DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of these characters. I do this only for my sanity.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written in joyous celebration of International Day of Femslash as a part of Ann's wonderful series of 24 hourly fics for your reading pleasure.
If anyone spots the deliberately used lyrics in this fic, they just might get a prize of their choosing.
CHALLENGE: Written for the first International Day of Femslash.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The F Word
Barbara stared at her computer screen.
How could she have been so stupid?
When Helena had let it slip into her conversation on the communication link that she wanted Barbara, Barbara had flipped, had slammed the audio feed switch to off, and had dismissed Helena spectacularly.
Why, she wasn't sure.
She'd known for years that her relationship with Helena had been changing. There'd always been love, the sort of familial love that was chosen, not given. Helena had seen her at her lowest ebb and had stayed with her through the worst excesses of waking to realise her legs were gone. No amount of sugar coating from the medical profession, calling it paraplegia and explaining it in scientific terms, could hide the fact that the cold, hard truth of the matter was that her legs were dead. That Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl, would never, ever, fly the roofs of Gotham City again.
It was the heartbroken teenager that had realised her chosen guardian needed anger to get back on the right track. Barbara's genius brain could decipher the scientific at a later date; right then, she just needed to accept her lot and get on with it.
Helena had known that, had told her that, and had stayed with her through the difficult rehabilitation. The young, grieving woman had been there when she'd struggled to even regain her sitting balance, had carefully lifted her down onto the floor and steadfastly stood by, doing nothing, until Babs had learned how to get herself back into her wheelchair. She'd resolutely made Barbara go outdoors to do 'normal' everyday things, giving just enough help that it was encouragement, not a hindrance to her recovery, and she'd made sure she was 'home' when Barbara finally left the rehabilitation unit to once more begin her life as an independent, strong citizen.
How could they not love each other after all that?
And then on into developing their crime fighting team - Helena as the brawn, Barbara as the brain all the time their relationship growing and deepening without either making any special effort.
Somewhere along the way, Barbara had begun to notice Helena as a beautiful woman, had felt tingles rush up her arm as they touched, had been scared beyond belief at the thought of losing Helena to some madman's weapon, and of course, the steady trustworthy part of herself had tamped down on the feeling, hiding the fact she surely desired Helena behind the guardian persona she had perfected in her teaching role.
Fearing Helena would notice her growing desire, Barbara had gone out with dull, boring guys, who'd treated her well and given her a degree of respite from the guilt she'd felt at loving the younger woman placed in her care by one of the strongest women to inhabit Gotham, Selina Kyle.
Deep inside, Barbara knew she had no real need to hide her feelings because it was blatantly obvious that Helena felt the same way. Yet, Barbara continued to deny the facts to herself, to Helena, and most obviously to the outside world.
Until - she checked her internal chronometer - until 2.5643 hours ago when Helena had said, "May I come home now, Oracle, beating the crap out of pink guy has made me want to fucking kiss you senseless."
The shock at Helena's words couldn't hide the truth she heard in the words. After all this time, brutal and hard in their sincerity, it was clear Helena wanted her.
As always, Barbara had run.
Helena stared at the clock tower.
How could she have been so stupid?
When Helena had let it slip over the comm set that she'd wanted Barbara in a way that was a little more Neanderthal than she'd ever admitted before, the link had suddenly gone dead, and silence like she hadn't known for a while reigned.
Why, she wasn't sure.
She'd known for years that her relationship with Barbara had been changing. Helena had always adored Barbara from the first moment she'd seen her flying high over the parallel bars of her local gym class. A young child then, Barbara had become her hero; she'd worshipped the beautiful older woman as most kids in Gotham had worshipped Batman. And then, on the same night her beloved mother had been murdered, Barbara had lost her reason for being: her legs, her life, her strength.
It was Helena who'd known even then that Barbara needed to be in charge. Giving her health up to the rehabilitation team was something Babs just couldn't do. Instead, it had taken Helena to put her own grief to one side for a few long hours to shout, cajole, and argue with her hero that now was not the time to give up, Barbara Gordon was needed, and would always be needed.
