediately, propping herself up on her elbow. "Never think that," she continued sincerely.
"I’m more trouble than I’m worth," Helena responded looking back over at her nonetheless. "I know it. I just can’t help it," she continued weakly turning her head to the side disgraced. "I’m a pain in the ass."
"You’re a teenager," Barbara responded. "Being a pain in the ass is part of your job description," she continued smiling slightly glad to see Helena turn her head back towards her though her expression was still so hang dog that it would’ve made a puppy weep. "Besides, you’re my pain in the ass now," she finished hearing Helena give off a small laugh before dropping her head down to face the ground.
"Teenager," Helena muttered a moment later. "Only in age," she added ruefully, looking back up at Barbara. She felt like she had aged over a decade since coming to live with Barbara. Her life before that night seemed like a dream.
"Helena," Barbara said a few moments later, drawing out the brunette’s name as she dropped her head back down onto the pillow. "Are you okay?"
"You wanna know why I’m in your room," Helena said smiling to herself. Barbara was so polite most of the time. It was obscenely cute. "I couldn’t sleep," she continued before Barbara could reply. "It’s calming watching you sleep. Though not really tonight."
"That’s touching," Barbara replied, wondering just how many nights Helena had been in her room without her knowledge. It didn’t sound like this was the first time the brunette had watched her in slumber. "In a strange sort of way," she added almost to herself though she was sure Helena heard the comment. "Were you planning on staying the night?" she asked raising a playful eyebrow.
"If it’s alright with you," Helena responded simply.
Barbara was quiet for a moment after that. She’d kind of been joking. "Well then," she said thoughtfully. "You could at least be comfortable," she continued patting the mattress beside her.
Helena was still for a moment, and then stood up and slowly crossed over to the side of the bed opposite where Barbara was lying, carefully lifting up the other end of the blanket and slipping underneath it.
She lay on her side facing Barbara for a few moments after that. Barbara had looked at her when she lay down and then closed her eyes, though the redhead’s lips were curved up ever so slightly alerting Helena to the fact that she was aware of her presence. Of her gaze.
She slid closer to Barbara in increments. Bit by bit, watching for any reaction from the redhead, until she finally lay directly beside her. She slid her arm around Barbara’s waist loosely and laid her head on the pillow beside Barbara’s so that their faces were only inches apart.
"You should go to sleep, you have school tomorrow," Helena said softly as Barbara opened her eyes and turned to look at her curiously, obviously having not expected Helena to slide so close to her. "I’ll keep the complex problems away for the night," she continued smiling as Barbara continued to peer at her, blinking sleepily. It was unbelievably sexy, in a powerfully tender way.
"That’s a very … chivalrous sentiment," Barbara replied uncomfortably aware of Helena’s presence beside her. "But you have school tomorrow too and should take your own advice."
"That’s me, a knight in functional clothing," Helena replied shifting back a bit to place a small space between her and Barbara though she left her arm draped around the redhead’s waist. "And, I may have school, but unlike you I don’t have to actually be awake for it."
"That is not something you want to be saying to an education professional," Barbara responded. Helena was limp against her, almost boneless in her calm as she spoke with an ease that Barbara hadn’t heard from her in quite some time. "You do know that school is much more effective if you are awake right?" she asked. She had been feeling a bit uneasy when she first felt Helena wrap her arm around her, though she couldn’t exactly say why. It was obvious that the brunette drew some kind of comfort from the contact, which was something miraculous in itself since Helena hadn’t been taking comfort in much of anything since her mother’s death. It was a good thing, Barbara supposed, that she could at least give Helena this, no matter how small a consolation it was. Besides, she had to admit to herself as Helena laughed softly, she found the contact somewhat comforting as well.
"Yeah," Helena answered playful, shifting back towards Barbara, closing the distance she had created moments before when she felt the redhead relax. "You know, you should follow my advice or I might be forced to do something crazy like try and lull you to sleep through song," she continued seeing Barbara’s eyes begin to droop though the redhead fought to keep them open. "Something from the ‘Sounds of Nature’ collection perhaps," she continued, her eyes trailing up the smooth, creamy skin to Barbara’s neck, to her jaw and then perfectly sculpted cheekbones.
"You’re pretty chatty for someone who wants me to go to sleep," Barbara commented as her eyes started to close again. She didn’t fight it this time. She was tired, and the heat from Helena’s body was seeping into hers acting as a sort of sedative against her stress.
"I’m never chat…" Helena started to respond. She stopped however when she saw that Barbara’s eyes were firmly closed and her breathing had slowed and steadied. She had fallen asleep right in Helena’s arms.
Helena rested her head down on the pillow, her eyes never leaving Barbara’s sleeping face. And thus she remained for the rest of the night.
Three days later …
Helena shoved the small piece of paper into her pocket and began to fiddle with the headphones of her mini-disc player as she started down the hallway, her finger simultaneously and rapidly punching the play button before she realized that she had the machine on hold.
"Whoa!" a deep face said from slightly in front of her and to her left.
"Sorry," she muttered looking up as the techno beats began to blast into her ear. A tall, dark haired man was smiling at her with his hands raised in the universal sign of peace. He was good-looking, with a charmingly goofy expression on his face.
He looked kind of familiar, but she couldn’t place him.
She continued down the hallway, not really caring.
Barbara rolled towards the door shaking her head upon hearing the bell ring figuring that Helena had forgotten the list and her key. She had a cocky grin ready to bestow upon the brunette when she opened the door. However, caution had been tragically etched into her brain, and she looked through the peephole first, jerking back with surprise when she saw who was standing on the other side of the door.
"Hey you," Barbara greeted with a grin as she threw the door open, moving back to give her guest room to come in.
