A BoP (TV: B/H) Short Story
Barbara glanced over to the envelope of tickets by her keyboard for the millionth time that evening and frowned. Her attention was quickly refocused on the mission when Helena finally came back on comms.
"Huntress? Is everything OK?" Barbara responded with alarm.
"Some wardrobe . . . damage, Oracle. Everything's under control," Huntress said tightly.
"Sorry to hear that," Barbara said with a wince, knowing Helena loved her clothes. "Police are en route to pick up your packages," she reported.
"Grea . . . t," Huntress said, then grunted.
"Helena? You're injured, aren't you??" Barbara said with irritation that Helena always downplayed any injuries.
"Just a scratch," Huntress said reluctantly.
"Do you need a doctor?" Barbara said, expecting Helena would say no even if she had a broken arm dangling at her side.
"It really isn't anything, Or. . . acle," Helena said, then rolled her eyes at her unfortunately unconvincing grunt of pain. Concluding she'd be less likely to grunt if she stopped to talk, she stopped.
"You've stopped moving . . . why did you stop?" Barbara said, more alarmed.
Huntress rolled her eyes again. She couldn't win. "It's late and I was thinking I should probably just head straight ho…"
"You do and so help me, I will go to your apartment to see your so-called scratch for myself."
"It's nothing..." Helena said stubbornly as she emerged from the elevator, instead of her normal flashy entrance from the balcony, which Barbara immediately noticed.
"Training room. NOW," she said, rolling down off the dais, noting how Helena held her side and the large red stain her hand couldn't cover.
"Helena!" Barbara blurted, glaring at her. "For God's sake, your shirt is red! It wasn't that way when you left."
"Gee, I've got an idea. Why don't we go to the training room?"
"Excellent idea. I'm sure Alfred would appreciate not having to clean up the blood on the floor," Barbara said as they entered the training room.
As the injured crime fighter sat on the examining table, Barbara shook her head in clear disapproval. "Honestly, Helena. I have no idea what goes through that head of yours," she said, pulling the soaking material away from the significant cut.
"You really don't want to know. Ow!!"
"I thought you said it was nothing?" Barbara countered, annoyed at the attempted cover up.
"Well if you're going to poke at it. . . ."
"Damn it, Hel. You're going to need at least 10 stitches."
"I've had worse - and it'll heal in a few days."
Barbara's lips pursed together, not liking the fact there was truth in what she said. Helena had had much worse. And she had also downplayed those injuries too. Even with her Meta healing, wounds needed to be tended to, to heal properly, Barbara firmly believed.
"If I do nothing, you know you'll scar."
"I have scars."
"There's no need for any more. I'll get the kit."
Helena sighed, knowing there was nothing she could say or do to dissuade Barbara from her mission to tend to her. Even that time when there really was only a scratch on her palm, she recalled with another sigh.
After applying the local anesthetic and irrigating the wound, Barbara quietly started to stitch up Helena's knife wound.
Sensing anything she would say at the moment would just annoy the redhead, Helena remained quiet and tried not to think about those skilled hands on her. It was bittersweet torture. Helena blinked and stared at the ceiling, trying to think about something else, something other than the subtle, flowery fragrance of her shampoo, or the lush red hair she had wanted to run her fingers through, or those incredibly focused, beautiful green eyes. Man, when Barbara was really focused, she was incredibly hot, Helena considered, really hoping her eyes didn't augment. It almost seemed the gentle ministrations were like caresses, Helena considered, shutting her eyes and reminded herself to think about something else. Shopping!! She did need a new shirt, she considered, glancing down at her injured side before looking up at Barbara's incredibly kissable lips. She shut her eyes again, willing her eyes not to augment.
After several disapproving sighs and meticulous stitches, Barbara finally spoke with frustration. "Why do you always put up such a fuss when I'm trying take care of you?"
"You shouldn't worry about me so much," Helena said with a heavy sigh, and opened her eyes to see a pointed green gaze.
