Chapter 7 - Blüdhaven


“Dick!” Barbara called anxiously as Dick Grayson opened his door.  “Where is she?!?” she said, rolling into his penthouse apartment. 

“Blue guest room.  Still unconscious,” he reported concisely.  “What’s going on, Barbara?  She shows up suddenly at a scene in Blüdhaven, in a mask, and passes out?  Since when did she start wearing a mask??  I almost didn’t get to her before the police,” Dick said with frustration, vividly recalling a younger Helena’s very vocal rejection of wearing a crime fighting costume and especially a mask.

“Thank you for helping her,” Barbara said uncomfortably, glancing towards the guest rooms. 

“Why was she here?  I was covering the plutonium heist.  Is she suddenly expanding her territory or what??” Dick said tersely.  He had hoped she’d at least respect his area or let him know she was coming.

Barbara sighed, knowing she should have called him about Helena’s trip.  But she had been too preoccupied with Helena’s flight, she considered guiltily.  He continued to glare at her, making her guilt fade as her annoyance grew; Helena was unconscious and yet he continued to be incredibly childish about territory.  There was something about Helena that brought out the worst in him.  Not that Helena was much better around Dick, she sighed heavily. 

“I need to see her; then I’ll fill you in on our interest in the heist,” she said in a tone he knew not to argue with. 

He nodded reluctantly and watched her roll towards the guest rooms, still puzzled by her unflappable devotion to her former ward.  When Barbara was newly paralyzed, he was shocked that Barbara had actually wanted and fought for becoming Helena’s guardian, adding to her already overwhelming personal burden.  Helena had been a spoiled, selfish, juvenile delinquent, who caused her an inordinate amount of trouble.  And her behavior had not improved with age, he considered with a frown, shaking his head.


Rolling to the blue guest room, Barbara struggled with the fear that washed over her; there were so many things she didn’t understand about Helena’s condition.  And now, Helena was unconscious.

Entering and actually seeing the steady fall and rise of Helena’s chest with her own eyes, she exhaled with relief.  She rolled next to the bed and checked her pulse, which was thankfully strong. 

“Hel?” she called out, gently shaking her shoulder.  There was no response.  Helena was out cold, she concluded with a worried look.  Pulling out a penlight, Barbara checked Helena’s eyes, gently lifting the lids and shining the light in them.  Seeing her pupils respond properly, she let out another sigh of relief as she stole a small caress from Helena’s brow.  With the utmost care, she checked for other injuries.  Thankful to find no new wounds or broken bones, she gently caressed Helena’s cheek before placing a gentle, lingering kiss upon her lips.  


Dick had poured them both a glass of Scotch.  “You look like you could use this,” he said, holding out the glass as she rolled towards him in the living room.  She silently accepted and took a sip.

Sitting on the couch, he sipped his drink and eyed her.  After several quiet moments, Dick asked. “So.  What’s going on with Helena?”

“She can fly now,” she said simply with a heavy sigh, taking another sip.

Dick blinked with surprise.  “I didn’t know Meta powers could change over time,” he said with confusion.

“As far as I know, they don’t,” she answered honestly, prompting a confused frown from Dick.  “Helena was split in two.  Literally.  A scientist had developed a Metaphasic Z-particle Translocator which split her Meta side from her human side,” she said, glancing at a stunned Dick. 

“Her human side was taken to the hospital before I could get to her….” Barbara said, launching into the long, disturbing story for Dick, who occasionally glanced back to his guest room, injecting “wow” at times during the amazing account that included the last-minute plea from Helena to go forward with the remerging, in spite of the frightening uncertainty, to save the increasingly unstable Meta Helena.

“…and the device overloaded, blowing up before the complete reemerging sequence.  It was 0.4 seconds too short.  But Helena was finally whole and stable.  She looked fine,” Barbara offered with an unamused laugh.  “But it changed her.  Now we know how – that 0.4 seconds missing has somehow given her the ability to fly,” she finally concluded uncomfortably.  “I don’t know why,” she blurted with frustration, “but it has.”

He snorted.  “Just what we need, another superpower to go along with her super ego,” he muttered derisively. 

“She’s having a hard time adjusting, Dick.  She’s been having balance and buoyancy problems and is still learning how to fly,” Barbara countered tersely, amazed he could be so insensitive after Helena’s terrifying experience.  “And I have no idea why she is unconscious now,” she relayed; her frustration growing as she glanced back worriedly at the guest room.  “I didn’t even think to bring my equipment for blood testing,” she added in frustration, annoyed by her lack of focus.

“Sorry,” he said weakly, not wanting to aggravate Barbara more.  “It’s just … you always seem to be cleaning up her messes.  And now this?  I bet she went blazing into that lab, not waiting for you to evaluate the situation for danger.”

“Dick,” Barbara sighed wearily, not wanting to hear his ready and plentiful criticisms, however accurate they might be.

“I just worry about her recklessness and how it affects you … and Dinah,” he said sincerely, placing a hand on hers.  “I still care about you, Barbara.  So much,” he said, squeezing her hand.

Barbara sighed, glancing at their hands before her chin was lifted and her lips were kissed.

Her eyes widened as she immediately pushed him away.  “Dick!” she hissed, her clear rejection surprising him.

Helena’s eyebrows rose as she sluggishly entered the living room.

“You can stop dangerous criminals but can’t stop ex-boyfriends from attacking your lips??”  Helena complained tiredly as she slowly approached them.

“Helena!”  Barbara gushed with relief, rolling towards her with a smile.  “How are you feeling?  What happened?  Are you ok?” she blurted in rapid succession.

“Exhausted.  Passed out.  I think so,” she said simply, plopping down in a plush chair.

Barbara pulled her wheelchair next to Helena and felt her forehead, then cheeks.  “No fever.”

“That would take energy,” Helena grumbled.

Barbara frowned.  “I need to get you back to the Tower so I can run some tests.”

“Yay,” Helena said flatly, knowing what tests she meant.  “More tests.  I’m beginning to believe you’re a vampire, considering your fix…ation on my blood,” she said through a yawn.  “Good thing I heal quickly or I’d look like a user with all the track marks,” she noted grumpily, displaying her inner arms. 

Barbara sighed, though took some consolation that Helena must not be that injured if she was actively complaining.

“She’s trying to help you, Helena,” Dick said with irritation.  “The least you could do is show a little appreciation.”

Helena sat up straighter and eyed him. 

“Dick, stay out of this,” Barbara cautioned.

“Why?  So you can let her disrespect you again?”

“Stop, Dick.  You really have no idea what you are talking about,” she responded firmly.

“Barbara, I don’t understand why you let her walk all over you,” he complained, recalling how difficult it was for Barbara to deal with the rash and volatile teen, who apparently had not improved with age.

“Once a Dick, always a dick,” Helena muttered wearily.

“Helena,” Barbara scolded wearily, wishing the two would just get along.

Dick snarled at Helena’s disrespectful attitude. “I saved your ass with the police!  And brought you here, you ungrateful little...”

“Dick!” Barbara interjected, feeling a headache come on.

“Yeah, thank you for that,” Helena said softly, a response he didn’t expect.  He eyed her skeptically, wondering if there was sarcasm behind the words of gratitude. 

Barbara smiled slightly, pleased with Helena’s response.  Previously, she would have tried to further provoke Dick, making sport of it.

“I understand the police aren’t too thrilled with people with masks.  Itchy vigilante or not,” Helena continued with a smirk, looking pointedly at Barbara.

“Masks are still prudent, Helena,” Barbara stubbornly responded then took her hand and asked, “Are you feeling up to the drive back?”

“I’m looking forward to it,” Helena said with some forced energy, expecting continued civility towards Dick would take too much out of her, especially if he continued to be an ass.

“Look, it’s a long drive and it will be pretty late by the time you get back to New Gotham,” Dick noted in a conciliatory tone.  “You two are welcome to stay the night, I’ve got plenty of room; you can get an early start tomorrow.  How does that sound?”

Dick noticed how Barbara looked at Helena expectantly, apparently agreeable to his offer. 

Though not exactly thrilled with the prospect of spending more time around Dick, Helena also knew she’d likely fall asleep and have Barbara drive all the way back in silence, late at night. 

“He’s got a valid point.  What would you like to do?” Helena asked.

“We’ll stay.  Thank you, Dick,” Barbara said with a smile, squeezing Helena’s hand.

“Anytime, Babs,” he said with a grin.

“Hel?”  Barbara called curiously as Helena patted her hand and slowly got up from the chair. 

“I gonna get some sleep, Red.”

“You haven’t had dinner,” Barbara said, worry clouding her features. 

Dick rolled his eyes at her mothering.

“I need sleep,” Helena said softly.  “I’ll eat later, ‘kay?”

“Ok.  Sweet dreams,” Barbara said with a warm smile.

“Always,” Helena said with a small smile.  “Thanks again for taking care of me, Dick,” she said, glancing at the stunned crime fighter.

“You’re welcome, Helena,” he said hesitantly, unused to the common pleasantry with Helena.  His weak smile faded as he watched Helena tenderly kiss Barbara on the forehead before retiring to the blue guest room.


Barbara and Dick sat at the dinning room table, eating Indian takeout. 

“So why do you think this Lizard man was after plutonium?”  Dick asked and bit into a piece of curry chicken.

“Helena thinks for a bomb; I agree that’s likely,” she offered, not noticing his frown at the mention of her name. “Though, I’ve searched for unusual purchases that might indicate someone is creating a nuclear bomb but haven’t come up with anything yet.  Delphi is set up to alert me if there are suspicious procurements.”

“Isn’t a dirty bomb easier?” Dick asked curiously, sipping his wine. 

“Definitely, but the amount stolen was, interestingly, just enough for a nuclear bomb.  And he did recently blow up Gotham Federal Reserve with C4, which was also used to overturn the truck.  We think Peter Fry, who just happens to be an expert with C4, is helping him,” Barbara explained and shoved a forkful of rice into her mouth.


