FANDOM: Birds of Prey TV
RATING: You'd have to be at least 14, I think.
DISCLAIMERS: COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: "BIRDS OF PREY" and other related entities are owned, ™ and © by Warner Bros., Tollin-Robbins Productions, and DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.
FICATHON:Fragments of Sappho Challenge
Requester: darkhawkhealer (http://darkhawkhealer.livejournal.com) She wrote for the Challenge too - SVU fandom.
Prompt/Word Count: plums and perfume.
May you sleep on the breast of your delicate friend. The challenge said "There are bonus points for actually finding a way to use your fragment in your story", so I did. Yes, I do have a competitive bone in my body. Yes I used the fragment, look harder.
Helena has had the same dream since the age of fourteen. She didn't have it often, but it was a recurring theme. She never remembered the details of the dream - just the impressions - but she knew it was the same dream: being surrounded by that amber glow of the sun as it rises and sets, of crimson novas bursting under closed lids, of damson bruises blooming on pale skin, of the molten blood of an unformed world breaking through the fragile skin of the earth, of the colour of the sound of a heart beat - soft and low and steady. It's always been the same dream, just some of the details changed.
First it was red! Exploding underneath her eyelids. What was it? Where did it come from? It didn't matter - it was warm and full and it made her special as she floated satedly in dreams that left her feeling simultaneously incomplete and unfulfilled.
Then it was the colour of lips she could not name, in a time she had never imagined. It was soft and she knew the feeling from somewhere - she had smelled the perfume of this taste - but she couldn't remember when she woke up.
But for a while it became about being surrounded by the colour of blood - first bright and cherry, and then crimson, and then rusty dull brown; it was about drowning in a tide of blood as she struggled to keep her mother's body cradled next to hers. And for a while after that it was about the exploding fire of her rage against her father, the hero - the thought made her sneer - who failed her mother, who abandoned her, who abandoned Barbara! And that last she couldn't forgive.
After that it was the colour of bruised knuckles and the-whatever-you-wanted-to-call-it colour of spit and peroxide from a bloody mouth; of the hot, hot hate of cruel meta-human satisfaction that came from kicking scummy ass the way Barbara could no longer do. It was still the same encompassing engulfing dream - the same colour but it smelled different.
There's nothing left to say.
Helena wished there was something she could do, something she could say, to shake Barbara out of her funk. She could tell that Barbara hadn't been sleeping. She could tell because she hadn't been sleeping either. She might play at being a dumb party girl, but even she knew when to sleep. And Barbara didn't have the old meta-human powers of recuperation - she needed the sleep, or that big powerful, brain of hers would blow a servo.
If Barbara had been sleeping, she might have had nightmares; but passing out after being up too late didn't count as sleeping, so there were no nightmares.
The sweeps continued on time, week after week, 'round the clock, on schedule, no delays, no hesitations, and no interruptions - no sirree!- with Oracle still sniping at her agents for a lack of updates from the ground, Canary still bitching about how bossy Bar...Oracle was and Huntress just doing her jaded sneer and whatever.
Helena still worked at the bar, extra shitty shifts too - 'cause she took time off to help Babs clean the Clock Tower after Harley trashed it. She still continued her training with Dinah. Somebody had to teach the kid how to be badass if she was going to stick with the family business. And no one was better at the badassery than Huntress. Even if she did get her best friend and mentor's boyfriend killed.
For a while Dinah thought that maybe fighting crime wasn't her thing. She didn't have years of training, or super-strength, or anything like that. The telepathy was kinda useful but like wtf?! How was a girl supposed to kick ass when she was nursing a hungry hippo headache, or nausea from catching impressions off people?
But watching Helena talk Barbara off the ledge that night with Harley... she decided that there were some things worth protecting with all of her might.
Once Dinah settled into her decision to be a pro crime fighter, she discovered she had a brain. She spent a lot of her time studying databases and code with Barbara. Oracle even gave her a limited password to access certain databases, and limited functionality on the Delphi.
She tried really hard to be patient and mature when Barbara wouldn't tell her what she was working on and switched screen views whenever she walked up to the work station.
Lousy hours, non-existent pay, dead boyfriends...
Helena knew she had fucked up. This wasn't like the time she almost got killed while trying to hot wire a truck as it was rolling down a hill, or the time she forgot there was no balcony when she jumped, or the time she busted up an undercover operation and ended up with her hazy, shadowy picture in the tabloids.
