DISCLAIMER: These characters and situations do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I have borrowed them as part of my sanity maintenance.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: As always, to darandkerry for the beta work.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

But it Pours
By Debbie


"Fuck me, Barbara, what a day!"

Helena threw the door to the Tower open; she didn't usually swear, but today had been the day from hell. Murphy's Law couldn't hold a candle to the sort of day Helena had just had.

From tripping as she climbed out of bed and wrenching her knee quite badly, to missing her train and having to run on said swollen knee, through hearing that two of her kids had been injured in a gang war, and on into the hours of hand-to-hand fighting to ensure the very same gang war escalated no further, Helena had had enough.

Surely, she glanced at her watch to see there were only five minutes left in the day; surely, nothing else could go wrong.

She looked up askance as silence greeted her entrance.

"Barbara? Are you here?"

Helena smiled, remembering the last time she'd had a bad day and Barbara's promise to draw a warm bath for her; she'd been bitching over the comm. set for the last few hours; it appeared Barbara was preparing some sort of very special 'welcome home'.

She walked into the bathroom. Nothing.

She walked into the kitchen, sniffing the air expectantly. Nothing.

She walked into their shared bedroom. Nothing.

Her heart began to beat harder, and a shiver ran across the nape of her neck. Something was off.

She almost ran into the operations room and sighed in relief as she saw a shock of red leaning forward over the largest array of keyboards. She'd known Barbara had been burning the midnight oil too much just lately after Batman, of all people, had requested her help in searching for the whereabouts of some villain or other. And yet, Helena hadn't quite realized her lover was tired enough to fall asleep on the job; Barbara could usually keep herself functional with the barest amount of sleep.

Then, from the corner of her eye, she spied Barbara's overturned wheelchair, and her heart dropped into her stomach. Vaulting the bank of computers, she whipped up the wig lying brazenly over the keyboards and scanned the room, all senses on alert. Nothing.

A beep from the nearest computer punctured her shock, triggering a violent reaction from the stunned Helena. She swept the contents of Barbara's desk onto the floor, letting out a wry chuckle at the thought of what Barbara would say when she came home.

Came home?

The beeping just went on and on. Helena looked at it angrily; then dropped quickly into the empty chair. Two words were flashing in counterpoint to the beep.

Press me. Beep. Press me. Beep. Press me. Beep.

Helena stared, mesmerized, and then did the only thing she could, she pressed M and then E.

An electronic voice cackled immediately; the sound of a madwoman echoed out.

"If you want to see our darling Babs again, follow my leader."

Helena sighed, what the hell did that mean? She racked her brain, trying to imagine what Barbara would do at a time like this. Behind her the horrid, tinny, manic voice sang over and over again, "Follow my leader, leader; follow my leader, leader."

Suddenly, it hit her, she had no idea what the mighty Oracle would do, but she knew what a teacher would do, she googled.

As soon as she typed in the words 'follow my leader,' another screen flashed outwards, 'Who you gonna call?' and the voice stopped singing and chillingly answered the message.

"Whatever you do, don't call the Bat."

Helena had no intention of making that call, but she did reach instantly for Barbara's rolodex.

"So, how long have you been together?"

Helena looked up quickly and saw an understanding smile gracing the lips of her friend, Dinah.

"How did you know?"

"I'm not blind, Hel, and anyway, Oracle might think she knows everything, but Zinda knows she does."

The two friends shared a laugh at Dinah's comment, before she continued her explanation. "And, I met Mr. Gordon a few weeks back, and he took me for lunch. God, he was so happy; he couldn't wait to tell me his news." Dinah squeezed Helena's hand and added quietly, "I'm happy for you, too; you're good for each other."

Nightwing's voice interrupted their togetherness. "Huntress, Canary. I've got a lead. Two of Collins' henchmen were asked to transport a 'body' from Dalten Tower to Fisherman's Wharf; they refused, but…"

His words trailed off as the two women finished his sentence … but there was bound to be some thug who had.

Huntress answered, her mind working quickly. "Thanks, Nightwing, can you make your way there ASAP? I'll get someone else on it, too."

Two voices rang out in perfect harmony, "I'm already gone."

"Dinah, wait for me."

"You can't come."

