continued from A Whole New World part 3

Chapter 24C

Danger Zone (Kenny Loggins)

New Gotham Hospital
an examining room adjacent to the morgue
Friday night

"Dana. Get out of here now!" Helena commanded, her eyes tight on the gun in Jem's hand. Out running bullets was never easy, even for Helena.

Jem's eyes flickered for a moment to sort out where the agent and her fallen thugs were laying. Moving fast, Helena closed the distance grabbing at the gun.

Scully had managed to pull herself up. She watched the two facing off staggered towards the counter using it to support herself as the room seemed to be twisting before her eyes. Rubbing at her face she could feel the heat from the fire and stepped back as Helena and Jem struggled fighting over something clasped between them.

Her hand brushed against some of the bottles on the counter, her eyes drifted to the labels. Grabbing one of the glass bottles, Dana jerked hearing two gunshots. Her eyes widened as she heard Helena cry out and slump some away from Jem.

The blonde kneed Helena hard in the midsection and kicked out, her boot heel connecting with the growing blood stain spreading across the woman's shoulder grinding into the wound as Helena collapsed. Jem continued to kick and punch Helena a round of blows connecting with the bar owner's body again and again before turning away from the fallen woman..

Sauntering across the burning room, Jem came to rest in front of the camera having heard an anguished cry come from the speakers. "So, how about you ditch that one?" She waved the gun at Helena's body. "Go for someone who's willing to take you for a ride you'll never forget. I can give you so much more than she does."

"Don't hurt them anymore." Barbara choked out her eyes not able to move from Helena's injured form.

"Beg, beg for her life and willingly come to me and I'll drop the gun and leave her quivering sorry ass there on the floor." Jem leaned forward in anticipation her body tense with lust and desire. "How much do you care? Hmmm, what's to keep me from firing right now?" As she said this her hand moved over drawing a bead on Helena.

"I will..."

"I think this is the only thing you'll be receiving." Dana's voice cut across whatever Barbara was going to say as she had uncorked the bottle and come up on Jem who had been totally absorbed by the camera and prospect of the woman on the other side.

Jem screamed out in rage and pain, the gun dropping from her hand as the liquid burned her hand, arm and side of her face. Her frenetic motions next took out the camera before sweeping through the flames and out the door.

"Dana," Helena choked out. "We, ah, need to go..." she murmured, pushing herself part way up with her good arm. "Fuck," she sighed, letting herself back down to put some pressure on the hole in her shoulder even as she hissed at the pain.

Coughing, Dana took a step away from where Jem had been and rubbed at her face trying to pull herself back from the hazy way she was feeling. "We need to get you to an emergency room, now." Sirens finally sounded cutting through the room.

"Can you make it to another hospital?" She asked stumbling over to try and see how bad Helena had been injured.

"Oracle," Helena said, hoping that it was something that they clock could handle. "It went straight through. I don't like hospitals," she said, her arm not feeling any better.

"This is not something that requires a few simple stitches." Scully said firmly as she worked to try and support the woman looking around the room trying to find the best way to get out of the lab.

"Helena are you there?" Barbara had been trying to reestablish at least the audio link but found the connection dead. She had switched back to comms not sure if she was getting through, her heart pounding as she had seen Dana attack Jem before the video feed had lost the signal.

"Oracle," Helena said, hoping Dana wouldn't think her delusional. "She shot me. It went right through my shoulder," Helena said before sucking in another deep breath. "You know I hate hospitals."

"Yes I am getting that impression. And I can see she shot you, I don't care if it was the tooth fairy that shot you, you need medical attention now. You're losing blood and you have other injuries too." Dana found some strength returning and she began pulling Helena towards the hole that had been blown in the wall earlier trying to keep from choking on the smoke that was growing thicker.

"Huntre.. Helena, if you are badly hurt..." She paused and closed her eyes turning away from the static-filled screen that had held the link to the lab. "This is not the time to be stubborn." She opened her eyes wiping away the traces of moisture gathering at the corners. Rocking some in her chair trying not to think how close she had come again to losing Helena or how she still might, her eyes fell then on the fire monitoring program, the one that had been altered.

"Fuck and fine, the hospital at New Gotham U," Helena said, both to Dana and Barbara. "Get me there and just tell them who I am, alright? They'll take care of me."

Finding the adrenaline from the earlier fight starting to wear off, Dana grimaced as her wounded shoulder flared with pain. She looked at her stained lab coat trying to determine the state of her own injuries.

Although it hurt like hell, Dana could tell by her level of awareness she had not lost too much blood and hoped that meant the wound was not too deep. "Fine, we need to go, now. You can tell me in the car how to get there." She had found some towels on the counter and pressed them into Hel's hand. "Try to put more pressure, we need to slow the flow or else we won't make it there."

"Wait, they were expecting you, or Dana, or someone." Barbara said, her fingers moving to send another trace program after the hacker that had broken into the hospital systems; her first attempt having failed. "I'm not sure how they knew, but if you go to the hospital and they enter you into the system... I don't think I can treat a gunshot wound though..." The red-head trailed off as she covered her face with her hand trying to determine what would be the best course of action.

"Dr. Jane, from NGU. Oracle, can you call her? Get things ready," Helena said. "Dana, help me tie one of these around, alright? I can walk, I just need help getting to my feet."

Dana nodded and did as instructed. "Good, finally something breaks through your stubborn block. Whoever this Oracle is I want to thank them." She muttered.

"I second that," Barbara said relieved that Helena had agreed to treatment and would be taken care of. "I'm calling her now. If she's not on duty I am sure she will meet you."

"We'll be there," Helena nodded. "Oracle's a friend," the brunette said, leaning some on Dana as they made their way out. "We need to get downtown," Helena said, hoping she wouldn't lose consciousness.

It clicked for Dana then, "Oracle, the friend from the other night." She wasted no more time sensing the fight had taken a toll on Helena and she knew both of their reserves were fading.

Concentrating on getting to the parking lot, Dana was only vaguely aware of the sirens and the commotion as she managed to get them both into her car. She helped Helena into the back of the car before managing to struggle into the front. "Thank god for automatic," she whispered leaning on the steering wheel for a minute trying to pull her mind away from the pain. "Downtown it is. You still with me Helena?" The agent asked as she straightened some and pulled away from the hospital.

Leaning against the door Helena nodded. "Still here. I think I'll still be awake, but if not. Park under the clocktower, by the hummer. Then the elevator, hit the penthouse button, alright?" Helena said. Feeling around some Helena tried to see if she'd been hit twice. She knew she'd heard two gunshots.

"Clocktower?" Dana's voice cut through the car as did Barbara's.

"That should make the hospital easy to find, although penthouse?" Scully added.

"Hel, what are you doing? I told her to meet you at the hospital." Barbara added.

"I have a doctor friend who can help me. Hospitals have to report things like gunshot wounds," Helena said. "Everything we need will be there."

"So nice of you to clarify," Barbara said sarcastically already redialing the doctor to tell her the change of location.

"I guess if I can give birth in an abandoned compound I can be patched up in a penthouse." Dana wryly remarked as she turned in the direction Helena indicated still unsure if this was the best for the brunette or herself.

Chapter 24D

Changes (3 Doors Down)

ClockTower , Saturday after midnight

"So this doctor friend, is that the person I was talking to earlier? You're sure she is capable of handling this?" Dana asked.

"The doctor who'll be there... She works at NGU's hospital. Medical genius, just not the genius you were already talking too," Helena mumbled.

"Genius? Someone is being generous with the comments." Barbara tried to keep her voice light and soft in the brunette's ear. She continued working to keep her worry from seeping in. "The doctor is on her way. Are you alright?" Barbara asked having heard the slight slur in Helena's voice.

Working to keep straight all of the assorted connections associated with Helena, Scully just nodded. "Want to tell me about this doctor or your other genius?" She asked having noted also the change in Hel's voice and wanting to try to keep the woman awake.

"Oracle always knows what's going on. Like you said, must have taken a saint to put up with me, and train me. There was genius there too," Helena said, closing her eyes, but keeping her lips moving. "I only kinda know Dr. Jane. She's cool, little too smart for me sometimes."

"You do have a very, shall we say assertive approach to life." Dana chuckled slightly unable to hear the corresponding chuckle coming through Hel's comm as well. "So this Oracle is your mentor?" Dana made another turn seeing what she thought might be the building up ahead.

"You could say that," Helena nodded, opening her eyes a little. "Good. We're almost there."

The agent noted the impressive building as they approached wondering what it looked like in the daylight. She waited for the gated entrance to open before pulling in. Locating the hummer, she parked and moved to help Helena out of the car.

"What kind of doctor is Dr. Jane?" Dana asked frowning at the amount of blood that had soaked through the towels.

Barbara had watched the approach of the agent's car screen on her monitor as she had sent a third try out at finding the hacker into the hospital system. "Are you sure this is a good idea?" She asked softly still tormented by what had happened when they'd brought others to the Clocktower in the past. She knew this would help Helena but since Harley's attack, she had found it harder to trust people or feel safe in certain situations.

"Good idea," Helena murmured as Dana moved to help her. "Surgeon. Trauma," she added, leaning more heavily on Dana this time. "Elevator. To the penthouse," she said.

"I hope so Helena, I hope so." Barbara whispered as she watched them arrive setting up the elevator to bring them up. She ran a hand through her hair and moved then to go and prepare Hel's old room her thoughts conflicted about this turn of events.

Puzzled by the first part of Hel's reply, Dana took in a deep breath willing herself to keep going. "That sounds like a good fit." As they arrived at the elevator it automatically opened.

Looking up, Dana noted the cameras. "I guess your friend likes to keep an eye on things. This is quite a place even for a surgeon's salary." Dana leaned against the back of the elevator as it started up, again without any prompting or button pushing from Scully.

"She's meeting us here. Doesn't live here, just meeting us," Helena said, trying to put some of her weight on the side of the elevator, and less on Scully.

"Then this is not the doctor's place but someone else's? I think the pain is clouding my ability to think." Dana felt the elevator slow and then stop as the doors opened. "Is this your silent partner's home or maybe Oracle's or are they the same person?"

Dana stepped out and took in the open space, "Or maybe this is an office?" She amended trying to take in the new surrounding noting the area did not appear directly to be an apartment.

Standing inside the door Jane stepped forward, taking Helena's weight from Scully. "I've go you Hel," the woman said before glancing at Scully. "Follow me. You'll be next. Gunshot wound to the shoulder," she noted, confirming what she'd been told. "Anything else I should know about?"

"Shoulder really hurts," Helena mumbled, relieved to be at the Clocktower. Barbara wouldn't let anything happen to her.

Noting the professional tone, Dana gladly stepped back letting the new person take charge. Impressed with the small but telling mannerisms, she listed as many of the possible injuries she could think of including the need to check for concussion, the young woman's ribs and watch for signs of internal bleeding as the image of Jem continuining to pummel Helena after firing the gun was stark in Dana's mind. "Is there something I can do to help? And you are Dr. Jane?"

"Yes, feel free to just call me Jane," The new blonde nodded, leading Helena to the room Oracle had prepared.

"Dana," she replied trying to keep the weariness and pain from her voice as she followed Helena and Jane into the room. Moving, she helped the doctor ease Helena into the bed. She noted a table near the bed and nodded her approval at the materials that had been setup. She located a door across the room. "Is there something I can get you and where is the bathroom?"

"I've got everything here, but as soon as I get this shoulder patched up I want a look at yours. And the bathroom is out the door to the right, first door on the left," Jane said as she pulled on her rubber gloves.

Barbara had been waiting in her room listening in on the conversation after telling Jane that they were coming up in the elevator. Hearing the agent leave, Barbara found that the urgent, pounding, screaming need to see Helena and make sure she was okay had been replaced by a cold fear.

Fear at seeing Helena once again hurt and covered in both her and other's blood. She looked down at her own hands knowing someone had to be willing to bloody their hands in order to keep the darkness back.

She closed her eyes tight as she wished she could keep Hel's clean. Even as that thought flowed through her mind another chased it. The thought that she needed Helena's hands because she'd had that wish and possibility taken cruelly from her so many years ago by a madman with a gun.

She rolled into the room holding her breath as she saw Helena lying on the bed. Her eyes followed every little movement Jane made, critical of the care and wanting to make sure it was the best.

Even after the doctor left to find Dana, Barbara just sat there not moving. Her eyes following the slight rise and fall of the unconscious brunette's chest, her hands tightly wrapped around the arms of her chair. She let her whole being and mind narrow until only Helena existed as she sat there.

Her mind took up a mantra as the minutes passed, repeating over and over thanks that Helena was alive and here. And that it was time she, Barbara Gordon, did something.

She didn't want to keep living like this; all alone and on the outside watching Helena move through life. No, she knew she either had to step inside and face up to what might come next or walk away. She moved a hand to rest on the bed, her fingertips just touching Helena's hand.

~I can't turn away, damn it Helena I can't let you go. Even if you drag me down, I won't let you go.~ Bowing her head feeling the tears slipping down, Barbara resumed her rigid, silent watch and litany of thanks.

Chapter 25

Dancing Alone (Ours)

ClockTower , Saturday after midnight

After making sure that Helena was sedated enough to keep her down, Jane had headed to the bathroom in search of Agent Scully. She stretched her shoulders some before knocking, "Dana? Are you alright? If you don't answer I'm going to come in and make sure you're okay..."

"I'm good, go ahead and take care of Helena. I'll be back before you are finished." The answer floated through the closed door after a moment. "I've only been a minute. I thought doctors were taught to make a patient wait until their blood pressure has risen at least by 5 units."

"Her shoulder's all patched up, it's been a bit more than a minute. Mind if I open the door? Your shoulder didn't look too good and I'd really like to get a better look at it," Jane admitted, leaning against the door frame.

Dana had taken off the soiled and bloodied lab coat depositing it on the closed toilet seat earlier. She had deferred trying to clean up any more as she found that the blood from the wound had started clotting and actually had stuck her blouse to the wound, which was not a bad thing considering it had helped to staunch the flow of blood somewhat.

The agent had decided to sit in the bathroom for a few minutes rather than intruding back in the other room. She recalled how much Helena did not like to be treated and figured the fewer doctors in the room the better.

Having found the cool tile floor to be very comfortable, a sure sign she was exhausted beyond her normal capabilities, Dana had leaned against the tub and wall trying to ignore the pain. Her mind had drifted as once again she had spent the night being exposed to things that tested her boundaries and safety zone.

"More than a minute?" Dana frowned some trying to account for the possibility of missing time as she leaned back against the wall her eyes closed.