"Hey yourself," Dick responded smiling widely as he stepped into the apartment closing the door behind him. "Radiant as ever," he continued picking up Barbara’s hand and placing a soft kiss to it.
"And you," Barbara said waving him into the apartment once she got the use of her hand back. "Charming as ever," she went on heading for the kitchen, looking back at him contemplatively as she did. "Can I get you something to drink?"
"Somehow I don’t think that’s really what you wanted to ask me," Dick responded lightly, smiling as Barbara looked over at him again.
"If you’re so smart …" Barbara replied challengingly letting the sentence hang as she put on a pot of coffee.
"Alfred said you wanted to talk to me about Bruce," Dick responded plopping down on the couch. "He also hinted that you were up to something I might want to look into. Are you being sneaky Barbara?" he asked bending down as something reflective on the floor caught his eyes. He picked up a piece of glass lying by the couch leg and stared at it thoughtfully.
"I thought you’d call," Barbara replied coming to stop by the doorway of the kitchen so that she could see Dick as the coffee brewed. "And since when is sneaky a bad thing? Don’t you sneak professionally?"
"I guess I could’ve. Called that is," he replied placing the small piece of glass on the coffee table in front of him. "But I wanted to see you," he continued looking over at her. "I’m sorry I wasn’t able to stay longer after the …"
"Don’t worry about it," Barbara said waving off the apology. "When duty calls you must answer," she continued smiling softly. He’d come to see her a few days after she was shot. Had sneaked into her room after Helena had left to return to the group home for the night. The visit had been awkward and uncomfortable, so when Dick’s communicator had gone off alerting him to some serious trouble in Bludhaven causing him to leave, she had been rather relieved. It didn’t feel right to let him apologize for it when she hadn’t been wronged.
"From you’re previous comment," Dick started realizing that their brief visit in the hospital was a subject Barbara didn’t want to talk about, "I take that you are …" he went on before stopping as his foot scrapped against something as he shifted. Bending down again he picked up a jagged piece of plastic that looked like part of a lampshade. "Was it evil?" he asked raising an eyebrow as he rested it on the table beside the piece of glass.
"Clashed with the rest of the décor, that just couldn’t be tolerated," Barbara replied before shrugging. "Helena was working off some aggression."
"With your furniture?" Dick asked dubiously.
"It was really more like an appliance," Barbara replied wheeling back into the kitchen. The coffee was done.
"She have long brown hair?" Dick asked as Barbara disappeared. He’d heard that she had some kid living with her, and she’d mentioned this Helena the couple of times they talked over the months, but they hadn’t gone into much detail about it, or anything really. "I think I saw her in the hall."
"Yeah, that was her," came Barbara’s disembodied voice from the kitchen.
"She shattered a lampshade?" he asked fingering the piece of plastic again thinking that it would have required quite a bit of force. "She didn’t look like …"
"Helena’s much … just much more than meets the eye," Barbara interrupted with a small smile as she came over to the couch, a small tray on her lap. "Too much of her mother and her father," she continued placing a cup in front of Dick.
"Who is her mother?" Dick asked reaching for the small milk container. "I mean, why is she living with you?"
"Selina Kyle," Barbara replied leaning back, knowing that she was in for an interrogation. "I think that answers your other question."
"Selina ‘Catwoman’ Kyle?" Dick asked rather incredulously. "She could breed?"
Barbara couldn’t help but laugh at that. "She could she did. Rather well. Catwoman or not, she was a very good mother," she replied nonetheless. "Helena was her life after she was born, I suppose they were each others," she continued sighing.
"If you say so," Dick replied somewhat surprised by Barbara’s defense of the thief. Barbara had been the one that informed him and Bruce that Selina was back in town before he had left for Bludhaven, but he hadn’t known that she’d had enough contact with the woman to make character endorsements. "Well, where’s her father?"
"That is the question," Barbara replied frowning deeply. "That’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about."
"Whoa!" Dick exclaimed. "I know I made a few comments about the costume, but Catwoman was Bruce’s bag," he continued looking at Barbara seriously. "I …"
"I know," Barbara interjected looking at him like he was a special kind of stupid. "That’s what I was getting at. Dick," she continued seriously as she looked into her former ally’s eyes intensely her complete focus on him causing her to miss the sound of a key in the lock. "Bruce … is Helena’s father."
"What?" Helena asked the small bag of groceries falling from her hand as she stared at Barbara. "Oh, I’m sorry, I said WHAT?" she repeated when Barbara simply stared at her, and the man from the hallway turned to look at her.
"Oh my god," Dick breathed out softly, straining forward to get a better look at the teen. Now that he knew, now that he had a reason to look, he could see Bruce in her. She had his eyes, his hair, and his presence.
"I know," Barbara said in response to Dick’s stunned utterance.
"What the fuck is going on here?" Helena asked stalking towards the two of them. "Who hell is Bruce?"
"You haven’t told her?" Dick asked turning towards Barbara.
"I was hoping you would’ve been able to help me find him," Barbara replied somewhat defensively. "I was waiting to hear from you," she finished frowning a bit, though it had become clear to her that Dick had no more of an idea where Bruce had gone than she did.
"Barbara," Helena said her voice rising in frustration. "Who is he?" she asked looking at Dick. " What’s going on here? You know who my father is?" she asked the questions coming out in rapid succession, her body tense and anxious.
"You should probably sit down," Barbara breathed out softly motioning Helena towards the couch. "This is gonna take a while."
