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.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
An inescapable weight on her chest, a pressure slowly robbing her of breath, gradually drew Helena Kyle into wakefulness. Blue eyes inched open, easily penetrating the darkness of the room. Muscles which had tensed in response to a perceived threat loosened when the young woman recognized the familiar sensations surrounding her.
Soft music filtered from the entertainment unit in the corner. Helena realized that the nearly inaudible click of the CD changer switching disks had probably awakened her, and she smirked as she identified the low, sensual crooning of Barry White.
Okay, maybe not her particular choice of mood music, but, given her companion's decidedly eclectic tastes, she allowed that it was an improvement over the classical that she'd dropped off to -- she glanced at the bedside clock -- not quite an hour before.
An underlying accompaniment to the low music came from beside the young brunette.
Rather, on top of her.
Soft, rhythmic breathing emanated from the warm, pliant weight planted firmly on Helena's chest, abdomen, and right arm. Smiling indulgently -- and with no small measure of satisfaction -- at the occasional 'whuff' of a semi-snore near her shoulder, the brunette ducked her head slightly to bury her nose in the hair spilling across her shoulder.
The scent of her bedmate, coupled with the unmistakable impression of full, firm breasts spooned against her chest and upper arm, brought a flood of sensory memories from the preceding few hours, and the dark woman barely suppressed a low growl of pleasure.
Wow. That had been good.
Snugging her companion minutely closer, Helena inhaled slowly, deeply, in response to the awareness of firm nipples pressing against her. Skin prickling from that contact alone, she corrected herself.
It had been damned hot.
The brunette nuzzled further into the fiery hair under her cheek and shifted her legs against the tightening in her lower abdomen. Despite her resolve not to awaken her justifiably exhausted partner, she was unable to keep her right hand from trailing down the silky expanse of the other woman's back, unable to suppress her soft gasp when her fingers -- exquisitely tuned to flesh beneath them -- experienced the whisper of the fine hairs at the base of her bedmate's spine. The shiver from that butterfly contact seemed to travel up her right arm, across her chest, and down to her other hand, raising it -- seemingly of it's own volition -- to come to rest in the lush curve of the long waist partially resting against her.
Helena's gentle movements -- her breathing, too -- stopped abruptly when her companion murmured a sleepy protest and wriggled her upper body impossibly closer. The younger woman flashed a quick Cheshire grin into the darkness of the room and permitted her hands to resume their almost imperceptible explorations.
It was the sly tap of her forefinger against her companion's waist -- coinciding with the beginning of "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" -- that seemed to do it.
The voice, a slightly petulant, sleepy croak, was nevertheless warm... inviting. Helena hummed softly in response and pressed a lingering kiss to mussed red hair.
"You really are insatiable, aren't you?"
The dark woman twisted her head enough to catch slightly bleary green eyes with blue. She smiled cheekily, confident that her partner would sense the motion even if she couldn't see in the darkness.
"Incorrigible, too, I'm told."
"Well, you're certainly a corrupting influence on me."
Slender fingers punctuated the teasing rejoinder by walking up Helena's belly to the valley between her breasts. The younger woman shivered pleasurably, capturing the errant hand and drawing it to her lips.
Between gentle nips against the fingers in her grasp, she growled, "And, is that such a bad thing, Freckles?"
The fingers she'd just begun to nibble at immediately disentangled from hers, their owner swatting at Helena's shoulder.
"Watch it there. Just because I have red hair does not mean I have freckles..."
Instantly missing the heady taste that had been so close only seconds before, the brunette still refused to back down from the playfully challenging tone. Instead, she ducked under the seriously rumpled covers and shimmied down the bed until her face was even with her companion's stomach.
"You sure about that?"
She raised her voice ever-so-slightly to compensate for the muffling effect of the covers... and the flesh against her mouth as she nipped at a slightly tumescent belly, then laved the spot with her tongue.
" 'Cuz," she finished her thought, "I'm pretty sure that I found at least a couple of freckles here earlier..."
