Author's Disclaimer: Don't own them. And don't have any money worth suing for. Just taking them out for a spin.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and places are the property of the WB, Warner Brothers Television, Tollin/Robbins, and DC Comics. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. . This site is in no way affiliated with “The Birds of Prey,” the WB, or any representatives of Dina Meyer, Ashley Scott, or Rachel Skarsten. This site contains stories between two mature, consenting adult females.
Author’s Notes: This is an alt-universe -- because Wade isn't going to die. But he won't get the girl, either. And, Helena had trusted Dr. Quinzel enough to tell her Everything.
Dedication: As always, this is dedicated to my very dearest friend Quire. I do it all for you, Mulder.
Wade, stalwart man that he was, hadn’t given up the ghost immediately.
Sure, all right, okay, Dick was still ensconced in a guest room of the Clocktower.
And Helena, ‘Baby Jesus’ as he’d heard Dick growlingly call her one evening, was still omnipresent. He’d hoped against hope, idiot that he knew he was, that he was wrong. It had taken only one evening, though, to find out.
Helena had suggested movies and Thai at the Clocktower on the next Friday afternoon.
So they’d all—Barbara, Helena, Dinah, Dick and Wade—enjoyed a tremendous helping of Thai food before they’d popped in the first DVD.
Action. Of course. Because Helena had picked the movies. As soon as the first movie had come to an end, though, Helena had said. “Don’t know about you guys, but I want more popcorn.”
Barbara countered with a “Don’t know about you guys, but I’m taking a bathroom break.”
Helena had jumped up and had very casually asked Barbara, “Need a lift?” And Barbara had said, “Sure, thanks.” Which was world-shaking, actually. Barbara never let anyone help her, carry her. Ever. Anywhere.
Helena hadn’t hesitated, had picked the older woman up very gently and matter-of-factly, and placed her in her chair, before asking, “Anybody need refills?”
No. Hell no. The other three were too…something…by not only the accepted assistance but by the soft, sweet look this assistance had won Helena.
After the two women left the room, the three remaining spectators sat in silence for a few beats before Wade asked Dick, “She ever let you pick her up like that?” Dick was on the same wavelength as Wade…and Dinah, for that matter. “Nah, man.”
Dinah tried to salvage the moment with, “Well, you guys know…uh…she’s used to Helena helping her from back when…” The sentence died as both men looked at her—a look that said her explanation was just as lame as it sounded to her own ears. Oh well, she thought, she’d tried.
A few minutes later, as they’d rejoined the others, the three were informed yet again by the casual way Helena placed Barbara gently on the couch beside Wade that they were, and always would be, outsiders at a party for two.
After the movies, Dick and Dinah looked Helena’s way before going out on their sweep.
”Hell no, still on vacation, thanks. I’m staying home and relaxing with the kids. Feel free to call us, though, if you get into trouble.” After an hour and a half, Delphi alerted them to a silent alarm going off in a department store. Five minutes later, Barbara and Wade heard a rather nervous-sounding announcement from Nightwing.
<Holy batshit, Oracle! There are about…uh…15-20 guys with machetes. Do ya think Huntr-->
Wade could scarcely believe the speed with which Helena had disappeared. And they’d listened to the flurry of activity that followed, Barbara realized, with even more anxiety than she would have if the men had been armed with guns. Because guns were, well, sort of normal. Machetes though? Weird.
When Helena joined Nightwing and Canary, she was astonished to see a shitload of guys wearing hokey martial artsy costumes and swinging, whoa—he hadn’t been lying—machetes. Machetes, for God’s sake.
She got their attention with a “What the fuck are you guys? A gardening gang?” As she’d swung into action, she quickly found that kicking an ass being protected by a whirling blade was a pain in the ass.
In the ensuing fight, any semblance of martial arts training the men possessed quickly disappeared as they became tired and scared. They started to swing their blades like baseball bats.
Helena heard a startled yelp from Dinah and saw that she’d slipped and fallen. She abruptly abandoned the three men she was fighting to assist her, since about ten of the guys immediately jumped to attack the fallen girl. After wading into that melee, she soon remembered a little fighting tenet of hers “Leave no ass kicking before its time.” What brought this home to her was the sting of a blade cutting her arm. And again. And her leg. Make that legs. Her back. Again. And again. It was only her meta-human reflexes that allowed her to react enough to keep the blows from being fatal.
After Dinah had scrambled up and Nightwing rushed in, she’d felt the sting of another blow as she whirled around, looked down at her tattered clothes and body, then charged the three men, shouting. “Do you have any (punch) idea (punch) how (kick) much (kick) I loved (throttle) this outfit?”
The outrage committed against her fashion was going to make cleaning up the rest of the guys not only a duty but a pleasure.
Barbara and Wade then listened to about ten minutes of tremendous swearing from Huntress and Nightwing, punctuated by an occasional high-pitched ‘Fuck!’ from Dinah. A low whistle followed hearing the last man go down and Nightwing said <Oracle, Huntress is cut up pretty badly. We’ll be right there.>
As they’d walked in, Barbara and Wade were stunned by the sight of an incredibly bloody Helena accompanied by two apparently untouched companions. Even her hair had suffered in the attack—looking now as if she’d used blood as a hair gel.
”Take off your clothes. Now.”
”God, I love it when you say that.” Helena’s truly mischievous grin was met by an exasperated blush from Barbara. “
”Uh oh, still in Oracle mode, I see.”
Helena plopped down in a chair and took off her boots. As she began unbuttoning her leather pants, she noticed the slightly averted eyes of the men in the room. “Hey, I don’t think I took any hits in the ass so don’t turn away on my account.“
After undressing to her underwear, the extent of her injuries was startling. The cuts, the wounds, were everywhere.
Which scared Barbara. And which, idiotically enough, made Barbara furious.
“See? See Helena! This is what vacations do! You lose your edge. You get slop—“
Dick started to say something that was interrupted by Helena.
”Uh, NO!” Helena barked, ”Dinah slipped and about a hundred of them turned on her. Consequently, I didn’t exactly have the time to kick the asses I was working on as thoroughly as I wanted. I wasn’t sloppy, I was just—” she stopped, thought about this for a beat. “Okay, well maybe I was a little sloppy. I think the idea of our lovely young ward becoming deli meat freaked me out just enough that I didn’t care if I protected myself.” She turned to Dinah, “Nothing against you, though, D. Anybody can slip. You kicked major ass.”
As everyone watched Dinah grow visibly taller under the weight of that compliment, Barbara’s anger disappeared just as quickly as it had appeared. Over-protectiveness was not something she could exactly fault anyone else for. She moved closer, “I understand…let’s talk about it later. Stand up.”
Dinah, Dick and Wade watched as she slowly went over Helena’s body like an experienced groom inspecting a well-loved racehorse. Gently but firmly tracing each limb, the muscles of Helena’s back, her stomach. The two women were remarkably unselfconscious about it all—it was as if the other three weren’t even in the room.
“Head.” Helena leaned over for this order and Barbara ran her fingers quite thoroughly over the woman’s scalp. “I don’t see anything up here—why’s your hair bloody?”
”After the fight I was trying to touch it up a bit with my hands—then I sort of realized my hands were bloody.”
Barbara tousled her hair before letting her stand up. “I think you’re going to live but you’re going to need stitches in about twelve of those, sweetie.”
Helena yawned, suddenly feeling that low that sometimes followed the high of combat. “Alright, boss. I’ll take a quick shower and you can get to work. Make a night of it.”
Barbara’s voice was peeved but her gaze was incredibly fond. “Great…my kind of night. Me, you and the suture kit.” She shook her head and smiled up at Helena. “You know, sometimes I just don’t know what I’m going to do with you.”
We do, everyone else in the room thought at once. It was obvious. Glaringly obvious, actually, to Dinah, Dick and Wade exactly what Barbara would eventually be doing with Helena.
Later, after showering and donning a fresh sports bra and a pair of boxers Helena had purchased in her 2.5 minute modesty phase during high school, they’d all retired to the workout room so that she could lie on the massage table for Barbara’s better access. Barbara began by injecting anesthetic into each wound in preparation for suturing.
“OUCH!” Barbara! Dinah? Are you two lau—don’t you DARE laugh at me.”
”I’m sorry, Hel, it’s just that,” Barbara countered, injecting her again…
Dinah dissolved into mirth, utterly unmoved by Helena’s glare. Even Dick and Wade looked a little amused.
“What I was going to say is that it’s just that it’s a little incongruous…” she made another injection.
“—Big bad Huntress and her little bitty shots,” Barbara finished.
Helena could hear a slight whine in her voice, which wasn’t necessarily attractive—but hey, there it was. “Little bitty my ASS. What the fuck’s incongruous about that? The shots hurt worse than the stitches—they sure as shit hurt worse than the cuts.”
Barbara was willing to concede this point and she felt sorry, but just a little, for laughing at the other woman’s pain. “I know, sweetheart, I’m sorry.”
The soothing voice and calling her ‘sweetheart’ seemed to make up—instantly—for the laughter, and Helena took a towel and bit down on it for the rest of the shot ordeal.
After ten of these shots, Wade’s face began to change. Helena noticed it first and she took the towel out of her mouth.
”Hey, Wade, you’d better sit down, dude. You’re looking a little green around the gills.”
I’ll say, Wade thought, deciding a manly retreat was in order.
”Thanks but you know what? I should probably beat it. I don’t have much of a history with the sight of blood and I’d really like not to faint and look like even more of a wuss than I probably do to you guys already.”
”I don’t think you’re a wuss.” Wade found it difficult to believe Helena had said this with a straight face.
Dick shrugged. ”Me neither man.” And Dick? Nightwing Dick? Wow.
“Nah, no wuss.” Even little Dinah, who could kick his ass with one hand. Now that was sweet.
Barbara turned her gorgeous eyes to him and smiled. “You’re not us, Wade—and nobody here expects you to be. I’m absolutely positive you’re just as brave and capable as the next civilian.”
”That’s nice of you guys to say—really—but I’d better go or you’ll be treating me next.” He kissed Barbara on the cheek and nodded at everyone else. “Glad you’re okay, Helena. Call you tomorrow, Babs.”
As Wade drove home, he thought with no little regret how sad it was that he was going to have to break up with Barbara. Insanely beautiful, charming, intelligent woman that she was.
It was just that, hell, it was time. It was getting a little embarrassing for him to be hanging around with a woman who was in love with someone else. Even if she hadn’t seemed to notice yet. He’d been waiting around long enough—willing to take what he could get—not only because, let’s face it, she was a babe, but because he was just enough of a guy to get a real thrill out of watching superheroes and vigilante justice.
But at least, he reflected, in the grand scheme of things, even though he could never tell anyone, he’d always know that he’d slept with Batgirl.
Him. Boring-ass teacher Wade. And Batgirl. HOO-AH!
He laughed aloud at the sheer wonder of it and, nice guy that he truly was, in his heart he honestly wished them well—all of them.
After about an hour of suturing, Dinah and Dick looked, and were, bored.
”How long do you think this’ll take, Babs?”
Barbara didn’t even look up. ”Another hour.”
“I’m thinking maybe me and the Canary will go back to the sweep.”
”That’s fine, Dick—I can hear Delphi from here.”
“Great. We’ll be back in a couple of hours.”
As Dinah trotted off happily after him, Helena scowled. “She never looks that happy going out with me.”
”Probably because Dick calls her Canary or Dinah, not kid. That and he is pretty easy on the eyes, you know.”
Helena’s scowl deepened. ”Don’t remind me.”
Barbara laughed gently, pulling yet another wound shut. “You have no reason to be jealous of Dick. That’s ancient history.”
She worked in silence for a few minutes before Helena asked, “Can I stay here tonight—on the couch, I mean?”
”It’s your home, Hel, and if you want, you can sleep with me in my room.” She looked up briefly. “Nothing’s changed in that regard.”
Helena laughed. “Wow. Two great sentences in one night. ‘Take off your clothes now’ and ‘you can sleep with me.’”
It was Barbara’s turn to scowl—which she did at Helena’s wound, because suddenly she didn’t feel equal to meeting the other woman’s eyes.
A full 45 minutes of silence went by before Helena girded up the courage to ask softly, “Hey Barbara?”
“Have you even thought about it at all?”
Barbara cleared her throat. ”It?”
The length of silence after this was positively excruciating. And if Helena hadn’t been attached by a thread, literally, she probably would have fled.
Barbara didn’t look up from her work but she did finally reply. “I’ve thought of very little else for weeks.”
”And I don’t know, Helena.” She grinned sheepishly. “I always thought you were the one with commitment issues…but maybe it’s me.”
