DISCLAIMER: These characters and situations do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I have borrowed them as part of my sanity maintenance.
SEQUEL/SERIES: To In the Shadow of a Blizzard but can be read seperately.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"I need you now."
It was becoming a bit of a habit; Huntress being summoned by Oracle.
Yet, as Helena Bertinelli made her way to Ex-Commissioner Gordon's townhouse, she couldn't be too aggrieved at the fact. Ever since their friendship, and a strained friendship at that, had morphed into a relationship of sorts, Helena had been looking for a way to make Barbara see that she would and could do anything for the information broker.
So, being summoned to help couldn't be called a hardship; it was just the way Oracle demanded her presence that stung a little.
There again, the last time she was called into action, this past Christmas Eve, had turned out to be a wonderful, relationship cementing evening. Oracle treating Helena's class to a huge party including presents and topped off with an exciting snow battle; admittedly, she had started as an unwilling participant in that battle, but one look at the joy on her student's faces had changed all that, and the after-party activities more than made up for her wet hair and clothing.
Taking her home to have a hot shower; Barbara had crept in to share the hot water, and had proceeded to demonstrate just how agile the former Batgirl could be. Helena had been pleasantly surprised at the immediate, passionate understanding they shared.
Smiling, she wondered how Oracle intended for her to celebrate the New Year.
"Just wear those black jeans; you know the ones that show off that tight ass of yours, and that black leather jacket we got at Macy's. Oh, and pick up a piece of coal on your way, and a bottle of whiskey, and some bread, and be here exactly two minutes before midnight, but don't knock until you hear the bells oh, damn, Hel, just come, okay? "
Just come okay? How could she just come? She had a shopping list to collect first. Helena, to Barbara's astonishment, had already proven herself to be a willing and able accomplice on cyber duties, and that shopping list had her too intrigued to just come, she had at least half an hour to spare before heading over to Gotham City, and so...
A small detour to her computer, a quick search for the items listed, and she knew she was on her way to be the First-footer at Jim Gordon's house. Racking her brains she remembered Barbara telling her, late one night, as the redhead had kept her company while on a freezing stake-out at Gotham Docks that the Gordon family descended from a long line of true Scots.
It appeared Hogmanay celebrations were on the agenda tonight; New Years Eve.
Helena groaned; she had the bread, the whiskey, and the requested attire, but where the fuck was she supposed to get a piece of coal at this time of night. Suddenly, she remembered the case they had worked down at Stemson's Herring Smoking Plant. Damn the smell had taken weeks to dissipate; Helena was sure her students wrinkled their noses every time she entered the classroom, and it had taken Barbara three whole weeks before she'd shared another goodnight kiss with the vigilante. But, she knew, Stemson still insisted on smoking his herring on coal-fired furnaces.
Clambering down into the factory yard, she spied the piles of coal and whooped with joy, only to realize simultaneously that a rather large bulldog was descending on that tight ass she was saving for Oracle's attentions.
With one piece of coal safely stowed away in a pocket, Helena accepted that one small rip in the knee of her favourite black jeans was a small price to pay to fulfil Barbara's request. Glancing at a nearby clock, she saw she only had 15 minutes left to reach the Gordon's house. Helena flew; Barbara's wrath was not something she wanted to see tonight.
Finally, with a few minutes to catch her breath, she waited on the porch of the Ex-Commissioner's townhouse. Almost immediately, she heard a soft sound as Barbara poked her head out of the entranceway.
"Helena, is that you?"
"Nah, it's the fucking flat-footed, cross-eyed, dark-haired first-footer you sent for. Who'd you think it was?"
Reaching out to pull the dark haired woman down into a fiery kiss, Barbara answered Helena's sarcasm with a light tone.
"Oh, I thought it was a tall, handsome stranger bearing gifts. Wait " the redhead allowed her gaze to rake hungrily over Helena's appearance, " I think you pretty much fit the bill, don't you?"
"Knock it off, Babs, your Dad'll know that a female First-footer is regarded with dread. How're you going to answer that one, huh?"
The bells of celebration began to sound across their beloved city, and Jim Gordon could be heard shouting for Barbara. She smiled at Helena and turned to wheel away. Just before she left, she turned back to whisper over her shoulder.
"Don't worry, Hel; the only provision he has is that it's got to be someone I care about."
Stunned at the words, Helena could only stare as Barbara wheeled away and closed the door. Barbara cared about her; that was what she'd said, wasn't it? Never, ever, even last week during their first night of passion, had they uttered words of caring. That was one step away from loving, wasn't it?
As her smile grew, and what she thought must be happiness settled in the pit of her stomach, Helena suddenly realized that maybe it was love that kept her coming back for more of Oracle's summonses.
The stroke of midnight struck and, suddenly, Helena wanted nothing more than to see Barbara again, to demand something herself, an answer to just what this was.
She knocked, hard.
The look on Jim Gordon's face as he opened the door would stay with Helena for years to come. At first a look of total astonishment crossed his face, and then a broad grin creased his craggy features. He flung the door wide and ushered her in.
Helena remembered the words of the internet site she had visited. On entering the house unhindered, the first footer is said to place the coal on the fire, the loaf on the table and serve a glass for the head of the family, without speaking or being spoken to until he wishes everyone "A Merry New Year." The first footer should enter the house through the front door and leave through the back door. She put her coal on top of the electric fire, the loaf of bread on the table, grabbed a glass off the side, opened the bottle of whiskey, and poured a tumbler full, then swung around without a word, smiled heartedly, and raised her glass to toast Jim Gordon.
His rumble of laughter followed her over to the other side of the room where she gazed down into Barbara's wide green eyes, alight with happiness and pride. Helena bent over and kissed her partner, and then, still without a word, headed for the back door.
It was Jim Gordon that rushed after her, grabbing her by the shoulders and giving her a crushing hug.
"Helena Bertinelli, that was magnificent. All I've ever wanted as a first footer is someone my daughter could love as the woman she has become, and for that person to love her as she is." He looked the young woman up and down and then whispered in her ear, "You fit the bill very nicely, my dear. Now go back around the front and come have a drink with your family."
Ever more stunned at the night's turn of events, Helena once again did as she was told, to be met by Barbara with another breath-stealing kiss. This time it was a kiss of such promise that Helena knew, despite her being a woman, that her first footing had been successful.
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