Completely unimpressed with her bedmate's half-hearted attempt to stifle the moan that her actions had engendered, Helena flowed back up under the covers and pressed a kiss to an angular shoulder. An instant later, she tangled her legs with the long limbs sprawled haphazardly against her and shifted them both so that she rested lightly on the other woman.
Effortlessly supporting herself on her forearms, the brunette insinuated her hands beneath the other woman and feathered her fingers against the smooth skin of her upper back. She rubbed small circles against sharply delineated shoulder blades, marveling -- not for the first time -- how something as common as skin over bone and muscle could inspire the rush of fire flowing through her veins. As her eyelids drooped slightly in anticipation, Helena ducked her nose into the crook of a long neck, groaning quietly as her questing mouth began to savor the musky, slightly saline scent hinting of earlier passion.
"Something on your mind?"
Although the words were laced with irony, Helena didn't miss the breathiness in their delivery. She took a moment before replying to nip at a spot near her bedmate's clavicle which she'd recently determined to be amazingly sensitive. The appreciative moan which bubbled from the redhead's chest tickled the younger woman's lips, fanning a trail of heat down to her abdomen.
The brunette lowered thick lashes over eyes she knew were no longer blue and offered a smile full of wicked promise.
"Maybe somewhere lower..."
Helena's playful purr transformed abruptly to a gasp when strong hands found her breasts, kneading firmly, with an intent just shy of painful. A sudden pinching blossomed fire throughout her torso, and the brunette growled softly and swooped down to suck feverishly at the alabaster flesh of the neck which was arched so invitingly.
Eventually, the lithe young woman brushed those artfully knowing hands from herself and began to nibble a path down a chest which was, owner's earlier protests to the contrary, lightly dusted with freckles. Since she had no problem seeing in the darkened room, Helena played a small game of connect-the-dots, from neck to sternum, lightly kissing each faint speck then using the stud in her tongue to trace to the next mark. By the time the brunette began to circle the heavy swell of more sensitive flesh, the other woman was whimpering quietly, twining her fingers in unruly dark locks in an attempt to guide.
"Please -- Suck me now..."
Unable to deny the plea, Helena gratefully pressed her lips to a diamond-hard peak. She allowed herself a pleased smile as she felt fine sheen of sweat begin to dot her body, as she experienced a rush of another type of moisture lower. The young woman distantly thought that she felt the redhead's ragged exhalation across the fine hairs on her body, and she convulsively sucked at the delicate flesh beneath her. She had no doubts about the fiery sensation of neatly manicured nails scoring her back, leaving four shallow marks trailing each side of her spine from buttocks to shoulders.
Arching her back and hissing in delight, the brunette searched for words.
"Oh, fuck, yesss..."
Under less immediate circumstances, Helena would have freely admitted that her offering had not been the soul of wit and eloquence. Fortunately, it seemed to get her point across, and those strong fingers began to knead almost punishingly at the base of the younger woman's neck. Blissfully surrendering to the minute guidance, Helena lost herself in the succulent flesh beneath her. She moved from one breast to the other with languorous deliberation, nipping and sucking to inflame, then succoring the small marks with wet strokes and cool puffs of air. All the while, she allowed her hands free reign, tracing the shell of a delicate ear, mapping striations of bone and sinew along her companion's rib cage, dipping teasingly into a shallow belly button.
In short order, both women were breathing harshly and writhing against each other with increasing urgency. Helena felt her passion, which had never fully subsided after their earlier encounter, veritably boiling through her veins and dripping down her spine. Grinding her chest roughly against the sweat-slickened pelvis beneath her, she clenched her thighs in response to the welcome pressure and swirled her tongue suggestively in the other woman's navel.
"Get up here."
The brunette ignored the hands fumbling blindly by her shoulders and squirmed lower to nose at the juncture of firm thighs. Proximity to the heady aroma ratcheted the young woman's need, and she felt wet heat swelling her center as a growl boiled in her chest. Fighting her instinct to take roughly, she focused momentarily on steadying her breathing.
