Gone But Not Forgotten
FANDOM: Birds of Prey TV
DISCLAIMER: The characters of Helena, Barbara, Dinah, et al. belong to Warner Brothers, DC Comics and Miller/Tobin Productions. They are used without intent to profit or infringe on copyrighted material. This story is copyrighted to me. No aspect of this story may be used elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the author. This story may not be altered in any way and this copyright information must appear in this work at all times.
RATING: R, because there's going to be sex between two consenting adults of the same gender.
SUMMARY: Someone from Barbara and Helena's past shows up, and it's not Lady Shiva.
With a soft click, the clock radio came on at exactly 6:15 am. As Michelle Branch sang "All You Wanted," Helena pretended to still be sleeping as she remained draped over Barbara's naked body. She wasn't going to move until she positively had to.
Barbara was awake too, and not any more inclined to move than Helena, but she did have to get to work. With her eyes closed, she caressed the arm that encircled her. "Helena."
"Uh huh." She tightened her hold on the redhead and snuggled in a little deeper into the woman's body.
"Yeah." Sleepy eyes still shut, she lightly kissed Barbara's shoulder.
"Helena, one of us has to shut off the alarm."
The brunette yawned. "You do it."
"Can't. I can't seem to move at the moment. You have to do it." She felt Helena smile against her shoulder.
"Don't want to."
"Helena..." the older woman warned as Helena flipped quickly onto her back, shot out her left hand, and shut off the alarm without opening her eyes. She just as quickly resumed her place of hugging Barbara into her body and smiled again. Sighing to herself, Barbara pushed against the arm that was laying on her chest. "C'mon, we got to get up and I have to get to work."
"Has anyone ever told you that you're too responsible, Barbara Gordon?"
"Just about everyone. But I still have to get to school. Have to teach all those young minds all the finer points of Shakespeare."
"I bet they're more interested in Anne Rice or J.D. Salinger."
"You're probably right. But I still have to get up anyway."
"OK, you've convinced me. I'm up." The younger woman jumped out of bed, belying the endless energy she seemed to thrive one. "You having breakfast?"
"Just cereal. And get Dinah up." She heard the groan as she maneuvered into her wheelchair and headed to the shower. Dinah was even harder to wake up than Helena was. She smiled as she heard the brunette start pounding on Dinah's bedroom door.
Twenty five minutes later, all three women were in the kitchen and mostly ready to start the day. Dinah shoved her books into her book bag and grabbed the keys to the SUV while Barbara went over to the computer area and downloaded the prior night's police files onto the Delphi system.
"Anything new that I should know about before I leave?" Helena asked as she put the breakfast dishes into the sink.
"No... it looks like things were pretty quiet last night," with one final keyboard command, Barbara set up Delphi to alert her pager if anything major happened. "So, what are your plans for the day, Helena?"
The younger woman walked over to the redhead and leaned in for a good-bye kiss. "I have an afternoon shift at the Dark Horse, but I plan to be here right on time for dinner."
"Good," Barbara replied as she pulled Helena back down for another kiss. "Stay out of trouble, will you?"
Helena chuckled, squeezed her partner's hand affectionately and was about to steal another kiss when jingling keys and impatient toe tapping caught her attention.
"C'mon you guys... we're going to be late." Dinah jingled the keys again for emphasis.
"Sheesh, what's the hurry Dinah? The school's still going to be there in five minutes." Helena let go of Barbara's hand and headed for the elevator.
Barbara caught up with her two friends. "Oh, she just wants to get there in time for Matt to see her pull up in the SUV. She's still trying to impress him," the older woman smiled knowingly.
"Am not." Dinah shot Barbara a glance.
"Dinah?" Helena looked at the girl out of the corners of her eyes.
"Your nose is growing, Pinocchio."
Dinah hit the elevator button for the garage and crossed her arms over her chest. It's hard to get away with anything when you live with a teacher and a super smart crime fighter.
Barbara leaned back in her wheelchair and sighed contentedly. "That was excellent, even if I do say so myself."
Dinah picked up the dinner dishes and started running warm water into the sink. "Yeah, where'd you learn to cook like that?" She put what was left of the vegetable lasagna onto a smaller plate, wrapped it in foil, and put in the fridge. "Or did Alfred make it?" she smirked.
The older woman removed the water glasses from the table, then grabbed a hand towel, twirled it, and slapped it out in Dinah's direction, hitting the blond in the butt.
"Hey!" Dinah turned on her mentor and with a roguish smile, widened her eyes and concentrated. The spray nozzle attached to the kitchen faucet suddenly came on, and caught Barbara full in the face with about a gallon of water and then turned off.
Helena laughed out loud when she saw Barbara's hair plastered unflattering around her face. "She got you good there, Gordon. You going to try for round two, or quit when you're behind?"
"Don't even start with me, Helena," Barbara sputtered, only to finally laugh at the situation herself. "And I thought we had a rule in this house about using your meta-powers on each other?"
"Naw, that's only for Helena. I can do whatever I want." Dinah put the plates into the now full sink and started washing the melted cheese and pasta sauce off. Barbara turned to Helena and cocked her head and gave her the 'what am I going to do with her?' look.
Helena threw up her hands in mock defense. "Don't look at me. As long as she's not borrowing my clothes, I'm happy."
Barbara was about to reply when the lights and everything electrical in the clock tower dimmed dangerously low, and then came back to almost full power. "What was that?" Helena glanced to the older woman.
