DISCLAIMER: I do not own the characters. They are the property of DC comics and the WB network. I'm just borrowing them for a short period of time.
MUSIC DISCLAIMER: Song lyrics don't belong to me either; no profit gained or infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.



Part 6

"Eat dirt, scumbag!"

Okay, maybe Barbara was right about this. The Kid had a definite knack for dialog in the field.

Not to mention that being civil to Dinah definitely eased some of the frostiness in the tower.

"Stalking women is just not cool."

Hell, if she ramped up the Kid's training, maybe Dinah could sweep while she and Barbara got some alone time.

"And that whole crotch-grabbing thing --"

The ferret-faced man they'd seen from the rooftops a few minutes before began jerking backward like he was being punched. Only, the Kid wasn't laying a hand on him.

"-- is just... eewww."

The brunette nodded to herself and smirked.

First-hand experience in the training room had taught her how painful that TK poking thing could be.

"Didn't your mother teach you any manners?"

Were those tears in the guy's eyes?

Honestly, when she'd sized up the would-be mugger and given her charge the go-ahead, Helena hadn't expected him to fold quite so fast.

Especially against a freakin' teen-ager.

Sheesh, creeps and crooks nowdays just didn't have any --

Blue eyes blinked, and Helena caught herself in the nick of time.

Not like she was *that* old.

"-- really think that an apology wouldn't be a bad idea."

The man's wet-sounding whimper coincided with a few more invisible jabs. Leaning against the rough brick wall of the alley, Helena inspected her nails and decided it was time to offer a bit of advice.

She was supposed to be mentoring, right?

"Careful, Canary, or he'll wet his pants."

When she caught the decidedly evil gleam in the blonde's eyes, she had to work not to snicker.

"If he's scared now, Huntress, what's he going to do when I open the gates to the Hellmouth?"

Despite the snort she heard through her earpiece, the brunette kept a straight face.


She shrugged and then took a pointed step backward.

"But give me a warning this time, okay? I hate it when guts and ectoplasm and shit splatter all over my coat."

That did the trick.

Not only did the fight go out of the man, but consciousness fled as well and he dropped like a rock.

"Omigosh! Is he okay?"

Pretty much indifferent to the weasely guy's state, Helena nevertheless felt herself straighten up a little when a voice that was just touched with concern came over the comms.

<"Is everything under control, Huntress?">

"Uh huh..."

She strolled over and prodded at the man with her boot, confirming that he hadn't cracked his noggin when he'd hit the pavement.

"Tough-guy here passed out."

Barbara's throaty chuckle rippled through her, as tangible as the brush of fingers across her skin or the teasing whisper of warm lips over her thighs.

<"The power of suggestion is mightier than the sword.">

Somehow, she pushed aside the memories of some recent suggestions Barbara had made, memories that were doing wicked, wicked things to her libido, and grinned at her partner in the field.

"Yeah, Canary's got a future in interrogation."

That earned her another laugh from Barbara and an enthusiastic high-five from the teen. But, no sooner had the brief palm-to-palm contact ended than Helena registered her error: Pale blue eyes widened to saucer-size, and the blonde's mouth dropped open.

Oh, shit.

The instant that Dinah worked her jaw, Helena knew that the jig was up.

"You're slee- Mmmph!"

More grateful than she'd ever been for her reflexes, Helena kept her hand tightly clasped over the younger woman's mouth as she shook her head violently from side to side. If the comms hadn't been so damned sensitive, she probably woulda made some kind of embarrassing shushing noises, too.

In the seconds that it took for her partner to stop struggling, Helena could only hope that the touch telepath hadn't gotten *everything*...

Hell, she was touching her now; the Kid was probably getting waaay more information than she needed to.

Like this morning.

Lying in bed, being spooned from behind by her partner, Helena had been pulled from her light doze -- she *still* couldn't make herself sleep deeply when Barbara was there -- when she'd felt the older woman begin to stir. Capturing the hand that rested on her waist, she'd offered a gentle squeeze, shivering a bit when firm lips had blessed the back of her neck in return.

From long association, she knew that Red wasn't exactly an up-and-at-'em kind of girl: massive quantities of caffeine, preferably intravenous, were usually called for to get her partner perking; so, Helena had stayed quiet, content in the circle of Barbara's arms. It had only been when she'd felt restless fingers teasing at her side that she'd decided the other woman was awake.

