Birds Of Prey Fan Fiction
- Part 2 -
Over the next few days, Barbara studied the inventory of the heists. Even with an understanding of the effects of the end product, she couldn't begin to replicate this device. The only thing she could come up with was a particle beam weapon and she suspected vaporizing her friend wouldn't be appreciated.
Barbara was studying her computer screens when she heard Helena and Dinah return from their workout. "Hey . . . how'd it go?" Barbara asked a bit anxiously, seeing a frown on Helena's face.
"She did really well," Dinah offered uneasily, glancing at the still-frowning sparring partner.
"You kicked my ass," Helena groused, rubbing said area with a grimace.
"Actually, only once. We were actually more evenly matched for a change," Dinah said, crossing her arms and looking at Helena.
"Really?" Barbara asked with interest.
"Really," Dinah said as the two women looked at Helena.
"That's excellent," Barbara said. "I didn't expect you to get up to speed so quickly."
"Uh huh," Helena said skeptically.
"What do you mean, uh huh?"
"Helena," Barbara said sternly, clearly demanding an answer.
"Look, I don't need you guys to treat me like the off-key wannabe, whose parents praise whatever stupid song comes out of her mouth."
"She has issues," Dinah said wisely to Barbara, and went to the kitchen.
"It will take time before you become comfortable, Helena," Barbara said.
"I'm not sure I'll be completely comfortable with a big-ass gap in my memory," Helena said as the Delphi alarmed again, causing her to jump.
"Geeze, that thing is annoying," she complained as she joined Barbara's side, while the redhead typed on the keyboard and brought up the latest disturbance.
"A dead man was found in the alley down by Roosevelt and West Main."
"Cause?" Dinah asked, eating a pop tart.
"We had pop tarts?" Helena asked with a bit of annoyance.
Dinah shrugged. "They are next to the cookie jar," she offered.
"We have a cookie jar?!?" Helena asked.
"Focus, you two. The man's throat was slashed open. No apparent struggle."
"Should we check it out?" Helena asked, getting Barbara to look up with concern. "I mean, there's probably some information we can find out that even Delphi can't get you," she said.
"It's been only a few days since you were . . . injured, Helena. Dinah can go see . . . ." Barbara started, but stopped, seeing Helena's expressive face close down into a neutral mask. "Helena, I think it's too soon for you to go on sweeps," Barbara said firmly.
"I see," Helena said and turned to an uneasy Dinah. "Well, kid. You heard her. You have some investigating to do," Helena said and retreated to the guest bedroom.
"Barbara?" Dinah asked uneasily, seeing her mentor pinching the bridge of her nose.
"Go on, Dinah. And be careful," Barbara said offering a weak smile.
Even without her meta-enhanced hearing, Helena could tell Dinah was already back as the teen's excited voice wafted through the clock tower and her room, though she couldn't make out the words.
"Helena?" Barbara called softly, slightly pushing the cracked-open door.
"Dinah have anything interesting to report?" Helena asked, putting a book down on the night stand as Barbara entered the room.
"The man was clearly overwhelmed," Barbara said, briefly glancing at the surprising book. "No sign of struggle and three slashes across his throat . . . looks like it was made by a claw," Barbara noted, slowly moving closer to Helena's bed.
"A metahuman killer?"
"It would seem so. The victim was identified as Ian Russick, a convicted rapist. He had just been released and apparently picked up where he left off. He is suspected of having committed sexual assault just before meeting his end," Barbara offered that interesting detail. "The DNA samples from the sexual assault and murder victims are on their way to the lab."
"Well, someone doesn't like rapists very much. Not that I can blame them," Helena said thoughtfully. "Any ideas?"
"Delphi is running a cross-check on possible metahumans in New Gotham that might be able to leave those marks, but something tells me it won't be that easy," Barbara said, with a sigh. "Helena, about the sweeps . . . ."
"You'll let me know when you think I'm ready. I understand that," Helena said with a neutral expression, which made Barbara uneasy.
"I know you don't agree, but I just don't want to risk you getting hurt by having you out there too soon," Barbara said quickly.
"I can get hurt, regardless of how ready or "meta" I am," Helena offered calmly, causing Barbara to wince. "And don't feel guilty about my stupid mistake," Helena added firmly, causing Barbara to hopefully glance up with a questioning look. "Dinah told me," she explained, causing a small sigh of disappointment.
"I don't know if I'm going to get used to this," Barbara said.
"Used to what?"
Barbara looked at her. "Before your injury, you would have gotten very angry, yelled, stormed off, cooled down, and come back," Barbara said.
"And then you would have gotten your way," Helena guessed, getting an embarrassed nod.
"That's a lot of energy to expend," Helena said. "Why don't we just let you have your way for a week and save me the trouble?"
"A week?" Barbara asked, alarmed. She was thinking months . . . .
"After a week, I'm going on sweeps."
"Helena . . . ." Barbara objected.
"No. I should be able to train and prove to myself and you that I can do it - even without my meta side. But I'm not going to wait for your approval, Barbara. I need to get out there and make myself useful," Helena said firmly, picking up her book and opening it to where she left off.
"I see," Barbara said, looking at the reading Helena, who was now ignoring her. At least she had a week to convince Helena otherwise, she considered with a sigh. As she started to leave, curiosity got to her. "What are you reading?"
