Rating: I don’t know, but this is pretty much a dark fic…so I’ll go with R
Fandom: Birds of Prey
Pairing: B/H H/Other (well…kinda…you’ll see…)
Disclaimers: This is femslash, which means that it involves same sex relationships/feelings/sex, so if you’re not old enough or it isn’t your bag of chips or it’s not legal where you live, what the hell are you doing here anyway??? Oh, and I own nothing! I just got them out to play for a little while…
Author’s Note: I was in a kinda bad place the last month or so, and this just kinda came out of me. Thought it’d be neat to try something in second person, annoying as it may be to actually write. This hasn’t been beta’d so all mistakes, and there are probably many, are totally mine…sorry. I’ve edited it, but I think it sounds better as raw as possible. Feedback is more than welcome!
Summary: Helena has been trying to hide her feelings, but would that really be for the best?
There’s something inside you that breaks a little every day. That breaks a little every time you see her, sitting there in front of her computer with her beautiful red hair and adorable glasses with the faint teeth marks on the earpieces from when she really needs to think. That breaks a little every time you hear her voice whispering in your ear on patrol, saying everything but the one thing you need it to.
You stand on the balcony, just staring off into the somber skyline. You think about traveling, and how nowhere else has ever felt right to you, just clicked and made the word ‘home’ come to mind. But you also know it isn’t the city that keeps you here.
“Are you okay?” Her soft voice startles you, disturbing the fragile moment of reflection with ripples that you know will inevitably turn into tsunamis. Instead of responding, or even looking at her, you duck your head with the realization that it has grown dark without you noticing.
Even as you think that your world rises and sets with her and not the sun, you feel anger. Irrational or not, it’s there and it’s been growing. The resentment, the rage, and the helplessness hits you all at once, so damn hard you can’t seem to breath all of a sudden. And she’s looking at you with those analytical eyes while your mind screams at her to just see the logical conclusion of the clues you’ve been giving her for years on end. There’s nothing you will ever be able to do to change the situation. You know it. And, on some level at least, you suspect that so does she.
You love her. You love her more than you thought you could love anything after having watched your mother bleed to death. You love her more than life itself, and that’s the problem.
Grinding your teeth in an effort to avoid shedding the tears that suddenly spring up in your eyes, you clench your fists and raise your head to once again stare at the industrial sky. Light never suited the city, and you like it better this way. Easier to block it all out and just fly through the night, trying to leave everything behind.
So you jump, not bothering to address her faint protests. The wind whips through your hair and stings your eyes, giving you an excuse to mist over and dash at the wetness on your cheeks with a frustrated gesture.
Without thinking, without any memory of how exactly you got here, you end up at some dead end dive of a bar. The music pounds your blood with a not-so-subtle tang of lust, alcohol and smoke. People here are tired of pretenses and running, looking for something to fill the void for just one night.
Barbara’s silky voice whispers in your ear, “Why won’t you tell me what’s wrong?” And if it weren’t for the vague edge of despair and desperation in her voice, you would have brushed it off. But you’re tired of it all, you’re tired of being a strong adult and for one night you know you’ve got to do something or it will all come crashing down. So you do the only thing you can, you take the earpieces and the necklace off, shoving them in a pocket while motioning for the bartender with the other hand.
After almost an entire bottle of some cheapass whiskey, you admit defeat. Drowning your sorrows never works, thanks to your mom’s meta genes, in much the same way that you never get sick or hung over and bruises disappear overnight. Which is a good thing unless you’re looking to lose yourself more than just a little -- or when you can’t stand being in your own mind anymore, bashing away the same thoughts over and over again until you find scars on your palms from where your nails dug in.
So you start to look for some distraction from something other than the alcohol, and study the people around you, dismissing most of them outright. Physical beauty isn’t anything new to you, you see it every day and it’s nothing more than random genes being combined in the right way, so you look for something more, something by nature indefinable. Maybe it’s the quickness of the eyes, maybe it’s the softness of a smile, but tonight it’s definitely going to be female.
Should you feel guilty about assuaging some of your pain, your lust by using someone who is going to be using you just as shamelessly? No, but you know you will in the morning anyway. Yet another foray into the night that you’ll hide away deep into yourself, too ashamed of those secrets to let even Barbara in that far. Her name popped up unbidden, bringing with it a fresh wave of longing and self-loathing, making you look even harder and settle for less than you normally would.
Then again, you normally wouldn’t have come even this far. Something’s gotta give, and if this can stop the self-flagellation for even a moment, then it won’t matter. Because in the end, you’re going to be torn apart by it all. And that’s talking about more than a delicious redhead that you don’t want to think of. That’s talking about the super villains, the double life, the dangers of being meta in a world that isn’t ready for you. Add to that the fact that you know damn well that you’ll never really be able to settle for anything less and it’s enough to make anyone see the bottom of a bottle.
