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.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: As always, to darandkerry for the beta work.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Umbrella Girl
By Debbie


Oracle looked out of the window and groaned, the rain was still falling steadily over Metropolis. She glanced at Delphi's open weather screen to see that miles away in Gotham City the story was even worse, with lightning storms and heavy winds the order of the day.

A crackle over the airwaves alerted her to Huntress's latest report. Her internal chronometer told her it was exact to the second, half an hour since the last one.

"Go ahead, Huntress, I'm all ears."

"It appears Harry Golightly's troops are tip-toeing their way through from the south while Billy Thumper's army is steamrollering down from the north. Damn, Oracle, they've stripped nearly every mall between here and there. Gotham looks like Hell. And, if I'm not mistaken they're going to meet somewhere in the vicinity of Gotham Town Hall."

"Yeah, I'd come to that conclusion, too."

"So… where is your Dad's mob?"

"They're tied up all over the city. It sounds like every burglar alarm in the city is calling its needy tune. And on top of all that are the very real emergencies caused by the electric cables shorting out."

"Who've I got as my back-up then?"

"Well, Zinda's trying her best to bring the chopper in through the storms; she's got Barda, Misfit, and Gypsy on board. From what I can tell over the static, Batman's doing his thing somewhere in the centre. If I can get a message through, I'll try and get you all in the same area."

"Ok, ok, gotta go, looks like the goons are just about to converge. See you later."

Barbara's whispered, "Yes, you will," was lost over the incoming hollers of two baying packs of thugs meeting in the middle.

Making sure that all her available web cams, CCTV cameras, and whatever media she could purloin were active over Gotham, Oracle once again checked that Metropolis was coping.

Confident she could do nothing more than monitor at this point in time, she allowed her thoughts to wander to her favourite subject, Helena Bertinelli.

It was nearly a year since they had consummated a tentative relationship and nearly a year since they had both realised that what they had was worth working at and fighting for. Oracle smiled, it was also nearly two months since she'd shyly suggested they make their relationship a little more public by Helena moving in permanently. And, although she hadn't said no, Barbara was well aware that Helena hadn't said yes either.

In fact, Oracle's eyes tracked to the computer she called 'Lair', she knew that Helena had recently paid her rent up front for the next quarter. So, despite the fact she almost lived at the Dalten complex, despite the fact she and Barbara were happier day by day, it appeared Helena was not ready to give up her little back-out clause; her apartment.

Drawn back to her Huntress computer, Oracle saw the fire alarm for said apartment was still merrily screeching away. Some inner dread caused Oracle to concentrate fully on the streaming CCTV footage of the block, and to her horror, she saw the alarm was not caused by faulty electricity but by a strengthening inferno.

She grabbed her intercom; Gotham City centre would have to manage without its Huntress.

An hour later, the mob in Gotham was being controlled by the hastily rerouted Batman and his cronies, and Barbara was pulling into the kerb beside Helena's apartment block. She immediately saw Helena off to one side, just standing, looking towards the burning shell of her home. Barbara quickly reached into the backseat for an umbrella and then manoeuvred out of the car.

Within moments, she rolled quietly to Helena's side; she lifted the umbrella over her partner's head and gently held on tight to her hand. Helena looked down and offered a watery smile. There were no actual tears, that wouldn't be Huntress's thing, but to Oracle's knowing eye there was sadness.

The two women stood quietly, each lost in thought, and all the while the rain beat steadily down on the sturdy umbrella.

Helena thought of her life in the now burning building and of how far she had come in the time there. She remembered the anguish filled early days and the regular loss of her teaching jobs, she remembered the anger filled days of her vigilantisms, and she remembered the more recent times, when in truth her apartment had been little more than a resting place, as she built up her relationship with Oracle's Birds of Prey and, more latterly, with Barbara herself.

Barbara thought of the times in her life when she had pried into Helena's life in this apartment block. She remembered her time as Batgirl and how she had perched on its roof looking down on the untamed Huntress. She remembered her early days as Oracle and how, even then, she had watched Huntress's movements, knowing that she could rely on the woman despite her problems. And she remembered the more recent times, when in truth all Oracle had done was ensure the apartment was still standing, as her relationship with Helena had become more permanent.

Staring at the rubble, she sighed at the irony of her thoughts; Helena's building was no longer standing.

Barbara looked at Helena, seeing the sadness turning to a look of resolve, the burning down of Huntress's home wouldn't hold her back. She chuckled inwardly, maybe now Helena would accept her proposal to move in together, officially, so to speak.

As always of late, it was as if Helena could read her mind. She turned slowly, dropped Barbara's hand and leaned on the chair arms; she kissed Barbara and then laughed ruefully at her own words.

"At least this saves me making that awkward commitment decision, huh?"

Barbara looked at Helena and smiled.

Grabbing hold of Helena's hand once more, she took the brakes off her chair, passed Helena the umbrella, and spun back towards the waiting car. Pulling Helena with her, her words were confident.

"Come on then, let's go home."

The End

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