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.
ADDITIONAL DISCLAIMER: I've made several references to a baddie (Crimson Claw) from another work of fanfiction -- The most-excellent "Feral" by Barb/Pink Rabbit Productions. No infringement intended; rather, consider it an homage to a breath-taking work of fanfic (and another plea that Feral be completed??).
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Way We Were

Ch. 19

Whoa. The brunette shook her head disbelievingly.

Helena had never, never, felt -- or heard -- someone come like that. Just the memory of the hoarse scream which had so recently echoed through the clock tower was enough to give her libido a jump start that it really didn't need. Even now, the currents of air whispering through the room from the slowly rotating ceiling fan burned her skin. The dark woman wanted to rub herself all over the other woman like some sort of cat in heat.

Helena sighed. 'I should move.'

Even if the redhead couldn't feel the body sprawled bonelessly over her legs, Helena was probably impeding blood flow to the extremities or something. Of course, even if Barbara could feel, it looked like she wasn't feeling much of anything right now. The older woman had, well, not actually passed out, but she was clearly in some other place.

Helena smirked; a pretty nice place if the expression on Barbara's -- her lover's -- face were any indication.

Of course, the brunette wasn't feeling too bad herself. The last few hours had single-handedly blown every fantasy she'd concocted over the last years completely out of the water. The feel, the taste of the older woman had been a feast to her soul. Barbara's reactions, the way she had so completely given herself over, let loose.... Whoa.

Helena shook her head again and grudgingly extricated herself from her human pillow. She crawled up the bed, smiling affectionately at the sight of the redhead still lying bonelessly. Reaching for one of the water bottles, her hand froze: Were those tears dotting red lashes? She swiped a thumb delicately across one lash and brought it to her mouth; yeah, tears alright.

Abandoning the water, the younger woman laid down next to the older woman, turning on her side to spoon tightly against her. The feel of her breasts tightly pressed to the other woman's arm heightened her need to be touched, and she flirted with the idea of touching herself, knowing that it wouldn't take much to relieve some of her burning need.

'Get a grip, Kyle. This isn't about...that.'

Helena forced herself to lie still, listening to Barbara's deep, regular breathing, exulting in the closeness, drinking in the sight of that finely sculpted face so relaxed and unguarded. Long minutes later, blue eyes watched red lashes flutter, green eyes focus lazily on her, a supremely satisfied smile transfix that beloved face.

Reaching up to cup the redhead's face, Helena pressed a soft open kiss to Barbara's shoulder and whispered, "Hi there." The older woman turned her head to press a kiss to the dark woman's palm, then chuckled abashedly.

"I half expected you to say something like 'Welcome back'."

The redhead turned to press her lips to shaggy bangs. "Good God, Helena. I've never... I... well..."

Barbara trailed off, looking amused at her own inarticulateness.

"Me neither, Babs. Really." Helena cleared her throat. "Are you okay?"

At the puzzled look, the brunette tenderly wiped a drying tear from the redhead's face.

"You, uh, tears?" she explained.

"They're a good kind, Hel. I'm fine, wonderful."

Relieved, Helena shifted to retrieve both water bottles, unscrewing the cap on one and handing it to the redhead before drinking deeply from her own. Barbara finished hers in several long swallows before smiling.

"Thanks. Guess I was a little thirsty. I'm glad you remembered these." A pause. "Why *did* you go get my chair?"

The younger woman deliberately focused on putting the cap back on her bottle, setting both on the table. "Just thought to snag it when I grabbed the water," she demurred.

"Bullshit." The word came out as an affectionate snort. "More likely the other way around."

Helena felt a blush touch her cheeks. "I just didn't want it to be so far from you. You know, if something... y'know... didn't-work-out-or-something", she blurted in a rush.

In case Barbara had come to her senses, she admitted to herself.

There was a moment of absolute quiet, then a soft chuckle.

"Hel, I can't imagine that you get tossed out of too many beds."

The voice became more serious, warmer. "But, I'm touched that you even thought of my needs. But, you always do, don't you? Another reason I love you so much, Helena Kyle."

The brunette released the breath she hadn't realized she was holding and shifted to lie on her side, one arm loosely draped over the redhead's waist. Barbara worked an arm under the younger woman's neck and shoulders, and Helena felt long fingers wind through the hair at her neck, scratching lightly. Purring, the dark woman murmured, "Love you, too, Barbara...".

Barbara shifted again slightly, and Helena opened golden eyes in time to see the older woman leaning over her, moving her head down to press a firm kiss to the corner of her mouth. Helena's hips bucked -- Oh, fuck, how she needed -- and the redhead moved a hand to cup one of her breasts. The brunette felt Barbara's thumb stroking her nipple, distantly wondered if the nipple could get any tighter, any hotter. Her hips continued their rocking, seeking contact and pressure, but finding only the minute space she kept between herself and older woman.

