DISCLAIMER: Birds of Prey and its characters are the property of Miller/Tobin Productions, Warner Brothers and DC comics. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: OK so first off the standard disclaimers: Birds of Prey does not belong to me it is the property of people who make far more than I do and are far more creative than me. I am just borrowing their characters for my own whimsical uses and make no profit off this at all.
WARNING: With that out of the way, here's another disclaimer: This story is dark and graphic and deals with some pretty strong subject matter. I wrote this story a few years back when I was in a dark place and what is now the prologue was actually just a one shot I posted on another forum. But everyone wanted to see more, so I ended up writing an entire story. It will eventually have a light at the end of the tunnel but if angst and character torment is not your thing well you have been duly warned.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To xfiredancerx[at]gmail.com
Chapter 15: Same Page
Oliver Queen found himself speechless for several long moments after transporting to Barbara's home. The evening had already been filled with enough surprises, but the sight of the lovely redhead in person, sitting next to her battered ward, and amongst a massive and complex computer network pushed him over the edge for a few moments.
Barbara finally smiled warmly at him, drawing him out of his shock. "Oliver it is so good to see you again."
Remembering his social skills, Oliver smiled back at her and approached swiftly to hug his old friend. "And you! My god, you have become even more beautiful and stunning over the years," he grinned, looking her over carefully. Gone was the brash and defiant young woman that had always been trying to live up to her mentor's image.
Oliver had always thought Barbara was attractive, but now she was downright gorgeous. Her body had matured completely, and she had an air of confidence and authority about her that she had never fully grasped in her days as Batgirl. Granted, she looked sad and tired, having obviously been through recent trauma, but her eyes were still sharp and calculated everything.
She blushed slightly at his compliment, and then her eyebrows rose slightly at the sub-vocal growl from Helena. The brunette, obviously surprised by her own reaction, tried to cover the small growl with a cough. Oliver found that amusing, and flashed a quick look between the two women, noting how close Helena was hovering over Barbara, her hand casually resting on the older woman's shoulder.
With an inward smile, Oliver addressed the brunette as well. "Helena Kyle, it is good to see you again. I apologize my last visit was so brief and we never really had a chance to talk. You are every bit as lovely as your mother was, and you have been doing an amazing job here in New Gotham."
"Um...thanks," she responded, caught a little off guard by his genuine remarks and charming personality. "Although I hear bruises and scrapes really aren't this year's fashions," she added with a hint of her old smirk.
Oliver chuckled. "Yes, but then you don't strike me as the kind of person to care too much what everyone else says or thinks."
"Two minutes and he already has you pegged," Barbara laughed.
"And you! Don't even give me some bullshit that all this fancy tech-ware is part of your 'testing' side jobs. You were a good hack back when all you had was that computer in college. I can't even begin to imagine what you could do now," Oliver said, narrowing his eyes playfully at the redhead.
"Take over the world," Helena answered smugly for her.
"You're Oracle aren't you?"
Barbara blushed a little again and held her hands open. "Guilty as charged," she admitted quietly.
"I knew you wouldn't just stay out of the life. I mean I knew you helped to train Helena here, but I didn't think you could just let it all go at that. You were way too passionate. I'm glad to see that amazing mind of yours is still being put to some very good use. And thank you very much for all of your assistance over these last few years."
"You're welcome Oliver. Shall we make ourselves comfortable? I'm afraid Alfred has already left for the evening, but I can make us coffee or tea if you want."
"Actually, do you have a beer?"
"And that would be my queue, being the bartender and all here," Helena said as she slipped her cane out of her pocket, let it unfold and began making her way to the kitchen.
Oliver watched her go, his eyes troubled as he took in the true extent of Helena's injuries. He looked over at Barbara, who merely gave him a sad smile and then gestured towards the living area and the couches there. He decided to hold his tongue until they were all relaxed.
Helena came back a few minutes later, her natural grace and years of bartending allowing her to balance a tray of beverages in one hand while she negotiated a careful path towards the living room. The brunette allowed Barbara to take the tray from her hand and settle it on the coffee table. She'd brought a couple of beers for Oliver and herself, and a small tumbler of scotch for Barbara.
