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.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: As always, thanks to Ann.
The Case of Subtle Ownership
The bar was filled to the rafters; people were standing in every available inch of floor space and, every time Helena took a sip of her beer, somebody nudged her elbow. The most recent time brought a huge sigh up from her boots.
The dark haired woman to her right chuckled; "It's always like this on a Friday night, something to do with the salary system in Gotham and the weekend coming."
Helena turned towards the voice and saw a slim woman of Hispanic descent smiling towards her. The woman held her hand out for Helena to shake; but, as the woman introduced herself, some oaf of a bartender shouted in her ear to the guy standing behind her. Helena shrugged.
It was nights like tonight when she hated the fact that her business partner and, more recently, girlfriend still had a life of her own. Tonight, after a short but effective sweep, Barbara had informed Helena that she was meeting with Dick Grayson to catch up with his latest news. Even though Barbara knew all about their short-lived affair, Helena's past history with Dick made her decline the invite to tag along. Helena was guilty enough to stay away; at least until her relationship with Barbara was on a more solid foundation.
Helena allowed a smile to cross her features as she thought about the redhead and the non-professional partnership they were slowly developing. The sex was amazing, the romance had its moments, and the friendship was improving daily. Since Dinah's departure to ostensibly look after her 'daughter', Sin, they were even managing to work together in the crime-fighting business. Helena had become the mainstay in Oracle's Birds of Prey team of operatives. It was a role she was relishing, and it was a role Oracle was allowing her to relish. In fact, Oracle was beginning to depend on her.
In Helena's mind, the real beauty of their relationship, however, was the fact that they were beginning to depend on each other in real life, too. Each was too strong a woman in her own right to depend totally on another, but they were beginning to be strong enough to let the other in and, at this point in time, that was enough
Except, on nights like tonight, when, though she was loathe to admit it, she missed Barbara.
Helena had not had enough action to burn off all her surplus energy and had been looking forward to a night of sparring with her partner, another activity that they had learned to share. Barbara liked to maintain her fitness to fighting levels, and Helena was happy to indulge her practice sessions, not only for the vicarious thrill she got at seeing Barbara all hot and sweaty and panting, but also because she now cared enough to have the need to know that Oracle would be safe should something happen while she was away on a mission.
Lost in thoughts of Barbara's work-out outfit and their most recent training session, Helena totally forgot the woman to her side until she nudged Helena's elbow. Looking up, she saw the woman wink at her and indicate a booth that had just emptied behind them.
Helena considered briefly ignoring the invite; she just needed a couple of beers, not the company of another woman, and yet, she'd always hated drinking alone. She stood and followed the dark-haired woman, sliding into the booth opposite her.
The woman started talking straight away. "You're Helena Bertinelli, yes?"
Helena was stunned. "I am; do I know you?"
"Um, no, probably not, I used to be a police officer in the city when Commissioner Gordon was at the helm, and some people become known for many reasons."
Helena looked up, surprised not only at the mention of Barbara's father, but also at the thought that this woman might know about her secret identity. "Tell me your name again; I missed it over the din."
"Renee Montoya." She offered her hand to shake again.
This time Helena took the offered hand and shook firmly with a hard grip. Holding on tight to Renee's hand, she took a couple of seconds to throw her famous glare into the mix. Renee just laughed, her gaze never flinching.
"Helena, I don't care who you are or what you are; I'm just here to drown my sorrows and have a beer. So, just relax, why don't you?"
Helena nodded in acknowledgment; the woman's returned stare had convinced her she had nothing to fear.
Renee continued. "So, something tells me you're drowning your sorrows, too. By the looks you were throwing earlier, I'd lay bets that you're not used to spending time on your own. Has your boyfriend done something to piss you off?"
Helena laughed out loud. "It's my girlfriend actually and, no, nothing to piss me off; just dumped me for the night to spend time with her best friend." Glancing towards the other woman, she added more quietly, "On a night when I needed her."
