Title: Growing Pains
Summary: Helena is in the beginnings of sorting out her feelings about a certain cyber genius.
Fandom: Birds of Prey the Series
Rating: PG...for now
Feedback: yes please.
Distribution: Just ask...I'll probably say yeah
Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to these characters
A/N: This fic is unbeta'd.
It's always been there, the darkness. When she was a little girl she welcomed it as if it were her favorite playmate, and perhaps it was. It was the one thing that allowed her to do whatever it was she wanted to do. And now, it is her ally, her companion and most importantly, her greatest weapon. God help any one who got in her way while the Huntress prowled the streets of New Gotham under the cover of night
"Back so soon?" the redhead said over her shoulder.
"You know Helena, sometimes you have to take the boredom with the action. Comes with the territory."
"Don't mean I gotta like it Barbara."
Sometimes the redhead exasperated her to no end. And other times, she was completely enthralled by her. Theirs wasn't a conventional relationship to say the least. Barbara Gordon had taken her in when she was only seventeen years old, but she had known her for most of her life. And in those years, Barbara had always fascinated Helena, as if she were somehow this puzzle she had never been able to completely piece together despite her most ernest efforts. She often questioned why this was always the case, why she felt this particular way about the now wheel chaired bound women. Why was it that this woman was the only person who cause so much confusion within her?
Helena walked over to the computer station where Barbara was. While hovering above her, she suddenly became very aware of the redhead and some very non-platonic, non-familial thoughts entered Helena mind. There were stirring in her that were primal, savage, and oddly...tender. Shaking her head as if to clear away non existing cob webs, she gathered her wits long enough to speak again.
"So, where's the kid?" she asked
"Dinah went out with a few friends about an hour ago."
There was a more than noticeable pause before the older woman spoke up.
"Helena, is there something wrong?"
"Can't I just be bored and not have it be a federal case?"
"I know you better than anyone Helena, I know something's bothering you. Why can't you just talk to me about it?"
"I said I'm fine! God, Barbara it's always like this with you. I'm a big girl now, I don't need you holding my goddamn hand for every little thing. I said I was fine why can't you just leave it at that?"
"I...fine, whatever Helena."
"Thank you!" she raised her hands up in air in frustration.
"Look, I'm gonna go."
"Fine." Barbara let out, too exhausted to take this any farther.
The brunette started to say something but thought better of it. There was nothing she could say, at least not right then and there. She needed to sort out all of the things that were crowding the inside of her head, until that happened, she couldn't tell the other woman anything.
She contented her self in the freedom of a free fall from the clocktower and into the comfort that was offered to her by the blanket of night.
The rawness of emotion was giving way to the restlessness she felt. And always at the back of her mind, she'd hear Barbara's words about allowing emotion to take over. How they clouded your judgment, made you reckless, sloppy, and eventually dead. Helena laughs to herself. If only the other women knew what was at the center of that rawness, of that need to just explode.
At first it was because of her mother's murder. She didn't have any other outlet for the rage, and pain she felt. So it was only seemed natural that she would enter into a world of violence, as it was a world of violence that had taken her mother away from her. Yet over the years, something changed. The violence had become more or less redundant. She had become very good at what she did and didn't find it challenging any longer. Then one night, Barbara had commented on her recklessness in a fight and they had a terrible argument as a result. It was at that point, Helena had discovered a new reason for continuing with the whole save the world gig that was thrust upon her.
It was the only way she would ever really be close to the redhead. The crimefighting had taken on a metaphoric role for the unrequited feelings she had for the former Batgirl. And so now, Helena lost herself in the fight, in the violence, with the same kind of abandon one loses herself in love making. And just as in love making, there would always be consequences.
"How many times do I have to tell you to focus?" Barbara admonished as she wheeled herself to the couch with the first aid kit.
"I was focused. I just didn't see the other guy coming offa the fire escape."
"You're distracted and if you're distracted then I can't use you."
"For some reason you seem hell bent on getting yourself seriously hurt and I'm not going to take part in it Helena."
"So what Barbara, you think I've got some kinda death wish or something?"
"I don't know. You tell me."
"How many times do I have to tell you, I'm fine!"
"You are not fine! Last week you put someone in a coma, tonight you come back here with a bullet in your shoulder. You're out of control Helena and either you pull it together or you're out."
"So it's like that then huh?"