"I'm coming in now," Jane warned, turning the handle and letting herself in. "Long night, wasn't it?" the blonde asked, recognizing the results of adrenaline fatigue and mild blood-loss.

Coming over to crouch next to the redhead Jane carefully felt around the wound. "It looks like it's clotted, but I'd really rather clean it out, maybe put in a stitch or two. If you want to head back to the other room I can grab you a glass of water..." she suggested, getting back to her feet and offering a hand.

"Long night... that is mild statement. A friend of mine would say Scully, you've been through two ass-kickings in as many days, you look like shit."

She groaned a little as she used the doctor's offered hand to push her way up the wall. "I didn't try to do anything myself as I thought it would reopen. And water or something would be good." She replied realizing between the smoke from the fire and the fight her throat did feel a little raw.

"Is Helena alright? She really bore the brunt of the attack."

"She's banged up. Lucky with the shoulder, it bled, but no real damage to bone or muscle," Jane said, putting a hand on Scully's arm to make sure she was balanced after sitting for so long.

"I'll get you to the door and then grab the water. Helena's out, I sedated her a bit to make sure she stayed down for at least the night," Jane explained, remembering a comment at some point regarding the fact that the redhead was a doctor as well.

"I was wondering how you got her to lie still long enough to take care of her. I will remember that next time." She smiled a little brushing the hair away from her face. " I guess she does not mind your stitch technique."

Scully was glad for the woman's arm using it to help keep her stable as she worked to bring her self back from the weary haze she kept wanting to sink into. Something that had been nagging at Scully's mind floated to the surface, "Helena is a metahuman, isn't she? Is that one reason why she has such a strong aversion to hospitals? Possible discovery?"

"Helena's dislike of hospitals... well, it starts with her general dislike of people, you'd have to ask her about the rest," Jane replied politically dodging the question.

"Hel said you asked a lot of questions," she added. Reaching the door, "Can you get it from here?"

The agent sighed some then a relieved look crossing her face, "I actually realized a little too late I should not have asked that, possibly revealing something to you Helena would not want known. I think I need to go sit back down."

Dana held onto the doorframe a moment. "And questions... I was trained to ask questions. I slowly learned how important it is to listen to the answers. And I was forced to learn that not asking questions doesn't mean bliss, it means it is easier for them to hurt you." She started to move out of the bathroom a humorless laugh chasing her statement.

"I don't share anyone's secrets," Jane smiled softly. "Now let's get you patched up. Everyone needs some rest, including you." She pointed at an open door across the hallway. "I'll be right there."

Making her way to the room, Dana hesitated just outside the door looking toward another closed door where she knew Helena was resting. She did not see anyone else, but could almost feel the presence of someone else nearby. Dana bit her lip as she felt somehow she was intruding and did not move further into the room instead leaning on the wall waiting for the doctor.

Arriving with water Jane saw Scully still standing at the door frame, "You really need to sit down," she said, reaching again for the redhead's good arm.

"I'm an intruder here." Dana started a little feeling the doctor's touch. "I mean I don't want to possibly wake her. I have a feeling she pushes herself too much and needs at least some moments of uninterrupted peace. Somehow I am not sure she has too much of that when she is awake."

"I promise she won't even notice," Jane said, handing over a bottle of water.

Grateful for the water, she took a long drink. As she finished, she turned her attention back to Jane. "Fine. This should not take too long and then I can leave."

"We'll see how steady you are once I'm done," Jane said, heading into the room. The doctor indicated a chair for Dana. She smiled gently as she pulled on a new pair of gloves. "I can drive you home tonight and you can get your car tomorrow."

"That would be going beyond the call of duty. A doctor that still makes a house call. You must be from the old school." Dana laughed a little as she focused on a picture on the opposite wall. "Although that scenario would mean I could have something a little more effective than Tylenol."

"It would make me feel better," Jane admitted, slowly cutting Dana's shirt away as she began her work, wanting to keep Dana talking for a bit of a distraction. "And it is a bit of both. I hear you're a doctor as well?"

"A bit of both?" She questioned, her eyes flickering over to look at the woman before going back to picture. "I am trained as a doctor, although I am not practicing."

"Old school and the new," Jane explained. "Do you have problems moving any of your fingers? Unexpected pain? Any numbness?" she asked.

Testing each digit, she then waved at Jane and winced. "Medically, no to all of those answers. Practically, yes a lot of unexpected pain." She sighed and dropped her hand back down. "This was supposed to be one of those mundane jobs they send agents to, to keep them out of the way; buried in the boring and mundane." she sighed and tried not to question once again her decision to come here. "So which do you feel you align with more, old or new?"

"Old. I stick to trauma. I do some surgeries, but never anything planned out too much. So most of it keeps me on my toes, using the tricks of the trade you might say," Jane said, "Good news. Everything looks pretty clean in there. I'm going to hold off on packing it, don't want to have to get back in there if I can help it. Unfortunately I don't have a full round of antibiotics, so I'll write a prescription."

"You are very thorough, thank you." Dana said. "And many times the simple trick is all that is needed to get the job done. So does Helena keep you on your toes much, or is this house call a very unusual occurrence?"

"She takes good care of herself, and is taken good care of. I don't mind not seeing her often when this is the why," Jane admitted, closing the wound with steri-strips which she covered with a few layers of gauze and tape.

"You'll need to change this tomorrow morning. I'll be in the ER if you want to stop by, I'm not sure how limited mobility will be, but it's not too deep or wide. You know what to look for, and if you have any problems or questions at all," she explained, stripping off her gloves and pulling a card from her pocket, "give me a call or check with another doctor."

Her gaze had drifted back toward the other room as Jane spoke. "Yes, this isn't quite the best circumstances to meet someone under is it?" She looked back to the doctor and took the card. "She's fortunate to have people around to care and look after her."

"She's a very lucky girl," Jane smiled, getting to her feet she went to her bag, retrieving some pills and a prescription pad. Writing out a prescription she handed that over as well, "This is for the antibiotics and a couple painkillers. Try to save the heavy ones for when you sleep, but if you need them otherwise just avoid driving and that sort of thing. Any questions?"

"I always have questions, isn't that what you were told?" She said in jest, taking the offered items. "I do have one more question. Would you happen to have an extra shirt in that bag of tricks of yours?" Scully asked lightly smiling. "I seem to have sacrificed mine in the line of duty."

"Yeah," Jane nodded, already reaching for it. "Just scrubs, but it'll do the job. Now I'd like to drive you home, make sure you get there alright."

"Spent many a night in just scrubs." Dana replied taking the top. "If you see Helena when she wakes, please tell her I'll..." Scully paused not really sure what she wanted to say.

"Tell her I'll be working on things and she knows where to find me." She trailed off her gaze again traveling to the wall between them. "Also please tell our unseen host thank you. Both for the help and information earlier as well as the trust in opening her home tonight; I'll be sure to share any information I find in return." She stopped then and began trying to get the top on without pulling too much at her shoulder.

Jane moved to help with the top before picking up her bag. "I'll go let the host know we're leaving. Then we'll get you home," she said before disappearing out the door.

Scully picked up the items she'd been given and followed the doctor out. She paused outside of Helena's room whispering, "Good night Helena, sleep well, try not to think about saving the world for one night."

Chapter 26A

Witch Hunt (KMFDM)

New Gotham, Downtown business district - 35th floor
Friday 11:37pm

"She's waiting. Best not keep Her waiting. She collects body parts as a late entry fee."

"Fucking shit!" The young man jumped and stumbled as the low, husky voice had hit his brain even as a hand snaked from behind latching onto his crotch. He'd been nervous and absorbed in watching the city of New Gotham through the large picture window.

He turned trying to see the speaker some but found himself suddenly pushed up hard against the window, one arm trapped between his body and the window, the other twisted behind him. The hand continued working the area between his legs and he found himself groaning, his eyes rolling closed.

He turned as he felt himself harden and had to stifle a scream as he saw the face of his... attacker? His eyes widened.

"Oh this, just a little boo-boo. No worries, She'll take care of it." Jem stepped back a grin barely discernable through the burned and scarred skin covering over half of her face. The man's eyes traveled over her body noting burn spots on her arm and clothing as well.

"Little?" He coughed out, his earlier excitement dissipated completely. The woman's marred features more effective in killing the mood then a cold shower.

Jem pointed at the wide board room doors and then turned almost skipping out of the room. "It's raining, it's pouring, a brunette and redhead are boring. I'll thump their heads and skewer them in bed. And make sure they never see morning."

He shivered at the mangled childhood rhyme and nervously ran a hand through his own dark hair. He swallowed hard then and opened the doors hoping this would be over quickly.

His eyes first rested on the long black marble table. His reflection stared up at him, bloodshot and haunted eyes unblinking. He noted a laptop open near the other end as well as his employer. She had her back to him, Her gaze focused on something outside the window.

"Sit darling. Sit and show me your magic and what failed."

The voice was chilling as it was devoid completely of feeling and inflection. He'd never heard a voice before as this was the first time he'd met his employer in person. He burped and felt the acid reflux burn his throat. Digging out a pack of Tums, he made his way to the computer.

He was astonished to find the computer's desktop mirrored his own. Within moments he had the programs he knew She wanted opened and running. The same ones that had been run earlier. He'd followed the plan set up by Her and had acquired the necessary bypasses and shutdowns. But there had been another. One he and She had not planned on.

He almost salivated as his mind clicked over to a few hours ago; when he had been locked in competition with this strange hacker. He'd found the initial stages of the break-in to be easy, the hospital and emergency management systems a joke. He would have been able to get in with a Spell & Spell game and his eyes closed.

But then... then he or she had appeared. Ah glorious wonder, someone had dared challenge. He made a face and clasped his hand, in a tight fist.

"They tore up your little programs dearie." Her voice startled him. His eyes flickered up but the woman had not moved.

"I still managed..."

A sigh cut him off. He waited for more but none came. The young man's focus turned back to creating the reports. "I'll transfer the hospital reports you wanted as well as the medical records that match the profile you gave me. I've identified those that seem to match the description. But I still think..."

"That I have read one too many comic books. I Am... chasing after myths and fairytales."

He was surprised by the reply having caught on She did not bestow replies to many.

"Just the characteristics you are looking for are..."

"Metahumans, darling. Myths that..." Her voice trailed off, the first indication She was capable of anything more than a chilly tone. "Are what I need."

He shrugged and finished the reports sending them out; the medical queries as well as an analysis of the hospital real estate properties in and around New Gotham. "Done."

She not respond or move yet a door opened and a man emerged. He waved at the computer hacker and then stood expectantly watching the dark-haired man.

Sighing he hit one more combination of commands sending his account a special report as well; one that contained a key... he had caught a trace of the interfering hacker before they had disappeared. He stood then with a last glance at the woman before following the aide out.

The earlier game had seemed so... familiar...

He'd played this game before. And lost... but not this time... if his gut feeling was correct, this might be the one he had been trying to find.

He had searched a very long time and this time he would win.

Chapter 26B

Ultravox - Just For A Moment

Clock tower, Saturday Morning: A moment ago

Barbara wearily moved out of the kitchen, a mug of coffee in her hand. She positioned her chair at the computer station staring off into space trying to collect her thoughts and center herself. She had discussed Helena and Dana's condition with Jane and saw the doctor out.

She had then turned to reviewing the video and audio files from the last two nights although she had not been able to focus fully on that task. Her analytical actions broken as she kept a constant vigil on Helena moving between the computer station and Hel's bedroom often.

Unable to continue listening to the sounds from the files, sounds that represented just how close Barbara had come to losing Helena, she'd gone to bed trying to find a few moments of peace. Now the crime fighter found herself once again poised to delve into places and areas she was slowly coming to loath.

"Need to catch these killers and now, can't stand any more ..." She stopped her words and thoughts as she shut her eyes. She pinched the bridge of her nose hard, willing herself not to go down that road.

It was a road closed to her and she did not posses the key. The slight glimmer of hope that a key might exist had been given to her two nights ago; she'd replayed that part of the audio recording again and again; needing to hear those three wonderful words of possibility spoken by a certain brunette.

Three words that provoked a sense of terror and uncertainty that drove into the very core of Barbara's values and being.

Yet her later conversation with Helena had effectively revoked the possibility yet again.

Her cool, professional walls had been reinforced and strengthened by Hel's denial to even acknowledge those words. The young woman's critical tone and biting remarks bore into Barbara's mind as strongly as the whispered phrase.

Yet again Barbara was nothing more than one of Helena's mistakes; an oopsie moment in a heat of fighting and Hel's furious passion.

Passion... god what the teacher would give to be the focus of the metahuman's full, scorching passion, even for a moment...

A moment filled by three words.
A moment that she was reasoning away.
A moment that would remain locked in her mind.
A moment that had come and gone...

A beeping brought her back from the twisting thoughts. Blinking open her eyes, she found the monitoring program keeping watch over Helena's vitals had recorded a jump in breathing and heartrate. Frowning, Barbara left her coffee on a table as she headed to the bedroom.

Chapter 27A

Hanging By a Moment (Lifehouse)

Clock tower, Saturday Morning

The nightmare playing out behind her eyelids, Helena's face contorted, her fingers moving, almost making fists. Soft sounds came from her lips, but not enough to be understood.

Barbara had rushed to the room but stopped just outside the open doorway. She hesitated; a slight thought not to disturb Helena, not to continue letting the young woman dominate her thoughts brought her actions to a halt for a moment of time. Her eyes started to drift away from the room but were quickly pulled back hearing possible sounds of distress.

She wheeled into the darkened room coming to rest at the side of the bed. Her gaze locked on the young woman as she tried to determine what might be disturbing the brunette.

"Barbara," Helena tried to yell, but the sound came out strangled, her throat too dry to produce the proper sound. "Barbara," she repeated, her eyes coming open as she jerked, trying to sit up.

The pleading tone drew the red-head to the struggling woman like a moth to flame. She leaned forward in her chair using the bed to balance some so she could lay her hands on Helena's shoulders mindful of the injury. "I'm here Helena." She said softly trying to break through whatever had a hold on the woman.

"Barbara," Helena said, locking onto the redhead's eyes, reassuring herself that everything was okay. "I... Fuck, my shoulder," Helena said, her breath tight, still trying to catch up with what was going on.

"You're... I didn't hurt you did I?" Barbara automatically looked at where she had placed her hand as she thought she had been careful not to come too close to the injury. She leaned in a little more trying to see if it looked like the dressing was still secure.

"Not you," Helena said softly. "When I sat up," she frowned. "I... Was I... What time is it?" The brunette's eyes never left Barbara's, still trying to convince herself that the woman was alright.