The redhead raised an eyebrow at the drink poured for her and Helena seemed to sense it and shrugged. "Trust me Red, this sounded like we might need a drink or two," Helena told her.
Once they were all settled, Oliver decided to find out about them first. Over the course of the next two hours, the two women filled him in on what had been going on in their lives over the last few years, a few of their defining moments in life, and Dinah's arrival and induction into their family. Then they proceeded to explain everything that led up to Quinn's seizure of the Clocktower, and their subsequent emotional turmoil thereafter.
"Were you blinded in the fight then?" Oliver asked gently, slightly confused still about how the brunette had lost her sight.
"No," was all Helena answered, unwilling to go that much into her emotional downfall with this man whom she'd just really gotten to know a little better.
"Helena found out the hard way shortly after the fight that cats don't always land on their feet. Her injuries are the result from a fall that was too high for even her to stick, and it pushed her body beyond her meta-healing abilities. Even now, over a month later, they are still trying to re-assert themselves," Barbara supplied.
"Some of these look pretty fresh though. You're not out on the streets again are you?"
Barbara felt Helena begin to bristle and quickly stepped in. "Actually, she and Dinah got into an ugly brawl one day while I was out," she explained and then she told him about Dinah's mental deterioration culminating with her break-in to Arkham and her actions against Quinn.
Oliver sat in silence for several minutes, absorbing everything he was being told about his daughter. His immediate response was anger. Anger that she had come to New Gotham, that Barbara had allowed her to stay and that she had even let Dinah go out there and be exposed to the criminal underworld at such a young age.
But just as quickly as the anger had flashed across his mind, he let it go. Dinah was a young woman now and had chosen this life for herself at an age that was far older than even a few of the other men and women he'd trained and fought along side of over the years. She was also extremely gifted, even more-so than her mother, and it was apparent that she would have been drawn to this life no matter what anyone could or would have said. Carolyn was a fool for thinking she could just collect her daughter and stash her away somewhere safely away from the fight. From the sound of things, Dinah would have never stood for that.
Then he felt a sense of pride over the good and brave choices she had made in her life. His daughter had one of the most powerful minds on the planet it seemed, and while she'd stumbled a bit along the way, as any fledgling teen might when trying to control their new-found powers, she'd made the decision to use her powers for the good of humanity. It saddened him that she'd been through so much because of her recently unlocked potential, but he knew that she was in good hands with J'onn and that his old friend would look closely after his daughter.
Finally, he felt a flood of relief and gratitude that Dinah had two loving people to look after her. Barbara had always had a warm heart and a kind smile. It had surprised no one that she'd wanted to pursue a teaching profession as a day job, for she had the perfect demeanor for such a difficult task. Helena was a surprise though. Her reputation had proceeded her amongst the League. Everyone knew to stay out of New Gotham, just as they had done when Batman had been Gotham's original protector. She was a lone wolf, and from what little anyone had gathered over the years, tolerated Barbara Gordon alone. She had nothing to do with her father, and had steadfastly remained out of the spotlight.
Barbara had earlier teased the brunette about her seemingly unhappy attitude about Dinah joining their team in the beginning, and the many complaints that Helena had about having a junior sidekick tag along. Helena had only grumbled good-naturedly with a few remarks about having to endure batarang practices and unfair telekinetic attacks. It was apparent that the sunny teen had quickly broken down even Helena's tough defenses and had endeared herself quickly to these two women.
It was Helena of all people that had been able to break through to the teen to stop her from doing something she would have probably never come back from. And for that, Oliver would be eternally indebted to the brunette.
"First of all, I want to say that I think Carolyn was an idiot for trying to take Dinah from you," he told them sincerely. "She always did have a habit of going off and doing things half-cocked when her emotions were involved," he said sadly. "She didn't take the time to see that Dinah has a good home and family here with you two and Alfred, and I wouldn't dream of trying to upset that. Besides, Dinah is more than old enough to make decisions like that for herself. I seriously doubt anyone could drag her anywhere that she didn't want to go," he chuckled.
