DISCLAIMER: Birds of Prey and its characters are the property of Miller/Tobin Productions, Warner Brothers and DC comics. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: OK so first off the standard disclaimers: Birds of Prey does not belong to me it is the property of people who make far more than I do and are far more creative than me. I am just borrowing their characters for my own whimsical uses and make no profit off this at all.
WARNING: With that out of the way, here's another disclaimer: This story is dark and graphic and deals with some pretty strong subject matter. I wrote this story a few years back when I was in a dark place and what is now the prologue was actually just a one shot I posted on another forum. But everyone wanted to see more, so I ended up writing an entire story. It will eventually have a light at the end of the tunnel…but if angst and character torment is not your thing…well you have been duly warned.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To xfiredancerx[at]gmail.com

Dark Prodigy
By Firedancer


Chapter 4: Ever Downward Spiral

Dinah's focus on the cue ball was only cursory, but as she sent it careening towards the eight ball, it struck true and sank the black ball in the chosen corner pocket. She was of course playing by herself. Everyone had learned weeks ago that it was impossible to beat her…even if she didn't use a cue stick. Not that she minded right now anyway. It was simply a menial task to try and distract her constantly working mind.

For the millionth time, the blonde teen cursed Quinn passionately under her breath. The table began to shake under her hands and she closed her eyes and slowly released her breath as she forced her mind to calm. God damned fucking bitch.

She felt Gibson move up next to her and immediately read his apprehension. She winced at the overload of information that assaulted her mind the moment he neared and immediately moved away from him. "Yeah, it's school night, but I really don't give a shit about it right now. So why don't you go talk to someone that cares and leave me alone," she snapped in irritation.

Gibson jumped, a wounded look in his eyes. He opened his mouth, but she cut him off again as she spun to face him, her blue eyes crackling with energy. "I don't want or need your pity. And if you really were a friend then you would know that now is DEFINITELY NOT a good time to piss me off. So back off," she growled in a voice that would have made Huntress proud.

Then, without waiting to see if he would listen to her, she spun and pushed her way through the crowd towards the back of the underground bar. She snagged someone's drink with her mind while they weren't watching and quickly shot it down before anyone noticed and left the empty glass on a table as she passed by it.

The alcohol burned on its way down, but it thankfully began to act quickly in her system and began to numb some of the background 'chatter' that was always cluttering her mind now. But she knew it would only last for a short while.

Dinah sank into the back corner booth and dropped her head into her hands, wishing she could just tune it all out for five minutes. The meld with Quinn had opened her mind to it's full potential in a matter of moments, thereby trapping Dinah in a hell of constant 'noise' that no one could ever imagine.

Every second of every day, she had thousands of voices ricocheting around the inside of her mind. One night she finally needed to escape it and took the Hummer without permission and drove as far out of town as the tank of gas would get her. Fifty miles out of town, surrounded by nothing but countryside and a smattering of estates and farms, the mental noise had finally faded to a manageable murmur. But it still didn't disappear completely.

Alfred, damn his efficiency, had discreetly removed all the alcohol from the apartment the moment he noticed that she had been dipping into the stores. Barbara was so wrapped up in her anger and grief that she hadn't noticed, and Alfred never said anything. But she knew he was concerned that she would take her means of escapism to the next level.

Tonight, feeling herself on the verge of another breakdown Dinah decided it was a good night to see just what a few other 'medicinal properties' might do in calming the voices inside her head. With Helena laying in a coma for the past week, the prognosis of a full recovery still grim, Dinah decided she deserved a break from dealing with everything as well.

Besides, it wasn't like Barbara and Helena hadn't toyed with drugs before themselves. Helena had tried just about everything she had been able to get her hands on, curious to see how her metabolism would handle it and desperate for a few moments of escaping the pain of her mother's murder.

Barbara's dirty little secret was unknown to even Helena. The redhead had been so lost, devastated, and overwhelmed during that first rough year with Helena that she had often resorted to her pain medication to cope. She had managed to wring prescriptions of morphine out of her doctors well after the actual physical pain had faded. Every single injection had been used in the wee hours of the morning to wipe out the mental torture of the nightmares that had plagued her sleep nearly every night.

Not that Dinah blamed her. The teen had known that the experience of being shot by the Joker had obviously been horrific. But she'd had no idea just how traumatic it all was until her mental awakening. Not even Helena was aware of everything that monster had done to Barbara as she'd lain there, bleeding out, and completely helpless to stop anything.

It made Dinah want to visit that sick bastard in his padded cell and give him a taste of his own medicine as well. Maybe the next time she would, she mused as she looked around the room, filtering through the minds that were cluttering hers as she sought what she was looking for.

Ah. There you are.

Dinah caught the eye of a scantily clad young woman that was sitting by the bar and nodded to the empty seat across from her. The woman quirked an eyebrow. Why should I? rang clearly in Dinah's mind.

Because I can make it well worth your while, Dinah thought back at her. She smirked as the other blonde blinked and then frowned. She finally picked up her drink and walked over to Dinah's corner.

"Well, you got my attention. What exactly is it you want kid?"

"I hear you are in the market for…supplies," Dinah said quietly.

She scowled. "And where did you hear that?" she asked anxiously as she looked around.

"Please….I'm a telepath," Dinah snorted, feeling that the blonde was about to deny Dinah's claim.

The older woman raked a gaze over Dinah and shook her head. "You're Gordon's kid…and Kyle's kid sister. You are asking for me to commit suicide. No deal."

"Kyle can't touch you since I know for a fact that you still sell to her on occasion. And Barbara is a little too distracted right now to even notice. Name your price."

The blonde fixed Dinah with a long hard look, saying nothing out loud. What do you want?

Whatever you can get me. Money is not an issue.

You probably haven't even sniffed pot before. I ain't gonna risk getting you killed your first trip cuz you couldn't handle the shit I can get you. You bring me a coupla hundred and I'll get you started. And don't ask me about this here any more. Gibson likes to run a clean establishment and I respect that. I don't run deals here.

Fine, meet me in the alley behind the Dark Horse Bar in two hours and I'll have the money.

Wow…a little desperate tonight? She thought as she smirked slightly. The smirk quickly disappeared wen she felt invisible hands yank her closer to Dinah.

Trust me, you don't want to push me right now. The low, dangerous tone echoed in her mind and the older woman paled slightly.

"Alright, alright," she huffed as she tried to sit back. Dinah relaxed he grip on her.

"We have a deal?" she asked as her eyes began drifting around the room once more.

"Two hours. If you aren't there however, I will bail. That's a shitty part of town and I won't hang out there for a noob like you."

"Don't worry about me. I can take care of myself."

