Title: Almost Confession
Fandom: Birds of Prey
Ratings: PG, 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 pure fun – and an entertaining way of passing the time when one is bored out of ones mind.
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...) for their stories.
She sits at the table in the kitchen with a cup of tea cradled in her hands, watching me with green, intense eyes while I approach.
"Good hunt?" She raises an inquiring eyebrow, putting down the cup on the table beside the leftovers from her dinner and leans slightly forward. She wears a pale green silk top that matches the color of her eyes. It moves gently as she gestures, hugging her upper body.
"Oh, yes. Made me hungry," I grin at her and pull out a chair. I steal her plate and finish what she had left from the very late dinner. Cold chicken and some salad – not too bad. "Saw Nightwing, but only from a distance. Was thinking of inviting him for late snacks, but he was gone too quickly." I glance at Barbara and notice the amused look on her face while she’s watching me eat.
"Yes, he always was a fast mover."
I grin at her. "So I’ve heard. The girls seem to like him."
"Oh, they would!" she assures me with a laugh and for a moment I lose myself in the ripples of her sweet laughter, before lowering my gaze. I have finally met Nightwing. I was set on disliking him – my jealousy playing a main part in the decision not to give in to his charms – but as I got used to him, I realized that we have so much in common. Not in the least was the very beautiful woman sitting in front of me at this moment.
Barbara had invited Dick Grayson for dinner a few days after she and I had our first proper conversation after Wade’s death. If you could call it a proper conversation – I still find that early morning talk we had slightly strange, although it did change a lot of things for the better between us. We’ve spent more time together as a family again, with both Nightwing and Dinah around as a part of it.
I remember when I first saw Dick and hated him for the proper kiss he planted on Barbara’s lips. She only laughed at him and hugged him tight, while I was ready to cut him in half. He was touching my Barbara – kissing her as if she belonged to him!
I can get slightly possessive at times and I don’t think straight when jealousy is eating at me like some mad disease. Thankfully, Nightwing seems to think of Barbara as a sister and as the dinner went on he revealed some interesting details about Batgirl that the all-knowing Oracle might have preferred not to be reminded of. When I told him about the Barbara whom I know, I could see the sadness in his eyes: these years lost to him, which they will never have again. They’ve grown apart and I could see that he realized this and was grieving for the loss. Barbara must have seen the sadness too, because she put a hand over his at the dinner table to comfort him and he smiled at her softly, almost intimately. I hated him then. Then he said: "Well, the Barbara I knew was a spoiled brat with her daddy’s name covering up for her."
"I certainly was not!" she objected indignantly. "And he did not!" When Nightwing laughed she did too, but blushed at the same time, looking in my direction with an almost shy smile. I lost my heart to Dick Grayson then. He made Barbara blush and laugh – not even Wade had managed that – and I knew I liked this strange, almost half-brother of mine. He winked at me at the table and I laughed out loud, not sure I remembered the last time I had been so happy. Nightwing had not come to steal Barbara from me; he brought me closer to her.
The other nice thing about Dick Grayson was the way he treated Dinah. He listened to her opinions as if they mattered and took her seriously, not as I who – most of the time – treat her like a child. It made me look differently at her as well. To see the woman she is growing in to, not the child she was before Wade’s death and Harley Quinn’s massacre of our home.
I wonder if Dick sees Batgirl in Dinah; the way she used to be at that age.
"Did you eat alone?" I ask, suddenly reminded of Dinah. Or rather, the lack thereof. I’m also reminded of that this is the first time Barbara and I are alone since our early morning conversation, when I comforted her with my arms around her. When I kissed her on the cheek. I still can’t believe I actually did that.
"Mmhm. Dinah’s out." She frowns. "I think she might have a sweetheart. She seems very secretive about it."
"Sweetheart?" I mock. "You know, you sound a lot like Alfred talking like that. We’re living in the modern world, if you hadn’t noticed."
She makes a slight gesture with her hand and the silk in her clothes moves tenderly, almost like a caress over her chest, displaying the curves of her breasts. I tear my eyes away and find myself almost obsessively preoccupied with Barbara’s leftovers. Chicken – nice.
"It’s just that…" She pauses, seems to hesitate and I glance at her. Her eyes are thoughtful. "I’m not sure if it’s a he… or a she."
"What?" I lose complete interest in the food, almost staring at Barbara. She pulls a hand through her hair; red light gleaming, catches my eye, but I turn away before she notices me watching. "Dinah?"
"Yes." She nods, slightly distracted and I can see why.
"Wow," I say, not knowing what else to say. She looks at me and shakes her head.
