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.
SERIES: Some readers were kind enough to point out that there are more than the traditional four elements which were covered in the original Elemental series (Landslide, Watershed and Windshear). This story is the fourth extension of the Elemental series following Veneer, Stainless, Obsidian and Nuclear.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Dark Matter


Chapter 21

The mouth on Barbara's breast, the lips working so hungrily at her nipple, the wide blue eyes so filled with need: it was, once again, almost more than she could comprehend. Some days, the fact that she should be so blessed was almost more than she could reconcile; however, on this summer evening, she refused to question any of it.

Save for a few sparse play dates with schoolmates when she'd been young, Barbara had never considered, never imagined, a future for herself with motherhood in it. Three decades later, with her daughter in her arms, blue eyes beginning to blink in sated sleepiness, she couldn't imagine her life any other way.

"I'm a very lucky woman, Katie," she whispered through a gentle smile.

The gurgle that her red-haired daughter gave as she finally released her nipple seemed like acknowledgment enough.

Mindful of the fact that she was almost dressed for the evening and even more conscious of the time, Barbara smoothed a terry towel over her lap and positioned Katharine face down across her legs. She didn't try to hold back her chuckle when an ability she'd not considered months before kicked in, allowing her to rub her daughter's back with one hand while she deftly re-buttoned her blouse with the other.

Clearly, the act of hauling another human being inside one's body for nine months simply... unleashed certain maternal powers.

A surprisingly noisy burp emanating from her lap freed the redhead's hand, and she retrieved a tiny golden broach -- the exquisitely crafted bell that Helena had presented her with almost eighteen months before -- from her dressing table.

"Can't forget to accessorize, Ka--"

A soft ding from the living area signaled that the elevator was on the way up from the parking garage. Somehow, the awareness that the elevator was arriving filled Barbara with a terror the likes of which she hadn't experienced since Quinn had invaded the Tower years before, and she promptly impaled her index finger on the sharp end of the pin that she was attempting to affix above her left breast.


Conscious of little kettles and big ears, she caught herself.

"--iny little green apples!"

She snapped the broach closed and popped her finger into her mouth just as another voice rang out from the spare bedroom.

"Hey, Barbara, I'm still getting dressed. Can you--"

"That's fine, Hel." Barbara felt a smile touch her lips at her lover's insistence that they dress separately for their date. "I've got it."

Moving Katharine into a sitting position and snugging her between her body and the low arm of her manual chair, the redhead turned into the hallway, making a mental note to grab a band-aid for her finger.

Unlike the motorized chair, using the manual increased the possibility of picking up germs as she moved. Nevertheless, using the sport chair was a concession to a request from Helena for the evening, and Barbara was not going to second-guess herself.

Even if it did make the act of getting to the living room with a wriggling baby a bit more challenging.

"Hello, Dinah," she smiled and turned her gaze to the second person stepping off the elevator. "Gabby."

Dinah's answering grin was reasonably bright; Gabby's greeting, a bit more hesitant.

"Thank you again for volunteering to help this evening," Barbara continued blandly, quite aware that the term "volunteering" wasn't quite accurate, "and for coming over here."

True, dropping Katie at the girls' apartment wouldn't have taken any significant time from her plans; however, Barbara needed to open the door to the Tower somehow. The redhead was acutely conscious of the way that Gabby was taking in the Delphi platform and its hardware, and she forced herself not to fidget or rush things.

She had, after all, made the decision not to engage the false bookcases that they used to cover the back part of the room. She was relatively confident that the bookcases would, in fact, be getting a great deal less use in the future.

The near-disclosure, or at the very least the alarming frankness, that she'd engaged in a few weeks ago with her father, in combination with Dinah guardedness in the last weeks, was opening her eyes a bit. Granted, after the many extraordinary events of the last year and a half that Jim Gordon had been witness to, there wasn't much left in the way of plausible deniability. In the same vein, Barbara had decided that she simply couldn't expect Dinah to forge a relationship -- or much of a life -- without allowing the young woman a measure of honesty.

Clearly, something was shifting, and quite despite any conscious decision on her part, it seemed that the masks might be coming down.

"It's really no problem, Barbara."

Dinah's tone was cheerful, and Barbara was happy to note how close the two younger women were standing.

"We thought we could just order a pizza and veg out on the couch with Katie and watch the big sc--"

Before Dinah could finish articulating their plans and before Barbara had the opportunity to disabuse the girls of their idea, Helena breezed in to the living room and conversation ceased.

Frankly, Barbara had to wonder if her partner's arrival from the spare bedroom had also somehow contributed to depleting the majority of the oxygen from the room.

There was simply no other way to explain the difficulty she was having breathing.

Helena's skirt wasn't the micro-mini that the redhead had been anticipating; however, the mid-thigh length skirt did sport a slit that ran up the right side of Helena's thigh, all the way to her hip, providing enticingly ambiguous glimpses of the skin beneath. The skirt was a surprisingly effective shade of purple, and in combination with a baby-blue lace top, Barbara simply couldn't bring herself to fault her partner for by-passing the letter of her earlier telephone request.

Clearly, the brunette had grasped the spirit of things.


Helena finally got a good look at her partner, causing her to damned near stumble all over herself in the new come-fuck-me boots she'd finally chosen after escaping Horoscope Woman at the Shoe Palace that afternoon.

It wasn't anything she hadn't seen before: Barbara's favorite black linen slacks, a white Jefferson collar shirt, a jade green brocade vest. Still, there was no way to deny that, in this case, the woman made the outfit. Especially --

Something fluttered in Helena's belly when she saw the hint of gold peeking at the edge of the vest. Swallowing and checking her footing, she took two steps closer and reached out, gently touching the tiny bell with her index finger.

Oh, man.

Without looking up from the delicate ornament, she peered through her bangs. The expression she made out in emerald eyes was enough to make her weak in the knees. When she felt her hand captured in Barbara's, when Red moved their hands up and she felt soft lips on her fingers, she almost collapsed.

A completely obtrusive sort of unobtrusive cough snapped her back to reality, and Helena jerked her head to the side, not sure whether she was going to blush or snap Dinah's head off.

She didn't do either.

The first and second fingers of Barbara's free hand came to the edge of her jaw, exerting the barest pressure on her chin. There was no way to deny the nonverbal instruction.


With Helena again focusing on her, Barbara saw understanding begin to dawn. She released the younger woman's hand, allowing her to stand, and pushed aside her own discomfort. It was difficult to overcome an innate self-consciousness over the realization that they were far from alone; however, Barbara forced herself -- and then, allowed herself -- to take the time to admire her lover.