God-fucking-damnit. She was so hot and ready and just, just needing it. And she wouldn't just, just take from Barbara. The redhead had already made almost every dream she had come true; and, she just had no right... But, it was just so hard with the redhead stroking her hand teasingly down her stomach, breathing warmly on her neck, whispering in her ear, "What do you need, Sweetheart? What do you want? Remember? Anything...."

The brunette rolled, casually she hoped, onto her back; turned her face towards the outside of the bed. Barbara's hand was still on her stomach, but it traced further down to stroke her upper thighs before those long fingers whispered through coarse dark hair.

Helena swallowed, fought for a light tone.

"I'm, uh," Why was it so hard to think? "pretty easy to please..." The brunette trailed off helplessly, then tried again. She turned her head to catch emerald eyes with twinkling blue, "I mean, at this point, I think a long look from you might do it."

That probably wasn't too far off the mark, Helena realized. Looking into those hungry green eyes, seeing the features harden with something deep and wanting, she felt her nipples burn as her hips jerked again. Oh, crud, she had it bad.

A tongue trailed her ear. A quiet whisper, "Then I'd better stop looking because I certainly want more than that." Urgent need throbbed at the brunette's center, and she surrendered.

"Touch me, Barbara. Please. Now." The young woman felt tears burning her eyes and squeezed them back. She felt the redhead's quick intake of air, then two fingers were parting her folds, tracing lightly through her swollen, slick need. Helena's hips bucked again, seeking more, and one hand reached down to press the other woman more firmly against her center.

"Uhhh." Helena stopped her hand at the last minute, then raised both arms above her head to grip the heavy headboard tightly. She wouldn't push, force Barbara. Fingers digging into the wood, the younger woman bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from begging and crying and pleading.

The redhead seemed to recognize the overwhelming need, the unspoken supplication. She stopped the light, exploratory touches and, on a moan, drove deeply inside the brunette. The long hand was still for a moment; it felt so fucking good, but it wasn't enough. Helena planted her feet flat on the matress, opened her legs fully, and urgently thrust her hips against those long fingers. She tasted blood in her mouth, heard her own harsh panting, then felt the weight of the older woman's body shift onto her stomach, stilling the urgent thrusting for just a moment before Barbara found the rhythm and force that her body ached for. In next-to-no time, the dark woman burst into orgasm, the only word she knew spilling almost inaudibly through her tightly clenched teeth: "Bar-ba-ra."

Even as she continued to spasm and contract against the older woman's hand, Helena rolled them both over, wrapping herself on top of the redhead and burying her face in Barbara's shoulder. Barbara's hand stilled but the older woman made no motion to withdraw. In the throes of an ecstasy she'd never experienced, Helena continued to rock against that hand, grinding her upper body against the redhead, shuddering as the climax went on and on. Throughout, Barbara held her tightly, alternately moaning in sympathy and whispering words of love.

Long minutes later -- Jesus, how long had she been coming, Helena wondered on a blush -- the younger woman quieted, still glued on top of the older woman, gripped by complete lassitude. She pressed a kiss to that long creamy neck, and, blinking some moisture from her eyes, whispered hoarsely, "Yeah... Uh, that works too."

Barbara's hand slowly withdrew and wrapped around her back, stroking soothingly. An amused and deeply aroused chuckle vibrated against Helena's chest.

"Definitely my pleasure, Hel." The redhead's voice got a little deeper, husky. "Though, next time, you're going to have to let me spend more time..."

Shifting her head slightly, the brunette peered through her lashes and purred, "What time is it? The kid...?"

A tinkle of laughter. "Don't worry about it, Helena. She's sleeping over at Gabby's tonight."

Good, very good. Helena gently grasped Barbara's shoulder between her teeth, shaking her head. She growled, "Good. That's very good."

Ch. 20

And it had been good, *very* good. Twice more, in fact. The redhead allowed herself a Cheshire grin as she took another sip of tea.

Immediately after her prolonged climax, Helena had turned playful. Oh, definitely still sensual, loving, demanding, but also, at loss for a better word, Barbara settled on 'cute'. Purring, playfully growling and nipping at the older woman, bathing probably every square inch of the redhead with a teasing, rasping tongue. Who would have thought that the stud in the younger woman's tongue could feel so amazing...? After seemingly hours of the delicious play, Barbara had succumbed to the demanding mouth on her neck and to the delicate hands which had coaxed every sensation from everywhere possible below her waist, and she'd slipped joyfully into orgasm.

