The Bold and the Brave

"How long have you been at that computer today?" Dick Grayson asked as he set a pizza on the table behind Oracle's console.

Barbara Gordon rolled her neck muscles, popping the joints back in place. "About 14 hours, but Dinah's on a plane home now, so it's quitting time."

"Perfect, how about pizza and a movie?"

Barbara rolled back from the console. "Sounds good to me. I'm just going to freshen up a bit and I'll meet you in the living room."

Dick set the pizza on the coffee table and kicked off his shoes. As he straightened up the cushions on the couch, he silently practiced what he was going to say to her. He flipped through her DVD collection, looking for something steamy. He settled on Tequila Sunrise, remembering the hot tub scene.

"So what are we watching?" Barbara asked as she rolled into the room.

"Tequila Sunrise."

"Oh, that's an old one." Barbara transferred herself to the couch.

Dick watched but didn't offer to help. His first impulse was to pick her up and put her next to him, but she wouldn't appreciate it. "It's good though, and I haven't seen it in a long time. I assumed you wouldn't mind sitting through two hours of Mel Gibson and Kurt Russell."

"No more than you would mind sitting through two hours of Michelle Pfiffer."

Dick laughed. He started the movie and offered Barbara a slice of pizza. She took it, but he noticed she only ate half. He ate his slice, but his stomach was too nervous to finish off the rest of the pie as he normally would.

He moved over closer to Barbara.

She smiled and snuggled up against him. They watched the movie for a while before he began planting tiny kisses along her neck.

"I love you," he whispered.

She touched his face, and he moved to kiss her lips. She opened her mouth to deepen the kiss and didn't protest when he raised a hand to cup her breast. Encouraged, he slid his other hand to the hem of her shirt, but as he started to lift it, she pulled away with a sharp intake of breath.

"Don't."

Dick sat back, trying not to show the frustration he felt. "Why? It's not like I've never seen you with your top off."

Barbara dropped her eyes. "That was before."

Dick sat back against the couch and ran a hand through his thick black hair. He suddenly realized something. "You haven't been with anyone since you were shot." He hadn't meant to actually say the words out loud, but there they were.

Barbara wouldn't look at him. "No."

"Don't you miss it? I mean, you used to be pretty randy." Dick smiled, "Remember that time up against the refrigeration unit on top of WayneCorp? That was hot." He raised his eyebrows at her.

"That's just my point."

"What?"

"That I'm not exactly equipped for hot sex on the rooftops anymore."

"Well, there's nothing wrong with a bed, Babs. I mean, I like beds, they're soft and I don't have to worry about dropping you when I come."

Barbara snorted. "You never dropped me."

"I'm telling you, it was touch and go there a couple of times." He moved his hand back to the hem of her shirt. "Come on, Babs, you were my first ever. Let me be your first now."

She rested her forehead against his chest. "The scar is really ugly," she whispered.

He pulled off his sweater, exposing his bare chest. Her eyes followed his fingers to his shoulder. "I know what gunshot scars look like, Barbara. I have one."

She ran her fingers lightly over the puckered flesh. "That's different, you're still you."

He pulled back from her. "What are you saying?"

"You know what I'm saying. Look, let's face it. This is a bad idea."

"What?" He couldn't believe she was pushing him away again. She was scooting away from him down the couch back toward her wheelchair. He grabbed her hand. "Where are you going?"

She yanked her hand away. "I have to get back to work."

"You just told me Dinah is on her way home."

"Dinah isn't the only person I work with." She eased into her chair and rolled toward the door.

Dick followed her. He was starting to get angry. "How long are you going to keep doing this?"

"Doing what? I'm not doing anything."

"Yes, you are. You're teasing me."

The chair stopped and Barbara whirled it around to face him, fury etched in her features. "I'm what?"

"A tease," Dick growled.

"You think," she said rolling toward him, "that because I don't want to engage in some kind of pity fuck to ease your conscience, that makes me a tease?"

Dick clenched his fists so hard he could feel his knuckles crack. Never in his life had he wanted to slap someone as much as he wanted to slap her right now. "I tell you I love you, and you accuse me of going for a pity fuck."

Barbara blinked. She took a deep breath, "Do you remember the last time we had sex?"

"Yeah," he wasn't sure where she was going with this. "It was at the beach. That was a great week."

Barbara nodded and smiled. "Yeah, it was. But after that, we moved on to other people. We've both been engaged to other people since then."

"I know, Babs, but neither one of us actually managed to get married, did we?"