*She'd* sure been waking up fast.


She'd kept her voice low even as she'd started to turn. The wiry arms embracing her had tightened, holding her in position.


Helena had stilled, even as her breathing had shallowed. She'd captured the hand roving across her belly, attempted to lead those skillful fingers up to touch her.

Her nonverbal request had been denied.


But, there had been something more in the whisper: something heavy and needful; and so she'd held her breath.


"Show me."

Barbara's voice had been honey, thick and unctuous. The words had been molten wax dripping on her skin, a temperature so hot that her body had felt it like cold.

Trails of ice had run down her spine, and Helena had arched in her lover's embrace. Barbara's nipples had been diamonds; the heat of her skin, incendiary.


Somehow, she'd found her voice.

"What do you want me to do?"

Her lover's tone had been pitched low, but there had been no uncertainty in the words.

"Show me how you'd touch yourself when you were thinking about me, Helena."

Incredulous and instantly, utterly, aroused like she'd never been, Helena had pushed back against the soft skin of her lover's body.

"Jesus, Barbara... I--"

Helena still wasn't sure what she might have said. It hadn't really mattered when the hand that covered hers had moved their joined hands to her breast. The drag of their mated fingers against the heavy swell of her flesh had left her gasping.

"You did think about me, didn't you, when you touched yourself?"

Helena thought she'd nodded, but, again, it hadn't mattered when her fingers had been moved a few inches and coaxed to squeeze. The fire that had blossomed under the touch of her fingers... Barbara's fingers... their fingers had nearly obscured the redhead's next whisper.

"Think about my hands on you?"

She'd whimpered as her hand had been guided lower.

"My mouth on you?"

And then there had been no more words, only the dance of fingers and the thrust of her hips and sharp teeth teasing her shoulder as she'd crested.

But, now, there was the crackle of the comms, interrupting her little scuffle with Dinah.

<"Is everything alright, Huntress? Canary?">

Glaring daggers, Helena worked for casual.

"Sure is, Oracle."

Finally seeing a grudging nod, she slowly removed her hand, then pointedly wiped it on her coat.

"In fact, we were just gonna go off comms and grab some milkshakes if nothing's up."

She thought she *heard* Barbara's double-take and fixed Dinah with a hard look.

Say something.

She exaggerated the motion as she mouthed the words, and the Kid got a clue.

"Uh, you know, Oracle. Celebrate the big victory and all?"


The utterance was, Helena thought, determinedly noncommittal. Still, Red didn't push it.

<"Everything seems quiet. If you're heading back here afterward, I wouldn't mind a coffee milkshake.">

She exhaled silently.

"Copy that. Going off comms now."

She'd no sooner toggled off her microphone before Dinah's hand flew to her own unit to shut it off. Then, true to form, the teen was off.

"You're sleeping with Barbara?!"

The brunette managed a nonchalant shrug, somehow quashing her urge to throttle her companion or somehow otherwise calm her visible excitement.

"You got that, huh?"

Even in the darkness of the alley, she had no trouble making out the deep, deep shade of red in Dinah's normally pale features, and she figured that the Kid had gotten waaaay more than just "sleeping with". Rolling her eyes, Helena headed out of the alley and turned toward Barbara's favorite ice cream shop.

"Yeah. We are."

Maybe if she kept things short Dinah would get the hint.

"But, if you're, uhm -- "

The teen took a couple of skip-steps to catch up, but Helena didn't slow down.

They were really making good time.

"-- together, why are you coming to the tower less?"

With her hand on the door of the shop, Helena came to a stop, then spun, forcing her companion to dance backward or have her toes stepped on.

"Because -- "

Seeing the girl's flinch, she stopped and took a long breath.

It wasn't the Kid's fault.

"Because, uh, -- "

Helena stepped away from the door to let some other customers in and ran a hand through her hair.

"We're not really ready to let anybody know."

She fixed the teen with a long look, satisfied by the sudden blink of pale blue eyes that her message -- "Including you" -- had been received.

"Uh, like, honeymooning?"

Pulling open the door, Helena waited for Dinah to proceed her into the store and nodded to herself.

Maybe that was right.

Aside from Barbara's uptight moral issues and all, there was something still too new, too private about what they had. Something --

She took in the flavors of the day and nodded again.

Something too sweet for public consumption.


Part 7

"I don't know, Hel. It seems a little..."

