DISCLAIMER: None of the characters herein belong to me - seriously. Birds of Prey: Tollin/Robbins Production, The WB, created by Laeta Kalogridis and DC Comics. The story, however, is all mine, so.... If you're still reading my stuff at this point, you pretty well know what you're getting into. If you don't have an open mind, why exactly are you still reading? However, if you do read it and you find something you think needs disclaiming, you are still more than welcome to let me know. It won't change anything, but it may make you feel better. Ugliness will earn you a smack to the back of your head.
THANKS: To Phil, Mac and Jeanne for beta reading this for me. They picked up all kinds of dropped letters and missed quotation marks because Pink and Fluffy tend to leave a trail of them so they can find their way home again on those occasions when they take field trips without me. Their diligence is greatly appreciated. All errors belong strictly to me. And thanks to Steph for inviting me to participate in the Academy's Valentine Invitational this year.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the first part of what is currently a two-story series. So this needs to be read before "Rolling Down Memory Lane", to make both stories flow correctly and get the full effect of the companion piece. The Storyteller's Cardinal Rule is in effect.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To avaliantheart01[at]gmail.com
Helena tucked the thick leather book under her arm and shoved her hands into the pockets of her leather pants as she strolled through the Clock Tower headed towards the balcony. Even now, months after Harley Quinn's attack, she could still see evidence of the madness that had nearly destroyed their home... that had come so close to destroying *them*. It wasn't the damage and chaos Harley had left in her wake as much as it was the newness of so many aspects of the Tower itself.
There was new paint, new carpet, new furniture and the Delphi.... The Delphi had been upgraded until Helena was almost afraid to breathe near it for fear of setting off Barbara's new security system. Not that she wasn't tempted, but as fragile as things were still....
The very first thing Barbara had done, however, had been to upgrade their security measures - the Clock Tower was a virtual fortress now, which went a long way towards explaining Helena's increased penchant for the balcony. She hated to be caged, but it made Barbara feel safer, so she simply escaped whenever she was here alone.
Helena stepped onto the balcony and took a deep breath. She dropped the book into her hand, then stretched both arms over her head before hopping up onto her favorite gargoyle.
She took a moment to look around New Gotham, then she turned her attention to the book in her hand. She caressed the spine and the cover gently, a small smile gracing her face. Then she opened the tome and began reading.
Maman gave me a birthday party today and it was pink and red and white - YUCK! Just because I am five and a girl doesn't mean I want PINK! Maman laughed and said it was because I was born on the day people celebrate love and romance, but she promised no more pink unless I ask for it. I'm happy - I like green better.
Helena chuckled aloud as she lifted her eyes from the pages. She remembered that party very well - and the discussion she and Selina had shared about the color pink. She smirked - Selina had never suggested pink for anything again.
Helena's smirk faded and her smile turned melancholy. She still missed her mother everyday - moreso on her birthday. Helena looked at the rooftops Selina had prowled as Catwoman that she herself now patrolled as Huntress.
"I still miss you, Mom. I'd even pretend to like pink for the chance to talk to you one more time."
Helena closed her eyes as the breeze caressed her face. Then she opened them once more and turned them back to her reading.
This year we went to the Louvre and had ice cream afterwards. I especially liked that part though the pictures were pretty to look at, I guess. Maman knows a lot about art. Not sure what everyone sees in that Mona Lisa lady though.
Blue eyes shifted unseeing to the skyline while her gaze went inward in memory.
Selina's exuberance and enthusiasm had kindled a spark in Helena's soul that day - had laid a foundation of awareness for the art and beauty in all things... even as a child. An understanding that continued to the present day in many aspects of her life.
Still, the ice cream had been the highlight to her seven-year-old mind. But her adult self appreciated the time and attention her mother had lavished on her every day they had together, but especially on her birthday. It was one of the happiest birthdays she'd ever had.
"Still not real sure what folks see in that Mona Lisa chick, Mom."
Almost Helena could see Selina's green eyes rolling, and she chuckled softly as her attention went back to the words on the page.
Maman took me to the circus to see the Flying Graysons for my birthday. It was great fun, and Maman took me to meet them though I'm not sure about the boy - Richard, his father called him. He acted like he was all that - I don't know why. I told him I could do what he did and he laughed at me and called me a kid. I don't like him much, I don't think.
Helena's eyes went feral and a growl rose in her throat. She'd been right even as a seven-year-old she'd pegged Dick Grayson for the prick he really was. Her smile was predatory, remembering how his father had called him down in front of both her and her mother. She'd relished his embarrassment in the moment, and even today a tiny part of her still did.
She'd long since surpassed his skill level; as far as Helena was concerned, Dick Grayson was beneath her notice. And despite Barbara's desire for there to be peace between them, Helena was happy with things the way they were. After all, she was still allowing him to breathe, right? Barbara would just have to be happy with small mercies.
Golden eyes faded back to blue and Helena forced her body to relax. She remembered Selina's words as they'd left the circus that night when Helena had revealed what she thought of him. "Don't let Richard Grayson taint your view of the world, Kitten. There will always be those who think they are better than the rest... who believe they are better than they are. Just remember, truth will out eventually, and those will be the ones who will be known as the fools they really are."
Helena still wondered if Selina had ever understood just how prophetic her words that night had been. Helena took a deep breath and waited for the anger within her to settle... feeling her eyes shift back into the blue of normalcy. Then the words on the page drew her in again.
I don't like this place - New Gotham, Maman called it. I don't know why we left Paris to come here, but I want to go home. What a sucky birthday.