She pressed her fingertips against her eyelids. "Look, we were part of a very physical culture, you still are. We've always been pals. Okay, pals with privileges, but it never lasted. I know you love me. I just think you're mistaking your guilt for being in love with me."

"Guilt?"

"Survivor's guilt."

" You're not dead."

"Batgirl is."

Dick blew out a stunned breath. "What are you talking about? As Oracle you're a million times more powerful than you were as Batgirl. You're not just taking down thugs in Gotham, you're stopping criminals on a global scale."

"But I can't kick them in the teeth anymore, so it's not nearly as satisfying."

"Oh my God, this isn't about my guilt, it's about your jealousy."

"Fuck you." She rolled backwards away from him, but he grabbed the arms of her wheelchair.

"Please do," he said glibly.

She pushed angrily at his hands. "Don't do that."

He pulled his hands back, suddenly realizing that grabbing her chair was physically threatening to her. "I'm sorry, but please don't push me away."

"Jesus, you are hard up."

"I'm not just talking about sex here, Barbara, and you know it. I'm not even mostly talking about sex."

"I don't know why you're being so thick about this. You know it can't work out. There's no future in it."

"Why not?"

"Because in the end you're always going to prefer someone like the Huntress."

"God, Barbara!" he yelled, "that was one time, months ago, when you weren't giving me the time of day."

Barbara shook her head. "Eventually, I just won't be able to compete."

"It's not a competition."

"Isn't it?"

Dick blew out an angry breath and tried to decide the best strategy for dealing with this. "You know what the biggest draw back to Helena is?"

Barbara wouldn't look at him. "No."

"She's not you. Even she understands that. Hell, everyone understands that. Why can't you?"

She shook her head again. Nothing was said for a long awkward moment.

"So, can we at least still be pals?"

Barbara looked up at him. "Of course, nothing will ever change that."

Dick nodded, "Good." He scooped her out of her chair and started toward her bedroom. "Then I want my privileges back."

"What? Put me down."

"No."

"What do you mean, no?"

He stopped walking. "Tell me why I should put you down."

"Because I told you to."

"Not good enough." He resumed walking.

"Dick, I'm serious, put me down."

"I'm going to, on the bed."

"What the hell is wrong with you?"

"What do you mean? You said we were pals with privileges."

"That was before."

"What's the difference?"

"PUT ME DOWN!"

"Gladly." He set her on the bed.

Her new location seemed to leave her at a loss for a moment, and she didn't say anything. Well, that's a blessing, Dick thought.

"I want my chair back," she said softly.

"In a minute," Dick said.

"No, now! This isn't funny."

"Babs—"

"Don't make me crawl through the hall to get it, Dick." She wouldn't look at him, but he knew she'd do it.

He blew out a frustrated breath and went back to get the wheelchair, knowing good and well she'd just get in it and move away from him. He'd be lucky if she didn't start hitting switches and using voice activated commands to turn the tower against him.

As he rolled the chair into her bedroom, he realized he was going to have to use the big guns. "So when you said you loved me, that was a lie?"

He saw her jaw clench, but she shook her head. He rolled the chair next to her, but to his surprise, she didn't immediately move into it. He knelt in front of her. "Then why won't you let me love you back?"

She rested her forehead against his. "You'll just be disappointed."

"Babs, guys are never disappointed with sex."

She laughed softly.

"Fine." And to his surprise she pulled her shirt over her head. "We'll see."

Dick sat back on his haunches and drew her all in. "I've said it before, Babs, but it bears repeating. I'm a breast man, and you've got the best set in Gotham."

To his delight a blush spread across her face and a small smile appeared. "Thanks, Boy Wonder."

"Oh, I'm Man Wonder now, baby."

She laughed in earnest at that. She was so beautiful when she laughed. He moved next to her on the bed and kissed her. As she opened her mouth to him for the second time that night he pulled her closer and memorized the feel of the softness of her breasts pressed against him. He didn't ever want to lose this feeling. Barbara in his arms was all he'd ever really wanted, since he'd been old enough to know how girls were different from boys. He reached under her and picked her up again. He moved around to the head of the bed and set her back down. "More comfortable up here," he smiled, "pillows."

He got in on the other side and she rolled over on top of him. They continued kissing and her fingers trailed over his chest leaving his skin on fire. He reached and unlatched her bra and was relieved when she didn't stop him. He rolled her over on her back and slid it down her arms.

"Ahh." He sat back, "Gothan's best, probably America's best, we could be talking international breasts here, Babs."

She grinned, "Shut up."

"Shutting up, Ma'am," he said, as his mouth descended to one breast while his fingers worried the other. In moments, she was squirming beneath him, one hand resting in his hair, the other thrown over her head. Soft sighs were escaping her lips. He moved back up to kiss her lips and as he did so trailed a hand to cup her sex.