When her partner trailed off, clearly at a loss for words, Helena had to fight her urge to back down.

"Fun?" she suggested brightly.

That earned her a look that was only a few degrees away from exasperated, so she decided to tone it down a little. It had been almost two weeks since the feast at her apartment, four days since her little tete-a-tete with Dinah during sweeps, and she'd decided it was time.

"No big deal, Red. Just getting out for a little bit."

She offered a grin that was meant to be charming... or disarming.

"It's not like it's all night at the Ritz."

"But, pizza and air hockey?"

Long experience told her that the arch of her lover's eyebrow was more playful than skeptical, and so she waited as a slender index finger tapped at the older woman's chin.

"I think not."

Before she had time to fall completely into a black mood, Barbara was talking again.

"Pizza, perhaps..."

Helena's mood whiplashed, again, this time for the better. Instead of pumping her fist in victory, she strolled casually toward the clock tower's elevator and gave herself a second to feel -- really feel -- the warm swell of pleasure coursing through her that Barbara was, finally, agreeing to go out with her.

In principle at least.

When Barbara joined her, she tucked away the emotion for later and decided that it would just be out of character to go down without a fight.

"What's wrong with air hockey?"

She punched the button for the parking garage and looked over. The gaze that held hers was cool, but Helena saw something dancing in the older woman's eyes.

"My reflexes are good, Hel, however -- "

The redhead's pointed look spoke volumes, and Helena felt the weirdest desire to blush.

"-- they simply aren't up to yours."

She ignored her bout of uncharacteristic modesty and cocked her own eyebrow in challenge.

"So you only play if you can win?"

Well, that earned her an entirely different look.

The elevator door opened and they reached the van before the older woman graced her with an answer. And, when Red spoke, the primness in her voice had her wondering if she'd pushed it a little.

"Only if I have a possibility, Helena."

Somehow, she bit back the words that leapt to her tongue -- something about being a sure thing -- and just smiled.

It was a beautiful fall evening. The streets of New Gotham were quiet for a change. Even Dick's periodic updates about supposed sightings of Quinn had been tapering off.

No way she was gonna blow it by letting her mouth run away with her.

"So, where for pizza?"

Barbara's answering smile was bright and full.

"As long as it's not that place with the animatronic rodents."

In tandem, they rolled their eyes and piled into the van. While Barbara got herself settled and the mirrors adjusted after Dinah's last outing in the vehicle, Helena attacked the radio. By the time Barbara pulled out of the garage, she'd found it.


Are young but getting old before our time

We'll leave the T.V. and the radio behind

Don't you wonder what we'll find

Steppin out tonight

Over a healthy New York style pie -- only three kinds of meat on it in deference to Barbara's less carnivorous tastes -- Helena ran through a short list of other options for after the meal.

Nothing too serious or overtly romantic or heavy or...

Inspiration struck, even if Barbara didn't seem to be getting with the program right off the bat.

"Snow caps, Helena?"

The brunette smiled easily.

"Or M&Ms."

She considered for another beat.

"Or Junior Mints."

When her companion's eyes narrowed, she held her tongue, just waiting to see what else Barbara might have to say.

"What about licorice?"

She hadn't considered that and, a beat later, realized why.

"That's just wrong, Barbara."

She discretely peeled a sliver of green pepper off her slice before taking a healthy bite of sausage and cheese, pretending that she didn't see the gleam in her companion's eyes.

"And," the redhead reached over and snagged the wilted vegetable from her plate, popping it into her mouth, "why is that so wrong, Hel?"

She finished chewing and settled her pizza on the plate. Since she wanted to get her point across, Helena spoke very slowly.

"There's no chocolate in licorice, Red."

She almost earned a face full of half-chewed green pepper for her efforts, but Barbara's laughter was worth it.

"Ah, I understand now, Hel."

Full red lips moued playfully, and Helena pushed back from the table.

"So, how about that Jessica Alba movie?"

She'd had a feeling that her first suggestion might not play out, and, point of fact, she really couldn't come up with anything to shore up her argument for the movie when one crimson brow arched eloquently.

"I believe that would be more to your taste than mine."

So, they compromised on something else.

With the trailers finally finished and a jumbo bucket of popcorn balanced between them, Helena still couldn't quite believe the movie her partner had talked her into.

"I can't believe you want to see this movie."

Barbara's answer was airy.

"I have a soft spot for dogs."

