~ Can I ask you something? ~
DISCLAIMER: Birds of Prey are the property of DC comics, the WB network and Miller/Tobin Productions. I'm just borrowing them for a short period of time. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit is being made, yada, yada ok? Just borrowing for a little fun.
It was not the first time, in truth if she thought about it...it wasn't even the first or second time. Fuck, if she thought about it, she couldn't even remember when the first time was that the thought had crossed her mind, but it wasn't anything new, it was a familiar feeling and one that she was used to. So much so that it no longer surprised her, it was a warm comforting feeling, the idea in itself might seem crazy and it could even be taken as an insult or even affront, not withstanding that it had never mattered to her what others thought much less their opinion.
Only one opinion mattered and the fact of the matter was that it was her...
She would be the first to discard the idea from the first moment that she uttered the phrase, thinking it was a bad joke. Not ever during her 23 years of life had Helena Kyle given signs of...well truth be told...she was a bit immature sometimes. But she could tell anyone else -that is if she gave them the time of day- that it was the perfect facade, no one took her seriously or at least not like serious, serious; no one could deny that she knew how to kick ass like no one else and her presence was a bit imposing with that aura of dark mystery that surrounded her like a second skin. No, being recognized and respected as Huntress wasn't the problem; the problem was that Helena Kyle to the world was only a bartender with a penchant for designer clothes and clubbing hard. She knew she had some personal issues and a tiny anger management problem, but it wasn't her fault that everyone around her were so...so...! There were no words to explain why some people always seemed to make her...well blow up... something always...
The problem perhaps was that she had been raised by her mother and Selina Kyle was everything but boring and Barbara? There weren't enough adjectives to describe her.... It was inevitable to ask yourself if she drove you crazy because she was so adorable or because there was no way to live with her unless you had a loose screw but at the same time, you realize that she is not perfect. That she has her own defects and virtues and all the same you are sure of something, that no matter what you could count on her. It was endearing, she was unique and simply enchanting...she was...wait a minute. Was the Grey Goose she had drunk just before leaving her home dosed with industrial strength saccharin? God, the good thing is that no one can hear me that would be so embarrassing...so "Junior High" as Dinah would say, Damn it! She frowned and shook that short spiked brown head of hers. What the hell is going on with me? She sighed in frustration. Oh right her...
"Helena, Hel are you alright? Helena!" The voice was suddenly demanding.
"Huh? What's up?" Helena turned appearing a bit distracted and unfocused looking at the shadow in the balcony doorway, feeling disoriented and absorbed in her thoughts. Lost would be the better word if one were to go into detail, on the moon, sorta lost.
"That's what I'm asking you Hel! I've been trying to get your attention for the last five minutes." Barbara squinted her eyes; the balcony was covered in snow, snow that continued to fall but that Helena seemed to be unaware of. "Are you alright Helena?"
"Yes, I was just distracted; you know how I get on those days." She shrugged.
"Are you sure Hel?" Barbara insisted not convinced at all.
"Well I'm feeling a bit melancholy, it happens to everybody. I must be close to my time. It couldn't be menopause right?" She attempted to look disgusted.
Barbara eyes widened in surprise, Helena didn't tend to poke fun at herself, but everyone else was fair game as far as she was concerned.
"Helena is there something I can help you with?" Something felt off, and she wasn't convinced by Helena's platitudes.
"How did it go today? Did you go out with Wade? This one's the one right?"
"Excuse me? What does Wade have anything to do with..." she shook her hand at her still unsure what the hell was going on.
"Huh, no, never mind, my mind was wondering. We aren't talking about anything, I got home and you weren't here. Dinah told me that you had gone out before she ran out to go meet Gaby, so I assume that since you've been going out with him on a regular basis that he is the one."
"The one for what Hel? I mean I like going out with him, he's very..." She paused as if searching for the right words to describe the student counselor. "He's pleasant, he's a good conversationalist, and he likes the same movies I do.
"Cool, so now you have someone to take you to those foreign subtitled movies right?"
"Hmm, yes" was the halfhearted reply.
"Cool." Helena repeated and turned to look out at the city once more. "Great." She said softly.