Helena stuck her finger in the book to mark her place, then closed the book carefully. She let her eyes wander over the city, beyond the edges of New Gotham to where Old Gotham lay in ruins. And beyond that was stately Wayne Manor. She sneered in its direction as though the old house were to blame for her father's disappearance after her mother's murder. More than once Barbara had coaxed her to visit the old place, and more than once she'd been adamant in her refusal.
Much like her desire for Helena and Dick to reconcile, Barbara hoped learning more about the man who was her father might give Helena a measure of peace. Helena might not believe that Bruce or Dick deserved that, but Barbara knew that Helena did.
Helena shook her head as she thought about the words Barbara had offered her stating that very thing. She still hated them both of them and if the truth be told in the darkest recesses of her heart, Helena hated her mother just the tiniest bit for bringing them to this place that had destroyed them all. And that truth was almost more guilt than she could bear.
She crushed the book in her hand, wincing when she caught her finger in her anger. Helena sighed deeply and turned her attention back to the book, now sitting open in her lap once more.
P.S. Maman enrolled me in gymnastics today. She said I needed a safe and creative outlet for all my excess energy and it would be a way to make new friends before I start school here. I don't want new friends and I don't want to go to school. I want to go home!
This brought a wicked smile to Helena's face. Although she had been furious with her mother for leaving Paris and bringing them to Gotham City, she remembered clearly the joy she had felt when they'd entered the gymnasium together for the first time. Selina had insisted on accompanying her daughter on her initial foray into this new world she was going to experience. Despite the numerous recommendations, Selina had wanted to see for herself just what Barbara Gordon was made of.
Barbara had shown them both just how amazing she was, and in hindsight, Helena could easily see that was when she had first fallen in love with Barbara Gordon, though it wouldn't be the last time that happened... or the most fruitless.
That caused a melancholy smile to settle on Helena's features. She wondered if Barbara even realized. Then she picked up the diary once more and started to read again.
I like Barbara, especially when she smiles at me. Her green eyes twinkle and they remind me of Maman's. Maman said Barbara could easily win Olympic gold if she were shorter, though I don't see what difference it makes. Maman said I would understand better when I was older. Whatever.
Helena closed her eyes, remembering the extra care and attention Barbara Gordon had showered on Selina Kyle's only child. Selina had made arrangements that allowed Helena to watch Barbara perform any number of gymnastics routines while Helena patiently sat on the bleachers waiting for the other students to arrive.
To this day, Helena could clearly see the strut in Barbara's walk, the flawless way she'd performed each and every routine, the joy she had taken in what she could do with her body. The happiness she felt about who she had been when she had two functional legs was so clear to one who had known her then. Not that Barbara was an unhappy individual as the person she was now she wouldn't let herself be unhappy, because that meant accepting defeat in an area of her life.
But it had been a very long time since Helena had seen that smile on Barbara's face and that twinkle in her eye. What she shared with the world now paled in comparison to what had once been.
Helena rolled some of the tension out of her shoulders and started reading again.
I am nine today and Mom is taking the whole gymnastics class out for pizza and ice cream. Barbara is coming along to help. She told Mom no one should have to put up with that many nine-year-olds hopped up on sugar alone. I'm not sure what Barbara meant, but she made Mom laugh, so it's good.
Helena laughed at the memories that entry evoked. Selina had smiled when Barbara had volunteered her help and nodded her agreement to Barbara's suggestion gracefully. How bad could it be, really? Then Selina had been more than a little overwhelmed by the noise and exuberance twenty-one eight- and nine-year-olds could create. Even a child as energetic and enthusiastic as Helena was could not possibly have prepared her for that. Barbara, however - being more accustomed to it simply went with the flow... corralling them when they needed it, moving them along when they didn't.
Helena remembered the look of wonder that crossed Selina's face at the seemingly effortless control Barbara exerted over the entire troupe of students. Even then, on the cusp of adulthood, Barbara Gordon was truly something else, and Selina had always had an eye for the beautiful and unique.
Selina *had* laughed in amazement at Barbara's skill and that had made Helena love Barbara just a little more because though Selina Kyle smiled often, she rarely laughed aloud at anything.
The smile remained on her face, even as she returned to reading.
Barbara must have impressed Mom at my birthday party - she hired her to be my sitter. I told Mom I was old enough to stay home by myself, but she insisted. Now Barbara is downstairs talking on the phone to that stupid Dick Grayson while I'm stuck in bed at eight o'clock with nothing to do. Only babies go to bed at eight o'clock! I hate Dick Grayson... and I hate Barbara Gordon too!
The smile turned feral and Helena's brows furrowed deeply as anger washed through her in remembrance. More than fifteen years later, and she still felt the rage she had known as a nine-year-old for being treated like a baby. As Selina Kyle's child, she'd gotten used to being treated more as an adult and as Barbara's friend, she'd expected the same or better. To be put aside like a problem Barbara didn't want to deal with still rankled Helena. The fact that she had done so to chat up Dick Grayson still burned.
She wondered if Barbara had ever figured out Helena was the reason her car wouldn't start when she tried to leave that night... or where the horrific smell had come from when she tried to use the heater.
Helena grinned sadistically. That wasn't half of what she'd done to Dick Grayson later, but Barbara's anger had been worth it. She was still secretly glad she'd done it... to both of them. They had deserved it for treating her like some sort of cast-off.
She smirked and willed herself to a more peaceful place. That incident was long since in the past, and nothing... no amount of wishful thinking... could change what had happened. Helena went back to her reading.
I turned ten today and it occurred to me to ask Mom why she always spent Valentine's Day with me instead of her sweetheart. She told me I was her sweetheart and there was no one else in the world she'd rather be with. Besides, it was my birthday and that made it a doubly precious day for her. I smiled at her words and she smiled back, but I couldn't help but notice how sad her eyes were.
