Birds Of Prey Fan Fiction
Chapter 9 - The Talk
Barbara rubbed her eyes after staring at the computer screen. She was grateful Helena agreed to stay with her while she healed. If she paused to reflect, she would have to admit she had always felt more comfortable with Helena nearby. But she was too busy for self-reflection now, having to find Helena's meta-self. She frowned. Surely the metabeing would know she would be welcome here, Barbara thought.
She returned her gaze to her computer screen in the unsuccessful look for leads, but was too easily distracted, wondering what was keeping Helena's meta-self away.
In a fleeting thought, she questioned whether her theory was wrong, that maybe the cat woman Helena had encountered wasn't a part of Helena. That would explain why the vigilante wouldn't come home. And although that line of thinking would return a nearly impossible situation to just inordinately difficult, she could feel the truth in her theory. The metabeing knew too much to be anyone but a part Helena. But why was she staying away?! Barbara wondered with a deeper frown.
"Any luck with the lab parts?" Helena asked, limping slightly as she joined Barbara, who was startled out of her ponderings.
"Uh, no," she said, recovering quickly. "Unfortunately, I'm going to need the blueprints or the actual machine to reverse engineer. Even knowing what it should be able to do, the list of stolen parts isn't getting me anywhere," she said, removing her glasses, and pinched the bridge of her nose. A mug of tea appeared before her.
"Looks like you could use it," Helena offered with a small smile.
"Thank you," Barbara said with a smile and immediately took a sip. "Perfect," she said with a bigger smile.
"No odd metabeing injuries or recent robberies?" Helena asked.
"No," she said, looking at Helena, who sported a black eye that was now an ugly shade of purple and yellow and a few scrapes on her face, injuries that used to heal in a day. It was disconcerting to see Hel still injured.
"Maybe they are perfecting the MZT," Helena said with a shrug.
"MZT?" Barbara asked in confusion, certain her lack of sleep the past few days was contributing to her poor concentration.
"Metazapperthingy . . . MZT," Helena explained as she glanced at Barbara's screen curiously, missing the roll of her eyes.
"Maybe," she allowed, then asked rhetorically "But to what end?"
"Well, I can see two possibilities," Helena said, surprising Barbara, whose interest was peaked.
"Someone either wants to purify the human side, or the meta side. And I'd bet the meta side would be more lucrative. Just think about the strength of a metabeing army? It would surpass a meta-human army."
"But wouldn't an army need a leader?" Barbara countered. "Who could lead an army of independent, primal beings?"
"Hey, I never said it was a good evil plan," Helena said dryly, getting a small smirk from Barbara.
They looked at each other a silent moment before Helena smiled weakly and stepped away to a more respectable distance, using an inspection of the various screens of Delphi as an excuse.
Barbara noticed what she was doing and glanced down, feeling confused. She wondered if Helena remembered the other night, where she literally reached out for her. Barbara certainly did. She couldn't forget that caress and the unexpected feelings it stirred within her, which was partially to blame for her inability to sleep. She had, of course, found a logical reason for those disturbing feelings, quickly attributing the surprising response to merely being the byproduct of an intense emotional situation finally catching up to her. And Helena's situation had continued to be an emotional strain.
That actually made sense to the woman, who had to admit she didn't normally "do emotions" well. She had deliberately lived her life above the emotional turmoil that could cause normally rational people to behave like Arkham inmates. This avoidance of entanglements had served her well as Batgirl and Oracle, and even as a newly paralyzed guardian of an emotionally troubled teen. But her years of successfully living above the messy fray caught up to her when she suddenly found herself without the tools to deal with the emotionally troubled teen who had suddenly grown up into an amazingly complex woman, who no longer volunteered important information, who no longer discussed her problems, who made Barbara's considerable skill of avoidance almost seem amateurish.
The once easy dialogue between ward and guardian crumbled under the weight of awkwardness and uncertainty. She knew she had allowed Helena to drift away before. And that . . . hurt, Barbara acknowledged, having relished the chance to be closer to the woman again. She had to do something to not let that happen again.
Barbara frowned, knowing she would likely blunder her way through and make some painful mistakes, but she was determined not to make the same, unforgivable mistake of silence. With a deep fortifying breath, she bit the bullet.
"Helena, we need to talk . . . ," she said firmly, then groaned at the interrupting phone call that Helena thought was the most wonderful sound she had ever heard.