Barbara nodded and swallowed, dabbing a napkin against her lips.  “An arsonist convicted ten years ago for setting companies on fire for insurance money,” Barbara noted.

“I know him.  He’s also been arrested for dealing drugs but released on a technicality,” Dick noted with annoyance, piquing Barbara’s interest.  “The police’s search was deemed illegal,” he explained and added with frustration “the Judge ruled they didn’t have probable cause.”

“Hmm.  Was his lawyer Carl Tucker?” She asked, sipping her tea.

“Yes,” Dick noted with surprise. 

Barbara nodded.  “Helena and I suspect Carl Tucker is involved with the Lizard Guy – she detected accelerant on him,” Barbara relayed with interest, missing the clear irritation that crossed Dick’s face at the mention of Helena.  Again. “I subsequently found a connection to Peter Fry.  But I missed the drug case,” Barbara admitted, a bit annoyed.

“Tucker got the record expunged,” Dick said flatly, clearly not happy about how that went down.

“That would make it more difficult to find with normal searches,” Barbara offered with a sigh, making a mental note to alter her search algorithm.

“Why would Carl Tucker get involved in bank robbery?” Dick said with surprise.  “He’s loaded.”

“No, his Grandfather is,” Barbara clarified.  “And we’ve found Carl isn’t getting a dime from his family.  Tucker House will get it all,” she added.

Dick nodded thoughtfully.  “$10 million in gold from the New Gotham Federal Reserve would give him a nice nest egg.”

“I don’t think he’s done,” Barbara said, sipping her tea.

“Why not?”

“The accelerant Helena smelled on him was the same used at the Daley Furniture explosion, the Federal Reserve, and the Plutonium heist.  And the Federal Reserve robbery involved the Lizard Guy, who was sighted during the Plutonium heist.”

“The Press didn’t mention the Lizard man being involved in the gold robbery,” Dick noted curiously, eating some naan.

“He took out the Bank’s security cameras with some sophisticated equipment.  Helena and Dinah tried to stop him and almost lost their lives,” Barbara admitted uncomfortably.  “Helena managed to save them when they were batted off the roof.”

Dick’s lips pursed.  Of course Helena did. 

“So you think this Lizard man has a bigger target in mind?” Dick asked, not wanting to prolong discussion on Helena’s heroics.

 “He did steal plutonium,” Barbara said and took a bite of chicken. 

“Isn’t it a little overkill – a nuclear bomb?” Dick said with mild amusement.

“Criminally insane, Dick?” Barbara countered pointedly.

“Yeah,” Dick said, acknowledging the obvious.  “But, who would have the knowledge to build a nuclear bomb?  Peter Fry isn’t known for being smart …just destructive.  Maybe the Lizard man is a wiz,” he said absently, then glanced at her and chuckled.


“Almost like old times,” Dick offered, gaining a smile.  “It’s nice,” he admitted, reaching for her hand, which she pulled away to pick up her teacup.  He noted her sudden discomfort, guessing the cause: Wade.  But Helena’s recent comment confused him.  “So…what did Helena mean when she mentioned ex-boyfriends, plural … and your lips?” he fished with an easygoing smile.

Barbara shook her head with a small smile at Helena’s complaint about her slow reflexes in kiss prevention.  Though Helena was right to be a bit annoyed, making her vow to be more aware of that…threat.  “You remember Dr. Curtis Daniel Connors?” Barbara said and sipped her tea.

“No?”  Dick frowned. 

“We dated a short time in college.  After I told my Dad I broke it off with Wade, he...”

“You broke it off with Wade?” Dick interjected, unable to help feeling hopeful by that news. “Why?”

Barbara sighed, not looking forward to this conversation with Dick, pretty certain he would not be thrilled with the recent developments in her love life.

“Sorry.  I just thought you two were kind of…serious,” Dick said uncomfortably, though he also thought Wade was rather dull; too dull for Barbara.

“Not that serious, Dick.  My heart wasn’t in it,” she said and then took a fortifying breath before continuing.  “I was in love with someone else, and we’re together now,” Barbara announced with a happy smile, surprising Dick, whose heart sank, along with any hope he might have had for rekindling a romance.

“With this Dr. Connors guy?” he asked tentatively.  Barbara’s light laugh confused him more.

“No.  Definitely not Daniel,” Barbara clarified with an amused smirk, which faded as she took a deep breath.  “I’m in love with Helena,” she announced firmly, bracing herself.

“You’re joking,” Dick blurted flatly.

“I’m very serious.  I have never felt like this, Dick.  I’ve never felt so much before,” Barbara said emphatically, hoping he could overcome his hostility towards Helena and just be happy for her.  “I love her,” she said with a small, amazed chuckle that bubbled up with a warm smile. 

If he had bothered to look, he would have seen the happiness radiating from her as she spoke of Helena.  But he didn’t.

“Have you lost your mind?!?” Dick snapped, his fists clenching.  His long-held suspicion had finally been confirmed - Helena wanted to add Barbara to her long list of conquests!  And what a prized trophy Barbara was – the former Batgirl, now Oracle, her own mentor and guardian!

“Just my heart,” she answered honestly.

“And she’ll break it, Barbara.  You know how she is!” Dick blurted, baffled why Barbara didn’t see it.

“Dick,” Barbara warned sharply.

“Has she ever had a relationship??  NO!  It’s not in her DNA,” Dick said, too righteously indignant to heed Barbara’s warning.  “She’s selfish and a player; how long do you think she’ll be at your side before she gets bored and moves on to some new piece of ass??”  Dick spat angrily, prompting Barbara’s eyes to narrow dangerously.

“Because the cripple can’t possibly sexually satisfy someone as vibrant and passionate as Helena?” Barbara asked coldly, causing Dick’s eyes to widen in alarm.

“NO!  God, no. That’s not what I’m saying at all,” Dick quickly back peddled and exhaled in frustration.  “I’m just worried about you, Barbara.  She’ll never have it in her to love you like you deserve.”

“You know, Dick?” Barbara said with deceptive calm, taking the cloth napkin from her lap and placing it on the table.  “I know you’ve never respected Helena but I’ve never realized just how little you respect me,” Barbara said evenly, looking into his surprised eyes as she rolled back from the dinner table.

“Barbara, I do respect you!  I care for you!  I’m only telling you what you need to hear,” he said imploringly, getting up to follow her. “You have this massive blind spot when it comes to Helena,” he complained.

She stopped and turned towards him.  “It seems you do as well, Dick,” she countered flatly, making him rake his hand through his short, thick hair in frustration.  “You want me to believe you really know Helena and what’s in her heart, which is rather absurd since you’ve never really spent any time with her or actually had a conversation …unless… have you been a telepathic all along and never told me?” Barbara coolly asked with feigned curiosity as her insides churned hot with anger.

Barbara,” he said earnestly.  “You might think she makes you happy now, but…”

“No!”  Barbara snapped, staring at him with dangerously narrow eyes.  “You’ve said quite enough; I understand your position perfectly.  You think I am unable to tell whether Helena truly loves me or is just using me,” she said tersely.

“I just …” Dick said, shaking his head no.

“NO!  You are done talking.  It’s my turn!” Barbara hissed, causing Dick to nearly step back from the palpable anger.

“I did have a blind spot when it came to Helena.  But when she was split in two and I almost lost her, it became embarrassingly clear.  I didn’t see it but she has always loved me; so much so, she wanted me to be happy and encouraged me to date again after the shooting.  And even after you suddenly decided to drop by New Gotham to catch up,” she said tersely, making it sound like a booty call.  “She told me that if you were the one who made me happy, I should go for it,” Barbara revealed, gaining his surprised gaze.  “Of course, only after a blood test so she could rule out drug usage,” she added with a small amused snort. 

Dick frowned, having a hard time believing Helena would have encouraged Barbara to give him another chance, recalling how uncomfortable it had been with Helena around.  The barely legal thorn-in-his-side, who bragged about her fighting skills; skills she was born with, not earned through the sweat required by human vigilantes.  The insolent young woman, who was irreverent towards authority and those with far more experience, who flaunted her partying ways, who took great pleasure in taunting him.  He recalled one particularly annoying taunt after he and Barbara decided to give it another go, when Helena “innocently” gave him the number of a great barber - just in case he stuck around long enough to need a hair cut.  He didn’t.

“And after you left, she told me it was a crime for me not to be appreciated and loved by someone, who I had doubted actually existed,” Barbara admitted softly, stunning Dick, who frowned at Barbara’s surprising lack of confidence.

“I still didn’t see it, but I know now she wanted to be that someone.  But do you know what she did?  She encouraged me to date someone else, a persistent, kind man that I was attracted to but uncertain about; I really didn’t want to go through another failed relationship,” she said bluntly, making Dick wince, realizing how he contributed to her unhealthy erosion of confidence.  But he had thought they mutually agreed they weren’t ready for a serious relationship or such a dramatic change in their lives…. 

“Why did she encourage me?  She thought it would make me happy,” Barbara said, looking at Dick pointedly.  “And when I look back, her actions…” she said, her words fading with a guilty glance back to the bedroom. “Well, she put my happiness first.”

Dick exhaled heavily, still unconvinced of Helena’s sincerity, especially with Barbara’s vulnerable state and someone showering her with affection she didn’t think possible; but he knew Barbara was in no mood to hear his continued doubts. 

“So now, when I have finally found the love I was beginning to believe I’d never experience, when I am the happiest I’ve ever been, what do you do??  Instead of supporting me, you throw a tantrum about how inappropriate Helena is, leaving me to conclude that the only thing you love more than your freedom is your ego,” she said tersely, the biting words making him cringe.  

“I’m not the enemy,” Dick said weakly.

