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The plan all along had been to go back to Gotham. 

“After things settle down a bit,” Harley told Cassandra while she sipped her margarita. “Y’know, when the death threats stop an’ people get distracted by the next big baddie that comes in.”

Cassandra hadn’t been particularly plussed by that statement, and made that clear to Harley.

“Well, where do you expect us to go?” Harley said with a giggle. “What, do you wanna go start from scratch in LA or Chicago? No, we’re gonna go back home, find a nice lil’ bungalow, and set up shop there .”

“I mean, won’t it look suspicious?” Cassandra pointed between the two of them. “I mean, we’re obviously not related. And you’re too young to have a daughter my age.”

Harley opened her mouth to respond, but then paused. The cogs in her head were obviously turning, and Cassandra’s worry built the longer the silence dragged on. Eventually, Harley grinned widely, and the worry turned to dread.

“I know just what to do,” she said.

Downing her drink, she slammed the glass down and stood up, throwing her jacket back over her shoulders. 

“C’mon, kiddo, we got work to do!” Harley called behind her. Cassandra groaned tiredly and scrambled after her. 

Cassandra’s fear turned out to be semi-misplaced. Harley hunted down the forger, and twirled a bat while he frantically worked to make them fake passports. 

At first, he’d tried to play tough, even as his gun-wielding hand shook. “I--I don’t have to do what you want, Harley Quinn ,” he spat. “I heard about your split. You’re nothing without the Joker in front of you--”

She quickly showed him otherwise, plucking the gun from his hand and breaking a finger in the process.

“So cool,” Cassandra breathed in awe as the man immediately cowered and started babbling promises.

“There’s another lesson for ya, kiddo,” Harley sang, gracefully draping herself over a chair. “Give ‘em a chance. It gives you the chance to act scary.” 

Popping her gum, she settled in, and Cassandra did the same.

(There had been an uncomfortable moment where they had had to both pose for pictures: Harley had given her signature grin, and then promptly and cheerfully asked Cassandra if she was constipated again when the younger girl took hers).

“You can go back to the hotel, kid,” Harley told Cassandra. “It won’t take long. Pick us up some food?”

“I--I can’t work any faster,” the man tried stuttering. “Even on express order, it usually takes days--”

The bat cracked down, shattering one of the wooden chairs at his desk. The man yipped and jumped a foot in the air before he put his head down and went back to working. 

Harley beamed at Cassandra. The girl heaved a sigh and left, calling over her shoulder she’d grab Chinese food for the two of them.

By the time Harley came back to their hotel room, the food was already cold, but she didn’t seem to care. The wild gleam was in her eyes, and she brandished an entire folder of papers and documents.

“We are good--to--go ,” she sang, leaping onto the bed. “That guy may’ve been a total whiner, but damn does he make a pretty fake.”

Cassandra took a bite of her spring roll and wiped the grease off on the hotel bed before she started flipping through the folder. There were fake birth certificates and passports for both of them, along with a driver’s license for Harley (had the woman even had a license to begin with? Cassandra didn’t want to think about it). While she’d never dipped her toes into the world of forgery, besides learning what to look for in fake dollar bills, she had to admit she was impressed by the man’s quick turnaround.

“Harper Quinton and Candice Coleson ?” Cassandra complained, scrunching her nose. “What the fuck?”

“I had to think on the spot,” Harley said, stuffing a forkful of fried rice into her mouth. “An’ it’s easier to remember if it’s similar to our old names.”

“But Candice is, like, a name for some hag that calls the cops on any teen she sees on the street, not for a kid .”

“I’m sure you’ll grow into it one day,” Harley responded sweetly, and giggled when Cassandra flipped her off in response.

Grumbling to herself, Cassandra continued to flip through the papers. There were various other documents that looked important that she didn’t focus too much on, only blandly noting the new, terrible names on all of them.

The last paper caught her eye. Slowly, she put down the other papers and focused on the sheet, with the hastily scribbled signature and legalese.

