DISCLAIMER: These characters and settings aren't owned by me. They belong to Tollin/Robbins, DC Comics, The WB (or whatever it's called these days), and a whole host of others. I write for personal entertainment and make no money from these endeavors.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Please be kind when judging this story. It was partially written on strong painkillers. I've done my best to clean it up, but there may still be rough edges. Hope you enjoy.
ARCHIVING: Passion & Perfection, since it's for her ficathon <g>
CHALLENGE: Written for the Dead of Winter ficathon.

The Power of Touch
By ocean gazer


"Wait. Did you just say you were going out for your P.T. session? Why aren't you just doing it here?"

If the genuine confusion on Helena's face hadn't been present, Dinah thought she might have laughed out loud at the sheer petulance in the brunette's voice. Heck, everything about the woman screamed petulance: the scuff of her feet on the floor, the pout dragging down the corners of her mouth, the hurt look in dark blue eyes. Dinah probably shouldn't have found the sight so amusing, but she did, and it was something of a struggle for her to contain her mirth. Really, where had Helena been for the past two months?

Out of the corner of her eye, Helena caught the teenager's not-so-subtle reaction. Since, for the life of her, she couldn't figure out what the hell was so funny, she ignored the girl instead of either teasing her or grabbing her in a head lock like she normally would have. Instead, she continued staring at Barbara, waiting for the answer to what she thought was the obvious question.

Except for that first year following the redhead's shooting, when the woman had been so weak and in such poor shape that she'd had to go to a special rehabilitation clinic, Barbara had always done her physical therapy at home, either with a visiting therapist or with Helena. As she'd gotten stronger, she often ran through most of her exercises on her own, only needing Helena or Dinah to help with those occasional maneuvers she couldn't quite manage alone.

Barbara gaped at the brunette, the bulk of her attention focused on the younger woman. She didn't miss Dinah's reaction, just chose to ignore it, too used to teenagers to do more than internally roll her eyes. At first, she thought Helena was just trying to be funny, to bring some much needed levity back into lives that had been overly solemn and stressed since Harley Quinn's attack on the Clocktower. But as she studied the woman, read beyond the obvious pouting child routine and saw the genuine confusion there, she realized her crime-fighting partner really had no idea what was going on.

Damn it. The clueless question served as a reminder of how thoroughly Helena had absorbed herself in her romance with Reese, and it tore at Barbara's heart. Not only because of how the other woman had practically disappeared from her life except for nightly sweeps, but because of her own jealousy about…She cut the thought off before it had a chance to fully form, not in the mental space to deal with her own feelings at the moment. Besides which, she was running late as it was.

Forcing herself to stay composed, Barbara's reply was straightforward. "Some of the exercises I need to do right now are things I can't do on my own. With Dinah's school schedule and your…work schedule, I can't really ask either of you to help me with them. And after the previous breach of security, I don't really feel comfortable having a therapist come up here to help with this. Not even someone like Keiko Komoda, who I've known for years."

Helena heard the calm words, but saw a flash of emotion in the green eyes that contradicted it. For the life of her, she couldn't quite figure out what was going on. A quick glance to the side showed her that Dinah had suddenly sobered up and was nervously picking at her fingernails, and she suddenly decided she'd been a first rate idiot. She'd known intellectually that wearing the neural coupler had wrecked havoc with Barbara's nervous system, but she hadn't really thought about the practical aspects of what that meant. Granted, it wasn't like she'd been around much to notice it, but she should have guessed.

No wonder Barbara looked hurt and Dinah seemed nervous. They both said they were happy for her if she was happy with Reese, but it was suddenly driven home to Helena just how much she'd neglected her friends to spend time with him. Had she really been so preoccupied that she'd failed to notice something as major as Barbara leaving the Clocktower to have physical therapy? Apparently. It was a sobering thought.

Barbara, expecting some kind of verbal response from Helena, was surprised when the younger woman simply stood there staring at her. A quick glance at Dinah, who was all-too-studiously studying her hands, was no help either. Mentally, she shrugged and decided to exit stage right.

"Well, I'm late already, so I need to go. Dinah, I'll see you at dinner. Helena, I'll see you at sweeps."

Again, nothing but silence greeted her words, so Barbara simply spun her wheelchair around and headed towards the elevator. While going to therapy sessions had never been on her top ten list of favorite activities, it suddenly seemed a lot better than sitting there watching her two younger teammates. There was an undercurrent of…something…that unnerved her more than she cared to admit.

The minute the elevator door closed, Dinah sighed softly. She'd been doing her best – though she suspected it was pretty bad – imitation of wallpaper. Knowing some of the stuff that her mentor had been dealing with, she wanted to make Barbara's life easier in any little way she could. If that meant not laughing at Helena or launching into a sarcastic tirade directed at the brunette, then that's what she'd do.

It wasn't that Barbara had told her, in so many words, what was going on in her head and heart. The mere thought was actually laughable. But Dinah, in addition to being a touch telepath who still hadn't quite mastered how to keep from reading people accidentally, was also a relatively sensitive person. It would have been hard for her to miss the subtle expressions on Barbara's face that spoke volumes.

On hearing the girl's sigh, Helena jerked her head around sharply. The sound annoyed her, though she had no idea why. It wasn't like Dinah had said anything, but she suddenly felt as though she'd been reprimanded. She turned her best scowl on the blonde, noting with dissatisfaction that the teen no longer seemed intimidated by the look. The pale blue eyes that met hers looked sad, not scared, and the sight caused her to swallow hard. Damn it.

Helena really hadn't realized until then how much she'd shut out her friends in favor of Reese. Not that she really spent all that much time with him, per se. Most of their time together was spent with her watching him as he hunched over the police scanner (so as not to miss anything even on his down time), watching him surf the internet for any sightings of cloaked vigilantes, or listening to him talk on the phone with his circle of other paranoid police types. Still, after seeing Barbara lose Wade, she'd been determined not to lose any time with the only man who she could tell about her secret life. Even if it wasn't quality time, at least it was quantity time.

But standing there, seeing the sad look in her teammate's eyes, Helena suddenly felt a sense of loss that she had been so disconnected from the two people who meant the most to her in the world.

"God, I'm sorry, Kid. I guess…" She paused and laughed wryly. "I guess I didn't realize how much time I've spent away from the Clocktower the past couple months. I didn't mean to be so out of touch. I…do you think she's mad at me?"

