Title: The Love of My Life
Fandom: Birds of Prey
Ratings: PG 13, I guess
Spoilers: the last episode (probably others too).
Disclaimers: I don’t own Birds of Prey or any character created by WB’s used in this story. I’m making no profit on this and wouldn’t want to – as it’s ‘borrowed gods’. This is for pure fun – and an entertaining way of passing the time when one is bored out of ones mind (although Mr M.D. is my own creation...).
Author's Notes: This series was sort of created as a response to Nailbunny’s ‘Kiss’ (great story!). I don’t remember much of BoP-details and the only episode I watched more than once was the last, so excuse any mistakes not in agreement with the series. Some events mentioned might be a little ‘off’ the original timeline to fit the story. The story is told in first person POV – you’ll figure who’s as you read. Also – English is not my first language, so please excuse any strange wordings or spellings.
Special Thanks: To Aeryn Sun for beta’ing the six stories in this series. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! J
Additional Note: The stories in this series are created as a ‘thanks’ for all the wonderful, exciting, sexy and purely entertaining stories on this site, which I have enjoyed reading. Just wanted to make a contribution: one should not only take, but give as well... Especially thanks to Aeryn Sun, Harper and Green Quarter (and all others out there...).
When I go to leave the park, Mike wants to follow me home, but I decline and bid him goodbye. I need time to think and to collect my thoughts. Returning to the Clocktower I feel confused and weary from the emotional stress I’ve been living with since Wade’s death. Guilt, grief, anxiety and my feelings for Helena have made it difficult to keep it together lately. Thankfully Helena has been a pleasure to be around the last month. I only wish I could trust her not to bolt again any time soon. She really seems to have calmed down, to have come to terms with who she is and what she wants to be. Although, there’s something still bothering her, I’m sure of it, and I need to know how far I can trust her. Will she abandon me just when I’m beginning to believe I can rely on her?
That day, when Wade died… Helena was there for me when I wanted to kill Harley Quinn. I wanted that woman’s death so much and Helena prevented me from making a mistake; she was the rock I could rest upon, lean towards, and I thought… But during those weeks following Wade’s death she turned her back on me. Not on the Oracle or her calling, she did her job, better than ever. No, she left me. Me, Barbara Gordon, her friend.
And then she was there again, that morning, holding me when I cried, bringing comfort. Since then she’s been perfect, but there’s this fear within me… The fear I will say something wrong, do something wrong and I’ll drive her away again. Part of this… predicament, is my own fault. I’ve never shown her my true self, never let her see, me. There have been many reasons over the years to why this is so. I was left to fend for myself after Catwoman’s death and Bruce’s disappearance, after the gunshot that changed my life. Helena’s presence helped me stay in touch with the humanity within me, preventing me from completely closing myself to the world and any relationship, but it also increased my sense of responsibility. She needed me to be the strong, responsible adult, even though I myself was still quite young.
These things don’t really matter now. What matters is the relationship we have today, which, in fact, is the root of this whole mess. I’m not sure what our relationship actually consists of, anymore. I don’t think she does either, if she even gives it much consideration. It seems our friendship has grown so much stronger lately, deeper somehow, but at the same time it seems almost fragile. Like a beautifully spun spider’s web, glistening in the sun, shaping rainbows from dewdrops… Which would snap at the touch of a careless gesture.
And now, to top it all off, there’s Mike.
I let my mind wander to the memories of the man I once knew. He was one of the few that knew about my secret identity. He was young, like me, with a strong sense of justice; he was honest and had good morals and ethics. He was a good man and by what I saw of him today he doesn’t seem to have changed much. My life could have been so different if he’d chosen me over his previous wife all those years ago; I’d probably be happily married to him today. And Helena? I don’t know. Maybe I would have been torn between them, but those years are lost to me and Mike and I can’t love him the way I love Helena. Still…
She’s not mine. Will I have to settle for the next best thing again?
Mike would be able to give me what Wade couldn’t. He knows what it’s like to live for and to sacrifice oneself on behalf of the greater good. With him… With him I could have a good life, better than most people have. And Helena?
It always comes back to Helena. No matter whom I choose to spend the rest of my life with it won’t change the fact that I… It won’t change the way I feel about her. My heart will always skip a beat when I see her face, hear her voice. I will always long for Helena. She’s… She’s the love of my life.