Or to look for a one-night stand where the word night itself is actually too long to describe it. And you don’t really have to look very long, thanks to the genes from your mom and your dad, though thoughts of them are hugely misplaced on a night like this. The next thing you know, you’re pressed up against a wall in a shitty alley, blocked there by a shapely blonde – of course having resisted the urge to grab the first redhead in sight because that was a little too desperate for even you tonight.
A hand, teeth, tongue, lips, fingers…everything’s all a blur. You don’t normally go for being the one actually getting fucked, but tonight you needed to lose control in some way. And fucking, however an ugly word it might be, is the only word for what you’re doing – well, more precisely, what’s being done to you. But not all of you is with her here, you’re not lost in the moment like you thought you would be, and a little part of you is glad of that. You can’t escape the pain, even as the orgasm sweeps through your body. Thoughts of Barbara send your pleasure even higher, but you can’t feel guilty about not thinking of the blonde, whose name you’ve already forgotten, because she’s picturing someone else as well.
Once she’s finished, you have the faint realization that you’re going to be sore in the morning and not able to sit correctly for a few more days, meta abilities notwithstanding. Maybe you like having the physical pain remind you with every step you take that you really are still alive. Maybe you want the pain to heal; bringing with it the hope that someday your heart will be able to mend as well. Maybe you’re so lost and damaged that the pain is a much-needed tether to a reality you’d much rather leave behind. Maybe all of that is too much truth for you to bear.
And, being the hunter that you are, you flip the blonde against the wall and proceed to ravage her until she’s nothing more than a meek puddle of flesh mewling that other woman’s name in the aftermath of her climax. Maybe you punished her a little bit for not being Barbara, maybe you left teeth marks a little too enthusiastically, and maybe you relish the fact that she’s going to be sore as hell for a week, but you can’t seem to feel guilty about it and she doesn’t seem to mind anyway.
Without another glance backwards, you run and keep running through the inky black of the Gotham night. You’re exhilarated by the thought that maybe you can keep running until either you can’t breathe anymore or until you’re on the other side of the country. Fanciful thoughts never did you much good, having made you fall head over heels in the first place, and you just keep trying to outrun your mind.
So the next morning, with the night creeping back inch by inch in grudging deference to the raising sun, you slink back to the clocktower. You don’t live there anymore, and haven’t in quite some time, but that’s only a matter of semantics to everyone involved. Including the blonde teenager yawning and making a beeline for the coffee machine, which Alfred has – as always – remembered to begin just in time. Grinning, and somewhat meaning it, you poke Dinah in the head to hear her squawk at you, only to jump when a voice floats down from the upper level. “Girls, can’t you behave? I swear I’ve seen you do it at least once.”
When Dinah grabs your wrist with her eyes narrowed and nostrils flaring, you don’t even bother to act intimidated, instead laughing openly. But your laughter dies as you see the startled recognition on her face as she accidentally brushes your mind and picks up images of your sordid night. Tears threatening, you jerk your arm from her grasp, holding it close to your chest as if her touch burned when you both know damn well that it’s your own activities you find so disgusting. The gentle look on her face is enough to make you realize that she knows everything, and probably has since the first day you met, sending you over the edge and forcing a single tear to roll down your cheek.
You hear her voice again; much closer this time as her wheels squeak their way into the kitchen, “Is everything okay? Usually quiet means violence with you two, and Helena, I swear to God if you knocked Dinah out again because she took a pop tart…” and trails off at the look still on Dinah’s face and your quick – but not quick enough – motion to wipe away the tear.
And you just can’t seem to keep your composure because it’s kind of like the straw that broke the camel’s back to see the sympathy in the blonde’s face. But the weird irony of the whole situation that your life has become forces out a bubble of near hysterical laughter from somewhere deep in your chest. You know you sound damn near crazy as a loon, but it’s like someone else has control over your vocal cords. Almost as soon as you began, the laughter cuts off so suddenly that the teenager’s rush to get out of the room echoes like gunfire.
Now that she’s gone, you don’t have anything to look at but Barbara. If you do that, you’ll be lost in those jade green eyes whose depths you long to explore and the other person in control of your speech might let out a little bit too much truth. So your shoes become the most interesting thing in the world, and you notice the new scuffs from the night’s sojourn into that oversexed alley. Just the thought of your actions in the presence of the redhead is enough to make you blush from your neck to the roots of your hair, and it’s all you can do not to groan in anger at yourself.
But you don’t have any more time for self-hatred as her soft voice brokenly asks, “Why don’t you talk to me anymore? I…I don’t know what I’ve done wrong…but I’m so sorry…I don’t want to lose you any more than I already have…and the worst part is I don’t know why. Please let me in.”
