DISCLAIMER: Sadly, they are not mine. I would like to lay claim to
the stunning Ashley Scott tho, if anyone's keeping score. All my
earthly possessions for that one. MINE! Ahem. Anyway, they belong
to people that AREN'T me, I'm making no money and only having fun.
Please don't sue.
WARNING: If the idea of two women involved in a romantic relationship together disturbs you, run, run far far away and never look back. If it's illegal where you live, move quickly. Too young? Age quicker, it's fun here. Other than that, enter at your own risk, and enjoy.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Here I am still at it. Hate the title but I was in a hurry.
SPOILERS: The last 2 episodes. Sequel to Twisted but hopefully it can stand on it's own.
Fighting the Right
By Aeryn Sun
OK, so this is familiar. I can do this, hell, I used to do it all the time. We've got that whole `talking but not talking' thing going on. We talk; about the weather, the job, who's ass I'm about to go kick, Dinah's training, poptarts and a bunch of other things. But never about `it'. Never about that time stopping, mind numbing, synapse blowing kiss.
I mean, I'm as good if not better than the next person when it comes to avoiding talking directly about things. Barbara's always said that I could talk rings around most anybody if I was in the mood. I probably inherited it from my mother, a smooth talker if there ever was one. However, I'm exactly the opposite if it's something I WANT to talk about. Then I have all the tact of a brick through a church window and `no' suddenly escapes my vocabulary.
I tried to talk to her about it at the time, that morning. But Barbara had totally closed herself down and shut me out. She gave me a not so gentle shove before she grabbed the bar above her bed and tried to get up. Then she realized that I'd carried her into the room the night before so her chair was in the next room. Shit, I think it nearly killed her to ask me to go get it for her. I know she hates feeling `dependent' on others like that. And hell, it didn't even occur to me until the barely audible request was growled past those soft lips. Her body language was so strained and the pain in her eyes so clear that I half expected her walk out of that room under her own power.
And I could have refused to get it for her, forced her right then and there to talk with me, fight with me. And the more primal part of me, the one that thrives on conflict and conquering was tempted to. But this was Barbara, my best friend, mentor and former guardian. I couldn't do that, dangle that sort of power over her. Besides, it wasn't fair to use that moment against her. She was already feeling openly vulnerable so I knew I couldn't corner her like that. She'd only resent it and close down on me more. And then this image of her dragging herself out of the room WITHOUT the chair or my help flashed across my eyes and the belief that she might be desperate enough to try it spurred me into motion.
I brought in her chair and she shrugged off any attempt I made to assist her. I caught the slight flinch when I reached out to touch her. I felt like I'd been burned, or whipped. She couldn't even look at me, still can't and now my guilt is a thousand times worse. I don't even understand why. I don't know who kissed who or whatnot. All I know is neither of us disliked it and I really want to do it again.
But every time I try to talk to her about it, to talk about why it happened, the `mask' goes on and the `Great Walls of Barbara Gordon' go up. She becomes this impenetrable fortress, emotionless and stone cold. I think I'd have better luck getting the stone gargoyles of New Gotham to tell knock-knock jokes than get though those walls. Her eyes get so cold, so distant but I don't know who she's hiding from: me or herself.
When I'm out prowling the rooftops as the Huntress she's all business, The Oracle through and through. It used to be, before that morning, that even while `on the job' she'd let a little `Barbara' peek through. We'd joke, banter and tease. Now she just points me in a direction, tells me what needs to be done and that's that. Any attempt at me to draw her out into our familiar pattern of word play (which I always lose) is shut down and scolded.
"Mind on the job, Huntress," she'll snap and I instantly feel like I'm 7 years old and have been caught licking frosting off my fingers. It's that tone of voice, I think. She's not my mother and we both know it but she thinks using that tone of voice will properly chastise me and while it does, it also annoys the crap out of me.
I know Alfred has tried to talk to her, in his subtle English way. While he doesn't know exactly what happened between Barbara and I, any idiot with a set of eyes, ears and half a brain can tell things between us are strained. Dinah's tried too, to get Barbara to open up and let down her guard but she refuses to relax. I feel kind of sorry for the kid, though. She keeps getting caught in our cross hairs. One minute Barbara's fine and then I enter the room. Suddenly Barbara's a rabid porcupine shooting quills at anything that gets too close.
Hmmm, interesting imagery.
I've thought about trying the whole `bagel' angle again but since it worked so well last week but I think this time I'd WEAR it if I tried. A hot cup of coffee doesn't strike me as a good idea either. Maybe I should just abandon the entire food theme.
