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
Chapter 8: Dark Prodigy
The blonde woman paced her cell, feeling very much like the caged animal that she was. What made it worse was that she had enough awareness to know that her caging was far greater than just the special glass cell she was locked in. A large portion of her mind was locked away in a place that she couldn't ever hope to reach. Only one person could bring forth her memories of who she really was and why she was locked away here. And while she remembered nothing of her encounters with the blonde youth, she knew enough to be afraid whenever she saw her appear.
Like now. It was strange though, the girl actually entered through the door this time instead of just appearing like normal. That much, she did know, was unusual. Quinn gasped as the locks around her mind were released and memories flooded back into her consciousness. Then she was fighting back the wave of nausea that always followed the mental rush, and winced at the instant headache that began to throb along her temples.
The sight that greeted her tonight however caused her to straighten up quickly. "Finally pick a fight you couldn't win?" she had to ask, her eyes raking over the blonde's battered face.
As usual, her reward was a searing pain that lanced through her skull and seemed to burn away at her very brain. She tried not to cry out, but Dinah eventually ripped a scream of agony from her. She hated that. She hated not being in control and at the mercy of another.
The analytical part of her realized that of course this was just a dose of her own medicine so to speak. She'd never really been on the receiving end of helplessness, and while she loathed it, she also filed away the experience, knowing that she would put this practical knowledge to very good use one day.
Starting with the blonde in front of her. At least, if she didn't self destruct before Harley got out. Dinah certainly seemed to be teetering on the edge of the abyss tonight.
"So tell me? How is Helena?" Harley leered at the teen, looking to push her buttons. She knew it was going to cost her, dearly. But it was all she had left at her disposal.
She hadn't been counting on such a violent reaction so quickly however.
The glass surrounding her cage shattered into a million tiny pieces and suddenly a dozen alarms were going off. Harley had instinctively curled up into a ball as soon as the glass went, and looked up when she heard footsteps crunching the shards in a patch directly towards her.
When she saw a very real Dinah approaching her, the homocidal psychopath felt the first tendrils of fear begin to close around her mind.
Barbara and Helena's heads snapped up when alarms started blaring from the recently repaired Delphi. "Oh god," Barbara whispered.
After the previous evening's fight, Helena became very aware of her need to get back into a workout routine. Barbara hadn't been happy about it, especially since Helena was still favoring her one knee slightly, and her other injuries had yet to fade. But Barbara pulled herself away from working on the rebuilt Delphi, long enough to keep a close eye on Hel, while squeezing in a workout of her own.
Helena stiffened however, when she heard the tone in Barbara's voice and immediately scented the fear rolling off her. The brunette knew that if she had her sight back, her mentor had probably just gone several shades paler.
The alarm wasn't the normal one, so Helena knew this one was special and it obviously wasn't good. "Barbara?" she asked tightly.
"That's the alarm used specifically for a breach in Harley's section of Arkham," came the whispered response.
"Fuck! The kid!" Helena swore. Dinah hadn't come home the previous night, and had turned her comms off. Gibson said he hadn't seen here, and both Hel and Barbara were both waiting for the fallout from last night.
Just then, Alfred came into the training room, his normally calm voice strained. "Miss Barbara, I'm afraid there is a situation with Miss Dinah."
Quinn was never one to back down from an opponent. Not even when Barbara Gordon had her against the railing and ready to deliver that killing blow. But the blonde knew that anything Dinah was about to dish out right now was going to be far worse than anything even she wanted to experience.
And so she hastily scrambled away from the teen stalking her in the confines of the cold metal room they were now trapped in. "Now Dinah, think about what Barbara would say if you killed me," she began nervously.
Dinah's eyes flashed literally flashed and Harley found herself hurled bodily across the room. She slammed into the wall, and felt ribs protest under the blow and her head exploded in bright star bursts of pain as it cracked against the steel.
Self preservation overrode the pain as soon as the crunching boots approached her and Quinn forced herself to crawl away, the shards biting into her hands and knees. The steps quickened and a brutal kick was delivered to her midsection, hard enough to break at least one rib.
"Don't you dare use her name against me you psychopathic bitch!" Dinah screamed as she hauled Quinn up and slammed her fist into the older woman's face.
"Oh god no," Barbara exhaled as she took in the scene before her.
"Barbara what's going on?" Helena demanded.
"Dinah broke into Quinn's cell and is .is "
"She's going to kill her isn't she?" the brunette asked flatly, clearly hearing the sounds that were pouring from the speakers.
"Miss Barbara, as soon as I became aware of the fact that Miss Dinah entered the facility I immediately began erasing signs of her existence. I was just about to come and get you when she was provoked and broke the glass casing around Quinn's cell. I immediately triggered the bomb threat alarm and the facility is currently being cleared of all personnel. I have contacted Detective Reese and he is on his way."
"Thank you for your quick thinking Alfred. Can you continue to handle the Delphi?" she asked rolling over to the safe that held her neural transponder.
Helena's hand clamping down on hers stopped her from unlocking it however. "Give me the comms."
"Helena you are far from being up to going out, let alone handle a situation like this."
"Damnit Barbara, don't argue with me on this! This is my mess, I need to fix this. Please just give me a set of comms."
Barbara began to protest but the look in Hel's sightless eyes, along with the strength of the grip on her hand caused the redhead to hesitate.
"Barbara, I can be down there quicker than anyone else and you can talk me through the rest. I've got to try and stop this from happening. Please."
The pleading tone finally broke through Barbara's reluctance and she yanked a drawer open on the desk and pulled out a comm set. "Helena how are you going to get there?"
The brunette had stilled for a second, in seeming deep thought, and Barbara saw a full body shiver run through her. When she looked back up at the older woman, her eyes were feral and a deep shade of gold she rarely saw. And for the first time in weeks, her gaze actually met Barbara's causing the redhead to inhale sharply.
Helena didn't say anything, instead she turned and purposefully made her way to the balcony. Without a second thought she leapt up onto the railing and took a moment to breath in the night air and look at her surroundings through her limited senses.
After the fight with Dinah, Helena had been startled to realize that she still had access to some animalistic part of her that could see. Somewhat at least. The infrared colors were somewhat painful and it took her a moment to recognize various shapes. It also wouldn't last long.
But she had flown across these rooftops every night for most of her life. She could probably do this without her sight, but in her current condition, she was going to need every bit of help she could get. She heard Barbara shout her name in fear as she leapt out into the night, and then any other words she might have said were caught away as the wind rushed past her ears.