"Yeah, I'm afraid so." She said with much resignation.
"Well, then I'll make it easy for you..."
Helena made her way to the window outside of the tower and leapt off the ledge.
Her heart was pounding. It seemed like everything was in slow motion and she felt her heart sink straight to her stomach and a wave of nausea had hit the woman now known as Oracle, hard.
"You stupid little girl. If the impact doesn't kill you, I swear I will."
Just as she was about to turn her wheel chair in the direction of the elevator, she saw a streak of black on the roof top across the street. She sent up a silent thank you and let out a long stream of breath that she thought she was holding in the second she saw her former charge do a half-gainor off the tower ledge.
"What am I going to do with you"?
"Um, did I do something Barbara?"
She hadn't heard the young girl walk out onto the watch and was startled when she heard her voice.
"Not you Dinah. Helena, she's...um...not you kiddo. So how was school today."
"School is okay. I'd rather be training to be honest."
Dinah had sensed the tension between the two older women, but figured they would somehow work it out. It seems to have gotten worse over the past few weeks and tonight must have been the breaking point.
"Well, we might have to hold off on your training for a couple of days. I need to find a replacement for Helena, so..."
Dinah cut her off.
"Yes, I'm afraid so." she sighed heavily.
"I'm sorry, I really can't talk about this right now Dinah. But what I really do need right now from you is for you to go do you homework, get something to eat and not resent me for telling you to do so."
"She doesn't resent you Barbara."
"I'm sure she does. And I can't say that sometimes I don't blame her. But I'm sure as hell not going to watch her through her life away."
"So your solution is to just cut her off, that makes sense?"
"I'm giving her what she wants...out. And she'll only do what she pleases anyway."
"Are you sure that's what she wants?"
The young girl's question hung in the air, suspended, thick and heavy like a humid summer afternoon. The truth was, she didn't know what the brooding woman wanted anymore than she knew who she was. Even as a little girl, Helena had this air of mystery about her. She saw so much of herself in Helena, head strong, feisty, introspective, and determined. It was a wonder they didn't kill each other by now.
She felt the beginnings of a smile creep onto her lips at the thought, but it faded away just as quickly when saw the blonde girl looking at her expectantly.
"Right now sweetheart, I'm not really sure about anything."
The music was loud and pulsating. She needed release. She needed not to think. Not to feel. The Huntress is on the prowl for something to conquer, to devour, to be the proxy for what she is denied. She watches all the pretty, pretty people. Watch them plot, pilfer, and plunder. And she relishes every moment of it. Because she knows that none there were a match for her.
The mark of a true hunter lies in the choice of prey. Helena is selective and methodic as she scopes the room. Not allowing the flashing lights and thunderous beats distract her from her current objective. From the look of things, the game was fairly up to her standards. She liked pretty people. Pretty people were usually so full of themselves. They just oozed an arrogance that Helena despised and loved to deflate. To her, almost nothing could compare to inflicting the kind of pain that stemmed from stripping someone of all their self worth. Sadist? Perhaps.
She glanced over to the corner and found the perfect mark. Six feet one, one-ninety, and well muscled. She liked that he had dark hair, and a wicked smile lit across her beguilingly, delicate features, in some sick kind of way, he looked like what she had imagined her cowardly father would have looked like. The very thought of destroying this man made her all the more...determined. And so began the chase.
Helena made eye contact with her mark as she sauntered over to the bar. Her eyes never left his and she knew she had drawn him in. It was almost too damn easy. Not that he immediately followed her to the bar. But he would come and he would spout out every platitude and any other line of bull shit he's ever used on some unsuspecting woman foolish enough to buy what ever it was he was selling. Helena was going to enjoy every minute of dismantling his manhood.
"Vodka, straight up."
She could still feel him watching her. And she counted the seconds it was going to take before he would walk over. She thought about how predictable men were and let out a slow curious laugh that sounded strange, even to her own ears.
"Care to share the joke?"
'Ah...' she thought to herself, 'there he is.'
"I doubt you would find it funny."
"Try me. I find all sorts of things...humorous."
"Well, I guess I should tell you that I have what you might call a depraved sense of humor."
"I see. And how depraved is depraved?"
"Let's just say I get a whole lot of mileage outta seein' someone fall on his ass."
"That's not so much depraved as it is cruel. So I think I could take hearing your joke."