"Checking on it," Barbara replied and rolled over to the Delphi system when a muffled 'boom' sounded in the distance. Several more explosions were heard, and the lights dipped down again and stayed that way. Since the Delphi system was hooked up to not only police headquarters, but to several of the city's more important industries, Barbara had access to every major piece of information available. That access came in handy now, as the energy grid of New Gotham Power flashed on one of the computer monitors alerting her, and the power technicians at the power company, that something was very wrong with the grid. With the lights still burning weakly, Delphi switched itself to it's back-up power source as red emergency lights danced all over the monitor. Barbara checked and cross-tracked the information that was coming in; New Gotham Power was reporting that at least five of their transmission sub-stations on the east side of town had simply blown up.
As the last of the distant 'booms' reverberated through out the clock tower, Dinah rushed to the window to see a rolling blackout coming their way. She turned to face the woman working away at the computer. "Barbara?"
"I see it," she said, as the black out hit, and everything in the clock tower went dead except for Delphi. Almost immediately, the other monitors started reporting a new kind of wave, the kind created by greed and an opportunity to take advantage of the situation. New Gotham Police were being hit with hundreds of 911 emergency calls. More than likely, a looting spree would keep all the cops busy through out the night, and it promised to be a busy night. Typing furiously, trying to keep up with all the information overloading her, Barbara checked the energy grid one more time. It was completely dark, which meant the entire city was without power. Every crook who wasn't in jail was going to have a field day tonight.
Helena attached her comm links, and walked up behind Barbara, who hadn't taken her eyes off the monitors since the situation began. "Where to first?" she asked as more and more red danger lights popped up on the screens monitoring the police department.
"Armed hold-up on Patterson, the jewelry store. At least three guys and a lot of guns."
"I'm on it."
"Me, too," Dinah added only to have Barbara cut her off.
"No, Dinah, I need you here this time. Things are only going to get busier, and I'll need your help in prioritizing the calls."
Although the younger girl really wanted to go on sweeps with Helena, she realized that Barbara was right. It was going to be a hell of a night, and with the power being out for who knew how long, daylight would be their first and only break.
Helena was exhausted and simply fell into Barbara's bed without even taking off her leather duster when she returned to the clock tower after seven in the morning. Dinah had lasted until five, but all three women were physically and emotionally spent. The crime wave had finally peaked at about four am, but Helena stayed out on patrol and mopped up any lose ends the cops couldn't get to. Barbara thanked god that it was a Saturday, and that she didn't have to go into work, but it didn't make doing what she had to do any easier. She shut down Delphi to 'stand-by', keying in the information to alert them only if something extremely major was happening, and made her way into her bedroom. Helena, eyes closed, was spread out on the entire bed, her arms swung wide, but Barbara knew she was still awake. She maneuvered closer to the bed, and then crawled into it. She laid on top of Helena's right arm, and rested her body on top of the brunette's, much like the previous morning's positioning, only reversed. With her right hand, she grasped her lover's left, and brought it to her mouth to leave small kisses on the fingers. She hated what she had to do next. "Helena?" Barbara knew that the younger woman was too tired to respond, so she plunged ahead. "There was one robbery that I didn't tell you about last night," she started as blue eyes opened and looked up at her. "It was at the police evidence lab. With all the chaos going on, and every cop in the city on the streets, someone slipped in and helped themselves." Barbara made herself continue . "DNA samples were taken." She closed her own eyes, prayed for strength for herself and Helena, and then looked deeply into the brunette's eyes. "The DNA belonged to the Riddler and Penguin..." She sighed. "... and Catwoman."
Helena's eyes grew wide and then squeezed completely shut as if trying to block out the information. She curled herself into Barbara's body as she felt the woman stroking her face reassuringly. She trembled in the older woman's arms, knowing that something terrible was going to happen, and wanting childishly to run away. Unfortunately, there was nowhere far enough to run to.
New Gotham had been eerily quiet for three days, as if the entire population was collecting it's thoughts or it's energy. The holding cells at the justice center were overwhelmed with petty crooks and small time hoods that were rounded up during the power outage. None of the big time bad guys had managed to be snagged by Gotham PD, since at least one of them planned the destruction of the transformer substations. While New Gotham Power rebuilt it's equipment, occasional brown-outs still occurred, leaving most of the citizens feeling vulnerable to another attack.
While monitoring police scanners on Delphi, Barbara surreptitiously glanced over at the one dead screen. She had left it off because she could watch Helena's reflection in it as she laid on the couch, lost in thought, brooding. Someone else was feeling vulnerable, and every time that Barbara tried to broach the subject of the DNA theft, Helena either walked away from her, or started a fight over something trivial with her. Barbara had known the woman for years, had raised her since she was sixteen. They had been crime fighters long before they had become lovers, and all that constant interaction meant that Barbara knew Helena very well. She knew that when the brunette deflected a question with a breezy retort, that Helena didn't take the subject very seriously and the problem, what ever it was, would work itself out without any help from her. A raised eyebrow meant that Barbara had gotten her attention and interested her with something. Depending on Helena's attention span, which admittedly wasn't long, Helena would either act on her instincts or get sidetracked by something else just a bit more exciting. Barbara knew all this, relied on it, counted on it. She knew the woman's moods and how to work around them if she needed to. For all the defenses that the brunette had, Barbara had always found a way around them. Sometimes it was a crooked smile, sometimes just a light touch. On rare occasions, it was the steel tipped timbre of her voice as she warned Helena that she was dangerously close to stepping over one of her boundaries, and a mandatory suggestion to rethink her actions. But the stone cold silence was new; even the subject changing petty bickering had stopped, as if Helena needed the extra energy to build walls to block out the world, the worry... and Barbara. And Barbara was worried. Helena was on edge and had been since the theft. It wouldn't take much to push her off that cliff.