Helena was quiet for long moments after Barbara finished speaking, her breaths slow and heavy as she stared past the redhead to the wall behind her, sitting perfectly still. She’d heard the news reports that aired after her mother’s death. She’d heard them refer to her mother as ‘the woman once accused of being Catwoman’. But she’d been rather out of it at the time, and had dismissed the allegations as tabloid journalism at it’s worse afterwards. She knew her mother, and she knew that she wasn’t a thief. Only apparently she was. Even if she had given it up after she was born.
"And you were Batgirl," she said finally focusing on Barbara. It explained at lot. Barbara’s martial arts and weapons knowledge, as well as her understanding of power and darkness, and her concern over Helena’s abuse of her natural talents. How she even knew what Helena’s abilities meant. Metahuman, she thought to herself shaking her head. Just like her mother.
"And you were Robin, now Nightwing … my adopted brother," Helena continued slowly looking over towards Dick. "Dick Grayson, the adopted son of my father, Bruce Wayne. Batman," she said, the last word falling from her lips contemptuously. "Who doesn’t know I’m his daughter, because Mom tampered with my birth certificate. And who has now disappeared without a trace. Does that about sum it up?" Helena asked looking between Barbara and Dick.
"I don’t know, I just found out about all this an hour ago," Dick replied somewhat helplessly turning his attention to Barbara as well.
"Yeah, that about sums it up," Barbara replied wearily, holding Helena’s gaze.
Helena stood up slowly, rolling her shoulders once she was on her feet.
"I’m going to lie down," she said monotonously immediately turning to head for her bedroom.
"Helena," Barbara said staring after the girl with concern.
The brunette didn’t respond.
"Well," Barbara said once the faint click of Helena’s door closing reverberated throughout the silent apartment. "That went well."
"Are you being serious or …" Dick started looking over at her bewildered.
"I actually don’t know," Barbara replied staring down into the liquid of her now cold coffee. "She didn’t break anything. So maybe that’s good."
"Maybe?" Dick said thinking that there should’ve been no ‘maybe’.
"She could be gathering steam to blow off her top later," Barbara admitted staring at the closed door.
"Are you gonna …"
"No," Barbara replied still looking at the door. "She needs time to process what she just learned. Thinking about it I can still hardly believe it, I can’t imagine how she’s feeling. Whatever her reaction ends up being, she needs time to come to it," she continued sighing.
Dick nodded leaving them in silence for long moments.
"Did Alfred tell you about the trust funds?" Dick asked long, awkward moments later, referring to the accounts Bruce had apparently set up in their names before he left. He winced slightly as the words came out of his mouth. He didn’t know what else to say, but it seemed indelicate to be bringing up money at a time like this.
"Hmmm," Barbara replied looking over at him finally. "It’s what made me get sneaky."
"What do you mean?" Dick asked watching as Barbara’s gaze drifted back towards Helena’s bedroom door. She was tense, she wanted to go talk to the girl, her body was practically screaming it, but she restrained herself because it was best for Helena.
"Have you ever heard of the Oracle of Delphi?" Barbara asked her eyes drifting back to Dick’s.
Helena leaned against a bookcase in the corner of the apartment, bathed in shadow. She had silently snuck out of her room about a half-hour before and had been listening to Barbara and Dick talk ever since. She’d been tired of her own voice, of her own thoughts that could answer no questions for her and give her no peace. Barbara was talking about plans for something she called Delphi, which as far as Helena could tell was some sort of super computer that would allow Barbara to solve crimes somehow.
"It’s brilliant Babs, really," Dick said drawing Helena out of her thoughts. She focused on them once more. He was smiling, and brought his hands to rest on Barbara’s shoulders squeezing them as he smiled down at her. "You got brains that don’t quit," he continued causing Barbara to smile and shake her head slightly.
Helena frowned and began to move towards them, momentarily losing track of the conversation.
"…then," Barbara was saying as Helena crept towards them. "I’ll transfer the rest of the trust into Helena’s name."
"Save it," Helena said drawing their eyes over to her. "I don’t want his money. I don’t want anything to do with him."
"Helena," Barbara breathed out. She’d been aware of the brunette watching them for quite sometime. "I know you blame Bruce for what happened to your mother, but …"
"You’re right," Helena said cutting her off. "I do blame him. For what happened to you too. No ‘but’," she continued her eyes traveling up Dick’s hands from where they still rested on Barbara’s shoulders to his face. She stared at him viciously as she imagined beating his good-looking head in.
"You shouldn’t," Barbara said not liking the hard edge on Helena’s voice.
"I do," was all Helena said in response, effectively indicating that Barbara should shut it in regards to Bruce Wayne and how she should or shouldn’t feel about the man. She continued to stare at Dick the whole time.
Dick stared back at the girl; somewhat surprised by the hostility in her voice when she spoke about Bruce, and the intensity of the gaze she was looking at him with. There was something dark, predatory in the girl. She was making him rather uneasy. He looked at Barbara dubiously, wondering for the first time if it had been a good idea for her to take in Catwoman’s daughter, no matter how much the thief had seemed to change over the years.
"Ah," Dick started, trying to ignore Helena’s glare and get the conversation towards more comfortable ground. "About Delphi," he continued concentrating on Barbara. "I could stick around for a while, do some leg work if you want when you’re getting it set up. Help you get words from the street to input and all that," he finished grinning.
"We’ve got it covered," Helena cut in before Barbara could respond. She took a step forward closing the distance between the three of them. She was still staring at Dick.
"Hel…" Barbara started surprised by the aggression Helena was directing toward Dick, and by her response.
"Didn’t mean to imply that you didn’t," Dick replied keeping his tone friendly as stepped back and to the side placing some space between him and Helena and him and Barbara. "It’s just that old two heads are better than one thing. I figured that …"
"Three’s a crowd," Helena said lowly as she crossed into the space Dick vacated. Barbara had turned around to face him, leaving her back to Helena. The brunette placed her hands on Barbara’s shoulder, looking at Dick over the top of the redhead’s head. "Don’t you have your own city to protect?" she practically sneered at him.