Well, obviously there was no way she could let that go by.

With the opening credits splashing against the snowy backdrop of the antarctic snows, Helena turned in her seat and placed her lips close -- very close -- to the delicate shell of her lover's ear.

"Cats, too, maybe?"

She felt the other woman's shiver. She saw Barbara's warm smile.

"That goes without saying, Hel."

Like she'd figured, the movie wasn't really her cup of tea.

Really, she'd always kind of disliked animal movies. Especially Disney animal movies.

Still it did offer an opportunity to hold her lover's hand in the dark, partially in genuine anxiety for Mia and partially --

Well, she was only meta-human.

So, by the time they got back the the clock tower, Helena had to admit that she was feeling pretty damned good.

Lucky even.

But, when she accompanied Barbara up to the living area, she realized that her luck was about done. Not only was music coming from Dinah's room, but Barbara was fetching her book bag from school and looking like she was about to go all business on her.

What the heck.

Eschewing the big screen, Helena decided to call it a night. She gave it all of three seconds of gut-clenching fear-inspiring thought before taking two quick steps and leaning in.

The brush of her mouth against that smooth cheek was the barest of caresses, but she couldn't miss how the older woman tensed.

"Relax, Red."

Before she could say more, Barbara did something that really surprised her.

Really, really, surprised her.

She turned her head and pressed a gentle kiss to the brunette's cheek.

A riot of butterflies erupted in Helena's stomach. Somehow, she straightened and managed a smile as she took a step backward.

"Thanks for letting us play hooky tonight."

The tension departed the redhead; her smile was easy.

"I enjoyed it, too, Hel."

In the act of raising her hand in farewell, the brunette caught herself.

Nothing ventured...

"Maybe we can -- "

She loosely waved the hand that was up in the air.

"... Again?"

Barbara seemed to consider the question for a helluva long time. When she finally answered, Helena instantly decided it had been worth the wait.

"I'd like that very much."

So elated was she that Barbara's next words didn't even bring her down.

"But for now I need to catch up on grading these essays."

Clear enough what that meant, but Helena didn't care.

She had a promise for another public outing.

"S'alright. I'll see you tomorrow."

With her partner's smile still with her, she sailed off the balcony, the lyrics from the song that had been on the radio earlier humming through her.

...turn to me and smile

We'll be there in just a while

If you follow me

Me babe, steppin out

Into the night

Into the light

You babe, steppin out

Into the night

Into the light


Part 8

With her head half-inside the refrigerator, the click of a key -- well, knowing Babs it coulda been a lock pick -- in her door was a little muted. Still, Helena had no trouble hearing it.

Point of fact, she'd been waiting for it.

Without a second thought, she forgot all about her search for a snack and bounded into the living room.

"Hey, Red."

She blinked, her hand automatically darting out to catch the small object that Barbara tossed her way. When she made out what it was -- another gold dollar coin -- she had to laugh.

"I know it worked the first time..."

She moved slowly across the small room, crowding into her guest's personal space.

"...but you don't need these to get lucky with me."

Instead of giving ground, Barbara went on the offensive. A strong hand tangled in Helena's tank, tugging her down. She didn't fight it, leaning lightly on the arms of the chair and bringing her lips to the other woman's ear.

She had to work not to growl when she detected her lover's shiver, and she felt her eyes begin to shift.

"I think we'll both be feeling lucky tonight, Helena."

Helena's stomach clenched pleasurably, and she allowed herself to be pulled into the chair. Brushing her cheek lightly against her lover's, Helena arched into the strong hands that were working under her shirt.

Damn but Barbara knew how to touch her.

"If you'd asked me to stay last night, we coulda been lucky then."

Shit. Shit. Shit.

In an instant, the rapidly heating mood began to cool.


One word.

Not much inflection.

Just sort of a weary... sadness.

Instantly contrite, she worked to settle the older woman.

"Yeah. The Kid. And, you probably needed some rest."

Barbara *was* looking kinda tired. A little thin even.

Still, the brunette didn't think that she was winning any points, so she pulled back just enough to flash one of her patented cocky grins, the one that almost never failed to thaw the redhead.

"Cuz you sure aren't gonna be getting much tonight."

She almost laughed when she felt the redhead relax. Her mood shifted to something a little edgier when she saw the wicked glint in bright green eyes.

"How ever did you guess, Helena?"