"Can you feel that?" he whispered.

"Not like I once could, but yeah, kind of," she whispered back.

He nodded. "Tell me if anything I do hurts, or if you just want me to stop."

"Okay," she nodded. Her eyes were wide and her pupils were dialated.

He smiled at her as he worked his way back down her body, kissing her breasts as he went. Her stomach rippled in response. Note to self, he thought, breasts very sensitive, even more than before. He came up on his knees and hooked his thumbs in the waistband of her leggings. She turned her face away and clinched her eyes shut. She doesn't want me to see this, he thought. He slid the leggings and her panties down awkwardly. She had very little movement in her hips and without her legs to assist her she couldn't be much help. He got them down and smiled to himself, reminded that she was a natural redhead. So few were. Then he saw it, the puckered flesh below her navel almost like a second bellybutton, the entry wound scar. It wasn't so bad, he knew the exit wound and surgical scar would be much worse, but they were on her back and he didn't have to see them just yet. He looked up. Barbara's jaw was clenched tight, her fingers were fisted in the sheets, her knuckles white. This was really costing her. He hated that. He just wanted it to be okay for her. He went back to her breasts and could feel her relaxing after a minute or so. He started to trail his tongue down her stomach. As he reached her hipbone, she said his name.

"Hmm?" sliding his mouth over.

"That seems like a lot of effort for you for something that's probably not going to happen."

He looked up at her. "Effort? Effort? Are you seeing what I'm seeing?"

She looked down at him, her brow furrowed.

"Look at it, it's red and fuzzy and adorable, I have to kiss it."

"Wait—"

"I'm going to do more than kiss it," he descended then, moving her legs apart, sliding his tongue between them, feasting on her. He wasn't sure how much of it she could feel, but her flesh responded as though she could. Maybe it wasn't the same as before, maybe it wasn't as fast, but as he slid his hands under her to bring her closer to him he could feel the tension building in her body. He kept at her, alternately licking, sucking and plunging his tongue into her body until he felt it, the muscles contracting across her stomach, rippling in waves. He smiled and kept at her until she weakly pushed against his forehead with her hand.

"Please,"

He stopped then and let her pull herself together. He knew she was too sensitive to be touched right now. He wiped his mouth on her bedspread and got up. He slid off his jeans and boxers, grinning. I made Oracle come. I'm the man. He knelt back on the bed and waited for her.

Barbara lay there recovering, her bright red hair fanned out across the pillow. Her face and chest were flushed, her arms were above her head and her eyes were closed, not clenched shut as they had been earlier, but blissful. Dick thought she'd never been more beautiful. After a moment she propped herself up on her elbows. "What?"

His grin broadened.

"Shut up," she said, smiling. She leaned forward then and took him into her mouth. God, he'd forgotten how good she was at this. He loved the sight of her red hair across his belly as she moved her mouth and tongue over him, but this wasn't what he wanted, not this time, not the first time, the second first time.

He slid his fingers under her chin and she moved off him and looked up.

"I want inside you. Please."

She blinked, bit her lower lip and lay back against the bed.

Then he realized it, shit I don't have a condom. Oh crap, he was going to have to ask her. "Babs, I don't suppose you have a condom laying around somewhere?"

She shook her head. "No."

He let himself fall back against the bed. "Oh, man, of all the times not to have one." He covered his face with his hands. How could he be so unprepared? Batman would be appalled.

There was a cool hand against his chest. "Unless you've picked up some nasty disease, we don't need one."

"Oh thank God, you're on the pill," he smiled at her.

She dropped her eyes and shook her head. With one finger she traced in the air, "Below my navel, through my uterus to lodge in L5."

He felt like someone had punched him. She couldn't have children. That's what she meant by no future in it. "Oh, Christ, Babs, I'm—"

She touched her fingers to his lips. "Let's not make this sad. I'm having a really good time. I don't want to be sad right now."

He nodded and smiled at her. "Good, I don't like raincoats anyway."

"That's the spirit," she kissed him and he pressed her back against the bed.

He moved her legs apart again and positioned himself between them, but it was awkward without her help. He marveled at everything the woman did even in the missionary position. It was the first time that night he'd really missed her legs. He was finally able to slip inside her, but from the sharp intake of breath he knew it was uncomfortable for her, probably too much pressure on her spine. Not giving her a chance to complain, he gripped her hips and rolled them both over with her ending up on top. He pulled her legs into place. "I think this will be better."

