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.


Chapter 13


Well, knowing how much Red loved a good puzzle, especially one that was in the pursuit of justice and all that, maybe not so unbelievable. But, still, Helena had to amend, it was kind of pushing the boundaries of reason.

A perfectly fine Saturday, with the Kid pledged to be out of the clock tower all day, with no tutoring sessions or essays for Barbara to grade, with no major crime for Helena to thwart, and where was she?

Parked in the jeep, outside a diner on the outskirts of town, waiting. A freaking sit and stare job.

Shifting restlessly in the passenger seat, Helena picked up her liter bottle of Mountain Dew and twisted the cap. Instantly thinking better of it -- Barbara really needed to rig up some sort of comfort station if she was going to be sending Helena on these sorts of jobs -- she sighed and returned to filing her nails.

No need to let her appearance suffer just 'cuz she was doing a little overtime.

<"Still nothing, Huntress?">

"Nada, Oracle. Guess our boy was hungry after nothing but jail food for the last few days."

The corners of the young woman's mouth turned up at the low chuckle even as her heart simultaneously trip-hammered. It was exactly the same tone she'd heard early that morning after touching and tasting and teasing the other woman until...

<"Stay on him. He may be our best chance of finding out what's behind these odd break ins.">

"I know that somebody like ol' Rocko here having a library card is pretty suspicious, Oracle, but, sheesh, couldn't we just put a bug on his belt or something?"

Okay, maybe that had been just a little bit snarky, but she'd cautiously followed the guy for two hours after his release from the county jail, only to end up sitting here for the last hour and a half, watching him nurse a cup of coffee and work a crossword puzzle -- in pencil. Helena was feeling just a little edgy.

Barbara's voice was sympathetic, but Helena was pretty sure she detected just a touch of exasperation.

<"I believe the fact that Rocko is the only member from the office job that you foiled who had an ACLU lawyer spring him with a time served criminal mischief charge may be more telling, Huntress.">

Feeling duly chastened, the brunette spoke contritely.

"I know, and I'm sorry. It's just, this isn't where I really wanted to be today."

This time, the older woman's voice held nothing but warm sympathy.

<"I know, and I do understand; however, Rocko's release today is simply too much of an opportunity to see if he meets with whomever is masterminding these jobs.">

Neither woman entertained any illusions that Rocko Martin, the "juggernaut of muscles" that Helena had encountered early in the week, was behind the break ins.

Sighing, Helena licked her lips and decided to live dangerously. She took a long swig from her soda and coughed when she noticed movement through the diner window.

"He's moving, Oracle. He's... Oh, shit!"


The young woman could almost see the arched crimson eyebrow that was certainly accompanying the older woman's question.

Gracefully sliding over to the driver's seat and inserting her key in the ignition, Helena gave up on her plans for an evening in the other woman's arms.

"He just got on a Greyhound Bus."

She put the jeep into gear.

"Looks like I'm taking a road trip, eh?"

<"What's the bus number, Huntress? I can find out where it's heading.">

Dark brows lowered in puzzlement.

"Uh, I'm behind the bus, Oracle. You know, following--"

A quick laugh cut her off.

<"Of course. How about the license plate?">

A few keystrokes later, and Oracle had the verdict.

<"Boston, Huntress. The final terminus is Boston.">

Sunnuvagun. Helena thought she really should have hit the restroom.

The voice over the comm set became decidedly apologetic.

<"Of course, he may not be going all the way to the end of the line, and I certainly don't expect you to go all the way--">

The brunette threw back her head and laughed at the weirdness of it all. Unwilling to have the older woman shouldering any guilt about an occupational hazard, she spoke lightly.

"No worries, Oracle. I can always buzz out to Provincetown and see what's swinging, right?"

Helena was surprised to note that her mood lifted -- slightly -- at the idea of visiting the gay mecca. Even if it didn't pan out on this trip, maybe she could visit with Barbara some time.

Static crackled through the transceiver, and Helena lost part of her partner's response.

<"...deed. ...out of range. Call to ch... in?">

Helena kept her reply to the point before thumbing the unit off.

