DISCLAIMER: I do not own the characters. They are the property of DC comics and the WB network. I'm just borrowing them for a short period of time.
MUSIC DISCLAIMER: Song lyrics don't belong to me either; no profit gained or infringement intended.
WARNING: This story deals with the subject of sexual violence.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.


Chapter 29

Helena absently swirled the overpriced coffee in the oversized cup, attempting to look appropriately sympathetic -- alternately not much of a stretch or else extremely difficult -- as Carly Applewood's fiance recounted his shock at her death, the absolute horrors of undoing all of the wedding and honeymoon preparations, his loneliness without Carly.

"But," Bill Press sighed dramatically, "I guess you kind of understand. You did say you were friends...?"

Smoothly covering the slight -- almost insignificant -- stretch of the truth which had gotten her a date for coffee with the grieving fiance, the brunette offered, "Well, you know, the meta community is pretty tight-knit."

With that, finally seeing an opening to probe for the information that she and Barbara needed, she continued, "None of us quite understood what was going on with Carly about -- that."

Fortunately, the young woman didn't need to be more specific. The words and a vague wave of her hand were all the loquacious young man needed.

"Oh, yeah. She really had a bee up her bonnet about that. I mean, I sure didn't mind."

Bill laughingly added, "Carly could do, you know, some things that added a real charge to our love life."

Helena tried not to grimace as hazel eyes regarded her appraisingly.

"So, what did you say your meta thing was anyway?"

Resisting a strong desire to pour her still-hot coffee in the man's lap, the brunette wondered just what Carly had seen in him. Nevertheless, she decided to throw him a bone.

"Double-jointed. Everywhere. And, complete control of all my, you know, internal muscles," she purred, attempting not to crack up at the sound of a wicked snicker over her receiver.

"But, Bill," she added, with a slow blink, "what was her issue with it? Sounds like you sure didn't have any problems with it."

Helena had to give the man some credit for managing to drag his eyes back to her face as he replied.

"Oh, she was so scared about having kids. She was just convinced that she wouldn't be able to take a pregnancy to term. Or, that the kid would have her meta genes."

The young woman hid her frown at that information with her best "Go on, this is fascinating" look.

"She'd been seeing doctors, but they didn't really get it. But, just a couple of weeks ago, she told me that she'd heard about some sort of revolutionary treatment or something through the BAH."

Helena blinked several times at the reference to the fanatical anti-meta movement and at her surprise that Carly would have taken anything they said seriously. Looked like Barbara had been right -- as usual -- about Carly choosing her course of action.

"What kind of treatment, Bill?"

"I don't really know. Something about a miracle healer, I think, but honestly I just figured that it was probably some snake-oil salesman myself. And, I don't think she had time -- before..."

Reverting to genuine sympathy again as the man choked up, the brunette led the conversation back to less emotionally charged areas before eventually managing to extricate herself -- suffering a somewhat sloppily groping hug in the process -- and ducking into an alley. Scaling a fire escape, she spoke softly.

"Well, you were right, Oracle. Sounds like Carly sure did something."

The warm reply was immediate.

<"I might prefer to have been wrong about this one, Huntress.">

"Want me to hit the club and try to dig up something about this 'miracle cure'?"

Distaste heavily painted the last two words.

<"No. I'm going to follow up with the BAH tomorrow. Why don't you come in?">

Huh? It was only 8:30; way too early to cut sweeps short on a Friday.

Possibly sensing her partner's confusion, the redhead elaborated, <"It is the last weekend for Canary's other project, Huntress.">

Helena immediately grasped the reference. Dinah would be out late at the play, and she and Barbara would have the clock tower to themselves for hours.

Although she had to admit that all of this taking it slow stuff was kind of nice in its own way, over five years of unrequited passion was beginning to take its toll on her. Sheesh, it was almost like Barbara was -- courting her or something.

Like there was any need for that.

While they hadn't gotten any further the night before, the older woman's eagerness -- at least until she got all caught up with her theory, the brunette amended sourly -- had been impossible to miss. Helena was definitely looking forward to a chance to pick up where they'd left off, and it sure sounded like the other woman might be as well.

Helena realized that her silence had probably been interpreted for uncertainty when the redhead spoke again.

<"I believe that 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' will be on shortly.">

Already turning toward the clock tower, Helena snorted softly. She didn't need any inducements. Hell, the Kid was going to be out late; she didn't have a shift at the Dark Horse on a Friday and Barbara was blowing off sweeps; and she'd just had a huge jolt of caffeine.

What were the odds?

"I'm on my way, Oracle. Do I need to pick up some popcorn?"

An hour later, the brunette was happily ensconced on the couch, lying curled up with her head in Barbara's lap as they watched Allan Quatermain and Tom Sawyer pursuing a hellish figure through night time Paris. When they simultaneously reached into the bag of microwave popcorn which rested by the redhead's side, she gallantly withdrew, ghosting a teasing touch of slightly buttery fingers to the older woman's wrist. The soft hum from the redhead was reward enough for her forbearance, but the young woman still wasted no time diving into the bag after the other woman withdrew with a handful of popcorn.

A bemused voice caused her to jerk slightly as she pulled her hand out of the bag.

"I simply do not understand how, if the M&Ms are evenly dispersed, I always seem to end up with all popcorn while you end up with eighty percent candy, Hel."

The brunette smirked and shoveled a few peanut M&Ms and one kernel of popcorn into her mouth. The combination of the warmed candy and the salty, buttery popcorn really was quite tasty. Could she help it if she favored a heavier candy-to-popcorn ratio?

"Hmm," she purred as she chewed slowly, "probably just a fluke, Babs. Or, maybe a meta thing."

The older woman's reply was light, causing Helena to chuckle softly.

"No, I can accept meta abilities accounting for your ability to snag the green ones without looking. However, that simply does not make up for defying the law of averages, Helena."

Silence reigned for a few minutes as the two watched Mr. Hyde painfully transform himself back into Dr. Jeckyll.

When Barbara spoke again, the younger woman clearly heard the reticence in her voice.

"Do you -- have you wanted not to be meta, Hel?"

The dark woman finished her handful of popcorn as she considered the question. She washed it down with a swallow from her beer before answering.

"Yeah. No."

Setting her beverage back on the coffee table, she added, less than helpfully, "I don't know."

Helena suppressed her sigh of fond annoyance at the expectation that was simply rolling out of the other woman's silence and attempted to elaborate.

"I mean, it's what I am, and --"

The young woman swallowed against a sudden lump in her throat.

Damned popcorn.

"...and, it is a real link to my mom. But, fuck, it sure would be simpler sometimes."

She paused, considering the possibility of not being what she was.

"It's hard to think about giving up what you do know for what you don't, you know?"

Sensing the redhead's nod, she added, "I just -- I don't know what being human would be like, Barbara."

The older woman's response was soft, thoughtful, but utterly laden with conviction.

"Hel, don't forget the part that comes after 'meta'. You are entirely one of the most human people I know. Having meta genes doesn't make you less human. It makes you more."

The brunette figured that her mentor must be serious to let something so... non-grammatical pass her lips. Nevertheless, she decided to lighten the suddenly leaden mood.

"Well, it does come in handy with M&Ms, Red."

Barbara's laughter was soft, but light.

"As long as you're looking at the bright side of things, Sweetie."

The brunette chose not to answer, digging instead into the popcorn bag to emerge with another half-dozen candies and two kernels of popcorn. She stuffed most of her handful into her mouth, then shifted enough to look up at the older woman's face. Holding the remaining candy -- green, of course -- between her thumb and first two fingers, she raised her hand to the other woman's lips.

Observing the playful quirk of a crimson brow, Helena licked her lips and smiled as the redhead silently snaked out her tongue to pull the candy into her mouth. When the other woman opened her mouth, wrapping her lips around the extended fingers and sucking rhythmically, the younger woman shut her eyes and focused on the moist warmth surrounding her fingers.

Oh, fuck....

She felt her eyes begin to shift as she wondered if it would feel that hot, that wet, when she finally...

"Thank you, Sweetheart."

The decidedly husky words dragged the brunette back from the brink. Drawing in a deep breath, she shifted back to the television, murmuring a heartfelt reply.

"My pleasure, Babs."

Shit. The redhead was going to kill her with wanting one of these days...