Helena considered this. What could she possibly say to that?
Barbara finally looked up, looked Helena over as if surveying her work, and then sighed. “You know, sometimes I almost hate you.”
At the surge of pain Barbara saw in Helena’s eyes, she quickly added, “Only because you’ve been treated like ground round tonight and you still look…so absolutely gorgeous.”
The younger woman’s eyes became softer. “And just think, all of this could be yours.”
Barbara immediately turned back to her suturing. “That’s what I’m afraid of actually.”
Something about Helena’s wound was suddenly particularly interesting.
”Of course I am. Or maybe you wouldn’t know. Maybe love doesn’t scare you”
“Of course it scares me.” Helena took a deep breath and waved at her wounds, the suture kit. “Are we finished here?”
”Good. Can we finish this discussion in bed?” Helena laughed at the alarm in Barbara’s eyes. “I’m tired.”
So they’d continued the conversation in bed.
Helena had put on one of Barbara’s New Gotham High t-shirts and was amused to find Barbara had chosen the equivalent of a suit of armor, given her usual taste in nightwear. She was wearing a long-sleeved pajama pants and top and was sitting propped up rather rigidly with three pillows behind her back.
“Is it the whole ‘woman thing’?
”Yeah, I mean you have noticed I’m a woman, right? The breasts are a dead giveaway—well, that and the fact nobody calls me a cross-dresser when I wear a skirt.”
”No, that’s not a problem—strangely enough, no—not at all.”
Helena looked down at the comforter, “so…I guess you’re basically saying you don’t love me that way, huh? That it?”
“No! That’s not the—look Hel, the problem is that you’re—“ Barbara didn’t quite know how the English language was escaping her, “I mean, you know you’re—“ she stopped in mid-sentence.
“You’re the most important relationship, person…thing in my life. I mean…if we ruined it, I truly don’t know what I would do.”
”I don’t understand. How would completing our relationship ruin it?”
”But that’s just it. I’d have you, this—“ Barbara waved her hand vaguely at Helena’s body before looking away, “perfect, complete wonder and you’d have…half a person.”
Helena used her hand to lift Barbara’s chin so she could see her eyes. “Oh no. Not just the half of you, baby. I’d want the full meal deal.” She tried to play off her desperate sincerity with a saucy waggle of her eyebrows.
Barbara blushed before a look of true embarrassment flooded her face. “My point exactly, Helena. Why would you want me? I mean, for example, even if you did…that…I wouldn’t feel it.”
“Oh?” Helena snorted. “You don’t think you’d feel it?”
There were unshed tears and the raw pain of experience in those green eyes. “I know I wouldn’t.”
Helena thought for exactly one minute. No guts no glory, no guts no glory. No guts no glory.
”Barbara, would you mind if we tried a short experiment?” If it had been an appropriate time to laugh—Helena would have laughed aloud at the sudden anxiety in the other woman’s eyes.
“Ten minutes. Rules are I’m going to touch you exactly once and you can’t touch me at all.”
Boy, Helena thought, Barbara sure had a talent for making a two-syllable word seem like a paragraph.
With one easy movement, she was straddling the older woman at waist level but, Barbara noted quickly, no, she wasn’t actually touching her. Just sort of hovering over her.
For a moment Helena looked at her with such adoration that she thought she would cry. She watched the woman move closer and closer. If she’d been touching her, she would have been stroking one cheek with own, would have been kissing her…neck. She could feel Helena’s breath on her neck, wondered vaguely how the warmth of the other woman’s skin could seem like it was burning her when it wasn’t touching her.
She also reassured herself that, biologically speaking, it was impossible for her head just to explode, though that’s how it felt.
Her lips were so close to hers—she was embarrassed to feel disappointed when Helena sat back a bit to look at her. Still not touching her. Then…she would have been touching her face, running her hands over her neck and her shoulders, her collarbones, up and down the length of her arms. She would have been if she’d been touching her—but she wasn’t. Surely it was impossible that she wasn’t touching her. She wondered if this was some meta-human oddity—the surreal warmth of these hands, hands that weren’t touching her.
All rational thought disappeared as she watched Helena’s hands not touching the swell of her breasts, not touching her nipples. Helena would be kissing her breasts if she were actually kissing her, kissing her stomach, running her hands down the sides of her body.
“Time for your one touch, Ms. Gordon.” She stifled a groan as she watched Helena rise slightly, as she watched Helena gently open her legs enough that Helena could sit between them.
“Now watch this.”
Barbara almost laughed. As if there were anything, on planet Earth, more worth watching the woman who was now running her hands over the lengths of her legs, over her knees, over her hip bones, not touching her, but so close and then…even Helena gasped a little as her hands ran up the inside of the woman’s thighs and then…
As Helena began to reposition herself, she spoke but she didn’t look up at Barbara as she did so.
”You see, Barbara, the woman who loves you,” she moved downward, then upward—she would have been kissing her way up Barbara’s legs if she’d been touching her, “lies awake every night longing for you…starving for you. She’s been dying to taste you, to smell you, to…lose herself in you.”
And she would have been kissing her sex, would have, indeed been rubbing her chin, each cheek on her, in her. Barbara gasped as she watched the woman’s bangs actually touch her there—the only touch there was.
”And after the woman who loves you has bathed in your sights and smells and tastes,” Helena continued murmuring, “she’ll want to push her tongue inside you…again and again, until she needs more.“
Helena propped herself on one elbow and pushed her other hand down, down. Barbara was slightly embarrassed to hear herself groan as she watched that hand disappear into her boxer shorts. Helena gasped as she touched herself, saw Barbara’s hands clutch the comforter.
She continued, “And she’ll need more because she needs to have more inside you—she needs to be surrounded by you because it means everything to her to be so close to you. You’re so wet…and so hot…and so tight…and she slides one, and then two and then three fingers inside you.”
“And then,” Helena, her eyes now their feral meta-human yellow, was looking Barbara right in her eyes. “she fucks you and fucks you…and fucks you.”
Although Barbara had never been particularly fond of that word in the bedroom, she had to admit it gained a staggering amount of value and allure if you were watching Helena Kyle fuck herself while poised over your body.
As she watched this, she felt a hell of a number of things, one of which she was surprised to realize was tenderness. For this beautiful woman she loved so much, who was so unashamedly pleasuring herself in front of her.
Helena’s eyes pinned her with her gaze, never left hers, and as she saw her getting closer and closer to a climax, she felt that she was right there with her, breathing at the same rate—she knew she was just as flushed as Helena. Was it even possible, Barbara thought suddenly, wildly, to have a mental orgasm?
She found out in ten seconds.
Yes, it was. It wasn’t physical, actually she couldn’t possibly define what it was that swept over her as she heard Helena’s voice “Oh…oh… yes…Barbara, Barbara, Barbara.” She only knew she was gasping for air just as much as her…lover.
She watched, swallowed hard, as Helena slowly pulled her hand from her shorts and wiped her hand on her face before licking her fingers with a salacious grin. She climbed toward the head of the bed and leaned in to whisper in Barbara’s ear.
Barbara could feel the heat shimmering off that body, smell the other woman’s arousal as Helena whispered, “Didja feel that, baby?”
Helena leaned back, her eyes again their ravishing blue, and looked an astonished Barbara in the eyes, who shook her head and cleared her throat before rasping out, “Helena, I think people in China felt that.”
Helena chuckled. “Gee whiz, huh? We just made love and we didn’t even touch each other.” She pulled Barbara’s pajama top up just far enough that she could actually straddle her where she could feel it. She watched Barbara’s eyes widen impossibly as she felt the warm, damp cloth of Helena’s shorts lower onto her skin. “By the way, just so you know “ Helena cupped Barbara’s cheek, “even if you had never been injured, I would always have wanted to make love to that beautiful mind of yours just as much as the rest of your body.”
She leaned forward and kissed her gently before adding, “Barbara Gordon, you are the love of my life. If you’ll just let me love you, I’ll spend the rest of that life making certain, injury be damned, that you feel it.”
Barbara looked at her with something like bewilderment for a few beats. “That almost sounded like a proposal.”
”Well…yeah, I guess so. Of sorts. I mean, if I could make it legal, I wouldn’t hesitate.”
Helena felt the rather short silence that followed was about two years long. Just as she began to wish she’d never been born—
“I said yes.”
Helena couldn’t believe her ears—began to second-guess herself. She sounded embarrassed, anxious when she spoke “But…I mean…this isn’t just ‘cause I’m really cute and wear cool clothes and I’m an ass-kicker extraordinaire and ‘cause now you’re suspecting I’d be really phenomenal in bed, is it?”
Barbara laughed, then leaned forward and kissed Helena. “No, it’s because I love you. You make me feel like a whole person…you make me a whole person.”
As she hugged her tightly, “I hope you understand, though, that I’ll, uh, have to break up with Wade, obviously, before anything else happens.”
”Can we say cell phone?”
She felt Barbara chuckle. “No, the old-fashioned, respectful way. In person.”
”Oh, and on one other condition.”
Helena pulled away to look at her. ”Name it, darlin’.”
Barbara turned her head to the side. “Darling…wow.” She grinned. “I like that—a lot.”
Helena smiled at her. ”I said name it, darlin’”
”I’d really like for you to do that…little show for me again sometime.”
”Say the word and I’ll do it for you right this minute.”
Barbara laughed. “I don’t think I could take it…the top of my head would fly off.”
They both started a bit as they heard Dinah call from the next room, “We’re baaaack.”
Dick and Dinah heard a muffled response from Barbara’s room, ”We’ll be right out!”
In a few moments, they watched as a surprisingly rosy Helena was followed into the room by a pajama clad Barbara. “You guys wanna watch that last movie?”
“Sure, Hel.” Dinah touched Helena on the shoulder, “How ya feel--?”
She knew how she was feeling after the flash of vision this touch produced. She looked, wide-eyed from Helena to Barbara, who had the grace to blush furiously.
Dick noticed the change in the room, asked Dinah, “What? What’s up?”
”Nothing,” Dinah squeaked. “Let’s watch that movie.”
Barbara beat a quick retreat, “I’ll make popcorn. Could you help me, Dick?”
Helena and Dinah watched them leave the room and the woman turned on the girl. “Damnit, kid. You REALLY need to get a handle on that power.”
”I know. And I’m really sorry.” But she just stared, continued to stare at Helena.
“So?” Helena, growled. “What? You got something to say about it?”
”No—it’s totally cool. I’m happy for both of you. It’s just that I’m really, really…impressed is all. I mean, wow—when you take things into your own hands, you really—“
This sentence was lost as Dinah yelped, bolted and ran from the room, laughing her ass off, Helena in hot pursuit.
But Helena was laughing too.
One week later… ****
Dick and Dinah sat before an immense spread Alfred had prepared as ‘Dick’s going away’ brunch, waiting for Barbara and Helena to appear from Barbara’s bedroom.
Scratch that. From their bedroom.
Sipping coffee, they heard the faint sound of laughter from that bedroom. Dick grinned at Dinah. “Sorry to leave you alone with the honeymooners…”
And a honeymoon, so far, it had been. Since the day Barbara had broken up with Wade, everyone in the Clocktower, Helena included, was astounded to find that Barbara could keep neither her eyes nor her hands off her younger lover. If they were in the same room, Barbara was continuously petting over her as if she might never get the chance again.
Not that Helena was complaining, mind you. Plus, she was now constantly wearing what looked to Dinah and Dick like a particularly irritating version of the dazed expression of a new ‘Clearinghouse Sweepstakes’ winner.
Dinah shrugged, “It’s okay. I guess after all this time, they deserve to be a little giddy.”
”Don’t get me wrong…I agree—it’s just that hanging out with a new couple can be tough.”
“Well…yeah, “ Dinah answered, smiling. As she looked at Dick, she wondered whether every teenaged life was like hers.
Crushes, crushes everywhere:
An ‘Isn’t she amazing!’ crush on her mentor, Barbara;
An “Isn’t she hot!’ crush on Helena;
A ‘She sure is…something…’crush on Gabby;
And a brand new ‘Isn’t it nice to be taken so seriously?’ crush on Dick.
Because he did take her seriously. He never acted as though he thought she wasn’t up to their work. He helped her, showed her stuff, trusted her with his life on sweeps. Not that Helena didn’t—and God knows she loved Helena. It was just that Dick always went to the effort of really trying to make her feel his equal.
The result was, Dinah understood, a tremendous crush she knew was pointless, since she was so young and Dick was an honorable man.
