Out of the Ashes



FANDOM: Birds of Prey (TV)

CHARACTER/PAIRING: Barbara Gordon and Helena Kyle (familial/friendship)


GENRE: Gen/Drama

SUMMARY: Barbara and Helena both have to find their way after the losses they suffered at the hands of the Joker.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Dedicated to juliet42 for helpthesouth. Hope you like it! And a huge thanks to my wonderful betareader, merfilly.

AUTHOR'S WEB SITE: crookedhalofics - LiveJournal

Out of the ashes of our hopelessness
comes the fire of our hope.
- Anne Wilson Shae

The light in the room burned at Barbara’s eyelids before she opened them. She was in an unfamiliar bed, surrounded by sounds and smells that didn’t ring a bell with her eidetic memory.

“Miss Barbara?” a familiar voice broke through the wave of unfamiliar.

Barbara’s eyes fluttered open and she looked up at Alfred. There was a distinct absence of the familiar twinkle in his eyes as he looked down at her. Instead, his brows were knitted with concern, his expression grim.

She tried to push herself up into a sitting position and it was only then that she realized what was wrong. Fear gripped her as the memory of the Joker’s appearance in her apartment swam to the surface, as she heard the shot and felt the bullet piercing her spine.

Her spine.

“Alfred, I can’t feel my legs,” the panic tinged Barbara’s voice, though there was still some measure of control, some hope that he would reassure her that it was just a side effect of the surgery they’d done to remove the bullet. That it would heal within time.

Alfred didn’t look away, though his eyes grew sad.

“I’m sorry, Miss Barbara. The bullet pierced your spinal cord. The doctors…”

Barbara held up a hand, tears springing to her eyes as she nearly choked on the realization. If Alfred, stiff-upper-lip Alfred was having a hard time delivering the news, then she knew what it would be. Then again, she supposed she’d already known, on some level. Remembering the trajectory the bullet had taken, where it had hit her. The feeling in her legs… She tried not to focus on the wheelchair that sat in the corner of the room. The doctors might as well have left a blazing neon sign announcing their prognosis.

“What are the numbers, Alfred? How likely is it that I’ll get feeling back in my legs?”

Alfred didn’t answer right away. His expression held sorrow and, to Barbara’s annoyance, a look that could possibly be pity.

“They… didn’t give an exact estimate, but they had little reason to believe…”

Barbara held up a hand to stop him. She wanted numbers. Right now numbers, facts, statistics-those were all she wanted. She didn’t want to deal with emotions, didn’t want to see the unshed tears in Alfred’s eyes, and didn’t want to think about how she would manage to leave the hospital if she couldn’t walk, couldn’t even drive…

Something else struck her about her surroundings then. Something that she hadn’t had the time to think about before just now.

“Where’s Bruce?”

Alfred’s lips pursed in concern tinged with disapproval.

“Master Bruce is holed up in his cave at the moment. I’m afraid you weren’t the only one that suffered at the hands of the Joker last night. He seems to have sent someone to murder Miss Kyle.”

Selina. Selina was dead? The news hit Barbara, and for just a minute she was distracted from her own bleak prognosis. She had only met Catwoman a few times, and only after the woman had reformed and mostly retired. She’d shown up to help them out of a few tight spots, and Barbara respected her. Bruce had never said it out loud, of course, but Barbara knew how he’d felt about Selina.

“I’m afraid Master Bruce blames himself for what happened to both of you. He’s taking it rather hard,” Alfred continued.

Barbara swallowed back the lump that had formed in her throat. She nodded her understanding.

“There’s something else,” Alfred said.

Barbara wasn’t quite sure she was ready for more news, but she looked up at Alfred expectantly. It wasn’t the time to wallow. As much as she just wanted him to go away and leave her to sink into her despair, she knew Alfred well enough to know that he wouldn’t allow that. Maybe he permitted Bruce to brood, but Barbara had never really been the broody type-and she and Alfred both knew that she wouldn’t be well served by brooding now, no matter how much she wanted to.