Dinah knew the question wasn't really the non-sequitur it sounded like. She knew Helena's sudden attack of remorse was real; that the brunette had been made abruptly aware that she had bruised some feelings by being so distant and removed, by spending all her time with Reese. And for whatever reason, when Helena felt bad about something, she assumed it made Barbara angry instead of hurt, even though the redhead was almost preternaturally calm about certain things. Dinah could only assume that the automatic assumption of anger came from the brunette's own anger management issues.

Her response was slow and measured. "No, I don't think she's mad at you."

She continued looking Helena in the eyes, so she saw the way the woman weighed the words, the way she cocked her head to the side, clearly aware that there was something going unsaid. Dinah sighed again, almost inaudibly, and spoke softly.

"I don't think she really realized until now – until she was reminded how out of touch you are – how much she misses you."

When she heard the words, Helena felt like she'd been jabbed by a needle. She wasn't sure what she'd been expecting: a "yeah she's mad because you've been a jerk", a "no she's not mad but she misses Wade and you have Reese", or a "no she's not mad, she's just been busy and you surprised her by not knowing what's been going on". The idea of Barbara missing her had not been part of her mental equation, not at all, and she had to turn her back on the teen for a minute to absorb it.

If Helena was honest with herself, something she hadn't really been lately, she missed Barbara too. She'd been telling herself that it was for the best if she stayed away, that her presence in the Clocktower would just remind Barbara of Wade and what she'd lost. And she'd been telling herself that she needed to be with Reese. Knowing that he was the one man in this crazy world who knew about her secret identity and her secret life, she'd decided he was the only one she could consider being with. He'd been pretty upfront that in his opinion, the two of them being a couple involved spending all their time together. And from her fear of losing him, she'd been ready to oblige.

But now, Helena had been hit in the head with the proverbial two-by-four and saw that while she'd been hanging out at his place, letting him take her presence for granted and ignore her in favor of his conspiracy theory friends, she'd been missing quality time with her own friends. She felt stupid and she felt used…and suddenly very annoyed at herself. And at him.

Dinah wondered at the brief glimpse she caught of Helena's face before the woman turned away, but she couldn't quite decipher the expression. So she waited patiently until Helena turned back around. This time, there was no mistaking the irritation on the volatile features. She wasn't quite sure what kind of statement she was expecting to hear. She was sure, however, that it wasn't the one that came out of the brunette's mouth.

"I'll make it up to her. Tell Reese I need one day a week to just hang out with my friends. Tell him that Barbara seems ok with me being around, that it doesn't automatically remind her of Wade. He won't like it, but he'll have to see the sense in it. After all…"

Helena trailed off there, not wanting to finish by saying that he probably wouldn't notice her absence until he called for another beer while bent over his scanner and she wasn't there to bring it. No need for anyone else to know just how thoroughly the big, bad Huntress had twisted her life around for a man who…well…didn't seem to like her for her, just for the persona she adopted while out on the streets.

The phrasing of her thought struck Helena as wrong, like she was nothing more than a prostitute or something. It made the anger flare up again, though she was quick to tamp it down in front of the kid. Damn, the whole Harley Quinn fiasco had messed her up in ways she hadn't even noticed until now.

Dinah first rolled her eyes at Helena's words. The mere idea that her scary, ass-kicking teammate was going to – essentially – ask for permission from her boyfriend to hang out with her friends seemed ridiculous. Huntress didn't even listen to Oracle sometimes, and Oracle was the person who meant most to her in the world. No way would she bow so completely to a dim-bulb detective who wasn't the most enlightened crayon in the box.

But after a heartbeat or two, watching the subtle twist of Helena's face that signaled she was repressing anger, Dinah found herself growing angry in turn. She couldn't believe it; the other woman was serious…she really did feel like she had to justify herself to Reese. And all because Helena was spending all her energy lying to herself about who she really loved…

Something in Dinah seemed to snap at the realization. The entire time she'd lived in the Clocktower, she'd tried hard to ignore the subtle flare of longing that surrounded Barbara like an aura. She'd spent the same amount of time wondering how Helena could be so open about her anger and her issues and yet so clueless about her heart. She'd managed to stay out of it until now, but this…this was too much.

The teen couldn't restrain herself. "What are you, blind? One night a week isn't going to do the trick, Helena. Wake up and smell the coffee. Barbara misses you, wants you in her life, has wanted you as more than a friend ever since I've known the two of you. She's just too cautious and proper to do anything about it, especially since you've made it crystal clear that you like the non-committed, casual sex approach to life."

Helena felt like her eyes were going to pop out of her head. That was so not anything she'd expected to hear, not at all. Barbara was her mentor, her oldest friend, and an "old soul" to boot. The woman had been dating boring, safe, responsible Wade, for God's sake. No one who wanted someone mature like him could possibly have any interest in a wild child like her.

She had no idea that she'd said that part out loud until she heard Dinah's croaking laughter.

"Hello, Helena…this is the clue fairy…pick up the phone. She'd been hurting for a while, with you not noticing or reciprocating her feelings. Of course when a nice, safe guy asked her out, she'd go with him. She knew he'd never hurt her, and thought maybe it would take her mind off of you. Then once you and Reese met and you started talking about him ad nauseam, she figured you were completely out of her reach and that she might learn to love Wade one day. That way she wouldn't be all alone when you left…"

It suddenly occurred to Dinah that her mouth had run away with her again. The stuff she'd just said was so far outside the bounds that it was probably in another country or something. Still, she'd gone there; it was no use trying to pretend that she hadn't just confessed to being far more aware of Barbara's thoughts than she really should be. Not that she thought Helena would let her off the hook that easily. Her suspicion was confirmed when the brunette stalked over to her and grabbed her – and not gently – by the arm. The other woman's voice was low and dangerous.

"What the hell are you talking about? I saw how much his death hurt her. And you…you damned little sneak. What do you think Barbara will say if I tell her you've been rooting around in her private thoughts? Why did you read her like that? What right did you have to invade her privacy? Damn it. You should know better."

Grabbing hold of her tattered dignity with both hands (proverbially speaking), Dinah angrily pulled out of the brunette's grasp. "Yes, it hurt her when Wade died. She felt like she'd failed him, like she got him involved in something he wasn't ready for. She didn't love him, not like that. Not like how she loves you.

