FANDOM: Birds of Prey TV
PAIRING: Barbara/Helena, and a family tale too!
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is early in the first season, and it's less funny... but I was pondering, and this is what happens when I ponder (dangerous!). I've only seen the one WB season and read some small spoilers for the comic books. Nothing that would give me any details. So if some of this is out of order or flat out wrong, I apologize greatly.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2: This could be starting something, I'm not sure yet. Suppose it depends. I've been out of the fan fiction world for a while, so if you want to let me know what you think... well, I'd be much appreciative.
SUMMARY: Barbara has to explain past events when Dinah gets nosy and Helena wants to know the truth. Barbara/Helena pairing (nothing explicit), and family-ish tones.
There's a room in the Clocktower no one enters, because it houses the story of a life unfinished. It is a history far from buried.
Helena Kyle looked around the room, disinterestedly glancing back and forth between the computer screens, her eyes finally lighting on the redheaded form of the Oracle whose fingertips were dancing over the keys. Barbara's back was to her, but she'd seen the stiffening of her posture when she entered the room. Though Barbara didn't have the increased abilities of a metahuman, she was definitely in the possession of a good sense of... well, everything physical and intellectual.
The Huntress herself had just awoken, but Barbara didn't appear to have gone to bed at all. It had been a late night patrolling the streets of New Gotham, the Delphi system blinking and beeping with alarms all through the wee hours as a rash of serial assaults and robberies spread through the main roads of town. Dinah had mercifully been spared from all the action, lost in a deep sleep after a long day of hand-to-hand combat practice. Besides, Huntress preferred to stalk her prey alone - better able to harass Reese that way, too.
"Aren't you, you know, ready to do that thing normal people call sleeping?"
"What?" Barbara asked, voice distracted, countenance indicating she was only half-listening. "Sleeping. You know, lay your head on a pillow, pull the covers up to your chin, I'll tuck you in if necessary sort of thing?"
"I'm not tired."
"You've been up for at least thirty hours, Barbara. Time to do a little nappy-nappy," Helena argued, propping herself against the desk with her arms crossed. The redhead had taken care of her for so many years that at some point it had become a reciprocal endeavor.
"Just a minute, Helena. What's got you feeling so... meddlesome?"
"Call it a little friendly concern. So what's up with the big shiny computer?"
"Just monitoring for further activity. I don't suppose I could interest you in a free lesson?" she had turned partially toward Helena and cocked an eyebrow at her, knowing her answer already.
"Uh, no. I leave the oracle bit to you. If it makes funny noises or blinks I'll be sure to let you know."
"Okay. Okay, I'm going to bed. I'll be back in," Barbara glanced over her shoulder at the clock, "a few hours."
"Take your time," Helena waved, "you normal people need your sleep."
Barbara snorted under her breath, "Which explains why Dinah is still in bed at eleven a.m."
Dinah was not, contrary to Barbara's opinion, still in bed.
It wasn't even like she could say it was an accident, she knew, as she held the blue and silver remote in her hand. The buttons glowed with the LED lights the woman had installed, similar to the built in on the left arm of her wheelchair.
She had dreamt of Batgirl - before she came to New Gotham. The day she met the Oracle, however, they had stopped. The idea had possessed her recently - the idea of the woman she considered a guide, a mentor, a mother, fighting crime on the streets just as her sort-of-friend Helena did. She really was kind of like an older sister, Dinah knew, mostly in her disinterest and inability to hold her temper around the younger blonde.
She had been sucked into the idea of Barbara as Batgirl, and so she had picked the one locked drawer in Oracle's Headquarters, shuffled past the transponder and grabbed the remote she knew was there from watching Barbara. The girl wasn't sure that the remote was what she was looking for, but it had to be, she figured, since there was no other "forbidden room" (no one had really come out and said it, but the room was never open, always locked, and she'd seen Barbara hover near the door in her chair more than once, a wan expression across her face).
Dinah had held her breath as the door slid open, imagining all sorts of strange machines and natural horrors - after all, what could be so bad that neither Helena, Barbara, nor Alfred would mention it to her?