I sigh and realize I’ve reached my destination. I wheel in to the elevator and let the bag and the blanket I carried with me from the park slide to the floor. Will she be home? I think, hardly conscious of the thought and yet I can’t seem to think of anything else. Will she?
I wish she hadn’t left the park without me today, but I guess it was for the best. I needed some time alone with Mike anyway. Still… I know she watched us for awhile, I could feel her eyes on me, as always when she’s near. It makes me wonder. I think she must have watched me with Wade as well, like she did today. There were times when I could feel that tingling along my neck as I did today in the park. Why would she do that? Was she still an angry child when she watched me with Wade, or…
I don’t finish that thought, don’t dare consider where it would lead me if I do. I don’t dare experience the hope such thoughts would bring, for fear it will be torn apart like that spider’s web glistening in the sun, torn to shreds.
Will she be home? The thought won’t leave me and I sigh anew. She’s probably off somewhere already, waiting for the night to fall. Or is she in her room, preparing herself for a night out? I realize I don’t, really don’t, want to know.
I tried telling her the truth today. I’ve tried telling her the truth a couple of times, but something always seems to interfere. And today… Today I was so sure she felt the same about me that I feel about her, but now I’m not sure anymore. Not that it matters, I need to tell her the truth anyway. And when it’s done maybe I should take some time off. I need a proper holiday, away from it all. Away from Helena for awhile. She’d guard the city and Dinah while I’m gone.
I close my eyes. Vacation. I need it, I think. New Gotham will be fine without me for awhile. And Helena? Again the unbidden thought crosses my mind. What about Helena?
There’s something else she needs to know: the true reason why Nightwing is back in town. It seems he’s not needed, but she still has the right to know why he is here. I should have told her before, it’s just… We haven’t been alone that much lately and the few times we have… There have been other things on my mind.
Her behaviour from yesterday still puzzles me: the way she darted off in the middle of our conversation and then her presence in my room, late at night. The equation that is Helena doesn’t add up, unless… Unless there’s a missing factor I’ve neglected to pay attention to for fear it won’t be substantial enough to use.
I suppress another sigh, opening my eyes when the elevator stops. If only I had been Batgirl still, I think as I wheel out of the elevator, leaving the bag and the blanket behind me. Batgirl was different from Oracle; she’d screw the consequences and take what she wanted.
I halt sensing Helena’s presence. She’s standing behind the kitchen table, leaning on the counter, eating something. The look in her eyes when she sees me… What the hell is she doing here? I think, not knowing why the sight of her would disturb me so. No, that’s not completely true. I’ve prepared myself for a long, sleepless night with the thought of Helena in some stranger’s arms. Actually, I wonder fleetingly, I wonder exactly how many lovers she’s had during the years.
“You’re home," I say. Brilliant, Oracle, your perception is really outstanding. Just state the obvious, will you?
“Yeah, the bar will do well without me. Sometimes I think I‘m this all fabulous bartender they can‘t run a business without.” She grins, but that look in her eyes… I force myself to relax and nod, wheeling towards the kitchen.
“I know what you mean," I say, thinking of my plans for a vacation. New Gotham will survive if I go on leave, there are other people upholding the law. Helena will be here. I hope. “It’s not like the world would fall apart without… us.”
I can feel her eyes on me. She’s trying to read me, but I don’t let her.
“Hungry? There’s some more.” She gestures towards the fridge, trying to hide her fidgeting with her food. She seems nervous about something and tries to hide it from me, but I notice. I know her. Except… What’s she so nervous about? I wonder.
I look at her and try to smile. Between Mike and Helena… What are the odds she loves me the way I love her? Is it all wishful thinking on my part; dreams made up in the absence of an answer I would be satisfied with? But if… If she does, does she love me, or an image of what she thinks I am? I’m the unattainable, the one she’s tried so long and hard to reach. If she suddenly could have me, look me in the eye and know… me…? Would she still want me?
“You’re actually cooking again?” I ask. “What’s going on with you?”
“Just hungry," she says with a slight shrug. I noticed her first reaction, though. My question upset her. Why do I keep doing this, saying things I know probably will hurt her?
“And with no Alfred around…”
“Yes. I see," I say. I avert my eyes, thinking. Why is she here? Has she been waiting for me, as that first look might have suggested, or is she just here to get ready for a night out?
“Um… how’d your date go?”
