Title: Early One Morning
Fandom: Birds of Prey
Ratings: PG13, 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 perfect fan-fiction.
I’m sitting at the computer when I feel her presence. I know she’s behind me, at the top of the stairs, looking down to watch me as I work. I raise my eyes slightly and catch a glimpse of her reflection in the windows, but I pretend not to know she’s there. It’s not the first time I catch her watching me like this and I don’t know what it means. I always feel her when she’s near; not in a superhero way – I’m no metahuman, after all – only as an awareness of her presence. The room – any room – seems to alter slightly when she enters; I feel it in the air, as a soft pressure on my skin. I know it sounds silly, maybe even corny, but… It’s the way it is and I know that there's a truth buried somewhere behind it all. A truth I used to hide from for so long before I finally gave in to it.
She’s getting closer, walking behind me now. I can see her shadow move on the floor even though I can’t hear her. I hold my breath; it’s been so long since she was this close to me. Will she let me know she’s here – or will she flee from me again?
“Hi,” she says and places a hand on my shoulder. I close my eyes for a brief second; the warmth of her touch melting something within me. Then I turn my head and smile. "You’re up late," she says. “You should be in bed.”
My smile fades and I nod slightly. She’s worried about me, I think. I don’t want her to be, so I turn away from her; hiding my face. She’s not a child anymore, I know that – God, how I know this! – but there are things I can’t share with her. Things I don’t dare share with her for fear she will turn away from me. I couldn't bear losing her.
At the same time, I know I’ll have to tell her the truth. I think she might have figured it out, anyway. I think that’s why she’s staying away from me and watching me from a distance. Or maybe she’s watching me because she thinks I’ve lost it since Wade died. I know she blames herself and that thought really bothers me. She shouldn’t; it could have happened to anyone and I’m really, really relived she’s all right. Which isn’t fair to Wade, I guess.
"I know," I say. "I just…" I shrug slightly. "I'm having trouble sleeping lately." It’s the truth. The pressure of the world is somehow crowding in on me. Sometimes it feels as if I carry the weight of it on my shoulders and it’s such a burden at times. How can I truly share my life with someone, with this responsibility weighing on me? Should I give it up, to be able to love? Wade died because of me, because I wanted to share something of myself with him. How can I make the same mistake with someone else?
And how would anyone be able to share me with the world? How could they understand what it means to me, to be able to do what I do? Superheroes always have a messy love life, anyway.
Helena sometimes blames me for not being able to share my emotions. I’m the one listening, giving advice and not asking others for help – carrying my own burdens – but I’ve been in this position for so long that I don’t know how to be any different. If you’re the rock the world relies on, you wouldn’t risk anything that you’d consider make you weak. I took a chance with Wade – and see where that left us?
Helena thinks I’m closing her off, but she of all people should know the truth. The truth is that she’s the only one I would ever risk anything for. Even so much that I would open myself to her and show her – me. But because of this intense… longing, I can’t.
"I’m… sorry," she says, inaudibly.
"Oh, Helena." I look at her and want to reach towards her, but don’t. I’m not sure I would be able to hide my true intentions if I touch her. "It’s not your fault." I see the lost look in her eyes and try to think of something to pull her out of her pain. "Did you have a good night, Huntress?" I ask with a slightly amused tingle in my voice. We’ve been too serious lately. Since Harley Quinn – and Wades death. I guess it’s time to pick up the pieces of our broken hearts and put them back together. The thing is – none of us can do it on our own.
I have to tell her the truth, otherwise we shall remain like lost reeds in the storm – lonely and broken. Maybe I will lose her, but at least she’ll know she’s loved.
"Well", she growls in a tone I recognize, although it’s been a long time since I last heard it. It makes me want to smile; she always used to make me smile, even when she was being an ass – which sometimes made it hard for me to reprimand her with a serious face. "Knocked out a few pricks. They’ll find some missing teeth in the morning."
I glance at her and see the wry smile on her sweet lips bellied by the tender look in her eyes. Few would know it, but there is a very gentle side to Helena. She genuinely cares for people, and especially her friends – although she would be hard pressed to admit it. She does nice things, but hides it behind a mask of indifference and sometimes anger. She’s so afraid of being hurt. I know she’s changed since the conflict with Harley Quinn, but she’s still holding back her true self. She’s been avoiding me lately and I’m not sure why – unless she feels it’s time for her to move on, away from Dinah… and me. It’s my biggest fear – but I’m even more afraid that I’ll stand in her way if she wants to move on. I don’t want her to hate me for holding her back.
"You need to get proper drunk," she tells me with a wink and I make a small sound, as if to laugh. Then she bends down and kisses my cheek.
I blink in confusion. Where did that come from?
"You've grown," I tell her as an afterthought, as soon as I can talk and breathe again. My skin tingles with the feel of her lips. Soft… She has soft lips. I try not to let my eyes linger at her mouth. She grins, but I can only watch her, thinking what a beautiful woman she’s grown up to be. I remember the years gone by – the angry, hurt child she was and the time it took to finally win her confidence. She trusted me once. I think I lost that trust when she realized I had lied about her mother’s killer. I think that was when she began pulling away from me. About the same time Wade entered our lives – my life – and Dinah came to live with us. Seems to me everything changed then. We grew apart. She lost faith in me and every time she looked at me there was this hurt in her eyes – as if I had broken her heart and she would never trust me again. I didn’t know how to deal with it. I knew I couldn’t tell her the truth at that time. In a sense, she was still a child – angry and hurt.