Instead, what she found was a proportionally built mannequin equipped with Batgirl's uniform. Nothing more, nothing less. The room was lit at the side and with a spotlight, a bullet- and fireproof glass case standing dead center with a ceramic what-was-once-Barbara's-life inside. She let the breath out slowly, taking in the room, almost expecting motion-sensors to go off, sirens to flash, as she reached her bare foot into the room.
After the initial concern vanished, the teenager moved quickly, turning in circles, until she reached the glass case. It never entered her mind to open it, to touch or try on the costume - not then, anyway. She wasn't Batgirl. She wasn't anyone yet, anyone with a secret identity or a codename, at any rate. She was just Dinah. Dinah Lance Redmond sort-of-Gordon. She was the latest in a long line of runaways to train as vigilante apprentices. She was a student at New Gotham High who had visions in her sleep and when she touched people, she could read their minds. She was just Dinah.
Her hands rested against the case, one leg bent at the knee, toe pointed at the ground behind her, as she leaned forward, almost pressing her nose to the glass. She could almost feel the memory in the leather, the sweat and blood and pain and history that Barbara never talked about, the life she had pushed into the background and refused to remember.
She stood there, listening to her own breath, eyes closing, opening, staring with eyes wide-open and then memorizing the sight with eyes clenched shut.
"What do you think you're doing?" The voice was calm, low, almost shaking with anger. Barbara was tense in her wheelchair, hand poised over the joystick as she maneuvered further into the room.
Dinah's eyes widened, "I.. I was just..."
"Invading my privacy?"
"Teenage rebellion via show of absolute disrespect?"
Dinah was silent.
"Well? What is it? What compelled you to do this?" Quiet fury rumbled through her body; her hands gripped the arms of her chair as if she were about to push herself out of it, knuckles turning white.
"I just want to know you," Dinah let the words out in a rush, pressing her back against the glass case.
"This is my past, Dinah. My past, something no one else is to mess with. Do you understand me?"
"Y...yes," she nodded vigorously, moving swiftly toward the open door. When she reached Barbara, she paused, "I'm... I'm sorry, Barbara, I didn't mean to...I just wanted to... I'm sorry."
"Leave," she responded, refusing to look at the girl. When she didn't move, the redhead continued, "Go now. Go to your room, Dinah!"
She listened to the footsteps as the teenager disappeared down the hall, her pace turning into a run. Helena stood just around the corner, listening to the exchange, watching as Barbara moved her chair further into the room so the motion sensor on the door would allow it to close. Huntress looked down the stairs, her eyes locking with Alfred's, nodding. She would go after Dinah, because Barbara would be ready for her after she had cooled down - in such a state of anger, Alfred was better suited to deal with her, having known her since she was a frustrated, impetuous, hungry teenager herself.
"Miss Barbara..." Alfred began.
"Don't, Alfred." Her voice was strained as she interrupted, "she had no right. This was my life, not hers."
"She is your charge, Miss Barbara, a young girl but a very special one. She is bound to be curious about the life she has seen in her visions. Miss Helena is more open about her experience, perhaps because she has had to be. And Miss Dinah... well, she looks up to you, almost as a mother. She has not known you that long, but knows that you are intelligent, capable, and generous. She does not know this... part of you. She wants to know all of you."
"She doesn't know what it's like, Alfred. And she doesn't need to know, she's just a child," Barbara argued, still not turning to face him. He hovered near the back of her chair but dared not touch her.
"Miss Dinah is hardly a child, Miss Barbara, and perhaps she needs to hear it to reconcile her own memories of that night. After all, she's been dreaming of it for eight years. She was only a child when it happened, she's been living with it just as long as you have."
The redhead pursed her lips, whirled her chair in a semi-circle to face the trainer-Butler-friend she'd known since she was about fifteen years old, just like Helena and just like Dinah. Her words were bitter, like Batgirl's Barbara would've been. "And yet I'm the only one in a wheelchair. Amazing, isn't it?"
"What did you think you were going to do, anyway?" Helena asked the girl as she propped in her bedroom doorway.
"I didn't exactly have a plan," she pressed her face into the pillow. Her head swirled in a sort of surreal thought process - or rather, not in any thought process at all. "I just knew I had to go there, I had to see it. What happened to Barbara, it's played over and over in my head and I can't talk to her about it, it hurts her to think of it. I don't... I don't want her to hurt because of me."