Fingers tugging sharply at the hair at the base of her neck recaptured her attention.
Grudgingly moving away from the enticement of warm, wet passion, the young woman reared up, an expression akin to a snarl painting her face, and pounced down to capture welcoming lips in a deep kiss. As the kiss drew on and on, becoming an experience in and of itself, Helena distantly noted that the older woman was repositioning her own legs. The sensation of hands grasping her hips, with more determination than finesse, and moving her over an upraised thigh was too acute to miss.
The lithe figure succumbed to the delicious pressure, dropping her hips to grind briefly against the smooth skin between her legs. Feeling the slender leg beneath her slide down slightly, she fluttered her eyes open to observe the redhead's features.
Yeah -- She was ready.
Knowing that the sound would only inflame her partner, Helena didn't attempt to mute her moan of anticipation as she fluttered teasing fingers through the damp auburn curls below her. When green eyes flew open and locked on hers, the younger woman very deliberately kept their gazes locked as she brought her hand to her lips and offered a smile that was sin itself.
"You taste... you feel so fuckin' good."
She emphasized her sincerity by returning her hand to its previous position and stroking firmly.
Throbbing in anticipation, Helena watched her partner struggle to focus.
"Don't... don't just tell me."
Oh yeah. Helena was all over that request.
Maintaining a deliberate tempo with her right hand, she reached behind her with the other and repositioned the other woman's thigh, supporting it beneath her at the perfect angle. She rocked her hips slowly, methodically, against the warm flesh as she slid two fingers inside her partner.
"Yes! Yes... there-- "
The throaty contralto was a live wire to Helena's already overcharged center.
Gritting her teeth against the pleasure threatening to consume her, the dark figure thrust more urgently against the redhead's leg even as she kept her strokes inside the other woman deep and steady.
Just... just the way she liked it.
Acutely aware of the increasingly jerky writhings beneath her, of the near constant moans growing in volume, of the helpless twisting of the red head on the pillow, Helena struggled to stay focused on her partner's needs. When she felt the faint fluttering and clenching against her fingers, she leaned down, bringing her mouth to that long neck which was once again arched like an offering. At the first hint of the her partner's scream, Helena bit lightly at her pulse point, then sucked fiercely, overcome when her hand was locked in a steely contraction.
Feeling the heat, the pressure, roiling within, the younger woman squeezed her eyes shut and gave in. She grunted once harshly against the flesh still in her teeth and allowed her hips to set their own pace. In no time -- and an eternity -- she found the crest and threw back her head to ride it out with one name on her lips.
Well, it hadn't been Barbara, of course.
It never had been and, probably -- Helena admitted to herself during increasingly frequent bouts of stark honesty -- never would be.
All the more reason that she was thankful the name hadn't actually passed her lips the night before, no matter how close she'd come to slipping. Bad enough that she deliberately sought out look-alikes for the object of her affections for her one- or two-night trysts; no way she needed to compound her... her use of the women by calling them by someone else's name.
Sighing in disgust -- at herself, at the situation in general -- as she finished double-knotting her cross-trainer, the brunette snagged her headband and roughly tugged it over her head and down to her neck before reversing direction. Bangs corralled, she grabbed the athletic tape and brusquely wound several layers around the knuckles of her left hand, using her teeth to bite through the tape at the end.
With an irritated grunt, she lifted the end and peeled it back to smooth a wrinkle in the tape -- no need to give herself blisters on the heavy bag -- and noticed the clock in the corner. She performed the math without conscious thought: 93 hours down, less than two to go.
This time, as she began wrapping her right hand, she vocalized her irritation.
"Geez, Kyle, get a grip."
Could she be any more pathetic? Sheesh, Barbara hadn't been gone for four days, and here she was mooning over the clock and counting the minutes. Still, she thought that her older partner's absence -- some byte-head conference in Philly -- might explain a bit of her near-lapse the night before.