Helena was, truly, worthy of admiration.

"Do you two mind," she finally managed, turning toward their guests and pressing a quick kiss to Katie's head, "keeping Katharine with you at your apartment all night?"

Twin blinks from pale blue and hazel green eyes were the only response from that front. Barbara was reasonably certain that she'd detected a faint growl to her side.

"Helena and I have plans," she added sweetly when she saw Dinah's mouth beginning to register a protest or a question of some sort.

True, Barbara had to wonder if the blonde were rethinking the wisdom of agreeing to a request for two favors without first determining the scope of the requests. The shopping with Helena, Barbara knew, had been more pleasure than business; and she was comfortably certain that sitting with Katie for a few hours was something that Dinah enjoyed. This addendum, offering Helena and her their first night alone since the beginning of February, might have put a new light on matters.

"The Hummer's packed, and there's breast milk in the refrigerator."

True to form, Helena picked up the ball with remarkable alacrity and ran with it, tossing the keys to the SUV to Gabby while hustling Dinah into the kitchen to pack up the bottles. In considerably less time than she'd anticipated, Barbara found herself alone in the Tower with her partner.

Teamwork at its best.

Even if Helena did feel a little funny about just sort of... pushing their daughter off on Dinah and Gabs for the night. Still, seeing the look on Red's face, she figured she wasn't feeling the half of it.

"We don't have to--"

The determined shake of red hair cut her short.

"I'm fine, Helena."

The brunette decided to give her lover a few seconds to finish convincing herself, then went with a little distraction.

She hoped.

"Uh, thanks for the -- "

She raised one hand, gesturing to collar that banded her neck.

"--for sending this to the bar."

Green eyes sparked, and Helena caught her breath at the expression in her partner's eyes.


A slender index finger beckoned her over, and Helena crouched next to the arm of Barbara's chair.

"About that -- "

Keeping her eyes focused carefully on her hands, Barbara swept dark hair back from her partner's neck and began to unbuckle the soft white leather.

"I'm not satisfied."

Despite her attempts not to become distracted, the redhead couldn't help but see a flicker of something that could have been sadness or disappointment in gamine features. She felt something twist within her chest at how quickly her lover masked the expression.

"I thought you might want--"

Barbara silenced the quiet words by placing one finger on full lips.

"Oh, I do."

Then, she carefully refastened the collar, snugging it one notch tighter against the slender column of Helena's soft throat. Repositioning the leather brought one tiny silver clasp into alignment with another small fitting, and Barbara allowed a smile as she dug into the side pocket of her chair to pull out the perfect accent.

It was, Helena realized with a blink, a small silver padlock. Helena could have picked it with a paperclip or, fuck, for that matter she could have snapped it with two fingers; but even if it had been solid steel, there was no way she wasn't going to nod her agreement when Red raised an eyebrow in question.

The snick of the tiny lock closing was almost obscured by the volume of the purring that erupted from Helena's chest. Fascinated, Barbara watched her lover's eyes hood and begin to wax violet.

"Let's skip dinner, Red, and just have dessert."

Tugging Helena to her feet, the redhead poked her tongue in her cheek and narrowed her eyes in thought.

"I might be dieting, Hel."

The manner in which her companion was licking her lips could only be described as lascivious, and Barbara was hard-pressed to control herself.

"You might be, but I'm not."

Helena saw the look on her lover's face and knew it was close. She knew she was close. Barbara's laughter, deep and throaty, almost took her over.

"Down, girl."

Without hesitation, she started to drop to her knees. Something squeezed at her chest when a raised hand arrested her progress. The emotion was pushed away and immediately forgotten when Helena made out her lover's next words.

"Save that for... later."


Chapter 22

The restaurant that Barbara had chosen was relatively informal, just nice enough to have linen napkins at each place setting and no televisions hanging from the ceiling. The low murmur of voices encouraged conversation while the judicious placement of screens and plants offered a measure of privacy at each table.

Best of all, Barbara decided with an approving nod, there were no wait-staff in red and white striped shirts pretending to be happy about singing happy birthday to embarrassed strangers.

"This is nice, Barbara."

The redhead situated her napkin on her lap, sparing her companion a long look as the younger woman settled into the chair to her left and crossed her right leg over her left knee. It was impossible to miss the fact that the position revealed a lovely length of creamy skin along the slit in the side of alluring purple skirt.

The glint of gold in Helena's eyes suggested that she hadn't missed where Barbara's gaze had lingered.

Briefly, Barbara considered moving to the opposite side of the table; however, the view that she could enjoy sitting side by side, not to mention the potential for intimate conversation, was simply too much to forego.

"I believe it opened only last month."

With a smile, Barbara pointedly turned her attention to the wine list.

Since she wouldn't be breastfeeding for at least sixteen hours, there was no reason not to indulge a bit.

She looked over the top of list in time to see dark brows furrow minutely.

"I guess I missed seeing an announcement or something."


The return of their server cut Barbara short. However, once she'd ordered a bottle of wine, she returned to their nascent conversation.

"I believe we've all been a bit distracted of late, Sweetie."

Honestly, it seemed that the only relatively peaceful period that any of them had enjoyed in the last few years was the six precious weeks of maternity leave that Barbara had taken early in the year. Perhaps a bit of distraction and miscommunication wasn't so surprising after all.

"So, all that time that we thought D was jealous of one of us -- "

Barbara waited, more or less patiently, while Helena fidgeted with her salad fork and, presumably, hunted for words.

"--she was jealous of us?"

"Of what we have?" Barbara clarified.

The younger woman's agreement was more a long exhalation than a word, but the intent was clear.

"Exactly, Hel."

It sometimes seemed as if Helena's expressive features had always been open to Barbara. This evening was no exception, with the sadness clear in deep blue eyes.

"How can she doubt herself like that? Think that Gabby wouldn't want her for herself or that she doesn't deserve everything?"

Utterly at a loss, the redhead found herself assaulted by a litany of definitions for the word "irony." Ultimately, she arched one brow and searched her partner's eyes.

"How indeed, Hel?"

For a long few moments, only the voices of other diners and the sounds of silverware against plates could be heard. By the time their server had returned to pour their wine and they agreed on the Shabu-shabu, Barbara suspected that the topic might have slipped by.

She'd barely raised her wine glass to her lips when she saw the look in Helena's eyes and realized that her assumption had been quite a bit off-target.