"Will do. Off comms now."

Rustling in the center console for a tape, the young woman decided to make the best of the impromptu drive. She had an ample supply of snacks; the late afternoon scenery from the highway was a pleasant change from New Gotham's unrelenting urban bleakness; the sound system in the SUV was top notch; and, best of all, she had plenty to think about from the night before.

She glanced at the cassette in her hand; it looked like a mix, but the writing on the label wasn't familiar. The brunette smirked, wondering if it was something Gabby had put together for Dinah, and popped it into the dash. A familiar pining melody echoed over the speakers.

I'm still wild but not lost
From the thing that I've chosen to be
And it's `cause you've thrilled me
Silenced me
Stilled me
Proved things I never believed
The face on you
The smell of you
Will always be with me

Feeling the fine hairs on the back of her neck raising in response to Sinead O'Connor's evocative lyrics, the young woman considered Barbara's face, the expression that had graced her features when -- after long, wonderful explorations -- Helena had found a way. A bit unconventional and -- the brunette's jaw clenched in frustration -- Helena had yet to touch or taste everywhere that she still desired on the older woman; nevertheless, it had been amazing.

And utterly, utterly humbling.

Blue eyes blinked back moisture as Helena recalled the emotions that had been so manifest in the older woman's experience. There had been joy and wonder... and something akin to sorrow. And, then, so soon on the heels of the redhead's climax that it had to have been a part of it, hunger: a raw, naked want glowing in emerald eyes. The sight had sent a flood of arousal down Helena's thighs; a heartbeat later, she'd found herself pinned to the bed, fulfilling the other woman's passion with her own.


And, after all of that, here she was, sucking diesel fumes from an aged bus and traveling away from where she wanted to be. Shrugging philosophically, the young woman admitted that life could be pretty weird sometimes and cranked up the volume to John Mayer's "Your Body Is A Wonderland".

Three hours -- and one hurried bathroom break -- later, Helena experienced no small measure of relief when the New Gotham to Boston bus pulled away from an interim station leaving her prey behind.

Apparently Bayside was the end of the line for Rocko.

Parking the jeep, the dark figure stepped out and stretched exorbitantly, thrilled with the prospect of continuing the chase on foot. While the community was small enough that, normally, her pursuit might stand out like a sore thumb, Helena suspected that the dark night -- and Rocko's own distraction -- would shield her from detection.

The brunette moved stealthily from the bus depot to a gas station, then vaulted onto the roof when her quarry took a moment to buy a package of undoubtedly stale gem donuts from a vending machine. Easily keeping pace from the rooftops of the closed businesses on the main street, Helena trailed the man to the edge of town to a self-storage facility and then waited quietly on the roof of a neighboring storage shed while Rocko rustled through a six by twelve unit. As soon as he snapped the padlock closed on his unit and set off, pushing a wheelbarrow, she dropped soundlessly to the ground and strolled to his locker.

The brunette eyed the lock dismissively -- standard Masterlock used by every high school kid in the country -- and set to work. Twenty seconds later, smiling wistfully as she recalled the afternoon that her mom had shared that particular skill, the young woman popped the lock and opened the door.

Well, so much for the missing encyclopedias. Carefully wrapped in waterproof plastic sheeting, stacked floor to ceiling, there they were: Britannica's, Americana's, World Books. The whole gamut.

Catching sight of a box in the corner, the young woman stepped inside and pulled up one of the flaps. Having long ago learned not to doubt her partner's hunches and deductions, Helena wasn't particularly surprised to find a large quantity of shoe tongues inside.

The young crime fighter chuckled soundlessly as she relocked the storage unit and turned to catch up with the subject of her surveillance. She could easily hear him laboring through a nearby field, wrestling with his wheelbarrow and, apparently oblivious to the fact that he had company, cursing a blue streak.

Sounded like 'ol Rocko had had an unexpected encounter with a barb wire fence.

As odd as the man's previous criminal activities had been, Helena doubted that anything the guy might be up to could be terribly surprising. However, when she finally caught up with him in a moonless pasture, the young woman realized that she had, in fact, been terribly, terribly wrong.

