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. 5

Helena really, truly, hadn't expected that sort of reaction to her question about the source of her injuries. She sort of supposed that, after the type of accident she'd been in, a little fuzziness would be perfectly understandable.

Apparently not.

Although it was quick, and she was clearly trying to hide it, the redhead had gone absolutely rigid for a moment after the question; then there was the matter of how pale she seemed as she started rolling toward the bed and, with a nonchalance that was entirely too casual to be convincing, asked, "You don't remember, Hel?".

Aw, screw it. She was finally back in the bedroom with her lover, feeling distinctly better than she had last night, hormones screaming for some sort of completion. Barbara had ducked her kiss in the living room -- trying not to embarrass the kid, Helena supposed; but her responses to the few touches they'd shared certainly hadn't escaped the brunette's heightened senses. Sure, there were some blank spots here and there, but the pieces were coming back. No way she was going to divert them from the pressing matters at hand, so to speak.

So, Helena Kyle laughed as she bounded onto the bed to settle facing the other woman, who had maneuvered her chair to a spot facing the foot of the bed. Ignoring the slight, really almost insignificant, outraged scream that the move elicited from her sore ribs, she angled for a tone midway between slightly peeved and outright amused.

"Shit, Barbara. Of course, I remember;", adding an extra inflection of irony to the last word, "I was there, y'know. Just -- well, considering how fast the other stuff is healing..." She trailed off awkwardly, waving one of her battered hands loosely towards the other woman and ducking her chin abashedly.

The strategy had its desired effect. The redhead visibly relaxed as she reached for the other woman's right hand and cradled it on her legs. After fishing in a pocket on the side of her chair, she put on her glasses and gently pulled the injured hand closer to her face -- close enough for Helena to feel warm breath teasing her knuckles. Helena licked suddenly dry lips -- Damn, those glasses were sexy. Very sexy. -- and felt a change in herself. Her vision seemed to ... clarify while being filtered through shimmering gold lights; her heartbeat didn't so much increase as ... seem to get stronger; all of her senses seemed to intensify; and every hormone in her body -- or whatever was fueling her lust -- just plain ol' stood up and screamed, "Hi there!".

No, not just lust, she realized. Need. Deep-seeded, aching need.

Clamping down on the growl attempting to bubble out of her chest, Helena leaned forward slightly, nostrils flaring as the mere scent of the other woman racheted her need another notch. She concentrated again, briefly, on the feel of the older woman's long fingers as they explored her other hand, skin shivering as her imagination supplied images of those hands on other parts of her body.

Her reverie was broken by Barbara's slightly distracted murmur, as the redhead finished her inspection of the younger woman's hands and responded to the earlier implied question.

"Well, you really are healing quite phenomenally. Taking on," she paused, correcting herself, pride evident in her voice at Helena's accomplishment, "taking *out* the Crimson Claw is no small task, you know."

Helena managed to duck her head, under the guise of looking at her hands, just as Barbara smiled and looked up at her. Violent, bloody images -- which she'd hoped were only from the dreamscape -- had popped into her mind's eye when the other woman mentioned the Claw. Ardor temporarily dampened, tho' hardly doused, she muttered in response, "Yeah, well, I just wanted to -- y'know -- be sure. That everything's okay." She paused, then looked up, knowing her eyes had reverted to normal, and gave a saucy waggle of her eyebrows before adding, "I'm really kinda hoping to be able to use these, y'know. Soon."

Helena wasn't certain that any one individual could withstand so many deep blushes in such a short time. Therefore, when Barbara managed to stammer out a somewhat choked reply -- "When you're healed, Hel, I'm sure you won't have any problem filling your dance card" -- she bit back her flippant comment about being ready to slow dance right here, right now. Instead, she puzzled about the odd reparte: it didn't feel like the sort of sexual banter she expected from her lover; but, heck, apparently they'd been through a pretty rough time with that Claw thing.