"Helena," Barbara said, her tone warning as she turned to face the brunette, her brows scrunching together with worry. Something had clearly upset Helena, putting her on the defensive, but she had no idea what it was.
"We’ve been training for months," Helena said looking at Barbara breaking her gaze away from Dick for the first time since announcing her presence. "You knew what I was. Who my parents were. What I could do," she continued staring down at the redhead. "This is what you had in mind isn’t it? Why you’re setting up Delphi," she went on moving to the side of Barbara’s chair. "A … partnership, between you and me," she said softly picking up Barbara’s hand. "Brain," she said smiling at the redhead. "And brawn," she continued looking down at herself as her thumb stroked the skin of the back of Barbara’s hand.
"I would never assume …" Barbara started, startled by Helena’s interferences and her touch. She shivered slightly.
"I know," Helena replied cutting Barbara off once more. "You’re not. I’m telling you. Anything he can do," she went on glancing over at Dick. "I can do … better," she finished looking Barbara in the eye.
Barbara blinked at the comment, slightly off-put by something in Helena’s tone that she couldn’t quite identify. She gently took her hand away from Helena’s. "We’ll discuss the cape and cowl issues later," she said rather stiffly, before turning her head to look at Dick. Sighing deeply, she then shook her head slightly before speaking. "You," she said addressing Dick, "probably wouldn’t have much to by way of gathering words from the street though. They’re not talking so much anymore. Crime’s been at an all time low in Gotham since the Joker’s capture and return to Arkham. They’re still your typical muggings, rapes and crimes of passion, but the police have got a handle those. Gotham’s more sinister animals seem to be hibernating," she continued. "You’d be better served in Bludhaven."
"Are you sure?" Dick asked somewhat surprised by the dismissal of his offer. Truthfully, he’d been hoping to stick around at least for a little while. He’d missed Barbara.
"Yeah," Barbara said smiling softly. "Though the offer was greatly appreciated," she continued sincerely.
Dick nodded looking over at her and then up slightly. Helena had her hands on Barbara’s shoulders again and was smirking at him cockily, like she knew this was how things were going to turn out from the moment he’d made the offer. He found her to be extremely obnoxious. He looked back to Barbara who was still looking at him, her expression mild and her posture relaxed. She didn’t seem to even be aware of the fact that the girl was touching her again, almost as if it was a regular occurrence, like she was used to this kids hands being all over her.
He looked back up at Helena. The girl was tall, trim, dark and cloaked in mystery. There was also something, mischievous yet shadowy in her baring and expression that reminded him of her mother. Sensual and dangerous. She was exceptionally attractive and aged beyond her years. If Barbara hadn’t mentioned it, he would’ve pegged her for someone in her twenties, early twenties, but certainly not a seventeen year old.
He thought back over what had transpired in the past half hour, over her hostile reaction and realized that she had emerged from the shadows when he’d placed his hands on Barbara’s shoulders, and she had continued to act in an antagonistic way until he had moved away from Barbara. Then moving in to touch the redhead herself. It was almost as if she was protecting her territory … and then marking it.
Dick glanced between the two of them wondering, despite himself, if …
"Don’t you have homework?" Barbara asked turning to face Helena. Dick seemed to be deep in thought, and she guessed that he had quite a bit to think about so she’d let him.
"I don’t wanna do it," Helena replied almost petulantly, causing Dick to look back at her as she looked at Barbara disgruntled. Gone was dangerous temptress he had been conversing with moments ago, replaced with a militant teenager. "It’s been an exciting day," she added seeming to think it would help her cause.
Barbara stared at her for a moment, and then in a perfectly reasonable tone responded, "All the more reason to do something normal then."
Dick shook his head at this exchange wondering what the hell he had been thinking before.
"Another pearl of wisdom," Helena muttered smiling, as Dick mentally kicked himself in the ass for thinking that Barbara would … "Where are you hiding those fortune cookies?" Helena continued.
"Go," Barbara said making a shooing motion. "I’m tired of the other teachers thinking I run a lax household."
"You do run a lax household," Helena responded backing away nonetheless so that Barbara couldn’t swat her in the stomach.
"No need for everyone to know about it," Barbara replied easily. "Go on," she said.
"Fine," Helena replied, bowing sarcastically before turning around. "Call me for feeding time. And don’t be skimpy break out the good troughs. We have a guest," she continued as she headed towards her room, twirling around on the way, to gaze at Barbara before winking confidently at Dick. Then she was gone.
"Good troughs?" Dick asked a moment later, silently thrown by Helena’s parting glance. Maybe he’d been right about Helena protecting her territory, though her territory didn’t know it had been claimed.
"We run a classy shift here at Chez Gordon," Barbara replied smirking. "Come on you can tell me all about your rousing adventure’s while we wait for the Chinese to get here."
Dick watched the dark liquid in his glass swirl around as he tipped the glass from side to side lazily, before turning his gaze upwards and out over the city. They were on Barbara’s balcony, and a nice breeze was blowing through the city. The air was nice and crisp. He wouldn’t have minded standing on a rooftop somewhere looking down, but the view was pretty good from where he was too, and the company was much better.
"I gotta say Babs," he started carefully, tilting his head to the side to look at her. "This Helena kid," he continued, "she’s a bit … rough isn’t she?"
"Rough?" Barbara asked quirking an eyebrow at him. It was dark out of the balcony but the light provided enough that they could still quite comfortably see each other.