“Well, I’m having difficulty thinking of you as a friend right now,” Barbara said bluntly.  “Good night, Dick.  Thank you for dinner and letting us stay,” she said with excruciating politeness and headed towards the guest room and Helena.

“Barbara?” he called out anxiously, causing her to pause her departure, but not turn towards him.  His shoulders dropped in defeat.  “I’m sorry,” he said feebly.

“You should be,” she said firmly and went to Helena.


After maneuvering to pull the door behind her, Barbara rolled towards the bed.  Transferring herself out of the chair and onto the bed, she sighed with heavy disappointment.

“I’d clap, but that would take too much energy,” Helena offered drowsily as her lover settled in.

Barbara frowned.  “Sorry you had to hear that,” she said uncomfortably, looking into tired blue eyes.

“Don’t be,” Helena said with a yawn.  “I’m relieved I don’t have to kick his ass now, you already did it,” she added and lazily stretched and curled up next to her lover.

Barbara caressed her face.  “How do you feel?” 

“Loved,” she said with a happy smile.

Barbara leaned in and whispered, “you are” before tenderly kissing her and gently caressing her face.  When she pulled back, she saw a smirk.

“You know, I think I’m getting some energy back,” Helena said, her brows waggling with interest.

“You can’t clap but you can have sex??” she said incredulously, causing Helena to chuckle softly until she yawned.  “Sleep,” Barbara ordered sternly.

“Hold me?” Helena shyly asked in a whisper.

“Always,” Barbara vowed and gently guided Helena’s head to her shoulder, pulling her into a protective embrace.  It wasn’t long before she heard a faint but comforting purr, lulling her into a deep sleep.


Helena woke to a very unhappy stomach.  She was famished.  Carefully slipping out of Barbara’s embrace, she noticed she wasn’t careful enough, finding two green eyes looking at her groggily. 

“Something wrong?” Barbara asked, blinking as she tried to wake.

“Nah.  Just really hungry,” Helena said softly.  “I’m going to get a bite and come back.  Go back to sleep, Red,” she said, getting a tired nod.  Helena leaned over and kissed Barbara’s forehead, and watched Barbara’s eyes shut as she quickly drifted back to sleep.  God she was beautiful, Helena thought, indulging in the vision a moment before letting her stomach drive her out of the bedroom.

Barefoot, she quietly padded towards the kitchen.  Turning on the light, she glanced around the designer kitchen, absently wondering if Dick ever actually cooked with those high-end appliances.  Searching quietly through the cabinets for something easy to make that would satisfy her hunger, she smiled when she discovered bread, thinking a sandwich, or two, would be nice. 

Sticking her head in the refrigerator, she spotted some roasted chicken leftovers that made her mouth water.  She pulled out the plate and placed it next to the bread on the kitchen island, then grabbed some mayo, pausing before also grabbing the lettuce.  That should make it somewhat healthy, she considered.

She heard heavy footsteps approach the kitchen.  “You want one, Dick?” she offered, continuing to make her sandwich, hoping there would not be a confrontation; that would take too much energy.

He shuffled in with a slight shake of his head.  A perplexed look filled his face as he scratched the back of his head. 

She noted he was in his pajamas and a dark blue robe that had “RJG” embroidered in gold on his breast pocket.  Of course, she silently considered.

“How about Chamomile tea?  Supposed to help you sleep,” she suggested with a nonchalant shrug.

He shook his head “no” again and tiredly sat at the island. 

Helena nodded and finished assembling her sandwich.  “Got any chips?”

Dick looked at her.  “Potato or corn?”

“Both,” she said, smiling unrepentantly.

He snorted and got up, retrieving the bags.  When he placed them on the island, near Helena’s plate, she smiled.  “Got any pop tarts?”

He looked at her incredulously. 

“What?” Helena responded defensively.

He sighed, aware of her inexplicably strong affinity for that treat, and went to a pantry to retrieve two boxes she could choose from; one of frosted strawberry and one of chocolate frosted chocolate fudge.  As he returned, he eyed her as she bit into the sandwich.  “Man that’s soooo good,” she moaned approvingly, speaking with her mouth full, causing him to frown slightly at the see-food.

“Want a pizza with that?” he said sarcastically, placing the boxes down on the island as she devoured the sandwich.  He noted her pause with a thoughtful expression as she considered his suggestion.  “Seriously??  You pregnant or something?”

“Ha!  Barbara’s good, but she’s not THAT good,” Helena said with a laugh, then stopped awkwardly, realizing she just stepped into a mine field.  “Sorry,” she said sincerely and took another bite of her sandwich, quickly finishing it.

As she quietly ate some chips, he sat down at the island and stared at the counter, occasionally glancing at her with a perplexed look. 

The silence was deafening.  “What?”  Helena finally asked as she grabbed a box of pop tarts and opened it.

“I would have thought…” he said, then fell silent.

Helena had opened a package and glanced at him uneasily. “Thought what?”

“You’d rub it in,” Dick said bluntly, looking at her a moment before focusing on the granite countertop uncomfortably.

“Maybe later, when I’m not terrified of screwing it up.”

Her admission surprised him.  He looked at her, meeting her gaze.  “You know, you’ll never be good enough for her,” Dick announced confidently, expecting an argument from the ever-cocky woman.  To his surprise, instead of a snarky comeback, she looked thoughtful.

“Maybe,” she allowed.  “But I’m sure gonna try like hell to be,” she vowed with steadfast determination.

Again, he was surprised; for the first time he could recall, Helena acknowledged she might not be good at something.  This mature side of Helena was something he’d never expected to see.  But he still was skeptical Helena was capable of being in a serious, loving relationship with Barbara.  He had been certain Barbara was seeing what she wanted to see and being fooled.  But as he looked into Helena’s unwavering eyes, his certainty began to waver. 

He never tried to examine why he disliked Helena so much and sought to provoke her.  It was pretty clear now.  He somehow knew Helena would always have a stronger bond with Barbara than he ever would, in spite of the unique history he and Barbara shared before the shooting.  And that aggravated him to no end.

He loved Barbara.  He really did.  At one time, he could see them having a good life together.  But after the shooting, he realized his love for her wasn’t the life-altering, soul-consuming kind of love that drives someone to fight for with everything they had.  Oh he did the right, the noble thing.  He stepped up and tried to be the person to care for and help Barbara during her time of need.  But Barbara knew he was driven by duty, not love.  When Barbara refused to be an obligation and clearly rejected him, it stung.  But that sting was quickly washed away by a feeling of tremendous relief – accompanied by tremendous guilt for feeling that relief.  Some hero he had been, he considered derisively.

But Barbara being in love with Helena didn’t make sense to him; Helena had always been trouble for Barbara, arguing with her and getting into trouble.  Treating her…Dick’s lips pursed as he realized that Helena treated Barbara like someone who wasn’t confined to a chair.  Helena treated her just like anyone else she happened to disagree with - rudely.  He looked at Helena thoughtfully as she ate her second pack of pop tarts between nibbles of corn chips, as a fundamental truth hit him squarely between the eyes.  Being challenged by Helena was exactly what Barbara needed … to feel normal.

What Barbara needed was not to be treated with kid gloves, like she was fragile china, as everyone around her thought she was after being dealt a devastating blow.  Was it blind luck or had Helena known that truth all along, he wondered, finding it hard to believe that the spoiled teen, who had been dealing with her own loss, could have possibly been so aware of what Barbara needed … and given it to her. 

Not knowing the hows or whys to his plethora of questions, which included how Barbara could actually fall in love with Helena Kyle, he somehow knew Helena spoke the truth; she’d try to be good enough for Barbara, which inconveniently chipped away at his long-held distrust of her that he righteously clung to over the years.

“Don’t screw this up, Helena,” he said gravely.  “Or I’ll kick your ass,” he added, causing her to mumble something with her mouth full.  “What?” he said tersely, expecting a cocky comeback.

She swallowed.  “I said, get in line.  Assuming Barbara doesn’t - Mr. Gordon has first crack at me.  Then Dinah.  Then Alfred,” she said with a shrug, biting into another pop tart.

“Jim knows?” Dick said with surprise and sputtered “And…approves??”

“Yes.  But he is still a scary man,” Helena said gravely, taking another bite. 

A grin emerged as an almost forgotten memory surfaced.  “Did he pull out his revolver and clean it while interrogating you?” Dick asked knowingly.

Helena’s eyes lit up as she snorted with amusement.  “Nice,” she said approvingly, even more impressed with Barbara’s father.  “But no.  He was interrogating Barbara when I joined them.  He didn’t seem happy when she told him she was not seeking or needing his approval.  Then he asked me if I would walk away if he disapproved of us.  Man, I think my heart stopped.  Barbara loves Jim so much and she really respects him….” Helena said softly, shaking her head as she fell silent.

“What did you say?” Dick asked, intensely curious.

“That I would only walk away if Barbara told me to, and that it would kill me if she did.  I knew he didn’t think our relationship was a good thing, but I told him I was going to try to make her as happy as she made me and that I knew I was right for her.  Then he disagreed, which, well, pissed me off,” Helena admitted.  “And I started to argue with him,” she added uncomfortably.

“You what?!?” Dick blurted with surprise.  Helena cringed and nodded.  “Wait, I thought you said he approved,” he said, confused.

“Well, I was on a roll and I uh, didn’t realize what he was actually disagreeing with,” Helena said softly with a weak shrug.  “He actually thought we were a good match.”

“Wow,” Dick said, begrudgingly impressed with Helena boldly going to battle with Jim for Barbara, even if it was due to a misunderstanding.  A love worth fighting for, he considered thoughtfully then reached for a potato chip, getting his hand slapped away.

“Hey!” He blurted.

“Get your own.”

“It is my…” Dick said tersely, then saw Helena’s amused grin and realized she was teasing him.  And to his surprise, he didn’t mind.  Much.  He shook his head.  “Enjoy,” he said as he got up to head to bed. 