The older woman nodded, then headed back to the bar to finish up another round before she took off. Dinah lingered for another hour and then made a silent exit.

Half a dozen people left No Man's that night wondering where they had lost some of their money, but chalked it up to forgetfulness or being slightly inebriated.


Chapter 5: Withered

Why can't I see anything?

After three weeks of sitting by Helena's bedside day and night, hoping for her to wake up, Barbara Gordon was rendered silent. Heart hammering in a chest that tightened with extreme emotions, the redhead looked frantically towards Leslie who was already descending upon her waking patient with a penlight in hand.

Lost in a hauntingly familiar flashback of her own traumatic awakening after her shooting - 'why can't I feel my legs?'- all Barbara could do was watch as Leslie spoke in reassuring tones to Helena as everyone watched tensely.

After ordering for some immediate tests and scans to be run, Leslie sighed and put her light away. "I was afraid of this, but I didn't want to say anything to you until I knew for certain," she told the small group that had crowded into Helena's room upon learning that she was regaining consciousness.

"What's wrong with my eyes?" Helena asked tersely, her voice rough from strong emotions and disuse.

"Helena, your fall caused a great deal of damage to your body, and a considerable amount of that to your head. There was massive swelling in your brain and that created a tremendous amount of pressure on the optical nerves. You pushed your body past it's recuperative abilities and it was touch and go the first week. Your meta genes have only just begun to reassert themselves, but you are still extremely weak, and things are going to progress considerably slower than you are used to."

"So… I'm blind?" Helena asked flatly.

Barbara felt her heart drop with that question.

"For the time being," Leslie admitted. "The damage may not be permanent however, and when your meta half kicks in fully, the damage could be reversed," she added, her voice hopeful. "That's why I want to have some tests run on you, and I will be monitoring your condition over the next few days, because that will tell me more as your system reasserts itself."

Helena sank back into her pillows, blindly staring at the ceiling as she tried to digest the news. Barbara finally found her wits, and reached out an empathetic hand. If anyone in this room could understand what Hel was going through right now, it was her.

"How long have I been out?"

"Three weeks," Leslie answered.

There was more silence and then Helena pulled her hand away. "I'd like to be alone," she said finally, her expressive blue eyes closing as her wan and pale features went blank. Barbara swallowed back the hurt, remembering all the overwhelming emotions that had hit her after her own tragic news. Helena needed time, and she would damn well make sure she got at least that.

Her eyes caught everyone else's in the room and she nodded towards the door, moving in that direction herself. Leslie was the only one who stayed behind and Barbara figured that she wanted to speak with Helena privately. The redhead knew why, and wished she could stay in the room to hear the impending conversation. But Helena was so fragile right now emotionally, she realized that pushing for too much now would only do more harm than help.

With an inward sigh, Barbara rolled out of the room and headed straight for the coffee maker.

Leslie sat on the edge of Helena's bed, and poured the young woman a cup of water and placed a straw in it and pushed it into her least injured hand. She waited for Helena to accept it and coached her to sip it gently at first. When the brunette had finished the small cup of water and held t back out, the older woman set it aside and took off her glasses.

"Helena, I know you have just woken up," she began gently. "But we need to talk."

Helena rolled her head away from Leslie, tears forming in blank blue eyes. "I don't want to talk about it Doc."

"Helena, if you don't talk to me about it then I will be forced by law to have Psych come down here. And I know that is the last thing you want after what you ladies just went through with Quinn," she said sympathetically. She watched as Helena winced when Quinn's name was spoken out loud and knew that the madwoman had done far more damage to these three woman than anyone could have ever imagined.

The doctor feared that Dinah was on the verge of sanity herself, but she had to focus on the most critical patient right now. "Helena, you need to talk about why you tried to kill yourself. Not right now," she added quickly seeing Helena's face go tight. "You are dealing with a lot right now, and I know that we simply need to take one day at a time.

"But soon, you and I are going to have to sit down and talk about all of this. And I know you well enough hellcat to have a pretty good idea as to what's going on inside that head of yours. So when we do sit down and have this talk, I expect you to be honest with me. I'm too old and treated far too many of your injuries to have you bullshit me…deal?"

Helena nodded silently, a single tear escaping. She finally cleared her throat. "Yeah…deal," she said just barely loud enough for Leslie to hear. But it was enough for the older woman who patted Helena's arm gently and then stood.

She pressed a button into Helena's hand. "I've got you hooked up to some wicked painkillers since your system can handle it. But there is a limit to how much I'm allowing you to administer by yourself. If you're still in pain, then push the call button on the bed and either I or one of my staff will take care of it."

Helena nodded one and remained silent. Leslie picked up her chart and moved to the door, she turned back and looked at the broken young woman before her. The brunette was a shadow of the vibrant young hellcat she had come to know and patch up on a frequent basis. She wondered if any of the three brave women would fully recover from this trauma.

Bruce watched from a distance as Barbara rolled up to the coffee machine and just sat there staring at it her eyes distant and haunted looking. "So, are you ever going to go over there and actually talk to her?" Dick asked tightly from behind him.

Aside from those first few emotionally devastating hours after Helena went into surgery, Bruce had withdrawn from everyone once more. Oh he had been vigilantly present almost as much as Barbara had been. But he had hardly spoken to anyone outside of the medical staff and had pointedly been avoiding being in the same room for any length of time with Dick or Barbara.

Bruce looked back, his blue eyes glinting in warning. But Dick had grown a lot stronger over the years, and wasn't about to back down. "It's been three weeks Bruce. There have been dozens of opportunities for you to go over to her and talk. I mean the least you could do is apologize."

"Apologize? For what?"

Dick's eyes bugged out. "For what?!" he asked his voice raising. Everyone's gazes swung their way, but Dick was too angry to care. "Jesus Christ, are you really that emotionally dense?!" he asked in utter disbelief. "I mean Barbara is shot and paralyzed by that bastard and when she needs you the most you just disappear. You left knowing damn well that she was also put in charge of a volatile girl that was YOUR daughter. She barely crawled out of the hole the Joker put her in and she had to do it with YOUR baggage. And now you stand there asking why you should apolo-."

Dick never finished the sentence because something slammed into the back of his legs knocking him off his feet. He hit the floor hard and went to roll to his feet when an escrima stick was planted firmly, and painfully against his throat. He looked up to see a livid looking Barbara leaning over in her chair, her jaw tight.

"Don't you EVER refer to Helena as baggage again!" she growled out.