"And you can tell Barbara what I said if you have to. It's not like I did this on purpose, it's not like I walked up to her and grabbed her arm and started poking around in her head, you know? Some stuff, she said out loud…ok, she's been having nightmares and talking in her sleep. I go to her room to wake her up and see if she's ok, not to spy on her. And some stuff…I didn't have to touch her to know, you know? It's pretty damn obvious…well to those of us who aren't running around trying to pretend that our feelings aren't really our feelings…"

Helena glowered at the blonde, but mostly from force of habit. It was pretty obvious from the girl's tone that she was telling the truth, that she hadn't been prying. So Helena wasn't exactly angry anymore. Stunned would be the more appropriate word. She'd never imagined that Barbara had any feelings at all for her. Then again, it's not like she'd ever really stopped long enough to figure that out.

Between the teenage rebellion and the young adult party mode, Helena had focused her energies on going out, dancing, flirting, and playing around with all sorts of things. The time she'd spent at the Clocktower – and there had been a lot of it – was mostly about kicking back and relaxing. It had been about teasing Barbara or hogging the TV remote or crying on the redhead's shoulder when the world got a little too real. (Or, as she got older, it had been about pushing Barbara into sparring matches to take out her anger when the world got a little too real.)

Suddenly, as though Dinah's words opened a door she'd been deliberately not looking behind, all sorts of pieces came tumbling out and falling into place. All sorts of little looks and comments and cues that screamed in loud, primary colors that in the last two or three years, Barbara's feelings for her had turned into something more than just friendly. Why the hell had she never seen it? Why the hell had she never guessed?

Something about those last questions triggered something and Helena advanced on Dinah again, not missing the way the teen took several steps back. The evasive maneuvers weren't quite enough, however, and she grabbed hold of the girl's arm again. This time, however, her touch was gentle and her tone was serious.

"What did you mean about people running around trying to pretend that their feelings aren't their feelings?"

For the first time since she'd come to New Gotham, Dinah felt like she was the older of the two, like she was the big sister. She felt an unexpected wave of sympathy for her teammate. She kept her voice deliberately soft. "Are you really that much in denial, Helena?"

Dinah waited several heartbeats, watching various emotions tumble across Helena's face. When the gentle grip on her arm didn't lessen and the brunette remained still and mute, Dinah sighed softly. What the heck. She'd already crossed several lines today. She might as well go all in.

"Let's just say, Helena, that I didn't need to be any kind of telepath to see how you felt about Barbara. The only thing I never could figure out was why you were trying so hard to deny it. You made it very clear more than once that you'd been with women and liked them."

Helena heard the words, and something about them made her laugh, breaking the paralysis that had held her. She chuckled heartily, not missing the look in Dinah's eyes that told her the younger woman was seriously questioning her sanity. Still, she was too swept up in the flood that had been released by the blonde's simple statement of fact. She'd built up a very strong dam of denial to keep her feelings at bay, but now that it had been breached, nothing of that wall remained.

For better or worse, Helena was now acutely aware of what she'd locked away and knew that she couldn't bottle it up again if her life depended on it. It didn't take a rocket scientist to know the whys of it – to know that someone whose whole life was up-ended in one moment with a flashing blade would do just about anything to keep from feeling so much for another person again. To know that someone who'd lost so much would behave in some very twisted ways to prevent being hurt again

Well, ok, maybe it did take a rocket scientist. Helena looked hard into Dinah's eyes, and could see that while the teen knew the whats of the situation, she had no understanding of the whys. And it wasn't the time or the place to try and explain them. She'd done enough already in past months to sully the girl's basic innocence. She'd be damned if she'd open up this can of worms, this twisted logic of denial. Better that it remain some weird mystery.

Still, it was all too much for Helena to take in at that moment. She suddenly knew the truth she'd been hiding from, but that didn't tell her what to do about it, if anything. She needed time, needed space. Maybe it would change things. Maybe it wouldn't. But she had to think about it, needed to fit the pieces into some kind of mental puzzle. She'd run in half-cocked most of her life, bouncing from person to person and thing to thing in a way that left the people around her dizzy. She couldn't do that with this. It was too big, too important.

Helena couldn't risk exposing her heart on a whim. She couldn't risk hurting herself…or Barbara.

Dinah wasn't quite sure what kind of reaction she'd get to her words. She'd expected anger, harsh words. The sound of the woman chuckling unnerved her, truth be told. It was like Helena had gone nuts or something. So she held her breath and held very, very still, waiting. Part of her wanted to say something, to apologize, maybe, for bringing all this stuff up.

Despite knowing her words and her senses were the truth, Dinah suddenly realized that maybe stating them so boldly wasn't the brightest idea she'd ever had. It wasn't her life, after all, even if she did have to live with the echoes of feelings around her. She was so lost in thought that she jumped slightly when she realized Helena had moved away from her and was saying something.

"It's been…interesting, Kid. Don't worry, I won't tell Barbara what you said…you know, all that stuff you picked up from her. I believe that you didn't do it on purpose, and that some of it was probably kinda obvious to you. Anyhow, I gotta go. I'll be back in time for sweeps.'

And with that, Dinah watched the brunette head out to the balcony and jump over the edge. It briefly occurred to her just how strange her life had become that seeing someone jump off a building didn't even cause her to blink in surprise any more.

She filtered through the words she'd just heard, not quite sure how to decipher them. Helena hadn't admitted the truth of what she'd said, and basically seemed to be stuffing everything inside again, just like she always did. And from what Dinah knew of Barbara, even if Helena ran to her and told her every word of their conversation, she'd insist on analyzing it to death and talking about how it wasn't the logical move for the two of them to make…

Just thinking about it made Dinah's head hurt. Suddenly, she decided she needed a hot bath and a long talk with Gabby. The heck with trying to bring things out in the open. The heck with being in the middle and trying to bridge the gap between her teammates. All it did was give her a headache. No matter what she sensed or how aware she was of the feelings around her, she was staying out of it. The two older women would just have to figure it out for themselves.

The reminder that the two of them were both older than her brought a half-smile to her face. Shaking her head, she turned towards her room, muttering under her breath.


Her tone was not complementary.

Helena perched on a fire escape on the edge of a building, blending in to the late afternoon shadows. Normally, she wouldn't be caught outside in daylight like that, but given the deserted nature of the building behind her and the graying sky that promised rain, she figured she was relatively safe. And after all the thoughts that her conversation with Dinah had shaken loose, she couldn't have stayed away if she'd wanted to.

Her position gave her a perfect view into one window in the one building that had ample signs of light and life. It gave her a view across the narrow alley into the big, well-lit room in which Barbara Gordon was sitting on a mat on the floor. It gave her a view into the room where an all-too-attractive physical therapist was sitting behind Barbara, hands on the redhead's waist, supporting her as she bent backwards.