"I'll always worry about you, Hel," Barbara said without apology that both warmed and worried Helena, who knew Barbara already bore too many burdens without having to add her to the long list.
"I am sorry for worrying you tonight," Helena said softly, meeting the pointed gaze with one of her own.
The surprising and sincere apology diffused Barbara's irritation. "How did he get past your guard?" Barbara asked gently, already thinking some additional training might be needed.
"I got distracted," Helena admitted uncomfortably.
"Well there were four guys," Helena offered with a cringe, getting a glare. Helena had fought more than that before without getting a scratch.
"One of the jerks kicked a cat," Helena finally admitted with embarrassment for letting herself totally lose focus. Then she growled, thinking about the unsuspecting cat. "What kind of fucking bastard just kicks an alley cat?!?"
Barbara sighed heavily and looked into Helena's eyes, fully understanding her outrage. "Is the cat ok?" Barbara asked, getting a warm smile from her former ward.
"Yeah," Helena said, pleased Barbara understood and cared enough to ask.
"Good. But sweetie, you shouldn't have let that allow you to lose focus. They shouldn't have been able to hurt you," she gently admonished and did something that unnerved Helena. She reached up and caressed her cheek as she looked into her eyes. "I can't stand it when you get hurt."
All Helena could do was nod weakly, the warm touch and affectionate gaze robbed her of speech. The touch and gaze, which she desperately wished were offered when she wasn't injured, were immediately missed when the gentle hand was self-consciously withdrawn.
Barbara looked down uncomfortably as she refocused on the task at hand and placed a bandage over her precise stitching.
After a few quiet moments, Helena asked "Is something bothering you, Barbara?"
"Besides you getting stabbed on sweeps??" Barbara said uncomfortably.
"Even before sweeps. For several weeks you've seemed a bit . . . off."
"Yeah. Like something was bothering you??"
"All done," Barbara said ignoring the comment as she placed the used needle in the sterilizer and quickly cleaned up.
"Am I not supposed to care about what is bothering you?" Helena said with a frown. "Or how your day went?"
"My day was fine, thank you. Well, until that," Barbara said, eyeing her wound.
"Uh huh," Helena said, following Barbara back to Delphi. She knew something besides her wound was gnawing at Barbara, who tapped a few keys to bring up various surveillance cameras.
"What's this?" Helena saw a gold envelope next to Barbara's keyboard.
"Tickets," Barbara answered, briefly glancing at her uncomfortably as Helena picked them up and read them with interest.
"The Three Tenors! On opening night at the Met!! You've been wanting to see them," Helena said with a pleased smile, glad Barbara was going to get away from Delphi and enjoy herself. An all too rare occurrence, Helena firmly believed.
"And unfortunately, I will continue to want to see them. Wade is . . . unavailable," Barbara said uncomfortably.
Helena frowned. Was the guy an idiot or what? She hadn't seen him in a while, which was just fine with her. But Barbara hardly got out to enjoy herself and when she did, it seemed those evenings were cut short with muffin-top emergencies. Now when the city had been pretty quiet, save for some mutherfucking cat-kickers, Wade couldn't make it??
"But on the bright side, I will get a full refund," Barbara said with a shrug.
"Why would you do that?"
"You saw the price on those tickets, didn't you?"
"Why not go anyway?"
"My Dad is busy," Barbara said tensely as she stared at her computer screen.
"I'm not," Helena said as inspiration struck. If that idiot Wade wasn't going to give Barbara a well-deserved, long-overdue night out on the town, she was!
"You'd want to go with me . . . to the Gotham Met?" Barbara asked hesitantly but with clear interest in the idea.
"Sure. It'll be fun," Helena said with a smile that faded slightly. "Mom and I used to go to the opera sometimes," she added thoughtfully as she briefly recalled those happy memories, not seeing the slight cringe from Barbara. The big smile returned as Helena offered "I'll even make the arrangements for dinner afterwards."
Barbara's eyes sparkled happily. "You do realize we'll be in formal eveningwear," she said dryly.
"So . . . no McDonalds?" Helena asked slowly with a perplexed look.