I blink. My date? “My date?” I echo my thoughts, arching an eyebrow in her direction. Wasn’t that an odd choice of words? Still, it amuses me to see her like this. She wants me to tell her about Mike, but at the same time she doesn’t want to seem too eager to know. She’s as curious as a cat.
“Well, yeah. He’s a real hunk.”
That makes me laugh.
“Hey, he was!” she says, defending herself with raised arms. “He’s just what you need after Wade. I bet he could reawaken Batgirl in you," she adds with a wink.
Not like you, I reflect, thinking of how that other part of me, the young woman hiding in the shadows of Oracle’s light, would love to ravage the night side by side with Huntress. “Maybe," I say and turn away, reminded of what I can never have, not even if Helena loves me the way I want. This chair… I’m bound to it. Mike didn’t seem to mind. The second best choice? “He probably could," I add with my back towards her, remembering the young man I once knew. “He did once, you know. I met him only two days before he got married. We did kiss, but that was all. He wanted to be true to his promise.” We’d stayed friends, though, until they left New Gotham.
“You loved him," Helena says, with a slight, hardly noticeable shiver in her voice.
She’s trying so hard to be a real friend right now; I just have to love her for it. Behind me I can feel her moving towards me. She says: “This is the man you couldn’t have and he‘s come home to you", and I realize what she’s thinking. Sweet, never weep for what cannot be, For this God hath not given… She thinks Mike is the one I’m still in love with.
“Life has given you a second chance, Barbara. I hope...I hope you take it. You deserve to be happy.”
Her voice makes me doubt what I’m hearing. She’s saying one thing, but… I have to look at her, to see her eyes. I can almost always tell what she’s thinking when looking into her eyes.
“Do you mean that, Helena?” I ask, holding her gaze. She swallows and nods. Her eyes… “You truly mean that?” I say lowly, needing to see her soul.
“Yes, I do.”
Her voice is barely a whisper, but she doesn’t look away. She keeps talking, but I can’t hear her. I only see the hurt, the truth and the warmth in her eyes. She wants me to be happy even though I can see she struggles with the pain it causes herself. What does this mean? I think. Helena, what does this mean? It’s such a great gift from her, I know what it must cost her, I see it in her eyes. And I, I don’t have anything to give her in return… but me.
Helena returns to the counter and her food, slightly uncomfortable with my scrutiny, I reckon. This time I can’t help it, that look in her eyes when she said… It caught me completely off guard and now I’m more confused than ever.
“He did ask me on a date," I say, not knowing how to react to this newly awakened hope within me. For once I don’t seem to know what to say. I love you. I hear the words within me. Those are the words I need to say, not keep up all this talking about… nothing.
Helena is standing with her back towards me and I hear her answer something inaudible as she’s chewing. Her shoulders are tense and her body… My eyes linger at her waist and her hips and I consider offering her a massage just to be able to feel her muscles, her firm body beneath my fingers. Then I smile, suddenly remembering the event in the park before Mike turned up. I want her to relax before I tell her the truth.
“What about you, then? Thought you were going to get lucky tonight?” I can’t help but laugh when she almost chokes on her food, turning towards me with blushing cheeks. “That’s repayment for my Pepsi today," I add.
“Oh, yeah?” she says, still blushing, and I laugh, knowing she’s at loss for words.
I look at her, holding her gaze.
She throws away her food, turning away from me. Something has upset her and I know I have to catch her now, before she runs off, leaving me with all my questions unanswered. I could ask her to dinner tonight, just the two of us. It would give us a chance to talk.
“Helena, will you…”
“So, when’s this date going to take place?” she interrupts. Her tone is light and I can’t see what she’s thinking.
“Helena, I…” I was going to tell her I’m not in love with Mike, but at that moment the elevator buzzes and Dinah steps out at the floor below us. She waves when she sees us watching.
“Hi, guys. What’s up?” She asks, seeing us together like this.
I’m not really sure what I’m going to say, but before I have the chance to say anything more than the girls name Helena says: “Nothing much...Barbara’s got a date.”
Helena is suddenly more self-assured and I can’t make out what’s going on in that pretty head of hers. Her voice is steady, light, but by the look Dinah gives her I know it’s not a genuine lightness. She’s playing a game, inviting Dinah to take part.
Dinah looks at me, making her way to our floor by way of the stairs. “Really? Nice looking?”
