DISCLAIMER: Birds of Prey and its characters are the property of Miller/Tobin Productions, Warner Brothers and DC comics. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Plurality of Worlds
The cowled figure landed on the balcony, her feet hitting the tiles with a soft thump. Immediately, her posture relaxed, shoulders slumping in relief at arriving home in one piece, for one more day. But it was more than that, for today was special. They had finally gotten him, the green-haired madman who had been Batman's adversary for so long. Though her body was bruised and battered from the fight down at the dockyards, her muscles screaming for rest, Barbara Gordon couldn't wipe the smile off her face.
Stepping through the sliding glass doors, she reached up to pull off her cowl, when she suddenly sensed that someone else was in her apartment with her. "Who's there?" she asked sharply, her body tensing again. A figure rose out of the shadows, seated where they had been on a chair near the door. Barbara breathed a silent sigh of relief when she recognised who it was, but her voice was still confused when she asked "Helena? What are you doing here?"
"I came to see you." The girl stepped forward into the moonlight. Helena was wearing an outfit that Barbara had seen often, a black dress with her hair pulled up, wispy strands caressing her neck. Yet, in that moment, there was something unbearably seductive about her, in the sway of her hips, how the material clung to her lithe body, exposing the long length of her legs. Then Barbara blinked and the image shifted again, to a coltish young girl playing dress-up and trying to look sexy, but not quite succeeding.
In the moments that it took for her brain to process these thoughts, Helena had moved close to her, slipping easily into her space. "I always loved the way you looked in this costume," she mused, running her hands along her sides.
Barbara knew that she shouldn't have felt anything through the thick neoprene, knew that she was only imagining the sensations, but she shivered anyway. "Helena... what are you doing?"
"I..." She faltered and trailed off, as if she wasn't quite sure herself. Then a smile appeared on her face, her teeth chewing on her bottom lip for a moment, before she leant forward and suddenly pressed against the other woman in a kiss.
Barbara froze. There was a part of her that was kicking herself, for not realising - or not wanting to realise - what Helena was doing. She had known Helena since she was a kid, ever since she had pieced together who Selina had been, and who the father of her daughter could be. She had confronted Selina about it, and somehow, had been charmed into being the girl's minder, rather than taking them both directly to Bruce and telling him about her daughter. But ever since she had begun teaching at New Gotham High, she had tried to maintain a professional distance from the girl, the same that she would hold for any of her students. It hadn't worked though, Helena still came over to her classroom sometimes, to have lunch with her, or to help her pack up after the week was over. And because she genuinely enjoyed the girl's company, she was never able to turn her away. Helena was smart and witty, with a charming flirtatiousness that was all her mother's. Selina treated her daughter like an adult, never shielding her from those things that kids weren't supposed to know, and in turn, Helena acted like they were equals
She pushed her away. The shove must have been a little harder than she intended, for Helena stumbled back, before recovering her balance with catlike grace.
"This is wrong. It's sick. You're just a kid..."
She heard Helena inhale sharply. Then, stifling a sob, the girl brushed past her and threw herself off the balcony.
"Helena, wait!" Barbara rushed after her, only to see the dark figure twist into a smooth flip, landing on the roof of the building next door, before leaping again. And yet, even without watching her, Barbara knew where the girl was going. Cursing under her breath, Barbara prepared herself to jump, before her comms suddenly crackled to life.
"Batgirl." Bruce's gravelly voice sounded in her ear. "The Joker escaped when they were taking him to Arkham. I need your help."
"Batman, this isn't... I'm in the middle of... where's Robin?"
"We got word that the Joker was looking for someone to carry out a contract killing. Robin is tracking down the assassin he hired."
Barbara didn't reply for a moment, gazing in the direction of the Clocktower, before looking back at the rest of the city. Batman's voice came through the comms again, his tone stern yet unmistakeably urgent. "It's an order, Batgirl."
So many times in the past, she had dropped everything to obey that voice. Countless study sessions, nights out with friends, dates with college boyfriends... but this was different. She made up her mind. "I can't, Bruce. I'm sorry." Reaching up, she flicked off the comms, Bruce's voice dying in her ears. Taking a deep breath, she launched herself from the balcony, landing on the street below. Only to tense as another voice accosted her.