"Dinah..." Helena spoke, voice awkward. "She'd been up all night, she didn't mean to be..."
"No. It's okay, Helena. You should be with Barbara right now; I'm fine. I don't know what I was thinking, I knew it would make her mad."
"Maybe that was the point?"
"Maybe," Dinah acknowledged, turning her head to the side and watching as Helena kicked herself from the doorway and out of the room.
"She's gone to her room now, Miss Helena," Alfred called from the elevator, catching her eyes and nodding. Helena paused, unspeaking, and changed direction. The remote Dinah had dropped onto the hallway floor caught her eye with it's blue lights. Sighing, she bent and retrieved it before heading toward Barbara's closed bedroom door.
If she knocked, Barbara might tell her to go away. If she didn't, Barbara might get angry at her, too. Wouldn't be the first time, she figured, and there was no way the Oracle could stay angry. She slipped into the room quietly, observing Barbara laying on her bed, curled into a ball and facing the window opposite the door.
"I'm fine, Helena," her voice was quiet but firm.
"It's not you I'm worried about," she interrupted, "Okay, well that's not exactly the truth. But you were pretty harsh with Dinah."
Barbara flipped hard onto her back, letting out a long breath, "Yeah, maybe. I'll go talk to her in just a few minutes."
"No, just... relax. Let her think for a while. She just wanted... she just wanted to reconcile those visions in her head with who you were. You don't really talk about it, you know, and she's bound to be curious." The redhead pursed her lips again, refusing to reply. Helena stepped closer, laying the remote on the bed as Barbara watched her.
"You realize that regardless how... short I was with her, she will still be in trouble? She had to break into my desk to get to that remote. The main one is built into my chair." She cringed at the end of her sentence, hoisting herself off of the bed and into the offending machine, turning it to the window and pretending to survey the city. "She shouldn't have invaded my privacy that way. If she had questions, she could have asked me."
"Would you have answered?" Helena asked, startling the older woman with her closeness as she quickly rounded the side of the chair to stand beside her.
"Yes, of course. I always try to educate her on subjects she's interested in..."
"This isn't English or... whatever subject she likes. This is you losing your legs," she reminded her.
"You think I don't know that? You think I haven't noticed that - oh, all of a sudden I'm sitting in this chair and I can't use my own legs to propel me across the room? That I can't leap the rooftops like I used to? That I can't go out and ... be who I used to be?" Barbara's voice wavered, raised an octave. Helena moved to a crouch between her and the window, placing both of her hands on Barbara's knees to calm her. "You think," her laugh was short and hollow, "that I don't know that I can't feel your hands on my legs?"
Helena, startled, went to raise her hands in a gesture of peace, but Barbara pressed them back against the fabric. "Don't. Don't pity me, don't... do that."
"I don't pity you, Barbara," she whispered, eyes worried and wide. "Dinah didn't want to hurt you, neither do I."
The redhead exhaled, "You aren't, you haven't hurt me. Dinah..."
"I was a teenager once, too. And I did hurt you when I was her age - many times, emotionally and sometimes, sometimes physically. And Dinah, she is just curious, like I would have been if I wasn't so blinded by my own... stuff."
"You had every right to be the way you were. So does Dinah. I was out of line today, I guess. I should have just talked to her about it, but she just made me so angry, so..." her anger was dissipating, as it always did, paving way to guilt.
"Hurt? She broke into your desk and then into your private room, where you found her after over a day of no sleep. You're allowed to be hurt, Barbara, and upset, and, you know, all those other unhappy emotions. I mean, Barbara, you've never even told me exactly what happened. Only that your spine was severed when the Joker showed up at your door..."
After a moment, "Why did you open it without looking?" Helena lost herself in the thought, eyes wandering away from Barbara and out the window, as things she hadn't questioned in years came to the surface.
"I don't remember," she answered, not hearing the door slide open.
"I do," Dinah whispered, "and I'm sorry, Barbara. I really didn't mean to hurt you. I see you, in my head, I just wanted to... to understand, but I didn't want to bring it up. I'm so sorry."
"You're in trouble," Barbara said after a moment, "but not for going into the room," she waved her right hand at Dinah, urging her closer. "For breaking into my desk. You can't do things like that, invading others' privacy," a pause, "I'm sorry I was cross with you. That wasn't very fair of me, either. I guess we're both at fault in the handling of this situation."