“Hey!  What about my pizza??” Helena blurted and munched on a chip.

Chapter 8 - Morning Glory

“So what do you want for breakfast?” Dick asked as the two women joined him in the kitchen.  He glanced uneasily at Barbara, who still looked tired, making him feel guilty for likely being the cause.

“Pop tarts!” Helena declared with a smile.

“Oddly, it seems that both boxes of pop tarts are missing,” Dick responded flatly.  “As is my leftover roast chicken,” he added as Barbara yawned.

“Now THAT was really good chicken,” Helena enthusiastically noted with a smile.

“Why did I smell pepperoni when you returned to bed?” Barbara asked curiously, rubbing her eyes.

Helena glanced uncomfortably to Dick, thinking he didn’t need to be reminded that they had shared a bed, in his home.  To her surprise, he didn’t seem bothered. 

“That must have been from the large pepperoni pizza I ordered for her,” he said wryly, shaking his head as he pulled out some cereal from the cabinet.

“That was really good pizza,” she enthusiastically noted.  “And you had a slice,” Helena said, mildly defensive.

“I’m surprised I still have my hand,” he said, raising his extremity in feigned disbelief as Helena smirked.

“Helena, just how much food did you have?” Barbara asked as she caught up with the discussion.

“I was hungry, all right??  So sue me,” Helena said bluntly.

“Flying must be a big drain on your energy,” Barbara offered with some concern.

“It would explain her passing out,” Dick added with a shrug. 

“And her disturbing food intake,” Barbara noted, glancing to Dick, who nodded.  “We’ll need to do some tests to establish your…”

“I’m fine now, thank you very much,” Helena said with annoyance.  “And while you two delight in the topic of me, I’m going to make some coffee,” she announced and headed to the coffee maker.

Barbara glanced at Dick with concern, hoping they would not start the morning out arguing.

Dick stared at Helena, who searched through several cabinets for the coffee.  “The coffee is in the coffee container, on the counter by the coffee maker,” he said helpfully with a smirk.

Barbara glanced uneasily to Helena, really, really not wanting to start the morning out with them at each other’s throat.

“Huh,” she said and grabbed the container clearly labeled “coffee” and looked at it thoughtfully.  “Imagine that.”

Barbara was surprised to see Dick and Helena briefly smirk at each other before Helena started to make the coffee.  She found Dick looking at her with a small smile before pulling out bowls for the cereal.

Not about to question the cease-fire for fear of re-igniting a war, Barbara actually enjoyed the breakfast with Dick and Helena, who chatted about Lizard guy and the potential scenarios involving the stolen Plutonium.  No animosity or caustic comments, just a civil…and surprisingly amicable conversation, she noted with relief and mild amazement. 

Finally, she considered, sipping her coffee as she looked between the two, immensely pleased.


On the road back to New Gotham, Barbara glanced over to Helena.  Again.

“Do I have something on my face?” Helena asked innocently and looked into the visor’s mirror with feigned concern, well aware of what was on Barbara’s mind.

“No.  No,” Barbara answered absently, returning her eyes to the road.  “Breakfast was…nice,” she emphasized with mild surprise, briefly glancing at Helena.

“Yeah.  Really hit the spot,” Helena said cheerfully.

“Helena,” Barbara groaned.

“Yeeeees?” Helena melodically said, a knowing smile emerging.

“Do you know how aggravating you can be?”

“Actually, I do,” she said smugly and eyed her lover. “And do you know, you tend to beat around the bush,” Helena said, then snorted with amusement.  A lascivious smile grew as Helena continued “not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Actually, I would really enjoy it if you’d pull over and….”

“Helena!” Barbara interrupted incredulously, sounding scandalized, which was quite an achievement for Helena; Barbara had come to expect sexual innuendo or blatantly overt comments from her. 

 “…and we properly christen the Hum…,” Helena offered with a sly grin, interrupted by Barbara, who muttered “Good God.”

“Hey, it’s a long trip,” Helena said reasonably.  “And we couldn’t exactly…in his house.”

“You were asleep most of the time!” 

“And sex has tremendous benefits, you know,” Helena continued, undeterred.  “Relief from tension or frustration,” she added with authority, adding knowingly “ … which you seem to be in great need of at the moment.”

Barbara took a deep breath and pulled off to the side of the road.  Helena eyed her with anticipation, not actually expecting Barbara to cave in so quickly.  She fully expected to have to wear her down for most of the trip. 

Barbara turned off the engine and leaned towards her.  Helena smiled with satisfaction.

“You know what would relieve my frustration now?” Barbara said silkily.

“I have some idea,” Helena whispered and leaned in closer, almost touching Barbara’s lips when they moved, forming words she didn’t expect.

“Knowing what you and Dick spoke about.”

Helena pulled back with a grimace.  “Ahhhh, way to kill the mood, Red,” she complained distastefully.

“I didn’t think that was really possible with you,” Barbara joked with mild amusement.

“Well it is,” she said grumpily.

“So besides mentioning Dinah while we are naked in bed, talking about Dick cools your jets too, huh?  Good to know,” Barbara smiled with satisfaction. 

“Now that is just mean,” Helena complained.

“Well, since we are on the topic,” Barbara said reasonably.  “He was actually pleasant towards you this morning.  I’m curious why he changed his tune so quickly.”

“Must have finally won him over with my natural magnetism and winning personality,” Helena said sweetly, batting her eyelashes.

“Helena….” She said impatiently.

“I’m serious,” Helena countered innocently.

Barbara sighed with frustrated disappointment, tired of having to pull an explanation from Helena.  When she reached for the key to start the engine, Helena quickly grasped her hand, knowing she needed to stop teasing.

“Barbara,” Helena said softly, gently squeezing her hand.  “We talked a bit last night.  Talked, not argued,” Helena said pointedly, bringing a small pleased smile to Barbara’s face.

“He’ll never be a Helena Kyle fan, as hard as it is to believe,” Helena said, feigning confusion, making Barbara chuckle softly.  “But I haven’t given him much of a reason to like me …or believe I won’t hurt you,” Helena admitted softly.  “And I can’t blame him for being worried that you are making a mistake with me,” she said bluntly, some of her insecurity slipping through.

“I’m not,” Barbara immediately responded, making Helena smile as she let the comfort of Barbara’s unwavering conviction wash over her.

“He cares for you.  But I think he now understands that our love is real.  And we both understand that our constant bickering has been hurting you.  Neither of us want to hurt you, Barbara, so we’re trying to be better.”

“Thank you,” Barbara said softly, looking into loving blue eyes before leaning in and tenderly kissing Helena.  After a soft click, she found her seatbelt suddenly undone and retracting.  “Helena!”


“Welcome home.  Miss Helena, I’m pleased you are looking well,” Alfred said with a smile as the two left the elevator and entered the Tower.

“Thanks, Alfred.  I’m feeling pretty good too,” Helena said with an easy-going smile. 

“We still need to run some tests,” Barbara said firmly.

“But I feel…” Helena countered.

“…fine.  I know,” Barbara interjected wearily.  “But we still need to run some tests,” Barbara repeated stubbornly, seeing Helena frown.  “Please?” she ventured softly.

“Ugh!” Helena blurted, unable to deny Barbara, who smiled, knowing she’d won that round.

“I’ll prepare lunch, if you’ll excuse me,” Alfred said politely, leaving for the kitchen with a small smile.

“I was thinking I could record your biometric data while you fly around the city for a short period, but long enough for the flying to drain some of your energy, then I’d take a blood sample.  Then you’d fly another, longer period…” Barbara continued enthusiastically, starting to roll towards Delphi.

“Wash rinse, repeat,” Helena interjected unhappily, absently rubbing her inner arm, anticipating the needles.  She could face getting cut by a thug with a big hunting knife without flinching, yet those innocent-looking needles gave her the heebie-jeebies.  

“Helena!  Barbara!!” Dinah said as she rushed down the stairs to join them as Alfred went to the kitchen to prepare dinner.  “What happened??”

“Hey, D…whoa!” Helena said as Dinah barreled into her and pulled her into a tight bear hug.

Barbara glanced from her keyboard to the youngest crime fighter with a warm smile.

“Eww,” the young telepath blurted and quickly stepped back with a look of distaste.  “Really??  In the Humvee?!?”

“That’s what you get for copping a read!” Helena lectured with irritation, briefly glancing over to Barbara, who stiffened and intently focused on her computer screen as she tapped on her keyboard.  Helena rolled her eyes at Barbara’s approach to things she didn’t want to deal with – ignore it.  

“I…I didn’t mean to!” she said defensively, glancing over to Barbara guiltily, finding her intently focused on her computer screen, still typing away.  Dinah leaned in conspiratorially.  “It’s just that you two…project.  Loudly,” she admitted in a hushed tone. 

“That’s not the only thing we do loudly,” Helena said with a rakish grin, not noticing Barbara briefly stop typing with a slight cringe before typing rapidly, with lots and lots of focus.

Dinah’s mouth dropped.  Unable to come up with a suitable response, Dinah harrumphed and left for her room.

Helena chuckled and joined Barbara’s side, leaning against the countertop next to her. 

“You really shouldn’t say things like that to her,” Barbara said with soft admonishment, finally looking up from her screen with worry. “We are her guardians,” she noted, glancing uncomfortably where Dinah had retreated.

“Impressive.  You can listen in and ignore us at the same time.  But then, you were always good at multi-tasking,” Helena said with a thin smile, crossing her arms over her chest.

Barbara looked at her guiltily and placed a hand on her forearm.  “Sorry.  She does need to control her readings better too.  I’ll have a talk with her…after you head out for your test flight.”


Helena stood on the ledge and exhaled heavily as Barbara rechecked the position and operation of each biometric sensor.

“You should be careful not to exert yourself too much,” Barbara cautioned, tapping her small handheld pad to verify adequate feedback, again.

