Birds Of Prey (TV-verse B/H)
Synopsis - After a significant injury, Helena struggles to recover and return to her crime fighting as she battles her insecurities as well as her strong attraction to the amazing woman who has been a steadfast beacon for the confused and troubled young woman.
Author's Note - This is a completed, stand-alone story that has been posted elsewhere on the net. I am posting it on this site as time permits, while I am working on a sequel.
Barbara stared at the computer screen. She hated when Helena didn't follow her orders. She hated worrying. She hated waiting. And right now, she hated having to keep her cool in front of her youngest charge, who was anxiously hovering behind her.
"I could . . . ." Dinah offered, desperately wanting to help.
"No," Barbara interrupted abruptly. She took a breath, glancing at the young blond apologetically, knowing if she could still walk, she would already be out the door. Hell, if she could walk, she wouldn't be Oracle - she would still be Batgirl and she would have been with Huntress on sweeps and maybe have prevented all of this, Barbara considered with a flash of guilt she fought to tamp down. She couldn't lose her focus with guilt and self-pity, she scolded herself.
"The police and an ambulance are en route. You wouldn't get there before them," Barbara explained with a forced calm. "And it's a school night," Barbara added, ever mindful of her guardian duties.
"But it's . . . mmm," Dinah started to argue, but stopped, suspecting Barbara wouldn't appreciate being reminded that it was summer at the moment. She eyed her mentor, wanting to help ease her poorly hidden worry. Though like Helena, Barbara was difficult to help. When someone actually tried, they became defensive and even more emotionally closed off, she considered with frustration. "I'm sure she's . . . ." she offered anyway.
". . . Fine," Barbara finished for her uneasily, then forced a smile. "Of course she's going to be fine. You know how hard-headed our Huntress is," Barbara joked tightly, eyeing her computer screen, waiting for the paramedics' report.
After what Barbara thought was a ridiculous amount of time, the paramedics reported they were transporting an unconscious woman to New Gotham General. Dinah sighed with some relief.
"I'll tell Alfred we are going to the hospital," Barbara said numbly, dialing Wayne Manor.
Chapter 1 - Memories
As Dinah drove the Humvee, Barbara stared out the windshield.
It was supposed to have been an easy surveillance. Power sources, cutting edge computers, radioisotopes, and crystals, and a variety of chemistry and laser equipment that had all been of interest to the New Gotham underworld for a reason she had yet to understand.
Barbara sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose recalling how pleased she had been when Huntress had spotted a laboratory robbery in progress. As Helena followed the criminals to a warehouse, she couldn't help but think that now she would be able to solve the aggravating mystery. As a matter of normal precaution, she had told Huntress to wait outside while she accessed the security cameras - a logical and safe course of action, which Huntress had no patience for, especially when it came at the expense of action.
How Helena could infuriate her! Barbara thought, recalling their discussion earlier that evening.
"Uh, Ora…shhh…, you're shhhhh….break….g. I'm hea…shhh…in now," the young crime fighter had said over their link with an amused grin.
"Huntress, don't you dare," Barbara hissed. "Huntress!"
Helena had always been difficult, Barbara considered. From a willful girl under her guardianship to a willful Huntress, who had become an integral member of her crime fighting family, Helena Kyle had always exuded a cocky confidence. It wasn't entirely unjustified, Barbara considered, since Helena was dangerously charming, a formidable fighter, and sexy as hell. And oh how she flaunted it, Barbara considered with a heavy sigh.
But recently, she had been even more . . . difficult . . . testing the limits of Barbara's patience, which she found, had limits. It was as if Helena was making it a game to get her mad, Barbara considered with frustration.
Then without an all clear, Helena . . . Huntress had entered the building. Hearing a scuffle and Helena's stream of cursing, which was amazingly clear with no static what-so-ever, Barbara couldn't help but remind her "I told you to wait."
"Not a . . . pro. . . blem!" Huntress argued as she gasped for breath, battling an unseen group.
Barbara had exhaled with frustration, punching in another code into Delphi, irritated at both Huntress and the painfully slow technology. When the security camera image finally came up, she squinted at the poor digital image, trying to understand what it was showing her.
"Oh Fuc. . ."
Helena's new round of cursing was interrupted when a blinding flash had filled Barbara's display as a blood curdling, almost inhuman scream filled her earpiece. Before she could utter Helena's name, the scream and image were abruptly cut off.