Chapter 14

"Bull shit."

"Aw, c'mon!"

"I kid you not, Dinah. The guy was shoveling grade A, farm fresh cow patties into his wheelbarrow."

The brunette accompanied her description by sidestepping the teen's swing with a four foot staff and mentally sticking her tongue out at her sparring partner. Judging from the sudden exasperated expression in pale blue eyes, Dinah's developing mind reading skills were working just fine.

"But, -- ugh -- "

The blonde grunted as she directed a sweeping blow at Helena's legs.

"...why? What did he do with it?"

The brunette effortlessly hopped over the sweeping staff and, just for grins, somersaulted over the younger girl's head.

"You're telegraphing again, D," she cautioned before answering the girl's question.

"I dunno why. But, after Rocko filled up his wagon with the choicest specimens -- "

Dinah wheeled and spun the staff with blinding speed towards Helena's right ankle. Deciding to take the blow -- Kid needed practice in how the hits felt, too -- the dark woman allowed the strike to sweep her off her feet, purposely landing on the staff and grabbing it with one hand.

"-- he headed back, wrapped it in plastic, stuffed it into an army duffel, and -- uggh --"

Helena grunted against the invisible force that was slowly prying her fingers from the end of the staff, then rolled her eyes at Dinah's muttered exclamation.

"Give. It. Back. Hel."


"Okay, Kid."

She smirked and rolled to her feet as the blonde pin wheeled from Helena's sudden release. Then, she finished her story.

"And, then he caught a return bus to New Gotham with his precious cargo in the luggage hold."

Clearly suspecting that she was having her leg pulled, Dinah set one end of the staff on the ground and fixed Helena with a skeptical look.

"And then what?"

Ducking her head and raising a shoulder to swipe some sweat from her face, the brunette shrugged.

"I dunno. I followed the bus, and when we got back to the city, Rocko grabbed the bag and headed back to his apartment."

She didn't feel the need to add that she'd followed suit shortly thereafter. By that time, it had been past dawn, and when she'd checked in, her sympathetically bemused partner had encouraged her to get some rest before the women's regular Sunday afternoon training session.

"But, why, Hel? The guy's just out of jail, and he goes--"

"On a nocturnal cow crap collection expedition?" Helena supplied gleefully.

Having just raised her water bottle to her mouth, Dinah didn't have a chance. The irreverent description, coupled with the brunette's guffaw, resulted in a choking spray that Helena sidestepped with a grin.

No doubt about it, bathroom humor was funny at any age.

Helena patted the coughing teen on the back, still grinning, as she finished answering her question.

"But, you got me. Maybe he does organic gardening or something and missed his regular fertilizer supply while he was in the lock-up last week?"

Finally getting herself under control, the blonde took a cautious sip of water, puzzlement clear in her pale blue eyes.

"I guess that's as good an explanation as any, especially considering the other strange stuff he's been involved with. Did Barbara have any ideas?"

Helena bent over, legs straight and hands flat on the mats of the training room floor, to stretch her hamstrings. Omitting the fact that the older woman had sounded as tired as Helena had felt when she'd talked with her earlier that morning -- No way Barbara would have slept while her younger partner was on assignment -- the brunette kept it short.

"Nah. I think Red thought it was as fucked up as we do."

Walking herself slowly down the mat with her arms, the dark figure performed ten slow push ups before walking herself back up.

"I figured she might have come up with something by now though."

Helena stood, glancing at the door to the training room. She'd not commented on the redhead's absence yet, as unusual as it was. Just because Barbara wasn't out in the field didn't mean she cut herself any slack during workouts.

Dinah followed the brunette's gaze and flashed a quick, nervous smile. Helena's stomach tightened -- just a tiny bit -- unpleasantly.

"Uh, I'm sorry, Helena. I forgot to tell you."

Helena raised an eyebrow expectantly and tried not to glare. After all, it wasn't like she'd given the younger girl much of a chance to say anything when Dinah had shown up to work out. The brunette had been so full of pounding energy that she'd just tossed a staff over -- considering some of the images floating around in her head, Helena hadn't thought hand-to-hand was such a good idea -- and gone at it for the last hour.