Helena's head swam. She'd been unintentionally clenching her jaw so much, she had a headache that wouldn't leave her any peace. Barbara was aware that she wasn't getting very much sleep either, the constant thrashing around in bed leaving them both weary in the morning. Last night she had finally left Barbara's bedroom, letting the woman fall into a deeper sleep without her there to disturb her. She spent the night in the darkened living room, staring at a blank wall with the green standby lights of Delphi her silent companion. She was still there on the couch hours later, her thoughts running in circles that never ended. She knew she was hurting Barbara, and didn't want to shut her out, but all she could think about was the DNA theft. Why had someone stolen those particular samples? The Penguin and Riddler were still alive. She didn't know much about keeping DNA in storage, but she assumed that getting a more recent sample of it would be better and easier than taking the time to break into an evidence lab and steal what was there for who knew how long. Which left the DNA of Catwoman. Selina Kyle. Her mother. The only one of the three that was dead, killed by a henchman of that madman Joker to prove some personal point to her father, Batman. She hated both of them, Batman and the Joker, more at this moment than she had the night her mother bled to death in her arms. And even though that green haired freak was locked away in Arkham Asylum, she just knew he was behind the robbery. Which brought her back to her original thought. Why? Why her mother?
Barbara sighed to herself. Finally making the decision to try one more time to get Helena to talk, she was about to turn around to face her former charge when Delphi's alarm system went out. Praying that it wasn't anything to be concerned about, Barbara checked the address that was tripping a silent alarm to the police station and instantly recognized it. "West Fifth," she murmured to herself, but Helena heard her anyway.
"West Fifth? Where on West Fifth?" She was tired, she was angry, and she let the anger and frustration edge her tone. Helena rocked to her feet, her hands balling into fists even though she willed them not too. She knew. She had been waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop and this was it.
Barbara turned toward the younger woman, noticing the stance, and even without meta-human abilities, she knew that Helena's heart was racing as adrenaline surged through her veins. With hooded eyes, she confirmed Helena's assumption. "Fifty-four."
Dinah had rushed to the computer room from where she was doing homework at the kitchen table. "But isn't that where..."
The redhead continued as if she hadn't heard Dinah. "Simcron Labs. Where Guy was..." What could she say about their former family member's entrance into the world? Born? Created? "... found."
Wordlessly, Helena headed for the freight elevator as Barbara said that she would send Dinah, while at the same time the younger girl said she would go.
Hot anger pulsed through Helena's body. She knew it was wrong to lash out at her friends, but she was never good at holding back her temper. Throwing on her coat, she whirled to face the two women, her eyes almost glinting with her meta-human powers, but not quite. "I'm not useless!"
Barbara met the rage head on. "No. You're not. But you are dangerously close to being out of control, and you need to keep it together." She turned to Dinah. "Go with her."
"I'm not helpless, either!" she nearly snarled and her eyes briefly flashed red and then narrowed into vertical slits. Almost as quickly, Helena's eyes changed back to their normal blue, although they were still flashing with anger.
"Helena..." Barbara realized that the woman's emotions were too raw, too close to the surface, for her to reason with her. Hoping she wasn't making a mistake, she finished, "Go." Within seconds, both Dinah and Barbara saw a black cloaked figure race across the roof of the building across from the clock tower.
"I'll follow her." Dinah was already grabbing her jacket when the older woman's hand on her arm stopped her.
"I can follow her from here. Maybe it's best that she do this alone. Maybe doing something can bring a sense of normalcy back to her." Inwardly, Barbara wasn't so sure. She had never seen Helena like this, not even on the night that the younger woman had lost her mother, and she herself had lost her legs. They had helped each other through those dark times, but now Helena was on her own, refusing the help of her friends... her family. Barbara prayed that whatever was happening at Simcron Genetics Lab was not connected to Friday's theft, but she had never been a good liar, especially to herself. She knew a dark wave was coming, she just hoped it didn't drown them all.
Dinah skidded into the computer area, having heard the freight elevator activated and rise through the clock tower. Helena had come back and was still obviously fighting her own demons, but at least now trying to control her emotions. Both she and Barbara didn't now what to expect when the Huntress returned. They just never expected resignation.
What Helena had seen at Simcron Labs confirmed her fears. Looking at Barbara's concerned face, she let out a long breath. It felt like she had been holding that breath since the robbery. Twisting something black in her hands, she started talking, her voice a monotone. "The place was destroyed. But not by someone trying to get in. By someone trying to get out. There was a kind of... glass enclosed chamber... all kinds of medical equipment still on and beeping. But the chamber was in shards. Something..." Helena corrected herself, "... someone broke out of it, and then went on a frenzy of destroying pretty much everything in the place. And then they smashed their way out of the building." Still holding onto the black cloth, Helena reached into her pocket with her free hand, and pulled out a small vial. "But not before leaving this..." she handed the vial to Barbara and felt an insane laugh burble to the surface, but somehow managed to hold it in "... DNA behind." Her shoulders slumped. "It's my mother's," she stated flatly as she walked towards Barbara's bedroom, letting the black cloth slip from her fingers. With a soft rustle, Catwoman's mask fell to the floor.
Hours later Barbara wheeled into her bedroom. The rooms was dark, but with the light from the hall behind her, the older woman could make out the form of her lover on the bed. Helena was lying on her side facing away from her, most of her clothes scattered around the floor. It was probably the first restful, if not deep, sleep the woman had had since this whole thing began.