“What’s this?”

Harley glanced over, cheeks bulging with food as she made a curious sound. Humming, she swallowed and gave Cassandra a warm smile.

“I know we got more of a sister/apprenticeship thing goin’ on, but ain’t an apprenticeship just parenting if you squint really hard? And it’s like you said: we don’t look alike, so gotta find new ways to prove it.”

Cassandra nodded slowly, head still whirling as she read and reread the papers in her hand. Even though the names were different, every time she read her alias her heart skipped a beat.

Adoption papers.

She never thought she’d get to have her own adoption papers, not even fake ones.

She glanced at Harley again, but the woman had gone back to stuffing her face with food and shouting wrong answers at Wheel of Jeopardy on the TV.

The clown wasn’t good at emotions. Cassie wasn’t, either. So she went back to shuffling through all of the documents with a scrutinizing eye and waited for her heartbeat to return to normal.

***

The other three women had been apparently keeping an ear open to mentions of Harley Quinn’s return to Gotham, because they were banging on the door after only a day of living in the townhouse.

“See? Less than two days,” Harley cackled when Montoya finally just wrenched the door open and stormed in, Dinah on her heels.

Cassandra heaved a defeated sigh, and fished a crumpled five out of her cast.

Harper Quinton ?” she seethed. “ That’s the best you could come up with? You can’t just change your name to something that’s almost exactly the same.”

“I mean, that’s what I’ve always done.” Harley gave the woman a confused look. “Harleen, Harley, Harper. Makes it easier to remember, y’know?”

“That’s--”

“She’s Candice now,” Harley interrupted, pointing at Cassandra. “Candice Coleson.”

“For the record, I didn’t approve of the name,” the girl mumbled, cheeks flushing.

“We can talk about the name stuff later, sweetie," Renee promised, "but right now I'm more worried about when you have to see a dead body in person."

"Don't worry, Officer Montoya, seeing dead bodies or broken bones doesn't scare me," Cass offered earnestly. Renee and Dinah groaned while Helena nodded approvingly.

“Shush!” Harley hissed. “Don’t you remember what I told ya?”

“Always aim for the eyes.”

Montoya made a pained noise, while Dinah couldn't hide her smirk.

“No, you brat,” Harley huffed, flicking the brim of Cassandra’s hat and sending it toppling off her head.

“Aim for the groin,” Helena offered earnestly. Cass gave her a wide grin.

"Ugh, go keep unpacking your room before Montoya has an aneurysm."

Cass gave Harley an innocent look before passing the group to go up the stairs with an armful of decorations, grumbling to herself.

“This is what I mean ,” Montoya moaned, running her hand down her face. She dropped her voice down low as Cassandra left earshot. “You’re not equipped to raise a child. She doesn't need violence.”

Harley sniffed disdainfully, and there was a light in her eyes that wasn’t there before, replacing the usual . “Well, I know that she needs a semi-stable household with a loving parental figure, and she sure as shit wasn’t gettin’ it from her foster family,” she said, and there was more bite in her words than anyone was expecting. “Or does juvie sound better for her? Think she’ll get a lotta parental love in there?”

The room was quiet. Renee looked stunned, blinking rapidly as she tried to come up with a response. After a second, Dinah took pity on her and rested a hand on her shoulder.

“Just leave ‘em be,” she murmured. “She’s got a point. And Cass seems like she wants to stay here, too.”

Renee let out a sigh, working her jaw. She nodded. "I just want Cass to be okay."

"We all do."

"And she's gonna be the safest little girl in Gotham," Harley promised, and the manic gleam was back in her eyes as she brandished her baseball bat.

The tension had broke, and Helena shifted uncomfortably, clearing her throat before grabbing one of the boxes. “So, uh, where do you want this stuff?”

***

Something of a truce was achieved between Montoya and Harley. While Harley wasn’t officially part of their crime-fighting group, the other women spent an annoying amount of time (read: the perfect amount) in her home-turned-office. She would complain about their presence scaring off her possible customers as she took their food orders for dinner, and made space for their things in her closet.

