DISCLAIMER: I do not own anything, nor am I writing this for profit. The characters belong to the WB and DC comics. No copyright infringement is intended.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: This is actually the sequel to Walking Away. Some people felt (myself included) that the story wasn't finished. Like its predecessor, this story also got away from me and took a radically different direction than I originally planned. I hope it can still bring a little bit of BOP happiness to your heart. This is not beta-ed, so any mistakes are completely my own and I admit to it up front. Thanks for reading. Any comments or criticism can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Sticking the Landing
The heat on my face felt nice. The flames were far enough away to just brush the chill air from my nose and cheekbones. I closed my eyes and let the colors dance across my eyelids; yellows and reds against the black. Finally coming out of my self-induced trace I looked over to my partner. Her face held a deadly scowl, and despite the inappropriateness, I wanted to laugh. Unfortunately, I had promised to try and control those impulses. I would have managed it too if Canary hadn't chosen that exact moment to speak through the coms.
"I could bring you guys some marshmallows if you want."
That was all it took. In seconds I was doubled over with tears in my eyes. I was laughing so hard partly in relief that Batwoman, aka Barbara Gordon, wasn't hurt, and in some part of my mind I prayed she realized that. It wasn't everyday that you survived unscathed from a motorcycle crash, especially when the bike proceeded to catch fire and burn to a crisp in the middle of the street. She was lucky to be alive, and my emotions were just now catching up to that fact.
"That won't be necessary, Canary," Barbara's smooth voice echoed in my ear. "It's just about burned itself out. I think we'll leave the rest for the fire department." She sounded resigned and just a little ticked off, understandable since it was her favorite bike.
"Gotcha, Batwoman. You okay catching a ride with Huntress?" Barbara turned to me and even behind her mask I could tell she was raising one eyebrow in question.
"Yeah, we're good. See you back at base in a few," I responded before shutting off my coms. I looked at my mentor for a moment, unsuccessfully trying to force the laughter out of my system. "Do you want to say a few words?" Her scowl was answer enough as she brushed past me, heading for my black ninja.
I hopped on and she climbed on the back, putting her hands gingerly on my shoulders. That gesture was enough to kill my somewhat giddy mood. I started the bike aggressively before telling her to hang on. Her hands didn't move as we headed back to the Clocktower.
"D, calm down." The girl was bouncing around Barbara and I the moment we got out of the elevator. I loved the kid, but sometimes her hyper act rubbed me the wrong way.
"Okay, okay, but oh my gosh Barbara, you were shot at with a bazooka. A real bazooka. If you hadn't swerved . . . and then you crashed and it caught on fire!" If I didn't know better I'd say the kid enjoyed the night's disastrous events.
"I'm aware of that," Barbara responded drily as she began to take off her suit.
"Yeah, but a bazooka!" Her blonde head whipped in my direction. "Tell her Helena. That's just insane!" I dutifully turned to Barbara.
"You were shot at with a bazooka, Barbara. That is just insane." I was hoping for a laugh, but had to settle with the small smile I received.
"Thank you both for clearing that up for me." Her tone dripped sarcasm. "However, I think we should concentrate on finding out who it was who shot at me with a bazooka." She headed to her room to finish changing. One of the nice things about my Huntress costume, I could fight crime one minute and get a cup of coffee at the nearest Starbucks the next.
"Didn't you have a study date with Gabby?" I questioned.
"Yeah, but I told her I probably couldn't make it once you guys took off after that gang."
"Well, it's not too late, and you know how the rest of the night's going to go."
"Yep, Barbara will spend all night on the Delphi and you'll either watch TV or head out to do your 'thing'." I laughed as she used air-quotes to make her point. "I do need her help. Are you sure Barbara won't mind?"
"Hmmm, let me think." I brought my hand up to my chin, pretending to consider carefully. "Barbara minding you doing some extra studying? I'm gonna have to go with not."
"I guess you're right. Tell her goodnight for me." I nodded my head and she raced up the stairs to grab her overnight bag and books. In a matter of seconds she waved as she entered the elevator and disappeared.