“Very," Helena says with a laugh by my side. She’s trying to hide in easy bantering… Hide what? I remember that evening with Dick and suddenly… Suddenly I know I must speak to her. It can’t wait any longer; I need to know the truth. I look at her. Do you love me? I think with a slight shiver down my neck. God, do you, Helena? I can’t take this any longer.
“Dinah…” I turn to the younger girl. “Dinah, will you arrange to stay with a friend tonight? There are some things Helena and I need to discuss and I think we better have some privacy while doing it.”
Dinah’s gaze flies directly to Helena, revealing more to me by this than either of them is probably aware of.
“I’m sorry, Dinah," I add, at the same time realizing Dinah might feel pushed aside by my sudden request. I know she has matured since our meeting with Harley Quinn, but this is her home, after all. “I don’t want you to feel…”
“No, sure, Barbara. I don‘t mind," Dinah interrupts. “I know you two have some… issues, to work out.”
So, she’s noticed? Clever girl. I still wonder about that question she had for me the other day. Dinah wouldn’t hesitate in interfering in Helena’s life if she thought it’d be for the better.
“It’s cool. I‘ll stay with a friend.” Dinah suddenly looks worried. “It’s nothing I should worry about, is it? I mean, it’s not going to affect my whole life-me having to move again, or attending a funeral?”
I smile and see her relax, she’s still young.
“There’s no need for you to worry, Dinah. It‘s nothing like that," I say, but then remember one of the things I need to discuss with Helena. Helena won’t be happy with what I have to say about Nightwing. I glance at her with a wry smile. “Unless Helena’s reaction to our discussion is to send me out the window, that is.”
“That’s not fair!” Helena exclaims at the same time Dinah grins and says:
“Oh, she wouldn’t. She loves you too much, you know.”
Those words… I swallow, averting my eyes from Helena. No, actually I didn’t know, I think with a slight blush creeping up my neck. Thankfully it never reaches my cheeks.
“And," Dinah adds with a grin, “she’s so much more grown up now.”
I hear Helena growling something about getting even with Dinah and I watch her with amusement, wanting to laugh at Helena’s indignation and Dinah’s triumphant smirk. The girl seldom gets a clean shot like that at Helena. I notice the dark haired woman blush at my gaze and say: “She is, isn‘t she?”
“I’ll get some stuff together and then leave,“ Dinah says as she walks off towards the elevator, still grinning, but then she stops and looks at me over her shoulder. “Oh, by the way, I met Dick today. He asked me to ask you if you need him around anymore. Otherwise he‘s thinking of getting going.”
Helena is going to wonder about that remark, I know. I’m vaguely worried about how she’s going to handle the truth. “I’ll talk to him. Thanks, Dinah.”
The girl nods and leaves us. I’m alone with Helena again and this time I can feel the tension building up. What’s going on with us? I think, wondering when everything went so… wrong between us.
“I need some coffee," I say, suppressing a sigh. Before I have time to react to my own words Helena is at the coffee machine.
“I’ll make it.”
Actually, she unnerves me with this behaviour. It’s like an alcoholic on a dry run, you just keep waiting for him to begin drinking again. Anytime soon I fear she will just explode, or implode, on me for some reason I couldn’t foresee or won’t even understand.
Before I can stop myself I say: “Sure, thanks, Miss Congeniality," with much more sarcasm than I intended. It’s just… I want the truth from Helena. Why is she here now, with me, and not at the bar, waiting for darkness to fall to catch some willing prey? Why was she in my room last night, looking at me with such tenderness and… even (dare I consider the thought?) longing? Why did she leave me and Mike today, what kind of jealousy drove her from the park? Why did she really never like Wade?
“What do you mean?” she says, feigning nonchalance. Badly.
“It’s time you tell me what’s going on with you," I say. “You’ve been all… nice, lately.” I gesture toward her, trying to find the words to describe what I mean. I enjoy her attention, but I’m slightly suspicious of it, only waiting for her to tell me she’s going away, to find a life without Dinah and me in it. It would truly break my heart.
Helena gets really upset at my words. I can see it. Maybe she has a right to be. Maybe I shouldn’t question her intentions like this. Suddenly I’m sorry I said anything.
“You know…” She’s crossing her arms, giving me a hurt look. “You know – just… Just screw it!” She throws out her arms. “I’m trying to be all nice and this is what I get? Sarcasm? It’s just not worth it", she says, shaking her head. She walks towards me, to pass me on her way out of the kitchen. I see that look in her eyes; she’s hurt, misunderstood.