He watched as the two women relaxed visibly and continued. "I'm also not going to tell you that I don't want her in the Life. I honestly don't think it would be possible for someone with her powers to avoid using them, and I would much rather see her out there using them for good than being on the other side of the fence. And Helena? Words will never express just how much gratitude I have for you for bringing her back from the edge before it was too late," he said, pouring every ounce emotion into his tone, knowing she couldn't see the truth in his eyes.
Helena blushed, a bit self conscious with the sincere words. "The kid would have done the same for me. She's like my kid sister and I couldn't let that bitch take her from me. I would lay down my life in a heartbeat to keep Dinah safe," she told him quietly.
Oliver didn't doubt the truth in those words and reached over to squeeze the brunette's hand briefly to let her know he believed her.
"Apparently, J'onn has kept Dinah secluded from most everyone until this evening. But at dinner, Kendra put two and two together, and nearly spilled the beans as it were, given Dinah's telepathic abilities. J'onn was able to divert the situation, but I'm going to have to talk with her in the morning, before she picks up on what's on everyone's mind up there now. I guess all I want is a chance to get to know my daughter."
He was a bit surprised when the brunette suddenly stood up and made a hasty and somewhat clumsy retreat, claiming the sudden need to use the restroom. Oliver frowned, seeing the obvious pain in suddenly violet eyes, before Helena left. Looking at Barbara, he watched as the redhead waited until her younger partner was well out of earshot before speaking.
"Helena is still trying to reconcile her own situation with her father. Bruce's...disappearance hurt her deeply and has generated the large animosity she's had for him and anything to do with him. The fact that he was a legendary superhero made it all the worse," Barbara sighed, looking at her lap. In truth, even she had never forgiven Bruce for his disappearance either, and that was part of the reason why she'd asked him to leave. With everything that was going on, she just couldn't deal with Helena's emotions and her own right now.
Oliver completely understood. "I could never understand how someone could just leave everyone he cared about like that. Especially in the condition you and Helena were," he added a bit of his own latent anger surfacing. Then he shook his head, and sighed. "I don't think what Bruce did was right, but then I'm not him. I have no idea what he was going through, and for someone like Bruce to just quit and disappear, the guilt and failure he must have been feeling would have probably driven lesser men to take their own lives. We were all angry with him for leaving like he did, but Kal and Diana were quick to remind us that it wasn't our place to judge. We just wish that so many people hadn't been hurt in the process."
Barbara nodded, finally raising her gaze since she'd managed to calm her emotions. "He came back briefly, when Helena was initially injured. I asked him to leave for the time being while she heals. But I know that deep down, all she wants is to get to know her father, like any normal child would, and I told him as much."
Olvier chuckled at the fiery look in her eyes. "I think you did a little more than 'tell' him."
She smirked a tiny bit. "There may have been a few swear words and occasionally raised voices," she allowed. But her face went serious once more. "Oliver, I think it's wonderful that you want to be a part of Dinah's life. I hope that your talk with Dinah goes well tomorrow, and I want you to know that Helena and I are behind you- even if Hel might seem a bit distant. You just have to realize that if things do go well for you and Dinah, Helena might be a bit stand-offish for awhile. Please know it has nothing to do with you."
"I understand completely," he told her. "And I will try to take her feelings into consideration if Dinah and I do hit it off and she wants to get to know me too." The blonde paused for a minute and then looked at his old friend with some trepidation. "Do you...do you think she'll even want anything to do with me? I mean...I haven't been around her whole life and-"
"Oliver, you had no idea...just as I didn't. Okay, maybe I had my suspicions after Carolyn showed up on my doorstep," she admitted with a small grin. "But Dinah is a very caring young woman, despite everything she's been through. She has always longed to be a part of a family that can love her for who she is. If her newfound father can accept her despite everything she can do, and love her unconditionally, I don't see why she would have any reason not to want to be a part of his life too."
Comforted and strengthened by Barbara's words, Oliver felt he'd accomplished what he'd come here to do. Standing, the older man walked over to the redhead and leaned down to hug her once more. "God I've missed you Babs. At the very least, this will give me a chance to see you more often again. Thank you for everything."
