DISCLAIMER: I do not own anything, nor am I writing this for profit. The characters belong to the WB and DC comics. No copyright infringement is intended.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Phryne for all comments, suggestions, corrections, and just plain work that goes into beta reading any story – but especially one of mine.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you for reading. Any comments or criticism can be directed to adliren@gmail.com. This story is a continuation of the series What it Means to Be a Hero. If you haven't read the first part, Getting Back on Your Feet, I suggest you do so now (but really, it's up to you).
SERIES: Part two of the 'What it Means to Be a Hero' series.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

What it Means to Be a Hero
Part 2: A Different Way of Thinking

By adliren



Barbara slowly straightened in her chair, watching with weary concern as Helena continued to sit on the floor, shaking her head with a vaguely lost look in her eyes. She was holding the silver batarang Barbara had retrieved from the supply closet while the two were fighting.

Occasionally she scared herself with her fanatical need to be prepared for all situations.

"Helena . . ."

Barbara tried to keep the distress out of her voice, but wasn't sure she was successful. It didn't seem to matter, however, since Helena didn't seem capable of acknowledging her presence. The brunette had been mumbling under her breath for the past several minutes, and Barbara was finally able to make out what she was saying.

"It's finally over." Helena's voice was soft and hesitant, almost as if she didn't believe the words even as she spoke them.

"Helena," she injected a little more force into her tone. When the brunette raised her head and looked at her questioningly, she continued. "How are you feeling?"

For a brief moment, she was afraid the other woman wouldn't respond, but then Helena gave a short bark of laughter. "I don't know, Red. Tired, angry, glad that this is finally over. What am I supposed to feel? I was turned into a fucking vampire, and I almost killed you . . . again!" She shook her head. "I think right now, I mostly feel numb."

"Helena, look at me." When the brunette continued to stare at the floor and refused to meet her eyes, Barbara rolled closer until she could rest her hand on the dark hair still matted with blood. "Helena this wasn't your fault. Whatever the Monk may have tried to make you do, you didn't do it. You fought him and stopped yourself in time."

"I know, Barbara. It's just . . . I'm so tired of this. Sometimes . . . sometimes it just doesn't seem worth it." Barbara started to interrupt, but Helena rushed on. "I know what we do is important, it's just, it feels like bad things keep happening while we try to catch up and not get killed, and one of these times our luck is going to run out. Does that make any sense at all?"

Intense orange eyes regarded her pleadingly, and Barbara quickly tired to reassure the other woman. "Of course it does, Hel, that's why we have to make the most of the time we do have together. I've been hoping you would work through this on your own, and I've tried to give you space, but I'm not willing to wait anymore. Helena I . . ."

Barbara's confession trailed off as something that had been bothering her finally registered in her conscious mind.

Helena's eyes were orange. They were not their normal captivating blue or feral gold; her eyes were orange, which could only mean . . .

The younger woman must have seen something in her eyes because she was abruptly scrambling away from Barbara on all fours. Once she was backed up against the wall, Barbara watched as she reached up with a tan hand and felt tentatively at her teeth. She gave a soft hiss that nevertheless echoed in the quiet tower when her fingers encountered sharp fangs.

"I'm still a vampire." Helena's voice was flat and emotionless, but Barbara could hear the fear raging just beneath the surface. "Wasn't I supposed to turn back when he died? That's how it works in the movies."

Forcing down her own fear, Barbara tired for a reassuring tone. "I'm sure we can find a solution to this Helena. We'll figure this out together." Desperately grasping at straws, she said the first thing that came to mind. "Maybe it acts like some kind of virus, and it will clear up on its own. If nothing else, I'm sure I can come up with something to help you with the, uh, side-effects."

Helena's head snapped up with an audible crack, and Barbara felt her own neck spasm in sympathy. She became even more concerned when Helena began pawing frantically at her leather duster.


The other woman didn't look up. "It's got to be here."

"What's got to be where, Hel?"

The brunette didn't respond, but moments later she gave a soft cry of triumph as she pulled something from an interior pocket. Barbara examined the items curiously. One appeared to be a fairly standard flash drive, while the other . . . appeared to be some kind of vial. A small amount of phosphorescent green liquid sloshed inside the clear tube, somehow managing to look vaguely menacing.