Maybe… Maybe… I feel a slight tingle of hope, of butterflies in the pit of my stomach. I’m sorry I questioned her, but…
“What isn’t, Helena?” I ask her softly as she passes me. Something in my voice breaks her stride and she looks at me. I’m trying to tell her the truth, trying to ask her about her own feelings, but she’s so defensive, so afraid of being hurt. “What’s not worth it, Helena?” I ask carefully.
“Look… I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to hurt you…”
“I know," I say, seeing the truth in her eyes. I lose myself in those eyes. I wonder if she really knows how beautiful she is. How beautiful I find her. She must know; she must have heard a thousand men tell her this. I wonder if it would make one slight difference if she heard it from me.
“Helena…” I reach for her, but her reaction is instant and she backs away from my touch. Why doesn’t she want me to touch her now? There’s no anger in her face, no hurt in her eyes, only… The missing factor in my equation, I think, holding her gaze. “I’m sorry... I shouldn’t tease you for being nice," I say, carefully. “You should know I appreciate everything you do for me, Helena. I really do.” I’m just so afraid of losing you, my sweet… “I didn’t mean...I didn’t mean for it the way it sounded. Can you please forgive me? I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Her eyes… That look yesterday… That look when she knelt by my chair early that morning… That look when I returned from the park today… Can it really, really be…?
She says something, but I don’t catch it; something about her being overly sensitive.
“So you are, Huntress," I say, slightly amused by her blushing cheeks. I know my stare disconcert her; I do that sometimes, stare at people to get them to reveal more than they really want to about themselves. Not even Huntress is immune. That look in her eyes right now, it mirrors so much of my own feelings. I can see my own hopes and doubts in her eyes.
“So," she suddenly says. “What’s this about Nightwing?”
And there it is. The question I dreaded. I thought I’d have time to tell her the truth about my feelings first, to ease the blow, but no. Well… I look away for a brief second, not wanting her to see what I’m thinking; we’ll just have to deal with this to begin with. I know she’ll feel I’ve betrayed her again, but I can’t run from this. Run? How ironic. I look her in the eye, hold her gaze, hoping my eyes will let her know that even though my words are hurting her she’s still so very precious to me.
“I asked him to come to New Gotham a while ago. I thought he might be needed.” She doesn’t get it right away, shrugging at my words.
“Yeah? Well, it’s fun having him around, but he hasn‘t really made a difference so far. I mean, as far as I‘m concerned…” She trails off caught by my steady gaze. “That’s… That’s not what you meant," she whispers, leaning on the railing. She reads the truth in my face. “No...you, you want to replace me?”
Want to? I think, feeling the hurt in her eyes as blows to my cheeks, to my heart. It was never a question of want; I always do what I have to do. The right thing, no matter the cost to myself. The world is more important than I. I love you, I think, silently trying to convey the message with my eyes. Don’t you see? It tears my soul apart, loving you, loving the world. If I ever would have to choose… I don’t know. I really don’t know what that choice would be.
“How could you? Barbara, how could you?”
She turns around, fleeing. I feel something snap within me then, when I see her back. She’s leaving me again; leaving me confined by my handicap and my responsibilities. “Don’t you dare!” I call. “Don’t you dare run from me again!”
My unexpected outburst makes her halt. Maybe it’s time, I think. Maybe it’s time to show her my real self. I think she loves me. I think she feels the same way about me that I feel about her. It’s more than a wish, this thought, this feeling. It has more substance.
If she does love me, she gave me a great gift today, letting me go on behalf of Mike. She wants me to be happy. I don’t have anything to offer, except the one thing she always wanted: me.
So I let my defences fall. I feel like laughing, like crying. Sweet, never weep for what cannot be…
I don’t like to be angry, don’t like to show my anger; it’s a sign of weakness, of admitting to things being out of my control. Anger can, if used rightly, also be a sign of strength, of trust between friends.
Helena turns around to face me and when I wheel up towards her I see shock and worry in her face. If I’d been Batgirl she would never have run from me like she does from Oracle. Batgirl wouldn’t take it. She would have challenged Helena, even told her the truth a long time ago. Oracle never could and I… I’m torn between the two.