"I was trying to be diplomatic," Dick replied smiling a bit. "She seems pretty aggressive. You know, I get a serious anger issues vibe from her, and the whole smashes lamps for fun and skulks around in dark corners thing …creepy," he continued looking back over at Barbara. "The whole ‘Helena like pain’," he went on, adopting a bad Frankenstein impersonation, "thing doesn’t sit to well with me."
"You didn’t see her at her most charming," Barbara replied after a moment, her voice slow and careful. "I’m not gonna say that the … belligerence you witnessed tonight is …is a rare occurrence," she went on delicately. "But she’s getting better with the anger …just better, in general. She just … she watched her mother die right in front of her, only to find me lying in a pool of my own blood near death hours later. It’s been a rough couple of months," she continued defensively on Helena’s behalf.
"I know that," Dick responded. "I know what it’s like to lose family," he continued softly, his eyes focused on the city in front of them.
"I didn’t mean to suggest …" Barbara began wincing slightly.
"I know," Dick said cutting her off. "And I know that I had my own disciplinary problems when I went to live with Bruce, and what it’s like to be angry and feel alone, and all of that angsty …shit," he went on. "But I just got this feeling from her, this feeling …" he said pausing, searching for words and coming up short.
Barbara sighed softly, her gaze drifting around the balcony before returning to Dick. "I think I know what you mean. But there’s more to her than just negative energy," Barbara went on. "I’ve known her since she was ten Dick. And she’s changed since Selina’s death, it some way a lot and in others … not that much. She’s not a bad kid, she’s just confused and hurt, and more than a little angry, but …" she sighed again. "She’s also strong, and smart, and quick, and sensitive, and caring. She can be unbelievably gentle, and kind and considerate. She just needs something constant, and true that’ll be there for her and believe in her to smooth the jagged pieces into a whole again. That’s me Dick. I know it’s hard to see beneath all of the fury on her surface, but she’s special. I truly believe that," she finished bringing her glass up to her lips and looking back out over the city.
"Okay," Dick breathed out, somewhat surprised by the conviction in Barbara’s voice. "So you like her then?" he asked looking over at Barbara smirking. She smiled back and shook her head. "So you’re going to train her? To look after Gotham with you?"
"I’ve been training her, hoping to help her gain some control," Barbara replied. "And the thought may have passed through my mind once or twice once I got the idea for Delphi," she admitted. "But it isn’t something I was going to … direct her towards," she went on. "But she wants to, and I have to admit I’m leaning heavily towards agreeing to it," she continued. "I think Helena has the potential to be a great superhero. One day maybe even a match for her father."
"Whew," Dick whistled. "High compliment coming from you," he continued looking over at her profile as she stared straight ahead. "This girls really gotten to you, hasn’t she?" he asked.
Barbara continued to stare forward for a moment, considering Dick’s question and how to answer it. "I guess so," Barbara replied laughing softly. "I can’t really explain it, but yeah. It’s like …" she started before trailing off, feeling a bit silly for thinking what she was thinking and not even knowing where it came from to begin with.
"What?" he asked smiling a bit.
"I don’t know, have you ever just met someone, or been somewhere, and just known, even though you couldn’t possibly that it was just suppose to happen. That you would’ve met this person, or come to this place or whatever it might be, no matter what? Like life has certain unavoidable intersections and you were at one of them?" she asked looking down at her feet.
"When I stepped into Wayne Manor and looked up to see Bruce standing in front of me," Dick replied immediately. "I’d been anxious before, and I was after, but for a split second when I looked up at him everything seemed to be exactly as it should be."
"I can’t pin point an exact moment, or even think of a single example right now," Barbara said softly. "But that’s how it is with Helena. I mean I just feel like we’re tied together … somehow. Like we always have been … will be. Like doing those readings at the library, and babysitting her, and listening to Selina and agreeing to be her guardian, telling that child services lady while hopped up on morphine and barely conscious that she could kiss my lower back, just … everything was …"
"Fate," Dick said softly, somewhat surprised to hear this coming from Barbara. She was always so logical, and rational, she’d even chosen to turn myth into hard science for her new codename.
"Yeah, except I don’t believe in fate," Barbara replied smiling a bit before looking confused. "I don’t know why I’m so attached to her. I mean before we went through all of this in the last few months. Nobody thought I should be looking after her, I wasn’t sure if I should be looking after her, I just couldn’t not," she went on shrugging. "The idea of not …" she started again only to trail off helplessly.
"She’s lucky to have you," Dick said softly looking back over at Barbara.
Barbara shrugged in a non-committal way and glanced over at Dick looking at him for a moment.
"I like your hair cut," she said smiling at him playfully. She wanted to change the subject, to change the mood. It had been an unbelievably serious day, and before that few weeks. She wanted to relax. She may have leaned towards the more staid, but Dick was generally a rather cheerful guy and she knew it wouldn’t take much to get him onto a lighter subject.
"What’s wrong with my hair cut?" he asked bringing his hand up to his head and feeling his hair.
"It’s very modern," Barbara replied smiling wider as Dick played with his hair. He was so easy sometimes. "Low maintenance."
"What do you mean ‘low maintenance’?" he asked suspiciously.
"Well, you wake up with it looking like that don’t you?" Barbara asked laughing looking rather pleased with herself.
"Quiet or I’ll break your good lamp," Dick said looking behind them into the living room at the remaining lamp of what was once a pair.
"Suit yourself," Barbara replied easily. "Hardly anything in there costs over twenty dollars anymore," she continued rolling her eyes. "The coffee table looks wood, but it’s actually wood patterned plastic."
"Classy," Dick commented whistling. "Somebody’s moving on up."