I want to just talk to her but I'm so tired of butting my head against her walls. Yes, I have a thick skull but even I have my limits. Plus, I think I'm.afraid. What if she outright rejects me? Fuck, she might as well just put a bullet in my head if she decides to do that. I'd rather have the little fragile hope that I harbor than no hope at all.
None of which is helping me to get my feet to move me from the ledge outside into the warmth of the Clocktower. I'm just sort of perched out here in the dark trying to decide on a course of action. I'm not usually so indecisive. But then again, I'm not usually contemplating shaking the most important relationship in my life all the way down to its foundation.
Because that's what I keep coming back to: my relationship with Barbara. It is, has been and probably always will be my centering point, my balance. I don't want to jeopardize that link, that level of trust. But.
I can't do THIS either.
I hear Dinah approach and swallow my groan. She must have tried to talk to Barbara again and having failed, is going to come poke at me for answers. I admire the kid's spunk even if it is annoying at times. I know she's still somewhat intimidated by me, especially when I'm in a mood but she's working on it. I give her credit for that.
"Gee, Helena, stalk much?" she asks, crossing her arms and glaring at the dark corner she knows I'm settled in. I snort in response.
"God, Helena, what did you do to set her off like this?" she demands to know in that `superior' teen-age tone that make me want to kick her in the head. I snarl slightly in the shadows but she must have seen my reaction because her eyes got wide and she's paled somewhat.
"Why are you assuming I did something?" I growl, more than a little upset that I'm looking as guilty as I feel. I feel like a raw open wound and the kid just poured salt into it.
"Hel, only you can wind her up like this," Dinah says wearily. "No one else gets under her skin like you do, not me, not Alfred, no one. The only times I've ever seen Barbara this upset, aside from Wade's death, are when you two are fighting. I don't need to be a rocket scientist."
"It's nothing," I lie. "It'll work itself out. Don't worry about it."
"Oh bullshit!" she yells back, blonde hair flying in the breeze as she advances on me. Shit, the kid is genuinely pissed. And that somehow amuses me. "If this was one of your `normal' fights, you'd be FAR from this place, getting your skank on in some dive, not hanging out on the ledge like some demented Meta-pervert. You HATE fighting with Barbara so you leave until you get over whatever it is that set you off because you KNOW Barbara will just accept you back, no questions."
"But this time you're poking at her, baiting her into fighting with you. You won't leave unless it's to go on sweep but you won't go inside too much either. You're like a ghost haunting the Clocktower and it's annoying! It's like you're somehow tied to her by this rubber band if you go too far, it snaps you back."
"You're babbling, kiddo. If you have a point, reach it," I snap. Damn, she's hitting too close to home.
"My point is, for God's sake, talk to her!" she shouts making my sensitive ears ring. "Stop lurking in the shadows and go in there!"
"It's not that simple, Dinah," I sigh, depressed at the defeated tone of my voice. I bow my head so that my hair covers my eyes and I don't have to look at the accusatory blue shining angrily back at me.
"Why not?" she huffs. Ah, to be a teen again.
"She won't talk to me," I complain. "She just changes the subject or shuts down."
"She's not a computer, Helena," Dinah says softly. "She can't just shut down her feelings no matter what she pretends to do. She's trying to protect herself and maybe you, I don't know but you have to do something before everything just breaks. It's not just you and Barbara suffering here. We all are because of this rift. You have to fix it, somehow or we're all going to end up hurt."
I hate it but the kid's right.
"How?" I ask, finally looking up. Dinah shrugs.
"Alfred's gone back to the manor for the night, I'm heading to Gabby's for the weekend so you two are alone, if you ever decide to actually go IN the Clocktower. Beyond that, Helena, I don't know but please, talk to her."
"I told you she won't," I remind the teen. I hate being pushed. More than that, I hate being pushed when I know the other person is right. It's annoying and makes me want to rebel. I'm considering a dive off the balcony and going running across the rooftops to get rid of some of this energy.
"Because you push, Helena. Let her talk at her own rate, just get the ball rolling." The doorbell sounds and Dinah turns towards the entryway. "That's Gabby, gotta bail. Good luck."
"Thanks," I grumble.
I don't know how long after Dinah leaves that I stay standing here, thinking. Thinking isn't my strong suit, really. It's Barbara's. I'm the muscle, she's the brain. I try to get my mind set on a course of action but I fail. I'm just about to jump and go `get my skank on in some dive' as Dinah so.eloquently put it when Barbara's voice cuts through the chill air.