I feel like slapping Helena and I tell her so. Maybe it’s my own fault, part of it, her habit of bolting from me, but she can’t keep running away every time she feels wrongly treated, like some spoiled child. I see the concern in her eyes turn to slight alarm when I yell at her; she’s never seen me like this. I know I don’t have to do this, but I want to. Maybe she will understand, in the end, why I do it.
“Do you think I wanted to replace you? Do you think I even wanted to consider the option?” Lord, does she really think I’m that heartless? “By the grace of God, Helena!” I throw out my arm, looking at her.
“Why, then?” she asks, trying to keep her voice steady. I look at her, not yielding, and notice a slight indication of anger in her eyes.
Why? I think. Well, yes, it’s my own fault. I should have shown her before how much she hurt me by avoiding me, by staying away those nights and mornings. It’s not her fault she can’t read my mind, or know what I’m hiding from her.
“I can’t believe you did this to me," she says. “Not even discussing…”
“’Why?’” I say coldly and see her blink in confusion before she realizes what I’m getting at. “You dare ask me why? The way you treated me… Before Wade died all you could do was yell at me and afterwards… You weren’t here, Helena! You didn’t speak to me and you didn’t even look at me. I thought I’d lost you! Don’t you understand? Who was there to discuss with?” I’m trying to calm down, but I’ve let the anger get the better of me and it feels so good to say these things. I’ve been holding back too much, never letting her see the hurt she caused me. “You left here! You left me! Do you know what that felt like? I was sure you were going to leave us soon enough. I was sure you hated me… And I didn’t even know why…”
She’s seeing my hurt now and she wants to ease it. She leans towards me, but I look at her and she halts and swallows. It’s almost comical to see. No one else but me has this power over this woman who rules the night.
No one else but her could make me lose control like this.
There’s a truth in these facts and I think… I know it now.
“Barbara, I didn’t… I never…”
You what? Didn’t hate me? I think. Never wanted to leave me?
“No?” I ask with something that’s almost a snarl. There’s hurt and anger within me now; I know she’s wanted to leave me, I’ve seen it in her eyes before. “No, Helena? Never?” I say, almost spitting. Why didn’t you tell me the truth then? Why don’t you?
She’s watching me and that look is there again. I would name it desire if I had the courage. I can’t stand her looking at me like that, with no option to touch her. I turn around, away from her.
“Go. Leave me.” I want to hurt her. Want her to know what it feels like being abandoned like that.
“What? Please, don’t… Barbara…” I hear her whisper, with tears in her voice. She’s hurting; she’s hurting due to the pain she knows she’s caused me before.
“How does it feel, being denied?” I don’t seem to be able to stop myself from hurting her, even though that’s not what this is about. It’s about showing her… It’s about showing her me, my real face. Will she hate me for saying these things, or will she understand? I look at her. She takes a step in my direction, but I stop her and brush her off by waving my hand.
“I…” she says, but I don’t let her finish.
“I saw your back once in a while," I add. “You didn’t even look me in the eye, Helena. All the times you went off that ledge, leaving me bound to this chair behind you, completely preventing me from following you.”
“I’m sorry…” Her voice trembles and I see unshed tears in her eyes.
“Barbara, don’t… Don’t do this," she whispers, looking completely at loss. It breaks my heart to see her like this.
“Don’t what, Helena?” There’s ice in my voice, but deep in my heart there’s a hope that she might understand, and fear that she won’t. “Don’t what? This is me, Helena. The real woman behind the mask. The one you always wanted to see. Are you happy now? This is what you wanted, isn‘t it? To see me lose control? What?” I see her close her eyes. “What’s the matter, Helena? She’s not what you thought her to be?”
I’m crying now, for her sake, my sake. For the past bringing us here, to this point. Then she looks at me and I see the gentle understanding in her eyes. The love. When she moves towards me I let her take my hand. I close my eyes with a deep sigh. She knows me, I think. She found me, behind the hurt and the anger. The way I’ve found her so many times before. Now… I know how to trust her.
She doesn’t say anything. She’s waiting. With my hand in hers she’s waiting for me; I can hear her breathing, feel her warmth.
“Helena…” I whisper.
“Yes?” Her voice is low, with a slight tremble in it.
“If you say you’re sorry I’m sure gonna kick your slim ass," she says in a growl I recognize, while squeezing my hand. I must smile and look at her.