I headed to the kitchen to grab something to eat, finally settling on some chocolate fudge Poptarts. Thank god Alfred stocked the kitchen so often. I really needed a sugar fix after tonight. I heard Barbara leaving her room and walking to the Delphi, figuring now was as good a time as any to talk to her about what had happened earlier. She was hunched over the keyboard when I entered the living room, and once again I was startled to see her standing over the desk instead of sitting in her chair. It had been close to a year since she had gotten her legs back and sometimes I still had a hard time remembering.
"What's wrong, Hel?" I realized I had been staring and quickly averted my eyes.
"I was going to ask you the same question, Red."
"I don't know what you're talking about," she brushed me off and turned back to the monitor. I felt my frustration rise and tried to control it.
"Yes, you do. You saw how heavily armed those guys were and you went ahead anyway. I thought I was supposed to be the reckless vigilante in this group." I tried to keep things light, but if the frown on her face was any indication, I wasn't succeeding.
"Yes, I made a judgment call. Do you have a problem with that?"
"No, but you need to be careful. You're not invincible. Ever since you started-" I cut myself off, knowing that finishing that sentence would be a mistake.
"Ever since when, Hel? Ever since I started walking again? Ever since I started being Batwoman? What do you think has compromised my decision making skills?" She was starting to get angry but so was I.
"I don't know. Maybe some of both. I just know that tonight you drove straight into an incoming missile and got your bike torched. You could have died!"
"But I didn't." Her voice was flat and hard, and I knew discussing this further was not an option. "Speaking of tonight, why didn't you go after them when I was down? You could have caught them but you stopped. Why?"
"Are you serious?! I just watched your bike go up like a Roman candle. I didn't know if you were okay or not. In case you missed it the first time, you could have died!" I was fast losing any control I might have had over my temper. I couldn't believe she was being this thick. "We'll get another chance. I'm sure you're already close to finding them." My attempt at flattery didn't do me any good. She just scowled at me and went back to typing.
"I'm fine, Helena. I'll let you know when I find something else." It was a clear dismissal and I almost took it, but she was starting to scare me.
"Babs, you're starting to scare me." That got her attention and she stopped typing to turn and face me again.
"Helena, I don't want to talk about this now."
"Too bad. You might not be around next time. I know this is ironic coming from me, but you're taking too many risks. You're going to get yourself killed."
"And you would know all about that wouldn't you?" Her tone was vicious and I couldn't stop my flinch as the words registered. I could see she regretted it instantly, but she didn't make any attempt take it back. Silence hung between us for several moments before I found my voice.
"I guess I would." I spoke haltingly, allowing her a chance to try and fix things. When she didn't even acknowledge me I sighed, giving up for now. Something was bothering her, but she wasn't talking tonight. "Right, well, good luck with the research. I'm gonna head out and do my thing." For some reason this seemed to make her even angrier since she grabbed the office chair next to her and practically threw herself into it.
"That's fine. Have a good evening." You could cut glass with the sharpness of her tone.
"Alright." I moved to the elevator, deciding to exit the old fashioned way. "You know you can always talk to me, right Barbara." My answer was the continued clicking of keys from the Delphi. I got in and closed the door before she could see my frustrated tears. I didn't need to bother, she never turned around.
A week passed with only minor incidents. Barbara and I kept our distance from each other and Dinah ran interference when we couldn't. Canary was on field duty every night, with either Huntress or Batwoman as a partner. It worked, but Red still wasn't talking to me. Finally I was reduced to something I truly hated. I did the mature, responsible thing. I formed a plan.
We never talked the night of my meltdown. I was grateful that Barbara, and Dinah if she ever got anything from my mind, respected my feelings enough not to mention it. That was great, except that night Barbara and I had really talked. We'd aired out some dirty laundry, and as far as I was concerned things were cleaned up between us. For a while that seemed to be true. Now however, Barbara seemed depressed most of the time and when she wasn't, she was chasing down the bad guys like she had eight lives to spare. As much as I hated the thought, maybe it was time for us to have another talk. Preferably without either of us reduced to crying or trying to make a quick escape from New Gotham.