Detective Jesse Reese pulled up outside the asylum along with a number of other units and jumped out of his car. The staff was pouring out of the building, the police busy in making sure that none of the current residents were attempting to escape in the mayhem.
Alfred had quickly explained the situation to him, and Reese knew he only had ten to fifteen minutes tops before SWAT and the bomb squad would arrive and begin breeching the facility. He needed to get inside quickly and get the girl out before anyone noticed what was going on.
Running up the stairs he 'accidentally' collided with one of the fleeing staff members, and palmed the woman's security card as he made a show of steadying her and then continue inside. He breathed a sigh of relief when a minute later he found himself alone in the corridor.
"Oracle, I hope you're on the job here," he muttered as he began to make his way towards the maximum security wing.
Barbara held her breath as she watched Helena's GPS close in on the asylum in a nearly impossible rate. She still didn't understand how it was possible especially with her injuries. Her eyes tracked towards the other monitor, where Dinah was stalking around Quinn like a cat playing with a mouse. The police were pulling up out front of the asylum, and she began pulling up other security camera feeds to keep an eye out for Reese.
A blood curdling scream drew her gaze back to the monitors and she watched as Quinn writhed on the floor, clutching her head, while Dinah stood over her with a satisfied smirk. The mental torture lasted for another minute, and Barbara felt herself near being sick.
Dinah crouched down in front of Quinn as the older woman sucked in gasping breaths. "I know every little thing about you Harleen. Like how you used to get off on the pain your 'Sweet Mr. J' used to dish out to you. But you didn't always like it did you?" she asked, almost sympathetically as she traced a finger along Harley's jaw line. The older woman flinched from that touch.
"You were just a psychiatrist, bored and fed up with other people's shit. You were fascinated with the human psyche and were obsessed with knowing just how far one's limits could be pushed. So you found a little hobby. You would see just how far you could push yourself and it was the biggest turn on and rush for you when you would reach that edge and then come back from it. Every time you would go just a little bit further."
Dinah paused and tilted her head to one side. "And then you met the Joker. You want to tell yourself it was the best thing that ever happened to you, but we both know it was the worst," she whispered.
Harley tried to deny that statement, but with a casual wave of Dinah's hand, the older woman was rendered silent. "It's kind of like me touching you," Dinah said with a chuckle that carried more than a hint of insanity to it.
She stood silently, and spun around gesturing expansively. "All that knowledge unlocked the full potential of my power. I bet if Barbara was to scan my brain now I'd melt the machine. I doubt there is a being on this planet right now that could stop me," she said haughtily and her eyes bore down into Quinn's as the smiled that graced her lips took on a cold and menacing quality.
"And I have you of all people to thank."
Something shifted in the teens eyes however and Quinn was yanked into the air, suspended by Dinah's will alone as the taller girl advanced on her. Anger was contorting her battered features once more. "I have you to thank for the pain you have brought to me and my family!" she shouted as she swung at Harley.
The captive woman's head snapped to the side, her lip splitting. "I have you to thank for fucking up the one good thing I had going in my life." Another blow was delivered.
"I have you to thank for the nonstop invasion of thoughts in my head every second of every day!"
Alfred cleared his throat. "Miss Barbara, I believe the intercom system is still working. Perhaps now would be a good time to try and stall her?" he gently suggested.
Barbara swallowed against the bile in the back of her throat, as she watched her youngest ward mercilessly beat Quinn. She typed in a few commands and adjusted her headset.
Quinn almost sobbed in relief as Barbara Gordon's voice came over the intercom. "Dinah! Please don't do this."
"I have you to thank for knowing that every day my sanity and my family slip just a little further away from me," Dinah yelled, too caught up in her rage at the moment to hear Barbara's plea.
Helena grunted as pain flared up from her injured knee and rattled the rest of her injuries as she dropped down onto the street a block away from Arkham. Everything was starting to blur and she knew she didn't have much time. Forcing herself into a limping jog, she skirted around the edges of the milling crowd of staff and police and scaled the wall surrounding the facility.
Sticking to the areas that she instinctively knew were shadowed, she circled towards a rarely used loading dock in the back. "Oracle, I'm here. Think you can crack open a few doors for me?" she asked her partner.
Barbara breathed a sigh of relief. She could tell Helena was in pain, and Leslie was going to kill her for sure for allowing the brunette to go out like this in her condition. "Reese just entered the front and I'm clearing a path for both of you. Don't worry about security feeds, I'm scrambling everything. Just get in there Hel. I can't break through to her," Barbara said fearfully.
Quinn shuddered, her voice hoarse from screaming. Everything was on fire from the brutal torture that Dinah had been subjecting her to for the last fifteen minutes. Barbara was still trying to reach through the vengeful haze that had descended upon Dinah, but with little result. Quinn was just wishing that the girl would get it over with and kill her.
She was wrenched back upright and Dinah was in her face grinning cruelly. "Oh no my dear Harleen. You have put me and my family through too much hell for far too long for your death to be that short and easy."
"Dinah for god's sakes listen to yourself!" Barbara screamed through the speaker system and all Quinn could manage was a sigh of relief as that seemed to finally break through Dinah's focus.
Helena swore as her knee gave out finally and she staggered headlong into a wall and slid to the ground. As the pain and exhaustion finally took over, her primal side faded and her world faded into black once more. "Shit," she muttered as she tried to climb to her feet, but only managed to go a few feet before the pain caused her to trip up and fall again.
She caught her forehead on the edge of a railing, and the disorientation that quickly consumed her was far worse with nothing to visually focus on. When she was able to finally push her back against the wall and not feel like she was falling over, Helena realized she had no idea which way to go.
"Oracle? I think I might need a little help here," she called out.
"Dinah, please," Barbara pleaded. "Don't do this sweetheart. She's not worth your soul."
"You don't understand Barbara. The moment I touched her, I think I sold it to the Devil herself," the girl said, sounding infinitely sad.
"No Dinah. You haven't, but if you don't stop this now, you will cross that line and there is no coming back from it. Please just let her go and come home."
She watched tensely as Dinah hesitated and then heard Helena's call for help. Her eyes ticked towards the security screens that were monitoring both her and Reese's progress. She quickly typed in another command and killed the link to the cell area where Dinah and Quinn were and opened the channel to Reese.
"Reese this is Oracle. I need for you to take the next corridor on your right and then head down that stairwell. Exit on the third level down and then turn right. Helena's at the end of that corridor and needs your help."
