All I Want For Christmas
Cameos: Jim Gordon and Dick Grayson
Summary: Following the events of three kick-ass femiwarriors over the week before Christmas. What wacky hijinks will they manage to get themselves into? I don't know, but we'll soon find out.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Helena, Barbara, Dinah, Batman, and Catwoman etc. They are the property of DC comics and I suppose the WB network and the creators of Smallville and Tollin/Robbins (geez, this is beginning to feel like an Oscar speech) etcetera, etcetera. I'm just borrowing them for a short period of time.
Five days to Christmas …
Barbara lifted her hand in front of her face in an effort to try and hide the huge smile that had come to her lips while unsuccessfully trying to stop her body from shaking as she used all of her training and mental fortitude to kept from busting out laughing. The reason for this uncharacteristic fit of the uncontrollable giggles was the blonde teenager standing off to her side, whose mouth had opened to form a perfect 'O', her expression projecting a mixture of horror, surprise, horror, confusion, disbelief and still more horror. It was highly amusing.
Barbara coughed slightly and cleared her throat while straightening her back as Dinah turned her alarmed and panicked face towards her imploringly, her face pleading for Barbara to make some reason out of the madness she saw in front of her. Her eyes begging for Barbara to explain what had happened and then make it all better. She looked like she needed a hug. Barbara had to fight not to break out laughing again.
"What is that?" Dinah managed to half whisper, half hiss in the redhead's direction as she turned her gaze back towards the center of the room where Helena was quite peacefully seated on the floor, for once minding her own business.
"That's Helena," Barbara replied guilelessly following Dinah's gaze. "She doesn't live here, but she's always around eating my food and not taking out the garbage. I fed her this one time and she never left. Don't worry, you'll get used to her."
Dinah returned her eyes to Barbara at that and narrowed them suspiciously as she starred at the redhead intensely before scratching her chin thoughtfully. She then nodded her head as if confirming something to herself and stuck a finger in Barbara's direction as she said, "Very funny, yeah. Obviously you're in on it."
"In on what?" Barbara asked blinking rapidly as she tried to contain the tears of humor that were threatening to fall from her eyes.
"THAT!" Dinah yelled pointing at the center of the room, her finger moving in a jabbing motion to accentuate her point.
Helena looked over at them at that, a frown coming to her face as she spotted Dinah jabbing her finger in her direction. She considered them for a moment and then brought a finger up to her lips and loudly "ssshhhed" the teen before muttering "don't make me come over there." Helena then turned back around and happily started unrolling some more ribbon which she snipped and then proceeded to begin curling with the edge of the scissors, whistling in time with Mariah Carey as she assured all of them that all she wanted for Christmas was them.
"Barbara," Dinah whined turning to look at the older woman again. What was happening in front of her just wasn't right. Helena wasn't only in a good mood she was peppy. She was more than peppy. Whatever the level beyond peppy was Helena had just set up a deck chair there and was sipping from a margarita. It was freaking her out. Helena's general apathy, and disdain for cultural rituals adopted by the masses was nowhere to be found. This was not the same woman who on Halloween threatened to egg passing cars, TP the high school and went on an hour long tangent about the how creepy a holiday it was while eating bite-sized candy and watching Alvin, Simon and Theodore try to capture a werewolf. No, it was almost as if …
"Dinah," Barbara said interrupting the blonde's mental ramblings. "As strange, and unsettling, and against the natural order of things as this may seem, Helena just actually really does like Christmas. I know, I know," Barbara continued throwing up her hands in the air when Dinah gaped at her. "But it's true," she went on shrugging her shoulders helplessly. "Oracle's honour," she added placing her hand over her heart.
"It's so strange," Dinah muttered leaning against one of the desks to observe Helena who now holding a gleaming needle up in front of her as her other hand reached into a bowl of popcorn removing the fluffy goodness that would soon become part of a fluffy decoration. "Of all the holidays this is the most commercial and sappy. I would've thought she'd boycott it."
Barbara sighed and leaned back in her chair, her eyes – like Dinah's – on Helena in the center of the room. "You really can't believe half of the things that come out of her mouth," Barbara started carefully turning to look at the blonde. "Halloween, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, she actually likes all of them. The bitching and moaning is just part of the campaign of indifference she started up about five years ago. A shield of ennui," she continued softly. "Christmas was always her favorite holiday," she went on looking back over at Dinah.
"It's just, it's so un-Helena to actually … I mean, I never really thought she hated Halloween, cause, it's like Halloween, free candy, everybody loves Halloween. Just, to actually get all into it and curl her own ribbons and make decorations from scratch is … bizarre. You know?" Dinah asked meeting Barbara's gaze. She had figured out that a lot of Helena's gruffness, teasing and disinterest in things was mostly just an act, and that if you really wanted to know how she felt about something watching how she acted was a much better indication than listening to what she said. Still, feigned or not that ironic distance Helena placed between herself and everything was a big part of Dinah's idea of her, something that defined Helena as Helena to her and the lack of it had made her understanding of things go all whirly twirly and was making her head hurt.
"I know," Barbara agreed carefully, trying to figure out how much she should say about the subject, because for all of Helena's joking, and random over-sharing she could be incredibly sensitive about revealing information about herself. "But it's a good bizarre," she continued smiling a bit a Dinah looked at her dubiously. "After Selena died, for those first few years Helena was … Christmas was a really rough time for her. She refused to have anything to do with it. The first year … well I've never been a Christmas fanatic, but I knew what a big deal it had been in the Kyle household and I thought that … well, Helena ripped down all of the decorations and in a soapishly dramatic act that only she could pull off actually burned them."
"She didn't?" Dinah asked even though she was ninety-nine percent certain that she had.
"She did," Barbara confirmed somewhat unnecessarily. "I'm through with Christmas and it's through with me," she continued recalling the words Helena had bitterly called out as sparkles from the wreath she had just thrown into the fireplace popped and crackled.
"She said that?" Dinah asked her lip twitching a little bit as she tried to stop from smiling. She felt bad, it wasn't really funny at all, and yet it was in a way. Barbara bit her bottom lip and nodded slowly. "What does that mean?" Dinah asked her brows scrunching a bit as she tried to decipher the deeper meaning of Helena's statement.
Barbara actually did smile at that before shrugging her shoulders. "In the context of the entire evening, it was pretty clear that it meant she absolutely didn't want to celebrate anything that year, but as for the words themselves I wouldn't look for anything profound. She just had a flare for the dramatic."
"Had?" Dinah questioned dubiously remembering numerous recent occasions that she had seen that flare for the dramatic live and in surround sound.
"Yeah, well," Barbara hedged smirking a bit as she looked out in the center of the room again to see that Helena was now sucking on a candy cane, and that she had at some point during their conversation put on a red Santa hat. "Right, should've gone with the present tense."
"And you've won teacher of the year how many times?" Dinah asked saucily, opening her mouth and gasping when Barbara turned to mockingly glare at her.
"The point is," Barbara continued ignoring Dinah, "that these are much more positive dramatics. I think," she went on her voice turning thoughtful, "after a while, she decided to celebrate Selena's memory when she could, to honor her life. Honestly, I don't think that it hurts her any less, but …"
"She realized that her mom wouldn't have wanted her to be miserable. Especially on Christmas," Dinah interjected her eyes on Helena again.
Barbara nodded, before quietly saying, "I think so," upon realizing that Dinah wasn't watching her and wouldn't have seen her nod affirming her statement.
"So Catwoman loved Christmas," Dinah commented trying to lighten the mood a little bit.
"Loved Christmas," Barbara confirmed laughing. "I think … Selena was able to get away with as much as she did, because as far as being the 'Queen of the Criminal Underworld' and a 'super villain,'" she went on quoting some of the late Catwoman's titles with a touch of disdain, "she was a rather light-hearted, playful bad guy. Mischievous. You know that look Helena gets in her eyes when she's up to no good?"