They both turned as they heard a door open, watched as two immensely self-satisfied women emerged from their lair. Helena continued to look as blissful as Dinah or Dick had ever seen her. Barbara looked as if she might at any moment levitate from her chair.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.”
”No prob, Babs, we both know you have new…priorities. “ Dick smirked at Dinah.
Barbara smiled ruefully at him, “No new priorities, Dick, it’s just that—”
Helena interrupted here, “It’s just that neither of us are used to—“ and here she, too, was stuck for the remainder of an explanation. ”Wow, look at all this food—let’s eat!”
Dick watched with affection as Barbara tucked into her brunch. God, how he loved the woman. He realized his antipathy toward Helena had receded to the point where it was virtually non-existent. His sister truly seemed to have been able to help Barbara reach a part of herself that was still able to bloom and, for that, he esteemed, even loved her.
He raised his glass, “Well, ladies, I hate to be leaving you today but…to us.”
”To us,” the three answered.
It was nearing time to go. Barbara pulled Dick aside to speak. “Thanks again for coming on such short notice…and for staying.” She blushed, suddenly. “And…for understanding.”
Dick knelt beside her chair. “My pleasure, Babs. Always.” He paused, then asked, “Is it what you though it’d be?”
Barbara knew what he was asking but didn’t quite know what she would say before replying, “It’s…so much more, Dick. She’s…every possible color of…every idea about love I’ve ever had.”
He smiled, kissed Barbara on her cheek and stood. “I’m happy for you, then.”
As she’d seen him toward the door, he’d waved goodbye to the other two women, wished them well. As he was about to disappear into the elevator, Dinah interjected, “I’ll walk you out!”
So she had. When they’d reached Dick’s car, Dick paused and said, “It’s nice to know that now I’ll have one more reason to visit New Gotham—you.” Dinah was certain she was turning purple but she mustered a smile.
And then he hugged her.
And with that hug she knew, immediately (naturally), if she were willing to wait about five years until she was a real grownup, Barbara and Helena might not be the only Mentor-Youth combo in the Clocktower. She smiled as she watched him drive away. Well, well. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.
Three months later…
Barbara groaned as she woke up. Not only because she didn’t feel Helena lying beside her but because it was her birthday. And she was fairly certain, from the vague goings-on around school, that something perhaps…atrociously special…was going to be intermingled with the school dance she was scheduled to chaperone this very night...
She toyed with the idea of calling out sick but knew that would be somewhat…ah, hell, entirely suspect given her coworkers’ understanding of how much she hated to be made a spectacle of.
As she pulled herself upright, the bedroom door opened, with Helena and Dinah behind it. Helena placed a breakfast tray next to her. Breakfast, and a vase with a dozen roses in it.
First thing’s first. Barbara took a sip of coffee before Helena drawled, “Happy birthday, darlin’. We come bearing breakfast.”
“Oh yeah? Is Alfred here?”
Dinah interjected, “We cooked it ourselves, thank you very much!”
”Oh my God! You cooked for me!? You shouldn’t have—I mean, that’s so much more dangerous than your nightly swee—“
They ignored her, “And we come bearing gifts…”
So they had.
The first was from Dinah. As Barbara opened it, she gasped, thinking…Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass…first edition…my…my…my…what this must have co—
”That was D’s idea.”
”But how in the world—“
”Your second gift…” Helena sat beside her in the bed, nearly fainting from nervousness. Short and sweet, she thought to herself, as she bit her lip uncertainly.
Short and sweet.
Nodding toward Dinah, she said, “Since we already have a family, thought I should give it to you in front of the kid…” she placed a small box in Barbara’s hand and knelt by the bedside.
Barbara hesitated only briefly before opening the box. She smiled beatifically in the few moments it took for her to adjust to the…size of the offering.
An astonishingly green princess-cut diamond in what looked to be a platinum setting.
”Helena, how on Earth—“
”Daddy’s money has to come in handy for something. I figure I can pay him back over the next 96 years or so.“ She paused, then added, “Just wanted people to know you’re taken, that’s all.”
”Well, by God, this’ll show ‘em,“ Barbara said as she slipped the ring onto her finger.
”The color’s…uh…for your eyes.” Was that a blush?
As Barbara pulled Helena over to kiss her, she found, that yes, it was. “It’s perfect—just like you—and I love it. And you. And you,” she added to Dinah.
Barbara was smiling, though she was groaning inside.
It hadn’t taken 15 minutes in the teacher’s lounge before people were already celebrating her birthday. She tried to keep her ring-hand out of view, hoping against hope she wouldn’t have to explain this on top of the festivities.
After opening the numerous sweet and thoughtful presents, she’d come to Wade’s. He blushed a bit, then said. “I bought it about four months ago…”
What was lost on the rest of the teachers, since Barbara had insisted on keeping their relationship discreet, was that he was saying it had been purchased a month before their breakup.
He looked a bit nervous—unsure whether it should be opened in front of the others or not and thought he might need to explain away the subject, so he lied. “I know how you…uh, collect…stuff about the history of New Gotham, just thought that you might like this…”
She opened the package and found a breathtakingly framed past edition of the Gotham Gazette. The front-page picture was a remarkable and romantically blurry candid photo of a costumed woman caught unaware, poised against the skyline of their city, with the headline, ‘WHO IS BATGIRL?’
It was…amazingly beautiful. And, with a tremendous, almost electric jolt, Barbara felt tears spring into her eyes, realizing all at once the immensity of all she had lost—and gained—since then.
Wade swallowed hard, knelt beside her. “Hope you like it.”
Barbara touched the figure in the picture, kissed Wade on the cheek, hugged him and whispered in his ear. “It’s perfect. Thank you, honey.”
Sara Beckett, their new and never shy math teacher, jumped in. “Good lord, Wade, why Batgirl?”
He smiled as he stood. “I just remembered a discussion Barbara and I had about her one day—wondering, “ he chuckled, “wouldn’t it be funny if she were teaching right here at New Gotham High?”
Everyone, including Barbara and Wade, laughed at this. How absurd!
As Barbara again traced the figure in the photo, someone squealed, “OhmyGod! Barbara Gordon, are you engaged!?”
Barbara looked momentarily like an aardvark caught in headlights. Wade, the closest person to her, looked at her ring and smiled. “Wow! Sorta like your eyes, isn’t it?” He made another guess, “Hel?”
Barbara answered him with a shy smile. “Yeah.”
”Hell yeah’s what I say too!” Sara, too, was ready with a comment. “Holy Mother of God, look at the size of that thing! Does J-Lo know Ben’s still dealin’ out the rings? Where can I get one?”
Much chirping ensued:
”Who is he?”
”Yeah! Let’s hear it!”
“How long have you known him?”
Barbara was saved, literally, by the bell. And Wade laughed and winked at her as she rolled toward her first class.
Helena was bitter as hell that Barbara had to chaperone, well let’s face it, a fucking-high-school dance, on her birthday. She would much rather have had her lover wrapped around her on the first birthday either of them had spent as partners.
Until D. started talking about the dance…
Just because Dinah had a crush on Dick didn’t mean that she was immune to the charms of the most popular boys in school. Unfortunately, however, they seemed to be entirely immune to her.
And so she fretted as they ate dinner before the dance—and enough that her family saw it.
”So, spill, D. What the fu—I mean what the heck’s wrong with you?”
”I just don’t want to go—that’s all.”
”I understand why I don’t want Barbara going—but why not you?”
Dinah frowned at her dinner. “You wouldn’t understand…you were always popular.”
Both Barbara and Helena laughed at this. “I wasn’t popular, D., I was just hot—there’s a distinction there.”
Dinah frowned more deeply at her dinner, “Yeah, well…I’m neither, thank you.”
”Fuck popular. And you are hot.”
Dinah looked up to see whether Helena was pulling her leg. Evidently not. She grinned her thanks to the other woman.
Helena thought for a few beats, ”I’ll dress you tonight and, if you’ll pretend that you don’t know me for a while, once I get finished, every boy in that goddamned joint will be eating out of your hand.”
Dinah snorted, “Oh yeah, how’s that going to happen?”
Paul Teasdale and Johnny Gaddis, the gods of New Gotham High, watched from the bleachers as people entered for the dance. As the almost unfairly attractive star quarterback and linebacker of the football team, they had little reason to worry about getting what they wanted out of this social function. Which wasn’t dancing—since they shared that malady so typical of astonishingly well-muscled young football players—a terminal lack of rhythm. They might deign to slow-dance with some of the hotties, but they were content to sit on the bleachers and let the hotties come to them.
And they would.
As they waited, they judged everybody’s ‘look.’ Their comments, which they were civilized enough to keep to themselves, broke down into basically four types: 1. Snickers. 2. Who the fuck dressed you—the math teacher? 3.Hot. 4. Next.
As Dinah Redmond entered, dressed somewhat hotter than they were used to, she received a ‘next’ from both young gentlemen.
They also noticed, with some chagrin that Ms. Gordon and Mr. Brixton were perched (Ms. Gordon almost literally—snicker) next to the punchbowl, which would entirely foil the spiking they’d been planning.
And then…wow. And then… the hottest, Hottest, girl sauntered into the room. She was wearing way below hip-hugging leather pants, the smallest, midriff-baring New Gotham High t-shirt they’d ever seen and a leather jacket.
Who the holy shit was she? She walked over smiling as she kissed Mr. Brixton on the cheek (No WAY! No fucking WAY that chick’s with Mr.--) before leaning over and kissing Ms. Gordon on the cheek. (WHEW! Just some teachers’ friend.) They shook their heads in wonder, their brains only relatively adjusted to the fact that teachers had friends at all, much less friends like that.
By the time the dance was in full swing, Helena was finishing the second cup of punch that Wade had liberally spiked for her. She chuckled to herself at how differently she could feel about Wade, how she could even be happy to see him—as long as she had her girl.
Dinah couldn’t believe what she was about to do would make any difference to the boys at this dance—it would probably just get her laughed at. As she passed the bleachers, she gazed furtively at Johnny and Paul. What must it be like, she mused…to be perfect? She snorted. What the hell was she talking about? She lived with perfect. She gazed at Helena as she approached her. Helena had told her to be blasé, to try to look really super-confident. Okay. She could do this.
Although many of the male, and not a few of the female, students had been watching Helena as she talked and laughed with Wade, Barbara and a few of the other teachers, no one in the room had even remotely the guts to approach her. Johnny and Paul watched, with a group of their friends, as Redmond passed by them. Her glance was not lost on them and they accepted it as the tribute almost all girls paid them. They only continued to watch her because she was talking to Ms. Gordon—and Ms. Gordon was next to the hottie.
A slow song started. And they watched as… No WAY!
Redmond was just sorta grabbing the hottie’s hand and pulling her out onto the floor. And the hottie…was…letting her. HOLY SHIT, MAN!
As the couples began to sway, they were staggered to see Redmond sorta forcefully take the hottie into her arms.
And the hottie let her!
As the song continued, their collective eyebrow crawled into their hairlines as they watched Redmond slip one hand through the belt-loop of the woman’s leather pants, the other hand moving to rest on the skin of her exposed torso, sliding around her back, pulling her closer.
They groaned with envy. Jesus, that was so…smoooooth.
They also groaned because this was sorta like that fucking Russian…tAtu video or something. Except hotter, cause these chicks were hotter—and, after all, they were right there in front of them.
Shit, shit, shit!! Why couldn’t this be a hot-Catholic-uniform-wearing-school tonight!?!
No WAY! The hottie was wrapping her arms around Redmond’s shoulders—Redmond was looking her right in the eyes.
Barbara watched the entire student body and faculty pretend that they weren’t all glued to the spectacle unfolding before them. She was quite sure that the seriousness of the looks Dinah and Helena exchanged were being interpreted as pure, wanton lust, though to her experienced eyes, she could tell they were only a few seconds from collapsing in laughter.
And, she had to admit, this little display did make Dinah seem far older, more experienced, even sexier—Barbara’s brain nearly shut down at this word, then she laughed. Why should she be surprised to find that Helena knew what she was talking about?
As Dinah danced, she pushed down the thought that groping Helena was actually sort of fun as she looked into the blue eyes of her dance partner. She also pushed down her flash of knowledge that Helena was sort of enjoying it, too. That was really sweet to know, though.
But all good things had to end—it was getting more and more difficult to dance and not laugh at the saucy little looks Helena was throwing her way. She might have been able to keep it together if Helena hadn’t leaned in and play-growled in her ear, “Dinah Redmond, you are one…hot…tamale.”
That was it.
Both of them shrieked with laughter, collapsed into each other’s arms.
As they walked back toward the punch bowl, Barbara and Wade watched them wiping tears from their eyes.