She killed the connection before he could respond and turned her attention back to Dinah.
"What?!" Reese shouted into the air. But there was no answer, and so he took off running in the direction that Oracle had instructed. What the hell was Helena doing here? And how did she get here so fast?
Thirty seconds later he was pounding down the stairwell, and burst out of the stairwell at the appropriate floor. He sped down the corner and as soon as he rounded it, he was greeted with a sight that made him swallow sickly.
"Jesus Christ Helena, what are you doing here and what the hell happened to you? I didn't hear from you for over a month and then Alfred finally tells me that you had an accident and had been hurt badly but you weren't being allowed any visitors while you recovered! Then I get the call from him tonight that Dinah's gone ape shit on Quinn?"
"Jesse, I'll explain what happened later, can you just help me up?" she said weakly.
He frowned, taking in the fresh injuries to her face, and the odd blank look she had in her eyes. But he bent down and wrapped his arm around her torso as she slung an arm over his shoulder and allowed him to pull her upright.
"Which way from here?" he asked.
"I'm not sure. Do you see a large door with two vertical stripes painted on it at the end of this hallway somewhere?"
"What?" he asked confused as he looked over at her.
"Do you see the door?" she asked tightly.
Her gaze was pointed at the floor and still blank and suddenly it dawned on him. "Oh my god Hel!" he gasped.
"I'm blind right now Reese," she confirmed. "Now do you see the fucking door?!"
"Uh, yeah," he answered finally. "How did you make it this far?"
"Later Reese," she answered tightly. "We need to get to Dinah before she kills that bitch. Head for the door."
Barbara watched as Reese picked up Helena and the two of them began to make their way towards the Maximum Security Ward. She only needed to buy them another minute. "Dinah, whatever you are thinking of doing, she's not worth it. I know how much the need to end her threat and to make her pay is burning inside of you right now. You of all people have to know just how close I came that night," Barbara said, her voice shaking as unwanted memories surfaced.
Dinah was staring at the barely conscious woman at her feet, recalling everything she had read from her companions after the fight. "You were going to do it," she said flatly. "You were going to kill her and for that one moment, you didn't care what it would do to you. You were willing to sacrifice yourself, to stop this bitch from ever hurting anyone again."
"Do you remember why I didn't kill her? Were you able to read everything that stopped me from crossing the line that night?"
Dinah's gaze went inwards and then Barbara saw her breath catch. "That's right Dinah. You were a large part of why I didn't kill her sweetheart. Please don't do this now."
She watched the blonde's internal struggle drag on for a few more seconds. "Damn it Barbara you don't understand!" Dinah shouted suddenly as Quinn was levitated off the floor. "People like her don't give up!"
Reese and Helena finally entered the room, the brunette leaning heavily against the detective, her face a mask of pain and exhaustion. "Dinah," she panted. "Leave the bitch alone. I think you've probably proved your point by now."
Harley, who had been allowing herself to fade in and out of consciousness by now to escape some of the pain, came to full alertness the moment Helena entered. Despite the pain it caused she smirked. "Well well, Helena," she slurred. "It appears you have as many extra lives as your mother did. Heard you were on death row there for awhile. Looks like you're still a little worse for the wear th-," her words were cut off as pain lanced through her brain again and she cried out once more.
"Harley, I strongly suggest you shut the fuck up for once," Helena growled out. She murmured something to the detective by her side who seemed to be guiding the brunette towards where Dinah and Quinn were.
Survival kicked in again, and Harley actually remained silent as she observed Helena as closely as her dazed mind would allow. With Reese's help, the brunette approached the tall blonde.
"Dinah, this is all my fault. You shouldn't have to be paying for my mistakes, and I wish there was some way I could take this all back. You were right last night, I am a coward," she admitted quietly as her head hung in shame. "But you aren't. You and Barbara are the strongest people I know, and it's killing us both to see you giving in to someone like her. Please let her go, and come home with me."
Helena blindly reached out and then Quinn's right eye went wide as she realized Helena truly was blind. Dinah's withering glare shot her way though and Quinn quickly snapped her mouth shut. Looking closer however, she realized that Helena's injuries were as fresh as Dinah's and had to smirk. So it was Helena that had managed to kick the blonde's ass recently. Figured.
Dinah shrank back from Hel's touch, but the brunette heard her shift and honed in on her with startling accuracy. A firm hand wrapped around her wrist and Dinah was suddenly assaulted by more than just the surface thoughts in Helena's brain.
That blind gaze burned into hers. "I've hurt her enough to last a lifetime. You're the only one who knows how I feel. Please don't do this to her too," Helena whispered softly enough that no one else could hear but Dinah.
Barbara reached forward to increase the feed's volume, but whatever Helena had said to Dinah seemed to have finally gotten through to the teen. She watched as the anger fled Dinah's body and her shoulders sagged heavily.
Helena sensed the shift in Dinah as well, and pulled her into an unwilling hug. "I'm so sorry about earlier," she whispered, feeling tears form in her eyes as she thought about what she had done to the brave young woman that she had come to consider her sister. "I'm just scared, and lost and I don't want to lose you too."
For the first time ever, Helena dropped her guard completely, and Dinah shuddered as the emotions washed through her. She clung to the smaller woman, as everything began to spin crazily in her head. A heart wrenching sob tore from her chest as her world began to crash down around her, and Helena hung onto her tightly.
Everyone was so wrapped up in the scene between Helena and Dinah, that everyone had forgotten about Quinn for the moment. She however, had been waiting for just the right moment of distraction and wrapped her hand around one of the larger shards that lay strewn across the entire floor. Bracing for the pain that was about follow, she rolled to her feet and launched herself towards the blonde teen.
The two were oblivious to what was happening, but Reese had heard the noise of Quinn getting up and Barbara was shouting a warning even as the psychopath was heading straight for Dinah. The girl instinctively wasn't so distracted however that she didn't sense the impending danger or the instinctive reactions from everyone .
She paused for the two seconds it took for Reese to un-holster his sidearm, aim and fire it before she took control of the situation.
Everyone in the room froze, though not by their own free will. Helena, with her enhanced hearing, could here an odd spinning noise in the deafening silence of the room and frowned as she turned her head in the direction of the peculiar sound.