“On one condition. I don’t want to hear it from you either. I heard you the first time.” She nods and I’m aware of the pressure of her hand in mine. “I’ve never…” I hesitate, draw a deep breath and say: “I never gave Wade this much.”
Few who really know me and no others would understand the importance of what I just did. It wasn’t just the anger or the hurt; it was the way I let her see me in my eyes.
“I know” she says, almost in a whisper, with something that is slightly familiar to wonder, as if she doesn’t understand why I would give her such a gift. “Barbara…” She silences and I realize she doesn’t know what to say.
“I called Dick only as a last resort," I say, by way of explaining our disagreement. I don’t want her to think I really wanted to get rid of her. I wipe a tear from my cheek with my free hand, feeling the softness of hers in my other hand. “I didn’t know… I really thought you were going to leave us.” The look in her eyes makes me want to ease her pain and I reach for her. I touch her cheek with a gentle caress. “I know now that I won’t need him," I add with a small smile.
She returns my smile, saying something about Dick could stay if he wanted and how he was the brother she never knew she had and missed without knowing it. She wants me to laugh, but there is more she needs to know before this day is over and done with. I might still hurt her badly. The thought makes me pull away and I turn slightly away from her.
“I think he would like that," I say, meaning her offer to welcome Dick’s presence if he wished to stay. And I know he would too. “I’d like it too. He was there when there was no one else for me to turn to. He listened…”
I didn’t need to hear her voice to know I hurt her.
“You talked to him even though I was here?” she says incredulously. “I’ve been around since he arrived.”
“Helena…” I try, but she doesn’t want to listen now. I see tears on her cheeks; I don’t even think she’s aware of them. It breaks my heart seeing her like this, but what could I do? I had no one else to turn to.
“I know you’ve been hurting," she says. “I know you’ve been hiding something from me. God damn it, Barbara! I was here! Why didn’t you talk to me? Why couldn’t you talk to me?”
“How could I, Helena? How could I know you weren’t around just for a few days, before bolting off again, deciding you still held some unspoken grievance against me?”
“You could have trusted me!” she cries out. “Why do you see me as a child still? I’m not a child anymore, Barbara!”
A child? I think wryly. She should know just how long ago I stopped regarding her as a child.
Her eyes are feral now and she’s not trying to hide her anger anymore, but I’m not just going to sit here and take her accusations. Does she think she’s the only one hurting in this?
“Damn it, Helena! I’m in love with you!” I burst out before I’m aware of what I’m going to say. “You honestly think that’s a subject I’m going to discuss with you in person, especially since you didn’t even seem to want to be in the same room as me a few days before? I needed Dick to talk to, since I couldn‘t talk to you. I...I needed someone to talk to.” I look at her, trying to convey my feelings with my eyes, trying to let her know I’m speaking the truth and the hurt I caused her is the same hurt she has caused me. We’re hurting each other while trying to hide what we feel… I’ve been truly blind. I should have known; shouldn’t have been so afraid to let her know the truth.
“I know you’re hurt. I’d be to, but I… I wanted to tell you that morning…”
She doesn’t move, but she’s holding my gaze, looking somewhat… dazed. Maybe she didn’t catch what I said, or maybe she did and can’t believe it?
“You heard me correctly," I tell her softly. “I’m in love with you, Helena.” This was not exactly the way I had planned to tell her the truth, but it’ll have to do. Now I’ve said it. I see her blink in confusion. Her feral eyes turn blue. She looks… suddenly young and puzzled, but she doesn’t react and I shrug, tired of fighting, tired of trying to push through the brick wall she’s surrounding herself with. If she can’t react to me even now, admitting the truth so plainly visible in her face… Then there’s nothing I can do.
“What does it matter, anyway?” I glance at her, but she still hasn’t moved. I probably gave her the shock of her life. What did you expect, cheering and kisses? Well, yes. I sigh. “What was it you said?” I ask. “Screw it. It’s not worth it, is it?”
I turn my chair, wheeling off towards the elevator, not knowing what else to do. I left a question for her. An opening, letting her know, if she has the courage to take a chance… Please, Helena… I think, almost begging. Please…
There’s only silence behind me and I feel panic building. What if I’m wrong?
“It is," I suddenly hear her say while she moves a few steps in my direction. “It matters, Barbara. It does. And it’s worth it. It’s worth it all.” She silences and stops. I wheel on towards the elevator.