Helena attempted to focus on the movie again even as she positioned her free arm -- the one not pinned behind the other woman's back -- so that she could rest her hand against the redhead's side, stroking softly at the soft cotton of Barbara's tee shirt. Her interest in the sight of The Nautilus cruising through the canals of Venice waned considerably when she felt the older woman's hand, which had been lightly rubbing her back, sneak under the hem of her tank top and begin brushing her lower back.

Oh, god. How could Barbara's fingers feel like that?

They tickled.

They sent chills up and down her.

They burned.

The brunette shut her eyes, concentrating entirely on the sensations. However, as those long fingers slid under the waist of her sweatpants to tease the skin at the base of her spine, blue eyes flew open. On a whimper, she jerked her hips and then froze, waiting... waiting.

Helena thought she detected a slightly ragged sigh from her companion as the older woman placed her hand fully against her lower back and began stroking one finger softly up and down. She was quite certain that her own inhalation had been pretty damned shaky.

Shaky or not, a heartbeat later, Helena was simply grateful that she'd managed in inhale at all. The sensation of having her free hand covered by long fingers and then coaxed from Barbara's waist to her breast completely removed the younger woman's ability to breathe.

The incredible softness, the weight and texture through the tee shirt, the sensation of the nipple firming against her palm -- It was almost too much. The brunette was utterly transfixed by sensation; however, the redhead's barely audible hiss of pleasure broke the spell, galvanizing her to action.

Without moving either of her hands, Helena smoothly rotated herself 180-degrees to her other side, now facing Barbara, with her knees pressing into the back of the sofa. Reverently cradling that heavenly flesh and gently rubbing the other woman's back with her other hand, the young woman nudged the hem of the tee shirt up with her face and nuzzled softly at the warm flesh of the redhead's stomach.

Experimentally, she squeezed delicately and almost came undone when Barbara arched her back into the contact.

"Oh, fuck, Barbara..."

Panting softly against the other woman's abdomen, Helena couldn't understand why it was so hard to breathe, so hard to think.

"I've never -- always -- "

Goddammit, that had been really smooth, hadn't it?

The brunette hid her face against the older woman and bit at her lip, absolutely mortified.

After all of the years of waiting and wanting, how could she possibly tell the other woman how nothing had ever felt like this? How she'd always wanted and dreamed...?

"In that case, Hel, it's certainly time, isn't it?"

Red was sounding a little breathless herself, which made Helena feel marginally better. Peeking up at the other woman's movement, embarrassment was immediately replaced by much more urgent emotions.

In a single swift motion, the older woman yanked her tee shirt off and then wrapped her hands around the brunette's wrists, tugging toward her chest.

"Touch me, Hel."

Helena felt like she'd just been handed the keys to the candy shop. Her own breasts tingled in sympathy at Barbara's request.

The lithe woman pulled herself slightly more upright, feathering her fingers against the outside of the redhead's breasts. Watching emerald eyes flutter shut at the sensation, seeing Barbara rest her head against the back of the sofa and lick her lips, the younger woman squeezed her own eyes shut, fighting the urge to take roughly. Instead, she teased lightly with her hands and fingers as she softly -- so softly -- brushed her cheek to the valley between the older woman's breasts.

Maybe, she wondered dimly, long moments later, Barbara just somehow knew how her mouth was watering. Or, maybe the redhead had some needs of her own, she added happily when long fingers suddenly grasped the back of her head and coaxed her to one side. One hand released Helena's head and pushed her hand aside, and the young woman blinked in amazement as the redhead cradled her own breast in offering.

"Helena -- your mouth."

For her? She had to be dreaming.

The brunette looked up to find emerald eyes burning into her. She raised her eyebrows in helpless disbelief.

A beatific smile and a single word dispelled her doubts.


With one of Barbara's strong hands holding her head, fingernails scratching lightly against her scalp, the young woman surrendered and lost herself to a taste, a sensation, she'd been waiting for her entire life. Still kneading softly at the other breast, she licked and sucked, nibbled and nipped, with Barbara's softly panted murmurs -- "Yes. God, Hel. So good..." -- washing through her like a warm spring rain. Helena was distantly aware of a soft rumbling from her own chest, dimly aware of the slow undulations of her hips, but all that she truly knew was taste and texture and an overwhelming desire for this perfect, perfect moment never to end.

Eventually -- perhaps she was taking a breath, pulling back just enough to focus on the succulent flesh by her mouth -- the brunette realized that Barbara had not been -- was not -- entirely still. The older woman's hand had returned to the skin of her lower back, snaking under the waist of her sweats again, to stroke tenderly. Momentarily forgetting the feast in front of her, the young woman exhaled slowly at the sensation of a strong hand roughly grasping her hips, fingers fluttering teasingly where her cheeks met.


Blue eyes fluttered open in perplexity.

Had Barbara just made that sexy moan? Helena wasn't even doing anything...

Holy shit, the young woman blinked happily, Barbara was an ass woman. How great was that?

Lowering her head -- Red seemed to have forgotten about holding her quite so tightly to her chest -- the brunette turned her face into the older woman's lap and breathed deeply. The aroma was unmistakable. And powerful.

Reassured, Helena gave in to her own arousal as she felt a long finger dip dangerously close to the juncture of her thighs.

"Ugh. Fuck, Barbara -- "

Clenching her hands against the older woman's sides, the brunette thrust her hips back, desperate for contact. Something deep and primal urged her to push onto her hands and knees, to present her heated, aching need to the other woman. The young woman scowled darkly at the animal image and attempted to slow the near-frantic rocking of her hips. The words she heard spilling hoarsely from the older woman didn't help her effort.

"Oh, Sweetheart. You're so beautiful. I want you so much. I want to make you feel everything."

Neither did the feel of long, strong fingers pushing her apart, teasing against her.


She'd never felt anything like this.

Shifting abruptly onto her back, Helena lifted her hips slightly and spread her legs. Panting shallowly, she waited for green eyes to look down, then gently drew the other woman's hand -- still under her sweatpants -- to her lower abdomen.

"Please, Barbara..."

The brunette blinked against the pleading note in her voice, then decided that she didn't care. She needed the other woman that bad.

Waiting, poised on the razor's edge of need, the young woman tried to decipher the emotions in the redhead's face. She figured that temptation sure as hell made up a big part of them.

"Hel, I'm not sure " the response was breathy, disjointed, "this is how your, our, first time -- "

Blue eyes blinked. Several times.

Shit. Barbara wasn't going to go all 'planning mode' on her, was she? The younger woman thought that they'd sort of agreed that, sometimes, playing things by ear could work, too.

Helena couldn't have kept the frustration from her expression if she'd wanted to. Still, she tried for a modicum of humor.

"Is there some sort of rule that I don't know about, Red?"

As she observed the other woman processing her question, the brunette realized that she was always going to get a little weak-kneed and loopy at the redhead's befuddled look.

Yeah, she had it bad.


"Yeah, some sort of rule that it's over if -- when one of us...?"

The comprehension flooding across those beautiful features was lost almost immediately to a different expression, this one clear in intent. Barbara's face visibly hardened to tense, ascetic lines, and the redhead drew in a slow breath.

"No, Sweetheart, there isn't."

When she felt a long finger dip lower, the brunette bucked her hips again, hissing at the burning in her nipples, the palpable aching emptiness inside herself. She almost missed the harshly whispered questions.

"Is this what you want, Hel? Is this what you want now?"

She forced herself to focus through the dampness in her eyes and locked on startlingly intense green.

"Yes -- you. You, Barbara."

It was all she could manage, but it was enough.

And, when Helena finally, finally felt the touch she craved more than air itself, she realized -- once again -- that it was what she'd always wanted, always needed.

She forced herself to keep her eyes open, wanting to share -- to give -- this moment to the other woman. When those long fingers finally entered her and she heard her own hoarse whimper mixed with Barbara's low moan, Helena couldn't stop the tears. She bit at her lower lip and gave in to the sensation, swept away. She heard a question, registered the concern as the older woman slowed her movements, and she shook her head urgently in the negative.

God, no, she didn't want it to stop.

Fuck, no, it didn't hurt.

It was perfect. It was absolutely... everything.