The teen withdrew from Helena's embrace and turned to face the insane woman that was only a few feet from where she and Hel were standing. She smirked when she saw fear light up in Quinn's eyes, and slowly circled her captive. She noticed that Quinn's gaze was torn between her and the bullet that was still spinning, only millimeters from her head.
Dinah paused and looked at the bullet as well and then back at Reese who was staring at her in frozen shock. "Wow Reese, you sure you're not part meta? I mean this shot really is amazing and you pulled it off cowboy style."
He could only silently watch as Dinah mentally lifted Quinn and moved her so close to the bullet that it dug ever so slightly into the skin of her forehead. The friction alone caused the metal to bite deeper into flesh, and a trickle of blood began to seep down the side of her face.
"Dinah, don't do this," Barbara pleaded over the speakers.
Dinah ignored her however. She just met Quinn's gaze and let the older woman see the madness in her own eyes as she stepped into Quinn's personal space and wrapped a slender hand around the back of the smaller blonde's neck. She leaned in, her mouth brushing Quinn's ear and smirked when she felt Quinn's internal shudder.
"You must be so proud of yourself, because you did this to me. You finally sent one of us over the edge, but you're realizing too late that you picked the wrong damn one and scares the shit out of you right now doesn't it? I can feel your fear, and you know what? You're right .it is seductive and empowering," Dinah admitted.
She leaned back, still smirking. "I could give you the most horrific death right now while I held you immobile and there is nothing anyone could do to stop me," she declared arrogantly. She watched as Quinn's gaze flickered around the room. "Not even Barbara can stop me, because I have disabled all of the safeties surrounding this entire area."
Dinah tipped her head to one side, a mannerism that was not at all hers, but a side-effect of merging with Quinn's mind. "You really do have a sick mind, because you showed me all sorts of unpleasant ways to kill a person that I could have never have even dreamed of before. Would you like to see some of the ways you could die?"
Quinn couldn't even flinch as the girl's grip on the back of her neck slid up into her hair and tightened, yanking her head back slightly as icy blue eyes stared deep into her own. And then the images assaulted her. What she saw made even her sick.
Dinah was right. She had created this. Dinah was her mental prodigy, and she had lost complete control over someone who was far more insane and in far less control than herself. To make matters worse, Dinah was out for more than just blood .she was out to make Quinn suffer.
The bullet was still spinning against her head, the metal burning as it continued to slowly eat away at the flesh. But the pain was nothing compared to the fear that welled up and consumed her. The triumphant look in Dinah's eyes as a hungry smile stretched those young lips, turned the fear into something Quinn hadn't felt ever in her life.
Chapter 9: Shatter
Helena fought against the hold Dinah had her locked in for several moments before realizing it was futile. If the Kid had the ability to disable the safety systems in the entire wing, there was no way she was going to break out of her mental grip.
She wished she could see what was going on though. That strange spinning sound was still tickling her sensitive ears, and the scent of burnt flesh and the coppery tang of blood was assaulting her sense of smell. She had to guess it was coming from Quinn, who was apparently as immobilized as she and Reese were.
Helena desperately tried to think of a way to stop all of this as she listened to the blonde's cold words to Quinn. God this was so fucked up, she groaned to herself. Think Helena! she chastised herself. For once use your head, because your fists aren't going to get you out of this one.
And then it hit her. She forced herself to tune everything out for a moment and focused her mind inwardly. When Dinah and Barbara had linked with her during that one case with Ketterly, she had remembered the odd feeling that she'd been left with for a couple of hours after the mind merging. It was the lingering effects of having someone other than herself in her mind.
When the Kid had accidentally read her during an intense sparring session shortly after Black Canary had been killed, Helena had immediately sensed her presence in the back of her skull before the Kid had a chance to tell her what had just happened.
Helena sought out that now familiar touch, and immediately found it. Dinah had gotten much better at masking her presence, but Helena sensed her none-the-less. Which meant that she had an open link to the Kid. Saying a quick silent prayer that this would work, she followed that thread back to its source and mentally shouted at her partner with everything she had.
Dinah had been so focused on Quinn that she had been distracted enough to not sense what Helena was up to until the emotional outburst in her own mind caught her completely off guard and caused her to physically stumble. Her hand flew up to rub at the sharp pain that immediately ran through her temple and she winced as she was bombarded by a flood of powerful emotions.
She instinctively severed her link with Helena, forgetting for a moment that this would also release the brunette from her hold. Through her headache, she vaguely heard Hel gasp and stagger, and then the brunette was fumbling blindly towards her.
"Damn it Hel!" Dinah swore angrily. Wary of trying to link with her again, the blonde backed away from Helena as the older woman finally honed in on her and limped towards her with intent.
"Dinah, you can kick my ass from here to Metropolis and back if it will make you feel better, but please stop this," Helena begged. "She's not worth your soul."
Dinah stopped her retreat and looked aver at Quinn, still frozen in her grasp. "You don't understand Hel she already took it," Dinah finally said sadly.
Helena had closed the distance between them, and her healing hands searched up Dinah's body until they were gently cupping her face. She couldn't see the younger woman, but Helena could sense the pain and loss in the blonde and felt tears well up in her eyes. "If she had, you would have killed her by now," Helena whispered. God she wished she could see Dinah right now! Her hands convulsively tightened, and she felt Dinah stiffen as her strong emotions bled into the telepath.
"Please come back to us," the brunette begged in the barest of whispers, even though she was projecting that single thought as loudly as she could along with every ounce of love she had for the girl that had become like a sister to her.
Dinah gasped, and then with a shudder her eyes closed, and she and Hel went completely silent for many long moments as everyone else watched on, helpless to say or do anything else to reach either young woman.
Barbara was gripping the edge of her desk tightly, her upper body completely tensed up as she watched the scene unfold before her. How Helena had managed to break Dinah's hold on her to begin with was beyond the redhead at the moment. But it was clear that the two were locked in some kind of mental link right now, and they were all quickly running out of time.
The redhead's hands flew across her keyboards, bringing Arkham into a tight lockdown. She still had no control of the section Quinn was being held in, but Barbara was able to control everything leading into that section. By locking it down, she would be able to stall the approaching SWAT team's breach of the facility by at least five, perhaps even ten minutes.
Then all she could do was sit back and watch. "Please get through to her," she whispered fervently. Alfred's steady hand on her shoulder gave her a measure of hope.
The maelstrom of Dinah's fractured mind nearly shattered Helena's own unstable sanity. What she saw, the unfathomable power she felt, and the terrifying cacophony of "noise" that bombarded her as it did Dinah, mentally brought Helena to her knees, screaming.
