Birds Of Prey Fan Fiction
- Part 5 -
"Oracle, we're going in," Helena said softly, caressing Gwen's cheek tenderly before taking her hand and leading her to the front door.
"Understood, Huntress," Barbara said, sitting in front of Delphi. "Dinah, are you in position?"
"Yes," Dinah said flatly from behind a bush. She exhaled with displeasure as she glared at the couple holding hands.
"Something wrong?" Barbara asked.
"You didn't talk to her did you?" Dinah said with irritation.
"Mind on mission, Dinah," Barbara said tersely. Now was NOT the time for this discussion.
"I'll take that as a no," Dinah said flatly.
"Pumpkin!" Frank Turner happily greeted his daughter as he opened the door. "I'm glad you decided to come over for dinner. Your mother has been nagging me about how you've been doing in your job - now she can nag you directly," he said with a chuckle. His smile never wavered when he saw the woman behind his daughter.
"You must be Helena," he said pleasantly, holding his hand out.
Hesitating only a moment, Helena smiled back and shook his hand.
Gwen sighed with relief.
"Dr. Turner," Helena said, getting pulled into the house by Gwen.
"Call me Frank, Helena. Gwen had told us she had met someone that she thought was . . . special. I'm glad she brought you so we can see for ourselves."
"Dad!" Gwen said with embarrassment.
"Frank? Are you scaring Gwen's girlfriend already?" An attractive, older version of Gwen joined them. "Helena, I'm so glad to meet you, I'm Rachel, Gwen's mother."
"Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Turner," Helena said, feeling like she was being watched by another person.
"Rachel," she scolded lightly.
"Rachel," Helena amended with a smile, then glanced over to the hallway where she heard a noise. She tensed, catching a glimpse of someone, who quickly retreated.
"I'm just finishing up in the kitchen. Make yourself at home, Helena," Rachel Turner said.
Helena kept glancing at Frank, who didn't seem to have any reaction towards her. Could she have been mistaken, she wondered.
"Helena? I'd like you to meet someone very special," Gwen said, glancing back at the hallway. "Grace? Come on out and meet Helena, Grace," Gwen said with a smile.
Grace came out reluctantly, eyeing Helena warily. "Come on, Grace," Gwen said, holding her hand out encouragingly.
"Helena, this is Grace. Grace, this is Helena," Gwen said with a proud hand on her sister's shoulder.
Helena smiled. "Hello, Grace. Gwen's told me about you and all your brothers and sisters and your two and a half bathrooms."
"Thank GOD for the half," Grace said, nodding solemnly, getting a grin from Helena. "Are you Gwen's girlfriend?"
"Mom? Where is Helena going to sit?" Grace said, grabbing Helena's hand, clearly taking responsibility for the guest.
"Next to Gwen," Rachel called back from the kitchen.
"Come with me," Grace said, leading an amused Helena to the dining room table. "Gwen normally sits here. You will be sitting next to her."
"Thanks," Helena said to the bossy sibling.
"You're welcome. I'm going to help my mother in the kitchen," Grace said.
"Yes. I am a good cook. Do you cook?"
"Not so much," Helena said with a wince.
"I could teach you," Grace said enthusiastically.
"Grace . . . ," Gwen said uncomfortably.
"I'd like that, Grace. But I'm afraid I've tried before and just haven't been able to master the skill," Helena said with a shrug.
"You just need to keep practicing and not worry about making a mistake. Anyone can cook if they just try," Grace said and added ". . . and have a lot of food."
Helena had to smile. "I'd like that. Maybe you could teach a friend of mine too."
"Huntress . . . ," Barbara said with warning.
"She really needs the help. She is worse in the kitchen than I am," Helena offered with a grin.
"Did it ever occur to you that I might not want a cooking lesson?" Barbara huffed, but couldn't help but smile.
"OK," Grace said. "Sit. I am going to help Mom bring in the food."
Dinah finally smiled. Not because the ache in her back and legs from squatting in the bushes went away, but because there was hope for them yet. Her smile disappeared when she heard a click at her feet. She looked down and saw a sprinkler that had just popped up.
"That was really good," Helena said, dabbing her lips with a napkin. Grace smiled brightly.
"Yes, a wonderful meal once again, Honey, Grace," Frank said warmly. "So Helena? Can I interest you in an after-dinner cognac?"
"Frank, isn't it a little soon for the third degree?" Rachel scolded with amusement as she got up from the table to start to clear it off.
"Honey, my daughter has brought someone home. I'm just trying to get to know her, unless she is uncomfortable with the idea," Frank said, turning towards Helena.