It was rare for the two women not to see each other -- or at least talk with each other -- every day. Given the nature of the two women's relationship, what it had been, what it had evolved into -- teacher and student, guardian and ward, mentor and protege, intensely involved friends who fought crime together -- it was inevitable. Going without the contact -- as torturous as it could sometimes be -- for almost four days had been an agony.
An agony that Helena had attempted to solace the night before -- not having to play babysitter since Dinah had spent the night at Gabby's -- in the arms of a second-rate imitation of the woman she couldn't have. While the encounter had been pleasurable -- the brunette smirked at that understatement as she hooked her Walkman to her track pants and thumbed the volume dial -- it really hadn't done anything to ease her loneliness.
Grabbing a jump rope and starting with some relatively slow double-skips, the young woman wryly acknowledged that maybe there was some truth to the old saw about sex being better when there was emotion -- love -- with it. Not like she'd know, of course.
But -- she increased her pace dramatically, noting the almost insignificant increase in her heart rate -- it also wasn't like she hadn't tried.
Granted, those first early attempts -- especially the first -- had been pretty lame, all full of swagger and braggadocio. But, hell, she'd only been twenty -- maybe not quite sure what it all meant, but damned positive of what she wanted: Barbara Gordon, eight years her senior and -- until the year before -- her guardian.
Helena casually tossed the jump rope over her shoulder, not needing to look to know that it had hit its mark and come to rest on its peg on the training room wall. At this point, stowing her gear correctly was just habit, one ingrained from sharing living quarters for four-plus years with someone confined to a wheelchair, someone who was also a compulsive neatnik to boot.
The brunette ran through a few cursory moves on the pommel horse before allowing the momentum from a scissor kick to carry her up to the rings. Bouncing once against the cables, she began to work her upper body in earnest.
She got it. Hell, she'd gotten it then. She understood why that first awkward attempt -- more hormones and alcohol than anything -- hadn't worked. Barbara had been gracious about the clumsy pass, laughing with her about the dangers of sloe gin and even helping nurse her through the god-awful hangover the next day.
But, the next time? She still didn't know what the problem had been then.
It had been over a year later, and Helena thought she'd done a helluva lot of growing. In figuring out the depths of her feelings -- that empty, aching, gnawing need to be with Barbara. In testing the dating pool and finding it decidedly lacking. Hell, even in proving herself as an equal partner in crime-fighting with her cyber-genius mentor.
She'd shown up that night at the clock tower apartment-cum-headquarters that she still shared with Barbara with a pizza and a one long-stemmed red rose. She'd managed to lure the redhead away from her beloved Delphi super-computer and had gotten her relaxed and laughing in front of some terrifically bad video -- she thought it might have been "Starship Troopers". Then, when she'd finally screwed up her nerve and gently grasped the older woman's hand, losing herself in the verdant depths of knowing eyes, whispering how much...
Helena pulled herself into a perfect iron cross position, grimacing at the strain but holding the pose as the remembered pain of that encounter washed through her again.
Barbara hadn't quite slapped her face and fled the room -- Hell, even before the shooting that had taken the use of her legs, Barbara had never been much on running from anything. But her response -- stiff and clipped, almost businesslike -- had been deadly: It -- they -- simply were not a possibility. Everything Helena had desired with desperate intensity since she'd figured it out three years before was nothing more than an empty dream.
Helena had moved out of the clock tower the next day.
It had taken months of angry solitude to come to the bitter realization that life simply wasn't worth living without the older woman in it -- in whatever capacity. This realization had been cemented by Barbara's near-suicidal attempt to take out -- single-handedly and from her chair -- a horrific creature that Helena herself had barely survived battling seven months before. The younger woman had arrived at the scene in the proverbial nick of time and found herself aghast at the quantity of blood covering her friend, at the redhead's stillness. She'd been even more horrified by her own role -- her selfishness -- in setting the chain of events into play.
That night, Helena Kyle had, quite deliberately, taken the life of an opponent for the first and only time.