Dear god in heaven, no wonder the kid was losing it. And she thought her own life was fucked up.
It was a brutal smack of reality that brought Helena immediately out of her emotional downward spiral. She had failed her family, she'd gotten an innocent man killed, and she was now blind. But at least she didn't have to deal with this every second of every day. It was the old adage that there is always someone out there who has it worse than you do. She just never imagined it would be sweet innocent Dinah.
Something finally stirred deep within Helena, breaking her free of the suffocating depression that had stolen her will to exist these past few months. She would not lose Dinah to Quinn too. Drawing on every ounce of stubbornness that both parents had gifted her with, the brunette fought past the pain and noise and once more reached out to the blonde figure that was huddled on the ground next to her, sobbing.
It was then that Helena realized she could see clearly and was eternally grateful for that one small boon here in the planes of Dinah's mind. With tears of her own pouring down her face, Helena wrapped her adoptive younger sister up in a fierce hug and just held her, feeling everything that Dinah did through the link.
"God Dinah I never knew," she said in a choked whisper. "I'm so sorry .I'm sorry I caused this to happen to you."
And Helena hated herself just a little bit more, but was doubly determined to make this right. Dinah however was able to clearly read her thoughts and stiffened. "No this isn't your fault Hel!" she shouted angrily as she pulled away from the brunette.
"Dinah, look at yourself. I can feel everything you are going through right now and this is all because you touched Quinn that night trying to cover for me. You were trying to fix what I fucked up and now you are paying the price."
"Damnit Helena I'm not a kid anymore and you both need to stop treating me like one!!!" Dinah continued. "I knew what I was risking if I touched Quinn that night. I knew before I even touched her. But that bitch had just shattered the first people I had come to think of as my family. I 'saw' what would happen if I didn't silence her Hel. I had to make sure she didn't expose us or our lives would have been even worse off than they are now. I was willing to sell my soul to the Devil right then and there if it meant keeping us from going down that path."
Helena was rendered speechless for several long moments. "Was it really worse than what we are facing right now?" she asked hoarsely. She honestly couldn't imagine things being worse than they were right now.
Dinah's shaky whispered convinced her that she didn't even want to know how much worse it could be. "If Quinn had the chance to expose us, the repercussions would reach far beyond our lives and that of New Gotham."
Helena watched as Dinah's gaze glazed over, and realized she was seeing into the future. Their dark surroundings suddenly began to shimmer with what could only be faint visions of what was to come. It was all very intangible, but the ghostly images and sounds were more than enough to fill Helena with a sense of dread.
"Humanity's existence will be threatened and it will take all of Earth's champions to save us from annihilation. Had I not kept Quinn silent, the Oracle would be forever silenced, and for the want of six creatures of the night, a war would be lost," Dinah told her in a distant voice, her tone carrying the weight of a prophecy being foretold.
Helena's eyes flickered around them as the faint images played out a horrific battle being waged. The enormity of it shook her to the core as one scene in particular caught her attention. It looked like a final standoff, because as the image flickered by them, she recognized dozens of superheroes before the scene shifted and then eventually faded as the vision passed.
Helena blinked, and filed away what she felt and saw for later discussion. This wasn't the time to delve into this particular revelation, but it was too important to sideline indefinitely. She released a shaky breath and blinked again to try and clear her head.
"Alright D, you made the right choice then, but you can't keep torturing her or yourself like this. All you are doing is becoming more like her and giving her the satisfaction of knowing that she's breaking you. Do you really want to let a douche bag like her get the upper hand over you? Just wipe her mind, if that's what you think needs to be done and then let her rot in here for the rest of her life. It will certainly be a far better punishment than any of us could ever give her," Helena pleaded.
Dinah's gaze finally refocused on Hel, and with a tired sigh she stepped back, hugging her arms around herself. "I don't think I can go back Hel. Not after what I've done."
It was the first time in a long time Hel saw the insecure teen part of Dinah resurface. "We can never take back what we've done Dinah. You've been in my head and you know just how much I wish I could change everything. All we can do is deal with the hand we've been dealt and move forward. What you said to me last night .it made me realize I was being a coward. And that was a bitter pill to swallow and I think that's why it pissed me off so much.
"But, I'm not going to let either of you down ever again. And I sure as hell am not going to give up on you now Dinah. I will walk through hell and back if it means I can set things right with my family. We can make it through this Dinah, but only if we stick together in this. So please let Quinn and Jesse go and let's go home and heal."
The stone walls that Dinah had been building around herself over the last few weeks and months shattered under that emotional request. She sank against Helena once more, and buried her face in the brunette's shoulder. "I just want the voices to stop," she whispered hoarsely.
Hearing those words from Dinah, while they were standing inside Arkham's walls just struck something as perversely funny inside Helena. And she giggled, before she could stop it. Dinah's head snapped up, her eyes flaring in anger for a moment, before her own mind caught up with the brunette's line of thought. The teen paused, and then she too giggled.
And something inside both young women broke as they clung to each other laughing and crying, as the irony of their lives caught up with them in that moment. It was the first step in exorcising the ugly demons that haunted them, and it was the final blow to the cold and vengeful hatred that had surrounded Dinah all these weeks.
"I promise you Dinah somehow I will help to make this right. We'll find a way, but if you keep this up, you'll only undo everything that we try. So what say we call it a night and head home?"
Dinah's answer never came verbally, but she finally relented. With a gasp, Helena found her mind dropped sharply back into her own head, and her world went pitch black once more. She staggered a bit, exhaustion seeping into every pore of her body with the force of a Mack truck hitting her, and it was only because of Dinah's strong grip that she stayed upright.
The spinning noise stopped, and there was the sound of a small metallic object bouncing along the concrete. Helena heard two more bodies begin to shift and then the click of a gun hammer being drawn back.
"Don't think I won't hesitate to put one in your skull Quinn. Dinah may have stopped me the first time, but I won't miss again," Reese threatened harshly.
"Helena, Dinah, you need to get out of there. SWAT has already breached the facility and I have slowed them down but they are only a couple of minutes from cutting through the last of the security doors."
Dinah helped Helena lean against the wall and then took quick steps towards Quinn, who promptly shrank back in fear from the blonde. Dinah, didn't let up though, and when she had the former psychiatrist backed into a corner, she grabbed the older woman by the front of her coveralls and leaned in.