"It’s not a ‘wow’ yet. I’m just saying… She came to me the other day, asking about something. She said it was a friend, but you know…" She shrugged.
"What? What did she ask?" Actually, I was more interested in what Barbara had told Dinah in return.
"She said her friend had these… feelings, but not for a boy. We didn’t really discuss details, as she only wanted to have some clues about what to tell her… friend."
"And? What did you say?" I hold my breath, watching her. She shrugs again.
"Nothing much, only that it would be life altering and it could be a difficult life to live, but if she was sure she should follow her heart."
"What? What would you have me say? ‘Go – go have great sex and screw your mind out if that’s what you want’? Jeez, Helena." She throws out her arms and moves her chair from the table and I’m confused, not to say the least. It was just a question, not an opening for a debate.
"Well, how about – ‘to be gay is sinful and distasteful, not to mention illegal in some countries – and states’." I hold her gaze and see her eyes soften their expression. She smiles wryly.
"You don’t believe that’s my opinion, do you?" Despite the wry smile there’s an almost hurt look in her eyes and I shake my head.
"No, I don’t, but I’m not really sure you said what you said to Dinah because it’s what you believe or because it’s the right thing to say."
She frowns. "Is there a difference?"
I blink and then laugh. With anyone else there would be, but not with Barbara, I guess. "So, if this is really about Dinah, you wouldn’t mind her coming home with a girl for a date?"
"As long as she’s happy."
I hold her gaze, wondering what she’s thinking when she looks at me like that. There’s hurt and tenderness in her eyes and I can’t make out why. And me? I want to ask. What about me? Do you want me to be happy? If I tell you I’m in love with… you?
"Well, good for the kid," I say and lean back in the chair with a wry smile of my own. "I hope it’s a girl, men are just too much trouble."
She looks as if she doesn’t know whether to laugh or not. "Comes from the right woman. How many men have you had in your day?" she teases and I throw out an arm.
"Comes from the right woman," I echo her and grin. "I know what I’m talking about."
"Sure, Helena," she says dryly. "You know, just because you have trouble keeping a man doesn’t necessarily means Dinah would." She smiles to take the edge of the words, but for some reason I feel like playing this game.
"Oh, yeah?" I know there’s a dangerous gleam in my eyes when I lean forward.
"Yeah," she says, challenging me.
"Well, how do you know I don’t have a nice man waiting for me somewhere? For your information I could be very much in love with someone…"
She laughs then, as if the thought is so incredulous, but I know what she thinks and in the next moment she says it.
"Sure. As if you would hang out with me if you did. Besides, you said you broke it off with that cop of yours."
I lean back again, much more relaxed and almost indifferent now. With a wave of my hand I say: "There’s more than one man in this city. Besides, you asked me to spend more time with you. That’s what I'm doing. Spending time with a friend."
The words hurt her and I should have known they would. Maybe I did. Maybe I wanted her to be jealous at someone – anyone; even if they don’t exist – just as I was jealous of Wade and Nightwing. I see the hurt taking shape in her green eyes and for once she doesn’t bother with hiding it.
"There’s nothing keeping you here," she says. "You're free to go." She wheels away from the table and I stand, not sure what to say next.
"No." She holds up a hand; a gesture I know and I grow quiet. She shakes her head. "You don’t have to keep me company if there’s some place you'd rather be. Friendship shouldn’t be a burden."
"You are not a burden," I say softly and move towards her. She can’t escape me, stuck as she is between the table and the wall, but the look in her eyes almost breaks my heart. "I didn’t mean it that way. You know I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be."
She listens and the hurt in her eyes lessens, but I’m not sure if it’s because she doesn’t want me to see it anymore or because my words actually make a difference. I try a different approach. I grin.
"You can be such a martyr at times."
First I see flashing anger in the depths of her green eyes, but then she makes a face and sighs.
"I can, can’t I?"
My grin fades and I take a step towards her, but before I have time to say or do anything she looks at me with such tenderness my knees grow weak.
"You know, if there is someone special in your life you should be with him, Helena. No matter what. If you love him, take a chance. Why didn’t it work out with Reese? I know you fancied him." She tilts her head slightly to one side, looking questioningly at me.
I shake my head because I don’t want to talk about it. I want to tell her I am right were I want to be, with the one person I want to share my life with, but I can’t. She’s known me for a long time; I know she knows that there’s something I’m hiding from her, but she doesn’t ask anymore. She shows only respect and caring. Once I was angry with her for prying into my life, now I would give anything for her to do it again.