A Month Later …
Helena carefully lifted the covers to Barbara’s bed and slipped underneath. The redhead hardly ever woke up when she would show up anymore. She wasn’t surprised. She had after all spent more than a few nights watching Barbara sleep before she’d been invited into the bed, and she knew that the redhead slept better with her lying beside her. She did what she had promised that first night, she kept Barbara’s nightmares and worries away, and Barbara did the same for her. It was a mutually beneficial relationship. Just, it seemed, like everything else in their lives. Not only did they keep each other together emotionally but they were partners in crime, or crime-fighting more accurately. They were like different halves of a whole.
She slipped her arms around Barbara’s waist, smiling to herself as the redhead instinctually turned into her embrace. Barbara fit into her arms perfectly.
Helena inhaled deeply taking in Barbara’s unique scent mixed in with the smooth, musky aroma of the redhead’s bath gel.
She bent her head towards Barbara’s innocently placing a soft kiss on the corner of her jaw, though perhaps her lips lingered a moment longer than necessary.
Barbara moaned softly and leaned further into Helena, tightening her own arms around the brunette’s waist, her lips brushing against the skin of Helena’s neck. Helena heard her name whispered from those lips as they buried into her.
She began to kiss along Barbara’s jaw towards her mouth, hesitating for only a moment before brushing her lips against the soft, red of Barbara’s, her hand instinctually trailing up the side of the redhead’s body until it brushed the side of her breast.
Barbara moaned again lightly, opening her mouth to Helena’s allowing the brunette to deepen the kiss, her lips moving with the brunette’s in concert as Helena moved her hand to cup Barbara’s breast, squeezing lightly, as she kissed the redhead with an increasing passion that Barbara met.
Barbara’s body shivered as a thread of pleasure ran through her. She’d never had a dream this vivid before. That felt this real. That felt this good. She could literally feel a thumb grazing over her nipple as a warm body pressed against her, and wet lips attacked hers hungrily. It felt …
Barbara jerked back, her eyes opening suddenly staring beside her unseeing for a moment, as she willed her heartbeat to slow. There was somebody there with her. It hadn’t been a dream. Someone was in her bed. Oh god, why couldn’t she remember what she was doing before she went to sleep? Who the hell could’ve been in her bed? Why was her heart still beating so fast? What was going on …
"Are you okay?" Helena asked softly sliding towards Barbara seeing the slightly bewildered look on the redhead’s face.
"Helena?" Barbara asked her voice rising and cracking as she realized that it was the brunette who had been touching her. Who had been … oh god! What the hell was going on? Why was Helena …
"Yeah," Helena responded reaching out for Barbara, placing her hand on the redhead’s hip. "Come back over here," the brunette said her voice playfully seductive.
"What?" Barbara responded. Helena’s voice sounded funny, it was lower, huskier than normal. She sounded like she was … oh god! "No!" Barbara exclaimed grasping onto the headboard and pulling herself up to lean against it, further away from Helena.
"You didn’t seem to mind a minute ago," Helena replied, her tone somewhat subdued as she observed Barbara. The redhead was pulling away from her. She was doing more than that. She was freaking out. Helena didn’t understand. Barbara had clearly been enjoying what they were doing before as much as she had.
"I didn’t realize," Barbara started. "I was asleep, Helena," she said looking over at the girl her tone and expression sympathetic. "I don’t … this can’t happen," she said seriously, drawing the blanket up over herself for emphasis.
"Why?" Helena asked. She could still feel Barbara’s body against hers, taste the redhead’s lips, and hear her soft sounds floating around in her head. Barbara had let her sleep with her, and hold her. And had chosen her to be her partner in her fight against crime in Gotham. Barbara had said that Helena was hers, which conversely had to mean that Barbara was Helena’s. They complimented each other. Barbara felt safe with her, and she felt safe with Barbara. They should be together, in every way. That’s how it was when two people cared about each other. And Barbara had kissed her back. There was no reason it shouldn’t happen. "I care about you … more than anything," Helena continued softly, her voice cracking with emotion. "And you’re so beautiful, I …"
"Helena," Barbara said firmly cutting the girl off. The brunette looked like she’d been slapped across the face. Barbara wanted to reach out to her, but under the circumstances didn’t think it would be such a good idea. "You’re seventeen," she said beseechingly.
"So?" Helena asked leadingly as if trying to get Barbara to get to the point, not realizing that was it. If she was old enough to be trained to fight mobsters and murders, she was old enough to make love to Barbara. Besides, she was only seventeen biologically. Inside she was older than that, positively ancient. She’d done a lot of living in a short period of time. Barbara knew that, it’s why she had chosen her over Dick. She knew that Helena was ready. That she could …
"Helena, you’re a minor. I’m not. I’m your guardian, you can’t … I certainly can’t … WE can’t, this is … bad," Barbara said looking over at her imploringly. "I mean …oh god!" Barbara moaned again rubbing at her eyes. She couldn’t believe this was happening. How was this happening? She should’ve seen this coming, she realized suddenly. Oh god! She was so incredibly dense sometimes. She didn’t understand how her I.Q could be so very, very high and she could be so incredibly stupid. The way Helena had acted around Dick, the way she fussed about her, and looked at her, and … held her. She realized that Helena had a crush on her. That Helena had a crush on her for quite some time now, and she had been completely oblivious to it. She’d written off Helena’s behavior with Dick as Helena reacting badly to the news she had been given, and as a reaction someone new encroaching in on what had become their own little world. And everything else, the not so casual touches, the gentle looks, she had chalked up to Helena finally being able to trust her. To Helena wanting to trust again. She thought that the girl was finally starting to really be comfortable with her. That maybe the healing process had started. And, Helena had always been in a much more tolerable mood the day after the nights she’d spend with Barbara, and she herself had found the contact comforting in a way, but …oh god!