One crimson brow bowed upward, and the redhead slowly reached for something in the side pocket of her chair. It took Helena a second to *see* it, to have it make sense.

"Fuck me," was the best she could manage as electricity raced over her skin.

She'd had no idea that they made... those that big.

"Not quite, Helena."

The room spun, and the brunette belatedly realized that Barbara was heading them to the bedroom.


When Barbara stopped by the side of the bed, Helena slid from her lap then hooked her index finger through the soft leather of the harness and lifted the... apparatus for a closer look.

"You've done this before."

It wasn't a question. Not like that first night when there could have been some doubt.

Barbara's smile was an enigma as she reached down and untied her Doc Martens.

"Everyone has a past."

A pair of dark socks, neatly folded of course, sailed over her shoulder, and Helena realized that she was not keeping up. The sound of the zipper of Barbara's jeans clicking open confirmed it.

Turned on like Times Square at New Years, Helena watched the world shift to shades of gold and knew there was no disguising her arousal.

Barbara's smirk confirmed it.


Distracted as she was in working the sweater over her lover's head, she couldn't put much ire in the word.

"I have you at a disadvantage, always knowing when you're aroused, Helena."

The brunette felt surprisingly indifferent to her companion's observation as she wadded up the garment and tossed it to the corner.

"Don't be so sure."

Mouth watering, she bent and nipped lightly at the redhead's neck.


The whisper tickled Helena's lips as she teased the slender column of alabaster skin.


She straightened and began backing them toward the bed.

"You can see my eyes, but I can hear your heart."

Dropping to her knees, she allowed her palms to trace the slender thighs under soft denim before following the trail with her mouth.

"Smell you."

The other woman's laughter was low, heavy. It rolled across Helena's skin like thunder or the fat, hot raindrops of summer.

"Then, Helena, you must know how very..."

Fingers wound through her hair, and Helena allowed her head to be coaxed up.

"...very eager I am for this."

In the process of clamping her lips around a taut nipple, Helena recalled what had gotten them to the bedroom. She rose and then dropped to the bed, certain that her heartbeat must be audible.

Maybe something in her eyes was a tell.

Maybe Barbara just knew.

Her partner joined her on the bed, her throaty laugh doing wicked things to her despite her nervousness.

"Relax, darling."

Allowing Barbara to tug her tee over her head, Helena felt both of her eyebrows disappear under her bangs when the other woman continued.

"It's for me."

Holy --

The sure movement of Barbara's hands caused fire to race across her chest. Breasts aching, she fell backward on the bed, pulling her lover with her.

The press of the other woman's small breasts against hers was incendiary.

"I've -- "

Helena licked her lips and obligingly raised her hips as Barbara tugged at her sweatpants.

"I've never..."

Even as her hips bucked once, she darted her gaze to the harness and the dildo that rested on the edge of the mattress.


Her clit twitched from the vibration, and somehow Helena fought the urge to wrap her hands in long red hair, to hold her lover in place and...

"Never used one of those," she finally gasped.

Regretfully, that red head rose from between her thighs. The arch of Barbara's eyebrows was, she thought, reaching dangerous territory.

"I'd rather thought -- "

Helena shivered as her partner made her way back up her body.

"... that there were very few things..."

Hot breath teased her nipple, and her eyes slammed shut.

"... that you hadn't tried, Helena."

She managed to ease the knotting tension in her body a wee bit and pried open her eyes. Slowly, she raised her right hand, tracing her lover's firm lips with the pad of her thumb.

"No," she whispered.

She acknowledged the little cold knot of fear in her belly but ignored it.

"I wanted to wait."

Understanding dawned in those intelligent green eyes and gave Helena courage. Arching up, she caught Barbara in a brief kiss.

"You've taught me everything else, Barbara."

When she lay back against the pillow, her partner's smile was thick with sin.

"Let's see about your first lesson."

A riot of goose flesh erupted across her body when the redhead rolled off her and reached for the harness.

"First -- "

"Oh god..."

Clever fingers moved against her skin, between her thighs, across her buttocks. Helena hissed her pleasure when Barbara detoured from positioning the harness to stroke her slowly.

"First we make certain that *you're* feeling good."

She couldn't keep her hips from rolling against her lover's touch.


Barbara's smile was, again, an enigma, but Helena had little time to wonder about it. The seemingly huge phallus was being fitted against her... touching... cradling...

"Especially you, Helena."