"Hm...cruel huh? Don't tell me, your an upstanding, moral citizen in this fair city aren't cha?"
"I guess you can say I have my moments. Moral or otherwise."
She regarded him for a second. Something was different about him. Something she hadn't anticipated. And the fact she didn't see this initially made her laugh yet again, causing him to quirk his eye brow upward.
"Another joke I presume."
"It's never good to presume anything about anyone. Something I'm kinda figuring out right now."
All she did was smile that predatory smile of hers, the one that only offered mystery and a slight hint of danger.
Just as she is about to pounce, she hears a very familiar voice over the noise in the room.
"Dick, I thought that was you. I was...Helena?"
"Hey Babs, I was wondering what was taking you so long."
"I huh, had a few things to finish up at the tower." she said, clearly confused by the situation.
"Sooo...This is the famous DICK Grayson. Good thing you showed up when ya did Barbara, because it was about to get positively 'Deliverance' up in here."
"Helena, please. That's disgusting, even for you."
"Well, be that as it may, it's the truth. I was just about to rock the boy wonder's world before you um, rolled in, so to speak."
"Uh ladies, I'm standing right here. Wouldn't want to uh, clue me as to what the hell is going on here would you?"
"Allow me Barbara, dear. Kyle, Helena Kyle, aka The Huntress, aka love child of one Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne."
"Oh my god. You're Bruce's daughter?"
"Strictly in the biological sense, but not in any of the ways that really matter. So 'brother dear', thought you were gonna pass the time with me until ol' Babs here showed up. I'd watch this one if I were you Barbara, he's got a wandering eye."
"Now wait a minute, I was just being friendly."
"Sure ya were." She said as she looked down at him. "And it shows."
The statement caused the young man to blush and made an already awkward situation almost unbearable. However, Helena didn't seem to mind as she was seething with anger and if she were to admit it, jealousy as well.
"Helena can I talk to you?"
"I thought you said all you had to say the other night."
"Please?" the redhead pleaded.
For the life of her, the young woman couldn't understand why she couldn't deny this woman anything she wanted. That if it came right down to it, she would give her anything and everything if she asked."
"Fine. There's a room in the back, we can go talk there."
"Excuse us for a moment Dick."
"Hey, take your time. I'm gonna go get a drink, a really big one."
The walk to the back room was a silent, torturous one. The air was thick with tension that belied a rawness that existed between the two women. They both had an idea of how this conversation was going to turn out. And both scenarios ended with Helena making an overly dramatic exit. Whatever the case was, they had silently agreed to at least go through the motions and maintain whatever pretenses that have become the cornerstone of their relationship.
"How are you Helena?"
"I'm fine Barbara. What do you want?"
"I just wanted to know how you were. I mean the last time I saw you, you took a nose dive off of the clocktower. For all I knew you could have been dead."
"Well, as you can see I'm alive and kicking."
"Dinah's been worried about you." the older woman continued, choosing to ignore the brunette's sarcasm.
She had hoped that mentioning the teenager would soften the other woman's disposition. And it did.
"Tell the kid I'm okay." she said.
"She isn't the only one who's worried Helena."
"I get that Barbara. Look I'm sorry for acting like an ass before. I've got some stuff I need to figure out and I can't do that with you asking me how I am every five friggin' minutes."
"I only want to help Helena. There was a time when you would talk to me about everything..."
"I'm not that kid anymore Barbara, you can't fix everything for me. Somethings I need to do on my own."
"I know you're not a kid anymore Hel, but damnit, can't I still care? Can't I still be there when you need me?"
She desperately wanted to tell the woman in front of her everything. She wanted to be alleviated of the burden of her secret, to embrace the truth that was staring at her for months. To finally give voice to what was in her heart. Only she couldn't. There were too many fears, too many anxieties that came into play, that tormented her, forcing her into silence.
She suddenly felt walls close in on her and had a desperate need to run, to get away.
"I have to go." was all she said. And she left.
Several weeks had passed since Helena had left Barbara in the back room of the club. She continued to make her nightly sweeps through the darken streets of New Gotham. She had learned that Nightwing had been brought in to "pinch hit" as it were. A maneuver that left a very bitter taste in her mouth for more reasons than just one. Despite what was going on, she took her responsibility as guardian of New Gotham seriously and resented the idea that Oracle thought she could be so easily replaced.