Helena knew she screwed up the other night. Her brilliant plan was to pretend it never happened. She certainly didn't want to "talk" about it.
"Barbara Gordon," she said impatiently, then looked uncomfortable.
"Oh, hi, Wade," she said, then listened a moment. "That sounds nice, but I really can't . . . ," she said, then saw Helena wave at her. "Would you please hold for a minute, Wade?" Barbara looked at Helena with mild irritation. She did NOT like being interrupted. "What is it?"
"He's asking you to dinner, isn't he?"
"Yes, but we need to talk and I need to figure out how this . . . meta . . . zapper thingy works," Barbara said, frowning at her inability to come up with a better name for the damn device.
"We don't need to talk," Helena offered a little too eagerly, causing Barbara's eyes to narrow with irritation. "We can always talk, Barbara. And you need a break," she quickly added.
"Yes. You have been at this screen for how many hours?" She asked, pointing at the computer screen accusingly.
"It doesn't matter," Barbara said.
"It does! How many times have you had a revelation when you weren't even trying to solve a problem?" Helena said with conviction. "Like in the shower . . . ," Helena added then winced, wishing she hadn't brought up that mental image of the red head . . . naked . . . and wet. "And besides, fun is a critical element in successful problem solving," Helena said with great authority.
"Is it?" Barbara asked.
"Absolutely. The likelihood of you solving this MZT mystery is directly proportional to your fun-to-work ratio," Helena noted.
"I see," Barbara said patiently. Something was telling her Helena really didn't want to talk.
"If you think too hard about this problem, you'll build up pressure here," Hel said pointing to her head.
"Sounds bad," she said flatly, knowing she couldn't force the woman to talk if she didn't want to.
"Terrible. So, out of concern for your well being and a selfish interest in solving my problem - Go. It'll do you some good to spend some fun time . . . with Wade," Helena added with a forced smile, briefly wondering if her meta-side ever felt like killing Wade.
Seeing Helena's smile suddenly fall, Barbara rolled towards her.
"What's wrong?" Barbara said worriedly, taking Helena's hand.
"Eh," Helena said dismissively, unable to look Barbara in the eye. "I guess I could use some down time myself. Maybe a mindless movie or two - there are plenty I don't remember seeing," Helena joked with a smile and shrug.
Barbara still looked concerned.
"Barbara, it will make me happy to think you are enjoying yourself . . . with Wade," Helena added, trying to sound sincere. "So go and have a good time, will ya?" Helena said, taking and squeezing Barbara's hand. "Maybe a break is just the thing we need," she added.
"You're somewhere else," Wade said with a knowing smile, buttering his role.
"Sorry," Barbara said with an apologetic wince. She had been apologizing to him a lot lately.
"Anything I can help with?" He offered sincerely.
He was always sincere, she noted. And nice, she thought, though not sure why. Out of everything in her life she juggled, she kept putting him last. But he never seemed to complain and she never felt the need to change her priorities.
She shook her head no and took a sip of water. Shouldn't she want to put him first? Or at least feel guiltier for not putting him first, she wondered.
"So what's Helena doing tonight?" He asked, eyeing her.
"She's home, watching movies . . . why?"
"I guess I'm surprised you are here with me - not that I'm complaining," he said with a warm smile. "She is still recovering from that mugging the other night, isn't she?"
"Yeah, well . . . Helena practically forced me out the door," Barbara muttered, causing a chuckle from her date. Barbara frowned.
"Smothering her, are we?" Wade said with amusement.
"I do not smother," she immediately protested and then suddenly worried that Helena might think that.
Wade lifted his hands up in surrender. "Well, it just seems like she can't get a break," he said with a shrug. "Must be rough."
"She has been through a lot recently," Barbara allowed, poking at her potato.
"And no progress on the memory front?" He asked, sipping his wine.
"No," she responded with a sigh. He really was a nice man. He actually made an effort to ask what was going on with her, though at times it was difficult to navigate the conversation around what she really spent her time on. But he was a patient man - unnaturally so at times.
"Are you happy, Wade?" She asked suddenly.
"Deliriously," he joked, but Barbara frowned.
"Are you happy . . . with us?" She asked more specifically.
"Uh . . . yes? Why?" He said, looking curiously at his date, who normally steered away from personal discussions.
"Why are you happy . . . with us?"