Helena watched as Barbara slipped into herself, her eyes clouding over and moving around, thinking. Barbara looked panicked and sympathetic and more than a little overwhelmed.
Helena stared at her, slowly realizing that she’d been wrong. She wasn’t really Barbara’s, and Barbara certainly wasn’t hers. They weren’t halves of the same whole. They weren’t partners or any of the other things she had allowed herself to gradually believe they were. It had been a creation of her imagination. Barbara thought she was a kid. She was just being nice to her, telling her she was special, and letting her hold her at night thinking she was helping the redhead in some way. Barbara felt sorry for her, was trying to comfort her. She was nothing but a fucked up kid that Barbara had taken in and now felt responsible for.
She slipped off and out of the bed, quickly heading for the door, blinking rapidly trying to contain unexpected, and uncertainly unwanted tears as her fists balled up with anger at the fact that she had tears to contain. This was such shit! Emotions were such fucking shit! She’d felt, and she’d been wrong, and she’d made an idiot of herself and … and her heart hurt.
"Helena," Barbara said feeling the shift on the bed, turning her head to watch the girl head towards the door.
Helena stopped only for a moment. Just long enough to mutter, "I’m sorry," she started softly. "I shouldn’t have. I …it won’t happen again," she continued her voice rising slight, solidifying. " I promise," she finished sounding almost conversational. And then she was out the door.
Barbara watched her leave, completely and utterly lost.
Barbara slowly rolled across the room in the pale, early morning light. The television was on and she could just make out Helena’s feet sticking over the arm of the couch. She was watching some old Kung Fu movie Barbara was too un-cool to recognize.
"What’re you watching?" Barbara asked keeping her voice light though the question was asked carefully.
"Big Trouble in Little China," Helena responded dully. "Lo Pan," she added a moment later feeling Barbara’s eyes still on her and preferring the sound of her voice to silence. "He’s the baddest ass evil warlord that ever did stomp on people’s asses. Good movie," she finished her eyes never leaving the screen.
"Sounds like," Barbara responded settling herself near the end of the couch where Helena’s head rested. "You should get ready for school," she continued placing her hand on Helena’s shoulder.
Helena jerked away from the touch, sitting up and flicking the television off. She then stood and tossed the remote onto the couch behind her. Without a word, or a glance toward Barbara she turned and headed for her room, closing the door softly behind her.
Barbara watched her go silently, her eyes closing when Helena’s door shut as she chewed on her bottom lip.
Months of progress had been obliterated over night.
She wished that she could’ve had the use of her legs back for just five minutes so that she could have promptly and efficiently kicked her own ass.
Three weeks later …
"Well, isn’t this a … big, empty room," Helena commented dryly as she stepped into the apartment, her shoes clicking noisily on the floor as she crossed the tile, looking around. She couldn’t be sure, but it looked about the same size as the apartment they were currently living in. She didn’t see what had Barbara so excited.
"Come over here," Barbara said drawing Helena’s attention towards her from where the girl was wiping dust off of a ledge and making a face. "You haven’t seen the best part yet," she continued her voice threaded with excitement. "It should be over here somewhere."
Helena walked over and looked at her expectantly.
Barbara slid her hand along the wall for a moment, feeling for the indentation and then smiled, maneuvering her chair so that she could grasp the edge of the wooden trim and began to pull, straining for a few moments before the wall began to move back slowly, squeaking as it went.
Barbara felt Helena come up behind her and grasp the edge above her hands, helping her pull. The brunette was very careful to make sure that their bodies never touched. The door still opened slowly and noisily, but much more easily with Helena’s help. She was so strong.
Barbara wheeled inside the opening, taking out a flashlight.
"What do you think?" Barbara asked a second later as Helena followed her in.
"I think we’re in another big, empty room … only this time, there’s maybe some asbestos," Helena replied deprecatingly as Barbara flashed the light around stopping as they moved further into the room, and light flooded into it from above. "Is that …" Helena started looking up. There was a large circular shaped window near the roof of the space, but it was more than that, it had large metal …
"The clock?" Barbara asked smiling. "Yeah. We’re in the clock tower," she exclaimed happily barely restraining herself from rubbing her hands together with glee. "This is where Delphi is gonna live."
"I know there’s a sliding door and everything, but this doesn’t seem very secret," Helena commented moving around the open space of the loft. It was still extremely dim inside the space, but she could see perfectly. She could hear Barbara moving around more carefully behind her. She thought about going back to guide the redhead around since she could see her way with no trouble, but decided against it. Barbara didn’t need her, and she wasn’t notoriously concerned with making the redhead more comfortable at the moment.
"It’s actually more secret than it seems," Barbara replied, directing her voice towards where she could hear the brunette’s foot steps. "Two plans were drawn up for the building, but the one that was used wasn’t the one filed with the city. This space wasn’t supposed to exist, so they put that wall up to cover the insertion. Officially this room, this space doesn’t exist. Nobody knows about it except the original contractors," she continued. She’d been searching for weeks upon weeks to find a space suitable for them to work out of, but also accessible enough for her to be realistic base of operations. "There’s an upper level too," Barbara went on. "With elevator access, though it’s been out of order since it was installed. Gotta love government run construction jobs," she continued shaking her head.
"It’s cool," Helena said making her way back over to Barbara. She could’ve been commenting on the weather for all the excitement that was in her voice. "I like the balcony."
"It’ll look like more once everything’s set up. Far less cave-like," Barbara said looking over at Helena’s shadowed figure. She was disappointed with Helena’s lack of a reaction. She didn’t know why, but she’d hoped that actively showing Helena the plans for their future, would’ve garnered some kind emotion. Some kind of genuine response from her, but she got the girls now painfully familiar sarcastic apathy routine.