“Someone else, really,” Alfred continued. “It would appear that Ms. Kyle has-had-a daughter.”

Barbara stared at the older man, trying to read his expression.

“How old?” she asked.


Fifteen years ago… fifteen years ago. Barbara hadn’t been Batgirl then, but she knew enough about Batman -and about Catwoman- to know the history there. To know what was going on fifteen years ago.

“You don’t think…” she began, though Alfred looked up at her with a sad smile.

“I think there’s a good chance she resembles her father,” he said, confirming Barbara’s suspicions. “Selina never did name the father on the birth certificate, of course. And the girl has no one left. With time, we can possibly confirm her paternity, but…”

Barbara nodded her understanding.

“He’s not ready to hear your suspicions. And who knows if he’d be able to give her what she needs right now.” She sighed. “She has no family -no other relatives she could stay with?”

“No. You know Selina was an orphan. They’re most likely going to make the girl a ward of the state and put her in a foster home while they figure out what to do with her.”

Barbara pushed herself into a sitting position, and nodded to the wheelchair in the corner that she’d been trying to ignore for most of their conversation.

“Maybe I can help with that -temporarily- while we sort things out for her, of course.”

She did her best not to see Alfred’s knowing and triumphant smile as he helped her into the wheelchair.

* * * * *

Helena Kyle sat in the waiting room of the hospital. She didn’t really know what she was waiting for. The doctors had already delivered the news, and someone -she assumed he worked for the hospital- had instructed her to stay put while they called the state and ‘made arrangements.’

She hadn’t cried. She didn’t think she could, really. None of it was real. Not just yet.

She just sat. Waiting for someone to come and tell her that there’d been a mistake. That it hadn’t been Selina Kyle to die that night, but someone else. Waiting for her mother to come out and take her home so they could have a laugh about the incompetent hospital staff and the mistaken identity.

She looked down at her shirt, at the spots of blood still on there from when she’d gotten to her mother’s side.

No, her mother wouldn’t be coming.

Still, she waited. She didn’t have much choice, really. At fifteen, she had no money for a cab, no car to drive out of there. No place to go.

Something snapped inside Helena then. She got to her feet, realizing that she was waiting for nothing and for no one. No one that could help her, at any rate.

She still had that apartment that she and her mother had lived in for as long as she could remember. She still had her room, with her TV and the bed that they’d both sat on while eating popcorn and having rainy day movie marathons.

Helena knew now what they wanted her to wait for. They were going to take that home away, were going to force her into some sort of foster home where she’d just be another mouth to feed.

Well, screw that.

Her legs carried her almost to the exit before a woman in a wheelchair blocked her way.

“Helena Kyle?” the woman asked.

Helena took in the sight of the wheelchair and of the redhead that occupied it. She was still in a hospital gown, her face pale as though she had a long road to recovery ahead of her. And yet, she had a glint in her eye that stopped Helena short, as though she was more than just an invalid in a wheelchair.

Helena stopped short and crossed her arms, not answering right away. An elderly man who was overdressed for the hospital in a full suit caught up with the pair and took his place at the redhead’s side. He gave Helena an encouraging nod, though she still didn’t answer the question.

“I’m Barbara Gordon,” the redhead continued. “I… worked with your mother a few times. I’m sorry about Selina,” she said gently.

Helena really didn’t want to hear this. Her eyes misted over with tears and she tried her best to politely step around the pair, but the redhead’s hand shot out with surprising speed and caught her arm.

“Please don’t go,” Barbara said. “I should be going home soon, and I wanted to know if you had a place to stay for the night.”

Helena squared her shoulders, lifting her chin in an attempt to appear strong, stubbornly not wanting to accept help. Accepting help meant accepting that her mother was gone, that she was alone.

“Excuse me, are you Helena Kyle?” another voice interrupted the conversation. Helena turned to see a blonde woman in a gray pinstripe suit. The woman smiled in that way that teachers who had stopped caring might.