"No, sir. I'd like to talk with you," she said with a smile as she stood with the father.
Gwen stood as well, looking between the two uneasily as she started to follow them.
"Honey, please help your mother and Grace clean up in the kitchen. Helena and I need to chat about her intentions toward you," he teased, causing Grace to snicker at her sister's look of panic.
"Dad! You can't be serious. . . ." Gwen said with embarrassment.
"Indulge your father, honey," Rachel said. "It's been a while since you've had anyone here," she said, causing Gwen to flush with more embarrassment.
As she sat on a comfortable leather chair in the den, she glanced around the room. The dark wood paneling spotted with golf pictures, bookshelves crammed with books and golf knickknacks, and comfortable leather chairs told Helena this was Frank's retreat.
"This is the good stuff," Frank said amicably, pouring them both drinks from a crystal decanter.
"You shouldn't drink anything, Huntress," Barbara warned uneasily.
"Thanks," Helena said, taking the glass and swirling the amber contents as he sat on a leather chair adjacent to her. She gently sniffed it. "Hmm. Oak, raisins, a touch of licorice and something I can't quite identify" she said, briefly glancing up at Frank, who shifted in his chair.
He eyed her closely as she swirled the glass again and sniffed. "Vanilla, honey . . . this is Delamain Très Vénérable," she said confidently.
"Remarkable nose. I'm impressed you named the cognac."
"Some of my customers like the good stuff too - I'm a bartender," she said with a sly smile.
"Really? I wouldn't have thought that," he said sipping his drink.
"Oh? What did you think I did? Live off my billionaire father's inheritance?" Helena said with a smirk, finally sipping her drink.
Frank chuckled. "We should all be so lucky. Try this truffle," he said, offering her a chocolate from a small tray next to the decanters. "Chocolate is my secret passion, beside cognac," he said conspiratorially.
"Huntress, I'll buy you all the chocolate you'll ever want if you just DON'T take his," Oracle said tensely.
"It is tempting. But I really shouldn't."
"Good - you don't need to risk getting yourself poisoned," Oracle said with relief.
"Can you guess the chocolatier?" he said in challenge.
"I'm not as well versed with chocolate," she eyed the chocolate then shrugged. "I guess it's too late to worry about indulging too much now. What the hell, you only live once - unless you're a cat," Helena said, taking the small wafer.
"Are you trying to tell me something, Huntress?" Oracle asked with irritation.
Frank smiled as Helena popped the truffle in her mouth and said appreciatively "yes." The chocolate was very good but had a flavor that was out of place.
Dinah and Oracle frowned.
Helena looked at Frank sheepishly. "You know, I don't know why I'm constantly worried about my weight. I can really eat anything. I'm blessed with a very . . . aggressive metabolism," she said conspiratorially.
"Huntress! You can't assume your metabolism will just take care of poison!" Oracle said incredulously.
"Don't tell Gwen. She has to watch everything she eats," Frank offered with a smile.
"So, why did you really ask me here, Frank?" Helena asked.
"Well, I thought I'd get to know you better," Frank said with a smile.
She tried to focus on his increasingly blurry face. He's definitely in his comfort zone now, at his home, with "the threat" poisoned, she considered, expecting him to be ready to reveal his hand. Not feeling like she had a lot of time to waste waiting for him to volunteer something, she blurted "I saw you at the warehouse." Her husky voice caused by her amazingly parched throat.
"Dinah, get into position to respond quickly," Oracle stated, surprised at Helena's direct approach.
"Yes. You did," he said, placing his glass down on the coffee table between them. "I'm amazed you survived that blast. I still have a long way to go in understanding the variables we need to control. There have been so many unfortunate experiments," he said with a regretful shake of his head. "But we learn something with each of them," he offered with a shrug.
"Huntress, why is he suddenly talking so freely?" Oracle said uneasily.
Helena blinked at the mild manner killer "Something was in the chocolate."
Frank nodded. "Ever hear of Belladonna?"
Oracle's eyes shot up to the heavens with frustration. She had told Helena not to ingest anything.
"Night shade," Helena responded, unable to focus clearly.
"Dinah, I'm sending Alfred with physostigmine. Just sit tight," Oracle said calmly, though her heart raced.
"Physostigmine??" Dinah asked.
"It's really a shame I have to get rid of you. You were the first person my daughter had shown genuine interest in."
"She knew she'd be poisoned, didn't she?" Dinah said with frustration.
"That's my guess," Oracle said, removing her eyeglasses and pinching the bridge of her nose with a heavy sigh.