"Well maybe you should lay back down then," Barbara chided gently confirming the dressing was secure. "It's Saturday morning, early, too early to be awake. Unless you want to catch the newest installment of Schoolhouse Rock?" She moved her eyes back to Hel's face quickly as the brunette's grip on the sheet had started to relax causing the cover to start to slip down.

Noting the obvious aversion of Barbara's eyes Helena relaxed, leaning back and readjusting the sheet. "She drugged me, didn't she?" Helena asked, recognizing the groggy after affects of heavy painkillers.

"Yes she did as a certain brunette tends to give doctors a hard time, or so I hear." Barbara followed Hel's movements as she settled back. "Are you okay?" She asked her voice soft.

"Guess I'm a little sore," Helena replied, making a lame attempt at a smile. "Scully's alright?"

"A little?" She felt her eyebrows rise at the assessment, "If this is a little sore, I'm not sure I want to be around if you ever score a major boo-boo." Barbara teased, her hands shifting down to rest beside Helena. "Agent Scully is fine. Jane took care of her. I hear she was not quite as resistant to being taken care of as you were."

"Not my fault. Doctors always want to run tests and poke me with needles and stuff," Helena frowned. "You alright?" she asked, trying to redirect the attention, not to mention reassure herself.

"Maybe I wasn't just talking about doctors?" Barbara picked absently at the sheet her eyes moving down to focus on the spot. "And why wouldn't I be alright. I wasn't in the fight."

"You didn't answer the question," Helena challenged softly, the hand on her uninjured arm moving to rub at her eyes.

"I didn't? Maybe I've been hanging around you too long and some of your habits are rubbing off on me." Her picking transformed into drawing geometric shapes on the sheet. "You really should get some more rest Helena. You're still tired and you have been through a lot in the last few days. Do you need water or anything else?"

"Yeah, I'm thirsty. Starving too," Helena sighed. "And fine, I hurt. In a lot of places. Now it's your turn."

"I'll get something for you and then you should rest." Barbara stilled her fingers and looked up at Helena. "As I said, I was not in the fight. I will not lie, I hate only being able to listen, unable to do anything. That hurts." Barbara sighed and moved her hands to her controls. "I'll be right back."

"I'll be waiting," Helena said, managing a smirk this time.

"Helena waiting, I think the world just stopped spinning." Barbara responded to the smirk feeling her mood lift slightly. She paused at the doorway, "So is this what a person has to do to get the great Helena Kyle to wait for them? Have you drugged and ordered to bed rest?"

Leaning her head back against the pillow Helena closed her eyes taking a moment to let her emotions out for a moment before recomposing herself. It had only been a dream. Helena was thankful, she'd been the only one seriously injured, and that was acceptable.

Trying not to think about the fear she'd felt even after waking up, Helena moved, conscious of her arm, to sit up. Leaning back against the headboard of the bed, she shifted a couple of the pillows behind her.

"Comfortable?" Barbara's question barely preceded her arrival, a tray with a few items secured on her lap. She'd gone with the basics trying to include the items she always noted Helena snacking on when she stopped by. At Barbara's request, Alfred made sure to keep the cupboards well stocked to meet the metahuman's likes even after Hel had moved out.

"As comfortable as can be," Helena nodded. "Jane leave any painkillers that won't leave me unconscious?" the brunette asked, not too keen on having any more dreams too soon.

Setting the tray within easy reach, Barbara waved at two small cups. "You can take the red pill or the blue pill." She paused half a beat, "Alright so I've been having some late night movie marathons." she smiled a little.

"Seriously the ones on the left are a little heavier and I strongly recommend you go with them, at least one more dose. You are welcome to spend the day here." she paused trying not to admit to herself much having Helena around for a little longer, even sedated and sleeping, meant to her. "The ones on the right will contain the pain to a dull roar."

"You gonna disappear on me?" Helena asked, grabbing some water to get herself started.

"Disappear?" Barbara was puzzled by the question and wheeled closer to the bed.

"If the pills knock me out again," Helena said casually rather than own up to the fact that she didn't want to be left alone.

"Ah," She started still not quite tracking the current conversation. "Usually when one succumbs to sleep the world in general disappears." Hesitating as she could see Helena's non-reaction to her comment, Barbara readjusted her answer.

"I had planned on working around the Clocktower today. I wanted to review some of the..." she paused not wanting to bring up the activities of last night right now. "I do have some reading I need to complete. I can adjust the lighting in here so it would not bother you..."

"That would be nice," Helena nodded, not meeting Barbara's gaze, just reaching for something to eat. This wasn't a conversation she believed herself to be ready for, but Helena also needed some kind of comfort in hopes that it would keep the nightmares at bay.

"Yes it would." Barbara kept her reply simple but sincere. "After you finish eating, I can check your dressings, make sure everything is ok. Is there... anything else you need right now?"

"After you check everything... Well, think you could find me a shirt? Maybe something that buttons up the front?" Helena asked, trying not to eat too quickly even as she discovered just how hungry she was.

"I am not sure I have anything of yours here anymore."

Actually that was a lie. However, Barbara was not about to try and explain how one of Hel's shirts that she had found mixed in with hers after the brunette had moved out was now tucked away in a corner of her drawer.

She especially did not want to try and explain why she kept it there or how sometimes during the last year she would sit at the drawer with it open, staring at the piece of clothing.

She blinked a little and looked up at Helena realizing she had been silent, consumed with her thoughts. "I, uh, I have some button down shirts if you do not mind wearing one of mine..."

"Not at all," Helena agreed, trying not to think about the fact that she'd been hoping for that last answer. It had been too long since she'd spent much time at the clock tower; too much time away from Barbara. Part of her wondered if the redhead felt the same way about the separation as she did.

"Good," She smiled in relief at Hel's acceptance. "I mean it is not quite up to the fashion standards you follow, but it seems to get me through. Wouldn't do to go around naked now would it? Cause quite a stir in the faculty lunch room..." Having felt an uncomfortable tension in the room, she'd rambled on and had not been able to catch the last before it slipped out. Barbara pulled back then trying to turn before the blush made its way to her cheeks. "Well, yes, I think I should go get the shirt and medical supplies."

"Right," Helena said, nodding though Barbara couldn't see it. Taking a moment she then returned to the food. She was hungry and hoped that it would distract her at least long enough for the redhead to return. She was supposed to have these feelings locked away. Away where even she couldn't find them.

The brunette was painfully aware of her slip a couple of night before, but was hoping she'd imagined it as Barbara had yet to comment on it. Barbara was too smart for her. Not to mention far too controlled to want to deal with Helena's feelings.

"Alright, supplies and clothing, check." Barbara announced coming back in and moving up alongside the bed. "Has that voracious hunger been satisfied enough or do you still need something more?"

"I'm good for now," Helena said, trying to relax and get herself comfortable, knowing what would come next.

Barbara placed the needed items on the small table by the bed. "Okay, if you want to shift over this way, maybe sit on the edge of the bed if it does not hurt too much, I'll take a look." she looked up catching Helena's eyes, "I promise to do it as quickly and as painless as possible. The last thing you need is me adding more pain on top of what you have been through." The red-head paused then having said the words in one context but suddenly realizing how they could be applied to another set of feelings she had.

"Ok," Helena agreed, moving slowly, letting the sheet slip enough for Barbara to have full access to the bandaging.

"If you feel any additional pain or other discomfort, let me know. Jane said the wound was pretty clean and there shouldn't be any hidden injuries, but sometimes things tend to be missed." Barbara very gently worked to take the tape and dressing off letting her mind focus only on the task and not any of the side thoughts that kept trying to intrude; such as how soft Hel's skin felt under her fingertips.

"After this... Did Jane check my back? I think I pulled some stitches from the other night," Helena said, looking up at the ceiling, not really wanting to see the mark on her shoulder.

"I am not sure. I tried to stay out of the way and not interfere. I'll finish this and then check. It looks pretty good. I need to clean it out though, get ready." She noted the direction of Hel's stare. "Is there anything up there I need to make a note about?"

Helena's gaze flickered to Barbara's. "Just been a while since you had to clean me up," she said softly, unable to add the other things that hadn't happened recently... or at all.

She paused her actions, taking in Hel's gaze and words. "That's a good thing, right? Isn't that what you want?"

"Well, to be honest I don't really like needing to be cleaned up..." Helena said, unable to make the words sound like her usual tease.

"I know. I am not too fond of this activity either, although it does mean I get to see you for a few minutes past your normal drop and run." Barbara remained still not going back to the task she had started as she wanted to push Hel's choice of words. "And is it truly the cleaning up part you do not like or is it the fact you might just sometimes need someone?"

Helena sighed, shifting her gaze away. "Every time I need someone they get taken away. I think we both know how that works," the brunette said softly, her eyes slowly turning back to Barbara.

She laid her hand gently over Helena's, "Yes we do. Maybe better than most people. But I made a promise to someone a long time ago. And while never is a word that I would not be foolish enough to use as we both know nothing is guaranteed, I know I can use never with the word willingly. I promised to never willingly leave you alone."

For a long moment Helena didn't say anything, just watched Barbara's eyes, trying to figure out what her choices were. If they were even choices... "I can't let you do that to yourself," she said softly. Helena knew how this was going to happen. With their current case she was about to start counting down the days.

"This woman... this meta, I don't know that I can take her. And I can't let myself do anything to make it harder for you..." she tried to explain, no longer able to hold the redhead's gaze.

"Please don't run, not today." Barbara pleaded. All the cold, dark nights Helena had come in like a whirlwind only to leave again; always leaving the teacher alone and with a lingering taste of the energy that always seemed to surround the metahuman. Barbara didn't think she could handle the aftertaste right now, not with her feelings so raw and near the surface because of the last few days.

Helena remained silent her head still turned away.

Trying not to let her frustration show, Barbara tried a different tact. "What do you mean you can't let me do that?" As she asked this, she leaned forward against Hel's legs so she could reach the brunette's cheek trying to guide Hel's gaze back to her. "What can't you let yourself do?"

Her eyes settling on Barbara's, Helena opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. She knew what she wanted to do. Helena wanted to repeat the words she'd said in the alley, but couldn't bring herself to do it. She couldn't open herself up to Barbara like that.

At least not now.

Could she?

Chapter 27B

This Is the Moment (From Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)

Clock tower, Very Early, Saturday Morning

The two remained locked in silence, the moments ticking by as each ran from the twists and possibilities their thoughts were guiding them toward.

"Yes, well." Barbara broke the long silence, her hands sliding away from Helena's face and hand. "I think your wound has been open to the air long enough. I'll just finish up and then check your back." As Barbara withdrew, she schooled her voice, cleansing it of emotion.

"I..." Helena started, grabbing at Barbara's hand. "I meant what I said," she stumbled again into silence as those were the only words she could mange to speak. Words necessary to provide some kind of confirmation that she wasn't delusional.

Barbara looked at their hands, "Meant what Helena? Please tell me as all I heard was can't, won't, and that you might leave me alone with..." Barbara cut off abruptly. She had started to vocalize how the idea of the owner of that voice might take Helena away terrified the red-head. This would leave Barbara alone and open an avenue for Jem to follow up on some of the things she had described. "I need my hand so I can finish."

"No," Helena said, her grip not quite tight enough to bruise. "That night in the alley. Right before..." she trailed off, wanting Barbara to look up. To return her gaze.

"Hel," She gasped at the firmness of the grip and looked up startled by the sudden intensity behind Helena's words.

"I meant it," Helena said, swallowing hard. She couldn't bring herself to repeat the words. Not until she knew that she wasn't alone in her feelings.

Reaching out, Barbara gripped the bed trying to keep the suddenly tilting world from crashing down around her. Life was cruel, how could this be any different? "I have no doubt you meant it at that moment. Deathbed confession is a classic psychological response when a human is placed in a dire situation. You live for and in the moment Helena."

She realized her tone had grown bitter as she was coldly and resolutely preparing herself for the reality that Helena had made a mistake and was about to tell her as much. "So unless I have a reason, proof, to believe you meant anything more than a classic knee-jerk response...."

"I thought I was the blind one," Helena said, getting frustrated as her hand moved to Barbara's face. "I mean, here I am, finally owning up to the fact that I love you and you won't even look at me..."

"You do go into things half-blind ninety percent of the time. That's why I have to jump in and find a way to save your butt most of the time." Barbara managed to choke out before her throat closed up as her eyes snapped to Hel's face hearing those words again. She searched for any trace in Helena's face that the woman was teasing, or uncertain or just saying something to push the moment along.

Helena was done speaking. For now she just waited, her eyes on Barbara's, hoping that she hadn't imagined the other half of her hopes.

Still unable to push words out, Barbara moved her hand to lie over Hel's hand on her face. She pushed hard against Hel's hand feeling the pressure increase against her cheek; the feel of the woman's hand warm and soothing against her skin. "Love comes in many forms Helena." Barbara whispered finally finding her voice. "I can accept that. I would not dare to force my own meaning of those words on you. Or to wrongly assume what you really meant in the alleyway and even now."

She knew how she had interpreted those words in the alleyway, knew she had wanted to have them mean something more than a simple caring. And for that reason, she wanted to give Helena an out. Barbara knew she loved Helena; not the love a mother would give a child, or a mentor a ward.

Her simple love had changed over the years. It had become a love tempered by her bitter acceptance that their worlds were too different to allow the red-head to express that love. Someone like Hel would not want to walk in her world.

So she would give Helena a way to save face. To stay the free spirit, not tethered or held back by the weight of a washed-up, crippled superhero. Helena could maintain she cared but that it was not meant to be something more.

"Was that what you meant?"

For a moment Helena didn't say anything, just sat there, watching Barbara's face... her eyes. "Is it so hard for you admit it? If I can say it, then you can," Helena said, still needing more from the redhead.

"Is that a dare?" She asked not really trying to tease. She tried to answer the question Helena had posed and found her answer was one she did not like. How had she gotten to this point; that one of the simplest sentences in the English language was the hardest for her to formulate and use?

Her eyes started to drift away unable to hold her own against the intense violet stare. She got as far as the wound on Hel's shoulder before her gaze was riveted once again. ~So many wounds and she still opened herself...~

"It seems the student has become the teacher." She said drawn back to Hel's unwavering gaze. "Yes Helena." she paused trying to recapture her control feeling it unravel more and more and finding that as unsettling as the implication of what Helena had said, offered.

Helena's gaze was growing more frustrated, her hand slowly moving back. "I'm the one that keeps getting my ass kicked," she tried to argue.