"It's good to see you too Oliver. I didn't realize how much I've missed everyone ever since..." she trailed off waving at her unfeeling legs and the chair. "But being Oracle has kept me busy and the need for anonymity has forced me to remain reclusive. It's kind of nice to have a few more old friends in on the secret though."
"Oracle has been quiet lately," Oliver observed. "Any chance she might be returning soon? I've got a case or two that could use some good hack work."
Barbara gave him another sad smile. "For now, Oracle is offline Ollie. I have to take care of my family first, and then when we get things straightened out, we'll see where things go from here."
He nodded in appreciation. Such a decision was obviously not made lightly. "I understand Babs. Well I should let you get some rest, I've kept you ladies up late enough. And I have a big morning ahead of me."
"Will you contact me as soon as you're done talking with her?" Barbara requested.
"Of course." He looked back in the direction that the brunette had headed off to. "Please give Helena my regards. I hope things work out for her...she's a good kid." Barbara's fond smile told him all he needed to know. "She's turned out to be quite an exceptional woman...just like her mother was. I'll call you tomorrow Barbara, and no matter how it turns out, just know that I will respect Dinah's wishes, but I do intend on keeping in better touch with you."
"I'd like that Ollie. Good luck tomorrow."
Oliver gave her a hopeful smile and then signaled the Watchtower that he was ready to return. With a hum and a small flash of light, he was gone, leaving Barbara to sit for a few minutes in silence and think over the revelations of the last couple of hours.
Then she went in search of her partner. She found Helena in the first place she looked, lounging on the back of her favorite gargoyle, her face clearly showing the emotions that were obviously warring within her. Without a word, Barbara just wheeled over to her and slipped her hand into the delicate one that dangled off the side of the gargoyle.
"You ok with all of this?" she asked after awhile.
"Yeah," Helena sighed finally. "This is way different than Carolyn coming here trying to take the kid from us. He genuinely wants to be a part of her life now that he knows, and he's okay with still letting Dinah be her own person and make her own decisions. It's cool."
"Hel...I know this is going to be rough on you."
"I'll be okay Barbara. Who knows...maybe if things work out for them, I could learn a few pointers from the kid right?" Helena said, trying to sound hopeful even if she was failing at it.
"And I will always be here to support you no matter what Helena."
That finally earned the redhead a soft smile. "Yeah...I'm finally beginning to get that through my thick skull."
Barbara chuckled quietly as she stretched up to brush some hair away from the fading bruises along Helena's face. "Not so thick anymore I think." Then she smirked a bit. "So you want to tell me what the growling was all about?" she asked.
Even in the faint moonlight she saw the brunette blush as she sat up and ducked her head in embarrassment. "I...it's just Queen has a rep, and I didn't like that right off the bat he was putting the smooth moves on you."
"Oh really?" Barbara asked, her eyebrow arching in curiosity.
"Yeah...well...for all he knew you could be in a relationship. I mean...if everything hadn't happened with Quinn..." Helena faltered, shifting awkwardly.
Barbara smiled sadly. "Perhaps."
This caught Helena's attention. "Perhaps?"
"To be honest Hel, I really wasn't sure that I wanted to keep things going with Wade. He was sweet, but...well I don't think it would have worked out for us. And his parents were most certainly not for us being together," she added with a sigh.
"His parents can go fuck themselves," the brunette growled out suddenly. The harshness of the tone shocked the older woman a bit.
"Helena! They just lost their son," she reminded her partner.
She watched as a contrite expression flitted across gamine features. "Sorry...it's just you have no idea how mad I was when you told me about that conversation. It took everything I had not to go over there and tell those people just how amazing of a person you were and that if anything, I didn't think their son was good enough for you." Helena's head ducked once more, her blush deepening. "But you seemed happy with him and I didn't want to ruin that."
Barbara was surprised by the emotional admission, but chuckled warmly. "I had no idea you felt that way sweetheart. But I do thank you for your restraint and your thoughtfulness. However had you told them that, I probably would have only been mad at you for doing it when I couldn't see their expressions though," she admitted with wicked grin.