"Why . . . did you kill those people?" Helena said as the room seemed to rotate.
"As I said, they were unfortunate results," he said. "But don't you see, once we perfect the process, we will be able to correct terrible mistakes of nature. Even after living with them for so long," he said, glancing at a family picture, including his two less-than-genetically perfect children, with a frown.
Helena looked up through blurry eyes, understanding. "You want to change Grace?"
"Yes!" he said as if obvious. "What father wouldn't want to fix that genetic mistake in his child?!? She has gone through hell growing up because of an odd fluke of nature. She'll never be able to compete and get a good job, let alone be self-sufficient, unless I do something. I will do anything I have to, to make her normal."
"Including killing people?" Helena said as her heart rate accelerated uncomfortably.
"We may have a few more unfortunate results. But that's the price I'm willing to pay. However, I may make some progress examining your cells. Luckily, I can still analyze your cells after you die."
"We? You had help . . .who? Other parents?" Helena said.
"Just business speculators for the technology," he answered, tilting his head as he watched Helena slump down in her chair.
After finishing up in the kitchen, Gwen returned to the den to find her father shaking his head, shutting the door behind himself.
"Oh, Gwen," he said, wincing. "Helena sends her apologies. The cognac didn't sit well, apparently. Well, it might have been the chocolate . . . ," he said with a shrug. "In any event, she didn't feel well and left. She said she would call you," he said with an apologetic smile. "I feel bad making her have the cognac . . . if I had known."
"How is she getting home? I drove her here," Gwen asked with growing alarm.
"I'm not sure. I think she said something about phoning a friend . . . or something. She felt bad for leaving but she said she hated looking sick in front of someone she was trying to impress," he said with a smirk.
Gwen heard a crash in the study and pushed past her father to enter, but he grabbed her arm.
"No," he hissed. "Leave it be, Gwen."
Gwen looked into frighteningly mad eyes of her father. "It's true . . . ." she whispered in horror as the front door flew open.
"Where is she?" Dinah growled.
"You have no right barging in my house!" Frank demanded, stepping towards her. Gwen grabbed his arm. "No dad," she said, her heart breaking as she pointed to the den.
Dinah rushed in the den to find Helena unsteadily getting to her feet, then plop onto the leather couch.
"I've got the antidote," she said uneasily, giving Helena a pill. She immediately swallowed, chasing it down with cognac. "Though I don't think you deserve it after deliberately getting poisoned," Dinah said angrily.
"Why are you all wet?" Helena said with a grimace. She curiously pulled at the wet clothing as she looked over the disheveled and drenched crime fighter, unaware of the battle Dinah lost with the sprinkler system.
Dinah batted her hand away as she blew out a frustrated breath.
"We still have to . . ." Helena said as she and Dinah stood, but was interrupted by Frank.
"Hold it right there," he said, pointing a .38 caliber revolver at them as he pulled a box out of a desk drawer. He dumped the box's contents on the desk. A couple of vials and needles fell out.
"Dad, it's over," Gwen said coming into the den, watching him pick up a vial and needle in one hand. "Don't make it any worse than it already is," she added as she stood in front of the two crime fighters.
"Huntress?" Oracle said anxiously.
"Gwen, you're not bullet proof," Helena said uneasily, worried her father might actually hurt her. Bad things happened when criminals get backed into a corner, she considered.
"And you are?" Gwen snapped.
"Honey, you don't understand. These women are in the way of my work. They want me to abandon it. I can't do that."
"Huntress? Dinah? What's going on?" Oracle demanded.
"Oracle, we're being held at gunpoint by Dr. Turner. Gwen is trying to get him to give up," Dinah said.
"W . . . Who are you talking to?" Frank looked at the teen in confusion.
"Oracle," Dinah said with a smile as she pointed to her ear piece.
"Who is Oracle??" Frank said with alarm.
"Oracle is your worst nightmare. She makes it her business to put murderers like you away," Dinah said sassily.
Frank darted around the room in panic.
Helena eyed her with a smirk. The Kid was developing quite the crime fighter attitude. Good for her.
"Dad, please, don't make it any worse. They've heard everything," Gwen pleaded.
"Oracle has your confession to Helena and is calling the police right now," Dinah said, hoping the last part was true.
"Please, Dad. Put the gun down. Please. It's over. We'll get through this, I prom. . . . ," Gwen said, then jumped at the loud bang.
Several hours later, after the paramedics came and took Dr. Turner's messy remains away in a body bag, after the police came and interviewed the family, Helena sat on the clock tower ledge, numbly looking out over the dark horizon.