Barbara knew she had fucked up. All she had wanted was a little distraction - a little stab at normalcy that she could comfort herself with for a while. Then she realised she thought the word 'stab' and winced. It wasn't as if she had been getting involved with Dick or Jason all over again and making a mess of things. No, she chose no-complications, no-history, no-baggage Wade - a walk in the park. Well not a walk, but....
There was one thing that Helena did seem to forget - Jesse Reese. For a girl in love she didn't really talk about him. Jesse had stopped coming around as well. "It's bad enough that I have to work with him, I don't need him hanging around all the time bugging Alfred and asking about Man Bat and Sparrow," she said.
In the meanwhile, the club gear seemed to be out in fullest ho-patrol glory, even if she wasn't playing fast and loose with Reese.
Barbara, I saw you walking.
Barbara worked on the neural transponder bridge in one of the back rooms away from Helena's prying eyes. She didn't like being yelled at; and she most certainly didn't like being lectured by Helena. Helena just didn't understand exactly how robbed she felt every time she sat out on that balcony waiting to feel the wind in her hair, pretending she was flying once again.
Helena wasn't stupid. She knew Barbara was working on the neural unit. Barbara had declared that she wouldn't give up on it. But because she understood how trapped Barbara felt without the wind in her hair and roofs beneath her feet, she never said anything. The other thing she didn't mention was the sliding heat she had felt in her belly when she saw that caped figure walk through that dark street.
She also didn't say anything about how distracted she was during that fight with Harley. Barbara on her feet, red hot with hate and full of the precision of cold fury. Barbara on her feet, kicking ass and taking no names.
Sometimes in the dream, Selina would talk to her as Helena struggled to carry her corpse back to shore in the tide of red. "You have to let me go," Selina would say.
And Helena would beg her mom to hang on - "Mom you...you have to! You have to." - as she struggled against the violent current. And then just as she reached shore Helena would realise that Selina had slipped away from her after all and as the scream ripped from her throat, she would feel the hand gripping her. Red! Everything...
We have to protect each other. I can't do this without you.
Barbara never stopped to think why her first thought in getting serious over a romantic relationship was for Helena and not for Wade, with whom she was in the relationship.
But she did think about the way Helena held her that night she almost became a murderer. She felt safe. At home. She didn't blame Helena for Wade's death. In her heart, Barbara had already forgiven her.
That was another thing Barbara didn't think about: why was it so easy to forgive Helena so many things?
"Are you okay?" she asked when she didn't get a response to her last question.
Helena nodded and continued to peel the label from her bottle of beer.
Barbara had been surprised to get the call from Helena to come meet her at the bar. Usually she was the one who asked to meet Helena at the bar not the other way around. But apparently she had broken up with Reese and needed a shoulder to cry on. The whole night had been uncharacteristic. For one, Helena had hardly said a word. A non-chatty Helena was deeply disturbing to her and she had been a miserable failure at keeping up the chatty banter.
Helena knew she was being selfish. She was the one who did the breaking up and here she was getting all mope-y and wall flowery while Barbara tried desperately to cheer her up. But she felt better just having Barbara there, sitting in the bar she knew so well that it was like a second home to her while she herself peeled labels off bottles of beer that failed miserably at getting her drunk.
In the meanwhile, Barbara pictured in her head every lacy, diaphanous, suggestive and inappropriate item of clothing that she would soon see on parade while Helena recovered from the break up.
"You have to let me go," dying Selina said.
And Helena begged her mom to hang on - "Mom you...you have to! You have to." - as she struggled against the violent current. And then, just as she neared shore, Helena realised that Selina had slipped away from her after all. She felt the vise-like grip and this time she stopped struggling. She gave in and let herself be dragged under, farther and farther away from her mother. Something had her that wouldn't let go. She could feel the long hair swirl around her as she floated in the clear water. Red! Everything... and then she heard a distant whisper. "I need you."
She woke up to an imagined perfume that she hadn't dreamed in years - since she was a child and she first had the dreams.
I'm as broody and romantically self-destructive as the next girl.
She wasn't really. That was more Helena's thing. Helena had broody and self-destructive down to a fine art.
Helena started taking more chances. At first Dinah thought she was over-reacting because she had never seen Helena walking into a storm of bullets. But Dinah had known Helena for only a little less than a year and to hear Barbara tell it Helena had done some pretty dumb and impetuous things.