"Yeah," Dinah admitted shuddering a bit. That look was no good. When Helena was up to something it usually involved her in some way, and not as a co-conspirator.
"Well, that look's pure Selena," Barbara recalled smiling fondly. "I've always kind of been of the opinion that woman liked the holiday so much because it gave her a license to interfere with people in the name of Christmas spirit, and justified her shopping sprees."
"You liked her, didn't you?" Dinah asked suddenly, turning to look at Barbara. As far as Helena's parents went, the one she had heard the most about from Barbara was Bruce Wayne, much to Helena's consternation and aggravation. And hearing Barbara speak of Selena at length, for perhaps the first time she could recall, it struck her as odd that she hadn't heard more about Selena Kyle, since Barbara obviously spent a fair amount of time with her. Because even from the little Dinah had heard about Helena's mother, she was certain that the woman wouldn't have entrusted her daughter's care to someone she didn't have complete confidence, trust and faith in.
Barbara breathed in deeply, her eyes wandering away from Dinah's for a moment, before she finally breathed out, "I did."
"Is there anymore to that sentence?" Dinah asked after long moments of waiting for Barbara to elaborate, which the woman obviously had no intention of doing. With some chagrin she noted that it was typical Barbara, as aggravating as it may have been. She had learned a long time ago that it was much easier to get Barbara to talk about anyone that wasn't her, and anything that didn't directly relate to her.
"We had a … complex relationship," Barbara finally mumbled shifting uncomfortably in her chair. Dinah turned to look at her as she said that, caught by the grudging tone of the redheads voice and then fascinated by her squirming. Barbara didn't squirm. Yeah, she definitely wanted to find out more about it now.
"You two weren't …" Dinah started her mind spinning trying to figure out what could make Barbara so radically uncomfortable, her sixteen year old mind going to the place where most sixteen year olds minds would, the gutter.
"What?" Barbara asked turning to look at Dinah, one look at the teens face answering the question for her. "No," Barbara said immediately, actually sounding a bit scandalized by the implication. However there was an undercurrent of something else in her tone that Dinah couldn't figure out, and with the redheads renewed squirming her mind was sent racing again.
"Did you want to?" she asked finally trying not to smile when Barbara rounded on her again.
"No," the redhead stated her tone emphatic. "Don't you have something to do?"
"No," Dinah replied shaking her head sadly. "Christmas break, there's absolutely nothing to occupy my time but talking to you. You're quite fascinating you know," she continued smiling winsomely over at Barbara. "Why don't you like to talk about her? Did you ever fight her?"
"Selena had retired long before I ever put on cape or cowl," Barbara replied ignoring the first part of Dinah's question. The truth of the matter was that Selena had kind of always awed her. The woman had had the same kind of overwhelming personality that Helena did, an easy charm and effortless sensuality that immediately captivated anyone that met her. But unlike with Helena, Barbara didn't have the background with Selena to always understand or have some idea about her motivations for certain things which left her unbalanced in her dealings with the woman, almost always off-kilter. And it was that confusion and lack of equilibrium that seemed to amuse Selena so very, very much. The blonde had used to look at her in a way she could only describe as quaint, like she was perpetually seconds away from ruffling Barbara's hair and murmuring "aren't you cute." She knew that Selena respected her as a person and as a crime fighter, and that the woman did carefully listen to and appreciated her observations and opinions, but despite that it was also quite clear to her at the time that she was most definitely still seen as a child, or at least as being impossibly young by the woman, and she had felt that way when she was around her. In many ways Selina hadn't treated her all that much differently than she had Helena. Certainly, conversations about Bruce, and her career as Batgirl and Selena's former profession were topics that never would've been broached with her daughter, yet on more than one occasion when she had dropped by their house Selena had chastised her for not dressing warmly enough, constantly inquired how she eating at school, and had even given her opinion on the one boyfriend Barbara had had during the time they had known each other, insisting that Barbara could do far, far better. She used to get irritated with Selena at times like that, and had even made a few rather indignant speeches to the woman about how she was adult and demanded to be treated with due respect, but there was also a part of her that even at the time had appreciated it. She'd never really had a strong female influence in her life, with her own mother being taken away from her when she was still a child, and her aunt and namesake dying before they had really had a chance to form a mother-daughter bond, as she had eventually formed with her uncle. In a way, Selena had been that for her, and even years after her death, Barbara had found herself missing the ability to talk to her. Going back to Dinah's question, Barbara supposed that the real reason that she didn't like to talk about Selena was that she missed her.
Dinah watched Barbara carefully as the woman drifted away with her thoughts, momentarily out of Dinah's reach. She had no idea what the redhead was thinking, and she was fairly certain that she wouldn't get to find out anytime soon.
"I'm gonna go help Helena decorate," Dinah said drawing Barbara's attention back to her, deciding the drop the talk about Selena for the time being since it was clear to her that Barbara didn't want to talk it about she didn't want to upset the woman.
"Dinah," Barbara started a bit warningly.
"Help, not bother," Dinah interjected knowing where the redhead was going. "I like Christmas too. Maybe we'll bond."
"Are we gonna make cookies?" Dinah asked looking over at Helena. The brunette stopped whistling for a moment and looked over at the blonde. She seemed momentarily perturbed, and shook her head side to side. No, they wouldn't be making cookies. "Why not?" Dinah asked a bit morosely. She'd actually been looking forward to making cookies. Baking with her foster mother at Christmas was one of the fondest memories she had of living with the Redmond's.
"Don't make that face," Helena complained lightly. "There WILL be cookies. We just won't be making them."
"What'd you do?" Dinah asked immediately knowing that there had to be some long, complicated story behind the statement and that Helena was usually the protagonist of such stories.
"Nothing except try and bring a little Christmas spirit into the Clock Tower," Helena responded a bit defensively. Dinah looked at her disbelievingly. "Oh, screw you, I didn't do anything," Helena muttered in response to the blonde's look. It wasn't her fault that the oven malfunctioned that year. She was completely blame free.
"I can't tell, is this you being jolly?" the teen asked smirking over at the brunette.
"Yes, yes it is," Helena replied. "Scotch tape please."
"You said please, this really IS you being jolly," Dinah commented passing over the Scotch tape as asked. "Will Barbara be making the cookies?" she continued when Helena grabbed the tape and promptly started to whistle again.
"You managed to say that with a straight face, you are learning young one," Helena replied as she continued to wrap the gift in front of her. "I actually like to eat the cookies, so to answer your snark, no, Alfred will be making the cookies. And hopefully serving them to us on a silver platter."
"Is that a Kyle Christmas ritual, too?" Dinah questioned as she watched greatly impressed as Helena finished wrapping the present in front of her with flourish.
"No, smart-ass it's a Pennyworth ritual, the man is a consummate professional," Helena replied pushing the now wrapped present to the side, before cocking her head slightly as if listening for something. "Yes, done," she muttered to herself before opening her mouth and bellowing, "Barbara!"
"No," the redhead called back shaking her head to emphasize her response.
"Come on Gordon, make yourself useful," Helena taunted shifting so that she was facing Delphi and thus Barbara. "Or are you afraid to show the kid that you throw like a girl?"
"Firstly, I'm being plenty useful already helping Nightwing track a bank robber. Secondly, if all girls threw like me that wouldn't be an insult anymore. And thirdly, I'm not the one who's been sitting on her ass for three hours straight even though I promised I'd do a sweep about 200,000 five minutes agos," Barbara shot back not taking her eyes off the screen in front of her once as she spoke.
"It's right beside you," Helena whined not paying the least bit of attention to anything Barbara had just said.
"And another thing," the redhead started causing Helena to sigh deeply.
"Here we go," the brunette muttered under her breath softly, but loud enough that Dinah could hear and smirk.
