Just A Matter of Time

A BoP TV Story (B/H)

by Enginerd

Chapter 19 - Communication

With a heavy exhale, Barbara stared at the portrait of Bruce's parents.  If he had given in to the temptation, she wondered which of the tragic events in his life he would have attempted to fix - his parents' murder, Selena's, or both.  She guessed Selena's; he may have never met the love of his life had he never become Batman.  And had Selena never been killed, Helena would have never come to live with her, she considered uneasily, knowing how drastically history could have been changed if Bruce gave into his temptation.

Unlike Bruce, Helena had given in to temptation.  And she made a choice and it wasn't her mother.  Too busy being self-conscious and insecure when Helena had first returned, Barbara did not really appreciate the significance of that choice.  But she had plenty of time to think about that the past week and it overwhelmed her.

Barbara looked down and pulled out the letter in the chair's side pouch and stared at it.  She had almost read it a few times as she searched for Helena.  What had she felt so important that she'd abandon her principles about not interfering with history?  She still debated whether or not to read it, her fear equaling her curiosity.  After several minutes of just staring at the envelope, Barbara felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up.  With a small smile, she said "Are you going to continue to hover in the hallway or are you going to come in?" She finally looked up to find Helena at the doorway.

"Didn't want to disturb you.  You looked deep in thought," Helena said, joining Barbara in the study.

They looked at each other an uneasy moment before Helena smiled and sat on the leather sofa.  She sat comfortably with her arm over the back, and crossed her legs.  Barbara had always marveled how Helena had always appeared comfortable in her own skin . . . unlike her.

"What's that?" Helena asked curiously, glancing at the letter.

"Something . . . you brought back with you," Barbara offered hesitantly, looking at Helena, who just squinted in confusion. "Uh, apparently, I used you to send myself a letter," she explained uncomfortably, surprised when Helena snorted with amusement and shook her head.


"You get mad at me for trying to tamper with history and yet you use me to send yourself a letter, no doubt to manipulate the timeline . . . hmmm."

"I never wrote this," Barbara argued defensively, holding the letter up.

"No. You didn't," Helena acknowledged. "Have you read it?" She asked, her own curiosity piqued.

"No!" Barbara blurted vehemently.  "I . . . shouldn't," she said with far less conviction, glancing at the tempting letter. "Do you know why I would write to myself?" She asked with a cringe, almost afraid of the answer.

Helena shrugged slightly. "Batgirl went back in time to stop me from altering history because she believed altering history was a mistake, so the letter is a bit of a surprise," she said honestly. "Although, she might have concluded that writing a letter to herself in a different, but contemporary timeline would not technically be altering history," she suggested with a smirk.

Barbara frowned at the flawed justification.

"But the only way to find out what's in that letter, Barbara, is to read it," Helena offered simply, looking at Barbara, who shook her head.

"I . . . can't."

"Yet you still carry it with you."

Barbara frowned.

"There you go," Helena said as if that answered everything.

"There I go, what?!?" Barbara responded with irritation.

Helena looked into green eyes an intense moment. "You and temptation," she offered, causing those green eyes to widen slightly.

"You resist because you fear the consequences, yet your curiosity consumes you, making you unable to just . . . ignore it," she said with a knowing smile.  She sighed and offered "Poor letter, waiting for you to make up your mind."

Barbara blinked, her eyes dropping uncomfortably to the letter.  "And you would read it," she said with mild disapproval.

Helena chuckled softly.  "You're asking a woman who traveled through time and tried to fix history?" Helena asked wryly.

Barbara sighed heavily, knowing Helena, of all people, would have no compunction reading the letter.

"And speaking of which, you wanted to talk about my trip to 1996?" Helena said, tilting her head as she eyed the redhead. "Or have you decided to yell at me again?" she asked with a polite smile.

Barbara looked at her a surprised moment then shook her head, her guilt returning.  "I am so sorry for how I acted, Helena," she said with a wince. "I know you were only trying to help me, even if I don't agree with what you tried to do.  There's just no good excuse for how I acted.  There's nothing more I can say than - I was horribly wrong" she said remorsefully.

After a long moment, Helena realized that Barbara really believed there was nothing more to say.  Why oh WHY did she keep hoping?  Helena silently scolded herself.  "I guess there isn't, is there?"  Helena responded with a polite smile as sadness filled her heart.

It wasn't the response Barbara had expected, though she wasn't sure what she did expect.

"I . . . never meant to drive you away," Barbara blurted, surprising Helena, who nodded hesitantly. "I was worried you might not . . . come back," she admitted uncomfortably, searching Helena's face.

"After everything we went through?" Helena scoffed with a plastered-on smile that faded a bit. "I just needed a little time . . . to get used to . . . things.  Don't worry, you can count on me for sweeps and watching Dinah's back," Helena offered with a smile firmly back in place.

"I wasn't worried about sweeps, Helena," Barbara responded with frustration, then exhaled heavily.  She knew Helena was putting more distance between them, which greatly troubled her.  "Why is it so hard to talk to you?" She added wearily, searching her eyes, wondering if she would even answer.

Helena looked at her a surprised moment before shaking her head at the accusing comment.  With a sad laugh, she stood up. "Tell me something, Barbara," she said, slowly walking to the window.  "Am I ever going to hear that speech you intended to give me before our roadside adventure today??"

Barbara looked at her, startled by the insightful comment.  Her eyes dropped guiltily, unable to hold Helena's pointed gaze.

Helena nodded sadly, taking the silence as a resounding no. "You know, after I licked my wounds from your little diatribe, I actually had some hope," Helena offered softly, shaking her head in mild amazement as she stared out of the window into the darkness.

Barbara looked up, unable to resist being drawn in by Helena, whose thoughts she really wanted to hear.

Rubbing the back of her stiff neck, Helena continued. "I had hoped the time apart might get you to really think about us, how it seems that our lives are destined to be intertwined, how we've helped each other, sharing life-altering events - both good and bad - as well as simple pleasures," Helena said with a small smile as she recalled some of those memories.

There were several memories that Barbara revisited, like Helena encouraging her to hack into the Wayne Foundation computer, seeing Helena's delighted smile when she sat up on her own for the first time after the shooting, sitting close together and sharing a big bowl of popcorn, listening to Helena's uniquely insightful commentary on whatever they were watching. . . .

"How just being together made things . . . better," she added simply, glancing at Barbara, who listened with rapt attention, unable to disagree.

"When Dinah called, telling me you were coming, I had hoped . . . hoped you had finally figured out what my heart has always known, even when I went back to 1987. We belong together," Helena explained with conviction, surprising Barbara, who sucked in an uneasy breath hearing those bold words.

In spite of her significant doubts, Helena's courage and conviction cultivated Barbara's own hope, which began to bloom.

"But after today, I think I have to finally have to face the facts," Helena said softly.

Barbara grew alarmed by Helena's sudden change in demeanor, noting the disturbing defeat in her voice and droop of her shoulders.

"There are going to be days like today in the future, Barbara," Helena said sadly. "And boy, they are gonna suck. But instead of just accepting my hand and getting through those days, together," Helena said with a pained expression. "You are going to assume my hand is offered out of some sense of . . . obligation, or pity."

Barbara frowned guiltily, acknowledging her actions, especially her recent behavior, gave Helena no reason to believe otherwise.

"You are unable to believe it's simply my love for you that motivates me," Helena said miserably. "The Joker didn't just rob you of your legs that night, Barbara. That bastard took away your ability to trust in love," she said angrily, then sighed as the anger fled, replaced by defeat. "And without that . . . it doesn't matter what I say or what I do.  It doesn't matter how much I love you," Helena finished in an anguished whisper as tears began to fall.

Helena's clear pain gripped Barbara's heart and squeezed tightly.

"I'll call you a cab," Helena said in a hoarse voice when she turned to leave, a cold numbness settling over her like a cloak of defeat.

"No," Barbara responded anxiously, finally finding her voice.  Her heart pounded with fear; she could not lose Helena . . . .

"All right, you call.  I do know you're capable," she acknowledged weakly, walking away.

"Helena, it matters!" Barbara cried out, stopping her in her tracks. "It matters," she repeated desperately as tears formed in her eyes.  She waited for Helena to face her; but Helena remained rigid, as if afraid to move.

Barbara exhaled heavily, her hands clenched into fists.  "Don't give up on me," she said nervously.  "Please." Her plea pierced through Helena's numbness.

Helena turned to face Barbara. "Don't you know?  I would fight the world for you, Barbara," she offered earnestly. "But I can't fight your doubts for you," Helena added in anguish, wishing she could.

Nodding, Barbara wiped the moisture from her cheek.  "I know," Barbara acknowledged uncomfortably, taking a deep breath.  "That's my battle," she said firmly.  "One that I should have fought years ago," she admitted guiltily. "But I am ready to fight it now.  I just need to know you haven't given up . . . on us," Barbara whispered uneasily, reaching for Helena's hand.

Helena looked down her extended hand uncertainly, hesitant to accept what Barbara was saying; her hopes had been dashed too many times before.  But glancing up into those normally guarded eyes, she saw a storm of emotion that made her want to believe . . . .

Knowing this the first of likely many battles, Barbara finally closed the distance between them.  Reaching up, she gently grabbed a handful of jersey, and pulled Helena slowly towards her, firmly believing now was a time for action.