"What have you done, little bat?"
She relaxed, recognising the soft, drawling voice immediately. "I screwed up."
"You did indeed." Selina Kyle stepped out from the shadows, clad in black leather, her long blonde hair caught up under her cat-shaped cowl. Barbara watched warily as she began to pace in lazy circles around her. "We made reservations for dinner tonight, but Helena claimed that she was feeling sick and I should go alone instead. As I was sitting by myself in the restaurant, I suddenly realised where Helena would be. I should have known the one person with whom my daughter would have preferred to be with tonight."
The confession was terse and cautious. "She was waiting for me in my apartment when I got back tonight."
Selina nodded, as though it was confirmation of what she knew already. "I know my daughter. She doesn't have a crush on you, she's in love with you, completely. My daughter's given you her mind, her heart, her soul. She wants to give you her body, to give herself to you like she's never done before with anyone else. What are you going to do about it, Batgirl?"
Barbara whirled around angrily. "I'm not going to touch her!" She took a deep breath, forcing herself to calm down. "It won't be right. I'm a teacher. She's a student at my school. And she's still just a kid..."
It was imperceptible, but she could feel the other woman relax, the tension easing from her taut figure. "Good. Else I would've been forced to beat you to death. And all that macho posturing is really unattractive, don't you think?"
When Barbara spoke again, there was a hint of despair in her voice. They never taught her how to handle this in teacher's college. "What are we going to do?"
"Oh my paws and whiskers. You're just a kid yourself, aren't you." She could hear the amusement and affection in the other woman's voice. Then her voice hardened again, the one thing Selina never joked about was her daughter's welfare. "But you don't have to worry. I've made arrangements. Helena and I are returning to Europe. She will go to boarding school in Switzerland."
Barbara fought down an unexpected sense of panic. At Bruce losing his daughter, at missing out on Selina's company, at not seeing Helena again... She latched on to the one sane explanation for her fear. "What about Bruce?" All she got in response was a steady, unblinking gaze. She shifted uncomfortably but held her ground. "You promised that you'd stay in New Gotham, even if you weren't going to tell him."
"I didn't want this."
"Neither did I!"
"I know." The affection was back in Selina's voice. "He's taught you well... you heroes live in a world of black and white. But she is my daughter. She will keep pushing. And I don't want you to struggle like he did. I don't want her to end up like me. This is the easiest way."
Barbara nodded, knowing that the other woman was right. "Tell her..." She trailed off, as it dawned on her that she had no idea what to say.
But the problem was solved for her, when Selina shook her head, a small, sad smile on her face. "I won't."
After another moment's thought, Barbara nodded her head. A clean break. She knew it was for the best.
Selina circled her once more, but this time, Barbara felt a gentle hand brush against her arm. "Take care of yourself." She turned around, but Catwoman had already disappeared. Spinning on her heel, she was quick enough to notice a figure in the distance, scaling the wall of a building, taking the same route that her daughter would have taken. Barbara watched as the figure disappeared, before her gaze turned for a final time towards the Clocktower.
Sighing once more, she reached up to turn her comm set back on. "It's Batgirl. Where do you need me?"
The tall, green-haired man giggled softly to himself as he made his way down the hall of the apartment building. Stopping at the door to Barbara's apartment, he knocked on the wooden surface, the noise echoing in the empty corridor.
He knocked again, more impatiently this time. No one answered.
The man loitered unobtrusively at the corner of the restaurant, well in sight of the exit. He knew that the bitch and her daughter had made reservations here for dinner. But they should have finished eating a long time ago.
He checked his watch again
SEVEN YEARS LATER
Barbara Gordon stepped back once she pinned the picture of Shakespeare on the bulletin board. She considered it critically for a moment, before moving forward again, standing up on her toes to pin it up higher.
She turned around at the sound of the voice. There was a woman standing in the door to her classroom. A leather jacket was hanging over her slender frame, her hair cut stylishly short and her lips parted in a dimpled smile. The smile, the voice and the sight of familiar blue eyes, all came together to stir something in her memory.
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