"I should just tell you're heart to stop beating right now and save everyone the trouble of keeping you alive," the teen ground out. "You aren't worth a bullet, let alone three squares and a hot shower a day. But Helena's right. You definitely aren't worth what's left of my soul. So say goodbye to everything you've ever known Harleen, because my face is the last thing you are going to remember of this life. You are about to be given a clean slate. Let's all hope you decide to do something a little better with your life in the future."
"No wait! It doesn't have to be-," Quinn's pleas were cut off as Dinah's hand slid up into Quinn's short hair and tightened.
The teen closed her eyes and bent her head in extreme concentration as Quinn's eyes widened and then rolled up into her own head. The link lasted for only a few seconds and then Dinah stepped away from the unconscious woman, visibly shaken.
"Dinah?" Helena asked quietly.
"It's done. Before...I just blocked her memories. But this time I have wiped them completely. I have left her only with a few basics of herself and her past. She knows nothing of who she is now or of the world she became a part of," Dinah answered. She looked up towards the camera. "How are we getting out of here Oracle?"
"There is a janitor's corridor just outside the door behind you. Inside is a ventilation shaft that leads down into the basement. You can drop into the sewer system from there."
"And the night just keeps getting better," Helena muttered as she shoved away from the wall and swung her head towards Reese. "Jesse?" she asked quietly.
"I got it covered from here Helena. Just get the hell out of here before they break through. But expect me to be by for an explanation when this is all over with."
Helena nodded. "You deserve it," she admitted quietly. "I'm sorry to drag you into the middle of this again Reese, but thank you."
Dinah was slipping an arm under Helena's shoulder, helping both to support and guide her as they made their way out of the room and away from the Asylum.
Barbara released a harsh breath and dropped her head into her hands with a silent sob of relief. Alfred rested both hands on her shoulders now, and despite his earlier gesture of confidence, she could feel the slight tremble in them now Without looking back, she moved one hand up and rested it atop his, and squeezed gently.
Things had been too close once more. Barbara's mind spun as she desperately tried to figure out a way to help her youngest protégé. It was Alfred's quiet words of wisdom that finally got her mind on the right track.
"Perhaps it is time to seek out some trusted old friends for aid with Miss Dinah. Someone who can empathize with her talents?" he suggested gently.
Barbara's sharp mind immediately honed in on the one and perhaps only person who could help her. But her hands hovered over her keyboard. Two seconds later, her apprehensions over breaking her anonymity as the Oracle were squashed in the face of desperation. Besides, if any of them knew her true identity, it would be him.
As her eyes tracked her partners' swift return, she placed the call.
Chapter 10: Solace
"God, the two of us must really be a sight right now," Helena mumbled, as Dinah stumbled, nearly sending the two young women crashing into the side of the elevator.
The teen was helping to support most of Helena's weight as her exertions, both physical and mental had over taxed her still healing body and given her a crippling migraine. But Dinah wasn't much better off herself. Between her own injuries from the previous evening's fight, the backlash of Helena breaking through her guard, and the constant onslaught of mental noise she already had to deal with, Dinah was also struggling to remain upright.
Had she the strength, she might have snorted in wry amusement at Helena's statement. As it was, she could barely manage a grunt of acknowledgement. Already she was being overwhelmed by the waves of concern that were rolling off Barbara and Alfred as they approached the upper floors. As the doors opened she winced visibly and gasped as those emotions hit her full force.
"You ok D?" Helena asked, not so out of it that she didn't notice her partner stiffening, or hear her quick intake of air.
"No," was all Dinah could grit out for a few seconds. Helena's concerns were added to the waves bombarding her and she grabbed her head with her free hand and groaned as she sagged against the elevator wall.
"What's wrong Kid?"
"Too much .please ." Dinah begged.
In her half lucid state, it took Helena a moment to decipher what Dinah was asking for but then she immediately attempted to clamp down on her emotions even as she heard Barbara and Alfred moving towards them voicing concerns.
"Do you need for us to try and block our emotions out right now Dinah?" Helena asked more for Barbara and Alfred's benefit than Dinah's.
"Please," the blonde hissed.
Helena heard the other two pause as they took in this information, and then a moment later Dinah began to relax against Helena's side.
"Is that better Dinah?" Barbara asked soothingly.
"Yes .thank you."
"Come my dear Miss, I have some snacks and hot cocoa waiting for you in the kitchen, before you retire upstairs to clean up. I think a warm stomach and a hot soak afterwards should aide in a full nights rest," Alfred said as Barbara moved forward to offer Helena her support so Alfred could tend to Dinah.
"Yeah .that sounds really good right now," the teen mumbled as she allowed herself to be lead off towards the kitchen.
"Dinah?" Barbara said before the girl was out of the room. The teen turned to look at Barbara, her young face wracked with an agony the older woman couldn't even begin to fathom. It took everything in Barbara's willpower to clamp down on the emotions that surged forth as she saw the girl in such pain.
"Dinah, we will get through this. I promise you that. I'll be damned if I let that woman tear this family apart again. Do you trust me to help you through this?"
Dinah hesitated and then nodded. "You've always been there for me Barbara all of you have. I'm sorry I let you down tonight by what I did," she whispered as she hung her head in shame.
"Dinah, all that matters is that you didn't kill her and you are back home safe."
"But not sound," Dinah couldn't help but remark her lips curling at the irony of the whole situation.
"I don't think any of us are right now, but we will be with time. You've read me and know what it was like when I was first paralyzed. It took time and a lot of hard battles to get to where I am today. But we can come through if we rely on each other for support. Will you be willing to do that?"
Dinah looked up, pale blue eyes burning with determination for the first time in a long time. "You guys are the only family I have left. I don't want to lose you either." It was the first time in weeks that the insecure teen half of Dinah really began to show through.
"And you won't. Now let Alfred work his magic and I'll be in to check on you in awhile after I tend to Helena."
As soon as Alfred had led Dinah off, Barbara turned her attention to the brunette, who was leaning heavily against her chair. Her gaze was staring blankly ahead, and pain and exhaustion were plainly written into every inch of face.
With a sigh, Barbara rested a hand gently of Helena's. "Come on Hel, let's get you cleaned up," she said softly.
The brunette limped after Barbara and allowed the older woman to help her out of her clothing until she was sitting on the med table in a bloodied tank top and underwear. "Pulled some stitches didn't I?" Helena asked as Barbara sighed heavily as she took in the damage.
