Helena hated the holidays, especially Christmas time.
The annual Bertinelli Christmas party was less of a party and more of an extravaganza. Helena’s mother was in her ultimate element, a billionaire philanthropist and socialite who wanted their party to be the talk of the season -- one that no other party could compare to. Helena had not attended for almost ten years (she was freshly thirty, and had spent the last five years as far away from the Bertinelli family as possible in Europe and Asia).
Now she was the most important person in the large ballroom, thousands of eyes on her as she asked the monsieur to double her rum and coke in a low whisper so no one would overhear (her mother always said ladies should drink bubbly or wine at a party, maybe a martini if it was a long day).
“Actually make it a triple,” Helena decided, hearing her mother’s high-pitched ‘socializing laughter’ ring across the ballroom, “it’s that kind of night.”
“I will be discrete Miss Bertinelli,” he promised.
“And I’ll discreetly take a ginger ale,” a gentle voice latching onto her order, causing Helena to pause and frown. The man nodded and left, and Helena turned harsh eyes to Dinah Lance.
The bane of her existence, Dinah ‘perfect’ Lance.
“Dinah,” she politely said, because Dinah had no clue how much Helena disliked her. And it wasn’t Dinah’s fault Helena found her so annoying, that was her parent’s fault.
They thought Dinah Lance was everything Helena was not -- even if Helena was the reason the family even had any fucking fortune left.
“It totally is that kind of night, isn’t it?” Dinah said with a friendly smile, all white teeth and kindness.
Helena agreed, sighing out her frustration that she could not escape Dinah and her stupid need to ‘connect’ with her. Helena hated it.
“Yeah,” she knew she was dismissive but she was not a ‘friendly’ boss or person, and that was well-known about her. She didn’t want or need anyone thinking she would smile.
“You know boss,” Dinah teased her because yes, Helena was technically her boss even though Helena’s dad dealt with Dinah directly (gushing about her all the damn time), “I thought for sure I’d catch you smiling at a party since you never smile at the office, but do you ever smile? I mean this in the nicest way.”
Dinah was still trying to connect with her even after Helena’s blatant brush off, and Helena glared directly at her now, watching the smile drop from her beautiful face.
“Right, sorry,” Dinah mumbled under her breath, sounding exhausted before trying to be polite again. “You okay?”
Helena was most certainly ‘okay’ and she most certainly did not need Dinah Lance hanging around her at a party in such a revealing dress, a plunging neckline with breasts that her pregnancy was making more obvious.
“There’s my beautiful lady,” an even more annoying person said, showing up and placing his hand on the small of Dinah’s back. “You having fun babe? No working tonight.”
Oliver Queen was the man who Helena’s parents had tried to get her to date since she was fifteen, but with her being a raging homosexual, that had never worked out. She scoffed, glad when the monsieur arrived with her rum and coke, strong with triple the alcohol as requested. She plucked it from the tray and took a sip, not at all enjoying this conversation and catching her brother Pino’s knowing smirk gaze at her from across the room. She glowered at him and he winked.
“No work talk, promise,” Dinah said, taking her own sip and deflecting the attention away from Helena’s obvious displeasure regarding this social interaction with her fiancé.
“Good,” Oliver seemed a little tipsy as he said out loud, “at least after you give birth you’ll be on mat leave.”
To Helena’s surprise she saw Dinah looked offended and about to tell Oliver off something harsh, until another voice interrupted them.
Helena’s patience was wearing.
“Dinah! Oliver! Such a stunning couple,” Franco Bertinelli, high on life and champagne, arrived to make this the most annoying possible circumstance Helena could have hoped for. “You lovebirds choose a date for the wedding yet?”
Helena was jealous, and she tried to ignore it but if God had made her straight maybe her father would be as proud of her as he was gushing over Dinah. Dinah with her feminie curves, sweet smile, and willingness to be with a man and have a baby.
“Mr. Bertinelli,” Oliver shook his hand in that ‘manly’ fashion, and Helena scowled into her next sip (which was a swallow of her entire glass’s contents), thinking of a way to exit.
“Glad to see you make it out, son,” Franco laughed, hearty and deep, “that fiancee of yours is really impressing us all at work! Isn’t that right, Helena?”
Helena paused, wincing down the last of her beverage. She dropped the now empty glass on a tray as it passed her, ignored the three pairs of eyes on her and said, “I need to go speak with Cobblepot. Excuse me.”
She left the vomit-inducing conversation, not concerned with being rude, and snuck out to the staff doors of the hotel, leaving the ballroom behind and heading for the kitchen noises. Through the kitchen hustle, she was able to find a fire exit door and finally inhale some fresh air away from the gathering of people.
Judgy, fake, selfish people.
She leaned against the brick wall and looked up at the polluted night sky. Downtown Gotham amongst the rich socialites was how she grew up, but she would never be like Dinah, never be what her parents wanted. It was suffocating amongst all of that, knowing they whispered and gossipped.
Knowing no one accepted her in there, they just pretended -- like her parents -- because Helena was valuable to the company.
The truth was, she longed to go back to Europe where she was a nobody. Backpacking and living minimally away from this place was the happiest she had ever been… but family loyalty and responsibility called her back.
Her phone vibrated and Helena sighed, reading a text from her mother. Where are you, your father is about to speak.
Helena scoffed, simply texting back, office emergency.
She dialed up a number to see if there was another way to escape her life for the night before stepping out onto the curb and beckoning a cab over.
“Oh my god,” Desiree groaned, throaty, low, and sexually desperate as Helena circled her hips.
“Is that… uhn… okay?” Helena pushed up on her arms to change the angle and, even though she could hear the pleasure in Desiree’s voice, she loved it when the woman replied verbally.
“Fuck, that’s so good babe!”
Inhaling, she braced herself on her wrists, bracketing Desiree’s blonde hair against the pillows before dipping her hips for a deeper angle and starting to thrust faster.
“Oh! Oh, yes ,” Desiree hummed and kissed her, her heels digging into the back of Helena’s thighs as they started to find their rhythm.
Helena closed her eyes and concentrated on making Desiree feel good, the strap-on she was using caused a delicious friction between them and she sighed as soft lips kissed her shoulder to muffle sounds.
Maybe it was the triple she had and the fact that she skipped the dinner part of the gala, but Helena was certainly not totally sober when her brain started fantasizing images as Desiree called out her name.
“ Helena-- ” a plea in her tone for more, “--yes, fuck don’t stop… oh! Harder!”
She dropped to her forearms and lost herself in the moment.
Behind the privacy of her eyelids, she could picture Dinah’s wink and lips as they smiled at her, trying to be friendly. The way Dinah did her makeup… her dress… her tease… the way her pregnancy definitely meant larger breasts...
“Fuck,” Helena clenchd her eyes shut, mind focused on the diamond pendant resting near a plump cleavage, she could hear the bed plates under the mattress starting to thump and she felt a sharp pinch of pain as blunt fingers clawed her shoulder blades.
“Oh, fuck!” Desiree shouted out, gasping and desperately grabbing at her back, body shaking and snapping Helena out of her fantasy. “Oh my god!”