Helena took a deep breath; even in her sleep she could tell when Barbara entered her space. Slowly coming awake, she felt the bed dip down behind her as the red head stretched out beside her. She would have liked to be able to pretend to be asleep, but she understood Barbara. The older woman was one to lance a wound to heal it, quickly removing the tormenting in the hope that good would replace it. And as well as Barbara knew Helena, the brunette knew her partner just as well. She felt the warm hand gentle on her exposed shoulder, soundlessly asking permission to speak about something painful. She rolled onto her back and looked into soulful green eyes.
Barbara cupped Helena's face with her right hand, her thumb rubbing at the cheek, as if to wipe away tears that weren't there. "The vial of blood you brought me... it's confirmed." Helena closed her eyes as her lover continued. "It's hers."
The younger woman felt like crying, but she just didn't have the energy for it. She felt listless, tetherless on an ocean of personal grief and she didn't know how to get back. She wanted to curl up into a ball and hope that death could find her and finish her. She didn't even care how. She started to roll back on her side, away from Barbara, away from the world, when the hand that was on her face moved back to her shoulder and wouldn't let her.
Barbara was scared. She had looked into her partner's eyes for the brief second that Helena allowed her, and she was frightened. She had never seen those blue eyes so shadowed, so hopeless. Helena had always been a strong woman, someone who fought for what she wanted until the end. At times, Barbara had accused the other woman of having a death wish, but after one look into those eyes, she now knew that wasn't the case. Helena no longer had a life wish, and it terrified her to the bone. The brunette seemed empty, none of the usual spark anywhere around. The body beneath her tried to move away from her again. Propping herself up on her left elbow, Barbara slid closer to her woman, putting her right arm on the younger one's left shoulder, lightly pinning her down. "Helena...," she whispered. "Let me..." 'in' screamed Barbara's mind, but she finished, "... be here with you." Helena trembled slightly, eyes still closed, and shook her head from side to side on the pillow, although she didn't try to move away again.
Barbara stroked her right hand up and down Helena's arm, and leaned forward slightly to leave a soft kiss on her partner's brow. She gentled kisses up and down Helena's face, light unhurried kisses meant to comfort and to heal. The older woman explored the face below hers with her lips, never hurrying, never demanding, and never taking. Her right hand slipped under the other's shoulder as if to bring her infinitesimally nearer to her, as Barbara brought her mouth closer to the lips beneath hers. She kissed the corner of red lips and moved below them, leaving light touches around Helena's chin and jaw. The younger woman trembled again, and Barbara stopped what she was doing. Afraid that she was pushing the woman beyond her emotional capabilities, and sure that the movement she felt was Helena about to push her away, she was relieved when the brunette reached up with her right arm, eyes still loosely closed, and ran her hand through Barbara's long tresses. Closing her own eyes and biting her bottom lip, Barbara mentally told herself to slow down. Helena's acceptance of her was her way of fighting back to the world, and Barbara had every intention of helping her all the way back. She leaned down again, and focused on putting as much love in her attentions as she could. She concentrated on Helena's lips, starting at the corner again, and then kissing every centimeter of her upper lip, and then doing the same to the bottom. The hand in her hair continued it's rhythmic massage, but worked it's way to the back of Barbara's neck in an unspoken appeal to move closer. Barbara started kissing the younger woman's lips again, but this time lingering longer, and once or twice pulling Helena's lips away with hers when she moved on to the next kiss.
Helena was close to breaking, and she didn't know if it was good thing or bad. Everything in her wanted to scream and rampage and destroy... and yet she didn't. She opened her eyes slightly to see the woman she loved above her, kissing her, loving her, and with all the strength that Barbara possessed within herself, still needing her. And that's what did it. If the most beautiful, intelligent, and self possessed woman in the world still needed someone as much as showed Helena that she was needed, then Helena could admit that she needed her just as much. And with one silent crash, the walls she had been building fell in a heap from around her heart. She brought her free hand to brush the hair back from her lover's eyes, and opened her eyes fully to see Barbara watching her, still worried but hopeful.
"Do you want me to stop?" The older woman pulled back slightly, her brows down in concern.
"No. I want you to love me," Helena replied, and pulled her back down for a kiss. It was a slow kiss, a warm kiss, not the searing kind that usually began their lovemaking, one that promised love and acceptance, but mostly commitment.
Barbara continued the tender assault, and if they weren't equal partners in this particular act of love, it didn't matter to her. She momentarily stopped stroking Helena's face to move her right leg between those of the other woman and then returned to explore her body with her lips. She worked her way to Helena's earlobe and give it a slight tug before dipping a little lower, leaving butterfly kisses on the long column of her neck. Lazily, she moved the shoulder strap of the woman's tank top out of her way, and nipped along the line of her collar bone. She licked her way to the bottom of Helena's throat and tentatively brought her righthand up to caress the cotton of the shirt over the younger woman's breast. She felt Helena's breath hitch, but didn't push any further without her permission. Barbara crawled up her lover's body and began anew the delicate kisses on the full lips that now returned them softly. She licked at the lips asking entrance and Helena let her in, letting her explore her mouth. The younger woman moaned as their tongues met, Barbara's twirling around her's, exciting her, awaking her.
Helena's hands tangled in Barbara's hair, drawing her closer and then she was arching under the loving embrace of the older woman. Every defense that Helena had dissolved under the pressure of gentle kisses. Her left hand moved to cover Barbara's that was still holding her breast, and then moved it lower and under her shirt, giving the older woman access to the puckered flesh that responded familiarly to her touch. Helplessly, Helena arched again into the touch, breathing Barbara's name as the redhead left her lips and moved lower onto the younger woman's body. She felt her tank top being raised as Barbara started licking and kissing her stomach. She moved her hips a little to try to distract the woman into that direction, but Barbara continued nipping at her ribcage, working closer and closer to her exposed breasts.