"And then some. You're feet are a mess, and did you fall?" Barbara asked as she took in the road rash on both of Hel's knees and the deep abrasion on her right palm.
"I didn't exactly have time to pull on my Huntress gear or boots," Helena reminded Barbara. "And yeah. My knee gave out on a couple of landings and I misjudged a couple of others. My depth perception was off."
"Depth perception?" Barbara asked, trying valiantly not to get her hopes up too much as she took in Helena's blind gaze.
"Last night, when the kid pushed me too far, something inside me snapped. Next thing I knew, I was tapped into this primal part of me that I've kept locked away. My senses went into overdrive and for a few minutes, I could see. But it wasn't like my normal vision. It was like infrared or heat vision I guess. Enough to let me make out my surroundings and people, but it's hard to judge distances."
"So when you left you were able to tap into that again? You really were looking at me?"
Helena heard the rising hope in Red's voice and nodded gingerly. "Yeah," she sighed, and then winced.
"Lasted long enough for me to get there," she grunted as a sharp stab of pain lanced through her skull. "Leaves me with a bitch of a headache though."
Which brought Helena back to why she'd even needed to go out in the first place. "What are we gonna do about the kid Barbara? I have to make this right .but I don't know how. If we don't help her regain control somehow and fast .she'll snap for sure. And god help us all if that happens," she whispered.
Barbara's hands shook a bit after Hel made that statement, realizing just how powerful her young charge had become. "I contacted a friend shortly before the two of you arrived. His powers rival Dinah's, and I think he is perhaps the only one at this point that can help her. He was already aware of her psionic abilites, and knew the situation was becoming critical with her. He wants to take her away for a little while to give her a break from all of this and to train her."
"Who is it?"
"The Martian Manhunter?" Helena asked, wincing after her head snapped up too quickly in surprise.
"Wow," was all Helena could manage.
They were both silent for a little while as Barbara focused on the task of patching Helena back up. "The kid is probably already aware of everything, but you had better make sure this is all okay with her as soon as you go up to check on her."
"I planned on it. J'onn wanted to come down here immediately, but I talked him into letting things wait until the morning so that we can all talk about a few things."
Helena simply nodded, to exhausted and sore to do much more at the minute. Fifteen minutes later, Barbara had finished her gentle ministrations, and had fetched Helena some clean clothes. "Let's go talk with Dinah before she heads to bed and then you can soak in my tub."
"'k." Helena mumbled as she slid gingerly off the table and reached out for Barbara's shoulder when her knee protested against the weight being put back on the injured joint. They moved slowly up to Dinah's room, where the teen was laying on her bed staring up at the ceiling.
"How are you feeling?" Barbara asked her.
"A little better."
"Liar," Helena countered as she sank onto Dinah's bed, knowing full well that the girl was severely hurting inside.
"Hel," Barbara sighed.
Dinah snorted however. "It's okay, she's right. I still feel like shit. And don't lecture me on my language, because if you were going through what I'm going through right now you'd say the same exact thing. Actually you'd manage to make it even more colorful with your extensive vocabulary and you would think it in at least three different languages," the blonde smirked.
Barbara opened her mouth, shut it and then chuckled. "You're right," she allowed. Her expression gentled, and knowing that Dinah was now fully aware of her every thought and emotion, she tried to project as much calm and love as she could towards the girl.
"Dinah, you're aware of the call I made this evening?" she asked.
Dinah nodded, and looked at the floor. "Yes."
"Are you okay with going with J'onn?"
"Can he make the noise stop?" she asked her eyes raising to meet Barbara's. There was so much pain and torture in that look that Barbara couldn't help but feel her heart break. She reached out and drew Dinah into a fierce hug.
"If anyone can it would be him. J'onn has been through a great many trials in his own lifetime, and like you, he possesses an ability that none of us can even begin to understand. I believe he will want to take you up to the Watchtower for a short while, because I know he has developed a special area that can completely shield him from all thoughts."
"The Watchtower?" Dinah asked, pulling back a look of increasing interest growing on her young face.
"First she let's you drive the Hummer. Then you get to be the first one to go meet all the Justice Leaguers at their base in space," Helena grumbled good naturedly, having heard the mild excitement in Dinah's tone when she found out that she could be going to the Watchtower. She wished she could see the younger woman's face right now, because she was sure that a tiny spark of her old self had to be showing in her eyes.
Barbara felt a genuine smile creep onto her face for the first time in months. "It is truly an amazing place and it's been years since I was last there so I can only imagine what the League has done to improve it over the last decade. But Dinah I want to make sure that you are truly okay with going with J'onn and being away from us for a little while."
Dinah looked down at her sheets, and then nodded before she met Barbara's gaze. "I can feel myself slipping Barbara," she admitted in a shaky whisper. "A part of me is sickened by what I've been doing what I nearly did to Quinn. But there is a growing part of me that says she deserved all of it and more.
"There are things in my head that no person should ever experience. Things that no one should ever think, or hear, or see. I can't block out anyone's thoughts, and every day I'm one step closer to becoming just like her. Helena was right .if I do lose control .God help us all, because it will take the whole damn League to bring me down now."
Barbara and Helena were shaken deeply by that statement. Helena knew first-hand just how powerful Dinah was. But it was another thing to hear the person who wielded that power make such a bold statement. Especially when such a statement was true.
"I have to do this I need to do this. If we have any chance of putting this family back together, then I have to go and get my head straightened out. Besides .after tonight, maybe it would be good for me to get away for awhile."
Barbara nodded and looked at her folded hands for a few minutes. "This whole experience has made me look very hard at our lives and realize something important. There is nothing that will ever come before my family not even the Life. Bruce and I always disagreed on that, and in the end, I think that's why he took everything so hard- because he felt that he didn't have anyone to lean on for support. He couldn't let himself lean on anyone. But I'm not like him," she said firmly.
"Even if Hel wasn't blind, and you were still stable, I had decided that maybe it was time for all of us to take a break for awhile perhaps even permanently."
Helena's head lifted with that statement. Dinah's head tilted to the side. "You weren't sure if you really meant that until you just said it," she stated, her eyes widening. "But you would do it you'd give it all up for us."
Fully knowing that she didn't do well when it came to emotionally laden conversations, especially when it was her own emotions involved. Barbara merely nodded and stated simply. "I would."
"Promise me one thing while I'm gone?" Dinah asked after several silent moments.