Through all the painstaking months of Barbara's rehabilitation, Helena had been there, not only for Babs, but for her own selfish reasons. She really had needed Barbara, needed the older woman to need her, to help her, Helena, make it through. Giving Barbara encouragement and strength, had given her the same level of strength to accept that her mom was gone; to accept she needed to get on with her life, too. Barbara had listened to her stories of growing up with a mother she adored without ever losing patience, had accepted that the grieving youth needed space to be angry at her society, and had even turned a blind-eye to Helena's late night shenanigans in the worst bars of Gotham. And then, when the time was right, she'd cajoled her back to school and made her think about the future, not the past.
How could they not love each other after all that?
Later, after settling into their home, the relationship had continued to grow without any special effort. Barbara had patiently taught Helena the ethos of rightness and honesty, and had carefully taught her how to fight in the most calm, economical manner; until with measured ease, she'd convinced Helena to become her crime-fighting partner.
Somewhere along the way, Helena had lost her hero worship of Barbara, had realised that Barbara was just a gorgeous woman who knew how to handle herself in any situation. Somewhere along the way, she'd fallen in love with the woman her mother had chosen to be her guardian. And yet, to Helena that wasn't a problem. Her mother had always had impeccable insight, knowing immediately that something was right. If she'd chosen Barbara to be her guardian, she'd certainly have no qualms at accepting her as her daughter's partner.
Fearing Barbara would notice her growing desire and run away from the situation, Helena had dated a number of undesirable characters, both male and female. She'd hated the deceit but was intent on allowing Barbara the freedom of ignoring the fact her so-called charge was in love with her.
Deep inside, Helena knew she didn't really need to hide her feelings because it was blatantly obvious that Barbara felt the same way. And yet, she continued to hide the facts to herself, to Barbara, and most obviously to the outside world.
Until - she checked her wristwatch until, just over 2 and a half hours ago, when she'd been so high on the energy rush of beating the hell out of some lowlife, she'd uttered the immortal words, "May I come home now, Oracle, beating the crap out of pink guy has made me want to fucking kiss you senseless."
Her words had been crude and, she shrugged her shoulders, pure Helena. It hadn't altered the fact that it was the truth; that she was sincere in her need. She wanted nothing more than to kiss Barbara senseless, in fact, wanted nothing more than Barbara.
As always she was hiding.
Dinah silently observed the two women who had come to mean so much to her.
How could they both be so stupid?
Barbara had been staring at the computer screen ever since Helena's crudely voiced question and yet, it was plain to see she wasn't working on anything important, the screensaver had kicked in while Babs was away in her thoughts. If there was one thing Dinah had come to realise about her guardian, it was the fact that she regularly hid in her over-active, eidetic memory. She had no doubt, at this point in time, she was reliving every single second of her life with Helena, trying to find the moment when she'd done the wrong thing. The fact that she'd always done the right thing would be lost on her right now.
Dinah sighed and rotated her shoulders so that she could watch the pacing Helena.
Within ten minutes of her ill-chosen words, she'd arrived at the entryway to the clock tower, choosing not to enter but to pace the street, occasionally glancing up to look at the large clock face above her head. Even from her viewpoint, Dinah could see that Helena was constantly admonishing herself. If there was one thing she'd learned about Helena in recent months, it was that she wasn't the uber-confident woman she claimed to be. She had no doubt that right now Helena was blaming herself for this breakdown in communication with Barbara. The fact that Barbara had more than played her part would be completely lost on her.
Dinah sighed again, squared her shoulders, and marched over to the computer bank.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing, Barbara?"
If she hadn't been so intent on righting this wrong, Dinah would have laughed out loud at the speed with which Barbara's head snapped up. Instead, she immediately continued her words.
"It's obvious you have as big a thing for Helena as she does for you, so fucking do something about it already."
Dinah never usually swore, especially in Babs's presence, but right now, she was using the f-word deliberately; trying to get Barbara to react. It worked like a charm as the redhead's ire began to rise.
"Don't use language like that in my house, young lady. You know absolutely nothing about how I feel."
This time Dinah did laugh; a loud ironic chuckle. "Oh Barbara, I'm sure you know that's not true. Of anyone else in this house, I know how people feel. Maybe not the whole story, but I do know that you care, much more than you're willing to admit."