She supposed she should be thankful Reese wasn't on call and she was interviewed by another detective about the suicide. Her supposed secret identity was safe another day. Gee. What luck she had.
As Helena was wondering how the situation was going to play out, Mrs. Turner had suddenly told the police it was her fault. She was an emotional mess as she told them how she let him stop his medication because he "felt fine" and really loved his cognac. The police and Barbara confirmed his medical condition of severe depression, which was fully documented since the birth of his first Down's child.
When Mrs. Turner was asked what would have prompted Mr. Turner to shoot himself now, she told them he probably felt he was losing another daughter, with Gwen finally bringing home someone special. Gwen was too numb to really say anything and Helena just played along. She, Dinah, and Barbara had agreed there was no reason to tarnish the family's memories with accounts of Frank Turner's deadly experiments. Barbara had Dr. Turner's records and names of his "business" associates and they had recovered what was left of the stolen equipment. They were very confident no one else could pick up where he left off.
In a moment of compassion for the distraught wife, Dinah had placed a comforting hand on Mrs. Turner's shoulder. Who would have thought she was aware of his work? Helena shook her head with amazement that people could still surprise her. At the Turner's dinner table, she experienced what she had always thought a normal family would be like, if you discounted the murdering father. But even he seemed a "normal" and loving father.
Goes to show - even "normal" parents weren't normal, she considered, though she really didn't know what normal parents were like. But she did know unconditional love. Her mother had succeeded in providing her a loving, stable home, in spite of the temptation to revert to her old, Catwoman ways. A sadness welled up within her as the old wound opened wider. She had so much to tell her mother, to share with her. She was the only one who really "got" her.
A tear fell down and she wiped it away with a sharp sniff. She couldn't imagine her mother wanting her to still be weeping for her death. She was too much a free spirit and a lover of life to let loss bring her down for too long. She was a happy person, even when the man she apparently loved above all others was not interested in being with her. That had to hurt, she considered, unconsciously glancing back through the clock tower doors to Delphi.
She actually admired her mother's decision not to let Bruce Wayne know he had a child. Although it would have been an easy way to convince him to stay with her, Helena guessed from what she knew about the man. But Selena Kyle wanted more than a dutiful husband. She wanted someone who loved her above all others, including the innocent people he served and protected. It took great wisdom to know that his presence would eventually be resented. Her love couldn't withstand the constant reminder that he only stayed because of a child. "If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were." Selena learned the painful lesson that he never really was.
With a heavy sigh, Helena considered how the caped crusader, her father, was supposed to be a noble soul, a protector of the innocent. She had always wondered why the hell the child he eventually learned he had, had not been worth protecting, hating the fact that he disappeared right after Selena was murdered. She sighed, supposing she should be happy he wasn't bent on "fixing" her mutation.
Growing up, she had wondered what it would be like to just be human, to not be pulled in two directions - to not feel so much. Of course, she never thought she would actually experience that. When she did, she could honestly say being just human was . . . nice. For a short time she was free from the oppressive anger about her unfair past and present. But she had also lost her memories about her past. And as painful as they were at times, there were very special memories about her mother and Barbara, and even Dinah, that she would never want to give up for anything.
Conversely, there was the thrill of being a metabeing. An amazing, raw power - like she had never experienced before - coursed through her as she stalked her prey. Everything was so much more intense. Her senses were heightened, her instincts more focused, and her additional strength enabled her to completely overwhelm the criminals. But it was way too easy to kill and more frighteningly, it was almost . . . addictive. And as much as her metabeing self tried to ignore it, she started to feel a nagging guilt with her brutal actions. She supposed she should take some comfort that her meta-side actually had a conscience.
Helena knew it was ironic that it took not being herself to enable her to finally understand who she was . . . and what she had. She had a supportive family with Barbara and Dinah, and even Alfred, even if it wasn't exactly the way that she wanted it. She frowned, knowing she had almost thrown away that precious gift. It was about time she grew up and learned to live without suffocating self pity and anger, she considered. They didn't deserve it and she realized for the first time, neither did she.
The horizon grew lighter as the sun slowly woke. Helena's head tilted, noticing the quiet hiss of an electric chair approaching, followed by a familiar, intoxicating scent. Helena had to smile. Dependable Barbara.
"How's Dinah?" Helena asked, still looking out at the horizon.
"She is upset, but trying to be brave and not show it," Barbara said disapprovingly with a sigh.