"Uh, yeah. Barbara asked me to tell you that she had to go out. Something about a software patch or something for the plot comparison routines."

The blonde sucked in a breath and scrunched her eyes a little.

"I mean, did you notice how long it took the other night just doing the baseline mapping on the office pic--"

Apparently registering Helena's distinctly waning level of interest, Dinah moved ahead.

"So, uh, yeah, and then her dad called and twisted her arm into going to some NGPD function with him."

Tone becoming somewhat sympathetic, the teen finished relaying her message.

"Barbara said she's probably going to be pretty late tonight."

Silence reigned for a moment as Helena digested the news and Dinah shifted from foot to foot. Finally, the teen spoke again, voice artificially cheerful.

"So, uh, no sweeps tonight, I guess."

Ignoring her desire to throttle the messenger, the brunette grabbed her towel and jerked it roughly over her neck.

No sweeps. No Oracle. No Barbara.

Instead of stomping her feet, she spoke gruffly.

"Yeah. Guess I can catch up on my sleep after work, or something."

Instantly registering the triumphant gleam in pale blue eyes, Helena realized that she had to be in a bad way. What other explanation was there for walking right into it?

Cerulean eyes narrowed dangerously as the older woman painted on her best Don't-Go-There expression.

It didn't help. Dinah batted her eyes and smiled sweetly.

"So, you're probably needing to do that, huh? Catching up on sleep, Hel?"

Helena smiled back, not quite as sweetly.

"Think you're ready for the big leagues, huh, Kid?"

Placing her fingers by her temples and offering a look of focused concentration, she added, "Want some pointers to use on Gabby?"

She held her pose as the teenager turned all shades of red and took a quick step back, raising her hands in the universal sign for mercy. Relenting, Helena lowered her hands and chuckled.

"Don't worry, Kid. I don't want to fry your circuits or anything. 'Sides, I'm not sharing any of this."

Dinah visibly relaxed and fell into step with the brunette as they made their way out of the training room. Sensing the urge to speak that was almost palpably rolling of the girl, Helena stopped at the door, cocked her head, and waited while Dinah gnawed at her lip for a moment.

The blonde finally drew in a breath and smiled, speaking softly.

"Seriously, Hel. I really glad that you're so happy. And Barbara, too. She's seemed, I don't know," Dinah paused, looking for the right word over Helena's shoulder, "lighter the last few days."

The brunette didn't fight her own smile as a wave of emotions and memories from the last few days washed over her. It had been a long time coming, but, man, it was definitely worth the wait.

Wrapping an arm around Dinah's shoulder in a quick hug, she stepped out of the training room, speaking cheerfully.

"Hey, if you're not doing anything tonight, maybe you can come down to the bar and help me tape down plastic sheeting for the wet trunk contest tomor--"

Helena belatedly noticed that she was talking to herself and performed a quick one eighty to find the teen frozen at the door to the training room, eyes as big as saucers.

It didn't take a brain as big as Barbara's for the brunette to realize what might have bled through during her quick hug. She felt warmth -- no, a freaking inferno -- traveling to her cheeks as she watched Dinah open and shut her mouth several times.

"Barbara did tha--?!"

The blonde cut herself off with nervous laugh as Helena advanced on her menacingly.

"Sorry, D. I'm gonna have to kill you now, you know..."

Taking off with a shriek, with the brunette in hot pursuit, Dinah tossed her response over her shoulder.

"You're going to have to catch me first!"

Chapter 15

Catching a stiff updraft channeling between two high-rises, Helena abandoned her stretch for the roof that was still twenty feet away -- twenty feet of empty vertical air -- and allowed the current to buffet her higher into the night sky. She shut her eyes and tilted her face up, wind billowing her duster, exulting in her flight. At that moment, two hundred and fifty feet above the grimy streets of New Gotham, floating on air, the young woman was invincible, convinced that -- if she could only stretch a tiny bit more -- she could catch the moon to offer on bended knee to woman she loved.