Barbara was about to say something else when Helena's voice interrupted her.
"Can I ask you something?" Her voice sounded tired, more like resigned.
"Of course, you know you can ask me anything, but Hel, don't you think we should go inside, it's pretty cold out here and I don't want to...
"I'm good, but if you're cold, yeah, let's go inside." She walked by Barbara without stopping.
Barbara sighed and turned in her chair following Helena inside. She hated when Helena got in those odd moods, not that the young woman was out of character when she was in the sarcastic brooding mood that was her norm, but still. Barbara was always on alert when it came to Helena. That slight gnawing feeling she got in the pit of her stomach when it looked like Hel was about to jump off the balcony and never come back. An idea that she tried not to think about too much because the truth was that the very idea as vague as it was, terrorized her more than she was willing to admit.
When she caught up to Helena in the living room, she turned towards Barbara still unable to focus on the Redhead, her sight starring off into space, and that was driving Barbara crazy. That lost stare of Helena's reminded her of other times; times from the past when even though Barbara was in the middle of her own tragedy and pain could still feel how Helena was just one-step ahead of destruction.
She moved until she was at Helena's side who had turned slightly towards her when she had felt her presence. She looked at her from the corner of her eye before she released a sigh that was more of a snort.
Barbara waited patiently for Helena to decide to speak. Finally kind of hiding her eyes behind her bangs she rapidly murmured.
"How would you ask another woman out?"
The redhead stared at her as if she had grown another head. She blinked several times and opened and closed her mouth like a fish out of water before flabbergasted she said, "I'm sorry what was that again? Are you asking me for advice on the best way to ask a woman out on a date?"
The sex of the person was not what had Barbara mystified; in fact she had always suspected that Helena was probably open to either sex as the subject of her affections. She tended to enjoy a variety of flavors. What she couldn't get through her head, as much as she tried to solve the equation, which kept coming up minus X and made no sense. Why was Helena asking her such a thing? If someone was a master at flirting and had no trouble getting dates it was Helena Kyle. She had a mysterious sensuality about her that made her irresistible, not that she had paid particular attention of that particular detail-she added internally, but it was hard not to notice. Helena was capable of seducing Sarah Palin herself if she wanted to.
"Yeah, that's exactly what I'm asking." Helena responded defensively, it was apparent that the question made her uncomfortable.
"I don't understand Helena, I mean..." She shook her head as if trying to dislodge the imaginary fog that was clouding her mind. "Why are you asking me that?"
"Because... believe it or not, I don't have the slightest idea how to do it. I mean I've never had to do it! I don't usually do the inviting, I don't..." She gestured with her hands in frustration. "I don't do the date scene."
"Then, why the question?" Barbara insisted still not comprehending the point of the matter. She stared at Helena as if she really had grown two heads and had now grown antennas on top of that.
"Because I want to know! I..." She closed her eyes trying to control her temperament. As if trying to make Barbara see her point of view, was the most important thing in the world which in a way it was. "I have a problem."
"A dating problem?" That had come out sounding a bit more bitter than she intended.
Helena bit her lip in order not to spit out a retort as was her custom. The young woman could certainly understand Barbara's reasons, even if she didn't like them behind her bitter tone, her condition made her more vulnerable because of her lack of confidence. The fact that Wade showed interest in her was Helena thought, the reason why the Ex-Batgirl had accepted to go out with him in the first place. It was flattering or a least that's what she reasoned because otherwise Helena couldn't understand what she could possibly see in that stupid simpleton, Wade Brixton.
"I..." She hesitated before deciding that honesty was the best policy if she wanted Barbara to understand her. "I'm interested in someone; in fact, I have been for a long time now, so long that I couldn't begin to tell you when it started. But I feel something and it's as natural for me as breathing, but the problem is that she doesn't take me seriously."
Barbara nodded her head slightly, indicating that she should go on, although a part of her was beginning to feel apprehensive and she was feeling heaviness in her chest at Helena's revelation.