Helena slouched back against the parapet she'd been leaning against until she was almost in a reclining position. She turned her attention to the stars and remembered that day so clearly.
Selina had arranged for them to have a picnic in the warmth of the botanical gardens since the snow on the ground outside forbade the possibility of having one in the city park. Helena had smiled the rose garden was her favorite section of the entire exhibit with its neat, manicured lawns and trimmed, well-pruned bushes. Even now, there were blooms and blossoms, fostered by those that cared for the gardens on a daily basis.
Helena had wondered even then at the depth of sadness in Selina's eyes, and to this day she wondered what had put it there. Because despite Helena's initial desire to return to Paris, she had settled quite well into Gotham City, especially after having met Barbara Gordon. Barbara made things make sense for Helena in a way no one else could. For Selina Kyle, however, things seemed to be getting harder and harder. To this day, fifteen years and more after that particular birthday, Helena wondered what had brought them to Gotham in the first place, and why they had stayed when it was obvious to her that Selina had never really been happy here.
It crossed her mind that Bruce Wayne might know, but Helena acknowledged that hell would freeze over first and pigs would start flying while begging to be bacon before she'd ever ask that man anything. She growled softly and focused on her diary once more.
Even though today is my birthday, Mom has a gala opening to attend tonight. However, she is letting me go too, for a little while. Then Barbara is supposed to bring me home and stay with me until Mom is done. I don't mind as long as stupid Dick Grayson stays far, far away.
Mom and I went to the movies together this afternoon - just the two of us and I got to pick. I don't think Mom likes action movies too much.
Helena chuckled again, plainly remembering the grimace Selina had given her when she'd chosen that action movie. But true to her word, Selina had gotten them tickets and movie theatre junk food most of which Helena had consumed alone and together they'd watched a bang-bang-shoot-'em-up car chasing movie. Helena couldn't actually recall the name of the movie anymore, but she distinctly remembered the green tinge of her mother's skin tone when they left the theatre.
The gala, on the other hand, was as clear as crystal in her memory... even to this day. Selina had been resplendent in her evening gown and Helena had felt quite grown up in her cocktail dress and short heels. With her hair up, she appeared older than her eleven years.
Dick Grayson had been at the opening, but a cutting word from Helena had him staying far away from her and Barbara. Barbara's lips pursed unhappily at Helena's behavior, but she recognized that Dick, though the elder of the two, deliberately set out to antagonize her young charge. So her unhappiness with Helena translated into downright anger at Dick. He had no excuse. He was supposed to be an adult.
While she was gloating about her victory over Dick Grayson and her ability to have Barbara all to herself for the evening, Helena noticed the sad, pained look enter her mother's eyes as her lips pursed much like Barbara's had. Helena turned, and realized Selina was looking at billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne a man who, for all his apparent charm and wit had the same lurking sadness in his eyes.
It was the first time Helena chanced to wonder about him... but it wouldn't be the last. And now, sitting in the darkness on the balcony and knowing at least part of the truth of what had been between Bruce and Selina, she had to wonder why things had been the way they were. And she knew even if she was able to forgive Bruce Wayne for never acknowledging his role in her very existence... even if she could forgive him for running like a coward after her life and Barbara's was destroyed she would never forgive him for ever causing Selina Kyle's unhappiness.
Helena took a deep breath and moved the diary closer again.
Mom took me to see The Marriage of Figaro tonight not the Bugs Bunny cartoon version either - and I liked it. I realize most twelve-year-olds would rather go skating or hang out at the mall, but most twelve-year-olds don't have Selina Kyle for a mother either. She took the time to tell me the story before we went and her eyes twinkled with excitement. I don't see that look much anymore and I was determined to like opera if it killed me.
Thankfully, it didn't kill me and was actually pleasant. Not as good as a rock concert, but still. Afterwards we went to supper at the Garden Room that overlooks all of New Gotham. Good food, but I could have done without the entire room singing "Happy Birthday". How embarrassing!
Witnessing the opera that was The Marriage of Figaro had been one of the most interesting experiences of Helena's short life to that point, and seeing the enjoyment Selina had taken in sharing that had made the night even more special. They had talked and laughed on the way to the opera house as Selina patiently explained that though Helena was bound to recognize parts of the music, Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd wouldn't be making an appearance. Only when she heard the music did Helena understand her mother's words, but by then she was too engrossed in the story to care.
From the theatre they had gone directly to the restaurant, and Helena had wanted to slink down beneath the table when the maître' d' crossed the room with a cake covered with lit candles... especially when she noticed Barbara Gordon was part of the birthday wishing crowd. Only when Barbara winked at her and smiled did Helena straighten up in her seat and blow out the candles so the wait staff could share the cake around to the numerous well-wishers in the room. It was one of the happiest birthdays she would ever know,
Helena looked up at the stars again. "I still go hear that opera, Mom... every time it comes to town." She felt Selina's smile as real as if she'd been sitting beside her. Then she let her mind go back to the words in her diary.
My thirteenth birthday came and went with no celebration - Mom and I both had the flu. Barbara brought chicken soup; she said her dad made it. Apparently the only thing she can do in the kitchen is catch things on fire. Have to wonder how she manages some days - even I can microwave stuff and toast pop tarts.
Just as well we didn't do anything special. Mom said thirteen is a difficult age to be a girl - what an understatement. I'm still all arms and legs and braces. All my friends have boobs and boyfriends and have suddenly lost their brains. It sucks.
Barbara said not to rush things - that one day I'd wake up and be a beautiful swan. This coming from someone who's never been on the wrong side of ugly.