At the apex of the vertical lift, the brunette opened her eyes, snorting at her wildly romantic notion, and angled towards the roof below her. She wasn't quite sure what Barbara would say were she to show up with the moon on a silver platter, but the young woman was pretty sure that the language would lean towards the types of experiments that the redhead would run on the big rock instead of flowery expressions of devotion.

Probably just as well to leave the satellite orbiting where it was.

Helena crossed to the far side of the building and peered over the edge, at the balcony of the clock tower. Through the transom above the French doors, she could just make out the top of a red head, bent too close to one of the monitors as usual, and her pulse rate jumped. A split second later, the young woman jumped from the roof top, sailed across the narrow street, and landed soundlessly on the balcony.

She quashed what would have undoubtedly been a showy and dramatic entrance at the last minute when she remembered that spending the night nursing Barbara through a heart attack was not what she had in mind. Instead, she flapped her coat outside the door and entered the living area sedately and slowly -- completely, she thought, unlike somebody who was head over heels in love and hadn't seen her lover for over two and a half days.

The bright smile that the young woman received from behind a pair of half-glasses suggested that she'd taken the right approach.

"Hello, Helena."

The brunette stopped to drop her coat and licked her lips.

Damn, those glasses were sexy. Very sexy.

"Are you off already? Isn't tonight..."

The redhead turned to pop open a calendar on one monitor.

"the Wet Boxers Contest at the bar?"

"Trunks. Frat boys in wet trunks," the young woman corrected, voice a low purr as she strolled towards the Delphi.

"For some reason," blue eyes twinkled, "Janey was really eager to cover the end of my shift tonight."

The older woman laughed, then spoke thoughtfully, as Helena came to a stop next to her.

"But, aren't you missing out on the best... parts, Hel?"

The brunette smiled toothily as she dropped to a crouch and gently trailed her fingertips up the older woman's bare forearm.

"Well, there were some pretty swell Speedos at the bar, Red, but, right now, I'm finding that my interest seems to be in tank tops..."

She accompanied this declaration by teasing her index finger under the strap of the redhead's white tank, eyes drooping slightly at the other woman's shiver.

"...and silk robes -- "

Noticing the clear garment bag hanging from a bookcase, blue eyes flew open. Helena took in the shimmering fabric under the clear plastic and swallowed. Hard.

"And that," she managed to finish, with a nod towards the garment.

Green eyes followed her gaze, and the older woman smiled as Helena stood and walked over for a closer look.

"Don't think I've seen this one before, Babs. You really pulled out all the stops for your Dad's shin-dig. Did he stroke out when he saw you in it?"

The brunette smiled appreciatively at the plunging neckline as Barbara laughed gaily.

"I suspect he might have had apoplexy, Hel, if he had seen me in it," she acknowledged, "but that's not what I wore. In fact, actually, I picked that out today."


The shy admission hit the younger woman like a jackboot to the chest, and she immediately decided that she was going to need Alfred's help picking out the right place to take Barbara to show her off in that dress.

In the meantime...

Taking a second to be sure that her eyes weren't literally hanging out of her head or anything, the brunette turned away from the garment and visions of what it would look like on the other woman... and even more alluring thoughts of what it would look like as she peeled it off her.

"Uh, so, how is your dad? And, the banquet. How was that?"

Helena thought she'd managed a pretty good casual tone as she returned to the redhead's side. An arched brow and the ghost of a smirk hinted otherwise.

"He's fine, Helena. And, the banquet was the usual: long toasts and the same old war stories."

A soft laugh removed any harshness from the description.

"I did put out some feelers to see if anyone knows anything about the lawyer who sprung Rocko, but he simply seems to be a hired gun."

Focused on slender hands toggling to a screen in response to some alert, Helena attempted to look suitably interested in the other woman's singular lack of information about Rocko's mouthpiece. For her part, she thought it was well past time for the other woman to be off the clock for the night.