Long minutes later, her own hoarse cry still ringing in her ears, the brunette lay sprawled across the older woman's lap, legs still convulsively clenched, tightly holding the hand that was cupping her tenderly. As she came back to herself, Helena realized that Barbara was gently sifting her other hand through her hair, looking a little -- well -- shell-shocked herself. Deciding that the older woman needed some circulation in her hand in order to type -- or whatever -- later, Helena relaxed her legs, smiling a little tremulously.

"Oh, Sweetie -- "

The soft exhalation accompanied the withdrawal of the other woman's hand. Watching the redhead raise her very wet fingers to her face, the brunette somehow found the energy and the coordination to capture Barbara's wrist gently and redirect those fingers to her own lips. She kept her gaze softly focused on the puzzled green eyes as she inhaled the scent -- familiar yet, finally, different. Helena delicately touched her tongue to one finger, then sucked the first two fingers into her mouth.

It was amazing, more than she'd dreamed.

Helena Kyle had never tasted herself on someone else.

Blinking rapidly, she lost her battle against tears when she saw the comprehension dawn in Barbara's face, when she heard the husky affirmation.

"Yes, Hel. That's you. On me. And, if I have any say in the matter, you'll be getting very familiar with the combination."

Chapter 30

What a wildly disparate combination of brash, open sensuality and tender innocence that had been. Or, Barbara smirked, as foreplay went, it had simply knocked everything else out of the competition.

Helena's openness, her freedom in expressing her need, her aching vulnerability and uninhibited delight, the power of her raw emotions... Sitting on the sofa, unashamedly naked from the waist up, cradling the other woman to her, the redhead simply couldn't find words.

Emotions -- and sensations -- however were in plentiful supply. At the sight of the tears spilling silently from wide blue eyes, there was no avoiding them.

As overwhelming as it all was, Barbara found herself remaining still and silent, utterly content in the moment. Content, that was, until she looked down to find bright blue eyes regarding her with disbelief... and wonder. At that point, contentment morphed fluidly into something decidedly less passive, certainly more needful.

"Let's move, Sweetie."

Floor, bed, training room mats. The older woman didn't care as long as she had room for more maneuverability.

Noticing the younger woman's puzzled but sweetly eager-to-please expression, Barbara elaborated, voice a timbre she'd never quite heard from herself.

"I believe, Helena, that I promised to show you what you do to me."

The redhead prided herself on always keeping her promises.

In a flash, the brunette was on her feet, effortlessly lifting the older woman from the couch. When the lithe woman froze, Barbara followed her gaze to her chair.

"Leave it."

Swimming against the thick erotic haze that seemed to be taking possession of her, she worked to explain even as the young woman walked slowly past the chair with obvious reluctance.

"I'm not planning on going anywhere without you for quite a while, Hel."

Had the always-surefooted Helena Kyle just stumbled?

Opting to gather a bit more evidence, the redhead lifted her head from a slender shoulder, offering a quick nip to a sharp jaw line before teasing at the other woman's ear with her lips. Fairly certain that she'd detected a trembling in the arms which were supporting her so effortlessly, she insinuated her tongue gently and traced the inside shell of a delicate ear.

Yes. Definitely a stumble.


The rumbling tone wavered between breathy petulance and teasing warning.

"Better watch that unless you want to end up on the floor. Remember what you said about the part of me that comes after 'meta'..."

Barbara considered the wisdom of the younger woman's advice, wondering if a tumble to the floor would hinder or expedite matters. Perhaps fortunately, Helena completed the short trip to the bedroom before the redhead decided to conduct some physical experiments into the question.

The older woman remained still as her partner set her ever-so-gently on the bed, piling a small mountain of pillows behind her back, stealing one -- and only one -- feathery touch against the bare skin of her back. Only after the brunette had positioned herself on the bed, kneeling by Barbara's right thigh, hands resting loosely on her still-clothed knees, did the older woman move. She unbuttoned her jeans, then -- with the slow clicking of the zipper serving as a counterpoint to her words, spoke.

"Help me off with these, Sweetie."

The absolutely wicked smile gracing gamine features, the barely discernable rocking of the younger woman's hips, the brunette's shallow breathing as she efficiently stripped Barbara's jeans and underwear all combined to ratchet the older woman's excitement to a level she'd never experienced.

Although she'd never been any sort of exhibitionist -- skin tight latex costume to the contrary -- the redhead felt absolutely no embarrassment or nervousness. The scars which humiliated her so simply didn't exist. Concerns about how she would or could respond evaporated into the ether. All that Barbara Gordon knew was this moment and her overwhelming need to give this -- herself -- to her lover.

Tangling her fingers with the young woman's, Barbara drew a slender hand to her face, ghosting kisses to each finger tip. Unable to stop herself, the redhead smiled fondly and spoke softly.

"The time has come, Helena... "

Blue eyes twinkled as the younger woman supplied the next phrase from the nonsense poem.

"...to speak of many things, Red?"


Preoccupied by the taste of the other woman's palm against her lips, the redhead barely managed to murmur a reply.

"Pr'bly be words, Hel..."

"Sea -- "

The brunette appeared to be having some problems of her own with words.

"Sealing wax?", she finally managed.

Laughing softly, Barbara regretfully released her partner's hand and promised, "Well, probably something a little ... sticky, Sweetheart."

The redhead looked up to focus on rapt blue eyes. She spoke quietly, all traces of playfulness absent.

"I believe that I told you, Helena, that all I need for satisfaction is for you to 'show up'."

At the slow nod, she continued, "And I want -- I need -- to show you how true that is. It's been a long time since I've felt anything remotely like this."

Barbara thought about that statement for a split second, then laughed almost shyly.

"I know I've never felt anything exactly like it."

Suddenly ravenous for the taste of the younger woman, the redhead stretched out to drag Helena to her with more determination than delicacy and lost herself in a long, messy kiss. When she finally released her iron hold from slender shoulders and the brunette reluctantly returned to her kneeling position, both women were breathless and slightly glassy-eyed.

Green eyes remained fixed on blue as the older woman basked in the tremors of excitement coursing through her.

My, but Helena knew how to kiss.

A cautiously expectant half smile alerted Barbara to the fact that she'd been saying something, planning something. She narrowed her eyes slightly, attempting to backtrack mentally.

"You were -- feeling something, Red...?" the brunette purred helpfully.

Awash with sensations, the older woman smiled with intent and tangled her fingers with one of Helena's hands again.

"Oh, sweet heavens, yes."

She trailed her other hand across her chest, to one aching, swollen breast, and teased an almost unbearably sensitive nipple. Increasing the pressure of her fingers slightly, aware of the slight trembling in younger woman's hand, she struggled to speak between shallow breaths.

"Just thinking of you touching me. Thinking of your mouth on me, Hel. Remembering the taste of your kisses..."

Barbara bit back a soft chuckle. The thoughts, the memories: they didn't just affect her when she was near the brunette. Remaining focused on her fourth period students' presentations about Medea this week had been challenging, to say the least. She decided that she could tell Helena about that some other time.

Releasing her nipple, she cupped the entire breast, squeezing firmly and -- almost unaware -- arching her back slightly to the pressure. Heat flowered through her upper body, and for the first time in so, so long, Barbara Gordon was positive that she felt a warm ache elsewhere.

She exhaled steadily through pursed lips before attempting to speak again.

"Since the shooting, I've had a lot of trouble getting excited, Hel."

She opened her eyes and very deliberately focused on the other woman's burning blue gaze. When she was certain that the brunette would hear her words, she spoke more precisely, more graphically.

"Trouble getting wet. But, with you Sweetie, not now -- "

Fighting to keep her gaze steady, she drew their intertwined hands down her body, utterly certain what their joined fingers would find.

Helena's sharp gasp and her sudden rocking motion validated what Barbara had already known, what her own fingers had just proven to her. She released the other woman's hand. Feeling her nipples become impossibly tighter, she stroked herself and moaned softly at the realization that she had felt something.

Sweet merciful angels, she'd actually felt something.

Barbara dragged open her eyes -- somehow, they'd squeezed themselves shut at the shock of sensation -- and raised her hand to her partner's mouth. She smiled tenderly when the brunette licked her lips in anticipation; however, instead of offering her hand to the young woman, she chose to paint those soft, lush lips with her fingers.

The young woman's low groan almost sounded like pain. The syllables whispered past trembling lips were almost undecipherable.