"It's quiet tonight. I think we can relax unless the Delphi alarm goes off," she calls out from inside the Clocktower. I shouldn't be all that surprised that she knows I'm hiding out here but it still startles me that she's speaking to me. "I thought I'd watch a movie, would you like to join me?" She's at the entryway now, looking at me as I teeter on the edge of the ledge. "Unless you were leaving?"
I step off the ledge with a shake of my head.
"Nope," I breathe out. I wasn't going anywhere, really. Just hiding.
"All right then, I'm popping popcorn so come in out of the cold, Helena." Her tone is still somewhat distant but at least she's inviting me in and not sending me away to fight someone.
We set up the movie and snacks in silence. I think I'm afraid to speak at all, really. If I do, the wrong thing might come out and she may send me away or something. Even now she's keeping a discreet distance as we go around the room, averting her eyes from my gaze. I feel like a leper.
Shit, I should have jumped.
"Is `The Ring' all right?" she asked absently. "I was in the mood for what Hollywood considers `horror' these days." I make a non-committal noise and flop down on the couch as she puts the DVD in. Really, anything short of that horrid Britney Spears movie would be fine with me. But `Crossroads'? Yeah, I'd have to object to that one. Watching it once with Dinah was more than enough.
She wheels herself to the other end of the couch and hits `play' on the remote. I'm hurt that she doesn't want to join me on the couch like she usually does but then again I guess I shouldn't be surprised. She's probably afraid that I'll kiss her again.
Wait, when did it all become my fault?
I sit and stew over that question for the entire movie, missing most of the story, if there was one. I covertly watch Barbara the whole time from under my bangs. She's totally absorbed in the movie, brow crinkled and concentrating, tongue sometimes sticking into her cheek as she thinks. And it's damn cute to watch. She sighs when it's over and pops the DVD out.
"Well, now that you've had 2 hours to stare at my profile, Helena, is there something you wanted to say?" she asks a hint of annoyance in her tone. I jump slightly at being caught staring. I feel my cheeks burn even as her words cause a painful ache in my chest.
"Obviously nothing you want to hear," I shoot back, acid lacing my tone. I instantly wince at the tone I used but I'm just so frustrated and she's not helping. She rubs at the bridge of her nose trying to soothe her own tension.
"Helena." she starts slowly. "I know you want to talk about.what happened but."
"But what?" I break in, my voice rising in anxiety. She finally looks up at me and I've leaned across the couch until I'm nearly in her lap. "But what, Barbara? `It shouldn't have happened?' `It can never happen?' Which lie are you going to tell me?"
Oh, that got me a glare.
"It's not a lie, Helena," she protests. I shake my head, my blood boiling with righteousness and the need to say what's inside me before she turns away and shuts me out again.
"It is too. You're going to sit there and tell me how you don't know what happened, you didn't mean to kiss me, blah blah. And you may WANT to believe that but, shit, I don't know who kissed whom, who started it and I don't care. All I know is we kissed, it was fantastic, the best I've ever had and YOU enjoyed it just as much as I did."
"No, I am so sick and tired of hearing your sermons on what's right and what's wrong in my life. Not on this, not this time. I have something to say and damn it, the all-knowing Oracle is going to listen to me!" I get off the couch and crouch down in front of her. Her lips are set in a thin pale line and I can tell she's getting pissed. I've got her trapped somehow and she doesn't like it.
"I felt you in that kiss," I start and shake my head to clear the scattered thoughts bouncing around my brain. My brain is starting to hurt, is that even possible? "I felt you respond and relax into me like.God, like nothing else in my life, Barbara. And you can't pretend that it was an accident or that you didn't feel anything. I KNOW you better. We kissed but YOU let me in, you helped me deepen the kiss. You could have refused or pulled away. But you didn't."
"I felt your lips on mine, giving just as much as you were taking. I could feel your body against mine, your arousal surrounding me."
"Helena." she's uncomfortable and tries to cut me off. Maybe that was pushing too far but it's the truth.
"The thing is, Barbara, you never do anything by accident or halfway. That's what's got me so confused," I continue on. "I'm not stupid, I saw signals from you. Or maybe I was being stupid but whatever. All I know is that I love you and that kiss.that kiss was everything to me." Oh, shit. I said the `l' word. I didn't mean to do that.
"I didn't mean to say that," I whisper. "But since I can't stop the words from reaching you, there they are." My arms flounder and flap a bit, which is unflattering. "And since it's the truth, I suppose you have a right to know."
Barbara just stares at me silently for a few minutes, which feel like hours before taking a deep breath and beginning to speak.
"Helena.there are so many reasons.so many factors that say we can't. We shouldn't and we won't. It's not a road that I'm willing to go down, not now or ever." I hear my heart shatter like fragile crystal and idly wonder if Barbara heard it too.