I considered my options carefully. Barbara was very reserved, so if this talk got emotional, which I assumed it would; it needed to be somewhere kind of private. Still, I didn't want to tip her off to my plan. Asking to meet at the Clocktower or at my apartment would definitely set off warning bells. Besides, there was always the chance that Dinah could interfere at home and there were any number of things that could go wrong at my apartment.
Finally I decided to take her to D'anglios. It was a nice Italian restaurant that everyone agreed had the best lasagna in the city. I could easily reserve a private table in the back, the Wayne name had to be good for something, and hopefully the different surroundings would get Barbara to open up.
The reservations were made for Friday night. It was easier to get her to go than I expected. I offered to take her out for a nice dinner, and after looking at me with a blank face and an emotion in her eyes I didn't understand, she agreed. The week passed quickly and before I was ready it was time to put my plan into action.
"Would the ladies care for some wine?"
Our waiter started for the chairs, but I waved him away. I pulled Barbara's seat out for her and got another one of those strange looks I'd been getting since I picked her up at the Clocktower. I ordered a nice red wine and looked around in satisfaction. D'anglios wasn't a large restaurant, but we had a nice corner in the back curtained off from other customers. There were candles on the table and soft string music in the background. Perfect for getting Barbra to relax and let down her guard.
"What should we get for an appetizer?" I asked Barbara after looking at the menu for a few minutes.
"Whatever you like, Hel. I think I'll wait for the main course."
"You sure? It's not like you have to watch your figure anymore," I tried to joke, eyeing her in the deep green, sleeveless dress. Barbara gave me a wide smile and demurred again. I ordered the stuffed mushrooms knowing they were her favorite, and sure enough she ate two before ordering the house special.
"Thank you for inviting me tonight." Barbara was looking right at me, and for once she seemed happy.
"No problem, Red. We should do this more often." That got me another strange look and a pleased smile.
"I'd like that."
Dinner was nice as I focused on the pleasant conversation and my food. It really was the best lasagna in New Gotham. After Barbara finished and the waiter took our plates I decided it was time to initiate stage two of the plan get Barbara to start talking.
"I've been thinking about finding a new job." Barbara's eyebrows rose in surprise. I did sorta spring it on her, but I was going for a little tit for tat. "I like working at the Dark Horse and everything, but it doesn't make much sense. I have all day off when I could be doing something, and at night I have to work two jobs between bartending and the family business."
"That's very true. Any idea of what you might like to do instead?" Barbara asked after a moment.
"Not really. Thought I'd just look around, see if something else appeals to me for now."
"It's a big change for you, Hel. Take your time and find something you enjoy," was Barbara's advice.
"Yeah. Speaking of big changes, is anything going on with you?" It was a little heavy-handed, but I was never any good at the more delicate aspects of intelligence gathering. It showed when Barbara gave me "the look." The one the lets me know she knows something's going on; just not what it is yet.
"Nothing I can think of, Hel."
"Really, cause you know I'm always here to listen." Shit! I shouldn't have said that. It just came out before I could really think. Her face started turning red and her eyes were slicing me up like a loaf of bread.
"Are you trying to pump me for information?! Is that why we're here tonight, Helena?!" She's whispering, but it's so intense I feel like diving for cover under the table, or maybe just making a break for it out the back. I know I can't though. I started this and I'll see it through to the end. Even if it's the literal end which right now looks very possible.
"I just wanted a chance to talk to you away from the Tower," I say holding my hands up in front of me, but she doesn't seem to be listening anymore.
"I can't believe I was so naive. I actually thought this was a-" She cuts herself off and stands up quickly. Her hand twitches and I think my face is going to be introduced to the wine selection, but all she does is throw her napkin down and storm out. I drop some bills on the table, more than enough for the meal and tip, and follow her. She's halfway down the block, and for a split second I wish she was still in her chair which makes me even more ashamed of myself. Ashamed because I think I know what she was going to say before. Barbara thought tonight was a date, and looking back I can see how she came to that conclusion.