Before she had a chance to ask, Helena was speaking. "Alfred gave it to me. He said it was all that was left of the original serum. Some freaky priest guy gave it to Batman when the Monk transformed him into a vampire. Apparently it changed him back. I was supposed to give it to you to see if you could come up with some kind of weapon against him, but if it worked on Batman, it should work on me right?"

Helena looked so hopeful, that Barbara almost couldn't bear it. "Helena, your father," she quickly changed her choice of words at the brunette's scowl, "Bruce was human. I'm not sure how that would react with your meta-genetics. I'm not even sure what's in it."

"But it could change me back, right?"

"Yes, it could, but . . ."

Helena cut her off. "Then I need to take it. I'm not going to let the Monk control me, especially not when he's dead. I don't want to be a monster."

Helena's face was determined, and Barbara realized she had already lost. She comforted herself with the thought that Helena had certainly survived much worse than this.

"Alright, Hel."

Barbara rolled over to one of the conveniently placed drawers and returned with a syringe, accepting the vial that Helena handed over. Pulling back the plunger carefully, Barbara extracted the minute dose.

She gently reached for Helena's right arm, and stretched it out in her lap. She glanced once at the brunette and received a sharp nod. Sucking in a breath, she moved the needle toward the exposed vein – only to have her hand caught in a vice like grip. Looking at the brunette questioningly, she found the orange gaze focused with burning intensity on her own wrist.


It seemed to Barbara that she was saying Helena's name in that puzzled tone a lot this evening, and it was starting to get old. Consequently, she wasn't quite able to keep the exasperation out of her voice, but Helena didn't seem to notice. Something else that was becoming quite tedious.

"It was broken."

Barbara looked at the brunette's wrist and realized once again that the skin was whole, without even the hint of a scar.

"And my leg, and my head."

Barbara glanced at the body parts in question, but could find no sign of injury. She waited, holding her breath for the rest. Helena was thinking about something. She wasn't in the habit of stating something so obvious, well, at least not in situations like these.

"He healed me . . . even my side from that punk with the knife. When he turned me, he healed me . . . of everything."

Helena was whispering, and there were tears in her eyes when she finally looked at Barbara. For a moment, Barbara regarded her with uncertainty - before it all came crashing down on her.

There was a strange roaring in her ears, and a black cloud descended on her vision. She had never fainted in her life, but she thought this must be what it felt like. When she came back to herself, her chest was heaving and she couldn't manage to catch her breath.

"Hel." This time it wasn't a question, more of a desperate plea – whether to confirm or deny her suspicions, she wasn't sure.

Helena gently pulled the syringe from her unresisting fingers, setting it on the floor beside her as she took Barbara's hand in her own.

"Shhh, it's okay, Barbara, we'll get through this."

"Hel?!" Not a question, not a plea, but a desperate cry of disbelief.

The brunette began running her hands up and down Barbara's arms soothingly. "I think…I think it could heal your spine." Barbara heard a small whimper, and was surprised to realize it had come from her own throat. "I could . . . bite you . . . and then you'd be healed. You could walk again." Helena was still whispering, but each word seemed to ring in Barbara's ears. "Once you're healed, you could take the antidote, and then you'd be human again."

Helena's voice was rising in her excitement, and she was already moving towards Barbara. When the redhead jerked back as far as she could in her chair, the brunette pulled back, looking at her with an exasperated expression.

"Barbara . . ."

"Dammit, Hel, think. What happens after I use the antidote? You'd be stuck as a vampire."

Barbra wanted to walk again. She'd wanted it with a burning passion for nine years, and now that she finally had a real chance, an almost guaranteed cure, she couldn't take it.

Sometimes life just wasn't fair.

"Okay, so you take it anyway." Helena was looking at her with that stubborn expression that Barbara knew she got from Bruce.

"Helena, I'm not going to do this. You just said you didn't want to be a monster, and now you're trying to tell me that you're fine with it."

"Well, not fine, but if it means you can walk again, then yeah, I think we should do it." Love shone clearly through the luminescent eyes focused on her, and not for the first time, Barbara wanted to smack herself for never seeing what had been right in front of her face. "Besides, Babs, I've always been more of a night person," Helena continued with a semi-successful attempt at a smile.