She'd returned to the clock tower with a battered and barely rational Barbara and, the next day, as the redhead chafed at her recuperation, had laid it out.
'I'm sorry, Barbara -- for a lot of things. Mostly for being an ass. I probably always will be assing up; but, dammit, I love you, and I promise I'll honestly try not to hurt you ever again.'
Recognizing the opening strains of the next song over her headset, Helena dropped to the training room floor and stalked over to the heavy bag.
Lying here on the floor where you left me
I think I took too much
I'm crying here, what have you done?
I thought it would be fun
I can't stay on your life support
There's a shortage in the switch
I can't stay on your morphine
'Cause it's making me itch
Helena worked on the timing for a complicated feint-crossover-jab that Barbara had been coaching her on for the last month, adding her own twist -- an extra burst of speed at the end -- as she considered the two and a half years that had passed since her heartfelt pledge to the woman she loved.
Without any false-deception, the brunette knew that she had honestly tried to be true to her word. She'd done her best to hide her romantic feelings, channeling the emotions towards other pursuits -- fighting for justice in New Gotham, training the kid -- Dinah -- that Barbara had semi-voluntarily taken in two years ago, strengthening her friendship with the redhead. That the friendship included sympathizing with the older woman over her infrequent and abortive attempts at dating and encouraging her to keep trying had been -- was -- acid on the raw wound of Helena's feelings. Still, she did try.
The young woman gave up the pretense of concentrating on choreographed moves and simply pummeled the bag in front of her, oblivious to the growing rent in the kevlar stitching in one side.
When Barbara had started dating -- getting serious about -- a fellow faculty member from New Gotham High, it had nearly broken Helena. She thought she'd done pretty well in the 'being supportive' department; however, frankly, she did admit that she'd been a little... forced in the sincerity side of things. And, surprise, surprise: all of that bottled up emotion had to go somewhere. For the young vigilante, it had come out during sweeps one night, ending her up in front of a judge on a destruction of property charge. Ending her up with a court mandated sentence of therapy for 'anger management issues.'
So, while the object of Helena's affection had been making kissy-face with Wade -- even opening up the clock tower and their secret identities to the guy -- Helena had been stuck baring her soul to... Well, suffice to say that Dr. Harleen Quinzel -- whose alter-ego was the girlfriend of the very psychopath who had paralyzed Barbara -- had some issues of her own. Everybody knew how that had turned out.
The young woman directed her fury at the situation into a final blow that sent the heavy bag spinning on its chains and turned to grab her water bottle. Gulping deeply, she concentrated on letting go of her shame about the situation that had resulted from her sessions with the good doctor. Almost a year later and even she had come to accept that it wasn't her fault that she'd been hypnotized into attacking Barbara, that Quinzel -- Quinn -- had invaded the clock tower and murdered the man Barbara loved.
Still, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
Completely aware of the irony, the dark woman programmed her Walkman for a continuous repeat of Pink's angry lament and hit the mats for free-form gymnastics.
... I can run just as fast as I can
To the middle of nowhere
To the middle of my frustrated fears
And I swear
You're just like a pill
'Stead of making me better
You keep making me ill
So caught up was she in exorcising her demons through furious floor exercises that Helena, quite uncharacteristically, was sincerely startled by the appearance of a blonde head as she glanced to one side during a triple back flip. Only a slight bobble -- not even a half-step -- on her landing bespoke the failure of the brunette's normally catlike awareness of her surroundings. Nevertheless, there was a fair measure of ire present in her expression as she turned towards the tall teenager.
"Shit, Dinah! You trying to--"
Noting that music was still blaring through her headphones, Helena abruptly shut off the unit, blinking against the deafening silence. A split-second later, the realization that Dinah's lips had not yet moved had cerulean eyes widening in surprise.
"What did -- ?!"
"Uh, Barbara's back, getting changed--"
Setting aside the warm rush of pleasure that those words elicited, Helena waved a hand dismissively.