I don’t know how long I’ve loved her. Don’t know when my feelings towards her changed, but I know that when I realized what I felt, I truly hated myself. How could I let this child down like this? She trusted me and I… My mind and my emotions were so raw at one point, but luckily she was so busy trying to annoy me, breaking free from her cage and from her teenaged years – I don’t think she noticed. It wasn’t the difference in our ages that worried me, but rather the fact that I had taken her in to raise her as my own… Maybe like a sister, although to be fair she never looked at me as a sister. I could see it in her eyes – first I was a stranger and then a friend she tolerated. I know she loves me as a friend and cares about me, but the way I feel about her has nothing to do with friendship – or sisterhood.
"Right. See you tomorrow.”
"Helena…" I catch her wrist when she turns away to prevent her from leaving. I noticed the hurt in her eyes before she turned away, not knowing what caused it. I know she was trying to hide it from me, but I know her too well. I feel her stiffen, but my fingers linger on her skin – tracing the lines of her palm as if they have a life of their own – before I take her hand. My fingertips prickle. My hand holds hers and it feels oddly comforting, as if this was meant to be. I could stay like this forever – holding her hand. "Helena – I miss you." I don’t know why I said that. Maybe I’ve made up my mind. Maybe I will tell her the truth.
It’s growing lighter outside the Clocktower; I can see the first rays of the sun caressing the city. Caressing the soft, brown hair of the woman in front of me.
When she speaks her voice is gruff and she doesn’t look at me. "I’m right here."
"Please", I whisper, not knowing what to do to break down these barriers suddenly there between us. I can hardly speak for the tears welling up in my heart. "I miss...you and me. Do you remember the way it used to be, when it was only us?" I ask. We were friends then, I want to say. "Helena – look at me, please. Don’t turn away from me." I’ve hurt her and I don’t know how. I hate the thought of hurting her. I used to be able to soothe her pain, but these days I only seem to make it worse. "If I’ve done anything to hurt you…" I have to ask. Have to know. I know where she is going to ease her pain these days and I’m glad she at least has someone she can trust. Her cop friend will take care of her; she’s not entirely alone.
As I suspected, she shakes her head, but her words are not what I expect. "No. Not you. Not ever."
I don’t know what to think about that. If I didn’t hurt her, why is she pushing me away? "Please, Helena – let me in. Can we talk?”
"There’s nothing to talk about."
It surprises me slightly that she hasn’t pulled away from me. She’s still holding my hand. And at that moment she turns around and looks at me with feral eyes – a cat’s eyes. I hear myself gasp. God – I must have made her angry to look at me like that! is my first thought as I pull my hand from hers and back away.
"I’ve made you angry." My voice is even, though my heart wants to break.
Again her reaction surprises me as she kneels by my chair and takes my hand in hers. Her eyes are full of so much I can’t make it all out – it confuses me. There’s tenderness and pain and I want to raise my hand to caress her cheek, but I don’t. She looks at me and seems to be at loss for words. I know her; sometimes she needs time to find the words that she needs, so I let her take her time. I hold her gaze, marveling at the feel of her fingers around my hand, at the tenderness in her eyes.
She grows still again, with an almost lost expression in her eyes.
"Yes?" I say, letting her know I’m there, for whatever she needs. Maybe my voice gives me away, because there’s something inquiring in the feral of her eyes. Maybe she can read something from the look on my face.
Maybe I should tell her the truth.
She says my name again in a hoarse, low voice that makes my neck tickle, but then she stiffens and I know she probably heard Dinah from upstairs. Before she has time to pull away I say: "Helena… There’s something I need to tell you."
She looks taken aback, surprised. "What?"
"There’s something I want to tell you." I lower my gaze, not able to look at her, and start to fidget with my free hand. What if she ends up hating me? No – she’s Helena. She wouldn’t hate me for such a thing. Maybe feel pity… Which is worse?
"No." I draw a deep breath and look up. Her eyes are blue again, worried. "I need to do this. God, this is difficult. I’m not normally the one with speech-difficulties," I say self-consciously.
"Not really," she says mockingly. I think she's relieved that I can joke about whatever I mean to say and she wants to help me relax about it.
"Hey!" I object and playfully slap her wrist. I see the grin taking shape in her eyes, but then I add: "It’s about Wade," and there’s instantly a look of pain on her face. This time I don’t suppress the impulse to touch her cheek as her eyes begs me not to begin this discussion. Her skin is soft and warm beneath my fingers. "No, Helena. I loved Wade, but the reason to why I…" I don’t know how to tell her this. "Before Wade there was someone else. Someone who… Someone I loved, but I was ashamed to admit it. It was someone I couldn't have, and it…" I sigh. This is difficult.