Helena, a big fan of action, was inclined to agree as their lips finally met in gentle welcome, a balm to their battered souls . . . a return home.

Helena instinctively sought to deepen this glorious intimacy, reverently tracing her fingertips over Barbara's soft cheek before sliding her fingers through the luxurious red hair, like she had in her dreams. With her hand cradling the back of Barbara's head, Helena gently pulled her into a probing kiss. Their tongues teased and explored with surprising restraint; perfection was not to be rushed.

Awash in sensation and emotion, Barbara moaned before pulling back for much needed air. "Hel," she exhaled, like a benediction, before beginning her campaign to drink in and enjoy every inch of the intoxicating woman.

Helena inhaled deeply, taking in Barbara's scent, inflaming her own arousal. "God," she gasped, feeling a fresh onslaught of kisses, accompanied by licks and nibbles that covered her cheek, chin, and neck.  Helena's heart pounded rapidly as she struggled to pull back from the addictive contact that threatened her rapidly deteriorating control.

Perfection . . . was not to be rushed, Helena reminded herself.

"Uh," Helena said, battling her arousal, struggling to not attack Barbara right there…in the study. "This is probably . . . a bit . . . OHH," Helena gasped as Barbara's nails roughly scratched over the back of her neck in concert with her oral attention at her pulse point. "fast and we . . . should probably . . . GOD," Helena said with difficulty, knowing her eyes had just augmented.

Barbara, who wanted perfection right now, possessively bit down on Helena's neck, clearly communicating her thoughts on the subject, and completely eradicated all thoughts, save one, from the younger woman.

With a growl, Helena hauled Barbara out of her chair; the responding moan vibrating against her neck shot through her as if her veins had caught on fire.  Their mouths smashed together in a demanding kiss, which did not deter Helena from navigating the halls and finding her bedroom.  Helena's ability to complete her objective in the face of great distraction would have truly impressed Barbara had she had not been so . . . distracted.

Kicking the partially opened door wide open, Helena took Barbara to the large bed and gently deposited her treasure.

Barbara immediately pulled at Helena's shirt, lifting up the jersey over her head and flinging it across the room. She paused an indulgent moment to appreciatively gaze over the pale flesh partially revealed before her before sampling the newly exposed skin.  She was rewarded with another growl when she scraped her fingernails over Helena's lower back while she kissed her chest.  Without difficulty she swiftly removed Helena's bra, flinging it away from them as she pressed her lips against the top of the perfect swell of flesh.  As she pulled back, Helena's hand found its way behind her head, gently urging her to not leave just yet.  Unable to deny Helena, she slid her hands around her lean back and slowly kissed her way to a painfully hard nipple, prompting a pleased murmur that sounded like purring.

With a smile against Helena's flesh, Barbara slid her hands down her back, possessively kneading and caressing every inch.  Her fingers slid lower still, beneath Helena's sweats and underpants to cup and squeeze her perfect ass that had been a dangerous distraction too many times to count.  Indulging in her guilty pleasure, she kneaded soft flesh and muscle beneath her fingers as she continued her oral attention to Helena's breast.  Wanting to see as well as feel, Barbara finally commanded "Off."

As Helena immediately complied to discard the last of her clothing, Barbara found another part of Helena she would never get enough of - the strong musky scent of Helena's arousal.  Barbara reached up and grabbed Helena, pulling her into an urgent kiss.  Helena's hands sought Barbara's body and found unwanted material in the way . . . material that was soon on the floor, in a torn pile next to her clothing.

Barbara didn't seem to notice the new pile of rags, too busy exploring and tasting the soft flesh before her.  Her explorations were interrupted when Helena gently lifted up her chin and took a step back.  Her gaze was one of appreciation and wonder, feeling like a warm caress around Barbara's heart.

Helena reverently cradled her face with both hands and tenderly brushed their lips together.  Pulling back, Helena smiled warmly and smoothly climbed into bed, her augmented eyes never leaving her redheaded prey.

Barbara had never expected to want to be prey so badly.

Their lips met again as Helena pulled Barbara on top of her with ease.  After a deep, leisurely kiss, they looked into each other's eyes a long moment as they enjoyed the first meeting of warm flesh to warm flesh, the first brush of hardened peaks against hardened peaks, the first time nothing was between them . . . except love.

Barbara smiled as she slowly traced her fingers over Helena's white brow, down her cheek, and over her full lips.  Helena shut her eyes, enjoying the sensation of Barbara's gentle touch over her sensitive skin and the joy that filled her heart.  She could do slow . . . for Barbara.  Helena's eyes popped open in surprise when she felt Barbara shift and a warm, moist mouth suddenly attacked her nipple and suckled - hard.

"God!" she responded, arching into the delicious feeling, prompting a satisfied chuckle from Barbara that caused a very nice vibration against her tingling skin.  Helena wanted release!  Yet didn't, wanting to prolong the addictive touches.  

With fingers mapping and caressing each swell and beautiful contour, Barbara kissed her way to the neglected twin, making Helena moan as she suckled and nibbled the pebble-hard nub.  After several moments of pleasurable torment, Barbara kissed her way up to Helena's mouth.  Looking deep into Helena's eyes, Barbara watched intently as her hand traced down her body, pausing over her breast to knead the soft flesh before traveling lower.  Her fingers traced over the flat stomach, slowly circling Helena's belly button, twice, before descending through dark, very damp curls to her heated center.

Helena's eyes once again shut as she sucked in a breath and enjoyed Barbara's ministrations with her exquisitely inquisitive fingers.  After several minutes, she grew a bit frustrated that Barbara continued to touch her without entering or tending to her aching center, her arousal almost becoming painful.  Just before a plea could escape her lips, Barbara entered her, hard.  Helena would have cried out "thank GOD," but she couldn't speak; the sensation overloaded her brain's speech center as Barbara thrust in and out . . . with her fingers curling within . . . just . . . perfectly.

She was so close, riding higher and higher, when her nipple was once again possessed by a demanding mouth. When teeth firmly clamped down, she moaned as her release shuddered through her body.  Barbara coaxed another climax when her fingers shifted their focus to Helena's clitoris, causing Helena to cry out again as her spent body managed to convulse again in pleasure. "G . . . GOD."

Barbara slowly kissed her way up Helena's flushed skin and finally looked into her eyes with a decidedly pleased smile on her lips and beautiful sparkle in her eyes.

Deliciously exhausted, Helena chuckled weakly at the satisfied look on Barbara's face.  She had earned the right as far as Helena was concerned, feeling quite satisfied thankyouverymuch.  Her chuckling immediately stopped when she watched Barbara raise her exceptionally skilled fingers to her lips which slightly curved in a wicked smile.

Barbara could not help but delight in the want so clearly expressed on Helena's face.  Well aware Helena's eyes were watching her every movement, she inhaled deeply, enjoying the musky scent, before her tongue slowly and decadently licked every delicious drop of arousal that liberally coated her fingers.

"Ah!" Barbara blurted in surprise when she suddenly found herself flat on her back, beneath a very inspired and amazingly rejuvenated Helena, who dipped down to brush her cheek against Barbara's. With a grin, she pulled back and rubbed their noses together in a playful Eskimo kiss, prompting a smile from Barbara.

Seeing Helena's playful grin fade as her desire grew, Barbara tensed as Helena lowered herself to capture her lips.

"Hel?" Barbara said uneasily, causing Helena to stop and pull back slightly, sensing the sudden, unnerving discomfort.

"What's wrong?" Helena asked gently, searching her eyes worriedly.

"I . . . I may not . . . climax," Barbara admitted self-consciously with a wince, wishing she could just ignore that little problem and fake it, as she had done in the past.  Besides being unfair to Helena, it would be a lie; the last thing she wanted to do was to start off their relationship lying, no matter how painful or frustrating the truth was.

Helena looked at her a thoughtful moment.  "Thank you," she said with a warm smile, understanding how hard it was for Barbara to address her physical limitations.

That wasn't exactly the response Barbara was expecting, which showed on her confused face.  Helena grinned.  "I would know if you were faking it, you know."

Barbara frowned. "That's all well and good but you need to fact the fact that I . . . I won't be the most responsive lover you've had.  Ever," she added with a worried sigh.

Helena took a long breath, trying not to get annoyed with Barbara's insecurities and tendency to assume.

"Just how many lovers do you think I've had?" she asked, a bit of irritation slipping through.

Barbara looked at her with a wince, realizing she should have just kept her mouth shut.

Helena sighed. "Before you, I've had three," she offered, surprising Barbara, who eyed her with amazement. "Four, if you count masturbation.  And until you, I'd have to say, my most satisfying sexual relationship I had was with my right hand, which I am willing to bet the family fortune is far less responsive than you," she said wryly, enjoying the confused look on Barbara's face.

Barbara blinked.  She never would have imagined that her own . . . history was more extensive than Helena's.  Biting her lip in embarrassment, she recalled how Helena had always told her she assumed too mu . . . .

"You worry too much, Red," Helena said simply.  "Anyway, who said it was the journey, not the destination that was important?" Helena asked, tenderly brushing a lock of red hair off of Barbara's brow.