Helena had barely tugged the covers over the two women and spooned tightly to Barbara before the redhead dropped into a satiated, dreamless sleep. She had awakened at dawn to the almost inaudible rumble of the brunette's low purring and to the sensation of the younger woman kneading her breast and gently undulating against her in sleep.

The flare of arousal had been urgent. Barbara had pulled a half-asleep, but patently delighted, Helena into a deep kiss, whispering her need thickly. It felt like mere moments passed -- the brunette raggedly whispering how hot and wet, how tight, how wonderful she felt -- before the older woman had climaxed again and dropped back into exhausted slumber, even as she was dreamily planning ways to return the pleasure.

When she awoke again, the sun was fully up, and Barbara Gordon was quite alone in her bed. For a long panicky moment, the redhead feared that it had all been just another dream... a vivid, vivid dream. She'd pulled herself upright, mentally regrouping. Her heart rate calmed as she noticed, first, that she was naked although she never slept in the buff and, second, that there was a steaming cup of coffee beckoning from the bedside table. A split-second later, sipping from the cup, the redhead heard the sound of her shower running and, of course, Helena singing softly.

In your eyes I can still see the look of the one who really loves me

The one who wouldn't put anything else in the world above me

I can still see love for me in your eyes

And there ain't no way

I'm lettin' you go now...

Definitely more upbeat, but, honestly, pop-country? The redhead had smiled broadly and shook her head, allowing the bouncy tune to energize her from the cocoon of her bed.

'Cause I'm keeping you forever and for always

We will be together all of our day

Wanna wake up every morning to your sweet face always

By the time Helena had emerged, in a pair of skin-tight faded jeans and a not-quite-see-through tank top, Barbara had moved to the kitchen where she was laying out a spread suitable for a professional football team. For some reason, the redhead was absolutely famished.

Oh. That. A wide smile split the redhead's face as she meandered down specific portions of memory lane for a moment.

Helena had bounced into the kitchen, practically skidding to a stop when she spied the older woman, covered only by a loosely tied robe, preparing to tuck into a lumberjack-sized bowl of oatmeal. It had been quick, but the look of raw... want... Barbara caught flickering through those cobalt eyes had nearly caused her to pour her cream in her lap rather than on her cereal.

The younger woman had smiled shyly through her lashes and then glided across the floor in response to the redhead's raised hand. She'd then leaned on the arms of the chair and kissed Barbara -- deeply, thoroughly, breath-stoppingly. My, but Helena Kyle knew how to kiss.

Snagging a bagel, the brunette had almost shuffled her feet, stammering something about it being later than she'd thought, about an appointment at the Dark Horse to get her schedule in order after her sick leave. Still dazed from the good morning kiss, from everything in the last 20 hours or so, Barbara had been letting the words wash through her, trying not to feel too selfishly disappointed that she wouldn't have the younger woman in her arms again all day.

A shyly spoken question permeated her none-too-subtle thoughts about cream, about the way Helena was playing with her bagel, about just what might make up a "complete breakfast"...

"And then, tonight, I'll come by for sweeps... and... I mean... if you want?"

Heart twisting that Helena had even felt the need to ask, the redhead had tangled her fingers with the brunette's. She'd kept it short and sweet.

"I want."

It was now mid-afternoon. Dinah was in her room napping -- apparently there hadn't been much sleeping going on at the sleep-over at Gabby's. Barbara pinched the bridge of her nose, realizing that The Talk was looming. Of course, considering her own activities of much of the night before...

The redhead blushed and returned her attention to the Delphi. She'd just completed the final tweaks to a decryption algorithm, and now several processors were laboriously unencrypting the terabytes of data which had been downloaded to the New Gotham Sports Arena during the night. Barbara resumed her research on Harleen Quinzel, aka Harley Quinn.

So far, given what she'd learned from her younger partner yesterday, there were no real surprises other than the fact that, apparently, the insane blonde was being true to her word with Helena. There wasn't a single shred of evidence that, in the last two years, Quinn or her flunkies had engaged in anything more significant than burglarizing other criminals' headquarters and possibly forgetting to report off-track-betting gains on their annual tax returns.

The cyber-crime-fighter was not pleased. She needed something more than sadistic sex and emotional brutalization to get the blonde off the streets and safely locked away, out of Helena's life. And, Barbara was under no illusions that it would take anything less than that to get the woman's clutches from the younger woman. Of course, when -- If? The word spun sickeningly through the redhead's mind -- the brunette ended her current arrangement with Quinn, it was distinctly possible that the unhinged woman would snap, giving the crime-fighters just the ammunition they needed.