"Well, it probably didn't help that Gabby was having -- or thinking about, uh -- "

The light in the dining area was low and so the redhead couldn't be certain; however, she thought she detected a hint of color in Helena's tan features.

"-- wanderlust while I was a guy."

Since she wasn't quite reconciled to how she felt about that, Barbara chose to take a sip of her wine. Helena's soft laughter foreshortened her enjoyment of the dry white.


Barbara placed her glass back on the table, taking care to fit the round base into the circular indentation that it had made in the tablecloth.

"Just thinking that -- "

The napkin that Helena raised to her lips did nothing to mask the snicker -- more accurately, the snort -- that emanated from her.

"-- well, the way you just sort of peed all over me in front of 'em earlier should have fixed that."

Feeling a bit of heat touch her cheeks at the thought that she'd been... marking her territory, Barbara pursed her lips and forced herself to face her companion.

"Was it too much, Hel?"

Helena's response, bless her, was immediate.

"Not for me, Red."

Warmed -- not to mention relieved -- by the words, Barbara rimmed the lip of her glass with her index finger, surprising herself with the realization that there was no lingering tenderness from where she'd impaled herself earlier with the pin.

Granted, she'd had bigger things to worry about than band-aids and a bit of blood; however, she had given it quite a jab.

The sight of Helena straightening in her chair as their hot pot was delivered neatly distracted the redhead from lingering images of having to peel Katharine's chubby little fingers off her hand an hour before and from the low-grade unease that she was fighting about her daughter's first sleep-over.

"Did you know that Gabby's working on getting a pilot's license?"

Not waiting for an answer, the brunette speared a wafer-thin shaving of Kobe beef and dunked it into the simmering broth. In the instant that it took for the meat to cook, she saw an eloquently arched crimson brow.

"Is that so?"

Busying herself immersing a few cubes of pork to cook, Helena didn't look over.

"Yeah. D told me today at the mall."

She'd been surprised to learn that Dinah's girlfriend had started lessons in high school, and she still didn't know if it would really allow Gabby to fly down from State more often; still, it had to be a good thing that the two kids were talking about it.

"Maybe they can see each other more during school --"

Helena popped her beef into her mouth, almost moaning as it practically melted on her tongue.

"-- if we didn't scare her off tonight."

Frankly, Barbara was indifferent to that possibility.

Comfort about future get-togethers with the young woman be damned: it simply was time to make a few things explicit. If not to Gabby, then at the very least to Dinah.

"I thought that things went rather well, Helena," she allowed, submerging a slice of mushroom in the broth.

Granted, when she'd seen the curly-haired girl taking in the Delphi, it had been distinctly... uncomfortable. Nevertheless, Barbara thought she'd managed reasonably well in suggesting that Gabby might want to work on digital image manipulation on the machine.

Helena, naturally, had improved on the suggestion.

"Yeah, this is the machine for it, and Dinah can sure show you a thing or two."

There had been no way to miss how Dinah had beamed under the praise, making it much easier for Barbara to decide that the blonde could explain as much or as little as she chose to Gabby about high-performance computing in their home.

Among other things.

"Thanks for setting us up for shopping this afternoon, Barbara."

Somehow, several minutes had slipped by. Barbara looked over to find her partner looking through her bangs.

"It... it was good, Barbara. Really."

Unaccountably touched, Barbara considered a host of responses and, ultimately, determined that it was time to focus on what was at the top of her agenda for the evening. Allowing a smile to play at the corners of her mouth, she dropped several lengths of green onion into the simmering broth and raked her companion with a long look.

"Oh, I believe that it was definitely good for me as well."

She closed her teeth neatly on a bite of tofu, once again marveling at her lover's ability to assemble such a striking outfit in one afternoon. As was so often the case when they were out together, Barbara found herself feeling insufferably dowdy.

"You like the outfit, huh?"

Helena's smile was blinding.

"On you? Absolutely." For a beat, the redhead flirted with temptation. "Are you wearing anything under that?"

Whoo boy.

Helena swallowed another moan, this one not having anything to do with her dinner. Slowly, she raised the napkin from her lap and touched it to her lips before leaning close to her partner.

"You really want to know?"

Naturally, their waitress chose that moment to stop back by and try to temp them with dessert suggestions. Letting herself go with the flow, Helena put in an order and turned back to the final few slices of beef.

"Do you wa--oooly moley..."

She thought her voice had gone up probably an octave and a half on that last bit, but she couldn't help it: the sensation of lightly calloused fingertips working through the slit in her skirt and brushing up her thigh was too much.

"What the hell?"

Somehow she kept it down, hissing the question to Barbara while she wrestled the urge -- the frikkin' need -- to grab that questing hand and pull Barbara where she needed her.

"Empirical research, Hel."

Butter wouldn't have melted in her mouth, Helena thought.

Not that she minded. She only minded when those slim, cool fingers stopped moving... just... short... of getting the answer to the undergarment question. Red's eyes had gone kind of misty and were tracking off to the left, a sure sign that she was thinking.


Helena was pretty sure that thinking was over-rated.

"Is it terrible that all I can think about -- "

Barbara's voice was low and hoarse, but Helena had no trouble making out every word.

"-- is ripping that damned little outfit off of you?"

Something electric skittered across Helena's skin, raising the fine hair on her forearms and sending the blood rushing through her veins.


She was still looking for a way to get some moisture in her mouth and to come up with every synonym that she'd ever heard for the word when Barbara's hand slipped away and her lover straightened.


It was barely a whimper. Barbara suspected that her voice wasn't altogether unsympathetic when she spoke.

"Dessert is here."

For one of the first times in her life, the brunette couldn't remember why she thought she liked chocolate so damned much, especially when something a helluva lot sweeter was sitting not more than two feet away. Still, she had ordered it, and it wouldn't take more than a minute or two to eat.

Snagging the end of the slender, chocolate-enrobed delight, Helena took a bite. Instantly, she felt her eyes water.

"Holy hell," she croaked, dropping the chocolate-covered red pepper back onto the dessert plate.

"Just like the commercial, Hel?"

The question carried only a slight undercurrent of amusement, but Helena couldn't blame Barbara. It was seeing that damned "live in the moment" Mastercharge commercial over and over that had tipped the balance when she'd ordered dessert.

While her companion fanned at her face with her napkin, Barbara schooled her features and silently offered the remaining wine in her glass. She received a watery blink of thanks before Helena guzzled it.