But the more dumb things like that she saw, the more arguments Barbara and Helena had inside the elevator and across the balcony, and through kitchen doors, and over comms, the more Dinah was convinced that Helena was trying to kill herself. So one day during training she read Helena's mind.
Helena wasn't trying to kill herself; she was putting herself in deadly situations trying to prove she was worthy of being alive - a completely different motive than wanting to killing oneself. But so what if she did want to? People can kill themselves if they want; it's a free country.
I've known her since...
Selina was such a mom. She used to make Helena eat a fruit every morning before she went to school. She even made her drink milk - twice a day. After trial and error she quickly figured out which fruits Helena would eat - nectarines, plums, peaches, and oranges. No apples, no bananas - Helena liked her fruits, tart and juicy. Selina knew right away that if she hadn't already quit the biz, she would have had to just so that she could keep an eye on her kid.
The first year that Helena lived with Barbara she was a flaming wreck. Barbara wasn't any great shakes as a guardian either. It was a good thing they both had Alfred - at least he shopped for groceries.
Helena never liked any one of Babs' boyfriends.
Barbara never quite figured out why Helena was such a tramp.
She was very relieved when Helena finally moved out and she didn't have to put up with the train of bimboes Hel went through.
The Dark Horse used to be a storefront warehouse that some retired biker had converted into a bar and decorated like a cheap frontier whorehouse. Helena felt at home there for some strange reason even though the art was an affront to her finely honed taste.
When Leonard redid the place Helena was upset when she realised the old walls were going to come down. But at least he kept most of the remaining walls the same colour as the old ones.
...back to normal
The glasses clattered to a stop against the keyboard. On the other table, lesson plans and corrected papers stacked up in neat messes. Barbara was tired. She needed to rest. But there was a world out there waiting to be saved and there was no room to fall down on the job.
The Batgirl plushie sitting on her desk didn't cause a stab of hurt but it reminded her how long it had been since she had slept through the night. She wondered if that time would ever come.
Helena liked to dance. It didn't matter who with as long he or she danced well. But sometimes it was better with girls - they were softer and bendier and went with the flow of the push and pull.
The black light made her shirt glow like a beacon. The phosphor radiance from the bodies as they sweated on each other's skins made them glow with the heat of their sexual energy. The only reason it wasn't sex was because...actually it was sex - with clothes on. And there was no way to miss the feral glow of her eyes in the light.
The sound of Helena's lips mating with the strange woman's in thick wet strands of wet wanting jolted Barbara out of her chair. She cut off the video and went to work on legitimate crime fighting activities.
There was only one problem - there was no audio on the surveillance feed and Helena had her transceivers turned off.
"No way!" Dinah exclaimed.
"No kidding," Helena replied completely seriously. "And I even considered it, but then I saw the G-string briefs and it was all over."
In a moment of unusual temerity Dinah reached out and smacked Helena across the back of her head. "Shut up!"
"Hey! Watch the hair."
Even Barbara cracked a smile when Dinah turned to her incredulously. She threw her hands up defensively, "He did. He really did."
"You mean he actually offered to..." Dinah made a face, "if she let him go?"
Barbara bit her lip and nodded in confirmation. "It's on my hard-drive."
Helena shrugged to say, 'I told you so'.
"Best offer I'd had all week, I'll tell ya."
Barbara simply shook her head and marvelled at her friend's resilience. 9 months later and she herself was still waking up in cold sweat.
"Hey, Barbara" Dinah asked.
"Yes?" she responded as she went to corral her schoolwork.
"Is Helena coming by later."
"Oh." Dinah sounded disappointed.
Barbara looked up. "Did you need something?"
The girl tucked an exasperating lock of hair behind her ear. "Er...I just wanted to ask her advice on what to wear for..." The rest of the statement was lost in a sheepish mumble. Barbara was simply too amused to comment. Then Dinah perked up, "Maybe I can just call her at home"
"She's not home," replied Barbara without missing a beat.
Now Dinah looked really disappointed. "Are you sure?"
Barbara cocked her brows and paused at re-arranging her papers; her eyes flicked over to the Delphi before returning to their previous task.
Dinah dodged quietly embarassed eyes away from Barbara's. "Oh yeah..."
Helena liked sneaking up on the kid - she squealed like a little girl. Okay so the kid was a little girl but that was no reason to get picky.