Helena stopped as Desiree orgasamed hard, but a twist of shame in her gut clawed at her even harder than Desiree’s nails in her back.
“Are you alright?” Helena was panicking, she had totally zoned out during thrusting, thinking about Dinah while fucking… “Oh my god.”
She didn’t know how to react.
“Oh my god is right, babe,” Desiree leaned up and kissed her, sweat matting her forehead, “God you’ve never been so… uhn, fuck . I love it when you fuck me like that… but tonight was extra.”
Helena surrendered to the kiss, shame and guilt in her heart as she rolled off of Desiree's body. They weren’t together -- they just hooked up. ‘Babe’ was a word Desiree used with all of her ‘friends.’
“I’m just, um…” Helena tried to excuse herself, “the party was.... I mean, my parents, you know?”
Helena was not a relationship person. She didn’t have the time with work and Desiree was one of the few women who understood that. They had a convenient arrangement, but still Desiree didn’t deserve to have her thinking of someone else while they…
And seriously, did she have to fantasize about Dinah ? An engaged pregnant woman who worked for her?
A woman Helena really hated?
Lips travelled down her neck and Helena’s objection caught in her throat as fingers swept into where she was definitely aroused. Under the sheet, Desiree was unfastening the harness of the strap-on and Helena closed her eyes in anticipation as butterfly kisses pressed to her hip bone. The dildo hit the bedroom floor with a thud and she reached down for the head between her legs to hold it in place.
Too tempted for release to admit her shame (and still drunk), Helena bit her bottom lip as lips and tongue enveloped her. She closed her eyes and was unable to stop another memory to play.
This one was last year, long before Dinah was pregnant. They had a corporate dinner, and her father first introduced her to the new hire. Dinah had been in a black dress with a slit up the thigh, showing off a leg Helena wanted to feel around her waist or over her shoulder. She had a bright smile.
They touched hands -- the first and last time they had ever touched -- and Helena could still feel the softness of her skin, could still smell her honey scent when a waiter accidentally bumped Dinah from behind and caused her to stumble forward into her space... Causing her long braided hair to tickle Helena’s neck…
How would it have been to press Dinah in that dress against a wall, trail a finger over her leg as it was bare, up into her dress and--
“Fuck,” she breathed out, arching up as she came. She was harsher in her grip on Desiree’s hair and apologised as the woman came up from under the blankets with a mischievous giggle.
“Sorry, Dez.” She let Desiree collapse onto her chest and tried to untangle the hair she had knotted.
“Don’t be sorry, that was so hot… you’ve been kind of primal today. I like it…”
Helena mustered up a smile, the guilt eating away at her.
Still, as she put her clothes back on and Desiree showered, Helena realised this was a serious problem. It was one thing to reluctantly find Dinah attractive and be able to work with her while tolerating her annoying presence, it was another thing entirely to think of her while fucking another woman.
Just how drunk was she?
She had crossed a boundary and she felt like shit. As per their routine, Helena let herself out of the apartment and hailed a cab on the curb before going home for her own shower of shame.
Helena pressed the ‘on’ button multiple times, each press becoming more aggressive but it didn’t seem like the fancy coffee machine was going to work in her favour.
This day had been off to a great start (great meaning absolutely shitty), with back to back meetings involving her Uncle Lui (short for Luigi) -- as he talked about anything except business which gave her a whole new idea of the concept ‘boring’ -- and then catching her cousin Dino high in his office and freaking out the secretary.
Being the boss to her family was sometimes more trouble than it was worth. Couple all of that shit with there not being a single fucking pen for her to sign off on a new contract and now this. This coffee machine failing her with it’s stupid ‘on’ button.
“What the fuck!” She hissed out loud, eyes narrowed and just about ready to throw it over her shoulder.
“It’s not plugged in.”
The crisp voice of her Gotham Office Treasurer was as sarcastic as it has ever been, and Helena stiffened when Dinah Lance’s shoulder brushed innocently with her own while the woman reached over to plug in the coffee machine.
A beat of silence passed between them and Dinah pressed the ‘on’ button for her which now lit up in a blue light, to indicate it was working.
“Oh. Right.” Helena was humiliated. Of all the people in this office to witness her -- their boss -- fail to recognise the coffee machine wasn’t plugged in, did it really have to be Dinah Lance?
Seriously. First thing Monday morning on top of an already shitty day at work and after a Saturday Christmas party which she left in the middle of a conversation with to go and get laid, and while getting laid thought about her? That Dinah of all people?
“Don’t worry about it,” Dinah said without her usual friendly attempt and then sighed. “God I miss coffee.”
Helena’s eyes drifted down to the obvious baby bump on Dinah’s stomach. That was going to be one lucky kid with a mother like Dinah… Helena bitterly tried not to think of her own mother or the fact that she apparently admired Dinah in subconscious on a physical and respectful level.
Fuck my life , Helena gripped her knuckles tight. I want to hate her but I don’t. I just envy her.
Dinah was in the second trimester. Helena had been invited to the baby shower, as a corporate courtesy. (She had to be in China that day, but had sent the most quality baby carriage money could buy.)
“Yeah, how is… that .”
She cursed herself for not having a more eloquent way of wording, and more for even continuing this conversation.
Dinah looked at her in surprise, not that Helena blamed her. Until today, Helena had never asked her a question. Ever.
“By ‘that’, I take it you mean pregnancy? Well, it’s not affecting my work. If anything, I think I’ve been doing my best work while pregnant. But my feet do ache. Don’t tell my boss I’ve been kicking them up on my desk, ‘mmkay?”
She was more friendly and teasing again now, and Helena hated the flutter it gave her.
“I’m your boss why would I--” Helena’s brow furrowed before her brain caught on. “Oh. Right.”
Dinah smiled warmly at her and Helena felt herself frowning in return, not wanting to get too close to a subordinate and most especially one she pictured while having sex. Who was pregnant and engaged to a man. Who her parents thought walked on water.
Dinah had been a rather unique hire, interviewed from a pool of Ivy League Business graduates by her father when he had been CEO and ultimately hand-picked by him.
Considering her own sour relationship with her father, she knew she carried an irrational jealousy of this woman near her own age who her father was so proud of. It wasn’t Dinah’s fault, but still, Helena found it hard to think about.
‘She’s self made, worked hard, and got into Gotham-U on a scholarship,’ he would tell her and Pino, ‘she appreciates opportunity.’
And the worst thing he ever said, ‘She’s engaged to a man, Helena. You should get to know her, be her friend.’
Just from working with her, Helena found out the woman was tough, had her shit together, and was insanely talented at her work in finance. Helena respected her. Disliked her, but respected her.
Helena always made sure to keep their interactions brief and to-the-point, not wanting to ‘get to know her’ or ‘be her friend’ like her father asked.
The coffee machine sputters, brewing into her mug and snapping Helena from her thoughts.
Dinah had gone to the refrigerator and grabbed what looked like a very large yogurt, walking behind her.
Before leaving the break room, Dinah promised her like it was a secret, “Don’t worry Helena, I won’t tell anyone you couldn’t figure out a coffee machine.”