Even white teeth flashed at her then, and the two laughed at the thought. "So you really were serious about breaking up with him then? And not just because of our secret identities?" Helena asked after a few minutes of comfortable silence.
"Yes, I was. Which was probably why I took his death so hard," Barbara admitted quietly. "I felt so guilty, because an innocent man that I didn't even really love, had died for no reason that night other than he was here because of me. I just didn't know how to deal with it, and I'm sorry I took it out on you like I did."
Helena slid down onto her knees in front of Barbara, and searched out the redhead's hands. "I deserved that anger Barbara, but I've thought a lot about what you said the other night. And I don't want to give up on us either. I don't want to let them win. I'll do whatever it takes to keep us together too."
Barbara smiled contentedly. Over the last few days, she and Helena had started to finally mend the rift that had grown in their friendship. They'd spent hours talking to each other, opening up about their fears and insecurities as they had done all those years ago. It was something she'd missed immensely over the last couple of years. She was glad to hear that some of Hel's old stubborn spirit was coming back in defense of their family.
"I've missed this," she breathed, squeezing the brunette's hand.
"Just the two of us, talking to each other again...trusting each other and opening up."
Helena smiled faintly. "Yeah...we used to talk for hours out here didn't we?"
"Until you moved out. Why did you move out Hel?"
The brunette chuckled and shook her head slightly. "I think that's a discussion for another time Red," she said simply. "Besides, it's getting late and I've heard you yawn three times now in the past five minutes."
The older woman scowled briefly as Helena evaded her question. But she realized that a lot had already been said recently and that maybe it was best not to push things too much too soon. So with a grin, she agreed that it was time for them to turn in, and pulled the younger woman to her feet, but held onto her hands.
"All right, you win. But don't think I'm going to let this drop. Somehow we've let this huge gap form in our friendship, and I intend on fixing that. You mean too much for me to let this go on any longer," she said as she tugged Hel down to kiss her forehead.
Helena gasped, her eyes going feral and then blinking rapidly. Barbara pulled back, thinking at first she'd inadvertantly brushed a bruised area, but upon seeing the tears and the feral and seeing gaze in Helena's eyes, she realized differently. "Did it happen?" she whispered hopefully.
The beaming smile on the young woman's face was all the answer she needed. Barbara felt her heart jump and then her mind began to kick into overdrive. "Come on, let's get you to the med lab and run some scans," she said quickly.
Helena jerked upright and then raised an eyebrow at Barbara. "I can suddenly see again...well at least Predator-vison, and your first words to me are lets go run some tests?" she teased.
Barbara swatted at her partner, grinning when the brunette was able to sidestep it. "I think you can see how much I'm smiling right now Helena, but I also know that this may not last long and Leslie has yet to have any data on what might be going on in that thick head of yours."
Helena followed Barbara inside. "I thought you just said a little while ago that it wasn't that thick?" she mock pouted.
"Perhaps," Barbara drawled, feeling a sense of happiness flood her at the brief return of their old bantering.
"Perhaps?" Helena asked indignantly.
Barbara hesitated for a moment as she reached the doors to the med-lab and peered back over at the younger woman. She debated for a moment to push things just one more time and decided that her curiosity was going to get the better of her. So drawing a deep breath she asked.
"On whether or not you are going to tell me what kind of emotional response triggered this."
Chapter 16: Haven
Dinah was sure that a seal had broken on the station. It was the only logical reason she could come up with for all the oxygen suddenly being sucked out of the room.
"Breathe, Dinah," J'onn encouraged gently.
Dinah's eyes slowly tracked from the blond man in front of her to the Martian standing a little ways behind him. His command didn't register for another few long seconds before she finally sucked in a reflexive breath and sank heavily into the chair she had just stood from.
The man shifted forward, concern on his face as he reached out to steady her. She was suddenly hit with his emotions and Dinah winced, realizing J'onn had been the reason she couldn't read him when he'd come in just moments before with the Martian. The man...Oliver was his name...halted his forward progress, and she could see and sense the hesitation and sudden fear of rejection.
