DISCLAIMER: Birds of Prey is not my copyright. This story is not-for-prophet, no money is being made from it and access to it should not be bought or sold.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: (Story:) it's loosely based on the show's storyline, but there will be some differences of course also, I did try to make it as reader friendly as possible, so if you haven't watched the show, you should hopefully still be able to read this without any problems (Beta Reader:) many thanks to Wolfe for her help (Spoilers:) there are a few; primarily draws from episodes 8 and 9, 'Lady Shiva' and 'Nature of the Beast' (Key:) "speaking" ~ [thoughts] ~ //voice on the phone// ~ accent on the word (Warnings:) some violence as the story requires; crime scene related, including an instance that shows the fallout of domestic violence, as well as a few scenes involving gun violence and hand-to-hand fighting the story is not very violence prevalent though, so I don't imagine you'll see these things terribly often.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Murder, Said The Killer
By Jessica Knight
The airport was a sea of people, most of whom were in various stages of panic or confusion, all blurring into a white noise for her as Sandy ran. The bullet in her torso was grinding against her ribs as she moved, and she grit her teeth against the shooting pains and dizziness that threatened to steal the waking world away from her along with her adopted daughter.
Shouts from airport security rang out again, heard through the buzzing haze her reality was degenerating into. The hit men were at least making it easy on her in that regard.
Coming to a balcony now, her fingers closed around the dirt from a row of decorative flora that lined it's edge. Down below, she saw them. The men in dark suits, Mack with the gun and his three stooges. At least fifteen security guards closing in on them from multiple directions. Gunfire being exchanged. There was one less stooge now she noted, a security guard probably having done her the favor of witling her odds for her. Dead, wounded, or under arrest, he wasn't her problem anymore. Still, the guards were handicapped by the girl the men had hostage. Otherwise, with as much security as the L.A. airport seemed to have, she doubted even these sorts of men would have made an easy escape.
Looking both ways, she briefly had the crazy notion of leaping down off the balcony to go after them, but thankfully she had enough clear-headed thought left to realize that the nearby escalator was the far more realistic option.
People on both the up and down conveyors, Sandra clenched her hands into fists and took a running leap to the center divider between the moving stairwells, running recklessly down it's narrow path, fast and errrily silent.
The startled yelps of the men and women around her though gave her away easily and as she was almost down, her eyes and that of Mack with the gun's met. She recognized the disbelieving and frightened look that came over his eyes at seeing her moving towards him as what must have looked like some vengeful ghost back from the beyond to haunt his ass. The glint of the bullet registered just in time and she let herself fall to the right just enough to let it pass her by. Her balance was blown all to tatters though, and she tumbled down onto the last steps of the escalator, landing hard on her right shoulder but managing to roll with it enough to raggidly pick herself up again without much time lost.
Her higher vantage point lost however, the men were no longer in sight among the sea of confused and frightened humanity before her. But there! Gunfire again heard in the distance, just a matter of following it, and the clearest signs of chaos, to their source.
She set herself and raced off into the sea of people. Her goal burned into her mind, adrenaline really kicking in, heart pounding even faster in her chest, fleeting images from her past and hopes for her future making disjoined appearances on the peripherals as she went, she forced the people from her path as best she could...
Some short time later found Sandra hurrying on shaky legs from car to car. The man who had Nami was somewhere in here, in this massive parking garage that stood right along side the Los Angeles airport. All of the others were either dead or in the hands of airport security. Mack with the gun though, he'd managed to grab Nami and make an escape. Sandy'd been hunting him in here since soon after. Tense minutes that burned themselves into her mind as they'd ticked past. She'd only caught sight of him once from far away so far, and that just wasn't good enough. [I can't fail this!] Her mind screamed as she searched for some small hint to give her more direction.
A little girl's scream, quickly silenced, followed by the sound of a car starting echoed through the garage. More of a clear sign that her mind had expected, but she'd take it... and it was only a row away. It took only a split second and she was in motion heading towards the source... Seconds later, she emerged from a row of cars and heard the sound of screeching rubber. A black van accelerating towards her. Mack with the gun was behind the wheel, a kind of crazed look in his eyes as he bared down on her. Apparently he meant to run her down.