"Several people have had some form of that quote attributed to them," Barbara responded, feeling more comfortable talking about famous quotes instead of sex.  "But I believe Ralph Waldo Emerson is first cit. . . ."

"Barbara," Helena interrupted, rolling her eyes. "The point is . . . joy is found not in finishing the activity but in the doing," she said, tracing her fingers down Barbara's neck and over her collarbone.

"You don't think that orgasms are an important part of sex?" Barbara asked incredulously, her skin tingling from Helena's touch.

"Well, orgasms are great, Barbara - to give as well as receive," she responded honestly with a shrug. "And I intend to try to give you them when we have sex, being a firm believer of the "try try again" philosophy," Helena warned with a grin, her bluntness surprising and . . . refreshing. "But they are not what fills my heart with joy," Helena said sincerely, looking into Barbara's eyes. "Being with you, loving you, brings me joy."

"So you won't be disappointed . . . if I don't climax?" Barbara said uncomfortably, unable to let the topic go even after Helena's beautiful words.

"I can't say that," Helena said with a heavy sigh.

Barbara nodded dejectedly, clearly depressed by the thought of Helena being disappointed in their sex life.

"Barbara," Helena scolded her lover and caressed her cheek tenderly. "I want you to have everything. Rain drops on roses, warm woolen mittens," Helena said, innocently tossing out "orgasms," prompting an amused snort from Barbara.

"If you are physically unable, well . . . we'll just have to deal with it, together," Helena said honestly, leaning down to nip, then kiss her shoulder, which sent a tingle of arousal to Barbara's center, clearly reminding her all feeling was not lost.

"I am," Barbara blurted, adding awkwardly "Physically able."

"Oh," Helena said, then winced slightly, trying not to dwell on how Barbara had confirmed that particular fact.

"No," she quickly offered, wanting to clarify. "I haven't with any . . . ," she said and abruptly stopped, realizing it was not exactly good form to drag past lovers into their bed. "Perhaps I should shut up now," Barbara said with a cringe.

"I don't want to alarm you but . . . I really think we need to talk about this," Helena said wryly as she rolled to her side and propped her head up on her hand. "Although, I'll have to admit, when I brought up journeys, I hadn't expected to take this detour down your ex-lover's lane but . . . you've been able to climax since the shooting?"

"Not with anyone," Barbara clarified uncomfortably.

"Ahhh," she responded in understanding. "There's nothing wrong with masturbation, Barbara," she offered with amusement at Barbara's shyness, tenderly caressing her arm with the back of her fingers.

"Good GOD, Hel.  I know that," she said with exasperation. "Though it is a goal-oriented activity which the shooting has made too frustrating to try," Barbara added with irritation.

"If you haven't . . . or with anyone else . . . how do you know?" Helena asked in confusion.

"A dream," Barbara muttered, her eyes avoiding Helena's.

"A dream," Helena repeated, intrigued. "About?"

Barbara looked at her hesitantly. "Margay," she said, prompting a displeased wince. "And you," she added quickly, causing a confused look that turned into a cringe as Helena thought about that. "Helena . . . it was after I had realized that you were Margay.  I had dreamt about our meeting in the bathroom.  When Monique interrupted our conversation?  When she left, I . . . pursued you," Barbara explained awkwardly.

"In the bathroom??" Helena responded, sounding surprisingly . . . prudish to Barbara.

"Which turned into a room with a big bed," Barbara said defensively, then saw Helena blink. "It was a DREAM, Helena."

"Go on…."

Barbara sighed and tried to explain. "You started out as Margay but turned back into yourself and made love to me.  It felt so . . . real," Barbara said with amazement in her voice. "I actually . . . climaxed, which woke me up," Barbara admitted uncomfortably.

"Well I should hope so," Helena said indignantly.

Barbara looked at her and saw the sparkle in her eyes.  She chuckled and shook her head.

Helena smiled and traced her fingers over Barbara's arm again, then sighed heavily. "You know, competing with a dream isn't exactly easy.  But I'll try my best," she promised with a grin, moving on top of Barbara, kissing her shoulder, collarbone, then neck.

"Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try," Barbara offered sagely with amusement in her eyes, halting Helena's advances. "Though, I'd really prefer that you'd do," she quickly offered with a grin, running her hands over Helena's back as she looked at her.

"I quote Ralph Waldo Emerson and you quote . . . Yoda?" Helena countered in disbelief.

Barbara smiled brightly and laughed.  It was the richest, most wonderful sound Helena had ever heard, bringing a smile to her face and joy to her heart.  As the mirth died down, the satisfied smiles remained as the two women looked at each other.

"I love you," Helena said softly.

"How much?" Barbara asked, her smile widening as her arms tightened possessively around Helena.

"Lots," Helena grinned.

"You know, Hel, actions speak louder than words," Barbara challenged with a smile, stroking Helena's back with her hands.

"Now who said that?" Helena asked curiously.

"I just did," Barbara responded helpfully.

Helena smiled as she caressed her cheek and looked into her eyes.  Without another word, able to take the not-so-subtle hint, Helena lowered her lips to Barbara's and kissed her slowly and deeply.

By God, Helena certainly knew how to kiss, Barbara thought, her touch speaking volumes to her, all revolving around one subject - love.

When Helena pulled back, Barbara was briefly alarmed, until Helena began a slow and deliberate campaign to rouse every inch of flesh before her.  Lips and tongue caressed and teeth nibbled, causing Barbara's skin to sing, sending waves of arousal over her . . . which pooled in a distant area that was slowly woken from its unwanted dormancy.

When Helena progressed to her breasts, she anxiously awaited her touch, her nipples aching for attention. Barbara's fingers raked through Helena's hair as she tried to gently guide her.  But Barbara's head hit the pillow in frustration when Helena just smiled into her flesh, continuing to caress and tease everywhere but where she wanted.  As Helena's hand slipped down her stomach, her head lifted again, eyes widening in alarm as the extent of her limits were going to be laid bare to her lover.  Her heart pounded as she anxiously glanced down as Helena's fingertips caressed her skin, slipping below where she could feel then returning to lavish attention on her eager flesh.

Indulgently raking through her red curls, Helena smiled, looking up with love as her hand descended further, finally exploring her very wet center.  Barbara took a deep, uneasy breath as she fought to tamp down the heartbreak that came from the absence of something so fundamental, something she had wanted to share with Helena so badly. Yet the depressing fact was that Helena's touches barely registered; they were a faint shadow of what should have been.  Barbara blinked. 

They . . . registered.

She sucked in a surprised breath when Helena shifted her position slightly, but enough to increase the sensation, from faint to . . . more.  Helena smiled and started more vigorous thrusts that caused another unexpected response, a growing tightness in her womanhood.

"Yes," Barbara hissed, shutting her eyes and plopping her head back down on the pillow as she allowed herself to just feel the sensations Helena was provoking wash over her.

Helena's eyes took in the glorious sight of Barbara, her red hair splayed across the pillow as she panted through her slightly parted mouth. "So beautiful," she whispered reverently, diligently continuing her ministrations as she tenderly kissed and nibbled at her hip and lower abdomen, provoking more slick moisture that covered her hand.  "So wet," Helena offered, inhaling the heady fragrance, pure oxygen to her passion.

Barbara's heart pounded, her skin flushed, and her breathing grew ragged as her need soared.  "Helena," Barbara cried out for the only one who had brought her this hunger and the only one who could satisfy it. "Please…."

Helena's own sex clenched hearing the raw need in Barbara's voice, a raw need for her.

Continuing her thrusting, Helena eagerly answered the plea, kissing her way to Barbara's breast to finally lavish the attention the straining, hardened flesh deserved.

The brush of hot tongue against her rigid nipple and the sudden, strong suction, which somehow managed to tug at her womanhood as if connected, made her crest.  All her pent up need finally burst forth, sending pleasurable shockwaves throughout her body, even parts she had never expected to respond.  With a moan that she was not certain her own, she began a freefall through pure, delicious sensation.  To her surprise, although the trembling and shuddering diminished, another dull ache of need started to grow.  "Hel," she managed weakly, glancing down to her determined lover, who looked at her with a hunger that matched her actions as she continued to suckle and thrust, milking every last moan and whimper she could.

When those hungry pink eyes looked up at her and morphed into bright, familiar gold, Barbara sucked in a breath as another climax overtook her.  "God!" Barbara hissed, once again her body aflame with sensation.

Catching her breath, she felt Helena slowly move up her body, tenderly kissing and caressing her way up until they came face-to-face.  Helena's smile was bright but faded seeing Barbara looking into her eyes with curious fascination.

"Gee, Red.  You can't really be THAT surprised.  Unless you're surprised the sheets didn't combust," Helena joked uncomfortably, glancing at the sheets briefly before returning her gaze to Barbara, who was looking at her like she was figuring out a puzzle or . . . something.  Helena grew less confident by the moment as a ball of concern settled in her stomach.

"Good sheets have a higher thread count and are less likely to combust," Barbara offered with a broad smile, causing Helena to wince in confusion.  "Your eyes changed," she informed her with happy amazement.

"Well, they do that," Helena countered slowly, and explained unnecessarily. "Not just when I'm angry, Red."

"Hel, your eyes are back to normal," Barbara countered with mild exasperation. "Well, they are currently gold," she amended with a sly smile, pleased she was the cause of their current feral condition.  She cupped Helena's face and tenderly caressed it.

