Christmas In New Gotham
FANDOM: Birds of Prey TV
PAIRING: Barbara Gordon/Helena Kyle
DISCLAIMER: The TV series Birds of Prey and the characters therein are the property of DC Comics, Tollins/Robbins Productions, the WB, and any other entities that may legally lay claim to them. All fan fiction pieces were created for entertainment not monetary purposes.
SUMMARY: The Birds have a Merry Christmas.
PUBLISHED: 29 December 2003.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: All original fiction is © 2002 - the end of time to the author. It may not be reused, reproduced, archived, or otherwise published elsewhere without express written permission from the author. Feel free to read it but don't steal it. This means you! If you'd like to link to or archive any of these stories, please send me an e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helena was just landing on the apartment building's roof when the snow began to fall. "Great...perfect," she said, turning the collar on her coat up.
<Something wrong, Huntress?>
The light sound of typing and music came through the open comms channel. "Nothing spending the winter in Florida couldn't solve," Helena replied. "Do I hear Christmas carols?"
<I don't know, do you?>
Barbara's tone gently mocked the brunette. Dinah's voice was clear, if distant, over the open mic and her words battered Helena's ears. "You got a tree? Without me? You let the kid pick a Christmas tree on her own?" Helena asked, trying to suppress the disappointment she felt if only because it surprised her.
<You didn't seem interested, Ebenezer. Come back and see it. It's...big. I have no idea how she got it home.>
"I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count," Helena snorted. Dinah had been reveling in recent weeks in her growing control over her powers both telepathic and telekenetic. "If it wasn't dead out here before, it's sure going to be now," Helena said, glancing down at the few remaining pedestrians who had all picked up the pace from hurry to rush. "I'm going off comms for the night."
<Will you be by later?> Barbara did her best to keep her tone neutral. Since they'd become lovers it had been a balancing act for both of them to maintain their personal space while still getting enough of each other and, at the same time, not embarrassing themselves in front of Dinah and Alfred.
Helena couldn't keep the shrug out of her voice. Some part of her insisted on maintaining a certain distance from Barbara while another part wanted to spend every minute, waking and otherwise, with the redhead. "Maybe. I've got some stuff to do and I don't know how long it'll take. Don't wait up. I'm out." She turned off the comms set and tapped her fingers nervously against her thigh. It was already mid-December and she hadn't bought a single gift for any of the people in her life.
The whole issue of what to get Barbara in light of the change in their relationship had Helena randomly wandering shops she hadn't considered before. So many things she'd wanted to give the redhead, had fantasized about giving her if Barbara were hers, and so many things she'd never thought of that she now had the freedom to give. Helena found herself mentally immobilized by possibility.
She shook her head and took off across the roofs, headed for the shopping district.
"OK, I don't care if it's crooked. I'm covered in sap," Dinah said as she finished leveling the tree. She turned to look at Barbara and something told her the conversation with Helena had not ended well. "Barbara?"
Barbara turned from the Delphi. She grinned at Dinah and rolled to where the teen stood. "It looks great, you, on the other hand," she reached up and plucked a small branch out of Dinah's hair. "You look like you could use a shower."
"Are we decorating tonight?" Dinah asked with a grin. Barbara shook her head. "Helena was pissed we got the tree without her?" The blonde's face fell.
Barbara patted her on the arm. "She'll get over it. Besides, we need to give it a couple of days to settle. Then there's the mandatory turning it to figure out where the flat side is. Then, and only then, do we decorate." The grin that split Barbara's face was one of pure delight. "Now go...desap. Homework?"
"Mostly done," Dinah replied, tucking some hair behind her ear. Barbara's laugh was loud and full when the hair stuck to the sap on Dinah's fingers, fanning away from the girl's head as she dropped her hand away from her face. "I think I'm gonna get that shower now."
As Dinah retreated to her bathroom, Barbara turned to look at the tree. It was a big one. A Fraser fur nearly seven feet tall and almost four feet in diameter at the base, the rich evergreen scent immediately pulled Barbara back to happy Christmases with her father. Jim Gordon had done his best to make sure that despite the hardships of her early childhood Barbara knew the pleasure of gifts given any time, but particularly of those given at Christmas.
While their Christmases hadn't been a complete descent into Normal Rockwell idealism, more often than not the Commissioner was called away at some point to deal with one or another of Gotham's twisted criminal minds, Barbara still cherished the memories of decorating the tree, watching her Dad untangle the lights every year, and of the joy she felt watching someone she loved open the one perfect, but unexpected, gift. It was what Barbara thought of privately as the 'Gift of The Magi' effect.