"…you shouldn't even have been using this to make popcorn," Barbara was in the middle of saying when the two younger women tuned back it. "It's a very expensive piece of machinery, and despite what you may think doesn't exist solely to save you the arduous trip of walking all the way into the kitchen," Barbara went on removing one of her hands from the keyboard long enough to point at Helena even though her eyes still remained trained on the screen. "Speaking of which, I would thank you to note that the evidence fridge is not a beer cooler …"
"I should put that on my Christmas list," Helena muttered to herself as Barbara continued to talk in the background and Dinah looked at her incredulously.
"You still make Christmas lists?" Dinah asked quietly as Barbara started in on Helena for something else.
"You don't?" Helena asked with a touch of surprise turning back around to face the blonde. "You should," she went on exhaling loudly and shaking her head. "How else will Barbara know what to get you," she finished as if she had to explain to Dinah that the sky is blue and the grass is green.
"…I mean how much effort does it really take to stop for ten seconds and wipe your feet upon entering the clock tower …"
"I …" Dinah began not really sure how to respond to that. "I'll do that later."
"That's for the best," Helena responded as she threaded a needle. "She gets confused and agitated when she has to come up with gift ideas on her own. I went shopping with her once for a gift for Jimbo and in a word …psycho," Helena went on sing-songing the last word.
"Jimbo?" Dinah asked wonderingly. Who was Jimbo?
"Barbara, seriously… just toss it over," Helena called out once the needle was threaded. "James Gordon, Barbara's dad. I call him Jimbo cause he hates it and I'm an ass," Helena explained using her indoor voice once again to answer Dinah's question, extending her hand a moment later just in time to catch a bag of popcorn that was zooming in on her head. "Passive-aggressive," Helena called out in Barbara's direction. "Use your words," she continued, causing Dinah to wonder if a paperweight wouldn't be the next thing coming towards Helena's head.
"I'm surprised she hasn't tried to kill you yet," Dinah commented as Helena opened up the bag of popcorn and began to dump the contents in the empty bowl she had used to make her first string of popcorn.
"Who says she hasn't?" Helena asked not looking up from the task at hand as she started to string the freshly popped popcorn.
"Who's that gift for?" Dinah asked looking at the present Helena had pushed off to the side a few seconds before.
"My parole officer," Helena replied whistling merely once again. "It's for his back."
"Have you gotten anything for me, yet?" Dinah asked reaching for the popcorn bowl only to have her hand swatted away.
"Too many questions," Helena complained looking over at her. "Go play with Barbara."
"Have you gotten Barbara anything, yet?" Dinah asked ignoring Helena. Barbara was busy with Oracle work, which meant trying to have a conversation with her would be virtually impossible.
To her surprise Helena didn't respond with a joke or throw away comment to her question. Instead the brunette sat very quietly, not even stringing her popcorn anymore her posture tense and seemingly distressed. Helena was nervous, and while she had seen Helena a lot of things nervous wasn't one of them. Everything Dinah had ever seen the brunette do had always been done with the utmost of confidence, most of the time even bordering on cocky. She had actually wondered if Helena was capable of nervousness or anxiousness, yet there it was.
"Hey, I mean there are still five shopping days before Christmas, I'm sure you'll find her something," Dinah offered suddenly feeling bad about ruining Helena's good mood.
Helena turned her head to face her at that, and smiled letting out a soft laugh though Dinah could still see some worry behind those big blue eyes. "Oh, I know what I'm getting her, no worries," Helena said finally speaking as she began to string the popcorn again.
"Wanna give me some ideas?" Dinah asked knowing that something was still bothering Helena but not wanting to bother the other woman with it right then. She seemed to have knack that evening for bringing up touchy subjects.
Helena rested her half strung row of popcorn on her lap and turned to look at the blonde again. "She'll love whatever you get her," Helena said quite seriously, probably the most serious Dinah had seen her in the past few days. "Barbara's not really high-maintenance that way."
"Yeah, I know," Dinah agreed, admitting that Barbara was the type of person who would probably have loved a crappily drawn picture of the three of them with a rainbow in the background and 'm' shaped birds drawn in crayon as long as it came from the heart. "Still, I want to get her something nice, you know," she went on trailing off. Barbara and Helena had come to mean so much to her that she wanted to get them both something that would show how much she had come to care about and love them. That showed her appreciation and gratitude for everything they had done for her. The support, acceptance and security they had shown her were something she hadn't felt since her mother had left with the Redmond's and it, they, had come to mean the world to her. She'd already crossed Helena off of her list since the brunette was infinitely easier to shop for than Barbara, and she felt that the gift she had gotten Helena would at least be able to express some of those things she was feeling. Barbara, however was proving to be much more difficult.
"Well," Helena hedged looking up at the ceiling thoughtfully. "There is one thing I could think of that she would absolutely love."
"What?" Dinah asked eagerly. If there were anyone who would know what to get Barbara it was Helena.
"It's, um … it's something I think would touch her deeply. You know, really show her that you know and understand what's in her heart even though she sometimes has trouble expressing her emotions. And it's tasteful, really … beautiful and classic," Helena replied looking over at the blonde, an earnest expression of her face. "She could carry it around with her, and look at when she was feeling blue to cheer her up. It would be like having a little piece of love in her purse."
"What is it?" Dinah asked a bit impatiently. Helena had built up the suspense quite a bit and she couldn't take much more of it. But from what the brunette described it seemed like it would the perfect gift.
"A black and white wallet sized photo of me," Helena replied her expression still the picture of sincerity. "I have one at home that I could bring for you. It's really one of the best pictures that I've ever taken. She'll love it. She can stare at it for hours when I'm not around, and kiss it when she's feeling down. I mean what better way to brighten up her day than my smiling fa ..."
Helena started to laugh as she felt a weight on her side and then started to topple over as Dinah tackled her. "Does this mean you didn't like my idea?" the brunette asked laughing as Dinah rolled on top of her punching her in the arm.
"What's going on over there?" Barbara asked as she wheeled over to take a look at the commotion she could hear now that she had finished helping Dick out with his problem.
"Dinah's tryin' to hump me," Helena managed to call out as she wrestled with the blonde's hands to keep them from pummeling her body.
"Not hardly," Dinah called back stopping her struggling long enough to glare down at Helena.
"I hope she's not in your English class," Helena commented as the blonde rolled off of her, bending her head back so that she could see Barbara. "Mrs. Walker never would have stood for such a flagrant use of a double negative."
"Considering the liberties you take with the English language I'm not sure you should be commenting," Barbara replied smiling at Helena as the brunette picked herself up off of the ground and retrieved her popcorn string.
Helena smirked over at her. "Because I know that I'm taking liberties I can't be in agreeance with you on this particular matter," the brunette replied grinning widely.
Barbara glared at her and turned to look at Dinah. "You can hump her some more if you like," the redhead said causing Helena to start laughing and Dinah to glare at Barbara.
"I wasn't humping her," Dinah grumbled.
"I'm not in agreeance with you," Helena piped up still chuckling lightly. "You were clearly humping me. Who's in agreeance with me on that?"
"Are you going to make a sweep or not?" Barbara asked hoping to change the subject.
"Yeah, yeah," Helena responded dropping the string she had just picked up back into the popcorn bowl. "Dinah, are you in …"
"Helena, I swear to god if you say agreeance one more time I will beat you within an inch of your life," Barbara interjected pointing a warning finger at the brunette as she leveled her with a look that could peel paint. Helena knew that she hated it when people used that word because they were too unfamiliar with the evolution of the English language to realize that it had become obsolete sometime in the 16th century.
"I have to say," Helena responded uncrossing her legs and standing up. "I'm not at all in agree –" she continued stretching, "--ment with that at all."
Three days to Christmas …
Barbara breathed in deeply, her eyes fluttering closed for a moment before she lifted a hand to her face and removed her glasses. Her hand hovered in the air for a moment indecisively and then lowered depositing the glasses of the table delicately before she turned her chair around so that she was looking out into the lounging area of the clock tower's bottom level.