Helena blinked and looked at her with hope.

"Go on, see for yourself," Barbara encouraged, smiling broadly.

Helena hesitated, surprising Barbara, who then realized Helena was worried about leaving her new lover's side.  The thoughtful sentiment warmed her heart.

"Go!" Barbara commanded, gently shoving her, urging her out of bed.

"You do realize this is the first time I've ever been kicked out of bed," Helena grumbled and started to get out of bed.  Before she could leave, Barbara grabbed her wrist and the back of her neck, pulling her into a searing kiss.

"We're not done.  Not by a long shot," Barbara vowed, looking into Helena's surprised eyes with conviction.

A smile emerged on Helena's face.  "I'll be right back," Helena blurted eagerly, excited by the prospect of returning to normal.  She placed a quick peck on Barbara's lips before bolting to the bathroom.

Barbara had to laugh when she heard Helena cry out "THANK YOU GOD!"

Chapter 20 - Curiosity

When Barbara and Helena emerged from the Clock Tower elevator the next afternoon, the first thing they noticed was that Delphi was alarming.  The second thing they noticed was a panicked Dinah, who was frantically typing on the keyboard.

"Dinah?" Barbara asked, rolling from the elevator towards her.

"Thank GOD you two are here!" Dinah blurted, turning towards them anxiously.  She quickly stepped aside as Barbara rolled in place at the keyboard.

"What ja got, D?" Helena asked easily, crossing her arms over her chest as she stepped next to Dinah.

"All hell is breaking loose!" Dinah declared, gaining a glare from Barbara, prompting a mumbled "Sorry."

"So what the heck is breaking loose?" Helena asked with a smirk, getting Barbara to glance at her with mild warning that only made Helena smile more.

"It seems that all the alarms across the city have decided to go off at the same time," Barbara offered, tapping into the keyboard and calling up various cameras.  Her brow scrunched as she noted there was nothing apparently out of the ordinary, except for a few citizens looking around in confusion at the cacophony of noise.

"Well, isn't that a coincidence?"  Helena said dryly.  Dinah bit her lip in worry.  Even with Helena back and Barbara at Delphi, there were far too many alarms for them to address.

"Police have been dispatched to patrol for looting, off-duty personnel have been called in, ambulances, fire companies, hospitals are all on standby," Barbara rattled off the city's response actions, which were unexpectedly prompt.

"What about Arkham?" Helena asked, placing a hand on Barbara's shoulder.  Not surprisingly, it was tense.

"In lock down," she responded, putting the report on the large, overhead screen.  "All convicts present and accounted for," Barbara said, looking up at Helena, who nodded and squeezed her shoulder before releasing it.  Barbara smiled with appreciation, then looked back to her screen curiously, wondering just what the distraction was trying to cover up.

"So with all the alarms, there is no crime spree or massive Arkham escape attempt?" Dinah asked in confusion, looking between her two mentors.

"Not that we know of right now," Barbara said with a frown, then looked at the screen thoughtfully. "But whoever is behind this, I intend to find out who they are," she said with conviction, typing a search string into Delphi. "Helena?" She asked with a wince, stopping her typing as she glanced back to the brunette.

"Yeeess?" Helena said with a smirk.

"Would you mind going with Dinah to check for anything . . . unusual?"

"No problem, Red. You ready, D?"

Dinah smiled brightly, having missed their outings together. "Let's go!" She said enthusiastically, and bounced to the elevator.

As Helena entered the elevator, she heard Barbara's very quiet voice. "Be careful."

Helena glanced back to Delphi and found green eyes on her.  She answered with a smile.


Dinah turned her comms to mute and grinned. "Sooooo?" Dinah asked as they surveyed the downtown area from a store rooftop.

"Hmmm?" Helena responded absently, glancing at Dinah.

"What was that, Huntress?" Oracle asked, having heard the murmur.

Dinah glared at Huntress, waving her hand across her throat in a cutting motion.

"Ah. Well, Oracle, seems Canary wants to tweet with me . . . privately.  Will be mute for a few.  Won't be long," Helena said with a smile.

"Gothchya," Oracle said with a smirk. "And Canary, for the record? Last night with Huntress was . . . amazing. Oracle out."

"Oh. My. God!" Dinah said with a blush.

"That's what I said. Repeatedly," Helena said helpfully with an amused grin. "Especially when she . . . ," she continued with a wicked smile but was interrupted.

"TMI!" Dinah said with a cringe, holding up her hands in horror.

"I thought that's what you wanted to talk about," Helena said innocently.

"Not in DETAIL! Sheesh. I just wanted to know if you two were OK after everything and finally together," Dinah said with a roll of her eyes.

"Well, D, we are more than OK. And we're together," Helena said with a warm smile. "And if I have anything to say about it . . . it's forever."

Dinah smiled and sighed contentedly.  Her smile suddenly disappeared. "Sure took you two long enough," she added flatly.

"Can't disagree with that, D.  Going off mute," Helena said with a smirk. "Oracle, you there?"

"Yeeees," Oracle said silkily and asked "Have a nice chat?"

"Indeed we did," Helena said melodically with a grin.

"Did you get to the part about the chocolate fondue?" Oracle asked curiously.

"Would you two just quit it?!?  I'm an impressionable minor!" Dinah complained, causing amused chuckles.

"So, O, any leads on who's doing this?" Helena asked, glancing down at the street below, cringing at the continued aggravating noise of several alarms that had yet to be silenced.

"Not much more than leads at the moment, I'm afraid.  They are rather resourceful in covering their tracks."

Helena could hear the frustration in Barbara's voice. "You'll get 'em," she said.

"Oracle, at least it's quiet here . . . well, except for the alarms," Dinah said with a wince, also glancing down from the roof at the street below.

"That's good to know.  Police are dealing with a few looters.  And some related injuries are being transported to the hospital. Thankfully they are still minor disturbances."

"Any chance of stopping the racket?  It's annoying," Helena complained.

"I've been trying," Oracle said. "But there is an algorithm that is defeating my attempts and it seems . . . to modify with each effort."

"It's learning?" Dinah asked curiously.

"I don't think it's that sophis . . . ," Oracle said as the alarms finally stopped.

"Way to go, Oracle.  I always knew you had the magic touch," Helena said with amusement.

"I appreciate the compliment, Huntress.  But it wasn't me. The algorithm disappeared.  Along with my most promising lead," Oracle said, exhaling with irritation.

"Who's doing this?" Dinah blurted with similar irritation.

"And why," Oracle added gravely.

Helena's head suddenly turned to listen to some commotion in the nearby alley.

"Hand it over, twerp!"

"Stop it. Get off of me! Ugh. It's mine . . . ahhh!"

"Huntress?" Dinah asked anxiously.

"What's going on?"

Helena glanced at Dinah. "A mugging in progress. Going off line," Helena said before jumping down five stories, into an alley.

"Aw man!" Dinah exhaled with great irritation as she watched Huntress land in the street below.

"Canary? What's happening?" Oracle said with a furrowed brow.  She frequently had to extract information out of both Dinah and Helena to understand their unintentionally alarming and vague comments.  But just because she was used to it didn't mean she liked it.

"Have I mentioned how annoying it is when she just jumps off the roof and leaves me behind?" Dinah said, glancing around for a quick way down . . . other than jumping.

"I believe you've mentioned it once or twice," Oracle said with amusement.


With a noticeable thud, Helena landed and spotted the source of the commotion - three teens taking turns pummeling a fourth, who was on the ground. They all turned towards the unexpected noise.

"Whatchya doing, boys?" Helena asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

Taking advantage of the distraction, the small boy scrambled to his feet, holding possessively onto his laptop.  He looked for an escape route but the teens blocked the only way out of the alley.  He debated whether to try and plow through the bullies, but didn't want to risk damaging his laptop.

"None of your business, bitch," one, rather bulky teen barked as the two other teens glanced at each other.

"Doesn't anyone teach kids manners these days?" Helena complained, looking at the bulky teen with narrow eyes.

"Get the computer," he ordered the other two as he lifted up his fists, ready to fight.  He had a good 60 lbs of muscle on the stupid woman, who would learn not to bother him or his buddies.

"It's mine!" the kid cried out angrily, holding his prized belonging more tightly against his chest as the other two bullies stepped closer and the small kid stepped back against a brick wall.

"Touch him again and you'll see how much I don't like bullies," Helena called out as the bulky teen took a wild swing at her, then another and another.  Each one was easily dodged.

She sighed and finally grabbed his arm, twisting it behind his back. "You have ten seconds for you and your fellow muggers to clear out - or you will be going to juvie," she growled. "Trust me, the bad asses in there are bigger and scarier than you dweebs and would eat you for breakfast," she warned, yanking his arm up painfully.

"Stop, stop! All right, all right," the bulky kid cried out and stumbled forward when she let him go.  Rubbing his now sore arm, he motioned to his buddies and took her advice.

The bullies scurried away, reminding Helena of rats fleeing a sinking vessel.  She shook her head sadly and walked over to the small boy.

"You ok?" she asked as the small boy got to his feet and angrily dusted himself off with one arm, his other still possessively clutching his computer to his chest.