She raised her arm, a gun taken from one of the stooges in hand, took aim, and saw his eyes widen in realization. There was no way out for him and Sandra knew it, not without risking his passenger and probably taking a bullet himself. A bullet he might risk, but not what his employer would do to his family if the girl he had with him were harmed in any way because of him. He wouldn't take the chance that she wasn't bluffing, not if he were in his right mind at all.
He stopped the car gently and raised his hands to surrender. "Get out!" Sandra commanded him in Japanese, her voice rough and raw sounding from everything she'd been through.
He did so.
"How... How are you still alive!" Mack asked her in Japanese.
"I don't owe you anything." She spoke in English, taking aim and shooting him in his right thigh and shoulder to be sure he would no longer be a threat. With Nami there she couldn't afford to take the chance that he would behave himself, especially with herself not being exactly at the top of her game at the moment. She bent down to take his gun from him. He'd live. Most likely anyway, and that was more than he probably deserved really. "Drink deeply of baboon urine and enjoy it, you foul smelling male prostitute in drag." She cursed at him in Japanese in disgust at his actions as she went around the car to find Nami.
The little girl was strapped into a child seat in the back when Sandra opened the door. She was crying and when their eyes met, Sandra's gaze gentled and her heart went out to this little girl all over again. "Aunt Sandy." The girl said in Japanese, wiping at her tears. "I'm scared."
"I know. I know. But I'm here now. It'll be alright. You'll see." Sandy spoke in Japanese as best she could and got up into the car and unfastened the girl from the child seat. "I won't let anyone hurt you."
The girl went into her arms, holding to her fiercely for safety and continuing to cry. "I want mommy." She said, sadness and scaredness in her voice.
"I know, darling one. I know." She spoke. "I want her to be here too." Her own eyes betraying tears at the child's scared and yearning words.
[But she's not coming back, is she?]
It was a ways into their mall-trolling expedition and, Helena had to admit, she was having a good time. More importantly, Dinah was having a good time too. That's what counted in her book. In any case, as things stood, Helena could be found curiously inspecting a really nice dull mandarin colored sleeveless shirt at a little shop that had a surprisingly high level of style.
Dinah was back in the changing room at the moment, trying on a new outfit she'd helped pick out with her. It was strangely relaxing really, just being out with someone who she considered a friend and doing something normal.
The last time she'd really done anything like this had been before Sandy had left the last time. The echoes of that hurt still feeling raw some place inside. Sandy had been *the* girl after all. Her ideal. The one she always seemed to compare anyone else to... and things never really did finish with her. Not really, not in a having closure kind'a way. Hell, she still got letters from her sometimes. Chocked full of twisting emotions, vagueness, and confusion....
"So, what do you think?" The voice interrupted her musings.
She turned and saw Dinah standing before her showing off the clothes they'd picked. "I so have a talent for this." Helena exalted herself, admiring her handy work. Dinah was dressed in a pair of deep blue jeans with some very intricate stitching on them, and a stark-white sleeveless shirt made of woven fabric. The jeans seemed a prefect fit, and the shirt seemed to hang loosely over her like it was made for her. "She'll take it." She spoke to the attendant.
"You really think I look good?" Dinah asked.
"Definitely. Those clothes were made for you, Di. It would be a crime to leave them here all alone without you."
That earned her a just slightly vain smile from the teenager. "So, how about you. Did you find anything else here you wan'a get?"
Helena spared a brief speculative look at the shirt she'd been appraising. "Nah, this stuff's enough." She'd already picked out a few items for herself prior. "You know I'm only a bar tender, don't you?"
"Yeah, but aren't you, like, rich or something?" She asked.
Helena gave her a slightly warning look. She didn't use her dad's money, not ever.
"Sorry." Dinah looked away, realizing she'd put her foot in it again.
"It's o'kay. I'm alright with talking about it I guess..." She allowed. "I mean, I know all your baggage by now, right? No reason why you shouldn't go digging around in mine sometimes."