She and Nightwing had crossed paths several times in their professional capacities since their inauspicious introduction. And despite her resentment of him, there was a begrudging respect for her estranged adopted brother. But not enough to disregard him as a poacher on her turf on both the streets of New Gotham and in the life of one Barbara Gordon.
"Hey Dickie. How're they hangin'?"
"I see charm school was totally wasted on you 'little sister'."
"Ouch. That really hurt Dickie." she mocked. "Didn't seem to mind my lack of 'charm' a couple weeks ago."
"Not gonna let me live that down are you?"
"Aw, come on Dick, what's a mild case of incest between two people?"
"Gee, sis you tell me."
"And just what exactly is that supposed to mean?" she snarled
"Oh, I think you know."
"No, I don't know. Why don't you clue me in."
"Let's just say I'm not the one who's got the hots for..."
"Shut up!" she hissed as she launched herself toward the black clad man.
"Easy Huntress. I'm not on com."
She released the sudden grip she had placed him in and regained her composure.
"Look Helena, it doesn't take a master detective to figure out what's going on here."
"What does she know?"
"As far as I can tell...nothing. I'm surprised no one else has picked up on the tension. Or maybe they're really good at pretending."
"I'm not discussing this with anyone, especially you."
"I'm not exactly your biggest fan either you know. I hope you realize that this strain between the two of you is killing her. You should at least have the decency to tell her why you're putting her through hell."
"Kinda late to be giving brotherly advice dontcha think?"
"I care about her. I hate what this is doing to her."
"I thought it would be an ideal situation for you Dickie. Damsel in distress, you swoop in and save the day. Isn't this tailored made for your type. I mean all those years carrying that torch. Now's your chance. Why not take it?"
"I thought you were smarter than that kid. Babs and I are a ship that has come and sailed. I love her. Always have. Always will. But we aren't who we were then. We're all grown up now and things change. People change."
"Nice speech Dickie. I'll be sure and remember it...incase I need to induce vomiting."
He couldn't help but chuckle.
"What so funny?"
"I doubt you would find it funny." he winked at her.
She paused a minute, recalling the exact same words she had said to him in the club.
"I still hate you."
"Of course you do."
And with that, the man known as Nightwing flew into the night. Leaving the young woman to digest what she had learned. She began to move through the shadows, leaping from one building to the next until she found herself atop a familiar clocktower. She peered through the window to see the object of her every waking and sleeping thought parked in front of several computer terminals with thumb and index finger pinching the bridge of her nose. She had realized just how endearing the movement was.
She thought the other woman looked tired. Tired and sad. It made her stomach churn to think that maybe she was the reason why the redhead seemed to have lost that gleam in her eyes. And it was in that moment when she realized what she had to do.
She allowed herself a few more minutes to summon the courage necessary to do what must be done. She wanted a few more moments to revel in the unadulterated act of watching the woman without her knowledge. Helena always thought that people were more honest when they thought no one was watching them. But as Helena continued to watch Barbara, she realized that she was watching her with a different set of eyes. She was not the Huntress tracking the movements of her prey, but simply a woman appreciating the beauty of the woman before her, marveling at every discovery her observation revealed.
She imagined that Barbara had the kind of beauty that artists wanted to immortalize. She was exquisite. Despite the years she had been confined to the chair, she maintained an incredibly lithe body. Years of combat and discipline gave way to amazing muscle tone and grace. She was all lines and curves in all the proper places. Helena could watch her do absolutely nothing all day and still be fascinated by her.
She thought back to the first time she saw the redhead. She must have been about ten years old when her mother sent her to the gymnastics academy. She remembered it being her second or third day there and how she had wandered off, she was always restless, even then. Somehow she had stumbled into one of the workout rooms and saw a slight, young woman with fiery red hair working on the uneven bars. Helena remembered how mesmerized she had been by the effortless routine, how fearless the young girl had seemed. She looked as if she was in her own private world, jumping from one apparatus to another. Each routine flawless and spectacular. If she had to pick a moment when it all began, it would have been that moment.
The sound of thick rubber against concrete brought Helena out of her reverie and she knew it was time.
"Do you remember the first time we met?" she asked somberly.
A small smile ghosted across the lips of the older woman.
"You were a snot nosed ten year old at the academy. God, you must pestered me everyday for the whole year."