"I heard you the first time."
The dark head shook once in bafflement.
"Or, actually, I didn't 'hear' you, but, uh, I did?"
The grin that split the blonde's features could only be described, Helena decided, as 'shit-eating'.
"You got that? Really? Isn't that cool?!"
'Cool'? 'Creepy' was more like it. Sometimes, hanging out with a teenaged telekinetic touch-telepath -- who apparently had other developing skills -- was just too weird for words.
Weighing the possible responses, the brunette snagged her towel and began mopping sweat from her face. As she debated, another phrase danced into her head, instantly determining for her what tone to adopt for her response.
" 'Irene Cara', D? I don't think so. I just don't do Jennifer Beals."
Dropping her towel, the brunette advanced on the younger girl.
" 'Sides, leg warmers went out twenty years ago, Kid."
Helena had to give the teenager credit for not backing down in the face of her deliberately hostile approach. Of course, in the last year, the Kid had gone through a lot and faced a lot worse than one mock-angry older sister-type figure.
"Well, there had to be some reason I could sneak up on you today, Hel."
Deciding to ignore the giggled distraction, the brunette refocused on her earlier question.
"So, how do you do that, Dinah?"
The grin reappeared, and the blonde was off. Helena dropped onto a weight bench, familiar with the teen's M.O. and fully prepared for the long haul.
"Oh, yeah - that! I don't know exactly, but it's like I just sort of push a thought at someone, I think. Kind of like with my TK, you know, just focusing -- concentrating really hard on what I want to happen. But, with this, it's on what I want to say even though I don't 'say' anything--"
Quirking an eyebrow, the brunette attempted to steer a bit in the rapids of Dinah's discourse.
"How'd -- when did you find out...?"
Unfazed, seemingly not pausing to take a breath, Dinah shifted from how to when.
"Oh, just today, actually. During Quiz Bowl practice."
She paused, seeming to reconsider.
"Well, actually, I think it was last night at Gabby's? We were playing Trivial Pursuit, and you know how Gabby sucks at Entertainment and I totally rock?"
Helena nodded fractionally, quite familiar with Dinah's prowess in that particular field.
"So, last night, every time Gabby got a question that I knew the answer to, she just seemed to... get the answer I was thinking."
Apparently observing the slightly skeptical expression being directed her way, the teenager hastened to elaborate.
"Yeah, I know. At first I thought it was just coincidence... or that after all our games she was finally getting the cards memorized or something, but then I realized she was giving exactly the answers that I was thinking -- You know, saying 'S.S. Minnow' instead of 'The Minnow'? So, I started thinking about wrong answers, and she started saying those. Later last night, I sort of forgot about it, uh, when we went to sleep -- "
Well aware that the two teens had been flirting with each other for most of their senior year, Helena just bet that Dinah had had other things to think about the night before. The extra hint of pink in the blonde's pale features was a pretty good tell, too.
"...but, today during practice, when Tom was getting all hung up on some utterly basic questions, I just got exasperated with him and, uh..."
This time, the blush was impossible to miss.
"And what, D?" the brunette coaxed, fighting the beginning of a smile. As with Dinah's other powers, she suspected that a pretty good story was going to come out of the birth of this new skill.
"Uh, he, uh, blurted out the answer."
Ducking her head to catch cornflower blue eyes that were firmly fixed on the mats of the training room floor, Helena raised her eyebrows encouragingly.
"Uh, he said exactly what I was thinking."
Marshalling patience from her fairly non-existent stores, the older woman purred leadingly, "Which was...?"
" 'Rime-of-the-ancient-mariner-you-big-jackass' ", the blonde blurted in an embarrassed rush.
Having a good idea which too-pompous-for-his-own-good member of the team Tom was, Helena didn't attempt to restrain her glee.
"That's priceless, Kid! Guess you couldn't doubt that it was your doing after that, huh?"
She thought that Dinah looked like the perfect embodiment of embarrassment and pride.