"Ah, our little bird has learned "the code" of the crime fighter," Helena said sarcastically.
"A lesson I had hoped she wouldn't learn so well," Barbara said with a frown.
"But Barbara, she had two great teachers," Helena offered wryly, looking at Barbara almost daring her to argue. Barbara couldn't. Unfortunately, Dinah had learned from the best.
"You'd tell me if you were feeling any side effects of the merging, wouldn't you?" Barbara asked bluntly, frowning when Helena softly chuckled.
"Yes," Helena said firmly, getting up with a deep breath. "I'm very tired, imagine that. I think I'll head out and catch some z's."
"Hel, why not stay," she said, then added quickly "for the sunrise?" she looked at her hopefully and glanced out over the skyline.
Helena eyed her suspiciously. Barbara Gordon never volunteered to stop and smell the roses.
"I'll throw in pop tarts for breakfast," Barbara said temptingly.
Helena perked up, looking at her with great interest. "Pop tarts??"
Barbara smiled. "Pop tarts," she confirmed with a nod.
Without another word, Helena grinned and suddenly sat cross-legged on the ledge, right next to Barbara, to watch the city light up for the morning spectacle.
Barbara sighed with relief that Helena was staying a bit longer. Though Helena would never admit it, Barbara knew she needed more emotional support than Dinah right now. While witnessing a criminal commit a messy suicide was shocking, Helena had been through an unfathomable physical and emotional trauma with the separation and remerging, and on top of that - the suicide of her girlfriend's father.
From years of living with Helena, Barbara knew she needed to be patient. Helena was not inclined to immediately volunteer her thoughts or feelings and quickly clammed up when pressed too hard. The best Barbara could do was to just be there for when Helena decided or needed to talk.
She did not feel, but heard Helena shift. Looking down, she saw Helena lean and rest her head against her thigh. Barbara's emotions welled up, making it difficult to breathe. Tentatively, she reached out and placed a hand upon the brunette's head, almost afraid the act would provoke Helena to flee. Yet she was unable to help herself. The need to touch her was overwhelming.
Seeing Helena sigh heavily, not inclined to budge, Barbara relaxed. She gazed upon the younger woman tenderly, continuing her slow caresses, wishing she could ease Helena's burdens.
The spectacular sunrise was forgotten, paling in comparison to the young woman beside her.
After Helena finished her second package of pop tarts, she smiled. "Nothing like chocolate-topped fudge pop tarts for breakfast," she announced and drained her milk glass.
"Glad you enjoyed," Barbara said, still not quite sure why Helena loved pop tarts so much.
"I did. Thanks for breakfast," Helena said, unable to hold back a yawn. "Sorry, I really need to catch some z's," Helena said with an apologetic wince. "I should get going," she said, standing up.
"Why?" Barbara blurted, getting an odd look from Helena, who started to repeat why but Barbara continued. "I . . . I mean, there's a perfectly good guest room only a few short feet away," Barbara said, motioning to the bedroom in question.
Helena looked towards the room, then eyed her a thoughtful moment.
"I would like you to stay," Barbara said softly, surprising Helena, who nodded hesitantly. Barbara Gordon had never asked her to stay.
"I'd like to stay," Helena admitted uncomfortably, then quickly added as if needing justification "And I'll be here if Dinah needs to talk or something."
"Good point," Barbara readily agreed, trying not to smile too widely.
Helena woke to a noise. She listened and heard a faint crying, quickly waking her. Getting up, she padded to her door, finding the noise coming from Dinah's room. She sighed heavily and quietly approached Dinah's door, which was slightly cracked open.
"Hey, D. Can I come in?" Helena called softly. She frowned at the lack of response and the sudden quiet. "I know you're awake," she said, then heard a sniff. "Come on, invite me in."
Dinah sighed and wiped her tears away as she got out of bed.
When the door opened, Helena smiled softly and entered the room.
"I'm fine," Dinah said weakly.
"Well that makes one of us," Helena said, sitting at the foot of the bed and eyeing the uncomfortably teen, who sat next to her.
"What's wrong with you?" Dinah had to ask. She immediately winced. "I mean . . . ."
Helena smirked. "I'm sure many will agree - there's a long list."
Dinah smiled with begrudging amusement.
"But at the top of that list tonight is the sick feeling I . . ."
Dinah frowned and interrupted. "Sick feeling? From the remerging?? Oh God, Barbara said you didn't get the full 14.2 seconds, you only got 13.8. Oh God, we need to tell Barbara right away. She'll figure out what to do," Dinah said in a rush, hopping off the bed. Her march toward the door was quickly stopped by a firm grip on her forearm.