The store clerk came back with Dinah's outfit, now bagged, and Helena's card. Helena signed for the purchase and the clerk thanked them for their business, asked them to stop by again, and was on her way.
"So, where to now?" Helena asked.
"Food court?" Dinah ventured.
"Totally." Helena smiled thankfully.
"Aw, did I wear you out already?" The teenager teased.
A short disbelieving sound from Helena, almost verging on a scoff, signaled her thoughts on that. "And you know that's not going to happen." She said airily.
Dinah laughed a little and they went in search of fast food and cold smoothies.
"You're acting kind of strange. You know that?" Dinah mused over her pineapple-orange smoothly, chicken-burger, and fries. "Or is this how you usually act when you go to a mall?"
Helena looked over at her companion blankly for a moment and then had the grace to look a little chagrined at her behavior. She'd been spacing, apparently. "Sorry. I... I guess I've just got things on my mind. You don't need to hear it. I'll do better." She assured.
"...Do you wan'a talk about it? I mean, I know I'm not Barbara, but..." Her words trailed off as she saw nervous looking reaction she got at the mention of Barbara's name. "O'kay, now I know something's up. Did you two have a fight? 'cause you know-"
"Not a fight." Helena interrupted.
Helena was quiet for a moment, seemingly warring with herself over her answer. "I slept with her, alright?" She finally said, her voice not loud but kind of defensive, along with a slight hint of a helpless sort of whining actually.
Dinah swallowed hard. "No way. Really?" She asked, moving forward in her seat. She'd known about Helena's dating habits since the second time she'd followed her down to No Man's Land (which, despite the name, was actually a meta-human bar, not a lesbian one) and seen her up close and personal with a woman with long black hair. But with Barbara?
"I, um... I mean, how was it?" Dinah asked rather lamely.
Eyes widening. "I'm not going to tell you that!" Helena exclaimed.
Dinah's face grew a lovely shade of pink at realizing what it was she'd actually asked. "Jeeze. I mean, yeah, of course not. I uh, meant, like, like, how'd it happen?"
Helena groaned. Another poorly chosen question that was, but she figured fighting it was useless at this point.
"I didn't think she was... I mean, isn't she going out with the guidance councilor or something? Mr. Brixton?" Dinah further inquired.
Helena groaned more, this time it sounded kind of whiney though. "You want me to say it? Yes, I'm a screw up. Happy now?" She had the urge to get up and pace or something, feeling all the sudden like the chair she was sitting in was entirely too constraining. She didn't though, though she was sure she must have looked like she was about to rabbit any second or something. Not a particularly dignified thing for someone with feline leanings.
"Don't say that." Dinah spoke fervently in defense of her friend's character. "Why would you say that? It's not like anyone put a gun to her head, right? If it happened, she had to want it too."
"Well, yeah. I mean, of course!"
"So what's the problem?" Dinah questioned.
Helena groaned in the whiney way again. "Do you want a list?" She sat back in her chair and stared up at the ceiling for a moment. She was really feeling like a fool at that moment, truth to say.
In a weird way though, it kind of made it better that she could at least talk about some of it with someone who wouldn't judge her (much) and would be supportive. Not that this little conversation of theirs didn't feel like a slow agonizing death in some ways, 'cause it did.
Barbara lay on her back on the couch, the sun from the windows bathing parts of her in a light warmth on this unusually cool spring day. Sometimes she just needed out of the chair. She found herself covering her eyes with the back side of her hand and sighing. It's not like she was being especially effective at working Delphi at the moment. She had some searches running though. So she could console herself with the fact that she wasn't being completely useless.
What the hell had she let happen though? What did it all mean? She hadn't been thinking clearly that whole morning. First she'd tried to think about what had happened. Then she'd tried not to think about it. And the more she tried not thinking about it the more her mind wouldn't let her not think about it, until here she was laying on a couch thinking about it.
God she missed the use of her legs. At a time like this, she wanted to be doing something. Run, walk, swim, kick a sack, something! Oh, logically she knew, she was still able to work out. She had the night sticks and throwing disks and all manner of other refuse from a vigilante's yard sale. But somehow, right now? It just seemed like a cheap imitation of the real thing.