I follow her until she reaches the Tower. I take a detour down the alley, up the fire-escape and over the roof to land on the balcony. The door is unlocked and I wait by the Delphi for the elevator. She's not going to be happy when she sees me, but somehow I have to fix things between us when I don't even know how they got so screwed up. Her first words out of the elevator don't give me a lot of hope either.
"Get out." Her voice is completely serious and the look she's giving me could peel paint.
"Listen, Barbara. Let me explain."
"I don't want to hear it, Helena. Just get-"
"It wasn't a date!" I interrupt her frantically.
"I'm aware of that." She lifts her hand and pinches her nose, a sign that she's got a headache coming on and I'd better get to the point. "It was made startlingly clear to me when you started to interrogate me for lack of polite conversation. Even your attempts at romance couldn't be that bad, not that you've had any experience in that area."
That stung. I could do romance if I wanted. I could be awesome at romance; I'd just never had a reason. I was more of a one-night stand, let's keep it simple kinda girl which had never bothered me. So why did it suddenly seem like it should?
"Listen, I didn't mean to hurt you. Yes, I was trying to get you to talk to me, and yes, maybe the way I went about it was a poor choice, but I couldn't think of anything else! You won't talk to me!" Suddenly it was all pouring out of me, all the hurt and confusion her distancing had made me feel. "I just wanted you to relax and feel like you could trust me. I've been doing everything I can to make you see me as more mature, more responsible! Haven't I done everything I was supposed to?! Everything you wanted?!" I made myself turn away before I could really lose my temper. That wouldn't solve anything and could only give her more ammunition.
It was silent. I'm not sure either of us knew what to say at this point. Barbara kept her head down when she did speak.
"Yes, you are more responsible. This past year you've changed so much. Sometimes I wonder if there's any of the old Helena left. And yes, Hel, I do trust you with almost anything- or I did. I trusted you with my heart . . . and you broke it . . . again."
"I don't understand." She sighed before continuing, sounding so weary.
"We decided to move on, remember, but where has that gotten us? We've changed, both of us, but are we happier?" I wanted to comfort her, but I wasn't sure how. I wasn't sure I was happier either.
"Did you ever wonder why I went back to being Batwoman? Why I pushed myself so hard, even to the point of putting myself in extreme danger?"
"I thought it was because you couldn't for so long. I thought you needed to feel like the old you, that you were still one of the best vigilantes in the business. Maybe- maybe it helped you forget a little bit too."
"Good guesses, and all probably part of the reason, but mostly I wanted to get closer to you. I wanted to show you that I could keep up with you and your lifestyle. I thought if you could see that then maybe something would change between us. We could move on like we promised."
"Right, okay." I took a moment to run my fingers though my hair, trying to calm down and straighten out everything that was running through my mind. "All you had to do was tell me, dammit! I thought you were trying to hurt yourself," I whispered my darkest fear.
"No, Hel, I just . . . needed you to notice. I needed you to want to be with me, but you just kept going out every night, drinking and bringing someone else back to your apartment."
"And what, you'd rather be the one that came home with me?" I scoffed.
"Yes." She looked me straight in the eye. No chance for a misunderstanding now.
"But- but I don't understand."
"We promised we'd see where the future took us, but I don't want that to be just friends. Helena, I told you I could never love you more than I did right then, but I lied. Watching you become this person over the past months has made me face the fact that I want there to be more between us. I want a deeper, physical connection with you, and I had hoped it would develop on its own, but it never did. We changed, but you and I didn't." She stopped to take a breath and pinch the bridge of her nose again. I could tell her headache was bothering her. "So I decided to take matters into my own hands and show you that I could accept you as you are and share that part of your life as well."
By now, most of my brain cells had fried themselves trying to follow the twists and turns in this conversation. I was barely running on auto pilot, so my reaction when Barbara moved up in front of me and placed her hand on my cheek was to simply look at her blankly.
"Please, Helena, tell me this isn't just me. Tell me you want something more than friendship as well." I still couldn't say anything, and her hand slid slowly off my face. I missed the warmth immediately, and wanted nothing more than to grab her hand and put it back. "I see. I'm sorry I've been worrying you. I'll try to cut back on the more dangerous missions and take better care of myself."