Her clit pulsing, Helena suddenly understood -- viscerally understood -- what Barbara meant. And she had no doubts or questions about her lover's next suggestion.

"Now, let's both feel good."


Part 9

Coming back to reality was always the worst part.

It didn't happen often, but in her line of work, Helena had taken a few good knocks to the head, and she pretty much had the "coming to" part down.

It didn't make it any easier.

First there was the good part: that would be the being unconscious and floating along like a hippie on acid time. Then, well, something *real* started lifting up the corners of the blackness, or the psychedelic curtain, and kinda niggling at the edges of the happy-peaceful-thing. For some reason, the body started shaking it off and crawling back to reality; the senses kicked in, admitting light and sound and...

Frikkin' cold water running into her ear.


Okay, talking wasn't such a hot idea, and shaking her head was off the scale of Not Good.

And, guessing from the feeling that she had a hot knife in her side, raising her hand to get at that freaking drip wasn't so good either.

Okay, time to take things a little slower.

Slowly, very slowly, Helena cracked her right eye. When that didn't result in cymbals crashing in her head or lightning flashing in her skull, she pried open the left.

She was at the clock tower.

If she hadn't known how much it would hurt, she might have laughed.

Of course she was at the tower: that relentless goddamned ticking wasn't in her head.

So, that meant that the crimson-haired angel beside her...


Barbara's smile was like sunshine. The feel of her fingers brushing her bangs back, heaven.

"Helena. You're back."

For someone who didn't know the older woman, it wouldn't have been noticeable; but Helena heard the relief in her tone.

Must be more banged up than she thought.

She managed to run her tongue around her lips -- didn't help much -- and quirked the corner of her mouth.

"Ba' penny."

The redhead's smile wasn't quite so bright.

"Hardly that, Hel."

Sure hands moved to her forehead to probe at the knot above her eyebrow. Helena's hiss was instant; Barbara's look of contrition, immediate.

Instinctively, Helena turned into the contact, brushing her partner's palm with a kiss. The warm affection that she saw in her lover's eyes was better than all the butterfly bandages and cold compresses in the world. The tender stroke of her fingers against her cheek, the only pain relief she'd ever need.

"Lie still while I check this, Hel."

She did her best not to flinch when those capable fingers smoothed the butterfly she could feel over her eye.

"Brick?" she hazarded when Barbara finally straightened from her inspection.

Her partner's smile was more of a wince.

"Steel pipe, more likely."

Helena risked a tiny nod.

That seemed about right.

"How are you feeling?"

The question was soft but business-like.

"Can you tell me who's president, Hel?"

The brunette rolled her eyes, immediately regretting it.

"I don't want to remember that."

That earned her a laugh.

"Uhm -- "

Helena nibbled at her bottom lip and took in the familiar surroundings of the living area.

"-- How'd I get here?"

Barbara's answer was brief.

"Dinah came out."

Again, Helena nodded cautiously.

She'd have to remember to thank the Kid for the save. Or, more likely, just save her ass back the next time they went on sweeps --


Immediately, the redhead froze, her fingers still against her ribs where she'd been probing lightly under her tee. Sucking air through her teeth, Helena quirked the corner of her mouth and nodded for her to get on with it.

"I'm sorry, Hel. I should have warmed my hands."

"Soooo not the problem, Red," she hissed as the examination continued.

Funny how Barbara's hands on her chest usually felt a helluva lot better than this.

"Broke one, huh?"

She kinda remembered catching a hobnailed boot after she'd hit the ground.

"Thank heavens for your remarkable healing."

She waited it out as the redhead lowered her shirt and sat back in her chair.

"It's already starting to knit."

Deciding that the medical portion of her evening was damned well over, Helena dug her feet into the cushions of the couch and pushed herself into a semi-recline against the arm.

"Yeah," she inspected the healing scrapes on her knuckles. "Now I just need to work on my reflexes."

A slim hand came to rest atop hers.

"Well, the clown suits undoubtedly threw you off your mark."

Her surprise probably showed.

"I hacked into the bank cameras just before the second squad of goons appeared, Hel."

Nodding, the brunette shut her eyes against the memory of the harliquin-suited assholes she'd surprised at the bank. She pushed back her anger at their clear reference to "the boss" and how she'd be mighty pissed if they didn't return with a big haul.

For some reason, she kinda wanted to cry.

Instead, she forced herself to look up and meet her partner's eyes.