She groaned to herself. [Self pitying from the cripple now, Gordon?] She spoke internally. [This is never a good sign.]
She took her arm from her eyes, blinked them open, and ran her hands through her hair, trying to order her thoughts again. [O'kay, so you've got a problem. What do you do when that happens? You work the problem. One step at a time. Take on the thing that's right in front of you first, and go from there.]
It was an old sell, one her physical therapist had drummed into her head during her recovery, but it seemed to do the trick.
[Problem number one: I went to bed last night and now I seem to be a lesbian. Did we see this coming? No we did not. I mean, sure, o'kay, there was that one time, and Helena is still never ever, ever, EVER going to find out about that thank you very much, but that was... it was...] Her mind filled with images of a cloudy autumn day during her last year at college. It was out in the country surrounding the city. A cemetery. 'James A. Gordon 1958-2022 Father, Protector, Servant of The People. He Made A Difference'... Her dad's tomb stone. She'd chosen the words herself. And that day was the day she saw his lifeless face one last time before the casket had been closed and set to rest in the earth. He'd been shot and died on the operating table. He'd taken his killer with him though. Leanne Mason had been her roommate back then, and she was by her side at the funeral and had been her ride home that day. Leanne had asked if she'd wanted be taken home, but at her own urging, they'd ended up at a bar instead. They'd stumbled into their apartment past midnight, having taken a cab home, and somehow they'd fallen into bed together. Leanne, unashamed skirt chaser that she was, had never pushed the subject and Barbara had been happy to let it rest. The next night, she'd gone out on her own and nearly beat some generic-brand mugger to within an inch of his life, seeing in his face the man who'd killed her dad. She'd pulled herself back from it though, and after she'd felt sick with it, and with grief. If Selena Kyle and her husband hadn't came over to visit the next day and talked her into staying, she couldn't say for sure she wouldn't have just left town and not come back. It had just been that sort of time for her. [So maybe I have some predisposition towards it somewhere in me.] She admitted to herself. [I can admit that... So, problem two: This is a mess waiting to happen. It took me two months before I could look Lee in the eyes again without flinching. I have pathetically little idea how Helena would take it if this didn't go the way she wanted it to. The stakes are so high... And what about Wade? Granted, we've only gone out a few times, I've only slept with him once and there've been no declarations of monogamy from either of us... It still feels like I'm cheating on him though... God, I'm really considering doing this aren't I?... Am I still even attracted to Wade?] She thought about it and realized that her feelings for him hadn't really changed. She still liked him. Still found him handsome and charming to think of. Part of her still wanted to see if it could work with him, even though another part of her was saying she was setting herself up for a fall. And, when she came right down to it, would she really want to give up the idea of being with a man again? She wasn't sure. Looking at it from the other angle though, being with a woman was clearly becoming at least as much a draw to her.
[So you're bisexual. So? Take gender out of the equation.] She told herself.
She pinched the bridge of her nose. [Boil it down. What's the big question here? What do you want most of all, Barbara Gordon? Answer this, and all else will become clear... er.]
The sound of the visitor alert broke her from her thoughts and she struggled to get herself up and sitting. She sat there, feet on the floor, elbows on her thighs, and eyes watching the skyline as the door swung open.
"We're back!" Dinah's teenage voice called, noticeably in high spirits for a change.
"Hi." A smiling Helena Kyle greeted her easily as Barbara turned her head to get a look at the two shoppers.
"Hi you two. You have fun?" Barbara asked, trying to act at least moderately cheerful but not exactly pulling it off completely. "I see you're in higher spirits."
"Yeah." Dinah said, putting down her stuff and going over to give Barbara an awkward sort of hug. "Yeah, I really am." She turned to Helena and gave her a noticeably more relaxed hug. "Thanks Helena. You know, for everything. You're a really good friend." She said.
"Thanks Di. I. Any time, o'kay?" Helena held Dinah's shoulders for a moment to convey her sincerity nonverbally then let her hands fall to her sides.