Barbara recalled how she had felt when Helena's GPS signal had disappeared from her map. She feared she had lost Helena. She knew it was a possibility in their line of work, but she had never thought it would actually happen. Not Helena. Her heart painfully clenched at that very real possibility.
"Barbara? We're here," Dinah said gently, snapping Barbara out of her recent memories. She nodded absently, surprised to find they were already parked in the hospital's parking lot.
Barbara and Dinah entered the Emergency Room waiting area. Seeing Dinah wince uneasily as she looked around the hospital, Barbara squeezed Dinah's forearm for reassurance. If it had been someone else they were coming to see, she knew Helena would be by her side, providing her with reassurance . . . even with their current difficulties. She almost jumped when the doctor joined them.
"Ms. Gordon?" The doctor asked the former legal guardian, who remained Helena's point of contact in case of an emergency.
"Yes," she answered softly, searching his face for any clues.
"I'm Doctor McKenzie. Ms. Kyle is stable," he reported, lifting a huge weight from Barbara's chest. "She suffered a concussion and some minor scrapes and bruises. She is conscious now."
Barbara eyed him curiously. From that scream, she didn't expect just a concussion and scrapes and bruises.
"Good thing she's hard-headed," Dinah said in a half-hearted joke.
Barbara nodded, eyeing the doctor's face which tightened at her ward's comment. "What else?" She said bluntly, bracing herself for the worst.
The doctor seemed surprised at the woman's keen perception. "She has some memory loss. But there is a very good chance it will not be permanent."
"Memory loss?" Dinah squeaked with concern.
"How much memory loss?" Barbara's jaw tensed.
"We don't know the full extent, but she is unaware of her name or what city she is in," the doctor replied gently.
"Can I . . . we see her?" Barbara asked.
"Certainly. Familiar faces may trigger some memories for her," he said encouragingly. "We have taken her to a room for observation . . . ," he noted, then seeing Dinah concerned look, quickly added "as we do with all concussions."
Barbara and Dinah entered the hospital room, immediately seeing Helena in bed, staring vacantly out of the window. Just seeing her caused an unusually strong desire to roll up and hug the living daylights out of her. But Barbara knew that Helena wouldn't appreciate that, she considered sadly, once again pondering the distance the young woman had put between them.
"Helena?" Barbara called softly, causing the young woman's head to turn towards her visitors.
"That's what they say," Helena said cautiously, eyeing the two women curiously. "You are?"
"A friend," Barbara said, then looked up at Dinah. "We both are," she added with a hopefully reassuring smile, getting a neutral stare from the young woman.
"Good to know. But when I call out "hey friend!" which one of you will answer?" Helena asked with mild amusement.
"Uh . . . of course. Sorry, uh, I'm Barbara Gordon and this is Dinah Redmond," Barbara said awkwardly with a small blush at her faux pas, surprising Dinah.
Helena thought the shade of pink was quite . . . attractive. "Pleased to meet you, Barbara Gordon and Dinah Redmond," Helena said politely.
"Hi," Dinah said and waved shyly, then felt like a complete dork, causing a small smile of amusement in the patient, who for some reason, could tell they were good friends.
"How are you feeling?" Barbara asked, her eyes searching Helena's tired blues.
"A bit banged up," she answered, then looked at them conspiratorially. "So, any chance my friends can spring me from this joint?" she said, then glanced around the room. "I really don't think I like hospitals," she added with a grimace.
Barbara looked at Dinah with a hopeful smile. Helena definitely did not like hospitals.
The dull throbbing in her head grew, pulling her out of a restful sleep. The mattress was amazingly comfortable and she didn't want to get up but she had to do something about the ache. She blinked as she looked around the room taking in the tastefully decorated surroundings. Definitely not the hospital, she concluded.
"You're up," Barbara said with a warm smile as she rolled into the room.
"Not by choice. My head feels like it is going to explode," Helena said with a grimace. A concerned look flooded the redhead's face. Barbara, Helena reminded herself.
"I'll get you something for that," Barbara said, on a mission to the bathroom.
Helena slowly sat up, feeling the aches and pains from . . . well, from whatever the hell happened to her. Slipping her legs over the side of the bed, she spied the clock radio. "I guess I slept through the night."
"You slept through two nights," Barbara informed her, returning from the bathroom, getting a surprised look. "And you wouldn't have, unless you needed it," she added quickly, holding up a glass of water and some pills.