Harley worked doing petty mercenary jobs that always turned into more. The three other women worked hard keeping crime-rates down, quickly becoming infamous in Gotham. Cassandra helped where she could, but mostly spent her time bitterly going through her homework (the agreement had been homeschooling, and while she would’ve preferred to just not , she accepted it).

The nights Harley wasn’t out wreaking havoc in the city were...shockingly domestic. More so than Cassandra had ever experienced. They would order takeout, and lounge in front of the television while they ate. Bruce would either be snoring in his bed (it had taken ages to find a bed big enough for him, and it was now a patchwork of mended fabric from when his claws had ripped through) or gnawing on a bone that Harley procured for him.

Harley had been damn near falling asleep into her plate. Her eyes were drifting closed as she absently munched on the pizza.

After an off-the-cuff joke Cassandra cracked at the television, Harley let out a sleepy giggle and reached out to run her free hand through Cass' hair.

Cassandra froze, but Harley didn't seem to notice the reaction, still eating with one hand. She ran her hand through Cassandra's hair one more time, and then started to pull away, but Cassandra was suddenly desperate for her to keep playing with her hair.

“Can...can you keep doing that?”

Cassandra’s cheeks were on fire, and she refused to look away from the television to acknowledge her question. Harley stopped chewing, and the girl felt her chest start to tighten when the silence prolonged. 

She was stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Harley was a badass, deadly mercenary, and Cass had asked her to keep petting her? It didn't matter that the motions had brought back vague memories of Cass, feverish, as one of her foster mothers (one of the good ones) had ran her hand gently through her hair, humming and gently caring for her. None of it mattered.

It didn't matter that it had been ages since the last time someone had given her such a casual, gentle touch (and the last time had been Harley or Dinah, after the whole debacle with Sionis trying to kill her, as they guided her to a restaurant after patting her down to check for injuries).

After an eternity, during which Cassandra had been silently panicking and Harley had been staring at her with a mixture of emotions, Harley’s fingers started combing through her hair again, and Cassandra deflated with a relieved sigh.

Neither of them spoke, and they went back to both watching TV as Harley combed through the knots and tangles in Cassandra’s hair.

***

It became an almost nightly habit: pizza or cereal, TV, Brucie tearing into a mysterious bone, Harley reaching out with a manicured hand to detangle Cassandra’s hair.

“You really oughta put your hair when we’re runnin’ around town,” Harley chatted one night. 

She was still wearing the singed shirt from the earlier escapades with the other women and smelled of smoke, but had changed into sweatpants and taken off her makeup. Montoya and Dinah had stayed behind to finish up, while Helena was still running after some of the loose ends.

“Y’know, like some cute buns, those’re super in, or braids,” she continued. “Oh! I know! Braid your hair, an’ we can put ribbons ‘n shit in it!”

Cassandra scrunched her nose distastefully. “That sounds tacky .”

“Oh, hush! You know we don’t use that word in this household.”

Harley offered the scrunchie, and waited. Cassandra stared back at her, frozen in panic. Swallowing dryly, she pushed the offered hair tie away.

“I can’t.”

“What do you mean you can’t? C’mon, it’ll be cute!”

Scoffing, Cassandra held up her encased arm. “It’s a bit hard when I have this on all the time,” she said bitingly. “And it’s not like anyone around me wanted to help me.”

Harley’s brow furrowed and her lips pouted. “Well, I’m not gonna just let that stay the case.” She shifted and started rummaging through her pockets, pulling out a multicolored scrunchie. “Alright, kid, buckle up. I haven’t done this in awhile.”

Montoya walked in later to the sounds of squawks of pain and Cassandra angrily telling Harley that she was pulling on her hair. The woman tutted and continued the French braid, narrating her actions and occasionally demanding that the child listen. 