Helena’s heart fluttered from the beautiful smile and she really hated that pregnancy caused a woman’s breasts to look so… big. God . Her dad was a total asshole for hiring Dinah.
It was like her family lived to make life difficult for her.
“So you won’t even let me have a say?” Oliver raised his voice, indignant and petty. “You don’t want to be with me I get it -- but that’s still my child!”
“Oliver!” Dinah was exasperated and rubbing her temples, “This is for the baby! He needs us to be a team. I’m not arguing with you again!”
“A team? Listen to yourself! You’re such a hypocrite!” Oliver scoffed, raising his voice more, “If we were a team we would raise him together .”
Dinah hated to admit that hormones affected her, but she felt them threatening to spill over. She wanted, more than anything, to take the vase on her right and throw it at his blonde fucking stubborn --
A knock on her apartment door caused both of them to straighten up and snap out of their fight, and Dinah sighed before walking across to open it.
“Yeah not like we ever finish an argument anyways,” Oliver snarked as he walked by her to grab a glass of water.
“Calm your tits, Oliver,” she warned him, taking a deep breath. “My secretary is just bringing me some files okay?”
“Of course it’s work,” he mumbled bitterly.
Except when she opened her door, it was not Gladys in her cat sweater and thick rimmed glasses who could help her get Oliver to leave, it was her boss. Helena Bertinelli.
Helena was… also not at all in her usual corporate attire of a navy or black pantsuit, silk shirt, and expensive Italian high heels like she was walking the Vogue runway (and that reference was known in the office since Helena had been featured in multiple issues of Vogue).
No, instead she was in full riding gear. Leather pants and riding boots, a leather jacket and gloves, one hand holding a file and the other a motorcycle helmet.
The problem with being in her second trimester was that she was ‘in the mood’ a lot and Helena with her Vogue model looks and this attire was a wet dream she was not prepared to appreciate.
“Helena?” She shook her head at the surprise. Their voices had been loud and the thought of her boss -- her very quiet, impatient and moody boss -- overhearing her fight was embarrassing. Even if she’d seen Helena get mad at a coffee machine for not being plugged in, it was different from Helena knowing about her domestic situation.
Gladys had overheard many of her fights with Oliver. Hell, Gladys was the saint of a woman who helped Dinah manage Oliver’s high maintenance attitude from their dating days to the pregnancy and until now, since the breakup last Saturday when he dialed the drama up.
“Um. Hey,” Helena awkwardly raised the file up, her eyes spotting a fuming Oliver over Dinah’s shoulder, sipping on his water and red in his face. “Gladys had a family emergency.”
“Oh my god,” Dinah’s concern for her own problems (a dramatic ex) were thrown out the window, “what happened?”
“Her mom had a heart attack,” Helena supplied, short and matter-of-factly.
“Oh no,” Dinah’s heart lurched for her friend and employee. Having lost her own mother, she had sympathy. “Wait, come in.”
“Um, I can go--”
“No, nonsense. Come in.”
“Dinah.” Oliver cut in, “Seriously?”
“I think I made myself clear that we are done with this conversation, Oliver,” Dinah dismissed him. “Just let our lawyers figure things out okay? I’m tired and I have a guest.”
“Fine, whatever,” he grabbed his jacket and stormed out, noisily clinking the glass on the counter by the door.
Helena realised she was inside Dinah’s apartment and she gulped as the door and Oliver behind it, left them alone, with a harsh slam.
“Sorry about him, he’s…” Dinah huffed, trailing off.
“Not my business,” Helena cut her off, uncomfortable. “I’ve known Oliver my whole life but we don’t talk.”
“We broke up,” Dinah shared. “I told him it’s over and he’s still… accepting it.”
Helena couldn’t hide the surprise on her face, looking at Dinah’s pregnant belly with trepidation. Dinah seemed like she was the ‘perfect’ woman with a great career and a ‘perfect’ fiancé.
Dinah started to explain, “I invited him over for dinner and civil conversation… He’s -- God, I’m sorry you don’t need my life story. But thank you for coming when you did so I could get him to leave.”
Helena felt a tidal wave of emotion she was unfamiliar with. She had felt envy around Dinah before, when her mother was hugging Dinah and fawning over her dress or hair, or when her father bragged about her studies and success in the office. But this time the envy was for someone who had gotten to be with Dinah, fury for the stress he was causing her, and embarrassment when Dinah said ‘you’ and ‘coming’ in the same sentence because of her most recent discovery that Dinah was pretty fucking hot.
“Glad I came.” Helena was flustered and she stuttered after her poor choice of words as Dinah gave her an odd look, “I mean glad I could help, um…”
Dinah raised an eyebrow, smiling in confusion, and Helena silently held out the folder, begging her to take it and save her further embarrassment.
“You’re really different out of the office,” Dinah said, tugging the file out of her grip and then waving it up and down at Helena's body. “You ride?”
Helena nodded, jutting her chin as she held her helmet up, “Yeah. You?”
“I have before,” Dinah affirmed, “my dad was big into it and I never knew him, so I got into it as a way of experiencing what he liked… I love it. I worked two summers to save up for my first bike. Sold that bike a year later to help pay for tuition before I could get a scholarship… How about you?”
The question caused Helena to pause, and she swallowed before replying.
“Yeah, you. How’d you get into riding?”
“Common in Italy,” Helena shrugged her shoulders. “Bikes were cooler than scooters and, um…”
“Still a woman of few words, huh?” Dinah turned on her heel and beckoned her inside.
Can I get you something to drink?”
Helena hesitated, cautious that her eyes were dipping along her employee’s backside as she walked to her kitchen. Her employee she had already mentally fucked a few times. Her employee she was supposed to hate and avoid.
Berating herself for being immature, Helena reached down to leave her helmet by the hall table and remove her boots before stepping on the carpet. She was a grown up, she could do this.
“You removed your shoes,” Dinah was smiling at her, “Oliver never does that.”
Somehow, it made Helena puff up her chest just a little bit.
“Water is uh, fine, thanks,” she said, watching Dinah get them both a glass each.
“So, you used to live in Italy for a long time right?”
Helena shrugged, looking down at her fingernails so she wasn’t distracted by the scoop of Dinah’s shirt and neckline.
“Uh, yeah. Every summer from five to fifteen... Ten years. Then I was sent here to private school. Then I went back after graduation.”
“Right, and you lived in Asia for a while too after, right?
Helena cautiously nodded, surprised DInah knew all of that.
“That’s why you speak fluid Mandarin... I, um, read about it in that last article you did for that magazine.”
“Which one? There were--” Helena saw the teasing smirk Dinah had and she rolled her eyes, relaxing, “You’re teasing me again.”
“You make it so easy.”
The glass of water was set in front of her and Helena took a grateful sip. So, apparently Dinah read about her in magazines… somehow Helena felt that made her happy to know.
“So how about you?” Dinah spoke up again, quirking an eyebrow at her.
“Are you dating anybody or have an ex throwing tantrums in your living room?”
“I don’t date,” Helena shrugged, not able to meet Dinah’s eyes for this conversation.