“I look like a porcupine!” Helena complained, trying to scratch her cheek beneath her itchy mask and next to the itchy sensor but brushed against a couple spiky sensors, which caused a blip on Barbara’s screen. 

“Don’t touch the sensors, you’ll damage the link,” Barbara admonished, quickly grabbing Helena’s hand and pulling it away from the sensors.  She took stock of the several sensors on her face that did stick out…like small spines that almost made her feel guilty…but the data she would get was too valuable to worry about a temporary blow to Helena’s fashion sense.

“Well, we wouldn’t want that,” Helena said, rolling her eyes as Barbara continued to fuss over her sensors.  “They itch more than the mask!” she whined, reaching towards one of the sensors on her forehead to be intercepted by Barbara’s hand and firm warning glare.  Helena exhaled heavily.

“They are not permanent.  You’re good to go.  Ready when you are,” Barbara announced, giving a firm nod and motioning towards the sky.

“Finally!” Helena said and took a leap off the side of the building. 

Rolling closer to the edge, Barbara exhaled the breath she didn’t realize she was holding when Helena flew up and away from the Tower.

“Your sensors are all working,” Barbara told her on their coms link as she monitored her pad. 

“Yay,” Huntress said flatly as she approached the adjacent skyscraper.  A frown appeared as she tried to lean to her side and turn.

Barbara looked back up from her small computer and sucked in a startled breath.  “Helena, watch out for…” she blurted just before Helena clipped a gargoyle sticking out from a corner of the building. 

“Ooof!” Helena blurted as she grabbed her now-throbbing shoulder.

The head from the gargoyle plummeted to the ground.

“Huntress!  Are you all right??”

“I . . . oh shit,” Helena blurted anxiously, diving after the plummeting head.  “Please please please,” she muttered worriedly as she unsteadily chased after the inadvertent projectile. 

Barbara’s eyes widened with concern, recognizing the potential for pedestrian injuries on the street below. 

Helena scooped the head out of the air and tucked it in one arm against her chest, like a football. “Ha!  Got it!!” Helena declared victoriously.  Stretching her other arm towards the direction she wanted to go, Helena let out a happy laugh when she actually went in that direction.  “Whoo hoo!  Did you see that, Oracle!!”

“That’s affirmative, Huntress.  Nice moves,” Barbara said with a grin, relieved Helena was making progress.  “You’ll be happy to know your biometric data is still coming through strongly,” she added, smiling at the computer tablet’s display of data, relieved Helena didn’t damage the sensors.

“You have no idea,” Helena said flatly.


“Your Geiger counters, Miss Barbara,” Alfred said, placing the two small boxes and attached probes down on the counter as Barbara returned to Delphi and placed the computer tablet next to her keyboard.

“Thank you, Alfred,” she smiled, picking up one of the devices and turning it on.  The soft sputtering static of background radiation sounded as Barbara looked at the black needle that bounced just above zero.

“Will there be anything else?” He asked as she turned off the device.

Barbara bit her lip and briefly glanced thoughtfully at the training room where Dinah was working out, then to him expectantly. 

“Anything, except that,” he amended knowingly, surprising Barbara who blushed uncomfortably.

“Yes, well,” she cleared her throat, then stared at Helena’s data a moment.  Glancing to Alfred, whose eyebrow lifted curiously, she pointed to her screen.  “I can’t leave to talk with Dinah right now, not while she’s flying,” Barbara said and shrugged weakly.

“I could keep an eye on Miss Helena,” Alfred interjected helpfully.  Barbara looked at him with a slight frown.  “I’ll let you know if there are any changes,” he added.

Barbara’s eyes narrowed slightly.  “Thank you, Alfred.”

“Good luck, Miss Barbara,” he said somberly, though with a faint, amused twitch of his lips.

Barbara glanced uneasily towards the training room and took a fortifying breath before biting the bullet and going to see her ward.  She paused at the door, watching her young ward practice kicking the heavy bag.

“You’re signaling your kicks,” Barbara offered and rolled towards her young ward, who looked at her, not understanding.  “With your shoulder.  You drop it just before you kick,” she explained.  “Try it again.”

Dinah nodded and did as instructed, catching her error too late.  “Ugh!”

“Now that you know, you can work on it,” Barbara said with encouragement, getting a knowing look from Dinah.

“I guess we all have trouble with signaling…things,” Dinah said with a smirk.

Barbara shifted uncomfortably.  “About that…”

“Look Barbara, I’m sorry I’ve embarrassed you but I’m having difficulty blocking …things…out,” Dinah admitted with a frustrated exhale, going to the bench and picking up her towel before sitting. 

Barbara nodded absently and rolled towards her.  “And we’re not helping,” Barbara said sympathetically.

You’re not so bad…much,” Dinah offered awkwardly, dropping her gaze to the floor uncomfortably.

“Perhaps…until we learn to better shield our thoughts, you might not touch us as much?” Barbara suggested uneasily.

A flash of hurt crossed Dinah’s face before she realized that was the only logical suggestion; Dinah nodded weakly.  “It is worse with a touch,” she admitted. 

“I am sorry, Dinah,” Barbara said guiltily.

“What?  No!  You shouldn’t apologize for having . . . that…with Helena.  I’m happy for you two.  Really!  And it’s awesome to know there can be that much passion and love between two people.  It’s…inspiring,” Dinah said emphatically.  “It’s just…” she said, trailing off.

“You don’t need to know the details,” Barbara offered bluntly. 

Dinah nodded guiltily.  “But I need to work on blocking those emotions and thoughts.  You’re not the only people I’ve been picking up on.”

Barbara eyed Dinah curiously.  Dinah bit her lip.  “Gabby,” she admitted, then gushed guiltily.  “I know it’s wrong to read people but she projects too,” Dinah blurted.

“I…see,” she said uncomfortably.  “Do you want to talk about what you’ve …read?” Barbara asked uncomfortably, but was determined to help out her young ward if she could.

“Uh, not really.”

“Good,” Barbara gushed with relief, then realized she spoke aloud.  “I mean…” she blurted with a wince, knowing she wasn’t sounding like a very good guardian at the moment.

“It’s ok, Barbara,” Dinah interjected with a smirk.  “I mean, like, I really need to read a teenager’s mind to know what’s on it?”

“You’ve got a point,” Barbara chuckled.  “Well, let me know if you want to talk about …anything,” she said, trying to sound like she wasn’t uncomfortable at all about the subject of sex and teenagers.  She was somewhat disappointed her uncomfortable experiences with a younger Helena hadn’t better prepared her for Dinah.

“I’ll let you know.  Thanks, Barbara,” Dinah said with a warm smile.

Don’t mention it,” Barbara said dryly, making Dinah laugh. 


Barbara returned to Delphi, noting Alfred shake his head as he left, which mildly concerned her.  Checking her chronometer, she frowned; Helena had been out flying for 21 minutes.  A minute past the designated return time, she considered with a sigh.  Helena never did seem to care about punctuality.

“Huntress, do you copy?” Barbara said on the comms.

“Roger, Oracle.  On my way home now.”

Barbara had to smile; she’s coming home.  So simple a concept, yet so incredibly important.  Home.  She had wondered if she’d ever find a place where she would feel comfortable, where she would be able to truly be herself.  With Helena, she had found that place. 

Seconds later Helena breezed through the balcony doors and confidently strode towards her, radiating happiness that was accompanied by a big smile that Barbara couldn’t help but return.  Before she could say anything, Helena leaned over, giving her a passionate kiss - a kiss she fell into and enthusiastically returned; sometimes Barbara felt as if she had no defense against Helena’s natural magnetism.  But she forced herself to remember that there were tests to run and work to do….

“Whoa, Ti…ger,” she cautioned as Helena kept kissing her.  “Helena!” she said more forcefully, clearly demonstrating she had some defense against the tidal wave of desire, known as Helena.

“What?!?” Helena said breathlessly, her eyes turning feral, making it harder for Barbara to resist.  Barbara felt a primal response to those amazing eyes that drew her in, making her want to succumb to the desire so clearly reflected in them. 

But they had work to do, Barbara reminded herself.  She needed to understand the extent of Helena’s fatigue after flight.

“Sweetie, we really need to figure out…” Barbara said diplomatically but paused, curiously glancing down to the cold object her hand fell on.

Helena looked down and bit her lip with mild embarrassment.  “For you!” she suddenly announced with a bright smile as she placed the gargoyle’s head on the counter by Barbara’s keyboard.

“Thanks,” Barbara chuckled.  “How’s your shoulder?” she asked softly, reaching up and carefully touching it.

“What shoulder?” she said dismissively, clearly interested in only one thing as she leaned in for another kiss.

“He….lena,” Barbara said as persistent lips sought hers.  “Helena!”

“God!  It’s just some bruising, Barbara.  Why don’t I show you?” she eagerly offered, not easily distracted from her goal as she started to unbutton her blouse.
“Where are your sensors?” Barbara blurted with annoyance, just realizing they were missing. “And your mask?!?

Helena rolled her eyes, which had turned back to their normal crystal blue.  With a heavy, disappointed sigh, she rebuttoned her blouse, recognizing her goals and Barbara’s were not exactly matching at the moment.

“Helena!  It was only 21 minutes!!  You couldn’t keep the mask and sensors on for 21 minutes?!?” Barbara scolded her.

“They really itched!” Helena complained, pulling out a handful of spiky sensors from one jacket pocket and her mask from the other. 

“How am I supposed to correlate your fatigue to the duration of your flight?” Barbara protested.

“Ask me??” Helena answered with what seemed rather obvious.

“Before or after you pass out?!?”  Barbara countered sarcastically.

“Barbara,” Helena groaned.  “I feel great.  Really!  And it was just twenty minutes…” she said dismissively.

“Twenty one.”

“…and the flight to Blüdhaven was like, way more than an hour,” Helena argued.