"Ohhh -- Fuck. Me. M-mine?"

Barbara smiled widely, wantonly, as she responded with complete sincerity. A lifetime of fierce independence vanished without a whimper.

"Yes, Sweetheart. All yours. Everything that I am."

The redhead traced her stomach and her breasts with both hands as she spoke again.

"Since the shooting, as much trouble as I've had with arousal, Hel, well, climaxing hasn't even been in the picture. But, with you Sweetie, I'm realizing that I am feeling -- a flicker here..."

Barbara insinuated one hand between her legs again, illustrating her words for the bright blue eyes tracking her every move.

"... Uhh... a flutter there. And, a hellacious encompassing feeling inside, too. For you. Because of you."

Drawing a deep breath, the older woman used her hands to spread her legs, opening herself to the decidedly hungry gaze of her lover.

"It should be impossible, Hel."

She had to pause for a moment as sensations and emotions threatened to unravel her. Focusing, she forced herself to say what she needed to.

"It should be impossible, but I'm realizing that -- with you, Sweetheart -- nothing is. I -- I feel."

Even as she lost the capacity for speech, Barbara kept her eyes fixed on the brunette, needing the connection as she stroked herself and simultaneously felt the other woman's gaze like a physical touch.

And then, there it was: the incredibly sexy transformation from cerulean blue to burning gold.

The redhead shivered as she watched the transformation through heavy-lidded eyes, as she saw the younger woman's lips pull back in a hungry smile. When she felt a slender hand come to rest lightly on her own -- covering her hand but allowing her own motions to guide -- she moaned.

In an instant, the brunette bent and Barbara felt warm breath in her ear, struggled to decipher the panting question that was almost a growl.

"May I?"

Raising her hands above her head on the pillows, the older woman breathed her answer.

"Oh, heavens, yes. Please, Helena."

A heartbeat before soft lips reached hers -- Barbara was well aware that she would very probably lose all capacity for thought when they did -- the older woman managed a request.

"Your clothes? Off. Now."

Perhaps, she formulated a moment later, it had been more of a demand than a request. However, confronted with the sight of a gloriously nude Helena Kyle, the redhead wasn't much inclined to split semantic hairs. Rather, she surrendered joyfully to the sensation of strong hands and a warm mouth mapping her body.

For long minutes, the older woman writhed under feathery touches and firm pressure, under teasing nips and warm laving strokes. She drank in the sounds of the younger woman's near constant vocalizations -- rumbling purring, soft panting, profane exclamations, thickly spoken words of love and desire -- adding a few moans of her own to the chorus.

When the brunette's touches moved below her waist, Barbara realized that Helena had stopped moving, and she opened her eyes. She discovered that the younger woman was waiting, poised over her thighs.

Waiting, Barbara realized, for her to witness what she might not feel.

Helena's sweetly imploring gaze and soft whisper confirmed the older woman's assumption.

"Watch me, Barbara. Watch me loving you."

Hearing those words, the older woman was powerless to resist the passion which swept through her. Although she couldn't physically feel the reverent strokes and kisses, there was no sense of loss; she was simply too overcome with other feelings, with emotions.

Barbara felt almost lightheaded with wonder when the brunette finally brought her mouth to her, barely touching at first as she breathed in; the trembling which took possession of Helena's limbs was almost incomprehensible. When the older woman finally felt -- actually felt -- warmth and pressure against her, any fleeting concern she might have had about the distance of the sensation simply disappeared; it was simply impossible to focus on anything but the sight of golden eyes remaining locked on her face while the brunette groaned and then shuddered violently in her own climax.

For the first time in her life -- but not the last, she suspected -- Barbara Gordon completely understood what it meant to feel sexy.

Desperate, she reached for the younger woman's arms and pulled sharply.

"Come here. I need you." was all she could manage by way of explanation for her rather confused looking partner.

Fortunately, it was enough, and the redhead gasped at the sensation of the smaller woman flowing up her body to mold against her. Wasting no time, she wound her fingers into dark silk and dragged the other woman into a deep soul kiss.

Minutes later, aware of the rumbling growl softly vibrating against her chest -- perhaps to the soles of her feet -- Barbara released the dark hair and trailed her fingers down the younger woman's arm to catch a slender hand. Shivering at the sensation of teeth against the tendons in her neck, the redhead cupped Helena's hand and guided it to press firmly between her legs.

In combination with the somewhat muted pressure of the other woman's hand, Helena's sudden loud growl -- almost a snarl -- almost pushed Barbara over the edge.

A split second later, the dark woman's attempt to yank herself away and curl in on herself almost reduced the redhead to tears. Instead of giving in to her sorrow at the younger woman's fear, Barbara held her tightly and pressed a firm kiss to the top of a dark head. Helena stopped her attempts to pull away, but the tension locking her muscles was impossible to miss.

As were the agonized words, thick with unshed tears, being growled against the redhead's neck.

"I can't -- can't hurt you, Barbara..."

It was time to end this.

Barbara could not deny the urgency of her needs. She was also quite aware that her younger lover had some strong desires of her own. Furthermore, she was fully convinced that -- if Helena could only get past her fear of hurting her -- they could reach a most mutually satisfactory solution for both of them.

The older woman's response flowed past her lips almost before she realized she was speaking.

"Sweetheart, the only way you can hurt me is if you don't give me -- us -- the chance to find out what we can be together."

Still holding the brunette to her firmly with one arm, she used her other hand to coax the younger woman's head up until she could bring their lips together. However, rather than kissing the brunette, the redhead breathed -- somewhat harshly -- against those soft lips as she again captured Helena's hand and firmly settled it between her thighs.

For a full thirty seconds, she held the pose, still uncertain whether the younger woman would bolt. Only when she detected the barest lessening of tension in the highly torqued frame did she release her hold against the brunette's back to cup the dark head firmly. Still pressing the other woman's slender hand to her, she finally spoke -- voice pitched low, tone urgent.

"Remember, Hel? All of you. I want all of you."

She saw eyes that were still gold blink once slowly and continued, hearing the hoarseness creeping into her tone.

"And, I meant it. There's nothing you want that I don't. And, right now, I have some wants -- some needs of my own."

Arching her neck, she drew the other woman's face down until she felt warm breath panting softly against her throat. Barbara spoke softly, praying that her sincerity would be heard.

"I want you to take me and mark me..."

The protracted growl made the hair on the redhead's arms stand on end. Nevertheless, she remained focused. Pressing the hand between her thighs, thrusting forcefully, she searched for the exactly the right words.

"And, Helena, I want you to fuck me and fuck me -- Oh sweet heavens --"

Feeling the younger woman begin to take over the movement, acutely aware of the somewhat muted sensation of fullness beginning to overwhelm her, Barbara temporarily lost the power of speech. With a supreme effort of will, she managed to complete her entreaty.

"Uhh, Sweetheart, yes! I need everything that you are..."

Chapter 31

"Fuck, man, I need everything you've got."

The brunette ran a hand through artfully disheveled hair.

"I've gotta find a solution somehow," she continued. "I'm crazy in love but I... I can't do anything without my meta side coming out and ruining everything."

Well, she figured that pretty well summed it all up.

The young woman nervously licked her lips, remembering the blood that had been on them this morning when she awakened. Helena hated the taste, the feel, of blood in her mouth. The fact that, this time, it had been Barbara's was something that she was having a lot of trouble wrapping a mental lobe around.

"Have you tried relaxation and control techniques?"

Quashing her urge to wipe the condescending smile of the BAH counselor's bland face, the brunette answered honestly, the pain of her ongoing failure evident in her tone.

"Yeah. For years."

She paused, then continued.

"I try and try, but it's just not something I can 'control'."

Fingers making quotation marks in the air, she looked imploringly at the sweaty man.

"I... I just can't be like this any more. I need -- well, I need to be human, I guess."

Helena thought she heard a soft inhalation over her receiver but couldn't focus on the sound as the counselor -- she thought his name was Phelps -- leaned across the card table serving as his desk and patted her shoulder, making sympathetic 'tsking' noises.

"Well, you've certainly come to the right place, Miss -- ", he consulted a card, "Wayne."

The dark woman hadn't felt the need to share everything about herself with the movement.

"So many people like you," Phelps continued, "never accept that they don't have to give in to these inhuman instincts. If most of -- your type would simply exercise a little self-control..."