"I met her several years back." She did not specify how many, but she had decided to be as honest as she could with the details. Of course she didn't intend on making a fool of herself in front of Barbara, her ego wouldn't take it. "I was in bad shape back then, what happened with my mother was fresh and at first I didn't notice her much at all. I was too self-absorbed to care but eventually we got to know each other and with the passing of time I realized how wonderful she was, but she doesn't feel the same way."
"Why do you say that Hel?" Barbara wanted to know, Helena seemed to be convinced that the woman that she was interested in didn't seem to know anything about her. "If you're still seeing her why would you say she doesn't think of you the same way, I mean...you don't really say what you believe she's thinking.
"She knows about my late nights and she thinks that I'm irresponsible, that I'm a player. That I only like one night stands and that I don't have a single serious thought in my head or that responsibility is even in my vocabulary." Helena said with disgust which surprised the redhead.
"If she thinks that then she doesn't know you at all Helena." Barbara exclaimed immediately. How could this woman think such things about Helena? It was true that Hel liked to party and she liked to go out and have a good time, but she was young, she had every right to have fun. This woman had no idea who the real Helena was.
"Barbara, I don't have the best attitude in the world, I'm bad tempered, I'm arrogant, I work as a bartender and flirting is part of my job. She has all the right in the world to doubt my intentions."
"Have you ever showed her your..." It was hard to say, because the idea that Helena might be seriously interested in someone made her feels nauseous.
"No." She replied emphatically and in a panic. "I don't want to lose her. If she even suspected what I feel for her she would stop being my friend and that I couldn't stand. I would rather have her as a friend than not at all."
"Helena you can't live like that, it's not fair to you. And if the other person can't see it, it's their loss. You are a marvelous young woman with a heart of gold and I'm sure if you gave her the opportunity, she would see with her own eyes how special you really are."
"I don't think so." Helena said despondently. "I think it's too late for me and besides she's now with someone else."
"If she's with someone else now, then why are you asking me how I would..."
"'Cause I think it's time for me to move on. I met someone that's interested in me, she's a bit older, but I don't know yet...maybe."
"Hel," She gentled her tone although it made Barbara sick to hear Helena's revelation. "If things were different...I mean...speaking hypothetically, I would be charmed if you showed interest in me. I mean...you're sexy, smart and beautiful; anybody would be flattered to go out with you. You have a unique sense of humor which is something few have." Barbara hesitated a bit, "well you...that is I think only Dinah and I know how sweet you are, your capacity to care for someone is huge and you are loyal to the core. I know that I can always count on you through good and bad times. I know you can be a big flirt but its part of who you are and that doesn't mean you would be unfaithful. When you give your heart to someone you do it completely because you don't do things by half measure. The one who should be honored to go out with you would be me Hel. So if that person can't see it they don't deserve you."
Barbara concluded vehemently not once taking her eyes off of Helena's beautiful blue eyes. Eyes that if she had dared to admit aloud had always captured her attention. In truth the eyes were the windows to the soul and Helena's eyes at that moment were full of an emotion that Barbara could not comprehend.
Helena stared at her a bit surprised. She blinked rapidly and felt her cheeks redden at the praise. "You really think so?"
Barbara gave her a shy smile. "Well of course I mean it, if I were...well if I thought that..." a flush began to appear rising from her neckline. "Well, you know what I mean." She shrugged her shoulders as if it weren't of importance; after all they were speaking hypothetically weren't they?
Helena nodded and looked over at Barbara intrigued. Could it be? Had Barbara taken notice of her? "So...you're saying that you would go out with me?" She looked into Barbara's eyes, daring her to deny it or at least take back what she had just said.
Barbara blushed violently and opened and closed her mouth several times as if trying to form a coherent response but unable to give voice to her thoughts and uncertain how to get herself out of the mess she had gotten buried in up to her neck.
"You aren't so it doesn't matter but just for the record, Yes I would." She finally answered diplomatically.
"Great, it's a date then, I'll come by tomorrow at 7 p.m. so be ready." She smiled showing off her dimples. She headed off in the direction of the elevator as if the conversation had never taken place.
Barbara's fury took hold within a microsecond "How dare you!" Exclaimed Barbara with barely contained rage. "I'm not your toy or here for your amusement, Helena Kyle!"