“Because of your extended . . . detour,” Barbara noted pointedly, which prompted a curious thought.  “How was your turning this time?”

“A lot better,” Helena said, hopping up to sit on the Delphi counter.  “I think flying is like any physical activity,” she considered thoughtfully.  “I just need to get in shape and practice,” Helena concluded with a smile, actually feeling hopeful about the prospects of a collision-free flight.  Something she hoped to share with Barbara at some point…when she could be confident she wouldn’t crash into a building.

Barbara looked at her thoughtfully, as a persistent concern still nagged at her.  “I need your blood,” she announced bluntly and headed towards the medical equipment in the training room, expecting Helena to follow. 

“Of course you do,” Helena muttered and followed.


Chapter 9 - Detonators

In a dark room, Carl and Daniel watched as Peter Fry soldered an electronic timer to the detonator on a workbench. 

“Carl, I did as you asked,” Daniel said uneasily as Peter chuckled eerily, delighting in his work. 

“Yes.  Thank you, Daniel.  You’ve helped me out a lot,” Carl said with a smile and returned his attention to Peter Fry, who took a long drag on his cigarette. 

“You promised after this, you’d ….,” Daniel said uncomfortably, scratching his dry skin and coughing slightly at the foul air.

“Here,” Carl said with a sly smirk, handing over a small plastic envelope of a few pills.

“This isn’t enough,” Daniel said with alarm.

“It’ll tide you over for now.  I have one more request of you and then you’ll be free to focus on your work,” Carl said with a smile, patting Daniel on the back.

Daniel roughly knocked his arm away.  “But that wasn’t the deal!  And you know it!!”

“Daniel, I really need your help now – more than ever.  You said you would help me.  You are not going to renege are you?” Carl said with a frown. 

“You can’t keep changing our agreement.”

“Look, I hadn’t realized I’d still need your help.  But I do.  You’ve been such a good friend to me, come on and help me out this one last time,” Carl said, his charm oozing.

“It’s always one more time,” Daniel grumbled, anger bubbling beneath the surface.

“Hey, I’m sorry.  This is really the last time, Daniel.  And once I get Gramps’ fortune, I’ll help set you up to process this stuff on your own,” he said, pointing to the pills, “And you’ll never be dependent on anyone.  Isn’t that what you want?”

“This is fucked up!” Daniel seethed.  “Why do you need a fucking nuclear bomb?”

Carl smiled coldly.  “To show him I’m serious.  He’ll cave once he realizes it’s real and his precious children are at risk.  So, you’re going to help me?”  Carl asked, unperturbed by Daniel’s anger.

“One last time,” Daniel said, glancing over to the giggling Peter Fry then to the pills in his hand in defeat.


After a second day of several short- and grueling long-duration flights, which were unfortunately necessary before Barbara would contemplate taking a break so Helena could recover long enough to have more than “a quickie,” Helena sat quietly, sipping a glass of milk as Barbara reviewed Helena’s blood work. 

“The flights had no effect on nucleotide stability.  They are still stable, even after the longest flight,” Barbara announced with a pleased smile as she reviewed the good results on her computer screen.  “And, your biometrics, that I could record,” she added pointedly, still not happy about Helena’s interference in her data gathering, “are consistent with normal physical exertion and recovery,” Barbara stated, looking at a sensor-free Helena, who nodded in acknowledgement and now munched on another pop-tart.  She was not about to apologize for removing the sensors again – they itched!

“In addition to improved control, your endurance has notably improved since yesterday,” Barbara offered positively.  

“Endurance is important,” Helena smirked and waggled her eyebrows, but Barbara was thoughtful and did not respond.  Helena’s smirk faded and she rolled her eyes.

“How’s your appetite?”  Barbara asked curiously, pulling off her glasses as she turned towards Helena, who found that act and those glasses incredibly sexy.

“Ravenous….” She answered honestly and leaned towards Barbara’s lips.


“What?!?”  Helena complained, her target not acquired.  Noting Barbara expected an answer, she let out a belabored sigh.  “Fine.  The pop-tarts and milk hit the spot…for my stomach.”

“This last flight was three hours,” Barbara noted as Helena lifted her glass of milk, saluted her with it, and took another sip of milk, which left a milk mustache.  

Barbara smiled, reaching out to wipe it off of Helena, who grabbed her hand and stole a kiss, then another.

Pulling back, which took a great deal of willpower, as Helena’s lips were dangerously persuasive, Barbara glared at her.  “Later,” she announced sternly, gaining a dejected look.  “I still have some tests I want to….” Barbara explained, her dedication to science not waning, unlike Helena’s.

“Barbara!” Helena interrupted with a groan.  “Come on!  I’ve already done tons of flights like you’ve asked.  Can’t we pick up the experiments tomorrow?  Please?!?” she begged.

Another thing that was dangerously persuasive was Helena…begging.  A part of Barbara had to admit deep satisfaction that her lover wanted her so much as to resort to begging. 


“All right,” Barbara offered in surrender, bringing a big smile to Helena’s face.  “You really shouldn’t be so happy, you know.  Begging is unbecoming,” she said half-heartedly as a small smile emerged on her face as she looked into Helena’s blue eyes that shone happily.

“Not if I be coming in a moment,” Helena joked, lightly kissing Barbara, who chuckled in spite of the bad joke and grammar.  “Kid here?” she asked, between gentle kisses.

“At Gabby’s for the night,” Barbara smiled.

“Reeeeaaaaly?” Helena said with great interest and kissed her again as she carefully lifted Barbara from her chair.

“Mmm Hmmm,” Barbara responded as her arms easily slipped around Helena’s neck.  At one time, Barbara would have rejected anyone who offered to lift her from her wheelchair, despising the appearance that she was incapable or needed help.  But with Helena, Barbara had learned it was not an act of pity or duty, but love…and expediency.  And Barbara had to commend expediency….

The Delphi alarmed.  “NOoooooo!”  Helena moaned dramatically at the unwanted interruption, resting her head against Barbara’s kissable neck in defeat.

Barbara groaned, equally unpleased, but took a deep fortifying breath.  “Duty calls,” she announced firmly, awkwardly patting Helena on the shoulder in consolation, electing not to comment on Helena unhappily mumbling about duty and what one could do with it, as she lowered Barbara back to her chair.

Clearing her throat, Barbara called up the alarm on Delphi and took a centering breath to calm her own libido. 

Reviewing the information, Barbara blurted, “Damn.”  Helena looked curiously over Barbara’s shoulder. 

“Seems they are making a bomb like we thought.  Military-grade detonation devices have been discovered missing from the North Bay Air Force Base,” Barbara noted.

“Swell,” Helena said flatly as Delphi beeped an odd tweeping sound, a sound she hadn’t heard often.

“It’s Dick,” Barbara said and put on a head set.  “This is Oracle, go ahead Nightwing.”

“Guess what’s missing from the North Bay Air Force Base,” he said in a sing-song voice.

“Hmmm.  Is it bigger than a breadbox?” Barbara asked innocently with a smirk.

Helena eyed her curiously.

“He’s calling about the detonation devices,” Barbara explained, though Helena could hear him; she was just wondering about their banter, mildly bothered by it.

“Uh…. I’m not sure,” Nightwing said, mildly annoyed his information was not that thorough.

Barbara smiled.  “Maybe the detonators are there and just overlooked?” She teased him.  “They have had issues with misplacing important things before.”

Helena frowned. 

“Even if I don’t know what they look like, I’m pretty sure the Air Force does,” he said, not liking when Barbara got the better of him, which was routine.  “Though now I’m wondering about the timeliness of their discovery….”

“Which also makes me wonder how close they are to making a bomb,” Barbara said somberly.  

“Any leads on where the suspects are?  I haven’t seen any traces of the Lizard man in my neck of the woods,” Dick offered.

“Same here.  And Peter Fry has been laying low, spotted buying cigarettes in New Gotham.  Carl Tucker has only been seen at the Tucker house, volunteering,” Barbara offered with pursed lips, starting to wonder if she could have found the plutonium by now, knowing she had her focus split between their whereabouts and Helena’s condition.  She glanced at the Geiger counter worriedly.

“I think Carl Tucker needs another visit . . . to shake things up,” Helena offered with conviction, looking at Barbara with a thin smile.  

“I was thinking that too,” Barbara said reluctantly.

“Confession is good for the soul,” Helena smirked and stepped back, her departure stopped by Barbara’s hand grabbing her hand.

“Hel, I was also thinking of calling back Dinah . . . for that,” Barbara offered uncomfortably, noting Helena’s eyes narrow with annoyance. 

“Not to knock the Kid, but she has been looking and not finding anything.  I think…,” Helena continued but was interrupted.

“I don’t like sending you out for a mission without better understanding your fatigue,” Barbara quickly argued.

“Oh I’m fatigued all right,” she said flatly, tired of Barbara’s overprotectiveness. 

Barbara shook her head, then focused on the Geiger counter a troubled moment. 

“But…” Barbara added, piquing Helena’s interest.


Barbara pushed out an annoyed breath.  “But you could cover more territory,” she acknowledged, grabbing the device and promptly handing it to a smiling Helena. 

“My endurance has improved – you said so yourself,” Helena offered helpfully. “And I’m not crashing into buildings…as much,” she joked, getting a frown.

“I really wish we had more time to come up with a better plan,” Barbara said reluctantly, erasing Helena’s smile.

“You know, you still suck at that cheerleading thing, Red.”

Barbara ignored her.  “Let’s go over the basics of the instrument.”

“Yes, let’s,” Helena said with an insincere smile.

“This is Batman’s design to better seek out radioactive sources,” she started and picked up one of the detectors, missing the sour look on Helena’s face at the mention of her father.  “The range is significantly higher than the detectors used by the Military or commercial industry, which are typically used for measuring radiation levels for personnel protection not finding lost radioactive material.”

“So what do they do when they lose their stuff?  Hope for the best?” Helena countered, which Barbara also ignored.