Given the fact that Helena gingerly retrieved the pepper, Barbara could only assume that the wine had tamed the initial inferno. Shifting her chair a tiny bit, she placed her napkin on the table, watching carefully as the younger woman sniffed gingerly at the pepper and took a small nibble.

Apparently moderation was the key, and Barbara was prepared to suggest as much when she registered the expression on her lover's face: it was, well, positively indecent.

It was also directed fully at her.

Barbara felt her brows rise toward her hairline as a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.

"Yeeessss, Hel?"

It was the look that Helena privately thought of as Barbara's "indulgent look". Almost ready to squirm in her seat, the brunette scootched her chair a little closer to her partner and sucked a few cooling breaths through her teeth.

"I was just thinking about if you ate this -- "

She raised the remaining bit of pepper in her left hand. Before Red's eyebrows could finish wrinkling up in question, she leaned close and breathed the rest against the delicate shell of her ear.

"-- and then put your mouth on me."

Those sexy pink lips went round in a little "O" of surprise, and even with the noise of the other diners, Helena heard Barbara pull in a breath. A second later, when Barbara reached for her hand -- the one still holding the pepper -- and guided it over to her mouth, she couldn't hear anything but the pounding of her heart.

Cocking one eyebrow in a dare, Helena turned her hand to offer the delicacy to her partner. She couldn't help but answer Barbara's smile and readied herself for whatever Red's reaction to the heat might be.

Helena wasn't ready for her own reaction when Barbara by-passed the food and she felt soft lips brushing the inside of her wrist. Then, Barbara's tongue trailed over the heel of her hand, washing her palm, and Helena's insides turned into liquid heat. The sensation of sharp teeth delicately raking the tip of her second finger was too much.

"Jeezus, Barbara!"

Straight-laced, button down Barbara Gordon -- the woman who just didn't do PDAs -- was doing a pretty damned passable imitation of food foreplay in a very public restaurant.

"Yes, Hel?"

No longer hungry for chocolate, the brunette dropped the pepper onto the dessert plate and let Barbara see her eyes.

"I'm about to go Meg Ryan on you here."

It took the redhead a beat to place the reference. Allowing her laughter to bubble forth, she caught their server's eye.


"Please," they spoke in unison.

As a member of what could be loosely termed "the service industry", Helena had always made it a point to try to tip well. Still, she thought that the amount that Barbara left for their server was too much.

It had taken waaaay too long to get the bill paid and make it out to the van.

Still, they were, finally, in the van, in the distant recesses of a dark parking lot, and that was all that mattered. She didn't even let Barbara get her chair folded away behind the driver's seat before stretching across the console that separated the front seats.

Barbara's cheek was so soft against her mouth. She smelled lightly of the orange body wash that she liked so much and the richer, complex scent of blood and heat and... desire.

Helena turned into the hand that came to her face. She wanted only to taste, but she couldn't stop herself from biting gently.


The soft exhalation brought her back -- enough -- and Helena guided her lover's hand down to her breast. The sharp pressure of covetous fingers was Barbara's alone, forcing Helena to surge into her lover's hand.

"You'd let me do this right here, wouldn't you, Helena?"

The whispered question was throaty and rough. Helena didn't have to look to know what those emerald eyes held for her.

"God, yes."

Hell, she was pretty much counting on it.

"You can take me over the seat... or in the parking lot or..."

Those strong fingers working at her nipple were making it hard to think.

"-- just --"

Hard to want to think.

"Just... right here, Hel?"

Red's voice was thick. Smokey. Helena forced herself to look up and find the answering want in her lover's eyes.

"Anywhere, Barbara. Anywhere you want me."

Unable to doubt the younger woman's sincerity, Barbara wrestled with her own conflicting needs. Somehow, she sipped a steadying breath and straightened.

"Do you know what I think I'd like, Helena?"

Golden eyes, the pupils bare vertical slits, fixed her from beneath disheveled bangs.

"Wh-- what?"

Nodding to herself, Barbara drew her hand upward and dragged her thumb over her lover's full lower lip.

"I believe I'd like to go dancing."


Chapter 23

I don't know what color your eyes are, baby,
But your hair is long and brown.
Your legs are strong, and you're so, so long.
And you don't come from this town.

The multicolor strobe lights illuminating the dance floor cast Helena in a series of stop-motion images: In one moment, she was fixed in place, her arms to her sides, her features veiled by dark hair; in the next, the sharp angles of her face were caught in profile as she seemed to stretch for the rafters of the club; with another flash of the lights, the lithe figure was snapshot with her hands caressing the pale blue lace -- almost glowing silver in the lights -- that covered her torso.

And then...

And then, Barbara could only make out her partner's hands, pale fingers splayed in relief against the deep purple of her skirt, seeming to pull against the material covering her upper thighs.



My head is full of magic, baby,
And I can't share this with you.
The feel I'm on a cross again, lately,
But it's nothing to do with you

The music was so loud, the beat from the Love and Rockets classic so strong, that Helena could feel it pulsing against her skin, making her heart keep time.

She danced, sometimes with a partner, sometimes skimming the crowd.

The lights flashed, the glare casting everything in an afterglow of reds and golds.

She spun, her hair whipping her face, the heat building in her stomach and sweat beading between her shoulders.

Through everything, she felt it. She felt the green eyes at the edge of the dance floor, eyes that were focused only on her.

It made her hotter.

This drug makes me crazy,
Makes me see you more clearly.
Oh, baby, now I can see you.
Wish I could stop,
Switch off the clock,
Make it all happen for you.

Barbara was determined to remember that actions always spoke louder than words for her hot-headed partner.

"I might be going, but you're coming with me." Helena's taunt to The Joker, as she faced an agonizing death at his hands, was indelibly etched in Barbara's aural memory.

"Paying my debts." The younger woman's brave promise when she'd lost all to Quinn -- her memories, her life of twenty-five years, all but her very soul -- still shook her.

"Do me." The words that Helena had spoken during their face-down in the parking garage with Quinn, her solid assumption that she would sacrifice herself to save their unborn child, cut through the redhead.


Later, she could begin to work with Helena on the realization that she didn't always have to give herself in an attempt to solve the problems in her world.

But, for this evening...

This night would be about what Helena needed.

My head is full of magic, baby,
And I can't share this with you.
The feel I'm on top again, baby,
That's got everything to do with you.

I'm alive, so alive.
I'm alive, so alive.

Having watched Helena make her way to the bar, Barbara took the risk of losing her table and skirted the edge of the crowd on her way toward the entrance. She found her objective before she was half-way to the door and was back to reclaim their table in minutes.