"Well, I'm not her, but I can share a few beers with you; and I know all about girlfriends giving you the old heave-ho, so " Renee's words drifted off as she snapped her fingers to indicate that they both needed refills.
Helena couldn't be bothered to remind her companion that she hadn't been given the heave-ho at all.
Many beers later, Helena was feeling the pull of her bed; she had to be up bright and early for her sixth grade teaching gig, but Renee, as the night had gone on, had become a more than morose, nearly drunk, and was now regaling Helena with the tale of her lost girlfriend; the beautiful woman of flowing red locks that had bowled her over from day one. The woman that had loved her, fucked her, and dumped her, rather than alert her influential family and friends to what she was.
Helena tuned out with thoughts of her very own woman with flowing red locks, almost missing the moment Renee knocked her beer bottle flying in a fit of arm sweeping anger. The reflexes of the Huntress allowed Helena to jump out of the way of the flowing beer and to catch Renee before she toppled over.
Quickly realizing two things, Helena called the bartender over to enquire if he knew of Renee's home address; she'd realized, one, that her companion for the night was much further gone than she was and, two, that her night would not be over until she'd ensured that, yet again, another citizen of her beloved town would sleep safely in her own bed.
The following night Helena was stunned to hear Barbara say that she wasn't available to join her that night either, that another friend had called unannounced and would be with her after sweeps.
"I'm sorry, Hel, but she sounded really upset, and I couldn't say no. Look, I'm sure she won't mind if you come around too, why don't you come back here tonight? We can always go out for a drink another night."
"Um, I don't know Barbara; I don't want to tread on your toes or anything."
"Helena Bertinelli, stop it. You never tread on my toes, not that I'd be able to tell if you did "
Helena wasn't in the mood to join in with Barbara's laughter; still not totally comfortable with Barbara's paraplegic humour.
" in any case, I want to see you. I missed you last night."
The grin that creased Helena's face at Barbara's whispered last words brushed all her doubts aside.
"What time d'ya want me?"
"All the time, Hel " Barbara paused to let her words sink in, " but I suppose sometime around 10 would be good."
"Ok, catch you later."
Later that night, Helena climbed the stairs to Barbara's apartment, itching to catch sight of the woman that had taken over her life in more ways than one.
They'd been business partners for five years now, sexual partners for five months, and lovers in the true sense of the word for the last four months. They were happy, and it was more than Helena had ever thought possible.
On New Year's Eve, Barbara, comfortable with Helena's position in her life, had surprised her with the key to her apartment, the key she now used to enter, knocking gently to announce her presence.
Suddenly, Helena stood still, aghast.
Oblivious to her entrance, Barbara and a dark-haired woman were lost in an intimate hug, Barbara apparently whispering sweet nothings in the other woman's ear.
Even from this distance, Helena instantly recognised the other woman as the same dark-haired woman, not 24 hours earlier, she'd taken home in a drunken stupor. Renee's words of the night before, of no significance then, now rung clear in her head, came back to haunt her.
"She was so beautiful, long red hair, sparkling green eyes, and so damn intelligent. Why'd she need me? And, you know what, she didn't. She said she loved me but no, she just fucked me and dumped me, all because she daren't let Daddy Dear know about her life choices."
Renee and Barbara had obviously been an item, and it looked like she was back to claim her right.
Something thumped Helena in the chest; taking her breath away with its intensity. It was a feeling she didn't recognize; not anger, not the hatred she was used to, this was something entirely different. She couldn't stop the feeling of ownership, the desire to protect what was hers; this woman was not taking Barbara away from her, not without a fight, they'd only just found each other. Inside, she quietly seethed, as the two women continued to hug and comfort.
Gradually, the mist of feeling began to recede, and she announced her presence with a soft cough.
Barbara spun around, and the grin that split her face almost made Helena forget the confusion that was warring within her.