Still, she was confused. When Barbara had suggested the bedroom for the... physical exam, her brain supplied with a leer, Helena had assumed that the older woman wanted some privacy for them. Privacy which was not needed to remove a bandage that was on the outside of her tee shirt. But, since getting here, the redhead had clearly been nervous, awkward; gentle and solicitous, sure, but, fuck, she could get that from a nurse. Maybe her earlier question had thrown the older woman for more of a loop than she was letting on; maybe the older woman was still mentally back at that bank of supercomputers -- 'What the hell kind of daytrading is she running with that? Oooh, maybe we do real-time streaming porn... Wait, muffin-tops? Where did that come from?'.

She was pulled from her musing as Barbara -- apparently recovered from her earlier embarassment -- leaned towards her, and -- with a steely determination in her voice and a stiffness of expression that seemed really, really, out of place for the task -- said, "Now, let's get this bandage off and check your shoulder."

Ch. 6

The examination had gone much better than Barbara had feared, dreaded -- if she were to be honest with herself, with the young woman refraining from any further suggestive remarks or flirtation. The injured woman had sat quietly as her fellow crime-fighter removed the bandage and gently probed her shoulder, then her ribs, through the tee-shirt -- even the great Oracle could only stand so much temptation. Helena had answered questions about pain and mobility quietly, almost monosyllabically, and then quietly pulled on a pair of faded jeans and - mercifully - covered that thin, clingy tee-shirt with a denim overshirt when Barbara pronounced her healed enough to keep the bandage off.

Since returning to her post at the Delphi -- this time actually noticing some of the data flowing across the dozens of screens -- Barbara had casually been observing her friend. Helena spent the afternoon quietly, as she'd promised, alternating between lounging on the couch with Dinah, riffing on the offerings of their 738 channel cable system and wandering -- almost seeming to explore -- the clock tower, pausing in front of certain items, touching them gently, before moving on. She was, Barbara supposed, reaffirming her survival, her victory, her home.

After the sun had long disappeared, Barbara was startled from her research -- though less violently than by Helena's first entrance that day -- when the young woman quietly appeared beside her, holding a plate in one hand and a large glass of -- Was that milk? It was, the redhead decided with a grin -- chocolate milk in the other.

Turning her head slightly and dimpling her cheeks in a smirk, Barbara looked over the top of her glasses to inquire, "What's all this?".

The brunette set her offerings carefully on a semi-clear section of the desk while replying in a sing-song voice, "Food. Nourishment. Staff of life, y'know." she paused and smiled tenderly at the other woman, "The kid told me that you didn't eat much while you were, uh, taking care of me. Please eat now, Babs."

The fiercely independent part of the older woman -- a fairly large part, she'd have to admit -- almost snapped that she was quite capable... But, the shyly loving look being directed her way danced right past her defenses. Barbara smiled, reaching out to tangle her hand briefly with the other woman's, and murmured, "That's really sweet, Hel. Will do."

Hours later, Barbara pulled her attention from the Delphi and leaned back, rotating stiff her neck and shoulders, wondering where the two younger women were. Dinah's bedroom door was firmly shut; presumably the teenager was soundly sleeping. It was, the redhead acknowledged, a good idea for them all. She wheeled away from the bank of computers, instinctively knowing where she'd find Helena, and turned to the balcony where she found the young woman sprawled almost bonelessly on one of the low walls, staring into the night sky.

Barbara waited patiently, knowing that her entrance had been heard. She scanned the sky, then dropped her gaze and gave herself the gift of an unguarded look at her friend's profile. Eventually, Helena gestured towards the heavens and commented, "It's beautiful, isn't it?".

Still looking only at Helena, Barbara rasped, "Yes. Yes ... it ... is." She paused to clear her throat, then gently encouraged, "Let's get some rest, Hel. You're still healing, you know."

When the brunette sat up and then dropped her feet to the balcony, the older woman turned her chair and moved back through the clocktower, with the other woman casually following her into her bedroom for the second time that day. Helena shucked her jeans and overshirt and then moved to the side of the bed, seeming to wait. Chiding herself for feeling flustered -- 'This is Helena, for god's sake. We've changed in front of each other hundreds of times. Get a grip, Gordon.' -- Barbara changed into her nightwear, shorts and a tank, intensely aware of blue eyes trained on her as she did.