She directed her gaze at the couch where the faint noise that had been distracting her for the past ten minutes was coming from, however all she could see was one of Helena's bare feet tapping the air rhythmically. She continued to watch the path of the brunette's foot for a moment, somewhat mesmerized by the repetitive motion, listening to the whisper of Helena's voice as the brunette sang along to whatever song it was that was pumping into her ears through the massive 70s style headphones she was wearing.
don't want somebody to love me
Just give me sex whenever I want it
'Cause all I ask for is instant pleasure
Instant pleasure, instant pleasure/
Barbara blinked, shaking her head as a grin broke out across her features as the words Helena was singing registered with her for the first time. Beautiful, she thought to herself as she started down the ramp from Delphi, as she continued to shake her head. It was perfectly Helena.
As she moved towards the couch she realized that she had almost forgotten what it was like to have Helena around almost twenty-four hours a day. It was realization that she had come to every year since Helena had moved out, since inevitably a few days into December the brunette would in practice move back into the clock tower until after the holiday, but it was one that struck her with poignancy every time she noted it.
There was a certain obtrusiveness to Helena's personality that called attention to her. It wasn't a characteristic that was inherently flashy or garish -- though it could be when Helena chose to make it so – no, it was more like a variant of gravitational pull. Helena's very Helena-ness tended to make her the epicenter of activity wherever she was. Even among the now twinkling lights that decorated the clock tower in relative silence laying virtually motionless and soundless her very presence commanded Barbara's attention. The redhead had gotten used to it when Helena had lived with her, she had become accustomed to constantly being aware of the brunette's presence, of almost being able to feel her moving about. It had even gotten so that when she entered the penthouse she would be able to tell if Helena was there by the amount of energy in the air, because everything seemed to become charged when the brunette was around.
And she was struck, once again as she usually was around this time of the year, at how much she missed having Helena around permanently, how much she missed feeling that force of personality.
Moving around the arm of the couch, Barbara found her eyes on Helena's foot again which was still tap, tap, tapping away contentedly as could be. She found herself smiling at the sight, since it was so rare to see the brunette so relaxed. Her eyes, however, began to travel up the length of Helena's impossibly long, smooth, legs until they reached the indecently thin material of the brunette's equally indecently skimpy shorts. She shook her head, wondering at the attire, it was warm in the clock tower, but it wasn't that warm, but even as her mind occupied itself contemplating Helena's war against the heater she found herself struck by the desire to reach out and touch the flesh that was so gloriously spread out in front of her, to run the tips of her fingers along the inside of Helena's thigh to see if the skin there could possibly be as soft as it looked, and to run her tongue along the smooth expanse to see if the gently bronzed flesh tasted as good as it looked. Instead of doing either of those things however, she quickly diverted her attention from the legs that had distracted her instead moving her eyes up over Helena's flat stomach, which was covered by the clinging but plain material of a simple white baby-tee, then up to breasts that were actually quite prominently displayed due to the lack of a bra.
Barbara sighed and tilted her head back her eyes focusing on the lights that were shining around the perimeter of the clock tower walls as she chewed on her bottom lip, trying to fight the urge to give into a self-conscious smile, and trying even less successfully to stop her eyes from dropping back to look at Helena's very proud nipples which could be clearly seen through her shirt.
Exhaling, Barbara brought her hand to her mouth uncomfortably and rubbed her upper lip for a few moments as her eyes scanned everything around her that wasn't Helena, but that still at the same time reminded her of Helena. She was somewhat awed by how uncomfortable she had managed to make herself in under five minutes with relatively little outside interference. Although she supposed, surreptitiously, if what she was doing could even be classified that way, ogling your best friend could do that to a girl, especially if that girl was Barbara Gordon. Because Barbara Gordon didn't ogle people, and she certainly didn't want to be ogling Helena – even though she had to admit she had been finding it harder and harder not to for the past couple of years.
She sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. She didn't need to or want to be thinking that.
I don't want somebody to love me
Just give me sex whenever I want it
'Cause all I ask for is instant pleasure
Instant pleasure, instant pleasure/
Barbara shifted in her chair as she heard that line repeated again, apparently it was a favorite of Helena's. She really wished that the song would end.
"Hey," she said cheerfully clapping her hands together when Helena's foot stopped tapping and her eyes drifted open.
"Hey," Helena returned shifting into a slightly more upright position as she lazily tugged the headphones off of her head with one hand while turning the stereo remote in the direction of the unit to stop the CD.
"You're not gonna lay around here all day are you?" Barbara asked watching as Helena lifted a hand to her head to run through her hair. The movement, Barbara noted though she really didn't want to, caused the brunette's shirt to ride up and revealing a tantalizing glimpse of the smooth skin it had previously been covering.
"Yeah, I was kinda planning on it," Helena responded finally. Her voice was slow, and unconcerned, almost sleepy like she had just woken up from a nap as she blinked at Barbara curiously. It was kind of charming.
"But its such a beautiful day out," Barbara said turning her head to the side as if to gaze out the window before realizing that there wasn't one. "It seems a shame to waste it cooped up indoors."
Helena gazed at her for a moment after that, her brows furrowing contemplatively. "Okay Mom, I'll go see if Sally and Bobby wanna go to the park and do some sledding," was what she finally said, sliding back down on the couch a bit, obviously intending to take back up her laying around and not enjoying the beautifulness of nature.
"Mockery," Barbara breathed out, "that was unexpected," she continued shooting Helena a peevish look.
"Hey, that wasn't nearly as mocking as it could've been. And I think there was a charming kind of candor to it, if you will," Helena replied focusing her gaze on Barbara, a small smile etched across her lips. "We haven't actually gone back in time you know. I am still a grown ass woman, despite the fact that I've decided to keep you and the kid company over the holidays. And, I'd like to add, the clock tower has a wonderful ventilation system in place that makes fresh air almost superfluous," she continued her grin growing as she spoke. She then cupped her hand made a wafting motion with it. "Mmm, recycled essence of Barbara," she purred her eyes closing as spoke. "Why would I ever want to leave?"
"Well then you could at least make yourself useful," Barbara declared needing to get Helena moving around and doing something so that she wouldn't be so distracting.
"What? What is this? What bizzaro world have you inhabited where I make myself useful and need to escape the barbarity of our climate controlled super-secret den of justice?" Helena questioned cracking an eye open to peer at Barbara.
"I'll let you play with the measuring tape," Barbara said, her voice a virtual pop-tart dangling in front of Helena's face.
"You got yourself a deal lady," Helena said decisively sitting up and stretching out her back. "What are we building?"
"We're not so much building as … assembling," Barbara responded, relieved to have gotten Helena to agree to do something, and uncomfortable about the stretching and the rotating that accompanied it.
"That's … not really exciting at all," Helena commented sounding a bit disappointed but standing up nonetheless. "Also know that I will still play with measuring tape. Moving on, why is it that we always end up assembling stuff when Dinah's out? Isn't there a durable pine bookshelf out there with her name on it?"
"Because what we're assembling is one of her Christmas gifts," Barbara replied smirking at Helena's measuring tape comment. "But to answer your other question, no. No there isn't," she continued shaking her head as she led the way towards Delphi.
"Not even in Russia?" Helena asked quirking a questioning eyebrow at her.
"What is it with you and Russia?" Barbara asked curiously, turning her head to face the brunette.
"Nothing. We're just friends, I swear," Helena replied holding up her hands and giving Barbara her most innocent face. "Ask Turkey."
Barbara smiled and shook her head. "Have I told you it's nice to have you around full-time again?"
"No, no you haven't," Helena replied straightening her back a bit and standing up proud. "You're not going to either are you?" she asked maintaining her perfect posture.
Barbara shook her head sadly, no.
"That's okay, I still love you," Helena replied cheerfully plopping down on the ground beside the box that housed one of the parts of Dinah's new stereo. Helena looked over at Barbara and scrunched up her face. She should've asked for a new stereo.
"Really?" Barbara seeing Helena's expression and trying not to smile since she had a pretty good idea what it was about.