She raised me, not quite from scratch – but almost. During the years I have mistrusted her, grown to trust her, been angry with her, loved her and finally… fallen in love with her. Even though she doesn’t treat me like a child anymore I’m too afraid she will see my feelings for her as a simple infatuation caused by our previous relationship. A normal child would trade their hero-worship for a crush, but I was never a normal child. I was too self-centred and too wrapped up in my own anger to care whether she used to be a hero or not. Yet she never gave up trying to find a way through all the layers of my being. She found the core of who I was and she showed it to me. There was a time when I resented her for the fact that she raised me – I thought she made me into a second version of herself and wasn’t sure if there even was a part of me that was really me and not a creation of Barbara’s. Then I realized that everything she had done was to show me the way to my own inner being. She was my guide, my mentor and I learned to respect her. Then she became a friend, but she was still my lifeline to what was right and wrong. She was still my mentor when I needed her there to be something more than a friend. It made our relationship muddled and I couldn’t make out what was what. At that time my feelings for her had already altered and changed into something so much more than friendship or admiration. I didn’t want her to look at me as a child. I wanted her to see the woman in me.
This is the true reason to why I can’t tell her the truth. I’m so afraid she will tell me my feelings are not real, that they are a false image of something that was never true. A natural effect following my upbringing with her as my mentor. She would say it’s a natural thing for the pupil to have a slight crush on her teacher – just as the client might form a similar bond with her therapist (which is not a thought I’d like to dwell on, as it reminds me of Quinzel…). I don’t want her to give me this psychobabble crap I wouldn’t even understand. I don’t want her to dismiss my feelings for her like that, as if they don’t matter. As if I’m still a child and my feelings aren’t true and therefore worth nothing in her eyes. It would be like… giving the greatest gift ever to someone, to have it thrown back in your face with a laugh. I don’t think my heart would survive.
When I look at her now I see a vague question in her eyes, as if she’s forming a thought she wouldn’t find imaginable a second ago. I turn away from her, not able to stand her scrutiny.
"I’m sorry," she says. "I didn’t mean to pry."
"You’re not prying." I look at her over my shoulder with a small smile. "You’re being a friend." I shrug and hesitate slightly, before saying: "There's not much to it, you know. Some things we just can’t have and the best course of action is to move forward. To let go and… move on."
She sits quietly for a moment, then wheels up towards me. "You really do listen to me once in a while, don’t you?" she teases and I laugh.
"I’m all mature now", I agree. "See, I can even hold a proper conversation."
"As opposed to running off and leaving me like some lame vegetable behind, you mean?" she says with arched eyebrows. She’s teasing me and I blush, which doesn’t go unnoticed, of course. She laughs softly and that laugh is my downfall.
"I’m going to get pizza," I say and move away from her. Her presence is too overwhelming at the moment. She touched my hand a second ago and I can still feel the tingle through my body, as her laughter makes me tremble. Not good. Not good at all. I don’t want my eyes to go all feral again. Sometimes it’s enough for me to watch her from a distance to feel what I’m feeling right now. Not good. I have to get away.
"Pizza? It’s the middle of the night."
"So? I’m hungry. And the weekend starts tomorrow," I grin at her. "Want some?"
"Already ate," she says with a motion towards the table.
"Oh, yeah", I remember, still tasting the chicken. "Well, I’ll be back in a sec."
I rush off, seeing the slight frown on her face and again not knowing what it means. I’m supposed to know her, but sometimes she’s such a mystery to me. Hell – I’m supposed to be the big mystery to everyone! The unattainable Huntress, the night-raider, clouded in mystery and darkness. Guess I sometimes forget she used to be Batgirl, another creature of the night. I wonder what she used to be like – I would have liked to have known her then.
While I speed through the dark, feeling the chill of the night against my skin, I wonder if she misses those times. Does she miss the wild nights of fighting, driving her bike? What must it be like, having all that and then…to lose it? If I couldn’t walk the nights the way I do – how would I survive?
It was Barbara who pulled me out of my self-centred world. Not knowingly. It was my growing respect and love for her that made me take interest in what she had been and what she was doing. She cared so much for the world and for what was right that I began to think there must be something worth fighting for out there. She never pushed me to do anything. I asked and she showed the way, never questioning me – only making sure that I was sure I knew what I was doing. Well, I didn’t, but I figured that this was a way to stay close to her. I learned to love the world because she did and today… Today I strive for what is right because I believe in it, not because it’s something Barbara – Oracle; once Batgirl – would want me to do.
She is the strongest person I know and I love her so much my heart could break. I wish so much that she was beside me right now, feeling the night the way I do. What a perfect team we would be, fighting together.