“I’m Mary Wilkes. I’m with New Gotham social services, and I would like to talk to you about where you’re going to be staying tonight. We have a respite care foster home lined up for you, and then tomorrow we’ll work on setting up more long-term care.”

Helena fought the urge to glare at the redhead. If she had just slipped out of the hospital before Barbara got to her, maybe she’d be home free by now and not forced to go to some sort of foster home. Instead, she could return to the… now empty apartment that she’d shared with her mother.

The realization nearly knocked the wind out of her. Helena did her best to take in a deep breath and then gestured toward the woman in the wheelchair.

“This is Barbara Gordon. She was a friend of my mother’s and she’s offered to let me stay with her.”

Barbara caught Helena’s eye with a slight nod and then turned to the social worker, smiling pleasantly. She held out her hand.

“Selina was an old friend, and I’d be happy to take Helena for as long as she needs me to.”

Helena watched as Barbara stepped aside with the social worker to hash out the details. She didn’t bother to speak to the older man who stayed behind with her and was thankful that he didn’t try to make conversation. She barely noticed anything else that might have been going on in the room, and instead slumped into one of the chairs in the waiting area, her mind reeling.

Gone. Selina Kyle was gone. Survived by her daughter and only remaining family, Helena Kyle.

Hot tears stung at Helena’s eyes, blurring her vision.

The thing about death notices was that they listed the surviving family members, but no one ever bothered to mention what would become of them in the wake of their loss. Where they would live, who they would become, how they would go on. All those details seemed to get lost somewhere in the shuffle.

They were all details that she had never given thought to herself, and now she could do nothing but face the seemingly insurmountable list of unknowns.

* * * * *

One night of safe haven for Helena had turned into a year so far. Barbara had hoped for as much, though it had taken time to get Helena to let her in. Even now, there were times when the orphaned girl would shut down and times when she would lash out. She needed direction, needed a purpose to redefine herself by something other than her loss, but Barbara didn’t know how to give that to her.

It had taken time to get used to her new way of getting around too. The wheelchair she’d purchased upon leaving the hospital could use some modifications, something Barbara was slowly working on. She had slowly started to learn to manage all of the things that came along with a normal, every day life.

Getting used to not being able to race across rooftops was not so easy.

Barbara stared at the computer screen, as she had every night since the Joker had shot her. The computer system was state of the art and she’d previously used it to track down leads and learn all that she could before going out and taking down the bad guy.

Now, she was reduced to watching helplessly as information rolled in. She’d still managed to figure out quite a bit, but the New Gotham PD seemed determined to ignore her anonymous tip emails. Bruce was gone from New Gotham, which meant that the shadow of the Batman no longer loomed over the city, quietly protecting the innocent and driving fear into the hears of the corrupt. The loss of Bruce had been a painful blow to Barbara and to the city. The loss of Selina coupled with his apparent guilt over Barbara’s injury had driven him out of the city that he’d loved so much, that he’d sacrificed so much to protect.

Barbara was now the only one left of their family of crimefighters, and all she could do was watch the city break down without the protection of the Batfamily.

Helena had stayed out of the computer command center for the past few months. But that could only have lasted for so long. She let herself into the room, looking over Barbara’s shoulder at the missing persons pictures displayed on screen.

“Who are they?” she asked.

Barbara took a second before turning around. She cleared her throat and then looked over at Helena, hoping that the teenager wouldn’t notice the unshed tears in her eyes.

“People I can’t help.”

She pushed away from the desk and wheeled over to the door.

“Come on. There’s nothing more I can do here. Let’s go see about dinner.”

Helena lingered and Barbara didn’t miss that her gaze stayed fixed on the computer screen until she repeated the request to follow her so they could get dinner. She did her best not to look back at the screen herself, reminding herself that there was nothing she could do. Not anymore.

* * * * *

The pictures on Barbara’s screen had stayed with Helena throughout the next few days. She’d done some digging of her own and found information on the disappearances of at least two of the people in the pictures. Someone needed to do something, that much was clear.