The words are almost inaudible. I wouldn’t have heard them if I hadn’t waited for them, hoping to hear them. I’m not even sure I heard them correctly. Maybe it was just wishful thinking. But I stop and sit very still in my wheelchair, waiting for her.
“Please, don’t go”, she repeats.
She’s at my side now, reaching for me, and I turn to look at her. Her eyes… That look which I’ve seen so many times before is there again, more intense, deeper this time. There’s only love in her full, blue gaze right now and I know… I was right, I think gratefully, with an inward sigh.
“Don’t leave me, Barbara.”
She kneels at my chair and takes my hand, but that look… her words… I free my hand from hers and lean forward. My hands have a will of their own and suddenly they are in her hair, pulling her towards me. She doesn’t resist at all and in a breath my mouth covers hers; my lips, my tongue explores hers. She tastes… wonderful. She’s so soft, I’m melting. I can’t get enough. Her tongue finds mine, playfully touching. I hold her close, feel her soft hair against my fingers. Her fingers are tracing my face, caressing my hair and then her arms are around me, lifting me from the chair. I press myself towards her, feel her muscular body against mine, wanting more of her. This is what I want. This is all I want from life.
I hear her sigh and I lean my forehead against her temple. “You have no idea how long I’ve longed for this, Helena," I whisper and feel her shiver.
“What about… um, that date of yours?” she asks and I hide a brief smile before I lean back to look at her. Her eyes are feral again.
“You were jealous all that time with Wade, weren’t you?” I ask in return. She nods, slightly embarrassed. “And you couldn’t be around me, because…?” I arch an eyebrow towards her, challenging her to tell me the truth.
“I love you too, Barbara," she says, looking into my eyes while her own eyes changes from feral to blue and back again. I see the truth in them. I’ve been so blind; my fear blinded me, and my pride, too. “I‘ve been in love with you for a long time and…” She falters, but go on: “Yes, I ran from you because of that. I wish… I wish I could have handled it better, especially with Wade, but… I didn’t know how.”
“You handled it very well today, Helena.” I wind my fingers in her dark curls, while my gaze follows the shape of her mouth. I want to kiss her again. “You were ready to let me go, to make me happy.”
“It was the hardest thing ever," she says in a whisper and I lean in to taste her lips with my mouth.
“But you did. I’ve been jealous too, you know," I add, pulling back to look at her again.
“You have?” she says and seems so utterly stunned and happy at the same time; it’s endearing.
“Yes. I just didn’t show it.”
“Why… Why didn’t you tell me, before? Not before Dick, but before… Before Wade and… everything?”
“I couldn’t, Helena," I say, thinking again of the anguish I went through when I realized I was in love with her and not able to let her know. “I had to let you grow up, to let you find your own way. I couldn’t influence you, in any way. You had to… You had to grow free like a bird of prey. Free to make your own choices, to choose your own path.”
She nods, as if she knows this already. That is good, then she might forgive me for the pain I caused her.
“May I just stand here?” she asks softly, holding me even tighter. “Can I just hold you like this? Never letting you go?”
“You may," I say with a smile, leaning in to kiss her again. “Don’t you dare think of letting me go," I add in a whisper with my mouth to her ear. “You’re mine now, Helena Kyle. I’ll hunt you through the night to keep you.”
And she laughs out loud, while my fingers brush her hair. When she silences she watches me for awhile with uncharacteristic soberness, before she smiles and kisses me; her lips softly caressing mine, parting to let her tongue taste me… finding its way between my willing lips to meet mine. I feel her kissing me, sense her increased breathing and smile.
“You’re so soft," I whisper. “I knew you would be.”
She blushes, but laughs at the same time. “What about that date of yours?” she asks again and I see a slight, fleeting sense of fear in the blue of her eyes. She just can’t let it go. I push some of her dark curls out of her face.
“You never gave me a chance to explain. I turned him down.” I see her closing her eyes with a relieved sigh.
“Thank goodness," she whispers, which I think is not meant for my ears. She leans her forehead against mine, adding: “Then you’re truly mine now.” For some reason that statement makes her frown and she looks at me. “Who is it that loves me?” she asks. “Batgirl or Oracle?”
I wrap my arms around her neck, leaning close. “Neither. It‘s just me, Barbara Gordon. The woman you fell in love with.” Former Batgirl, I can’t help but think. Once child of the night… I think I’ll see more of Batgirl from now on. The thought makes me laugh.