Closing her eyes, Dinah gestured that she needed a moment to process everything and pinched the bridge of her nose in a very Barbara-like fashion as she took a deep breath, counted to ten and slowly let it out. She repeated the process a few more times, and both men remained silent allowing her a minute to adjust. When Dinah finally opened her eyes, she felt reasonably calmer.
The teen narrowed her eyes at J'onn for a moment, letting him know she wasn't happy about being broadsided by this, but then silently requested that she give her and...her dad some time alone. J'onn nodded and quietly left. Dinah finally looked at the man that had just told her he was her long lost father and studied him carefully for a few moments.
The similarities were most definitely hard to ignore. They both had fair hair and skin, but then so had her mother. But it had been clear that Dinah had inherited her strong jaw and proud chin from her father, since her mother's facial features were much more delicate. And Dinah's eyes were almost a perfect match for this man's.
But what convinced her completely was what she 'read' from him. Clearing her throat, she finally managed to speak. "So...um...you just found out too huh?"
He managed a weak and nervous smile. "Yeah. J'onn managed to talk Clark into getting rid of me for awhile so he could work with you before he sprung this on both of us."
"So...you had no idea?" she asked, unable to squash all of the hurt from her voice.
He settled into a chair across from Dinah and sighed heavily, shaking his head. "Your mother and I had a rocky relationship at best. A lot of that was my fault," he admitted with more than a touch of shame. "But I loved your mother a great deal, and I would always come back to her...and despite everything I'd done to hurt her, she'd always forgive me. I didn't deserve her," he said sadly.
"Then one day, I came back to the apartment after a mission, and she was gone," he explained.
Dinah had of course read most of this by now, but she could sense his need to talk about it and didn't interrupt, as she tried to set her own shields back up to give him a measure of privacy. She really didn't need to know everything about her parents relationship.
"She left me some hasty note that she'd been doing some thinking and she had different priorities in her life. That she knew we could never work out and that she didn't think she could take being hurt again. I just accepted it for what it was. I had no idea that the reason she left was because she was pregnant with you. J'onn was the only one who knew and that was just because he had read it on her once."
"Did you ever see her again after that?"
"It was about two years actually. No one saw her for awhile, but we all assumed she was just on another deep under cover operation. When she resurfaced again, no one got many details, and we never pried much into Carolyn's cases. I worked with her a few dozen times here and there over the years on various missions with the League. But she was different around me even though I tried to go on as normal. I really did go out of my way to not make her feel bad about her choice...after all I had figured it was my fault and I deserved to be dumped like that. I certainly had it coming," he admitted frankly.
"I didn't want your mother to feel like I despised her for her decision. I wanted her to be happy, and I tried to tell her that. But she just shut me completely out of her life, and I could never understand why. I finally just had to let it go...although I never stopped caring for her. When I heard about what happened in New Gotham," he paused and cleared his throat. "Yeah...that was pretty rough," he admitted.
Dinah looked down at her lap, tears in her eyes. "I wish for so many things about that night," she whispered. "That she hadn't tried to take me away. That I hadn't over-reacted and said what I did to her. That she'd never been captured. That I had been stronger back then and could have saved her," Dinah's voice broke as a sob caught in her chest.
Her father was at her side in a moment, gently taking her hands into his. She looked up into his eyes, seeing nothing but relief and love in them. "I wish there was some way we could go back and make this all right again Dinah. I wish that your mother hadn't been so afraid, that she gave you up. I wish that she had at least told me so that I could have kept an eye on you...maybe even get to know you as you grew up. I wish you hadn't been left to grow up alone, wondering what was wrong with you when you had such a remarkable gift. I wish that your few moments with your mother hadn't been strained and that you had been given the chance to really know who she was. But most of all, I wish you didn't have to bare the weight of the world on your shoulders, and feel so much guilt at such a young age. Dinah, I know this is a lot to take in," he said gently as he reached up to wipe the tears from her cheeks. "But I want you to know that I don't plan on trying to take you from your family and your life. I want you to be happy with where and who you are. All I want is to be able to get to know my daughter better. To be able to share who her mother truly was, and to be there for her when she needs me. I don't want to run your life Dinah, I just want to be a small part of it...if you'll let me."