“You don’t? Why, because of work?”
“I guess. And…” the other part of the truth hung in the air between them and Helena sighed as she spoke the truth, “I’ve never let anybody get close to me like that.”
She had never told anyone that, and Helena felt like a part of her soul had just been laid bare. With Dinah Lance of all people. Over water.
Helena paused at the shock of Dinah’s tone. She had already said too much and she was too sober to continue.
“You have the folder so I should, um, go,” she set the half empty glass down and straightened up, mustering a polite nod.
“I’m sorry,” Dinah was rushing out, “I meant that in a ‘but you’re rich and hot’ way, not a ‘what’s wrong with you’ way.”
Helena’s stomach literally jumped.
“Thanks for making me two dimensional, I guess,” she said, feeling a shockingly easy and genuine smile appear.
“Did you just make a joke and finally smile?” Dinah feigned surprise, Iit only took working two years for you to make a joke with me. Wow. Progress.”
“I’ve been known to joke every two years... yes,” Helena joked again before knowing she had to go, “but it’s getting late so… goodnight, Dinah.”
Dinah laughed and Helena loved the sound of it, feeling an odd stirring of warmth in her chest. She had never felt so pathetically powerless in her life like she was now, under Dinah’s attention. Not even when her family had turned their backs on her.
She didn’t like it.
“Here, let me walk you out,” Dinah said, the file left on the table, walking to the front with her, grabbing a coat and keys.
“You don’t have to--”
“I’m going to visit Gladys,” Dinah said, “see what she needs… that woman is the best secretary and a great friend.”
Helena didn’t think it was possible, but the warmth got even worse just then. She laced her boots back on and quietly followed Dinah down to the apartment lobby. It was a nice building, spacious and prime estate in Gotham. Dinah seemed to make every decision with long-term thinking, and her smarts were even more attractive than her looks.
Fuck , Helena thought to herself, trying not to let her mind accept the truth of her opinions.
“Listen,” Helena was sitting on her parked bike now, and somewhat reluctant to cut the evening short. “If you ever need to use me as an excuse with uh, him again. Don’t hesitate.”
“Thanks,” Dinah grinned. “Nice Ducati though.”
“You like it?” Helena’s heart fluttered again.
After Dinah left for her car, Helena loitered on her bike and hated herself just a little bit as more impure thoughts clouded her brain. She had just been with Desiree a couple of nights ago… so instead of calling her, she called Claire.
Helena had met Claire months ago. “Any chance you want to meet up for drinks?”
“You know where I live, if that’s what you want… we can meet there.”
Oliver drummed his fingers as Luigi Bertinelli laughed out loud at the literal worst joke ever. He had joined Franco for brunch at the country club.
Because I need to live for me, not you .
He glanced emptily at the text message Dinah had sent him in reply to his upset ‘why are you doing this?’ and gripped the glass of his mimosa tightly. They had a nasty fight after the Christmas Gala, causing Dinah to ask for space.
As of last night the engagement ring had been returned, and she had said it was best for their child they didn’t ‘force’ a relationship.
“Good one eh, Oliver?” Franco chuckled at him. “Say, baby is due in just a few months huh?”
Oliver shrugged, trying not to show how unnerving and upsetting this topic was for him -- he and Dinah had been the hottest couple in the social circle and she had just dumped him. He had never been dumped in his life, ever .
“Yeah, baby is due in March.”
“Hm, you’re lucky to have a woman like that,” Franco said to him, “she’s remarkable.”
Oliver wanted to leave but he heard hushed whispers in the country club dining as Helena Bertinelli arrived.
“Helena used to have the most gorgeous long hair,” Roberto’s wife Tilda said loudly,
Maria Bertinelli straightened her spine to airily reply back, “Well, Vogue last fall said her hair was ‘on point’ with current trends.”
People talked about her like she was the president, and Oliver was glad the conversation moved away from him and onto her as it tended to do whenever she walked into a room.
(What he wasn’t glad about was the fact that Helena had dropped by Dinah’s a few nights back and overheard one of their fights.)
She must know , he thought to himself, watching as she exchanged words with her brother and sipped on some coffee. She wouldn’t tell anyone, would she?
Oliver’s relationship with the Bertinelli family was an odd one -- Franco had kind of taken him on like family, invited him to a lot of family gatherings and events his whole life. Even tried to get Helena and him to date on multiple occasions before Helena left the city after their private school graduation. Later he heard about her coming out of the closet -- his ex girlfriend’s ex boyfriend’s ex girlfriend reportedly slept with Helena and word got out in high society and Helena was in Europe whenever people asked about her, Maria Bertinelli would just rave about how Helena was exploring the world and being philanthropic.
She didn’t set foot back into America for almost ten years and then, out of nowhere, she came back last year to work for the family and suddenly she was more popular than most celebrities or politicians these days.
“Erickson’s got mayor in the bag, you can count on it,” Luigi Bertinelli loudly declared, “You’re backing him, ain’t ya, Franco?”
Oliver had heard Luigi’s son was in rehab after being caught getting high at work, and glanced at Helena again. How she had managed to pull the Bertinelli business away from certain ruin within a year was phenomenal. She brokered deals with China and Europe.
“Course we’re backing him,” Roberto Bertineli spoke up next, “We backed him last term and again for this one.”
“Yeah,” Franco snapped his eyes away from where Oliver had noticed him watching his daughter and stuffed more hashbrown into his mouth, “I don’t like that Montoya. She wants to cut our taxes more when we already fund the police force she used to work for!”
Oliver nodded dumbly along, ghosting his fingers on the phone before texting Dinah back.
Can we talk? It’s best for the baby we raise him together, a family. I’m sorry I yelled at you yesterday.
Dinah was flying today, some kind of last minute addition to London, and Oliver regretted their last interaction.
We’ll talk when I get back , Dinah replied to him immediately.
Hoping to call her before she boarded, Oliver stood up from the table and politely excused himself.
Every Sunday, the Bertinelli family had dinner for as long as Helena could remember. Since her great-grandparents migrated from Italy to America they believed in family unity. It was why she put up with Uncle Lui’s boring stories and his son Dino’s drug habit at work -- they were the only two of her relatives that had not cared she was gay. (Lui thought for a long time it meant she was a vegan.)
Pino was a different story, he loved her unconditionally. He was the only person in her life she felt like herself with and met up around the world here and there.
Despite her becoming the black sheep of the family, when the company had gone under she did her part as a Bertinelli. She loved her family even when they didn’t love her.
These days Helena only joined the second Sunday of the month and she always left before dessert to catch a flight to London for the week. The days she would be joking around with her cousins or getting hugs from all the Uncles and Aunts were long gone.
Now she showed up for the family business and not the family, and clocked out of family gatherings to build the family business and get away from the family.
“I sometimes wish I was the gay kid so I could get away with skipping dessert and only showing up once in a while,” Pino grumbled under his breath. “Uncle fucking Lui talked to me for a whole hour about this pizza crust he ate.”
Helena rolled her eyes at her brother, smacking his arm playfully. Her brother had a girlfriend, Gianna, from a nice upper class Italian family. They were in love, like the perfect rich white fairy tale and Helena liked her -- she was good for Pino.