Barbara worked her hand up until she was caressing both nipples, their pebbled flesh reacting to her nails as she drew them against the feverish skin. Helena squirmed helplessly beneath her, as she licked the valley between her woman's breasts, tasting the salty sweat the glistened on the skin there. Using her tongue, she circled the outer most skin of one of Helena's breasts before biting gently on the tender center.
The younger woman grasped the sheets on either side of her hips and balled them tightly as her hands slipped into fists. She was teetering on orgasm, every nerve cell in her body alive and pounding with tension. She was just about to fall over the edge when Barbara stopped wrecking havoc with her body, wanting to slow things down so she could build the fire again. "Oh god, Barbara!" Helena rasped between gasps for air, and just as she finished drawing in a shuddering breath, Barbara was kissing her again, clasping her hands around her face, pouring all the love she had into her partner. With a low growl, Helena put both hands on Barbara's shoulders, pushing her down her body, begging to give her the release that she needed.
Barbara moved down Helena's heated body, knowing she could only push her so far. She pulled off the her lover's underwear, and settled herself between the woman's thighs while Helena arched her back again, unconsciously inviting Barbara to continue. The redhead rubbed her hand outside of Helena's center, feeling the warm slickness already there. She parted the lips and bent down for a slow loving lick, a musky scent filling the air as Helena shuddered again. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and secretly loved that she could affect her partner this deeply; she loved Helena and loved showing her how much. Moving closer, she worked her tongue through all the folds and valleys of Helena's body, avoiding the one spot she knew the woman wanted touched the most. Bringing her hand down, she opened Helena's legs a little wider, and slipped her tongue inside her. She could feel the brunette start to thrash her head side to side as the orgasm was threatened to engulf them both. Feeling Helena's body moving against her tongue, trying to draw it into her, Barbara finally twirled her finger around the woman's most sensitive spot before pinching it lightly and rubbing the small hood on it back and forth. She felt Helena stiffen as her back came off the bed, and then collapsed a moment later with a long gasp. Barbara moved back up the bed, and caressed Helena's face, surprised to find tears there.
"How did you know?" Helena made a sweeping gesture with her hand, as if to encompass all that had passed: the robbery, the silences, the walls that had been built, her 'mother' reappearing, the emotional withdrawal, and lastly, how to get through to her.
"Because I love you," Barbara breathed and laid her head on Helena's shoulder, ready to hold the woman into the night.
Dinah walked down the hall towards the kitchen, the morning sun streaming into the clock tower making everything seem overly bright. Getting to the railing that separated the bedrooms of the loft from the living quarters, she spotted Barbara hunched over Delphi. Helena stood behind her, wearing a tank top and Barbara's sweat pants, looking tired, but more relaxed than she had seen her lately. Both watched the scrolling information on the monitors. The young girl threaded her hand through her hair, a habit she had when she was unsure of things. "Um, Barbara? What's going on?"
Barbara glanced over to her quickly and then returned her eyes to Delphi. "Dinah, good. You're up. I called us both in sick for the day. Bad intestinal thing going around. I didn't think you'd mind."
The teenager walked down the stairs to see what her two companions were studying on Delphi. "No, I don't mind. So what's up?" She saw that both Helena and Barbara were researching Simcron Labs and it's subsidiaries.
Barbara typed quickly, trying to find the name of the company's CEO, board of directors, or anything that would lead her ultimately to the owner. Whoever was behind Simcron was very good at hiding their identity. Whenever the woman thought she had a new lead, it turned into a blind alley or doubled back on itself. She had been at this for hours, and was no closer to getting any answers. Lost in thought, she almost didn't hear the slight hum that filled the air as Delphi's power dipped slightly, then came back to normal. "What the hell..." Barbara said to herself as she pulled up New Gotham Power's energy grid on a different monitor, looking to see if there was trouble again at the company's transmitter substations.
Helena leaned in closer and peered at the map of New Gotham that showed the location of the power company's major transmission lines, substations, and power plants. "I thought those guys fixed the problem the other day," the brunette said as Delphi grew dim for a second and then returned to normal. She didn't see any red warning lights going off, and everything seemed to be at standard levels.
Barbara manually set Delphi to emergency back up power, not wanting to lose any of her research in case the power did go off. "I did, too." She rubbed her face with her hands. "I need a break."
"I think we all do," Helena replied and left for the kitchen to make some coffee while Dinah joined the older woman on the couch. Once the brunette returned to the living room with the mugs and coffee pot, she threw herself in one of the overstuffed chairs and put her feet up on the coffee table. "So?" She glanced at Barbara. "Any ideas?"
"When you were at Simcron, did you see anything else? Anything to give us an idea of what they're up to?""
Helena shook her head. "Not really," she said sadly. "There was just that one... chamber. I got the blood sample from it when... someone broke out of it." She couldn't bring herself to say her mother's name.
Dinah blew on the hot coffee in her cup. "Do you think someone else is using DR Malfin's methods to reproduce warriors?" As much as she had loved Guy, she couldn't deny to herself that he had been engineered and programmed to be a warrior assassin.
"No, I don't," Barbara replied. "Malfin's dead, and his work was flawed anyway. Whoever is behind this has stopped trying to re-wire people and has stepped up to cloning." She looked over at Helena to gauge how she was taking this conversation.
"But how can you be sure?" Dinah wasn't following the flow of the conversation.
"First," Helena began. "The chamber I saw, it was full size. It was not for a baby."
"And," Barbara continued. "I was able to estimate the age and gender of the person from the blood cells. This person is definitely a woman, and one that is in her mid forties. The DNA proves she's Helena's mother."
"OK," Dinah could see where this was going. "But why leave her there all alone? Didn't she break out of that building?" Almost to herself, Dinah added, "I wonder where she is now..."