"Hold your horses, bucko," Helena said. "I am not feeling any instability or MZT side effects. I'm just feeling tired. I was talking about the sick feeling I get thinking about Dr. Turner blowing his brains out," Helena said bluntly with a grimace.
Dinah cringed at the memory and sat back down.
"I know he would have killed me without a second thought, but . . . I wish Gwen didn't have to see that. Or you. Or me for that matter," Helena said with a sigh.
"Yeah," Dinah said weakly, shivering at the horrible memory. "It was so . . . gross. I mean, it was worse than pancake person. I didn't see him…her…them alive before. But with Dr. Turner, he was there one moment, scaring the begeebees out of me, then . . . ." Dinah said, trailing off with a wince, recalling the messy splatter. "A part of me wonders if I could have stopped him from killing himself . . . or something," Dinah admitted with a weak shrug.
"I know what you mean. I sometimes wonder if I do enough. But I'm actually glad you didn't try to stop him - you could have gotten hurt. Or Gwen," Helena said getting a frown from Dinah.
"Or you?" Dinah asked.
"Or me. I know I'm not bullet proof," Helena admitted.
"Do you?" Dinah said guardedly, surprising Helena. "You scared me . . . getting poisoned."
"I didn't mean to, Dinah. I really felt I needed to do that to get the guy to talk and I really thought I would be OK. Believe it or not, I do appreciate being back in one piece. I don't have any desire to waste a single moment by being an idiot."
"Really?" Dinah asked skeptically.
"Really," Helena answered with a smirk, which faded when she noted the odd smile on Dinah's face. "What?"
"Nothing. I just hope you mean it."
"Okay," Helena said, eyeing her. Something was going on with Dinah but she wasn't sure she wanted to know what that was. "Uh, anyway, I suppose I should finish up the "sometimes shit happens but we don't have to deal with it alone" speech," Helena said.
"But you do . . . deal with things alone," Dinah countered.
"Yeah, well, that's a stupid habit that's not exactly healthy. You may not want the bad guys to know your weaknesses, but you don't have to be superhero woman to your own family," Helena said, bumping Dinah's arm. "And I know I need to do better at practicing what I'm preaching," she admitted begrudgingly.
Dinah smirked at the comment, then realized what she had just said. "You think of me as family??" She asked with surprise.
Helena looked at her seriously. "Yeah," she admitted, then challenged. "You got a problem with that?"
"No! No problem," she blurted with a big, pleased smile.
"Good," Helena said, then got up. "Well, I've run out of pearls of wisdom for now - other than get some sleep while you can," she warned and started for the door.
"Helena?" Dinah said, causing the woman to stop and turn. "It's OK to hug family, right?" She asked nervously.
"Uh . . . as long as it's not in front of the bad guys," Helena mumbled uncomfortably.
"OK!" Dinah said, eagerly lunging for a hug.
"Or the police," Helena said with a wince, awkwardly hugging her back.
"OK," Dinah said with a happy smile.
"Or in public, or . . . ."
"Helena," Dinah groaned, rolling her eyes.
The next morning, Dinah woke to an alarming Delphi. She rushed out of her bedroom to find Barbara rolling into her spot at the main computer keyboard. Helena stood by Barbara's side, not very pleased as she crossed her arms and stared at the screen with a frown. Dinah had to smile at the two of them. This was how it was supposed to be, she considered.
"What's happening?" She asked, joining them.
"My pop-tarts are getting cold," Helena growled.
"Helena, you can always re-microwave your pop tarts," Barbara said as she accessed the police logs.
"What?!? You don't microwave pop tarts," Helena gasped in horror.
"Right," Barbara said absently, searching for cameras in the troubled area.
"It's morning?" Dinah said with surprise, looking outside at the light, then her watch.
"Yep. You slept through the day and night," Helena said with a shrug as Barbara successfully located cameras and sent the images to the screen above them. "Too bad Ms. Gordon here can't seem to take your lead and get proper sleep."
"I slept," Barbara countered, pushing her glasses up and looking at her.
"Did Delphi really need a diagnostic last night?" Helena asked pointedly.
"I was wound up and couldn't sleep right away," Barbara said defensively.
Dinah eyed Barbara curiously.
"You could have had a chamomile tea and a back rub," Helena countered.
Dinah eyed Helena with surprise.
"Is it a crime to want to be productive while I was up?" Barbara said with exasperation, scratching the back of her neck uncomfortably. A back rub would certainly not have had a relaxing effect, she considered.