Helena has closed her eyes and there’s only a slight frown between her eyebrows. I wonder what she makes of this. I’ve never really shared something personal with her before. Not like this. I suddenly feel like crying. She’s so… And I can’t touch her.
"I couldn’t show my love openly and I never expected it to be returned anyway. Wade… Wade was my way of… moving on. I… loved him, but I am and always have been in love with someone else."
There’s no reaction from Helena. I thought I heard a small sigh, but it could have been my imagination. I’m really tense. When I tell her the truth in a minute I fear my heart will break. I think of anything to change the subject, to prolong the breaking of my heart just for a few more moments.
"Did you know Nightwing is back in town?" I had meant to tell her this yesterday, but forgot for some reason. Maybe she knows already. She has never met Dick – I wonder if they would get along.
Her sudden reaction startles me. Without warning she jumps to her feet, looking down at me in unexpected anger. Why is she so mad? She has no reason to be angry about this. Her eyes are not feral yet, surprisingly. You'd think they would be with the anger she’s displaying.
"Nightwing? You’re in love withNightwing?"
Her voice is raw and I don’t understand this anger, but it’s plain in her face, in her eyes.
"No." I grab her hand, fearing she will leave me the way she has so many times before when we’re having some kind of argument. I always hate it – it makes me feel… really physically disabled, when I can’t follow her. "Don't go! Please..."
I don’t know what happened then, but the look in her eyes makes something within me snap. My eyes flood with tears, which doesn’t go unnoticed. She makes a soft sound and reaches for me.
She holds me tight in her arms and for the first time in a long while I feel safe and protected. I feel… loved. I’ve longed for this so long and now, when it’s here, it makes me cry. I cry for the denied truth I’ve lived with for years, for Wade’s death and for Helena’s role in it and the price she's had to pay.
"I’m sorry," I mumble with my mouth to her clothes. I don’t shed many tears, most of them have been shed alone in the dark already, and I dry my cheeks as I pull away from her. I can barely keep from gasping when she touches my cheek; it’s such a soft, caring caress that I close my eyes for a brief moment, wanting to cry again.
"Don’t be." Her voice is soft and tender. "You’ve been there so many times for me – it’s my turn now."
I don’t know what to say. The look in her eyes – it makes me feel… I’m not sure I can tell her the truth right now. Dinah is on her way and I have to make myself ready for work. I’m tired, but to stay home is not an option. I wouldn’t be able to sleep, anyway.
She’s watching me intently and the look in her eyes is oddly familiar. It’s… If I ever let her know the depth of my feelings for her, a part of that look would be in my eyes. Maybe she… No. No wishful thinking. I’m too tired for this, I think and tell her so.
"I’m just tired. We’re both tired. Maybe we should continue this conversation another time." I really need to tell her the truth, but in less distracting circumstances. "So," I add, hoping I sound causal enough. "Any chance you could drag yourself away from that cop friend of yours and maybe spend some quality time with an old friend?"
I see her blink and wonder why, until she answers my question. What she says make my heart skip a beat, not only due to her words, but also to the look in her eyes. It’s there again, this… this unexplained emotion I can’t remember seeing in her eyes before. I know it, I do, but I never thought…
"No. Barbara, I’m not with… I’m not with anyone. I’ll be home more often from now on. We’ll talk."
And she kisses me again – on the cheek, but nonetheless. It could be my imagination, but it seems to me she lingers longer than is necessary by my side, with her mouth to my skin. I hold my breath; it’s all I can do not to turn my head to meet her lips with my own. I so wish I could feel the sweetness of her mouth in that moment.
"I’m going to bed," she says when she pulls away and I can see Dinah by the stairs behind her. "See you later."
There’s a strange look in Helena’s eyes when she looks at me and I smile, not knowing why. Her eyes are feral, yet she’s not angry. I don’t know what to make of it.
"You’re eyes are feral," I say. She catches her breath for a second, then winks at me and laughs out loud – no doubt at my surprised look – before she turns away and heads for the stairs.
"Good morning", Dinah yawns by the stairs. Helena ascends to the second floor by taking a gigantic leap through the air, sailing to the top landing from where she was watching me earlier this morning. The sight makes me smile. She’s such a show off at times. It’s part of why I love her so – this child-woman in one.
She turns to look at me, with a question in her eyes.
"Go to sleep. You’ll need it – or Dinah will beat you in the practice room."
When she grins down at me I can’t keep from laughing. God – it feels good to laugh again! I have to tell her how much she means to me. How much I need her, want her, to make me laugh.
She might not think she knows me, but she knows me better than anyone.
"What was that about?" Dinah wonders as she wanders closer. I smile at her.
"Bonding," I say.
She snorts. "About time. It’s been too quiet around here. You haven’t even yelled at each other lately. It’s bound to be boring after a while."
"Well, yeah," I agree sarcastically. "Especially when one has such a boring life as you."
She smiles broadly, half innocently and half knowingly. "Exactly." Her smile fades and she looks to the top of the stairs. "And she?" she asks in a low voice. "Will she be around more?"
I follow her gaze to the now empty stairs, seeing Helena’s strange look and the wide grin on her face before my inner eye. It makes me smile, softly. "Yes. I think she will."