It was her turn to tighten her grip on the metahuman's hand as she tried to stop the retreat, her words not having the effect she had thought they would. "No." She paused, "No, not no; I meant yes, but no that is not what I meant." She felt her face twist as she struggled to stem her confused barrage of words.

"I meant yes, yes to the hard, yes you did and yes if you can I can. I want to..." She hit the edge of the bed with her free hand trying to pull things back to a place where she was more comfortable. "I have become so used to dealing with problems and computers and situations that need logic and have a predictable outcome that I can calculate what is coming next and how to counter."

She rocked some in her chair. "Helena Kyle doesn't follow logic." She added before trailing off still afraid to say the words as she knew where saying the words would lead and she had not been able to determine if that was best for Helena.

"Then just say it," Helena said, not fighting the frown the appeared on her face. She couldn't take this. Either the feeling was mutual, or it wasn't. And that was all she wanted to know.

The change in Helena's face struck Barbara and she actually flinched knowing she was the cause of the frown. That she had disappointed the woman, twisting the trust and openness Hel had given the red-head. "I love you."

The tension drained from Barbara as she spoke those words, her shoulders drooping as the words echoed in her mind. She released Hel's hand and shifted her hands to her controls starting to pull back; the words acting like a pin popping a balloon.

Helena reached out, only able to touch Barbara's hand as a slight wince from the stretch crossed her face. "Then where are you going?"

The gentle touch drew her gaze. She then let her eyes travel up the woman's arm finally resting once again on her face, captured by the always intense stare from those violet-blue eyes. Barbara struggled to keep her face passive knowing she was not too successful in her attempt.

"I was going to go call Jane to come and finish taking care of you. I seem not to be doing to good of a job in that department. You deserve so much more. Some..." she caught the word she had been about to use knowing Helena would tear into her for saying that. "...thing better. Something that won't cause you to frown so much."

"I'd rather it be you," Helena said, her hand still on Barbara's, trying to read the redhead's face, figure out what it was she wasn't saying. "You do just as well as others."

"Just as well..." She used her free hand to twist her chair back towards Helena staring hard at the young woman. "Actually I do perform some actions just as well others." she waved idly at her chair. "Running physically is not as graceful for me as it is to watch you exit with your dramatic flair. But it seems even I can run; I just use alternate methods."

Barbara sighed and bit her lip, "Go ahead and scoot back on the bed so I can finish what I started. You should be resting."

"Yes, ma'am," Helena smiled softly, reluctantly breaking contact and moving back to where she had been.

"Ma'am? What's with the ma'am?" Barbara replied taking a deep breath as a smile worked its way onto her face in response to Hel's smile.

"You know, have to show a little respect every now and then, right?" Helena smirked.

She had retrieved the needed materials to redress the wound but paused at the reply, her eyebrows rising slightly. "Show respect? And why is that?" She let her smile grow wider. "And so help me Helena if the words elders, seniors, or similar synonyms appear in your answer..."

"More to make up for all the shit I put you through the rest of the time," Helena smiled softly, already anticipating soft skin against her own.

Barbara paused and looked at the bed a moment before moving to gently begin taking care of the shoulder wound. She was very relieved at how the conversation had seemed to almost abruptly shift in topic and tone. She still was trying to work through really what had just happened and what it truly meant.

"You do create quite a whirlwind of chaos. And I don't think you need to make up for anything." She hesitated half a beat, "Although flowers work miracles. And maybe chocolate, no caramels though. And there is that matter of replacing my camera." Barbara glanced from what she was doing to try and catch Helena's gaze.

"Hey now," Helena said, "The camera was not my fault, but the rest I'll be sure to keep in mind." Trying to stay relaxed and not tense up Helena took a deep breath. "So, just how bad is it? Can't remember what Dr. Jane said, if she even told me last night."

"You were out of it last night weren't you?" Barbara shifted her focus and gaze back to Hel's shoulder. "It is a fairly clean wound, assorted other bruising and damage. Your healing abilities should take care of those within another day, although things are slowed down because of your shoulder."

She looked up at Hel, "You may have to take it slow for another day or so, think that is possible?"

"Define slow?" Helena asked, doubtful that she could do any such thing. "How long until it's healed up all the way?" she added, twisting her neck to try and see the hole.

"Not soon enough," Barbara muttered answering Hel's last question. "Stop moving around, I need to finish here. And slow means no rooftops. It means trying normal modes of transportation. Maybe forego heavy lifting. I'd say complete bed rest but that I think is one of those impossibilities of the universe." Barbara sighed.

"Can't say that I'm surprised," Helena sighed, making a more conscious effort not to move.

"Surprised?" Barbara had not anticipated that reply.

"Been a while since it hurt so much," Helena admitted softly. She was just too tired to play it off at this point.

Having finished, Barbara stilled leaving her hand resting lightly on Helena's arm. She decided to answer Hel's candid remark with one of her own. "I know. Been a while since I was so scared."

Chapter 27C

Moment By Moment (Yvonne Elliman)

Clock tower, Early Saturday Morning
Way before School House Rocks : )

Barbara watched as Helena settled in front of her, her entire back and torso bare as the brunette had settled the sheet around her lap now so Barbara could get to the wound on the meta's back. She'd started to reach her hand forward, wanting to let her fingers glide over the exposed skin but hastily drew her hand back, keeping her inspection professional.

She muttered a reminder to her self that she was just checking the injury, nothing more. "I'm not sure you want to hear that right now." she took a deep breath and forced out a better answer, "I mean I believe the stitches are holding and healing. Everything looks stunning from here, very stunning."

"Stunning?" Helena asked, her usual tease back in place. "I guess Jane did something last night, because I know I pulled something," she added. "What about bruises?" the brunette asked, her tone softer this time.

"Jane is aware of how you take your body to the limit. I have a feeling she double checked everything as she took care of you." Barbara let her fingers probe gently near the stitches a moment longer before moving to trace certain patterns up Hel's side and back. An action in the past she had done using her eyes to take in the purple and yellow bruises. Their earlier conversation giving Barbara the courage to do more than let her eyes roam over the skin.

"They are fading but still here, and here and here." She traced each injury with her index finger, the nail carefully scraping along the skin.

Helena was careful to keep from inhaling too sharply, instead forcing herself to relax as Barbara traced the bruises. "Were there any other spots I you think I should be concerned about?" Helena asked softly, wanting to see Barbara's face, but for the moment just enjoying the fingers on her back.

"All of them," Barbara teased gently as she finished her inventory. "I know bruises are part of the package deal. I remember many nights enjoying a long hot bath." she sighed wistfully, "I just wish they weren't such a common occurrence for you to deal with." she let her hand drop to the bed signaling she had completed her examination. "Of course if you learned to keep that right elbow from dropping during a fight..."

"And now is when you decide to critique my fighting?" Helena asked, an eye brow raised as she looked back over her shoulder. "Why am I not surprised?"

"So I believe in capitalizing on a teaching moment, sue me." she smiled catching Hel's eyes. "If you prefer I could run a comparison program as you fight which would automatically score and read out needed adjustments." she laughed a little. "You could tell the thug you are fighting to hold a minute as you listen to the evaluation and the fact you drop your right elbow when fighting. Is that better?"

"How about you just give me that shirt instead?" Helena asked, trying to sound more annoyed, but knowing that it wasn't coming out quite that way.'

"Some people do not appreciate the value of feedback these days. Touchy, touchy..." She made a tsking sound followed by a laugh as she wheeled over to retrieve the shirt. She turned back to hand the shirt to Helena, her laugh cut short as she found the woman had not drawn the sheet back up.

"Thank you," Helena said, her eyes on the shirt, not Barbara as she grabbed the cloth. Facing the wall again the brunette carefully slipped it on over her injured shoulder before pulling on the other sleeve and buttoning it.

"You are welcome," She replied as she forced a shift in her thoughts. She began to clean up the supplies and area. "Is there anything else you need right now?"

Helena was instantly aware that Barbara had said 'need' instead of 'want.' Turning back around she moved her feet to the floor. "Just a bathroom break. I'll be right back," she said, getting to her feet and pausing a moment before she began to move again.

Barbara frowned watching Helena stagger some, "Can you make it there okay? Your equilibrium may still be off from the fight and drugs."

"Don't worry so much," Helena sighed. "I can handle this one all by myself," she added, keeping one hand on the wall for balance as she made her way out the door.

Resisting the urge to follow or comment, Barbara managed a tight nod and watched Helena go. "I always worry about you." She whispered once the woman had left the room. "And what happens when you get to the place you can't handle something?"

Wobbling on slightly less on her return trip Helena was careful not to sigh when she finally lay back down. "Anything else before I drop unconscious for a while?" she asked, propped up on her uninjured arm.

Barbara had collected everything save for the set of pills and some water for Helena. She stacked the materials on her lap as she considered the question. "I will go and collect my reading and come back. Maybe grab some coffee, well if the smell won't be too distracting, I do want you to get some more rest. Now I lob the question back to you."

"Sleep sounds good. I'm not supposed to be awake this early," Helena sighed, grabbing the pills and chasing them with the water. "Goodnight, Barbara."

"It is disturbing to see you like this." She kept the smile in place not letting it fall as she found multiple interpretations for that statement surface in her head. ~Why didn't you think of how that might sound before you spoke..~

She chided herself and then amended her statement hoping to fix her possible revelation. "I mean your usual preference for darker colors fits much better with the shadows you use to from... the um... bad...guys?" ~Maybe I should not have said that either...I think I will quit while I am only ten paces behind...~

"It's the whole symbolism thing, purity or whatever, and black's way sexier," Helena smirked. "Or did you mean the duality part? I get black, you get white..." she trailed off, relaxing against the pillow, her head tilted up just enough to easily watch the redhead.

"You know I often forget you may have actually zoned in and picked up a thing or two during high school or some other educational setting." Barbara grinned relieved at the interpretation Helena had selected to mold her response. "Although you made that last sound like we are setting up for a chess match, or perhaps getting ready to make a really bad western. Of course in our version, the good guys wear black as well as white. Tight, black leather." She wriggled slightly in her chair.

"No Westerns here. And I do remember that there's much more to duality that good and bad," Helena smiled.

"You have something against the genre in general or just the fact they all involve storylines that might be too clich for you?" Barbara's eyes trailed down to the injured shoulder. ~And please, no more shoot-outs at the OK Corral...~ "Duality is a complex concept that daunts even the bravest literary authors and wisest philosophers."

"See, more than black and white," Helena teased.

After a frown and a moment's thought she asked, "You didn't tell Dinah what happened, did you?"

Barbara sighed, "I talked to her earlier and brought her up to speed on the current case sans certain facts. She was going to talk to the other students and teachers and find out if any had heard of metahumans matching the description you gave me coupled with what I was able to pull. I still need to send a still image from the lab footage." She looked down at the items in her lap, "But I left out the severity of the injuries."

"Wait on those other details? I don't want her getting pulled into the middle of this and getting herself hurt as well," Helena said softly.

"My thoughts as well." The red-head sighed knowing she was doing it again; trying to protect her wards and keep them from as much of the painful reality as she could.

Unfortunately the lifestyle they had chosen meant that was almost always an impossible task. Some days Barbara had to decide not how to keep them from the hurt but how best to catch what was left. She rubbed wearily at her eyes with that thought.

"Did you sleep at all?" Helena asked, noticing the way that Barbara rubbed at her face.

"It depends on how you define the term," she hedged. "But I'm fine. Now need anything as I make my rounds before coming back?"

"Get some sleep. Go to bed," Helena sighed, the drugs were kicking in, or at least her need for sleep was. Yawning she finally lay down, relaxing.

"A promise is a promise." Barbara answered. "I'll be back in just a moment. And maybe try to have sweet dreams this time?" She hoped the young woman could sleep peacefully this time around.

"Right," Helena nodded, closing her eyes.

Chapter 28

Entry in Dana Scully's Personal Files
Saturday, May 15

Fractal patterns exist everywhere. They represent organized chaos; channeling the random movements of the universe using a set of rules. Rules that are so complex, convoluted and guarded that the observer is not able to discern the rule, simply the chaos.

A precedent created by the collection of seemingly random actions.

Nature learned long ago to use chaos to create beauty. To allow the fractal to take its own course rather than expend energy in trying to stop a process that can not be halted, destroyed or changed.

Humans still have much to learn.

For like ripples across a surface, random acts have consequences. Even chaos is not above the laws that bind the universe. For every action there is a reaction. The smaller subsets of a fractal are repeated and combine to produce a larger, often overwhelming twisted reality.

My arrival in this new city has thrown me into a seemingly random set of events that are slowly aligning; the small steps have their place in the bigger setting. As I delve deeper into the facts searching for a solution, the picture becomes more convoluted. The more I discover, the less I know.

The consequences from the events of the past few days have shown me I am not immune to pain, confusion, frustration or hope. The last I add because even as I find control slipping from my grasp, other avenues of possibility have been offered to me.

A dark beauty has slipped into my thoughts and world. She brings with her the assured knowledge I do not need to be alone as I face what life throws my way. There are others in this place that know, know that the surface only masks a deeper, darker, dangerous reality.

My father always said when one door closes another opens.

I had thought the final closing of the X-files and the drifting away of Mulder would forever close the door on certain feelings.

I could exist alone.

My need to make choices, uncomfortable and painful choices, finally buried. But, it seems New Gotham has opened that door yet again.

In my short time here I have had already had my beliefs tested and taken to a point of no return. I have been shown my normal procedures do not produce the desired result. The very building blocks of my belief system, such as FBI regulations and rules or the clinical dissection of a case, are tumbling, being swept away. A process started when I met Mulder.

And now, once again, it has begun. I have encountered an individual that calls me to question my deepest convictions. An individual who will not allow me to fall back on simple procedure.

The rules driving the world I move in have been changed yet again. I find the unexpected is the rule not the exception in this city. The only constant I have found thus far in this frenzied world is, strangely enough, the most complex and chaotic element here, Helena Kyle.

I say constant because all roads I explore wind their way back to Ms. Kyle. As I attempt to make the best of this road I have been forced to now travel, the scattered pieces make no sense. But I feel as the ripples continue to push me along, this is a journey, if attempted alone, will end in darkness and death.

A journey I would have resisted even believing could exist when I first came to the X-Files. A journey I would have closed the door on before it could begin; using logic and science to explain away the desultory pattern of facts and discoveries. But, I am no longer that person; New Gotham is not like any door I have ever traveled through.

If I am to survive the ripples that have begun, if I am to stay afloat in this chaotic maelstrom, I must go through that door.