“This is the knob which selects the radiation being detected, you can detect all types if set on ”Gen” which means general, she said, turning the dial to select correct radiation.  “This is the volume knob, which adjusts the audio indication of the radiation levels, for each type of radiation detected, alpha, beta, Gamma and neutrons, you’ll hear a click.  This is the visual indication, when the needle…,” Barbara continued her explanation.

“Barbara!” Helena interrupted impatiently.  “I’ve watched Japanese monster movies!  I know how a Geiger counter works,” she blurted testily.

Barbara blinked and looked at Helena curiously.  “Is there a particular reason you are being so…disagreeable?”

“I’m horny!” Helena blurted bluntly, surprising Barbara, who then looked at her thoughtfully.  “This should not be a revelation to you, Barbara,” she added with irritation.

“I wonder if flying stimulates your libido,” she reflected with interest.

“If you’d be willing to help with the remedy, I may actually start liking your flying experiments,” Helena offered with a smirk.

“Well, I am a dedicated scientist,” Barbara offered dryly, leaning back in her chair with an unapologetic smile. 

“As far as effects go,” Helena said and leaned towards her with the device in hand and kissed her ear before whispering, “You are by far, much more stimulating than flying,” she said and stood back up, her eyes augmenting to cat-slits.

“Experiments are definitely in order…to test that hypothesis,” Barbara announced, feeling a bit flushed.  Seeing Helena’s large smile, she amended “After you find the Plutonium.”

“If I didn’t have incentive before…” Helena moaned, leaving the rest unsaid as she jogged out to the ledge with the detector - on a mission to find the plutonium.

Barbara looked down at the computer console and her eyes widened.  Quickly grabbing the mask, she called out “Helena you forgot your….” 

Helena was out of sight. 

With a sigh, Barbara finished weakly “…mask.”

Uh Oracle?”  Nightwing called out after a quiet moment, causing Barbara’s eyes to widen. 

“You’re still there,” Barbara said unnecessarily, biting her lip as an uncomfortable flush of embarrassment washed over her.

“Huntress isn’t the only one forgetting things.  It’s not like you, Babs,” Dick said; his worry seeping through.

“I’m fine, Dick,” she said briskly, annoyed with herself for becoming distracted with Helena.  Again.

“How’s Helena doing?” he asked, surprising her; he had never asked before.

“Uh…we’ve done some flight testing to understand her fatigue and she seems to be adapting.  Her endurance had dramatically improved after only a day.  It’s fascinating, really,” she relayed.

“And a relief?” Dick ventured.

“Yeah.  I . . . I’m starting to actually believe she’ll be fine,” Barbara admitted.

“Good.  You have enough to worry about.  Like a nuclear bomb.”


Helena flew across town and landed on top of Carl Tucker’s apartment building.  It was her first stop and most likely where she’d find out something useful.  The worn down brick structure wasn’t the kind of building where she’d expect the grandson of a billionaire to live.  But a psychopath wanting to build a bomb and threaten the city?  Yep. 

Making her way down the old-fashioned way, down the fire escape, to his darkened window, she waited to see if there was any motion.  Concluding he was asleep or not home, she whispered “I’m going in, Oracle.”

“Roger, Huntress,” Barbara said, and took a breath to complete her thought but reconsidered; telling Helena to be careful was probably not going to be well received by Helena in her current mood.

Helena silently entered through the window.  Her eyes quickly augmented, adjusting to the darkness as she began her search for leads.  She carefully walked towards Carl Tucker’s bedroom, noting the bed unmade and empty.  As she looked around the room, she came upon his closet and turned on the Geiger counter.  Instead of a soft static sound, a loud crackling suddenly blared through the device’s speakers, filling the once quiet room with bone-jarring noise. 

“Crap!” she hissed and turned down the volume of the machine with a grimace, jumping back from the closet and away from the source of the noise. 

“What happened, Huntress!?!” Oracle blurted with concern.

“Looks like ol’ Carl keeps getting his hands dirty…or rather clothes,” Helena said, waving the probe towards the closet and seeing the needle spike higher the closer it got.  “His closet is setting this thing off,” Helena said crouching down to inspect the shoeboxes on the floor, tipping the lids up with the probe to peer in.  “But there’s nothing but clothing in it….OH, gross!”

“Huntress?  What is it?”

“There’s more than clothing in here,” Helena said distastefully.

“What is it?  Have you found the detonator?”

“No.   Seems Carl was not adverse to self-loving.”

“Self….?” Barbara asked, then understood.  “Oh!  Ah.  Hmm.”

“Yeah.  Hmm.”

“Rather inconvenient place to put …accessories.”

“Well, we did classify him as criminally insane.  So, what do you think about …accessories?” Helena asked with a smirk.

“Focus, Huntress.”

“Oh I am focused, but just not on what you want,” Helena said sassily.  “So Oracle, you game?”

“We’ll discuss this later, Huntress,” Oracle said with a no nonsense tone. 

“Fine,” Helena acquiesced with a small sigh.

“If he was actively assembling or helping to assemble a bomb, it would follow that he has contamination on his clothing.  Try not to get it on you,” Oracle cautioned. 

“No problem with that, Oracle.  His clothes are not my style.”

Oracle brought up schematics of the apartment building. “I don’t see a good place in the building to build a bomb.” 

“Well, that’s good, right?  Since we just spooked him from his old warehouse and you haven’t dug up anything else going on at the industrial park and waterfront.  Maybe they are still looking f…” Helena said then paused, hearing someone try to open the locked apartment door. 

“Huntress?” Oracle questioned with alarm.

“Got company.”

Helena heard a frustrated growl from the hallway, then a loud bang as the door was kicked open.  She swiftly retreated into the shadows and sucked in a surprised gasp when she saw who entered. 

Frantically searching through drawers was not quite a lizard and not quite a man.  But the not-quite-a-man part she still recognized. 

As he ransacked the apartment, he desperately hissed “damn you, Carl!” 

Helena looked down at her instrument and turned it on.  The loud sound of significant clicking startled the part-lizard part-man, who quickly looked towards the sound.

“You have radioactive contamination on you, Dr. Connors,” she said calmly, turning off the Geiger counter and returning the room to quiet, except for Dr. Connor’s belabored breathing. 

“Huntress??” Oracle said anxiously, greatly disturbed by the thought of her college friend being part of this mess.

“You’re a smart guy.  I’m surprised you let yourself get contaminated too,” Helena said, tilting her head curiously as she watched him closely.

“I’m sorry you had to see me like this; I . . . I can’t let you live now,” he ground out menacingly and stepped towards her.

“Well, you don’t really look like you’re in top form, Doc,” she said, easily vaulting over the couch and landing with familiar grace, which she was inordinately thankful she possessed when she needed it.  “In fact you look like shit.  Is that why you were so anxious going through Carl’s stuff – trying to find something that would help?” Helena guessed.

Connors looked at the formidable woman uneasily, knowing he wasn’t in the best frame of mind or physical condition.  “It doesn’t concern you!” his voice hissed, as he glanced around the room with great agitation.

“It actually does.  See, Doc, I’m supposed to stop anyone intent on harming innocent people.  And a nuclear bomb will hurt a lot of innocent people.”

“He’s not going to use it!  It’s just a bluff!!”  Daniel Connor spat anxiously. 

“Are you so certain that you’ll actually risk the lives of hundreds of thousands??” Helena countered relentlessly. “You tried to kill me on that roof before - so let’s just cut the crap.  Your Hippocratic oath means nothing.  You really don’t care about the innocent … the children,” Helena accused.
“Shut up!  That was him!  Not me!” he said, trying to lunge for her as his face morphed a bit, his jaw slightly elongating.  His arm crashed into a lamp, which flew across the room. 

“So you’re saying you have no choice but to follow Carl when you’re the lizard guy?”

“Yes!  No!  You know nothing!”  He said, turning over the couch, which was batted into the wall with a loud crash.

“How many lives will be lost because you decided to hook up with a greedy bastard who would actually use a nuclear bomb to get …what?  Money??  When did you stop caring about people, Doc?”

“I just want to be human again!”  Daniel cried out desperately, tears forming in his altered eyes.

Helena eyed him with a surprising pang of sympathy.  “He helps you keep your human form?” she asked softly as her eyes morphed into cat slits.

He looked into her eyes, startled by the transformation.  In curious contemplation, he stayed quiet for so long, Helena began to wonder if he was going to actually talk again.

“You are a Meta being,” he said with certainty, almost reverently.

She nodded.  “I’m familiar with not feeling quite human.  But I am.  And I believe you still are Doc.  I believe deep down, you know people are in danger from Carl and his bomb.”

Daniel sighed in defeat, unable to deny that painful truth.  “Carl has helped me keep my human form…until now.”

“You’re not a meta being, are you?” Helena asked softly.

“No.  I lost an arm in battle,” he said in resignation, surprising Helena at the apparent non sequitur. 

She glanced between both his arms in confusion.  “Looks like you found it,” she said flippantly.

“Huntress,” Oracle scolded her, anxious to hear Daniel’s story.

“I didn’t find it!  I regenerated it!!”  He hissed with annoyance, looking at the appendage in question.

“Wow,” she said, genuinely impressed, prompting the man-creature to take fleeting pride in his debatable accomplishment.  “Like…a lizard?” Helena speculated.

“Yessss.  Regeneration occurs in many places in nature - salamanders, geckos, starfish….  After my second tour in Iraq, I began working with the Military on a project to aid wounded soldiers.  The trials were taking forever and there was so much red tape,” he blurted, aggravation clear in his voice.  “We could never test anything on live subjects.”

“And you decided to cut through the red tape,” Helena guessed as her eyes returned to blue.