About a month ago, Barbara had explained her history as Batgirl, and had reluctantly revealed information about Helena’s father. Unfortunately, that information came after he’d left New Gotham. Helena still hadn’t quite gotten over her anger at being deprived of the chance to say something to her dad, to yell at him for not being around when her mother had been stabbed. To ask him to get to the Joker while he was in jail and get vengeance.

That anger and the injustice of it all still burned inside her. She wanted to do something, wanted to take out her aggression on someone. And yet, she wanted to do something productive. She wanted to make sure that nobody else had to suffer the losses she had.

Helena’s fingers lingered over one of the boxes of her mother’s things. She hadn’t let Barbara talk her into storing them. She wasn’t ready to let go just yet. It was lucky she had hung onto the boxes. There was something in them that could help her.

After digging for awhile, Helena came up with exactly what she needed-her mother’s old catsuit, complete with a utility belt that held the tools of her trade.

It wasn’t perfect, but it would work for now. She didn’t have time to work out a costume of her own. Not when there were missing people that needed to be found. Helena bypassed the mask, but pulled the costume on. It was a little big in some places, though maybe she just needed to grow into it.

When she had finished dressing, Helena knew just where to find Barbara. She let herself into the computer room and cleared her throat.

“Well. You have some sort of communicator to keep in touch with me or what?”

Barbara spun around in her chair. Helena watched as the redhead’s face traveled through several emotions, from surprise to concern to stern disapproval.

“This really isn’t the time to play dress up, Helena,” she said wearily.

Helena didn’t miss the defeated expression, the helplessness that was written across her face. She leaned against a nearby table and crossed her arms.

“No, and it’s not the time to sit around brooding over what used to be either. From what I understand, that’s his schtick, not yours.”

She didn’t need to elaborate on who ‘he’ was. She’d learned enough about her father to put the pieces together in regards to how he dealt with pain and disappointment.

“Look, my mom gave me some training. I know she wanted to make sure that I could fend for myself if anyone from her old life came calling. I know you’ve already figured that missing persons case out and you just need someone to go out and get them back. So let’s do this,” Helena said.

Barbara stared, and then slowly shook her head.

“I really don’t think-”

“Don’t think what?” Helena interrupted. “Don’t think it’s a good idea? Because I think the people in those pictures would disagree. Or maybe you don’t think I’m old enough to know what I’m getting myself into? I’m only a year younger than you were when you started all this, and I’ve lost enough to know exactly what the potential consequences are to getting into this sort of life. I want to help. Better yet, I’m going to help. It just might go more smoothly if we work together.”

At first, Helena was sure that Barbara was going to argue more. She watched her guardian’s hands grip her chair so tightly that the knuckles turned white. She watched as Barbara glanced at the computer screen and then down at her lap. Finally, to her surprise, Barbara let out a soft laugh.

“What?” Helena asked, still geared up for the fight.

Barbara shook her head slightly.

“You just sound a whole lot like someone I used to know.” She sighed and opened a drawer in the computer desk. She held out a small black bat-shaped earring. “Okay. This should do for tonight. But if you’re really serious about doing this, you’re going to need a lot of training. And we’ll need to upgrade the tech. Also, there are going to be rules to follow.”

Helena put on the earring and then looked over at Barbara.

“Fine, we’ll talk rules once we finishing saving these people,” Helena said with a cocky grin.

To her surprise, there was a gleam in Barbara’s eye. It was only there a moment, but for just that moment Barbara looked happier than she’d seen her since she met her. For that matter, Helena was feeling happier than she’d been in quite awhile. The idea of going out and potentially kicking some bad guy’s ass was extremely appealing. Maybe she was too young to realize what sort of life she was getting herself into, but the excitement of potentially finding a purpose was enough to keep her happy in the moment. And as long as Barbara was there to guide her, she wasn’t too worried about where this path might lead.