Ignorance is not an option I am allowed. Truth, as always, is something I need to seek if I am to continue to exist.

For now I will search for that truth in the one place that may offer answers. Or at least may serve to be the albatross that takes me above the confusion. She may illuminate the dark night long enough that I glimpse the fractal's beauty rather than become ensnared in her frenzied discord.

Helena Kyle.

Chapter 29

Little Steps (Jill Phillips)

Clock tower, Saturday night

Slowly Helena became aware of the sounds around her. This sensation was joined by a dull ache in her shoulder. She wasn't ready to wake up, but her stomach had decided to chip in as well making its presence known.

Barbara looked up over her glasses as she let her finger glide down the page to hold her current spot. She smiled softly watching the slight changes in Helena's face and body signaling a shift in her sleeping state.

Her eyes flickering open, Helena immediately caught sight of red hair. "I thought I told you to get some sleep... How long was I out for this time?" the brunette asked, her voice dusky from sleep. She yawned and began stretching the joints that didn't hurt.

"Well many are about to embark in some form of the ritual known as dinner." She looked down and made a few notes along the margin before closing the file folder and looking back to Helena. She watched Helena trying to determine how the healing was progressing.

"Please tell me we're doing the same," Helena sighed, slowly sitting up as she stretched one arm over her head.

"We're doing the same, happy?" Barbara laughed as she placed the files and writing materials she had been using in a side pocket of her chair.

"Alfred was by earlier. We discussed a few things including the fact you were here. I believe he spent a little time making what he called, Helena's delight, a collection of Miss Kyle's favorites." She added her glasses to the side pocket. "He has missed making those dishes."

"Ooh, now that's what I like to hear," Helena's feet hit the floor as she finished stretching out her back. "So, what are we waiting for?"

The teacher chuckled watching Hel's transformation from languid stretching to eager anticipation. "Well first, I want to make sure you are feeling alright? Any pain? Numbness?" She let one of her schoolteacher glares spread on her face capturing Hel's gaze to look for any traces of deception in the answer.

Helena shook her head. "Just the expected stuff," she said, not at all phased by the glare. "Besides, I've been sleeping too much, missed out on too many meals. I need the food," she replied.

"Well that certainly sounds like the Helena we all know and have come to lo... expect." Barbara teased changing the saying slightly at the end not wanting to bring up a certain word or topic right now. "I'll head to the kitchen and start setting things up. Meet me there?"

"You know it," Helena smiled, returning to the stretching; this time focusing on her legs while trying not to think about Barbara's choice of words.

With a nod, Barbara headed out. Making her way to the kitchen, she began setting up dinner for them both. She had deferred Alfred's earlier offer to eat something wanting to wait in case Helena would be interested in having dinner. Although she had melted under the butler's stare acquiescing that she would eat something before the evening was out.

Humming a song she had been listening to earlier, she brought things over to the small kitchen table.

Once she felt a bit more sure of herself Helena made her way to the kitchen, more than ready to eat. "Smells delicious," she smiled having heard the light humming, finding the sound to be pleasing and something she wished she could hear more often.

"I'd say thank you, but I really only can take credit for putting things together following a very explicit set of instructions." Barbara finished setting the food on the table. "What would you like to drink?"

"Whatever's around," Helena replied, slipping into a seat.

"So, enjoy a home cooked meal, let me make sure everything is still properly bandaged and in place and then back to bed rounding out this evening's activities, right?" Barbara listed her ideal to-do list for Helena as she brought over something for them to drink.

"I should check on Dana," Helena said, not really looking up, her eyes on the food as she helped herself to everything in front of her.

"If you want to call that is fine, I have things set so nothing can trace a call back to here. I doubt she, or anyone who was ever in the local FBI field office, has anything to even attempt a trace..." She paused a little pulling up to the table.

"However, something is suspect with the lab visit. Someone hacked the hospital systems and it was very convenient that certain parties happened to show." She deferred filling her own plate for a moment just enjoying watching Helena.

After a couple of bites and a drink Helena finally looked up. "I was actually planning to stop by. Make sure everything's alright on her end."

"She has not called today. I spoke with Jane earlier who said she had not spoken with Agent Scully either. I am sure if things were not alright, she would have contacted someone." Barbara offered before taking a bite.

"I'm actually more concerned if no one's talked to her," Helena said before returning to the food, her eyes still not meeting Barbara's. "Besides, I can't stay still this long."

"You believe someone would try something this soon?" Barbara laid her fork down on the plate. "And if you get too antsy before you heal, you'll end up in worse shape. A little patience now means a much faster recovery."

"I'm not going to pick any fights. Just make sure she's alright. Probably pick up a few things from my apartment, make sure someone covers me at the bar," Helena shrugged, ignoring any glares Barbara might have sent her way as she concentrated on her food.

"I know you say you will not pick any fights, but trouble seems to be drawn to you. You can call the bar from here." Barbara watched the young woman eating as she told herself her arguments were only for Hel's benefit. Not because she had hoped Helena might spend a little more down time at the clock tower.

Barbara had found the day incredibly pleasant. Having Hel's presence in the room as she worked had produced a calm feeling; something she did not realize until today just how badly she had missed that feeling.

Between Dinah leaving for her special studies and Helena leaving for... well leaving, the tower had been an isolated island. A place Barbara inhabited every night in dark solitude. Helena's presence had felt like a freeing breeze, breaking the dark and desolation.

"I'm going to pick some stuff up so I can crash here for a while. At least until this case is over. We've already figured out that I have nothing here," Helena said, tugging at Barbara's shirt she was wearing as a reminder.

"Ah. You are always welcome here." She looked down at her own food. "We could go over later or in the morning."

"I won't be long. I promise," Helena said, trying not to let her appetite go.

Barbara sighed sensing that Helena had made up her mind and was only appeasing her futile attempts to alter the decision. "No rooftops, no fighting, no checking crime scenes, no lifting, no running..."

"My apartment, bar, Dana's," Helena sighed. "I'll even take the Hummer so I don't have to exert myself. God, are you trying to make me feel like a teenager again?" Helena asked, unable to help a smirk.

"Curfew is set for 12." Barbara continued not missing a beat. "I'll be checking for scratches and dents when you bring it back."

"12? You mean it?" Helena retorted before finishing up the food on her plate.

"Not a minute later." Barbara pushed the food around on her plate before setting her fork down. "Actually, you really shouldn't be out too long. Maybe just stop by the apartment tonight and do the rest of your intended stops tomorrow?"

"I should make sure she's okay. And if I'm at my place, I'm already at the bar. I'll be fine," Helena said softly. "Are you going to insist on escorting me next?"

"Would you let me?" She asked pushing her plate to the side, her appetite gone.

"Barbara, are we seriously having this conversation?" Helena said, finally setting down her fork to look the redhead in the eye.

"I am being serious, aren't you? I really do not want to see you do something that will exacerbate any of your injuries." She took a breath then pushed on. "I was reviewing the transcripts from the audio and video files from your last few encounters. These are not some simple thugs or criminals. There's something deeper here..." She trailed off keeping her edgier concerns in check and unspoken.

"Listen. I know this case is serious. And I know you're concerned. I just want to have my own clothes, okay?" Helena asked.

The redhead pulled away from the table leaning fully against the chair back. "For the official record, I feel you should wait and rest until tomorrow before attempting too much activity. I also know that official records and rules are something you make a habit of ignoring, bending or breaking. So there is not much I could say to dissuade you."

"Thank you. I should go now. Hour and a half, tops." The brunette said, standing up. "Did Alfred make dessert?"

Barbara's smile was forced as she tried not to let her own personal feelings surface regarding Hel's final decision to go and the stops she intended to make. "Actually I chased Alfred out before he could get to that part. He protested, but he had been working here most of the day as well as running a number of errands for me. We can dig something up later if you want."

"Or we can just eat more of this later. Keys?"

"The keys are on the board by the elevator as always. Some of us have designated places for certain objects and actually keep things organized. Cuts down on the frenzied, 'Where the hell did I put that?' mad dash." Barbara began cleaning up the table.

"Although I must admit watching you during those dashes was always amusing. Especially right before you had a date. One of those many classic, priceless moments that you treasure and use as blackmail in future negotiations." She chuckled a little as she headed towards the sink with some of the dishes.

"Hey I always got things organized in the end. I'll be back soon, okay?" Helena paused at the edge of the kitchen.

"Sure." Barbara called out keeping her focus on clearing the dishes and not other concerns.

Pursing her lips, Helena paused a moment taking in the older woman's features before giving a nod. An action that the redhead didn't see as she was already lost in thought.

Barbara's odd facial expression lingered in the meta's mind as she replayed the dinner conversation. ~Something's definitely wrong...What's going on up there Barbara? And what can I do make things better for you?~ She thought as she headed toward the elevator.

Chapter 30

Yesterday's Wine (Merle Haggard)

Dana's Apartment, La Gargouille Apartment Complex
Saturday night

After stopping by her apartment, changing clothes, grabbing more, and not-so-unintentionally leaving Barbara's shirt behind, Helena had checked in at the bar before tracking down and arriving at the home of one FBI Director. Pausing outside the door she took a breath and knocked.

Moving slowly from the kitchen, Dana frowned. She still felt sore. However, spending the day primarily resting had helped her begin to recover. She'd kept her actions light: short trip to the office and store, some more reading and research followed by a long soak in a hot bath. She'd just finished that and had been fixing a light snack when she heard a knock at the door.

Tightening her robe's sash, she headed toward the front of the apartment. "Who's there?" She called out as she neared the door.

"Me. It's Helena," the brunette, called back, suddenly feeling self-conscious as she shifted on her feet.

"Helena?" Surprised, Dana confirmed through the view hole it was the bartender. She absently pulled again at her sash as she unlocked and opened the door. She pulled it open some standing in the opening. "Are things alright?" The agent asked trying to read the woman's face and assess her mood.

"Yeah," Helena nodded, not stepping any closer, she knew she had to get back to Barbara. "I just wanted to make sure that you're alright..." she explained.

Holding onto the door, Dana frowned slightly trying to remember if she had given the young woman her address. "I am very sore and trying to recover physically and mentally from the events of the last few nights as well as determine where everything fits and belongs. But other than that..."

She paused slightly, "Are you sure everything is alright? People usually don't just appear at someone's door." Well that was only partially true, she thought of the times people had appeared at her apartment door in the past. Dana also realized most of those appearances had been associated with unwelcome news.

Helena almost shrugged, but remembered her shoulder just in time, instead making it a half-shrug. "I don't have a phone," she smiled back.

"You don't have a phone?" She cracked a smile at that, relaxing slightly as she unconsciously opened the door a little more leaning on it. "And here I thought in this technology age everyone was connected." She paused then thinking of last night, "But then I guess you have other ways of being connected."

"Well, I have a phone, I just have issues with paying bills on time," Helena admitted. "I... I should let you get back to the... relaxing."

"I guess a bartender's salary keeps things tight." She stressed the word bartender still wondering exactly what the true story was. "And honestly I was just fixing something simple to eat before heading to bed." Dana paused knowing she felt tired, but maybe she could use the opportunity to pull a little more information out of the woman. She had so many questions. The agent had also noted how the woman had not shifted much at all or indicated she really was intent on leaving.

"Something like that," Helena nodded. "You sure your shoulder's gonna be alright?"

"It will be." Scully looked at Hel's own shoulder. "How is yours? I'm surprised you are up and moving around considering the intensity of the fight. Your doctor friend must be a miracle worker."

"I'm on strict orders not to be out long. Just picking up some of my stuff so that I can crash with a friend. Well, that and make sure you're alright," Helena added.

"They sound like very good orders." Dana shifted some as her sore muscles started to stiffen again. "But I thank you for stopping by, especially considering you have limited time." She paused slightly before adding, "And crashing with a friend, does that mean if I need to find you, you will not be at your apartment?"

"I'm sure you'll hear from me," Helena smirked. "I'll give you a call tomorrow?"

"I thought you didn't like phones? Or are you planning on making an exception for me?" Dana replied smirking a little.

"Alright, so it might be another visit. We'll just have to see," Helena laughed. "Take care of yourself, alright?" she added, a bit more serious.

Dana tilted her head slightly hearing the change in Helena's tone. "I will, thank you." She pursed her lips slightly trying to make a decision regarding a thought that had popped in her head. "Wait here just a minute." She turned to go retrieve something.

Waiting as the redhead ducked back inside Helena moved to lean against the door frame.

Coming back to the door, Dana held out two file folders to Helena, one had a typed label reading Selina Kyle. The other had Helena Kyle handwritten across the tab. The first one the previous director had started, the second a file Dana had started the other night. "Perhaps when you are ready, we could talk about some of the things in here? You can give me the truth about certain things rather than leaving me to assume."

Looking up from the files, Helena frowned trying to cross her arms over her chest. "And what is it that you want me to fill you in on?"

"Read over what is in there. Then we can talk, not a debriefing session, just a talk. And you should not do that, you'll hurt yourself. The little scowl face you make works just fine for trying to act defiant with me, no need for extra body language." Dana replied evenly as she looked again at the folders.

Readjusting the folders Helena turned to go, but paused, turning back to the redhead, her face serious. "For the record, which I'm sure you know, my mother is dead. There's not much more to that story," she said before turning away and storming off.

"I think you are wrong about that." Dana replied watching Helena leaving.

Ignoring the words, ones she'd barely heard, Helena just tightened her jaw. Now was not the time.

Chapter 31A

Hesitation (Peter Hammill)

Clock tower, Sunday, May 16, after midnight

Barbara had decided to forego working at the computer station after Helena had left opting to instead finish reviewing the files she had been working on earlier. She also realized how tired she was and had found the couch to be much more comfortable than her chair.

She had started the evening resting against the side of the couch arm, her legs stretched out, the various sets of reports spread out along her legs and back of the couch. Along the way, she'd snuggled down deeper and deeper into the couch finally leaning her head back on the arm telling herself it was just for a minute while she waited for Helena to return. Her weariness and lack of sleep finally catching up with her, her minute had stretched into minutes as she fell into a fitful sleep.

After a final stop, Helena had buried the files from Scully in the bag of her things before returning to the clock tower. Though she knew that Barbara needed sleep, part of Helena was still hoping to find her awake, but as she made it to the small living area she found the redhead.

Smiling Helena set her things by the couch and the bag she'd picked up on the coffee table before crouching down next to Barbara. Part of her almost left the woman sleeping there, but the meta still felt the need to make up for leaving, if only for a short time.

Tucking some red hair behind an ear she spoke softly, "Barbara... You really asleep?"