Montoya watched with fondness as Cassandra used her phone to see the back of her hair, and the way she bit back the grin that tried to spread over her face.

Chapter Text

Helena Bertinelli was not a touchy person, besides what her Italian heritage would have one think.

Her adoptive family had tried their best to raise her with a kind hand. They fumbled their way through the sudden parenthood they found themselves in, with a young, traumatized girl staring at them for guidance. (The look of genuine, sheer panic on their hardened faces after the first time she’d asked them to read her a bedtime story had become one of her fondest memories).

It had left her with a hardened exterior and a cap on her emotions that didn’t budge, no matter how hard she tried.

If the others had noticed--and they definitely had--they hadn’t directly called her out on it yet. Dinah sent more than a few sympathetic her way when Helena balked from a casual touch, or stiffly responded to jokes from others. Harley would throw out some medical jargon every now and then--talking about CPTSD and how she should really find a therapist to help her with some internalized misogyny--but Helena always snapped angrily at her to back down, even if she would secretly look it up later, and felt her throat clench at how accurate some of the things were.

While her family in Italy did all they could to raise her normally, the lack of female role models had left her with some...reservations. Or, she mulled, more specifically it left her with no actual understanding of how to interact with other women her age, and had her scoffing at the women who spent too much time on unnecessary hobbies and interests.

(Even though those thoughts were there, it brought with them fuzzy images of her mother: regal, always dressed to the nines, and a ruthless woman who would gladly break a man’s hand under her Louboutins. It kept her up at night trying to reconcile the two feelings).

It was images like the one she walked into, of Harley, Cass and Dinah on the couch with a drama on the television as Harley daintily painted the other woman’s hands.

Dinah craned her neck and gave Helena a rueful smile. 

“It’s manicure night,” she explained, and held up one of her hands to show off the glittery black nail polish. Harley yanked at her other hand, grumbling at her to stop moving as she carefully brushed on the next coat of polish.

“We can’t have you guys looking so shabby when you’re beatin’ people up,” Harley complained. “Yer givin’ us a bad image.”

“I picked out a purple that matches your weird fetish outfit,” Cass called out, holding up a bottle of polish. She grinned widely when Dinah made an indignant noise and made a halfhearted swipe at her, not even getting close to hitting.

“Leather is a perfectly acceptable, durable material for fightin’,” Harley sniffed.

“U-uh.” Helena swallowed, and stared at the polish bottle with wide eyes. It was, indeed, the right dark purple that matched her work clothes. “N-no, I have to go...do some research.” 

She ducked out of the apartment before Harley had time to disentangle herself from the couch and catch her. Helena’s heart raced, and she blindly wandered around the city until the panic clouding her mind finally receded and she was left with discomfort tinged with sadness.

The way they had casually invited her in to their space, into their bonding, their hang out … It brought up feelings in her chest that she didn’t know what to do with. It reminded her of her mother. When she looked down at her own hands--calloused, and a dark purple that wasn’t the right shade and had been messily slapped on by an unpracticed hand--she could practically hear the other girls critiquing it, Harley directing her sharp humor at the archer.

So Helena pressed the feelings and the thoughts down, and threw herself back into work, vowing to not linger on it anymore.

(But the memory of Cassandra saying she’d spent time finding the exact shade of purple as her outfit crept to the forefront of her mind, and the way Harley had been doing Dinah’s nails for her--would Harley do the same for Helena, if she asked?).

***

“Do you buy your arrows, or do you make them yourself? Y’know, classic medieval, Robin Hood style.”

Cassandra plopped down at the dining table across from Helena, startling her out of her work. The girl was wearing an oversized T-shirt, hair in disarray from sleep, and she was munching her way through a bowl of cereal.

“I mean, they don't look medieval," she said, and plucked one of them out of the pile on the table to look closer.

"Be careful!" Helena yanked the arrow out of Cass' hands, startling her and making her nearly elbow her cereal bowl off the table. "It's dangerous."