"I think Simcron has her," Helena answered. "There was a enough blood in that chamber to indicate she got a pretty good gash when she got out. There was some blood inside the place, but nothing outside."
"Plus," Barbara jumped in. "We knew their silent alarm had tripped. I'm sure they did, too. Whoever's in charge probably sent someone down there to find their clone before we got there. They probably just underestimated when the cloning process would complete. "
Delphi beeped, breaking the women's train of thought. Barbara pushed herself into her chair, and returned to the computer console. The power company's energy grid showed another dip in power, but again, no warning lights flashed. Helena joined her partner at the computer, and massaged her neck while the older woman rechecked the data. "I don't get it," she said at last, frustration edging her tone. "Even though the grid is showing loss of electricity, New Gotham Power is reporting that their power stations are at peak production. There just shouldn't be these brown-outs."
"Barbara?" Helena bent down and whispered into her ear. "Why don't you let the power company figure this one out? You don't have to fix every problem in this city." Straightening up, she let her strong fingers continue to massage the tense muscles as the older woman sighed.
"OK," she tilted her head back and looked at the brunette. "I hate it when you use logic."
Helena leaned down again and whispered even lower, "I've found that it's the only thing that works."
With a brief snort of laughter, Barbara shook her head. "You win. And I hate that, too."
"I know." The brunette smiled smuggly, returning to the couch where Dinah still sat, mulling over the conversation.
"So what's the plan?" Dinah asked as she watched Barbara join them in the living room. "We do have a plan, don't we Barbara?"
Barbara shrugged. "Sort of. I'd really just like the two of you to go back to Simcron and see if you can find anything that might have been missed earlier. Maybe we can figure out who's heading this little operation."
After changing clothes and turning on their comm units, Dinah drove the Hummer to West Fifth Street while Helena stared out the window. "You OK?" the younger woman asked.
Helena ran her hand through her hair and glanced over. "Yeah. Just not really looking forward to it, you know?" She returned to staring out the window.
Dinah nodded her reply while negotiating a turn onto Bridge Street. "Remember that woman you spotted at the dance club after Guy tore the place apart? Do you think she has anything to do with this?"
The brunette scrunched her eyebrows. "Why do say that?"
"Just because she showed up after all the destruction... like she knew it was supposed to happen. Maybe she's the brains behind this whole thing."
Helena shook her head. "I don't think so. Whoever created Guy is a major player. If there was someone new on the scene, there'd be rumblings. Things have been pretty quiet... in that area, at least." She sighed as she realized that they had gotten to their destination. "Here we are."
The teenager reached over and squeezed Helena's hand. "It'll be OK."
They exited the SUV as they both heard Barbara tell them to be careful over the comm units. Helena entered the building first. It looked even more in dishevel than when she left days ago. Someone had been back to either hide evidence or leave false tracks to divert the police. Seeing some back offices, she motioned Dinah there with a shake of her head. "See if you can find any paperwork... anything with names or addresses that Oracle can use." The younger girl headed to the back of the building while Helena upturned ruined office equipment and laboratory machinery looking for serial numbers or business names of the suppliers. Everything looked cleaned. There wasn't so much as a face plate on any of the medical equipment laying around the lab. She made a full circle of the main room and finally came to what she was avoiding... the glass chamber where her mother was cloned. Running her finger on the dried blood left on the glass, she shook her head wondering where this was all going to leave when Barbara's voice broke into her thoughts.
"Dinah, Huntress," the voice came over the comm links softly but urgently. "Damn, I should have seen this earlier..."
"What is it, Oracle?" Helena asked, and held her breath waiting for the answer while Dinah rushed into the room and stood next to her.
"Those substations that went down... they were all along the waterfront of New Gotham. At first I thought that the only reason those stations went black was to cause a diversion so someone could steal the DNA. But whoever did it had a secondary plan. They also re-routed transmission conduits so they could tap off power anytime they wanted without New Gotham Power knowing about it. That's why we've been having these intermittent brown-outs. Someone's drawing a lot of energy, and it's stressing the substations even though they're at peak production. Someone needs a lot of energy for something big. Something they don't want others to know about."
"Can you tell where the power's going ?" Helena had a tinge of anxiety in her tone.
"No, just that it's the general vicinity of the waterfront," Oracle paused, putting the clues and half leads together. "The dock yards."
"The dock yards," Huntress agreed.
Dinah already had the car keys out and headed for the car. "But those buildings were destroyed after we stopped Kitterling... there's nothing left."
"Only the top of the dock yard was demolished," Oracle reminded them. "Checking..." Helena and Dinah heard furious typing as Barbara searched for information. "The underground catacombs are still there. Probably buried by rubble, but definitely not destroyed."
The younger woman turned to her companion. "Huntress, let's go." She was just in time to see a black streak as the brunette scurried up the wall of Simcron and disappeared onto a nearby roof. "Oracle... she's gone."
"Catch up to her, Dinah. Don't let her go through this alone." Barbara switched off the power to Dinah's mic and tried to contact her lover. "Huntress. Helena. Don't do this by yourself. Wait for Dinah."
Moving almost too fast to be seen, Helena neared the wharves. "Sorry, Oracle. I have to see if she's there."