Dinah nodded and looked to Barbara and then back to Helena. "Look, I'm going to go put this stuff in the laundry and change and stuff. You two, ah," She looked to Barbara, clearly warring with herself over what to say. "Listen. I'm totally o'kay with it. Alright? Just so you know." She took that as her cue to beat a hasty retreat.
"Gee, thanks." Barbara said humorlessly at the retreating teen who by that point probably couldn't hear her voice.
"You're welcome!" Dinah said from across the room as she disappeared.
Helena laughed. "She has good ears." She said.
Barbara laughed just a bit too and looked up at Helena, her chin resting on one of her hands, the elbow of which was still resting on her thigh. "Hi you." She said. "Is that a sandwich in your shopping bag, or are you just happy to see me?" She asked, feeling by this point she should just stop making a big deal about the whole thing and act like an adult about it.
Helena gave a soft laugh under her breath at that and gave Barbara a look. "Well, both of those actually. If you really must know." Helena sat down beside her on the couch and put her bags down, taking one back up and reaching inside to retrieve a wrapped sub style sandwich. "Roast beef on rye with jack cheese, guacamole, and no onions, am I right?"
"Perfect. You are a lovely human being Helena Kyle." Barbara said as she set about unwrapping the sandwich and scooting back to rest her back against the soft couch, managing with some effort to get her legs in a reasonable facsimile of Indian style and so giving herself room to spread out the sub wrapping.
"Oh yeah? And what am I if I throw in salad, chips, and an iced vanilla latté?" Helena asked, having gotten out the specified items and folding her legs up under her so she could get into a more comfortable position to see her friend and have a conversation.
"What kind of chips?" Barbara asked after consideration, moving in and taking a bite of her sandwich.
"You're a goddess." Barbara said, swallowing a bite of sandwich.
Helena laughed. It was something they had in common. Love food, hate to cook. [Why God invented charge cards and take out food.] She reasoned. Although, truth be told, she hated Fritos (so that's where the similarity ended). "So any news while I was gone?"
Barbara looked at her a moment then shook her head 'no', looking down at her sandwich. "I'm running an expanded blind search of the city's medical records right now for anything that could possibly be him seeking treatment, but wherever Al Hawke is, he's not making it easy to find a trace."
Helena nodded. "I really want to find this guy, Barbara. Di doesn't deserve to have this hanging over head like this." As she said it, she realized she wasn't as gung-ho to inflict grievous harm on the man as she had been. She just wanted it to be over and for her friend to have her peace of mind back again.
"Mm." Was Barbara's non-distinct but concurring reply.
Helena was quiet for a moment, looking down at the mocha latté in her hands that she'd brought home for herself. "Listen, I..."
"No, I know. We have to talk about this." Barbara agreed, momentarily meeting Helena's eyes.
"Yeah..." Helena agreed, uncertain.
"I guess it would help me to know where you stand on... well, um, us I suppose - what happened between us last night." Barbara said, looking off in the distance somewhere.
"Oh, uh, yeah... I can do that." Helena said, her eyes trailing off trying to find for a moment what it was exactly that Barbara had been looking at. As she brought her eyes back to the woman in question though, their eyes met and held. Helena looked down at her hands a moment, then back up. "I meant what I said." She replied. "I love you." And it was plain by the quality of her voice it was the truth. She looked away a little. "But I don't know. I guess it's not a crazy over the moon Romeo and Juliet kind of love. If you wanted to... If you want to be with me. Be lovers. I would, I would like that a lot. Really a lot. But if not, if it's just not right for you or if you'd be happier with Wade, or with someone else, or anything. I'd be o'kay with it. As long as I knew you were happy. I just... I just really don't want to lose you in my life..." Her eyes came back to Barbara's. "Does that help?" She asked, and there was a raw kind of vulnerability to the question that didn't go unnoticed by the other woman.