Dinah and Alfred stood off to one side, watching the scene as it unfolded. Dinah was smirking, clearly reading all the emotional turmoil that was about to be unleashed. Alfred tried to look calm and unruffled, though inside he was cheering on both Master Dick and Miss Barbara. It was high time some one said something to Master Bruce about his appalling lack of social skills around Miss Barbara. And Miss Barbara's scolding to Master Dick was long overdue.

"Helena only disliked you because she saw you as a threat Dick. She had lost everything in her world that night and from the moment you heard that I was named as her guardian, you were constantly trying to get me to pawn her off to the system like she wasn't even a person. It hurt me that you thought I couldn't handle that, and it hurt me even more that you of all people would be so calloused to someone who was in the same situation you were."

Dick closed his eyes in shame knowing she was right. "Helena hated you because she was afraid of you. She knew you were quite possibly the one person in my life that I might listen to, and it scared the hell out of her that I might leave her too because you had influenced me to do so. Frankly, I don't blame Helena one bit for how she feels about you…both of you," she added, flashing emerald eyes taking in Bruce who went stiff.

She pulled the escrima away from Dick's throat, retracted it and slipped it back into it's hidden holster. The fire never left her eyes as she looked back up at Bruce. "At first, I thought you had no idea that Helena was your daughter. But when I found out that you knew…." her voice shook with rage and she shook her head.

"I have held my tongue these past few weeks Bruce, but I can't anymore. How dare you leave her like that. After everything you have done and been through. You have been a fucking hero to this whole god-damned city, and yet you take the cowards way out when it becomes personal," she hissed at him, mindful of the audience they had attracted, despite the fury that had suddenly unleashed within her.

She felt a certain amount of satisfaction when he visibly winced at her words. "You used to berate Dick and I for our relationship. You said it would make us weak…vulnerable. Well you know what Bruce? Loving someone and being willing to risk everything for that person makes you stronger, not weaker."

She paused taking in both men and raised her chin. "Helena is an intelligent, beautiful, talented, strong, and loyal young woman. I had already had the chance to see that before her mother was killed and that was why I willingly accepted responsibility for her. You both blew the chance to realize that, and that's why I stopped trying to defend either of you to her long ago.

"That amazing young woman in there is the only reason why I am the person I am today. She is the one who helped me pull through the darkest days of my life. You both screwed up, and you are going to have to work damn hard if you want to fix things with Helena and I."

Dick was on his feet by now, and both men were unable to look at her in the eye. "Barbara…I'm sorry," Dick began.

"Sorry isn't going to cut it this time Dick," she told him, some of the anger leaving her rigid body. "You both hurt us far deeper than you will ever know and it's going to take some time before either of us can forgive you both for what you did."

Bruce had remained silent during Barbara's entire rant, knowing full well that neither he nor Dick had any excuse or rebuttal. She was right- he had taken the coward's way out and had tried to rationalize all these years that he had just been doing what was best for Barbara and Helena. But he had never really been able to convince himself of that.

And that was why he had come back to New Gotham when he had heard from Alfred of what Quinn had done to their family. In a way…he was no better off than the Joker or Harley. And the thought that he had become just like the people he had spent decades fighting, sickened the former super-hero severely.

Swallowing against the bile that had risen in his throat, Bruce finally looked down at his former protégé. His normally icy blue eyes were filled with genuine remorse. "What do you want from us Barbara?" he asked hoarsely.

Barbara was quiet for awhile as she looked down at her hands, trying to ignore the way that her palms could feel her legs, but her legs couldn't sense her hands. "Time…and some peace. Helena is awake and out of danger now. But even if this is only temporary, it's still frightening and overwhelming. She is going to go through some extreme emotions over the next few weeks and you two are the last people that she should be around in her current state of mind," Barbara said looking up at them.

"Give us a couple of months to get through the worst, and then we can figure out where to go from there," she finished, feeling more confident with her decision. Besides, she hated to admit it, but she herself was emotionally fragile and she honestly didn't know if she could handle having Bruce around for much longer without having another meltdown.

Not with Dick hanging around. Not with Dinah slipping more and more over the edge of sanity. And most certainly not while trying to deal with a suicidal, traumatized Helena Kyle. She needed to be able to focus on her family, and she couldn't do that with either of the men around.

Dick looked hurt, but Bruce nodded in understanding and acceptance. But Barbara fixed him with a hard look. "You cant just pop into someone's life and then disappear again either. I expect you to be in contact with us in a couple of months Bruce. Prove to me that you are at least half the man you used to be."

There was another surge of satisfaction when she saw his jaw tighten at the jab, and absently wondered where that particularly ugly mean streak had come from. Then both men nodded and without another words headed out of the hospital.

Barbara sagged into her chair as soon as they left the wing, and Dinah nodded in approval. "About damn time," she muttered.

Barbara snorted as she rubbed her eyes tiredly and watched as Leslie came out of the room. He gaze flicked over to try and gauge Alfred's reaction to her rare emotional outburst. "Alfred?"

"Indeed," was all he said. It was all that needed to be said at that moment.


Chapter 6: Loathing

Leslie Thompson watched as the brunette pushed herself through her therapy, silently enduring the pain she had to have been feeling. Helena's healing factor had finally kicked in as soon as she had woken up, and her numerous broken bones had begun to mend. She would still carry a number of scars however, and her hair would take some time to grow back fully after they'd been forced to cut it short during her surgery.

If her therapy was anything to go by, Helena had also lost some strength and movement in her left shoulder that would probably not be fully regained. And she was still blind. It had been two weeks and the brunette had yet to even see a hint of light. The longer she went, the less her chances of recovery were, but Leslie was never one to rule out miracles.

But of all her devastating injuries, it was Helena's emotional state that Leslie worried about the most. The younger woman had barely spoken to anyone over the last couple of weeks. She spoke only when spoken to, refused to speak about her suicide attempt or what lead up to it with anyone, and followed any order given to her without question. Which often lead to her overdoing it during therapy because she refused to speak up when the pain became too bad.

Frank had been struggling over the past week, trying to find a balance with her since he knew she was much further along than most other patients would be, but she never gave him anything to judge what her limits were. Even Leslie herself had been struggling as to what to do.

She was no psychologist, but Helena desperately needed to talk about this and there was no one that either she or her family trusted enough. So that left her, and she'd been debating as to how to tackle Helena's self imposed emotional isolation. She'd finally consulted a trusted friend about her dilemma, using a hypothetical patient of course, and was given helpful and simple solution.

Helena was never one to dance around subjects- her MO had been to tackle everything head-on. Leslie just needed to essentially drag the younger woman to her office and be blunt and to the point. It was a conversation that she was loathe to go through, but it was high time, and the older woman silently chided herself for being slightly chicken about delaying the inevitable.