"The Price of Progress," Helena said, holding up the book, displaying the cover.
"A New Gotham history book?" Barbara said with astonishment.
"I haven't forgotten how to read, you know."
"I know, but I never thought you would voluntarily . . . ." Barbara said with amusement, then winced at the annoyed glare she was receiving. "I mean . . . you just never showed any interest," Barbara said uneasily.
"Good night, Barbara," Helena said with a sigh, returning her gaze to the book.
"Right," Barbara said, biting her lip, realizing it was time for a tactical retreat before she said anything else to annoy the young woman. "Have a good night, Helena," she said softly and left.
Barbara watched Helena attack her training with gusto, impressed by her clear dedication. She was nowhere near as swift or powerful in her combination kicks as she was before "the injury." But she was accurate and more agile than Barbara had expected. She guiltily realized she had attributed all of Helena's abilities to being a metahuman.
Suddenly, Helena calmed and began Tae Kwon Do forms Dinah was fond of with a patience Barbara had never seen exercised before. Helena never had the serenity to appreciate the forms or include them in her workout regimen. While there was no doubt Helena was dangerous before, she had been driven by a raw, undisciplined passion. This control she was displaying was something much more dangerous, Barbara thought, mesmerized by the sight of the younger woman's sinewy form slowly moving with graceful, purposeful strength.
As the younger woman promised, she was doing her damnedest to convince Barbara she was still formidable and ready for sweeps. And begrudgingly, Barbara was beginning to believe she was, though an uneasy feeling still settled in her stomach when she thought of Helena out on the streets without her metapowers.
She knew it was hypocritical to think someone couldn't go on sweeps without special powers. But if anything else happened to Helena . . . .
"Barbara? YoooHoo, Barbara?" Helena said, waving a hand in front of the redhead.
"Huh? Oh, hi," she said sheepishly.
"You OK there, Red? You spaced out there a moment," Helena said, toweling off her sweat from the intense hours in the gym.
"Just thinking," Barbara said, glancing down with mild embarrassment as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
"I'll bet. Any new arguments to keep me off of sweeps?" She asked with a smirk.
"I wasn't thinking about that . . . exactly," Barbara hedged.
"I meant what I said," Helena said as they walked towards the guest room.
"I know. You have shown a lot of improvement . . . ," Barbara offered uncomfortably, rolling behind her.
"Not so much to actually make you comfortable," Helena replied knowingly.
"Hel, I know you think I'm being a bit over protective. . . ."
"It's hard not to want to protect the people you care about," Barbara admitted uncomfortably.
"Hey, you want to go get an early dinner? I'm kind of interested in going out," Helena said, tired of discussing Barbara's doubts in her.
"Oh . . . I can't," Barbara said with a cringe.
"Hot date or something?" Helena asked with a smirk, thinking Barbara spent far too much time in front of the damned computer.
"Well, Wade did call and I need to spend some time with him," Barbara said with a shrug. "Thankfully, it won't be dinner with his parents this time," she added with a sigh.
Helena felt like she was sucker punched. Her stunned look was interpreted by Barbara as confusion.
"Wade is my boyfriend and his parents don't think I'm good enough for him since I'm a cripple," Barbara explained in a nutshell. Very neat and concise, very Barbara, Helena thought.
"Ah. Wade obviously has great taste and the parents are idiots," Helena declared, causing a surprised but pleased smile on Barbara's face. "I'm gonna take a shower and head out - have fun with Wade," she said with a plastered-on smile, feeling the need to get away.
"I will," Barbara said, then added "You too . . . ," as the quickly retreating woman disappeared into the guest room. ". . . Hel."
The water rained down like disappointment over the exhausted woman as she leaned against the shower wall, her head resting against the warm surface. This wasn't how it was supposed to be, she thought as her hands clenched into fists, although she didn't really know how it was supposed to be. But she felt it. Barbara with this Wade guy just felt . . . wrong.
Standing up straight with a deep breath, Helena shook off that uncomfortable feeling and finished her shower. She just needed to get out and see the city sights and not think too hard about . . . anything.
"Big D!" Helena called out from behind the teen, almost causing her to spill her coffee onto the book she was engrossed in reading.
"Helena? What's wrong?" Dinah looked at her with concern, then around the street as if there was a pending attack.
"Nothing. You come here often?" Helena said with a saucy smile and waggled her eyebrows as she joined the teen at the outdoor table.
"Uh . . . this is new," Dinah said uncomfortably.
"What?" Helena asked with a curious smile.
"You allowing yourself to be seen with me . . . in public," Dinah said hesitantly, immediately feeling bad for causing that look of discomfort on Helena's face. "So in honor of this momentous occasion - you can buy me another," Dinah quickly added, closing her book with a big smile.
"I'm on it," Helena said dutifully and turned to find a waitress.
"Miss?" Helena said, motioning to the harried waitress, who just finished cleaning up a messy table, two tables away. She pushed up her glasses and tucked loose strands of light brown hair behind her ear as she made her way towards them. From the large stain on her chinos and apron, she had been in the way of some massive coffee accident.
"And how can I help you today?" she said with a weak smile, trying to be pleasant, though it was clear she was having a bad day.
"I would like to buy my friend here another . . . ." she looked curiously to Dinah, who supplied "Latte."
". . . Latte," Helena repeated with a nod, then added "I'll have a milk."