The first Christmas after her shooting and Selina's death everything changed; it had been Helena who had insisted on the tree, on the decorations, and on the exchange of gifts. Barbara blushed in embarrassment as the memory popped to the surface. She'd been sure that Helena had stolen the volume of Shakespeare sonnets; petty thievery had been just one of the ways she'd acted out in the months and weeks that first year after her mother's death. When Barbara had gone back to the store where she knew Helena must have gotten the volume, she'd been ashamed to learn that she'd assumed the worst with absolutely no cause.
Barbara shook her head as the Delphi beeped for her attention. She turned away from the tree and moved back to the computer, even as the pile of gifts she knew sat at the bottom of her closet subtly pulled at her to be wrapped.
"This piece came from an estate sale. What do you think?" Helena looked from the velvet cloth to the jeweler's face. "Estate sale?" Her skepticism was obvious. "I need something...verifiable, Deke."
Deacon Barnes grinned at the young woman standing in front of him. Helena's mother had been one of his best suppliers in her heyday and he was under no illusion that Helena possessed less than full knowledge of their relationship. "Verifiable usually means expensive, Helena, but, for you, I think I have something. Just give me a minute."
While Deke disappeared into the back of the shop Helena ambled down the counter and considered some of the other merchandise on display. Art had been her mother's primary specialty, with jewelry as a lucrative sideline. Most of the pieces in the display cases were legitimate, created by new designers who needed a break or established designers who wanted an outlet for their experiments. Some of the rings in the case were gorgeous but Helena knew that a ring would be too much, too soon for Barbara regardless of the force of her own feelings. Deke's voice pulled her from her spiraling thoughts. Helena moved back down the counter to consider the items he'd brought out.
"This is one of two sets in this design from this designer. The other set she did in sapphires, a ring and ear rings. I sold the ring out of that last week," Deke said watching Helena's face carefully as she picked up the ring off the velvet and turned it in her fingers. Many years in the jewelry trade had given him a fairly good sense of people. "It doesn't have to be a set if the ring's not what you're looking for, but they would go nicely together." The buzzer drew Deke's attention to the door. He buzzed the customer in. "Take some time to think about it."
Helena ignored the fear that coursed through her and shook her head. "I don't need to think."
Dinah watched with both frustration and amusement as Helena climbed the ladder next to the tree, one hand protecting the crystal angel. "Tell me why we're doing it like this again," she whispered to Barbara. "It'd take me like two seconds to put it up there."
"Because it's tradition," Barbara and Helena replied in unison. Helena stopped on the third step from the top, leaned over slightly, and placed the angel on top of the tree. "It's crooked," Barbara said, her eyes mostly on Helena.
Helena straightened up. "Not from here it's not." Barbara arched an eyebrow and sighed. This was as much a part of the tradition as Helena putting the angel on last. "Helena, it's crooked, trust me. More toward you. Now, more toward the back of the tree."
"Barbara," Helena said from the top of the ladder, "tree's round. Which part is the back?" Her tone was one of barely suppressed laughter and Dinah got the impression this was a routine the two had perfected over the years. The impression was only reinforced by the soft smile that turned Barbara's lips. "Toward the wall, please. Much better," Barbara said after Helena made the necessary adjustments. "I think you're done. Dinah?"
Dinah jumped a little as Barbara's voice called her thoughts back to the clocktower. The whole 'more toward you-more toward the wall' exchange had pulled her back to the previous weekend and to Gabby's gentle instructions in bed, a place where, depending on relative positions, left and right became utterly meaningless. Dinah hoped the blush she felt in her cheeks was covered by the low lighting Helena had insisted on in preparation for turning the tree's lights. "It looks great."
Helena hopped off the last step and folded the ladder up, leaning it against the wall. "I think we should let the kid do it this year," she said dropping onto the arm of the couch next to Barbara's chair. Barbara reached out and laid a hand across Helena's forehead. She laughed at the annoyed look on Helena's face. "Just checking," she said dropping her hand. "Dinah, would you do the honors please." Barbara felt Helena's hand catch hers on the way down, fingers twining easily together.
"Really? Cool!" The teenager practically bounced off the couch and over to the wall where the plug for the lights waited. "You guys ready?"
"As we'll ever be, kid," Helena said, unable to suppress the grin in her voice. "Light it up already."