When she didn't respond immediately, Helena again moved forward until Barbara could feel her hot breath on her neck. When sharp teeth grazed her skin, Barbara couldn't control her shiver, suddenly recalling her vivid nightmare, which now seemed more like a premonition. Maybe Dinah's powers were rubbing off on her?

As she felt Helena move forward that last little inch, she brought her hands up and gently, but insistently forced the brunette back. Helena went reluctantly, her lips seeming to linger on Barbara's skin, searing her to the bone. When she was gazing into Barbara's face again, her eyes were resigned.

"Don't you want to walk again?"

"I do, Hel, but not like this." Barbara brought her hand up to caress Helena's cheek. "We'll find another way, together - one that doesn't involve sacrificing your happiness."

A single tear slipped down Helena's cheek, and Barbara wiped it away tenderly. "You're my happiness, Barbara."

Before she knew what she was doing, Barbara had pulled the other woman to her and was burying her face in the tan neck, muffling the sobs that shook her upper body. She cried for her fear at almost losing Helena, for the lost chance to be what she once was, for the person she had become, and also for joy at finally ending up exactly where she was meant to be.

Through it all, Helena simply held her and didn't let go, accepting every part of her.

Helena twisted the handle farther to the left, knowing she was risking some potential damage. The water obligingly turned hotter, burning across her shoulders and back, leaving her skin red and stinging. She continued to stand under the stream long after the last of the soap had been washed away.

Eventually, she was able to force herself to leave the confines of Barbara's specially designed shower. Standing in the middle of the bathroom, she ran a towel briskly through her now blood-free hair, marveling at how much better she felt just being clean.

Catching sight of herself in the mirror, Helena was momentarily stunned. She knew she was beautiful, people had been telling her so for most of her life, but she also knew her own body. She knew the scars and imperfections that an active childhood and even more active . . . hobby had left on the canvas of her skin. But now, looking into the mirror, Helena was faced with an unfamiliar sight. Her skin was perfect, and she wasn't sure what to feel.

In some ways, it was nice. She had never been proud of her scars, they were just there. They had simply been a part of her. Now they weren't.

But, while she may not have been proud of them, they were still a part of who she was. Gazing at her un-marked body, Helena wasn't really sure who was looking back. It looked like her, but the woman she was used to carried her scars on the inside and the outside. Now all that was left were the scars kept in her heart, the ones visible to everyone else having been erased as if they never existed.

Helena wasn't sure what that meant exactly, but it seemed pretty profound.

Shaking her head, she met the blue eyes that gazed back at her from the reflective surface.

"Time to stop thinking before you sprain something."

Grabbing another towel, she quickly wrapped it tightly around her body and walked out of the bathroom, steam following in her wake. She found a pile of clean clothes waiting on the dresser, obviously set there by Barbara.

Pulling on the t-shirt and sweatpants, she heard a tentative knock on the door. Helena rolled her eyes at the absurdity of Barbara asking to enter her own bedroom, but she called for the other woman to come in anyway.


Helena didn't know what else to say. So much had happened in the last few hours, and she wasn't sure what the proper etiquette was for their situation. Not that she had ever been concerned with such things before, but somehow, right now, it seemed to matter.

"Hey, yourself." Barbara was smiling, that was a good sign. The redhead gestured down at herself, indicating her torn and disheveled clothes. "Is it my turn yet. I don't think I'm fit for company."

Helena stared at her without responding; trying to figure out what was different.

"You didn't use up all the hot water, did you?"

Suddenly it hit Helena. Barbara's eyes were a bright emerald that seemed to glow in the darkness of the bedroom. Somehow the other woman seemed . . . lighter. That was the only way Helena could think to describe it.

"Hello, Earth to Helena. You okay?"

Barbara was looking at her with concern, but she was still smiling, and suddenly the brunette was overcome with emotion. She felt happy, terrified, elated, and so many emotions that she was almost jumping out of her skin – in a good way. She knew her eyes had changed, but the other woman didn't even blink.

Barbara was smiling, and it wasn't the phony, look at me, I'm a harmless school teacher smile, or the I'm smiling so you can't tell how miserable I really am smile that Helena was used to. This was true and genuine, and it made the brunette swallow the lump in her throat and blink back tears.

Walking over to the older woman, she leaned down far enough to place a light kiss on the soft cheek, grateful when Barbara didn't pull away. Backing up, she gave the redhead a wink.