Feeling something tickle at her ear, Barbara's hand shot up grabbing for whatever might be causing that sensation. She used her other hand to rub at her face as she started to wakeup.

"Have you always been such a light sleeper?" Helena asked, honestly curious as she watched the redhead's face as she woke up, the grip tight around her wrist.

Turning her head towards the voice, Barbara finally blinked open her eyes. Startled she barely managed to keep from pushing back as her entire vision was filled with a very lovely, yet unexpected sight, the Helena's entrancing eyes.

She blinked a few more times trying to pull her senses together. After a moment of just staring at Helena trying to adjust and form words to reply, her face started to break into a smile, "Only when I needed to be listening for a certain young metahuman trying to sneak in past curfew."

"Well, I almost let you sleep," Helena smiled. "It's actually a little selfish. I brought home dessert and I didn't want to eat it by myself."

"Here I would think the selfish part would be letting me sleep and eating all of the dessert." Barbara replied, her smile growing wider as she remained where she was. She had not really ever looked at the woman's face from this vantage point or this closely. She continued to let her eyes sweep over Hel's face taking in the small details the close distance afforded.

"Well, I picked up one of your favorites, so that means you have to eat it with me," Helena grinned, noticing the way that Barbara was looking her over, "Got it?"

The redhead frowned some at the question, "Got what?"

Rolling her eyes Helena just reached behind her, grabbing the bag. "Look. Finish waking up. Then help me eat," she grinned, pulling out a box to reveal a fresh cheesecake.

She reluctantly pulled her eyes to look at what Hel was holding. As she did that, she shifted a little more, a rustling sound reminding her she had been trying to work before nodding off. "Is that what I think it is?" She moved the papers to the side so she could use her arms to pull herself to an upright position. "It smells good."

"Of course it is," Helena grinned. "You finish waking up and get yourself settled. I'll be back with plates and put the rest in the fridge. Want something to drink?" Helena asked, reluctantly getting to her feet and stepping away from the redhead.

"Water would be fine, thank you." Barbara replied following the woman's movements. "Did you finish everything you needed to?" she asked casually as she continued to pull herself up. She made sure to leave enough room for Helena at the end.

"Yeah. Bar's got me covered and now I have something other than leather to sleep in," Helena called from the kitchen as she grabbed a tray, and served up the cake. "You want one piece or two?"

"I'll start with just one." Barbara called out as she collected her papers. "And this means you can take it easy for the rest of tonight and tomorrow as well, right?"

"Yes. You'll get me all to yourself," Helena called back, cutting large pieces for both of them before gently lifting the tray with her good arm and returning to the living area. "You think we can teach Alfred to make this stuff too?" she asked.

Barbara's eyes widened slightly at Hel's first statement but she covered her reaction, she hoped, by answering the woman's question. "He can. But if that came from the diner down the street, then you hold a reminder of one of the few secrets Alfred has not been able to charm away from the cook; although it is not for lack of trying. He seems to partake of a cup of tea there quite often."

"Well, I do suppose that they're close enough we'll survive," Helena grinned, setting down the tray before moving to sit next to Barbara on the couch and reaching for a plate. "Nice nap?"

"It was not a nap," Barbara explained. "I was doing some work and needed a moment to regroup. I was only resting for a few minutes." She accepted the plate from Helena, "Nice visit?"

"Short trip. And fine, don't admit it, but I know you're worn out. After the food you're going to bed," Helena retorted, digging in; it had been hard enough to wait this long.

A bite half way to her mouth, Barbara paused, an edge of disbelief displayed in her eyes and facial expression. "I'm a little tired, but I think I can decide exactly when I need to go to bed. If anyone needs to go to bed after this it is you." She finished taking her bite after her comment.

"You're tired. You probably haven't slept for a day or two now, and you need rest before more research. I need sleep too, but I'm not going to be your excuse for driving yourself into the ground," Helena said matter-of-factly, shoving more food into her mouth.

"Excuse?" Barbara's voice and eyebrows rose. "Exactly how are you my excuse?" Barbara shifted her back some against the couch, Hel's words too near the truth to be comfortable. "There are two killers out there that is my excuse for..." she caught herself, "Not that I am running myself into the ground for anyone." she finished emphatically

"I know how you work. Since I got hurt the other night you were watching me, even before I asked. Now I'm not about to complain, but that means you didn't sleep. So you'll sleep after the food. I'm not that blind," Helena added, most of the way through her cake.

"I was not trying to imply that you were Helena, or even that your assessment was not sound." Barbara regained her normal tone picking at her dessert.

"However, I have worked long hours in the past when needed. I won't have that taken away from me too. That was something Bruce, Dick and the others could never handle. That was one area where I was..." Barbara paused but pushed on not use to talking about her self this way, "I was better." she said softly looking down at her cheesecake.

"They had the gadgets and the brawn and the moves, but I had the patience, the plan, perseverance. That was one of the few things that kept me going after..." she sighed and took a bite of her dessert.

Helena took a breath, shifting and setting aside her plate before placing a hand on Barbara's leg. "Totally not what I mean. I just want you fresh. It's already been a few days since your, um, adjusted sleep pattern."

Her shoulders sagged some in resignation. "Maybe." Her reply serving to answer both the question of how long but also as a comment on Hel's other statement. "I have slept a little here and there. It is just we finally got close and yet getting close means now we, you, others may be in even more danger. Just as they have been revealed so have we Helena. Look at Dana's inquiries for instance as well as interest in us by those other..." Barbara pulled up not wanting to reference the newest danger.

"So can we take a break until morning?" Helena asked, hoping the redhead would agree, "I mean you get to guilt me into sleeping more and not leaving. I think the least you can do is get some sleep yourself."

She let loose a small chuckle, "I see I am not the only one who can be stubborn and display a bit of perseverance. My teaching has not been in vain." She reached over and let her hand rest lightly on Hel's arm. "Fine we will both go to bed."

"Just one question. You're done playing with my shoulder now, right?" Helena asked, her hand sliding down Barbara's leg, but not breaking the contact.

Trying not to watch Hel's hand moving along her leg, Barbara focused on answering the question. "The dressing should be fine until morning; assuming you stuck to the Hummer not rooftops as well as no lifting or thwacking of archenemies when I was not looking."

"I'm good then," Helena nodded, watching Barbara's face. "But that leaves the next item of business."

"So shoulder is already starting to heal?" Barbara tilted her head slightly not quite sure where Helena was taking the conversation. She leaned forward then peering at the young woman.

"Alright, what exactly is it you are planning? You're not thinking about sneaking out when I fall asleep. I can reprogram the alarms and lock you in here next to me." Barbara teased not aware of her subconscious slip.

"Must just be zoning out," Helena said softly, trying to push back the thoughts of sleeping next to Barbara. Or being next to her and not sleeping. "Sleeping, right," she smiled, hesitating a moment before removing her hand.

Barbara managed to push up a little more towards Helena as she darted her hand out trying to catch Hel's, a worried frown replacing her teasing smile. "Hel, that was one of your worst lies I have ever seen. And I know you have tried some whoppers with me in the past. Are you alright?" Barbara let her eyes focus on Hel trying to encourage the woman to talk.

"I will be, just not back to myself yet," Helena said, letting Barbara catch her hand and still trying to ignore their proximity.

"I don't think either of us will be back to any semblance of normal until we are able to put this case and those criminals behind us." She ran her thumb absently over the back of Hel's hand as she spoke.

"And I believe I have been guilty of zoning out a few times as well. If there is anything I can do for you, you have to tell me Helena. I'm not a mind reader, I also know you prefer to do things on your own. I'm..." she paused slightly, "I'm not so sure your usual MO will work this time. I think you need to do something very different."

Helena nodded, "I'm figuring that out," she said, finding those words true not only for her vigilante life, but her personal one as well.

Barbara nodded and smiled although she still felt Helena was holding something back. "Okay. Just remember, I'm here if you need or want." She looked down at her plate. "How about I finish this and then we can get to bed?"

"Sounds like a plan," Helena said, pulling her hand free before resting her arm on the back of the couch and leaning against the seat, debating whether or not she could voice the concerns she was feeling.

Making a slight face, she took a deep breath, "Barbara..."

Chapter 31B

Brand New Start (Paul Weller)

Clock tower, Sunday, May 16, after midnight


"Um, uh, how's the dessert?"

"This is very good, and it was a nice way to wake up." Barbara said as she worked on finishing her slice. "Thank you for being selfish."

"Anytime. I promise," Helena smiled, letting her eyes close for a moment before opening then again. "I knew you'd enjoy it."

Tilting her head some, Barbara could not help but smile at Helena's remarks as she scooped up the last bite of her dessert. "Considering that promise is based on events that produced this," she waved her last forkful of dessert. "I think I will make sure to hold you to that promise."

"It involves food; do you really think I wouldn't keep it?" Helena grinned.

Enjoying a deep laugh, Barbara shook her head no. "I would never be foolish enough to stand between Helena Kyle and food." Her smile slipped a little as she finished her statement, "Or to really stand in the way of anything you wanted." She looked down at her plate tying to cover her statement. "Well looks like I am finished." Knowing that she'd probably regret it, just as she regretted so many things she said lately, Helena took a deep breath, "Are we ever going to even bring it up again?" she asked, trying not to look too hurt.

Leaning over, Barbara managed to place the plate on the coffee table using the time to try and figure out how to answer Helena. She bit her lip as the first three words that entered her mind were three words she was loathe to ever use or admit she would need to use them.

"I don't know." She reached out not quite able to touch Helena from her position because of the way Hel had shifted back. "How do we, how should we bring it up?"

"I meant it. Just not really sure where that leaves us," Helena said, her sore arm reaching out just enough to reach Barbara's hand.

Barbara sighed softly glad for the contact; the touch giving Barbara something concrete to hold onto. She tightened her grip slightly to affirm her next words. "I meant it too Helena. And I," she stopped not wanting to use that phrase again. "I know where ever it leaves us, I think we are heading towards a better place."

She rubbed at her face with her free hand needing to compose her self before sharing her next thoughts. "I have not been in a very good place these last few months Helena. The last year really since," she left off as neither one needed to hear that woman's name right now.

"I was slipping away Hel. I still feel like I am even now. We both fled this place in a sense. Maybe you still did patrols and I tracked the criminals but we both left. And I'm not so sure it will be easy for me to come all the way back." she stopped taking a deep breath hoping that would ease the incredible pain she felt building in her chest. "I am afraid to lose any more of you or any more of me."

"I thought this was more about gaining than losing," Helena questioned. She knew it wasn't cut and dry, but it wasn't that complicated, was it?

Barbara just stared at Helena letting the silence grow. She blinked a few times and then tried to smile a little. "You're right. It should be about gaining." She breathed out trying not to think how easily Helena seemed to have just overlooked or explained away the deep worries and doubts Barbara had shared with Helena.

She wouldn't bother the metahuman with the fact she was scared. Scared that once she opened up to Helena and told her how she loved her and what she felt, the brunette would see it was not really what she had in mind and Barbara would lose Helena completely.

Sitting up suddenly, Helena moved the hand she'd been leaning against to the side of Barbara's face. "So what's hold you back? What are you afraid of?" she asked softly, looking for answers in the redhead's eyes.

"Hurting you or being hurt again."

Helena nodded, her eyes not giving up. "I don't suppose there's much I can say to fix that, huh?"

The strength, wisdom and feeling Helena managed to convey with those simple words shook Barbara's cynical view. Drawing strength from the steady gaze, "That's one of those things I don't think either of us can fix with words. We can understand but..."

Taking a deep breath Barbara managed to say a phrase she had thought about a hundred, a thousand, a thousand plus a thousand times but never once had the strength to use, until now. Using the strength drawn from one incredibly persistent, stubborn, caring woman, "Would you hold me Helena?"

Not sure what to say Helena didn't speak, just stood and shifted. She rearranged the redhead on the couch so she could sink behind Barbara, her arms wrapping around tight. Guiding the woman's head to her shoulder, she closed her eyes letting her other senses take the lead.

It was one thing to always be around Barbara, but being this close... Everything was stronger, the smell of her shampoo, the feel of muscles hiding below her skin, and the warmth of her body. It was much more than she'd expected.

Barbara felt not just the woman's arms, but her sense of being enveloped as for once the crime-fighter let go of her dogged need to do things herself and let Helena pull her into the embrace she had asked for. Feeling the gentleness and tenderness in the actions and in the soothing way the woman now held her, Barbara was taken back at how the normal fire and frenzy she'd come to associate with Helena masked this side of the brunette.

Startled by this realization, Barbara wondered just how much more she had missed, had been missing all these years. How much they had lost? All because of the lack of a simple action - to love and to be loved.

Not wanting this incredible sense of awareness and in a way glimpse of a magnificent beauty too often cloaked in darkness go, but knowing there would always be pain, Barbara let the tight walls down, just as Hel had with this gentle act. An action she had not done with anyone in a very, very long time. Something she was sure she would never do again.

As she did she laid her hand against Hel's chest feeling the heartbeat there as the tears began as she leaned more into the woman's arms.

"Shh..." Helena murmured, one hand moving up and down Barbara's back as she tried to soothe her. "What is it?" she asked, not pulling back.

She shook her head a little, her cheek rubbing across Hel's shirt, not ready to take the next step and vocalize certain thoughts. Closing her eyes against the tears and thoughts, both happy and painful, she tried to regain her composure. She trusted her voice only enough to allow a simple statement past her lips, well simple in form.

"I'm tired Helena."

"Yeah, I think we covered that earlier," Helena said, resting her cheek against the top of Barbara's head.

Not wanting to disturb the contact, Barbara was reluctant to talk or move. However she could feel the events of the last day catching up suddenly like a tidal wave of weariness unleashed by her tears and the gentleness displayed by Helena. Knowing if she did not move soon, the weariness would catch her and she'd not be able to move, she scratched her fingers a little over Hel's chest where her one hand had been resting. "If your shoulder is alright, I should go to my room now."

"Probably, yeah," Helena nodded in agreement, still not letting go or pulling back at all. "What if I don't want to get up?"

Her fingers stilled mid-scratch, "Well if you prefer the comforts of the couch... I know I spent quite a few nights here. Just please wear some clothing so you do not give poor Alfred a heart attack." She smiled a little trying not to think of all the nights she had fallen asleep here waiting for something, well someone to haunt the balcony...

"And if I don't want to move at all?" Helena asked, unable to help from letting her lips brush over red hair.

Trying to twist her head some, Barbara managed to bring at least Hel's chin into view. She reached her hand up, her fingers playing along the feature. "You've already given me more than I had thought I would ever know." she said softly. "And if you do not move soon, I am not going to be able to move. And I really am not sure if this is that comfortable for you."