Helena had to look away for a moment, not used to seeing anyone else's hands holding the other woman. For so many years it had just been the two of them. She'd been the one with her hands on Barbara, helping her stretch, giving her massages. She'd been the one holding the woman up, assisting her, supporting her. It had never occurred to her before how much she'd taken that for granted, how much she'd enjoyed that time with her mentor.

It wasn't all about the physical touch, but more about the display of trust it took for the redhead to let her help. It shocked Helena to realize how jealous she was that she wasn't the one the woman had turned to this time. Oh, but wait. Barbara had tried to turn to her. The memory washed over her as though it was moments ago, not two months ago.

Barbara, sitting up in bed, still too wan and gaunt from the ordeal the neural coupler had put her body through; Helena perched beside her, leafing through a magazine. Barbara saying something about the doctor giving her a new set of exercises to help rebuild damaged muscles; Helena saying it sounded like a good idea. Barbara asking if she'd be around the next day, since she would be released from bed rest and wanted to get started on the P.T.; Helena barely glancing up as she smiled and said she had plans with Reese, and maybe some other time.

That had been the first and last time Barbara had mentioned it. Helena still couldn't believe she'd been so wrapped up in everything else that she'd failed to notice the redhead leaving the Clocktower to come here…

Despite the discomfort, she looked in the window again, seeing the gentle wash of short but graceful fingers braced against Barbara's waist. She watched as the therapist said something too soft for even her enhanced hearing to make out over the distance, but the tones of it were encouraging. And the answering smile on Barbara's face lent credence to that, even as a slight wince furrowed the woman's brow from pushing her muscles a little too far. A scant moment later, the redhead was leaning forward again, breathing hard, and the therapist leaned forward as well, her hand sliding around to rest against Barbara's stomach, as if making sure she wasn't going to topple forward.

The familiarity of the move made Helena's breath catch in her throat. She'd repeated that gesture with the other woman more times than she could count. She could almost literally feel the ripple of abdominal muscles under her hand, feel the ins and outs of the woman's breath, feel the way her hand felt as it pressed against the other woman. She could almost smell the scent of honeysuckle and vanilla from the redhead's shampoo, hear the cadence of Barbara's breathing, and picture the determined look in bright green eyes.

The memories of their therapy sessions washed over her in a wave of tactile sensations so strong she would have sworn the redhead was on the fire escape with her.

She'd never realized how much that contact meant to her until this very moment. As with everything else in life, she'd laughed it off. She'd ignored the feelings simmering under the surface in favor of the quick joke or the uncomplicated liaison. She'd acted like she was put-upon to avoid revealing that she actually gave a damn about anything at all. It made her a little sick to see that in herself.

To her surprise, she found herself gripping the iron railing tightly, as if she was afraid of falling. She couldn't remember the last time, barring illness or major injury, that she'd been this uncertain of her footing, this off-kilter. Boy, when her subconscious hit her over the head with a realization, it did it in style.

Not that her subconscious hadn't had a little help from Dinah. She couldn't quite decide whether to be glad that the teen had intervened or upset that the teen had so easily read her underlying feelings. Under normal circumstances, she'd have gone with the latter, using irritation to disguise her very real discomfort – both with her own feelings and with the notion of being around someone who could read them with a simple touch.

But as she shivered in the cooling wind, letting go of the railing as her balance reasserted itself, she knew she couldn't be angry. If the girl had picked up the information via touch, it was pretty clear that it was accidental. There was a lot juicier and more incriminating stuff that was far closer to the surface than her feelings for Barbara. Had the girl been snooping on purpose, she'd have had blackmail material for well into the next century. Given that there had been nothing of the kind threatened, even with some of the mean stunts she'd pulled to annoy the kid, she was left with the conclusion that Dinah hadn't been rooting around in her mind. At least not on purpose. And she knew the blonde really was trying hard to master her control.

So…that left Helena with the uncomfortable conclusion that her feelings were obviously on display…well, obviously to everyone but herself and presumably Barbara. That would explain some of Reese's controlling behavior and his barely contained anger anytime she got any kind of call or summons from Oracle. She'd written it off as normal male jealousy, figuring he was so in love that he didn't like the times when they were apart. But his penchant for ignoring her while she was around should have told her the truth weeks ago.

She was in love with Barbara. The kid had – if not outright confirmed, then at least strongly suggested – that the feeling was mutual.

Now the question remained: what to do about it?

She looked across the alley again, through the window. Barbara was lying back on the mat, eyes closed. The therapist sat next to her, hands massaging one of the outstretched, paralyzed legs, soothing the muscles from whatever workout she'd given them. Helena could see Barbara's mouth moving, and though she couldn't hear a thing, she knew exactly what the woman was doing.

It was a chant that the redhead often murmured while getting a massage, something that she said helped her focus and channel her mind's energy to that part of her body. Helena didn't claim to understand that concept at all, but she'd heard the chant so many times throughout the years that she could repeat it in her sleep. Even though it was in some mysterious, ancient dialect that she'd never heard before.

Even knowing the touches were therapeutic and nothing more, Helena was surprised to feel a strong surge of jealousy. It was supposed to be her down there with her mentor and friend; it was supposed to be her helping work and then soothe the woman's muscles. It was supposed to be their time together; their time to go through these rituals and have some space that was just for the two of them. This stranger wasn't supposed to be a part of that. It was too…intimate.

She'd never realized it before, but that's how it felt now. Their time together had been intimate, even if it hadn't been anything other than platonic. Helena found she didn't like the idea of anyone else touching the redhead like that. It wasn't fair, given how many people she'd been with over the years, but it was real. Just as suddenly, she had a tactile memory of all the times she'd felt Barbara's hands on her, doctoring her up after a mission gone sour, brushing hair off her forehead in a "go to sleep" gesture. She recalled the woman's hands rubbing gently against her back and shoulders, soothing the edges of her nightmares away. She could almost literally feel the long fingers brushing against her, feel the soft caresses, and feel the security of knowing she was safe and loved.

Why had she never paid attention to this before? Oh right, that little thing called denial…

Unable to watch any longer, wanting nothing more than to jump across the alley, bust through the window, and take over from the all-too-attractive therapist, Helena instead climbed silently back up the fire escape to the rooftop. Standing on the edge, watching the sun begin its slow descent towards the horizon, she took a deep breath.