"Just great," he muttered, looking down at the ground in embarrassment, picking up his book bag. "They'll just kick my ass later," he said, carefully putting his computer in the bag.

Helena frowned. "School buddies of yours?"

"Buddies, right," he said tersely, wiping his bloody lip. "But they do go to the same school . . . unfortunately," he said, his eyes still finding the asphalt fascinating. "And if I tell on them, they'll kick my ass harder," he said, looking at her sharply to forestall the unwanted advice.

Helena looked at him then finally nodded, making a mental note to talk with Barbara about dealing with the school bullies.

"Do you know it's probably not a good idea to be hanging out in an alley - especially with valuables like your computer," Helena offered helpfully.

"No duh," he snapped then sighed guiltily, scratching the back of his neck. "Sorry.  I just wanted the free WiFi from the coffee shop.  They kicked me out for taking up a table and not buying more," he said with a wince.

She eyed him curiously. "Hmm.  I understand the library has free . . . ," Helena offered as Dinah came running towards them.

"Dinah?" Will said with surprise, looking up at the tall blond teen.

"Will??" Dinah blurted. "Are you OK?" she asked with concern, seeing the split lip.

"Better now that the three stooges are not beating the crap out of me," he said touching his lip with a cringe.

"No broken bones?" Dinah asked.

He shook his head no and sighed.

Helena smirked, wondering if she should be called "Mother hen" instead of "Canary."  Crossing her arms, she eyed Dinah expectantly.

"Oh! Will Patterson, Helena Kyle.  Helena, this is Will from school.  He has just transferred into my class," she said.

"You're a senior?" Helena asked with a smile, impressed.  She assumed he was a freshman . . . if that.

"Yeah, what of it?!?" Will said with irritation, surprising Helena who thought that chip on the kid's shoulder might actually be bigger than the kid.

"Will!  She was just asking," Dinah scolded him, prompting a frown.

"Sorry," he said reluctantly.

"S'all right.  I guess you get a lot of flack for being ahead of your age group," Helena said sympathetically, wondering if Barbara knew this kid.

"I can handle it," he said tersely, getting agitated.  "I really have to get going. Thanks for your help," he blurted to Helena.  "See you in class, Dinah," he added and quickly left.

Dinah frowned.  "He's not normally that . . . ."

"Rude?" Helena offered.

Dinah shrugged with a wince. "Wasn't exactly a great day for him, being mugged . . . and all."

Helena sighed and turned on her comms. "Oracle, Huntress here."

"Take care of business?"

"I always do," Helena said cockily, causing Dinah to roll her eyes. "A simple attempted mugging involving some teens. A sad sad commentary on today's youth," she said with a dramatic sigh. "Oh, and it turns out they are friends of Dinah," Helena added, withholding a smile.

"They are not my friends!" Dinah blurted with irritation.

"You seemed kind of friendly with Will," Helena countered with a smirk.

 "But he was the vic...!"

"Ladies, I hate to interrupt, but I've just detected our hacker and have a GPS fix," Oracle said with great satisfaction.

Helena looked down the alley curiously.  "Let me guess. We're right near him," Helena said.

"Yes," Oracle said with surprise. "The hacker is using a local wireless network . . . ."

". . . at the Brew Ha Ha. Care to get a cup of coffee, Dinah?" Helena said with a grin, getting Dinah to look at her curiously.

"Huntress? Do you know something?" Oracle asked.

"Hey!  I happen to know many things!" Helena responded indignantly, winking at a still confused Dinah.

"Indeed Huntress," Barbara said rolling her eyes.

Chapter 21 - Interrogations

With a solemn look, Barbara rolled into the Dark Horse. "You are sure he's the hacker?" Barbara asked Helena as they went to the bar's freight elevator.

"Yes.  But if you are asking whether he admitted to anything, the answer is still no," Helena said.

"Dinah didn't . . . ," Barbara asked with alarm.

"No.  Although she did suggest it," Helena said.  Seeing the alarmed look, she quickly added. "I told her she shouldn't."

Barbara sighed and nodded.  "But why are you so sure?  You said his computer didn't seem to have anything suspicious on it."

"The kid shouldn't play poker.  You don't need to be a touch telepath to see he wears his emotions on his sleeve," Helena said as the elevator stopped on her floor. "He's nervous and hiding something," she offered with conviction.

"I don't understand why Will would cause such havoc in the city," Barbara said with a frown as the left the elevator and headed to Helena's apartment. "Someone must have coerced him to . . . ," she said worriedly.

"For God's sake, Red," Helena interrupted.  "In spite of his high IQ, he's still a kid and they play pranks - a flaming pile of poo on someone's door step isn't gonna cut it for a kid like him."

"Nice imagery," Barbara said with a wince. "I never found the need to play pranks," she said, sighing with disappointment for Will's behavior.

"Hacking into my Dad's computer?" Helena offered with a sparkle in her eye.

"That wasn't a prank!  And that was your . . . ." Barbara sputtered in protest.

"You could have said no," Helena smoothly interjected with a smirk and opened the door for her.

Barbara's eyes narrowed. "I'm glad you didn't suggest tattoos," Barbara said before rolling into Helena's apartment.

Helena blinked then frowned at the missed opportunity as she followed Barbara.  Inside, she found Dinah where she had left her, hovering menacingly over their guest with her arms crossed over her chest.

Spotting the newest visitor, Will jumped up from the couch with alarm. "Miss Gordon?? Ah man," he groaned.

"Hello, William," Barbara said evenly.

"Miss Gordon, there's been a misunderstanding.  I didn't do anything wrong. Would you tell them?" He said uneasily.  Barbara had to agree with Helena; he was hiding something.

"But I understand you have been busy tripping alarms all over the city," Barbara countered.

"Alarms?  I don't know what you are talking about," Will blurted unconvincingly, crossing his arms defiantly over his chest.

"You really don't lie very well, William. Which I happen to think is a good thing," Barbara said to the boy, then glanced to Dinah.  "Where is it?" she asked.

Dinah retrieved the laptop.  As she handed it to Barbara, she glared at William whose eyes dropped uncomfortably.

As Barbara opened up the computer and turned it on, she offered conversationally.  "Did you know?  Mr. Jamison from the pawn shop is in the hospital."  She glanced up to the confused boy, who wondered why she though he would care about some old guy who was probably overdue for a hospital visit anyway….

"Seems he got injured trying to protect his store from looters when the alarms went off today," Barbara said, eyeing him.

His eyes widened in panic, which he tried to tamp down. "Hadn't heard," Will said with attempted nonchalance.

Helena watched Barbara with appreciation, knowing William didn't stand a chance.  She just wondered how long it would take before he confessed . . . or cried.

"And Mrs. Whittaker had to close her ice cream shop until she can fix the damages.  Apparently, someone decided to throw a trash can through her store window and help themselves to the cash register and a tub of rocky road."

Will cringed.

"Ah, here we are," Barbara said when the laptop display came up.  Tapping a few keys, then sighing heavily and rapidly tapping several more keys, she frowned, shook her head and glanced up to the boy. "This is rather disappointing, William," she said somberly.

"I told them there's nothing to find," Will asserted confidently with a smug look on his face.

Helena grinned.  Oh little man, you have no idea who you are dealing with, she considered with great satisfaction.

"So someone else used your computer?" Barbara asked curiously, rapidly tapping a few more keys.

"No," he said hesitantly, the smug look quickly fading. "Why?"

"Well, after getting past a few surprisingly simplistic security barriers," she offered, gaining an uneasy look from the boy. "I found a rather sophisticated program, a hybrid of a worm and a Trojan.  It would have been rather difficult to determine its purpose, had you not recorded every security site infiltrated and alarm triggered," she said, looking into the wide eyes of the surprised boy.

Helena almost laughed.  God, she loved Barbara's mind . . . and her eyes, especially when they had that fire in them when she figured something out or had the upper hand . . . like now.

"That's how most criminals get caught, William," she lectured. "They get too cocky," Barbara added, shaking her head with pursed lips of disapproval as she inserted a thumb drive and tapped a few more keys to initiate her program.

. . . and her lips, which were pretty damn fine too, Helena thought with an appreciative sigh.

"What?!?  I'm n . . . not a criminal," Will sputtered. "It was just a couple of alarms!!" he said defensively.  "I didn't do anything wrong," he added with less conviction.

"Nothing wrong?!?"  Barbara said with barely contained anger.

Helena could see the small boy shrivel up beneath Barbara's withering glare.  She almost felt sorry for the kid.

"Not only did you cause the hard-working emergency responders of this city extra work, you actually caused harm, both physical and financial to a few poor store keepers who were just trying to make a living when a few opportunists came along and took advantage of the chaos you created.  What were you thinking!" Barbara snapped, anger and disappointment radiating off of her.

"I . . . I didn't mean for anyone to get hurt," Will countered weakly, shifting nervously.

"You are too smart to act dumb, Will.  We both know you have the intelligence to understand the impacts of your actions," Barbara said.

"It was just a joke!" Will cried out anxiously.

"A joke? A JOKE?!?" she responded incredulously.  "Do you see anyone laughing, William?" Barbara said tersely, turning his computer off.  "I bet Mr. Jamison isn't laughing.  I'll bet Mrs. Whitaker isn't finding this too funny either."