"Well, we could always lie down," Helena said, smiling softly as she twisted her head and leaned back to see Barbara's face.

"Yes, we could do that; would be one solution to your not wanting to move." She let a smile play across her face as she caught Hel's eyes. "Seriously Helena, if I do not untangle myself now, I am going to be the one not moving." She turned her head to locate her chair planning how to get up.

"I don't want you to go," Helena said, her eyes staying on Barbara's face while she used one hand to turn the redhead's face back toward her own.

Drawing in a breath, Barbara realized just as she had asked for something from Helena earlier, now the brunette was sharing her need and want with her. Her eyes roamed over Hel's face as she worked through this before coming to rest, sinking into the intense blue eyes watching her. Managing to reach a hand up, she laid it gently on the woman's cheek.

"Then I won't."

"Wait, maybe I should rephrase that. I'm willing to move, but I want you to stay close," Helena said, gently leaning her cheek against Barbara's hand.

Laughing lightly Barbara shook her head some as she slowly drew her hand down feeling the smooth skin slide beneath her fingers. "I think I sense a hidden message here. Something along the lines of, 'I am not really comfortable but trying to be polite before my leg or arm or whatever goes completely numb.' Alright, let's rearrange things to provide a little more comfort, good?"

"Exactly what I had in mind," Helena smiled, her eyes showing how tired she was. Her heart beating with a new found energy.

Chapter 32

And She Said (Lucus Prata)

Tuff and Buff Gym
Monday evening

Hel had started with inventory at the Dark Horse, but it wasn't nearly the physical outlet she needed. Not to mention the fact that no one working there understood the phrase 'Leave me alone.' Eventually she'd given up on it and just left.

Stopping by her apartment for a change of clothes she went to a local gym. Normally she'd work out in the clock tower, but she needed to work through things and didn't feel like facing Barbara or the possibility of bumping into a certain federal agent. The files Dana had given her had ended up flung across her apartment and had remained in that scattered state of array since Sunday.

The gym by her apartment was open 24 hours and Helena had been known to show up when she needed a break from everything.

Finding herself a treadmill hadn't been too hard, and since she'd arrived Helena had been moving as fast as the machine would go. Although it just wasn't enough.

Dana sighed nodding her head as she listened to yet another enthusiastic explanation regarding the piece of equipment she and the trainer on call were staring at. She drew her attention back to the trainer trying to remind her self she was here investigating the current case; as well as checking into a place to resume her physical training.

She'd realized after the last couple of encounters with Helena and the killers, she was sorely out of shape. Even though she was still recovering from the lab incident, she had needed an outlet for her building energy, the saying just healed enough to hurt herself danced through her head.

She shifted her thoughts back to the current case. The agent had also been pouring over the photos and the victims' profiles trying to find any connection possible. She had noted gym club member cards among many of the victims' wallet contents.

Dana had found that seemingly normal item had reignited a memory from the body in the alley as well as what she and Helena's friend had been noting when interrupted at the morgue. They had been chasing the fact that certain organs were missing, many of them part of the endocrine and glandular system.

Considering they had nothing else to follow at this point, Dana had decided to pound the pavement and fall back on good old footwork and interview tactics. This was the third gym she had visited today. So far nothing spectacular had jumped out at her.

"Excuse me, would you mind if I just looked around a bit." She heard the trainer harrumph at her interruption but the redhead continued.

"I have such a great idea of the equipment now from your explanation. I'd like to just feel the place. Make sure it matches my, um, energy needs." She trailed off realizing belatedly she sounded like a hippie or oddball. ~What I get for working on cases dealing with oddballs, I end up sounding like one.~

She snapped back from her thoughts to catch the tail end of the trainer telling her to stop by the front office when she was ready.

Nodding, Dana quickly moved before the trainer could change his mind. As she looked around, she thought she recognized a form in the corner and headed that way.

Helena was just growing more frustrated. She needed to work off the energy she felt, but even she knew that she wasn't in good enough condition to go for her usual patrol. Not while that chick was still out there. Normally she'd find herself some random pretty face with a capable body at a bar, but not tonight. It just felt wrong.

Amazed at the pace and stamina Helena was displaying, Scully had remained quiet having identified the brunette and stopping to admire her has she exercised. ~Admire?~ Scully frowned as her eyes continued to move over the woman's body as Helena pushed the machine to its limits.

She frowned a little more as she realized the look on Helena's face was not really from exertion but it seemed more... "Frustrated?" She shifted some having realized she had spoken out loud. Moving to the side so Helena could see her, she decided to try and amend her statement. "I meant you seem frustrated. Is the equipment not working properly?"

It took Helena a moment, but then she caught sight of the red hair. Reminding herself that it was Scully, not Barbara. "Not fast enough," she said, pointing at the controls.

"Are you saying the treadmill can't keep up with you?" She asked as she moved so she could see the controls. She blinked a little in surprise as she made out the program's current settings. "I seem to remember you do like to move at a quick pace."

"I was hoping to run off this energy, but this doesn't seem to be doing the job," Helena admitted. "It's a little late for most people, you usually work out this time of day?"

"My schedule often skews to night time investigation." she said thinking back how many times she'd ended up trampling through some field or driving down some road during the night. "Do you always have an excess supply of energy you need to release?"

"I usually take care of it on patrol, running around the city and all that. Just not sure if I'm up for the fist-i-cuffs tonight," Helena explained, still running.

"Patrol..." Scully trailed off still not 100 percent sure what Helena's activities truly entailed. Dana's eyes wandered from the machine's controls to take in the metahuman as she continued to exercise. She noted how sleek and elegant the woman's actions appeared; how Helena exhibited a graceful style and ease as she moved.

"Your form seems to be just fine." She absently remarked her mind still on analyzing the movements.

"I guess you could call me a natural," Helena half-smiled, unable to ignore the way Scully was looking at her. "Kind of goes along with everything else."

Scully drew her eyes away from their current resting position then up to meet Helena's. "What do you mean goes with everything else? Your fine form or your fast pace?" Dana paused a little after speaking reviewing her question and wishing she had chosen slightly different words.

At that Helena briefly grinned. "All the athletic stuff. I got it from my mother."

"Your mother was a metahuman?" Scully asked, her voice low. "From the profile I read as well as the photographs I viewed, I can tell your mother was a remarkable woman."

Helena just nodded, her body still moving with the treadmill as she thought about her mother.

"Was your father also a metahuman?" Dana asked genuinely interested in learning more about Helena. Her hopes that any information she found out could help her better define Helena Kyle. She also found the questions were helping keep her mind from wandering. Something it seemed to be doing more and more as the brunette continued to run.

"No. He doesn't really have much to do with who I am," Helena said, not wanting to continue with that line of questioning.

Sensing the increased tension, Dana let the topic go. She made a mental note to follow up on the topic later. "So treadmill is not up to fulfilling your needs and your usual method of releasing energy is out of the question for now. What other methods do you use to get rid of the extra energy?" She turned to look around the gym, "Is there anything in here you can use?"

Helena chuckled, "I doubt I'd find anything to help me out here." Realizing that the treadmill wasn't going to get her anywhere the brunette, stepped to the side and turned it off. "So, what kind of work out are you looking for?"

Turning back, Dana resisted her first instinct to take a step back as Helena stepped down from the machine. "After the last few nights, it has been painfully brought to my attention that I need to resume my physical training. I am hoping between a more regular workout here, or at some gym, and if I can find someone to resume my martial arts training, perhaps I can keep from being thrown about quite so easily."

"Ah, well, if you need a sparring partner let me know. I wouldn't mind seeing what you've got," the meta admitted.

"I am willing to admit it is likely no where near what you have based on what little I've seen. I'm not sure I'd be a very good sparring partner for you. You might have to slow down a little, I have a lot to learn." Dana pursed her lips a little thinking about that fact.

"Hey, I'm probably not as good as you tonight. I do still have something of a hole in my shoulder," Helena said, rolling her good shoulder.

"Tonight?" Dana raised an eyebrow slightly even as her eyes traveled to look at the mentioned shoulder. "I was just here to look into setting something up, follow a few leads. I am not sure I am up for a workout tonight myself." She started to reach a hand out to probe at the woman's shoulder but quickly pulled it down playing with the hem of her shirt to cover her action. "How is the shoulder?"

"Doesn't hurt too much. Just playing it by ear. What about you?" Helena asked.

"I think it is safe to say I am not planning on roaming the streets or leaving places via the fire escape anytime soon." Dana replied lightly. "I am not sure if you got my messages I left earlier, but perhaps since you are not planning on your usual activities, you would have time to go over some more of the files and items from the case? I came across a few things and wanted to clarify a few items." She paused and laughed, "Alright I have a number of things that could use clarification."

"I should be able to handle that," Helena smiled. "Not getting enough out of this workout anyway.

"I am not sure they make equipment designed to give you the workout you want." Scully quipped. "Or maybe they do. I seem to once again be discovering things are not what they seem and that my idea of the world is not in line with what is truly out there."

"Well, I still wanna get some hanging body curls and back lifts done. Work out what I can, you gonna stick around for long? Or can you ask questions while I work?" Helena offered.

"I had not really planned on doing anything this time," she said waving at her jeans and blouse. "I was just doing a little research." She looked around the gym and then back at Helena being careful to keep her eyes focused on the woman's face only. "I'm not sure if this is the right environment for talking about the case and the questions I have."

Helena shrugged, "Well, I can delay my workout if it means spending some time with you." She paused half a beat, "Workign on the case and your questions." She smirked some seeing Dana react to that as she wiped her face with a towel.

"I should probably clean up a bit. There's a great 24 hour diner a couple of blocks down if you don't mind giving me 15-20 minutes?"

"Mind? Why would I mind that you wish to remove the sweat and grime from a workout. Although I'm not sure if you actually worked up much of a sweat." Dana replied thinking again how effortlessly Helena had kept up with the treadmill program.

"I like to set my own pace, but like I said, still not up to par yet after the last fight," Helena admitted. "So I'll meet you in about 20?"

"Not up to par..." she shook her head. the image of Helena on the treadmill working its way across her thoughts once again. "Um, yes, well, of course that is fine. I need to grab some files from the office and also let Hans up front know I might be back later." She turned to go but paused, "And again, thank you for taking the time to talk to me."

"I just want to get this case done," Helena admitted, grabbing her jacket and slipping it over the tank top she was wearing. "I'll see you soon."

"That is a sentiment we both share." Dana said stepping back. "Enjoy your shower."

Helena just nodded before heading out as well.

Chapter 33A

Who Can It Be Now (Men At Work)

Leather and Lace Diner
Monday night

Arriving at the diner Helena looked for Dana, but not catching sight of the redhead got a table.

Tightening her grip on her small leather satchel, Scully pulled the door open and moved just inside letting the door bump against her back as it closed. She looked around the diner trying to spot a familiar face as she reminded herself for the umpteenth time why she was here.

Actually she really was not 100 percent sure herself, she had started by telling herself it was simply to pursue the case. But as she listened to the sounds of the diner fill the space around her, she knew that was not the only reason she was here. Why her normally reserved and conservative approach to her job and personal life had been relaxed the last few weeks.

She knew if she tried to approach this as a simple case or even an X-file that she would falter and fail. So that was why she was here. Why she was heading toward a booth and a brunette who even with the suggestion of this meeting was pulling Dana further and further from her known place and into this new city and new path her life had taken.

She paused at the table not sitting down, "Sorry I took so long. I hope you have not been waiting too long."

"I ordered a drink about a minute ago, figured I'd hold on the food until you got here," Helena smiled softly, leaning back in her seat.

Nodding, Dana slid in setting her satchel on the seat beside her. She picked up the menu not really looking at it as she tried to quell her nervousness. "Do you recommend anything in particular here? Or maybe a better question is do you recommend I steer clear of anything?"

"Avoid anything with fish, the rest is good. Desserts are amazing," Helena assured her.

"I should have guessed you would know about dessert. Why do I get the feeling you often start with that? You don't do many things 'by the book' or as expected, do you?" She asked as her eyes wandered over the menu.

"I try to avoid 'the book' as much as possible," Helena agreed as the waitress arrived with her coffee.

"So it seems," Dana mumbled under her breath as she made a choice and gave the waitress her order. She kept the second part of her comment back not wanting to open up that topic until they were alone again.

Adding on some food Helena returned her gaze to the redhead once the waitress was gone. "So, what's on your mind?"

Deciding to ease into her questions, "So besides your athletic abilities and obvious grace and be..." Scully paused almost adding a third quality, one which surprised the redhead as it popped into her head. "And fondness for the night, did you also inherit your penchant for not playing by the book from your mother?"

Helena chuckled, "You could say that, but once I was born she toned her life down. A lot. That's not what she wanted for me.

Dana let her fingers toy with the small glass of water, "I know the files I left with you detail certain activities your mother was involved with, or suspected to be involved with as well as other information I collected."

She raised her eyes to meet Helena's, "Children often imitate or follow in their parent's footsteps. I have started going through more of the files at the field office. There are some references to unsolved cases being solved with the help of outside help; the description of these helpers however seems to be missing from most of the reports. I did note the mention of ghosts and shadows a number of times however." She laughed but found little humor actually in the subject.

"That mean you might trust me sometime soon?" Helena asked, her tone still rather light, but serious as well.

"You spend your nights roaming the streets of New Gotham rounding up criminals with the help of an unseen partner and without any sanction from the official law enforcement agencies. You are one of the good guys just doing things your way or well your partner's way, right?" She paused before adding any more.

"Our way," Helena said with a frown. "And if law enforcement was better in this city we wouldn't have to. You have to agree it's better than some of ways I could use what I have to my advantage.

"That is true." Dana leaned her arms on the table as she spoke. "So whose footsteps are you following Helena? Why not follow your mother's inclinations? Is that the connection between you and your unseen partner? Or someone else's influence?"

"Does it really matter? Maybe it's even possible that it was my choice?" Helena said with a glare.

"It matters to me. I need to know." She responded not backing down from her line of questions. "You have a history, or least the few instances I could find, of edginess and forcefulness in certain situations. You were even assigned to anger management for some altercations. How thin of a line do you walk?"

Dana leaned in closer making sure her voice was low, "Obviously something simple like a routine exercise program is not enough to satisfy whatever needs you have. What keeps you on that line Helena?"

"Did you read about how she died? How I held her and watched her die? How they never charged anyone? Never even found any suspects?" Helena demanded, her voice low and quiet, but full of emotion.