Barbara looked down at her hands a moment. "Yes. Yes it does." She said, then managed to scoot herself around a few degrees so she was facing Helena more, giving herself a moment more to frame her thoughts and firm up her courage. "Helena." She said, gaining the woman's full attention. "What you just said, it really means a lot to me. I... I think that's what was most terrifying thing in all of this for me. That I'd say the wrong thing, and then somehow break us apart, damage this. Us. You, me, Dinah, even Alfred. I think... it's like we've made our own family somewhere along the way." She paused. "What you said last night. How I was about the only one you had left. Well, it's kind of the same for me. I've got some cousins and a few other relatives. Janie's even got a law practice here in the city." She said referring to the only other relative of hers living near by, a cousin. "I guess, maybe I didn't realize how much I needed this until today when I was just laying here and thinking about losing it." She admitted.
Helena felt so much at hearing this, she was having trouble keeping her composure together. "You won't lose me. I'll be here for you. For as long as you can stand me." She said. "You don't ever have to worry about that, o'kay?" She assured her.
Barbara, at once a little caught speechless. "O'kay." She said. She was silent for a moment as if considering something. "If I could do it without making a fool of myself, I'd go over there and kiss you right now. But since I can't, can you..." Her words trailed off as Helena moved over to capture her lips in a very fervent kiss. Barbara responded to it with an ease that was almost frightening for her. The soft pressure, so unlike the kisses she was used to from a lover, it got under her skin and made it come alive, warm and verging on feverish. She found herself running her hands through Helena's silky soft hair. Helena always took really good care of herself, her hair was no exception. Like her skin, it was so soft yet firm at the touch in all the right ways. Helena hurridly moved the food onto the coffee table and Barbara felt herself being lowered onto her back on the sofa and she let it happen. "God, I want this." Barbara breathed, musing to herself that she could easily become addicted to this kind of attention.
Helena stopped kissing her earlobe and moved to look into Barbara's eyes. "Do you really?" She asked.
"God. Have you not been paying attention?" Barbara said, feeling a little exasperated. Stopping to talk some more right now was not what she wanted to be doing. Really it was not.
"...And Wade?" Helena asked with what seemed like a confused trepidation.
Barbara groaned. "I really don't want to talk about Wade Brixton right now, Helena."
"Barbara, I'm..." Helena looked confused.
"No, it's alright." Barbara realized she wasn't going get out of the talking some more thing. Besides, if they were laying here like this together, doing what they were starting to do, Helena did kind of have a right to know something like that. "I don't know." She sighed. "I guess I'll have to have a talk with him. Break things off..." Her mind quickly reasoned out. "I do want to stay friends with him though." She hastened to put in the caveat.
Helena was silent, looking down at her with something like blank eyes.
"Can we go back to starting to have sex now?" Barbara asked, giving Helena the same type of look she would give a student who was just not getting something that was way too simple not to get.
Helena broke out into helpless laughter and collapsed against Barbara's shoulder, burying her head there and continuing to laugh.
"Helena, Helena I-" Barbara started to laugh a little to, realizing it was kind of funny. "Oh, never mind." She started to laugh in earnest.
Her laughter dying down, Helena got her voice back. "Can we at least move to a bed first?" She asked. Referring to the obvious fact that, yes, there was indeed a teenager in the clock tower who could very well walk in on them were they to get involved out in plain view on the couch.
"I think we could do that." Barbara acceded the point.
"So, you're my girlfriend now?" Helena asked, propping herself up on one elbow and looking down into Barbara's eyes again.
"Huh?... Oh, well... yeah, I guess I am, aren't I?" Barbara realized it, feeling a bit funny having it said out loud like that.
Helena nodded 'yes' and moved down to kiss her, tenderly yet chastely. "Thank you." She said.
"For what?" Barbara asked.
"For loving me back." Helena answered simply.
"Oh, that. No problem." Barbara replied, running a hand adoringly through Helena's hair. Helena moved into the caress just a little, her eyes fluttering closed. "So, bed?" Barbara asked.
"Bed." Helena replied.
Sandra walked through the airport with Nami in her arms. She'd taken a few moments to straighten out her clothes and hair so that she was at least a little less ragged looking. Her jacket was dark leather and she'd used a bottle of water she'd found in Mack's van to clean the blood from it as best she could, just having to hope that the small hole in the dark jacket where the bullet had entered her was not too noticeable. She'd been met by airport security and she explained where she'd left the wounded hit-man and people had been sent to see to his injuries and get him into police custody.