Really. After all the people she'd patched up in her career and after all she'd been through and been witness to, she really was too old to be acting like a first year med student on his first day of rotations. Looking at the brunette she realized for the first time that there would most likely be no shouting or angry words coming forth from her normal sharp tongue.

The slump of defeated shoulders, the haunted and trapped look that seemed to be etched on her face. It all bespoke of a spirit broken. Maybe that was why she was so nervous. She wasn't dealing with same young woman anymore.

Pushing open the doors, she smiled at everyone. "How are things progressing with our star patient Frank?"

He grunted. "She's got the exercises down and her natural agility allows her to get around just fine even without her sight. Barbara here is a quick study too, and I know she'll keep on top of Helena's PT. I think all in all Doc, there's not much more I can do here now."

"Excellent! And thank you once more for your discretion on this matter."

"Gotta take care of our own Doc," Frank said with a knowing grin as his eyes flashed red for a few moments in a brief display of his meta-genetics.

"Well, do you two think I could steal Helena away for awhile?"

"Sure thing," Frank said with a knowing look.

"Absolutely," Barbara responded as well.

"Great. Helena, would you care to join me for some coffee and donuts?"

"Ok," was the resigned reply.

She watched as Barbara struggled to mask the pain in her eyes, and kept up her cheery smile. "Excellent," was all she said as she waited for the brunette to stand and unfold her cane. She held her arm out, allowing Helena to find her on her own before she guided her towards her office.

Once inside, she verbally steered the younger woman towards a chair and then served them both up some rich coffee from her own brewer with a small plate of donuts. Helena accepted the pastry with a murmur of thanks and nibbled on it as she sipped on the hot coffee.

"So is this where you pick my brains apart?" she finally asked into the silence.

"There is no need to pick your brain Hel. I know why you did what you did and so does everyone else. Hell….I'm surprised it took this long before one of you finally cracked under the pressure and just wanted to escape it all," Leslie admitted as she swallowed a bite of her own donut.

"Frankly, I don't know how any of you do this. You have all been through one tragedy after another and then go out there on a nightly basis and deal with the worst that humanity has to offer, only to be repaid with more tragedy. I understand why Hel, but you need to come to terms with the fact that things can get better."

"Well they certainly can't get any worse now can they?" she replied with heavy sarcasm.

Leslie snorted humorlessly. "Careful what you say there Hel. Someone is always lurking in a dark corner hoping to prove that statement wrong."

"This isn't anything like my last set of sessions."

"First of all, we both know I'm no psychiatrist, but you're stuck with me because I'm sure as hell not going to entrust your fragile state of mind to anyone else right now. And if you dare compare me to that psychopathic bitch again, blind or not, I will come around this desk and kick your ass," she threatened with a tiny hint of steel in her voice.

Helena smirked, and Leslie grinned, having gotten the result she had been aiming for- some of that old spirit back. Even if it did only last for a second. "I want to release you Hel, but first you need to walk me through what lead up to you jumping so we can figure out how to get things better again."

"I thought you said you understood," Helena asked, suddenly seeming to shrink in her chair at the thought of having to emotionally open up to someone again.

"I do. But I think the most important thing here is that you understand. We have this nasty tendency to think and think ourselves around in circles and it isn't until we verbalize how we feel, that things finally start to make sense."


Leslie was hard pressed not to chuckle. "Take your time," was all she said.

She watched as Helena bent her head, and stared blankly at the floor for several long minutes. "There's not really much to say Doc. For me it wasn't that complicated," she told Leslie quietly.

When she looked back up, her blue eyes were full of a deep sadness and emotional anguish. "In this business, you can't afford to fuck up. Everything that Barbara and I had fought about happened because I didn't listen to her. Because of me, a lot of innocent people were hurt or killed that night. But worst of all, I almost killed the one person that means the most to me, and I stood by and did nothing when Harley stabbed her boyfriend in the heart."

Leslie sat back in her plush chair and processed this new bit of information. "So you do remember what happened that night," she remarked, realizing that this was the heart of Helena's emotional turmoil.

The brunette had told Barbara that she hadn't recalled what had happened to her while she had been under Quinn's control. Faced with everything that she had witnessed and been forced to do, it was no wonder that she had claimed ignorance. Leslie couldn't even begin to imagine how damaging it must have been to have been in Helena's position that night.

"Yeah," Helena whispered. "I remember every fucking moment, and I hate myself for not being strong enough to fight her. She made me do and watch things that I will never forgive myself for… I can't even imagine what Barbara would say if she knew. She'd hate me even more than she already does."

Leslie's eyebrow hiked up in surprise. "Why do you think Barbara hates you?"

"I saw it in her eyes that night Doc," Helena told Leslie, her voice cracking. She swallowed and forced herself to go on. "When she went into her room and found Wade, she looked at me with so much loathing and disgust, that I knew there was no forgiveness this time. Harley almost got her to cross the line that night, but in her room, I realized that I was the one responsible for breaking her."

Leslie waited as Helena fell silent for a minute, searching for words. "That's why I jumped," she finally said in a bare whisper. "I'd betrayed and hurt Barbara so badly, that in that moment, she hated me. But being Barbara, she agonized over that, and I'm not worth that kind of emotional torture. She deserved to be free of me and I can't live without her. The solution was simple: take myself out of the equation….permanently."

"Helena, have you given any thought as to what exactly motivates Barbara to be here every day for hours on end since you were admitted?"

"You and I both know Barbara takes the weight of the world on her shoulders. If anything goes wrong, she feels like she has to blame herself for it. And once again, she's blaming herself for my fuck-up and feels like she has to be here to try and fix things," Helena answered with self loathing.

"I see. Has it even occurred to you that she doesn't hate you like you have assumed, and that she's here because she cares for you and wants to be here for you?"

Helena swallowed and shook her head. "You didn't see the look in her eyes that night Doc."

"True, I didn't," Leslie allowed. "But I think that the two of you need to sit down and talk, before you are going to be able to heal from this Helena. I can't divulge anything confidential, but I will say this: Yes Barbara has admitted to being human and losing it that night. But hating you is the furthest thing from how she feels about you now. You two are doing a lot of assuming about each other and we all know that that only get's people in trouble."

"I can't talk to her about this right now," Helena said quickly, a panicked look filling her face.

"I understand. But I'm not going to let this drag out either Hel. You two will sit down and finally open up to each other even if I have to throw you both in straightjackets and stick you in a room together until you do."

Helena's shoulders slumped in defeat. Leslie decided it was time to change topics. She felt they had made remarkable progress for the day and they could start tackling her issues in a couple of days when She would be scheduling a check-up with Helena. "Let's talk about your recovery and coping with your mew limitations…."