"Milk?" The waitress looked at her with surprise. Dinah smiled with amusement
"You know, 'does a body good' milk?" Helena responded with a shrug, not missing Dinah stealing a look at the waitress' pleasing form.
"It sure does," the waitress said appreciatively, pulling her glasses down to give her a long appraising look. "Latte and milk coming right up," she said with a grin and left to place the order.
"God! Do women do that to you often? Wow," Dinah said in an amazed whisper, leaning towards Helena.
"More people should drink milk," Helena offered, having no idea how to answer the younger woman's question.
"More people would if they got the reaction you just did," Dinah noted, looking in the direction of the waitress.
"You like her? She's pretty hot," Helena probed, getting a blush.
"I don't want to even go there," Dinah said, holding her hands up in caution.
"You like guys," Helena guessed.
"Not as much," Dinah admitted with a different shade of pink creeping up her neck. Helena smirked.
"I could try and get her number for you."
"I don't need help getting a number!" Dinah growled.
"Hey, I didn't mean to insult you - you just seem a bit shy. Why not ask her yourself?"
"I don't think so," Dinah said uncomfortably.
"So then, you're not into the graduate-student intellectual type?"
"That's not . . . how would you know that's what she is??" Dinah frowned.
Helena leaned towards her as she kept her eyes on the waitress, who was giving their order to the lady behind the counter. "She's obviously not concerned with looking bookish - wearing glasses instead of contacts. And she's working in a place where academics hang out," Helena added, looking around at the many examples sitting at tables reading a variety of books. "She's definitely not a teeny bopper. Seems to have a good sense of self. You've even commented on how bold she is. She's probably working her way through grad school," Helena concluded. "Might be a good influence on you . . . it could be educational," she suggested with a grin as she waggled her eyebrows.
"Helena, she's . . . nice and all . . . but I'm with Gabby," Dinah sputtered, trying not to think about the type of education Helena was suggesting.
"Uh . . . my girlfriend," Dinah said.
A small thoughtful smile filled Helena's face. "There's a lot to catch up with, isn't there?"
"You'll catch up soon enough," Dinah said with encouragement, knowing how much Helena was struggling to deal with her gap in memory. Feeling the need to keep the conversation upbeat, she brought up Helena's favorite subject. "So . . . where's Barbara?"
"She said she had to pay attention to Wade. So I'm on my own," Helena said with a smile that didn't reach her eyes.
So much for upbeat, Dinah thought with a small cringe. She knew it was inevitable Helena would find out about Wade and things would start to change, but they all had been getting along so well and she had selfishly hoped . . . .
"Hey, you don't happen to know where my apartment is, do you?" Helena asked.
"This is . . . . nice," Dinah said hesitantly as they entered the dark space and Helena turned on the light.
"Don't start lying to me now, Dinah. You can call it a dump," Helena said, loudly tripping over a pile of cardboard boxes and empty bottles.
"What a dump," Dinah said, lifting up a nice but wrinkled sweater to see what was beneath it. The moldy half-eaten pizza slice made her groan. "I can't believe you'd do that to your poor clothes."
"Well, I'm sure after I clean this place up, it'll be livable," Helena said, looking at the room and past the thick layer of grime and dirty clothes to see potential - although, she did have to squint really hard.
"Ah . . . are you thinking of moving back here?" Dinah asked with concern.
"Well, I can't stay with Barbara forever," Helena said, going to the kitchen to find a trash bag. It looked like whoever had lived there had just stopped caring, she thought uneasily.
"You . . . she REALLY doesn't mind you staying," Dinah said with an uncomfortable understanding. She hadn't seen her two mentors smile and laugh so much in a long time, if ever - even with Helena's disturbing loss of memory and metapowers.
"I'm not going to mooch off of her any more," Helena responded, then added absently "I wonder if I can rent a sand blaster."
"You're not mooching, you know . . . ." Dinah tried to explain as Helena curiously looked through cabinets.
"How can it be that I actually have more food here than what's in the clock tower?" Helena looked back at Dinah with amazement as she pulled out and displayed a large jar of peanut butter, crackers, pop tarts, and animal crackers.
". . . your estate is footing the bill for the Tower and everything in it," Dinah said awkwardly with a smile, getting Helena's attention.
"My . . . estate?"
"Hooboy," Dinah said with a cringe.
"Are you mad at me?" Dinah asked Helena worriedly as they walked back to the Clock-tower.
"NO! I'm . . . ," Helena exhaled. "I'm just fucking frustrated finding out about my life in bits and pieces, you know?" she said to Dinah, who nodded with a wince.
"I wish I could help," Dinah said in a soft voice.
Helena looked at her with a sad smile. "You do, Kid. But these little bombshells keep reminding me I have large parts of me still missing and . . . it's hard to stay chipper all the time. I don't mean to take it out on you - I'm sorry," she said with a sigh.
"Hey, that's what friends are for," Dinah said, nudging Helena with an elbow.
"Care to go exploring??" Helena suddenly said, getting a surprised and very interested look from Dinah.
Wade and Barbara smiled at the waiter, who finally brought their meals. Barbara glanced at her watch again, wondering what Helena was doing.
"Enjoy your meal," the waiter said with a slight bow and left them alone.
"Are you OK, Barbara? You've been very quiet," Wade said with a sympathetic smile.