Helena groaned aloud when she let her mind go back to that birthday. It had been truly ghastly she was too sick to do anything and her friends had been more concerned with going to the junior high Valentine's dance with their new boyfriends anyway. This had been especially tough for Helena, who'd always been popular and well-liked among her peers. The only bright spot had been Barbara's visit... even if she hadn't made the soup herself, and knowing what she now knew about Barbara's cooking skills, Helena was thrilled Jim had stepped into the breach.
Otherwise, she really didn't appreciate Barbara's words of wisdom... not then anyway. There was no way brilliant, beautiful Barbara Gordon could possibly understand what it felt like to be ostracized, right? Only now years later, did Helena comprehend just how much Barbara could relate to her situation then. Not that Barbara had ever been gangly and awkward... not with her gymnastics background, but her genius had been almost as debilitating socially.
She idly wondered if Barbara ever remembered her words to Helena then or fathomed how much they meant... even when Helena didn't believe. She wondered if Barbara saw her as that beautiful swan now. Helena just shook her head and returned to the book she held sure that even if Barbara recognized the beautiful swan, she'd still treat Helena like an off-limits endangered species.
I'm not sure it's a good thing I finally got boobs. Oh, it made the boys notice me all right, but how can a boy compete when the two most important people in my life are women who are both remarkably gorgeous in their own right and brilliant as well? Women who love me and treat me as an equal most of the time - who take the time to not only talk to me but to listen?
Maybe older men would be more interesting.
Helena carefully turned the book over to mark her place and she stood up to stretch. She remembered that birthday as the one she had become unlikely friends with Jim Gordon.
With the addition of boobs and a growth spurt that suddenly made her resemble a runway model, Helena had regained her popularity. Even braces couldn't hinder that too much... especially since Selina had insisted the orthodontist find a nicer option than the mesh and wire ones she'd had. She was glad for the new braces they didn't cut her mouth up so much but she wasn't real happy with all the boys suddenly acting the fool around her either. At least the older boys had cars and money to show a girl a nice time, but they still paled in comparison to both her mother and Barbara.
Not that Helena didn't date and enjoy her popularity, but in all honesty, the boys at school were just a way to pass some time. Then she met Jim Gordon.
Barbara had brought him along as her date to Helena's birthday dinner at Selina's behest, and Helena remembered being impressed by him. Not the Police Commissioner side that side wasn't invited to dinner that evening. No, Helena had been impressed by his courtly gentleman side. The side that held out a chair for each of them to be seated; the side that stood when one of them left or returned to the table; the side that was witty and charming and humorous... much like the daughter he doted on.
It made Helena appreciate a good many things... including being treated like an adult. It was something that had worked both for her and against her since, but then, it had made her deliriously happy and had laid a foundation with Jim Gordon that she had only recently begun to value like she should.
Helena retrieved the diary and resumed her seat, wiggling to get comfortable before she found her place once more.
I got my learner's permit today and when Barbara offered to teach me Mom couldn't agree fast enough. Probably a good thing considering Mom has very little tolerance for following traffic laws. I don't think she *means* to break them - she just doesn't see the point when she's trying to get somewhere. In that one aspect of her life she's impatient. Otherwise, she's the picture of calm and serenity.
It's all good for me. It means a chance to hang out with Barbara without stupid Dick Grayson horning in. She could do so much better than him. He needs to die... or at least move to another planet.
Helena laughed aloud at the memory of her mother's face when she'd come home with her permit a perfect mixture of pride and dread at the thought of teaching Helena how to drive. But what was even more priceless was the undisguised expression of relief that crossed her features as soon as Barbara had offered to do it.
Truth was, Helena had cajoled Barbara into it, and Barbara - having witnessed first hand Selina's idea of good driving gave in to Helena's pleas with very little hesitation despite Dick's complaining about the time it would take away from them. Helena, of course, was secretly thrilled that Barbara had forbidden Dick to be anywhere around while she was teaching.
Dick had actually tried to explain to Helena why she needed to find another way to learn that didn't involve Barbara. Helena wondered if Barbara ever figured out why Dick ended up walking funny for several weeks after they started driving lessons. She snickered. She was pretty sure he hadn't recovered from the last time he'd been here either. He was never going to learn, but she'd be happy to keep teaching that particular lesson.
She was still smirking when she went back to her reading.
Sweet sixteen and Mom threw me a debutante ball. Why? Because it was something she wanted to do for me since I was born. My friends seemed to enjoy it, but I felt like an idiot.
Mom and Barbara were the only two adults I actually knew I did recognize a number of Mom's friends from the art world. But no one looked as amazing as Mom and Barbara. Mom has promised we can go to Paris for the summer. I don't know what changed her mind, but I'm looking forward to it.
Helena closed her eyes and let the memories of that night wash over her. Despite feeling like an idiot at the time, it was one of her favorite memories now. She had been the belle of the ball and all her friends had been there. Every boy there had asked her to dance and even some of the girls - she'd danced with everyone... even her mom and Barbara.
Selina had looked amazing and Barbara had been equally stunning. Helena again felt a flush run through her body... just as it had when she'd first glimpsed Barbara that night. Only the fact that Helena had been the center of *everyone's* attention had kept her from making a fool of herself.
She remembered Selina's proud smile and happiness that sparkled in her eyes. Even Bruce Wayne's brief, brooding appearance hadn't been able to dim the light in Selina's eyes that night. And when Selina had told Helena about their upcoming return to Paris...
Helena opened her eyes slowly, the depth of pain at what she knew was coming causing them to go feral, but even that couldn't stop the tears from spilling down her face. She growled low in her throat and wiped them away viciously, then took a deep breath and read the next entry.
Mom's dead. Barbara's dying. Nothing could be worse than this. I want to die.
Helena closed her eyes and let the waves of anguish shudder through her as her mind replayed the events of that awful, horrible birthday.