"Trust me. We'll have fun."
"It does sound like fun," Barbara said with a bright smile.
"There you go! You bring the tickets and your smiling self, I'll handle everything else," Helena said, pleased to do this for Barbara . . . and for herself, even if it was for only one night.
Of course, Helena was a beautiful woman. But in that midnight blue dress, which fit her perfectly, accented with small sapphire earrings and a small gold chain bracelet and matching necklace, Helena was an exquisite vision of elegance, Barbara concluded.
"Wow, Red. You certainly will make it difficult for those tenors tonight," Helena said with a big smile, looking at Barbara's black dress.
"Huh?" Barbara said, finding it amazing how a mere midnight blue dress could make it difficult for her to focus on anything else. Well, a mere midnight blue dress wouldn't be just "mere" when it was worn by Helena, she considered.
"Everyone in the audience and on stage will be looking at you," Helena explained with a smile.
"Hardly," Barbara said; her face reddening as she glanced over the beauty before her again. Certain that everyone would be staring at Helena.
"You're a beautiful woman, Barbara," Helena countered very seriously and honestly, getting a surprised and uncertain look. She added with a smile "Especially when you blush." Helena wondered why Barbara didn't seem to be used to hearing that simple statement of fact, making her want to kick Wade's ass even more.
"I'm not blushing," Barbara protested, but felt her face get redder.
"Oh," Helena said, accepting that answer, but suddenly eyed her with concern. "But aren't you a little young for hot flashes? Should I get a doctor??"
"While I truly appreciate your concern, that won't be neces . . . ," Barbara said with amusement, then recoiled from the sudden bright flash. "Whoa! What are you doing?" She asked, blinking as she tried to focus.
"Taking pictures!" Helena said enthusiastically. "Rare occasions should be documented for posterity."
"But I'll remember every detail," the woman with the photographic memory noted with a smirk.
"So will I," Helena admitted with a shy smile that brightened when she added "But that's not the point."
"It isn't?" Barbara asked, eyeing her with amusement.
"Nope. Come on. We've got to get going or we'll be late for the opera."
Barbara stopped at the curb and blinked as Helena grinned with satisfaction at her surprise.
"A carriage??" Barbara said, staring at the surreal sight of a horse-drawn carriage. It was surreal, over-the-top, and utterly Helena, who snapped another picture of Barbara now looking at the carriage.
Barbara rolled her eyes and chuckled at Helena's enthusiasm.
"It's a beautiful night with not a single cloud forecasted," Helena explained. "But if you'd prefer a limo, I have one on backup - just in case we find out later that the weatherman is an idiot or you were uncomfortable with the idea. Just say the word," Helena said easily.
"Uh . . . It's a lovely idea, Hel. Truly lovely," she said honestly, having wonderful memories of a carriage ride in her youth. "But what about the logistics of my chair?" Barbara said with a guilty wince, not wanting to dampen the younger woman's enthusiasm; but unfortunately there were real-world logistics that too-often undermined the best of plans. To her surprise, Helena just grinned and motioned to the driver, who opened the door and lowered the lift.
"Madame, your wheelchair-friendly carriage awaits," she said happily, chivalrously motioning to the lift that was now on the ground.
"I had never considered . . ," Barbara said with amazement. The delight in her eyes greatly pleased Helena.
"I seem to recall you mentioning a memorable carriage ride in your youth, where you felt like a princess. And since I happen to think you still deserve the royal treatment, I did a little research and . . . voilà!" Helena said proudly.
"I can't believe you remembered that conversation. It was years ago," Barbara said, warmed by that thought and the sentiment behind Helena's actions.
"Believe it or not, I do listen to you," Helena said, getting a look of challenge. "Well, every once in a while," she amended with a grin, getting a happy chuckle.
"This is wonderful. You have thought of everything," Barbara said with appreciation, making Helena beam.
"I guess we'll see if I have," Helena said mysteriously, piquing Barbara's curiosity. "Let's roll!"