"Uh, yeah, guess not. But, Mr. Phelps gave Tom detention for a week..."
"Something I'll try to correct when I get back tomorrow."
Helena almost gave herself whiplash as she snapped her head towards the door of the training room and the source of the silky voice.
Dressed in her usual workout gear and looking as amused as Helena felt about Dinah's little feat, Barbara was radiant. Ignoring a purely instinctual desire to leap into the redhead's lap and rub against her chest and purr, the brunette contented herself with a smile and a laconic wave as she fired a question at the teenager.
"So, you can put thoughts in our heads. Can you hear what we're thinking? Without, uh, touching or something?"
She wasn't sure quite how the touch telepathy thing worked, but figured it might help the blonde with her new skill.
Dinah smiled hesitantly as Barbara came to a stop by the weight bench.
"Uh, I think I can. That is, I've been picking up some random thoughts from, uh, Gabby. I think I would be easier if somebody was actually, uh, thinking at me, you know?"
Helena smiled very sweetly.
"Let me try."
Placing her fingertips dramatically by her temples and shutting her eyes, she concentrated on a message for Dinah. When she opened her eyes, the color flooding the blonde's face left no doubt that her question had been received.
"Helena, geez! Is that all you can think about?!"
The brunette bit the inside of her cheek and batted her eyes.
"Whaaat? C'mon, you have to answer. Otherwise, how will I know if you really 'heard' me?"
She ducked to one side to avoid the visual daggers being directed her way and threw a wink towards Barbara.
"Ooooh, I'm terrified, Kid. C'mon, spill."
The response was a little strangled.
"Pink, okay? They're pink!"
Risking it, Helena directed another thought towards the teen and was rewarded with a decidedly indignant stare.
"They certainly do not have 'Hello Kitty' on them. And I really have better things to do than being insulted inside my own head, if you don't mind."
With that pronouncement, as Helena guffawed and gleefully rolled off the bench, the blushing teen brushed a kiss to Barbara's cheek and exited the training room.
Aware of the somewhat frosty silence in the training room, the brunette reigned in her mirth, fighting a desire to snert indelicately and wipe play-tears from her eyes. Instead, she gracefully rolled to her feet and contritely dug her toe into the mat on the floor.
"I see that the situation on the home front is normal in my absence, Helena. Why you insist on teasing her so..."
Glancing up through thick lashes, Helena was pretty sure she detected a trace of amusement in those arresting green eyes.
"Aw, c'mon, Babs. It was pretty funny. Besides -- "
Leaning down, she effortlessly helped transfer the older woman to the mat to begin their weekly PT session.
"-- with new powers popping up all over the place, somebody has to keep the Kid from getting a swelled head."
"Hmm, perhaps, Hel. Still, it is an interesting development. Not altogether unexpected, given Dinah's other meta abilities -- "
Helena was distantly aware that Barbara was speaking as she positioned herself by the older woman's left knee and began the well-known sequence of movements; however, the sense of the words was lost on her. After almost six years of performing the exercises that helped keep the redhead's muscles from atrophying, the movements were completely routine. The feelings that roiled through Helena from touching the other woman -- even through her workout pants -- never were.
Savoring the delineation of muscles which were still firm, the younger woman realized that Barbara had asked something.
"Hu-- I'm sorry. What was that?"
She couldn't quite read the expression in the amused green eyes.
"I asked if there were any other surprises while I was gone, Sweetheart."
Caramel features flushed almost imperceptibly, warmed by the familiar endearment. Attempting to cover the reaction, the brunette shifted slightly and concentrated on the position of her hands on one slender ankle.
"Aside from the budding Svengali thing that D just showed us? Nah."
Reasonably confident that she'd regained control of herself again, Helena looked up and flashed a smile as she reached for Barbara's other leg.
"How was Geek-Con?"
Not so much in control of herself. The redhead's throaty chuckle played across the younger woman's nerves like silk and champagne. Swallowing thickly, she shifted her gaze back to her work.