At least one of them was the picture perfect child their parents wanted.
“Boy on boy is hot sweetie, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing you lock lips with Zac Efron,” Gianna egged him on under her breath, causing Helena to give her a small smile as her little brother choked on his water.
Gianna smiled widely back. It was no secret she had been trying to get closer to Helena, to become friends with the older sister her boyfriend worshipped. She had everyone’s approval in the family, but the one she tried the hardest with was Helena.
Helena was warming up to her, protective of her little brother’s heart. Still, she kept her distance from Gianna. She was kind enough to her to attempt smiling, but not herself around her.
She was not welcomed to be herself around any of them. There was a reason Pino sat away from them, and usually Dino would be here too, if not for rehab.
Helena checked her watch, keeping her mouth quiet and filtering out the loud voices of her father and Uncles who said some of the most ignorant things about their city’s political race. They were going to be in for a shock when her interview with Gotham Gazette came out this week, endorsing Renee Montoya for mayor. She had privately donated to the woman’s campaign after meeting her last year.
She took a sip of her coffee and noticed Oliver get up from where he had been talking next to her father with his phone to his ear.
Her mind went to Dinah, and with a deep sigh she was glad her trip to London would distract her from those particular thoughts she had been having.
“Why the sigh?” Pino fluttered his eyelashes at her, “Going to miss me?”
She scoffed, “You wish.”
It was time for her to go, so she smoothly stood up from the table. It was the Gotham City Country Club and her family was old money before they became bigger money, one of many old money families that kept the country club brunch tradition alive.
“I gotta go... Bye, Gianna. Pino, let’s talk Tuesday?”
“Yeah!” Pino stood up and they exchanged a hug. She was grateful that in her life she had one person who loved her for who she was, and that was enough to make her stay when it mattered most. His future, the future of his kids… that was why she bothered to try and fight for their family fortune.
It was also why she bought him that ridiculous purple sports car he wanted so badly. She hugged him tightly back.
“My classes are done by four on Tuesday,” he said.
“Keep up your studies, I’m proud of you,” she whispered to him letting him hold her a moment longer.
“Keep us filthy rich you raging homosexual,” he snickered a whisper into her ear before letting her go and saying, “Love ya sis.”
“Love you too,” she grabbed her phone from the table, giving Gianna a nod.
Helena was surprised when Gianna stepped forward and hugged her also, but she allowed it, leaning back to tease her, “You tell me if he needs to be punched okay?”
She giggled and Helena left them to chat about their economics professor with a short temper to go bid a polite adieu to the family.
“Mom. Dad.” She approached their table to say her goodbyes to them, waving casually at some cousins.
The family was a lot more reserved around her now that she was so famous and revered. The thing that had once threatened their acceptance of her was now ironically what saved their family business and name. Uncle Roberto, her dad’s first younger brother (before Lui, Tony, and Gio), stiffened up as she got close.
The last time he had spoken to her had been to tell her she was going to hell and was no longer welcome in his house or near his kids. Now they had a tolerating relationship of no eye contact and no talking. Still, it was odd for him to be this stiff… maybe he already heard she endorsed Montoya. She knew he was close with the other candidate, Patrick Erickson.
“You have to go so soon?” Her mother was up, quickly kissing her cheek. “No dessert?”
It was the same formality every second Sunday of the month.
“No, don’t want to miss my flight.”
“Ciao, kid,” her dad kissed her cheek as well, and it was such a painful show for their relatives, but Helena allowed it for her parent’s sake.
They loved her and she loved them, but a lot of things had been left unsaid and she preferred it that way. It was why she never went to her old family home since coming back even when Pino asked her.
She said her monotone goodbyes to the Aunties and Uncles, and her driver was waiting when she finally made it out, suitcase packed and all, she went straight from the country club to the private airplane that would fly to London.
She greeted the flight attendant, an unfamiliar face that gave her some unease instead of the usual guy Chad, but took a seat.
“Good day, Miss Bertinelli, Chad was sick today so I’m filling in. My name is Anne.”
She accepted the explanation, shaking off her feelings. Her eyes were closed and her feet were kicked up in exhaustion, ready to sleep until a soft chuckle woke her up.
“So you do sleep,” said Dinah, lifting up a suitcase into the overhead compartment.
“Dinah?” She stood up, about to reach over and help her only for Dinah to smack her hand away.
“I’m pregnant, not an invalid.”
“Right. Sorry,” Helena recoiled her hands back, embarrassed. “I didn’t mean--”
“Relax I’m kidding. So, London, huh?”
“Yeah what are you -- I thought pregnant women shouldn’t fly?”
“I’m not due for like three months,” Dinah declared, “a week in London is fine. My doctor cleared it.”
“I usually fly alone to London…” she was confused, and the plane engine was already on now.
“I got confirmed to join you yesterday, special request? I thought you put it in because you were so amazed with my work or something...” Dinah looked a lot less confident now.
Helena’s cheeks burned from the warm teasing smile as Dinah took a seat on one of the reclined seats. So much for avoiding her.
“This flight is going to finally mean I can stay off my feet for at least seven hours.” Dinah kicked up her aching feet, sighing.
“What request was sent for you?” The plane was already moving down the runway now, and the flight attendant was pouring them both some water before she left to go sit in the front. Helena eyed her oddly. The woman didn’t pour them separate water and leave the bottle the same way Chad did, she used the same bottle and took it back to the front. It was a small thing but noticeable nonetheless.
“Just that they need me in London to share our branch success, help show someone the ropes of what I’ve been implementing as Treasurer to make us look so good. I’m getting paid extra so I don’t mind. Why?”
Helena blinked, “Nothing, it’s just… weird is all. I wasn’t told you would be joining me…”
The plane lifted off and Helena sipped her water, grabbing her phone to check her messages -- no one had sent her any.
“Weird,” Dinah mumbled. “I need me one of these private jets, so much better than going through security.”
An infuriating beeping sound screamed noisily, causing Helena to blink her eyes open. She felt groggy and slow.
Helena startled awake, her eyes adjusting to Dinah’s panicked face above hers. “The flight attendant is gone and that sounds like some kind of emergency fucking alarm!”
“What?” She slurred.
The noise of air in the cabin, the odd feeling of a weightless pressure as the plane descended...
Helena was up on her feet, the fear in Dinah’s eyes reflected in her own as the situation started to make sense. She rushed to confirm Dinah’s suspicions, the cabin door was locked and their flight attendant was gone, the open exit door gushing a rough wind a clear indication she had jumped.
“Oh shit!” the plane seemed to dip suddenly, and Dinah screamed with her as they both grabbed onto something.
“Open up!” Helena tried the handle, but nothing worked.
“Here!” Dinah shouted at her, getting her attention. Dinah smacked her elbow back into the glass of an emergency axe, before holding it out for Helena to take.
Helena knew they might die, and she knew she was also on some kind of drug from the water that had slowed her down, but she was grateful in that moment for the vision of Dinah's hair flying around them and the haloing light. If she was going to die, that was definitely a good image.