"I found a brief report, I am still waiting for some records to be sent to me. I know there were no ghosts to help solve that case, only shadows. Shadows don't always contain help." She frowned some feeling the pain in Hel's voice.

She knew that sound as she had lost so many family members to unknown shadows and madmen who cared more for their own plans than the life of someone who happened to be in the way or useful for sending a message. "Is that what caused you to make your choice? Are you searching for that shadow?"

"I gave up on that shadow. Now I try to keep others from having to live with their own shadows," Helena said evenly. "If that means I get a little rough with the criminals sometimes, then it's something I can accept."

"Gave up? Why do I find that hard to believe?" She continued to stare at the table surface. "How much like the shadows you fight have you become Helena?" Dana asked almost afraid to hear the answer as she had begun to admire this woman and wanted to trust her.

"I will never become one of them. I'm selfish enough to keep who I am," Helena said softly, her gaze focused on the table top.

"Yet you will accept getting a little rough." The agent looked up watching Helena's face as again her curiosity at who exactly was this woman guided her questions and actions. "A very thin line."

"It's not like they don't throw punches too..." Helena said, still a bit lost in thought.

"Yes, I know. First hand even," She replied absently stretching her side some thinking of the fights. "I guess being able to duck is a handy skill and one I should focus on developing." she trailed off as their food was brought to the table.

Helena didn't say anything. Leaning back she ignored the food for the moment, focusing instead on the redhead.

"I am alone here. The little help I thought I might have... does not exist. I am the only agent in the field office and you saw how the NGPD welcomed me with closed arms. Plus as you said their history is spotty regarding being able to apprehend certain criminal elements." Dana's eyes strayed from the other woman's face as the loneliness she had felt for the last few years again began to bleed into her being. The weariness from dealing with that crept into her voice.

"It seems to me here in New Gotham there is more hidden in the shadows or at least it is easy to turn your head away and remain oblivious. My predecessors stayed away from the shadows leaving them for someone else to deal with. Or often turned their heads. I learned very painfully turning your head really only makes it easier to be taken down." She offered trying to fill the silence as well as perhaps explain part of the reason for her questions. The other part was something she was having a hard time admitting even to herself.

"So what else do you want from me?" Helena asked, having regained her composure as she looked up at Dana and leaned forward, finally looking at her food.

~That's a question I wish I could answer.~ The agent thought as she sat back trying to put the assorted feelings running through her mind in order. A task she was finding harder and harder to do the more time she spent with Helena.

Chapter 33B

Who Can It Be Now (Men At Work)

Leather and Lace Diner
Monday night

As the silence between the women grew, Dana shook her self slightly and tapped on the files, her professional approach winning and taking over her mood once again.

"I have been looking at the limited information I have regarding the case. There are some," she paused searching for the right word but could not catch what she wanted. "I guess inconsistencies in some of the mutilations as well as the profiles of the victims. I was hoping perhaps you could fill in some of the holes."

"Lay it out for me, we'll see how well I know this part," Helena said, taking a drink of her coffee.

Having poked at her food and taken a tentative bite, Dana laid her fork down and reached over to the satchel she had brought with her. She rested her hands on the satchel just looking at Helena a moment still uncertain if she should be doing this. If this woman and her associates could, or would help her. She had trusted many in the past, and been burned so many times.

Taking a deep breath and a huge leap away from her normal reserve, she pulled out a few folders.

"I have collected basic profiles of each of the known victims. I am not even sure how many deaths to attribute to these killers. The FBI technically was not called in until one of the victims happened to be a visiting foreign official. There are gaps in many of the basic information fields for what I do have."

"This is the start of a psychological profile of the killer, well based on the alleyway meeting this should be adjusted to killers. Also I am curious just how much you know about the killers. For instance, I wonder if your friend recorded anything from the lab altercation." Dana gave Helena a sharp glance as her mistrust reared its head once again as she pushed over another folder.

She flipped open a third folder spreading out a few crime scene and autopsy photos. "This is a combination of photos I have sorted that show the various mutilations, which I have a number of questions about. I have begun regarding the possible dissection or medical aspect of this case." She hesitated biting her lip again not sure she should have shown this leap of faith by providing her own reports and observations.

Picking up the folders, Helena flipped through the pages, "I'm going to need a little more time to go through these," she said, looking back up at Dana. It was becoming more and more apparent to the brunette that the time to introduce the redheads was long overdue.

Scully nodded, "I understand. And it probably is over kill to make any remarks along the lines of working against a clock or time being something we do not have in unlimited quantities." She remarked as she picked her fork back up ceasing any other comments as she sampled a little more of her food.

"That would be preaching to the choir," Helena agreed. "Anything I can help you sort out now?" She added, finally picking up a French fry and playing with it a moment before dropping it into her mouth.

"Excuse me?" Scully replied, her attention having been drawn to the brunette's action. "I didn't quite catch what you said." She looked down then busying herself with her food as she berated herself for having been distracted by such a simple action. It was just someone eating a French fry.

Someone toying with a French fry between her slender fingers before easing the golden fry past lush lips. Her tongue sliding out to meet the French fry and help work it into her mouth, the pink tip darting out to lick the full lips catching an errant drop of salt before disappearing back into the woman's mouth that curved upwards in a sensual way at the corners as she chewed.

Just a simple action.

"Any other questions that I might have answers for now?" Helena asked, downing a couple more French fries.

Working hard to listen to Helena as she spoke, Dana tried to recall the questions she had wanted to ask. The answers she hoped to find. Her eyes followed the journey of a number of fries from the plate before she remembered she was the one supposed to be speaking. "Yes." she finally replied.

"Such as..." Helena prodded, finally looking up from her food. "Are you alright? Sure you shouldn't be resting?"

"Actually it has been a very long few days." The agent replied rubbing at her forehead as she put her fork down. "I have other questions, but I think the focus needs to be on the questions regarding the case." ~Professional Dana, keep it professional and focused.~

"Other questions?" Helena asked, a smile flickering at the corner of her lips. "Now you've got my attention..."

"If I am just now receiving your full attention I am not sure I can handle..." Dana muttered somewhat as she shifted in the booth. She let her eyes drift from her half eaten meal to the intense blue eyes staring at her. "Those questions, questions about what really goes on in New Gotham to need someone like you to watch or maybe prowl the city. Questions about what you represent; that would help me understand who you are. And why I..."

She drew in a breath although her eyes never wavered from the other's gaze. "But perhaps those are questions for another time. You do enjoy putting off answering questions until another time."

"Well, sometimes they need a little thought, not just whatever is on the tip of my tongue," Helena admitted, finally picking up the sandwich in front of her.

"Yes well, sometimes the most honest and true answers are those found on the tip of your tongue." Dana paused having tripped over the word tongue. She picked up her glass and took a drink trying to hide her face sure her coloring might give away her thoughts.

"Then ask me something," Helena said, swallowing her first bite.

"I think maybe I shouldn't." Dana said putting her glass back down a little more firmly than she had anticipated. She looked around watching the other patrons. She looked back at Helena, "You have an incredible sense of self Helena."

Helena frowned, "What does that mean?"

Dana found the corner of her mouth quirking upwards slightly. "It means you wouldn't know what I meant by that." She shook her head. "It was a compliment. You seem to always know where you are, what you want and the pathway to go from here to there. You also..."

Dana sighed and nervously wet her lower lip some. "You also tend to have such a presence that those around you can easily fall..." she hesitated changing her wording, "Can be caught up and enjoy that presence."

"I must just be a good actress. I make up things as I go along," Helena admitted. "Besides, you're the one who's successful and all that."

"I'm successful?" She felt her eyebrows rise at the unexpected statement. "I'm not sure of that assessment and I really am having a hard time making the connection between that and your ability to draw attention just by walking across the room."

"You're a doctor, an FBI director, and like, 29?" Helena asked. "And what about my ability to draw attention?"

"29? We will now add either a keen sense of flattery to the list of your traits or the lighting in here is really working in my favor." Dana picked up her fork but just pushed some of her food around on her plate.

"I only meant Helena that you take an activity that is mundane or average, such as walking across the room, and elevate it to something that demands or at least deserves attention."

Helena nodded, but didn't say anything, instead swallowing another drink of coffee.

Dana sighed, her eyes having moved to glance over at the metahuman only to find her mind still drawn to personal not professional thoughts. She moved to bring out her wallet taking out a few bills. Trying to keep her face and thoughts neutral she looked at the brunette. "When you have those answers, please let me know."

"You're already leaving?" Helena asked, looking up from the plate in front of her.

"I came here looking for answers and truth Helena. I want to stop these killings. Instead all I seem to be focused on right now is," she drew her words up short. "Is nothing at all to do with the case or investigation. There is nothing more I think I will find out in this diner, so yes, I'm leaving."

"So now you can't take breaks either? God, you're just like..." Helena said, then she sighed and shook her head. "I... can you hang on for just a minute? Give me a moment to... call someone?"

"Helena," she reached out placing a hand on the brunette's hand that had moved. "It is not about taking a break. It is about being in this diner, thinking things I don't understand and knowing that being in this diner is the last place I want to be right now, especially if you eat any more of your food." She shook her head pulling her hand away.

"That is why I need to go. I don't have that sense of self. I realize I am in a crowded place full of people and that I can't control how I'm feeling... I need to go." Dana began collecting her items.

"Just a minute. If this is about the case..."

"Five minutes. Tops," Helena added, as she got to her feet, stepping away before the redhead could protest.

Moving to a pay phone near the door Helena flicked on her comms, picking up the phone in case Dana glanced her way. "Oracle. Oracle, are you there?"

"Huntress, where are you? I've been wanting to talk to you and was one step away from sending Alfred out to find you." came the immediate reply.

"I've been talking to Dana. About the case, and I think it's time the two of you put things together without me as the middle man," Helena said seriously.

"What?" Barbara replied, her eyes flitting over yet another set of search results.

"All this go between shit. It's not getting us anywhere. Not to mention the fact that if I get you two geniuses together you'll probably have it figured out in under an hour. I'm going to bring her to the clock tower," Helena finally said.

"Sh...??" the young woman's use of the word had pulled Barbara's complete attention to the voice coming over the comms.

"Wait Huntress, please repeat. You are bringing who, where? I hope you said you are coming here, now. I finished cataloguing the audio and video from your encounters. Using that set of cues, I sent out some trace-bots and hit a number of positive returns. In addition, Canary came up with some information to add to what I have been piecing together." She paused slightly, "And she says hello and that she misses your wardrobe."

"I'm coming, but I'm bringing Dana with me," Helena said, slowly and clearly. "That way the two of you can solve this case. And I'll send Dinah a gift package soon."

Barbara stared at her displays her mind torn roughly from the information filling her monitors. Even though the agent had been to the tower, it had been in the form of a convenient place to administer medical aid.

An apartment nearby provided by an unseen host.

Helena's words meant showing Dana what she and the clock tower really were. Something that she had tried very hard to stay away from since the incident with Harley.

"What happened to the keeping your partner silent and unseen?" Barbara questioned trying to pull herself back from memories of that disastrous night and the resulting distance that had torn at her and Helena ever since.

"We let Dinah in," Helena protested. "If I put you and Dana together this will be over so much faster. And you and I both know that we can't keep this up much longer."

"No, we can not." Her eyes traveled to a small window that contained am image of Jem and the information on the blonde that one of her trace bots had returned.

"And we, no I, also let Wade in." she said softly. "Dana is not like you or Dinah. I can't handle another Wade." She admitted softly, her eyes stuck on Jem's image.

"We're letting her in to solve the case. That's what makes it okay," Helena argued.

"Why the change Huntress?"

"Is now really the time?" Helena asked, not sure she could say the right words anyway.

"Is this one of your patented 'gut feelings'? Or do you have something more substantial on which you are basing your trust? Something more personal?" She had closed her eyes to better focus on Helena's words and not the other memories assaulting her thoughts.

"Gut. She hasn't arrested me, and she just gave me more case information to look over. She trusts us, we should trust her," Helena said. "I'll be by soon, okay?"

"Soon? Tonight?" Barbara replied reduced to one word responses as she tried to catch the same assured feeling her partner seemed to have regarding the federal agent.

"Yes, we'll be leaving the diner by my place soon. You'll be there," Helena said, waiting for confirmation, though it definitely wasn't a question.

"Do I have a choice?" She snapped moving her chair back away from the monitors as a way of expressing her frustration.

"What do you think?" Helena asked, hanging up the phone and speaking those words as she walked back to the booth.

Dana had placed the bills on the table intending to slip out; it had been a very long day. As she stood by the table, she watched Helena as she spoke on the phone and noted the changes in her facial expression indicating the conversation was not going as expected.

Leaning over to grab her satchel, the agent began moving toward the door, her path intersected Helena's.

Stopping in front of the redhead Helena paused, taking in a breath. "It's time you met someone. Let me grab those files."

"Excuse me," She furrowed her brow. "I thought the idea was to have you find some of those answers to my questions while I headed back to my place for the night."

"I'm going to introduce you to the answers," Helena said a bit somberly. "Your car's nearby?"

"Out front," she confirmed. "Is this your partner, the one I spoke to, in a sense, the other evening?"

Helena nodded. "Just... tread lightly. It's a pretty exclusive little club."

Not sure how to take that comment, Dana nodded and headed toward her car.

Following, Helena was quiet, not sure what to say. "You remember where we got fixed up?" she asked, settling into the car.

Dana buckled her belt and started the car. "Yes, a nearby friend's place and a doctor who does not mind house calls." She said recalling the previous evening.

"That's where we're going," Helena said, buckling her seatbelt and trying to get comfortable.

Having thought originally the friend providing the care might be tied more closely to things then Helena had indicated, Scully nodded. After confirming the directions she pulled the car out and headed towards the clock tower.

"I take it not many know exactly what you and your friend do." she said a moment later breaking the silence.

"Probably less than 10," Helena agreed, after counting off a few in her head.

Dana glanced over at the woman, "Why? I mean, why work so hard to hide what you are doing?" She pulled at the belt feeling an edginess developing. Her experience with people who hid things had always come with death or pain.

"We've had bad luck in the past," Helena said simply. Now was definitely not the time for details.

"So have I." Dana replied as she continued to question if this was the right thing to be doing.

"Then it's safe to say that all of the caution is mutual," Helena said softly.

Keeping her eyes on the road, the agent did not reply immediately. "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." She said after a few moments using a quote Mulder had written on a piece of paper and kept taped up in their office.

"Can't argue that," Helena agreed, her eyes staring straight ahead, suddenly questioning her decision.

* * * * *

continued in A Whole New World part 4