"It was the Northeast Regional Tech Expo." Barbara corrected without rancor. "But, you knew that. And, it was fine, Hel."
Helena detected the briefest of pauses.
The brunette thought that the older woman sounded surprised at herself as she made the admission. For her part, Helena was thrilled to hear it. For the last nine months -- since the 'Quinn Debacle', as she thought of it -- Barbara had been way too withdrawn. Practically freakin' cloistered behind the screens of the Delphi every minute that she wasn't teaching. It had almost taken a crowbar -- coupled with reminders about accrued vacation time that was going to be forfeited -- to get the redhead out the door for this conference. And, while Helena thought that the event in question sounded a little boring -- seemed like a weekend in Paris or the Bahamas or, heck, locked up with Barbara in her bedroom would be waaaay more fun -- she figured that anything which got the technologically obsessed grey matter between Barbara's ears excited had to be a good thing.
Masking her delight at the other woman's admission, Helena inquired nonchalantly, "Fun, huh? Didja find any handy devices for us to use in the dark of night?"
She punctuated her question with a lascivious wiggle of dark eyebrows, easily noting the blush crawling up the redhead's neck.
Still, Barbara gave as good as she'd gotten.
"I don't think I ran across anything that would fill that bill for me, Hel. However, I did bring back something which might serve you in that capacity."
The brunette couldn't suppress her smile at the familiar flirtatious banter even as her stomach flip-flopped pleasurably at the thought -- however remote -- that Barbara might have thought about her... about that...
Still, she tried to keep it casual.
"Oh yeah? What's that?"
"A one hundred thousand watt mini-tazer."
Helena didn't even try to hide her wince, then joined in with the older woman's laughter.
"Okay... I guess that could light up my life or something, Red."
The brunette worked her thumbs against a firm calf muscle for a moment until a thought struck her.
"What kind of power source would I need to haul around on sweeps for that baby? 'Cuz, I just don't see flying over the rooftops with a portable generator under one arm or a two-mile extension cord trailing behind me."
She trailed off for a beat, considering other possibilities.
"Maybe you could rig up some kind of super light solar panels or something, and I could wear them like big butterfly wings; but that wouldn't work so well at ni--"
An amused voice interrupted Helena's ramblings.
"Two Double-A's, actually."
The younger woman shut her mouth and began to work on the other calf as she considered that bit of information. Science hadn't been her strongest subject in school -- Hell, after her mom was killed, nothing was a strong subject any more, unless you counted detention -- but she still just didn't see how something powered by two lil' old remote-control batteries would really pack such a punch. Maybe a tickle or a buzz, but a hundred-thousand watt 'Pow'?
Apparently reading her silence, Barbara spoke lightly.
"It really does work, Sweetheart. Something about amplifying coils."
Helena threw a grin towards the other woman, just as the redhead hastily added, "And, I'll thank you not to test the unit on Dinah... Or yourself."
Ducking her head sheepishly, the brunette decided to think about how to test the gizmo later.
"So, seriously, Babs. Did you find anything interesting?"
So focused was she on keeping her expression neutral and her breathing steady as she filed away the exquisite sensations inherent in stretching Barbara's hamstring that it took Helena a full minute and a half before she realized that the redhead had not answered her question.
Even after the protracted delay, it sounded like Helena's normally fluent friend was at a loss for words.
"Perh -- I don't know."
Despite the brevity of the response, Helena knew her partner well enough to read the hesitant, slightly miserable tone; to interpret the way that normally direct green eyes remained fixed on the ceiling. It didn't happen often, but Helena had been there enough during late nights filled with chocolate chip cookie dough, fudge ripple ice cream, and a grainy copy of "Notorious".
Refusing to play to her partner's insecurities or to give into the feeling that she herself was drowning, the younger woman carefully completed the final stretch then crawled up the mat to stare directly at the woman she loved.
Smiling conspiratorially, she drawled, "Barbara Gordon! You met someone, didn't you?"
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