Helena snapped out of her thoughts and grabbed the axe before swinging it fast and furious, splintering the thankfully thin wood of the cabin door. They both stumbled inside and Helena felt Dinah’s body unintentionally slam into her.
“Can you fly?” She slurred to Dinah.
“No!” Dinah swore, “Where is the fucking pilot!”
“We were taught emergency flight!” Helena had hardly paid attention but she sat down in the pilot chair and pulled the control console towards her, relieved when the plane seemed to ease up it’s descent.
“Fucking fuck,” Dinah was stumbling into the copilot chair next to her and buckling in before praying, “God fucking help us save me and my son and Helena--”
Helena gasped when they landed on something moments later, everything going black.
The sun was setting as Helena opened her eyes and she groaned. There was the sound of waves and birds, and a chill in the air, but she was in pain. Full pain. She could smell the salt of the ocean and hear birds in the sky squawking overhead. It was serene and she gasped for air.
“Helena!” Dinah’s relieved voice got her attention, and Helena winced as she struggled to lean up before realising they were feet away from a sinking aircraft and in an inflated lifeboat.
“Fuck did we,” Helena felt numb, “did that really just…”
Dinah was pressing her cardigan against her head, shivering in her t-shirt.
“You somehow landed us on water but you didn’t put on your seatbelt properly in the panic,” Dinah explained. “You hit your head hard on the controls.”
Helena laid back, slowly remembering everything they did on the plane -- the axe, the descent...
“You okay? Your baby?”
“I’m okay… baby seems to be okay I…” Dinah exhaled gently, the pain in her voice more audible now, “hope anyways. The pilot seats had an extra harness… if we crashed in the back I don’t think either of us would be alive right now.”
“I was drugged,” Helena blinked her tired eyes, “my water. You?”
“I didn’t touch it,” Dinah sounded confused, “I’ve been craving tomato juice like crazy so I didn't touch the water… just went to use the bathroom in the back after I woke up, and when I came out the attendant was gone and -- fucking hell, Helena. Somehow I got us out of there before it started to sink. You’re heavy, you know that? ”
“Someone tried to kill us Dinah,” Helena mumbled before she lost consciousness again.
The next time Helena woke up, the sun was rising and she was in a boat with voices talking and yelling and calling all around her. It was jarring and she felt nauseous which was why she heaved and rolled onto her side and threw up.
She groaned, feeling a warm palm touch her forehead and comb some of her hair back, she was able to look up and see Dinah smiling down at her.
“D-Dinah?” She was shivering cold and looked down at her body, realising she was soaking wet.
“Hey,” Dinah smiled at her with a soft voice, warmth in her eyes despite also looking cold. “Sorry when I got us on the lifeboat I wasn’t able to get much with us…”
Helena spat from her mouth and winced at the vomit in the bucket. Gross.
“By some miracle these fucking fisherman saw us crash and came over… can’t understand a word they’re saying but…”
Helena felt some relief, “The b-baby?”
“I think he’s okay,” Dinah whispered back. “The adrenaline is wearing off and I feel pain everywhere now but I don't think I got it bad like you, pretty sure you’re concussed… here, have some water.”
Helena was incredibly thirsty and she sipped some water, she felt pain everywhere in her body. “Where are we?”
“No clue, somewhere in the Atlantic I guess?” Dinah sighed, “They don’t speak a lick of english. But it could be worse, we could be dead or have drowned by now and they don’t seem like kidnappers or whatever.”
Helena craned her ears to listen to the yelling and then noticed after a moment, “They’re speaking Portguese…”
“Oh! Of course,” Dinah seemed to brighten up, “we must be fucking lucky -- of all the places to crash land we probably did it near the Azorean islands!”
“You know your geography.” Despite their insane circumstance, Helena was impressed. She loved geography.
“You know your languages,” Dinah was touching her forehead suddenly, where it had been bandaged, “How’s your head? I did my best with their first aid kit that I could...”
“It fucking hurts,” Helena shrugged before taking another sip of water. There were about three fisherman in the boat, busy getting them to the shore of what looked to be a very small island indeed.
When they arrived at the very small remote island with the fisherman and their loot, Helena decided to thank God and then thank the fisherman in her own broken Portuguese.
She finished thanking the men, taking their names and remembering them as the doctor of a small clinic poked around her head to stitch it up properly.
“What did they say?” Dinah asked her, still staying by her side.
“Not totally sure, I only know some lexical similarity because of the little italian I know…” Helena winced when whatever the doctor applied stung her.
Dinah was covered in a warm blanket now and had been fed by the nurses as soon as they realised she was pregnant. To her delight they had given her some tomato juice.
“I meant your head.” Dinah sounded amused, despite the exhaustion and absolute craziness of their situation.
“Oh,” Helena pulled her own blanket around her shoulders to awkwardly shift as the doctor spoke to himself in Portuguese, “Mild concussion. But lots of stitches. I think my wrist protected me because it fucking hurts. He’s going to check it out next.”
“Hmmm…” Dinah sipped her tomato juice, looking thoughtful.
“How'd you pull us out?” Helena asked her.
Dinah shrugged, “You know, dragged your unconscious ass out before the plane sank, found us the life raft… didn’t really think, just did.”
“Thanks for saving my life,” Helena said, genuinely. “I’d be dead without you.”
“Same here, you somehow landed us in the fucking water.”
“You sure swear a lot.” Helena chuckled, eyes glancing over at Dinah.
“Yeah I do, especially when I almost die a few times,” Dinah laughed, and the doctor gave them both an amused smile, for even if he couldn’t understand them he could understand humour.
He left the room telling Helena he would be back for her wrist, leaving them alone.
“Before you ask again, they checked me out too. I definitely fucked up my shoulder and wrist and knee, but the baby is okay and I’ll live and get better. We got lucky.”
Helena was finding it hard to believe she was on a remote Portuguese island with Dinah Lance, of all people. She had most definitely hit her head. But now was not the time to think of how beautiful Dinah was.
“I think we were both targets, Dinah.” She spoke softly. “I was never told you would be on that flight and our water was drugged… if you didn’t crave tomato juice, I mean… we would both be dead right now.”
“But why,” Dinah cut her off, looking equally pissed and concerned, “why me?”
“I don’t… I don’t know,” Helena furrowed her brows, “you’re one of if not the best in our finance division… but you were requested last minute, the flight crew disappearing on us… it can’t be a coincidence.”
“Why would someone try to kill you?”
Helena sighed, “I don’t know, Dinah. I really don’t. It could be money related?”
“Are you kidding? We audit like crazy, there are no financial coverups…” Dinah tossed her empty juice into the garbage.
It was a ridiculous thought, but Helena said it out loud anyway. “Probably my own family.”
She stated it as a joke, but she realised she genuinely believed it as she said it, and for the first time in years since her parents asked her to leave the house, Helena felt her eyes burn with tears and they escaped her eyes.
The doctor came back and Helena blinked her tears away and sighed, ignoring the heavy gaze of Dinah’s curiosity and concern.
They found out they were on the smallest island, Corvo. First aid treatment and a cafe, and then they were taken to the Police Station.