Dinah nodded, watching her mentor with her head cocked to the side. Silence reigned for a few moments, before she spoke, her voice confident but her face displaying her insecurity.
"It was raining, you were in the shower," Helena leaned forward, pressing her fingers into the flesh of Barbara's thighs to support herself. Barbara blinked at Helena, her shoulders tensing as she turned back to Dinah.
"Yes," she paused, hunching forward and steeling her resolve. It was time. "We had been... it hadn't been very long since we fought the Joker and his henchmen in the old office building beneath the docks. Batman had the Joker, but he didn't kill him. The police came, arrested him. Everything seemed... brighter. It had been a long day, so I went home to my apartment. It started drizzling when I was on the way there," Barbara was lost in her recollection, unaware of Dinah's hand on the right arm of her chair, Helena's leaning even closer. It had taken years for Barbara to be close enough to speak in detail of what had happened, longer than it had taken her to deal with the fact that her mother was dead - she supposed it was different when it happened to you, when you were older and had lived with something your entire life.
"I turned on the television when I walked in the door. It was this little TV set, mono," she waved her hand in the air, cleared her throat. "I turned it on and up, so I could hear it in the bathroom. I took a shower. I remember that I was just relaxing for the first time in a while because the Joker's reign of terror was over," she paused, focusing for a second on Helena. Instinctively, she laid her hands on Helena's over her thighs where they rested. She couldn't feel her legs, but she knew Helena could feel the tension that had to be there, she knew she could feel the comfort she was trying to offer her.
"I was in the shower and I heard the television say that Selina Kyle had been murdered, that her daughter was her only survivor. I jumped out of the shower and threw on a towel, I had to get to you, I had to find out what happened. Selina was my friend, and I had known you," she focused on Helena, explaining almost desperately to her, "since you were very young. I loved you, I had to..." she stopped, her words stuck in her throat as her eyes filled in response to the tale for the first time in years.
Dinah dropped to her knees quietly, leaning harder on the arm of the chair as she listened to Barbara tell the story she had seen in her head for years, complete with thought processes and her own explanations. Barbara's eyes flicked to her for a moment, before falling back on the brunette. Helena's eyes betrayed her emotions - sadness for her mother, herself, and Barbara; concern for Barbara as she relived the darkest day of her life; love and wonder for the concern that had been prevalent in Barbara at the time.
"I had to find you," a single hand reached up to push the hair out of Helena's face, "to make sure you were unhurt. I knew you weren't emotionally okay... but I just needed to see that you were alive and... uninjured." Helena nodded, urging Barbara on with the story, unsure how much more she could take of this line of thought before her emotions further reached the surface. "Anyway, I rushed out of the bathroom to try to get dressed, but before I could even unwrap my towel the doorbell rang." The redhead swallowed hard, "I thought it was... well I didn't think it was the Joker," she tried.
"Who?" Helena prodded, and Dinah winced from her position to the side.
Barbara shook her head, but Helena caught her eye, stilling her. She took a deep breath, hands still pressing the other woman's against her legs, reassuring herself that maybe she wouldn't run. "It was breaking news, I should have known it was too fast. I didn't think."
"You thought it was me, you thought I was at the door and I had come to you," Helena's voice was low, raw as she awaited confirmation.
"I thought it was you. I wasn't thinking at all, actually, just feeling. I wanted to be with you, I knew you needed someone..." Helena ripped her hands violently from under Barbara's, darting several feet away as her entire body tensed with anxiety and anger.
"You thought it was me. You ran to the door and didn't look because you thought it was me!"
"Helena!" Barbara almost shouted, "I wasn't thinking at all. I was a fool not to look out the door. The Joker knew he would catch me by surprise if he timed it just right, and that's exactly what he did! Helena, it was not your fault. When I woke up in the hospital with no feeling in half my body and the other half in pain, you were there beside me. When I had no legs, when I was struggling through physio and didn't want to go and was angry and hurting, you were there. You were my only comfort, Helena, you kept me sane." She watched as Helena uncoiled slightly, eyes finally meeting hers again. "Come back, please, so I can finish this once and for all," she held a hand out to the brunette, who eyed it for a few moments, then gently took the hand in her own and knelt at the wheelchair, crossing her arms on top of Barbara's knees and propping her chin on top.