Since that seemed like pretty good thinking to her, the brunette leaned down to share her reasoning -- and maybe do a little coaxing. Unfortunately, the older woman whipped her head back to the side at that moment, catching Helena squarely on the nose. The young woman danced back, hand flying to her nose, eyes watering.

"Oh, sweetie!"

One of the elegant hands that she'd been admiring darted up, landing lightly on Helena's stomach.

"I'm so sorry. Are you alright?"

Recovering her wits, the brunette sniffed experimentally and lowered her hand.

No wonder Red always talked about how effective a good head-butt could be.

"Yeah, no harm done. But, what the hell?"

Green eyes blinked, looking baffled, and Helena felt herself melt. Quirking a grin, she gestured toward the Delphi and was rewarded with an abashed laugh.

"Oh, yes. We just picked up a silent alarm."

Green eyes sparkled.

"I think I know what Rocko is doing with his package from the country..."

Okay, so Red knew something. Helena knew something also: namely, that she'd be heading back out into the night.

Only slightly put out at the fact, the young woman hopped down from the platform and gracefully slid into her coat before turning with a wink.

"Just tell me one thing, Barbara."

Already focusing on the monitor, the redhead looked up with a puzzled smile.

"What's that, Hel?"

"Do I have time to stop and buy some air freshener on my way?"

The older woman's laughter followed Helena off the balcony. However, returning to the clock tower an hour later, the brunette wondered if it had been such a laughing matter. Barbara had been right about the source of the silent alarm; and, while Helena hadn't arrived in time to catch the guy in the act, the evidence was impossible to miss.

Strolling into the living room, the young woman wondered about the practicality of digging out Barbara's old utility belt and stocking it with those little green air freshener trees that people hung from their rear view mirrors. She dismissed the idea almost immediately since the belt would clearly ruin the sleek lines of her coat.

Dropping said coat on the couch, the brunette froze for a beat, wondering if she could just carry a Stick Up around in her pocket.

Barbara's musing recalled her to the moment.

"One more odd crime to add to the tally."

"Uh huh," Helena grinned as she moved to the redhead's side, "The New Gotham Ledger received the equivalent of a flaming bag of doggy doo on its doorstep tonight."


The young woman thought that Barbara's snicker sort of ruined the whole "stern and responsible" look that she was trying for.

"It was the presses, not their doorstep, and the damage is significant enough to be--"

Helena inhaled slowly, allowing the subtle scent of the other woman to wash through her, and tilted her head as Barbara continued to speak. She had to admit that stern and responsible looked pretty good on the other woman.

"However, this does provide another valuable piece to the puzzle. I'm coding some simulations to try to narrow down what the next target--"

The redhead removed her glasses and tapped one bow absently against her lips. The younger woman shifted quietly and swallowed, then licked very dry lips.

"The shoe factory is a bit of a wild card, I must admit, but I believe that coding for..."

Apparently noticing, finally, that her younger partner's attention was a bit... fragmented, Barbara trailed off, arching a brow in question. Helena managed to quirk a brief smile before the redhead's appraising look transformed to something different.


A soft request, as Helena raised one hand, brushing the back of her fingers ever so lightly against the older woman's hair.

Blue eyes lowered slowly when her hand was captured and drawn to soft lips to receive a gentle caress. Golden eyes opened at the redhead's murmur.

"You can ask, too, you know, Sweetie."

The dark figure carefully knelt next to the other woman, not entirely certain that her trembling legs would support her much longer.


The older woman's throaty response whispered across Helena's skin like a flame, searing her skin... and her soul.

"When you want... or need..."

Heat pooled in Helena's belly as she watched Barbara's face harden, and she breathed in the older woman's desire. Unblinking, she shifted -- just enough -- and then lowered her head against her lover's thighs.

"I need."

For a moment, the softly spoken words floated between them, and then the older woman shifted, the unnecessary movement bespeaking the restless desire echoed on her face.

"What do you want, Hel?"

The question was quiet and completely intimate.

Without raising her head, the young woman spoke her heart's desire.

"I want to please you."

Helena felt, rather than heard, Barbara's sharp inhalation. She trembled as one slender finger traced her eyebrow, the one that was slightly higher than the other, giving her a perpetually amused or disbelieving look.