He never meant for anything bad to happen, he considered with a wince, fighting the tears that wanted to burst out.  He looked at Ms. Gordon with surprise when she handed his computer back to him.

Hesitantly taking it, he asked nervously "So what now?"

"Go," Barbara said wearily, dismissing him.

"What?" Will and Dinah said at the same time.

"This is your warning, William.  There is no doubt you are a brilliant boy.  But to not think about the consequences of your actions is just plain . . . stupid.  I expected so much more from you," she said with great disappointment that made him cringe more than when she yelled at him.  "Oh, and if there are any other mysterious computer-related problems that pop up from now on, I'll know exactly who to come to for an explanation," Barbara said in warning, getting twin shocked looks from the teens.

Will nodded nervously and bolted from the apartment, clutching his laptop to his chest, unable to get away fast enough.

"That's it?!? You're just letting him go with a . . . a scolding?" Dinah asked incredulously.

"What did you want me to do, Dinah?  Rough him up a little?" Barbara responded defensively.

"I . . . no!  It's just . . . he's going to do it again," Dinah said with exasperation.

"I don't think so.  But if he does, I'll know," Barbara said, glancing at an unusually quiet Helena.  To her relief, she found a warm smile and a gaze of unwavering support and love.

Dinah sighed, certain William was going to cause more trouble.  Looking between the two women who gazed at each other, she had to smile.  It was clear they had finally embraced their feelings for each other.  And as happy as she was for them, she was pretty sure she didn't want to be around them when they looked at each other like that.

"So, do you guys need me tonight?  I've got a study date with Gabby," she said, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.

"What?  I thought we'd play a game of Truth or Dare," Helena said with a pout.

"That sounds like fun . . . especially the dare part," Barbara suggested with a grin, taking Helena's hand and squeezing.

"NO!  Never again.  And I'm not so sure about playing Scrabble with you two either," Dinah said, eyeing them suspiciously.

"Poker?" Barbara suggested with a waggle of her brows.

Dinah's mouth dropped.

"Oooh," Helena responded with clear approval. "I'm in. We can take turns dealing."

"Well, a study date with Gabby it is! Catch you later!" Dinah blurted, bolting out of the apartment.

"What's wrong with her?" Helena asked innocently.

Barbara chuckled. "In a word? Us."

"Well, speaking of us, what do you say. . . ," she said, lifting Barbara's hand to her lips and kissing her knuckles, ". . . we go back to the Tower, have a nice romantic dinner and," Helena offered, tenderly opening up her hand to kiss Barbara's palm.

"And?" Barbara asked softly, caressing Helena's face with her other hand.

"Well, I was hoping you might come up with some ideas," Helena smiled.

"Actually, I do have a few," Barbara offered helpfully with a smile that faded as she glanced around the apartment uncomfortably.  How did she bring up the subject of living arrangements?  They had just started a wonderfully new, physically intimate aspect of their relationship.  Was it too soon to expect Helena to give up her independence, her freedom, her apartment, so quickly?  Was it selfish to ask her to so she didn't have to guess each night whether Helena was going to stay?  How on Earth was she going to bring up the subject of….

"Ok," Helena suddenly said.

Barbara looked at her in confusion. "Ok?"

"Yeah.  I'll lose the apartment and come live with you," Helena said with a grin at Barbara's surprised look.

Barbara's surprise melted into a warm smile. "Ok," she repeated softly.


"You don't believe in moderation, do you?" Barbara asked with amusement as Helena picked up two large bags of food from the takeout counter.

"Not at all," Helena said without apology. "And with food, you have to think about leftovers…and mid-night snacks," Helena responded with an easy smile as they started to leave the Chinese restaurant. "Plus, you gotta keep the strength up, you know," she grinned.

"Indeed," Barbara said with amusement.

"Barbara?" A new customer entering called to her with surprise.

"Wade," Barbara said with surprise and a weak smile.

He smiled and leaned down, planting a kiss on her lips.

"Wade," Barbara blurted with irritation, looking up uneasily at Helena, who just smiled at Wade.  It was not a pleasant smile.

"I've missed you, Barbara," he said sincerely.

"Wade, I thought I had made it clear to you," she said with a heavy sigh.

"I know what you said.  But I think this," he said, motioning between them, "is too special to give up on."  He looked at her, hope in his eyes.

Helena was relieved Barbara had at least tried to break up with him.  He never did strike her as particularly sharp….

Barbara's mouth opened, then shut again in disbelief at his dismissal of her feelings, which she had told him were not of love but friendship.  She took a long breath, not quite sure where to begin.

Ever polite, Wade turned his unwanted attention on Helena. "I haven't seen you in a while, Helena. Working hard?" He smiled warmly at Barbara's closest friend.

"Traveling a bit, actually," she said absently, glancing longingly at the Humvee outside, where she might be less likely to go feral and beat the crap out of Wade.  She really liked this restaurant….

"Your hair is . . . new," he offered awkwardly with a weak smile at the odd shock of white.

"It is.  Do you like it?" she asked innocently with a plastered-on smile.

Wade cleared his throat. "Uh, it's . . . nice.  Soooo, you guys having a party or something?" he quickly asked, trying to avoid any more uncomfortable subjects.  He glanced curiously at the large amount of food Helena was carrying out.

"Or something," Helena said weakly.  Wade always had a way of grating on her nerves.  "Why don't I let you two kids catch up while I put this in the car," Helena suggested tensely, thinking that even if she paid for a new store window and bought a lot more food, the owners might not want her to return after throwing a fellow customer through the glass.  

"Hel?" Barbara said with concern, placing a hand on her arm.

Helena paused and looked at her with a mix of apology and great discomfort.

Barbara shook her head, needing to stop this uncomfortable encounter and make things perfectly clear to everyone for once and for all.  Grabbing the lapels on Helena's jacket, she pulled Helena into a possessive kiss.

Wade blinked.

With a tender caress of Helena's cheek when they broke from the kiss, Barbara softly declared with utter conviction "We'll leave together."

Helena sighed contentedly.  

Barbara turned her gaze back to a stunned Wade.  "As I told you before, Wade, there isn't a future for us.  I love Helena and my future is with her," she said with conviction. "Well, gotta roll, tonight's date night," she said with a big smile, glancing to Helena, who smiled happily. "See you at school," she said and quickly rolled away, leaving Wade and Helena, who looked at each other.

"Hel, sweetie?" Barbara called back from the door.  "The point of telling him we'll leave together is to, well, leave together," she explained and sighed heavily.  So much for a quick and clean exit, she considered.

"Yes, dear!" Helena said with amusement before leaning to whisper in Wade's ear.  "I guess I don't have to tell you that if I see you kissing her again, I'll rip your lips off and feed them to you."

Wade blinked again and slowly shook his head no.

Helena nodded with satisfaction. "You're a good man, Wade," she said sincerely and caught up to Barbara at the door and left with her.

Wade sluggishly looked out at the Humvee and the two women getting in the vehicle.

"Mister? Mister?? You the pu-pu platter?" the older Chinese woman at the cashier asked, pointing to one of the takeout bags ready for pickup.

Wade looked at the woman and nodded hesitantly.


"Do I want to know what you told him?" Barbara asked she buckled up in the Humvee.

"Hmmm?" Helena said, glancing up from her seatbelt buckle, blinking innocently.

"I'll take that as a no," Barbara said wryly, turning the key.

Chapter 22 - Loose Ends

"Kitchen or couch?" Helena asked as they emerged from the Tower's elevator.

"Which do you…," Barbara said when the Delphi alarm went off.  "Gah!" she blurted with irritation.

"Couch," Helena said with mild amusement as she placed the bags on the nearby coffee table as Barbara rolled up the platform to Delphi.

"Why that little…," Barbara hissed with irritation as she brought up a couple of screens.

"Let me guess," Helena interjected with amusement. "Our friend William is at it again," she offered, walking up behind Barbara.

"He's broken into the . . . Gotham General's main frame??" Barbara said with surprise.

"He's checking up on Mr. Jamison," Helena said with a pleased smile, getting Barbara's curious gaze.  "He's a good kid, Barbara.  He just needs a bit of guidance," she said with a smirk, squeezing her shoulder before leaving her side.

"What are you saying?" Barbara looked at her with narrow eyes.

Helena just smiled and went to the coffee table.  "Do you want wine with dinner?"

"Helena, I asked you a question," Barbara said with a frown, rolling after her.

"Have you ever thought about mentoring anyone else?" Helena asked, opening up a box of Kung Pao Chicken and taking an appreciative whiff.

"You can't possibly be suggesting we take another teen under our wing," Barbara scoffed.

Helena smiled and nodded.

"You were the one who suggested we kill Dinah when she followed you!" Barbara countered incredulously.

Helena shrugged. "I'm glad you didn't let me - she's saved our butts a few times."

"You're serious," Barbara said looking at her incredulously.

"Barbara, Will's a brilliant, impressionable kid.  He needs the right guidance or he could fall into the wrong crowd.  He's already a punching bag for his class mates because he is different.  Who can he turn to?"  Helena offered with a concerned look.

Barbara sighed.  "His mother died two years ago and his father . . . ," she offered then frowned.  "Well, it's safe to say he didn't seem to appreciate his son's gift when he came to drop off the admission's paperwork.  He hadn't even bothered to sign him up for advanced classes until Mrs. Green questioned him about Will's impressive test scores and previous schoolwork," she offered softly, Helena's suggestion churning in her head.  She could certainly empathize with the young boy's difficult position.