In the visual cacophony of the lights, it was difficult to be certain, but it appeared that her partner was just about to receive her refill. Barbara checked the contents of her own glass, an Amaretto sour that she'd been nursing since they'd arrived an hour before, and made a choice.

Casually, she raised one hand and touched the tiny bell pin that adorned her vest. Immediately, she saw Helena turn from the noisy bar, her Grey Goose and cranberry juice in one hand. Through the smoke and flashing lights, Barbara easily made out her partner's grin and felt an answering smile turn up the corners of her mouth.

Belatedly, as she observed Helena cutting through the crowd to join her, the redhead realized that the expression seemed to be fixed in place.

Distantly, some part of her brain suggested that the reaction could be a response to the inviting sway of her lover's hips.

"What's your pleasure, Red?"

Barbara wordlessly extended the rose that she'd purchased during her short jaunt. She was completely charmed when she saw her too-tough-for-her-leathers partner blushing to the roots of her hair.


Fumbling her drink onto the tiny table, Helena brought the deep red petals to her mouth, inhaling.

She just didn't get flowers from people.

"Thank you, Barbara."

Whatever Barbara was going to say, whatever Helena had been thinking about doing to thank her some more: it faded away when Helena made out the opening bars of the Bonnie Tyler classic that the DJ had queued up.

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?

Judging from the smirk on Barbara's face, Red recognized it, too.

Even if Helena kind of preferred the Jennifer Saunders' version from Shrek II, she couldn't fight the beat... or the message. Giving her partner a wink, the brunette popped the stem of the rose between her teeth and hit a showy flamenco pose.

Barbara's laughter was all the encouragement that Helena needed. The way green eyes seemed to light up when Barbara saw how the position was pulling that slit on her thigh waaaay up was all the inspiration she could want.

Helena spun, purposely giving her lover a clue about the whole "undergarment question" from earlier at the restaurant. She pulled a little fancy footwork, making sure that her hips kept time with the beat. She extended her hand, capturing one of Barbara's and taking them on a spin that left her dizzy.

Damned near giddy, too.


Helena gave in to her partner's laughing plea and brought things back to earth. Despite Red's laughter and her own grinning like an idiot, Helena realized she still had the flower in her teeth, so she tacked on a finale, flipping the rose end over end with her lips and tongue.


Helena just couldn't pass up an opening like that. She snagged the flower and bowed low, extending the rose to her partner.

"At your service, Fiona."

Weighing the words -- Challenge? Offer? -- Barbara allowed one eyebrow to tic upward a few millimeters.

"Is that so, Helena?"

Not waiting for an answer, the redhead retrieved her drink, pulling the cherry from the liquid by its stem.

"And, are there any conditions -- "

Certain that she had the younger woman's attention, Barbara neatly closed her teeth on the stem and pulled it into her mouth.

"-- on what I may --"

Oddly thankful for the few misspent nights of her youth, she worked the stem briefly between her tongue and the roof of her mouth.

"-- want -- "

She retrieved the stem, now neatly tied, with one hand and sucked the cherry from her other into her mouth.

"-- serviced?"

The cloying sweetness of the Maraschino nearly choked her when she found herself with a lap full of hot, writhing brunette.

"God, Babs."

Apparently, witnessing one of Barbara's few bar tricks had potentially tied Helena in knots.

Pointedly, Barbara dropped the stem back into her glass. Equally deliberately, she carded her fingers through dark silk and pulled her partner close.

Helena's lips were satin, the tiniest bit sticky from the cranberry juice. Her breath was hot and sweet, leaving Barbara hungry.

"Are you enjoying yourself, Helena?"

Under the pounding bass that shook the floor, she heard the growl and allowed her voice to drop to a purr.

"I am very much enjoying -- "

For emphasis, Barbara trailed her hands down the sides of the blue lace top.

"-- watching you dance."

That did it.

Helena thought that even Barbara would have to admit that she was, after all, only meta-human.

Barely, just barely, Helena wrestled down her need and stood up.

"I've -- I've got to go to the -- "

Helplessly, she gestured vaguely toward the back of the club, the area she assumed the restrooms were located in. Barbara didn't say anything, but the look she gave her -- raking her from head to toe -- felt so very much like touching.

Giving a mental shrug, she decided to lay it out there.

"Come with me?"

Helena was surprised as hell when her partner set her glass on the table and set out beside her, but it didn't begin to touch how she felt when Barbara started to breeze into the restroom's handicapped stall and then stopped and looked back at her.

Completely ready to get herself off next to the warm air hand dryer -- or by the cigarette machine in the hallway or in the alley outside the fire door -- Helena didn't wait to be asked twice when she saw one slender finger beckon.

The stall was oversized, but it was still a tight fit for the two of them and Barbara's chair, and Helena almost stumbled as she worked to push the door shut behind her.

Or maybe, Helena decided when she found herself with her back pressed to the graffiti-covered metal door and Barbara's mouth moving restlessly across her stomach, it wasn't the size of the stall at all that was throwing her off kilter. She couldn't stop a sharp gasp when the mouth that had been breathing hot against her skin through the thin material of her skirt surged upward, and Helena leaned into it, aching at the sensation of soft lips and sharp teeth finding the swollen weight of her nipple.

Every nerve was on fire. Her skin was hot; her clothes too tight. Deep within, Helena felt something spasm and her thighs clenched.



The harsh whisper recalled Barbara to herself, reminding her of just what she -- what they -- were about to do. She pulled away and, for a hairsbreadth, matters hung in the balance as she fought her own instincts and weighed her own desires and needs.

Straightening against the low back of her chair, she faced her lover, taking in the bright glitter of golden eyes, the heated flush of red that painted her chest, her shallow breathing. She saw Helena's deceptively delicate hands fisting against her thighs. She heard her soft whimper.

There was, the redhead grasped with a visceral intensity, no choice to make.

"Come here," she breathed.

Helena barely had time to move before she felt her lover's hands on her ass, grabbing her forward.

Not gently.

She didn't give a damn.

Then, Barbara's cheek was against her thigh, her breath hot against her center. A finger slipped under her skirt, a gossamer whisper of skin on skin causing her insides to roil. Before she could explode, nails scraped down the backs of her thighs, the pain instantly bleeding to a pleasure so acute that Helena had to bite her lip to keep from screaming.

Profoundly grateful that her earlier clumsiness with her jewelry had been trivial enough not to require a band-aid, Barbara thrust her hand beneath Helena's skirt. A brief pass of her hand resolved the undergarment question while confirming that there was no need to wait.