The dock yards were in ruin. Although the city demolition crews had torn down and bulldozed the buildings that had once stood there, they had just left the rubble where it laid, never returning to clear it away. The landscape of the whole place was changed and Helena was unable to get her bearings. Nothing looked the same. She searched the area for any evidence that someone had been there; tire marks, cleared paths, anything that might indicate that someone had been visiting the area. Looking steadily, she came across a huge pile of construction debris. She didn't know what caught her eye, but it just seemed that the pile was too perfect, the junk and trash too evenly distributed. Knocking things aside, she found a metal trap door recessed into the earth. It was too new looking to be discarded construction material, and she pulled on one of the handles of the two panel door. Without a squeak, it opened easily to reveal stone steps laid onto the ground, leading down and away from where she was standing. Dim blue lighting ghosted around the hallway she could see, and she stepped down the stairway, closing the trap door behind her. Reaching the narrow hall, she moved away from the entrance, heading towards the blue lights that gleamed steadily in the distance.
"Huntress." Oracle's voice was scratchy over her comm unit, and broke her thoughts. "Where are you? I'm sending Dinah."
Helena covered her right ear with her hand and pushed the earpiece of her transceiver further into her ear. The transmission improved, but was still far from perfect. "I think I've found them. And don't send Dinah. It's way too dangerous down here."
A heavy sigh greeted her. "But it's not too dangerous for you?"
"No." She paused for a moment. "I know what I'm doing, Barbara." Using their real names over the comm was strictly forbidden, but Helena wanted her lover to know that she had her emotions in check. This was not going to be a repeat of her first foray into Simcron Labs.
"All right. But keep the receivers on, OK?"
Helena heard the clacking of keystrokes in the background of the transmission. "You got it. Going silent now."
"Confirmed." Helena crept down the hall, that one word bouncing around in her head. 'Confirmed.' That's why she was here, after all, wasn't it? To confirm that stolen DNA was matured in a lab to become the clone of Catwoman... her mother. Logically, she knew the answer already. She just had to see it to have it emotionally sink in. She moved stealthily down the earthen hallway, seeing now that the source of the blue lighting was coming from around a bend in the corridor. Taking a deep breath, she moved into the light, and was awestruck by the dimensions of the lab she was now seeing. Although the floors and walls were dirt, the laboratory was state of the art. Helena couldn't even begin to image all the money needed to not only construct this dug out hide away, but to finance all the electronic equipment filling the place. It put Barbara's penchant for computer systems with back ups for the back ups to shame. The lab was huge, and everywhere she looked, every available space was in use, and a lot of it was filled with maturation chambers.
"I can hear you." That silky voice. Helena hadn't heard in eight years. It seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere, but that was just probably her mind playing tricks on her. And then she saw movement.
From behind a large bank of computers a figure emerged into the blue light that streamed around her. To Helena it seemed that the eerie light vibrated around the woman, energy shimmering off the figure until it was engulfed by shadows. Helena waited. The light source behind the woman kept her face in shadows, and still Helena waited.
"I know you." That voice. It once told her that she loved her.
"You're..." That voice. It once was everything to her.
"Helena...," That voice. It once was her whole world.
"... my daughter." That voice. It once was her mother.
The woman moved swiftly and was immediately at Helena's side, revealing the black catsuit stitched together with white thread. Blond hair cascaded past her shoulders and tilting her head to an angle, she smiled. "Yes."
Groaning inwardly, Helena was forced to give up her last shreds of denial. She shot straight up, did a single flip, and landed behind the other woman, now her own face in shadows. "What are you doing here?"
The woman scanned around the room, and then settled her gaze on Helena. "Why... protecting us." She spread her hands wide, as if the situation couldn't be more obvious.
Helena took a quick look around the lab and realized that about a dozen of the maturation chambers were occupied, each with their own growing clone of the prototype. Gritting her teeth, she stared at the older woman. "I'm going to stop you."
"I know you'll try," she breathed, and smiled again. Helena recognized it as the same smile she saw on her own face when looking at photographs of herself and Barbara. Her heart squeezed painfully in her chest, and with energy born of desperation, Helena vaulted over the row of computers and started smashing the glass maturation chambers lining the side of the lab. Instantly, the other woman was there. Helena grabbed her by her forearms and swung her behind her, using the woman's trajectory to throw her into another two chambers, smashing them. The atmosphere within the chambers slowly changed to a milky vapor as it escaped through the cracks of the enclosures, the beings inside curling down unhurriedly until they crumpled into a heap at the bottom of their cells.
The older woman whirled around and faced Helena. "Well, that was unexpected." The brunette didn't respond. She simply jumped on top of a long line of storage bins and threw herself to the opposite side of the room. Managing to smash into four more containers, she suddenly found herself flying through the air. Helena landed on her back, skidding on the ground until she bumped up against some file cabinets. The older woman landed on top of her, pinning her arms. "You're not going to win," the blond leaned in and whispered into her ear, and as she pulled away from Helena's face, the brunette head butted her, while at the same time crashing her fists down on the other's inside elbows, breaking the hold she had on her. She threw the clone off of her, and moved to the nearest intact chamber.
Not to be outdone, the blond flipped once, and landed between Helena and the container. "Think again." Helena countered with a series of stabbing kicks, forcing the woman back and away from the equipment she was guarding. After a flurry of punches and counter punches, the black clad woman rushed Helena, who simply deflected the woman past her, and then threw out a foot, tripping her. With a clear path to the cloning chamber, Helena drove an elbow into it, smashing it with such force that it completely shattered. The body inside disintegrated in a cloud of dust. There were only two chambers left.
"You are surprising," the older woman muttered, having lost some of her confidence and bravura with the unexpected turn of events. She flipped to a standing position and then cartwheeled towards Helena, landing a solid kick to her face. Knocked off balance, the brunette stumbled into a desk and fell on top of it. She immediately was jerked off the flat surface, her head hitting the edge of the metal desk with enough force to make her see stars. Landing on the ground, she felt a sharp kick to her ribs and rolled away, trying to buy time so she could get to her feet, but the clone was too fast. The blond was on her, kneeling over her as she straddled the younger woman's hips, throwing blow after blow to her face. "Give up," she hissed as Helena's head was rocked from side to side.