"Helena, come and meet my friend, Renee Montoya. She worked with my dad many a year back, and we kind of hit it off back then. We'd lost touch, but now she's back."
Helena couldn't stop the tone of her voice being hard, even a little incredulous.
"Yeah, I can see." Nodding towards Renee in acknowledgement, her glare was more intense than the previous evening.
Renee just smiled and said, "We meet again."
Barbara looked between the two women, bemused. "You two know each other?"
It was Renee who answered; "We had a little drink last night."
"A little drink?" The enraged question in Helena's voice alerted Barbara to some problem between her lover and her friend.
"Oh, your friend here literally drank herself under the table after telling me about her troubled love life and then I took her home."
As Helena mentioned the 'troubled love life,' Barbara spotted the tell-tale flash of anger in her partner's eyes; she'd never have guessed, but she had the distinct impression that Helena was jealous.
Her reaction to Renee's mumbled next words confirmed her belief.
Renee's eyes had dropped a little towards the floor, but her words were strong. "Yeah and, for that, I thank you. I like a drink; a little too much sometimes. If I'd known it was such a hardship to you, Helena, I'd have drowned my sorrows elsewhere. It's just meeting Kate like that, when I'm already down from losing my partner, really knocked the shit out of me."
Helena's eyes lit up at the mention of somebody called Kate. Renee wasn't after Barbara, she was after Kate. Helena glanced towards Barbara and knew the Oracle had seen everything, she shrugged. She moved towards Renee, knowing that she had to make amends for her ridiculous behaviour since entering the apartment.
"Kate? Partner? Why don't you tell us the whole shit, huh? I'm really sorry for being an ass just now; I don't know what came over me. It was such a shock to see a stranger I'd only met the previous evening in my girlfriend's apartment "
Barbara and Renee both glanced towards Helena; both immediately putting a name to the source of her behaviour.
Renee chuckled; Barbara was Helena's girlfriend, now that was one for the books. She thought back to the night she'd first realized Barbara Gordon was Batgirl, never imagining that such a sweet girl could be such a bad-ass crime fighter, and then to the night it was all taken away. She might've known that that girl wouldn't give up on the superhero stuff, and here she was, hooked up with one of the hardest vigilantes the police department ever crossed paths with; who'd have thought it?
She threw her arm around the sable haired woman's shoulder and dragged her towards Barbara's kitchen. "Apology accepted, now let's go raid Bab's fridge, I'm sure she'll oblige with some lite-beer."
Barbara watched the two women enter the kitchen, allowing a small smile of satisfaction to cross her face; Helena was jealous. And, if she was jealous, that meant she cared. And if she cared, that meant Barbara could forgive her that little display of ownership, 'my girlfriend', in that tone, indeed.
She laughed and wheeled towards the kitchen.
"So, Helena Bertinelli, what was that little display of petulance all about earlier?"
Helena lay with her head resting in Barbara's lap and glanced upwards to see a sly grin on her face.
"Um, I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about."
"Yes, you do." Barbara laughed and made a perfect stab at Helena's voice, "'Yeah, I can see that' and 'my girlfriend's apartment'. If I didn't know better, I'd say you were jealous."
Helena thought hard; was that the feeling she'd felt? Quickly analysing the previous couple of hours, while staring into sparkling green eyes that never failed to cause butterflies in her stomach, she realized that she probably had been, but damn, maybe this was all worth it.
She reached upwards to pull Barbara's lips down to her own for a deep kiss. Barbara sighed as Helena's tongue claimed ownership of the kiss; gently, but firmly, claimed Barbara as hers.
Unwilling to submit completely to Helena's claim, Barbara pushed back, surprised when Helena pulled away to murmur, "I was jealous, Babs, all I could see was Renee taking away what was mine."
She then leaned upwards for another kiss of such intense need, Barbara found that she really didn't mind being Helena's; she could cope with that.
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