Leslie allowed Helena to find her way back to her room on her own since the brunette was on the same floor as her room and had made the journey from her office to her room several times now. The brunette felt a tiny sense of accomplishment when she managed to find her way without having to ask anyone for help. Maybe this blind thing wasn't going to be as bad as she thought . After all, she didn't have to endure the looks of pity or sympathy all day like Barbara had to when she'd first been paralyzed.

Her tiny smile of triumph quickly faded however the moment she stepped into her room. She didn't need her sight to tell her that Barbara was there waiting for her. Shit. Her head hung, unable to meet Barbara's gaze, even if she couldn't see, and she silently made her way over to her bed and settled herself onto it.

"Is everything okay Helena?"

The brunette really wanted to tell herself that she could detect genuine worry and concern in Barbara's voice. But the irrational part of her mind told her that it was all part of her imagination and it was desperate hope that was causing her to hear such a tone from Barbara.

"Yeah. She just wanted to make sure I was adjusting ok to everything before she releases me tomorrow."

"You can come home tomorrow?"

Damn…there she went hearing the hope again. "Yeah. I mean I'm going to have to talk to Leonard and ask if I can make a few modifications-,"

"Hel, you don't have to go back to your apartment."

Great, now she was hearing a whole other range of emotions. Swallowing hard, Helena looked away. "I've already put you through enough Barbara. I don't want to impose on you and Dinah any more."

"You wouldn't be imposing. The Clocktower will always be your home."

Helena sighed and looked back towards Barbara, allowing her former mentor and partner to see the raw emotions swirling in her violet eyes. "We both know I lost that privilege the night I let that bitch into our home Barbara. You had every right to be furious with me because I fucked up badly that night. There's no coming back from that, and I don't expect you forgive me for what happened because I'll never be able to forgive myself. I appreciate everything you have done for me these last couple of weeks, but if you're here because you feel guilty for what I did, then don't."

Barbara felt her breath catch in her throat. "What?" she gasped out, too stunned to fully comprehend Helena would believe such a thing.

"Don't feel like you are responsible for this Barbara," Helena told her tightly. "This is all on me. Everything. And I don't expect to be welcomed back into the Tower. Frankly, I don't think I belong there any more. You have Dinah now, and we both know she's been ready for awhile. The kid will be a far better partner than I ever was."

Barbara pushed herself closer to Helena's bed, feeling anger well up in her. "Damnit Hel, you never gave up on me and I'm sure as hell not going to give up on you now. We've been through too damn much to part ways at this point- and certainly not like this. You are coming home with me tomorrow and we'll figure a way through this like we always do."

Hel sighed, once again to resigned to argue. She went back to looking blankly at the ceiling, feeling like her life was spinning out of control once more. "Fine," she answered tiredly. "It's not like I have much choice on the matter right now anyway," she sighed.

Barbara's hand clamped tightly on her own. "We'll get through this Hel," Barbara whispered fiercely before she left the now silent brunette to her own thoughts.

Helena didn't have to see the pained expression on Barbara's face to know she had upset her once again- she could smell the saltiness of the tears.

And she loathed herself just a little bit more for having been the cause of them once again.

Barbara found her youngest protégé out on the balcony as usual. Dinah didn't turn, but at least she acknowledge Barbara's presence with a quiet 'hey'.

"Helena will be released tomorrow," Barbara told her. But she somehow knew that she didn't really need to say anything. Dinah seemed to already know everything before anyone spoke up- which silently bespoke of a massive jump in her powers that she should be looking into very soon.

"That's good," the blonde said almost indifferently.

Barbara sighed and moved forward, taking Dinah's hand into hers. "Dinah? Sweetheart, I know I've been preoccupied with Helena's recovery," she admitted guiltily. Green eyes bore into light blue. "But don't think I haven't noticed your own struggles. I'm scared for you and what that woman might have done to you when you touched her mind."

Dinah pulled her hand from Barbara's but she did so gently. After everything Barbara had done for her, she couldn't bare to hurt her any further than she'd already been hurt. "I'll be okay Barbara. I just need some time to…adjust to everything."

"I'm not going to push to what you mean by that, but I hope you know that you can talk to me about anything Dinah. We've all been through so much lately, and I don't want to lose you. Please don't shut me out like Hel did."

It was practically a beg, and the desperateness of that statement managed to reach past Dinah's callousness, and touched Dinah's heart. "I'll try not to shut you out like that," she finally allowed. "But there's a lot going on in my head right now too, and I need time and space to sort it out before I can begin to try and explain it to you."

Barbara seemed satisfied with this and she managed a relieved smile. "Take all the time you need sweetheart."

And then she left Dinah in peace as she retreated to work on the Delphi which was finally in the finishing stages of being repaired.

Dinah sighed, and rubbed at her temples, trying to quiet the voices in her head. She anted so badly to be able to go back to her old 'normal' self. Fucking Quinn. Every day she was loathing that woman and herself more and more. Before she had even really thought about it, she'd allowed herself to go into her ritual trance and was standing before Quinn's plastic cage once more.

Her powerful mind released the blocks on Harley's and she watched as the psychopath flinched in anticipation. Feeling her anger bubble forth, Dinah allowed herself a predatory grin as she cracked her knuckles in anticipation.

"Good evening Doctor….."


Chapter 7: Raw

Barbara knew something was terribly wrong the moment she rolled out of the elevator. The gloomy silence that had descended on the Clocktower over the past week since Helena's release, had been shattered by the sounds of a brutal fight coming from the training room. Jamming the control stick on her chair forward, Barbara sped towards the sounds of destruction as fast as she could, her heart hammering hard in her chest.

What had she been thinking leaving Dinah alone with the brunette?

Nothing could have prepared her for the sight that greeted her as soon as she opened the door, and all the redhead could do for several stunned moments was sit there in shock and wonder things could have spiraled so badly out of her control.

A half hour earlier….

"Barbara know your using?"

"She has her concerns, but no. But then you aren't gonna say anything cuz I get my shit from the same place you do."

A right cross snapped her head around with enough force to make her vision dim for a second. Well….drugs must have been doing their job because she sure as hell hadn't seen that one coming.

"Don't you dare fucking try to blackmail me you little shit."

Dinah straightened and laughed harshly. "Or you'll do what? You think that you can just come back here after trying to kill yourself and tell me what to do? After what I did for you, you think you can tell me what to do?"

She watched as Helena's breath caught in her chest and watched her hands tighten. "Look Kid, I appreciate what you did to protect us. But I told you that you shouldn't have fucked with her. Now look at what it's done to you. I may be blind, but I'm not stupid. You're slipping over the edge and whatever is you do out here every night, it's making you a little more like her every time."