"I guess the honeymoon's over, huh?"

Helena saw something that looked very much like regret pass over the other woman's features before Barbara exhaled heavily and released her hand.

"I'm afraid so, Hel."

For a score of beats, only the heavy tock of the clock disturbed the silence. Finally, Helena turned and forced her feet to the floor.

It was time to head out.

"Yeah," she breathed out as she stood. "The bitch is back."


Part 10

The darkness was almost absolute, but she had no trouble seeing. Truthfully, she didn't need to see; she had every inch of her path bonded in her cells.

Too many nights making this trip when they'd first become family. Too many nights fighting their nightmares.

Now, the nightmares were back.

It had been a hard couple of days since she'd encountered the clowns at the bank. Quinn -- or at least her goons -- were back in New Gotham with a vengeance. Helena had been running pell-mell from one twisted caper to the next -- from robberies to shaving cream attacks to gun fights -- but it was Barbara who was taking the brunt of it.

The cyber-vigilante had almost been glued to the Delphi, following leads, trying to route law enforcement most efficiently, trying to anticipate where the next wave of lunacy or mayhem would occur.

And, naturally, blaming herself if she guessed wrong.

It had only been by virtue of parking her ass on the mouse pad and glaring -- well, glaring back -- at the older woman that Helena had finally gotten her partner to give herself a break and head off to bed at the insanely early hour of one a.m. this night. She'd figured on hanging around for a little, just to make sure that Barbara didn't try to sneak back out, but the sound of restless thrashing from the master bedroom had drawn her down the hall.


For a few heartbeats, Helena stood motionless at the foot of the bed, weighing her choices. Another murmur -- it sounded like the word "hurt" -- made her decision for her.

Silently, she shucked her boots, then her pants and overshirt, then raised the edge of the covers and slipped in. She cautiously inched across the mattress and eased against the older woman's back. Allowing her breathing to slow and sync with Barbara's, Helena worked to remember the last time she'd shared the big bed with the redhead.

Sure as hell hadn't been after the last time Quinn had been on the loose in their city. She'd barely been able to make herself show up at the tower after that; offering any kind of comfort to Barbara had been out of the question.

She was mercifully distracted from some increasingly black thoughts when she felt Barbara stiffen. A sleepy murmur broke the silence.


Deciding to be deliberately obtuse, the brunette buried her face against the other woman's shoulder.

"Mmm hmm?"

She felt her companion shift minutely in her light embrace.

"What are you doing?"

Again, being literal seemed like as good a tactic as any.

"Holding you."

A lot of silence greeted that, stretching on long enough that Helena thought she could hear the gears turning in her lover's big brain.

Of course, it coulda just been that damned clock they were in.

Helena finally released the breath she'd been holding when Barbara relaxed in the loose circle of her arms. She felt the other woman's nod.

"Thank you, Sweetheart."

Hearing the old endearment, Helena worked her jaw.

"I won't stay -- I just wanted to..."

Not certain what she wanted -- or, at least, what she wanted to say -- she allowed a shrug to transmit itself against Barbara's back. In response, a warm hand clasped hers.

"I appreciate it, Hel. Quinn's a bit much to comprehend."

Ignoring the fact that she'd originally come in so that her lover could sleep, Helena spoke without thinking.

"I wish she'd stayed in Bludhaven."

To her relief, she heard a soft chuckle.

"Surely you don't still wish that sort of bad fortune on Dick?"

Okay, she hadn't made much of a secret of her feelings -- well, some of them -- when Barbara had made a mercifully brief attempt at dating the man who was technically sort of her brother. But now...

Helena ducked her head, burying her face against her bedmate's neck as she considered the question in light of where she was now.

Where *they* were now.

When she answered, she was a little surprised by the certainty of her words.

"No. Not now."

Barbara's reply was slow and warm.

"Good. He's not your enemy."

The brunette prodded at that for a minute, wondering how much time and space bridged the distance between enemy and friend. Ultimately, the question couldn't hold her interest. With Barbara pliantly easing back against her, she opened her mouth, working to create another sensory memory of her lover.


Helena felt a little warmth touch her cheeks when Barbara twitched a bit against her.

"Do I need a shower, Hel?"

The question was mild, and Helena forced herself to relax.

"No. It's just -- "


The sleepy disinterest gave her the courage to whisper the rest.

"I like the way you smell."

Barbara's snort was nearly a snore.