It had all happened so fast. Clayface - Helena would later learn Selina's killer's name had bumped into them as they walked home from the restaurant. He had bumped into Helena first, and she'd looked up to ream him out for being careless, then Selina had stumbled and sank to her knees, pulling Helena down with her by default. Only then did Helena realize the implications of what had happened blood pooled beneath Selina's body as she bled out in less than a minute. When her eyes closed in death, Helena screamed for help, but it was too late. By the time help arrived, Selina was dead and Clayface was gone, leaving behind the knife he'd used to kill.
Helena shuddered again as the same feelings of helplessness and rage trembled through her body. Much of it was still a blur she remembered being covered in Selina's blood and screaming herself hoarse. She recalled clearly the paramedics taking her mother's body away from her gently and delivering Selina to the hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival. She remembered her efforts to reach Barbara resulting in her being the one to find Barbara Gordon had been shot and was lying in a thick pool of her own blood on her living room floor.
As bad as having her mother die in her arms had been, finding Barbara barely conscious and unable to move was even more terrifying than Helena could imagine. She'd felt her heart stop... until she discovered that Barbara was still alive. A frantic 911 call garnered her a second ambulance ride of the evening, and it was only when they reached the emergency room again that she put in a call to Jim Gordon. She recalled her confusion over Bruce Wayne's brief appearance at the hospital she hadn't known of his identity as Batman or her father at that point and she couldn't fathom why he was there. Most of the rest of the night passed in a blur, and to this day, she remembered little else of what had happened.
Mom's dead. Barbara's crippled. I want to die, but not before I find the son of a bitch that did this and kill him myself.
Helena kept her eyes closed, knowing the next memories weren't any more pleasant than the last ones had been. Barbara's realization that she'd been paralyzed had been devastating, and Helena had needed to threaten, plead and cajole her into fighting. Helena had been desperate Barbara was all she had left, and if Barbara gave up....
The pain Helena had felt then had been excruciating her need for revenge and Barbara were all she had left, and she'd determined to keep Barbara alive as well as satisfy her need for revenge.
Helena let her eyes drift open, focusing on something beyond visible sight. She wondered now why exactly she'd fought so hard and it had absolutely been a fight she hadn't allowed Barbara Gordon to give up in those first few days when she had been coming to terms with her radically changed circumstances. Helena had known, even then, that she'd loved Barbara... been in love with her, but looking back now, she couldn't say whether it was worth it.
Mom's dead. Barbara's my new guardian. Everyone thinks it's a bad idea - with my rage and her injuries - they think it's a match made in hell. They forget she's been my best friend for years. I still want to die, but I'm not giving the nay-sayers the satisfaction. Fuck them all.
Helena let a wry smile cross her face, remembering the outcry from a number of different 'countries', so to speak, as everyone and their mother seemed to have an opinion mostly negative about Selina Kyle's decision to leave her only child in the care of one Barbara Gordon. In fairness, most of the people speaking up were concerned about the duality of their changed lives as much as anything else. The funny thing to Helena at the time was that those same nay-sayers were the ones who spurred Barbara Gordon into taking on the responsibility Selina Kyle had left her pushing her to push herself towards some sort of recovery and move forward, if only so she could help Helena to do the same. Only Jim Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth had supported them, and in doing so had cemented themselves a place in a family as unconventional as any in the world a family that was now hanging by the barest thread of gossamer.
Helena's smile became more genuine as she remembered Jim standing back and watching her goad and push and coax Barbara, only offering to help when either Barbara or Helena specifically asked for it... which hadn't been often even when he'd been troubled by Helena's bouts of rage or Barbara's depression. She recalled fondly how Alfred had simply settled in with them, taking over the kitchen without so much as a by-your-leave... much to both her and Barbara's profound relief.
Those first weeks and months especially had been difficult, if not downright unbearable, but they had survived and become stronger together. Helena had to wonder what had gone wrong.
Mom's dead. Barbara's closed off. Fucking Dick Grayson is gone. Asshole left when he found out Barbara was paralyzed. I hate him! But I'd welcome him back with open arms if it'd bring Mom back and Barbara could walk again. Fucker!
At first, Helena had actually been so happy about Dick Grayson leaving that she had almost celebrated. Then she'd seen what his desertion had done to Barbara's mood. It had been nearly impossible to motivate Barbara, but Helena had known she could get and keep Barbara's attention by acting out. It wasn't difficult she really didn't give a shit about anything except Barbara anymore, and if Barbara was going to curl up and die because of pansy-assed Dick Grayson, then Helena was going to make damned sure they went down in flames together.
Mom's dead. Barbara's angry. And apparently Daddy Dearest has abandoned us. Fucker! I hope he dies too!
Helena flinched as her memories turned even darker. She'd discovered then that being meta-human had its drawbacks her system burned off drugs and alcohol at a faster rate than she could ingest them. Only then had she realized that there was no escape from the nightmare that her life had become.
Finding out that Batman was unwilling or unable to destroy the Joker after what he'd done to Barbara had been unacceptable, and Helena had told him so in no uncertain terms. Finding out that Batman was Bruce Wayne and that Bruce Wayne was her father.... There had been no coming back from that tirade... especially knowing he was equally incapable of avenging Selina Kyle's death.
To this day she wondered if Bruce had left because of her words or because he'd learned she was his daughter or if it all together had simply been the straw that broke his back. Either way, she hoped both he and his alter-ego stayed the hell out of New Gotham because she wouldn't be held responsible for what would happen to him if he did return.
Mom's dead. I keep writing this as though something will change if I do. Fact is she's dead and that's never going to change now. I want to hate her for dying on me - for leaving me alone. If it wasn't for Barbara....