Dinah was immediately in Helena's personal space, shoving a finger hard into the brunette's tender collarbone. "Don't you dare presume to lecture me. Not after everything you've put this family through. I have had enough of everyone else's shit and I'll deal with this the way I see fit," she hissed at Helena in a deadly tone that the brunette had never heard from her before.

Blind blue eyes gazed sadly at Dinah. "Fuck…you really have lost it haven't you?" Hel asked quietly

Dinah reacted out of instinct. Her own fist lashed out and connected with enough force to send Helena staggering back with a busted nose. Through the haze that had descended over her mind, Dinah vaguely realized what she had just done, and started to cringe. And then Helena was on her, and the blonde was slammed into the ground.

"You bitch," Helena growled at her, her eyes now feral as her breath came in harsh pants. Blood was trickling down her face and it spattered in fat drops onto Dinah's shirt and jacket.

It took several attempts, but Dinah was finally able to focus her TK enough to shove Helena off of her. She scrambled to her feet and straightened her leathers out as she glared at the blind woman. "Go to hell," she spat as she tried to wipe the blood off. "You deserved that and a hell of a lot more. And don't you dare deny it because I know exactly how you feel."

"Stay the fuck out of my mind little girl," Helena snarled.

"Again…or what?"

"I'll kick your ass is what."

Dinah snorted. "Please."

Now Helena was pissed. "You think just because I can't see I can't kick your ass still?"

"None of you have any idea what I'm capable of now do you? Helena, you couldn't get within a mile of me without me knowing it. Touching Quinn's mind was probably the best and worst thing to happen to me."

Shit…did she just admit that out loud? Damn drugs.

"I'm leaning towards the worst thing to ever happen to you, and none of those powers will do jack shit for you right now when your high. Which from the smell of things happens pretty frequently," Helena sneered.

Five minutes later they were in the training room, locked in a dirty and ugly street brawl. In her drugged state, Dinah found it too difficult to focus on Helena's thoughts. Especially since she had slipped into her feral Huntress mode, where her thoughts bled away into simple instinct and raw emotions.

The only thing she had going in her favor was the fact that Helena was still recovering and had already been nursing a busted nose by the time they had stepped onto the mat. For the first time since touching Quinn's mind, Dinah found herself evenly matched in a fight. Of course if she were sober, Helena wouldn't have stood a chance against her.

But Dinah was kind of enjoying the physical pain right now. Her lip was torn open, her jaw was aching from Helena's first punch on the balcony, and she knew that she had at least two cracked ribs. Helena had taken a nasty punch to her right eye that was sure to leave it swollen shut by morning, and was favoring her left leg after Dinah had taken advantage of Helena's sightlessness and kicked the back of her knee…hard.

All things considered, they were each surprised that Helena was actually holding her own against Dinah. Of course, in retrospect, both young women would decide that maybe that wasn't such a good thing, because it only pushed them to fight even harder. Every rule was completely kicked aside as they simply tried to beat the shit out of each other in a desperate attempt to vent all the raw anger that had been building over the past several weeks.

Helena swiped a hand across the lower half of her face, distantly aware that it came away sticky with her own blood. She hurt like hell, and was standing upright by sheer force of will and anger alone. Her senses were on overdrive, trying to compensate with her lack of sight, and she found that the enhancements made her blindness seem like a minor inconvenience.

Until Dinah had nearly broken her knee with that last kick. Now they stood a few feet apart, both panting harshly, and sizing each other up. She wasn't a fool. She knew that if the kid were sober, she wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of lasting more than a second against the teen. Right now however, Helena was enjoying more and more the fact that the teen had volunteered to be her punching bag.

"What's the matter blondie? So high and mighty that you've been slacking off in your training?" Helena taunted.

She heard the whisper of air shift as an arm came towards her head. She ducked, but wasn't prepared for the quick follow-up that sent her staggering back a few steps, hissing as her eye exploded in pain once more.

"I don't need any of you," Dinah snapped angrily.

Helena's whole body jerked with that statement. "No?! Then why the hell did you stay? Why did you beg Barbara to train you? Why did you follow me around like some lost puppy dog?"

"Because I was naïve enough to think that I could find happiness with you and Barbara. And look who's talking about following someone around! At least my excuse was that I was too young and stupid to know a lost cause. But you? You take the cake Hel. You're a fucking coward…just like your old man."

Helena felt something deep inside of her snap with that taunt and the caged animal part of her broke loose with savage fury. Helena had never allowed that much of her primal nature out before, and when it surfaced, it quickly swallowed the frightened human half of her. She gasped once as the darkness that had been shrouding her vision suddenly shifted.

Dinah faltered she felt the darkness that rose up in Hel consume her completely, and then watched the brunette staggered and blinked several times rapidly, her eyes moving wildly as if she were trying to focus on something. But before she could back off and ask what had happened, Helena's gaze fixed on her and Dinah realized it was no longer the blank look she had grown accosted to seeing over the last couple of weeks. Half a second later, Helena was on Dinah.

Helena's dark world had exploded into a miasma of dim colors. Nothing like her normal vision…or even like her feral vision. It was more like she was looking at objects with infra-red. Bad infrared at that. But it was better than nothing and as she lifted her head, Dinah's heat signature was only a few feet away from her.

Blood pounding in her ears, Helena snarled and leapt, tackling Dinah to the ground even as she landed yet another hard punch to the girl's jaw. The pain and the fight had begun to burn the drugs off in the blonde's system, and she managed to shove Hel off of her as she rolled over and spat blood and a tooth onto the mat.

Well fuck, she had lost her first tooth in a fight and it was to Helena no less. She was going to pay for that.

"Truth hurts doesn't it?" she taunted as she staggered back to her feet.

"Barbara is the last good thing I had left in my life. You of all people should have known that losing her would have been a fate worse than death. But I managed to do even worse than that…I fucking hurt her! I hurt her deeper than anyone else could. Tell me D. Seems you've been tripping around in my head. What would you have done?"

"Made damn well sure that I got it right when I tried to kill myself," came the sneered reply.

A string of expletives accompanied the flurry of blows aimed at Dinah. The blonde was thankfully able to avoid most of them, as the swings were powerful enough to almost be lethal. As it was, two connected with her side and more ribs gave out under the pounding. It took a great deal of concentration, but she threw the brunette across the room and into the weapons rack, buying herself some time.

She was able to catch her breath for a few seconds as Helena stumbled out of the mess, but she sucked in a sharp breath and ducked when a batarang came sailing towards her with frightening accuracy. Shit…that had been close, Dinah realized as it sank into the wall next to where her head had been. That was all she could dwell on before Helena charged her again, this time brandishing a pair of batons.