"We're supposed to help him," Helena offered quietly.

Barbara looked at her with alarm, not liking the sound of that.  "Helena . . . ."

"Barbara, listen to me.  It's just right.  You yourself argued that mentoring the young is more than a tradition - it's a legacy.  Our legacy.  Taking someone like us, training them, never turning away someone with a desire to do what we do...." Helena said with enthusiasm.

"We don't know that this," Barbara said, motioning towards Delphi.  "is what he wants, Helena," Barbara interjected with a frown.  "Or what he's suited for.  Maybe he's just a brilliant prankster," Barbara argued, though not really believing it.

"I'm sure Will will be a pain in the ass - he's a cocky, smart-assed teen.  But you've managed cocky, smart-assed teens before," Helena said with a smirk.

Barbara sighed. "At least one," she said, shaking her head in amazement. 

"But there's more to him.  I just know it.  I think you know it too," Helena said with conviction.  "But if you tell me you really don't want to do this . . . I'll drop it," Helena said reluctantly with a wince.

"Really?" Barbara asked skeptically.

"Yeah," she said with a slight frown.  "We both need to agree on this."

"I can't believe you are actually. . ," Barbara said, then paused and eyed her a thoughtful moment.  "He was our ward in the other timeline . . . wasn't he?" Barbara guessed softly, getting an uncomfortable look.

"I think so," she admitted.  "We really didn't have a lot of time to compare notes," Helena offered hesitantly, then watched Barbara glance down uneasily to her side pouch and pull out the letter.

Taking a deep breath, Barbara finally opened the envelope but Helena placed a hand over hers before she could pull out the contents.

"Are you sure you want to read that?" Helena asked with a slight wince.

"Are you saying I shouldn't?" Barbara asked with surprise.

Helena shook her head.  "No.  But I think . . . I want you to decide about William before reading that.  I want you to decide based on what you feel is right for him and us, right now . . . in this timeline.  We'd be responsible for two teens.  Neither timeline had to deal with that . . . yet," Helena said simply, absently stroking the back of Barbara's hand with her thumb.

"You are really serious about doing this, aren't you?" Barbara asked, shaking her head with amazement.

"I am.  He needs guidance and we can give it to him.  I want us to help him, Barbara," Helena responded honestly.

Barbara looked into Helena's eyes, finding confidence and clear conviction that were hard to ignore.  

Taking a deep breath, she shook her head, unable to believe she was actually entertaining this crazy idea.  Mentoring another troubled, hormonal teen?  With an amazing gift, she reminded herself, looking back into expectant blue eyes.  Exhaling heavily, Barbara tucked the letter back into the side pouch of her chair.  

"We'll need to talk to Dinah.  This affects her too," Barbara said, getting a big grin. "Hel, she may not be too receptive to the idea," Barbara cautioned.

"She'll love it!  She'll get someone to boss around," Helena joked.

"I'm sure he'll appreciate that, assuming this is what he wants," Barbara said, almost feeling sorry for William.

Helena just smiled confidently, knowing in her heart it was going to work out.  "So, do you want wine with dinner?"

"After this discussion?  That's a given," Barbara replied, rolling her eyes, getting a kiss on the cheek before Helena left to get glasses and plates.  


Barbara glanced at the pile of empty boxes on the coffee table and shook her head.  "The amount of food you are able to consume is . . . ." 

"Pretty impressive, isn't it?" Helena interjected proudly and shifted on the couch, facing towards her companion as she put her arm over the back, behind Barbara.

"I was thinking more like . . . obscene," Barbara said wryly, sipping her wine.

"Potayto potahto, Red," Helena responded with an easy smile, reaching over her companion for two fortune cookies on Barbara's side of the coffee table.

"How can you possibly think about eating any more?" Barbara asked incredulously.

"A fortune cookie is not food, Barbara," Helena slowly explained as if Barbara was a confused child, holding out the two cookies in her palm for her to choose.

Barbara rolled her eyes and took one.

"You could learn something incredibly important from these little cookies," Helena noted, cracking her own cookie open and pulling out the slip of paper.

"Mmmm Hmmm," Barbara responded skeptically as she opened hers and looked at Helena.

"Beautiful redheads first," Helena said politely with a grin.

Barbara sighed and read. "You will embark on a new," she quickly rattled off, then paused curiously. ". . . journey with loved ones," she finished with mild surprise.

"Ha!" she blurted triumphantly. "These things are great, aren't they?" Helena said with a grin.

"I certainly hope you don't intend to live your life on the advice of fortune cookies."

"You have," Helena countered with a smile.

"What are you talking about?"

"Bruce.  He told me that his sage advice came from fortune cookies," Helena countered, getting a look of disbelief from her.  "He did!" Helena added with a chuckle.  "Ask him the next time we see him."

"I will," she responded firmly, then eyed Helena and ventured cautiously "It sounds like you two are . . . getting along."

Helena smiled slightly and shrugged. "Well, I'm not ready to bake him a father's day cake, but we've had a few civil conversations.  He . . . he was there when I needed him," she acknowledged uncomfortably.

Barbara smiled warmly, very pleased Helena was getting to know him.  She glanced to the slip of paper in Helena's hand. "What about your fortune??"

"I thought you didn't think these were worth the paper they…," Helena countered.

"Just read the damn thing," Barbara moaned wearily.

"Boy Barbara, you're pretty impatient, aren't you?" Helena said with feigned surprise.

Barbara sighed, before deftly snagging the piece of paper.  She looked at Helena with satisfaction.

"You could have just asked," Helena offered with a smirk and drained her wine glass, placing it on the coffee table.

Ignoring Helena, which wasn't easy, Barbara read her fortune. "Good . . . ," she started then stopped and exhaled. "God."


Barbara sighed and glanced at her suspiciously before reading.  "Good clothes opens many doors.  Go shopping," Barbara said flatly.

Helena laughed. "You have to admit, good advice is good advice, regardless of the source," she said with amusement.

Barbara shook her head and chuckled.

Helena picked up her hand and kissed it.  Barbara looked into her eyes then leaned forward, gently possessing her inviting lips.


After having burned off many of the dinner's calories, Helena sighed contentedly in bed, her arms happily full with the woman she loved, who was naked and wrapped around her.  Life was good.

"Pretty interesting day, huh?" Helena said into Barbara's hair with a warm smile.

Barbara smiled wryly and countered. "Pretty interesting past few days actually."

"Past few weeks," Helena responded with a smirk.

Barbara shifted, propping herself onto her elbow so she could look into Helena's eyes.

"I'm glad it happened," Barbara said seriously and shyly added "I'm glad you were . . . her."

Helena smiled. "Me too.  I have to admit, I had always wondered who gave you that watch."

"You never asked," Barbara said curiously.

"Well, I suppose I didn't want to really know that the person who held such an important place in your heart was real.  Turns out I was more jealous of myself than I ever was of Wade or Dick," Helena admitted with a soft chuckle at the irony.

"Hel . . . ," Barbara blurted uncomfortably but found gentle fingers on her lips.

"Barbara, I love you," Helena said. "And to know that you love me and want to be with me . . . ," Helena said and couldn't continue, her moist eyes betraying the emotions that silenced her.  She sniffed and offered a self-conscious smile.

"I do, Helena.  With all my heart," she whispered, before kissing her tenderly.


Helena woke, taking a deep breath and blinking her eyes.  She quickly determined it was still night and that Barbara was not in bed with her. Sitting up, she quickly found Barbara, now in a robe by her bedroom window, staring out over the city skyline.  She smiled with appreciation, noting how the moonlight embraced her lover.  Her smile quickly faded when green eyes fell on her, clouded by a storm of emotions that Helena could feel radiating from her lover.

"Barbara?" she said with alarm, getting out of bed and going to her side. "What's wrong?" she asked as they both looked down to her lap, where she held the sheets of the letter.

Barbara silently handed her the letter, which she hesitantly took.  In the moonlight, Helena read Batgirl's words.

Dear Barbara,

I do not know whether this letter will even exist once I send Helena home.  But I hope it does and that you read it.

Helena died.

If you think that's hard to read, trust me, it is even harder to witness.  When she had finally come home from the past, she came with several bullet wounds - wounds she knew she wouldn't recover from.  But she actually seemed happy, telling me I could dance now.  I didn't understand . . . and then she was gone.  My sweet beautiful Helena died.

Helena glanced at Barbara uncomfortably, noting she was once again staring out over the city. With a frown, she continued.

I used the device to go back and stop this horrible mistake. When I caught up with her in 1996, I was overwhelmed with relief.  She was alive and I had a chance.  But I didn't realize I'd be unable to dissuade her from her dangerous plan, whatever it was.

I tried to tell her she was just going to get herself killed but she didn't listen. I wasn't about to let her kill herself again so we fought, to a standstill.  Helena finally told me why she was there.  It wasn't for her mother as I had assumed. The timeline she was attempting to fix was one where I apparently had been shot and crippled by the Joker. And my very presence, my standing before her, only fueled her conviction she was doing the right thing.