Helena shook her head sadly, no.
Two days before Christmas …
"So she shows up back at the clock tower and she's practically crying because Acid Spewing Guy version 2.0 ruined her jacket," Dinah said excitedly lifting her fingers to her eyes to make the 'boo hoo/cry baby' motion. "Miss Badass, 'I am the weapon' herself," she finished looking around her, relaxing slightly when she confirmed that Helena wasn't anywhere around her.
Dick turned to look at Barbara who simply threw her arms up in the air and shook her head indicating that she wasn't about to take part in the conversation. Dick had arrived for Christmas earlier that day, and Dinah had immediately taken possession of him, invigorated by the chance to complain about Helena to someone who wasn't the She-Ra action figure she'd had since she was three and refused to part with. Helena had quickly noticed the bond forming between Dick and Dinah, and realizing that nothing good could come of it for her, had quickly removed herself from their company after tossing a few sexually loaded jokes about his name in Dick's direction and ruffling his hair, which was probably best for all of them since Dick and Dinah wasted no time beginning to trade amusing Helena stories.
"Oh come on Babs," Dick chortled, "you've gotta have more stories about her than D and I combined."
"You know for someone who swears he can't stand her, you have a strange obsession with her," Barbara commented smiling as she looked over at the man. It sometimes amazed her how Wayne, Dick was in appearance despite actually having no relation to Bruce. He had the same dark-hair, and piercing blue eyes that both Helena and her father possessed, and though he had a generally more cheery disposition than Helena, and especially Bruce, he could at times adopt a brood that was more than worthy of a Wayne. They looked like they really could be brother and sister, and though she knew neither of them would admit it, even under torture, the way they interacted with each other was reminiscent of that type of relationship as well.
"I know what you're thinking Babs, and don't even go there," Dick replied holding up a warning finger. "My feeling for Helena are purely disdainful … and occasionally homicidal," he added with a little smirk.
"You should have that engraved on the wedding bands," Barbara responded quirking an eyebrow at him playfully. They had reached a point in their relationship where the easy banter and playfulness that had existed before their unfortunately disastrous love affair had returned, much to Barbara's delight. Dick was one of her oldest and best friends and it had been rough on her when their interactions had been strained and sporadic during the year or so after they called the romance off.
"Well, I've always been a romantic," Dick replied deciding not to give Barbara any more rope to hang him with. "This," he said turning to face Dinah, waving in Barbara's general direction, "is why I visit so often," he continued sarcastically.
Dinah laughed and patted him on the back comfortingly. "At least you don't have to live with them."
"You poor thing," Dick replied holding his hand over his heart as he gazed at Dinah. "I feel for you." This was the first time he had meet Dinah and her easygoing demeanor and Helena bashing love had immediately endeared her to him. She was like the fun little sister he had missed out on before, and much preferable to Helena's mischievous, interfering, annoying little sister.
"Hey," Barbara piped up drawing their attention over to her. "I'm the lovable one, save it for Helena."
"And here I thought it would at least take a cooking and plant-killer joke before you completely sold her up the river," Dick responded as Dinah grinned over at him.
"I'm highly amused, really I am," Barbara responded heading towards the elevator. "Now, be a good boy and go fetch the future Mrs. Grayson so we can have dinner," she called over her shoulder.
"Yes Ma'am," Dick saluted before exchanging a look with Dinah then turning to search for Helena whom he actually kind of wished would stay lost.
Dick stopped in the doorway of the clock tower's training room, and watched Helena as the brunette paced back and forth, speaking to herself softly as she looked down at a piece of paper she was holding in her hands. He couldn't tell what was on the paper, but whatever it was seemed to have her completely absorbed.
"I'm sure … suspicious lack of … list … think, I'm perfectly …it's because …" He could only make out bits and pieces of what she was saying, though from the agitated movements she was making and the look of concentration on her face he really wished he could make out more. He was kind of curious as to what she could be going on about, but since he was a gentleman he decided he wouldn't eavesdrop anymore.
"Dinner is served, and the lady of the house requests your presence," Dick called out still leaning casually against the doorframe.
"How long have you been standing there?" Helena asked with a touch of hostility, her eyes narrowed and focused on Dick suspiciously.
Dick held up his hands. "I was sent to fetch you so fetch you I have. I just got here," he replied.
Helena continued to watch him for a few more moments, looking for any signs of subterfuge or that he had seen or heard more than he was letting on and found none. She was relatively certain that he had been there longer than he said, but also that he didn't really have any idea what she had been doing. Dick was almost as bad a liar as Dinah, and if he had been hiding something she would've been able to see some sign of it on his face, they had spent enough time around each other for that at least.
"Finally we've found a use for you," Helena mumbled folding the piece of paper in her hand and putting it in her pocket.
"And short shorts have found a spokes-model in you," Dick rejoined as Helena brushed past him and into the hallway. "It's been a good day for all."
"Is there anyone who actually finds you funny?" Helena asked as they started down the hall together.
"Dinah seems to find me pretty amusing," Dick offered gamely.
"Dinah found 'Say It Isn't So' amusing, she's not exactly the gold card standard for comic genius," Helena responded grinning as she looked over at him.
"Barbara?" Dick said trying again.
"Barbara laughs at Golygons," Helena replied shaking her head, eliminating Barbara as a viable reference.
"Good point," Dick agreed.
"They're good," Helena insisted holding a chocolate dipped surprise in front of Barbara's face, dangling it enticingly.
"You can't just dip any random item in chocolate and call it a delicacy," Barbara replied turning her head to face Helena leaving their noses only inches apart. Barbara was seated beside the couch, and Helena was seated on the end of the couch right beside her and had her arm draped over the back of Barbara's chair, holding her chocolate-y surprise in the hand that surrounded Barbara.
"Sure I can, it might not be factually correct but I can do it," Helena retorted smirking at the redhead while jiggling the treat.
"You're so clever," Barbara responded in a tone that made it clear she didn't find the comment clever at all, except they all knew that she really did.
"Um," Helena agreed, "its part of what makes me so irresistible," she continued moving a little closer to Barbara. "Come on, just eat it. I made this one specially for you."
"This specific one?" Barbara asked her eyes dropping to look at the rather full bowl in Helena's lap pointedly.
"Yes," Helena replied looking Barbara straight in the eye.
"So what you're saying is that after dipping dozens of them, you picked up a piece and stopped, thinking to yourself as you gazed at the item in your hand, 'this one speaks to my heart of Barbara' and dipped it 'specially' for me before setting it aside and continuing with your mass production of chocolate covered treats. Then you carefully hid it in with all of the others, marking it no doubt in some subtle way that only your eye could detect, so that you could pull it out randomly and declare that this was my very own, special piece of chocolate covered …mango?" Barbara questioned.
"Yes," Helena replied nodding her head, waving the treat around again. "Will you eat it now."
"Will that make you happy?" Barbara asked smiling despite herself as Helena grinned at her charmingly.
"Yes," Helena responded nodding again.
"Then I'll eat it," Barbara told her reaching up to grasp the piece of chocolate covered mango, only to have Helena jerk her hand away and shake her head. "You're joking," Barbara stated.
"No," Helena replied solemnly. "This is all part of the mancolate experience."
"You are not hand-feeding me anything, let alone something called mancolate," Barbara replied straightening up in her chair primly.
"That's exactly what I'm doing. Now open up," Helena coaxed to no avail. "Oh come on, you know you want to."
"I know no such thing," Barbara responded meeting Helena's eyes challengingly.
"If I may interject, Miss Barbara," Alfred piped up from his spot further down the couch. "I think I speak for Miss Dinah, Master Dick and myself when I say we would consider it no small mercy if you would just eat the … mancolate so Miss Helena can … shall we say, quiet down, allowing us all to go back to watching the movie."
Dinah and Dick pointed at Alfred and nodded. Alfred, Alfred he was their man.