Only after the older woman had settled into the big bed did Helena slide in, reaching across Barbara to turn off the lamp and then flopping back on her side of the bed. Silence ruled for a few minutes until Barbara sensed movement; her bedmate was sliding, slowly but without hesitation, closer and closer, until her head rested on the same pillow and her arm was loosely draped over the redhead's waist.

At the feel of Helena's arm across her, the feel of Helena's slim fingers ever-so-softly, minutely, stroking her side, Barbara tensed. She turned her head, briefly startled by the intensity of the gaze -- so close, so terribly, terribly close to her -- directed her way. Swallowing audibly -- 'Very calm, Gordon. Way to go.' -- Barbara smiled, perhaps a bit nervously, then slowly blew out a long breath and consciously relaxed muscles which had, at some point, gone absolutely rigid with tension.

As if sensing the change, the forced relaxation, the younger woman shifted her head infinitesimally closer and pressed a gentle kiss to Barbara's jaw. Unaccountably warmed by the gesture, Barbara turned her head, on instinct, and pressed her lips gently to the dark-haired woman's forehead. The response to her gesture -- a ragged exhalation from her bedmate -- caused Barbara to blink, several times, and then move to pull her head back slightly, ostensibly the better to see Helena's face in the dim room but with the added ... benefit? disadvantage? 'factor', she finally decided ... of putting a bit of distance between them.

The attempt was summarily, albeit tenderly, denied. Barbara, holding her breath without realizing it, heard covers rustling slightly, sensed a fluid movement, and then felt a slim, strong hand wind into her hair.


So softly said, the redhead could almost persuade herself that she'd imagined the plea. Could almost convice herself that the hand tenderly brushing through her hair was only meant to sooth.


And then, that hand was cupping the side of her head, gently urging her to turn her head, to close the microcosmic distance she'd tried to create.

And then, they were lying forehead to forehead, nose to nose, their breath mingling as Helena breathed raggedly and Barbara found that she could scarcely breathe at all. And so they remained, for long moments, for a brief eternity, until Barbara dared to open her eyes, only to find herself unravelling under the heat of the other woman's burning golden eyes.

'Oh my.' Not her finest mental offering, Barbara would have freely conceded, but her brain was hardly firing on all cylinders at the moment.

The redhead opened her mouth to say something, anything, but there was only one word she could formulate:


Helena -- perhaps responding to the plea that Barbara had not realized was in that lone word -- closed the distance, swallowing the breathy utterance before gifting the other woman with the most tender, melting touch of her mouth against Barbara's. Slowly, and with a tenderness that Barbara feared would reduce her to tears, the young woman tasted her mouth, nibbled on her lips, delicately traced her mouth with the tip of her tongue.

Immobilized, enraptured, enthralled; Barbara could do nothing but receive the worshipful caresses, breathing in the sweet smell of Helena's breath, melting under her mouth. Until finally, finally, her hand moved to cup the brunette's cheek as she surrendered on a sigh. She opened her mouth to the young woman, gratefully receiving her as she would a sacrament.

The first touch of their tongues electrified Barbara; losing all sense of herself, she sucked and suckled at Helena's mouth and tongue, moaning around the thick pleasure that was coursing through her. Still, the other woman didn't increase the pace, although her ragged breathing and restlessly shifting legs bespoke her own growing need. Instead, the lithe figure disentangled her hand from crimson locks and traced it slowly across Barbara's brow, around the shell of her ear, down her neck to her shoulder. One, and only one, finger slid teasingly under the scoop neck of the redhead's tank, and Barbara's upper back arched almost painfully. "Oh god!", she gasped.

Barbara Gordon knew -- without false modesty -- that she was an extremely intelligent, highly educated, well-read person. Additionally, she felt that -- especially in the years before the shooting -- she'd enjoyed a healthy number and variety of satisfying sexual experiences. She also believed herself not to be lacking in imagination, particularly when it came to flights of fantasy concerning a certain dark-haired, gamine-featured crime fighter. However, all of these factors combined could not possibly have prepared her for the force of nature that was kissing Helena Kyle. Barbara was drowning, yet truly breathing for the first time; frozen in place, yet soaring. Every part of her body that she could feel was torqued and burning with a power she couldn't remember ever experiencing before.