The floodgates inside of her burst, and Dinah surged forward, her grip on Oliver's neck almost painfully tight. "Yes," she sobbed into his shoulder as she broke down completely.
Oliver Queen realized in that moment that he had finally found a woman strong enough to tame his wild heart. He had thought that after so many years in life and as a hero, he'd learned everything there was to know about himself. But Dinah helped him tap into a deep part of himself that he'd never known existed. He finally understood the true responsibility and joy of being a parent. He regretted that it was something he'd been denied all these years...and that he'd missed a great deal of that responsibility. But there was nothing he could do about it, but make up for lost time and make each moment now with Dinah count.
He held her in his strong arms, and let her cry herself out. After awhile she finally sat back up and sniffled, smiling a bit self-consciously. "That's the second time this week I've done that. Helena would be teasing me for be soft," she joked weakly.
Oliver smiled at her. "Only to draw attention away from her own state right now...which by the way is healing nicely," he added with a quirked eyebrow. "I don't know whether I should be impressed or upset by the damage done. From the looks of things, she worked you over pretty good too," he stated, nothing her own mostly faded bruises.
Dinah blushed. "Yeah...it was a really bad night for both of us," she admitted sheepishly.
"Listen Dinah," Oliver said growing serious once more. "I went down and talked with Barbara last night. I know about everything and she knows my intentions with you. She's fine with me hanging around if that was what you wanted and I meant what I said about not trying to run your life. But as your father, I'm suddenly feeling these instinctive urges to guide you and tell you what to do."
He paused for a moment and then shook his head and chuckled. "Which means that I'm probably going to be sidled with more training missions damn it," he said good naturedly, and Dinah giggled. "So I'm probably going to be throwing my oh-so-clever words of wisdom out there and most likely annoy you from time to time. So let's say we make a promise to each other?"
"I will try to curb my desire to lecture and guide you, since I can see that Barbara is already doing an admirable job of that, and you will cut your old man some slack if he starts to go a little overboard. If I really start to overdo, I even give you permission to let me know."
"On one condition," Dinah said seriously.
"You have to teach me to shoot," she said with a grin.
Oliver laughed heartily and he hugged her. "Sweetheart, I don't think you really need me for that, from what I hear! But I would be honored to teach you how to properly draw a bow."
"Helena is going to be so jealous when I get back."
Oliver's smile faltered a little. "About that," he began hesitantly. "I'm thinking you and I should probably keep our relationship a little low-key around the Clocktower for awhile. Give Helena some time to adjust."
Dinah's eyes widened. "Oh," she said blushing. "I didn't think about that."
"Neither did I. I had no idea that things were so hostile between her and her father. I hope that Bruce has the balls to come back some day and fix that, but for now I think it would be cruel to flaunt our relationship. Besides," he said growing very somber, "you could be a terrible shot and I'd be forced to disown you," he added with a wink and a grin.
Dinah's laughter was bright and full of life, and for the first time since she'd touched Quinn, she felt like a true kid again.
"So everything went well?" Barbara asked hopefully.
"See for yourself Babs," Ollie said as he stepped aside and a smiling Dinah moved into view.
"Dinah!" Barbara gasped, her eyes tearing at the joy she saw in those soft blue eyes. It was something she had desperately missed these past few months.
"Is that the kid?" Helena asked from the couch.
"Hey Hel!" Dinah said louder, and then grinned as she heard the brunette swear as she tried to rush up the platform without the aid of her cane. When Helena finally showed up, Dinah winced a bit. "Oh damn," she breathed.
"Wow," Helena said wryly. "I must really look like shit, because everyone says that as soon as they get a look at my face. I swear if you made my nose crooked though kid I am gonna knock one of those perfect teeth out in revenge," she mock threatened.