One of the guards had offered to carry Nami for her, but Sandra had steadfastly refused, especially when Nami herself didn't look too thrilled with the idea of being separated from her again.
The group of herself, Nami, and the two security guards who walked with them attracted quite a few stares and questioning looks from other airport patrons as they passed, but Sandra was content to let them look. It wasn't like there were any other options. Carolyn was still with that security guard, Terri Winslow, or she had better be at least. So she had to go back to get her. And more, she didn't want to find herself on the wrong side of the law in this country - that would make things all kinds of more difficult for her. No, her paperwork was in order. Brilliant forgeries from a trusted source back in Japan had assured that if they checked, Namiko would appear for all the world to be just as much her daughter as Carolyn was. It would no doubt take a little creative explaining to get through this, but she was relatively sure she could manage it.
The Yakuza enforcers she'd come up against, however, those were another problem all together. She'd be a fool to think those men had been the last of those that would be sent for her. It wouldn't be out the realm of likelihood for there to be more of them even in this airport right at that moment. If they had been able to track her this far, she'd need to change her plans and find a way to throw them off her trail...
"This way, Ms. Woosan." One of the security guards ushered her.
"Thank you." She said politely. The dire thoughts faded as she walked through a door marked 'Airport Security, Authorized Personnel Only'.
One guard, a man named Colin Stevens by his name tag, followed her in. The other, Bernard with a last name she didn't even want to try to pronounce, wished her well and went off to attend his duties. The hallway was all in white, well lit, and without decoration. Two doors in view and it veered of to the left at the end, the wall of which was floor-to-ceiling glass showing a view out towards the parking garage. It was to the second door that Sandra followed Colin Stevens.
Politely, Stevens held the door for her and Nami to enter. As she entered the room, bright and showered in sun from the one wall that was the continued floor-to-ceiling glass of the side of the building, a smile spread unbidden over Sandy's face. And it wasn't just the relief of seeing Carolyn again, though just the fact of that made her feel as though a very large weight had been lifted form her shoulders. No, what made her smile so was that Carolyn could be found sitting on the floor at a small coffee table, industriously coloring in a drawing she had made with colored pencils. What was more, airport security guard Terri Winslow was sitting across from her, drawing her own picture with a look of concentration almost equal to that of her daughter's. It was such an endearing scene. One that was broken very quickly as Carolyn noticed that her mother had come into the room.
"Mom!" She exclaimed, getting up from the ground and rushing towards her to hug her legs. "I knew you could do it! See?" She turned to Terri. "Momma brought Nami back! Just like I said!"
The look of pride in the girl's eyes caused Terri to smile. "I never doubted it." The security guard replied. "Hi." This addressed to Sandy who was going down to her knees to let Nami get to her feet again and allow her to hug both her daughters to her. "You have a very talented daughter, Ms. Woosan. Brave too."
"Thank you." Sandy looked up at Terri, really noticing for the first time how beautiful the other woman was. A little taller than her, wavy hair dyed a dullish sort of blonde and tied behind her in a ponytail with wisps of it falling over her face, lightly tanned skin, features that looked at least a quarter Asian, dark brown eyes, and a pleasantly appealing athletic build evident in her body. "And call me Sandy, o'kay?" She asked, her voice a little quieter as she shared a meaningful look with the other woman, part thankfulness and part conveying the undercurrent of attraction she was starting to feel for her.
"O'kay." Terri replied, not quite able to look away from Sandra's eyes.
"Ms.? Ms. Woosan?" Sandra looked up to see another security guard trying to get her attention, Berry Mays it said on his name tag. Besides Terri and Colin, there were two others in the room, this apparently being a break room or lounge. "We really do need to take your statement about all of this. And the police will be here soon, they'll want a statement as well I imagine." He informed her.
She looked at him a moment. "All right." She said. "But if it's all right, can we do that here? I... I'd like to stay close to my girls." She explained.