Canary's words pulled Helena up short.

"What the fuck? Of course, I can come."

"No, you can't. Helena, you're too close for this one. Babs needs you to be here, waiting. We'll bring her back."

Helena sighed, resigned to the truth in Dinah's words. She nodded, the look in her eyes easily readable.

"And we will hurt the bastard. I promise."

Huntress paced up and down; she could only watch and wait. Surely, things couldn't get any worse.

Turning back to her screens, she noticed that Nightwing and Canary were deep in conversation outside the warehouse they'd rushed only moments before. She watched their faces and could see they were hiding something.

"Hey, you two. I know I'm not Oracle, but I am watching you, and I can read your faces from here. What's up?"

Dinah turned towards the camera, her face even more troubled. "We found this and this."

Helena zoomed in, and the sight caused her to retch. In one hand, Dinah held the bloody stump of what appeared to be a little finger; in the other, she held a piece of paper. Huntress read Canary's lips as she spoke. "Yeah, it is what you think it is. The note says, 'this little fishy has run for its life, try a nice steak instead.'"

"Nightwing, you know this area better than me, any ideas?"

Huntress watched as he shrugged his shoulders, all the while her fingers flying over the keyboard. She'd spent many a long night entranced by the way her lover's fingers caressed the keyboards, enough nights to have picked up a few tricks, too.

"I think I've got it. Butcher's Wharf, it's no longer by the side of water, but it's still a warehouse, um, a slaughterhouse to be more precise. Go, coordinates on their way."

Helena turned from one screen to another and called out urgently. "Savant? Creote? Did you get that?"

It was Creote's voice that answered, his accent much thicker than usual, letting Helena know just how worried the big man really was. "We are almost there, Huntress, we will speak soon."

The worry eating at her, Helena once more began to tread the floor. She'd never understood how Babs could sit quietly waiting while everybody else risked life and limb. Until virtually living with the woman, she'd thought Oracle had the easy job, now she knew, it was those on the battle front that had it easy.

Barbara couldn't even pace the floor.

Helena stopped at Barbara's picture shelf, seeing the photographs of Dinah and Dick in a prominent position. Reaching out, she picked up the most recent photograph and gently traced the outline of her lover, sandwiched in a joint hug between herself and Jim Gordon.

God, she hoped the happiness they'd all shared that day would be repeated soon; she'd finally realized that life without Barbara wouldn't be a life at all.

"WE'VE GOT HER." Savant's voice screamed out.

Helena spun around, just in time to see Nightwing, Canary, and what looked like the black hair of Shiva entering the building that Brian Savant was just leaving. Scanning forward, Helena allowed the smallest of sobs to escape as she spotted Creote effortlessly carrying Barbara towards a waiting Lincoln.

She slumped in the chair, exhausted; her eyes trained on the door, waiting for the moment her love was safe and home.

Huntress watched as Creote gently laid Barbara on her bed and smiled her thanks towards Savant. He quickly explained how they'd crashed into the building, scattering six thugs like flies, and how, as he'd trussed up two of the guys ready for someone else's hands to beat the answers out of, Creote had taken Barbara to safety.

Barbara remained dead to the world as first Creote and then, more surprisingly, Savant, kissed her brow. Helena touched the arm of both men in silent thanks as they passed her by, whispering that they had a fight to join.

Smiling to herself, in relief and wonder, at the way even past enemies cared so deeply for the woman now lying so peacefully in front of her. She picked up the hand lying motionless on the bed, bringing it to her cheek. She held its warmth and solidness for a few moments before kissing the palm. Slowly, she walked round the bed and lifted the cover back to catch sight of Barbara's other hand. A huge grin of thanks crossed her face as she took a seat on the edge of the bed, holding the hand tenderly in her lap.

Helena just perched silently, staring down at her lover, taking in every crease and every blemish, memorizing the perfection that was her woman. Still holding tight to the hand in her lap, she reached up with her other to caress the hair back out of Barbara's eyes.

Her next words were said quietly and truthfully, three words they'd never found the need to really say, knowing without doubt that they were still meant. Tonight… tonight, she needed to say them.

Bending forward to touch her lips to the soft pair below, she almost jumped out of her skin as a hoarse voice muttered, "And I you."

The End

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