In desperation, the younger woman threw one of her legs up, her knee connecting solidly with the back of the blond. The clone was thrown down on top of her, but Helena crossed her arms above her, and caught the older woman under the neck. Violently ripping her arms apart, the brunette threw the woman backwards but not before she got in two more heavy punches to the face of the clone. She could hear ragged breathing as she made her way to another chamber and kicked a hole in it. One more to go. She backflipped towards the one remaining intact chamber, nearly slipping on the glass that littered the ground. The clone was already there, protecting her turf.
"You can't." Still breathing hard and hands on knees, but not willing to give up the fight, the blonde straightened to launch an attack. Helena ducked under the over reached punch, crouched, and moving into the exposed body of the other fighter, the clone fell on top of her. She lifted the other woman with her back and threw her off, rushing to the last chamber. She hit it hard with her shoulder, sending the body inside shuddering, and then crumbling as the glass on the container broke at last. Helena turned to face the clone, whose face was contorted with rage as she saw the last of her charges destroyed in a wispy puff of air.
With a snarl, the older woman rushed Helena. Defending herself, the brunette tried to counter with a side snap kick, but slipped on the glass scattered on the ground of the lab. Although she still connected with her attacker, it changed the trajectory of the intended kick, and threw the other woman into the sharp edges of one of the broken maturation chambers. Eyes wide at what she had done, she realized that it was a fatal blow. The clone impacted with the razor like edges of glass, and then fell to the floor, blood oozing from her chest. Blinking wildly, Helena rushed to the woman gasping on the ground and knelt beside her.
The clone pulled in a shuddering breath, and then another. She saw a woman's face above her, eyes moist with tears. She thought she should know her, but she couldn't recall her name. Sorry to see the other woman is so much obvious pain, she reached up her hand and touched her face, smiling. She closed her eyes, feeling her blood slow through her veins, and then... nothing.
Helena's breath hitched in her chest. She put her hands under the woman's shoulders and raised her up until their faces were inches apart. Laying her forehead against that of the other, she closed her eyes before leaning down and resting the body on the ground. With a heavy heart, she whispered, "Good-bye, mom."
It was raining in New Gotham, but then, Helena thought, it rained a lot in New Gotham. It was raining the night her mother died and that, along with recent events, brought her to the water slicked grass that she was now strolling through. With a sigh, the waist high marker was just where she had remembered it. It certainly wasn't the biggest or grandest gravestone in the cemetery, but what it lacked in stature, it made up for in classic simplicity. Helena trailed her hand over the engraving on the stone, knowing what was there from memory, but saying the words out load anyway. "Selina Kyle She stole our hearts," she said and smiled. "You know, I think you stole a whole lot more than hearts." The smile left her face quickly though as her thoughts returned to what had happened during the last few days. She turned away from the marker, paced a few steps, and then faced the silent stone again.
"Mom, I have so much blackness inside me, and I know you had that, too. And I wonder how you did it. How you managed to keep it all in, and not lash out at everyone," Helena whispered as she unconsciously flexed her hands. Shaking her head, she continued. "I almost lost it this time, mom. Almost let go of the rope and let myself give up. I just couldn't see the purpose anymore." Helena brushed her hand across her forehead and moved the wet bangs back from her row. "But I have Barbara. And she held me back. Wouldn't let me give into the despair. Everyone thinks I'm the warrior in the family, but they're wrong. Barbara's the fighter. She fought harder for me than anyone... except for you." Helena looked up at the sky, as the rain seemed to slow just a bit. "So I guess I'm lucky. I have someone who's there for me, to keep my dragons a sword's length away. That's why I don't know how you did it. You didn't have anyone around to show you the way. I wish you were here now, mom, because I could be that person. I could help you keep the shadows away from the door." Helena sighed, "But that's never going to happen, is it? I love you and I still miss you so much. So I'm going to stay in the light, because I know that's what you'd want, and that's where I belong." She approached the gravestone and ran her hand over the top edge. "I just wish I could have the chance to save you. Like Barbara saved me."
Twilight came as the rain stopped, and Helena left the cemetery. She returned to the main road where Barbara waited for her.
Stoopid author's notes
1. Thanks to Amluv200 and Twistedgsilver for the nice feedback. Although I don't expect feedback, it's nice when it shows up. Also thanks to lurker (never thought I'd say that) Maryd_oz who shared a few "How to write a better story" ideas with me. Check out her webpage at: http://ausxip.com/ Xenites in this group might recognize the addy.
2. Could you tell I work for a power company? Coincidentally, New Gotham Power shares the same initials with my company, National Grid Power. Serendipity.
3. I know nothing about testing DNA. Thank god Barbara does, and she only did it in a few hours.
4. Anyone on this list that is involved with Clonaid (which claims to have cloned a child named "Eve") is welcome to email and tell me which parts of the process of cloning I got wrong, or which worked well. The same invitation goes out to the Raelians who also are involved with Clonaid. Let me know who's out there, people!
5. I use real people's names and addresses when I want to. Patterson (where Oracle sends Huntress to stop a jewelry store robbery on the night of the black out) is the street I live on. There's no jewelry stores around though. Fifty four West Fifth (Simcron Labs) is the addy of my college sorority in Oswego, NY. Dinah drives down Bridge Street to get to it; Bridge Street is *the* main street in Oswego.
6. Fight scenes are easier to write than love scenes.
7. I'm glad it's done.
8. Marriage proposals are accepted. ;D