"I told you," Helena interrupted with a growl, beginning to lose patience. She was here for some help, not a lecture. "I've tried that road for years."

Something in her expression seemed to convince the man of her sincerity. He shuffled a few papers quickly.

"Er, yes. Yes, you did. Well, medication has been efficacious -- "

Thin brows raised towards a receding hairline at the slow, sorrowful shake of a dark head.

"Nah. My metabolism just burns it off."

Probably, Helena snorted inaudibly, the only reason she hadn't gotten interested in drugs during her hell-raising teen years.

"Electroshock, perhaps?", Mr. Phelps suggested, perhaps a trifle too eagerly.

The young woman pretended to think about that, wondering if everybody in the Born Again Human movement was as nutty as this guy. Finally, she shook her head again slowly.

"Nah. Same problem, I'm afraid."

Leaning forward smoothly, she swiftly plucked the cheap metal Cross pen from the man's hand and waved it towards a nearby socket.

"Wanna see?"

Based on the age and condition of the office, the brunette suspected that the building's wiring would take a harder hit than she might if the nervous man accepted her offer.

"Er, no. That shouldn't be necessary, Miss Wayne."

The pudgy man pulled a handkerchief from his pocket to mop at his forehead.

"I can see that you clearly have some difficult issues with your manifestation of this illness."

"Tell me about it," Helena replied laconically. She twirled the pen absently, wishing for a different -- softer -- sensation between her fingers.

Of course, she thought a bit sourly, that would probably mean losing control again, wouldn't it?

Straightening abruptly, tone businesslike, she cut to the chase.

"So, can you help me?"

Phelps sighed softly as he tucked her paperwork into a folder and spoke in an equally clipped fashion.

"Officially, I'm afraid not."

"Although, you're certainly welcome at our prayer and recovery meetings," he added hastily.

Not what she was looking for, the brunette decided with a roll of her eyes.

"What about unofficially?" she purred, batting her eyes a few times and crossing her legs.

Phelps stretched for a clear view over the card table before tugging at his frayed collar. Looking over his shoulder -- kind of unnecessary, Helena thought, in an otherwise empty office -- he lowered his voice.

"Well, we have heard about a, er, doctor of sorts who has had quite a bit of success in actually curing people like you."

Yep. A bonafide cure. That was the ticket.

Helena leaned forward again, pretty certain that her very genuine interest was apparent.

"Yeah, that's what I need. Where is this doctor?"

The older man tugged at his collar again -- the brunette thought she had an idea about how it had gotten so frayed -- and demurred, "Er, he travels a lot -- from city to city. Something of a philanthropist you know. Fortunately for you, he happens to be in New Gotham currently."

The broad smile that Mr. Phelps offered that bit of information with suggested that he might have been personally responsible for arranging the lucky coincidence.

Helena doubted it.

"How do I get an appointment with him then?"

When the man's face fell, her suspicion solidified. Phelps didn't have anything to do with this mysterious "doctor".

"Well, Miss Wayne, it's not that simple. I understand that he, er, seems to find his own patients..."

A quarter of an hour later, Helena slowly climbed to the New Gotham rooftops, pausing to admire the moonrise in the darkening sky. She guessed that clouds would cover the sky later, but, at the moment, the blanketing darkness was clear.

Softly whistling a few bars from Van Morrison's "Moondance", she sailed to another rooftop, eager to leave the dingy headquarters of the BAH behind. Moments later, her receiver snapped to life.

<"Huntress? Do you copy?">

Detecting a trace of strain in the soft voice, the dark figure abruptly ended her musical interlude and slowed to a walk. She shivered, realizing that the strain might have had something to do with Red's screaming the night before.

"I copy, Oracle. Did you get all that?"

Helena thought the soft reply sounded almost sad.

<"Yes. I did. And, the jackass couldn't even help you find this mystery doctor.">

The young woman effortlessly leapt across a twenty foot wide alley to another rooftop, suspecting that Barbara had more to say.

<"I'm sorry they wouldn't talk to me on the phone today, Huntress, that you had to hear that metaphobic load of horseshit.">

A dark brow raised at the unembellished expletive. Red must be pretty steamed.

<"I'm sorry that I had to hear it.">

The brunette sighed inaudibly. None of it had been new.

"Yeah," was all that she said.

She heard a few keys click, then smiled when she heard a tinny <Poof> noise over the comm set, followed by the partial phrase "Gooood even--". The cartoon voice terminated abruptly -- very abruptly -- to the sound of a muted curse. Something -- if her hearing was up to par -- involving the ancestors of certain software engineers.

Well, at least the older woman was moving in response to the ergo program. At some point, Helena figured that she'd need to drop the manual for the program somewhere that Red could find it.

Her consideration about which locations might not be too obvious was cut short.

<"I show you moving northeast, Huntress...?">

"Yeah. I think I have an idea where I might be able to locate the good doctor, Oracle."

There was a slow, measured inhalation from the other end of her receiver.

<"You'll be careful, Huntress?">

Reaching her destination, she spoke gently.

"Of course."

The next words she heard surprised the dark woman so that she almost tripped over some debris on the rooftop.

<"In that case, I say 'Abraca-pocus'. And, go kick some ass, Sweetheart.">

No code name?

An actual invocation of the words she'd jokingly claimed turned her into Huntress?

An enthusiastic invitation to raise some hell?

Helena felt kind of like she'd just scarfed fifteen Dr. Peppers or something. Bubbly and tingling and definitely, definitely buzzed.

Smiling, she faded into the shadows, whispering her reply.

"I'll see what I can do. Going silent now."

For almost an hour, the dark figure crouched motionless in the shadows of a ventilation shaft. Yellow eyes took in the clouds beginning to scud across the sky as she scented the night air and listened to the waning noises of the city quieting as its inhabitants returned to their homes and families at the end of the day.

Periodically, the brunette glanced at the garish billboard atop Carly Applewood's apartment. Looking at the buxom woman on display, thinking of the beautiful redhead typing quietly back at the clock tower, Helena wondered what it might be like to be able to touch the woman she loved without the fear of losing control.

True, Red had seemed pretty into things the night before -- a slightly wolfish grin briefly split gamine features -- but, still, was that the way things had to be?

The young woman thought it was just like she'd told Barbara -- about wondering about being human: it was just hard to know what you didn't know.

Helena crossed her eyes in irritation at that particularly obtuse train of thought. Fortunately, a dim scent, the soft scuff of footsteps, the ghost of a shadow alerted her that she was no longer alone and, thus, spared her further introspection.

Straightening and slipping soundlessly from the shadows, she coughed lightly, freezing the shadow's movement.

"Evening," she drawled. "Nice night for it."


The word was almost a hiss.

The dark vigilante rolled her eyes.

Honestly, did bad guys have some sort of phrase book that they had to study? Cuz it sure seemed like that particular inflection of the word was right up there in the top three "Villainous Utterances" or something, right along with "I'll get you, my pretty" and "Curses, foiled again."

The young woman took another cautious step forward, aware of the absolute quiet over her comm set receiver. Red knew that she'd made contact.

Lightly, she replied, "Yep. It's me alright. I know we haven't been introduced or anything yet..."

The shadowy figure loomed closer, and Helena fought not to gag at the decaying stench wafting from it.

"But, you want my help, don't you?"

The voice was soft, almost hypnotic. The other voice, which echoed immediately in her ear, was also soft, but instead of hypnotic, it was concerned.

<"Careful, Huntress.">

"Uh, yeah, I will... I mean, I guess I do," the brunette admitted, shaking her head slightly as she tried to separate the conversation on the roof from the one in her earpiece.

"I've got this problem -- "

The menacing figure suddenly stepped from the shadows and dramatically swirled his cape back. In an instant, he was nothing more than a small, terribly pale middle-aged man with greasy black hair.

Whoa, that ratty, oversized cape really added some FX, Helena realized with a surprised blink. The guy was smaller than she was.

Idly, she wondered if they made capes like that in leather.

Recovering her train of thought, she added, "Uh, you see, I heard that you can kind of help metas."

"Oh, that's true. I can." The small man sounded almost sad. "I can free you from your curse."

Seeing how this guy had "freed" Carly and Hillerman, the brunette wasn't so sure she was buying it. She kept her reply to the point.