She tried to argue that it would all work out, that she'd be more careful, that once we found Dinah Lance, who apparently is your ward in your timeline, everything thing would be all right.  Helena was convinced she could use the device to make things better for all of us, including our ward from my timeline, William Patterson.

I also found another important difference in our timelines. Helena and you are not lovers. It is hard to believe that we are friends but not together in your timeline.  This amazing woman had gone to stop the Joker, for you, wanting to protect you from a horrible experience and its aftermath, never expecting anything in return.  Not even your love, which she had told me you had given to someone else.  Wade Brixton, Barbara???  

I have accepted that by stopping Helena, I am likely choosing to be paralyzed for the rest of my life.  I don't know what that is like or how I will cope with a devastating disability.  But I have experienced utter devastation when she died in my arms.  I don't think I could live without her and I know I wouldn't want to.

I have two requests - the reason for this letter.  The first is that you find and help William. He's a brilliant, mischievous boy in need of guidance.  He has become family.  I would imagine you feel the same for Dinah in your timeline.

The second request is far more personal and selfish.  I'll admit I don't understand what doubts come with a disability - but that's the only reason that I can fathom that is preventing you from being with her.  Please, for both our sakes, don't let those doubts sabotage what happiness you can have and accept the most precious gift anyone could ever receive - Helena's love.

                                                Yours truly,


Helena's eyes watered as she exhaled heavily.  After a long quiet moment, she spoke.  "The choice she felt she had to make was . . . unfair.  No one should have to chose to be paralyzed," Helena said softly, wiping the tears from her face.

"There was no choice, Helena.  You died," Barbara countered.  "So I could walk?" Barbara continued incredulously, looking at her with a displeased wince.

"That wasn't the plan," Helena countered uncomfortably.  

"No, it probably wasn't.  My guess is you had no plan.  You just ran in without thinking.  Am I right?"  Barbara asked tersely.

"I'm not going to apologize for trying to give you back your legs," Helena said defiantly.  

"Are you going to apologize for getting yourself killed?!?"  Barbara said with great agitation.

"It's kind of hard for dead people to apologize, Red," Helena said sarcastically. 

"Don't you DARE joke about this!"

Helena sighed heavily.  "Well fuck, Barbara.  What do you want me to say?  I won't do it again?  Even you went back to change history," Helena offered reasonably.

"To stop a horrible mis...." Barbara immediately responded on her counterpart's behalf, then paused uncomfortably, knowing that wasn't exactly helping her argument against altering history.

"To stop a horrible mistake involving someone you love," Helena said softly in understanding.  "You just happened to be more successful."

Barbara frowned and rubbed her eyes, knowing she would have reacted like the other Barbara to save Helena's life.  "So help me, if you do anything like that again, I will come after you and kick your ass," she blurted tiredly.

Helena exhaled with relief.  "I know you will.  You've already done that once," she offered wryly with a small smile and shrug.  

Barbara shook her head and rubbed her temples.  "Only I didn't.  God!  You see, this is exactly why time travel is such a bad idea!" she complained and added "just thinking about the paradoxes gives me a headache."  

Helena cringed sympathetically and stood behind her, gladly taking over the chore of gentle massage, which  prompted a sigh of appreciation.  After a quiet moment, Helena offered "The Novikov self-consistency principle would suggest that events are constrained to remain self-consistent and thus there are no paradoxes." 

Barbara blinked and turned back to look at Helena with surprise.  

"I spent a lot of time in the library reading about time travel," Helena explained with a shrug, scratching the back of her neck.

"Apparently not enough, Sweetie," Barbara said dryly, adding "The Novikov self-consistency principle assumes no alternate timelines."


"But there was clearly an alternate timeline," Barbara said, picking up the letter and holding it up as evidence.

Helena frowned.  "Ok then, what about the predestination paradox?  That would support the idea that we both were supposed to travel back in time.  So whatever has happened as a result of our actions was supposed to happen.  Thus, you shouldn't have any heartburn about this time traveling business because it was all meant to be," Helena said confidently, crossing her arms over her bare chest with satisfaction.

Barbara looked at her oddly.

"What?  Did I get that theory wrong too?"  Helena said with a cringe.

"No. No. . . I suppose I'm just realizing that I never would have imagined discussing time traveling theories with you . . . in your birthday suit," Barbara said with amusement, glancing appreciatively over the younger woman's pleasing form.  

"Which is exactly what is supposed to happen, if you believe in the. . . ." Helena said with authority, interrupted by a soft chuckle.

"Predestination paradox," Barbara supplied with amusement. "Do you really believe in that, Hel?" She asked curiously.

"I think we were supposed to end up together, in any and every timeline," Helena said seriously. "And if that makes me a predestination paradox-ist, well then, guilty as charged," she declared dramatically.

"Take me back to bed, Hel.  All this theory talk is getting me hot and bothered," Barbara said with a grin, holding her arms out for a lift, which Helena promptly and happily provided.

"Which is exactly what you were supposed to say," Helena said with a sparkle in her eye as she headed back to bed. "If you believe in . . . ." she continued but was interrupted by a firm, demanding kiss.

Helena sighed contentedly as their lips parted and foreheads touched.

"What I believe in, Helena Kyle, is us," Barbara said softly, stroking her cheek and brushing their lips together again.

Helena smiled, placing her gently on the bed. "Which is what you were going to say mftpt," she started but Barbara placed her fingers on her lips.

"Just . . . kiss me, Helena," Barbara said wearily, getting a grin and a brief kiss. 

Exactly what she asked for, Barbara realized with a frown as Helena looked at her with a satisfied smirk.  Barbara's brow rose in challenge.  She slowly loosened her sash and opened her robe, revealing herself.  

Helena's smirk faded as her eyes eagerly drank in every inch of the beautiful woman.

"Everywhere. Repeatedly," Barbara clarified firmly.

Helena sighed happily and did exactly what was asked.


"Hey, D.  You clean up really. . . ," Helena said with a big smile that faded.  "Is that my dress?!?" Helena asked as Dinah joined her in the living room sporting a dark blue silk dress that perfectly complemented the teen's complexion.

Dinah's wince answered her question.  "Can I borrow your dress for tonight?  I don't have anything to wear to a reaaally good restaurant," she quickly blurted, looking at Helena earnestly.  "Pleasepleaseplease!"

Helena rolled her eyes.  "Thanks!" Dinah blurted happily.  "And you look awesome," Dinah gushed, looking over Helena.

They heard the hiss of the electric wheel chair as Barbara joined them.  "She's right, you know.  You look . . . awesome," Barbara said with a big smile as she took in Helena's pleasing form.

Helena grinned happily.  "Aw shucks," she said, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.  "You don't look too bad yourself, Red.  Except . . . ," Helena said, her voice trailed off as she eyed Barbara thoughtfully.

"Except what?" Barbara said in alarm, looking down at her emerald dress she thought was nice.

"I think I'll wait for you two down in the car," Dinah blurted, quickly escaping to the elevator as the two women watched.

After the elevator doors shut, Barbara looked back at Helena.  "Except what??"

"Something's missing," Helena said with conviction.

"What?  What's missing?"  Barbara said, glancing down touching her necklace absently.  She had thought her necklace and matching earrings nicely complemented the dress.

"Happy Birthday, Barbara," Helena said with a warm smile, handing her a wrapped box.  

"Technically, that's tomorrow night," Barbara said with a grin, happily accepting the gift.

"Your birthday dinner is always the night before and you need this now," Helena argued.

"Need, Hel?" Barbara countered with a smirk, opening the box to find an elegant watch.  "Oh," she exhaled, pulling the time piece from the box.  "It's lovely," she said softly, closely looking over the beautiful craftsmanship.

"No lovelier than you, Barbara," Helena said sincerely as Barbara looked at her with a warm smile before returning her gaze to the watch.  On the back, she found an inscription.

"Do you want me to get your reading glasses?" Helena teased.

"Shut up," Barbara growled with a smirk as she squinted at the tiny lettering, prompting an amused chuckle.


Barbara grinned with delight.  "A deceptively simple equation."

"Well, they do make you pay by the character," Helena with an uneasy smile, her eyes dropping uncomfortably.

"Helena," Barbara reached out and caressed her cheek, gaining Helena's undivided attention.  "It's perfect.  The watch is as beautiful as the sentiment behind it.  Thank you, my love."

Helena's smile lit up her face.  With infinite care, she helped Barbara put the watch on her wrist and received a tender kiss.

"Ready to roll?" Helena asked with a grin, getting one in return.

"Ready when . . . ," Barbara said as the Delphi alarmed.  Her smile disappeared.

Helena frowned.  "We could ignore it," Helena suggested feebly, earning a glare as Barbara rolled up to the console.

The Delphi continued to alarm but . . . with different toned beeps and tweeps.  Helena snorted with amusement when she finally recognized the familiar tune being played.

"I'm going to kill him," Barbara said, looking over her beloved computer helplessly as it ignored her commands and continued to play Happy Birthday to its conclusion.  When done, Delphi quietly returned to monitoring for unusual criminal activity as if nothing unusual had happened.

Barbara shook her head not sure what she was going to do with that little . . . .

"At least he doesn't steal your clothes," Helena offered with a grin and chuckled.  

"That might be just a matter of time," Barbara lamented dryly, shaking her head with a weary chuckle.


The End


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