"I think I left some, but no promises. How's Dinah?"

Barbara had contacted Nightwing after Helena had taken the antidote. It had hurt like hell, and was not something she ever wanted to experience again, but it had worked. She was back to being human . . . or as close as she got.

"A little shaken up, but I think she's going to be fine. She wanted to spend the night at Gabby's after I called them a cab." Helena didn't even try to hold back her snicker. Dick was never going to live that down. "I think they needed to spend some time together." There was something in Barbara's voice that the brunette couldn't identify. "Anyway, we'll meet up tomorrow for a debriefing. I think we could all use the break tonight."

"Uh, okay, sounds good. I'll just head out and watch some TV."

Barbara looked at her fondly. "And raid my cabinets, no doubt. I'll be out soon."

Helena settled herself on the couch and picked up the remote, looking guiltily at the poptarts clutched in her other hand. She shook it off, realizing that they were probably for her in the first place, since there had been four boxes in the cabinet. Once again, Alfred knew her better than she knew herself – or maybe he was just optimistic. Either way, it worked out well for her.

She was desultorily flipping through channels when she heard the water in the bathroom shut off. Minutes later, Barbara emerged from the bedroom, dressed similarly to Helena. Rolling over to the couch, she easily transferred herself to the cushions, and flashing a grin at the brunette, focused her attention on the screen.

"Uh, Barbara, don't you want to check on the Delphi?"

What was Red doing? After the big confrontation, Barbara always became obsessed with her computer while Helena unwound in front of the TV. It was a ritual, a comfortable routine that meant things were normal.

So why was Barbara sitting with her on the couch?

"No, I'm perfectly comfortable right here." Barbara didn't take her eyes of the colors flashing in front of them.

"Oh, okay." Giving the other woman a puzzled look, Helena started channel surfing again.

Eventually, they found a station playing Gone with the Wind, and settled in. The movie had been one of Selina's favorites – something about Scarlett had always appealed to the woman – and Helena had good memories of watching it with her mom on rainy weekends.

It would have been perfect, except Helena knew Barbara was up to something . . . she just couldn't figure out what.

Helena knew that there were things that needed to be discussed. Barbara would need to talk about everything that had happened and what that meant for them in the future – and Helena had a few things she needed to say as well.

Not that it really mattered. Whatever Barbara had planned, Helena would find out sooner or later. She just hoped this time it wouldn't lead to additional clothing being added to her crime fighting outfit. She just didn't do capes.

Barbara resolutely kept her attention focused on the plasma screen, praying desperately that Helena couldn't hear how fast her heart was beating. The furtive sideways glances the brunette kept throwing at her were not making things easier however.

Barbara was feeling decidedly . . . different. She wasn't sure how else to describe it. Analyzing her feelings had never been one of her talents. Computer algorithms, criminal motivations, complex metaphors of 18th century English literature – yes; her own emotional state – no.

But she did feel different . . . in a good way.

As Rhett and Scarlett raced through a burning Atlanta in front of her, Barbara swore she could feel the heat of Helena's body soaking into her skin. Her breath became shorter, and there were tingles racing over the flesh of her upper body. With surprise, she realized she was amazingly, devastatingly aroused.

When she was Batgirl, she had often been . . . amorous after a night on the streets, and she wanted to assume this latest manifestation was simply a result of their battle with the Monk, but sitting next to Helena, tracing the lines of her neck and the concealed swell of her breasts under her sweatshirt, Barbara was forced to admit that the brunette was definitely having an effect.

An effect that apparently hadn't gone unnoticed.

Helena had turned and was facing her, an unreadable look in her dark blue eyes. Eyes which Barbara suddenly found herself lost in.

Even as she thought it, Barbara knew she was being ridiculous. This wasn't some dreadful romance novel, and they weren't two women meeting for the first time, recognizing a mutual attraction. It was simply Helena looking at her, whom she had known for almost thirteen years. There was simply no reason for her to be acting this way.

Except she couldn't deny that she was, and if she was to be honest, she didn't really want to. It had been so long since she had responded this way to anyone, but now she was afraid to take the next step – figuratively speaking. The potential for disaster was . . . daunting.

"Helena, I think . . ."

"Barbara are you . . ."