"The two of you have gotten so used to hiding behind your masks, that you've stopped being open with each other. You can't hide from me, but you're hiding from each other and if you're honest, you know that you're hiding from yourselves as well. Promise me you will open up to each other really open up to each other. Because if you don't, then nothing will ever be resolved."
Barbara looked over at Helena, who was blindly looking her way as well. The redhead was sure that the look of trepidation on Helena's face was mirrored on her own. But with a soft sigh she nodded. "I know Helena and I have a lot to talk about, things that neither of us have felt comfortable talking about yet. But I promise you Dinah, that while you are away, we will try to address them."
That seemed to be enough for the young woman. "Then if it's all the same to you Barbara, I'd really like to get some honest to god sleep and I can't do that here. Do you think we could call J'onn now?" she asked somewhat shyly.
Barbara suddenly noticed the duffle bag that was already packed and ready to go in the corner of the room, and the fact that Dinah was wearing a loose tee-shirt and her yoga pants. An outfit that was versatile enough that it could be traveled or slept in.
She smirked a tiny bit. "I'll go give him a call," she said rolling out of the room. Helena moved to stand, but Dinah reached out and grabbed her hand.
"Stay for just a minute Hel. I need to talk to you about something else before I leave."
Ten minutes later, Barbara knocked softly on the door frame. Helena was still sitting on Dinah's bed, with a slightly disturbed and troubled look on her face. But she wiped it off as soon as she realized Barbara had returned, causing the redhead to wonder what exactly the two younger women had been discussing in her absence.
She let it slide went a slight movement from her side reminded her that introductions were in order. "Helena, Dinah, I would like for you both to meet J'onn J'onzz," she introduced as the tall green Martian moved up behind Barbara as she entered the room.
Barbara noticed that Dinah's eyes had widened. "I didn't even hear you!" she whispered. "You're mind is silent."
The tall green alien gave the teen a kind smile. "Something that you will be able to accomplish in no time at all with a little help Dinah," he assured.
"It is a pleasure to meet you both finally ladies. I have heard a great many things about the newest defenders of New Gotham over these last few years. Your work has been most impressive and has earned the respect of the League. I had hoped that our first meeting would have been under different circumstances however," he said with genuine regret as he took in Helena's sightless gaze, and Dinah's troubled thoughts.
He rested a hand on Barbara's shoulder, sensing the burden of guilt she was carrying. "Barbara Gordon, you have done a remarkable job here. To have risen from the ashes like the Phoenix symbol you've chosen, and become one of the most valuable assets to the League despite the tragedy that struck you down .you continue to amaze even me, my friend," he said in a warm voice as his gaze bore into hers.
"I can sense the turmoil and guilt within you however. It is a burden all who live this life are faced with at one time or another. But this too shall pass, and you will once again triumph over the obstacles. Have faith in yourself and in those you care for," he told her sagely.
Barbara looked between Helena and Dinah and then back up at J'onn. "I do," she said, firmly believing that they would indeed rise above the devastation that had been wrought on their small family.
"Dinah Lance, are you ready to find the peace your mind so desperately seeks?"
"Yes," she all but pleaded.
"Then say goodbye to your family properly and meet me downstairs when you are done," he instructed before nodding a farewell to Barbara and then left.
For the first time in months, Dinah allowed hope to build within her. She was scared of herself. What had happened earlier in Arkham with Quinn ..it was like she had become a different person. She didn't know herself any more, and the cold creature she had become terrified her.
Now someone was offering her a chance to sort through the mess in her head- someone who could possibly understand exactly what she was going through. Someone she knew she could trust. J'onn was her one chance to try and piece back what was left of her old life. A life she suddenly realized she wanted back very badly.
Without warning, she grabbed Helena who was sitting next to her still and hugged her fiercely. "I'm so sorry about what I said last night," she whispered.
Despite the renewed flare of discomfort, Helena hugged Dinah back just as hard. "It's okay Dinah. We were both mad, and not in our right minds. But you were right- about everything- and I'm sorry that we are even at this juncture in our lives. Just promise me you'll come back the same Sunny D you were before Quinn fucked up our lives."
Dinah smiled at the affectionate nickname, and nodded against Helena's shoulder. "I'm gonna give it my best shot Hel," she promised. "You just remember what I said okay?"
Helena nodded once, swallowing hard.
The teen picked up her bag and walked to the door where Barbara was waiting. "I promise to keep in touch with you," she told her mentor as she leaned down to hug her as well.
"Just remember that not all battles are won overnight Dinah. You are going to have your bad days, but it will get easier over time. And anytime you need to talk to us you know you are only a call or a short transport away okay?"
"Thank you ..for really believing in me."
"Always sweetheart. Now go get some real sleep," Barbara said with a genuine smile. Yes, she was sad to see her youngest partner go, but knowing that she was in safe hands and about to receive the help she so desperately needed, brought Barbara peace of mind.
With one final goodbye and kiss to Barbara's cheek, Dinah slipped past her and several moments later, Barbara heard the familiar hum of a Watchtower transport. Helena had collapsed back onto Dinah's bed, tears in her eyes, and Barbara rolled over to the bed and transferred herself onto the mattress next to the younger woman.
Helena allowed Barbara to hold her as she wept. "Is it really going to be okay?" she asked finally, afraid to let herself hope that there could actually be a light to this tunnel of hell they had all been through.
"As long as we rely on each other, you know it will be Helena. If you and I made it through that first year together, we sure as hell can beat this," the redhead said, her old determination resurfacing.
Helena relaxed in her partner's embrace, finally allowing herself to be comforted by her presence and her words. For the first time in weeks, she dropped off into a deep and untroubled sleep. Barbara lay there holding Helena, finally believing the words she had spoken, and listened as Helena's breathing evened out and slowed as sleep claimed her.
Exhaustion finally overtook the redhead, the events of the night having taken its toll on her as well. Without even being aware of it, she too quickly dropped off into a peaceful slumber, free of the nightmares that had been plaguing her for months.
On his way to the second guest quarters that Alfred used as his own on occasion, he paused to look in on the two women and smiled fondly. He had found the two of them like this on numerous nights during their first couple of years together their desperate need for a quiet night's sleep compelling them to seek the comfort of the other.
It had been a good many years however, since he'd seen them seek out the other for comfort in such a physical manner. But it was a very good sign that things could finally begin to get back to normal. Well, he chuckled inwardly to himself as he covered them with a blanket and turned off the light. As normal as things could ever be in this household, he amended in amusement before he too retired for the night.
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