"Why?" He laughed then saw her face was deadly serious. "Uh, well . . . I enjoy being with you. You're funny, though not at the moment," he teased with a grin, then noticed she wasn't smiling. He continued, after clearing his throat. "Okay . . . uh, you're intelligent, you care about others . . . the fact you're gorgeous doesn't hurt," he said with a grin then saw her contemplative look. "And I . . . I honestly think this will lead to something more . . . permanent," he added uneasily.
"W. . . What?" Barbara sputtered.
"Marriage. I know it's a bit early to be talking about it. But, I'm thinking about it. A lot."
She looked at her plate intently trying to wrap her mind around that thought.
"Hey," he said softly, brushing an errant lock of hair off her brow. Her head shot up with surprise at the familiar gesture that had preoccupied her thoughts for days, though provoking strikingly different feelings.
She found loving blue eyes gazing at her. Though not the clear, striking blue of her former ward, that usually sparkled with mischief and made Barbara wonder if she should be worried. With Wade, there was no mischievous sparkle, no devilish streak that kept Barbara wondering what was going to happen next.
"I didn't say that to scare you off, Barbara," he said softly, gently caressing her brow before tenderly holding her hand.
She knew she shouldn't have been surprised Wade would at some point want to discuss marriage. He was old-fashioned and it was a logical progression to their courtship.
He really did care for her, she concluded, feeling him squeeze her hand. Each time she had slept with him, he was loving and attentive, though at times, almost too . . . polite, she thought - though sex was much better than she had expected. With him, she almost felt normal. But even when she could walk, she did not lead a normal life, nor did she seek one out, she considered. She lived with a passion to help and protect others. She thrived on the danger and excitement crime fighting brought. Yet, ironically, she avoided that passion and excitement in her love life, opting for . . . nice.
"I know you need time to think things through. And there isn't any rush."
Why would she settle for anything less in her love life? She wondered, glancing at their entwined hands.
"But someday, we will have that conversation," he promised warmly, squeezing her hand and releasing it.
Because she, the former Batgirl and now Oracle, was afraid, Barbara concluded with disappointment.
"How about some apple pie . . . a la mode?" he tempted her with a smile.
"That sounds . . . nice, Wade," she said with a small smile.
It was Saturday evening and Helena was alone in the clock tower, fast forwarding through another stupid movie. She sighed and turned off the DVD, tossing the remote on the couch as she got up, rubbing a sore neck. Dinah was with Gabby and Barbara was with Wade, and she still felt like a throbbing pile of crap.
She quietly walked around the clock tower, assessing it all, especially Delphi, with a critical eye. She wondered if anyone would ever truly appreciate what Barbara was doing for the city. Not if Oracle had her way, she acknowledged and found herself wandering across the dark gymnasium to a corner room that contained Barbara's Batgirl costume.
She turned on the lights, which caused an impressive glow around the costume. She expected the costume looked even more impressive on Barbara.
Dinah had regaled her with what Helena would have thought unbelievable stories about Batgirl, had Batgirl been someone other than Barbara. She wondered how the woman had the strength to carry on after being shot, how she could so amazingly overcome her disability to still help others. Sure Batgirl was an accomplished crime fighter, and Oracle was the criminal's omnipresent nightmare. But Barbara Gordon, the woman, was simply . . . extraordinary.
"You shouldn't be in there."
The sudden voice shattered the reverent silence, startling Helena. She turned towards the metabeing, who hovered back in the shadows of the dark gym.
"Why not?!" Helena said with irritation, not liking being surprised.
"It's her private room . . . Whoa, you look like crap." The metabeing noted as Helena emerged from the room to join her in the gym.
"I know who you are," Helena said tersely.
"Did you remember what happened - or did Barbara figure it out?" The metabeing asked, causing Helena to sigh with irritation. "So you still don't remember anything before the blast? Interesting."
"I'm tired of it."
"You should enjoy it while you can," the metabeing said absently, then asked "Dinah is with Gabby?"
"And Barbara is with Wade," the Metabeing said knowingly, getting an uncomfortable nod. "It's strange isn't it?"
"What? Me talking to my meta-self?" Helena asked.
"Well, there is that," the Metabeing noted wryly. "I have to say, so far, I'm not very impressed with the human side," she said, eyeing the still bruised Helena.
"And I'm not exactly impressed with you either, murderer," Helena snapped.