"This is so weird," Helena said honestly, looking at the beautiful woman's sympathetic face a moment before taking the water and pills. "Thanks," she said, swallowed and immediately added "All better."
"It will take some time before the pain relief starts to work," Barbara said with a smirk. "Are you hungry?"
"Good. Alfred has quite the spread for you," Barbara grinned.
"Alfred?" Helena asked hesitantly. Was this Barbara's . . . husband? Helena wondered, quickly looking down at the woman's left ring finger which was absent a ring.
"Our butler and family friend," Barbara explained with a warm smile.
"You have a butler," Helena said slowly, not believing.
"Actually, we do," Barbara clarified.
"Okaaaay," Helena said a bit skeptically, though suspecting there were far worst things to discover about yourself. As she got out of bed, a wave of dizziness washed over her. "Whoa."
"I'll be fine - once the room stops moving."
"How is Miss Helena doing?" Alfred asked as he poured Barbara a glass of orange juice and the subject of their conversation took a shower.
"She woke with a headache and was dizzy getting out of bed," Barbara said then sighed heavily, giving a smile of thanks for the juice before continuing. "She still has memory problems. But other than that, she seems . . . fine."
"I am sure this will only be a temporary affliction," Alfred said, then noticed Helena approach. He and Barbara fell silent as they greeted her with smiles.
"You know, when people stop talking when you approach, there's a good chance they are talking about you," Helena said sagely, with an easy smile as she entered the kitchen. Barbara couldn't help but smile back.
"Good morning, Miss Helena," Alfred said as Helena joined Barbara at the breakfast table.
"Good morning, Al. How's it hanging?" She asked with a big smile as Alfred cringed as if he just swallowed something that tasted horrible.
"It's Alfred, Helena, not Al," Barbara corrected gently with a sympathetic wince for the older man.
"Uh, sorry, Alfred," Helena said with embarrassment.
"Nothing to worry about, Miss Helena. I am pleased you are well enough to join us this morning."
"I'm pleased too. This place sure beats the hospital," she with a smile that Barbara couldn't help but return. Helena's smiles seemed contagious, Alfred noted.
"So did the doctors get a good look in here?" Helena pointed to her head as she glanced at Barbara.
"They didn't see anything unusual, thankfully, on both counts," Barbara said with a warm smile.
Helena looked at her, not understanding. But with so many questions, she had to settle on her most pressing one. "So it's a waiting game? Hoping something will trigger my memory?"
"I'm afraid so."
"Well, if you ladies will excuse me, I have a few errands to run," Alfred said and looked at Helena. "It is good to see you home, Miss Helena," he said with a small smile and polite nod.
"Thanks, Alfred," Helena said with a warm smile and watched him leave. Her eyes drifted back to her breakfast companion, whose green eyes had been closely watching her before dropping with mild embarrassment. She really was beautiful, Helena thought.
"He said I was home. Do I live here?" Helena asked, eyeing the large area with interest.
"You used to."
"Why did I move out? It's a pretty cool place."
"I suppose you wanted some privacy," Barbara said uneasily, never really getting a good reason from Helena. Although, she had to admit, she never pressed her for an answer.
"That doesn't sound right."
"Really? What does sound right?" Barbara asked with growing hope. The brain worked in mysterious ways, perhaps an innocent discussion on housing arrangements might be the unexpected key, she considered.
"I . . . don't know," Helena said and sighed, wishing she did.
"Well, you do have a healthy . . . social life, Helena," Barbara noted softly, looking down at her toast.
"You mean I'm a slut?" Helena said bluntly, causing Barbara's eyes to widen with alarm.
"NO! I would never say that," Barbara sputtered.
"But you think it," Helena said curiously, without anger. For some reason, knowing what this woman thought of her was important.
"I'm your friend, Helena. I'm not here to judge you on what you do on your own time," Barbara said, the words not ringing entirely true to her even as they left her mouth. She had tried to caution the young woman about promiscuity and think about what she wanted from a relationship. Helena had just smiled cockily and informed her pointedly "I'm an adult and I know what I want. Settling for someone who isn't right for me isn't going to happen." Before Barbara could respond, Helena quickly left for what Barbara assumed was another "date."
"Besides, it is no longer any of my business," Barbara added uncomfortably, picking up her glass of orange juice and taking a sip. That was one way of stopping her mouth from saying anything more. So much for an innocent discussion on housing arrangements . . . .