When. If. The two words pirouetted through Barbara's thoughts.

Surely, now that her burden had been laid bare, Helena would see the wisdom in coming up with an alternate plan, a way to end the... the torture that... the bitch had been subjecting young woman to for almost two years.

'Easy there, Red.'

Calming herself slightly, Barbara sighed as she realized that it might not be as simple as laying out the logical arguments, even the illogical and more powerful emotional reasons, about why the dark woman could, *must* stop. After this amount of time, the younger woman was possibly too enmeshed, possibly seeing her current situation as the most expeditious way to keep Gotham, and Barbara, safe from Quinn... and the Joker. The 'arrangement' -- the redhead's mouth turned down sourly at the term -- obviously would leave scars.

Barbara replayed that last thought, transposing it against the events of the night before. Emerald eyes blinked, unsuccessfully attempting to hold back tears, as she realized that the scars were, of course, already evident and deep.

As sensual and giving and passionate as the younger woman had been last night, Barbara felt certain that she'd been holding back. There had been none of the easy display of natural animal sexuality, the light openness, that Helena had shown last week... when she'd still had several truck-sized gaps in her memory.

Even Helena's hesitation in asking, in allowing, Barbara to pleasure her bespoke, in the light of day, an uncertainty that the older woman would not have anticipated from the brunette. Despite the jaw-dropping intensity and duration of Helena's climax, it had been so quiet, so controlled, as if the brunette hadn't dared to show herself fully to Barbara.

Of course, there was also the matter of the blood. As she'd showered after Helena's departure, the redhead had noticed dried blood on her skin by several of the play-bite marks. Since the younger woman had certainly done nothing to draw blood from her partner, it didn't take a mind as sharp as Barbara's to reach a conclusion about its source.

Barbara impatiently exhaled: how self-absorbed *had* she been to overlook the signs that the younger woman was holding herself back in their union?

The redhead briefly entertained thoughts of some self-castigation, then dismissed the idea. Last night had been, unquestionably, overwhelming. Finally expressing what she'd been hiding for so many years; finally, under Helena's loving, skillful hands, overcoming deeply ingrained fears of her shortcomings; finally, sharing such an intense bonding with the younger woman. Truthfully, numerous times the night before, the older woman had itched to focus her attentions solely on her younger partner; however, she'd made the conscious decision to let Helena take the lead, not to pressure her. And, she smiled softly, it had simply been impossible to resist being swept away by the overwhelming force of nature that was Helena Kyle.

Clearly, there were some issues that she'd need to address, delicately, in the not-too-distant future. Issues that she simply would not allow to become stumbling blocks in the tenuous path the two women were forging.

The redhead snorted irritably and idly wondered if someone like Alfred could handle the delicate emotional issues on her behalf. The thought elicited a short bark of laughter from her and a somewhat odd look from Dinah, who had just wandered into the living area.

"Are you using the T-1 line to surf for Stupid Redhead Jokes...again?", the teen asked suspiciously.

This time, the laugh was softer and more genuine. "Nothing quite so frightening, D. Just had an idle thought about Alfred." Neatly diverting the conversation, the older woman added, "How was dinner last night? You did remember to thank Gabby's mom, didn't you?"

With that tiny nudge, the young blonde was off: Of course, she'd thanked Gabby and her mom; the two girls *had* probably stayed up too late with a marathon monopoly session; Dinah had actually gotten Gabby's mom's recipe; did Barbara know that adding dried onion soup mix really perked up a meatloaf?

Barbara listened patiently, engaging the teen and attempting to gauge what subtext might lie behind the enthusiastic narrative. Eventually, the redhead managed to wind the conversation down by suggesting that Dinah inventory the kitchen and draw up a shopping list so that she could attempt to replicate the mouth-watering meatloaf recipe for the two older women.

Smiling fondly and hoping that she hadn't just made a big, big mistake with the cooking suggestion, the older woman turned back to the Delphi. The decryption program was still churning along; Barbara wasn't quite sure how she'd feel if, after hours of processing, she discovered that someone was merely bootlegging tickets at the arena.

In the meantime, she intended to update the background check parameters used on the staff at Arkham. While it was clear how Quinzel... Quinn.. could have slipped through -- after all, she'd been a renown psychiatrist for years before succumbing to the Joker's madness, Barbara intended to re-validate every staff member in the off chance of weeding out another crony or henchman of the Joker.

For now, it was the very least she could do to help alleviate a part of the driving factors behind Helena's 'arrangement' with Quinn. And, as she worked, the beginning of some other actions she could take began to percolate through Barbara's mind. She *would* do whatever it took to relieve Helena of the terrible burden she'd been carrying.

Part 21

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