"It's my gift -- and curse."

Huh? Maybe it was time to start over. Mysterious and cryptic just wasn't cutting it.

She flashed a smile and held out her hand.

"Let's try this again, okay? Hi. My name's Helena."


She rolled her eyes at the note of warning in the word even as her rooftop companion started at her friendly gesture. Slowly, he extended a gloved hand.

"Dr. Lewis Renfield, at your service."

'Renfield'? Images of Arte Johnson in 'Love At First Bite' flashed through the brunette's mind. She ignored them and went with a more obvious question.


"Ph.D. Romanian Studies."

Of course.

"So, Lew," she began as she strolled to the edge of the building and sat, swinging one leg over the edge, "what's the deal?"

The small man moved towards her and cautiously situated himself near the edge of the roof.

"I'm a meta," he said as if that explained everything.

Guessing from the sudden inhalation over the receiver, maybe it did for the redhead. Helena decided that she could use a little more clarification.

"And...?" she prompted.

Renfield sighed and leaned back on his elbows to look upward.

"My unique genetic quirk allows me to, shall we say, neutralize meta-human genetics in others. Unfortunately, while it can remove meta genes from others, it also requires them for me."

The brunette cocked her head and waited.

"I'm sure you've noticed some less-than-pleasant characteristics about me, Helena."

Opening her mouth to demur, the young woman was spared the attempt when the pale man waved a hand dismissively in her direction.

"Don't bother to deny it."

Well, okay, she'd always been a pretty rotten liar.

"My body is in a constant state of rapid degeneration," Renfield explained. "It seems that only by absorbing cellular structure from other metas can I slow the march of decay in myself."

"That, uh, sucks," the brunette offered, not unsympathetically.

"Indeed," the man chuckled bitterly. "Fortunately, wherever I go, there are always metas who need my help and, in turn, are willing to help me."

Helena considered that information for a moment.

"So, how does it work? Uh, metas helping you, you helping us?"

"Skin to skin contact is all I need to absorb a tiny amount of healthy meta DNA, enough to keep myself going for a few days or a week."

Skin to skin...?

"Uhm, like a handshake?" she inquired, really noticing the man's gloves for the first time.

Renfield smiled gently.

"That might be enough for a day or two, especially if I could master a politician's handshake. Obviously, most people simply aren't too enthusiastic about any sort of contact with me."

The small man lowered his gaze to look directly at the young woman.

"But, I don't do things that way, Helena. It's something of a personal code of mine always to ask. I'm not some sort of -- vampire or something."

The brunette hoped that the dark night hid her blush.

"Okay. What about the other part then?"

The older man's reply was brief.


Dark brows raised.

"Excuse me?"

Renfield smiled bitterly as he elaborated, "An injection of a small quantity of my blood permanently neutralizes non-human DNA."

The guy was an anti-meta meta?

<"An anti-meta meta. Fascinating.">

Distractedly, the brunette realized that, although she and Barbara had just gotten together officially, maybe they'd already been together too long. Thinking alike like some old married couple was just a little disturbing.

A soft question pulled the dark woman from thoughts about the advisability of separate vacations and such, assuming that she could ever get the older woman to take a vacation.

"My turn now, Helena. How did you know I'd be here?"

The young woman was a little proud of that bit of deductive work on her part.

"I got to thinking about last week when we, uh, met. The fact that you came here. I thought maybe you weren't just trolling for other people to help, that maybe you felt bad about Carly. When I learned you were still in town, it seemed like you might come back."

The small figure nodded thoughtfully, and Helena continued.

"So, what happened with Carly? And," she took a shot, "that other guy, Hillerman?"

Renfield stood, suddenly agitated, and the young woman tensed. She relaxed marginally when he began to pace restlessly.

"I truly don't know, Helena. In 99% of the treatments, it works wonderfully."

He stopped pacing, and the brunette shivered slightly when the man pinned her with a beseeching stare.

"You must believe me! There have literally only been a handful of times when there have been... side effects."

Blue eyes narrowed. The young vigilante thought that 'side effects' was putting it kind of mildly. Judging from the impatient snort over the comm set, Barbara probably thought so, too.

Still, the redhead had only been able to find a few other deaths matching the two recent incidents in New Gotham. Maybe the guy was on the up-and-up. And Renfield sure seemed genuinely baffled and upset about the -- side effects.

Helena exhaled and smoothly rose to her feet. Noticing the small man's almost panicked step backward, she raised her hands in a universal 'no harm intended' gesture.

"Okay. So, that's your thing then? Traveling around, trying to stay one step ahead of the grim reaper and, uh, helping out metas who don't want to be different any longer?"

Renfield shrugged minutely, accepting the young woman's assessment.

When the breeze picked up a bit, carrying the man's scent of decay across the rooftop, Helena thought for a moment, then stepped forward. She ignored the brief flash of hurt that flared in her when the older man took a fearful step back and extended her hand.

"You need a fix, man?"

"Are you sure?"

<"Are you sure about this, Huntress?">

The dark woman answered the simultaneous questions simply.


A few minutes later, she watched in amazement as Renfield pulled his glove back on, even as his physical appearance visibly improved. Sniffing cautiously, she realized that the scent of decay had almost faded entirely as well.

Fuckin' bizarre.

Straightening, the dark man twitched his cape and pulled something from his pocket. Helena watched silently as Renfield uncapped the syringe and rolled up his sleeve.

Placing the needle by a prominent vein, he asked softly, "And, now, what about you, Helena? Can I help you?"

For a moment, the young woman stood silently, considering. When she heard the slightly strained inhalation over her receiver, she made her decision.

"Yeah, Lew. I think you can."

Chapter 32

Heaven help her, Barbara thought distractedly, if Helena didn't get to the clock tower soon -- or at least check in -- she simply might lose her mind.

Her partner had switched off her comm link twelve minutes earlier, casually mentioning that she was going to "boogie" as she hummed a few bars from "Werewolves of London". The brunette's parting words -- "Gotta make a stop; I'll be there soon" -- after she'd accepted Lewis Renfield's offer of help and he'd disappeared into the night had been neither informative nor reassuring.

The older woman had literally bitten her tongue resisting her desire to demand that Helena tell her what had transpired. The rooftop conversation that she'd been privy to left little doubt about the nature of the help that had been tendered; she could only hope that her partner had acted wisely in her acceptance.

Now, without the comm link, Barbara was having some distinct concentration difficulties as she attempted to follow Dinah's enthusiastic description of the massive cast blow-out party that had followed this evening's final performance of 'Ten Little Indians'. Paging through the results from her analysis of the two New Gotham victims of Renfield's "treatments" -- while attempting to appear casual in her periodic checks of Helena's GPS signal -- she suspected that she simply was not properly appreciating the teen's veiled references to a punch-bowl spiking incident.

The sudden motion of the elevator caused green eyes to fly to the GPS screen. According to the signal, her wayward partner was... right on top of her. Or, more accurately, on her way up to her.

Barbara pushed away from the desk and turned to face the elevator as it came to a stop. A beat later, the brunette strolled out and flashed a self-satisfied smile.

"Hey, Red! Hi, Kid! What's with the welcoming party?"

The redhead pushed down her exasperation, her desire to lash out verbally... or to scold... or to nag... or to wrap the other woman in a hug and never let go.

Helena was certainly an adult -- definitely a free spirit -- someone entitled to make her own decisions, entitled not to be tracked and second-guessed every moment. And, the older woman acknowledged, 'shrewish' was certainly not a description that she particularly cared to embrace for herself.

Time to focus on the important things. It looked like no harm had been done.

Watching the brunette settle two packages -- a plastic shopping bag and a container of Chinese take-out -- on the coffee table before removing her duster, Barbara kept her voice gentle.

"Helena. How are you?"

She fought her feelings of disappointment as the dark woman took a step toward the Delphi platform before seeming to think better of it. Instead of basking in the contact she craved, Barbara could only watch -- with not insignificant amusement -- as her younger lover flashed a dark scowl at Dinah and muttered, "Peachy keen, Red. Just peachy."

Noticing the blonde's baffled blink at the look which had just been directed at her, the older woman wasn't quite sure what to say. Quite frankly, at the moment, her own feelings towards the teenager were a bit less welcoming than usual.