”Thanks for the dance, babe.”
”You have less than two minutes before the first approach—betcha.”
As Dinah returned to her friends, Gabby looked at her with a newfound respect. “Geez, Dinah…that was—“ Gabby didn’t finish this sentence because Paul Teasdale was suddenly right behind Dinah.
Dinah turned, entirely cool, and tried to channel Helena for this interchange. “Hi Paul. What’s up?”
”So…I guess you know that girl, huh?”
Dinah corrected him, “That...woman is my foster sister, sort of.”
Paul took this in, then asked, “Just wondering if you’d like to dance—the next slow one, I mean”
Dinah shrugged, “Sure. If you want. That’d be great.” She smiled as she looked past him at Saint Helena of New Gotham High.
But the slow dance hadn’t come quickly enough to save Barbara.
Barbara groaned for the third time that day as Sara Beckett grabbed a microphone and commanded center stage in the gym.
”Although we’ve all gathered together tonight with the primary objective of enjoying this dance, our faculty members have a surprise in store for someone…we’ve moved naming the ‘Teacher of the Year’ ceremony forward just a bit…” she paused with just enough drama to add, “in order to honor our teacher of the year, Barbara Gordon, tonight—on her birthday.”
Barbara was more than a little surprised/disconcerted at this news, though she tried to play it off. She smiled as she rolled forward to accept her plaque and her applause.
But Sara Bennett was not content with this.
“The faculty also happens to believe that maybe Barbara has something she’d like to announce to us all tonight…just look at that rock on her hand—an engagement, perhaps?”
She handed Barbara the microphone and smiled archly; Barbara, surrounded by her students and faculty, smiled wanly.
Well, well…let’s see…
She had to absolutely—forever—keep Batman’s secrets, Bruce’s secrets; Nightwing’s secrets, Dick’s secrets; Catgirl’s secrets, Selena’s secrets; Huntress’ secrets, Helena’s secrets; Canary’s secrets, Dinah’s secrets. Not to mention Oracle’s secrets…
No, goddamnit. She’d be damned if she’d keep her heart’s secret any longer…
As Barbara took the mike, she smiled at Helena. “Well, not actually an engagement, per se. But the ring IS a gift from my life partner, Helena Kyle.”
For a number of the boys who were present that night, as they watched Helena smile at Barbara’s announcement, this was just one of the first of many thousands of instances of realizing, with startling clarity, that women were far…far more complex…than they’d ever really dreamed.
Later that evening, Helena was catching her breath as she felt Barbara kiss her way onto her stomach. And she felt, rather than heard, Barbara chuckle.
“Why ya laughing, babe?” She almost dreaded asking, having learned, to her great amusement/dismay that Barbara’s sense of humor was active nowhere more than in the bedroom.
”I was just wondering…when you were a student…did you ever imagine that one day the Teacher of the Year at New Gotham would be going down on you?”
Helena paused before answering, “Well, because the choices I had in my years there would have curled my hair…hell no.”
She felt Barbara kiss her way upward, until she was kissing her mouth.
Barbara laughed again.
”I’ve just decided that prepositional describes it.”
”Prepositional? Describes what?”
”I want you in me, on me, over me, under me, above me, beneath me, below me, beside me, inside me…etc, etc…get my drift?”
”Oh I get your drift alright and, you know, if you want to get all grammatical on me…I can think of a few verbs I could whip out on ya…and they’d probably make you moan a few encouraging adverbs until I made you scream out a coupla interjections.”
“Helena! You DID pay attention in school!”
Helena kissed Barbara again. “Don’t tell anyone. I’ll deny it.”
They lay in the afterglow for another few minutes before Barbara said, ”Thanks again for what you did for Dinah tonight.”
Helena laughed, “No problem, I enjoyed it.”
”I could tell.”
Helena pulled away a bit to look into Barbara’s eyes.
”I enjoyed putting on a show—not the—“
”Oh please! And I’m telling you…I enjoyed it, too.”
They laughed simultaneously.
”Are we going to hell, ya think?” Helena looked slightly worried.
”For thinking Dinah’s cute?” Barbara chuckled. “Nah…I mean, after all, she thinks we’re cute. Correction: I believe she thinks I’M cute. She thinks you’re hot.”
“Only because I am.”
Barbara smiled and, as she wrapped her arms around Helena, her ring was momentarily illuminated by the soft moonlight filtering into her room.
Green, she smiled as she fell asleep.
Like her eyes.
Like someone else’s hair.
Someone who would be successfully breaking out of prison later that very night.
Three days later…
Barbara didn’t know what to expect when she returned to school the following Monday. Sure, there were other teachers with same-sex partners—but not same-sex partners that used to be students.
And bad-ass students at that.
As she entered the teacher’s lounge, everyone smiled and murmured their hellos. So far, so good. Sara Beckett crossed to her and, for the first time since Barbara had known her, lowered her voice. “Sorry, Barb, for putting you on the spot at the dance—I didn’t know.”
Barbara smiled at her, “It’s okay, Sara. I wasn’t planning to broadcast it but it’s nothing I’m ashamed of.”
Ann McGillicuddy, who, despite her age, had ears like a lynx, piped up at this, her voice the very volume and tone of a cranky foghorn.
”Well, you should be ashamed of yourself.” Conversations stopped, every person in the room turned their way.
”I remember that Helena Kyle,” the woman continued as she approached Barbara, “and honestly, Barbara Gordon, to…shack up with a girl we all know is nothing better than a two-bit hoodlum—I mean—does she even have a job? She can’t have amounted to much.”
Barbara could remember seeing red a few times during her crime fighting days. But nothing like this. She bit off her words. “What she’s amounted to is the person I’m spending the rest of my life with.”
The older woman wasn’t cowed by this—at all. “So you think. Just wait until she finds somebody making a lot more money that a high school teacher, then you’ll see how long love lasts.”
As she finished this sentence, Wade thought he might just be seeing what criminals saw when Batgirl swung into their midst. Anger. But a terribly controlled anger. Barbara took one breath.
“You know, Ann, I happen to be certain that you remember Helena—because I happen to remember the way you always looked at her when she was in school. Don’t badmouth her now because she wouldn’t sleep with you then.”
Pow. The verbal equivalent of a rabbit punch to the trachea. That shut her up. She sucked in a furious breath and stalked out of the room. As the door closed behind her, the room erupted in laughter. Sara clapped her on the shoulder, “By God, I’ve been wanting to say something like that to that old lecher since the day I started here.”
The rest of the morning was a slide on ice.
Helena had just finished lunch when she heard the phone ring. As she moved to answer it, she realized that it was one of the Clocktower’s secure lines. Nobody should have the number except…
When she answered, she heard a familiar voice. “Helena!?”
”Listen and don’t ask questions.” The woman was speaking quietly but urgently and very quickly. “The Joker’s escaped from jail and—“
”Listen! There’s no time. I’m on my way to the high school with about ten of his henchmen. We’re supposed to kidnap Barbara and take her back to Mr. J. I’m calling you so you can stop us. We’re armed and there should be two men at each entrance. I’ll stay in the room with her—we’re only about two minutes away. Get there as fast as you can.”
Before Helena could reply, the line went dead. She took one minute to send a message to Barbara and Dinah and, then, she was almost literally flying.
Dinah was walking back from the bathroom in an empty hallway when her Delphi pager went off. She read the text “JOKER ESC - PLT KDNP ORCLE - GET 2HER D”
She was running before she even finished reading the message. As she ran, she heard an overhead announcement, “CODE RED, CODE RED, THIS IS NOT A DRILL. THIS IS NOT A—“
The announcement stopped abruptly. Dinah knew Code Red meant all teachers were supposed to lock themselves and their students in their classrooms. She also knew, since Barbara would have gotten the message, too, she wouldn’t do this
She’d prefer to give up—go quietly rather than take the chance of having students hurt. Shit, shit, shit. Dinah was flying.
She burst her way into Barbara’s classroom one minute ahead of an armed man and an armed woman in a very strange costume. Her eyes widened—Harley Quinn!
The woman locked the door behind her, then turned toward the students, some of who couldn’t help making terrified sounds. “QUIET!”
She turned back toward Barbara and was amused to see Dinah step in front of the woman’s wheelchair. Barbara wasn’t going to have any heroics. “Dinah, sit down. Quinn, I’ll go with you if you’ll just leave everyone else alone.”
Dinah did not sit down, instead she spoke to the woman and man. “You’re not taking her anywhere.”
Quinn rolled her eyes and told her henchman, “Make her sit down—gently—but give me your gun first.”
The man leered as he approached Dinah. What happened next was a surprise to everyone but Dinah, Barbara and Quinn.
Particularly to the man, though his surprised feelings were short-lived because he lost consciousness from having had Dinah so unceremoniously grab him and slam his head into Barbara’s desk.
Dinah turned to Quinn and spoke with real ferocity. “You’re next, bitch.”
Quinn smirked as she looked at her fallen henchman. “My, my, my.” She looked past Dinah to Barbara, “I really must commend you. You seem to have no shortage of…riveting female companionship.” Her eyes widened as she turned back to Dinah, “Want some candy, little girl?”
Dinah only glared at Quinn. “Guess not, huh? Your loss, believe me.” Then she winked. “Three guesses who you could ask about that.”
Because Dinah assumed Quinn was talking about her assault upon Helena, she actually took a furious step toward her before Barbara’s voice stopped her. “Dinah! This isn’t the time.”
“Couldn’t agree with you more, Babs.” Quinn said as she checked the clock on the wall, sighed again. As she turned, she seemed somewhat surprised to see the other students. “Oops. Almost forgot. Captive audience. So to speak. Shoo, chickens. Jump out the window and fly away now.”
She was met by stupefied incomprehension.
”Lesson one, children. During your hostage crisis, listen to the person holding the gun. You—boy with muscles!”
Paul Teasdale paled, but answered. “Yes, ma’am?”
”Ma’am. How quaint. Wouldja do me one small favor, boy-with-muscles?
He swallowed hard. ”Yes ma’am.”
She gestured toward the windows. “Open one of those windows, then climb out. Show these other brain trusts how it’s done. Then, the rest of you climb out after him. And—NOW!”
That got action. Paul opened the window, scrambled through, and waited to help some of the smaller girls in the class. The students were running like hell. Paul called into the room.
”Hey Dinah! C’mon.”
”No—get out of here. I’m not leaving Barbara.”
”NO! Get out of here, Paul!”
Paul hesitated, then turned and followed his running fellow classmates.
The remaining women could hear approaching sirens in the distance.
Quinn touched her ear and said into what must have been some comm. system. “Abort mission! Abort mission! Am-scray, eople-pay.”
Not everyone in Quinn’s gang was able to take advantage of that pig Latin, Helena having mowed through four of them at a speed that surprised even her.
As she burst into Barbara’s classroom, she saw Dinah standing between Barbara and Quinn. Quinn didn’t even turn before she said “About time you got here, darling.”
Helena didn’t answer, just passed Quinn and Dinah to verify for herself absolutely that Barbara was unharmed.
Barbara saw more terror than anger in the other woman’s eyes, so she smiled up at her. “It’s okay, Hel. I’m alright, love.”
”Love!” Quinn shrieked with delight, “Love? Does this mean you two have finally, finally consummated this star-crossed union—“ She took in the sight of Barbara’s ring. “Oh my God! AND you broke into Daddy’s piggy bank. Helena! I’m so proud of you.”
The sirens were getting closer.
”Oh dear. How time flies. Really must get going. Appearances to keep up and all.”
Helena crossed to Quinn and put one hand on her shoulder. “Thank you, Quinn.”
Quinn smiled thinly. “My pleasure, dear. Though I probably need hardly tell you Mr. J’s going to make me pay dearly for this little failure.”
”If he hurts you, that’ll just give me one more reason to kill him.”
”Did you tell him about the Clocktower and—“
”Of course not, donkey. And I’m not going to. I’ll be in touch when I have a plan.”
She turned to Barbara and added, “Babs, do try to stay out of sight until this is over. If you force me to protect a dizzy redhead while trying to undermine a green…head, I think I’ll lose what’s left of mine.”
”Why are you doing this, Quinn?”
Barbara’s question stopped Quinn just before she closed the door. “Why?” She tilted her head to the side the slightest bit. “Because I’m in love with Helena, of course. She didn’t tell you?”
Quinn winked at Helena, closed the door and they were alone.
Helena turned to face her family. Dinah was dumbfounded. Barbara didn’t look pleased.
Commissioner Gordon’s Office
Two hours later…
“THREE DAYS! The Joker has been out for three days!?!“
As Barbara watched her father pace back and forth, nearly frothing in anger, she began to worry about his blood pressure.