It didn't take long: a few hard thrusts, two or three stuttering heartbeats. Barbara felt the muscles of Helena's back torque under her palm and other muscles seized around her fingers.

"Oh Baby... yes--"

Looking upward at the tendons pulling tight as the younger woman arched her neck, Barbara cursed her lack of access; however, she kept her focus.


The word was a hoarse whisper, lashing Helena's skin, filling her.

It was all that she needed.

There was no building pressure, no tender blossoming. It was a massive blast of C-4, overwhelming her and carrying her into oblivion with the pressure and the noise and the heat.

It was Barbara.

Barbara almost missed her partner's whimper. The rush of liquid that covered her hand was unmistakable.

She caught her breath, one arm still wrapped around Helena's body, until she felt the younger woman's trembling ease. Finally straightening, she extracted her hand, raising her fingers to her mouth.

Looking up to find the brunette licking a drop of blood from her lip, Barbara jerked her fingers from her mouth, covering her mouth with her hand.

The gratitude in her lover's violet eyes was too much to bear.

Dumbly, she could only nod when Helena finally spoke.

"Let's go home, Red."


Chapter 24

"Keep your clothes on. I'll be in in a moment."

Helena didn't know what it was about Barbara sending her in to the bedroom first, but she wasn't going to mess with a winning formula.

Kneeling on the big bed, her hands resting loosely in her lap, Helena had one eye on the alarm clock. The rest of her senses were stretching out into the Tower, trying to pick up some sort of sound or a shift in the air that might tell her where her partner was and what she was doing.

Maybe it was the fact that her own breathing was kind of loud, keeping her from hearing the soft whisper of rubber tires on hardwood. Maybe it was the scent of her own pheromones that was masking any city smells that might drift in from the balcony. Maybe it was the itching, tingling fire that was running across her skin that was ruining her chances to sense a shift in the air when Red started down the hall.

Whatever it was, Helena was about to explode. But, like she'd promised, Barbara didn't keep her waiting.

The minutes displayed on the bedside clock had ticked over only twice before the bedroom door swung open. Somehow, Helena remained fixed in place.

"I missed you."

Wheeling to the foot of the bed, Barbara didn't even try to mask her answering smile. Although they'd only been separated for a few minutes since their hurried return from the club, she understood her lover's sentiment.

"Why don't you stretch out a bit, Hel?"

She was pleased to see that the younger woman was still wearing the tight skirt and lacy top. Her heels, however, were neatly tucked under the dressing table. Giving a mental nod to the wisdom of that, Barbara shucked her own shoes before moving to the side of the bed.

Helena was now reclining like some sort of ethereal offering, her tan skin highlighted against the light bedspread that covered the bed in summer. Several pillows supported her back, and as Barbara took in the slender lines of her lover, the brunette stretched her hands upward to clasp the grab bars at the head of the bed.

Tenderly, Barbara trailed her fingertips over Helena's instep. At this hour, the city was quiet; the Tower was quiet. It was easy to hear Helena's rumbling growl.

"God, Barbara, I am so ready for you."

Deliberately, the redhead lifted her hand and straightened against the low back of her chair. Briefly, she ran her hands through her hair and then shrugged out of her vest, catching it with two fingers and tossing it negligently onto a chair.

Acutely aware of the feral gaze following her every move, she worked the buttons of her shirt front, allowing the material to hang free, loosely covering her torso. Satisfied that she was ready, she reached out again and ran her nails up the inside of the brunette's calf.

"Show me, Helena."

Helena didn't have time to question her lover's intent. The soft words were accompanied by a gentle tug that worked to spread her legs a few inches. Feeling her upper lip curl, she sat up and reached for the hem of her top.


Barbara's voice stilled her hands. Dropping her chin, Helena felt the soft leather around her neck dig into her throat. She swallowed the noise that wanted to make its way past her lips and peered through her bangs.


"I'd like it if you'd leave it on for now."

This time, it sounded like a request. There was something fever-bright in Barbara's eyes, something that sparked an answering flame in Helena's chest.

Nodding, she dragged her hands up her stomach, allowing herself to feel -- to really feel -- the scratch of the lace against her fingers. The sharp hiss from the side of the bed emboldened her: fixing green eyes with her own, she worked her fingers across her breasts, measuring the weight in her palms before giving in to her need.

"God, Red..."

It wasn't Barbara's hands, but she needed... She needed the pressure of fingers on her, pinching and twisting, bringing the red bloom of heat to her nipples.

"Show me, Sweetie."

Distantly, Barbara had to question her own sanity. There was simply no other reason that she could arrive at for cutting short what she'd been witness to.

A beat later, when Helena yanked her skirt up to her hips and shimmied the thong down, she had to reconsider. There was, after all, so much to see.

"Yes," she heard her own whisper as Helena settled herself against the pillows.

As if waiting for nothing more than that, slender fingers parted dark curls. A low moan filtered through the room.

Barbara thought it might have been hers.

"So wet... for you."

Dumbstruck, Barbara followed the progress of her lover's hands. Possibly reading the nod that Barbara was barely aware that she'd given, Helena delved deeply into ripe flesh and then brought her fingers to her own mouth.

The tiny part of Barbara's brain that remained coherent primly reminded her that it was going to be difficult to take matters slowly. The rest of her, the part that was occupied with joining her lover on the bed, was decidedly unconcerned.

A sharp inhalation, the sensation of strong fingers guiding her jaw: they provided the only warning that Helena got. Then... then Barbara's mouth was on hers, her tongue plundering her mouth and licking her essence from her lips, and Helena thought that she was about to levitate off the bed.

God, Barbara knew how to kiss.

Somehow, when Helena felt Barbara's forehead come to rest against hers, she managed to pry open her eyes.

"You've missed this as much as I have."

She didn't think she'd meant to say that out loud. She felt a slow breath of air on her skin and then saw green eyes spark.

"What do you want, Sweetheart?"

Helena's heart stutter-stepped, and she wrapped her arms around her partner's strong shoulders.


Her brain caught up with her mouth, and Helena tacked on the rest.


Barbara's laughter turned into another kiss, and Helena threw back her head, swallowing their joy.

This time, the kiss lasted a long time. It felt like more than a kiss: it was an assertion of belonging and owning and joining. Breathless, Helena opened herself to the depth of her lover's desire, letting Barbara have whatever she demanded, willingly giving anything that she needed, exulting in the surrender that was salvation.