Perhaps, she mused, she could concoct some errand for her young ward...

She was distracted from her plotting when Helena turned back to the coffee table and reached for her packages. The redhead thought that the younger woman froze for a split second before smoothly detouring towards the kitchen.

A more cheerful response came over the sound of water jetting in the sink. Quite cognizant of just what the other woman had been in contact with so recently, the redhead wasn't particularly surprised by the Lady Macbeth-like vigor of Helena's hand-washing.

"Hey, Babs, I brought us both a little something."

The redhead nodded in response to Dinah's questioning look.

The teen reached the coffee table just as Helena returned from the kitchen, peeling a ribbon off a piece of string cheese as she leaned against the door jamb. It was impossible to miss the decidedly devilish glint that appeared in those arresting blue eyes when the teenager gestured to the container of Chinese food.

"Hey, if you're hungry, Helena, I could heat this up for you?"

Not quite sure why, the redhead opened her mouth to intercede but was cut off handily by her partner's quick response.

"Don't know if that'd be good. I was hauling it around for a while. Why don't you check on it?"

Recognizing that Helena sounded too nonchalant -- too innocent -- to be innocent, the older woman pursed her lips and waited for the fallout. She was determined to let this little exchange -- whatever it was -- run its course. She simply was not going to play referee for hormonal students all day at school and then run interference at home as well.

An indignant shriek was a good indication that the container did not contain the usual offering.

"What is thi... Oh, yuck! That's just gross, Helena!"

Strolling into the room, the brunette neatly plucked the open box from the teen and headed towards the Delphi platform.

"Well, yeah, Kid. But, this vigilante stuff can't all be about kicking ass and getting accolades, you know."

"Dinah," Barbara finally spoke, "perhaps you should sit down for a minute."

The girl was looking a bit pale.

She accepted the container and peeked inside to find a capped syringe containing several cc's of blood and a baggie holding what appeared to be skin samples. She murmured her thanks with a soft smile.

She planned to thank the younger woman more thoroughly later.

Relieved beyond measure, she still had to ask.

"Renfield's, Hel?"

The younger woman's reply was eloquence itself.

"Sure is. Figured you might be able to do your big brain thing with it."

The older woman's nod of understanding was interrupted by her partner's sudden exclamation.

"What the hell...?!"

Gamine features transformed from gentle to aggrieved in the blink of an eye, just before Helena leapt from the platform and vaulted over the couch to pounce on Dinah. Still seated on the sofa, empty shopping bag on the coffee table, the blonde was holding a can of aerosol whipped topping in one hand and a bottle of chocolate syrup in the other.

Apparently, Barbara noted, her ward hadn't quite learned her lesson about opening the packages that the brunette brought into the clock tower. It seemed that Helena was fully prepared to further educate the teen, possibly at length.

Fighting a blush as the implications behind her lover's impromptu shopping expedition clicked into place, the redhead determined to let the two younger women sort things out themselves. She turned towards the ersatz specimen container, then stopped short.

The snarled words from the other side of the couch didn't sound terribly playful.

"Who the fuck told you to go digging around in there, Kid? Do I need to rip your ears off and put them in your pockets so you can hear me kicking your ass?"

Noticing an arm raised as if preparing for a blow, the redhead started towards the couch. Dinah's shriek of laughter arrested her movement.

"I'm sorry, Hel -- "

A rather indelicately snorted giggle followed the apology.

"Please -- quit it! Stop tickling me. I said I'm sorry!"

Smiling, Barbara watched the brunette leap gracefully from the couch, a smirk painting her features.

"Yeah, well, let that be a lesson, Kid."

"Uh, okay? I shouldn't have just started digging around. I mean, look what I found in that box, right? But, what are these for, anyway? They can't have anything to do with the, uh, other stuff. Can they?"

Accompanying her words with pronounced eye-rolling, the brunette snarked, "Maybe I just wanted a freakin' sundae, Dinah, and Baskin Robbins closed while I was out pursuing justice. Okay?"

The tone gentled.

"C'mon, I'm gonna put these up while you tell me all about the party tonight."

The older woman cheerfully puzzled over the younger women's interaction as she began to process the blood sample. In the background, she was distantly aware of laughter from the kitchen.

Well, the younger women seemed to have gotten past the little incident easily enough. Heaven knew, the relationship between the two was -- the redhead searched for an adequate description -- complicated.

Then again, what wasn't complicated about the brunette? Not thirty minutes ago, Barbara had been fretting over her partner's well-being and her continued existence as a meta -- or just her continued existence. Now.. now, she was recovering her wits after a tickle fight.

She smiled fondly.

Helena was brash and profane, fearless and protective, full of attitude and swagger. At the same time, the young woman could be endearingly shy and surprisingly romantic, breath-takingly tender, and simply too sweet for words.

Sweet, indeed, Barbara smirked as the contents of the shopping bag jumped to mind. With the brunette's legendary appetite for sweets, it could be a long night.

Half an hour later, the redhead absently plucked a test tube from the centrifuge as she attempted to refocus thoughts which had progressed from visions of whipped cream and chocolate to images of honey and cream. She gave a dismayed shake of her head.

Honestly, for an English teacher, she felt that she should be able to manage symbolism that was at least slightly more subtle.

The clock tower was quiet, most of the lights dimmed. Dinah had retired to her room a short while ago, and Helena was occupied with one of her usual lengthy showers. Turning to pick up the skin samples, Barbara gave her chair an extra hop in accompaniment to the Joan Armatrading melody issuing softly from the bathroom.

I'm right on target, my aim is straight
So you're in love, I say what of it?
Things can change, there's always changes
I wanna try some rearranging, I say
Drop the pilot, try my balloon
Drop the monkey, smell my perfume
Drop the mahout, I'm the easy rider
Don't use your army to fight a losing battle
Animal, mineral, physical, spiritual
I'm the one you need, I'm the one you need

A few minutes later, the older woman labeled the final sample and tucked it into the dorm fridge near the lab equipment just as the brunette appeared, toweling her hair, clad only in boxers and a tee shirt. The young woman draped the towel around her neck and finger-combed her hair, pausing by the couch to fix the redhead with an intent stare.

Barbara shivered, wondering if this were how prey might feel.

Observing the lithe figure's approach -- movements slow and deliberate, athletically trim hips swaying a bit more than was usual for the woman -- the older woman promptly forgot the question in the face of her overwhelming desire for the younger woman simply to get to her.

Helena always had known how to make an entrance.

When the brunette finally came to a stop by the side of her chair, Barbara immediately reached up to grab the ends of the towel hanging around a slender neck. She tugged gently, pulling the other woman towards her until the brunette stopped her downward motion, holding herself firmly in place, her face perhaps twelve inches above crimson hair. Aware of the playful glint in blue eyes, the redhead smiled and tugged a bit more firmly.

Helena was naturally strong, but Barbara was fully prepared to use all of her not-inconsiderable upper body strength in the pursuit of her objective. She was spared that particular exercise when the brunette broke into a crooked grin and allowed herself to be pulled the remainder of the distance separating the two women's faces.

Barbara's lips tingled, almost seemed to burn, as that sensual mouth drew closer.

Had it only been last night -- early this last morning, actually -- that she'd felt those lips on hers? It felt like an eternity.

Making love with Helena Kyle, she'd joyfully discovered, was a completely addictive experience. Despite spending the entire night exploring almost infinite physical possibilities with the finally uninhibited and extremely energetic young woman, despite the presence of still pleasantly tender bite marks covering her throat and chest, despite an almost complete lack of sleep in the last day and a half, Barbara couldn't wait for more.

However, it would be at least a few moments more, the redhead realized a split second later as Helena averted her mouth and turned her head to brush her cheek sleekly against hers.

Even that soft contact was exquisite.

Barbara gripped the ends of the towel more tightly as warm breath whispered across her ear.

"Got it all figured out yet, Red?"

Mmmm, she was well on her way. If she could just lure the other woman's mouth from its teasing nibbling on her earlobe, coax it back to her lips...

"The samples? Anti-meta meta?"

The words were soft, purring, but the questions insistent.

The older woman blinked as she twisted enough to catch blue eyes with green.

"You," she tugged the brunette down to kneel in the chair, straddling her hips, "should be in the CIA. Their interrogation techniques have nothing on you."