”Dad, calm down.”
”CALM DOWN? I can understand how the leaders of rogue nations might pull this off—but to put a Joker clone in his cell right under our noses. Without our knowing about it?”
”Yeah, well, it’s Joker. Send in the Clones…I don’t know…Attack of the Clowns?”
None of this was funny, evidently.
“How on Earth could he have—“
”When we catch him, we’ll ask him, Dad. And we will catch him.” Barbara knew that her father wasn’t just angry about the jailbreak; he was worried about her. Terrified, actually.
His sputtering started again—then, as Barbara ran her hand through her hair, it abruptly stopped as he noticed her ring. She almost groaned. Not this conversation—not now.
”Barbara…honey...is there something you need to tell me?”
She chuckled, “Uh…yeah—I’ve been meaning to call—I, uh, I finally sorta decided to settle down.”
Barbara laughed weakly. “You know, I think you might find this funny. Uh—it’s Helena.”
”Helena? Helena, Helena? Helena Kyle?”
”Yeah—that about covers it.”
Her father sat beside her, lost in thought for a long minute.
”Well, Dad—say something—are you okay about it?”
”Honestly, I’m just surprised—though I guess I really shouldn’t be. I suppose if I had to choose someone for my daughter, I’d choose someone who loved her, who’d protect her, who’d live with her but die for her, too, and who’d never leave her. Though, actually, I’d prefer the person worship her.” He turned and smiled at Barbara, “But then…that would be describing Helena, wouldn’t it?”
Barbara hugged her father.
One more conversation to go.
Helena was feeling pressured and was starting to resent it. And she knew she was starting to resent it because it was hitting just a little too close to that—let’s face it—huge indiscretion in her recent past.
Yes. She did feel guilty that she hadn’t told Barbara she’d slept with Quinn. But did she want to know about every fucked up thing Barbara had ever done? Hell no! So what was the point of telling her, after all? It would confuse things. Maybe even really hurt Barbara’s feelings. Maybe even mess up their relationship—when it didn’t have to—‘cause it didn’t mean anything. She groaned…aw shit.
And now she hadn’t been paying attention and now Barbara was…
”Hel! Are you even listening to me? At all?”
”Of course I’m listening. Look—here’s the drill. She told me she loved me right before she released me the night of the kidnapping. End of story.”
”Why didn’t you tell me?”
”Jesus! Let’s see…oh I don’t know—because it was personal, maybe? Can you grasp that concept, Barbara? I mean, I know you had to listen and all but what happened to me that night was personal. If you can’t understand that, then I don’t know what else to say.”
Barbara took a few deep breaths. She had no idea why this was making Helena so defensive but she knew there were times to pick one’s battles. Maybe this was one of them.
“Alright, honey, I’ll drop it. I’m sorry. Let’s talk about what we need to do right now.”
Helena was surprised that Barbara was letting it go, but quite relieved to change subjects. “Well, you can’t go back to school until we catch him—and D. should stay home, too.”
”I’ve been thinking we should call Dick.”
Helena almost objected before deciding she wanted every bit of protection she could get for Barbara. “Yeah, let’s do that.”
Barbara hesitated before adding, “And I think you should start getting used to the fact that it’s entirely possible Bruce will show up.”
”Oh GREAT! Why? ‘Cause we’re so incompetent? ‘Cause he’ll think we’d never find him?”
”Because Joker’s a truly dangerous man, Hel. You’ve never fought him. We have. And we can’t underestimate him.”
”Yeah, but you guys never had a mole in his camp before.”
”A mole we can’t trust.”
”I trust her.” Off Barbara’s look, she added, “With this—I trust her.”
”How can you—after all she’s—“
”Because in her fucked-up way, she really does care about me—and she promised me that she wouldn’t let anyone hurt you. She came through at the school, didn’t she?”
”You don’t know she wasn’t just setting us up for something bigger.”
”I do. I do know. I know her. And you don’t. You’ll just have to trust me on this—please.”
Barbara leaned forward and kissed Helena. “I have an idea. Let’s stop talking crime and the other women in your life for a while. What do you want to order for dinner?”
”Actually, I was thinking I might go to the store and whip up a little something for us.”
Barbara stared at her for a long beat. ”Who are you? What have you done with Helena?”
Naturally, they ordered take out. Alfred was entering just as Helena was leaving.
”I came as soon as I heard, Miss Barbara.”
”Never ends, does it, Alfred?”
”Do you think Bruce will come?”
”Oh, I rather think so. I don’t imagine he will be able to tolerate the thought of a free Joker and you in the same city.”
”How do you think he’ll take…well, you know—“ She waggled her ring hand at him.
”Your relationship?” He paused for a few beats. “I honestly can’t say. But if he expresses an unpleasant opinion, I would suggest that you say what my professional deference demands that I refrain from saying.”
”And that is?”
”That’s it’s none of his business. Not, of course, that you heard that from me.”
”Heard what? Barbara squeezed Alfred’s arm, then turned back to Delphi.
The next day
After it was reported that The Joker had been behind the attempt on Barbara Gordon, the school board decided that, for her safety and the safety of the students, she should take a leave of absence. Dinah, as her ward, and as someone who had helped thwart The Joker’s plot, was also deemed in jeopardy—a potential target, and a potential risk. The board agreed to let Barbara teach Dinah at home until The Joker was caught. Dinah stopped by school to pick up her books and some things for Barbara for their forced Joker-holiday.
She was standing at her locker when Paul approached her.
”I hear you have to go undercover or something.”
”Yeah, something like that—just until they catch The Joker.”
”Yeah, well—I hope they catch him soon.”
”Thanks. Me, too.”
”Oh and…I just wanted to tell you…it was really cool what you did in that classroom.”
”Oh, well—yeah. Martial arts training sure can come in—“
”I didn’t mean that—I mean, that was cool, too—but I was talking more about staying—not leaving Ms. Gordon by herself.”
Dinah shrugged. “She’s family.”
”Still cool, though.” He casually leaned over and pecked her on the cheek. “See you soon, I hope.”
”Yeah,” Dinah sighed, “see you soon.”
Then he was gone.
And as she finished her errands, Dinah thought this must be what it’s like to be Helena. Because she felt pretty damned attractive as she was walking on air.
Bruce Wayne rubbed one hand over his lantern jaw as he drove toward Wayne Manor. One look at his watch told him he’d be there in plenty of time to meet Dick.
He felt entirely out of sorts, digesting the two startling bits of news he’d just received.
Barbara and Helena—together.
The Joker? Well, it just came with the job.
But Barbara? How could she? How could she take advantage of her position of trust and authority in Helena’s life? He’d never seen Barbara in a serious relationship though he’d watched Dick and Barbara’s casual dalliance. What if it weren’t casual for Helena? No. It was reckless. Full of too many personal and professional ramifications—ramifications that could hurt them both. And Barbara should know that. Surely she knew that!
Later that evening, as Bruce and Dick were finishing the dinner Alfred had left for them, Bruce voiced these concerns to Dick—at length. As he spoke, he watched Dick’s face register surprise, then consternation, then something like anger.
”Bruce, with all due respect, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Barbara loves Helena. Adores her. They’re good together. It’s a—“
Bruce tried to interrupt, but Dick wouldn’t let him. “Bruce, listen to me. Even if you never approve of it, it’s not going to change. I hope you know that. Besides, you’re the one who left them to fend for each other—it’s a little late for you to walk in throwing opinions around. Because, believe me, if you walk in there already judging them, you’re going to force Barbara to alienate herself from you. And she loves you, too—so you shouldn’t do that to her.”
One of the problems with crime-fighting super-heroes, Alfred mused as he walked toward the elevator in which Bruce and Dick were arriving, was their deplorable manners. True, it was only 9PM and true, the denizens of the Clocktower might be presumed to be awake. But why not telephone first? Dinah joined him at the elevator and shot him a look of dismay. Barbara and Helena had retired to their bedroom 45 minutes ago.
What was more polite to say, Alfred wondered:
”I apologize but you cannot speak with Miss Barbara and Miss Helena at the present moment because they are having sex.”
“Miss Barbara? Miss Helena? Please stop having sex. Masters Bruce and Dick would like a word with you.”
The elevator door opened and Dinah made the call. She shot forward, hugged Dick, then extended her hand to Bruce. “You must be Mr. Wayne. I’m Dinah Redmond. It’s an honor to meet you.”
Bruce shook her hand. “Thank you. A pleasure to meet you, Dinah.”
”I’ll go get the others—they’re—uh—they’ll be right here.”
One glance from Alfred to Dick as Dinah disappeared confirmed the worst for Dick.
Great. Now Bruce could meet the new couple post-coitus-interruptus. That would do wonders for Helena’s charm…
Was it truly…possible, Barbara mused, that Batman could schedule an arrival, after all this time, now—at the precise moment that his daughter’s face was so deliciously pressed between her legs?
Oh hell, for that matter, when his daughter had one hand deep inside her and was using the other to caress, then pull at her nipples until she was just about to…
Yes it was.
Dinah’s tepid knocking and embarrassed announcement told her it was, indeed, possible.
Barbara would have bolted upright if Helena hadn’t held her down with one arm. She looked up from her work, her eyes heavy with desire. “Where ya think you’re goin’, Red?”
”Fuck Batman. I’m busy.”
”But honey, we can’t just—“
She gasped as Helena pinched her nipple, then drove into her with her other hand, hard.
”Actually, I’m not under the impression this is going to take much longer at all, Ms. Gordon. Watch and see.”
As Barbara watched Helena lower her beautiful mouth onto her once more, she had to agree.
Nope. It hadn’t taken long. But it took considerably longer to attempt to make herself presentable. She’d washed her face, re-touched her make-up, but there was really nothing she could do with her swollen mouth, her smoky eyes.
Maybe she was being paranoid, she thought. Maybe they weren’t even thinking that, maybe they wouldn’t know?
As they waited for the two women, Bruce had chosen to wait outside, watching his city from the top of the Clocktower. As she left Dick boisterously regaling Alfred with his latest adventures, Dinah quietly stepped outside as well.
He looked so lonely, she thought, as she watched him. And he was. Lonely and angry. She had felt it when they touched. Helena would probably have been very surprised that he was lonely for her and for what he’d never had with her. And that he was truly concerned for her.
”Can I help you, Dinah?”
Wow. Didn’t even have to look. He was good.
”Uh, yes sir, you can.” She crossed to stand, shoulder to shoulder him, and watched the city.
”I was…uh…going to ask you please not to do it.”
”Please don’t make Barbara and Helena feel bad about the best thing that’s ever happened to them.” His brooding eyes met hers. “If you’ll just—wait—wait and watch, you’ll see. You’ll see this is how things are supposed to be for them.”
She was a pretty child, Bruce thought, and so earnest. Something about her blue eyes was so compassionate, so understanding. And then it suddenly struck him—forced a lump to his throat. The compassion was for him.
He blinked a few times before responding. ”Alright, Dinah. I’ll do my best—and please—it’s Bruce.”
”Thank you, Bruce. You won’t regret it. I promise.”
As Barbara finally joined Bruce, Dick, Dinah and Alfred in the other room, Helena hung back, waiting to find out whether she was going to have to kick Bruce’s ass or not. And hoping, for Barbara’s sake that she wouldn’t—because Barbara’s mentor meant the world to her.
One look at them told Barbara everything. Oh hell yeah they knew. They knew exactly what she’d been doing. She blushed, felt terribly rattled…then caught herself. Helena was right! Fuck Batman! She was an adult. She squared her shoulders and smiled. “Hi Dick. Hello, Bruce…it’s been a while.”
Dick winked at her. “Hiya Babs.”
Barbara took a deep breath as she waited for the bomb to drop—but it didn’t. Bruce leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. ”Hello, beautiful. I hear congratulations are in order.”
Alfred smiled, chimed in. “Miss Barbara, would you like to join the gentlemen in a drink.”
”Yes please, Alfred, I’ll take a double of the first bottle you lay your hand on.”
Helena chose this moment to join them, moving languidly, looking as sexy and relaxed as a sleek, contented cat.
Bruce was surprised to see Helena hug Dick quite affectionately. Clearly, there’d been a change in that relationship as well.
Then Helena turned to Bruce and astonished him by doing something she had never done since the day she’d discovered he was her father.
She smiled at him.
Helena not only smiled at Bruce, she extended her hand. “Hiya…Bruce.”
He shook her hand as he replied, ”Hello, Helena…you’re looking well.”
This sounded perfectly innocuous but Helena was disconcerted enough to feel the blood rush to her cheeks. Which made her bluster a bit.