"Well..." The middle aged man considered, looking over at the two girls in question. The younger one not having ventured far from her mother and the older one giving him a defiant look as if she were daring him to say her mom couldn't stay. "All right. I guess that would be o'kay." He allowed good naturedly. "Would the table over there be alright?" He asked.
Sandra nodded. "That would be fine." She agreed, looking over to Terri. "You'll watch over them for me?" She asked.
"Of course." Terri replied, a genuine smile on her lips.
Sandra nodded, satisfied with the answer. She picked up Nami and, holding Carolyn's hand, walked the short distance over to where Terri was standing over by the coffee table. Terri, having gotten up to her feet soon after Carolyn had left her to greet her mom, now sat back down again and Sandy sat down close to her, putting Nami down on her feet again.
"Mama?" Nami asked in Japanese.
"This is Terri." Sandra spoke in Japanese. "She's a very nice lady. I have to go over there and answer questions for a little bit. Can you stay here with her while I do that, little Namiko?"
Nami looked uncertainly between her adopted mother and Terri.
"It'll be o'kay Namiko." Terri spoke, her Japanese apparently better than Sandra's. "Your mama will be right over there, and we have colored pencils to draw with. Do you want to see the drawing I made?" She asked gently.
Namiko, apparently taken with this new person, nodded. "Yes, I want to see." She said, looking to Sandra to make sure it was o'kay.
Sandra nodded and gave Namiko an encouraging look, then moved her gaze to the Terri. "In a day full of surprises, you are by far the best one." Sandy spoke to her, still in Japanese, moving to kiss her lightly on the cheek. "Thank you."
Terri gave her a very flummoxed look, her skin noticeably warming. Soon a kind of helpless smile came to her lips. "My... My pleasure." She spoke, her Japanese all of a sudden sounding rather formal. "You have two very wonderful daughters, I'm glad to look after them for such a noble woman." Terri, apparently having a bit of a charming side herself gave Sandy a dazzling smile that had her heart beating a little faster.
"Flatterer." She finally said, giving Terri a slightly admonishing smile as she turned to get up. "Be good, I'll be back soon." She spoke to her daughters before she went to speak to Stevens and Mays at the table, Mays looking impatient.
"Some-oo-ne one's in lo-oove." Carolyn could be heard saying in a sing-song voice as she went, that little air of triumph in her voice again. Sandy kind of flinched at it, and she heard Colin Stevens give a laugh from over by the table, but when she turned and saw Terri's face, embraced obviously, but not seeming to object to the sentiments, Sandra had to shake her head and smile.
Sandra heard the muttered word and her eyes snapped to the fourth security guard in the room, a rather plain looking woman with brown hair who was sitting at the couch not far away from her daughters. "Yes, you are." Sandy spoke, moving back towards her a little. Her voice low and dangerous. "Stay away from my daughters." She warned her, giving Terri a slightly apologetic look as she turned to her interview.
Terri looked over at the woman on the couch. "God Jan, do you have to be such a..." She stopped herself from saying any more, realizing that of course there were children in the room. "You know? Never mind. My parents taught me: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." The inference clear in her voice.
Jan Payton just gave a final hateful look and turned to leave.
[Bitch.] Terri thought ruefully. [Still...] She spared a glance over at Sandra. [Totally worth it.] She looked back at the two girls. Carolyn was busily showing Nami her drawing and instructing her in the best way to make a coloring. She would have thought that the two had simply lost interest at some point, except for she caught Carolyn keeping an eye on Jan until she left the room. Then she realized that Carolyn had been intentionally shielding her sister and trying to keep her happy while that had been said.
[That is one very smart little girl.] She mentally praised Sandra's elder daughter, then shook her head and decided to imitate the children and think better thoughts. So she scooted over to the other side of the table to join in and start on her second coloring. She'd already drawn a rough portrait of Carolyn, now she wanted to make one for Namiko too, and for that she needed to get the little girl's permission. If Namiko gave it to her, she wondered hopefully, maybe their beautiful mother would appreciate her efforts?
To Be Continued
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