Barbara's anger refused to die in the face of Dinah's truth. "It's not that easy though, I'm "
"Don't give me any excuses; it's not going to wash." Dinah leaned over Barbara's chair in a surprisingly menacing way. Jabbing her finger towards Barbara's chest, she continued. "There are only two reasons I came to Gotham City; one, to get away from my parents, and two, to spend time with the two women who haunted my every dream, the two women who quite clearly lived their life together; the two women who were quite clearly together."
"Imagine my disappointment when I got here to find the exact two women living in separate houses, pretending to share their life with weak willed men, and only seeing each other occasionally to do their duty. At least, after learning to love you, I realise that's only a sham."
Seeing the cogwheels start to turn in Barbara's head, Dinah knew she'd planted her seed. She jabbed her finger one more time and pushed firmly. "Together, as a pair; do something about it."
Dinah turned on her heel and marched down the stairs and into the roadway, immediately catching Helena's attention with her words.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing, Helena?"
Just like earlier, she smiled inwardly at the look of astonishment that crossed Helena's face; until now, Dinah had never once raised her voice in Helena's presence; until now, she'd been more than a little afraid of her colleague in arms. Today, however, she'd had enough.
"Why did you say something so crude and so truthful only to not follow up on it? I thought you were fucking braver than that."
Helena looked at Dinah as if she'd lost her mind and let out a low, ironic chuckle.
"Me? Brave? Whatever gave you that idea? I'm just plain old Helena Kyle, in love with an older woman who considers me to be a child, and who just happens to have blown her chances with her stupid arrogance. Oh, and don't use that fucking word, she'll go ballistic."
Helena stared Dinah down, challenging her to take things further. Dinah allowed her own anger to rise, knowing it was the only way she could cut through Helena's pride.
"Oh, Helena, I've used far juicier words than the little f-word, but that's not the problem here, is it? The problem, my friend, is that you let Barbara win every damn argument you have when some of the times you are in the right."
Helena's mouth twisted up in a wry smile; she did give in to Barbara more times than not, it was easier sometimes. "Yeah, maybe you're right, but this time "
"This time you're in the right, and you need to follow up on your words. You two are meant to be together." Dinah walked over to stand toe to toe with Helena, catching hold of her hand in a vice-like grip. "I've watched you two together for months now, and you know how much I can feel through others' thoughts and emotion. You two are meant to be together. I knew it before I got here, and I know it for certain now."
"Helena, you are the bravest woman I have ever crossed paths with, so imagine my disappointment when I arrived here in Gotham to find you somewhat under the thumb of someone who is meant to be your equal, your partner, in life, love, fighting, whatever. Imagine the disappointment to find you chasing Reese instead of her."
Seeing the self-belief start to form behind Helena's gaze, Dinah knew she'd worked her magic. She gave Helena a quick hug and whispered, "She's meant to be with you, don't shirk that responsibility."
Dinah walked off toward the street, glancing backwards to see Helena entering the clock tower in a hurry. She grinned and turned quickly on her heels.
Barbara stared at Helena.
Helena stared at Barbara.
In the silent minutes they stared at each other, each woman heard a thousand words ringing in her ears: Dinah's, Selina's, Batman's, Alfred's, Jim Gordon's, but most clearly each other's. In the end, all that needed to be said had already been said.
Helena smiled, choosing her pathway carefully.
"Double dog dare you to take a chance, Barbara."
Barbara chuckled and held out her hand. "Never let it be said I refuse double dog dares. I accept, Helena, and challenge you to keep me sane. Can you do that?"
Helena took the hand being offered to her and sank to her knees. Looking up into Barbara's face, she echoed her words of moments before. "Never let it be said I refuse to accept a challenge, I accept."
With slow, deliberate movements, Helena pulled Barbara down towards her, and they hovered deliciously for a couple of breathless moments, taking in the silence just before. Like a snapshot to hold on to, they waited, lip to lip but not quite touching.
In the doorway a silent Dinah stared at Barbara and Helena, smiling as the kiss that had been threatening went on and on and
Just as quietly she left the room.
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