"But you still let me hang out with. Always looked after me. Guess some things don't change."
"No, Helena...they don't."
There was a brief silence between the two women. Only a slow whistle of the wind could be heard. Barbara took in a quick study of the young woman. She looked...haunted. All she wanted to do was gather her up into her arms and hold her. To chase away what ever demons were plaguing her long time friend. A moment passed and she summoned the strength to speak again.
"Why the sudden stroll down memory lane?"
"Just been doing a lot of thinking lately."
"And I realized that I don't thank you enough for everything you've done for me."
"That's sweet and all Helena, but totally unnecessary. I wouldn't have had it any other way."
"I put you through hell Barbara."
"It was a tough time...for both of us. And whether you believe me or not, I needed you just as much as you needed me."
"No, you didn't. The last thing you needed was some smart-ass teenager who was as fucked up as I was."
"That isn't true. You were...you were special Helena."
"Yeah, in that short yellow bus kinda way, right."
The redhead chuckled.
Barbara paused for a moment, not wanting to squander this rare opportunity now that it had presented itself to her. She wanted to compose what she wanted to say before she spoke again.
"Helena, you are an extraordinary woman. I knew then that you would be. Anyone who knew you then, knew you would be."
"So what, you saw potential supreme meta-asskicker back then?"
"No. I saw the capacity for compassion, loyalty, generosity, and selflessness. I saw how tender and kind you were. And I just knew. As much hell as you put me through, you took care of me too. You wouldn't let me give up on myself even when I was at my lowest. You never give up on those you care about. I don't know where I'd be if it weren't for you."
"That's not true Barbara. You're the strongest person I've ever known, besides my mom. You would have found a way. It's the thing I love most about you."
That bit of disclosure elicited a smile from the redhead.
"It's been so long since we've been able to do this." she sighed
"I'm sorry. I've been such an ass lately."
"I'm afraid if I ask as to why that is, you might bolt on me...again."
The comment caused the younger woman to wince. But it was true. Everytime she thought about her feelings, it scared her, made her run. This time though she was determined to see this through to the end, no matter what the outcome.
"I'm not going anywhere, at least not until I've said what I need to say. And then whether or not I stay is entirely up to you."
"This sounds serious."
"Okay then, I'm listening."
Helena took in a deep breath and exhaled. She stepped closer to Barbara, kneeling down at the foot of her wheelchair, looking into worried green eyes, something in her heart broke. She could feel tears well up into her own eyes. She tried to steady her trembling hands on the armrests of the chair, only to have them stilled by the woman who caused the trembling.
She looked down and thought to herself, 'God, even her hands are beautiful.' She watched as one of those hands came up to cradle her cheek. She melted in the softness of Barbara's touch. It took every ounce of strength she had to keep from totally collapsing on top the other woman.
'I can do this.'
"I've already waited too long Barbara."
"I just...I need...god, this is hard."
"What? I-I don't understand."
"We've both been looking at this for a long time Hel. It's been staring us both in the eye for so long. We've been dancing around it, running around it. Avoiding it. You have no idea how much I wanted to say something, but could never find it in me to do it. I felt...dirty. I was ashamed of myself for thinking such things. I couldn't bring myself to give voice to it. "
"I...I didn't know. I was so wrapped up in my own..." the younger woman whispered.
A wry smile crosses the redhead's lips and she sighed.
"I'm sorry Helena."
"For not being stronger."
"You were scared too."
"Yeah." she shook her head.
"So...when did you..."
Another wry smile.
"It's been so long, that can't remember when I didn't. You?"
"The uneven bars."
"The first time I saw you, you were on the uneven bars at the academy."
"Yeah, so..." the brunette beamed as she leaned up to brush her lips against the redhead's.
The kiss was soft and instantly conveyed every unspoken word and unexpressed emotion that had been suppressed for years. And as the urgency to make up for lost time grew, so did the depth of the kiss. What was at first tender and tentative, suddenly became hunger and need.
They both were startled by the sudden intensity of the moment. Helena remember at what point she managed to straddle Barbara's chair and for Barbara's part, she was now acutely aware of the fists full of brunette hair she was in possession of. Reluctantly, they pulled away from each other, but only allow to enough space for them to look at one another.
"So..." the redhead blushed.
A broad smile graced Helena's.