Barbara quickly closed her mouth, more than willing to let Helena take the lead this time. She tried to make her features open and curious, and was rewarded with a small smile.

"I was just wondering if you're really okay." Helena was shifting nervously on the cushions and she didn't quite meet Barbara's eyes. "I know how hard it must have been with . . . everything . . . but, I . . . you're acting kinda different. Not in a bad way," the brunette quickly rushed to reassure her. "Just different."

Helena looked unsatisfied with her own explanation, and Barbara gingerly reached out to grasp her hand, relieved when the younger woman seemed to welcome the touch.

"I think I understand, Helena. I can't say that I have an answer, though. I think . . . I think I'm just finally starting to accept some things about myself." Here Barbara paused, trying to work up the courage to reveal the rest. The memory of Helena's own confession forced her to continue. "And about my feelings for you."

She had clearly shocked the brunette. Helena's eyes were wide, her mouth partially open in surprise, and Barbara could see her teeth – no fangs she noted with relief.

"Helena, I almost lost you tonight, but I think I was losing you even before the Monk ever came to New Gotham. That night, when you told me how you felt, I was so shocked and defensive. I didn't know how to react, and in the end I did what I thought I should do. I thought you wanted to . . . be with me, so that's what I offered."

Helena's eyes were suddenly wounded. "So you didn't want to . . ."

"No! I did. I . . . still want to." Barbara took a deep breath. That had been harder than she'd anticipated.


Green eyes blinked behind her glasses. "Why what, Hel?"

"Why do you want to sleep with me? Is it just because you want to make me happy, or because you think you should? Because no matter how much I want you . . . and I really, really do . . . I don't think I could live with that."

Helena was starring fixedly at the floor, and her eyes were so sad, that Barbara wanted to roll over to the nearest wall and beat her head against it. How could she have screwed things up so badly?

"Helena, please look at me." When watery blue eyes rose to meet hers, Barbara continued. "I love you."

Barbara waited patiently as the silence stretched between them.

"Uh, I love you too," Helena added uncertainly after several minutes.

"I know you do, Hel, but perhaps what I meant to say is that I'm in love with you. That's my answer."

Barbara watched with a certain amount of satisfaction as Helena tried to absorb this.

"You love me?" Helena's face was achingly hopeful and Barbara couldn't help but reach over and rest her palm on a smooth cheek.

"Yes, Hel."

Moments later, Barbara was unprepared for the laughter that seized the brunette. It left Helena doubled over and gasping for breathe while the older woman regarded her in bemusement.

Eventually, Helena managed to get herself under control. "I'm sorry Barbara. I was just expecting something else."

Barbara felt a momentary panic. "I know it wasn't as lengthy or as elegant as your confession Helena, but I promise you, it's how I really feel."

"I know Barbara, that's why it means so much." Helena was looking at her with love and a mischievous twinkle shining clearly in her eyes. "I was just prepared to get out the dictionary."

Barbara laughed, feeling it echo through her entire body, even the parts she could no longer feel. "Sometimes, Helena, brief and to the point is the best way to go."

Helena's eyes sparked to gold, and Barbara was given a second to wonder what she'd said before satin lips were covering her own, and she was simply lost in sensation.

Helena wasn't exactly sure when they made it to the bedroom. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she realized that she must have picked Barbara up and carried her through the clock tower, but for the life of her she couldn't remember when. Since she had been making an effort to be more responsible lately, she made a mental note to get the redhead's chair at some point.

When Barbara's fingernails raked a line on either side of her spine from the tops of her shoulders down to her hips, Helena figured she may not survive to carry out her good intentions - which left Red in an awkward position, what with having to dispose of her body without access to her wheelchair.

"Helena, are you alright?"

Barbara's voice was loud in her ear, the redhead's lips brushing against the sensitive organ with each syllable.

"Yeah, I'm fine . . . great."

That was such a lie. She was overloading. Every cell in her body was humming and demanding that she simply satisfy her needs in the quickest way possible.

Helena jerked away from the arms loosely surrounding her, and tried to take a moment to think. While her brain spun in furious circles, she realized that not only had they made it to the bedroom, they had also managed to lose their clothes without her noticing.

All thought in the brunette's head came to a screeching halt. She could only gaze at Barbara in the center of the bed, naked, lying half under her, without clothes, red hair spread out on the blue pillowcase, wearing nothing.