"It's a crime you really don't know how to relax, Red," Helena said, shaking her head.
Dinah nodded in quiet agreement and glanced to the computer. "Speaking of crimes - there is a bank robbery in progress at Gotham Metropolitan," Dinah noted, pointing to the police report on screen.
"In broad daylight? What a set of . . . ." Helena said, impressed.
"Helena," Barbara interrupted, then noted with surprise "The police have . . . apprehended them," Barbara said hesitantly, looking a little lost.
"Ha! Ballsy but incompetent criminals. Gotta love that. I'm going to finish my pop-tarts and read the paper," Helena announced happily and headed back to the kitchen table.
"Can I have the comics??" Dinah asked eagerly, following Helena.
"After I'm done with them," Helena warned.
"How about the cross-word?" Dinah asked.
"That you can have."
Barbara watched the two with amusement. This is the way it is supposed to be, she considered and smiled warmly. Suddenly, she frowned.
"Hel? Why can't you microwave a pop-tart?" She asked, rolling after them.
As Dinah worked on the cross-word puzzle, Helena put two plates in front of Barbara. "OK, which one tastes better?" she asked, sitting across from her and eyeing her eagerly.
Barbara looked down at the pop-tarts then rolled her eyes. "Hel…I really don't like pop tarts," she said. Helena's mouth dropped in amazement.
"What's a ten letter word, ending with a "d" for unfulfilled?" Dinah suddenly asked, tapping the pencil on her lip as she looked up from the paper she had neatly folded.
"Frustrated," Barbara answered the teen, prompting a small smirk from Dinah.
"Thanks," Dinah said, then wrote on the newspaper.
"Dear GOD, you don't mean that," Helena said, aghast.
"I'm afraid so, Helena," Barbara answered the disturbed crime fighter.
"Maybe it's because you microwave them," Helena offered, grasping for a suitable reason for the horrible admission. Barbara shook her head and sipped her tea.
"What is the "blank" fruit of the granadilla? Seven letters," Dinah asked.
"Passion," Helena offered, then looked at Barbara. "Just try them - you'll see - the toasted one is much better."
"Fine," Barbara said with a sigh, and took a bite of one as Helena watched anxiously.
"Type of sofa . . . starts with a T. Nine letters," Dinah said as Barbara swallowed with a weak smile.
"Tête-à-tête," Helena offered as Barbara sighed and tried the other plate's pop-tart. "Well?"
"Thanks," Dinah said with amusement.
"This one," Barbara said, pointing to a plate.
"You can't be serious," Helena said with a frown, staring at the microwaved pop-tart in disbelief.
"Maybe your metabeing taste buds enable you to taste the difference?" Barbara offered.
"What is a five letter word for rendezvous? Middle letter "y". . . ." Dinah asked.
"Tryst," Helena and Barbara answered in unison then looked at each other uncomfortably before averting their gazes.
"That works," Dinah said, biting her lip to keep from laughing. "Six letter word ending in "e" - what is a system of opposing forces?" Dinah asked as Helena busied herself reading the paper.
"Dinah? I thought the point of doing the puzzle was to test yourself," Barbara said with narrow eyes.
"OK, fine. If you don't want to help, that's fine," Dinah said with an innocent shrug, looking at Barbara's glare with amusement.
"Oh!" Helena said with interest. "There's a Daniel Shurman exhibit at the New Gotham Museum of Modern Art . . . last day is today," Helena said, looking up from the paper to Barbara. "Wanna go?"
"I . . . I have a lunch . . . to go to," Barbara said awkwardly, getting a frown from Dinah.
"Oh. Well, I'm sure we can catch it the next time it comes to town," Helena said with a forced smile, then looked back through the paper. Barbara saw the flash of disappointment in Helena's eyes.
"When does the exhibit close?" Barbara asked.
"Three," Helena said looking at Barbara curiously.
"What if I catch up with you, say at twelve thirty?" Barbara asked.
"You sure? I don't want you to have to rush through any lunches," Helena said.
"I won't be rushing. It won't take long," Barbara said confidently. "I'd like to go."
"Sounds boring to me," Dinah said with a smirk. "I think I'll pass," she said unnecessarily.
Barbara took a fortifying breath as she rolled into the 1st street Café. She immediately found a smile greeting her. "Barbara, you look . . . like you need some sleep," Wade said honestly, leaning down to kiss her cheek.
"Well, it's been a rough few days," she admitted.
"Specialty baking can have its moments, I suppose," he allowed with a grin.
She smiled weakly.