"Oh, sorry," Barbara said uneasily, poking at her food with the fork.
"I've been told I'm a pretty good listener. Of course, I am a professional - being a guidance counselor and all," Wade joked easily, provoking a small smile from Barbara.
"It's Helena," Barbara exhaled.
"Surprise," Wade said knowingly with a small smile.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Barbara asked with irritation.
"Well . . . she's just been through a head trauma and lost her memory," Wade explained, making Barbara feel guilty for snapping. "It can't be easy to live with a loss of memory."
"She's doing . . . oh I don't really know," Barbara said in defeat. Before Wade could respond, she continued. "She's so much like the Helena I know, yet she has a calm about her that she's never had before. She's not as argumentative, or rather, she's less volatile than before . . . she still disagrees with me," Barbara said with a sigh.
"Going back to work so soon after the accident," Barbara said.
"Well, is she physically unable to tend bar?" Wade asked curiously.
"I . . . no," Barbara said uncomfortably.
"Hmmm, what?" Barbara said.
"She doesn't seem the type to enjoy being cooped up all day, even with a memory loss," Wade said, sipping his wine. "Maybe it would be good for her to get back to work," he offered reasonably, causing Barbara to sigh.
After they finished their entrée, Barbara started looking at her watch more frequently.
"I gather you won't be staying with me this evening," Wade said with some disappointment, though it wasn't unexpected. He knew Barbara's thoughts were preoccupied with her friend.
"I'm sorry, Wade. I need to go home."
"Hel? Dinah?" Barbara said as she looked around the surprisingly empty clock tower.
"Helena?" She called again, quickly determining she was the only one there. She rolled to Delphi.
Had Dinah told her she was staying with Gabby? Barbara didn't think so. Looking at the map for their GPS signals, she frowned. How could they both have disappeared?
Helena didn't convince Dinah to go on sweeps, did she?? Barbara wondered with growing worry that something bad might have happened to them and dialed the phone.
"Wayne manor, Alfred speaking," Alfred answered the phone.
"Alfred? It's Barbara. I don't want to sound like an alarmist but - do you know where Dinah and Helena are? I haven't been able to contact them on coms and I'm not picking up their GPS signals," Barbara said with a wince. It was nine o'clock and no sign of either of them. So help them if they had gone out on sweeps and turned their signals off!
"I believe they may have turned on the jamming signal while they were . . . spelunking. I did warn them not to touch anything," Alfred responded with irritation.
"They're with you? At the manor??"
"Indeed," Alfred said tightly, miffed at the blatant disregard of his warning. "I'll need to check if anything else was inadvertently activated or deactivated," he said with a sigh.
"What are they doing now?"
Alfred looked over his shoulder at the women on the big leather sofa. "Both ladies are watching a movie. Would you like to speak with Miss Helena?"
"No that's . . . ." Barbara said, hearing muffled voices.
"Barbara?? Is everything ok?" Helena asked with concern.
"Hi, Helena. Everything is just fine, now that I know where you two are. I was a bit concerned with both of you gone, no note, and your GPS signals were not registering on Delphi . . . ."
"You are tracking me with a GPS signal?" Helena said with irritation.
"Hel, it's part of your com set - it's standard issue," Barbara explained.
"Oh," Helena exhaled.
"I should have explained it to you," Barbara said with a frown.
"I want to apologize now for anything else I'll get upset about for no good reason," Helena said with a wince.
"Well then I should apologize now for anything I might say or do that upsets you. I hope you know I . . . I care for you a great deal, Helena."
"Kinda figured, you seem to have a habit of taking care of me."
The warmth in Helena's voice made Barbara smile. "You'd to the same. Well, I didn't mean to interrupt your fun with Dinah," Barbara said, pleased Helena was getting along well with her ward.
"I wouldn't necessarily call it FUN. Did you know Dinah has really bad taste in movies?"
"Actually . . . ," Barbara admitted with a smirk.
"Hmm. Thanks a lot for the warning," Helena grumbled. "Well, at least the night's not a total loss - it is amusing to make her jump at the scary parts," Helena said enthusiastically, causing a soft chuckle from Barbara. "So . . . how was your big date?"
"Uh . . . nice. Wade took me to a nice, quiet restaurant. It was very nice," Barbara said, never comfortable discussing her romantic ventures.
"How . . . nice," Helena said with a frown, firmly believing Barbara deserved far more than nice. "Well, I'll get Dinah back to the clock tower after the movie. I expect it'll be around eleven. Is that OK?"
"That's fine, Helena. I'll see you then."
Barbara glanced at Delphi when it alarmed. Rolling over to her console, she scanned the screen to find the police had found another murder victim, killed under familiar circumstances. Putting on her headset, she sighed, reluctant to interrupt the young women's evening - but duty called.
"Oracle to Dinah."
"Oracle? What's up?" Dinah's chipper voice came through loud and clear.
"I'm sorry to interrupt your movie, but there was another murder about three miles from Wayne manor . . . I'd like you to check it out."
"Uh . . . what about . . . Huntress?"
Barbara sighed and closed her eyes, making a decision she hoped she wouldn't regret. "Take her along - but be . . . ."
"We'll be extra careful, Oracle! Huntress out!"
After a few moments, Barbara glanced over to her map to confirm their GPS signals were also back on line. Thank you Alfred, she thought.