A wave of tenderness washed through the redhead at the shy dip of a dark head and the half-grin which followed her words.

"But," she exhaled, "no, I haven't, Hel. I've just started analyzing the samples you got from Dr. Renfield."

Barbara paused, considering.

"Do you trust him, Helena? Do you believe what he said?"

Helena's response was instant.

"Yeah, I do, Babs. He's not like those BAH assholes. He's just a meta, trying to keep things together for himself and maybe help a few other folks in the process."

Not altogether unlike a certain beautiful woman currently sitting in her lap, the older woman noted wryly.

Steeling her courage, the redhead mentioned the elephant in the room.

"Helena, when he offered you his blood, were you -- did you consider taking it? Were you tempted?"

The brunette's features hardened fractionally, blue eyes shuttering for a moment. The tension in the lithe frame was hard to miss.

Barbara released the towel and ran her hands soothingly over the slender shoulders, up and down the strong arms.

She waited.

"I -- I don't know, Barbara. Maybe a little, but not really -- you know?"

Keeping her expression open and welcoming, the older woman smiled softly and nodded once. How could her partner not have been tempted, at least a bit?

When she continued, the brunette's voice was just a bit husky.

"It's who I am, and it's pretty cool, I guess. And,"

A cautious -- and just slightly wicked, Barbara thought -- smile flickered across the dark woman's features as she reached up. The older woman felt slender fingers gently pulling down the neck of her mock-turtleneck, tracing the purpling bite mark over her pulse point.

"-- you seem pretty okay with it."

The older woman offered what she suspected to be a wide -- and very probably -- dirty smile.

"Indeed, Hel," she purred, then became serious when the brunette spoke again.

"But, I also wonder if I'm always gonna be like that -- uh, this. I mean, what if you could use Lew's blood to make some kind of temporary blocker or something which could let metas -- me -- find out what it would be like to be hu-- normal?"

Barbara considered that admission, the question. She also considered her younger partner's current unease.

"Hmmm, Sweetie. I happen to like -- really like -- super-normal."

She thought she detected a twinkle in blue eyes. Acutely aware that the brunette had yet to lower her hand, that she was -- in fact -- ever-so-lightly tracing the increasingly sensitive mark, Barbara swallowed and struggled to stay focused.

"I will see what I can find out about the anti-meta properties in Renfield's blood. At the very least, perhaps we can determine why it's fatal for some of his 'patients' and can warn him."

With that out of the way, the redhead turned her attention to matters that were rapidly becoming more pressing.

She caught blue eyes with green and smiled an invitation.

"But, for right now, Sweetie, I'm feeling like a snack. How about you? Something sweet, perhaps...?"

Long, wonderful hours later, the redhead pushed herself up on her forearms, inhaling sharply as the movement drew her breasts across the mattress and induced another eruption of tingling throughout her body.

Great grandmother's garters.

Not again.

Her body simply couldn't take it.

Ignoring the hue and cry from overcharged nerves and happy hormones, she turned onto her back, aware of the unobtrusive assistance provided by the long tan legs still tangled with hers. For a moment, she simply stared -- glassily, she suspected -- at the ceiling, not a single thought of programming algorithms or dead bodies or lesson plans running through her head.

She felt like a wet noodle. A deliciously satiated wet noodle. A deliciously satiated, terribly sticky wet noodle.

Barbara's earlier teasing words -- 'I feel like a snack' -- had certainly proven prophetic as she, in fact, had become a snack for the younger woman during the last few hours.

'Snack', hell, she snorted inaudibly, attempting not to grin dopily at the ceiling.

She'd been a veritable five-course dinner for her lover. More accurately, she smirked, six -- if she counted the back-to-back episode.

Now, the redhead was feeling decidedly peckish herself.

Managing to turn her head, Barbara drank in the sight of Helena, curled on her side next to her. The brunette had both hands clasped prayer-style between the pillow and one cheek, twinkling blue eyes fixed on the redhead. Her mouth was still ringed with chocolate, and there was a dollop of whipped cream above one dark eyebrow. The woman looked absolutely adorable.

And edible.

"C'mere," the older woman husked, heat suffusing her as the brunette enthusiastically positioned herself on top of her.

Barbara wrapped her fingers in dark silk and drew the younger woman down for a long, leisurely kiss. Tasting her own essence -- mixed with chocolate -- on the other woman, the redhead blinked back tears. In the last two nights, she'd experienced that essence -- copiously -- more than she had in the preceding seven years combined.

Lord, she loved this woman.

Dropping one hand to a firm breast, the older woman altered the tempo of her kiss, thrusting her tongue in counterpoint to her gently kneading hand, deliberately telegraphing her intentions. She nipped, then sucked gently, at Helena's lower lip, heard the quick growl, felt the sharp thrust of slim hips against her abdomen.

Oh, yes.

Since their physical relationship had begun to blossom just over a week ago, the younger woman's responsiveness -- her complete, seemingly-immediate readiness -- had proven powerfully alluring to the redhead. Tonight was no exception.

To hell with seduction. She'd get to "long and slow" next. For now, at this moment, it was her turn.

Barbara untangled her other hand from the brunette's hair and slid it between their bodies. She brushed wiry curls, briefly teased slick, silken folds. Helena's thrusting froze, and the redhead heard a softly panted mewling. Possessed by need, she hoarsely gasped her plea.

"Yes, Sweetie. God, let me..."

Further words died in her throat as the older woman felt Helena shift, a slim hand moving between them to grasp her wrist gently, but unyieldingly.

"No. Not... not now."

The voice was rough, slightly pleading.

Barbara swallowed a gasp of frustration. She blinked, twice, slowly.

Aside from the lust-filled haze still fogging her brain, she was completely at a loss.

Releasing a long, slightly unsteady, breath, the redhead kissed Helena's jaw softly. She drew both of her hands from between them, bringing them to rest on the brunette's back, rubbing lightly.


The younger woman buried her face against Barbara's shoulder and drew in a long breath.

"I kind of wanted to talk with you, ask you - uh - something."

The older woman was beginning to feel a bit alarmed; nevertheless, she hummed encouragingly.

"Nothing... uh, no big deal or anything."

Barbara placed a hand against the sharp jaw line and gently drew Helena's head up. The blue eyes were so earnest, so shy.

"Remember, Hel? Anything."

She punctuated the reassurance with a soft kiss.

It seemed to help.

The other woman exhaled noisily before flashing a cocky grin.

"Well, I know we've -- uhm, I've -- kind of just, uh, eaten..."

The redhead smiled as dark brows waggled playfully.

"...but, would you be willing... Did you mean it... That is, uh, would you like to --"

A crimson brow crept up slightly as the brunette trailed off, blushing furiously.

My goodness, what could be making the younger woman so nervous?

Considering a few of Helena's more inspired activities during the last few hours, Barbara began to wonder if there might be a serious bit of kink involved in the upcoming request.

The redhead dissected that thought for a split second, almost moaning at some of the possibilities which came to mind. She had a suspicion that anything -- absolutely anything -- that her younger lover might come up with would be acceptable to her.

She smiled encouragingly, and Helena finally spit out the rest of it.

"...to go out? You know, a candlelight dinner -- kind of like my birthday? Some swanky joint with real napkins and everything. Maybe even a play or a movie afterward so I can feel you up in the dark?"

Slightly dumbstruck, the redhead slowly blinked once, feeling the younger woman shift to settle next to her, curled tightly against her side. The brunette apparently felt that her partner's silence required further clarification of her invitation.

"Uh, with me."

Barbara blinked again as a smile took control of her face.

A date.

When they'd discussed it the week before, Barbara hadn't been entirely certain whether the term was simply substituting for other meanings.

Apparently not.

Helena Kyle wanted to go on a real date with her. How incredibly sweet was that?

"Absolutely, Helena. I'd love to show you off. Providing," the older woman lightened her tone, "that there are absolutely no dead bodies or lab specimens involved in the evening's activities."

The young woman's laugh was cut short as Barbara shifted abruptly and captured her lips for a heated kiss. When she came up for air, the redhead reiterated her acceptance.

"So, yes, Sweetheart. I'd be delighted to go out to dinner with you. Soon."

She deliberately lowered her tone as she trailed a hand down the other woman's body.

"However, I am hungry now. Care to share a snack in bed with me?"

The End

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