They sat at a nice table in the back of the restaurant. "I'm a bit surprised you rang - but glad you did," Wade said, pulling a napkin on his lap.
"Yes . . . uh, I did have a reason for asking you to lunch, Wade," Barbara said uneasily.
"You were hungry?" he guessed with a smile.
"No - in fact, I don't think I could eat a thing at the moment," she said honestly.
"Don't tell me you enjoy watching me eat - that would be a bit disturbing," he said jokingly.
Barbara looked at him with a sad smile. He really was a charming man. "No. I didn't have a sudden desire to watch you eat, Wade," she countered.
"Ok then, tell me. Why did you ask me to lunch?" he asked.
Helena stood staring at the large, colorful oil painting, tilting her head as if it would help her understand what she was seeing.
"Does it help?" A young woman asked, moving to stand next to Helena. She tilted her head at the same angle as she looked at the picture.
Helena looked at her and said "nope."
"Maybe the other side?" the young woman suggested, tilted her head the other way, getting a smirk from Helena. "I'm Megan," she introduced herself.
"Helena," she responded. "Did it help?"
"Nope. Do you come here often?" Megan asked with a grin.
"Not as much as I'd like."
Barbara rolled into the large museum and looked around for Helena among the throng of visitors. When she spotted the brunette, she found her talking with a pretty woman, who seemed to be unaware of the concept of personal space. She frowned, noting Helena wasn't objecting. Barbara wondered if her arrival would be an unwelcome interruption to . . . whatever was happening between the two. She didn't have to wonder long. When Helena's eyes fixed on her, the smile that bloomed on her face made Barbara feel ridiculously happy. She almost felt guilty for causing the frown that now appeared on the face of the woman next to Helena. Almost.
"Barbara, this is Megan," Helena said as Barbara rolled up. "Megan, this is Barbara."
"Nice to meet you," Barbara said with a smile.
"Likewise. Well, I'll leave this fine piece for you two to ponder," Megan said and quickly left.
"Who is she?" Barbara asked, glancing at the retreating woman then Helena, who had a smile on her face.
Helena shrugged. "Somebody who likes art, I guess…."
And beautiful brunettes too, Barbara suspected as she smiled, relieved with Helena's indifference. The smile faded as she wondered if Gwen was the reason for that indifference.
"So, how was lunch?" Helena asked, sticking her hands in her pockets uneasily.
"Quick, like I predicted," Barbara said, then scanned around the museum curiously. "How much have you seen?"
"Just this," she said, pointing to the big colorful picture. "And the paintings on the way in. I wanted to wait until you got here," Helena said a bit shyly.
"So I could explain them to you?" Barbara joked.
"Well, there is that. Like this one," Helena said, pointing to the interesting modern composition she and Megan had been discussing. "I can look at that and think the colors are nice but . . . what's that about? I tilt my head - no better understanding," Helena complained.
Barbara gazed upon the oil a moment with interest, then looked back at Helena. "Well, I'm not surprised - it's upside down," Barbara said.
Helena looked at her a thoughtful moment, then chuckled. "You are so full of shit."
"Ah, but now you are wondering if I'm right," Barbara said with an amused smile.
Helena frowned and looked back at the painting critically, then at Barbara with feigned irritation that made Barbara chuckle.
"Come on, Gordon. There are plenty of paintings left to admire."
"I do hope they are hung properly," Barbara said dryly.
Helena surprised Barbara when she leaned in incredibly close to look into her green eyes intently.
"Yep. Thought so. They're brown now."
"Mom would have loved this one," Helena said, sitting on a bench as Barbara rolled next to her. The young couple who had been admiring the painting strolled away, hand-in-hand.
"It's beautiful," Barbara said, looking at Helena's profile as the younger woman studied the painting of a Parisian country side. Seeing a sad sigh, Barbara asked "You OK?"
Helena looked at Barbara with a sad smile. "Yeah. Though every once in a while, I really miss her."
Barbara nodded and placed a hand on Helena's. "You're entitled to feeling blue, Helena," she said softly. Helena looked down at Barbara's hand with mild surprise.
"Not when we're supposed to be having fun together," Helena countered.
"I don't need to be entertained, Helena. I enjoy . . . just being with you," Barbara said with uncomfortable honestly.
Helena looked at her curiously. Barbara "didn't do" sentimental, but she wasn't going to complain. As she took a breath to respond in kind, her cell phone rang.
Barbara released Helena's hand reluctantly as Helena frowned and pulled out her phone.
Helena looked at the incoming number, surprised. "Hello?"
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