She looks at you expectantly, and you know that if you were in her position, you’d be doing the same thing. Then again, you’re not the only emotionally closed off one in this room right now.
“I…I can’t.” Those damn tears again, you wish they’d quit coming. You hate, absolutely hate, crying. It gives you a headache and doesn’t make the situation better anyway. You’ve cried more in the past twelve hours than you have in the past twelve years combined.
“I can’t help you if you don’t let me in.”
And even though those words are innocuous enough, they infuriate you to the point where you just start ranting like you always do in your head…but this time out loud.
“Let you in? Let YOU in? God, Barbara, do you even know what you’re saying? Come on, you are the ONLY person in my life I can count on – and that includes me! But you have NEVER let ME in. No, you always sit there and listen and joke, but there’s a wall you keep up that I keep running headlong into. And maybe hitting my head that much that often has given me permanent damage, I don’t even know anymore. What I do know is that friendship takes two people, not just me talking and you listening.”
Since you had to stop for breath at some point, she gets the opportunity to break in, sounding thoroughly confused and embattled, “I do talk to you, Helena. I-“
“NO, no you don’t! Sure, you tell me about how some insane high school twerp threw fecal matter at the window second period or how Wade’s parents are complete assholes but you don’t TALK. It’s all surface from you, no confessions, no dreams, no fears, nothing. Just drivel.”
And that is met with silence. Your chest is heaving from the emotional, if not completely rational, outpouring. Even though you begin to feel guilty about saying these thoughts out loud, you know you’re right and you just had to say it. From the way that she’s staring at you with that horribly lost look, you know that it was all pointless. You can’t help but think that she’s spent so long in front of her computers she’s become one, and can’t recognize emotions unless it’s done so in a thoroughly scientific matter.
No matter what the end result of this rant, you feel the walls closing in and the air becoming too thick for normal consumption, so you run – and leave Barbara doing her best fish impression, mouth opening and closing, just staring at the space you once occupied.
And you run down the stairs instead of jumping from the balcony, screaming four letter words into the morning. Because it’s daylight, because it’s never going to change, because you honestly can’t seem to stop crying, and because deep down you know you stopped too soon. You should have said those four little words. ‘I love you, Barbara.’ You should have taken the plunge, because at least then you would know and start to pick up the pieces of your heart.
But maybe you don’t really want to know. Maybe you don’t really want to move on. Maybe you’ve forgotten what it was like to be happy and have true, honest hope. Maybe you’re scared that without Barbara as the unreachable pinnacle, you’ll be forced to admit that you’re broken beyond repair. Maybe this is the only kind of hope you know.
In a masochistic streak, and because you feel lost without them, you put the earpieces and necklace back on – knowing that at some point the great Oracle will need to get in contact with you, whether it be as Helena the woman or as Huntress the vigilante. You’re not so far gone that you could turn your back on your city.
Not yet, anyway.
You end up just wandering around the city, squinting slightly but too lost in your ruminations to really notice the sun brightly shining. Somewhere deep inside, in the same place that all your cynical tendencies reside, you wish it would at least storm. The rain would pour and leave you dripping and your toes would squish in your boots with every step while the drops would mask the tears. The lightning would crash, but the darkness would remain otherwise unbroken, with the sudden bursts of electricity stopping time every few seconds to leave a photograph of a miserable world burned on your retinas.
But you’re not that lucky.
You watch idly, moving the whole time, as the sun begins to set, realizing that the entire day has passed in a grey blur of windows and sidewalk. And when Dinah shows up directly in front of you, you almost knock her over, stopping just in time with a muttered curse.
“Look,” she tells you, all business and wanting to act mature, “you and Barbara need to talk.”
Without looking her in the eye, you grind out, “No we don’t.”
But she’s not content to let you go without a fight, because she responds with, “Yes, you do. This is tearing you both apart and for the life of me I can’t figure out why.”
Finally looking up, you stare directly into her eyes and clearly say, “It’s complicated, that’s why.”
Almost growling in frustration, the blonde grabs your wrist roughly and gets in your face, “Well watch this and THEN try to tell me it’s too complicated.”
When you blink, still formulating an appropriately scathing response, you open your eyes to see yourself in the clocktower once again. But you’re not really there, it’s kind of hazy, and you’re looking down at a body that doesn’t belong to you. Dinah. You realize with a start that you must be in her mind, and she’s showing you one of her memories.
You, well really Dinah, are walking towards the balcony slowly, as if not really wanting to go out there but drawn anyway. And, in too short a time, you – er, Dinah…whatever – are watching Barbara crying quietly into the morning sunshine. The sight of her tears snaps something deep inside you, and all you want to do is run over and hold the redhead until her tears subside, only you’re helpless to do anything but tag along in the blonde’s memory.