Barbara looked at all of them, before chewing on her bottom lip for a moment. Then she turned her head to the side, took the mancolate out of Helena's fingers with her lips and started chewing, moaning and rubbing her tummy before turning looking over at everyone again irritably. "Is everybody happy now?"
Dinah, Dick and Alfred quietly nodded then averted their gaze from Barbara to watch the screen again. However, Dick's attention was drawn back over to where Helena and Barbara were seated when he saw Helena lean over Barbara out of the corner of his eye. Helena was far enough away and speaking quietly enough that he couldn't hear her, but if the smile Barbara bestowed upon her was an indication of what the brunette was saying, Helena must have been the funniest woman on the planet earth.
He watched as Helena teasingly dangled another piece of mancolate in front of Barbara's face, and as Barbara playfully knocked her hand away shaking her head emphatically, smiling all the while. He leaned back against the back of his chair with a small sigh, as the final nail was driven into the Dick + Barbara Truluv4eva coffin. And as Helena held out a chocolate-y finger in front of Barbara's mouth and the redhead took her finger in her hand as if she was actually going to lick it off before turning Helena's finger around the smearing the chocolate on the tip of the brunette's nose, he could practically hear the chain lowering the coffin six feet under, and the dirt landing on top of the wooden box with a dull thud.
Helena softly padded over to the glass doors that led out to the clock tower's balcony, her eyes shifting between the gently falling snow outside, and the woman seated in front of the window watching it. The room was silent, but in a peaceful way, the only sound evident the low hum from the computers that made up Delphi.
"Fancy meeting you here," Helena whispered coming to a stop behind Barbara, leaning over the back of her chair so that she could whisper the words into Barbara's ear.
"What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" Barbara shot back teasingly, turning her head a little so that she could see part of Helena's face.
"Waiting for you to sweep me off my feet," Helena replied moving around from behind the chair so that she was standing next to Barbara.
"I thought you'd gone to bed," Barbara commented turning her head to look at Helena whose gaze was focused out of the window.
"I did. Couldn't sleep. You know me, I'm a night-owl just like you," Helena replied looking down at the redhead with a fond smile. "Besides, it was always a tradition in the Kyle household to open a present on Christmas Eve, and as I was about to drift off it occurred to me that I hadn't. And, well, I just couldn't sleep with that weighing on my mind."
Barbara smiled. "That sounds more like impatience than a tradition."
"Well, we're a resourceful lot, we turned impatience into a tradition," Helena replied meeting Barbara's smile with one of her own.
"That sounds about, right," the redhead replied fondly, before pausing and then looking back up at Helena with a question on her lips.
However, Helena was quick and before she could utter a syllable, had placed her finger over Barbara's lips, keeping it there to silence any questions Barbara might have wanted to ask her as she crouched down in front of the redhead, her finger only failing from Barbara's lips when she began to speak.
"I'm sure you noticed the suspicious lack of a Christmas list from me this year, and while I can only hazard a guess at some of the things you're thinking, I'm pretty sure that one of them can be addressed by assuring you that I'm perfectly healthy," Helena began, smiling a little before taking a deep breath and continuing. "Which leads us into why there's no list, and the answer to that is really quite simple … which, ironically, is what makes it so difficult. There's," Helena went on pausing momentarily to rub her hands together nervously before saying, "no list, because the only thing I want for Christmas … is you."
"Helena," Barbara started to say, but Helena pressed on before she could get anything more out.
"I love you Barbara Gordon, I have for quite some time now and can say with the utmost certainty that I will for a long time to come. I love you Barbara, and I want to be with you and spend the rest of my life with you and one-day make you my wife. And if you love me the way I love you, and want to be with me the way I want to be with you, then I'll never have another list for you ever again, because I'll hold everything that I could ever want in my arms each and every night."
And with that Helena took a deep breath and swallowed then turned her eyes up to look at Barbara and waited, and waited and waited. And then when she felt as if she couldn't wait anymore without having her heart crack right there and sprinkle out all over the floor she began to stand. She began to stand, but she didn't make it very far, because as soon as she began to move she spurred the body in front of her – which had been shocked into stillness – into motion. And that body moved her arms outward to and caught Helena about the arms, stopping her from getting any further away and then moved one of those hands to back of Helena's neck and drew her forward, brushing her lips against Helena's and drawing the brunette into her body.
And Helena was so off-balance from being half-standing and half-crouching when Barbara pulled her in and kissed that, that she literally fell right on over in Barbara's lap, but she didn't let that stop her from kissing the woman, not for one second, no sir. Half sitting in Barbara's lap, half standing, cradled in the redhead's arms, Helena continued to kiss her and Barbara continued to kiss her right back, and as the snow fell just a meter away from them, and white lights twinkled all around inside the clock tower, they stayed just like that for quite some time.
Dinah reached across the table to accept the stuffing from Dick, smiling widely as the dark-haired man scrunched up his face at Helena and rolled his eyes. Placing the bowl down beside her Dinah bowed her head as she started to scoop the food out onto her plate, a smile twitching on her lips as she anticipated Dick's response to Helena. The two of them had somehow managed to get into a positively scintillating conversation about who was hotter, Britney or Christina and the discussion was now reaching its peak.
"Figures you'd choose the one wearing ass-less chaps," Dick muttered as he reached for his wine glass, his eyes flickering over to Helena challengingly as he did.
"Figures you'd pretend not to like the ass-less chaps," Helena replied her finger playing with the edge of her plate. "Especially since we all know that since your…" her glance turned towards Dinah for a moment before she continued, "extra-curricular activities call for a certain fondness for neoprene, latex and leather that ass-less chaps should be not only run of the mill but practically pedestrian to you."
"I didn't know that," Dinah volunteered happily smiling over at Dick. She had been informed before New Gotham's former Commissioner arrived that any mention of Delphi, Oracle, Huntress or anything that could indicate that Barbara was in anyway still involved in crime-fighting was strictly forbidden, which consequently meant that she got to pretend to be clueless for the entire night and everyone else got to play around with innuendo and allusions. She'd thought that it would be irritating, but everyone up until that point had somehow managed to make it highly entertaining.
Barbara glanced over at her father after Dinah spoke and seeing that he was glaring at Helena offered up a weakly chastising, "Helena," which drew the brunette's attention over to her.
"Considering --" Helena began with a smile in response to Barbara's interjection into the conversation.
"Don't," Barbara stated meeting her eyes.
"Your former affection for --" Helena continued as if Barbara hadn't spoken.
"Don't," Barbara repeated her tone warning this time.
"Baby powder and --" Helena went on grinning.
"Don't," Barbara repeated again this time threateningly.
"Fine," Helena relented throwing her hands up in the air before crossing them over her chest and leaning back in her chair in a rueful acquiescence, holding Barbara's eyes for a moment before muttering 'pummel-horse' under her breath and looking away.
"What?" Dick asked in a perturbed tone as he looked between Barbara and Helena. "That was only like round 4 of 8, nobody even threw anything," he continued sounding confused and a little sad as he looked around to see if anybody else shared his befuddlement, and if truth be told, disappointment at the turn events had taken.
"I believe," Alfred began as he helpfully refilled Barbara's wine glass, "that Miss Helena has learned over the years that it is best to choose her battles carefully. It has of course taken her far, far, far … far longer to discover this than most …" Alfred went on earning a smirk from Dick and a glare from Helena. "But …"
"Pummel-horse?" Dinah whispered to herself, her eyebrows drawing together in consternation as she tried to determine what Helena could've meant by that.
"It is probably best for all of us in the long run that she has," Alfred continued oblivious to Dinah mental ramblings, "despite…"
"Just let it go Dinah," Barbara commented to the teenager. She'd heard the blonde's whispered question and looked over to see her bewildered expression and decided to help out. There was no way she was going to explain to the girl why Helena thought that would be a suitably pointed response, and if Helena knew what was good for her she wasn't going to tell Dinah either, which meant that it was in the girl's best interest to just forget she had ever heard it.