"Without the body wash," Helena whispered to her shoulder.

Separated from the redhead only by her tank and Barbara's ratty old Animaniacs tee shirt, Helena nearly moaned when the other woman's chuckle tickled against her.

"You gave that to me."

The brunette bit the inside of her cheek and tried to think of anything but nipples.

"Yeah. I like it, but -- "

She trailed off, not sure what she was getting at.

God knew, there were some pretty damned good associations with oranges and ginger at this point.

Finally, she bumped her shoulder lightly against her partner's back in a shrug. A soft hum was her answer, and Helena decided it was time to shut up.

With Barbara's hand twined in hers, Helena snuggled another half-inch closer and then lay in silence as Barbara's breathing deepened and began to stretch out.

God, it felt so good.

Just... Just holding Barbara. Sharing time that didn't have to do with *doing* something... or recovering from having done something.

Still, she had said she wasn't staying and Red seemed like she was a lot more settled.

Fighting off her ennui, Helena began to extricate herself from Barbara's grasp. A sleepy murmur stopped her cold.

"I'd like it if you'd stay."

Barbara punctuated her words by snugging their joined hands to her stomach.

"Yeah -- "

Helena thought her answer might have been a little breathless, but with the heavy swell of her partner's breast brushing her knuckles, she couldn't say she was surprised. For an agonizing few seconds, she teetered on the brink: the way their bodies were melded so effortlessly; Barbara's easy acceptance; the whisper of silken hair against her mouth...

And, it had been a long few nights since...

The details of the room sprang into sharp focus, and Helena knew that her eyes had augmented. Gingerly, she shifted, then damned near swallowed her tongue when her throbbing center brushed against her partner.

Not --

She squeezed her eyes shut, fighting the images of moving with Barbara only a few nights before: her hands covering pale breasts; Barbara's head thrashing as she'd positioned herself between her legs; the incredible sight of the phallus stroking between her lover's legs until Barbara's hands had dug into her shoulders and a raw voice had urged her on.

*Inside me, Helena. Now.*

Not. Helping.

Very slowly, Helena inhaled. She counted three, then exhaled slowly. She counted to three again before inhaling.

She could do this.

And, not more than two hundred repetitions later, she somehow relaxed, her breathing echoing Barbara's, her body falling away in a deep, deep sleep.

Unfortunately, she realized mere moments after coming awake the next morning from the best rest she'd had in weeks, it was gonna be a whole new battle.

Without opening her eyes, Helena knew that she was being watched. Somehow, during the night, Barbara had managed to shift onto her back, and now Helena was curled up to her side.

The scrape of her eyelashes against the three-hundred thread count cotton pillow case seemed really loud, and the first thing she saw -- Barbara's full mouth, curved in a smile -- was almost too much.

With as much casualness as she could muster, Helena swallowed and then blinked a few times to clear the cobwebs.


Barbara's voice was low.

"Good morning."

Something about the way Barbara's lightly calloused fingers came to her face to brush back her bangs seemed unbearably intimate.

Impossibly erotic.

Helena was instantly aflame.


Somehow she wrestled back her lustier impulses. Somehow, she contented herself with inching forward just a bit to bump their noses together. The little crinkling smile lines that formed around her partner's eyes officially released the butterflies in her stomach.

Helena didn't move forward. She didn't pull away either. Instead, she carefully ran the tip of her tongue across her lips and searched the other woman's eyes.


Aching to brush her mouth against those lush lips that were bare millimeters away, she felt the tension creeping into the older woman's body.

"Do I smell coffee?"

Barbara's question was artificially casual. Eyes burning, Helena rolled away with a sniff.

"Yeah. Kid must be up."

Clear enough.

Tossing back the covers, she swung her feet to the floor. The sensation of a warm hand coming to rest on her back was almost too much.

"Hel? What-- "


Hating herself for it, Helena felt her blood begin to simmer.

Barbara could touch her in unimaginable ways when they were off the clock? The redhead would let -- hell -- *beg* her to take her so impossibly deep? But a good morning kiss threw her off just 'cuz they were in the tower?

Somehow, she managed a smile and looked over her shoulder.

"I've gotta head out."

She stood and retrieved her clothes on the way to the bathroom. Although she was aware that Barbara knew her schedule cold, she couldn't hold back a final word.

"I'm closing at the bar tonight. I guess you can come by if you're in a mood."

Part 11

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