Upon hearing Dinah ask, “What’s wrong?” you can’t help but watch in fascination as the walls drop over Barbara’s face, and all signs of emotional distress disappear in less than a second.
“Oh, uh, nothing. Shouldn’t you be at school?” And you can’t help but accuse the redhead of being a worrier, always deflecting attention from herself onto someone or something else. After spending nearly half her life sublimating her needs and dreams to that of hundreds – if not thousands or millions – of nameless and faceless Gotham residents, she can’t seem to let anyone in.
“Talk to me.” Dinah’s tone is soft but firm, and you know that she would invade Barbara’s privacy if she deemed it necessary. And you can tell that seeing Barbara crying has shaken her almost as much as it has you. “It’s Helena, isn’t it?”
In response the redhead nods, taking a shaky breath before plunging on by saying, “Yeah. I…I don’t know what’s wrong. I get the feeling that it’s me. That I’ve done something, but I don’t know what it was. I…I miss her. I miss my friend.”
Softly, encouraging Barbara to open up more, Dinah prods, “Have you tried to talk to her?”
There’s a horribly lost look on Barbara’s face, and she responds in a tone that’s almost a constant question. “I tried to talk to her this morning, but it was like being in my presence made it worse. She attacked me, and I’m pretty sure I hadn’t done anything wrong.”
At this, Dinah reaches over and rests a comforting hand on the older woman’s shoulder. And gasps. “You’re in love with her.” A statement, not a question. Your mind comes to a screeching halt, reeling and uncertain, but the memory plods on and you have to keep up.
Barbara turns her head, staring off into the distance, and you can barely make out a softly whispered, “Yes.”
Even though you can’t feel what Dinah’s feeling at this moment, her voice sounds incredulous enough to tell you that she must have been gaping at Barbara. “Why haven’t you told her?”
That definitely got a reaction out of the fiery Oracle, because her head whips around and her eyes pin you with barely restrained anger and pain. She sounds calm but looks devastated. “She hates me. Can’t you see it? I don’t know when or why things changed, but they did and she can’t even stand to be in the same room as me. There’s…there’s nothing I can do but let her go. I love her enough to want her to be happy, Dinah.” And you breathe a little easier with her eyes averted, once again staring out past the skyline.
Another blink brings you back to the present world, Dinah finally letting go of your wrist. This whole telepathy thing is completely disorienting, and you’re not sure if you like it. You’re also not sure what you should do with this information. A part of you is jumping up and down, screaming in joy. But another part of you is absolutely, stark terrified of this development.
A sharp smack on the shoulder brings your focus back on Dinah, and you glower at her, preparing to rip into her with a verbal assault of how she should NOT piss you off today, but she interrupts your brewing storm by saying, “And you’re still here because…?”
You have a badass answer all lined up, but after the night and day you’ve had, you’re simply tired of pretending to have all the answers and not need anyone. So, with shoulders slumped and eyes downcast, you respond, “I don’t know what to do.”
Dinah snorts in disgust, and if she were looking to get a rise out of you that’s exactly what she should do, but she disarms the situation unknowingly. Lifting your chin with her hand, she looks in your eyes and softly says, “Go. Talk to her. You’ve GOT to work this out. I’m tired of living with all this emotional dysfunction.” A momentary pause, where you’re sure that your fears are written clearly on your face, so Dinah sighs again and continues, “Okay, so kiss her. That will tell you both everything you need to know. But you need to GO.”
And with a tiny shove and motherly shooing motions, she gets you to turn and make your way back to the clocktower. Apart from the terrifyingly awful situations playing in your head, you could be walking blindfolded for all you’re aware of your surroundings.
You are, after all, heading home. You don’t need to see or hear or smell because there is an unerring compass in your heart, just as there always has been, leading you to exactly where you’ve always meant to be. Barbara’s heart. It just took you this long to finally listen.
And striding out to the balcony, the sun shining through beautiful raven hair, you feel a chink in your armor. It’s not a big opening, but it will be enough to work with. With your heart on your sleeve and everything on the line at long last, you feel strangely calm. Walking up to her chair, she feels your presence and turns towards you. She opens her mouth to speak, but you’re there in an instant, not wanting to spoil the moment and lose your courage, covering her lips with your own.
You pour every emotion into the kiss. The longing, the lust, the pain, the understanding, the need. Maybe all this hope is a lost cause because she’s not really responding to you, but she’s not exactly pulling away either. You know your life is going to change after this one moment, and that knowledge is mind numbing…but exhilarating too. You’ve never felt more alive. So you lay down your last card and try to send your love through this one perfect kiss.
And she kisses you back.
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