The thought of so many wasted years made her sick…the thought that her denial and Barbara's sense of honor had kept them apart. Hell, they could have realized this three years ago and maybe their lives would have been far different, and maybe there would have been a lot less pain for both of them. But what was done was done. She couldn't change the march of time; couldn't make life go any direction but forward. But at least she could try to move forward, to not waste any more time.

It was cold comfort, but comfort nonetheless.

Three weeks later…

"Are you sure you're ok, Helena? It's just…you seemed so happy…"

Helena fought hard to control her snort of exasperation as she heard the layers of doubt dripping through every one of Barbara's words. And she didn't dare look at Dinah, knowing the teen was probably about ready to burst into laughter.

Granted, the news Helena had just shared with the redhead was old news to the kid. She'd broken up with Reese the same day she'd followed Barbara to her physical therapy session, and Dinah had known about it that very night. She just hadn't bothered to tell Barbara yet, not wanting things to seem too sudden. Sometimes, the way the redhead pieced together disparate bits of information, she seemed to have her own brand of ESP. And Helena hadn't wanted to chance her putting two and two together: connecting her odd comment about the P.T. to whatever Dinah might have said later. The teen insisted she hadn't said anything incriminating and that Barbara was no more clued in than before.

Still, Helena had lived with the woman as a sneaky and rebellious teenager, completely unlike Dinah. No one knew better than she did that the older woman had an uncanny ability to know what was going on. Refocusing her attention, she figured she'd better answer the question still hanging in the air.

"Yes, I'm sure. One hundred and ten percent sure. Reese wasn't too happy about it, but he's already got himself another girlfriend, so he'll be fine. And I'm totally fine. I just…realized…he wasn't the one I wanted."

Helena nearly lost control and chuckled during that little speech, since Reese's reaction had been almost too funny for words. After yelling at her for nearly an hour about how mean and insensitive she was to drop that on him out of the blue, he'd then turned around and confessed that he'd been about to break it off with her. Something about one of his conspiracy theory friends being in town a few weeks before and them having drinks and hitting it off. She should have been angry about him admitting to cheating on her, but she'd been so happy to have another excuse to walk away that she hadn't cared.

But she managed to keep her amusement in check, watching Barbara closely to see what impact the last sentence had on her.

Barbara was well aware of Helena's close scrutiny as she rolled the words around in her head. But she tuned it out for a moment, feeling like there was something important she was supposed to be picking up from the little speech, something Helena was waiting for her to get. A wild thought came to mind, but she dismissed it out of hand. It was just wishful thinking; no way could Helena be saying what she hoped she was saying. No way could the brunette mean that Barbara was the one she wanted. That would be like…like…Even her vast mental warehouse of metaphors failed her.

Sitting on the top of the desk, Dinah's gaze bounced back and forth between the two women like she was watching a tennis match. Despite the boneless way Helena was draped over the desk chair, the teen could read the tension in the woman's body, could see how intently she was watching the older woman. And while Barbara sat in her usual upright posture in her nearby wheelchair, the girl didn't miss the way her head was cocked to the side, could almost see the mental wheels spinning.

Dinah supposed she shouldn't find it so amusing to watch the two of them, but it was just too comical. She hadn't missed the change in Helena over the past couple weeks – had seen loud and clear that the brunette was well out of denial and trying to bait Barbara into asking what was going on so she didn't have to 'fess up. And she hadn't missed the way Barbara had neatly side-stepped every hint Helena gave, clearly not wanting to give in to her long-nurtured hope and end up being crushed if she was wrong. The teen literally itched to jump right in, to tell each of them exactly what the other one was doing. But she held herself back. She'd resolved three weeks ago to stay out of it, and stay out of it she would.

They were both older and smarter than she was. They'd catch a clue any time now. Right?

Barbara looked up in time to see Helena look quickly away. The abrupt motion discomfited her and left behind the nagging feeling that she was missing something extremely obvious. Still, not sure what it was or what it could be, she opted for the safe route. "Well, Helena, I'm glad you're both fine with how things have turned out. And I hope you're able to make things work with…the person you've realized you want…"

Coughing, Barbara hoped that her companions would attribute her momentary stumble to a simple dry throat. While she did honestly want Helena to be happy, it still panged her to think of the younger woman with someone else…but she knew she had no right to be jealous.

Clearing her throat conspicuously, Barbara managed to fumble her way through, saying, "It will be nice to have you around a bit more. We miss you. It's almost too quiet around here without you and Dinah fighting."

Helena only managed a half-hearted protest to the last statement. She was too busy being disappointed that her hint hadn't quite led to Barbara figuring out what she was really saying. Damn. For a moment, she debated just blurting it out, saying something along the lines of, "Hey, it's you I want and I just realized that you want me too, so how about we give it a try?" But she quickly dismissed the idea. For one thing, it wasn't exactly the most elegant proclamation in the world. And for another, it wasn't exactly like they were alone.

Despite knowing that Dinah knew how they both felt (and there was a mental tongue twister if she'd ever thought one), Helena didn't really feel like spilling her heart and her guts with the kid in the room. She did have some subtle bones in her body, after all. Ok, very few of them, but they were there nonetheless. With a disappointed sigh, she realized she was back to square one and would have to find some other way of letting Barbara know what was going on. Too bad she didn't have a clue how to do it.

Dinah squeaked a protest to Barbara's accusation, but only out of habit. She was still too busy watching the older women and fighting the urge to roll her eyes. Did Helena really think dropping a not-so-obvious hint would lead to the redhead's enlightenment? And why didn't Barbara ask the obvious question of who the brunette realized she wanted? Did all adults have to make these things so freakin' complicated, or were these two just extra special in that department? She quickly gave up trying to figure it out.

For a long moment, Barbara considered asking just what was going on. She had been surreptitiously watching her two teammates and hadn't missed the glimmers of frustration and disappointment in Helena's eyes, or the oh-brother look in Dinah's. But she wasn't entirely sure she'd like the answer to her question. And she wasn't quite sure she wanted to know who the brunette had her eye on this time or why the teen seemed to know all about it.

Despite having a need-to-know personality, Barbara had long ago learned that there were certain questions best left unasked. Especially when they pertained to her heart. Feeling the sense of unease that floated around in the air, she struggled to figure out how to break through it. Fortunately, an outside source came to her rescue.

Alfred walked slowly into the room, both aware that he was interrupting and having a fairly good idea what – precisely – he was interrupting. Under different conditions, he would have delayed his entrance and waited for a less delicate moment. He'd also lived quite a long time with two of the three ladies in the room, and knew that for the moment, they were at an impasse. It was painfully clear to him that they all were too stubborn to make the first move. What better time for an entrance?