"I ran to the door and threw it open, didn't even have time to back up or strike out before he pulled the trigger. I flew backward, into the air, and then I fell. It was the longest fall of my life, it seemed like I was just there, floating for a while. He said...he said, "Knock, knock... who's there? Batgirl... Past tense," and then he laughed, that maniacal Joker laugh. I just, I laid there, on the floor. I watched him until he ran away, which was only a few seconds later, and then thought about you, about how devastated you were going to be, and then I turned my head to the right and saw the blood as it ran across the floor to my mask. Then I got angry, I got angry because I couldn't move, because I hurt, because I didn't want to die, and I decided that I was going to live. I was going to live for me, and for you, and for Batman, and Dad. I knew it wasn't over, that I wasn't done yet. I was there for several minutes before a neighbor found me. Someone had already called the police. I remember them saying help was coming, and then everything was dark... When I woke up, I was in the hospital and you were holding my hand," she squeezed Helena's, "and the doctors were telling me I'd never walk again..." her voice trailed off.
Dinah had watched as Barbara told her tale, drawing Helena back to her and taking care to assuage what guilt and angst she could. Perhaps, she thought, she had been meant to bring this up to help Helena and Barbara, the Huntress and the Oracle, clear the single barrier between them. Helena could no longer feel as if Barbara couldn't trust her, and Barbara no longer had to carry the story on her own shoulders - though Dinah wasn't entirely sure Barbara was comfortable with that yet. She felt a small smile cross her face, then pushed herself to her feet, laying a hand on Barbara's arm for a moment before leaving the room to commence being grounded... after lunch, of course.
The older woman saw her leave from the corner of her eye, and made a mental note to have a long discussion with her later.
Helena sucked in air, leaning hard into Barbara, her face only a foot or so away from the other woman's, "I'm sorry."
"Why?" her voice was whispered and watery.
"It's my fault, Barbara, you were rushing to the door because you thought I was coming to you... but Barbara, you have to know, I was going to come, just not yet. Your dad sent someone to the scene to get me and that's when I found out... that's when I went to the hospital. I'm so sorry, Barbara, if I'd gotten there sooner..."
"Stop!" she angrily whispered, a tear leaking from her eye, "Don't you see, Helena? If you had been there, he would have killed you too! I wouldn't have been able to bear that... and... and you saved my life, Helena, because you existed and I wanted to live for you. Don't you see that? I wouldn't have lived if it hadn't been for you!" Barbara wiped furiously at her eyes, frustrated.
The younger woman drew in a ragged breath, then leaned forward against Barbara's thighs, pressing her lips against the damp cheeks, then softly to her lips. She brought a hand to the side of her face and Barbara leaned into it as Helena pulled back. "I believe you," she whispered, "but I'm still sorry...and I'm so glad you're here," she pecked the redhead's lips again. "So glad."
Barbara lifted one of her heavy hands, cupping Helena's cheek, then lifted the other, placing it at the back of her head. "Me too. And I'm glad Dinah... I'm glad she... encouraged me to talk about this, to tell you what happened after all these years. I don't think I could have done it before," her breath was still ragged, and Helena let a small smile escape when she hiccupped. She let herself be pulled forward, let Barbara take control for a moment, let her lips be covered, caressed, before again taking over and pulling slightly away.
Nodding against the hand cupping the right side of her face, the Huntress replied softly, "I would have missed you," and then, in a louder but more hesitant voice, "I love you, Barbara."
"I know, Helena. Me too." She pulled her forward, hand tangled in the deep brown locks. Her hand slid forward up Barbara's legs, coming to rest on her hips as she leaned into her kisses and touches, finally lifting her up and moving her to the bed, never moving out of the reach of Barbara's hands. She stretched her out on the bed, then laid beside her, sliding an arm behind her neck and pulling her into a tight embrace. Barbara broke away for just a moment, placing a kiss on Helena's forehead, then on each eyelid, her nose, then a peck on her lips before she tucked Helena's head into the crook of her neck, wrapping her arms around the younger woman and pulling her as tightly against her body as she could. "More than you'll ever know."
The Huntress chuckled quietly to herself, thinking it was Barbara that would never have a clue.
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