He nodded.  “But not with people,” he quickly offered, needing to let her know he had some lines he didn’t cross.  “I was convinced we had come to a sufficient understanding in utilizing the DNA of regenerating organisms to exploit how differentiation worked and finally apply it to non-regenerating organisms,” he said emphatically, wanting her to know he wasn’t intending to be reckless.  “I thought we could easily demonstrate it on military dogs.  I was sure I’d find an injury that we could treat and finally prove we were ready to treat people.”
“But when I went back to the front lines, I was wounded when my Humvee ran over an IDE,” he said softly, pausing a long moment in the painful memory staring at his left arm. 

“The treatment worked, with a side effect,” he said, holding his arms out to allow an unneeded inspection by Helena.  “I suppose I am relieved I never got the chance to inflict this…condition,” he said motioning to his altered appearance, “on a poor animal.”

“What causes this side effect,” Helena asked insightfully.  The question Barbara would have asked if Helena didn’t.

“DNA dominance,” he noted.  “Reptilian DNA was the most successful within the different species for complete replication in the shortest time; it was chosen for the experiment.  But it was too s..strong, causing my cell ssstructure to mutate into the ssssstronger personality,” he said with increasing difficulty as his lizard side started to dominate.

“How do you keep your human form if the Reptilian DNA is dominant?”  Helena asked.

“I developed a serum to suppress the mutation.  But it was only temporary.  I thought in the States, with better equipment, I could solve my problem.  Another mistake,” he admitted derisively.  “I got access to better equipment but lost my supply of raw materials for the serum; overseas the price was cheap and no one asked questions.  Here, I can’t afford them…and some of the drugs are illegal.”

“So that’s where Carl comes in,” Helena guessed, getting an annoyed growl and nod.

“Another mistake,” he admitted tersely.  “I knew he had a cocaine habit and thought he could help me get the drugs I needed for my sssserum.  And he did; he actually had quite the business,” Daniel said derisively. 

“Let me guess, he discovered how important the drugs were to you?” Helena asked softly, feeling sympathy for the life this once prominent and respected doctor got himself trapped in.

“Agggh!” he groaned as he contorted in pain; his skin further morphed, becoming more scaly, his voice raspier.

“Are you o…” Helena asked with concern.

“Don’t!  Don’t pretend to care,” he hissed, now in his full lizard form. 

Helena frowned.

“You might not believe I care about you - fine.  But you know I care about the people Carl Tucker is putting at risk, Doc.  I’ve got to stop him,” she pressed with quiet urgency.

“He’ssssss not going to hurt anybody,” the Lizard man said, but lacked conviction.  “He just wantsss… money…from hissssss Grandfather,” he noted, hoping that was true.

“He’s already hurt people!  Selling drugs, enslaving you to be his muscle.  You almost killed me on that roof – for HIM,” she blurted, causing him to shift uncomfortably at the truth.  “And that truck driver did not survive that accident you caused to get the Plutonium, Doc.”

His head dropped in shame as Helena pressed on.  “Do you really think he won’t hurt others?  What if his Grandfather doesn’t pay?”

“Oh, he’ll pay.  He loves those little bastards too much not to,” Carl boomed with a confident smile as he carefully walked into his apartment through the broken front door, pointing a pistol at them. 

Helena’s eyes darted to the window, which she noted was too far away.

“Huntress, I’m sending backup to your position,” Oracle said firmly.

“Ah ah, don’t move, Helena.  I’d hate to have to shoot you,” Carl said with a smile.

“I’d hate that too; this is one of my nicest tops,” she said cockily, making Carl chuckle and look over her attractive form.

“And it suits you,” he said with a grin.

“So let me guess, these “little bastards” are at the Tucker House and that’s the target?”  Helena asked.

“Very good, Helena.  You are pretty shrewd…for a bartender.  But you’re not just a bartender, are you?” Carl said with a sly smile as he stepped closer to Helena.

“She’s dangeroussss,” Daniel hissed.

“Oh, I knew that when I first met her.  But I like danger,” he said.  “And I think you like danger too, don’t you Helena,” he smirked with a gleam in his eyes.

“Not as much as I used to,” she honestly said with a shrug, knowing how much she could lose and how much she could hurt Barbara if she did something reckless.

“I have one last task for you, Daniel.  And you’ll get your drugs,” Carl said, stepping back from Helena carefully, not taking his eyes off of her.

“It’ll always be one more task, Doc.  Just one more, then another, and another,” Helena said.  “You’ll always be his slave, you know that don’t you?  You can stop him from hurting others,” she argued passionately.

“S…Shut up!” Daniel spat as Carl laughed.

“He’s a smart guy.  He will eventually realize that he can’t be normal without me and my connections,” he smiled confidently. 

“Your slave, you mean,” Helena said with annoyance as her eyes started to turn.

“Whoa, now that I didn’t expect,” Carl said with surprise.

“Helena, what are you doing!” Oracle hissed worriedly.

“But then, I did expect you to be a tiger in bed,” Carl said with amusement, taking everything in stride. 

“I have connections too, Doc,” Helena said, taking her eyes briefly off of the gunman to focus her cat-eyes on Daniel. 

“Of course you do.  Daniel, be a bud and carry her body into the basement after I shoot her, won’t you?”  Carl said with a winning smile as he raised his pistol to Helena, who tensed.

“Let us try to help you,” Helena urged.

Daniel looked a hesitant moment at the woman who was not just human…and understood more than Carl.

Carl chuckled.  “No one can help him like I can,” he said, just before the pistol discharged.


“Helena!”  Barbara called out, her hands balling up into tight fists.

“Oracle, was that a gunshot?” Canary asked uneasily, flying down the street in the Humvee.


“I’m almost there,” Canary announced as she turned onto a shortcut to the Apartment building; the Humvee bounced violently from the pothole-filled alley.

“Huntress!  Respond now, or so help me…” Oracle warned with annoyance, her heart pounding with dread.

“Huntress here, Oracle.  Situation with Carl Tucker is under control.  We’re heading to the Tucker house via Huntress Air.  The bomb is there and armed,” she reported concisely.

“We?  Canary is en route . . . ” Barbara questioned in confusion.

“I’m with Dr. Connors.  He helped assemble the bomb.  And he’s agreed to help disassemble it,” she said, noting the lizard guy’s discomfort as he glanced nervously at the ground.

Barbara blinked.  “Copy that, Huntress.  I’m alerting authorities now of the bomb and recommend they start evacuating the city.”

“You know, Red.  You still suck at cheerleading,” Huntress chuckled, shaking her head.

Barbara bit her lip and winced as the words caught up to her.  “Uh, that is a prudent precautionary measure, Huntress,” she explained.

“You should also send a unit to Carl Tucker’s apartment.  He’s not able to evacuate on his own,” Huntress added.

“Copy that, Huntress,” Barbara said uncomfortably.  “Uh, you do know I’m confident you’ll handle the situation without the need for evacuation.  It’s just a prudent precaution…” she offered again.

“Roger, Oracle.  I agree with precaution.  But I do think it would be prudent to further elaborate to me in person just how confident you are in me.”

“I do like to be prudent,” Barbara said, a small smile emerged briefly before it faded.  “Be careful, ok?” she said hesitantly.

“I’m looking forward to your elaboration, so of course,” Helena said sassily.

“Of course.”

“Would you guys quit already???” Dinah said with exasperation.

“Not a chance” and “Nope” were immediate answers, causing Dinah to growl as her mentors chuckled.


“Miss Barbara, your father is here,” Alfred said, appearing by her side.

“What?  I’m rather busy at the moment, Alfred.  Can you tell him I’d really like a rain check on a visit?”  Barbara said with quiet annoyance for the unexpected visit.  She pushed her glasses up as she scanned the schematics of the detonation device on one of the large screens of Delphi.

“He said it was extremely important,” Alfred countered firmly, looking at her pointedly with a raised brow.

Barbara fought not to roll her eyes as she wondered what was more important than trying to prevent a nuclear weapon from detonating in New Gotham.  She nodded briskly with pursed lips, anxious to quickly handle this and get back to work.

Alfred nodded back and retrieved Jim Gordon from the elevator.

“Barbara,” he said tensely.

“Hi, Dad.  I’m kind of busy right now,” Barbara said absently, looking at her various screens as her father joined her side.

“Does it have anything to do with the nuclear bomb?”  Jim Gordon asked, also looking at the screens that were full of schematics.

“You heard the police scanners?” Barbara asked as she called up a holographic image of a typical detonator and studied it.

“So it’s true,” Jim said gravely, also looking at the image.

“I’m afraid so,” she said, turning the image around as she inspected it.

“I actually got a call from Edward Tucker.  He’s at the station now with the ransom note telling him to transfer his fortune to a Swiss bank account by Midnight or New Gotham will become a nuclear wasteland.  Who the hell would do that?”

“His grandson,” Barbara replied, looking at the Delphi’s clock that read eight forty five.  A little over three hours was not a lot of time, she considered and took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes.

“C…Carl?” Jim sputtered.  “Dear God.  Do we know where he is?”  He asked tensely.

“Huntress…well, uh, a patrol unit has picked him up.  He’s on his way to the station now.”

“Huntress, huh?” Jim had to smile.


“Suits her.”

“It really does,” Barbara said warmly.  Jim could see the joy in her eyes when she spoke of Helena, happy his daughter found love.

“Uh, oh yes!” Jim said suddenly, pulling out a folded piece of paper from his breast pocket and handing it over to his daughter.  “This is a copy of the note.  Thought you might find it helpful,” Jim said uncomfortably, handing over the piece of paper.

Barbara looked at him with surprise.  She couldn’t help the pleased smile that graced her face.  His simple offering was an unmistakable expression of confidence in her ability and an unexpected endorsement in their shared calling of crime fighting.  “Thank you, Dad,” she said softly, clearly moved, and received an uncomfortable nod from Jim.

“Oracle!  We’ve got another problem,” Helena blurted anxiously as she glanced at the timer reading eighty-four minutes…

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