Helena looked away from the diary and out across the city. She remembered Barbara coming into her room one night and talking to her about becoming a vigilante. It had been the first signs of life she'd seen in Barbara's eyes since THAT night, and Helena would have done anything to keep that tiny sparkle in those green eyes from going out.
So she'd nodded her agreement and they'd started training, even as Barbara started building the Delphi from scratch and transforming the Clock Tower into a place they could utilize as a headquarters and living space.
Helena didn't really care where they went or what they did, except that the fighting served to help control the rage she now kept as a constant companion. At least they were partners in one sense of the word, and Helena had determined it was only the beginning for the two of them together.
Helena returned to her observation of the city with a snort if only she had known.
So I'm some sort of fucking superhero now. I don't actually give a fuck except that it lets me kick ass and beat heads. Barbara says we do it for the greater good. What-the-fuck-ever. There is no greater good only survival of the fittest. As long as she's got my back, I'll have hers. They'll never take away what is mine again.
She'd felt invincible then cocky kid who knew better than anyone else and with the speed and strength to back up her attitude... except with Barbara. Barbara had skill and experience that Helena would only gain with time and it had led to some fantastic rows between them.
Still, Helena had come home to Barbara every night, and every day Barbara worked hard to teach Helena what she knew about life on the streets. And for a while things settled into a familiar if not necessarily a comfortable pattern.
Of course, Helena remembered wryly, it didn't last long.
Barbara has gone back to teaching. I think she thinks it will make a difference in my school performance if she's there keeping an eye on me. Seriously?!? School's a crock... especially when you've got my kind of mad skilz. I just want out of here I don't really give a fuck how.
Oh, Helena remembered those days with no small amount of hatred and disdain. She'd hated school her senior year in an instant her life had changed, and that instant had changed everything about her life. The once popular, universally liked Helena Kyle was now regarded as a freak. No one knew how to treat her... how to handle her rage... and she and Barbara made numerous trips to the principal's office the first few weeks of school for the fights Helena was involved in.
Helena never offered an explanation - simply citing that she hadn't started anything... she'd merely finished it. After those first few weeks, though, there were no more fights. Everyone had learned to stay well away and leave her to her madness.
Helena smirked and remembered the reunion she had been to months before. The looks of disbelief had been worth all the angry nights and yelling she and Barbara had suffered through together to get her that diploma... even though she'd refused to walk down the aisle. No amount of demanding or pleading or cajoling on Barbara's part had been an effective argument, and Helena had spent the night running the rooftops... after a trip to the cemetery.
Even now, that thought brought tears of anger and grief to Helena's eyes, and she wiped them away harshly before returning her attention back to the book clenched tightly in her hands.
Got a new job - bartender at a dive called the Dark Horse. Happy Fucking Birthday to me.
Leonard had actually been pretty cool once he'd figured out the pretty young woman asking him for a job could not only handle herself behind the bar with flair, but she could also take care of herself and any troublemakers who passed through the doors. And Helena had liked him, despite his gruff manner and attitude. He'd been willing to give her a chance, and that was all she'd needed.
Barbara had been less than thrilled, especially with Helena still in high school and doing sweeps of the city besides. She supposed a summer job even one in a bar - would keep Helena out of trouble better than having her sit around twiddling her thumbs waiting for the fall semester of college to start, but she couldn't talk Helena into waiting until she graduated to start working. Eventually, she gave up the fight, knowing that there were worse things Helena could be doing other than bartending. At least she stayed out of trouble... at the Dark Horse anyway, though Barbara wasn't at all happy with the phone numbers she was collecting.
Helena rolled her eyes at that, remembering all too clearly the awkward talks on safe sex they'd had when Barbara understood that any number of Dark horse patrons would have been more than happy to 'show Helena a good time'. Barbara had reminded her that just because she was '*getting* offers didn't mean she had to *take* them. And Helena had reminded Barbara that she was eighteen and officially an adult. It had been an effective end to the conversation.
Barbara's furious. She thinks I need to make something of myself. Thinks I have a responsibility to Bruce and the business realm he left behind. I don't really care if she uses his money to pay the bills for all the electronic crap she uses for the 'muffin top business' which can I say is the stupidest cover for vigilante work I have ever heard. I'm not touching his money, and I'm not taking responsibility for the empire he ran away from. Not. My. Problem.
Another fucking birthday come and gone whoo fricking hoo.
Helena snorted in laughter, remembering the fight it had caused when Barbara figured out Helena was serious about a number of things Barbara had assumed were passing fads. Helena liked her bartending job and she was good at it. She wasn't going to go to college AT ALL - and she especially wasn't going to go to college to study business so she could take over Wayne Corp. There was nothing Bruce Wayne nor his money could offer her that she couldn't provide for herself.
Barbara had rolled her eyes at Helena's assertion and Helena had responded by telling Barbara to take the job herself if she was that concerned about it. Barbara's eyes had blazed, then just as quickly banked when Helena admitted softly, that not only would Barbara be good at it, she'd probably be better than Bruce Wayne had ever been, and certainly more than Helena could.
Then Helena had disappeared a visit to her mother's grave and a run across the rooftops. Barbara had left her in peace.
Dick Fucking Grayson reappeared in Barbara's life today, and she's so anxious to forgive him for running away when she needed him most. Makes me want to fucking puke. She's acting like she's so desperate to have a man see her as a woman a whole woman that she's ignoring what's right in front of her... someone who appreciates her for the woman she is.
Maybe it's time to start looking for my own place. That'd be a hell of a birthday present.