Helena started to move forward again, not sure what tempting bit of flesh she was aiming for, just knowing that she needed to start tasting somewhere, when two strong hands griped her biceps, halting her progress. She felt a small growl rumble through her chest and echo ominously through the bedroom.

"Helena, it's alright. We can take our time." Barbara's green eyes were warm and serious.

Helena pushed experimentally against the hands holding her, finding they gave easily. Barbara wasn't really resisting.

"If this is what you need, Hel, we'll do it your way. Just tell me what you want me to do."

Like always, Barbara was offering her anything she needed. Obviously the older woman still hadn't realized that she was everything Helena needed. She always had been.

"Talk to me." The words were a broken whisper forced past the arousal and fear clogging her throat.

"Hel?" Barbara's hands were now running up and down her arms in a light caress, making it hard for the brunette to think.

"Just . . . keep talking to me. I . . . your voice."

In her relatively short life, the brunette had had many casual sexual encounters. She'd used them as a way to keep from exploding from all the repressed feelings she had never been able to share with the one person she truly wanted. But all those times were merely physical. Few words were exchanged, and none had contained any tenderness.

Even her dreams were silent, the ones that had haunted her since she had first met and fallen in love with a certain redhead. She might cry out, and beg, and whisper her devotion, but never her dream lover.

"I'm right here, Hel. Stay with me . . . you feel so amazing."

But this wasn't some one night stand, or a dream sent to torture her. This was Barbara, whose voice had always guided her and kept her safe, now loving her with passion and skill.

At some point, the words themselves stopped registering. There was only a murmur threading through Helena's ears and heart, keeping her grounded while Barbara's hands and lips and tongue threatened to send the younger woman flying apart.

When Barbara finally settled between her legs, concentrating on the brunette with all the focus she brought to everything that mattered in her life, this time the beloved voice didn't draw her back from the edge, it sent her plummeting over the side in ecstasy.

"So . . ."

Barbara ran her fingertips lightly over Helena's back, marveling at perfect skin that slid provocatively under her hands.

"So what?"

Helena was lying face-down on the bed, luxuriating under the gentle touches. For Barbara, it worked out perfectly. The brunette obviously enjoyed the attention, and she got to experience all that tan skin that Helena insisted on displaying so casually.

"So, who was right?"

The dark head lifted enough for one cerulean eye to regard her incredulously. "Are you serious?"

Barbara raised one crimson eyebrow. "Of course. I told you your meta-abilities wouldn't be a problem. I just think we should acknowledge that I was right."

"Has anyone ever told you that you have serious control issues?" Helena dropped her head back onto one of Barbara's ergonomic foam pillows with a muffled thump.

The older woman's lips curved in a completely unrepentant smile. "On several occasions."

Helena's response was a muffled snort. Seconds later, blue eyes were once again regarding her, and Barbara noted the mischievous gleam with a certain trepidation.

"So what about what I was right about?"

It took Barbara a moment to work through the sentence, but once she finally grasped the meaning, she was still puzzled – and slightly offended on behalf of English teachers everywhere.


Barbara watched with fascination as Helena's eyes began to shift. "You said that you wouldn't be able to . . . and I said that you would." The younger woman's tone was prompting as she regarded her steadily through eyes that were more gold than blue.

Barbara felt herself blush, knowing it was ridiculous at this point. "Yes, well . . . I guess we were both wrong about certain, uh, fears."

"Yep." Helena was still looking at her with those amazing eyes, and Barbara could feel her blush start to migrate down to her chest. "But you know? We should probably make sure."

"Oh." This sounded promising. One could never do enough research.

"Yeah. I think we should do some more . . . investigating, just to make sure we didn't miss anything." As she finished speaking, Helena's hands began to wander over Barbara's stomach and sides, casually yet tenderly, mapping the scars that were so much a part of the older woman.

Barbara thought it was highly unlikely that Helena had missed any part of her body in the last several hours. Helena had been very . . . thorough, even with areas the redhead could no longer feel. Of course that hadn't kept Barbara from feeling a hell of a lot – twice.

"Hmm." Her hands began to move with a little more purpose over the brunette's back, stroking from the base of her neck, down the column of her spine, over the swells of her butt, and further to the backs of her knees. A smothered purr vibrated under her hands, prevented from escaping by the pillow pressed against Helena's face.