When the older woman finally spoke, her voice was low and pleased.

"Oh, you do, Helena. Never doubt that."

Helena thought she heard... or perhaps felt... the briefest of stumbles in the older woman's voice before she continued huskily.

"From the moment you... touched me on the balcony, I never doubted it."

At that moment, so close to the other woman's center, feeling warmth building against her face, Helena could not doubt either.

"Let's just see..."

Barbara's index finger traced the brunette's ear, causing her to shiver and drawing a low rumble from her chest.

"...if I can please us both."

Helena thought she liked the sound of that. But, still...

Scenting the other woman, panting softly, she raised her head.

"I want to touch you, Barbara."

The older woman's look was a tease. And a promise.

"Why don't you go into the bedroom and wait for me?"

Incongruously, given her escalating level of excitement, Helena felt her heart rate slow, the pounding becoming more powerful -- as if she were laboring to move blood that had suddenly become thick -- molten -- through her veins.

Straightening, she lowered dark brows over playfully glinting eyes, flashed a wicked smile, and drawled, "Why, Ms. Gordon, whatever are you planning?"

The older woman's answering smile, Helena realized with a barely suppressed gasp, might have inspired daVinci's Mona Lisa or, perhaps, might have inspired Adam to taste the forbidden fruit.

"That's something for you to think about while you're waiting for me, Sweetie."

And, that's exactly what the young woman did after rising slowly, blood thundering in her ears, and making her way to the redhead's room. She made the room ready -- checking the thermostat, turning back the covers, selecting the muted illumination of a bedside lamp -- as anticipation prickled at her skin and her nerves hummed like tightly drawn wires. After that, the young woman made herself ready -- a hurried toilette, undressing herself but, sensing that Barbara would prefer it, remaining in her underwear -- before crawling onto the big bed.

The minutes ticked by while she lay on her back, arms under her head, drinking in the other woman's scent that surrounded her on the sheets and pillows. Listening to the muffled sounds of the redhead moving around the living area, then entering the bathroom through the hallway, Helena realized that all of her muscles were trembling minutely.

Having lived with, and worked with, and loved Barbara for so long, the younger woman was not unaware of the power and force that the older woman kept so tightly checked. Yet, after such a brief time as Barbara's lover, Helena suspected that she'd barely scratched the surface of the redhead's true passionate depths.

The thought was dizzying.

Helena's desire to prove worthy of Barbara's desire and to return it -- God, how she wanted that -- was overwhelming.

By the time the older woman entered the bedroom, clad in her usual nightwear -- boxers and a short sleeved tee shirt -- the brunette was breathless with the possibilities. Through a force of will she couldn't believe, she lay still as Barbara transferred herself to the bed, and then Helena shifted to rise onto her elbows.

The movement was summarily halted when the older woman placed a strong hand against the brunette's upper chest and gently pushed her back down.

"I believe..."

The words were a teasing burr.

"...that I liked you as you were."

Golden eyes blinked, and Helena licked her lips, searching the redhead's face. Reading the intent in the ascetic lines of her lover's features, a broad smile split the young woman's face, and she raised her hands above her head on the pillow, clasping her left wrist loosely in her right hand.

Helena watched emerald eyes narrow speculatively and felt her own breathing begin to shorten. When Barbara gently drew one finger down the center of her chest, neatly trimmed nail rasping quietly against the cotton of her tank, the brunette was pierced by an aching emptiness that caused her hips to buck violently.

"Oh god, Barbara!"

That slender hand lifted, two fingers coming to rest lightly against the young woman's lips.

"Shh. No talking."

Helena's jaw dropped, and she cautiously tasted the fingers which were resting against her mouth. They were so soft and warm, tasting faintly of soap... and something else.

The volume of her own moan surprised Helena.

And, then, the other woman shifted slightly, lifting her body. The fabric of the redhead's tee shirt whispered across Helena's throbbing breasts; long red hair curtained their faces. Barbara moved further up the bed, breathing soft kisses to the brunette's forehead, drawing her chest near Helena's throat.