Helena finally broke the kiss -- leaving Barbara breathless, immediately wishing the kiss hadn't ended, and - at the same time - hungry to know what the young woman had planned next. As the brunette moved to lick and suckle at her pulse point, Barbara almost laughed at the joy and the incongruity of it all. Helena traced her fingers delicately across her bicep and then along the outer swell of her breast, and Barbara arched again and heard the other woman's low growl.

With the tiny portion of her brain which hadn't yet joyfully succumbed to drowning the in cotton-candy thick pleasure, Barbara wondered why she should feel surprise. Of course it would be Helena who would know her so perfectly. They had known each other, loved and cared for each other for more than half of the younger woman's life; they'd faced tragedy and joy and danger and victories together. They were inside each other.

'Over half her life.'

'Danger. Victories.'

As these thoughts scratched against something in Barbara's conscience, Helena shifted her weight onto her knees -- a slight grunt the only concession to her still-healing ribs and shoulder -- and drew her face into the valley between the older woman's breasts. The brunette's low moan electrified every nerve ending in Barbara's body; her nipples tightened and burned, and the redhead instinctively fumbled for Helena's hand, intent on moving it to cover the ache in her chest. She wanted, oh god, she needed more contact; she needed that strong hand on her breast, holding and squeezing until pleasure almost bled to pain; she ached for that hand to warm her, soothe her, possess her.

Conversely, perversely, that same moan somehow galvanized her mind to suddenly shed the sensual haze that had decended on her at the first touch of Helena's mouth on hers. Every molecule in her body screaming in protest, Barbara mentally gritted her teeth and gently moved her hands to weave through dark hair, urging Helena upward until the small frame rested over her, supported by strong arms which -- already -- had eased under Barbara's back where slender hands were tracing sensual patterns. Golden eyes blazed, then flickered blue, before twinkling at her.

"Hi", the young woman breathed, as she leaned forward to press another sweet kiss to Barbara's jaw, her hips rocking unconsciously against the older woman's stomach.

"Uh, Hi." Smiling gently, Barbara asked, "What are you doing?"

"Uhm....", dark brows waggled, "I'm feeling much better?"

Unable to resist the impish grin, the older woman laughed and responded wryly, "Obviously."

"Now that we've gotten that cleared up...", Helena growled playfully, even as her mouth was returning to Barbara's.

Even as she struggled to remember why she was doing so, the older woman gasped, "Helena... wait."

In response to the inquisitive look from eyes which morphed from gold to blue, Barbara stammered, "You're not even recovered. This... this is..."

"Let me help us both feel even better," Helena coaxed as, again, that sensual mouth brushed hers.

For just a moment, Barbara was tempted. So terribly tempted. But, obviously, the young woman was still exulting in her recent victory, her recovery, reaching out to her without considering the realitites. And, so, Barbara Gordon did what she knew she had to.

She couldn't bear to end this harshly, abruptly. Instead, she tugged one of Helena's arms until she could bring the slim hand between their faces. She reverently kissed each finger, gently ghosting her tongue against the skin, drinking in the taste, filing it away for those dark, stiffling nights she knew were ahead. Finally, she pushed lightly and rolled them both onto their sides, facing each other.

"I ... We ... can't." she whispered.

"Why not? I don't understand" There was a tiny crack in that soft voice, a hint of agony which could be glimpsed through it. Still, the brunette kept trying. She had always, Barbara reflected, been the braver of the two. "Hey, maybe you always...cosset me this way," Helena smiled shyly as Barbara's eyes widened briefly in appreciation of her phrasing, "or maybe this is the wrong night or something...", Helena smiled winningly, hopefully, before continuing. "I know I'm still a little fuzzy about things, but, well, can't we make an exception this time?"


The pieces fell into place for Barbara Gordon.

Part 7

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