As if on cue I suddenly hear her voice in my ear.
"I… I just wanted to let you know I’m not staying up. I’m going to bed. Do you mind?"
"I know you must be tired," I say even though I feel a pang of disappointment. I was looking forward to getting back to her, eating my pizza and listening to her voice. "See you in the morning."
"Yes. Helena…" She hesitates.
"Well, never mind. Another time."
She turns off the phone and I wonder with a slight tremble, caused by the last, hoarse mentioning of my name, what she had intended to say.
I never buy pizza. I swing myself to the top of the tallest building and stand there, watching the dark; letting her name, her face, her voice fill me with its sweetness. I don’t know how long I stand there before I return home. She must be asleep now, I figure. The Clocktower is dark, but with some lights left for Dinah and me.
Dinah. I wonder where the kid is, but the thought leaves my mind when another takes its place. I’m not really sure what I’m thinking as I’m ascending the stairs and find my way to Barbara’s bedroom. Maybe it was the slight tremble in her voice earlier. Maybe the look in her eyes when I hurt her this evening. I don’t know, but I tell myself I only want to check on her – to see if she’s all right.
I stand in the dark by the door to her room. There’s some fading light in the hallway behind me, but not enough to disturb her sleep. She’s so beautiful; I could stand here all night, only watching her. The blankets are covering her, her red hair spread on the pillows. There’s a soft shadow across her face. She looks so relaxed, so… young and vulnerable, my heart goes out to her.
What burden isn’t she carrying on her shoulders? I wish I could do something to lessen it for her.
In that moment she moves and I freeze.
"Helena?" she mumbles.
I’m not sure she’s still asleep or if…
"Helena – are you there?" She moves an arm and makes a move as if to sit up.
"Yes," I say softly. How the hell did she know I was there? She wasn’t supposed to wake up. She wasn’t supposed to know I was even there. I’m Huntress, a creature of the night. I can stalk thieves and murderers without them ever noticing me. Hell – I even stalked Nightwing once just for the fun of it! Barbara is a mere human – she’s not supposed to be aware of my presence like that.
"What?" She’s instantly awake and sits up. The blanket falls off her and reveals a soft, pale red dressing gown that doesn’t cover much of her upper body. I feel my mouth go dry. "What’s wrong?"
"Um, nothing," I say and haven’t got a clue of how to talk my way out of this. She grows quiet and seems to relax.
"Nothing?" she asks me, as if to make sure I wouldn’t lie to her.
I shake my head. "Um, nothing much." I’m supposed to get the hell out of her bedroom by now, but my feet don’t want to move. I just can’t take my eyes of her. Her red hair is tussled, her lips… her mouth… Her eyes in the pale light from behind me. I can’t breathe.
"Helena," she says softly. "What are you doing here?"
"I… I didn’t mean to wake you," I hear myself say with a strange voice. At least it sounds strange to my own ears. Hopefully not in hers. Hey, I’m supposed to be all grown up and mature now, not standing here like a dumbfounded kid. No, like a teenager with the deepest crush in her life. God – why was I this foolish? Do I always have to push my luck?
"I don’t mind," she says after awhile, when I don’t say anything more. Her voice is still soft, but there is a slight question in it, one that I will have to answer.
"I just wanted to make sure you were all right."
She tilts her head to one side. "Why wouldn’t I be, Helena?"
God – why doesn’t she cover herself up? Can’t she see what she’s doing to me? I’m practically drooling.
"Um, well… You sounded… strange on the phone. I felt… I remembered Quinzel, I just wanted to make sure you… uh, were not in… I just wanted to make sure you were all right. You know." I shrug, hoping my somewhat incoherent babble made more sense to her than to me.
"I see," she says slowly, not taking her eyes off mine. I can’t see what she’s thinking. I wish I could see what she’s thinking. "Well, I do appreciate your concern."
"I know there’s something troubling you," I say before I can stop myself and she blinks. "I know there’s something… I just wanted to let you know – if you want to talk. I’m… I’m right here." Literally, I think, with a wry, inner smile.
"Oh," she says and for a second she looks away. She seems to think about something, but then she raises her head and smiles at me. "Thanks, Helena. You’re a true friend."
I notice she doesn’t deny there’s something troubling her, but I don’t push her. "Well, then… I should…" I make a gesture towards the door behind me. "Um, sorry for waking you."
She nods and leans back in bed. I swallow and turn away, closing the door behind me. Outside, in the corridor, I lean heavily on the wall beside her bedroom door, closing my eyes and taking a very deep breath. Good lord!