Dinah looked really fascinated by something on the screen, but as soon as she heard Helena she jumped back from the screen and scampered away with a red face. The internet is for porn, Helena thought when the kid wouldn't even look at her much less come within touching distance as she made lame excuses about homework and ran for the hills.
Barbara's sharp exclamation of her name pulled Helena back from the desk. But even before Barbara could blank the screen, she saw the name of the file. 'HK surveil.' Somehow, Helena thought, it wasn't about bad guys in Hong Kong.
It was a stupid thing to be distracted by, but Helena couldn't get the contents of the file out of her head. Actually what she was thinking was, 'If the internet is for porn, Oracle is selling it.' Because she may not have known much about technology but she knew the quality of video from surveillance cameras. That footage had been lovingly enhanced...frame-by-frame...and edited.
She heard the sound of one gun hit the carpeted hallway outside the door and she stepped into the kick that sent the man through the gypsum board. And simultaneously she heard the click of the hammer and Dinah's yell as she felt herself being pushed out of the way by an unseen force. The bullet left a laser clean streak of red on the skin above her ear. She caught a glimpse of her new favourite shirt in a mirror right before her head made contact with the side table in a burst of white light that reset her state of consciousness. All her favourite shirts were red or mostly red. It suddenly occurred to her why she liked working at Dark Horse - the original walls were red, and even now some of the walls were red. Barbara's hair was red. She loved the colour red.
...a chance we take
Helena didn't signal she was awake until she was sure that Dinah had turned in for the night. She had pretended to be asleep and let the two of them talk out their fears when she had finally realised she was no longer on a mission but sleeping in Barbara's bed.
Barbara was rummaging around in the dresser for a pair of shorts to sleep in. She looked tired - like she hadn't slept in days. 'Course knowing her she probably hadn't. Apparently Barbara hadn't heard of sleep deprivation psychosis.
"Hey," she called out to the redhead.
Barbara whiplashed her chair around to face the bed. "Hey, you're up."
"Sure am," Helena replied, in her attempt at cheery, but only ended up sounding demented.
The moment it happened was as surprising as it was inevitable and ordinary.
Maybe it was all those years of being stared at with complete and uncomprehending rapture while she tried to explain holographic equipment and recursive techniques. Maybe it was all those years of watching her dress and undress as they worked out. But Barbara was mesmerised by the damp shadows on her cotton tank top, and the plum coloured bruise rising on the swell of Helena's breast.
Or maybe it was all those years of listening to her warble on and on about this and that, and her day at the bar, and the latest exhibit at the museum, and how criminals were getting more and more pathetic everyday. Barbara found herself tuning out the words simply to watch how her lips moved. Her mouth had a funny shape; it exhibited a disproportionate plumpness below the seam of her upper lip. And her nose was nothing like Bruce's - that nose was all Selina. But it wasn't until that mouth quirked just a little that Barbara realised that she had stopped talking.
"You like watching me."
"Excuse me?" Barbara asked as she rolled her towel and neatly placed it over her own neck.
Helena quirked her left eye brow. "You like to watch me dance." Barbara looked away guiltily. "Do you have eyes in every club I go to?"
Barbara stuck out a stubborn jaw and pointedly zipped up the sweatshirt over the much more revealing sports bra. "You like watching me," she countered.
Helena beamed at the counter-accusation.
Barbara wasn't sure who initiated the movement, but quite inexplicably and without warning she found herself experiencing, first hand, the disproportionate plumpness of Helena's upper lip - it was very soft; but her tongue was very insistent, and smooth inside Barbara's mouth.
Helena had to remember to brace herself against the arms of the chair so that she didn't fall on Barbara when she found herself pulled into a surprising kiss. When she found her balance she used the towel to pull Barbara closer. Barbara rose into the kiss, following the pull until she was out of her chair and they both fell to the cushioned mat of the floor. She allowed herself to be dragged under, giving into the strong hands that ran over the curves of her body. The instant of falling and turning took away her gravity. For a second, she floated freely in the regard of the moment. She could feel the long hair swirl around her. She heard herself say. "I need you."
Her answer was the insistent explorations of Barbara's hands stripping her of her sweaty workout clothes.
"Mom used to do that…Put me right to sleep." Barbara was stroking the hair on Helena's temple.
"All the time?"