"Oracle? We're here. The body has slashes all over it," Dinah said with a wince, watching as the coroner continued to inspect the body as a police photographer took pictures of the surrounding area. "I'm going to look around," Dinah said, getting Helena to nod.
"Oracle, there are three distinct slashes at the neck that look like the killing blow, just like the other victim," Helena added, her eyes fixed on the dead body. She winced at the gory sight.
"Looks like we've got either a serial killer or a copy cat on our hands," Oracle said.
"I knew you'd show up," Detective Reese said, startling her.
"Oh. Hey," Helena said uncomfortably.
"That's Detective Reese he's a . . . friend. But he only knows you as Huntress. He doesn't know of Dinah or me," Barbara said uncomfortably.
Barbara suspected they were more than friends from the way Helena had flirted with him before, but she didn't ask. She really didn't want to know.
"You don't know what's happening, do you?" He asked pointedly, crossing his arms lazily over his chest.
"Nope. Do you?" She asked.
"So how many does this make?" She asked.
"Three," he said.
"Really? I knew about the other one - the rapist. Who was the third?"
"Gregory DeMarco. A real piece of work. I can't say that I'm sorry he's gone, but it would have been nice to be the one to bring him in."
"Huntress, DeMarco was behind the drug trafficking on the waterfront. Reports didn't disclose the cause of death," Oracle supplied.
"A pusher, rapist . . . what did this guy do?" Huntress asked the detective, glancing at the body curiously.
"The deceased, Harold Hickman, was a wife beater," he noted. "The wife was taken to the hospital. She actually filed charges against him this time. We were out looking for him."
"You found him," Helena said with a grimace as she glanced back at the body.
"So you don't know anything?" He asked again, eyeing her suspiciously.
"Oddly enough, I'm more in the dark than ever," she said with a sigh, gaining a curious look from the handsome man.
"Uh, look. Uh, maybe we can go for . . . coffee or . . . something later?" he asked awkwardly.
"I . . . I've got to go. But thanks. . . Detective Reese," she noted uneasily and started to walk off.
He looked at her oddly. "Hey . . . aren't you going to disappear mysteriously?" He called out.
"Nah. It's a nice night for a walk," Huntress said with a shrug and headed away from the scene.
"Is he gone?" Barbara asked uneasily.
"Yeah. He didn't follow. Where's D?" She said, looking over her shoulder.
"Waiting with the Hummer, two blocks on your left."
"Got it, Huntress out," Helena said, then shivered. Looking around the darkness she listened intently, but didn't hear anything. She shook her head trying to shake off the odd feeling.
"What do you mean??" Barbara asked Dinah.
"I didn't see anything, but I sensed someone or something was watching us," Dinah said, uncomfortable under the displeased glare she received from Barbara.
"Why didn't you tell me right away?" Barbara asked with annoyance. "You know you shouldn't keep something like this from me."
"Give the kid a break, will yah?" Helena said, patting D on the shoulder. "I felt something odd too."
"You did?" Dinah asked curiously.
"I can't believe you two! This could be important, Helena," Barbara said tersely, upset that Helena was not understanding her concern.
"I just felt it . . . a presence. I couldn't tell if it was real or not," Dinah said.
"Same here. Kind of like someone walking on your grave," Hel said with a shiver.
Barbara rolled her eyes.
"Nice image," D said with a frown then added "I looked for it, but didn't see anything."
"You went looking, without backup?!?" Helena snapped.
Relieved Helena was finally onboard with the program, Barbara glared at Dinah, who winced.
"You were busy with Reese, and I wasn't sure what I felt," Dinah said with an uneasy shrug, not thinking it the best time to bring up her feelings the other day, when she also went after the presence alone.
"What did you feel?" Barbara asked.
"Something dangerous, but . . . I didn't feel frightened . . . I don't know," Dinah said, shaking her head. "There was a definite, unnerving presence."
"Our vigilante?" Helena said, sitting on the desk by Barbara.
"Could be. But why haven't we seen more evidence? Why didn't Dinah see him?" Barbara said.
"Well, I'm pretty sure we are not going to solve this mystery tonight and I'm tired. I'll see you both in the morning," Helena said, hopping off the desk and headed towards the elevator.
"Hel?" Barbara asked with surprise.
"Thought I'd try my apartment out," she explained with a shrug, jingling her keys.
"This isn't about the GPS, is it?" Barbara asked with concern.
"No," Helena responded with surprise. "I guess I'm trying to get back to normal . . . well, as best I can," Helena said with an apologetic smile and shrug.
"Of course. Good night, Helena," Barbara said, attempting to cover her disappointment with a weak smile.
"Goodnight you guys," Helena said and entered the elevator.
When the doors shut, Barbara blinked, turning distractedly to Delphi. Why did she have to leave??
"I told her that you didn't mind her staying here," Dinah offered, tucking her hair behind her ear.
"She's a grown woman with her own apartment, Dinah," Barbara said tightly.
"Whose memory started a week ago," Dinah countered.
"I can't force her to stay," Barbara said with irritation.
But you could ask her to, Dinah thought sadly, knowing Barbara had yet to figure that out.
"Maybe being around her apartment will trigger her memories," Barbara added with forced optimism.
"Yeah. Maybe," Dinah said, not convinced.