Helena stopped short; almost as if someone had frozen her in place, slowly very slowly she turned around until she was facing Barbara. Her face was once again set in resignation and hopelessness just as when Barbara had found her out on the balcony.
"So, in other words what you just said about me were just empty words and that I was right and am not good enough to go out on a serious date with."
"NO!" Barbara said emphatically "Helena, I am not your plaything, nor anything of the sort, what I said, I said for real but not to be taken lightly by you."
Helena sighed and in a couple of steps crossed the distance between Barbara and herself and without hesitation knelt in front of her and took her hands, something that Barbara tried to prevent but Helena persisted.
"I know, I know, that's why I didn't..." She paused as if searching for words. "I...I meant it when I said that I don't want to lose you. And that's why I was trying to move on. I'm sorry if I said anything that..."
"Lose me?" Barbara gasped. What was Helena talking about? Could it be? She couldn't be referring to her, was she?
"No, I just wanted to...oh forget I even mentioned it Red, just forget it." She said in frustration as she tried to get to her feet. But Barbara only pulled her back down. Helena was not going anywhere until she explained everything clearly or her name wasn't Barbara Gordon.
"I'm not joking around Helena; explain to me right now what you are referring to!' She demanded in barely controlled anger.
"I was being honest with you Barbara." She said refusing to meet her eyes. "I told you the truth, the only thing I left out was that it was you that didn't take me seriously."
"Me! Me? How in the hell was I supposed to know that you were talking about me? Damn it all Helena, I had no idea..." She interrupted herself, Or did she? A small internal voice asked. Are you sure?
"I know. I know you had no fucking idea and I didn't want you to! I knew that the moment you found out that you would go berserk and try to deny it. That is why I never said anything before. I knew this would happen I knew it." This time Helena managed to pull herself away from Barbara's iron grip. She jumped to her feet and began to run in an effort to escape through the balcony when Barbara's steely voice stopped her.
"Don't you dare Helena, don't you dare leave or I swear by God that even if I die in the attempt I will go after you" she raised her voice threateningly, her frustration was plainly visible in the tense way she held herself, almost as if she were about to bolt from her wheelchair, if that were possible.
For the second time in minutes Helena was frozen in place, but this time she refused to turn around. She stayed rooted to where she was with her head down, feeling the tears threatening to spill out and burn her soul.
"How dare you." Barbara once again said. "How dare you presume what I might think or feel? How dare you believe that you can make decisions for me? I might be in a wheelchair Helena but that doesn't mean that my brain has stopped functioning so that you can make decisions for me." Barbara spat out bitterly. Resignation was not the same thing as acceptance and Barbara would have resigned herself long ago if her mind had only accepted it. She had learned to live with her handicap but never had her mind given up hope that one day she would be able to walk again.
"I didn't." Helena said in a barely audible whisper. "I was just waiting for the right time. I thought that I had all the time in the world to make you see me as your equal, to make you see that I was good enough for you. That I deserved you. I'm not sure when this burning feeling that I have inside began. I only know that it is something that has been there for a very long time. Nevertheless I also knew at the time that just like I know now, it wasn't the right time, because you wouldn't see me as an equal, your moral rules would have stopped you from seeing beyond thinking of me as your ward and so I waited. I waited for the right moment, I wasn't a saint about it, but I'm not a re-incarnated Mata Hari either. I was waiting for the right moment, but now it's too late, you've found Mr. Right." Helena swallowed hard, her mouth was dry and she felt tongue tied as she tried to say the name of the man that she thought had stolen her only opportunity to show Barbara what she felt for the redhead. "Wade is all you want and need in a partner. I knew I lost you the moment you brought him home. What I said was true, I'm trying to move on, but when you said that you would go out with me if I asked you it was too great of a temptation not to accept. It's something I've dreamt about for so long, for you to accept to go out with me sometime. I wasn't trying to mock you Barbara. I'm truly sorry if you thought that, I really am.