I let her walk five steps before wrapping my arms around her from behind. She tensed, and I rose up a little to lay my chin on her shoulder. I felt a few drops of water hit my hand, but I didn't say anything, just held her tighter.
"I didn't know I could tell you so many things, Barbara. I didn't know that I could tell you how it hurt when you'd scold me and call me irresponsible. Or when you said I couldn't care about someone enough to make a commitment, so I never bothered to try with the only person I would ever want that with. That I could tell you I've wanted more than friendship from you for years. That I've always felt like you could keep up with me, always. I didn't know, Barbara- I didn't know that I could tell you I love you."
"Hel-" she turned, hiding her face in my neck. My shirt collar was wet, but so was the top of her head. We stood like that before I gently picked her up and moved us onto the couch. We stayed that way for quite awhile, long enough that I thought she had gone to sleep. Her breath ghosting along my chest was a surprise. "I'm in love with you too, Hel."
"I didn't ask."
"But you can. You can always ask, Helena."
Two weeks later we were back at D'anglios. A return of the criminal gang and lingering feelings of hurt and confusion had delayed out next date (or was it our first?). We had the same table, but this time Barbara pulled out my chair and I ordered a sweet, white wine with dinner. We both ordered the lasagna and conversation flowed freely. We were both relaxed and simply enjoying the time alone together.
All the gang members were behind bars, and Barbara managed it without the smallest injury to her person or equipment. So far, she seemed to be taking her promise seriously. I, on the other hand, had upped my flirting and innuendo to the point where I was becoming concerned for Barbara's health; blushing that hard with her coloring couldn't be pleasant.
I was careful to return to the Clocktower every night I didn't have work. I would hang around and talk to Dinah, and Babs if she wasn't busy. I didn't even feel trapped or caged in. I still felt the need to go out and party, let off some steam, but it was easy to wait when I knew Barbara would eventually join me.
"Can I ask you something, Barbara?" I questioned after we finished eating.
"When we leave, can I come back to the Tower?" She seemed surprised, looking at me over the rim of her wine glass.
"Of course, Hel, you know you're always welcome."
"Yeah, but tonight can I stay . . . with you?" Her eyes rounded and then narrowed, holding an emotion I couldn't face yet.
Without a word she got up from her chair, paid, and we were out on the street in two minutes flat. On the walk back we didn't hold hands, but we walked close enough that our arms occasionally brushed together. Each time, I had to close my eyes and will them to return to their normal blue.
'I think my shirt is hooked on the bathroom door.' That is my first coherent thought after Barbara kisses me in the elevator. My second thought is something along the lines of, 'Red couldn't do that again if she tried.' Between them, I somehow find myself sans pants.
"Hel- just move . . . what're you . . . your hands, Hel."
Barbara is mumbling something in my ear in between mind-blowing bites and licks. If she expects me to be able to understand her at this point, she is SOL.
"Helena, move your hands!" I finally realize I've been holding onto Barbara in a death grip, hindering her from removing her clothes and what little are left of mine.
"Sorry." I quickly use my hands in a more productive manner, stripping her out of her dress (light grey this time, amazing with her eyes) and move us closer to the bed. When she feels the bed hit the back of her legs, she grabs my shoulders and falls back; turning so when I regain my senses she's straddling me. I feel her heat hover above my hips and it's all I can do to keep them on the mattress.
Sometimes when you're in the middle of screwing there's this pause right before things get really hot and heavy. You stop and look in each other's eyes and acknowledge exactly what's going on between you. With all my other lovers it was an acceptance of a hard fuck and a quick goodbye in the morning, but not with Barbara. When we lock eyes, I'm finally ready to see what they are trying to tell me. Her eyes are full of lust and desire, but even more than that they hold her love. I feel my eyes flicker-shift for a moment, breaking the connection. As I lean up to capture her lips, I hope she can see an equal amount in mine, whatever shape or color.