"Jesus, mafia princess, I know not to stab myself with the pointy end."

Helena scoffed, but leaned forwards to show Cass the arrowhead. “They’re a bit fancier than just boring old wooden arrows,” she said, showing the sparks of electricity when she twisted the arrowhead a specific way. “I didn't want you to shock yourself." She paused. "But yeah, I know how to make them.”

Cass’ jaw hung open in awe, and she stared at the quiver. “That’s so cool,” she breathed. “You’re so awesome, oh my god. You gotta show me how to make them. And shoot them! What does this one do?”

The sudden barrage of questions had Helena taken aback. She was used to people scoffing at her crossbow, sneering at her and condescendingly asking how many arrows she had left. The bright eyed enthusiasm (even if it was a bit bloodthirsty) that Cass showed was...new.

Helena cleared her throat and blinked rapidly. “Uh, y-yeah, yeah. Here, this one releases…”

***

The things that disturbed her were...little. Casual. Things that may have gone unnoticed by a well-adjusted individual. 

On all of her previous missions, there had never been many loud praises or cheers for her work. Her caretakers (all of them hesitated to use the word foster family, even if that truly was what their dynamic was) would pour her glasses of wine with a heavy hand after a successful mission, or give brusque claps on the shoulder after the targets had been eliminated and they were all safely back home. It was nice, and she had never really expected more.

Most of the time, Helena would hang back as Renee and Dinah took the lead, interrogating culprits or wrestling them to the ground. She would wait in the rafters, or any other vantage point, and watch her other teammates through the crosshairs before downing anyone that got too close to them.

One time, they were all running after a target, and she was able to easily shoot him with barely stopping to aim. The three women slowed to a halt as he fell to the ground, screeching in pain. 

Dinah let out an excited hiss and reached out, squeezing Helena’s shoulder and pulling her into a strong one-armed hug. The surprise made her freeze, muscles going rigid and staying so even as Dinah let go.

“Nice shot,” Dinah complimented through her gasps for air, before rushing to their target and incapacitating them. Helena was left a few yards away, blinking stupidly as she tried to comprehend the compliment.

Harley Quinn and the other girls were like nothing she had ever experienced. Unabashed in their passion, their boisterous laughs, their emotions . It made her feel uncomfortable. It made her feel out of place.

It made her feel longing for something she hadn’t had in decades.

***

Sometimes, it was suffocating. 

When they were at the point in the night where all of them were comfortably drunk and the words were flowing. They would laugh without abandon--Harley’s signature cackle, Dinah’s giggles, Renee’s snickers. (Helena found more laughs pulled out of her than she’d ever had, and it scared her, when she spent too long thinking about it). Cassandra was allowed to sit with them, but she wasn’t allowed to touch the alcohol, which didn’t mean she stopped whining and trying to wheedle some out of the other ladies there.

It was one of those nights.

A few hours into their bonding session, Helena had stopped to get another drink from the kitchen. She was comfortably lightheaded and floaty from the alcohol--Dinah had shown off some of her skills from working at bars, and had spent the majority of the night making fancy cocktails with a heavy pouring hand. 

Cassandra was dozing in the corner, and Renee had tossed a blanket over her. Harley’s unnaturally pale skin was flushed, and she kept leaning against Dinah for support when she laughed too hard.

Helena was suddenly struck by the domesticity of it all, and it shook her to her core. 

The air was suffocating, and suddenly all Helena knew was that she needed fresh air. She needed out of the apartment and away from the warmth of the scene in front of her.

The group was distracted and didn’t see her as she shoved on her boots and slipped from the front door. The air was warming as spring approached, but there was still the slightest shiver as Helena stumbled down the steps and stood in the middle of the sidewalk, taking a deep breath and trying to clear her head.

“Boo.”

Helena startled, and instinctively grabbed for the switchblade in her pocket. It only took another second before the voice registered as Harley’s, and she let out a careful sigh. How had the woman managed to sneak up on her? She was so drunk she couldn’t even stand, and Helena had no idea how she managed to get down the stairs without face-planting, or making enough racket without the assassin hearing.