Dinah winced and swore as several blows connected hard with her flesh before she finally managed to wrench them out of Hel's hands with her TK. After disposing of the weapons, she launched her own attack at Helena, noting that whatever sight she may have regained earlier seemed to have already faded, because she was swinging her head from side to side to catch every sound Dinah was making.

Time and again they would crash together, land several hard blows and then back away and trade insults. Finally, they had no breath or strength left for the insults and just stood in the middle of the room beating on each other.

Barbara walked into the two of them barely standing upright, clinging to the other's jacket as they traded blow for blow to the other woman's battered face. Blood stained everything in the room. It was spattered on the mirrors and walls, smeared all across the mat, stained their skin and clothing. It was brutal and horrific, and something Barbara had never expected to see from either of them.

And it seemed to push her over the edge.

Before she realized what she was doing, she had rolled forward, extended her own batons and took both girls out with well placed blows to the backs of their knees. Both went down with painful grunts, but Dinah's stamina was considerably more than Helena's because she raised a hand out of instinct and blasted Barbara backwards, sending the redhead sprawling from her chair and into the remains to the weapons rack.

Helena heard the commotion and struggled to rise to her knees her head turning back and forth. "Did you just fucking hit Barbara?"

Dinah froze, suddenly realizing what she had just done. "Oh shit," she gasped. "Barbara I'm so sor-," her words were cut off as Helena's body slammed into hers, knocking them both back to the mat.

Barbara groaned and tried to shake the cobwebs from her mind as sound and sight finally clarified for her. She turned her head to the side to take stock of her situation. Her chair was overturned, and as heavy as that one was, there was no getting that upright on her own. She was feeling a tad woozy, and her forehead hurt something fierce. Probing the sore point, she winced and then sighed as her fingers came away sticky from her own blood.

Great. Just. Fucking. Great.

She managed to untangle her body from the wreckage of the weapons rack and faced the two women who were in the process of trying to kill each other. Dinah had a solid chokehold on Helena who was weakly punching Dinah over and over even as her face began to turn purple from a lack of oxygen.

Army crawling across the floor, Barbara finally reached the two of them and flopped in between them, trying to use her dead weight to break them apart. "Stop this!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. "For god's sake just stop!"

Helena's fist froze in midair when she realized Barbara was in her path, and Dinah's grip loosened just enough so that Helena could finally draw in a gasping breath. For several long seconds, the only thing that could be heard was their harsh panting.

Alfred chose that moment to arrive, and walked into a ghastly scene. "Heavens above!" he exclaimed in utter shock. "Dare I ask what on earth is going on here?" he continued, his tone stern and disapproving.

Barbara finally found her voice and was amazed that she managed to sound as calm as she did. "Alfred, I don't think this is a good time. Perhaps you could take the evening off and let us sort some things out?"

"With all due respect Miss Barbara, it is my duty to look after all of your general well being. As you can imagine, I'm more than a little concerned that if I leave the bloodshed will continue. And from the looks of things, you yourself will need some patching up if you don't want that to scar."

Barbara felt the girls tense up and firmly shoved against each of them in warning. Alfred was right. She would probably need stitches, and with Helena blind, Alfred was the only other one who could accomplish that.

"Fine, but perhaps you could give us some privacy for a little while?"

"Certainly," he said with a curt nod before leaving.

As soon as he was out of the room, Helena began growling again in the back of her throat. "Helena down!" Barbara snapped.

She felt the brunette tense, and braced herself. Suddenly the brunette was shoving back from Barbara and Dinah and knelt on the mat several feet away, her bloodied fists clenched tightly. "Does anyone want to shed some light as to why the HELL you two were just sitting here beating the SHIT out of each other?"

With the drugs still somewhat present in her system, Dinah snorted in amusement. It was kind of funny when Barbara got pissed enough to swear. She sobered up quickly when furious green eyes flashed in her direction, and she looked away.

Both girls remained silent.

Barbara's eyes narrowed. "No one is going anywhere until I get to the bottom of this," she warned in an icy tone that she rarely used, but both girls knew not to mess with her when she did use it.

Helena was the first to answer. "Why don't you ask blondie? She seems to have all the answers nowadays," she remarked sarcastically.

"Fuck you," the teen shot back at her.

"Enough!" Barbara roared. "What is wrong with both of you?"

Helena was silent for only a few moments before she finally answered. "Dinah here hit up my dealer for some drugs, got high and then decided it was a good night to remind me of just how much of a fuck up I am. When she didn't like my response to her little tripped out observations, we took it in here to settle things the old fashioned way."

Barbara watched as Dinah flinched, and stared between both young women trying to absorb everything that had been revealed in that statement. Her former ward was admitting to using drugs while at the same time ratting out that her current ward was using them. Helena's self esteem was at an all time low. And both girls had some serious anger management issues now.

She decided to tackle the largest issue first. Rolling onto her back, she closed her eyes with a tired sigh and pinched the bridge of her nose. "How long have the two of you been using and how much are we talking about?" she asked, afraid to hear the answer.

Helena answered first. "I've been using since my mom was killed. And with my metabolism, nothing really affects me for long so only when things are really bad do I even bother. When a new drug hit's the street I will hit up my supplier so I can see how it affects me. Always good to be informed and prepared when you're out on the streets right?"

"Hel, addictive and illegal arguments aside, do you know how dangerous it is to be testing new designer drugs on yourself like that?" Barbara said, unable to keep her voice from creeping up out of stress.

Helena shrugged. "I have yet to find one that will last more than an hour in my system Barbara. Shit…the painkiller cocktail you and Leslie developed, hits me harder than anything I've come across in the streets Barbara."

"Dinah?" Barbara prodded when no answer was forthcoming from the teen.

"Since Quinn's attack and I smoke a joint a couple of times a week. It's the only thing that quiets the noise in my head," she admitted quietly.

Barbara scrubbed a hand across her face and then winced as she was reminded of their physical state at the moment. "Dinah, please get my chair for me. Hel, if you could go call Alfred back in here. I doubt my hands will be steady enough to patch any of us up tonight," she sighed.

The two rose unsteadily to accomplish their given tasks, and with some assistance, Barbara managed to get herself back into her chair. She surveyed the damage to the room and both young woman and groaned inwardly. There was no way any of them would be going out in public like this for at least a couple of days.

Alfred came in, spent the next hour stitching and bandaging the three women up and then withdrew with a promise to make them 'a calming spot of tea'. Having sobered up and now able to clearly read everyone's thought's again, Dinah stood and began to head for the door after Alfred had left.

"Where do you think you're going?" Barbara asked, feeling her anger rise again.