Dinah slid the plug into the outlet and the lights on the tree sprang to life catching the curves of red, green, blue, and yellow metal balls, the cut-outs of glittering snowflakes, and every etched curve of the crystal angel atop it all. Barbara felt Helena's hand squeeze hers and when she glanced over at the brunette the love she saw so naked on Helena's face made her blush instantly.
"Merry Christmas," Helena said, her eyes not leaving Barbara's face. "Merry Christmas." Barbara's reply was soft, the two words saying much more than what they actually meant.
Dinah coughed quietly and blushed when Helena's eyes flicked over to look at her. "So...tree looks great. I'm just gonna go wrap presents for a couple of hours." And maybe take a cold shower. She tucked some hair behind her ear. "Shout if you order a pizza or something, OK?"
"Not a problem," Helena said, her smile edged with mischief. "Want to define 'or something' for me?"
"Um, no," Dinah said on her way by, blush clearly evident on her face. Barbara shook her head at the very distinct sound of Dinah's door shutting. "Why do you tease her like that?"
"Because it deflects attention from my own embarrassment," Helena replied, closing the distance between them and capturing Barbara's lips. Their kiss was thorough and passionate. Helena hadn't gotten used to kissing casually, and part of Barbara hoped she never did.
Helena pulled away from Barbara's mouth. The smile on her lips was soft and oddly shy. "So..." Barbara grinned in return; whatever was on Helena's mind it wasn't sex. She was never shy about wanting that. "So...I have a couple of presents for you," she continued. "I know it isn't Christmas yet but..." Helena's eyes darted away from Barbara's face. They'd always opened their presents on Christmas morning, not Christmas eve or any other day, regardless of what else was going on in their lives.
Barbara reached up and stroked Helena's cheek with the back of her fingers, "But you don't want me opening them in front of Dinah and Alfred?" Helena nodded. Barbara stretched up to kiss her softly. "Only because I love you," she murmured against Helena's lips. "And only if you'll open something I have for you."
"Me, open presents? Oh twist my arm," Helena replied, grin electric on her face. "Meet you back here in a few." She slid off the arm of the couch and headed for her room.
In her own room Barbara pulled a small box out of the bottom drawer of her dresser. After a moment's hesitation she removed a slightly larger box as well and shut the drawer.
Helena was already waiting as Barbara rolled to a stop in front of the couch. "You first," Helena said, holding out a large, flat box that was way too tidy not to have been professionally wrapped. Barbara pulled the tape closure on the bottom open and the wrap off the box. The box lid went on top of the wrapping paper on the coffee table. She felt Helena's eyes on her face as she pushed aside the tissue paper.
The color of eggnog with a generous spoonful of cinnamon stirred into it, the silk nightgown felt luxurious under Barbara's fingers. "You've got so much green in your wardrobe already I thought it was time for you to branch out a little," Helena said quietly as Barbara pulled the garment out of the box and held it up to see the cut of the neckline. "Revealing but not slutty," she thought as she placed the nightgown carefully back inside the tissue paper. Just right. "It's beautiful. Thank you."
"You're beautiful. You deserve to have something that helps you feel that way," Helena replied, tilting her head and smiling. She raised her eyebrows. "Is one of those boxes for me?" She took the box Barbara held out, fingers brushing over the back of Barbara's hand. Helena grinned at Barbara's laugh when she brought the package to her ear and shook it. "You never could resist doing that," Barbara said, still chuckling.
"Hey, I'm really just a very tall five year old," Helena replied as she ripped the paper from the box, balled it up and tossed it over her shoulder. She was utterly still as her brain tried to process what her eyes were seeing inside the box.
"You can see why I wouldn't have wanted you to open that one in public," Barbara said, her voice low and throaty. Helena pulled the cuffs out of the box. The light from the Christmas tree sparkled along the buckles and made the shadows inside the fake-fur and silk lining even deeper. "These probably won't hold me, you know," she said, her eyes catching Barbara's.
The grin that turned Barbara's lips was positively salacious. "What makes you think they're for you?" she asked, arching one eyebrow, the mirth in her voice quite evident. The blush the colored Helena's cheeks was enough to spark Barbara's laughter. She leaned in and kissed Helena softly, pulling away before Helena had a chance to take over and stretch the kiss out. "So...," Barbara said, catching the way Helena tightly clutched the remaining box in her lap.
Helena swallowed hard, tongue darting out to lick her lips. "So..." She handed over the box even as her heart rate increased. This one she'd wrapped herself. Her eyes didn't leave Barbara's face as the redhead pulled the paper from the navy blue velvet box. The hinge on the box creaked as Barbara eased open the lid to reveal the simple silver bracelet, small emerald chips embedded in the metal all the way around. Barbara smiled softly as she ran a finger around the bracelet's rim.