He cleared his throat conspicuously, aware that only Miss Barbara had seen him, and said in his most dutiful tone, "Dinner is served."

Four weeks later…

"Hey, Red. Where are you off to?"

"I'm headed out for my physical therapy session, Helena."

"Oh. Aren't you supposed to be done with those by now?"

"Well, technically yes. But I've scheduled once a week sessions for a while longer. They seem to be helping a lot."

"Oh. I could, you know, help out if you're tired of paying for sessions. Like old times, you know?"

"That's really very sweet, Helena, but I know you've been busy with other things. It's really no big deal."

"I'm not really that busy any more. I mean, with breaking up with Reese and all. And I can change up my shifts at the bar. It's no problem. Really."

"I don't want to inconvenience you, Helena. It's no big deal for me to go out for this. But…I'll definitely think about your offer…after my prescheduled sessions are over. If you're sure, that is. I…it's…"

"Yeah, sure. It's fine. Whatever. Just let me know when you're ready. If you're ever ready."

Watching from the shadows of a doorway, Dinah saw Helena flounce towards the balcony doors in a huff, leaving Barbara to stare open-mouthed after her. The girl could just barely see as the brunette stomped out to the balcony ledge and jumped over it. Within moments, she saw the redhead spin her wheelchair around and head towards the elevator at speed. Since the elevator was already on their level, the doors opened quickly and the redhead disappeared inside.

Dinah sighed in exasperation. She tensed as she felt a presence at her back, and then relaxed as she identified it as Alfred.

Whispering, even though it was obvious they were alone, she asked, "Are the two of them ever going to deal with this? I mean…is Barbara going to catch a clue about what Helena's really doing and is Helena ever going to just come right out and say what she means?"

Alfred's response was equally quiet. "I certainly hope so, Miss Dinah."

"Why do adults have to make everything so complicated?"

"I don't believe it's all adults, Miss Dinah. It's just that these two are particularly…"


"That would not be an incorrect choice of words."

"I keep just wanting to yell out advice to them…like just tell them both what's going on. I kinda already did with Helena, but it didn't seem to do any good."

"Miss Dinah, this is something best left to the two of them. If neither will take the subtle hints that have been offered, there's no sense in trying to push the situation to resolve itself."

"I just hope somebody does something soon. All this unresolved romantic-type tension is giving me a headache."

"I don't believe you'll have to wait much longer. Miss Helena is not known for her patience."

Five weeks later…

"So, Barbara. Are you ready for your P.T. session?"

Barbara cocked her head to the side at the note of glee in Helena's voice. After the weird undercurrents from last week's conversation about the subject, she certainly hadn't been expecting the other woman to sound so happy. Wondering what on earth she'd missed, her response was slow and non-committal. "Ready as I'll ever be."

Helena couldn't help herself, she felt her smile grow brighter at the confused words. She supposed she probably shouldn't be so doggone happy about befuddling that big brain, but that wasn't actually the reason for her mood; it was just icing on the cake.

Always weary of inaction, Helena had finally decided to just go for broke, take the bull by the horns, rush in where angels feared to tread. Ok, so she suspected she was hopelessly mixing metaphors, but who cared? The point was that she was finally going to heed all the subtle and not-so-subtle hints Dinah had been tossing out for the better part of a week and do something about the her and Barbara situation.

Trying to keep her voice as nonchalant as possible, Helena said cheerfully, "Well then, let's head into the training room."

Dinah had deliberately delayed her after-school snack, knowing today was P.T. day and wanting to be on hand to witness whatever happened between the women this week. She'd come to think of the situation as a continuing train wreck, something she knew she should avoid watching, but that she just couldn't look away from. The words surprised her, but she was just glad that Helena seemed happy again. The brunette had been in a mood the past several days, and if deciding to take over the therapy sessions would snap her out of it, then it was all good.

When Dinah looked over at Barbara to gauge her reaction, she literally had to bite her lip to keep from laughing at the look on the woman's face. Her mentor looked like a deer in headlights; and the rigid posture as she sat frozen in the wheelchair just added to the impression. The teen then glanced over to look at Helena, and while there was something of the expected perma-smile on the woman's face, the emotion in dark blue eyes was something more serious and intense.

Dinah swallowed hard at the sight of it. She didn't need to touch her teammate to pick up on what was going on in her mind. 'My God,' she thought to herself, 'it's not just about the P.T.; she's actually going to say something to Barbara.' And really, it was about freakin' time, too.

Barbara took a couple of very deep breaths, wondering why her brain seemed suddenly wrapped in cotton. It wasn't usually so difficult to formulate thoughts, was it? She shook her head slightly, deciding to stop trying to decipher what was going on, and to start with the most basic of questions. "Why are we going to the training room? I've already made my appointment with Keiko."

Helena couldn't keep herself from chuckling. "I cancelled it. I…" Her laughter suddenly faltered, since what she was saying really wasn't all that funny. Clearing her throat nervously, she tried again. "I've missed helping you with your therapy and…figured I'd save us all a little money." She knew the attempt at humor was a massive failure.

For a long moment, Barbara thought maybe she'd forgotten to breathe. It wasn't so much the actual words Helena had uttered. It was a note of something in the woman's voice, the shadowed expression in blue eyes. And while she'd never claimed to be sensitive, she swore there was almost a visible aura around the brunette, an aura of longing and need.

Barbara felt her heart beating faster, afraid for a moment that she was simply projecting her own long-repressed feelings onto the other woman. That she was seeing what she was seeing because of her own desire to see it. But then she glanced over at Dinah, in an attempt to ground herself in reality and not fantasy, and saw something in the girl's face that convinced her that she wasn't just imagining Helena's reaction.

She couldn't decide what, exactly, the girl's expression was, but it was enough to convince Barbara that this wasn't just a dream. Still, she wasn't quite sure what to do about it, how to respond. Probably, the best thing to do would be to continue on in her normal role of responsible adult, and with that in mind, she opened her mouth to speak.

"I've missed my sessions with you as well. I'd really like to pick up where we left off."

Under other circumstances, Helena might have heard the words as some kind of dare, or some kind of come-on. But she could see the quick look of panic flit over the redhead's face, could see that that wasn't at all what the other woman had intended to say. It didn't take a brain surgeon to know that Barbara had been planning to go all responsible adult on her, but that the woman's heart had gotten there first. She felt almost like cheering at the words, since they offered a subtle confirmation that Barbara did have feelings for her. But she felt a wave of sympathy for the redhead, knowing how hard it was for the woman to open up and trust her heart at all.