"The transitional confusion and decrease in entertainment value," Alfred went on surveying the table to see if any dishes needed to be toped off. "As it is a sign of Miss Helena's emotional growth and an example of the fine woman she has grown into."
"It sucks buttered camel nuts that the only appropriate response to that is 'thank you'," Helena grumbled looking around the table for support and finding nothing but amusement.
"Are you going to say 'thank you'?" Jim asked curiously, not sure what to make of the fact that after he asked the question Barbara let out a small laugh and then promptly bit her bottom lip and took a sip from her glass to cover the outburst.
"No," Helena replied as she speared some more turkey and brought it over to her place, her eyes on the gravy bowl planning her next move.
"But you said," Jim started feeling the futility of his question even as he began to ask it. Helena had confounded him from the first time they met, and had continued to do so without fail for all the years that followed. They had a contentious relationship that sometimes led people, including Barbara, to accuse him of disliking Helena, but that wasn't exactly the truth and never had been. The fact of the matter was that he found her oddly charming, and at times was even fond of her, but was also weary and suspicious of her – though those concerns had lessened over the years. He hadn't known Helena before her mother had died, because he hadn't known that Barbara had been in contact with Catwoman, which in turn meant that his first impressions of Helena, and all that he had known of her for a quite some time was a coldly charming, angry, volatile, brooding, reckless young woman. An angry, volatile, brooding, reckless young woman who was living with his newly paralyzed daughter. He had tried to talk Barbara out of taking Helena in – a fact that he knew Helena was aware of and that had in turn probably helped to make their interactions even more strained in the following years – and when Barbara did not pay attention and brought the girl to live with her he had been worried about Helena and her extreme moods being a threat to Barbara. However, as he had more and more opportunities to observe the two of them together he realized that his concerns were mostly unfounded as Helena actions, if not always her demeanor, showed the deep devotion and affection she held for Barbara. Yet, even with the positive change that realization had effected in terms of their interactions with each other, there remained a distance between the two of them because though Helena never intentionally hurt Barbara, she had caused Barbara quite a bit of turmoil and emotional pain. During that first year, and sporadically over the next few, he had gotten calls from Barbara late at night from police stations needing a favor to get Helena out of some sort of jam, and had come over to her apartment to find her emotionally drained and the apartment in chaos after some episode the two of them had had, and he had never completely forgiven Helena for that because all of it came at a time when Barbara didn't need her life to be made anymore difficult than it already had been. Barbara had told him at the time and over the years that it was a burden she chose to carry, and that having Helena with her had helped her far more than it had pained her, and that it was unfair of him to hold the actions of grieving child against her as an adult. And having seen Barbara fight to keep Helena with her, and Helena book doctors appointments and force Barbara to go – one day he had stopped by to find Helena bent over her hands braced on the back of Barbara's chair literally pushing Barbara out the door inch by inch yelling at her as Barbara held down the wheelchairs breaks – not to mention devote countless hours to learning how to properly perform Barbara's physical therapy to spare her having to endure weekly sessions with a physiotherapist, he knew that the relationship gave both of them more than it took away. But the parent in him always remembered.
"Oh, I know what I said," Helena replied gravy bowl now in hand. "But I haven't grown that much," she finished smiling over at the older Gordon.
"Are you sure it's not just a case of bad breeding?" Dinah asked quirking an eyebrow at Helena.
Helena looked over at the young blonde thoughtfully before cracking a smile. "You know there might actually be a case for that. I didn't know the meaning of the word appropriate before I met Barbara."
"And?" Dick asked causing Helena to smile.
"And since then I've meant to be appropriate, but I intensely don't want to, so I haven't quite gotten around to it yet," Helena replied smiling at Dick before looking around the table. "More wine?"
Barbara rolled into the den to see her father standing at the window looking out, his back to the door. The den was part of the penthouse and as such didn't get used much. In fact, Barbara thought to herself as she moved further into the room, she, Helena and Dinah had probably spent more time in the penthouse that day than they had all of the previous month.
"I think you managed to find the one quiet room in the house," Barbara commented lightly coming to a stop in front of the desk, looking to anyone who might happen to glance into the room like she was sitting down for an interview.
"The way they fight you'd think they were actually related," Jim commented turning around to face the redhead, shaking his head slightly as he did so. "How've you managed to survive the past two days?"
"As childish a reputation as it has, sticking your fingers in your ears, closing your eyes and chanting 'la la la la la' is surprisingly effective," Barbara replied, her tone casual though her right hand was compulsively gripping and releasing the arm of her chair, as it had been since she entered the room.
"It actually seems to have quieted down out there a bit," Jim said cocking his head to the side before moving over to the plush leather seat behind the desk and taking a seat.
"Pie," Barbara responded shifting in her chair a little for finally resting her left elbow on the armrest so that she was leaning slightly to the left. "It should give Alfred ten minutes or so of relative peace, actually probably more like twenty considering the way Helena and Dick can pack it away."
"Yeah, I noticed that," Jim commented smiling. "I wish I could eat that much and maintain my girlish figure."
Barbara smirked at that and then shook her head. "So do I."
"That's alright though, it'll give us some time to talk," the elder Gordon pointed leaning back in the chair as if settling in for a good long talk. Barbara looked over at him when he did this, her expression somewhat dubious. "You may play things close to the vest Barbara, and I may be an old man and retired, but I can still pick up on a few things even when it comes to you and I know that something's been on your mind."
Barbara sighed deeply at that and looked away. "You're not old," she muttered as she studied her shoes.
"That's kind of you," Jim replied in a tone that assured her he wouldn't be led off topic.
Barbara glanced over at him for a moment at that, a small knowing smile on her face before she looked away again, her face settling into a thoughtful, serious expression. She had come into the den to talk to him, and he had saved her the trouble of awkwardly trying to segway into what was on her mind, but neither of those things were making it any easier for her to actually begin talking. Still it was something she felt she had to do, but more than that it was something she wanted to do. She kept a large part of her life secret from her father, not because she enjoyed lying to him or because she feared his disapproval but because she wanted to protect him. Her shooting had devastated him, an already horrific situation made worse by the similarities between her shooting and the death of her aunt. He worried about her constantly, partly because of the fact that she was now trapped in a wheelchair, but mostly because he knew he couldn't protect her from the dangers of the world. Violence was so capable of finding people on its own, that the idea of her willingly pursuing it again after what had happened seven years ago would've put a strain on him that she didn't want. He was fond of telling her that it was the parent's job to worry, but she had quickly learned once moving in with him and entering a real family that children worried just as much. She had been close with her father as a teenager, despite certain secrets she'd kept, and once he had learned about her career as Batgirl though they fought more, they had also grown closer. Some of that closeness had been lost in recent years, and she didn't want to keep anymore of her life away from him.
"Well," she started sighing a little bit, deciding to just get it out and not worry about finesse. "I um … I don't quite know how to begin," she continued looking up and over the desk so that she was looking at his face. "At my age you'd think we'd have had more of these conversations, but since I'm … well, me we've both, mercifully been spared a number of awkward, rambling conversations, like this is shaping up to be," she went on somewhat self-consciously, her gaze skittering away for a moment before returning. "So, um … essentially, I ah … I wanted to inform you, I mean let you know that Helena and I are together," she finally managed to say. "Like as in a couple," she added, wanting to avoid any ambiguousness as to her meaning.
Jim was silent for a moment after she finished, then leaned forward and rested his elbow on the desk, his right hand coming up to his mouth to stroke his mustache thoughtfully for a few seconds before he smiled. "Is that what's had you so worked up all night?" he asked finally.
Barbara stared at him for a moment, concentrating on his expression trying to reexamine the read she was getting on it, certain that she couldn't be interpreting his look and tone correctly because he seemed to her to be slightly amused by her announcement. Still, despite her uncertainty she was able to get out the word, "Yes," in answer to his question.