"Oh my GOD that was incredible! Those voices and the orchestra . . . were all so beautiful," Barbara gushed as they left their orchestra seats.
"They were pretty good," Helena acknowledged with a grin, getting an incredulous look.
"Pretty good?!? They were incredible!"
"Glad you didn't stay home with Delphi?" Helena teased with a satisfied smirk.
"Yeeesss. You rescued me from another night of work," Barbara said with dramatic appreciation, adding softly "thank you, Helena."
"I'll happily rescue you any time you need a substitute, Barbara," Helena offered softly, causing Barbara's smile to fade slightly as their eyes met a moment. Helena laughed self-consciously and dropped her gaze. "Especially if food and music are involved," she joked awkwardly with a shrug. You are making her uncomfortable, you idiot, she silently scolded herself.
"Helena, you're much more than a . . ," Barbara said, but was interrupted by a gentleman who approached them.
"Excuse me, I don't normally . . . well," the handsome man said with some embarrassment, looking at an irritated Barbara, who did not like to be interrupted. "I just had to meet you. I'm Greg Langston."
Helena smirked and mumbled "told you," to Barbara, who glanced at her curiously.
"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Langston. I'm Barbara Gordon and this is Helena Kyle."
"I know this sounds a bit forward but . . . would you allow me to take you to lunch sometime?" he said hopefully, completely surprising Barbara, who thought that he must be blind not to be approaching Helena. Concluding it wasn't polite to ask someone if they were dropped on their head as a child or if there was something wrong with their eyesight, she smiled instead.
"I'm flattered but no. I am with someone, Mr. Langston," Barbara said firmly, then briefly glanced at Helena.
Helena remained quiet, feeling sort of bad for the guy, who seemed a bit more interesting than Wade, though still not good enough for Barbara. It took guts to just approach someone as amazing as Barbara, she considered, offering the guy a small smile and barely perceptible shrug of sympathy, knowing what it was like to want something you can't have.
He looked between the two as an understanding suddenly dawned. "Oh! How rude of me. I hope you accept my apologies for intruding," he said worriedly to Helena, who blinked. "You two do make a striking couple," he offered and quickly left the uncomfortable situation.
Barbara looked up uncertainly at Helena, who laughed uncomfortably.
"Just like a guy. He gets shot down and immediately assumes you have to be gay," Helena offered with a weak smile.
"Well, we do make a striking couple, don't we?" Barbara ventured with a tentative smile.
"We do clean up pretty well, Red," Helena joked.
Some commotion in the lobby drew their attention from the awkward conversation, making Helena grateful.
Barbara sighed heavily. "I hope it isn't a muffin-top emergency," she grumbled before her eyes widened as the cause of the commotion walked through the excited patrons - directly towards them.
"Any other surprises tonight?" Barbara said with delight, her eyes sparkling as she sipped her wine.
"Well if I told you, that would sort of spoil things, wouldn't it?" Helena chuckled.
"I can't believe you know José Carreras."
"Mom knew him," she corrected. "I was just a kid and he was the nice singer. He's still a nice guy -battling the fanatical hordes to meet my mother's daughter's best friend."
"You didn't have to ask him to do that," Barbara said softly.
"Have to? No. Want to? Absolutely," Helena said honestly, getting a warm smile from Barbara. "How's the wine?"
"Delicious. Just like everything you've picked out so far," Barbara said with a grin.
"You're not mad that I ordered for you…." Helena said uneasily, not really giving Barbara a choice when they arrived.
"You said you were going to take care of everything and you have. You are going to spoil me, Helena Kyle," Barbara said warmly.
"Well, that's the intent. But I have to be honest, Barbara. My motives are purely selfish," she said, leaning forward conspiratorially.
"They are?" Barbara looked at her with great interest.
"Of course. When you are happy, I'm happy. And I like being happy - ergo - my plan to spoil you. Bet you're glad I brought my camera to the Met," Helena added with a grin.
"Well, I am going to enjoy showing Dad pictures of one of his three favorite tenors."