"Why?" I croak. "Explain to me why." My voice is so soft, imploring. "I don't understand."
"What's to understand, Helena?" she asks and I catch the tinge of pain coloring her voice. She's trying to hide it under layers of logic. Trying to hide herself under the reasons `why'. And damn that pisses me off.
I hate when she forgoes her desires and needs for logic and the welfare of others. It leaves her so empty and alone. She ends up with the short end of things way too often because she won't think of herself first.
"You were my ward," she's speaking again and I have to refocus to listen. "I was responsible for your upbringing, for YOU. I helped, in some small way, I hope, to shape the wonderful person you've become. Our relationship is always going to be complex and tightly interwoven because of the things we've been through together. That can't be changed or denied. And I acknowledge that. But anything more than close friends is just.wrong."
"Wrong? Fuck `wrong', Barbara. It's NOT wrong and besides, what about your heart?" She looks away at that, focusing on the far wall.
"Sometimes." she sighs. "Sometimes your heart and what's right don't go together, Hel. And it's hard but you have to accept that." There's such defeat in her voice that it pisses me off even more, bring Huntress to the surface and my eyes shift and flash.
"Why do you DO this to yourself?" I growl, standing up and leaning over her, using the arms of her chair for support. I have nothing to lose now, might as well push as hard as I can. "Why do you constantly deny yourself any semblance of happiness? You push and push and push yourself to be better than everyone else, above everyone else and that leaves you alone. And then when you get a chance, a small slim little hope at something good, you shoot it down. You did it with Wade, never letting yourself get too close because, damn it, you somehow think you don't deserve happiness."
"You drown yourself in the Delphi, surrounding yourself in logic and binary code so that you don't ever have to deal with what's really going on in here," I poke at her forehead, deepening her scowl. "Or here." I poke at her chest and this time she bats me away.
"Enough," she snaps. "We're done here." She pulls her chair out from under me and turns away. I jump, flip over her and land in front of her again.
"No," I snarl. "We're not done simply because YOU say we are. What's that matter, Babs, am I pushing some buttons?"
"Helena, until you get a grip on your temper, I have nothing to say to you," she warns. Well, shit. I take a deep breath and try to calm down. When I open my eyes, she's watching me intently.
"You are my mentor's daughter. That is wrong on so many levels, Helena," she whispers.
"Fuck Batman," I scoff. She arches an eyebrow.
"Thanks, but no. And your mother trusted me with you. I can't.I won't betray that trust, Hel. No matter what anyone might want."
Those words hit me square on, shaking me down to my core and stopping my heart for a scant second. Hope surges inside my chest and fills me from the tips of my fingers down to the tips of my toes. The question is past my lips before I can stop it.
"What do you want, Barbara?" It's whisper soft and at first I'm not sure she heard it. Then she looks at me, green eyes more lost than I remember ever seeing them.
"Doesn't matter, not really," she deflects the question. I step closer, invading her space again.
"It does to me," I point out gently. "What does Barbara want?"
"I.I can't.I." she stammers. Heh, wasn't aware Barbara could stammer like that. I lean in and press my lips to hers again. I don't know why but I HAD to. She's stiff at first so I press a bit harder, rejoicing inside when I feel her relax and respond to me.
"Helena," she pants when I pull away. "Please don't do this to me."
"Do what?" I purr as I nuzzle her cheek with my nose. Her hands are in my hair and I absently realize that I'm straddling her chair. When did I sit down?
"Pull at me like this," she's crying and I'm still feeling confused. I wipe away her tears with my fingers and she just stares at me.
"I've spent so long telling myself `no' that I can't handle.I can't deal with you saying `yes'," she says quietly.
"Aw Barbara." I sigh. "How long.?" God, how long has she been feeling something for me?
She shakes her head.
"Too long," she chokes out. "Hel.I can't.I'll just end up pushing you away and losing you." I brush her hair away from her eyes as she bows her head, seeking to hide from me any way that she can.
"You can't lose me, Barbara, I told you that," I reassure her as best I can. "I can't promise not to die."
"Oh God, don't even say that." she begs as she leans into my touch. Her hands are still petting my hair and it's heavenly.
"Hey, we both know that the reality is that it could happen, Barbara. But until that moment, I'm yours.totally.if you want me."
"I don't know what I want, Helena," she tells me honestly. I smile widely. She's scared, which is unusual in itself, but at least she didn't outright say no.
"That's OK. We don't have to figure it out tonight. But just so that you know something, Barbara," I whisper in her ear, licking it slightly making her shiver.
"What?" she asks hoarsely.
"I'm saying `yes'."
To Be Continued
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