"No longer your business? Did we break up or something?" Helena asked.
Barbara almost spit out her juice. "I was your guardian, Helena" she responded with great discomfort - a level of discomfort that Helena found interesting.
"Wow," Helena said easily. "You seem kind of young for that daunting task."
"Many thought so," Barbara admitted, glancing down at her breakfast again.
"And you told them to go to hell, didn't you?" Helena suggested with admiration, causing an uncomfortable blush. "So what happened?" Helena asked, leaning forward with interest.
Barbara looked at her uneasily, truly hoping that bad memories were not the ones to trigger her memory.
"I'm guessing it wasn't good, or I wouldn't have needed a guardian," Helena offered, really wanting to hear.
"Your mother was killed," Barbara said softly, watching Helena digest that news with an unusually thoughtful calm - a calm Helena had never before possessed when discussing her mother's death. For a fleeting moment, Barbara was almost grateful for Helena's memory loss for it spared the young woman the pain of that memory.
"What about my father?"
"Did he . . . ?!" Helena asked with alarm.
"No! He would never kill someone. He was an amazing and good man," Barbara said with a conviction that Helena didn't understand.
"Who left," Helena repeated simply. Barbara nodded as her heart ached with sadness for her former ward. "But you were there for me?" Helena asked, looking at the red-head with clear appreciation.
Barbara nodded but was compelled to add "You were there for me too, Helena, after I was shot. I don't know how I would have gotten by without you. We helped each other."
Helena listened and glanced at the wheelchair. With so many questions running through her head, it was almost overwhelming. Looking up at Barbara, she instead chose to acknowledge the extraordinary gift of friendship this woman once again offered. "You are here for me right now."
"Of course, I am. I'm not doing anything you wouldn't do for me," Barbara said easily.
Not wanting to dismiss her friendship as easily as Barbara had, Helena said "Thank you anyway." Helena noted the surprise in those beautiful green eyes. "I gather I'm not one who usually expresses gratitude for . . . anything," Helena cringed.
"You never had to thank me and you never have to, Hel," Barbara protested, feeling a bit uncomfortable.
"Don't make excuses for me, Barbara. Apparently, I'm slutty and a JERK," Helena exhaled with disappointment. Barbara deserved a better friend.
"Helena . . . ." Barbara said wearily.
An alarm sounded, startling Helena. "What the hell is that?"
"Delphi," she said, promptly rolling towards the elevator with Helena following.
"Oh," Helena said, still not understanding.
As Barbara left the elevator and rolled up to her workstation, Helena looked around at the multiple monitors then eyed Barbara. "I've heard that some people have a really unhealthy obsession with the internet."
"Delphi is a highly advanced computer network that monitors . . ." Barbara tersely explained as she punched in her command codes and brought up the details on the alarm.
"I'm just saying, if you want help, I'm sure we can find a twelve-step program for it," Helena interrupted with an innocent shrug, earning a glare, which made Helena grin. Barbara rolled her eyes as she fought a smile and returned her attention to the main screen.
"Another theft of laboratory equipment. Just like the one you were investigating before you got hurt," Oracle reported.
"Am I some sort of detective?" Helena asked with surprise.
"What DO I do for a living?"
"You're a bartender."
After a digesting that tidbit, Helena noted "I must be damn good if I can afford a butler."
"Helena . . . mind on the mission."
"Dinah was in the area, she should be on scene by now," Barbara said, ignoring the question.
"Oracle? Do you copy?"
"Go ahead, Dinah," Barbara said with a satisfied smile.
Oracle? She wondered, then asked "What's the kid doing?" as she looked over Barbara's shoulder. A bit closer than usual, Barbara noticed. She could feel the warmth emanating from the younger woman and smell the shampoo she had used in the shower.
"I'm at the lab - looks like it's been raided. And there's no trail to follow, which is really annoying. Speaking of annoying - is Huntress up yet?"
Barbara looked over at Helena, who looked confused. "Yes. But she's . . . still adjusting."
"Huntress?" Helena said with surprise. "Huntress," she said again, and again, testing the sound of that name and finding she liked it - a lot. Barbara rolled her eyes.
"Still not firing on all cylinders?"
"We'll discuss it when you get back later. Oracle out."
Dinah sighed as she looked one last time around the lab. As she started to leave, a dark shadow moved across her path. She sucked in a startled breath. Against better judgment and nervousness, she went to follow it outside.