"Thank you Hel, for giving me a second chance."

Helena turned over, bringing them face to face so their lips could meet in a tender kiss that before tonight, Barbara wouldn't have expected from the younger woman. "Thanks for taking it. I know I didn't say it very well last time, but I love you Barbara."

"You said it just fine, Hel."

For several charged moments, they simply looked at each other without moving. Barbara noticed Helena was staring into her eyes quite fixedly, a small furrow appearing between her eyebrows.

"Helena, is everything okay?"

Helena glanced away sheepishly. "Uh, sorry. I was just trying to figure out what that particular color means." Her confusion must have been clear, since Helena quickly tacked on, "Your eyes."

Barbara felt her smile stretch across her face. She pulled the other woman to her, fitting their bodies together easily, cherishing the new connection between them.

"It means I'm in love, Hel."

It seemed strange after the night they'd just spent to be sitting in the tower with the sun streaming in through the clock face.

Dick shook his head at his own musings. He'd thought by now he'd be used to the dichotomies that made up his life, but some days it just hit harder than others.

Of course it might have something to do with the fact that this time the enemy had been a bit . . . different. Still, the threat had been neutralized and they were all safe. In the end, that's what was important.

Looking at the two teenagers sitting together on the couch, he was impressed with how much his family had grown since he had moved back to Gotham. He may have lost his mentor and father figure to this city, but it had given him four amazing women to even out the scales. Not that he would ever admit that, especially to Helena.

Gabby and Dinah were pressed tightly against each other, and Dick forcibly tried to keep from rolling his eyes. It was obvious they would rather be somewhere else, but this was the time Barbara had specified for the meeting. So far, however, neither she nor Helena had arrived.

Dick wasn't concerned exactly; he just wasn't sure what to make of Barbara's uncharacteristic tardiness. He didn't even bother to speculate why Helena hadn't shown.

"Where are they, anyway?"

Dick quashed a tiny thrill of satisfaction that Gabby's patience had run out before his own. He really was too competitive for his own good.

The opening of a door drew their attention, and they all watched, stunned, as Helena exited Barbara's bedroom wearing nothing but bikini briefs and a tank top. The brunette shot a glance in their direction before she continued on her way past them to the kitchen. Seconds later she froze. When she turned back to face them, she looked slightly sick and her smile was obviously forced.

"So, uh . . . hey. Exactly how long have you guys been here?"

Dick found his voice first. "Not long."

Helena waved her hands animatedly. "Good, good."

"Don't forget the water, Hel."

Helena twitched as Barbara's husky voice penetrated from the bedroom.

"Looks like things are 'good' for you too," Dick couldn't help but add, even as he cringed as the words left his mouth.

The shy smile and softly muttered "yeah" went a long way towards erasing any jealously he might have felt though. Barbara had obviously made her choice, and as long they were both happy, he would support them.

Helena looked around for anything to stop the knowing looks from Dick and the shared smiles between Gabby and Dinah. She found the perfect distraction in the form a weapon sitting in the middle of the coffee table.

She raised one eyebrow in confusion. "Is that a crossbow?"

Dinah quickly jumped in. "Yeah, isn't it awesome. Gabby used it to take out the vampires." More to herself she muttered, "I still can't believe they were real vampires."

Helena nodded her head to other blonde. "Nice. I've always wanted to learn how to use one of those."

"Helena what's going on?" Barbara's next question came in a slightly anxious voice. "Who are you talking too?"

Helena raised her voice. "Uh, no one." The brunette turned back to her audience. "So yeah . . . do you think you guys could come back later? Like, say, tomorrow?"

Dick thought about refusing, but the pleading look from blue eyes so similar to his mentor's did him in. Giving a small nod, he quickly ushered the two teenagers to the elevator, leaving his friends to their privacy. Just once, their mission could wait.

Things were obviously going to be more interesting around the clock tower from now on. Strangely, he found he was looking forward to it.

Helena watched the elevator descend, and then headed into the kitchen, grabbing two bottles of water and a package of poptarts. On her way back, she hesitated, her fingers literally itching to try out the archaic weapon.

Shaking her head she continued toward the bedroom. She had something much more exciting to get back to, and a lot of wasted time to make up for.

The End

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