On the way back to her apartment, Helena stopped by a club for a drink. She ordered a beer and took in the music and lights, trying to cheer herself up. She hated how she felt - confused and ignorant. Ignorant about the important things like . . . Wade. How could Barbara want just . . . nice, she wondered, then sighed realizing she didn't know him. Maybe what Barbara had with him was more than nice, she considered with mixed feelings.
This whole memory loss sucked. It was odd not knowing people who apparently knew you, like Detective Reese. But she had to wonder, if he was really a friend like Barbara says, wouldn't they trust him with their secrets?
When the cold beer was placed in front of her, she smiled at the bartender and paid. "Keep the change," she said, causing a pleased smile at the healthy tip.
She felt a hand on hers briefly, immediately getting her attention. "No milk this evening?" The woman said with amusement.
"Hey!" Helena said with welcome surprise and smiled at the coffeehouse waitress. She certainly looked much more attractive in her silk blouse and jeans than her coffee-stained work garb. Her sandy brown hair was teased just right, Helena thought appreciatively. Her makeup was not overdone and her scent was a subtle gardenia. The only thing Helena missed seeing was her glasses, concluding she must be wearing contacts.
"Hi," she said, returning a pleased smile. "I saw you come in and had to harass you about your beverage choice."
"I like variety," Helena said, tipping the neck of her bottle towards her pretty companion in a polite salute before taking a sip, causing the pretty woman to grin.
"Good to know. I came with some friends, you want to join us?"
"I'd love to, but I can't stay much longer," Helena said apologetically.
"No problem, I'll take whatever I can get," she said, sitting down next to Helena at the bar, getting an amused look. "Let's start with names," she said, holding her hand out. "Gwen Turner."
"I'm Helena Kyle, pleased to meet you," Helena said, firmly shaking her hand. Gwen's grip lingered longer than she expected as she was being sized up.
"You seem a bit more relaxed than earlier today," Helena said with a smirk.
"I'm never going to step foot in a coffee house again - except as a customer."
"How . . . ? Yes, I am," she answered with an amused grin. "Impressive."
"You are the impressive one. What degree are you getting?"
"Uh . . . Genetic engineering," she said, suddenly shy as she gauged Helena's reaction when she added "and physics."
"Now THAT's impressive," Helena said with genuine enthusiasm. "Masters?"
"Doctorates," she said with a bit of pride.
"Wow. What luck, I happen to like brainy women," Helena said with a big smile.
A relieved smile filled Gwen's pretty face, making it beautiful. "A lot of people are put off by a woman with intelligence."
"That just shows how ignorant they are. Why, if you date a brainy person, it takes all of the pressure off you having to know how to program your DVR."
"That keeps you up at night, does it?" Gwen asked with amusement.
"Oh yes," Helena said gravely. "I toss and turn, turn and toss, wondering if I'll miss something good . . . ."
"Well, I wouldn't want you to miss something good," Gwen said with a very interested gaze.
"No?" Helena asked innocently, slowly leaning towards the young woman and eyeing her lips.
"Do you have a pen?" Gwen asked as she pulled back, causing Helena to frown - for two reasons - missing the kiss and not having a pen.
The barkeep, having heard the conversation, silently produced a pen and pushed it towards Helena.
"Why of course!" Helena suddenly said, holding up the pen that magically appeared by her hand. Gwen laughed and took the pen as Helena gave the barkeep a smile and nod of thanks.
He shook his head and walked away, drying a glass.
"My number," she said with a sly grin and proceeded to write on the tender part of Helena's forearm. "If you are still worried about missing something good, call me," Gwen said as Helena smiled, glancing at the number.
"See you around," Gwen said and started to leave, but paused and turned back towards her. She eyed her a moment before gently kissing Helena on the lips. "Bye," she breathed softly.
"Bye," Helena answered in a whisper.
Opening the door to her apartment, Helena sensed something was off. She looked over to the window and found the curtains gently rustling in the breeze. She couldn't recall if it was open when she and Dinah had left earlier that day. Turning on the lights, she scanned the living room and found nothing out of place.
Feeling tired and grimy, Helena peeled off her clothes as she headed towards the shower. She turned on the spigot. After a moment, she stepped under the warm water and exhaled with pleasure as she started to shampoo her hair. What an interesting night, she considered. Exploring "her" estate, sweeps with Dinah, well sorta . . . seeing a crime scene with a mutilated body, she amended with a grimace. But the night did end on a very promising note she considered, unable to help the smile that grew on her face as she thought about meeting up with Gwen and the sweet kiss.
Her smile suddenly evaporated. "Crap!!" She said jumping away from the water to check her forearm. Breathing a sigh of relief that she could still read the numbers, she gingerly rinsed off and got out of the shower in search of something to write with. Settling on the small bar of hand soap and the mirror, she transcribed the phone number to another temporary home.
Drying off, she thought about the kid going off alone, looking for what was giving them the heebee-geebees. What if Dinah needed backup? Was she really equipped to do battle against a meta killer? She had gotten her ass whipped by both Barbara and the kid, she reminded herself with a frown. Why did she ever think this was ever a good idea? Helena sighed as doubts grew.
Pulling on some silk boxers and a sleeveless tee, she padded back into her bedroom, which was dark again. She froze, distinctly recalling turning on the lights. A chill washed over her - she could feel a dark presence.
"I thought . . . I was alone," the breathy voice of an intruder admitted curiously.