"And I think he'll be more interested in seeing his beautiful daughter all dressed up. Maybe you ought to have some more ice water. You are all flush again," Helena noted, pushing her ice-filled glass of water towards Barbara. "You act as if no one ever calls you beautiful," Helena said incredulously. "And that would be a crime, because you are, Barbara. You don't even need to be wearing that totally hot gown."
Helena's eyes widened at what she had just said before she blushed.
"Maybe you ought to have some ice water," Barbara said with amusement, sliding back the glass towards Helena.
"Uh," Helena said with a cringe, wanting to kick herself for her poor choice of wording and the images they provoked. Willing herself not to think about a naked Barbara Gordon, she quickly offered "How about those Gotham Wildcats?" A fake, enthusiastic smile filled her face.
"That was my skillful segue into a different and more comfortable topic for discussion - university sports."
"Oh," she said with a slight frown. "Do you really want to talk about sports, Helena?" Barbara asked with great interest, eyeing her curiously.
"University sports," Helena corrected.
"I'll talk about whatever you want to talk about, Red. Just as long as we're spending time together - I'm good. You can try to explain quantum mechanics to me if you want. I know you find that stuff interesting," Helena suggested, prompting a smile. "Quantum mechanics it is! So . . . tell me all about it. Don't leave out any details," Helena enthused as if she was going to partake in some juicy gossip.
"Would you stop?" Barbara chuckled.
"I had no idea quantum mechanics were so funny. No wonder you enjoy that stuff. So which is more humorous, the particle-like or wave-like behavior of subatomic particles - or are they both knee-slappers?"
Barbara laughed with delight at her unanticipated knowledge. "Why Helena Kyle, you are full of surprises," Barbara said, then eyed her curiously. "I thought you abhorred physics."
"The only thing I abhor is creamed corn," Helena responded, then added gravely. "Don't ask why."
Helena eyed her a moment, knowing she should have known better. "Is your hearing going, Red? Maybe a trip to the doctor's is in order. First the ot ashes, en or earing," Helena said, clearly amused with herself.
"I'm oddly curious now, Hel," Barbara responded. "And you were the one to mention creamed corn."
Helena frowned then offered concisely "Paris restaurant. Projectile vomiting. Banned for life."
Barbara fought a chuckle but failed. "Well, I'll be sure we avoid that on our menus in the future," she said magnanimously.
Helena rolled her eyes. "Do you think you still have room for dessert?" Helena asked. "There's a really good tapioca pudding here."
"You've got to be kidding me," Barbara said incredulously.
"What?" Helena said curiously.
"What's wrong with that?" Helena asked curiously.
"Nothing, of course. What was I thinking?" Barbara shook her head with a small chuckle.
"Trust me on this. It's really good," Helena said with a grin.
"I'm in your hands tonight, Hel," Barbara said happily with a smile that faded when she saw Helena's eyes glance over to another table and narrow dangerously.
Barbara quickly glanced over to what captured Helena's attention. Oh no….
"He actually has the nerve to come over here? With his DATE?" Helena hissed with disgust. "I am so going to kick his ass," Helena said, grabbing the napkin off of her lap as she started to stand to meet the dead man, formerly known as Wade Brixton, head on.
Barbara's hand darted out to firmly grab Helena's forearm.
"Hel! No," Barbara blurted with quiet urgency. "Please don't say anything," Barbara said uncomfortably. "Please."
Helena did as asked with a frown, not understanding but helpless against Barbara's plea.
"Barbara, I didn't see you until we were leaving," Wade smiled as Barbara retracted her hand. "Helena," he said politely, acknowledging Barbara's dinner companion before his introduction of his date. "This is Maggie Gilbertson. Maggie, Barbara and her . . . friend Helena."
"Nice to meet you," Barbara said with a sincere smile that totally confused Helena.
"Likewise," Maggie responded with a pleasant smile.
Helena looked at Barbara, not understanding how the redhead could be so calm. She was stood up because that idiot made plans with another woman! Helena felt she had to do something to defend her honor….