"I already know what you're going to lecture me on and the ultimatums that you have just considered even though you weren't going to tell them to me," Dinah informed her, her stance aggressive and her face cold and hard once more. "I'm going out to think," was all she offered before she turned on her heel and stalked out of the room.

Barbara opened her mouth to stop her, but it was Helena who kept her from calling out. "Let the kid go Barbara," she advised quietly.

"Damnit Hel!" Barbara said angrily as she spun to face the younger woman who was now sitting on a bench, and leaning back against the wall with an ice pack pressed against the side of her face and another wrapped against her knee.

"Yeah I know," the brunette sighed tiredly. "I fucked up again, and now the kid's in deep shit. "I'll talk to Mark and tell him to stop supplying her and to put the word out that no one is to deal to her."

"Helena….where did things go so wrong?! I mean the fact that you are even telling me that is...is…preposterous! How can you be out there doing what we do and be using drugs behind my back?!"

"First of all, I'm not strong like you Barbara!" Helena shouted back at her as she pulled the ice pack away from her face and turned her face in Barbara's general direction. "I'm not like everyone else and some nights the only thing that can take the edge off the rage and pain I feel before I snap and kill someone is the drugs. Yeah…I used pretty frequently after my mom was murdered. But since I began hitting the streets I rarely touch the stuff anymore and usually its only to experiment with new drugs to see how they will affect me."

"Then how the hell does Dinah know how about your supplier?!"

"The same way she knows everything else right now Barbara! Ever since she touched Quinn it's like her powers have been augmented a hundred fold. She can read minds without touching anyone, and can sense anyone from a mile away. She get's high because it's probably the only thing that will dull her powers enough to give her an hour of peace. And yeah…I know that's my fault too," Helena said tossing the ice pack down and struggling to her feet.

"You know what? I just need to leave," she declared. "Everything I ever touch and everyone I ever let myself care for ends up dead or hurt. For the first time in my life, I finally understand why my father left. I can't keep letting this happen to you guys and I can't protect you."

"What?!" Barbara gasped in utter disbelief.

"I can't keep doing this Barbara. I've already pushed you and the kid away…I won't be responsible for the two of you being hurt any more," Helena told her in a choked voice as she began to limp towards the door.

Barbara quickly moved to block her escape. "No!" she snapped angrily. "I will NOT let you do what he did. I will not let you walk out that door without a fight Helena. We are family damn it and I am not going to let us fall apart. If that happens then they win, and everything we worked so hard for will be for nothing….and I don't think I could take that Hel…I really don't," the redhead admitted feeling tears burn her eyes as her voice shook.

Helena's dropped to the ground, tears forming in her own eyes. "Barbara….I don't see how we can fix this. "You hate me and you have every right to for getting Wade killed and all those innocent people hurt that night. I'm blind and obviously unstable, and the kid is one step away from becoming the next Quinn."

"Will you STOP assuming that I hate you!" Barbara said as she slapped the arm of her chair in frustration.

"Oh for fuck's sake Barbara, please don't lie to me! I saw it in your eyes that night and every night for the rest of that week as you sat on the balcony."

Barbara pinched the bridge of her nose, her head aching furiously. She really wanted a stiff drink right now. A large stiff drink. "Hel...I was devastated by our failure to stop Quinn before she wrought so much damage on this city and in our own personal lives. And yes, I was furious with you for awhile after that because I needed to blame someone for what happened and you were the most convenient scapegoat," she admitted.

"But I regret that, because this wasn't your fault. And before you start to protest, know that I genuinely and sincerely mean that. Yes, I still think some events could have been avoided had you not fought me so hard on the mask issue. But Quinn still would have followed through with her plan and would have probably still used you in it since she was already fascinated by you before she even knew about your secret identity."

"People died because of me and I almost killed you," Helena said around the lump in her throat.

"It happens in this business Hel. Even I have my own skeletons in the closet…or have you forgotten about Sandy?"

Helena stood very still in the middle of the room, her body shaking. Her face was still turned down, and tears slowly leaked onto the bloodstained mat. "I watched her stab him...and there was nothing I could do," she whispered.

Barbara was trying to forgive her, but if Helena was to live with that then Barbara had to know everything. She heard the red-head draw in a sharp breath. "So, you remember?"

Helena swallowed thickly and nodded, looking away still. Part of her was glad she couldn't see Barbara's face right now because if the redhead was hating her once more, she didn't think she could take seeing that look on her face again.

Barbara stared at Helena in shock and then was rolling towards her. A mixture of emotions were running through her and she found herself at a loss at to what to say or do for a moment. She noticed that the younger woman had finally lifted her head, prepared for whatever Barbara might say or do.

The redhead finally took a minute to dissect her feelings and decide upon an action. She was angry to be sure. Angry that Helena had lied to her. Angry that the brunette had been put through so much that night. Angry that she hadn't realized that Hel had been lying.

And then there was a serious helping of sympathy for the brunette. Heaven's above, no wonder she took a leap off her father's building. Barbara knew her reaction that night after the battle, hadn't helped matters any. After this revelation, she could easily understand why Helena would think she hated her so much...and how she probably felt she deserved it.

Helena was obviously feeling like she didn't deserve anyone's forgiveness. She probably wouldn't accept it either…not until she received what she most like deemed an appropriate ass-chewing. Accordingly, Barbra allowed some of her anger to take hold and she slapped Helena hard across her already bruised cheek.

The action made her wince as she watched the brunette stagger back from a blow that wouldn't have even phased her normally. But a part of her felt some tiny sense of satisfaction. "That, is for lying to me," she said evenly and then paused for effect.

Helena swallowed and nodded mutely, tears streaming down her face. Barbara forced herself to strike Helena's other cheek. "And that is for scaring the shit out of me," she continued, her voice catching.

Helena continued to stand there, staring blankly down at the mat, prepared for another blow. She wasn't expecting Barbara to yank her down into her lap and wrap her in a tight hug that made half her body protest. But when Barbara whispered the next words into her short hair she broke down sobbing, forgetting her aches as she simply accepted the forgiveness and love that was being offered to her.

"This is for coming back to me and to let you know that I will always be here for you Hel…no matter what. I love you sweetheart and I will go down fighting before I let anyone tear our family apart."

Alfred quietly walked past the room, and allowed himself a relieved smile as he took in the touching scene. He was still a great deal worried about young Miss Dinah. But if Miss Helena and Miss Barbara could mend things, then they stood a better chance at tackling the issues with Miss Dinah.

It would certainly mean less work for him, he mused as he surveyed the extensive damage done to the gym once more. Bloody hell. He'd just replaced that mat too.

Part 8

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