"You don't like it," Helena said quietly, catching the dark edge to Barbara's smile, an edge that someone else might not have seen. Barbara's eyes flicked up to Helena's face to find her own anxiety echoed in her lover's expression. "No...it's beautiful. Thank you." She pulled the bracelet out of the box and closed it around her right wrist where the lights from the tree caught even the smallest facets of the emeralds. Barbara set the empty box aside and held out the remaining box that sat in her lap. "This is for you."
The box was small and it took Helena no time at all to get the paper off and uncover the navy blue velvet box. She ran her thumb across the top. Without opening it Helena knew what had to be inside. She glanced up at Barbara and found the redhead watching her intently, her expression a picture of utter calm. Once Barbara had made the decision to buy the ring the sheer terror she felt contemplating what such a small piece of jewelry meant had melted away. Helena smiled softly and eased open the top on the box.
Where chips of green fire circled the bracelet, the ring that could have been its twin was banded by bits of sky. The sapphires matched Helena's eyes perfectly.
Helena raised her gaze to meet Barbara's. "I..."
"It's too much," Barbara said, her smile limned in sadness. "I pushed. I'm sorry." Helena shook her head. She leaned in and kissed Barbara, a kiss so soft and warm Barbara felt as if she might fall into it and never emerge. "Don't be," she whispered against Barbara's lips.
Helena leaned back, smile light on her mouth and maybe a little too nonchalant for comfort to Barbara's practiced eye. As she pulled a small box out from behind one of the couch cushions Helena's expression grew serious. "I wasn't sure." She placed the box in Barbara's lap.
Before Barbara had a chance to make the first tear in the paper Helena covered her hands. "If you've got any doubts..." She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth against the wave of fear that washed through her. When she finally met Barbara's eyes again the love she saw pushed away any lingering doubt. Barbara slipped her hand from beneath Helena's touch and raised it, fingers soft and light, to Helena's cheek. She leaned her face into the caress, her eyes never leaving Barbara's as the redhead smiled softly.
"I don't have any. I am sure of you," Barbara said quietly. She pulled the paper off the jeweler's box and opened the lid. Barbara let out a breath she didn't realize consciously she'd been holding. She tried to push aside all the symbolism the little bit of silver and precious gems carried with it even as the love she already felt reached even deeper into her heart and soul.
Barbara turned the box so Helena could remove the ring from its velvet nest. "Well?" Her tone and implication were clear; she wanted Helena to put the ring on her. She smiled and arched an eyebrow at the way Helena's face paled.
Helena took the box from Barbara's hand, pulled the ring out, snapped the box closed and set it aside. Her hand did not shake at all as she reached, fingers slipping lightly under Barbara's to bring the other woman's hand to her lips. Helena brushed her lips over the backs of Barbara's fingers as she resisted the urge to turn the gesture into something infinitely more sexual.
She smiled softly and lowered their hands, her eyes not leaving the redhead's face as she eased the silver band onto the ring finger of Barbara's left hand. Helena held out the box Barbara had given her.
Barbara pulled the sapphire and silver band out of the jeweler's box. She set the box aside and reached for Helena's left hand. Helena shook her head. "I want you to put here," she said, holding out her right hand. "I know about the Egyptians and all that but..." She shrugged as she trailed off.
"Ah the venis amoris. You know about that?" Barbara said, smile curving her lips. Helena rolled her eyes. "I can read you know." She smiled softly. "When I hold your hand I want you to be able to feel that I'm wearing it." Helena wiggled the fingers on her right hand. "So...do me."
Barbara laughed and slid the ring onto Helena's ring finger on her right hand. She leaned in and captured Helena's lips with her own, tongue tracing the edges of Helena's mouth. Not even the feeling of Barbara's fingers twining into the hair at the back of her neck distracted Helena from the heat of Barbara's mouth on hers.
Helena opened her eyes after she felt Barbara pull back only to find the redhead balancing the leather cuffs on her extended index finger. Barbara's expression was smug and filled with the promise of before unconsidered delights. "Do you? Oh, I intend to." The smile that graced her lips widened into a full grin as Barbara backed away from the couch and headed for the bedroom.
The thought streaked across Helena's brain as she popped up off the couch to follow Barbara's path. Christmas lights looked the same even through feral, cat eyes.