So Helena held back on any sort of jubilant response and kept her words deliberately soft and even. "Cool. Let's go."

Dinah watched, trying hard not to smirk too openly, as Helena gestured in the general direction of the training room. She watched as Barbara, moving slowly as if in some kind of dream, wheeled herself towards the brunette. She watched as the two smiled at each other before moving off side-by-side. And then, in surprise, she watched Helena turn quickly and give a thumbs up in her general direction before returning her attention to Barbara.

Well, alrighty then. Dinah guessed that was her cue to get the heck out of the way. It looked like the two older women were finally going to broach the subject they'd been avoiding since time immemorial and maybe they'd finally get around to deciding to date or be a couple or something. She so didn't want to imagine what else they might get around to doing. That was just so…so...Words failed her.

The idea of the two of them as a couple. Fine. Spending all their free time together and being cutely in love. Also fine. But the two of them were like aunts or big sisters to her. She so didn't want to imagine them having sex. That was just wrong, wrong, wrong. Some things just weren't worth knowing.

Deciding to share the most current events with Alfred (and to get her delayed snack), Dinah spun on her heel and turned towards the kitchen. She figured the butler would be pleased to know things were finally moving along, that someone had finally decided to stop being pig-headed.

"Adults," she muttered under her breath as she walked.

Her tone was amused.

"How's that?"

Barbara smiled to herself at the concerned note in the other woman's voice. They'd finished the actual exercises a little while ago, including a leg massage, and now Helena's hands were working the knots out of her back and shoulders.

"It's fine. Feels good, actually. I always forget how much tension I carry there."

Helena smiled as she continued the gentle massage. It felt incredibly good to be sitting behind the other woman, to be touching her and helping her, to feel needed. Usually, she shunned any hint of neediness in others, but this was something different. It was a sign of trust, and of the bonds they'd forged over the years.

The therapy session had gone well, though the topics of conversation had been mostly generic and neutral. Despite Helena's resolve to take the initiative and get some things out in the open, she'd kind of chickened out once the two of them were alone. Instead, she'd made inane conversation, while the bulk of her attention had been focused on the awareness of the muscles under her hands, the scent and feel of the other woman. It had been too long, and she wondered how on earth she could have been willing to give this up for Reese.

Barbara felt the momentary stilling of Helena's fingers on her shoulders. It was only a brief cessation, and then the talented hands were working her muscles again. But it reminded her abruptly that there was something else going on under the surface. She'd been avoiding it for weeks, and now she'd gotten some not-at-all-subtle hints that the other woman had been avoiding it as well. Mustering up every ounce of courage she possessed, since the idea of talking about feelings was much scarier than facing a loaded gun, Barbara took a deep breath.

"What's going on, Helena?"

Ok, so that had come out all kinds of wrong. Sighing softly, Barbara tried again. "I'm really happy we're here again and I really have missed the sessions with you. I missed the time we had together. But…why the sudden change? I…"

She shut her mouth quickly, not quite having gotten hold of her courage as completely as she'd thought.

Helena stiffened at the words. Not at the words themselves, but at the opening she'd been given. She'd tried to prepare for this little talk, tried to rehearse the best way of laying her heart out for the other woman. She'd played out various scenarios in her head, pictured her winning and witty phrasing. And now that the moment was finally here, especially since she'd been avoiding it for the past hour, all her plans and preparation flew right out the window.

It occurred to Helena that she could continue avoiding this, just play everything off as a joke. As soon as the thought entered her mind, she grew angry at her own sense of cowardice. Ruthlessly pushing aside her own fears of rejection, she moved out of her position to sit beside the redhead so she could look into Barbara's eyes.

No longer trying to recapture her planned speeches, Helena let the words just tumble out. "I thought I loved Reese, but I was really just hiding the fact that I love you. I know we're totally opposite and I'm angry and moody and not the easiest person to be around…and I know you're going to say you're afraid it will jeopardize our teamwork, but ever since I stopped denying how I feel about you, all I can think about is giving it a try, seeing what happens. I…I hope you understand…but I mean I'll understand if you don't understand…and I don't even know for sure whether you like me…I mean I know you like me but I don't know if you like me like that…"

How long that convoluted speech would have continued is anyone's guess, but Barbara stopped it in its awkward tracks by putting a gentle hand on Helena's forearm. The move silenced the younger woman far more effectively than she'd imagined; she stared at Helena who sat suddenly stone still. Having a sense of just how hard it had been for the brunette to say all that, she decided she needed to be equally brave.

"I do like you like that, Helena. I've…I've loved you for a long time…since before Dinah came in to our lives. I just never imagined that you could ever share those feelings, so I locked them away. I mean, you're beautiful and graceful and spontaneous and have a passion for life. And I'm…I'm not. I think too much and like to have things planned and am pretty boring compared to all the other people you know. And I can't just get up…"

Barbara couldn't help it, her voice broke as she started to refer to her own paralysis. Appalled at the sudden feel of tears in her eyes, she blinked rapidly, trying to hide the reaction. Apparently she didn't do a very good job of it because she heard a soft sympathetic noise from Helena, felt herself pulled into a fierce embrace. It might have hurt if it hadn't felt so good.

"My God, Barbara. You really see yourself like that? I mean, yeah, you're no party animal…but maybe I'm finally ready for something other than a quick laugh and a night of fun. You are the most capable person I've ever met, and you know me better than anyone else alive. I can't imagine what you see in me, but if you give me a chance, I'll try to be as good a person as you seem to think I am."

Helena felt the arms around her squeeze tightly, the embrace suddenly turning from one where she comforted Barbara into one where Barbara comforted her. She let herself lean against the older woman, grateful for the signs of affection from someone who didn't give them very often. She heard the redhead's voice, soft and yet determined at the same time.

"You are a good person, Helena. Better than you know. Do you honestly think I would have continued working with you all these years if I didn't know you were more than just the kick-ass persona you put on every night? Do you really think I would keep working with someone who I didn't trust to do the right thing? We don't always agree, because we are opposites. But maybe that's the kind of balance we both need."

At the word opposites, Helena pulled out of the embrace to grin mischievously at the redhead. "Hey, you know what they say, opposites attract. We're yin and yang, sugar and spice, bread and butter, Sonny and Cher…"

Barbara abruptly put her hand over the brunette's mouth before she could continue the train of thought. "Please. Stop. Now." To her relief, when she pulled her hand away, Helena was silent.