From what Helena could understand, the plane crash was huge news globally already, and word that they had survived had just been sent from the health care team on the island after recognizing them.
“They want to fly us to Portugal,” she told Dinah, her head still occasionally dizzy from the concussion.
“Sure,” Dinah said. She always stayed close to Helena, hardly leaving her side unless she needed to use the bathroom. Almost dying definitely created a bond between them, and Helena didn’t like being alone anymore than Dinah right now.
“You know, this fucking bread and this fucking cheese is the best thing I’ver tasted in my life,” Dinah moaned, chewing furiously, “Fuck. We need this to go but we have no money since it’s at the bottom of the Atlantic.”
Helena laughed, wincing when it hurt her ribs but keeping her smile.
As soon as she could, Helena made sure to call her lawyer and have him wire some money to help Dinah acquire the bread and cheese, and also to pay the fisherman who saved them.
“You are not calling your parents?” Dinah observed that the only call Helena had made was to her lawyer. She also remembered Helena’s off hand comment about her family wanting her dead and finally decided to bring it up.
“Why is that?”
“Why aren't you calling anyone?”
“I’m an orphan and I’ll see my friends soon enough, I guess.”
Helena doesn’t comment on the fact that the father of her baby was not mentioned. She feels like Dinah would have never been involved if not for her so she shares with her what she has never shared with anyone.
“My family is… it’s complicated. I’m the CEO, I’m not really a Bertinelli. They don’t accept me and before I see or speak to any of them I want to make sure everything legal is in place first.”
“What do you mean you’re not really a Bertinelli?”
“Everything changed when I came out of the closet,” Helena said quietly. “I’ve never told anyone this… my brother, he knows but we don’t discuss it… he’s still loved by the family.”
“Shit,” Dinah looked shocked, “but you’re like one of the biggest LGBT icons of our time. Openly gay CEO who brokered huge deals for energy with China… you inspire us all.”
“U-us?” Helena paused, shock obvious on her face.
“I’ve been kissing girls as long I’ve been kissing boys,” Dinah shrugged, “and being a woman in the corporate world, seeing you be open about your sexuality and totally turn around your company from bankrupt to fucking bank? I had such a work crush.”
Helena felt her heart warm, “R-really?”
“Duh,” Dinah playfully told her. “Female power, gay power. And you’re hot too.”
Helena blushed, “You think… you think I’m..?”
“Course,” Dinah chuckled, “no clue how you don’t have a girlfriend… until you said you don’t let people close?”
“Um, work is… busy, yeah. So no.”
“You almost died because of work,” Dinah teased her. “But you really feel your family doesn’t… that they could... Over that ?”
Helena nodded, tears long held in starting to finally find release in Dinah’s understanding eyes, “Yeah I do. I speak multiple languages, I made contracts with China and did what I needed to bring things back in the green…they don’t need me anymore and the CEO dying in is a good way to get public sympathy.”
Dinah exhaled, sat next to her on the couch, and then she pulled Helena in for a hug, gently rubbing her back.
Helena closed her eyes and inhaled the scent of Dinah's skin. It felt safe here and she didn’t want to face the reality of her life, she wanted to stay right here. It felt safe.
So safe, she let her tears flow.
The flight to Portugal wasn’t too long, and they were escorted from the Portugal airport to the best hospital in the city with guarded security.
Dinah was relieved when an obstetrician checked her out properly and assured her more officially that the baby was indeed going to be okay.
Helena snuck into her hospital room late at night, now moving around more.
“Helena, hey,” Dinah sat up, happy to see her. “You good?”
“Yeah course,” Helena awkwardly looked down, “Listen about earlier before we got here -- if I made things awkward, I’m sorry.”
“You didn’t,” Dinah assured her, knowing the woman was referring to crying in Dinah’s arms.
“Okay good,” Helena bit her lips and stepped forward. “Another thing is… I don’t think we should give the full story.”
“My lawyer and I were chatting…” Helena whispered slowly, “he suspects foul play from my family too. We’re hiring a private security team to lead the investigation and our story for the public is the flight attendant and pilot are missing and also presumed dead. That you couldn’t find them in time so only pulled me onto the raft. We keep the fact that they jumped the plane to ourselves...”
“Shit,” Dinah shook her head.
“Mhm,” Helena shrugged, “someone who wanted me out of the way. I don’t understand why you were involved in it too but, I am sorry Dinah.”
“Hey,” she reached out to gently hold a hand. “We almost died but we didn’t die. Whoever tried it and for whatever reason, I’m sorry too.”
Helena relaxed, turning her palm around so they were holding hands, “I have a confession to make.”
“I…” Helena looked up, “I…”
She froze, seeing Dinah’s eyes patiently waiting for her and her feelings choked her in the throat. Even though Dinah had said what she said, Helena felt so unworthy and the brief moment of courage from almost dying and finding out Dinah thought she was hot disappeared.
“Um I actually forgot to talk to my doctor about something sorry… be right uh back…”
She dared not look back and left the room.
“I’m confused -- what exactly happened in the air?” Franco Bertinelli was not calm, and Helena had only seen her father like this once before (when he told her there was ‘no way’ she was gay).
She stayed quiet, catching her lawyer James Gordon’s eyes in quick wordless exchange.
“It’s still under investigation, Mr. Bertinelli,” Gordon said calmly.
“The cops are fucking clueless! Are you talking about the insurance company?” He was frustrated, and his wife’s hand on his shoulder calmed him for only a moment before he asked again, “I want the fucking FBI on this!”
“Dad!” Helena snapped at him, the last of her patience gone. “I have it handled okay?”
“You have it handled? Helena--”
“I do not need you pretending to care today, okay? Both of you,” Helena’s voice was cold as she said it.
‘No daughter of mine is gay! Get out of my house!’
The wind was taken from her father’s sails and Helena ignored the hurt in her mother’s eyes.
A knock on the door interrupted the tension building in the private hospital room, and Dinah walked in. Her face had some bruised discolouring, and her shoulder was in a sling, her free arm holding a bouquet of flowers and balloons.
“Oh uh, hey,” she seemed to realise she had walked in on something tense.
“It’s okay Dinah, they were just leaving.”
“Oh, right,” Dinah limped forward and Franco and Maria Bertinelli seemed to snap out of their frozen stance.
“Let me help you there Dinah, God protected you both,” Franco kindly grabbed the bouquet and balloons, happy to see her.
“Thanks, Mr. Bertinelli,” Dinah let him take it from her, watching as he placed them with other flower arrangements and ‘get well soon’ cards at Helena’s bedside.
“How far along?” Maria asked, gesturing to her stomach with a warm smile, “It’s a miracle you both survived. God bless.”
“Um, yeah he’s due in two and a half months,” Dinah walked towards Helena on the bed, “I’m just happy he’s going to be healthy.”
“Right,” Maria put on her politest smile, “well then, Helena… we’ll be by later today, sweetheart.”
“Friday would be better,” Helena said bluntly, dismissing her parents with a clear ‘fuck off’ considering it was a Monday.
After they quietly left, Helena sighed.