"I'm really sorry-,"
"Don't sweat it kid. Some things were said that shouldn't have and others that needed to be. What matters is we cleared the air, you showed me I wasn't as helpless as I thought, and you so owe me for saving your ass again," Helena said with her trademark smirk.
"Yeah, yeah...gloat while you can. I am so going to own you from here on out," the blond teen shot back.
"You see what I have to put up with Oliver?" Barbara chuckled, not in the least bit put out by the bantering.
"Sure you still want in on this parenting gig?"
Oliver settled his hands on Dinah's shoulders. "And miss the fireworks? People pay money to see this kind of stuff. Hell, they make reality TV shows based on girls like them." This earned him an indignant squeak from Dinah.
"Did he just compare us to Big Brother?" Helena asked, in mock offense as well.
Barbara just chuckled and smiled back at Oliver and Dinah. "It's good to see you smiling again sweetheart. How are you feeling?" she asked warmly.
"I'm feeling a lot better Barbara. It's much quieter up here, and J'onn's quarters are shielded from everyone. I've been able to finally get some sleep, and he's been helping me work on my shielding now that I can focus. It's getting a little easier each day, and now that I've been hanging out with the others, I'm able to have controlled practice with my lessons. Oh by the way...just so you know. That device that was created by-," Dinah paused before she got the name out as her eyes flicked towards Helena and Barbara nodded, understanding. "The one used to block J'onn's telepathic abilities, also works on me. Actually it's a little more debilitating. J'onn says it just blocks him but I feel like my brains are being scrambled."
"Well you know what that means, right?"
Dinah chuckled ruefully and looked back at her father. "Told you she'd want to hook me up and run a test."
Barbara just grinned and shook her head. "You know I just want to make sure everything is safe and you aren't being harmed by it. I'm glad you are feeling better though and that being up there with J'onn is helping. We look forward to you coming home for a visit. Alfred promised he would even make your favorite."
"I am SO going to visit soon. Not that these guys are bad cooks up here, but no one can beat Alfred's lasagna. Besides," her features softened a bit and she tucked her hair behind her ears. "I really miss being home with you guys."
"We miss you too kid," Helena said, her voice completely sincere. Then she smirked. "So get your brain in gear already and then get your ass back home. You owe me a new set of leathers and I need to go shopping."
"I'll be home in an hour," Dinah said seriously.
Everyone dissolved into laughter and Barbara reached out to brush her fingers along the girl's face on her screen. "We'll see you soon enough Dinah. Take care and you two try not to get into too much trouble."
"We won't. Oh and Hel?"
"You do what I asked?" the blond asked cryptically.
Helena chuckled ruefully and shook her head. "Not yet Big D. Working up to it very soon though."
"Good. I'll see you guys soon. Love you!"
"Love you too sweetheart," Barbara returned waving at Dinah and Oliver as they ended the connection.
"She sounds really happy," Helena commented a minute later.
"She looks like herself again," Barbara told her. "She even did that shy, tuck her hair behind her ear thing too." The redhead let out a deep sigh of relief. "I was so afraid that sending her with J'onn wouldn't work. And then when Oliver showed up last night..."
"Yeah, I was a little worried about that too," Helena admitted. "I was hoping it wasn't going to be too much for her, but I'm glad that they hit it off."
"I think it will be good for both of them. So care to fill me in on what that last little remark from her was all about?" Barbara asked turning to face her younger partner.
Hel just grinned and shook her head. "Soon enough Red. What time is it?"
"About six thirty why? You hungry?"
"You know me, I'm always hungry. But the sun is setting right?"
"Pretty soon, yes."
"Cool," was all the brunette said before she headed out onto the balcony leaving a very perplexed Barbara Gordon sitting alone at the Delphi. Five minutes later, she gave up trying to figure out what the younger woman was up to.
All that mattered was that their lives were finally returning to normal- well as normal as things could get for them. Dinah was getting back to her old self with each passing day, Helena was finally coping with her own personal struggles, and Barbara could finally feel herself begin to breath easier once again. The gloom that had been suffocating them all the last few month had finally lifted, leaving the Clocktower as it should be: their home...their haven.
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