It was all that she wanted. It was everything that she needed.

"Get your clothes off, Hel."

The words ghosted the brunette's skin, causing her to shiver. With effort, she pried open her eyes and drank in the smile that painted Barbara's kiss-bruised lips.

"Are-- " She worked to find her voice and tried again. "Are you going to--"

Green eyes went dark.

"I'm going to take everything you can possibly give me, Helena."

Pretty close to climaxing from Barbara's voice, her words, alone, Helena managed to get her clothes off without ripping them. She rolled onto her back, easily accepting the redhead's weight as she propped herself on her elbows above her.


Determined to take her time, needing to show Helena, Barbara gently touched soft skin with her hands and her lips. Sipping at her lover's body, she reveled in the taste of her skin, in the soft gasps that escaped her throat, and in the pressure of Helena's nails across her shoulders.

Soon, too soon, the younger woman began to writhe beneath her, one word dancing raggedly from her lips: Barbara. Slipping by the pressure of the hands that were locked in a rictus in her hair, Barbara looked up to see Helena's chin pointing skyward, her neck arched against the pillow.

Dear heavens, she was beautiful.

Helena couldn't stop herself. When Barbara lifted her head and Helena remembered that she had hands, she had to touch her.

Her attempt was cut short.


Red's voice was breathy, then it gentled.

"Let me have this."

Helena got it.

Fuck, she thought she got it better than Barbara did.

For Helena the turn on was, always had been, well, anything to do with Barbara. Nights alone in her room when she was a teenager, it was the image of Barbara, the fantasy of her lips twisting in that knowing smile, the phantom sensation of long red hair curtaining their joined bodies. Nights with anonymous strangers all those years, it was the pretense that someone's eyes were the right shade of green, the lie that some rough hand might be the calloused palm she ached for, the wish that the soft skin of somebody's inner thigh was the milky flesh she hungered for. And, now that it was real, being here was all that there was.

Still, Helena knew that Barbara needed more, that it was all about control. For a while she'd really thought it was about controlling her but now she knew better.

Helena knew Barbara, and she knew that, for Barbara, being able to control herself was the biggest head rush in the world. Red was a passionate woman and being able to hold her own insistent drives in check, forcing herself to temper her pace, taking herself to the point where she had to tip over or back off -- well, that was the turn on for her.


That Barbara would share that with her, that she was along for the ride... Well, Selina Kyle didn't raise a fool. Helena knew that she was a lucky, lucky woman.

"Go for it."

And when Barbara took her at her word, it didn't take much before Helena's back arched from the mattress, every muscle bowstring tight, every nerve incandescent. When she heard -- felt -- the murmur from between her thighs, the world wanted to go white and gold on her.


She couldn't take it.

Slim fingers wound through her hair, forcing Barbara to abandon her feast.

"Baby, stop. Please -- "

The redhead worked her way up her partner's body as a dark head thrashed from side to side.

"Please, I need... want..."

She easily read the message in Helena's eyes, but she needed to hear it. Cupping the sharp angle of her jaw, Barbara leaned close.

"What, Helena?"

Slitted eyes transformed from gold to violet in a miasma of emotion, leaving Barbara almost dizzied.

"Fuck me, Barbara."

Helena saw it. Jesus, she felt the moment that Babs let go, when she stopped being the person who set the scene and just was there.

With her.

Helena didn't have a chance.

Later, sweat-drenched and sticky and utterly, utterly replete, Helena collapsed on the bed, her body seeming almost boneless.

Possibly, Barbara had to grant, even unconscious.

However, when the younger woman managed to wriggle around to blanket her, she was forced to re-evaluate that idea. Smiling, she carded her fingers tenderly through dark hair, awed by the transformation from raging inferno to sleepy kitten.

There was no artifice, no planning or show, in the way that Helena responded to her. Even now, the younger woman was molding as close to her as humanly -- or meta-humanly -- possible. Helena was curling into her, on to her, working her hands under her back to snuggle and, seemingly, to try to push through Barbara to the mattress on the other side.

Or, it struck Barbara with the force of an unexpected kiss, Helena was working into her, planning to stop once she was inside, to fill her and be one with her in an intimacy Barbara would never have dreamed possible.

Images from the previous minutes danced across her vision. The memories were visual and tactile and aural, all of them displaying for her, once again, the knowledge of Helena opening to her will, arching and thrusting and offering her all.

Pressing her mouth against the crown of her lover's head, Barbara fought it. She worked against the need to say something or do something or...

It was too much.

Barbara felt the trembling start. She felt it in areas of her body that she simply could not feel. Before she had time to collect herself, she jerked one hand to her mouth, holding in the cry as the orgasm washed over her.


Chapter 25

Should I fall out of love, my fire in the night
To chase a feather in the wind
Within the glow that weaves a cloak of delight
There moves a thread that has no end.

For many hours and days that pass ever soon
The tides have caused the flame to dim
At last the arm is straight, the hand to the loom
Is this to end or just begin?

The fact that it was one of Barbara's favorite Zeppelin songs notwithstanding, it still took the redhead some time to drag herself into wakefulness when she realized that the alarm clock had triggered.

Apparently, given the duration of their activities the night before -- and well into this morning -- programming the alarm had been wise. It was entirely possible that she would need a bit of time to pull herself together before Dinah brought Katie home.

A softly panted exhalation drew Barbara from considerations of long showers and dark coffee, reminding her that she was far from alone. The steady flex of firm gluts against her belly vanished visions of any morning activities that might take place outside the bedroom.

"Sweet dreams, Hel?"

Snugly spooned against her partner's chest and thighs, Helena rolled her eyes at the empty stretch of bed that she faced. She didn't -- couldn't -- stop the restless rocking of her hips.

Honest to god, when the alarm had clicked on to that Oldie Goldie crap and she'd heard Barbara snorting awake, Helena had thought that some sort of reprieve was in order. Damned if Red still didn't seem oblivious.

It wasn't that she was complaining, per se and all. When she'd awakened a few hours earlier, with Barbara's arms holding her tight and a clever hand working her breast, complaining had been the last thing on her mind. Still, as the minutes had ticked by and the ached had continued to build and Barbara just kept on snoozing...

Well, it just seemed like some sort of Freudian dream analysis wasn't on the list of priorities.

"Fuck dreams," she ground out. "You've been feeling me up for the last two hours."

Suddenly, blindingly, aware of where her hand rested, Barbara yanked away from silken heaviness and turgid flesh, feeling as if she'd been burned. Raising the offending hand, she inspected it with what she was certain was an unbecoming furrow between her brows.