Helena squinted to see the source of the voice, which was to her right. It sounded female, but that didn't make her feel any safer.
"That makes two of us," Helena said nervously, only making out a shadow.
"I saw you tonight. The Kid was with you. She could . . . sense me."
Helena felt a slight breeze. Now the voice was behind her saying "She is difficult to avoid."
Helena's heart pounded at how swift this being was, knowing it could easily kill her or anyone she set her sights on. Somehow she knew her visitor was behind the three deaths. Maybe more, she amended with a cringe. "She's a good kid. Don't hurt her," Helena said, blinking trying to get her eyes adjusted to the dark.
"Are you her protector?" The being said with an incredulous laugh. "How do you plan on doing that? You couldn't have even lost Reese if he decided to tail you."
"I'll do what I need to," Helena bravely vowed, then felt the sharp tips of a claw swiftly swipe at her bicep, leaving three bloody marks. "OW! What the hell did you do that for?"
"To remind you how pathetic you are, human."
"Says the insane monster who's going around murdering people?" Helena snapped, holding her arm.
The visitor laughed. "Insane monster? We both have wanted to dispense justice. I'm just the only one willing to actually do it."
"Justice? You call mauling that last guy, Harold Hickman, justice??"
"Did you see what he did to his wife? If you did, you would know he deserved more than what he got. Even YOU would have wanted to do it to him."
Helena frowned and protested uncomfortably "I've never wanted to kill anyone."
"Really?? You've never wanted to make your mother's murderer pay for every moment you watched her bleed to death in your arms?"
Helena blinked. Her mother died in her arms?
"You've never wanted to make the Joker really pay, once and for all, for robbing Barbara the use of her legs?"
Helena frowned as she let out an uneasy exhale, feeling some anger grow.
"You didn't want to tear apart those men who killed Black Canary, destroying Dinah's chance of finally getting to know her mother?" she taunted.
"Dinah's mother was a Black Canary??" Helena asked uneasily.
"You don't know??" The intruder asked with surprise, walking around her. The shadowy figure wasn't as big as Helena would have guessed from the substantial presence she felt. "You don't know . . . ." she repeated that fact and exhaled with interest.
"How do I know any of that is true?" Helena snapped, feeling even more frustrated with her memory gap.
"No memories. No pain. That must be . . . ," the intruder said, searching for the correct word, then added softly "wonderful."
"Who are you?" Helena said with frustration, reaching out to grab the uninvited visitor's arm. She suddenly found herself thrown into the wall. "Ooof." Helena crumbled to the ground.
"Don't. Touch. Me," the female growled.
"Oookaaay," Helena said, getting up on her feet slowly. Once on her feet, curiosity, or a sudden bout of insanity, took hold. Her hand darted to the wall to turn on the lights, allowing her a brief look at her antagonist who recoiled and growled at the sudden brightness.
The intruder bore distinctive cat-like features, her eyes were unnerving, inhuman slits, her cheek bones were slightly pronounced, her skin was covered with delicate golden hair. Her ears were decidedly pointed as were her nails, which, Helena could personally attest, were sharp as hell.
Before Helena could blink, the cat-woman had fled.
"Damn it!" Helena hissed and rushed to pull some clothes on.
Helena looked up at the building tops against the night sky with frustration, realizing her hopes of catching up were futile. There was no way she could find this cat-woman if she didn't want to be found, she thought miserably.
"Hey, sweet thing. Tonight is your lucky night," a barrel-chested man said, approaching her with a smirk and a few equally slimy friends. Helena looked at the men and realized she was in a heap of trouble. She might have been able to take two, possibly three. But FIVE?
Her hand went up to her ear to call for help. Her stomach dropped when it touched bare flesh, remembering she had left her coms on the bathroom vanity.
"You know, I really don't think it is," she responded with resignation, keeping her eyes on the men who surrounded her.
One man grabbed at her from behind but a hammer fist to his groin quickly put him down with a high-pitched yelp. She was charged by another goon on her right, who she dodged and pushed into a pile of trash cans that made a loud racket.
"You like rough, Sweet thing? We can do rough," he pulled out a switchblade and approached her as another charged her from the left. She couldn't dodge both the knife and the other man's punch. She avoided the knife and received the blow to her side. She fell to one knee as the man with the knife swiped it at her again, cutting through her sleeve and nicking her skin.
"Ugh," she grunted as she got up and side kicked the puncher.
"It doesn't have to be this way you know," the man with the knife said reasonably. "We just want to party."
"I really don't appreciate your invitation," Helena said, standing up and finding four guys still very much a threat.
Two men charged her, she managed to kick one in the head but was slammed into a dumpster and exhaled in pain. Blindly reaching in the trash, she found something to use. She swung the broken broom handle back and hit another man hard in his arm, causing him to stumble back.
She swung the make-shift weapon to another man's temple, knocking him out cold.
"Bitch!" His buddy snarled.
She turned towards the man with the knife and glanced at the two other men who were circling her. She was getting tired but adrenaline kept her going. There was no way she would let them "party" with her.
"I've just gotten started," she spat at him, taking the offensive and pushing the guy with the knife back as she blocked his jab and solidly hit his jaw. She had no time to congratulate herself when he stumbled and fell; The two remaining guys charged at her. She successfully dodged one attacker but was tripped by the other, falling to the ground hard. Scrambling up, she received a kick to her stomach that took her breath away.