"Yeah, without fail," Helena hummed in satisfaction and closed her eyes as she settled into the crook of Barbara's shoulder.
"Your hair is really soft right there," Barbara observed as she ran the silken texture of it through her fingers.
"Oh yeah?" Helena was discovering her own discordant textures of hard muscle and soft downy skin on Barbara's side.
"Unusually so..." Barbara trailed off sleepily.
"Soft huh?" prompted Helena, wanting to keep hearing the sexy sound of Barbara's sleep burred voice
"Like..." Barbara paused for thought and then gave an amused mental shrug at the obvious comparison, "...like a kitten's."
"Everyone's always making the damn cat puns," Helena snorted. "It's not funny at all," she protested by poking Barbara in the ribs.
"Everyone?" teased Barbara, knowing full well that the whole cat thing sometimes annoyed the hell out of Helena. "Name five."
"Practically everyone," Helena pouted.
"Oh that's specific. Do you want me to tell the teacher?"
"No, you're the teacher,” she laughed. “I want you to scold everyone who makes fun of me. I'll be your teacher's pet." Helena snuggled in tighter.
"That's disturbing," Barbara gave a sharp tug to Helena's cheeky hair, to wake her up. "especially when you think about the fact that I was your teacher briefly."
"Hell yeah!" asserted Helena proudly as she pushed herself up on one arm. "At least at the next re-union I can say I scored with Ms. Gordon. All the boys will be burned - you have no idea."
"Exactly what sort of twisted fantasies are we talking about here?" Barbara enquired with uneasy humour.
"Babs," warned Helena in a low voice as she leaned over Barbara, "you were the hottest person anyone at school ever laid eyes on. And you coached gym. Hotness. Flexibility. Minds in gutter. You figure it out."
Red eyebrows rose in horrified challenge even as the colour rose in her face.
"Even you?" Barbara got no response.
"And," dodged Helena, "it didn't help that mom was so on to me"
"She was?" Now she was intrigued.
"Oh?" she said, asking for an explanation. She herself had no idea.
"For god's sake!" exclaimed Helena exasperatedly. Sometimes Barbara could be so dense. "I was making goo-goo eyes at you all the time," she claimed with vehement petulance. "First, she thought I was role-modelling you. Then, she figured: teacher crush. But when I purposely started failing English so that I could take your remedial class was when she knew."
"You what?" shouted Barbara as she smacked her smartly on the arm.
"Okay..." Helena began by pinning down Barbara's wrists to the mattress firmly, as she grinned, "you can't be mad at me, okay?"
"Unhand me this instant Helena," Barbara demanded as she tried to free herself to deliver a long belated beating.
"Really, no." Helena insisted with good humour as she threw the weight of her full body onto Barbara. "Promise you won't be mad."
"Damn it, Hel! Okay," she relented.
"Everyone just thought I was slacking off because of the squad and boys and stuff," she admitted lightly, "but I just..." She shrugged.
"Let me finish - screwed your grades to perv your teacher," smirked Barbara.
"I..." Helena's face turned red with embarrassment and laughter as she 'fessed up to her adolescent scheming.
"Can you deny that?" Barbara chucked Helena's chin to look her in the eye. "You scheming rat."
"Actually," Helena grinned mischievously as she let up on Barbara's other arm, "I was going to say. I screwed my grades to screw the teacher."
The statement was enough to offend Barbara's propriety and outrage and she tried to push Helena away. "That is entirely disgusting and vulgar and untrue..."
"...Except..." sing songed Helena as she insisted on her full body contact with Barbara and nuzzled up to her, "it's true...now."
"Fuck you," Barbara responded with an alienating turn of the head, but only left herself open to a full tongued and sensuous attack on her neck.
"Really?" asked Helena as she lasciviously mouthed her way down to a breast.
"I...uhh" Barbara trailed off as the sensation around the one nipple simply pooled and amplified in her stomach. Her hands fisted in Helena's hair, to pull her away, to draw her closer.
"Exactly the response I was hoping for," Helena murmured across the soft skin over the pulse of Barbara's stomach.
"Never mind the talking," said Barbara. The talking was suddenly the last thing on her mind and she used Helena's distraction to roll her over and kiss her thoroughly.
"Damn...." thought Helena as she breathed in the hazy perfume of Barbara's hair curtaining one side of her face and floated in the dual feelings of warm comfort and passionate heat...this was the dream she'd been having for years.