“Ya ran off without sayin’ anythin’,” Harley complained, swaying dangerously. “We were all worried, ya dumbass.”

The adrenaline mixed with the alcohol had made her dizzy, and it took a second for the words to register. “I just...needed some air. It was stuffy in there.”

Harley hummed obnoxiously, and when Helena glanced over she saw the woman was eyeing her suspiciously. 

“Yer avoidin’ eye contact, yer fidgety, an’ ya keep rubbing the back of ya neck,” Harley listed off matter-of-factly. “It doesn’t take a psych degree to tell somethin’s up.”

Helena felt annoyance bubble up in her chest. It was a common occurrence when dealing with Harley Quinn, but the added buzz from the drinks made her mouthier.

“You don’t care, Quinn, so don’t pretend like you do.”

Harley blinked owlishly at her. “Excuse me?”

"I--I didn't mean for it to come out like that," Helena rambled on. "I'm just--I don't--" She let out an angry huff and raked her fingers through her hair. “I just--I don’t know how you guys do it."

Harley hummed, and leaned against the fence lining her property. "Do what?"

"Anything. All of this." The words were flowing now. "I don't know how everyone's adjusting like everything's okay. Everyone has a plan, an idea with what they wanna do and I just--" She swallowed tightly, and when she spoke again, her voice was quieter. "I don't know what to do now. I don't have anything left to do."

There was silence, and then Harley heaved a deep sigh.

“Alright, girlie, bring it in.”

Helena blinked, and looked back at Harley. The harlequin was swaying dangerously with her arms akimbo.

“What...are you doing?”

“I’m giving you a warm and comforting hug,” Harley said, a bit too loudly. “Hurry up before I fall.”

Judging from the way she was swaying dangerously, the threat had some merit. Swallowing, Helena took a hesitant step forward, and Harley practically collapsed into the archer, nuzzling her cheek. Helena swallowed convulsively, and uncomfortably placed one of her hands on the back of Harley’s head. After a moment, it felt awkward, and she rested it on the middle of the woman’s back.

“I’ll tell ya a secret,” Harley stage whispered in her ear. She was close enough that Helena could smell the alcohol on her breath and the sharp perfume that drenched her clothes. “We’re all flyin’ by the seat of our pants, too.  None of us have any idea what the hell we’re doing.”

Helena snorted quietly. “Montoya certainly seems to have an idea.”

“She’s pretendin’, too,” Harley insisted. “Do ya think a year ago she woulda wanted to be a vigilante, afta all the credit for her work goes to someone who did jack shit? No! Well.” She hesitated and cocked her head thoughtfully. “Maybe she considered it. I dunno, I would have.”

“Harley, this isn’t really helping…”

“Renee’s gonna need to get her drinking under control soon, Dinah’s got mommy issues out the wazoo, and all of us have more than a touch of PTSD.” Harley tapped Helena’s shoulder with every item on the list, and let out a giggle. “But I’ll leave it there. It’s rude to analyze your friends, especially without their permission.”

“Agreed,” Helena said sourly. “And, like I said, this isn’t helping .”

“But my point remains!” Harley’s voice was obnoxiously loud, and she nearly smacked Helena in the face when she leaned out and held up an assertive pointer finger. She paused, and then melted back into Helena, giggling softly and humming happily. “We’re all just tryin’ to get by, and we’re managing.”

“An’ you’ll get by, too.” Harley pulled back slightly and grinned, going cross-eyed when she tried to meet Helena’s gaze. “I mean, you’re doin’ pretty well. Talkin’ with us. Findin’ stuff to do after your whole revenge mission was over. I think that’s pretty cool, Crossbow Killer.”

“Huntress,” Helena corrected unthinkingly, even as Harley snorted and gave her another squeeze.

“You’re bein’ too hard on yourself, sweetums. Take it easy.”