For several minutes silence reigned in the tower, only broken by the monotonous tick-tock coming from the tower clock, the only sound that was heard. Not even their own breathing could be heard, as if they had both stopped breathing at the same time. Helena remained still, opening and closing her clenched fists at her sides, trying to contain the urge to flee without looking back, but knowing that Barbara had not said what she had in vain. Barbara moved closer to Helena, who was so concentrated in trying to control her natural instincts to flee when she felt cornered, that she never sensed her move until she was taking her hand and had begun to pull her until she was sitting in her lap.
"Are you serious about moving on?" Barbara asked tentatively trying to make contact with Helena's eyes
"Yes" adamantly, refusing to meet Barbara's eyes.
"Why?" asked Barbara softly.
"I want you to be happy." Helena succinctly replied as her voice broke as she added, "He makes you I happy, I can see that."
"He's a great guy." Barbara conceded "He likes foreign and classics movies."
"Good for him." Helena tried to get to her feet but Barbara had her wrapped around the waist and held her closely in an iron grip.
"Who is she?"
"Who?" The position in which they were in was beginning to distract her, not that she wasn't used to Barbara being close, but the redhead had never placed her hands around her waist nor had she ever made soft caressing gestures with her hand against her stomach.
"You said that there was someone older than you, who is she?" She enunciated each word carefully.
"Quinzel" Helena declared in defiance.
"She's your therapist, that's not allowed." Barbara snapped furiously.
"She WAS my therapist, not anymore. Our sessions are over." Helena declared matter of fact.
"That's not ethical; it doesn't matter whether you're her patient now or not." Barbara continued to fume. How dare Quinzel... "Besides she's way too old for you!"
"I've never followed the rules, I'd rather break them." She tried once again to get to her feet and once again Barbara refused to let her go. Why was she trying to break the physical contact?, Helena asked herself. It was what she'd always wanted, wasn't it? To be held like this by Barbara. Was she losing it?"
"But I don't want you to move on." Barbara said breathlessly.
"You don't?" Helena asked in confusion. "But you just said that it was unfair!"
"Yes, but I didn't know who you were talking about then." Barbara retorted.
"And now that you know, what's changed? You're still with him." She said once again trying to struggle from Barbara's grip. Don't forget she is with that fuddy duddy of Wade , she reminded herself.
"That's easy to fix." And before Helena could react, Barbara had snapped out her cell and activated the voice command to dial Wade's number.
"Wade? Hi, I'm sorry... Yes, I know we just saw each other less than an hour ago...no, no nothing is wrong. I don't need you to come over. Do you recall what I told you the first time we went out? Yes, exactly. That's right...yes, I'm sorry...thanks for everything. I'll see you around the campus...goodnight.
"Done? What's done?" She asked still unsure as to what was happening, and still sitting in Barbara's lap.
"I'm not dating him anymore."
"What did you tell him the first time you went out together?"
"That I was interested in someone else but that it was a lost cause or at least that's what I thought at the time."
"Me?" She looked in to Barbara's beautiful green eyes searching for the truth.
"So tomorrow at 7?"
"On the dot" Barbara agreed smiling.
Helena tried to get to her feet once again and this time Barbara let her go although very reluctantly.
"I have to go or I'll be late for my shift." Helena announced before leaning down towards Barbara and whispering in the redhead's ear and brushing her lips against a very sensitive lobe, making her smile when she felt Barbara gasp and tremble.
"Just for the record Barbara, I'm not "just" interested. I'm already deeply in love with you."
And with a grace that was so characteristic of Helena she turned half way and before the redhead could react to her statement, she had disappeared through the balcony in question within seconds.
Barbara began to chuckle, she knew that there were still many questions to answer and many things left to say, but for the moment, it would be enough. Tomorrow couldn't come soon enough. Helena would have to explain why she felt Barbara saw her the way she did. How could Helena think that she had that opinion of her? Barbara shook her head upset and incredulous.
Suddenly a thought hit her. Tomorrow? A date with Helena? Oh God, what am I going to wear? And without thinking about it twice she headed to her room. Delphi and New Gotham could wait; she had more important things to do like think of what to wear in order to leave Helena breathless.
A sly smile appeared on her face; tomorrow would definitely not come soon enough.