That uncertainty and confusion however was transformed into gaping disbelief when Jim actually chuckled at her reply.
"I was a detective at one time. I pretty good one, you know," Jim said in response to Barbara's look. Barbara nodded at his, but said nothing in response so he pressed on. "Helena's been in love with you since she was seventeen years old."
"I don't think it's been that long," Barbara replied immediately, her expression turning thoughtful as she considered it for a moment. "Maybe since …"
"Trust me," Jim said cutting Barbara off mid-thought. "It's been that long," he continued causing Barbara to lapse back into staring at him. "And," he went on in a leading tone – perhaps one of the only times he'd been able to use a leading tone with Barbara – "you've been in love with her nearly as long," he finished looking at her expectantly.
He hadn't been surprised when Barbara told him that she and Helena were dating, and that surprised him but only for a moment. He had never known Barbara to date women before, but he didn't fool himself into thinking that he knew everything she did or who she did it with it, and he had spent enough time on the force and seen enough of the world to know that sexuality was a fluid and complex thing that couldn't be easily defined. So, it wasn't the fact that Barbara was with a woman that surprised him even though he had never really given the subject serious thought. The thing that surprised him was that he was so unsurprised by the fact that it was Helena. However, a few moments of mustache scratching thought, brought him to the conclusion that he wasn't surprised because there had been a slow build of clues. Looking back on the situation he could see the potential for a relationship had been there for quite a while.
"Oh, don't start with that," Jim said holding up his hand when Barbara opened her mouth to no doubt issue an indignant denial of his statement if her expression and the fire blazing in her eyes were any indication. "You may be the genius in the family, but I know what I know and … I know this."
Barbara straightened her back in her chair at that, and stared at her father. "I would've known," she bit out quickly before he could cut her off again, feeling a bit foolish at her hurried tone and then even more so when her father smiled at her indulgently. She really didn't think there was anything to be condescending too. "So, you don't have a problem with this?" she asked incredulously a moment later, exasperation getting rid of her timidity.
"It almost sounds as if you want me to, but no," Jim replied meeting Barbara's eyes candidly.
"I was her guardian," Barbara stated leaning forward in her chair almost confrontationally as if she were preparing for a fight.
"And this should concern me?" Jim asked conversationally, not reacting to the challenge in Barbara's changed posture.
"Yes," Barbara replied a touch of irritation creeping into her voice.
"Why?" Jim asked pointedly.
"Because," Barbara responded immediately, only stopping when she realized she had nothing to follow up that exclamation with. It should concern him because … because … because … because, why?
"I know what you want me to say, but I'm not going to. You're not getting out of it that easily," the elder Gordon supplied when Barbara failed to continue her previous response.
"Get out of what?" Barbara asked in a somewhat deflated tone leaning back in her chair.
"Love," Jim replied simply looking directly at her. Looking at her now he could see it so clearly, her fear. He had never known anybody more capable than Barbara, even as a child boundaries were meaningless to her. Anything she put her mind to she could and would achieve. Her drive, determination and dedication to perfection had awed him somewhat. Weighing less than one hundred pounds, her head barely past his waist the force of her will was so strong that he could feel it and almost see it as if it were a separate entity. But for all of her fearlessness, for all of the limitations she refused to except, her own heart and emotions had been a terrain she found treacherous to cross and tried to avoid. Barbara liked reason, she liked order, and understanding, chaos unsettled and disturbed her, and he had always been of the mind that that was one of the primary reasons she had become Batgirl in the first place. So that she could establish some order, control and reason to the sometimes anarchic city. But just as there was no room for disorder outside of her, there was no room for it inside either and that's what following her emotions always led to. They were muddled, uncertain things that led to confusion, disarray that she couldn't organize, categorize or predict. And there was no emotion more extreme than love, which was why she had always worked so hard to avoid it.
"Dad, I …" Barbara started at that response, only to be cut off by Jim.
"She loves you, you love her. It can be that simple Barbara," Jim interjected resting his elbows on the desk once again and leaning forward towards her. "Don't dissect it, just feel it. Be happy," he continued, hoping that she would really listen to him. "And tell Helena she can come by anytime to ask me for your hand, but tell her that she better come by."
"That's kind of archaic," Barbara commented, raising an eyebrow at him, glad for the chance to lighten the conversation, though she had to admit she felt much better, much lighter since talking with him.
Jim smiled. "Pick your battles, honey."
"So he sits down next to me and skeeve doesn't even begin to describe this guy," Helena was in the middle of saying as Jim and Barbara emerged from the den. "I mean, the Parisian in me loves it some Euro trash, but as the brilliant poet Mya would say, 'this was like …no'," she went on as the two Gordon's moved to join them in the living room. "So he's all like, 'hey come on, we're both in this bar for the same reason' wink, wink, so I did the only thing I could do. I said, 'yeah! Let's pick up some chicks'," she finished just as Jim walked behind her and slapped her lightly on the back of the head. "Hey!" she exclaimed as he leaned down so that his lips were near her ear.
"I wanna see you use some of the smarts I know you have and treat her right," he whispered to Helena, and then pulled back.
Helena reached her hand up to rub then back of her head then looked over at Barbara for a second before glancing up at Jim and nodding, muttering "yes sir."
"What was that about?" Dinah asked leaning over to whisper to Dick whose eyes were darting back and forth between the Gordon's and Helena.
"Helena and Barbara finally did it, and Jim just threatened her with a proverbial shotgun. I know …" Dick replied in a normal speaking voice, realizing near the end that after Helena's muttered reply to Jim that penthouse had descended into silence meaning that his reply, which otherwise would've blended in with the background, came out sounding exceptionally loud. "…That face," he finished his eyes on Jim, before he swallowed uncomfortably, trying to ignore the death stare Barbara was leveling him with.
"Say," Helena piped up her eyes on Dick as well, "I vote we put that on the list of things never to reference again. There's such a thing as too much family togetherness, and if you keep bringing that up I'm gonna have to go ahead and start hating you again."
Dick straightened up a little bit at that, as always unable not to meet one of Helena's challenges despite the severely unimpressed look Barbara still had on her face. "It's cute that you think you're still intimidating after the mancolate debacle. What are you gonna do, kill me with hugs and chocolate?"
"It wasn't a debacle," Helena exclaimed.
"'Eat my mancolate.' Giggle, 'no, I don't want mancolate'. 'Oh come on, eat it, you know you'll like it.' Giggle, dimple," Dick replied in a high-pitched voice making girly hand motions.
"What's mancolate?" Jim asked as Helena glared at Dick. "Do I want to know or would it scar me?"
"It's chocolate covered mango," Dinah replied as Barbara covered her face with her hand.
"Whose bright idea was that?" Jim asked scrunching up his face.
"Mine," Helena answered putting up her hand proudly.
"Figures," Jim muttered under his breath glancing over at Barbara who still had her head in her hand refusing to look at any of them.
"Whatever," Helena muttered in Jim's direction. "Are you gonna start taking me golfing?"
"I didn't know you golf," Jim replied sounding momentarily impressed as if he didn't think it was possible for Helena and him to have anything in common other than Barbara.
"I don't, its an old man sport," Helena replied cheerfully. "I just like the idea of beer carts."
Barbara looked up long enough to laugh at that, just when Jim looked at her, she pretended she was coughing and looked away again.
"Right then," Alfred interjected before any more barbs could be tossed about. "Can I interest anyone in some more dessert?"
"Only if its mancolate," Dick replied immediately.
Helena shot him a look at that. "You know you love my mancolate. You want it real bad," she taunted in a semi-sing-song voice.
Dick looked at her for a second and then rested his hand over his heart before staring up at the ceiling with a dreamy expression on his face. "We should have that engraved on the rings," he managed to choke out without laughing, just barely managing to dodge a pillow Barbara had thrown at his head.
"She really doesn't throw like a girl," Dinah noted looking over at Barbara with a smile, causing Helena to start laughing.
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