How on earth had she...

"I'm sorry, Hel--"

"The hell with that." The words came on a growl. Without looking, Helena reached behind her and snagged Barbara's hand, clapping it firmly on her hip. "Finish me before I explode."

The older woman's reaction was, really, commendably swift: Strong fingers kneaded Helena's belly while a throaty chuckle breezed across the bare skin of her shoulder.

"Finish you, Hel?"

The words were throaty and rich, like a twenty year old single malt, neat, in cut glass, consumed in wood paneled rooms long burnished with smoke and time. The sound reduced Helena to nothing more than heat and light and want.

"Oh, Helena, I'm just getting started with you."

Or maybe, the brunette realized with delirious joy, it wasn't the sound; it was the words themselves.

Whatever it was, she didn't have time to think about it because Barbara was turning her over and a warm mouth was covering one nipple and long fingers were working between her legs and the ache was erupting into an inferno and then Helena was laughing.

Barbara's head rose from her chest. That sexy red hair was mussed, probably more from her hands in it during the night than from sleep. The faint crease on her cheek was all from the pillow.

"Care to share with the class, Hel?"

There was just hint of consternation in emerald eyes, but Helena heard the amusement in Barbara's voice. Her grin never faltered as she reached up to cup her lover's cheek, smoothing at the sleep crease with her thumb.

"Just thinking that I didn't know how much I'd been missing date night, Red."

Instantly, Barbara experienced the singular sensation of bemusement blending with contrition. Both emotions bled way to something more, something of a revelation.

She leaned into the delicate hand on her face and turned to press a gentle kiss to Helena's palm.

"I have as well, Hel."

Something flickered through deep blue eyes, and Barbara arched one eyebrow.

"As much as you've missed working the Delphi this summer?"

The question carried no reproach, however Barbara was still hard-pressed not to flinch.

"You could tell?"

Honestly, she thought that she'd been on-board with their summer vacation plans. She certainly thought that she'd managed to stifle any... restlessness she might have felt on the odd evening when habit had her itching to ascend the platform.

The quirk of a dark brow was the only response, Helena's indulgent smile answer enough. Barbara gave a minute shrug.

"It's who..." she caught herself. "It's what I do, I suppose, Sweetheart."

The sweet smile that she received was too much. Barbara rewound the conversation, opting to table this particular track for the time being.

"However," she pushed up on her elbow, resting her free hand lightly on her partner's chest. "you are right about date night. I shouldn't have let it escape--"

Helena wasn't going to have it. She silenced her companion with a finger to her lips.

"Hey. Don't try to carry the whole load. We've been busy with Katie and ..."

The other matter that had been consuming them -- her -- was still a little too raw. Dinah had said she understood. Barbara had let her off the hook. Hell, even Gabby was stepping up.

Still, that didn't mean she wanted to talk about it.

"Well, with lots of stuff."

"True, Hel."

The nod had been brief, kind of pro forma. Barbara's eyes were still distant, so Helena decided to prod a little.


When those green eyes came to focus on her face, Helena couldn't doubt that she had every bit of Barbara's attention.

"But nothing, Helena."

Even without the summer morning light that was brightening the room, Helena could have made out the blush creeping into Barbara's face.

"Specifically, nothing is more important than... this. Or... "

The fingers that had been idly tracing patterns over her heart fluttered vaguely at the edge of Helena's vision.

"-- than us, Hel."

Red's words were just a little garbled. It was such a change from her usually fluent, put-together partner's communication.

"You -- you mean that, don't you?"

She captured Barbara's hand and got an answering squeeze.

"Very much, Sweetheart."

The look of pure intent in Barbara's eyes sent a shiver up Helena's spine.

Fuck, the brunette recognized giddily as her thumb was sucked deep into a warm mouth, the look was more one of impure intent.


Freeing Helena's hand, Barbara shut her eyes, absorbing the sound of her lover's shallow breathing. Inhaling the complex scent that enrobed them, she bent to the sweet skin of Helena's throat. Her plans to follow the faint trail down Helena's body that she'd created with her teeth a few hours before were forestalled when she heard her companion murmur something.

Specifically, Barbara belatedly grasped, Helena seemed to be asking something about her father.

Once again surrendering the succulent skin that she'd been sampling, Barbara rolled onto her side and roughly pushed her hair back from her face.

"Do you really want to be discussing my father?"

She blew out a breath.

"Now?" she added pointedly.

The brunette at least had the grace to look embarrassed.

"No. Well, I was wondering if he'd mind baby-sitting some nights, especially with Alfred on vacation and all."

Despite herself, Barbara felt her curiosity getting the best of her.

"I suspect that he could be persuaded to deal the the hardship of a little extra time with Katharine."

She felt one eyebrow inch upward.

"Why do you ask?"

Barbara remained still as her bedmate wriggled onto her side, and blue eyes met hers.

"Would you mind if we invite Dinah and Gabby to join us on date nights? Sometimes?"

Stretching out, she tucked a lock of dark hair behind her lover's ear.

"Show them how it's done, Hel?"

Helena's nod felt tentative.

"Something like that."

Barbara didn't try to rein in her smile.

"Absolutely, Hel. What's first, bowling?"

The younger woman's grin was blinding, her voice decisive.

"Nah. Laser tag."

Laughing, Barbara pushed up on her elbow.

"Sounds like fun, Sweetie; however," she leaned in, rubbing her nose lightly against her lover's. "before Dinah brings our daughter home, I have some targets here that I'd like to aim for."


The rumbling growl that accompanied the pronouncement almost obscured the word. By the time Barbara deciphered the meaning, she found concerned violet eyes meeting hers.


She heard the brunette swallow roughly and shivered when Helena's fingers traced her lower lip.

"This time, let me try to help you feel good, Red."

The offer stole her breath.

"Helena, you have," she whispered, catching her partner's chin in her palm. "More than you can imagine."

Reviewing her words, Barbara found them lacking.

"You do, Hel. Always."

Perhaps she didn't show it, perhaps she simply couldn't respond as freely; nevertheless, Barbara knew that she couldn't allow Helena to doubt her.

To doubt them.

Reaching into her flagging stores of courage, Barbara hunted for the words.

"And I will never -- " Barbara unblinkingly met Helena's uncertain gaze. "-- ever willingly share that, share what we have with anyone else."

She saw the answering spark in arresting blue eyes.


Barbara brushed her mouth across satin lips, breathing her answer. Her promise.


The End

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