"You know I was serious when what’s his face was here," Helena commented looking over at Barbara, feeling the redhead’s eyes on her. She hated that she could feel them, that she was still so aware of Barbara’s every action. "I’m gonna do this," she continued looking around the room again. Barbara had talked about Delphi since Dick had left, but she hadn’t said for certain that she planned on training and working with Helena. They had continued with their previous training routine, which Helena had at first assumed to be an acceptance of her offer. She knew not to assume anymore, that if she didn’t hear it, it wasn’t worth shit, and that even if she did hear it sometimes it was still crap. It didn’t really matter anyway, she knew she was going to do it and Barbara would go along because she had no choice in the matter. She could train Helena, or she could leave her to her own devices. She didn’t think that the latter was at all likely to happen.
"Why?" Barbara asked looking over at Helena. She’d wanted to talk about it Helena over the past few weeks, but Helena hadn’t wanted to talk, at least not to her and she wondered if the girl had even remembered making the offer. If she had been serious or if she was just spreading her feathers to impress Barbara in front of Dick. "Why do you want to?"
Helena looked over at her sharply at the question, staring at Barbara for a moment trying to determine how to take the question. It was her instinct to be instantaneously rubbed the wrong way, when Barbara did anything, or said anything that could be taken as bossy, maternal, or condescending. It was her instinct to turn a question into more. But turning little things into more was what had gotten her into trouble in the first place. So, like the others times she had been put in a situation like this over the past few weeks, she stiffened her posture, tightened her jaw and remained silent.
"It’s a standard issue question," Barbara continued seeing Helena tense and feeling the girl’s eyes on her as the silence became awkward. "You’re father asked me, and Dick and Carolyn and everyone else," she went on, trying to pacify Helena. The brunette had been responding to expressions of authority especially peevishly since the night in her bedroom, as if she resented Barbara telling her what to do, or insinuating that she was less than capable of making decisions completely independent of outside help. She didn’t want to be treated like a kid. "It’s a job of heart, not simply skill. Motivations are important," she finished still looking over at the girl.
"I want you to respect me," Helena replied almost immediately, biting her lip the moment the words came out of her mouth but not able to stop them. That wasn’t what she had meant to say, what she had wanted to say. And she didn’t like the idea that it was what she was feeling. She didn’t want to want anything from Barbara, or anyone else anymore. She didn’t want to want. It was useless, and illusion that always eventually dissipated leaving you more alone than you were before it came to you. Wanting led to pain, because you could never really have. When it came down to it, a person was all they had. They were an entire world unto themselves. She didn’t want Barbara’s respect. She only needed to respect herself, and prove that she could do it to herself, and nobody else, because she was it. She planned on being it.
"I do respect you," Barbara replied seriously, not quite sure what to make of the response or the fact that Helena refused to look at her after making it.
"Why do I want to?" Helena repeated a moment later, walking away from Barbara, but remaining in the redhead’s vicinity, circling around her as she spoke. "I wa … so I can stop someone else from having to lose someone they love."
Barbara nodded quietly, listening carefully to Helena’s voice, searching to verify what the girl was saying. Her tone was quiet, and a bit hard – like her tone seemed to now permanently be – but it resonated and Barbara believed the statement to be an honest one. It wasn’t the fuzzy kind of answer that she had given to Bruce when he had asked her why she had put her suit together and walked out in the Gotham night, but it was hauntingly similar to the answer Bruce had given her when she’d turned the question around on him.
"Okay," Barbara said finally. "You wanna know where everything’s gonna go?" she asked pulling out a hand held computer and calling up the floor plans she’d drawn from the original architectural drawings for the building.
"You made a drawing?" Helena asked seeing the artificial light shine up coving Barbara’s face in a harsh blue light.
"It’s a plan, not a drawing," Barbara responded looking over and slightly behind her at Helena who had stopped pacing, and was watching her somewhat uneasily.
"I bet everything’s scaled," Helena replied wryly coming up behind Barbara so that she could see the screen. She made sure to keep a respectable distance between them. Wouldn’t want even the suggestion of impropriety, Barbara may have backed up against a wall and pulled her jacket up to her chin.
"Of course," Barbara responded looking up at Helena as if it were foolish to suggest anything else.
"You’re so anal," Helena replied, her tone perhaps a bit more cutting than she intended. It came out sounding distinctly less light hearted than had been her intention. Oh well.
"No, I’m prepared," Barbara replied looking back down at the screen.
"How do you spell that again? Oh yeah, a – n – a – l," Helena responded moving around again, it was beginning to bother her standing around doing nothing. She needed to move. She’d needed to move a lot more recently. She wanted to go for a walk, away from Barbara. She turned to look at the redhead.
"The first rule of being a super hero is that you always have to be prepared," Barbara replied, watching Helena begin to pace again. She’d been doing that a lot lately. It was different from when she used to pace before. Momentary bursts of energy those had been, followed energetic venting before the brunette calmed down and got still. This wasn’t like this. It was almost constant, like something was itching Helena under her skin giving her no peace. If they’d been back at the apartment, Barbara knew Helena would’ve left. Called out that she was going out and left without another word, gone for hours before returning to answer Barbara’s questions about where she had been with an irritated ‘around’ or ‘here and there’.
"That’s also the first rule of camping. Are we going to have to hang our food from the ceiling too?" Helena asked looking out towards the balcony. "Are there gonna be bears? Evil suit wearing bears with dastardly abstract plans?"
"Keep on talking and your gonna be living in the broom closet," Barbara responded flippantly looking over at Helena hoping for, though not particularly expecting to receive a smile.
"Whatever, Aunt Petunia," Helena replied sarcastically. "I’m gonna check out the balcony."
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