She wouldn't meet his eyes, and he could tell from the way she held her body that she was embarrassed.

He pulled her knees further up his sides. The sudden shift pushed him deeper inside her and he hissed. "Oh, Babs, you're so tight."

She looked at him then. That was apparently the right thing to say, because she leaned down and kissed him. He loved the curtain of her hair framed over him. He gripped her hips and began moving inside her. She leaned down and whispered in his ear, "As hard as you want, harder even."

He took her at her word and went to town, plunging into her with short hard strokes, gripping her hips so hard he knew there would be bruises in the morning. He couldn't help it, she was so hot and wet and tight. She had her palms flat against his chest, steadying herself and holding on for dear life. She arched her back and let him take her breast again. It had been so long and she was finally letting him back in. YES, was all he could think as he let himself explode inside her. She fell forward onto his chest, and his last conscious thought was to pull the comforter over both of them.

Dick woke some time later, chilled. Barbara had slid off him and taken the comforter with her. It was draped across her legs but her back was exposed. She had tucked her arms under her, probably to keep warm, he thought. He went to get out of bed to find another blanket, but he stopped. There was a long thin surgical scar across her lower back, but no exit wound. "Lodged in L5," she'd said. The bullet never tore its way back out of her body. "Wow," he said softly and pulled the comforter back over her as much as he could before going back out into the hallway. He grabbed another blanket from the linen closet and went back and covered up Babs; it wouldn't do for her to get a cold. Then he decided to take a shower. Barbara's shower was a complicated jungle gym of bars and it was clearly designed for someone to sit down and use a handheld showerhead. I'm a superhero, he told himself; I can do this. In the end he managed to get wet and clean all over which was good enough. He wrapped a towel around his waist and went after the remaining pizza. He turned the television down low and finished watching Tequila Sunrise while he finished off the pie.

Dinah Lance was worried. She'd arrived at Gotham International Airport, but couldn't raise Oracle on the com. She had the taxi take her to the Clock Tower, but she couldn't get in. The tower was in lockdown. She tried her emergency code, but with no luck. She started to panic. Desperate, she left her bags in the entryway and hailed another cab.

"Wayne Manor," she said.

Fifteen minutes later the cab was allowed entrance through the huge wrought iron gates and up the long drive of Wayne Manor. Alfred was waiting for her at the front of the house.

"Ms. Lance," he said. "Nice to see you."

"Hi, Alfred." She climbed out of the cab. "Is the boss in? We've got a problem."

Alfred gestured toward the door. "I think you'll find Master Bruce is already working on your problem."

Alfred led her down to the Bat Cave, where Batman stood before a computer console with multiple screens. It was almost as impressive as Oracle's, but not quite.

"Oracle has been offline for several hours, since eight o'clock," Batman said without looking at her.

"The tower's in lockdown, I just came from there."

He turned and stared at her. "I have emergency roof access."

"I do too, I just didn't have any way of accessing the roof."

"Come with me."

Dinah was surprised by how comfortable the Batmobile was. She figured the suspension would be so stiff it would bounce around like a Jeep, but it rode more like a Cadillac. Ten minutes later they were at the tower. One jet powered grappling hook shot later and they were on the roof.

Dick heard one of the proximity alarms go off. He grabbed the empty pizza box and went to check it out. He looked at the console; it was a low level alert. Something was on the roof, probably birds. He was looking for the button that controlled the roof top cameras.

"Dick." It was unmistakably Batman's low voice.

He spun around, holding the pizza box in front of him. "Hey," he choked.

Batman was standing just inside the emergency roof entrance glaring at him. "Oracle has been offline for several hours without warning."

Dinah stepped out from behind Batman and appraised Dick coolly, her eyes skipped down the hall to Barbara's open bedroom door. "I guess we know why," she smiled.

"Irresponsible," Batman growled. He turned to leave. Dinah winked at Dick.

Dick could feel his face flush.

"Hey, could you drop me off at my apartment?" Dinah asked Batman's back as she followed him out.

"Yes."

"My stuff is in the entryway downstairs."

"Fine."

The two disappeared down the hallway toward the elevator.

Please don't let Barbara ever know they were here, Dick thought, but when he turned around she was dressed in a T-shirt and wheeling her way down the hall.

"I told you I needed to go back to work," she said.

Dick swallowed hard. "Babs—"

"Out of my way, please."

He watched as her fingers flew across the keyboard of her console. It didn't register at first, but then he realized she was sending out an offline signal with a return time code.

"Hey," he grinned, "is there anything under that T-shirt?"

She hooked a finger under his towel and pulled. "Not a thing."