"You say murderer, I say vigilante," the Metabeing said, then noted thoughtfully. "Nothing has changed," she said, then saw the frown of confusion. "We fought over it before too," she explained.
"Something tells me we fought a lot."
"Oh yes," the metabeing said with an amused snort.
"Care to share?"
Helena tensed. "You wanted to kill him . . . ." she said with dread.
The metabeing laughed. "It wasn't just me. But even I knew that was off limits, though I had hoped he would turn out to be an insane criminal or something," she said, then sobered. "But no, he's too boring to be an insane criminal."
"I've never met him," Helena said with a cringe.
"Another thing you are not missing. We never could understand why she was so . . . attracted to the guy. I could understand if he were a psychopath -at least he'd be interesting."
"Did we ever ask?"
The metabeing frowned. "No," she said tersely.
"Why not? Are you serious?"
"Well, yeah. If we both know how ill-suited he is for her, why not ask?"
"Because of YOU! YOU were afraid he actually meant something to her!"
"Oh that's convenient. Blame me. I don't remember so you could say anything," Helena snapped.
"I've never lied to you before," the Metabeing said, insulted.
Helena looked at her a moment, then begrudgingly said "All right. But I'm not holding you back now. . . ."
"You ask her! Ask her why the woman who should be my mate lets another fuck her!" she roared with startling anger, which was suddenly overwhelmed by a deep hurt.
"Ask her why. Why she doesn't see?" the metabeing said with disturbingly quiet anguish.
Helena sighed, wishing she knew what to say. She knew she too was attracted to the amazing redhead. But she also knew Barbara had Wade and something told her it was fundamentally wrong to interfere with that. There were no comforting words forthcoming - only questions.
"She's been wondering why you stay away," Helena said softly, taking a few steps towards her meta-self.
The metabeing's eyes flashed with anger as she laughed harshly. "I think I might actually kill him if I smell his scent on her one more time."
She wanted to tell her to let it go or it would drive her crazy. Though she knew it wouldn't be well received, besides being too late. "I understand," Helena said with a wince, knowing how uncomfortable it was to just know about Wade. She was only able to image how hard it must be to be faced with that evidence, up close and personal.
"You understand nothing!" she hissed, swiping at Helena's arm with three sharp nails.
Helena moaned in pain as she cradled her freshly bleeding arm.
"Do I LOOK like I need more cuts?!" She snapped, taking a swing at her. Helena was surprised that the punch actually landed.
Cat eyes narrowed and Helena felt a little fear. "Uh . . . now don't go getting all feral on me," Helena said with concern.
"You don't feel the pain!" the metabeing said angrily.
"Like HELL, I feel plenty of pain, goddamnit!" Helena responded, managing to dodge another claw swipe. However, she tripped into the weapons rack, causing it and herself to crash to the floor, scattering a variety of weapons. She immediately rolled and picked up the sais, holding them defensively as she scrambled to her feet.
"You don't remember!" the metabeing hissed, jumping behind Helena and harshly shoving her to the ground.
"Ooffff," Helena blurted then quickly jumped to her feet. "Look! I didn't choose to lose my memory, damnit!"
"You are the perfect little human now, just like you've always wanted to be," the metabeing taunted, swiftly swiping at the human.
Once again a claw got through and sliced through Helena's clothes. "Damnit! Would it help if I said I was sorry," Helena said, getting hit in the stomach with a solid kick that propelled her against the wall.
The being growled as Helena fought to catch her breath.
"I guess . . . not," Helena said, coughing.
"I thought it would be easier not to have you hold me back . . . but it isn't!" The metabeing cried angrily. She swiped at Helena again, but took three chunks out of the wall when Helena dove to the ground.
"I am more powerful than ever, but no longer fit in the human world," she cried out, her claws again missing Helena, who ducked. The heavy bag behind her took the brunt of the nails that sliced easily through the leather sheath.
"Well it might help if you worked on that anger and stopped killing people!" Helena offered with annoyance, blocking another swipe with her sais. With quick jabs, she got through the metabeing's defenses and landed two blows.
The metabeing stepped back and growled with irritation. "You are better, but you'll never be good enough . . . ." the being said, then easily batted Helena to the ground. Before she could strike again, the metabeing tiled her head and took a deep breath, savoring the air like a fine wine. "She's back."
Helena pulled herself off the floor as she heard the distant sound of elevator doors opening.
The metabeing was already gone.