“Dinah, meet Gordon. Gordon, meet Dinah.”
“James is fine,” Gordon offered his hand for a shake. “I’ll leave you two alone for a minute, be right back, Helena.“
“Thanks.” Helena watched him go before turning to Dinah, “How’s the shoulder?”
“Ugh. Seriously, I’ve had worse to be honest… What the fuck did I just walk in on? You could cut that tension with a knife.”
Dinah raised her eyebrow, wordlessly asking for a better explanation and Helena slammed her eyes shut in frustration.
“My parents basically disowned me -- now what? They want to conveniently pretend they care? They didn’t care when it mattered and… I don’t wish to deal with it.”
“Ah. Gotcha.” Dinah grabbed her hand, covering it in a friendly gesture. “So. I wanted to thank you for getting me all that amazing bread and cheese but…”
“Let me guess you already ate it all and you’re craving something else again?” Helena smiled warmly at her, the negative coil in her stomach from her parents already gone.
“Yeah. Something sweet. I scored a bunch of these amazing pastries--”
“Hey,” Gordon entered the room and locked the door, back already and with his eyes dark in seriousness. “Ladies.”
“The Private Investigator confirmed Lance was a company request, the request was put in by your Uncle Lui.”
“Lui?” Helena furrowed her brows, “Lui doesn’t deal with this stuff. He had no clue what’s happening, I just kind of let him sit in the office and find him odd jobs to do…”
“That guy seems way too boring to plot my murder,” Dinah agreed, sitting on the edge of Helena’s bed, “and like damn, what’d I ever do to Lui?”
“He’s someone’s patsy,” Helena agreed.
“His signature signed off on the request, so someone asked him to sign it. We just need to find out who and why,” Gordon played with his moustache in thought.
Helena winced after touching her headwound too hard, limping out of her bathroom in the pajamas Gordon had gotten for her. The hospital in Portugal had discharged them, and it was Christmas Day. They were scheduled to fly back the day after tomorrow.
She opened the hotel room door, expecting the knock to be the room service she called for, but was surprised to find Dinah in a matching set of warm long sleeves and a takeaway box in hand.
“Merry Christmas! I brought pastries for my crash buddy… you up for a chat?”
Helena stepped aside, curiously watching Dinah enter the room and take a seat at the couch adjacent to the bed. She closed the door and joined her with some hesitation.
“Newsflash, you’re still my boss but we almost died together and are involved in some kind of murder conspiracy. You’d think you would have loosened up around me by now.”
Helena flushed and sat down, arms crossed, “s-sorry.”
Dinah laughed, opening the box, “why are you sorry? I’m just teasing. God I can’t believe that actually happened, it was like a weird dream.”
Nodding, Helena helped herself to a pastry and bit into it. She was starving. “Not exactly how I wanted to visit the Azorean islands…”
Dinah’s laughter was warm and Helena smiled, relaxing.
“Hey, Helena?” Dinah reached over to gently touch her hand on the couch between them.
“Y-yeah?” Helena gulped.
“What did you want to confess to me the other day?”
“What?” Helena couldn’t help the way her hand flinched away from Dinah’s, shocked at the turn in conversation. “Oh I just um, you know I was concussed so…”
There was a knock on the door -- room service -- so Helena shot to her feet and approached the door, opening it and politely thanking the worker who rolled the cart in and quickly left.
“Sorry I… shouldn’t have mentioned it,” Dinah said gently, awkwardly.
Helena sighed, closing her eyes in frustration. Feelings were the worst. It was why she tried to push them away, but sometimes they were unavoidable.
“I was going to confess that I think you're beautiful,” Helena mumbled quietly, not daring to look up from where she was fiddling with the silverware on the cart of her food.
Dinah was standing next to her now, sounding hopeful, and Helena turned her head to the side. As soon as she saw the safety of those eyes she was a goner.
“The most beautiful woman in the world… you’re smart, and tough, and funny… and you make me feel good whenever I’m around you.”
“You’ve never said more than two words to me at a time until recently…” Dinah’s hand had slipped into hers now. That was how Helena realised she was trembling.
“Crushes pass,” Helena turned to face her, heart racing fast, “This one just gets worse… especially when she saves your life.”
“I know the feeling,” Dinah stepped closer and Helena realised their faces were suddenly very close. “I never thought you’d be interested in your pregnant subordinate…”
The returned confession hangs between them, and Helena is afraid of what comes next. She is afraid how much this desire burns her, but she wants, and she can feel a sweet breath on her lips.
It’s Dinah who presses their lips together, cautious at first until Helena kisses back, bringing a hand up to delicately cup Dinah’s cheek and gently leading her face up for a deeper kiss. She could feel Dinah’s baby bump pressed to her stomach and there was a subtle poke which had their kiss come to a fast end, Dinah stepping back and away.
Helena retreated her hand quickly back, cheeks flushed. and panic at Dinah’s hesitation.
“I-I’m sorry I thought--”
“No, Helena, I’m sorry…” Dinah looked down before looking up, “I kissed you and I… I’m pregnant.”
“I know,” Helena thought that was pretty obvious, “but you’re single--?”
“Still going to be a mother,” Dinah crossed her arms, “and the baby just kicked me while I was kissing you -- you who is my boss .”
“I can… I can transfer somewhere else if you want?” Helena hoped she didn’t sound too desperate.
Dinah raised her eyebrow, “You would transfer yourself for me? Seriously? You’re the CEO.”
“Yeah but… we could arrange things so you’re not directly under -- I mean, fuck, if that’s making you uncomfortable--”
Dinah’s face softened, and she sounded regrettable as she spoke out loud, “It’s not just that, Helena.”
Helena’s hope was crushed and she swallowed the saliva in the throat. “What is it?”
“My son…” Dinah gently tried to explain. “I do like you -- but I love him more than anything already… If I wasn’t pregnant I would be jumping in.”
“Oh.” Helena felt sadness and understanding wash over her.
“Maybe…” Dinah reached down and held a hand between hers, “maybe if we take things slow? Make sure it’s something we both want?”
“Yeah?” Helena gripped the hand with hers, her hope soaring again, “So… like friends who kiss and um, share pastry talks?”
“Sure.” Dinah looked relieved that Helena was being patient, “We’ve been through a lot together and I want to explore this… make sure it’s not just the fact that we almost died together and do what’s best for my son too…”
“Right,” Helena shyly tucked her hair back.
“But you… that day at my place, you told me you don’t let anyone get close to you enough to date?”
Helena trusted Dinah, somehow more than anyone else.
“Caring about someone means you can lose them… I’ve been cast aside before.”
“Then I promise you,” Dinah stepped closer again, now cradling Helena’s cheeks, “no matter what happens between us I will never cast you aside. I got your back, okay? Friends or more than friends.”
“Okay,” Helena cautiously slipped her hands to Dinah’s waist, “Can I kiss you again?”
Dinah smiled warmly at her and responded by pressing their lips together.
Helena had never dated a girl before, let along dated one who was pregnant while they had to figure out a murder conspiracy, but somehow this was the best Christmas she could imagine of her life.
(end of part 1)