Sensing the impending eruption, Barbara quickly placed her hand on Helena's, successfully diffusing an unwanted outburst. Helena blinked and looked down at their hands and sighed in defeat, feeling guilty that Barbara not only had to manage her own emotions but her temperamental dinner companion's as well.
"Well, I didn't mean to interrupt you two," Wade said uncomfortably, glancing at their hands. "See you in school, Barbara."
"Wade," Barbara smiled weakly and nodded in response to his awkward wave.
When the couple left, Helena shook her head in exasperation. "I'm sorry for almost making a scene. But I . . . I think we should go home," Helena said, her bubbly mood gone, replaced by a brooding one.
Barbara took a long breath but only responded with a nod.
"Helena, it isn't what you think," Barbara said softly as the carriage left the restaurant.
Looking at Helena's profile as anger radiated off the younger woman, Barbara knew the carefree nature of the ride to the restaurant was not to be found on the ride home.
"That he isn't the biggest idiot on the planet to ruin his relationship with you?" Helena growled.
"Hel," Barbara said, placing a gentle hand on Helena's forearm. "He's not to blame," Barbara offered with a wince.
"Are you going to defend him because he is mentally incapacitated, Barbara? Because that is the only GODDAMN way I can understand you letting him get away with . . ." Helena spat.
"Hel!" Barbara interjected, squeezing Helena's arm. "I broke up with him," Barbara said, immediately taking the angry winds out of Helena's sails.
"G . . . good. You should never accept anything less than someone willing to totally commit themselves to you, Red. You deserve nothing less," Helena said, making Barbara look at her warmly. "I still would like to kick his ass for . . . ."
"He never cheated on me, Hel," Barbara said, biting her lip.
Helena blinked. "Why . . . then?"
"I . . . finally realized he was . . . not the one," Barbara said uncomfortably. "It was entirely my decision, Helena. He never did anything wrong . . . my heart was just never really in it."
Helena nodded, having thought the same thing though she was surprised Barbara had admitted it. "Twenty six days ago . . . you broke up," Helena said quietly, recalling when Barbara really started to act preoccupied and "off."
"Actually I bought the tickets twenty six days ago, after I broke it off," Barbara said uneasily, searching Helena's eyes that widened with surprise.
Helena's heart pounded. "Your father . . . wasn't busy?"
Barbara winced as she admitted. "I don't know. I never asked him."
"So . . . I wasn't a . . . substitute?" Helena asked hesitantly, her hopes starting to soar.
"You were always my first choice, Helena," Barbara admitted with a cringe, worried Helena would be upset with her.
Helena looked at her a long moment, making Barbara more uncomfortable as the seconds ticked by.
"I think you were wrong, Red," Helena said flatly, making Barbara's heart drop.
Why did she ever allow her insecurities about Helena's real feelings make her conjure up a scheme to gather empirical evidence on how she really f . . . .
"I haven't thought of everything. Had I known about this master plan of yours, we wouldn't have missed dessert," Helena complained though her eyes sparkled.
Barbara felt lightheaded with relief. "Suppose I make it up to you?" She quickly offered with a smile.
"I'm listening," Helena said, eyeing her cautiously.
"Why don't I plan our next date?" Barbara suggested.
"You planned this date and I never got any tapioca pudding," Helena countered, unimpressed.
"I see your point. Why don't we discuss my options for making it up to you over a bowl of ice cream back at the Tower?"
"It's a start," Helena said softly, looking into Barbara's eyes then glancing down to her lips.
They gravitated towards each other, as they had for so many years. But this time, their lips finally met in a tender kiss, full of promise. As they pulled back, Barbara confirmed with a big smile "it's a start."
Helena's happy smile faded as she looked at her curiously. "Is there some reason you don't like tapioca pudding?"
"I never said I didn't like tapioca pudding…."
"But you suggested we have ice cream, not tapioca . . . ."
"Because we have ice cream, not because I have some deep-seated fear of tapioca pudding . . . even though it does remind me of creamed corn."
Thanks to Trusty for proofing.
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