”Yeah, well…actually I’m feeling really well lately.” She glanced at Barbara, ”Fantastic, even.”
But now she was truly blushing in earnest. It was one thing to be saucy with your long-lost and estranged father but—suddenly—she wanted an out. “I need some ice cream. Anyone else?” Nope. No one else. She turned to Barbara, touched her hair, “Sure you don’t want some, babe?”
Barbara smiled at her but demurred.
Bruce’s eyes tightened as he watched Helena cross out of the room toward the kitchen, thinking that he could have happily gone the rest of his life without knowing that his daughter liked ice cream after making love just as much as her mother had.
Bruce Wayne was a man of many talents; one of the more formidable was in the area of detection. And although he’d been willing to momentarily suspend his judgment of the relationship between his daughter and his former partner in crime-fighting, he was certainly going to watch to make sure that it was what Dick and Dinah had said it was.
Over the course of that long evening of strategizing, he regarded his daughter and Barbara with a stern scrutiny that they were certainly aware of but which did not seem to bother them. And he watched with something like amazement. Helena had remained close to Barbara for the whole of the evening and Barbara had seemed entirely unconscious of the fact that she continually touched her, stroked her hair, gently patted or rested her hand on the younger woman.
What was astonishing to Bruce was that what could have seemed like an entirely sophomoric inability to keep her hands off of Helena seemed instead a natural part of their relationship. They were really by no means giddy lovers; they remained entirely focused on the matters at hand, and whether agreeing or heatedly disagreeing with each other, Barbara touched his daughter with the same love.
And this made his heart ache to see it.
Because—maybe that’s all it would have taken.
In the short time Selena and he had tried to have a real relationship rather than just their passionate couplings, he remembered her sitting next to him that way. And he hadn’t known what to do, hadn’t known what she wanted. He’d always thought that she was demanding his full attention, which had often irritated him. Because there was no time in his life in which he didn’t feel, to some extent, on call. And even when he wasn’t, he’d wanted to read the paper, or watch the news or have a serious conversation. And so she’d sit next to him. And maybe all she’d really needed was to feel close to him.
In the many years that he’d had to mull over the past, he’d wondered at length over the strange mixture of independence and neediness that had been Selena Kyle. Catwoman. A cat needing her independence but perhaps needing to know she was loved and esteemed and who needed to be petted over.
He could certainly see the cat in his beautiful, wilful daughter. Not paying attention to Barbara’s caresses, not even seeming to notice that she so clearly held the adoration of the woman sitting next to her. But blooming like a tender flower under those touches all the same. And when she did occasionally turn her eyes to Barbara, he saw a melting look of love and gratitude.
Why was it so easy for Barbara to understand this? And so hard for him? What mixture of nature and nurture, what twist of fate, had made simply loving someone so hard for him?
It might have been so easy.
And he hadn’t known.
He felt a lump rise in his throat for the second time that night.
Quinn cursed her shaking hand as she finished applying her concealer. By God, Mr. J. was nothing if not a professional. She could conceal the beating she’d taken for her failure to kidnap Barbara with next to no effort at all.
Because Mr. J. was a criminal mind extraordinaire, he felt it a bit beneath him to be seen as one of those run of the mill low-lives who beat his girlfriend. Not that he wouldn’t beat her, mind you, he just didn’t like the stigma. Consequently—a light beating with far more body than facial bruising. Lovely.
Mascara would be more difficult, she quickly realized.
GODDAMNIT! She’d already smeared it.
She steadied her hands on the sink as she looked into the mirror.
Mr. J. had, genius that he was, quickly discerned that something was wrong between them…that something was different about Quinn. He’d beaten that out of her quickly as well and—swoosh—down the toilet went her medication.
Not only that, but he was forcing injections of a medication that was strictly contraindicated for a person with her particular mental illness. Something she could already feel taking a baseball bat to the slightly tamed hornet’s nest of her mind.
She sighed. Because it really wasn’t fair.
Because life’s genetic lottery had dealt her only about 49 cards on her very best day.
And in her still highly medicated level of near sanity, she could see what was what. What use was anything, anyway? Helena didn’t—and would never—love her. And God knew Mr. J. didn’t love her—he fucked her and used her and beat her and, as charming as all that was when she was crazy, it lost a hell of a lot of its romance when she was medicated.
And, beside all that, what else did she get with her medication?
Guilt—for the things she’d done.
Awareness—of her depravity.
Horror—at what she’d become.
And yet, once medicated, she was too ashamed to go back to what she’d been. Although of course, now, she was being forced to.
No. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t like she could really have helped any of it if she’d wanted to. She wondered what mixture of nature and nurture, what twist of fate, had led her to Mr. J. and to this life that she had begun to despise.
She had truly considered ending it all. Had even, good citizen that she was trying to be, gone and purchased a handgun legally. Although she’d thought as she’d done so, from her personal knowledge of her professional associates, that doctors in the field of mental health should undergo far more rigorous background checks than garden-variety felons. Because, in her measured opinion, most of her associates were far more neurotic, if not crazier, than their patients.
After she’d bought the gun, though, she’d had second thoughts…thoughts that Mr. J. would have cackled over.
Surely…surely…taking care of Helena and Barbara and Dinah would mean something in the grand scheme of things. Might even make a difference to the fate of her soul?
Because she did believe she had a soul—unlike Mr. J., who either had none or was enjoying his very first incarnation as a human being.
She would live. And she could do this. She raised the wand for her mascara and, through sheer force of will, applied it perfectly.
She would do it.
Until the medication Mr. J. was injecting into her made it impossible, she would take care of them.
They’d all decided to split shifts and the first Barbara had arranged had very conveniently kept Bruce and Helena from sweeping together. But, at some point, if they hadn’t been partnered, it would have looked odd…and so it was that Bruce was eventually standing next to Barbara, who was perusing Delphi.
Waiting for Helena to emerge from their bedroom.
Bruce was already dressed in his Batman costume, except for his cowl, still filling into it perfectly, Barbara noted with wry amusement. Would the man never age?
When Helena emerged, her below-hip-hugging leather pants left as little to the imagination as her leather halter.
Barbara watched with some amusement as Bruce’s jaw clenched. Helena noticed a sea change in the atmosphere of the room and said. “What? What’s wrong?”
Bruce pointed vaguely to her outfit, “That’s just a little…revealing…don’t you think?”
Helena lifted one eyebrow, “I’m sorry? Revealing? It’s not exactly like you’re wearing clown pants there, is it, Pop? Ready to go?”
It was strange to be doing her first sweep with her father. And she had to admit, despite herself, that he was an impressive…formidable figure. She acknowledged with some amusement that, personally, she would have voided herself if she were some common criminal punk faced with the ominous figure of Batman.
Because to tell the truth he was absolutely as legendary in person as he was…ah, hell…as he was in legend.
She could feel the decades of experience rippling from him as they moved from rooftop to rooftop and she was more than slightly embarrassed to realize that she hoped she’d live up to him—that he’d feel proud of her.
And, then, there was the first call from Oracle. Which was simple enough, really. Two armed bandits at a convenience store.
As they’d moved in, Helena had quickly dispatched the first man with a gun.
The second man had turned and had run—smack—into the firm chest of Batman.
“Not so fast, punk.”
The punk in question’s eyes had widened amazingly. Holy…shit! It was Batman! ‘Nuff said, as far as he was concerned. He dropped his weapon on the ground.
As Batman grabbed the punk by the scruff of his collar, he led him toward where Helena was leaning over, using plastic cuffs to shackle her perpetrator.
The young punk Batman was holding did not let that fact keep him from thinking, as he looked at the hottie cuffing his friend, ‘now, that—that’s an ass—‘
Just before he felt Batman cuff him roughly in the head.
”Eyes to yourself, scum”
And then the scum in question watched the hottie turn toward Batman and laugh.
After a subsequently and relatively boring sweep, as Helena undressed for bed that evening, she felt Barbara’s eyes upon her. Not that that was unusual; she knew Barbara loved watching her, looking at her.
”How was it tonight, baby?”
”Interesting,” Helena drawled as she decided she wanted skin tonight, smirking as Barbara’s eyes widened as she took off what remained of her clothing and slipped into bed next to her lover. Barbara immediately acquiesced as Helena reached for her small t-shirt, lifted it up and off of her body.
”I want to look at my girl,” she said as she cushioned herself against Barbara’s warm, clean skin.
Barbara had, over the past few months, begun to get used to the fact that Helena liked lying next to her, looking at her, and could do so for an hour, even hours, as if she could barely reconcile the fact she was lying next to her with reality.
At first, it had been incredibly embarrassing to rest naked under such devoted scrutiny. After a few weeks, however, Barbara had embraced it as one of Helena’s quirks—one she certainly couldn’t complain about, given its results. Helena would look at her, watch her until invariably, inevitably, her eyes would turn their feral yellow. And when Barbara reached for her, she’d find Helena as hot and as wet as she thought it possible the woman could be.
Minutes went by and Helena’s gaze turned yellow. ”Let’s not talk about anything else tonight, okay?”
Helena lay silently watching her with those yellow eyes for another long minute.
Then, Barbara watched as Helena rose up from the bed and moved downward, pulling the covers from her legs. She pulled Barbara’s underwear off in one swift movement and gently spread her legs.
Barbara gasped as she watched Helena slowly rub first one, then her other breast between her legs, the wetness of her arousal glistening on her lover’s darker skin.
Then Helena moved upward, straddled her and took her hair in both hands, “I need you,” she said, and gently pressed her breast into Barbara’s willing mouth.
And then, there were no more words until the next morning.
They were drinking coffee in the kitchen. Dinah was still asleep. And Barbara had to admit to herself that this was one of her favorite parts of her relationship with Helena, the dichotomy of being at times white-hot lovers with the easy domesticity they also shared.
“I hate to admit it—but he actually sorta lives up to his reputation.”
”Yeah, he’s pretty amazing, alright.”
”Those punk-asses out on the street damn near wet themselves when he shows up.”
Barbara reached forward, stroked Helena’s bangs away from her forehead. “If we gave you decades to build your reputation, you’d be exactly the same way, honey.”
Helena smirked ruefully. “Actually, I don’t know. There’s just something about him.” She hesitated before adding, “I guess that’s what mom and you saw in him, huh?”
”Yeah. Something like that. He’s really…the most amazing and…complex man I’ve ever known.”
Helena sat with that a beat before saying, “I just want to get this over with. I wish Quinn would get in touch—let us know what’s going on.”
Although Barbara felt her stomach drop unexpectedly at the name, she smiled, “Well, hopefully, it’ll be soon, honey.”
“Yeah, I guess. We’ll see.”
Two weeks later
Because Barbara, homebody that she was, had begun to go stir crazy under her enforced imprisonment in the Clocktower, Bruce, Dick and Helena had decided to take her to lunch.
And that is how Dinah had found herself alone in the Clocktower when Harley Quinn came to call.
She’d let her in—because she was almost afraid not to—though she’d immediately messaged Barbara, Bruce, Dick and Helena.
And the change since Dinah had last seen her was remarkable.
Dinah could see the madness in Quinn literally glittering out of her eyes. Quinn was pulling forcefully on a cigarette as she spoke to Dinah. “Sorry about the smoking, lambie-pie: can’t help it. Since I stopped killing people, had to find something to do with my hands.”
She smiled, laughed at what seemed like the air, and added, “I suppose you’re wondering what’s going on, huh?
Dinah watched Quinn with no little horror. It was obvious she was, literally, nearly beside herself.
“Yes, I do.”
”Yes, I do? Me too! Didja hear that, dear? That’s called echolalia—and a wee bit of clang association—typical of my disorder. Shit! Mother of God, please! Leave me alone!”, Quinn said to the air.
Quinn suddenly rushed Dinah, grabbed her and nearly kissed her before she stopped a centimeter from her face, “Sorry, dumplin’. Inappropriate sexual acting-out, right?”
Dinah touched Quinn as she said, “Right.”
”Right! Not bright!” Quinn countered.
The barrage of horror, the utter morass of sadness, indignity, wretchedness and insanity that was Quinn’s mind melded momentarily with hers.
And Dinah was utterly bereft—forlorn—and knew, for the absolute first time, that life could be far more horrific than she’d ever imagined. She’d moved away from Quinn’s hands as if she’d been scalded, which she had, and looked into Quinn’s glittering eyes. “I’m…so sorry, “ she whispered.
Quinn’s eyes widened, her head tilted and she grinned, seeming almost normal for a moment. “Me too, Dinah. Believe me. Me too.”