Helena felt tears prick her eyes as the words settled in. She opened her mouth to try and say something, but her throat closed up. The rush of emotions made her heart ache and her mind go blank.

And then Harley promptly lost what was left of her balance and sent both of them landing hard on the sidewalk, Helena barely managing to put a hand and holding Harley’s head so now actual damage was done. 

Harley let out gales of laughter as she laid on the sidewalk, wrapping her arms around her middle. Helena sat down heavily on the stoop leading to the townhouse, and she found herself joining in the harlequin’s laughter. 

Renee poked her head out of the door eventually, watching the two of them with warm exasperation. “Are you two done being public nuisances?”

“Nah, I need a few more minutes,” Harley called back, wiping tears of mirth from her eyes.

She held out her hand expectantly, and it took Helena a moment to realize what she wanted. She obediently helped Harley to her feet and helped her stumble up the stairs and back into their home. 

***

Helena swallowed and looked at herself in the mirror, the fluorescent lights unforgiving. Her phone was balanced between the wall and a towel, with a video paused and ready to play. The video was one she’d spent most of the day scouring for a video that would fit what she needed.

Swallowing, Helena jabbed the play button with more force than necessary. Joyous music played in the background as the girl on the screen cheerily started explaining the makeup tutorial.

She held her breath as she carefully started lining her bottom lash line, hand as steady as if she was aiming at a perp. But even then she wasn’t able to stop her eye from watering and the urge to blink, smudging her pitiful attempt. She cursed colorfully, blinking rapidly to get the makeup out of her eye.

“You good?”

Helena swung around and froze like a deer in the headlights at Dinah leaning in the doorway. The woman was already dressed and ready for the night, a leather jacket slung over her shoulder.

Embarrassment coursed Helena, and she fumbled with her phone, spluttering as she desperately tried to pause the video again. 

“Fuck off,” she blurted. Her cheeks flushed. God, couldn’t she come up with anything better to say?

Dinah tilted her head, taking in the situation. A smile quirked on her lips, and Helena quickly turned around, taking the towel she had on the counter and scrubbing at her eye in an attempt to hide the evidence.

“Tryin’ something new with the makeup?” Dinah asked.

“Sure,” Helena said bluntly. “You can go away now.”

“Well, do ya want some help?”

Helena’s hand stilled, nearly dropping the towel. “What?”

Dinah slid closer, and plucked the phone off the counter. “A smoky eye and eyeliner,” she said, scrubbing through the video. “I’m no guru, but I can help you with that. It’s my go-to.”

She set down the phone and held out her hand expectantly. Helena looked back and forth between the eyeliner and Dinah’s waiting hand before slowly handing it over. It felt like a dream when Dinah stepped even closer, narrating her movements as she worked.

“Lemme know when you need to blink, okay? Don’t try it all in one go. Look up as best you can, and don’t--move.” She smacked Helena’s hand away when she automatically went to grab the singer’s wrist. “You’ve seen what happens when you move. Don’t worry about eyeshadow, this pencil will blend out enough for now. Got a makeup brush? Good. Tomorrow we can go to the store--Cass wants more nail polish, too.”

Dinah pulled away enough that she could examine her work. Helena practically went cross-eyed trying to see the other woman’s reaction, feeling lightheaded.

Dinah’s lips quirked into a smile and she nodded in satisfaction. “Looks good.”

Helena let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding in, leaning against the counter. She finally turned around at Dinah’s urging and looked at herself in the mirror, swallowing nervously.

It...wasn’t completely different from her old look. But it was more refined: the liner was steady, and Dinah had managed to blend it out smoothly and without making it look splotchy, like Helena had been trying to do for weeks , if not months.

“C’mon, Harley’s waitin’ in the car for us,” Dinah called as she turned around. “And you know how she gets when she’s left alone for too long.”

It was the prompt Helena needed to not dwell on the feelings, and instead allowed herself to smile quietly.