The pain was excruciating in her already bruised side as she was tackled to the ground. With partial success, she blocked the fists that rained down upon her. She tried to squirm out from beneath the man who straddled her but found him too heavy. He laughed, his bad breath making her wince. She felt his large, hard arousal as he rubbed himself against her and promised "All that's for you, sweet thing."
Suddenly, she grabbed his shirt and pulled herself towards him, successfully head butting him and breaking his nose.
With a stream of curses, he rolled off her but her small victory was short-lived when the other man started to kick and hit her with the broken broomstick. She scrambled to get out of the way but the blows kept landing. . . .
Helena felt the breeze on her face. She felt like she was flying. She always wanted to fly. That would be so cool, she thought as she blacked out again.
Barbara Gordon woke with a start. Blinking, she tried to push aside her grogginess and get her bearings. She looked over to the nightstand to see the red numbers of her clock read 2:33 AM. Hearing something in the living room, she sat up, suddenly more alert. Grabbing her robe, she shifted herself swiftly to her wheelchair and sought out the source of the noise.
In the living room, she felt, rather than saw something. "Helena?" She called out automatically, surprising herself with her guess. Since Helena had lost her metapowers, it was unlikely she would be startled by her sudden appearance.
Her eyes drifted curiously to the balcony, where the door was open and swaying gently. A pained exhale made her jump. She sought out the noise, gasping at the bruised and bloodied body of her friend on the couch. "Helena . . . ." she said with concern.
"Don't go . . . ." Helena mumbled as Barbara dabbed the younger woman's forehead with a cool wash cloth.
"Helena? We're not going anywhere," Barbara said softly, looking at her friends bruised and cut face with a wince.
Helena's eyes blinked as she blurted with agitation "what??"
"It's OK, Helena," Barbara said, caressing her head tenderly, the washcloth forgotten. "You're OK now."
The sound of her voice settled down the injured woman, whose eyes were open but trying to focus. Not knowing where she was right away, her eyes darted around uneasily until they settled on concerned green eyes.
"Barbara . . . ." Helena exhaled with quiet relief, knowing she was safe now.
Barbara awkwardly retracted her comforting hand from her head.
"You know, you have a really bad habit of scaring the hell out of me," Barbara said with a pained wince as her hand returned to rest on Helena's shoulder.
Dinah silently watched, knowing Barbara's touch not only comforted Helena. She concluded Helena understood that as well when Helena slowly covered Barbara's hand with hers. "Sorry," Helena said softly, still groggy and weak from her injuries.
Barbara's tense expression softened a bit. "What happened, Hel?" She asked gently, searching tired eyes.
"Did . . . Did you see her?" she said weakly, looking around the room uneasily, causing Barbara to frown.
"See who?" Dinah asked as Helena exhaled with exhaustion for that small movement.
"Cat . . . woman . . . ." she mumbled before fatigue overcame her again and she shut her eyes.
"Shouldn't we get her to the hospital?" Dinah asked with a wince as she joined Barbara's side at Delphi.
"I don't think it's necessary," she answered, glancing at the balcony thoughtfully before pulling off her glasses to pinch the bridge of her nose, a small indicator of Barbara's stress. Dinah didn't have to read her mind to know that what was going on with Helena weighed heavily on her mentor - both the "accident" causing the loss of her metapowers, as well as the latest injuries.
"I've dressed her cuts and bandaged her ribs and thankfully, there isn't a fever," Barbara said, then offered "But I will call the "family" doctor to have him come as soon as he can to be on the safe side." She absently glanced at the balcony again and said "she doesn't heal like she used to."
After Barbara finished with the call to the doctor, Dinah said uneasily "she asked if we saw her mother."
"She saw . . . . someone. . . who looked like a cat," Barbara corrected with confidence, glancing at the balcony again as the evidence started to form into a disturbing theory.
Dinah sighed at the continued mystery then glanced back to Barbara's room. "Why didn't she call for backup?" Dinah grumbled.
"I don't know," Barbara said tightly, frustrated at her general lack of knowledge about Helena's entire situation. Glancing at the balcony, she considered her injured friend's surprisingly stealthy appearance and asked hesitantly "How do you think Helena was able to enter the clock tower through the balcony?"
Dinah hadn't really thought about it and looked at the balcony curiously. "Either she got her metapowers back - which wouldn't make sense with the condition she's in now," she said, then added uneasily "or she had help."
"I felt . . . a strong presence, Dinah," Barbara offered uncomfortably.
"I told . . . !" The teen said triumphantly - then blanched. "Oh no. It knows where we live?!?" Dinah squeaked with concern.
"I don't think she means us harm - she helped Helena," Barbara admitted with surprising confidence, though hating the absence of crisp and clean answers to all her questions.
"But Helena's arm . . . those were the killer's claw marks, weren't they?!?" Dinah asked in confusion. "Why would she mark her then help her??"
Delphi alarmed, preempting further discussion. Barbara swiftly rolled towards the console and brought up the information on the main screen.
"It's a police report," Barbara said, looking at Dinah. "They found five dead men. All suffered from multiple slashes - like the others."
"Do you think they were connected to what happened to Helena tonight?"
Barbara was not one to normally rely on a gut feel in the absence of proof, but she couldn't help but answer "Yes."
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