It only took a few minutes for Barbara, Bruce, Dick and Helena to join them and they were all openly shocked at Quinn’s ragged appearance.
”Hello, all. I bring you tidings of great joy, boys.” Quinn took a vicious pull at her cigarette, looked at it as if it were a stranger, then seemed to realize she had no ash-tray.
And then, without even blinking, she put it out on her own arm.
“Whoa! Hey!” Helena jumped forward and jerked the cigarette from Quinn’s hand, then gently pulled her into a hug. “Shh, shhh.”
She felt Quinn trembling violently in her arms, “Shh,” she whispered, “It’s okay…it’s okay.”
Two minutes later, everyone watched as Helena treated Quinn’s burn.
”This’ll sting.” She said as she cleaned the wound.
Quinn laughed, and her head rolled back languidly upon her neck, “Sting…that reminds me of the other time—right?”
Helena was mortified by any mention of their past, but hoped she could get through it by saying, as she chuckled nervously, “Yep, just like the other time.”
She seemed lost in thought for a moment. “But I could tell…you cared. “ Quinn said, as she looked at the wall, then looked suddenly as if she would cry. “You did care, didn’t you?”
Because she had cared, and because Helena didn’t know what else to say, she lay her hands on Quinn’s and said, quite gently, “Of course I care. You know I do.”
At this exact moment, Barbara knew, without any doubt, Helena and Quinn’s relationship was far different than she’d believed. Far different than Helena had led her to believe.
Breathe, Barbara…breathe, she told herself….
After Helena finished treating Quinn’s burn, everyone watched as Quinn seemed suddenly to become noticeably sleepier, less alert.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “I actually do have some things to discuss with you all. It’s just that the effort of just trying to stay…lucid takes it out of me really quickly these days.” She grabbed her bag, reached into it, and was amazed and amused to see Batman and Nightwing leap protectively in front of Barbara’s chair.
For some reason, Quinn realized, she hadn’t even noticed that Barbara had returned with Gotham’s premiere crime-fighters of old.
”My, my, my. It’s just like old home week around here, isn’t it? Stand down, gentlemen. I come in peace.”
She removed a small box from her bag and gave it to Helena. “This is what Mr. J’s having injected into me because evidently the magic’s gone when I’m not crazy as bat-shit.” She winked at Batman.
“I was going to ask whether Barbara Brainiac over there could find some drug to counteract it. Believe me, it’s a doozey. Makes putting cigarettes out on your arm the most reasonable thing in the world.”
Helena opened the box, removed an innocent-enough looking vial and tossed it to Batman, who handed it to Barbara.
Quinn was gripping her head and speaking more and more slowly, because the effort of remembering the words she needed, and their correct sequence, was beginning to seriously drain her. “Now…really…I need to rest for just a while. Is there somewhere I could lay down? I make so much more sense right after I wake up—at least for a few minutes, that is. Please?”
”Of course.” Helena stood and offered a hand to help Quinn up. “You can sleep in the guest bedroom for a bit.”
Quinn smiled shyly at Helena as she took her hand, then held it a lot longer than was strictly necessary before seeming to remember she should let go. So she did.
Quinn slipped off her shoes as Helena turned down the covers in the bed. After she climbed into the bed and pulled the covers over herself, she looked at Helena for a few long beats.
”What?” Helena asked softly.
”Nothing really, it’s just that…my life would be so different if you loved me.”
“I know.” Helena reached down and touched Quinn’s cheek. “And I’m so sorry.”
Quinn shrugged. “Luck of the draw, I guess.”
”Yeah.” She tousled Quinn’s spiky hair and smiled. “We’ll be waiting for you when you wake up…now get some rest,” she said firmly.
”Hmmm, I love it when you’re forceful,” Quinn murmured.
And, then, she was asleep.
Or so Helena thought, as she left the room. A drowsy but still quite awake Quinn turned over to place her flaming face on the cool side of the pillow.
She felt like there were 144 little girls playing hopscotch on crack inside her head. And what a wonderful time they were having…laughing, screaming…shrieking. But, as usual, she was the little girl who couldn’t play. Knowing she wouldn’t fit in. Knowing she shouldn’t join in. Not into this game.
If only someone could hold her hand inside the storm.
And then there was a lightning flash inside her head. Ahhhh. She exhaled.
That was it! And she fell asleep.
Helena rather dreaded re-entering the next room because she had a feeling it might not be pretty.
And it wasn’t. The room was several degrees chillier.
Bruce spoke first, motioning at the guest room. “So THAT—that’s what we’re counting on to help us catch The Joker. Are you out of your—“
”That” Helena snapped, “How about SHE? She’s a person, Bruce, not a thing.”
”You have to earn that distinction in my book—and that doesn’t qualify.”
”Oh, Great! Could you please just tell me who died and left you—“
“HELENA! BRUCE! Stop it! We’ll discuss this once we hear what Quinn has to say. No more discussion.” She looked pleadingly at him, “Please, Bruce.”
Bruce hesitated, and then decided to accede to Barbara, because he’d never felt capable of disappointing his protégé when her voice had that emotional, desperate tone. “FINE. I’ll be outside.”
As Bruce swept out of the room, Helena felt her hands go cold at the realization that Barbara was studiously avoiding looking at her.
Uh oh. Oh shit.
Barbara wasn’t a fool. Obviously, she’d put two and two together and had gotten—well, maybe not four, but something close.
Dick and Dinah weren’t fools either. “Hey, D. how about we go sweep some riff-raff off the street.”
”Uh…yeah! Sounds great!”
Leaving Barbara and Helena.
Helena felt her stomach turn over as she watched Barbara turn wordlessly to Delphi. She couldn’t know that Barbara’s stomach was in similar knots because she looked so cool, so unconcerned.
She approached and stood next to her chair.
Barbara ignored her.
Helena cleared her throat. “Uh, Barbara…I think we need to talk.”
Barbara’s short, barked laughter caught her off guard, as did the calm, flat tone of her voice.
“Talk? Oh, really? Why talk now?”
“Because I think maybe—“
”Oh, please! Like keeping me ‘in the loop’ has been such a priority for you lately. Why bother now?”
Helena felt a wave of panic sweep over her, the magnitude of which she’d never experienced in her life. Tears stung her eyes. “Oh my God…Barbara, please…I know you might be angry but you wouldn’t…I mean, would you? You wouldn’t break up with me over—“
Now Barbara did look at her. “Over what? WHAT? Lying? Maybe even cheating—“
”I’ve NEVER cheated on you. How could you even think I—“
”Okay, Helena, YOU look at it objectively and tell me just what I’m supposed to think.”
Barbara watched Helena’s mouth open, then close, as tears ran down her cheeks. And then, Barbara realized suddenly that Helena was woefully at a disadvantage in a discussion of this nature. Having never had a long-term romantic relationship, the younger woman had no gauge of what was possible, what might happen if they had a fight. By the devastation and panic she saw in those blue eyes, though, she could tell the poor baby was thinking worst-case scenario.
Barbara cursed herself internally. Poor BABY? Where the fuck had that come from? SHE was the injured party, if anyone was! Fuck!
God, she HATED being such a sucker for the woman. But did that matter? No. She modulated her voice anyway, in order to calm the younger woman.
“I’m confused and very angry with you right now, Helena, but let me explain something. You are, for want of a better term, my spouse. Barring some catastrophe, ending our relationship is just not an option for me. And it never will be. We’ll discuss this later when we can be sure we’ll have privacy and after I’ve had time to think.”
Before she turned back to Delphi, she saw relief flood her lover’s face. Then she felt a tentative hand touch her shoulder. She reached up, gave it the briefest squeeze, and said softly. “Later.”
Wow, Helena thought, as she inhaled, then exhaled deeply.
The power of one touch. She was being dismissed. But, suddenly, she didn’t care.
Barbara came up with a drug for Quinn after about an hour of searching. Very promising—very experimental. A drug that, because it had not even remotely approached FDA approval, would take the considerable force of Wayne Corp. to obtain.
Beside that, though, her mind was everywhere else as she felt Helena’s anxious, silent presence behind her. Reading magazines, pacing, and generally in every capacity making her presence felt. Barbara kept her eyes on Delphi, though her mind was anywhere but. Because the truth was…she didn’t know if she really wanted to know the truth.
Despite her earlier outburst, she was absolutely certain Helena had never cheated on her. She knew her almost as well as she knew herself and it wasn’t in the younger woman’s makeup.
So what did it matter? If it were in the past—what did it matter?
She cursed herself silently…what was it about human beings that so compelled them to go searching for unhappiness, go digging for pain in their relationships—in the name of some bogus sort of truth?
Because…if Helena had slept with Quinn, even loved her, in the time before their relationship, did that change the truth? Did that change the truth of the love she knew for a fact Helena felt for her now?
Then why? Why this need to know? Was it because she wanted to know why Helena had kept this momentous…thing from her? After a few beats of thought, Barbara had to stifle a laugh.
Because Helena was afraid she’d react in the very way she was reacting….
“Ahhh…that’s better,” Quinn said as she re-entered the room where a silent Barbara and Helena were sitting. And evidently it was—because, although she still looked tired, she also seemed somehow, even visibly, more normal. She looked around the empty room.
”Boy, I sure know how to clear a place out, don’t I?”
Barbara didn’t respond, merely said to Helena, “Get Batman.”
”Ah yes, please do,” Quinn said as they watched Helena cross out of the room, “A man in costume so brightens a room, don’t you think, Barbara?”
Barbara ignored this, asked, “Would you like something to drink?”
”Water, if you don’t mind. I’m positively frothing for something harder but I can’t quite drink in my condition.”
Barbara buzzed Alfred and ordered drinks for everyone. She, too, was frothing for something harder, just looking at Quinn.
They waited for Alfred to bring the drinks before getting down to business.
Quinn spoke first. “Here’s my proposition…I’m not exactly in Mr. J’s good graces right now since I botched the Barbara caper—but I’m sure, as crazy as I’m getting, I could be soon. Naturally, of course, that’s sort of walking a tightrope since the less stable I am, the less safe you all become. But if you can find something that will counteract those damned injections—just take the edge off a bit, I can—“
”Well, actually, I have found something. Promising…but very experimental. And God only knows what the long-term side effects would be.”
”Do you understand what I’m saying? The side effects could be of any degree of severity—including death.”
Helena spoke up, “Listen to her, Quinn—it might not be worth—“
Quinn’s laughter rang out through the room.
”Helena, that’s sweet, but honestly—who cares? Believe me—it’s not like my life’s all that worth living.”
Batman interjected here. “Why are you doing this?”
”Can’t a girl turn over a new leaf?”
His voice was full of disdain. ”Not a girl like you.”
Quinn eyes widened, “Oh, I see—no, no—not a girl like me—only a girl like…let’s say…” she batted her eyelashes at him, “Catwoman, for instance?”
Batman’s eyes tightened in an inscrutable glare.
Quinn shrugged. “Suit yourself, Bat-O-Mine. If you want to catch him, my way’s quicker. And I only need one thing in return.”
Batman sneered. “I knew it. Here it comes.”
Quinn smiled smarmily at him. “Oh ye of little faith.” She turned to Helena and said, “I’ll help you catch Mr. J. if you promise you won’t kill him. Lock him up forever—please—but just don’t kill him.”
Naturally, as her therapist, Quinn knew that this was one of Helena’s most fervent wishes. They all watched as Helena ground her teeth before replying. “That’s asking a hell of a lot, Quinn.”
”So’s handing your first love over to his enemies…but—hey—that’s all I’m asking. And Barbara will be safe and your lives can get back to normal.”
So that was the price she’d have to pay, Helena thought. She almost groaned with fatigue. For God’s sake, she just wanted to get back to her real life…her life with Barbara and Dinah. And if that was the price she had to pay, she could pay it.
Quinn smiled at her, then stood. “Good! Now, I’d better get going—I feel my head beginning to spin again.”
“Why don’t you just tell us where he is right now?”
Quinn turned to Batman. “Because, believe it or not, I don’t know. I’m telling you—he doesn’t trust me right now.” She ogled the room before adding, “And who can blame him, huh? It’ll take one hell of a job to get on his good side, but I’m working on it.”
She turned to Barbara, “How can I get that drug you were talking about?”
”Come back in two days and I’ll inject you myself.”
”Oooh,” Quinn cooed as she tilted her head, “you can inject me anytime.”
”How do we know you’re not being followed?”
Quinn rolled her eyes at Batman’s question. “My God, but you’re thorough, Prince of Darkness. I told Joker’s henchmen if they dared follow me anywhere, I’d cut out their hearts and feed them to the lions in the New Gotham Zoo. And because I have an…entirely deserved reputation in that regard…” She disregarded Batman’s disgusted look and turned to Helena. “Walk me out, girl-wonder?”