We kiss for some period of time and I become aware of Barbara grinding into my stomach. At that moment I want nothing more than to rip off her last bit of clothing and let the smell of her desire fill the room. So I do.
Barbara bites my lip sharply, probably in revenge for destroying her panties, but I couldn't care less. Her scent is overwhelming me, forcing me to close my eyes and grip the sheets in tight fists. My eyes spring open and my fists clench tighter when I suddenly feel her mouth on my breast and hands relieving me of my underwear in a less violent manner than I had employed. My hands wind themselves into her hair, keeping her head steady against my chest. I can feel myself starting to tense inside and out, and I know I have to put the breaks on my own pleasure. I quickly reverse our positions, tasting her right nipple and rolling the other between my fingers. Her guttural moan is almost as bad for my self-control as her mouth had been.
Eventually, after several more heart stuttering sounds, I move down to lick and taste across her stomach. She freezes immediately and I'm concerned until my tongue encounters the scars. Starbursts and raised lines pepper her abs, faded after ten years, but still so prominent. I don't say anything; simply worship this part of her as I would the rest. It takes several minutes, but she finally moves her hands to my head, slowly sifting through my hair as her muscles relax. I stay a moment longer, exploring lightly before moving on.
I run my fingers gently up the insides of her thighs, absurdly startled when the muscles under my hands twitch. I'm not ashamed to admit I've fantasized about Barbara and I in this position before. She is, and always has been, an extremely attractive woman. However, after the Joker, my fantasies always included ways to get around the fact that feeling stopped for her at the waist. Seeing her walking around couldn't bring home what she had lost, what she hadn't felt for ten years, like that small involuntary movement transferred through the pads of my fingers could.
"Barbara." It was compassion, a question, and a plea forced out in a name. She doesn't say anything. Instead, she places her hands on my cheeks and pulls me up into the gentlest kiss I've ever experienced. When it ends, I make my way back down her body, finding spots I missed the first time until I'm settled between her thighs again.
I take my time, letting all my senses have a turn. She's slick on my fingers and burning in my nose, her taste an addiction I don't feel bad about starting. I use my meta-hearing to grab onto every little sound she makes, as my eyes feast on the movements I draw out of her sweat coated body. I know I could drag this out forever, but she's pleading with me in between panted breaths. I focus on her bundle of nerves, first with my fingers then with my tongue. She's got a death-grip on my hair with hands strong from years of training and necessity. She screams when she comes. Next time I promise myself I'll make her scream my name.
I lay my head on her chest, listening as her heartbeat slows to something resembling normal. I don't have long before I'm on my back and being straddled once again. Her eyes are filled only with desire, but I can feel her love in the hands that stroke my side and trace my ribs. She spends an entire two minutes on my breasts before it's full steam ahead. I cry out when I feel her tongue, no words, just a wail of shocked pleasure. Barbara always was the hands-on type so I'm not surprised to feel three fingers stretching and filling me. Soon there's nothing but my hips moving, her fingers thrusting, and her mouth working where I need it most. I come in seconds with stars in my vision and a howl on my lips.
We collapse together on the bed, both of us breathing raggedly and hearts hammering away. She pulls me close and I let her even though I'm almost unbearably hot. We stay like that as the night moves on around us. The Clocktower is silent except for the ever present ticking. For once I find it comforting instead of just this side of insanity inducing.
"So now are we okay?" It takes me a moment to recognize my own voice. Barbara doesn't answer right away, pretending to think about it. Her voice is still a little breathless when she answers.
"Well, if someone could promise sex this good every night . . ."
That's all it takes and we're laughing and releasing any lingering tension between us; letting go of the pain our fights have caused and the uncertainty and fear of where this new phase of our relationship well lead us. I consider asking if this is how she wanted us to move on, if now we'll be happier. I don't because I think I already know the answer. The silence returns but it's nice now, peaceful. I let my eyes close thinking about how I'm going to wake Barbara up in a couple of hours.
It may be juvenile, but as consciousness slips away, I congratulate myself on scoring with a retired gymnast right before doing a good impression of passing out.
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