For a long moment, Barbara didn't know what to say to break the silence. In her wildest dreams, she had never imagined anything like this happening. On the rare occasions that she daydreamed about a conversation like this, she'd pictured herself as being more articulate, sitting down with the brunette and spelling out all the pros and cons, talking out all the possible pitfalls and figuring out how they would make it all work.

Now that the moment had arrived, in all its messy glory that was so unlike anything Barbara had thought of, she didn't want to sit around analyzing it. Before she could figure out where to take the conversation next, she heard Helena starting to speak, the woman's words eerily echoing her thoughts.

"Look, Barbara, we're both adults. We both know that love doesn't always lead to a happy ending. But we've already seen each other at our worst, and we've already been through more hell together than anyone should ever go through. I honestly think that if we love each other, we can find a way to make this work.

"I'm not saying we're going to have the storybook romance with the house and the white picket fence. But then again, we're not exactly white picket fence kind of people. The bottom line is, I love you and I want to see where this goes. I know it's all kinda scary and uncertain…but if we talk to each other…and listen to each other…we'll figure it out as we go."

Helena felt proud of herself for actually stringing together a series of vaguely articulate sentences. And she felt proud when she saw a subtle cloud of worry lift away from emerald eyes. She hadn't consciously known Barbara would be worrying about how it would work, but the woman couldn't not think things through if her life depended on it. So it only stood to reason that her reassurance that they'd talk about things and figure them out would help set the woman's mind at ease.

Something broke loose inside Barbara as she listened to Helena's words. Despite knowing that there was no way to plan out the future, no way to predict what might happen, she knew she'd spent too much time trying to do just that in past relationships. Somehow, she realized that wouldn't be a problem with Helena. Not that she could stop thinking about things, but the other woman knew her well enough to be able to stop her when she started getting too lost inside her own head. Just as she'd always been able to get Helena to slow down and think about things at times instead of just always rushing in blindly.

It was back to the concept of balance.

She smiled at the brunette. "You're right, Hel. As long as we talk to each other, and are honest and open with each other, then we'll find a way to make it work. And…I do love you…more than I think you know. And normally, I'd want to talk about this a lot more, try to work out some of the possible pitfalls. But as you said, we've seen each other at our worst and survived; we already know how to work through things. So I'm going to do something I've wanted to do for a long time…"

Leaning over, Barbara impulsively put her hand on the back of Helena's neck, pulling the woman's head closer. She found the brunette's lips with her own, and kissed her softly, gently. Eyes closed, she felt rather than saw the way Helena scooted closer. And scant seconds later, she felt a hand on the back of her neck as well, holding her close. The warm lips under hers parted and she opened hers as well, kissing Helena with a hunger she'd never felt before.

When the warm wash of a tongue flicked against Barbara's mouth, she trembled ever so slightly, pulling the other woman closer, inviting her to explore.

Helena was in heaven. She could feel the woman trembling, somehow knew it was desire and not fear. Even as she swirled her tongue around the inside of a warm and inviting mouth, she wrapped her free arm around Barbara's body, whether to hold her close or hold her upright she wasn't sure. She stopped trying to figure it out and just lost herself in the body pressed close to hers, the warmth of the mouth under hers, the building arousal she could sense – both her own and Barbara's.

When the kiss finally broke, Barbara was surprised to find herself breathing hard and to feel the ache of desire in the pit of her stomach. She couldn't remember the last time she'd felt like that, even before the shooting. It was more than she ever could have imagined, and that was just from a kiss!

Looking up into warm eyes, Barbara saw the hard burn of desire glittering there, and swallowed hard to realize just how excited she was by the sight. She could read the wicked promise in blue eyes, could almost read what the woman wanted to do to her. The mere thought made her tremble anew, a wave of desire washing over her. She'd always known Helena was a passionate person. She'd just never imagined that she could spark such passion in the younger woman, especially with half of her body being essentially non-functional…

The sudden reminder of her very real limitations was like the chill of a cold shower.

Helena had been watching Barbara very carefully, gauging her reactions the way a hunter studies prey. She knew all too well what kind of signals she was giving off – knew that her eyes held the promise of taking control, of taking the other woman hard, of pushing her to the height of pleasure. And she could easily see that the very thought excited Barbara – could sense it in the rough edge of her breathing, the dilated pupils, and the minute lowering of the red head that signaled her willingness to submit.

So Helena also saw the very instant that the woman's reactions changed. And it didn't take a genius to know why. She pulled the woman into another hug, not letting go even as Barbara struggled to pull away.

"Barbara, I know better than anyone else what that psycho did to you when he shot you. I've seen the scars, I've felt them. And I've seen how being paralyzed has affected you. But you know what? It doesn't matter. You already know you have some trace of feeling in the…er…relevant areas. And I'm going to enjoy finding exactly where and how to touch you to make you scream."

Helena felt the way the other woman stiffened at the first part of her speech, and also felt how she trembled again at the last. Letting go, she pushed away just enough to look into green eyes, seeing the mix of love and frustration and raw desire in them.

Wanting to make her point thoroughly, Helena said softly, "I already know your limitations, and yet that doesn't make me any less excited. You can see the truth of that in my eyes. Believe me, this is going to be good…for both of us."

At the words and the sincerity in blue eyes, Barbara felt tears pricking again. The reassurance meant more to her than she knew how to express. She felt a sense of freedom she hadn't felt since that terrible night, because Helena had already seen the damage done, and yet it didn't seem to matter. And while she knew from her few sexual encounters since the shooting that there was some sensation down there, it was slight and something that needed a certain amount of pressure and patience to build into something pleasurable.

Barbara had never been able to ask any other lover for what she needed. But another glance at Helena's face, and at the naked, forceful desire written there, told her that it wasn't going to be a problem this time. The sudden mental image of the woman's aggressive tendencies applied to lovemaking made her mouth go dry.

Swallowing hard, she rasped, "I am never this impulsive about sex, Helena, I want you to know that. But…I…I need you…want you…"

Helena felt herself growing hot at the words. She leaned over and scooped Barbara into her arms, not even thinking about how much the woman hated to be held. The lack of protest assured her it was fine. Standing almost effortlessly despite the added weight, the redhead securely in her arms, she bent her head for another scorching kiss.

Pulling her lips away Helena whispered, "I need you too. Let's go off and see what kind of physical therapy routine we can come up with for the bedroom…"

The End

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