At the elevator, Quinn lowered her voice. “Sorry about earlier. I probably wasn’t entirely appropriate. But you can’t imagine how hard it is…”
Helena watched as Quinn’s eyes began to twitch again and thought maybe, actually, she could. She hesitated for a second, then said ‘fuck it’ to herself, and pulled Quinn into a hug.
”Thanks for protecting us.”
She felt Quinn whisper, “No problem,” into her ear before pulling out of the hug with a cackle. “Well, actually—it is sort of a weight of the world problem but, what the hey—you’re cute!”
As she entered the elevator, she turned and added, “I sort of accidentally touched Dinah earlier—so you can ask her about what’s going on if Bruce—oops—let’s call him Batman, shall we? If he needs further verification of my intentions…”
And then the elevator doors closed.
Shit! Helena felt a thrill of horror course through her. She hadn’t told her that! Shit!
“MARVELOUS!’ Bruce was on a tear. “Just marvelous! I work for decades without having my identity discovered and now—“
”And now WHAT? Your dumb-assed daughter’s messed everything up for you?”
”Something like that!”
”Well, excuse the FUCK OUT OF ME! I’M TELLING YOU I DIDN”T TELL HER!”
”She’s not an idiot—Helena, though I’m beginning to think—“
Barbara jumped in immediately and her voice was low and ferocious. “BRUCE! Not ONE more word. You will NOT speak to Helena that way in our home.”
Bruce stopped speaking. Stopped short.
Barbara had never, ever, in the history of their long relationship, scolded him.
It took only two beats for him to feel deeply chagrined and his voice instantly softened. ”I apologize, Helena. That was ridiculous. It’s just…very disconcerting, as I’m sure you must understand. But…believe me, I know it’s not your fault.”
Helena, whose heart was immeasurably lightened by her lover’s defending her against the person the older woman most esteemed in the world, softened her tone as well. “Yeah…well…I’m sorry, too. I mean…I do know I’m a fuck-up.”
Bruce placed his hand on her shoulder, “No you’re not. You’re my daughter. And you’re not a fuck-up—at all—“and then he smiled at her, “Despite your dubious taste in therapists.”
Helena smiled up at him, swallowed hard, and replied, “Thanks…pop.”
Although Dinah and Dick had been glad to get out of the fire, they were more than a little bitter that they might have missed fireworks.
Everyone was seated, eating a rather over-the-top meal Alfred had prepared, when Bruce asked, “So, Dinah, Quinn told Helena to ask you about her mental status.”
At this question, Dinah nearly lost her appetite.
”I’ve…uh…never seen or felt anything like it before. The fact that she’s even walking and talking at all is sort of a miracle.”
Dinah trailed off for a beat, thinking.
”It was the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen…like trying to keep your sanity nailed down in a hurricane. Images…and…sounds…and…voices…and…smells.” She shuddered unconsciously. “It was horrible. “
She paused before adding, “I don’t know if I like her but I can’t help but respect her.”
”Do you think we can trust her?”
She turned to Bruce, “I don’t know…I only know she really wants to be trustworthy, if she can.”
Later, after Bruce and Dick had retired to the Manor, the family settled in for what they’d decided would be one of their movie nights.
Helena felt herself buoyed by Barbara’s request. “Could a girl get a lift?”
She’d never more reverently and lovingly assisted Barbara into a place on their couch. And then, they’d heard the sound of the microwave finishing their popcorn.
”D—could you get that?” Barbara asked.
Helena and Barbara watched the blank TV screen for a few beats before the younger woman spoke, “Barbara, I—“
She was surprised to feel Barbara’s fingers on her lips.
”Shhh. Don’t get me wrong. I’m still angry—but I don’t want to talk about it until I’m ready to. I don’t want you to tell me…whatever you have to tell me until I’ve had more time to think.” Barbara hesitated before asking, “But I do want to know. Do you love me?”
Barbara was stunned by the look of abject misery in Helena’s eyes. “I’d die for you, Barbara…but what’s more important…I…entirely live for you, too.” She looked down at the couch cushion. “I hope you know that—I hope you can feel that.”
Helena heard Barbara chuckle, then felt her pull her chin up to look into her eyes. “I do—and that’s why we can talk about it later.”
And then she kissed her, and so tenderly that Helena nearly burst into tears, never having imagined that such love and potential forgiveness existed on Earth.
Two days later
Quinn was tapping the floor next to Delphi with her foot, awaiting her first injection. Helena had made a very obvious leave of absence for the woman’s visit, though Dinah was there to monitor the effects of the medication.
“I have bats in my belfry waiting for Batgirl’s shot so Batman will trust me.” Quinn tilted her head to one side. “Which sounds, at least to me, something like a fucking plethora of bats—I’m I right?”
Even Barbara couldn’t help smiling at this as she injected Quinn. “Brace yourself. The effect should be nearly instantaneous.”
Quinn showed no effect. But Dinah, whose hand had been on Quinn’s shoulder, sank to her knees within fifteen seconds, trailing her hand down Quinn’s body as she dropped, so that it finally rested on the other woman’s calf.
She opened her eyes to assure a frightened Barbara. “No…it’s okay. Her mind’s…clearing…getting better. It’s just that….it’s like her body’s covered with thousands of fire ants—all of them biting her.”
“Yep! Thousands and thousands of ants. And that’s no picnic, huh? Wow! Feeling…clear. Good. Thank you, Dinah.” Quinn shrugged herself free from Dinah’s touch and turned to Barbara.
“When can I have the next shot?”
”Two days. Got it! Same Bat time, same Bat channel.”
As they watched Quinn leave, Barbara noted, with no little irritation, the grudging look of respect on Dinah’s face.
The second injection was worse. Dinah gasped as she felt the renewed clarity in Quinn’s mind vie with the fact that her body felt literally on fire.
If she’d been Joan of Arc, surely…surely…this would have been what it felt like. She could scarcely believe that the horrors of third degree burns weren’t rising on Quinn’s skin.
Dinah had heard that some drugs—like some chemotherapy—could do this to you—make you feel, mentally, things that weren’t happening to you physically, but it was nearly impossible to believe the intensity of …
Quinn pulled away from her immediately and Dinah was astonished to see her grin. “Hurts, huh? Welcome to my world, Blondie.” She smiled again. “No biggie, though, huh?”
Actually, truth be told, Dinah was thinking it was one hell of a biggie. And obviously, Quinn experienced a sort of psychic pain on a daily basis for which she had no basis for comparison.
Quinn turned to Barbara, “Next shot?”
”Five days it is, then. Should have big goings-on planned by then.”
As they watched her leave, Dinah chuckled a bit under her breath.
”What?” Barbara asked.
“It’s just that—I can see, now, what Helena saw in her.”
“What do you mean by that?”
Although Dinah had touched Quinn, Quinn’s mind was so exquisitely compartmentalized that she was unable, at all, to reach Helena’s relationship with the woman. Or what Barbara might be implying.
“As a therapist…I mean. Beside everything else, she’s just sort of astonishing, isn’t she? Even sorta—something, huh?” Dinah hoped she’d covered that well.
Maybe not. Because the young woman could plainly see Barbara was feeling more than a bit disgruntled to find she was the only person in the Clocktower who felt no attraction to Harley Quinn.
Although Barbara had remained pleasant, loving and affectionate, Helena could still feel a certain chill between them and they hadn’t made love since Quinn’s first visit. And after nine days, Helena began to wonder how many ways even someone who was as smart as Barbara could think about a problem. Because after nine days of not talking about it, Helena was positively aching to unburden herself—to tell her the truth at whatever cost. Just to have it over and done with. She wondered after a while whether that was part of her lover’s plan. Or maybe it was just a punishment.
The night before Quinn’s third injection, a silent Helena lay in bed next to Barbara, watching her as she read a book. And made up her mind. She couldn’t take it anymore.
The women didn’t look up from her page. “Yes?”
”You know…I’ve noticed that sometimes, over the years…and even now, you get this look on your face when you’re looking at Dick…especially when you touch him.”
Barbara still didn’t look up. “Oh? What look’s that?”
”I don’t know…like you still love him or something.”
At this, and the seriousness in the woman’s voice, Barbara did turn to Helena.
”I do still love him, Hel. You know that. I always will. We’ve gone through so many things together that nothing will ever—“
Then she stopped. Abruptly. Realizing Helena’s comments weren’t really about Dick at all; she was talking about Quinn. Helena was not usually known for her subtlety but she’d slipped this little analogy right under Barbara’s radar. And she found it rather offensive, though she kept her tone controlled.
“You can’t possibly be comparing the love I’ve built for someone over nearly two decades of learning and fighting together with—“
”Well, who else do I have?” Helena snapped. “Huh? Except you? Who else?”
That brought Barbara up short. Because Helena was right, though Barbara would, somehow, never have thought about it that way. After her mother had died, Helena had never had another adult to talk to, never anyone she’d felt enough connection with to confide in—except her.
Barbara lay there for a full five minutes, just looking into the blue eyes of her partner. In life. In love. She chuckled inwardly as she realized that she was learning, yet again, the true meaning of taking one for the team. She didn’t like it. But that didn’t matter.
She would just have to accept that her lover’s past belonged to her lover—not to her.
And let it go. Because if she held onto her need to delve into the darkness of Helena’s past, she’d never be able to enjoy the light Helena was bringing into her life now. And that would be unacceptable.
“Alright.” Barbara said finally. “Message received, point taken…” but she couldn’t resist adding the dig, “Though, frankly, I can’t pretend I understand what the attract—“
Helena decided to risk humor. “Oh please! Like I understood Wade?” And was treated to one of her favorite sights. Barbara threw back her head and laughed. And then reached over, pulled her forcefully by her t-shirt onto her.
Helena smiled as she kissed her and asked. “Does this mean I’m forgiven?”
”Actually, you have a few more hours of penance to do—but I expect you’ll enjoy them.”
And as Barbara slid her hands under her shirt, Helena couldn’t help but agree.
For the third injection, everyone was present because Quinn had announced she’d come up with a plan.
Again, as they watched, Dinah placed her hand on Quinn’s shoulder and was instantly relieved to feel a distinct lessening of physical symptoms although the woman’s mind was still a barely controlled maelstrom.
Quinn’s eye’s widened as she watched Barbara fill the syringe, then she looked up at the rest of the company and smiled.
”I suppose you’re all wondering why I called this meeting.”
”We’re in no mood for your jokes, Quinn.”
Quinn rolled her head languidly toward Batman to answer him. “Are you sure that costume isn’t pinching you somewhere?”
Then looked to Dick. “Honest to Pete, how’d you ever put up with old Ironsides all those years?”
Before he could answer, she turned to Barbara, who was even at that moment injecting her. Then turned her attention toward Dinah and watched the young woman’s reaction to the drug surging through her veins.
Dinah tilted her head one way, then the other, and suddenly grinned at Quinn. “Wow. Not so bad this time, was it?”
Quinn grinned right back. “Nope—though nobody really knows it but us, huh?”
As Barbara watched Dinah smiling at Quinn, she wondered whether it were necessarily a good idea to require Dinah’s interaction with this psychopath’s mind—and on such a regular basis.
“Here’s what I’m going to suggest,“ Quinn began. “We all know I need to get back into Mr. J’s good graces so we can eventually put my poor Puddin’ right back where he belongs—in a fucking—oops, excuse the language! In a nice padded prison cell. However, we all also know I’m crazy as a bridge mix of nuts and bound to get worse once these meds wear off. And then, who can tell what I’ll do, right?”
Quinn paused only briefly to make sure everyone was with her before continuing.
”Well, here’s where we’d have to make up the teeniest bit of short fiction. What if we allege the billionaire Bruce Wayne had quite recently discovered that he had a daughter he’d never known about?”
She winked at Batman.
”And, though he was trying to settle up and make good by this daughter, she was entirely too bitter to accept his offer after his long-term neglect of her?”
She winked at Helena.
”And what if said daughter had somehow come into my clinical practice—had fallen under my spell—had even become my lover!?”
She winked at Barbara.
“Wouldn’t it be something if that daughter had decided to go on the lam with me and extort Dear Daddy’s fortune for Mr. J’s benefit?!”
”You can’t possibly believe Helena would—“
Quinn interrupted Barbara immediately. “I said fiction, my dear. I’m talking about a person who could go undercover with me and make absolutely sure I was doing the right thing.”
Then she pointed.
And Dinah squeaked. “Me!?”