Helena had wanted to punch him the moment he crossed the threshold of the elevator. Then she'd wanted to punch Barbara for being so pathetically grateful to see him. Helena couldn't understand how a woman as independent and self-reliant as Barbara Gordon had always been could turn into a simpering idiot the minute Dick Grayson showed his face, and she'd said as much to Barbara in a fit of pique. Barbara had simply responded by freezing and ordering Helena to take some time off.
Helena had slammed into a smugly smirking Dick Grayson on her way to the balcony, not slowing when his ass met the floor and he scrambled after her. She knew she could take him just like she knew he couldn't follow her. Instead, she dropped her comms on the balcony floor and jumped in broad daylight - not caring who saw heading away from the Clock Tower and Barbara's fury.
Helena's blood still boiled when she thought about that day though she couldn't rightly say if she was madder at Barbara for acting the fool or herself for leaving without beating the crap out of Dick Grayson. Even though she knew Barbara would never appreciate the fact that she was only protecting what she saw as her territory... Barbara herself... Helena still regretted walking away from that fight.
She wondered what Barbara would think if she knew she had walked away FOR Barbara and BECAUSE of Barbara. She wondered what Barbara would say if she knew what Helena had done to Dick when he came looking for her later.
HALLELUJAH!!! Barbara sent Dick packing!! Apparently the prick returned to Gotham with the sole intent of getting in her pants. He should have known better. She told him she was better than a pity fuck and if he ever came back to Gotham again, it had better be with a changed attitude.
Personally, I don't think he's smart enough to manage that. I don't care as long as he's gone and he stays that way. This way I don't have to kill him for being an ass.
"You were right," had been the first words Helena had heard from Barbara when Barbara had called the Dark Horse looking for her. Helena herself had been so stunned by Barbara's admission that she'd nearly dropped the phone into the beer she'd been pulling at the time.
She'd finished her shift at the bar, then gone straight to the Clock Tower. She and Barbara had talked, Helena remembered one of the few times in what was now nearly two decades of friendship that they'd had honest, open conversation between them. It had been hard and awkward, but they'd come to a better understanding of one another what they meant to each other... or Helena thought they had. In fairness, in a lot of ways they had, but not in the way she needed it... wanted it... the most. Barbara had refused to see what Helena couldn't bring herself to say, and while it brought them closer than they had ever been, it wasn't all that Helena knew it could be. And though they had agreed to be honest in their dealings with one another neither of them stopped to consider that not sharing the sin of omission was in its own way as dishonest as outright lying.
Still, Dick was gone and he hadn't been back since, and Barbara hadn't called him for anything... even in their worst days right after Harley Quinn's attack. Helena smiled darkly. There was something supremely satisfying about that.
I'm legal today. Wish I cared.
Helena remembered that birthday all too well. It had started with a call from a lawyer two lawyers, in fact - one representing Bruce Wayne and the other representing Selina Kyle. Helena had met them at the Dark Horse, knowing Barbara didn't want strangers in the Clock Tower. When they were done explaining the legacy left to her by each parent, Helena had sent them both on their way, despite their protestations that she had to sign the tree's worth of papers they'd each brought with them.
She'd summarily dismissed them without signing a thing and promptly gone to the bathroom and thrown up the little she'd had in her stomach. Leonard had taken one look at her and sent her home. She had given him a grateful nod a sure sign to him that something was wrong and he'd done the right thing by Helena then she'd taken off across the rooftops.
Helena remembered the look of relief in Barbara's eyes when she finally shown up at the Clock Tower in the early hours of the following morning. They'd never discussed it, and the lawyers had never called her again.
Helena cocked her head and scrunched up her eyebrows in a thoughtful frown. She wondered what Barbara had done to keep them away from her, knowing she'd never find out if she didn't directly ask. Helena shook her head and resumed her reading, aware she was only a few entries from the present.
Leonard threw me a great birthday party that I almost missed because of somebody who needed my help. I haven't really figured out why we're doing this exactly. Oh, I've heard the 'greater good' rhetoric bullshit lines that Barbara has used time and again. But the fact is nothing changes. I string up one and two more appear in his place. It's like cutting off a hydra's head it only gets worse. Mom is still dead and Barbara is still unable to walk. What's the fucking point??
Helena couldn't remember now what the holdup had been whom she'd stopped to help or why they'd needed her instead of the police. It didn't really matter. What she clearly remembered still was her frustration and aggravation at missing half her birthday party for someone and something that would be there tomorrow and the next night and the next.
That birthday her twenty-second birthday had been the first she'd celebrated in five years... the first she'd celebrated since Selina had bled out on the streets of New Gotham and Barbara had lost her legs to the Joker's bullets. And yet she could only remember her anger and irritation at missing out on the opportunity to spend the night forgetting with her friends.
Leonard had smirked at her tardiness, assuming from her mussed look that she'd had a hot date before she'd arrived that she'd needed to lose so she could pick up another to take home. God knew she had her pick from the number of propositions she got every night.
Now it was Helena's turn to smirk, though there was sadness in her expression as well. Though she was no blushing virgin, she wasn't the slut that Leonard and evidently Barbara thought she was. She shrugged off the melancholy she felt that had been one of the better birthdays she'd had since her mother had been killed and yet right now... in this moment... all she could feel was the same frustration she'd felt then.
Some fucking conservative judge has decided I need anger management therapy just because I was taking out my aggression on city property. I tried to explain to the moron that as long as I wasn't killing people, my anger was pretty much under control. He didn't think it was funny I wasn't joking.
He may be the first one I have to kill. That much stupid shouldn't be allowed to exist... much less breed. Barbara's says I have to go and I can't kill the judge. I'm not sure why she acts like she cares I am well aware the only reason I'm still here is because she needs my legs to replace the ones she lost to the Joker's bullets.