It takes a couple of minutes before I’m ready to move and return to the kitchen, where I not surprisingly find Dinah with a bowl of cereal.
"You’re late," I say and pull out a chair by the table. My knees are still a little wobbly.
"Hm," she says and fixates me with pale eyes. Then she smiles. "What were you doing in Barbara’s bedroom?"
What? "By the balls of a cow! Are you spying on me?"
"The balls of a cow?" She arches an eyebrow. "Would that be a bull?"
"Don’t you change the subject." I point my finger at her and she shrugs.
"I saw you coming out. No big deal."
"Exactly. No big deal. Barbara and I just had a talk."
"What was so important you had to wake her in the middle of the night?"
"What do you mean? I didn’t wake her." Somehow this wasn’t the way I wanted this conversation to go.
"No? So she didn’t go to bed when I returned two hours ago?"
I blink. Unless I want to lie my way out of this I might as well give it up. "All right," I sigh. "I just wanted to check on her, make sure she was all right."
"Yeah," I state.
"Isn’t that odd? Why would you do that? She’s adult and all."
I blush and turn my face away so that she doesn't see. Nosy kid. "It’s not odd. I care for her and since Harley Quinn…" I don’t finish my sentence. I know she knows what I’m getting at. "Besides, Barbara used to do it for me all the time." I remember those nights, when she opened the door thinking I was asleep. Sometimes I let her know I was awake and she would come in to my room and sit by my bed until I fell asleep. She did this even after I was old enough to move around in the night on my own. I never found it odd. It was Barbara’s way of showing she cared.
"She did?" Dinah frowns. "Odd," she mumbles and shoves some cereal in her mouth. I watch her as she chews, still with a slight frown on her face. I’m just about to ask her about her sweetheart when she swallows and says, with a broad smile: "So, when are you going to tell her you are in love with her?"
"What?" This time my voice is barely a whisper as I stare at the teenager.
"Well, you know." She makes a gesture and spills some drops of milk on the table with her spoon. "In love. As in ‘I’m in love with you’. Will you ever tell her?" She watches me and I can’t get a single word out. I ought to shout at her, deny it, whatever… but my first and only thought is:
"Do you think she knows?"
"Well, if I was Barbara and I found you in my bedroom in the middle of the night that would kind of give me a clue," Dinah says with irony and I groan and hide my face in my hands. "Oh, don’t worry." Dinah pats my arm. "You know, for someone so wise as Oracle, she sometimes misses the more obvious."
"Is that supposed to help?" I growl at her, but she shrugs.
"You should tell her the truth."
"How long have you known?"
"A while. I guess you hid it quite well to begin with, but that night with Nightwing it was plain obvious. You enjoyed teasing Barbara far too much and the look in your eyes gave you away."
I eye her suspiciously. "Since when did you get all grown up?"
"I had two good role-models." She smiles broadly with sparkling eyes. "But, Helena," she adds more seriously. "You should tell her, you know. She won’t judge you for it."
"Well, you should know, shouldn’t you? What’s your secret, anyway?"
"She told you, didn’t she? I knew she would. See, she won’t mind you being gay."
"I’m not…!" I stare at her. "You mean, the friend you were talking about was me?"
"Yes. I thought that was obvious."
I’m not sure she’s making fun of me or not. She better not be – I’m so not in the mood to be pissed off by a nosy teenager. "I can’t believe you did that!" I hiss.
"What?" She throws out her arms. "You would never, would you? You’d be happy adoring her from a distance, like some lovesick…"
"Don’t you dare say it!"
She grins. "…Puppy."
"I swear I’ll beat your head in with a stick."
She laughs. "No, you won’t. I did you a favor." Dinah brings her empty cereal bowl to the sink and washes it, with a glance at my face. "How long have you loved her, anyway?"
"Long," I say seriously. I’m not in the mood to keep up the charade. "Dinah…"
"I won’t tell her," she says. "At least not as long as you get along with her. You know, you hurt her when you stayed away."
"You hurt her when…"
"I know," I repeat in a growling voice and she seems to get the picture. She nods.
"So, as long as you don’t hurt her because of the way you feel I won’t tell."
"I think that’s called blackmail," I mumble, but she grins at me.
"Good night, Helena."
"Good night, kid."
She makes a face at me when I call her that, but then seems to think of something. "You know," she says, "you didn’t even try to deny the truth. Being in love must agree with you."
Her words, but especially her triumphant grin, make me laugh. It does, I think. Despite everything it’s a wondrous feeling to be in love. I take that thought with me to bed; my last thought before I drift off to sleep being the memory of Barbara’s soft body in the shadows of her bedroom.