Ravenous, aflame with a need to touch and take in, the young woman grunted softly, twisting her head down. She scarcely touched her mouth to a sinewy shoulder before the redhead pulled away. Gritting her teeth, Helena shifted her hips restlessly and sought the older woman's eyes.


"You're wet already, aren't you, Sweetie?"

Clenching into herself, the younger woman could only nod dumbly.

Dark, dark eyes seemed to flash as a tender smile painted itself on the redhead's face.

"Show me, Hel."

It was the sound of those words, steel enrobed in velvet, which first echoed through Helena's mind when she awakened several hours later, just before dawn. The young woman shivered, recalling the hungry verdant gaze that had stripped her bare, the barely-there touches and ragged whispers that had drawn her nerves and muscles bowstring taut, the promises of taste and fulfillment that had left her sweating and shaking and begging.


Just... whoa.

Snuggling infinitesimally closer to her bedmate, the young woman buried her face against the redhead's side, distantly aware of the contented rumble echoing softly from her own chest. Smiling, she nosed the sleeve of Barbara's tee higher and danced her tongue lightly under her arm, legs twitching minutely at the subtle tang of the older woman's sweat.

"Good morning, Hel."

A languorous stretch accompanied the husky greeting. Watching the play of shadows across the older woman's chest, Helena swallowed against the sudden watering in her mouth and then stretched slightly to press a soft kiss to the redhead's chest.

"Mmm," Helena felt a kiss brush the top of her head as Barbara continued. "I can't believe I woke up before the alarm."

The brunette's pleasantly drowsy mind -- and other parts of her anatomy -- instantly sprang awake and did some calculations. Even before she'd stopped caring about school, math had never been the young woman's strong suite, however...

"Yeah, funny that," Helena purred as she smoothly rolled over to straddle the other woman's hips, "It makes me feel all virtuous and righteous."

She easily detected the amused twinkle in green eyes.

"Does it indeed?"

"Uh huh. Just rarin' to do something energetic to kick off the day."

The young woman emphasized her statement with a soft bump of her hips against the redhead's stomach as she leaned down to lick at Barbara's neck. Her companion responded with a laugh, rubbing her hands briskly up and down Helena's back.

"I see."

The redhead twisted, shifting them to their sides and then leaning in to nip softly at the young woman's chin.

"Well, if you're so full of energy, Helena, perhaps I can draw up a list of errands for you to run this morning..."

Helena clapped her hands over her ears and scrunched her eyes shut tightly, not missing her partner's laugh as the older woman sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. At the sensation of warm fingers tenderly combing through her bangs, she cautiously lowered her hands and cracked one eye to find the redhead regarding her warmly.

Very warmly.

"Don't think I'm not tempted, Sweetie."

Well aware that, in her current state, her response to the older woman's tone was unmistakable, Helena decided to go with it. She smiled encouragingly and reached out to stroke the redhead's cheek softly. Barbara tilted her face into the caress before reaching for her chair and continuing ruefully.

"But, this morning, I believe I need a long shower and an extra cup of coffee if I'm going to make it through the day."

Bowing to the inevitable, the brunette scooted up in the bed to lean against the headboard, tugging the covers over her hips. Watching the other woman rifle through her closet reminded Helena of something and she sat up.

She might need a few days to put something together worthy of Red's new dress, but that didn't mean they couldn't...

"Hey, Barbara -- "

Hearing the hoarseness in her voice -- might of had something to do with all the moaning she'd done last night -- the young woman raised a hand and coughed delicately, trying not to blush in response to the knowing look being directed her way.

"I've got a late shift at the Dark Horse tonight and thought we, uh, well, would you like to have dinner? You know, real food at a restaurant?"

When the redhead merely blinked at her for a beat, Helena batted her baby blues winsomely and added, "My treat."

Barbara's answering laugh warmed the brunette, and she threw back the covers and shifted to the edge of the bed. The older woman's words stopped her cold.

"I'm sorry, Hel, but I can't tonight. I have a date."

Part 16

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