Guess I'll be spending this birthday with a freaking therapist.
Helena bit her lips she hadn't realized she'd become so bitter... especially where Barbara was concerned. She knew Barbara genuinely loved her and cared about her as Helena as well as Huntress, but it didn't negate the ache she'd felt from being in love with someone she believed still viewed her as a troubled child or an irresponsible adult.
Despite all the devastation Harley had caused once she'd discovered who Helena *really* was, there had been a time when Helena had trusted her persona as Dr. Quinzel enough to make progress with who she was and how she felt about a number of things... including Barbara. Too bad it hadn't lasted.
Barbara's started dating some dweebish punk from school a guidance counselor. Really, Barbara?? That's the best you can do??
I've had enough I'll be spending this birthday looking for a new place to live. The Clock Tower just isn't home anymore. I don't think Barbara will even notice I'm gone.
Helena remembered the day Barbara had introduced Wade Brixton and casually announced their current dating status. It had been all Helena could do not to throw up on his shoes. Oh, she'd been polite enough, but so insincere that Barbara had sent cutting looks her way for the entire five minutes Helena had stayed around before announcing she had other places to be.
Barbara frowned when Helena disappeared, and she was unable to brush aside Wade's comment that Helena obviously hated him. Helena had some issue with him to be sure, though Barbara was at a loss to understand what possible issue Helena could have with someone she'd only just met.
Helena never did bother to enlighten her.
Barbara was surprised and angry and more than a little disappointed to find all traces of Helena removed from the Clock Tower when she'd returned later that day. And hadn't *that* led to another virtual knock down, drag out fight??
Barbara had demanded answers that Helena refused to give Helena had simply reminded her that she was an adult and had been for some time, and as such, it was time she had a place of her own. She didn't need a guardian.
Helena had seen Barbara visibly slump, and had been at her side before she could straighten. Helena had promised to be around so much that Barbara wouldn't have time to miss her and reminded Barbara that she had Wade now. Then she'd headed out on sweeps, glad Barbara couldn't see how her eyes went feral at the mere mention of Wade Brixton. That had been the moment Helena had upped her sessions with Dr. Quinzel anything to keep from killing Wade Brixton herself.
Helena came back to the present with a wry shake of her head. A lot of good that had ultimately done.
Some weird assed little blonde chick followed me back to the Clock Tower after sweeps tonight. I don't know who she is or why she's here, but Barbara wants to keep her, so I guess we have to for now. I'm not going to pretend to be happy I'm not even sure what that is anymore.
Whatever it gives Barbara something to focus on besides me. Until she gives up that guidance counselor, I don't want her attention... especially with my birthday approaching.
Helena chuckled aloud now as she remembered their introduction to Dinah. She really hadn't been all that enthused about having a new kid to train, but at least it had been a diversion from Wade Brixton who really didn't seem to take up much of Barbara's time even then. Barbara had tried to talk to Helena about him, but Helena was quite adept at avoidance, so she trained Dinah and went on sweeps and otherwise sidestepped the Tower like the plague. She spent her time working at the Dark Horse or out with friends anything to circumvent Barbara's efforts to talk about someone Helena simply wanted to destroy... bit by ugly bit.
Her jealousy was making the rage she'd long since learned to keep a tight leash on slip from her grasp. And the desire to get it under control before she did any more serious damage to her relationship with Barbara was what had led to her inadvertently aiding Harley Quinn's assault on the Clock Tower and Wade Brixton's untimely death.
She didn't think that guilt was something she'd ever rid herself of.
With a sigh, she opened the pen she'd carried out with her and dated the page, needing to write one more entry. Then she'd run a sweep of the city before she spent the rest of what was left of this birthday talking to her mom. It was time to share some truths with Selina... and say goodbye.
My life has gone to hell again. Dr. Quinzel was really Harley Quinn and she's ripped through our lives like a machine gun tearing everything to pieces and leaving nothing but chaos and heartache. I know I promised Barbara I'd be there for her for as long as she needed me to be, but I don't think I can do this anymore.
I've hurt so many especially those I love the most without even trying. I don't think I'll be spending any more birthdays in Gotham. I think it's time to go home.
Helen sighed as she reread the entry she'd just written, then looked around the balcony one last time. She really didn't belong here anymore not in the Clock Tower and not in New Gotham. Even without Harley Quinn's attack on the Tower, she'd been gradually reaching that conclusion on her own Quinn's violence had simply hastened the realization.
She carefully set the leather book on the parapet and slowly stood, stretching out muscles that were rarely at rest except in her sleep. When she turned, it was to find Barbara sitting in the doorway watching her, and Helena wondered when she'd lost her ability to feel Barbara enter a room she was in. Before she could take a step, Barbara's soft voice halted all movement.
"Sweetheart? I think it's time we talked."
Finally, I've found the one place in the world that I belong. Finally, I've come home.
Helena looked around Barbara's bedroom and cuddled deeper into Barbara's embrace, purring when Barbara let her nails rake lightly over the naked skin of Helena's back. She felt her eyes go feral as she propped up on an elbow to meet Barbara's green ones, then she leaned down to scrape her teeth over Barbara's pulse point. She smiled at the tremor that shuddered through Barbara's body, and tucked her nose into the warmth of Barbara's neck, scenting her gently. Barbara chuckled and Helena arched an eyebrow in question.
"That tickles," she replied with a smile, gently pushing an errant lock of hair off of Helena's face. Helena turned her head and brushed a kiss over the palm of Barbara's hand.
"I love you, Barbara Gordon. I think I always have."
"I love you too, Helena Kyle. I'm sorry I made us wait so long," kissing the fingers that covered her lips.
"It doesn't matter, Red. We have the rest of forever."
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